Archive for the ‘Decade: 1990's’ Category

Storm of the Century

March 9, 2023

In 1999, Stephen King wrote the screenplay for the TV movie, Storm of the Century. A little island off the coast of Maine (surprise) prepares for the worst snowstorm in over 100 years. As the storm rages in, a stranger comes to town and people start dying mysteriously. Soon enough the stranger identifies himself and gets put into a jail cell for the duration of the storm. Supernatural elements appear and the familiar King story unfolds of a small town of regular folk facing extraordinary circumstances which may or may not be human in origin. That’s all I’m going to say. This is classic pre-streaming TV movie fare. Lots of fun. Cheesy throughout, silly, but pulls you in. King himself called Storm of the Century his favorite television production. Cast includes Tim Daly, Debrah Farentino, Colm Feore, Casey Siemasko, Jeffrey DeMunn, a very young Julianne Nicholson, and Peter MacNeil (Horvath on Queer as Folk)

Storm of the Century currently streams on Hulu.

The Remains of the Day 4K

February 26, 2023

Happy 30th Anniversary to Merchant Ivory’s The Remains of the Day. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, the new 4K disk deserved an updated review. A perfect film. Click to read Reel Charlie’s review.

The Remains of the Day currently streams on various streaming platforms for a rental fee or free from your public library on disk.

Reel Charlie Speaks: The Watermelon Woman (dir. Cheryl Dunye, 1996)

January 9, 2023

Reel Charlie Speaks is an LGBTQ podcast spin-off of Reel Charlie. Each month I select a classic queer film, television series, or creator. I talk about how the subject spoke to me when I first discovered it years ago, and how its stood the test of time.

In this episode, I explore the classic New Queer Cinema film, The Watermelon Woman (1996), the first feature film from black lesbian filmmaker Cheryl Dunye.


Listen to the podcast at
or find it on your favorite podcast platform.

The Watermelon Woman site
Cheryl Dunye’s Wikipedia
Jingletown Films

Merchant Ivory Restorations: August 2022 Quad Cinema, NYC

July 29, 2022

There’s five Wednesdays in August 2022 and the Quad Cinema in NYC features a different restored Merchant Ivory film each week. From the Quad,

From the Vault: Cohen Film Collection

Every Wednesday in August — Gorgeous restorations of Merchant Ivory films!

New 4K digital restorations of Howards End, The Bostonians, and more.

Up first is one of my all-time Merchant Ivory favorites and definitely my top favorite films of all-time, Howards End. From the Quad,

One of Merchant Ivory’s undisputed masterpieces, this adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic 1910 novel is a saga of class relations and changing times in Edwardian England. Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) and her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) become involved with two couples: a wealthy, conservative industrialist (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife (Vanessa Redgrave), and a working-class man (Samuel West) and his mistress (Niccola Duffett). The interwoven fates and misfortunes of these three families and the diverging trajectories of the two sisters’ lives are connected to the ownership of Howards End, a beloved country home. A compelling, brilliantly acted study of one woman’s struggle to maintain her ideals and integrity in the face of Edwardian society’s moribund conformist values. A Cohen Film Collection release 4K restoration!

Check out the Quad’s website for more information.

Reel Charlie Speaks – Episode 2: HIV AIDS Films

July 25, 2022

It took two months instead of one, but I am publishing the second Reel Charlie Speaks podcast. In Reel Charlie Speaks, I focus on a classic piece of work and discuss what it meant to me when I first discovered it and how it has stood the test of time. Today I reflect upon six HIV AIDS films from my list of the best HIV AIDS Films I’ve compiled over the years.

Read Reel Charlie film reviews on each of the titles discussed in this episode:
Adventures of Felix (currently not streaming in the U.S.)
Before I Forget (currently not streaming in the U.S.)
Blue (streaming on Kanopy)
How to Survive a Plague (streaming on Amazon Prime and SlingTV)
Parting Glances (streaming on Plex, Amazon Prime, and Philo)
Zero Patience (streaming on The Criterion Channel)

See the full list of Reel Charlie’s HIV AIDS films.

Philip Bahr marching in ACT-UP demo. Kennebunkport, Maine. September 1, 1991. Screen grab from the film How to Survive a Plague

Coming up:
August 2022: Coming Out
September 2022: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City


The Golden Palace

July 15, 2022

I remember meeting this guy in Fort Lauderdale years ago who was wearing a “The Golden Palace” t-shirt and reminded me of this lost gem of a series – a spin-off from the Golden Girls which aired from 1992 – 1993. By that year, I was deep into my New York City chapter, focused on AIDS activism, and creating writing projects. I didn’t watch much television. So I missed this the first time around. A few years ago, Hulu added the series to their line-up and I finally finished it last week. I suppose that last sentence tells you all you need to know. I love my girls so much. You know that already. But moving on without Bea Arthur created a rift in the flow between the four characters. And the addition of the male characters never felt as funny or as natural as the original series. What’s this all about you might be saying? For one season back in the early 90’s, Blanche sells her Miami home, and she, Rose, and Sofia buy a South Beach Hotel and run it along with a very young Don Cheadle as the manager, and Cheech Marin as the chef. There was a young boy in the first few episodes, but he left thank goodness. So sorry I didn’t like this as much as the original. I am glad I finally watched. In the future, I will focus on the original. 3 out of 5 for the one-season The Golden Palace.

The Golden Palace and The Golden Girls currently stream on Hulu.

Rock Hudson’s Home Movies

May 17, 2022

Mark Rappaport’s 1992 documentary, Rock Hudson’s Home Movies combines actor Eric Farr playing a fictionalized version of Hudson who died of AIDS seven years prior to the creation of this film, along with grainy VHS clips from Hudson’s film. The entire project focuses on the gay undertones to most of Rock’s roles. It’s a brilliant, experimental, and easily digestible indie film from the New Queer Cinema movement coming in at at a scant 63 minutes. You won’t quite think of Hudson’s films in the same way after watching Rappaport’s documentary. Criterion remastered the film and released it in 2019 as part of the extras in Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows. Sirk and Hudson collaborated on nine films together. Rappaport wrote on this very subject for Criterion in 2009 in an article titled, The Sirk-Hudson Connection. The film deserves to stand arm-in-arm with Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet and the more recent trans visibility release, Disclosure. I wish someone would do a lesbian documentary about lesbian characters in cinema to add to this treasure trove of docs on queer history. Meanwhile, 5 out of 5 for this essential and timeless documentary.

My own History of LBGTQ Film and Television presentation which begins with Vito’s material can be found on YouTube, recorded in 2020 for Triangle Community Center (Norwalk, CT).

Rock Hudson’s Home Movies is available streaming or on disk from Kino Lorber, or from your local public library.

Visible: Out on Television

March 26, 2022

Finally able to watch the outstanding and important 5-part docu-series, Visible: Out on Television about LGBTQ representation in television. Not to sound all smarty pants, but even I learned a number of new facts. From the 50’s to 2020 (when it was released), Visible: Out on Television packs a powerful punch with episodes devoted to:

Episode 1: The Dark Ages – 50’s and 60’s
Episode 2: Television as a Tool – 70’s and 80’s
Episode 3: The Epidemic: 80’s and 90’s
Episode 4: Breakthroughs: late 90’s forward
Episode 5: The New Guard

Love, love, love this outstanding and necessary look at the journey television has taken depicting LGBTQ people and our communities. Bravo to Executive Producers Wilson Cruz, Wanda Sykes, Jessica Hargrave, and Ryan White for making this happen. 5 out of 5. Must-see and a fascinating look at the history of television and the queer community. Stands tall on the shoulders of Vito Russo’s work.

Visible: Out on Television currently streams on Apple TV+.

The Day New Queer Cinema Said: Let’s Do This (New York Times)

January 23, 2022

From the New York Times,

Thirty years after a panel at Sundance, some of the artists and journalists who helped ignite an L.G.B.T.Q. film movement take stock…

On Jan. 25, 1992, the Sundance Film Festival convened a panel on contemporary lesbian and gay cinema and “the significance of this movement,” according to the program…

What happened that day was a flash point in the genesis of New Queer Cinema, a call to arms of angry and unapologetic independent films that were made during the ’90s by, and arguably for, a community in crisis…

The legacy of that Saturday afternoon is being revisited this year as New Queer Cinema turns 30, and it’s going to be a rowdy look back. New Queer Cinema threw punches, and no wonder — the mostly white gay men who made the early wave of films were terrorized and exhausted by the first deadly decade of AIDS, and they’d had it with what they saw as the crushing conservative politics of the Reagan-Bush era…

“Sundance Class of ’92: The Year Indie Exploded,” a new collection on the Criterion Channel, includes several New Queer Cinema titles that screened at Sundance that year, including “The Living End” and “Swoon.” There are excerpts from the Barbed-Wire Kisses panel in a short documentary made as an introduction to the series.

Reel Charlie’s favorite films from the New Queer Cinema movement:
Edward II
The Incredibly True Adventure of 2 Girls in Love
The Watermelon Woman (my favorite)
Young Soul Rebels
Read the complete article at The New York Times.
Thanks to my friend Neil for alerting me to this article.

The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs: Black is… Black Ain’t (1994)

November 27, 2021

Rounding out the complete works of Marlon Riggs, I watched Riggs’ final film, Black is… Black Ain’t. Because Marlon was dying while he was filming this documentary, I found it especially emotional as I attempted to balance the intense and important content of the film, knowing the final frame would display his birth and death date. Chilling. Someone else might have considered creating a work which looked at the entirety of the American Black Community and decided no way. Too daunting. Riggs’ fearlessness and his need to continue to create during his body’s decline proves this project couldn’t have come from any one else during this time period.

Black is… Black Ain’t covers different identities around the country including young, old, rich, poor, Northern, Southern, rural, urban, gay, straight, including talking heads from luminaries such as choreographer Bill T. Jones, poet Essex Hemphill, activist Angela Y. Davis, cultural critics bell hooks, Cornel West, Michele Wallace, Barbara Smith and Maulana Karenga.

Topics include black ancestry, various origins of black people, and ultimately the displacement of black people. Riggs shows a wide array of people within the Black Diaspora. By doing so, he exhibits how diverse blackness is, contradicting societies homogenization of black people. Riggs demonstrates the many ways in which blackness can manifest and validates the intersectional identities black people hold that are systemically erased. The LGBTQ community is often left out of discourses about blackness, but Riggs makes it a point to include them as a central through-line of his narrative. (Wikipedia)

To say Black is… Black Ain’t is a must-see is an understatement. Seriously the entire works of Marlon Riggs are to be savored and revered. Thrilled Criterion remastered his films and they are now available 30 years later. 5 out of 5 for Black is… Black Ain’t and 5 out of 5 for The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs.

Currently The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs box set is only available on disk from your local library. I don’t say this often enough about the films I love, but this Criterion release is available on DVD or Blu-ray and would make an incredible gift to someone interested in the history of the gay black male movement in the United States or anyone interested in film history. I cherish my Blu-ray set.


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