Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category


September 1, 2018

Are you Team Notorious RBG? That’s code for do you love US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? The film RBG follows the life of this dynamic lawyer turned Justice from her early years at Cornell University, to her time prosecuting gender discrimination cases – she created the field of law, to her appointment by President Clinton becoming the second female Supreme Court Justice in history. Although the film follows a simple format, the content awes and inspires. Justice Ginsburg’s continuing legacy proves there’s still hope for America. I hope her health remains stable and her time on the bench out runs the current administration. 5 out of 5 for this historic documentary on a trail blazing, fearless, compassionate human being. We are a better country because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contribution.


Bobby Kennedy for President

June 6, 2018

Netflix four-part docuseries, Bobby Kennedy for President chronicles the political rise of JFK’s younger brother from campaigner, to the controversial appointment of him as his brother’s Attorney General, to the assassination of JFK, to his senate win, to his presidential race, and to his own tragic assassination. The series is good, but didn’t grab me enough to complete it. I needed to be in a different state of mind. It was well-assembled with compelling footage. Perhaps someday I’ll feel more interested in going back and finishing Bobby Kennedy for President. Meanwhile, 3 out of 5.

LGBT Film & Television History (updated for 2018)

April 6, 2018

Yesterday I spoke at my friend, Dr. Sally O’Driscoll’s EN 291: Gender & Sexuality in Film & Literature class at Fairfield University. This was my second year invited to do a unit on LGBT Film & Television History. The queer film dork in me gets so excited putting together this program. I literally spent hours and hours tweaking my presentation. This year, I tried to shift the focus from a decades’ march through the 100 years of film (students eyes glazing…) to themes and conversations with the decades briefly discussed for historical purpose. I hope this presentation captured their attention and piqued their interest on the importance of diversity in film and television. I’m happy to share this information via LinkedIn and SlideShare.

Discover the presentation on SlideShare:
LGBT Film & Television History (updated for 2018).

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

March 19, 2018

Robin Campillo’s French language film, BPM (Beats Per Minute) tells the story of Paris ACT-UP in the early 1990’s at the height of the AIDS epidemic just before the new medications became available which would save millions of lives worldwide. BPM is without a doubt the best feature film ever created focusing on the AIDS crisis. Perhaps it is because the filmmaker is 55 years old and was alive during the worse part of the epidemic. Campillo crafts a story filled with anger, activism, frustration, creativity, love and sex. Blended together, these elements tell the accurate story of what it was like – the immediacy of life during this pivotal moment in gay history. Activism was important as dancing which was important as sex which was important as community. BPM rightfully snagged six Cesar Awards (French Oscars), including best film, original script, male newcomer, supporting actor and music. BPM is a pitch perfect film with a cast of mostly young actors who lose themselves in their roles as activists fighting for their lives and the lives of the people they love. BPM is essential viewing. 5 out of 5 for this instant masterpiece.

BPM was released on disk, digital, and on-demand this past week.
Buy a copy at Wolfe Video and support lesbian owned and operated business.
Read Reel Charlie’s list of important feature films and documentaries on the subject of HIV and AIDS.


Versailles: Season 2

March 12, 2018

I made it through the first two episodes of Versailles: Season 2, the Canadian english language series based on the reign of Louis XIV. The first season was fun and soapy. I gave it a 3.5 out of 5. This second season simply didn’t hold my attention. Even the king’s gay brother, Philippe I, Duke of Orléans couldn’t make me continue with the series. For viewers who like their historical costume drama heavy on the soap and light on the serious, Versailles might be just right. I’m saying goodbye. It was fun while it lasted. 3 out of 5.

2018 César Awards: ‘BPM’ Wins Six, Including Best Film

March 4, 2018

On Oscar day 2018, I want to honor a French film which didn’t make the cut. BPM just won six César Awards including Best Picture. Césars are the French Oscars. The Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Film come from each country. Only one nomination cam be made per country. France indeed did the right thing and sent BPM over as their selection. The Oscar voters chose to ignore BPM and nominated films from Chile, Hungary, Lebanon, Russia, and Sweden. Those are all great countries.

I haven’t seen BPM yet. I have the DVD pre-orded from Wolfe Video. It’s scheduled for release in the U.S. on Tuesday so it should be in my mailbox any day now. I rarely assume I will love a film after reading the hype, but I am sure I will love BPM.

Read more about the film’s César wins on Indiewire.

NYC’s Film Forum Marquee Letters

February 19, 2018

Own a piece of NYC film history. From Film Forum,

For the first time since 1980, we are updating our marquee as part of our expansion and renovation. Hundreds of well-worn marquee letters are being retired after spelling out some of the greatest movies of the past 37 years. Fortunately for you, this means you can own a piece of NYC film history!

Spell out your or your cinephile loved ones’ initials, name, favorite movie, curse word – up to you! Just $5 per letter.

Letters are 3-7 inches wide and 67/8 inches tall. Subject to availability.

All proceeds benefit Film Forum, a non-profit art house cinema since 1970. 
Click for more information and to purchase letters.

Victoria and Abdul

December 26, 2017

The wonderful British film director Stephen Frears creates another beautiful film, Victoria and Abdul based on the relationship between Queen Victoria and her Munshi (spiritual teacher) Abdul Karim. Frears treated us to such classics as The Queen, Mrs. Henderson Presents, High Fidelity, The Grifters, Prick Up Your Ears, and My Beautiful Laundrette. He continues to weave his charm with the delightful Victoria and Abdul. Often these biopics have no sense of humor. Frears injects humor throughout and it is only in the end where Victoria’s death brings sadness and chaos to Karim’s life. Let’s face it, Judi Dench could read the phone book and I’d sit there watching. Ali Fazal is effervescent as Abdul holding his own with Dame Judi. Victoria and Abdul recreates a bizarrely sweet moment in British monarchy history. I don’t care how accurate the film was, it made me laugh and held my interest throughout. 4 out of 5 for the luminous Queen and her Munshi.

Viceroy’s House

September 17, 2017

Gurinder Chadha’s (What’s Cooking, Bend it Like Beckham) personal film about the Partition of India during the 1940’s might be a bit light on the savagery of history, but it’s gorgeous to watch unfold. Chadha dedicates the film to her grandmother who was separated from her family during the Partition and miraculously found her way back to them. So if the film sometimes veers into Celine Dion crescendos, I give the director a pass since she’s telling the story from her very personal perspective of what the independence did to her own family. Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson play the Viceroy Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten perfectly. The costuming, sets (how did they manage to recreate the palace?), location shooting, and interiors all picture perfect as we’ve come to expect from U.K. and Indian productions. But the real stars of this film are Huma Qureshi and Manish Dayal as the Shakespearean lovers, Aalia and Jeet. Their story transforms the timeline from cold and political to deeply personal. Mr. Dayal can be difficult to watch at times because he is so alarmingly handsome, you, ok I forget to pay attention to the story. In the end, viewers of harsh, war-torn stories might be a taken aback by the simplicity and niceties of the film. I found the balance between the cruel world and Chadha’s modern lush creation satisfying. 3.5 out of 5.

For a taste of how Gurinder Chadha interprets the American Thanksgiving holiday, check out her Reel Charlie favorite What’s Cooking.

Jackie: A Tale of Two Sisters

July 1, 2017

Well executed 44-minute documentary, Jackie: A Tale of Two Sisters chronicles the lives and intersection of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis with her sister Lee Radziwill. Lots of great archival footage and photos. Wanted more but for under an hour the producers told the story of the two sisters in a concise, clear to understand format. 3.5 out of 5.

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