Archive for the ‘Decade: 2000's’ Category

The Wrecking Crew

March 3, 2023

2008 documentary on the studio musicians who created some of the best pop and rock music during the 60’s and 70’s. From the Wikipedia page,

Directed by Denny Tedesco, son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco… and left out of the story was an important historical fact: the bands, in some, but not all, cases, did not play the instruments heard on their records. Instead, the task of recording the perfect tempo, pitch, and timbre fell to a small group of accomplished session musicians.

The Wrecking Crew documents the work of studio players who recorded the tracks for such hits as “California Dreamin'”, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'”, “Be My Baby”, “The Beat Goes On”, and “Good Vibrations”.

Can’t believe I never discovered this gem of a music documentary before 2023. Outstanding look at the geniuses of this group of musicians, many of whom never got any credit for playing on the records. Fascinating. 4 out of 5.


Carol Kaye on bass guitar.

The Wrecking Crew currently streams on Amazon Prime and Hulu.


January 29, 2023

Caught the gritty, gay indie Urbania from filmmakers Jon Matthews and Philippe Denham about a man who loses his boyfriend to a hate crime and seeks revenge. Based on the play, Urban Folk Tales by Daniel Reitz, the film takes its shape from all sorts of people telling urban legend stories throughout the piece as the protagonist Charlie reveals more and more about that fateful night.  The couple’s played by Dan Futterman and Matt Keeslar. In 2000, gay parts were still being given to straight actors. They both do a good job. It’s just unfortunate that actor’s like Alan Cumming had to be relegated to a tiny part. The first half of the film drags in parts. I remembered loving it 20+ years ago when it was released. In 2023, it meandered a bit until the last act. It’s a good ending from an ok film. I was still so hungry for gay indies even back in 2000, I am sure I rated this higher. Looking at it today, it’s a 3.5. Definitely worth consideration. Hard to believe 2000 looks so long ago especially the fashion and the scenes of NYC.

Six Feet Under Christmas Episode (Season 2, Episode 8)

December 27, 2022

Brenda’s mother Margaret and brother Billy spend some time together during the holidays on Six Feet Under.

It’s just not the holiday season without a trip down memory lane with some of my favorite television series’ Christmas episodes. This year I watched Six Feet Under‘s single contribution, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Season 2, Episode 8 aired Apr 21, 2002). It’s been a year since Nathaniel’s death. Each of the Fishers remember the last time they spoke to him as David and Nate hold a biker funeral on Christmas Day and Ruth tries to make her version of a perfect Christmas dinner. Another sublime episode from my favorite series of all-time.

Six Feet Under currently streams on HBO Max.

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


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Murder Under the Mistletoe (take 2)

July 23, 2022

For Christmas in July this year, I traveled back 100 years to 1920’s Melbourne and Miss Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective. Click below for the updated review.

Memorial Day 2022

May 30, 2022

There are all types of films about war – the war itself, the aftermath, the consequences, those left behind. War after war after war. I hope we can achieve world peace in my lifetime. I have always thought that was attainable. I have to think it’s possible. What other way is there to live? Meanwhile, we honor and celebrate those who died in service with a variety of war-related films Reel Charlie gives high marks.

5 Broken Cameras
The Best Years of Our Lives
Good Morning Vietnam
Home Fires
The Hurt Locker
Joyeux Noel
Judgement at Nuremberg
Poster Girl/Iraq Paper Scissors
The Tilman Story

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+.

Irish Ireland Roots

March 17, 2022

My father’s side of the family is 1/2 German, 1/2 Irish. My mother’s side of the family is unknown, although we assume most of it is German. So I usually say I’m a quarter Irish. I don’t have a real affinity to that part of my ancestry. Other family members wallow in our Irish roots. Still I wanted to do something this year on St. Patrick’s Day other than wear green or consume too much beer. So I thought I would recommend a great film about Ireland’s history. Director Steve McQueen’s debut feature film, Hunger turned out to be an easy choice. Created in 2008, Hunger focuses on the 1981 IRA prison hunger strike in Northern Ireland. Beautiful and grotesque, politics and art are some of the words I used to describe this remarkable film.

Read Reel Charlie’s 5 star review. 

Hunger is available streaming on Tubi (with commercials), IFC, and AMC+.

Patsy and Loretta

February 17, 2022

Something very satisfying about curling up with a Lifetime movie. You know what you’re getting. It’s basic, everyday, straight-forward filmmaking. And you don’t have to be baffled by extreme choices from the creator or crew. There’s a comforting formula to the genre. I love Patsy Cline, so I stumbled upon the 2019 Lifetime movie, Patsy and Loretta, about the unlikely friendship between Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Yes they really were close friends in real life. It’s always shocking every time I hear that Patsy died in that plane crash at the age of 30. 30! Imagine what she could have shared with the world with more time? Still she packed a mountain of experiences and music into her short life. And along the way gathered a group of women who supported each other as they navigated the rocky terrain of country music entertainment, the personification of a good old boys club. Director Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise, Nashville [TV show]) struck gold when the film cast Broadway actresses Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller to play Patsy and Loretta respectively. They sang their own songs because they can. This added a real depth to the film. Not a lot of new territory explored in this light biopic, but any fan of either or both of these legends surely will enjoy spending 88 minutes watching a glimpse into the lives of two remarkably talented women. 3.5 out of 5.

Patsy and Loretta currently streams on Netflix.

Wild About Harry (aka American Primitive) (2009)

January 3, 2022

The 2009 film, Wild About Harry (aka American Primitive) takes place in Cape Cod in the mid-70’s. A father grieving the loss of his wife with his teenage daughters moves to Cape Cod to start a furniture making business with another man. What he doesn’t share with his daughters is that the man is not only his partner in business, but in life as well. Because this is 1973, the stakes are high for the father to begin another chapter of his life with his beloved, and still hold on to his daughters who could still be taken away from him by his in-laws. He also needs to come out to his daughters, and deal with single straight women who see him as a major catch. Tate Donovan and Adam Pascal star as the two men. The younger cast is great as well. I have to admit I am a little shell-shocked over what might happen, I fast-forward to alleviate my nerves. I hope it’s ok and not too much of a spoiler alert to say everything works out. There’s no suicides, no separations, no break-ups. Whew. Wild About Harry is a sweet, simple indie love story which takes place in a time when gay people had no rights. Shudder. It feels bad enough today with the precarious nature of people’s lives from the state level up to the Supreme Court. Back in the 70’s, these ordinary people were heroes to those around them. 3.5 out of 5 for Wild About Harry.

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