Archive for the ‘Political’ 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.

Obama in Talks to Provide Shows for Netflix (NY Times)

March 9, 2018

Obama and chill: pretty cool news from The New York Times and Netflix,

Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service, which has nearly 118 million subscribers around the world. The number of episodes and the formats for the shows have not been decided.

Mr. Obama does not intend to use his Netflix shows to directly respond to President Trump or conservative critics, according to people familiar with discussions about the programming. They said the Obamas had talked about producing shows that highlight inspirational stories.

Read the full article at The New York Times.

Darkest Hour

January 18, 2018

Gary Oldman’s tour de force as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour should garner him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. No doubt Oldman’s performance was captivating. Astonishing in parts. Unfortunately, the rest of the film faded into the background. I realize Darkest Hour is a biopic. I just hoped for more balance. More characters fleshed out. Great supporting cast featuring Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Samuel West, Roland Pickup, and Stephen Dillane. Certainly not a Bechdel Test film. And in a year where “Time’s Up” rules the culture of the film industry, that’s embarrassingly unfortunate. Darkest Hour frames a decent film with an outstanding performance by its lead actor. 3.5 out of 5.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction: Episode 1

January 17, 2018

David Letterman’s new monthly Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction features President Barrack Obama and Rep. John Lewis as his first guests. Streaming now on Netflix, this show is a must-see not so much for the content, but for the way it will make you feel. I had a visceral reaction watching President Obama walk out on stage. I burst into tears. I grieve for the state this country is currently in due to the election of Donald J. Trump. But Rep. Lewis reminds us that this is simply a setback on the road to creating a better tomorrow. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Both inspirational as well as a reminder of how different the world is in 2018 with Trump in charge. If you want to feel good, watch Letterman’s show. It’s one hour of inspiration. Obama never had all the answers. But he knew how to lead and inspire. He followed rules and protocol and saw us through an economic recovery that was created by people like Trump. We have to stay positive and this first episode of the new Letterman show does just that.


December 3, 2017

Suspect: Cher, Dennis Quaid, the 80’s. What’s not to love about this minor Cher film co-starring the adorable if not one-dimensional Dennis Quaid? She’s an assistant D.A. in Washington DC. He’s a lobbyist for the dairy industry. Sexy yet? It’s Cher and Dennis Quaid. The plot is irrelevant. I’ve always liked this film. Probably a bit more than it deserves. It’s got 80’s written all over it. Still it’s Cher. And Dennis Quaid is the only actor who takes off their shirt during the film. Someone was paying attention. There’s courtroom suspense, there’s Capital Hill drama. There’s a happy ending. Some of you might want to give Suspect a 3. I give it a 4. It’s Cher for chrissakes. Can I hear a hoah! 4 out of 5 for Suspect.

Prison Break: Event Series

August 9, 2017

A lot has changed in the twelve years since Prison Break premiered on Fox in 2005. American television kept climbing until the best industry people take time to create phenomenal series truly elevating the medium to an art form. Which makes it more and more difficult for me to watch mediocrity. I loved the escapist comfort food of Prison Break back in the day. The series took me out of my world and allowed me to spend time… well if truth be told, I spent time fantasizing about a threesome with Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller. Fast-forward 12 years. Dominic Purcell is still broodingly masculine. Wentworth Miller got a little closer to my reality by coming out of the closet. And my taste in television got a lot more sophisticated thanks to the dearth of outstanding choices from streaming services, premium cable channels and even a few broadcast shows. Too bad the new incarnation of Prison Break just doesn’t hold my attention. Dominic and Wentworth are still sexy as all hell. But I need my eye candy with a sophisticated plot and outstanding writing. Golden Age of Television: you’ve spoiled me for the pretty boys. 2.5 out of 5. Next.

I Am The Ambassabor

July 17, 2017

Lovely, upbeat look at the life of Rufus Gifford, the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark from 2014 – 2016 during Obama’s last term. Gifford became a celebrity in Denmark and so the idea came to create a reality series around his life as Ambassador. During his tenure, marriage equality happened and so he wed his partner, veterinarian Stephen DeVincent in 2015. I Am The Ambassador covers the life and duties of Gifford as he warms his way into the heart of the Danish people. At a simple nine, 30-minute episodes for the combined two seasons, this series is easy to digest. You might learn a few things about being an ambassador. But mostly you will pine away for a simpler time when our U.S. President inspired people to go out in the world and partner with other nations as equals and to learn from their hosts as much as they gave. 3.5 out of 5.

50 Shades of Gay (2017) – Channel 4

July 11, 2017

An unfortunate title, Channel 4’s 50 Shades of Gay turns out to be a brief, compelling look at the progress made in Britain’s gay community since the repeal of sodomy laws 50 years ago. Rupert Everett wrote and presented this snapshot of how lives have changed since 1967. Remarkably, Everett manages to include older gay men, people of color, television actors, laborers, a lesbian community, a lesbian trans couple, Princess Diana’s former assistant and the former head of BP. Quite an impressive collection of diverse stories for 47 minutes. And Everett himself softens his persona in order to welcome the changes that have taken place allowing the viewer to decide which are positive and which may be troublesome. 4 out of 5 for 50 Shades of Gay. Watch it on YouTube.

Jackie: A Tale of Two Sisters

July 1, 2017

Well executed 44-minute documentary, Jackie: A Tale of Two Sisters chronicles the lives and intersection of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis with her sister Lee Radziwill. Lots of great archival footage and photos. Wanted more but for under an hour the producers told the story of the two sisters in a concise, clear to understand format. 3.5 out of 5.

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