Archive for the ‘Independent Film’ Category

Love, Simon (trailer)

December 4, 2017

Have you read Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Check out my review on Goodreads,

Loved Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda! Easy, feel good YA novel about a 16 year-old boy in the suburbs of Atlanta coming out as gay. These stories warm my heart and make me happy LGBT teens today can find a voice in literature. Great writing and strong characters make Simon stand out in the crowd. The formulaic plot doesn’t hinder – instead makes it easy to breeze through this beautiful book. Becky Albertalli makes Simon 3-dimensional while balancing a light and fun read.

So they’ve adapted the book into a film called, Love, Simon. The first trailer is out and it looks lovely. Check it out.


4th Man Out

December 2, 2017

4th Man Out continues a new, positive gay coming out film sub-genre. Instead of the family and friends struggling, hating, or being horrified, they do what real people do (or should do) and support their friend. 4th Man Out centers around a group of four adult men in their 20’s who’ve been besties forever. One of them finally comes out. At first there’s awkwardness, then the comedy begins. And so we usher in the Gay Dude Buddy genre. Gude? He’s just a regular guy. He’s a mechanic. He farts when he eats nachos. He just so happens to be gay. I like the genre. I like the film. We need more of these films. His buds support him, his parents support him. His mother chastises him for not sharing all of his life with her for the past 10 years. That’s the only thing she’s upset about after his coming out. 4th Man Out‘s sweet, it’s endearing. It’s feel-good, Friday date night, easy peasy fun. 3.5 out of 5.

(BPM) Beats Per Minute (trailer)

December 1, 2017

I couldn’t let World AIDS Day 2017 go by without mentioning the brand-new French film, (BPM) Beats Per Minute. It’s the film I’m most excited about seeing this year.

Indiewire calls it “the Most Authentically Queer Film of the Awards Season.”
France selected it as their entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards this year.
Glenn Kenny at Roger Ebert’s site said, “Even if you consider yourself reasonably well-versed in the history, “BPM” is a kind of wake-up call, a cinematic alarm against complacency.”
Rotten Tomatoes gives Beats Per Minute (BPM) a 98% rating.
Check out BPM’s official site.
Watch the BPM trailer on YouTube. 
BPM screens this Sunday, December 3, 2017 in Hartford, CT, a co-presentation with REAL ART WAYS and Out Film CT.

Me Him Her

November 29, 2017

Me Him Her looked like a potentially cute gay male with straight best friend film. Watching the first half reduced my enthusiasm to a sigh. Filmed in 2015, the film relied on too many worn out tropes – the famous actor who can’t quite figure out how to come out of the closet, the goofy straight best friend who ventures out to save the day, the rebounding lesbian who ends up sleeping with said goofy straight best friend even though he doesn’t even remotely resemble a woman. Parts of it tried hard, parts were cringe-worthy. The bathroom fantasy club scene in particular rang homophobic to me. To be honest, I couldn’t finish it. There was something there – a kernel of potential, maybe even more. It simple never came together. 2 out of 5 for Me Him Her. Next.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

November 23, 2017

I certainly have many things to be thankful for this year – great friends, an amazing family, a supportive and loving non-partner/partner (my bex, Dennis), a fantastic job in a career that helps the disenfranchised and people at risk, wonderful co-workers, a healthy body that responds to exercise, doctors and medical staff who keep me humming after all these post AIDS crisis years, and a brand-new 7 year-old puppy girl who will come live with us on Saturday.

But this year has not been without struggle. Now more than ever it’s important I keep myself glass half full. There is so much to do if we are to make this country and our world a reflection of decency, kindness, love and inclusion.

Today is U.S. Thanksgiving. Many of you will be home with family and friends. I wish you a calm, happy, foodie day. And afterwards, if you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving movie, consider What’s Cooking. It’s very American and very ethnic. Which is very American. Now more than ever.

Read Reel Charlie’s review of the perfect Thanksgiving film: What’s Cooking.
What’s Cooking is currently streaming on Amazon with a Tribeca Shortlist subscription. Or rent it digitally for $3 from Amazon, Apple, or Vudu. Or get the DVD from Netflix or your library.

The Way, Way Back

November 13, 2017

Not sure why I never initially reviewed the delightful and poignant The Way, Way Back when I first saw it. Watching it a second time sealed my enjoyment for this beautiful indie film. Starring Liam James as Duncan, the awkward 14 year-old whose mother drags him along to a summer beach house with her pushy boyfriend and his annoyed-at-life daughter. Duncan obviously has trouble fitting in until he finds an unlikely friend in Owen, manager of the local water park. Duncan sneaks off to work at the park resulting in finding his voice to speak out to his mother, her boyfriend, and begin finding his way in the world. Truly remarkable cast including Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, and Allison Janney who steals every scene she’s in. She must have had a blast playing this role. The Way, Way Back is a feel-good movie with heart and intelligence. 4 out of 5.


November 12, 2017

Now that I’ve presented three of my favorite John Sayles’ films in a series for the library, I wanted to discover some of his films I’ve yet to watch. First up: Honeydripper. The action of Sayles’ 2007 creation takes place in 1950 Alabama centered on a fledgling blues club for African-Americans. All the familiar Sayles’ ingredients are present: a large, interconnected ensemble cast, social issues, and attention to script detail. Honeydripper also includes a story firmly rooted in the past. And a kick-ass musical score. This is an easy film to watch laced with everyday people trying to figure out how to survive and find some happiness along the way. 4 out of 5 for Honeydripper.

Donnie Darko at the Library

November 10, 2017

I walked past a shelf at work today and saw this book sitting out. I immediately thought Donnie Darko must have been here.


John Sayles’ Films: Chronology and Availability

November 9, 2017

I created a handout for the American Independent Directors Film Series at the library. It lists all of John Sayles’ films in order of most recent to oldest. It also lists all the places you can buy, rent, or watch the films including Amazon, DVD/Blu-ray purchase, hoopla (library), Hulu, (our) Library’s physical collection, and Netflix.

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