Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

Desk Set

December 15, 2017

New computers set to make librarians extinct? Is this 2017? No, it’s 1957 and the same false rumor gets spread around the office in Desk Set, a perfectly charming rom-com starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Apparently the early warnings of librarians’ demise has been a theme for 60 years! Lucky for us, people are now overwhelmed with access to too much information and need help sifting through the rubble. Back in the day, the new computer scared the bejezzus out of Hepburn’s Reference Librarian Bunny (tragic) Watson and her staff Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill, and Sue Randall. Bunny’s been waiting for years for a proposal from her boss. Not sure how all this flies in our current climate, but stay with me. In walks computer geek Richard Sumner played to perfection by Spencer Tracy. You can guess the rest no doubt. Desk Set is a fun, feel-good, Friday night date kind of movie. Hepburn is Hepburn, they just don’t make them like her any more. 4 out of 5 for this classic, light-hearted look at the dawn of the information age.



December 11, 2017

Watched the first episode of Netflix new western Godless. Nearly all the men in La Belle, New Mexico die in a mining accident. The women are left to keep the town going. An outlaw, Roy Goode hides out in town from his former partner Frank Griffin. So there are men in the series. Many of them. Most are not connected with the town. But there is a great balance of gender in the ensemble cast. Outstanding group of actors including Jack O’Connell (as Roy), Michelle Dockery (yes, Mary from Downton Abbey),  Scoot McNairy, Merritt Wever (doing her usual badass acting), Jeff Daniels, and Sam Waterston. There’s modern humor infused into the story. Godless is authentic, filmed on location in New Mexico with a feminist twist. But it’s still a western which is not my genre of choice. I give it a 3 out of 5. You may find it more to your liking and rate it higher.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1

December 9, 2017

Season 1 of the Amazon Prime exclusive, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel succeeded my wildest expectations after loving the pilot during Amazon’s Pilot season earlier this year. Gilmore Girls creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino work their magic once again, this time in 1950’s New York City. Miriam “Midge” Maisel falls into stand-up comedy after a nasty break-up with her husband. Midge spent her young life being a daughter, wife, and mother. Now she’s back home living with her parents, two kids in tow while she figures out how to make money and how to break into show business. I love, love, love this series. It’s got everything: tight delivery, outstanding cast including Rachel Brosnahan as Midge (a star is born), Alex Borstein as Suzie, Midge’s lesbian manager, Marin Hinkle incredibly cast and nailing her role as Midge’s Mom, Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s dry sense of humor Dad, and Luke Kirby occasionally appearing as Lenny Bruce. The sets, costumes, design – all outstanding. The drama comedy balance perfect. I know I’m ruining it but I can’t help it. I love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Midge teaches us what it means to be a modern woman, figuring out how to break the chains of patriarchy while holding on to the parts of her life that work. The show never knocks you over the head. It teaches through the drama of the every day story. You’ll be hooked on Midge and her journey from the moment you begin. And did I say the series is so much fun? Laugh out loud moments, period songs inserted at just the right moment. 5 out of 5 for the Sherman-Palladino’s new creation. Thank you Amazon.

Lesbian Herstory Archives

December 8, 2017

I remember as a young out gay man during the 1980’s understanding the need for my lesbian sisters to have their own space free from the pressures of the patriarchy. I not only understood that need, but supported it. I remember venturing into Charis Books in Atlanta and supporting women’s bookstores as often as I could. Supporting Bluestockings in New York City, Women Crafts in Provincetown, and my own neighborhood’s Bloodroot Restaurant and bookstore. I’m thrilled Megan Rossman made a short film on Brooklyn’s Lesbian Herstory Archives. It’s six minutes long, introducing the viewer to the important archival work Lesbian Herstory Archives continues.

Join the women this weekend for their annual holiday sale:

Annual Holiday Booksale 12-4:30
When: Sat, December 9, 12:00pm – 4:30pm
Where: Lesbian Herstory Archives, 484 14th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA (map)
Description :Find some holiday reads while supporting the Archives. Most items $1-2.

Watch the short film on Vimeo.

The Crown: Season 2 drops

December 8, 2017

A reminder the lavish British monarchy series, The Crown drops Season 2 today on Netflix. Looking forward to new cast members Michael C. Hall and Jodi Balfour as Jack and Jackie Kennedy, and Matthew Goode as Lord Snowdon as we careen into the 1960’s. Who’s binging this weekend?

Read Reel Charlie’s review of The Crown: Season 1.
Watch the trailer for The Crown: Season 2 on YouTube.

Broadchurch: Season 3

December 7, 2017

My love of Broadchurch and has waxed and waned. I gave Season 1 a 5 out of 5. Then I gave Season 2 a 3.5 out of 5. Season 3 redeemed itself solving yet another crime and finally making peace with Danny’s murder from Season 1. David Tennant and Olivia Colman are back and in top form. Colman is a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to watching her career post-Broadchurch. This time, Season 3 investigates a rape. Because of the nature of the crime, the series focuses most of its attention on gender and a woman’s place in the world. There are lots to digest and consider. And in the middle of it all, Danny’s murder from Season 1 finally finds, if not some closure, a bit of peace for his parents and siblings. Jodie Whittaker (the new Doctor Who) and Andrew Buchan share outstanding acting moments as Danny’s estranged parents Beth and Mark Latimer. Heavy stuff. The beauty of the landscape helps temper the seriousness of this crime drama. I’m leaving Broadchurch with a 4 out of 5 for Season 3.

Read Reel Charlie’s review of Broadchurch: Season 1.
Read Reel Charlie’s review of Broadchurch: Season 2.


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.

Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic

November 28, 2017

I loved Barbra Streisand when I was young. Then I went through a period of my life where I didn’t listen to her music for a long time. When Spotify rolled around a few years ago, I rediscovered the magic and fell back in love again with her exquisite voice. So for me personally, the new Netflix concert tour, Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic doesn’t quite live up to the original recordings. I’m certainly not criticizing Barbra for performing. I think she sounds amazing at her age. I would simply prefer to listen to the originals when her voice was truly a powerhouse. The concert felt a bit tepid to me. Substantial but tepid. And her face work. I wonder if it was temporary work and not permanent? I hope so. I’d like to see these performers with some wrinkles to prove they’ve paid their dues. Meanwhile, I will love Barbra Streisand’s recordings and say I only got through half of this concert. Still it’s Streisand, so 3 out of 5.

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.

Major Female Directors (Barb’s Lists)

November 26, 2017

Mira Nair directing

My good friend Barbara – known online as Uncle Barb helped me formulate my love and appreciation for cinema at her store Alternative Videos of Woodstock (NY). “As a proprietor of a bookstore and then a video shop, Uncle Barb spent years informing herself about books and films, especially those relevant to the LGBTQ community.”

I miss our daily interactions on film and life. Phone, email and text are fine, but no substitute for facial expressions and the sound of laughter. Barb sent me a series of reply emails in response to my list of great directors on my birthday post this year. I loved the lists so much, I asked her if I could repost. Here they are with comments from me taken directly from our email correspondence.

Major Female Directors – Barb’s Choice:

Jane Campion Top of the Lake Angel at My Table Holy Smoke Sweetie
Liz Garbus What Happened, Miss Simone? The Farm: Angola, USA Girlhood
Deepa Mehta Fire Earth Water
Gillian Armstrong Charlotte Gray Oscar & Lucinda Mrs. Soffel
Sally Potter YES Orlando
Julie Taymor Titus Across the Universe Frida
Barbara Kopple Shut Up & Sing Wild Man Blues Harlan County, USA
Lina Wertmũller Swept Away Seven Beauties Love & Anarchy Ciao,Professore!
Gurinder Chadha What’s Cooking Bend It Like Beckham Bhaji on the Beach
Mira Nair Monsoon Wedding Salaam Bombay Mississippi Masala

(Reel Charlie’s comments: This is an outstanding list. I would say yes to most of this list for me personally. My only hesitation is Julie Taymor. I thought Frida was fine, but the other two I can’t remember watching. Maybe I need to revisit. I’ve never seen a Lina Wertmuller. Shudder.)

Second Tier List:

Jamie Babbit But I’m a Cheerleader
Niki Caro Whale Rider Zookeepers Wife
Mary Harron I Shot Andy Warhol
Marleen Gorris A Question of Silence Antonia’s Line
Nisha Ganatra Chutney Popcorn Cake
Patricia Rozema I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing Mansfield Park Into the Forest
Maggie Greenwald Songcatcher Ballad of Little Jo
Lisa Gornick Do I Love You? Tick Tock Lullaby Book of Gabrielle
Lisa Cholodenko High Art The Kids Are All Right Laurel Canyon

(Reel Charlie’s comments: Worship But I’m a Cheerleader. Holds up so well. Should watch Whale Rider again, remember adoring it. Enjoyed I Shot Andy Warhol. Still love Chutney Popcorn – think of it as a great date movie. LOVED Songcatcher – another movie from AV era. LOVE Lisa Gornick. Love Lisa Cholondenko’s High Art.)

Women Director’s to Watch:

Kelly Reichardt
Greta Gerwig (AO Scott called her new film Lady Bird, ‘the perfect film’)
Patty Jenkins (Monster & the new Wonder Woman)
Miranda July

Many directors seem to be working in tv and on series instead of films, Jamie Babbit and Lea Poole for example.

(Reel Charlie’s comments: These are great lists, thank you! Love Greta Gerwig’s writing in Frances Ha and her acting in 20th Century Women. Looking forward to seeing Lady Bird. Lots of buzz around it. Yes to Jamie Babbit – I see her credit often on great series work.)

Want gender equality? Learn more from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.
Support Women Makes Movies.

Check out Reel Charlie’s Gender and Lesbian category archives for more female driven films.

%d bloggers like this: