Archive for the ‘Independent Film’ Category

Frameline 41: Genre Queer

June 14, 2017

San Francisco’s amazing LGBTQIAA yearly film festival turns 41 in 2017. This line-up is as always fantastic. Information on dates and links to Frameline’s site below. I’ve also listed the film titles I’m most interested in watching when they come to a streaming service near me:

Frameline 41: Genre Queer
San Francisco, CA
June 15-25, 2017

100 Men
After Louie
Bayard & Me
Rusalka
The Colour of His Hair
Lavender Scare
Center of My World
My Friend Dahmer

Eight Men Out

June 12, 2017

I’m screening a number of older John Sayles’ films for a Fall project I’m developing at the library. First up is Eight Men Out, the 1988 film about the The Chicago White Sox players who decide to throw the World Series of 1919. Featuring a classic Sayles ensemble cast including John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn, D. B. Sweeney, Studs Terkel and even John Sayles himself, Eight Men Out explores the complicated relationship between sports players and owners in the early 20th Century who didn’t appropriately compensate the players for their talent and draw. One of the great signatures of a John Sayles film is his effective use of a massive cast. My only complaint was the confusion of having a lot of young white male actors in baseball uniforms and a lot of older white male actors in suits and hats. I didn’t connect individually with many of the secondary characters. Still it felt like a John Sayles film. And absolutely worth the view if you’re a sports fan, especially historical baseball. 3.5 out of 5.

Antarctica: Ice and Sky

June 8, 2017

Watched the Luc Jaquet (March of the Penguins) documentary on the life of French glaciologist Claude Lorius, credited as the first scientist to discover evidence of climate change. The film is not a political or activist work. It is a quiet film about Lorius’ many expeditions and his findings. I felt the film could have used more editing. Still it is important to chronicle this man’s achievements. 3 out of 5.

Although the doc appears to be in French during the credits, the film is actually in English.

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.

Maurice at The Quad (NYC)

May 16, 2017

NYC peeps!

Maurice
Opens Friday

New York Premiere of 30th Anniversary Restoration in 4K

A gay art cinema trailblazer about love and loss, Merchant-Ivory’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel follows a young man’s (James Wilby) struggle to come to terms with his sexual identity after his first love (Hugh Grant) abandons him for a respectable marriage.

With James Ivory in person following the 6:40pm screenings this Friday and Saturday
Reel Charlie’s got his tickets for Saturday night. See you there.
Purchase tickets.

Third Man Out

May 13, 2017

Sometimes it can be painful writing reviews. There are certain films I simply don’t want to bash or dismiss. Third Man Out is one of them. In the mid-2000’s, HereTV produced four indie films based on the Donald Strachey Mysteries written by Richard Stevenson. Stevenson’s written 15 Strachey novels. They are fun, easy-to-read mystery novels based in Albany, NY featuring an out gay male private eye. Third Man Out was the first of four novels HereTV produced directed by Ron Oliver and starring Chad Allen and Sebastian Spence as Donald and his life partner Timmy. Watching the film a dozen years later, I found myself cringing in places and definitely wanting more. I love Chad Allen. Although he’s left acting, his thirty-year career highlights include Reel Charlie indie favorites, Save Me and Hollywood, je t’aime. I wish Third Man Out had felt as good as those two gems. But in truth it fell flat. Perhaps the series got better as time went on. Not sure I will investigate further, but lovers of murder mysteries and gay male indie film might want to give them a try. 2 out of 5. Next.

Amazon Acquires Rights to 40 Films From SXSW, Paying $1.9 Million-Plus in Cash Bonuses (Variety)

May 11, 2017

from Variety,

Amazon has swept up streaming rights to 40 films that screened the 2017 SXSW Film Festival — including “Most Beautiful Island,” the Grand Jury Award winner for narrative feature — saying it will pay out at least $1.9 million in upfront cash bonuses for the titles.

The ecommerce giant snagged the SXSW selections through Amazon Video Direct’s Film Festival Stars program, designed to be a streamlined, no-haggle way for independent filmmakers to get paid for digital distribution. Amazon acquired 15 films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival under the program; it extended a similar offer to entrants in the Tribeca Film Festival and plans to take it to the Toronto International Film Festival, too.

Among the 40 titles that opted in are festival award-winners “Most Beautiful Island,” a gritty drama starring and written and directed by Ana Asensio (pictured above) about an undocumented immigrant struggling to get by in NYC; “The Light of the Moon,” SXSW Audience Award for narrative feature; and “The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin,” SXSW Audience Award for documentary spotlight. Other films include “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong,” special jury recognition for best ensemble; “I Am Another You,” special jury recognition for excellence in documentary storytelling; and “Maineland,” special jury recognition for excellence in observational cinema.

Very excited to see the Armistead Maupin documentary as well as many other films.

Reed the full article on Variety.

‘Maurice’ returns to the big screen 30 years later (LA Blade)

April 29, 2017

My favorite film of all-time, Maurice returns to theaters after 30 years. From the Los Angeles Blade,

It’s been 30 years since “Maurice,” the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel of gay love, made its theatrical debut.

A lot has happened across that time span, not the least of it being the rapid gains LGBT rights have made, climaxed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage. Two entire generations of gay men suffered the ravages of a deadly AIDS epidemic. In that context, it is striking to see the film again, given all we have achieved since its release.

On the screen many gay love stories have come in “Maurice’s” wake, the most famous being the closeted sheepherder saga “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). But that was a gay love story with an unhappy ending. Those with happy ones like “Maurice” include “Beautiful Thing” (1996), a tale of gay lower middle-class British teenagers, and “Weekend” (2011), about an adult pair of British bohemians. But none have quite the special charge of “Maurice,” stemming from its lush setting and aristocratic-commoner breeding.

E.M. Forster (1879-1970) has long been acknowledged as one of Great Britain’s greatest writers. But he was largely the subject of academic study until the 1980s, when film adaptations of his work made him popular.

Cohen Media Group has re-mastered 30 films by the legendary Merchant Ivory Productions, including Maurice, which is set for release in select theaters this month.

Read the full article at Los Angeles Blade.
Read Reel Charlie’s review of Maurice.

I’m not thrilled with the new 4K poster. It should have James Wilby front and center with Rupert Graves next to him and Hugh Grant fuzzed out in the background. Hopefully the Blu-ray will have better cover art.

Frozen River

April 23, 2017

Watched the beautiful and haunting Frozen River a second time starring Melissa Leo, one of my favorite character actors. Released in 2008, Frozen River tells the desperate story of two women – one white, one Native American who live on the New York/Canada border and stumble into smuggling people from Canada into the U.S. in order to make fast money to help take care of their children. The barren, frozen water which separates the two countries acts as an obvious metaphor for the lives of the women as they struggle against insurmountable odds to thrust their families forward in a positive direction. Directed by Courtney Hunt, Frozen River proves the perfect example of outstanding indie filmmaking. A simple script full of twists, turns, and complications with a messy yet satisfying ending. Filmed entirely in upstate New York in and around Plattsburgh. 5 out of 5 for Melissa Leo and Frozen River.

Beatriz at Dinner | Official Trailer (You Tube)

April 14, 2017

Rarely does a trailer make me insane with excitement for a film. Anticipation for Beatriz at Dinner now teems through my body urging me to find the first local screening. Billed as the first film of the Trump era, Beatriz at Dinner stars Salma Hayek and features a stunning supporting cast including John Lithgow, Chloë Sevigny, Connie Britton, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and David Warshofsky. Directed by Miguel Arteta (Getting On) from a script by Mike White (Chuck & Buck, Enlightened), Beatriz at Dinner promises to be the first great thinkers film for 2017.

Watch the trailer for Beatriz at Dinner on YouTube.


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