Archive for the ‘Independent Film’ Category

Maurice at The Quad (NYC)

May 16, 2017

NYC peeps!

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.

Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo

April 10, 2017

Mesmerized by the new French gay male indie film, Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo released streaming and on disk this week. What starts out as a sizzling opening scene in a Paris sex club turns into a night of tenderness, facing fear and joyful hope. Complexities exist in tandem with achingly natural acting, the backdrop of a beautiful moonlit Paris and an intelligent script that isn’t afraid to leap from naked bodies to responsible follow-up to free-spirited longing to unabashed proclamations. Geoffrey Couët and François Nambot play Théo & Hugo guiding their characters through a frenetic evening of passion, and a future full of possibilities. Filmmakers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau (The Adventures of Felix) continue to explore modern love in a young gay man’s life.  Full disclosure: the sex in this film is real. I’ve watched nearly every feature film that’s blurred this line in the past 15 years. Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo makes it seem so natural. With so much Internet porn at our fingertips (literally), it makes sense for some filmmakers to explore this boundary. Certainly not necessary in every film, but it worked here creating an intimacy to the story that would have been otherwise difficult to achieve. I love Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo. I love the risks it takes, full of passion, caring, and tender, sweet love. 5 out of 5.

Treme: Season 3 (take 2)

March 30, 2017

Just can’t get enough of New Awlins. Click on the image below and read my updated review of Treme: Season 3.

Hap and Leonard: Season 1 Ep. 1

March 26, 2017

Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire), James Purefoy and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) star in Sundance TV’s Hap and Leonard. Because of Michael Kenneth Williams’ involvement in this series, I had to give it a chance. I find this sub-genre becoming a thing: quirky, rural, period piece with small town characters involved in illegal and/or violent activities. Is this something hipster? I’m not exactly sure why it’s become a thing. Did Twin Peaks start it? Leonard is gay and Hap doesn’t care one bit. And it’s the 1980’s. So certainly a twist on the buddy story. I found the series to be lacking and the amount of violence gratuitous. I’m certainly glad Williams has continued to find quality work since striking gold as Omar in The Wire. But I don’t think I need to watch any more of Hap and Leonard. 2.5 out of 5.

Lovely & Amazing

March 15, 2017

There’s something diabolical about Nicole Holofcener‘s 2001 film, Lovely & Amazing. It truly is the embodiment of “rich white people’s problems” I’ve ever seen. The characters are whiny, self-absorbed, narcissistic. One of them is even mean. Really mean. And they have no concept of their privilege. Still I love this film. I believe it is a testament to Holofcener’s outstanding conceptualization of the story and her direction of the incredible cast including Brenda Blethyn, Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer, and Raven Goodwin. I’ve seen most of Holofcener’s work in film and on television. Lovely & Amazing is some of her best work. She really nails dialogue between women. Being from a matriarchal family, I have spent my life witnessing the complexities of mother/daughter relationships. Lovely & Amazing puts the worst and the best of them out there for the world to see. The film holds up beautifully after 16 years. 5 out of 5.

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