Archive for the ‘Hispanic-American’ Category

The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson

October 15, 2017

David France’s (How to Survive a Plague) sophomore documentary effort, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson creates an essential conversation. Unfortunately the film meanders in unknown directions. Too bad because the focus of trans people of color, disenfranchised and destitute warrants examination and solutions. How do marginalized people travel in the world? How do we help others out of poverty, homelessness, and a myriad of other issues which keep them stuck in a bad place? How do we empower people while honoring their individuality? France covers all of that. But the focus on the film vacillates between an amateur sleuth story of Johnson’s friend Patricia trying desperately to uncover the truth of her friend’s death, a modern story of a trans woman’s murder, and the chaotic world of Marsha’s friend, Sylvia Rivera. Not sure how a film that features a person’s name can become so convoluted during editing. Watching it proved frustrating knowing that a better focused film would have brought the viewer into a world which desperately needs our respect and support. 3 out of 5 for the film.

Find out more about transgender issues and how you can help:
National Center for Transgender Equality 
Sylvia Rivera Law Project


The Brother from Another Planet

July 23, 2017

John Sayles’ 1984 indie film The Brother from Another Planet blends the best elements of several genres using a science fiction overlay to tell the story of race, class, and immigration and the many ways these issues frighten the dominant culture. With now historic outdoor scenes of Harlem in the early 80’s along with many trips on the A train north to 125th Street, New York City becomes synonymous with the issues of the time. Location shooting on the streets, in crowded tenements, in dreary offices, and a neighborhood bar set the ambiance of this classic indie film. Sayles’ long-term life and work partner Maggie Renzi produced and has a small role in the film as one of the office workers. Sayles wrote, directed, and edited his fourth film using funds he received from a 1983 MacArthur Fellows award. He even has a role along with one of his regular actors David Strathairn as they play the men in black seeking the alien who escaped from his imprisoned planet. Other John Sayles’ regulars include Joe Morton in the title role playing the alien who never utters a word, Bill Cobbs as a reminiscing bar patron, and Tom Wright as another frustrated office worker. The Brother from Another Planet stands out as a snapshot of the early 80’s and an excellent example of the creativity indie films can produce. 4 out of 5.

The Wire turns 15

June 4, 2017

Happy 15th to The Wire which premiered on HBO June 2, 2002. Congrats to creator David Simon and the fantastic crew and actors who created legendary characters Bunk, McNulty, Kima, Bubbles, Lester, Stringer, Avon, Ziggy, Prop Joe, Omar (sigh), Bunny, Stanfield (shudder), Clay Davis (shiiittt), and so many others. If you’ve been meaning to find out what all the buzz is about, now is the time. If you haven’t visited Baltimore recently, revisit The Wire which continues to be one of the best television shows ever created in America. The Wire streams on HBO Now and Amazon Prime.

Reel Charlie reviews:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5

Strike a Pose

May 28, 2017

An honest and raw examination surrounding the aftermath of fame. Strike a Pose follows former back-up dancers to Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition Tour who were also in her film, Truth or Dare. Fame is a tricky experience to deal with, at least from my distant observation. Fame can empower you, fame can indulge you, fame can consume you. And fame can give you the worst crash of your life. So we hear stories of the seven male dancers who became symbols of freedom and self-expression at a very early age. Something none of them signed up for. What they did sign up for was to dance and dance they did. But the film of the tour, Truth or Dare exposed their personal lives. Most of the dancers were fine with that, a few were not. After the tour, three of the dancers sued Madonna. One of them died from AIDS. Two of them are long-term HIV survivors. All of them have struggled with how to live in the world after riding that magic carpet with her Madgesty. For those who hunger for more than superficial glamour, Strike a Pose provides a truthful glimpse into the lives of these talented men. 4 out of 5.

Orange is the New Black | Season 5 Official Trailer (YouTube)

May 11, 2017

I’m taking my time absorbing the second season of Sense8 slowly and methodically. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer for Season 5 of Orange is the New Black.

Orange is the New Black: Season 5 (teaser trailer)

February 11, 2017

Fifteen seconds of teasing from Litchfield Prison and Season 5 of the luscious Orange is the New Black. Release date: June 9, 2017. Watch the teaser on YouTube.

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You

January 18, 2017

normal-lear-just-another-version-of-youBrilliant documentary on television writer/producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude). Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You traces the pioneer from his earliest days as a writer for television in the 1950’s to his enormous success with legendary sitcoms in the 1970’s to his continued work in his 90’s revamping One Day at a Time for Netflix last year. Through it all as with most long-living success stories, he managed to repair his absence from his family during the heyday with years of quality time in his later life. Such an American treasure. This is a must-see. 5 out of 5.

Read the PBS American Masters’ profile of the documentary, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.

One Day at a Time (2017): Season 1

January 14, 2017

one-day-at-a-time-s1Wasn’t sure what to expect from the Norman Lear reboot, One Day at a Time on Netflix. The new show continues to focus on a single mom raising two kids. This time instead of being a white family, they are Cuban-American living in Miami with their abuela. If you can get past the dopiness of the classic sit-com formula, or if that’s exactly what you need on a crashed out Friday night after a long work week, you’ll be rewarded with some incredible attention to social issues in-between the laughs and the groans. Yes, Rita Moreno’s abuela character, Lydia is a modern-day version of J.J. from Good Times. But today Lear (he’s executive producing the show in his 90’s!)  turns the stereotype on its head and uses Lydia to draw in the viewers for comedy and then even Lydia joins in on the more serious subject matter. It’s genius using this tried and true formula to dig deeper. One Day at a Time tackles immigration, racism, diversity preference, parent sex talks, sexism, veterans issues including PTSD, and even the L in LGBT! At 30 minutes per episode, the show is easily digestible, has some very funny moments and shows a lot of familial love. Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) showing off her excellent comedy chops stars as Penelope the mom with Moreno, and Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz as Machado’s feisty kids. Rounding off the cast is Todd Grinnell as a modern-day Schneider, this time around incarnated as handsome and hipster with a trust fund, an amazing set of teeth, but still goofy as the original. One Day at a Time really grew on me. I have a soft spot in my heart for warm family dramas (The Fosters). Especially when they feature realistic LGBT characters. 3.5 out of 5 for the brand-new One Day at a Time from the king of comedies, Norman Lear.

HIV Criminalization: Masking Fear and Discrimination (short)

December 22, 2016


From The Sero Project and producer Mark S. King (My Fabulous Disease), HIV Criminalization: Masking Fear and Discrimination documentary short film (11 minutes) on HIV criminalization in the United States. A must-see for anyone interested in law, healthcare, HIV activism, discrimination and current information on the HIV virus. Thanks Mark for sharing this on your blog so I could find it. Outstanding work. 5 out of 5.

Watch HIV Criminalization: Masking Fear and Discrimination on YouTube.

Update: Court Rules Michael Johnson HIV Criminalization Conviction Was ‘Trial-by-Ambush’


December 13, 2016

maestroEssential, historical 2003 documentary Maestro on the birth of the underground club scene, Paradise Garage, Disco and House Music in New York City featuring DJs Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Frankie Knuckles, Francis Grasso, Nicky Siano, Little Louie Vega, Jellybean Benitez, and Francois Kevorkian among others. Full of first person accounts from the surviving DJs as well as former staff and people like me who just came to dance makes this documentary rich with intimate detail. A must-watch for anyone interested in the birth of dance music, NYC nightlife, or LGBTQ people of color. 4 out of 5 for Maestro.

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