Archive for the ‘Decade: 1990's’ Category

Twin Peaks: S1 & S2

May 25, 2017

Caught up with the original Twin Peaks in anticipation of the reboot which started on Showtime last weekend. Netflix has the complete series – both seasons streaming. I enjoyed the first season immensely. Felt like old times revisiting this quirky old Pacific NW logging town. With only eight episodes, the writing felt tight and attentive. Season 2 began dragging its heels weighed down by the promise of a 22-episode arc. The original ratings confirmed this as the show went from being the most watched show in the country during Season 1 to trailing in 85th place by Season 2. Still I love a good experiment and respect envelope pushing for the sake of art and especially fun. Twin Peaks did all that and more. It really changed how we view modern television, paving the way for quirkiness and niche. And the modern streaming world is one grateful off-spring. 3 out of 5 for this classic series.

The River Wild

May 15, 2017

Not sure why but I had a hankering to watch the 1994 Meryl Streep film, The River Wild. I saw it listed on Amazon Video and added it to my queue, but it’s not part of Prime so I would have had to rent it. Luckily we have a copy at the library. It was exactly what I needed. Good escapist fun with a dash of natural American outdoor beauty. And Streep’s the main character whose the skilled white water rafter. All the men play secondary to her. Unfortunately there’s only one interaction between Streep’s character and her mother. So definitely not a Bechdel Test film. Still it was fun and even Kevin Bacon is believable as one of the bad guys after a bit. I truly enjoyed my trip down The River Wild memory lane. 3.5 out of 5.

Ab Fab on Netflix!

April 2, 2017

Absolutely Fabulous – the series is streaming now on Netflix. Seasons 1-4 and the 2002 Christmas Special: Gay are available to Netflix subscribers. What’s your next binge?

Grr Argh

March 10, 2017

Happy Anniversary to Buffy the Vampire Slayer who turns 20 today.

My favorite episode is Hush. What’s yours?

Hat tip to NPR. Second hat tip to my dear friend Alex who continues to see this show as his all-time favorite.

Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End

March 2, 2017

brink-of-summers-endIFC Theaters in NYC is screening the documentary on writer Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End. The film made it to VHS back in the day, but was never released on DVD. It’s an absolute must-see for anyone interested in AIDS and LGBTQ history. From IFC,

Stranger than Fiction
Exclusive documentary film screenings, hosted by Raphaela Neihausen and Thom Powers.

March 21, 2017 – 7:00 pm
Winner of the 1997 Sundance Audience Award

Excerpt of Stephen Holden’s 1998 review in The New York Times:

”Go without hate, but not without rage; heal the world,” proclaimed Paul Monette, the author and gay activist who died of AIDS three years ago at the age of 49. That sentiment, at once angry and optimistic, serves as an epitaph in Monte Bramer’s admiring and extremely sad documentary biography ”Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End.”

An intimate portrait of the author, whose 1992 autobiography, ”Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story,” won the National Book Award (he was the first openly gay author to win one), the movie is narrated by the actress Linda Hunt in her best calm-but-stately manner.

Constructed around Mr. [Monette’s] home movies, which follow the author’s roller-coaster final years as he clings to life by embracing travel, love and AIDS activism with a furious enthusiasm, the movie begins as a sober, official-sounding biography, then changes into a vertiginous close-up study of a life that has suddenly caught fire.

Purchase advanced tickets.
Watch the trailer on Daily Motion.

Be Mine 2017

February 14, 2017


If you’re a sucker for romance (and heartbreak), why not take a stroll through some great lesbian and gay love stories this Valentine’s Day? From Reel Charlie’s favorites list,

Beautiful Thing
Freir Fall (Free Fall)
Giorni (Days)go-fish
Go Fish
Ha- Buah (The Bubble)
I Do
The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love 
Jongens (Boys)
My Beautiful Laundrette
Parting Glances
Presque Rien (Come Undone)
Reaching for the Moon

Blue Sky

January 3, 2017

blue-skySome films stand the test of time and others are better left to our memories. Such is the case (latter) with Blue Sky starring Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones which read mostly hokey, over the top and dated. Tony Richardson’s final film was released posthumously in 1994 and won Jessica Lange an Oscar for Best Actress. Blue Sky was filmed in 1991, but due to Orion Pictures going bankrupt, it didn’t get released for another three years. I remember loving this film the first time I saw it. Watching it again in 2017, the film seems awkward, particularly its depiction of Lange’s character, a manic-depressive army wife who fancies herself a version of Marilyn Monroe. It’s difficult writing this review because I adore Lange. Unfortunately Blue Sky does not stand the test of time. The characters aren’t fleshed out enough. The story tends to the obvious with too broad of a brush stroke. 2.5 out of 5 for Blue Sky.

Happy 64th Birthday Susan Dey

December 10, 2016

Sweet Susan Dey turns 64 today. I hope she’s enjoying life in the Hudson Valley. Here’s a still from the great indie film, Echo Park (1986) and someone uploaded the entire TV movie, Bed of Lies (1992) starring Susan and Chris Cooper onto YouTube. Enjoy, Deydreamers.

ECHO PARK, Susan Dey, 1986, (c) Atlantic Releasing

ECHO PARK, Susan Dey, 1986, (c) Atlantic Releasing


World AIDS Day 2016

December 1, 2016


I rarely offer unsolicited advice. But this year given our collective, national, post-election anxiety, stress, and depression, I want to remind every one of one big thing. My generation survived AIDS*. Not everyone. There were a lot of casualties. And a lot of grief. It wasn’t easy. It was horrific and hard and brutal and exhausting. But we banded together and figured it out. Positive and negative, male and female, LGBT, queer, and straight, rural, urban, and suburban, rich, poor, and in-between, all colors, and all creeds. It’s what you do when you’re faced with a crisis.

So here we are once again facing an uncertain future. This time it’s not a disease affecting a few, but an amoral ideology infecting many. I have every hope we will rise up and morph our culture, country and world into the hopeful, inclusive, united planet we are meant to be. How else are we ever going to witness first contact? Seriously though, I’m here as a survivor. As someone who faced mortality and with the help of many am here today not just surviving, but thriving. I’m here to help, to offer occasional sage wisdom, to fight, to encourage, to support, and to love. As long as we are breathing we need to come together and work to make this world a better, more peaceful, kind, and prosperous place for all. We need to leave it in better shape than we found it for the next generation.

So this year, let Reel Charlie’s HIV/AIDS film list for World AIDS Day act as metaphor for a country in desperate need of healing. We faced the worst epidemic of the 20th Century. We are on our way to curing this disease once and for all so everyone affected by it can thrive. We can do the same for our democracy in the 21st Century.

*Disclaimer: I realize my view of the HIV/AIDS epidemic manifests from the lens of first-world, white male privilege. It is not my intent to ignore the continuing crisis of HIV/AIDS in poor and minority communities in the U.S. or in third world countries around the globe. Today my hope is to focus on the positive aspects of controlling HIV and eradicating AIDS which have allowed people like me to survive and thrive over the past 30 plus years since the discovery of the HIV virus. 49.6% of people infected with HIV globally currently have access to life-saving drugs which can make the disease chronic. See for details on the continuing struggle to eradicate HIV and AIDS.

Below find my favorite films that focus on HIV and AIDS.  Some are feature films, some documentaries, 2 are musicals:

The Adventures of Felix – celebratory French film about a young HIV+ man embracing life on the new medication in the mid-90’s.
And the Band Played On – based on journalist Randy Shilts’s book.
Angels in America – based on the award-winning play from Tony Kushner.
All About My Mother – one of the (still) few films using AIDS themes from a female perspective – an Almodovar classic.
Before I Forget – French film about an aging HIV+ male hustler.
Blue – Derek Jarman’s meditation on his AIDS diagnosis and imminent death.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt – Academy Award winning documentary on the AIDS Quilt.
Dallas Buyers Club – a straight-identified man starts one of the first buyers clubs in the U.S. bringing experimental drugs into the United States from other countries.
Days – Italian film about a sero-discordant couple (one HIV+, one HIV-).
How to Survive a Plague – outstanding documentary on the history of ACT-UP.
Jeffrey – explores the tension around gay men and sex during the AIDS crisis.
Longtime Companion – Hollywood film about NYC gay men dealing with the worst of the AIDS crisis.
The Normal Heart – HBO adaptation from Ryan Murphy of Larry Kramer’s award-winning play.
Parting Glances – Steve Bucemi’s break-out performance as a punk rock HIV+ gay man in NYC.
Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End (only released on VHS) – amazing documentary on the final days of writer Paul Monette.
Poison – Todd Haynes Queer Cinema classic.  Very experimental. Included on the disk and in the review is the short Last Address, an 8 minute film focusing on NYC buildings by director Ira Sachs.
Postcards from America – based on artist David Wojnarowicz’s life and writing.
Rent – the film based on the hit Broadway musical.
Sex in an Epidemic – documentary about the AIDS crisis in the United States.
Sex Positive – documentary of the evolution of “safer sex”.
Test – beautiful indie film about a young dancer in San Francisco deciding whether to take the new HIV test in the early 1980’s.
Vito – biopic on Vito Russo who wrote the seminal work on queer film, The Celluloid Closet and left us way to early from AIDS.
We Were Here – intimate documentary focusing on several people who witnessed the early plague years in San Francisco.
Zero Patience – John Greyson’s musical about AIDS.  still so out there and revolutionary.
Follow Reel Charlie’s Health category for future postings.
Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Barbara who loves sharing her birthday with World AIDS Day.

Netflix’s Expiring Shows – December 2016 (Decider)

November 23, 2016

carmen-jonesA few of my favorite films are only available on Netflix for another week. I probably couldn’t come up with a list of three more different films. But each one is lovely and twisted in its own special way. If you’ve never seen them, check out their descriptions. You’re in for a treat!

American Beauty (1999)
Carmen Jones (1954)
Valley of the Dolls (1967)

Read the full list on Decider of what Netflix will say goodbye to beginning December 1, 2016. 

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