Archive for the ‘Location’ Category

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.



Babylon Berlin: Season 1

March 10, 2018

Season 1 of the Netflix imported German historical drama, Babylon Berlin landed this month in the U.S. making it the most expensive television series ever produced outside the United States. Created by Henk Handloegten, Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run, The Princess and the Warrior), and Achim von Borries, is it worth the cost? You bet. The series weaves a complicated and compelling story based on novels by Volker Kutscher. Taking place in 1929 during the Weimar Republic, Babylon Berlin follows police inspector Gereon Rath played by Volker Bruch, who has been transferred from the city of Cologne to Berlin, and aspiring police inspector Charlotte Ritter played by Liv Lisa Fries. Both actors embody their characters seamlessly and carry the show effortlessly. Babylon Berlin explores the intersection of traditional Weimar Germany with the rise of frustrated and dangerous voices including communists and Nazis. The take-away every other country in the world should learn from Germany is that the art coming out of this modern-day European power never downplays their past. Germans own their atrocities and don’t ever want to repeat them. Rath and Ritter finds themselves uncovering corruption within their own police force, probing for poisonous gas and gold in train yards, searching for murdered and missing communists, enjoying moments of bliss in nightclubs, and managing complicated family relations. Gereon Rath fills the role as outsider, unraveling the mystery along with the audience. He suffers silently from PTSD due to World War I trauma. Charlotte Ritter unravels the complicated journey a woman had to go to through in order to free herself from poverty and make a place in the world. Personally, Charlotte’s story ruled the series. Babylon Berlin‘s story and characters span every aspect of 1929 German society. Where it falters stems from too much money which makes one scene in particular way too Hollywood action film for my taste. But I can certainly forgive the transgression. I found the story captivating and confusing in the best of ways. Babylon Berlin made me think as well as enjoy – my favorite way to watch television. 4 out of 5 for this Netflix giant.

Note: Netflix presents the 16 episode arc as Season 1. When originally released in Germany, the 16 episodes were split into two seasons. So right now, we are wondering whether Netflix will produce a third season for Germany which would be our Season 2. Stay tuned.

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents “Vertigo”: A Special 60th Anniversary Event (Fathom Events)

March 7, 2018

Vertigo comes to the big screen! From Fathom Events,

Considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest cinematic achievements, Vertigo is a dreamlike thriller from the Master of Suspense. Set in San Francisco, the film creates a dizzying web of mistaken identity, passion and murder after an acrophobic detective (James Stewart) rescues a mysterious blonde (Kim Novak) from the bay and must unravel the secrets of the past to find the key to his future.

This 60th Anniversary event includes exclusive insight from TCM host Eddie Muller.

Click on the image below and find out where the closest theater is in your area showing this Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece.

Rita: Season 4

March 6, 2018

Season 4 of Reel Charlie’s second favorite (Borgen still #1) Danish series, Rita took a sharp right turn. Rita got a job in her old hometown, reacquainted herself with her high school best friend and contemplated setting down roots. With the exception of Hjørdis and Uffe, Season 4 leaves all of Rita’s kids, colleagues and fuck buddies behind.  But the biggest change comes in the form of time. The season travels back and forth between Rita’s teen years and present day. Tessa Hoder does an outstanding job as Rita in 1985. For me, parts of this worked and other parts didn’t. Certainly the change shook up the series. The producers took chances and that’s always to be commended. Personally I missed her kids, her love interests and her life back at her former school. Rita had no sex or love life in Season 4. The 8-episode arc spent most of the time watching her soul search attempting to find her place in the world. The big reveal in the seventh episode wasn’t much of a surprise to me. I guessed as much. It’s hard to imagine a singular event forever catapulting someone in a certain direction, but I have known people who experienced that in real life. Without giving away too much, I wanted more for Rita. A friend of mine who is a Young Adult novel guru often frets over the reality that sex for female characters, especially YA teen girls has to mean something – either love or repent. It frustrates her that YA female characters just can’t have sex as a part of their life experience and move on. I felt that way about Rita. Why couldn’t she just be sexually liberated? Why couldn’t she just be someone who doesn’t need a man. She likes to sleep with men, but she doesn’t need to be in love with one or take care of one. What’s so threatening about that? So I felt a little lost watching Season 4. I’m tempted to give it my odd “more than like it” score of 3.5, but Rita has meant so much to me I’ll leave it at 4 out of 5. I hope they do one more season so she can reconnect with her children and others from her former life. If not, it’s been an amazing ride.

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.

The Deuce: Season 1

February 28, 2018

David Simon‘s (The Wire, Treme) new HBO series, The Deuce released on disk this past week. Simon’s series offers a gritty, heady, intelligent look at NYC’s sex trade during the birth of the porn industry. The Deuce starts out quietly. The huge signature ensemble cast features street hookers, pimps, police, bar owners, college students, journalists, and young gay men all discovering their lives weaving in and around the sex industry of the early 1970’s. Simon takes his time showing us the changing landscape of business and pleasure in one of the world’s most outrageous neighborhoods. Costuming, props, set design, hair and make-up are all so spot-on, you’d swear you were thrust back in time to the post-hippie era when free love could come for anyone at a price and women and queers were beginning to feel their power. The city was still run by criminals, but other voices are beginning to be heard. Stellar acting from Maggie Gyllenhaal, luminous in the pivotal role of Candy. James Franco plays double duty as twins Vincent who’s smart and a hard worker and Frankie who’s proud of being a fuck-up. I hate to say this after all the posing Franco’s done over the years but damn that boy can act. The Deuce features Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire), Gary Carr (Downton Abbey), Dominique Fishback (as my heart Darlene), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Wire), Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, Method Man, Kayla Foster, Don Harvey, Chris Bauer (The Wire, True Blood), Chris Coy (Treme), Natalie Paul, Michael Rispoli, Kim Director, Pernell Walker (Ruby!), Tariq Trotter, and Ralph Macchio (yes, him). Told you it was an ensemble. Chris Coy plays quiet, sexy, out and proud Paul with dignity and mischief. Everyone fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Deuce moves slow and steady through the subtle changes which affected the avalanche of what has become a 97 billion dollar industry. David Simon gives due respect to the industry’s beginnings and the characters who made it all happen. 4 out of 5 for The Deuce.

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.

Rita: Season 1

February 12, 2018

Big hugs and thanks to my dear friends Barbara and Teri for turning me on to Rita. She’s been in my Netflix queue for a while, but I finally watched season 1 with a little nudge from the girls. And now I’m totally addicted to this wonderful Danish series starring Mille Dinesen in the title role as Rita, a 42 year-old divorced mother of three. Rita’s an amazing primary school teacher. She’s raised three children on her own. The kids range in age from 15-22. Rita’s not so good in the romance department. She likes her independence and mostly uses men for great sex. I fell in love with this complicated, nuanced character as well as her family and co-workers. Outstanding supporting cast featuring Nikolaj Groth (Jeppe), Sara Hjort Ditlevsen (Molly), and Morten Vang Simonsen (Ricoo) as Rita’s kids. And Lise Baastrup who has her own spin-off as nerdy teacher Hjørdis, Carsten Bjørnlund as principal Rasmus, Peter Gantzler as Rita’s ex, Carsten Norgaard as Rita’s childhood boyfriend, and Ellen Hillingsø as guidance counselor Helle. But let’s face it. The world revolves around the luminous Rita as it should. Mille Dinesen carries the show effortlessly. Already diving in to Season 2. 5 out of 5. 

Queer Eye (2018)

February 10, 2018

So Netflix’ reboot of Queer Eye for a Straight Guy – now shortened to Queer Eye feels surprisingly fresh and contemporary. The series opens with the remarks, “the first show was about tolerance, this show is about acceptance.” Liked that very much. The five new guys are so young. The show takes place in Atlanta. There’s more focus on using the exterior to work on or make your inside feel better. Also more diversity: 2 of the Fab Five are men of color as well as several of the participants. I watched the first two episodes and felt they did a great job. I skipped to the gay guy makeover and ended up sobbing when he came out to his stepmother. Great use of reality show as culture shifter. I’m still not a fan of reality shows and definitely feel makeover shows never ring authentic: fix me fast, make me perfect! But Queer Eye digs below the surface enough to make it feel like there’s more to life than new furniture and a wardrobe upgrade. Not that there’s anything wrong with either. 3 out of 5 for the new fab five.


February 4, 2018

New Todd Haynes film, Wonderstuck currently streaming on Amazon. Haynes is one of my favorite filmmakers. Far From Heaven always makes it on my top films of all-time list. CarolSafe, Poison, Velvet Goldmine up there as well. Wonderstruck brings together a collaboration between Haynes and Brian Selznick, writer and illustrator. Certainly Wonderstruck has that feel of magical opulence from Selznick’s mind. The story takes place in 1927 and 1977. Back and forth we go between a rich, deaf girl seeking out her mother and a young recently deaf boy seeking out his biological father. Their worlds exist side-by-side in the film as each character travels to Manhattan in search of their mystical parent. Kudos to the production design department. 1927 Manhattan looked great next to 1977’s seedy Manhattan. In the end, parts of the film worked well while some felt flat to me. The lead child actors both did a good job. However the story stalled in several places. Perhaps tighter editing might have helped. I certainly didn’t hate Wonderstruck. I was simply hoping for a magical fairy tale of pardon the expression: wonder. There were moments of wonder which weren’t sustained for me. 3.5 out of 5.

%d bloggers like this: