Archive for the ‘Decade: 1980's’ Category

Happy Birthday Susan Dey (2017)

December 10, 2017

Susan Dey: you turn 65 today. It’s been 13 years since you last graced the screen. You moved to my old stomping grounds – the Hudson Valley. I just finished watching L.A. Law: Season 3 on video. I always have your work on DVD and streaming. Hoping this finds you enjoying life with your husband and daughter. The happiest of birthdays.

Watch Susan Dey accept her 1988 Golden Globe Award for Grace van Owen on L.A. Law.

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Suspect

December 3, 2017

Suspect: Cher, Dennis Quaid, the 80’s. What’s not to love about this minor Cher film co-starring the adorable if not one-dimensional Dennis Quaid? She’s an assistant D.A. in Washington DC. He’s a lobbyist for the dairy industry. Sexy yet? It’s Cher and Dennis Quaid. The plot is irrelevant. I’ve always liked this film. Probably a bit more than it deserves. It’s got 80’s written all over it. Still it’s Cher. And Dennis Quaid is the only actor who takes off their shirt during the film. Someone was paying attention. There’s courtroom suspense, there’s Capital Hill drama. There’s a happy ending. Some of you might want to give Suspect a 3. I give it a 4. It’s Cher for chrissakes. Can I hear a hoah! 4 out of 5 for Suspect.

L.A. Law: Season 3

November 27, 2017

I’m maxed out on L.A. Law seasons here in the States. The Region 1 DVDs only go as far as Season 3 which I just finished. Damn. I guess this is the end of the road for me – for now. I sure wish someone would stream all eight seasons. I know it changed a lot over the years. After Susan Dey left, I stopped watching. But I’d love to see where it goes and if I could stay with it. Meanwhile, Season 3 continued the excellence of the first two seasons. Great stories, Lots of humor. And the women really shine in this series. Very balanced characters gender-wise. Probably a big deal back in the 80’s to execute that. Even the Roxanne character proves not everyone who works for a law firm manages their money or even makes enough in the first place. Mickey and Grace are on the rocks, Ann and Stuart try to make a baby, Abby ventures out on her own, Jonathan finds his footing, and Victor continues to work strong. Season 3 truly features the classic cast. Still holds up after more than 30 years. 5 out of 5 for this television legal drama that not only paved the way for many other shows like it, but inspired many people to become lawyers.

Series Novels That Would Make Great TV & Film Adaptations

October 23, 2017

I’ve read a number of series novels over the past few years I know would make great television. I got to thinking of that recently after hearing Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is being picked up by Netflix for at least a ten-part installment of more than likely one or all of the final three Tales novels since Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are on board to reprise their Mary Ann and Anna roles respectively. Three of Richard Stephenson’s Donald Strachey Mysteries were adapted for HereTV about 10 years ago. And of course Barbara Wilson’s first Cassandra Reilly novel, Gaudi Afternoon turned into a Susan Seidelman spectacular romp through Barcelona. And we could sure use a sequel with an equally outstanding director and cast.

All of this got me thinking. If I had the power of the green light, which series would I produce? Here is my incomplete list of some of my literary favorites:

Michael Nava’s Henry Rios’ Mysteries’ produced perhaps the most sophisticated gay male sleuth ever. Henry’s actually a lawyer and a drunk and then in recovery. The seven books take us through the worse of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s to the final installment in 2001. Can’t say enough about this essential must-read series which would make for some outstanding television.

My second choice without a doubt goes to Greg Herren’s Scotty Bradley Mysteries. Herren’s lead character is adventurous, goofy, humpy, lives through Katrina in New Orleans, boasts a set of pot-smoking parents and not one but two emotionally monogamous boyfriends – a thrupple. Scotty is a former go-go boy who solves crimes with his retired FBI agent primary partner Frank and their mysterious international gun for hire third, Colin.

An even dozen novels comprise Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan Mysteries. Lippman’s books revolve around a former newspaper reporter who turns private eye. Many lists mention Tess Monaghan if you’re a fan of The Wire and crave more gritty Baltimore drama. Lippman delivers.

Years ago, I served grand jury duty in NYC. This was pre-smart phones, pre-ereaders. I found the first three Wraeththu books in one volume. Plopped the bible-sized book in my lap and proceeded to devour Storm Constantine’s magical world. Wraeththu are another species superior in many ways to humans with mostly male characteristics, but intersexed so they can reproduce. Fascinating reading especially in today’s world of transgender visibility. These books would make for a magically sexy adaptation. Think a Sense8 goes sci-fi pagan/wiccan sort of mystical reality.

If vampire movies ever come back in vogue again, and you know they will, Jourdan Lane’s Soul Mates series would make for some kick ass sexy gay male entertainment. Peter and Lucien would be the perfect other worldly follow-up to Queer as Folk‘s Justin and Brian.

Marshall Thorton’s Boystown series take place in 1980’s Chicago. The ten novels (as of 2017) are classic private eye with a twist. Nick Nowak is gay and unapologetic about it. He’s a man’s man character finding his way in a post-Stonewall world where his biological family has rejected him because of his sexuality. He is forced off the police force – a family business but refuses to leave Chicago. Nick becomes a private eye and solves cases like the best of them.

Jordan Castillo Price’s Mnevermind series follows Daniel Schroeder in the near future as he tinkers around as a memory specialist stalled in life until he meets the mysterious Elijah, a young man living on the spectrum. Outstanding romance future tech mash-up with great fleshed out characters. Price has an extremely popular 8-part PsyCop series, which I also enjoy but Mnevermind continues to be her series I return to with a smile.

‘Nathan Burgoine’s Triad Blood series involves “a vampire, wizard, and demon (who) form a bond in Ottawa, Canada that leaves them both a part of—and apart from—those in power in the supernatural world around them.” Burgoine’s addictive stories are begging to be adapted for the screen. Casting Anders the arrogant, sexy, demon would be the most fun.

So far I’ve only read the first book of Aleksandr Voinov’s Witches of London seriesLars which I absolutely adored. Voinov’s books are pagan romance stories which fascinate me to no end. “Lars Kendall is a solitary pagan on the Northern Path, loyal to the gods of the Norse pantheon.”
Rhys Turner hires Lars to renovate his house. Magic of all sorts ensue. Witches of London could easily be a very modern, sophisticated, more realistic Bewitched romance for the early 2020’s. Makes me imagine my own life taking off in an earth religion direction.

Also only read the first book of Charlie Cochet’s THIRDS series, a (so far) 10-part novel series based in the future where humans and therians live side-by-side. THIRDS would make an outstanding LGBTQ super hero futuristic action film franchise which could easily turn the tired Hollywood super hero trope on its head. Fun, action, and a bit of romance.

And finally I vote for making the graphic novel Wuvable Oaf into a feature film or a bizarre, niche television series. Everyone I know who reads this novel falls in love with its crazy cast of characters. “Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties and listens to a lot of Morrissey. The book follows Oaf’s search for love in the big city, especially his pursuit of Eiffel, the lead singer of the black metal/queercore/ progressive disco grindcore band Ejaculoid.”

I’m sure there’s more series out there. What would you like to see turned into a television show or film?

Do I Love Musicals?

October 18, 2017

Could it be my gay DNA has been working all along? I always say I’m not a fan of musicals. I hated La La Land. I also hated the idea of (because I’ve never actually seen them) Cats, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Showboat, Jersey Boys, Chicago, Kiss Me Kate, Rock of Ages, and South Pacific.

But then I started thinking today about musicals. About doing a program at work featuring musicals. About somehow getting my friends involved who are obsessed with musicals. I have yet to see (which I want to see) Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Wicked, Les Miz, Avenue Q, or Spring Awakening.

I thought about my life. To some extent, I grew up on musicals. And no, I’m not talking about The Partridge Family, smart ass. I’m talking actual musicals and their film adaptations. Each year we watched The Wizard of Oz and White Christmas on TV. Religiously.

I knew all the words to all the songs in both films. I discovered set design and pizzazz from Oz and my first real diva moment with Rosemary Clooney singing Irving Berlin’s Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me. But was the little gay boy in me spending more time watching Rosemary or George Chakiris? Probably a little of both.

As a devout Catholic teen, when I wasn’t spending time being an altar boy, lector, cantor, or playing guitar in folk mass, I was listening to and memorizing all the words to Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell.

Of course I totally freaked out when Everything’s Alright and other songs from the Superstar soundtrack showed up prominently in the fourth season of Transparent. Apparently I wasn’t the only one grooving on these tunes in the 70’s. And is it me or does anyone else think that Godspell has a Manson family vibe to it? Maybe I watch too many serial killer TV shows. Streaming Mindhunter as we speak. One thing’s for sure, Jesus in Godspell had the original Jewfro. Whew doggie!

So in 1976, I finally went to New York City and saw my first musical on Broadway: The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills. I clearly remember being in awe of the entire show, but when the curtain rose on Emerald City, I was in green sparkle heaven. Stunning. The film adaptation really paled in comparison. Diana Ross was more than a bit long in the tooth playing Dorothy at 34.

Around the same time, I obsessed over the luminous Barbra Streisand and the smooth skinned hunkiness of Kris Kristofferson in the third film adaptation of A Star is Born. Another huge favorite of mine. Another soundtrack I had memorized completely.

And then adulthood beckoned. Or at least college. While off discovering higher education, I also came across Blake Edwards incredible film, Victor Victoria. To this day, I continue to love and worship Victor and Victoria. Le Jazz Hot stands out as one of the best shiver-inducing numbers from a musical ever. Mary Poppins sets off a 3 alarm fire.

And a few years later there was this: Jennifer Holliday in Dream Girls. And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going continues to give me chills and brings tears to my eyes. Even today when I watched it. Simply one of the best moments in Broadway history. Screaming along with Effie each and every time.

When did I discover The Rocky Horror Picture Show? During college? Probably. Maybe after. I can’t recall. But I fell hard for this surface silly ode to being yourself. Such a great message wrapped up in a deeply moving gender-bender show of delight. As annoying and destructive as Susan Sarandon was during last year’s presidential election, I still love Over at the Frankenstein Place the best from the deliciously deviant soundtrack.

The AIDS crisis years brought us Rent. I had the honor of seeing it twice on Broadway (thanks Jane). I still tear up whenever I hear Seasons of Love.

AIDS also brought us Zero Patience which continues to be an absolute joy to me. If you want to see a truly unique, smart, and independent musical, check out John Greyson’s Zero Patience: “tell the story of my life.”

Later I had an opportunity to witness the miracle of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with John Cameron Mitchell at the Jane Street Theater before it became a film and an actual Broadway musical. That evening was the first night I wore my baby blue eyeglasses.

And recently I had the honor of seeing Fun Home with a bunch of super fun co-workers. What a treat. The depth of this musical – I never thought in my lifetime I’d see something so beautiful. So sad, so celebratory, so lesbian. Thank you Alison Bechdel for sharing your remarkable life story with us.

There have been others over the years. Actual stage musicals, film adaptations, and just plain films with songs. Additional favorites include 42nd Street, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Cabaret, Cabin in the Sky, Carmen Jones, Funny GirlMoulin Rouge, The Music ManStorm Weather, A Star is Born (Judy Garland), and Tommy. 

And I haven’t even begun to talk about television shows with musical numbers in them. Guess I’ll save that for another post.

So in conclusion, I need to stop pooh poohing musicals. Sure the big formulaic Broadway ones are boring. But no less boring than big Hollywood films or pop music that’s more about the bank than the heart. Great musicals bring a sense of magic and wonder to stories. They take you out of your world, take you out of your blues. And for a brief moment you’re a star, belting out the best damn song ever written.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I’d love to know what your favorites are – stage, screen or even small screen!

The Merv Griffin Show

October 12, 2017

Amazon Prime Video has quietly added a number of classic television shows this year. Reel Charlie’s already discussed My Favorite Martian. A unique addition to Amazon is The Merv Griffin Show. Merv’s talk show spanned 1962-1985. What’s available to stream are some best-of episodes spanning the 20+ years. You can see Merv in his infancy interviewing Andy Warhol and Salvadore Dali. Merv’s show in the beginning resembled a more serious format. Think David Susskind or Charlie Rose. Later on in the 1970’s the show morphed into a more popular Hollywood celebrity format featuring people like Farrah Fawcett-Majors and Marie Osmond. The 80’s brought a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Ms. Magazine with Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Carole King (in a rare television performance), and Loretta Swit. The capsule ends with Merv interviewing the cast of The Golden Girls during their first year of production. Merv certainly supported women in Hollywood. Though it all, Merv awkwardly flirts with some women, but in a most respectful way – just enough so his audience won’t realize he’s gay. That part of it is sad – the closet always is. But he certainly had a style and created a blueprint for talk shows through today. Merv on Amazon is a fun trip down memory lane or a history lesson for younger viewers. 3 out of 5.

For an in-depth examination of the damage Griffin’s closeted life did to himself and the gay community, read Michaelangelo Signorile’s piece from 2007.

OutFilmCT: Desert Hearts; 10/12/17 – Hartford, CT

October 7, 2017

OutFilmCT is hosting a 30th anniversary screening of the classic lesbian drama, Desert Hearts in Hartford, CT Thursday, October 12, 2017.

DESERT HEARTS – Thursday, OCTOBER 12 @ 7:30 PM – Cinestudio
The fall is here, and we are bringing you back all-time lesbian classics! Watch it again, 30 years later, or discover one of the first masterpieces of queer cinema if you haven’t seen it before.

For October we’re celebrating the first widely released film to feature a positive lesbian relationship on-screen: no one is self-destructive, drinks to excess, or morosely pines for straight girls! Directed by Donna Deitch (who is planning a sequel), this breakthrough movie is set in 1959, as a Columbia University literature professor (Helen Shayer) arrives in Reno to divorce her husband. Staying at a local ‘divorce ranch’ in the Nevada desert, she meets a free-spirited casino worker and potter (Patricia Charbonneau), who opens her heart to self-acceptance, sensual exploration, and love.
Directed by Donna Deitch, 1986, USA, 97 min.

Cast: Helen Shayer, Patricia Charbonneau, Audra Lindley.

Desert Hearts (1985)

 

The Criterion Collection: Reel Charlie’s Top 17

September 15, 2017

Whenever I see a famous person list their favorite Criterion films, I wonder what my list would look like? I took a shot at this back in 2012. Criterion’s been adding films monthly so my favorites list is ever-evolving. Currently I have a list of 17 must-see films from Criterion’s Collection. If you have access to Kanopy, you can see these films any time.

Reel Charlie’s 17 favorite Criterion releases (in alpha order):

All That Heaven Allows
A Christmas Tale
Desert Hearts
Fox and His Friends
Howards End
The Ice Storm
In the Mood for Love
Monsoon Wedding
My Beautiful Laundrette
Nashville
Rebecca
A Room With a View
Rosemary’s Baby
Safe
The Times of Harvey Milk
Weekend (Haigh)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

 

Honorable Mention:

Being There
Boyhood
Brazil
Do the Right Thing
Fish Tank
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty
Grey Gardens
La haine
The Lady Eve
Mildred Pierce
Shallow Grave
Three Colors: Blue
Valley of the Dolls

Explore all Criterion films at their website.

Senior Week

September 12, 2017

Sometimes I browse on Netflix and end up watching something because of the cover art (different from the attached image). Bad media watcher! That’s a slap on the wrist for me. Senior Week from 1987 could have stayed out of my orbit. But I clicked play because of Michael St. Gerard who played Rikki Lake’s boyfriend Link in the original Hairspray and for the dumb blond muscle on the film’s cover art. Ugh. What a waste. Bad b-movie with no camp laughs. Not a good combination. 1 out of 5. Next.

Clue

September 8, 2017

Can’t believe I’ve never reviewed the 1995 camp classic, Clue based on the Parker Brothers’ board game. Always good for 94 minutes of silly fun, Clue boasts an outstanding cast featuring Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, and Colleen Camp. Who wouldn’t want to watch a film starring Madeline Kahn and Lesley Ann Warren? Created with three alternative endings, Clue proves the silliest ideas can bring out the smiles. 4 out of 5 this gem.


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