Archive for the ‘Independent Film’ Category

‘Paper Boys,’ ‘Gay Husbands’ and 8 other streaming gay series to binge now (Queerty)

May 17, 2018

Web series are a great way to binge quickly through a series and discover new talent along the way. Usually web series episodes last anywhere from 3-20 minutes. Think short films but instead – short television. Queerty hunts down 8 gay series to watch. Check out YouTube and Vimeo for more series of all kinds. From Queerty,

The advent of the streaming age opened up a whole new catalog of film and television content, and an even wider audience to view it. Naturally, we are ahead of the curve with not one, not two, but three specialized streaming services focusing specifically on queer film and television and getting said content to the community. Meanwhile, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video are also generating reams of first-rate queer-friendly content.

Revry, Dekkoo and World of Wonder Plus have also opened the door to a new generation of creators who finally have the platform and budget to produce series too incendiary for network audiences.

Read more at Queerty.

Some web series Reel Charlie has reviewed over the years:
Go-Go Boy Interupted
The Outs
Stupid Idiots

And perhaps my favorite web series, The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo. Wickedly funny. One final word: Freckle.


100 Men

May 2, 2018

Fascinating documentary currently streaming on Netflix, 100 Men chronicles the ever-changing way gay men look at sex and love through the eyes of filmmaker Paul Oremland’s (Like It Is) list of favorite men. The personal becomes political and historical as Oremland tracks down as many former partners as he can attempting to interview these men about what sex and love has meant to them and how it has evolved with the advent of various political strides during their lifetimes in first world countries around the globe. From the innocence of his experiences as a young man, to the horror of the Thatcher era in Britain coupled with the AIDS crisis, to falling in love for the first time, to finding a long-term partner, to navigating monogamy vs open relationships, to strides in battling HIV and equality for LGBT people, 100 Men takes an intimate look at the life of one man and how that microcosm mirrors the world we live in. At times simple and unsophisticated, Oremland creates an accessible and deeply honest portrayal of an openly gay man and the men he has loved and lusted after during the entirety of his life. Beautiful, celebratory, and kind, 100 Men acts as an archive for a generation of gay men living through the best of times and the worst of times and finding a way to follow their bliss. 5 out of 5.

Watch the trailer for 100 Men on YouTube.

You Should Be Buying DVDs Instead Of Relying On Netflix (The Concourse)

April 29, 2018

Bravo to Concourse writer, Shawn Cooke for the courage to say what I’ve been thinking and occasionally saying here on Reel Charlie. From The Concourse,

There’s really no good reason why DVD ownership isn’t in vogue in the same way that owning records is. On a practical level, DVDs are much easier to box up and move than vinyl, and you can even get one of those big leather-bound CD cases if the boxes are too much.

The best part might be that you don’t have to scroll through endless screens of middling content for something to watch if you already own, say, 50 of your favorites. You just walk over and put your selection into your DVD or Blu-ray player. (If you don’t have one of those, they now cost like $40.)

I’m sure most will disagree with Shawn and me. The tens of thousands of streaming choices should be good enough. And if you really want to watch something that’s not included with your monthly subscriptions, platforms like Amazon give you digital rent or own access to dive deeper for better content. Personally that works most of the time, but certainly not all the time. If you look at my Director list (right-hand column of the blog), you’ll see international and independent directors not easily found on subscription platforms or digital rent/own. Filmmakers such as Derek Jarman, Eytan Fox, Ferzan Ozpetek, Glenn Gaylord, Ingrid Jungermann, John Greyson, Lisa Gornick, Ousame Sembene, Pedro Almodover, Rikki Beadle-Blair, Sarah Polley, and Ventura Pons. Which is why I own films on DVD and Blu-ray from most of these directors. It’s a delicious combination of classic, comfort food, iconic, and personal.

Read the full article on The Concourse.
A glimpse of my own modest disk collection:

Amazon Prime Video Getting 60-Plus LGBTQ Films From Outfest (Variety)

April 23, 2018

From Variety,

Amazon’s Prime Video is now streaming 58 official-selection feature films from Outfest LGBTQ film festivals — with six more coming soon — available to Prime members at no additional cost.

The films were published to Prime Video directly by filmmakers or rights holders through Amazon’s Prime Video Direct self-publishing program, which lets content owners earn royalties based on customer viewing time.

The titles include: comedy “G.B.F.” (pictured above), the 2013 Outfest Los Angeles closing night film; “A Sinner In Mecca,” winner of the 2015 Outfest Grand Jury Award for documentary; “Open,” the first American film to win the Teddy jury prize at the Berlin Film Festival; drama “The Gymnast,” winner of 2006 Outfest Grand Jury Award for American narrative feature; comedy “Women Who Kill,” nominated for Film Independent’s 2018 best first screenplay; documentaries “Major!” and “Political Animals”; and cross-cultural/multigenerational dramedy “Baby Steps.”

“These are challenging times for many and reports of violence against LGBTQ citizens are on the rise,” said Christopher Racster, executive director of Outfest. “I still believe, though, in the power of our stories to change that narrative… It is a relationship like this with Prime Video Direct that will carry our stories across the widest network and reach the most individuals.”

Reel Charlie’s looking forward to Ingrid Jungermann’s Women Who Kill.
Read the full article on Variety.


Ram Dass, Going Home

April 22, 2018

Netflix produced a 30-minute documentary on spiritual leader Ram Dass as he approaches the end of his life. Full disclosure, I own a copy of Be Here Now and spent a big chunk of my 20’s and 30’s exploring alternative spirituality. The documentary however rubbed me the wrong way. Ram has ended up at a home in Maui where he has a cute, young, male attendant, other lily-white friends all of whom help him as he struggles post-stroke with mobility. He gets wheeled down to his in-ground swimming pool where a lift chair swings out, gently lowering him into the water for his exercise. I’m certainly not bemoaning his good fortune. When you’re talking spiritual enlightenment, you may want to mention your privilege. Part of what allows him to focus on his spiritual growth stems from the fact that every other issue in his life is taken care of because of his wealth. So there was that. Also, I couldn’t follow the thread of his voice over. I wasn’t sure if he was purposefully talking stream of consciousness or if he was at an age where not everything made sense. Either way, it was difficult to follow. I’m not particularly depressed over this. I wasn’t a huge fan of his. The book was pretty simple even when I read it as a young man. Simplicity can be a good thing. I certainly held on to it for a reason. I had no idea he was gay until a few years ago. It would have been nice to have known that fact as I looked for LGBT role models in the 80’s and early 90’s. But he is who he is. He is on his own path as we are each of us on our own path. 3 out of 5 for sentimentality.

Read what Ram Dass said about being gay at an Omega retreat in 1995.

Marjorie Prime

April 14, 2018

Marjorie Prime contains such a great premise: in the near future, an elderly woman struggling with dementia entertains a holographic computer program image of her late husband in his prime. I tuned into Marjorie Prime particularly for Lois Smith who stars as Marjorie. Lois is one of those iconic character actors who’s graced the screen from East of Eden (1955) to Five Easy Pieces (1970), to Resurrection (1980), to Dead Man Walking (1965), to  Minority Report (2002), to One Life to Live (2003), and to True Blood (2008). Sadly Marjorie Prime stumbles and stalls. Smith holds her own, but supporting actors Jon Hamm (as the holographic dead husband), Geena Davis (as her daughter), and Tim Robbins (as her son in-law) don’t seem to know what to do. It feels like there’s not enough direction for these actors to sink their teeth into their roles. Too bad because the idea is fascinating and Lois Smith deserves more leading roles in excellent films. 2.5 out of 5. Next.

Seeing Allred

April 9, 2018

I’ve been strongly attracted to the documentary, Seeing Allred since it first appeared on Netflix in February. Watching it this past weekend, I was not disappointed. The film effortlessly blends part history lesson, part resume, part call to action as Gloria Allred’s life and passion merge to remind us of the many women who came of age during second-wave feminism. Gloria’s steadfast march to justice and freedom for all women and minority populations and the sheer volume of work she’s accomplished in her life is nothing short of inspiring. Many know of Allred’s current focus on the Bill Cosby sexual abuse cases. The documentary traces her entire life starting with college and a baby at 20, through her early legal cases and into the present high-profile moment. Seeing Allred comes at a perfect time. She’s one of the main reasons #MeToo and #TimesUp happened this past year. Inspiring and remarkable, this is a must-see for anyone interested in the legal side of social justice and anyone who needs a refresher on who paved the way to get us here where we are today. Brava to Ms. Allred. 4 out of 5.

Hugh Grant and James Wilby on Maurice, Merchant Ivory’s gay love story | BFI Flare (YouTube)

April 7, 2018

From BFI,

The stars of James Ivory’s 1987 film, Maurice based on the posthumously published book by E.M. Forster, talk about how attitudes to on-screen LGBTQ+ love stories have changed – both among audiences and film crews – since they starred in the romance together. Maurice, which screened at this year’s BFI Flare, stars Wilby as Maurice Hall, a Cambridge university student who falls in love with Grant’s character at a time when homosexuality was still illegal.

So amazing it’s been 31 years since Maurice was released. Hands down my favorite film of all time. Thank you Hugh Grant, James Wilby, and Rupert Graves. And thank you Merchant Ivory. xo.

Watch the BFI clip on YouTube.
or watch it on BFI’s site.

Strong Island

April 5, 2018

Oscar-nominated documentary, Strong Island packs a mean social justice punch in all the right places. Filmmaker Yance Ford takes us on her family’s 20 year journey of grief over the murder of her brother William. Through Ford’s clear, calm, and gentle eye, we witness her mother’s grief, her sister’s grief, her brother’s grief, and her own questioning of a world where black men are expendable and best forgotten. Strong Island can be hard to watch, but it’s message is crucial reminding us of how much work is left to make the world safe and available to every human being. The intimacy queer filmmaker Ford creates becomes a testament to her continual attempt to make sense of her brother’s death. Or perhaps simply to discover understanding in the details. Heart breaking and necessary. 5 out of 5 for Strong Island.

The Florida Project

April 2, 2018

I wish I had seen Sean Baker’s (Tangerine) film, The Florida Project before the Oscars. I would have cheered it on. Baker’s gritty realism witnessed in his stunning Tangerine turns out not to be a flash in the pan. The filmmaker creates the most truthful films using a mixture of trained actors and newcomers which results in the most honest, realistic films I’ve seen in a long time. The Florida Project focuses on a group of people living week-by-week in a budget motel on a stretch of highway outside of Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL. Baker’s film casts an empathetic eye on those often most forgotten, especially the children. How these kids create their stunning performances is nothing short of its own magic. In-between the obvious issues of neglect and abject poverty, the occupants of The Magic Castle motel find joy and connection in an ordinary, everyday life. Baker creates complex, 3-dimensional characters who defy labels. Six year old Moonee is precocious one minute, terrible the next, and gleefully innocent and childlike after that. Her mother Hally mixes the worst of parenting with simple connected moments the best parent will envy. Motel manger Bobby played by Willem Dafoe shows deep concern and compassion under his gruff and depressed demeanor. What blossoms from the contradictions creates a beautiful film about the complexity of poverty and the ignorance of the haves for the have-nots.  What could be a depressing retread of all the things that are wrong with our rich/poor society ends up being a celebration of life. This mood helps us face the wrongs head on which makes the day after viewing this work of art all the more personal. Not one moment of preaching, Baker sprinkles a little sugar on a very dark topic allowing us a moment to calmly digest the enormity of the problem and think about what we can do to make the world better for Moonee and her gang. 5 out of 5.

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