Archive for the ‘Ways To See Film, Television, and Media’ Category

Reel Charlie’s Criterion Top 10 (2023)

March 21, 2023

Today is Criterion’s 24 flash sale. Stock up on incredible Blu-ray and 4K physical format releases from America’s beloved film remastering home video company, The Criterion Collection. 

Since 2012, I’ve been updating my favorite Criterion Collection list. For 2023, I went from ten to a baker’s dozen, along with my 33 title honorable mention list. New films in both lists. Click for Reel Charlie reviews.

Reel Charlie’s Top 13 favorite Criterion releases:

All About My Mother
Eve’s Bayou
The Heiress
Howards End
My Beautiful Laundrette
Secrets and Lies
The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs
(boxed set all 5 films)

It was difficult whittling the list down to just 13 films.
So many of the 37 films below are 5 star perfect Reel Charlie ratings.
Honorable Mention:

A Christmas Tale
All That Heaven Allows
The Awful Truth

Desert Hearts

Do the Right Thing
Double Indemnity

Fish Tank
Fox and His Friends
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty
Grey Gardens
La haine
The Ice Storm

In the Mood for Love
Leave Her to Heaven
Monsoon Wedding

Mildred Pierce
A Room With a View
Rosemary’s Baby
Shallow Grave
Small Axe (boxed set all 5 films)
Some Like It Hot
Three Colors: Blue
The Times of Harvey Milk

Valley of the Dolls
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Best of Reel Charlie 2022

December 31, 2022

Before we enter the hopeful year of 2023, read on for Reel Charlie’s favorites in books, music, podcasts, film, and television from 2022.

Books (links to Goodreads)

Another great year of reading thanks as always to Goodreads for keeping me focused, my colleagues at work for keeping me open, and my Kindle Paperwhite for making it fun to obsess over books. I also want to give a shout out to audiobooks (hoopla, Libby free with your library card) which have helped me read/listen to so many more books throughout the year. I read 51 books this year. These are my favorites:

Apparently There Were Complaints: A Memoir by Sharon Gless – she’s amazing.
A Do-Si-Do With Death (Stan Kraychik Mystery #7) by Grant Michaels – a new book from a beloved series.
Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries, #2) and Heat Wave (The Extraordinaries, #3) by T.J. Klune – amazing YA superhero snark.
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott – fascinating.
The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish – love love love this queer holiday rom-com home swap.
Knock Off The Hat (Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery #1) by Richard Stevenson – saying goodbye is never easy. RIP Richard.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo – yes yes yes this is lesbian historicial YA brilliance.
Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen – wonderful queer historical mystery.
Legacy in the Blood (Chiara Corelli Mystery #4) by Catherine Maiorisi – need to go back and start this series.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick – my favorite big release.
continued with A Nick Williams Mystery by Frank W. Butterfield. In 2022 read books 8 & 9. Only 22 left to go in this 31 book series. Nick and Carter are my fantasy everything from my parents’ generation.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune – favorite book of the year.
Unprotected by Billy Porter – this man is amazing.


Regular readers to Reel Charlie know that I am not engulfing new music like my younger, or more daring counterparts. That said this year I listened with glee to:

Top Genres
New Wave Pop
Dance Pop
Adult Standards

Top Artists
Will Young
Olivia Newton-John (RIP)
Bette Midler
Kylie Minogue
Saint Etienne
Jessie Ware
Diana Krall
Idina Menzel
George Michael
The Ones

Also, a new anthem: Lizzo’s About Damn Time.

Movies & Television (links to Reel Charlie reviews)

This year I have wondered if my viewing has shifted to a more comfort zone reality. In other words, am I watching more things that soothe me, or mildly entertain me as opposed to watching programs that challenge and inform me? Let’s look a little closer at the lists below for an answer.

Here are Reel Charlie’s favorite films and series from 2022:

Documentaries (including podcasts and stand-up):

The Andy Warhol Diaries – delighted by this doc series focusing on Warhol’s romantic relationships.
Rothaniel – amazing tell-all stand-up.
Sound Barrier: Sylvester – incredible podcast on colossal talent Sylvester.
The Standups: Season 3 – where I first saw Janelle James (Abbott Elementary).
Visible: Out on Televisionoutstanding docuseries covers LGBTQ+ life from the 50’s to present.


Bros – couldn’t believe, LOVED and own this on Blu-ray.
Coda – one of the best Hollywood films of the year.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – I am a Downtonite, and yes I adored this.
Everything Everywhere All at Once – my favorite Hollywood film of the year and own it on 4K.
Fire Island – LOVE, great indy film, funny and poignant.
Flee – animated non-fiction film about one gay man’s quest for a safe life.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – so wonderful, older women rule.
Red Rocket – another indie gem, this time about a porn actor coming home.
State of the Union – saw this one for the first time, more Tracy/Hepburn magic.
Written on the Wind – saw this for the first time as well. Sirk magic.

Television (including limited series):

And Just Like That: Season 1more Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte.
All Creatures Great and Small
: Season 2 – more warmth and critter love.
Around the World in 80 Days: Season 1 loved this so much more than I expected.
As We See It: Season 1 outstanding, authentic lives of Gen Z on the spectrum.
Better Call Saul: Season 5outstanding, despicable can’t stop.
Better Call Saul: Season 6 (series finale) – bye Jimmy and Kim. Nacho forever.
Borgen: Power & Glory – one of the best of the year. Birgitte rules.
The Crown: Season 5 – quiet, reflective.
Feud: Bette and Joan– finally streamed, amazing.
Five Days at Memorial – amazing series about a NOLA hospital after Katrina.
The Great British Baking Show: Collection 10 – my joy, my love.
Julia: Season 1 – another surprise I wasn’t expecting to love.
A League of Their Own: Season 1 – outstanding one of the best of the year.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 4 – continuing Midge’s saga.
Only Murders in the Building: Season 2 – loved this season better than the first.
Ozark: Season 4, Part 1 – heavy, heavy…
Ozark: Season 4, Part 2 (series finale) – goodbye Wendy and Marty.
Russian Doll: Season 2 – wacked out even more than the first season.
Somebody Somewhere: Season 1 – wow I really loved this one.
Sort Of: Season 1 – a new voice and room at the table. Sabi rules.
Sort Of: Season 2 – full of angst and growing pains. Sabi grows.
We Own the City – more David Simon magic.
Wisting: Season 2 – outstanding Nordic noir.
Wisting: Season 3 – Maggie’s back.
Work in Progress: Season 2 – heavy and rewarding.

Take Two (watching beloved film and television again):

The Crown: Season 4 – the introduction of Diana.
Don’t Look Up – better the second time.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – a thousand times yes!
Downton Abbey: The Movie (the first movie) – see above.
The Guilded Age: Season 1 – so much better the second time around.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Murder Under the Mistletoe – my drag name would be Phryne.
Rock Hudson’s Home Movies – outstanding indie doc from 30 years ago.
Shadow of a Doubt (4K) – possibly my favorite Hitchcock, definitely his.
Single All the Way – a new classic holiday treat.

Special Posts from 2022:

Reel Charlie Speaks Podcast
One Book One Town (Fairfield, CT) Announcement: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
We Are All Golden Girls
GLAAD’S 2021-2022 Where We Are on TV Report: LGBTQ Representation Reaches New Record Highs
TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea: a place in LGBTQ Literature
Queer Writers of Crime Book Recommendation #1
Author TJ Klune: In Conversation
Reel Charlie celebrates 13 Years!
It’s A Lot Like Falling in Love: Legacies of Naiad Press and the Tallahassee Lesbian Community (Naiad Press)
Leslie Jordan: 1955 – 2022


What were your favorites in 2022? Thank you for continuing this journey with me. I love reviewing film and television on Reel Charlie. Onward 2023, another year of incredible film, television, music, podcasts, and reading!

Happy 70th Birthday Susan Dey

December 10, 2022

Time flies when you’re a former teenybopper. Susan Dey and her magical television family, The Partridge Family graced my imagination and bedroom walls in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s I cheered her on in L.A. Law.  She worked in film and television throughout her career. She retired in 2004 and now lives in my old stomping grounds – the Hudson Valley, NY with her husband Bernard Sofronski. Her daughter Sara lives in New York City. Wow, 70. Time truly flies. Hope she’s still having a ball.

Shop Reel Charlie on Redbubble including two images of Susan.

Cooking Cleaning & Falling in Love

Susan Dey as Judge Grace Van Owen in L.A. Law


Another Year Around the Sun: 2022 Edition

November 16, 2022

Reel Charlie and sister Faye who is now my source for political and breaking news (she always texts first), and a shining example of how to live life and treat others. WWFD

I had this intellectual idea over the weekend to write a piece to post on my birthday about my viewing changes over the past few years. I feel like I’m less attracted to challenging film and television and more attracted to easy-going products. I don’t know how to figure that out other than to look at a dozen years worth of posts and see if that’s truly the case. I would have to either hire an assistant and explain to them what I mean by each definition or pour through my posts. I supposed I could look at last year’s year-end post and then look at one about 10 years ago. I hesitate to say that sounds like a good idea and perhaps I need to do that before the end of the year. But my gut is telling me that may not happen since I would rather watch something sweet on TV.

Also there’s the whole issue of not going to the movie theater any more. I didn’t really love it before COVID (people opening up their phones, people talking, people being there in the same room with me). Now I don’t see a reason to ever go again, unless I’m in a room of let’s use Hitchcock fans as an example. That sounds like a fun time. But a regular new film? No thanks. I will do what I did with Bros. Rent it to support the film and watch it in my living room with only one other human being who watches movies pretty close to how I watch them.

So that’s my Reel Charlie thoughts on this, my 63rd birthday. No, I’m not retiring from my library career until I’m at least 70. Just in case you were wondering about that. I have a lot more catching up to do thanks to that other virus from last century which knocked me out of the workplace for a dozen plus years. More and more, I am not freaked out or angry about being older. I am in awe I am still here and when I allow myself a full plate of emotion – I am full of wonder. What an amazing journey.

Take care of each other. Take moments to reflect and smile. Cry and scream when you need to, and fight like hell to make this world a better place for everyone. I love you all. Stepping away from the keyboard now to buy some good take out for dinner and a piece of cake and some ice cream.


November 1, 2022

I finally caught Bros this weekend. I did not go to see it in the theater, but I did support Bros by renting it through Amazon. The price was similar to what I would have spent for 2 tickets. Felt good to support this new gay glass ceiling smasher. Bros is the first LGBTQ rom-com to be produced by a major Hollywood studio. In case you’re reading this years from now, it’s 2022 and yes society should be ashamed. But let’s not dwell on the crooked path to equal rights every minority continues to experience. Instead let’s talk about Bros. I loved it. I know! I was a little scared. I’m not the biggest Billy Eichner fan. I’m angry a lot myself and shout more than a bit – mostly at home – apologies to my best friend whom I live with. So I was worried I may not enjoy the film. Billy’s character Bobby was neurotic and talked a lot and screamed a lot. It also worked for the film. Bros is a perfect rom-com. Bobby meets Aaron played by the dreamy (understatement) Luke Macfarlane. They are polar opposites and both are relationship-phobic. Bobby’s the executive director of the new LGBTQ History Museum opening up in NYC. Aaron’s a lawyer who’s comfortable, if not passionate about his craft. Bobby’s got body issues. Aaron’s a fuck god. The film doesn’t shy away from topics gay men discuss. The sex scenes are natural, funny, and hot. Seriously Bros is a winner. It’s a perfect formulaic rom-com which will hopefully pave the way for bigger studios to make more matter of factly big budget, queer films. It’s silly, it’s campy, it’s sexy, it’s awkward, it’s serious in moments, it’s got a happy ending. It hits all the right notes. Bravo to Billy who co-wrote, executive produced and stars in the film. 4 out of 5 because like most big Hollywood films, it needed a bit of editing.

Bros currently streams on Peacock and is available on disk from your local public library.

12/2022: Bought the Blu-ray of Bros and loved it even more the second time around. It’s silly, stupid, smart as hell, romantic, and sophisticated simultaneously. Billy Eichner should be very proud. A perfect date movie, and a perfect microcosm of the complicated dance it is to be a man who loves men in 21st Century USA. Raising my rating to 5 out of 5.

Downton Abbey (2019) (take 4)

August 1, 2022

All hail the first Downton film. Comfort food forever. This one feels-good anytime I pop the 4K disk into the player. Relax, and enjoy.

Merchant Ivory Restorations: August 2022 Quad Cinema, NYC

July 29, 2022

There’s five Wednesdays in August 2022 and the Quad Cinema in NYC features a different restored Merchant Ivory film each week. From the Quad,

From the Vault: Cohen Film Collection

Every Wednesday in August — Gorgeous restorations of Merchant Ivory films!

New 4K digital restorations of Howards End, The Bostonians, and more.

Up first is one of my all-time Merchant Ivory favorites and definitely my top favorite films of all-time, Howards End. From the Quad,

One of Merchant Ivory’s undisputed masterpieces, this adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic 1910 novel is a saga of class relations and changing times in Edwardian England. Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) and her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) become involved with two couples: a wealthy, conservative industrialist (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife (Vanessa Redgrave), and a working-class man (Samuel West) and his mistress (Niccola Duffett). The interwoven fates and misfortunes of these three families and the diverging trajectories of the two sisters’ lives are connected to the ownership of Howards End, a beloved country home. A compelling, brilliantly acted study of one woman’s struggle to maintain her ideals and integrity in the face of Edwardian society’s moribund conformist values. A Cohen Film Collection release 4K restoration!

Check out the Quad’s website for more information.

Reel Charlie Speaks – Episode 2: HIV AIDS Films

July 25, 2022

It took two months instead of one, but I am publishing the second Reel Charlie Speaks podcast. In Reel Charlie Speaks, I focus on a classic piece of work and discuss what it meant to me when I first discovered it and how it has stood the test of time. Today I reflect upon six HIV AIDS films from my list of the best HIV AIDS Films I’ve compiled over the years.

Read Reel Charlie film reviews on each of the titles discussed in this episode:
Adventures of Felix (currently not streaming in the U.S.)
Before I Forget (currently not streaming in the U.S.)
Blue (streaming on Kanopy)
How to Survive a Plague (streaming on Amazon Prime and SlingTV)
Parting Glances (streaming on Plex, Amazon Prime, and Philo)
Zero Patience (streaming on The Criterion Channel)

See the full list of Reel Charlie’s HIV AIDS films.

Philip Bahr marching in ACT-UP demo. Kennebunkport, Maine. September 1, 1991. Screen grab from the film How to Survive a Plague

Coming up:
August 2022: Coming Out
September 2022: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City


Downton Abbey: A New Era (take 2)

July 11, 2022

The 4K disk for Downton Abbey: A New Era arrived this week. Simply gorgeous. Love watching at home with the clarity of HD disks to enjoy. Click for an updated review of this fan favorite second film. Glorious!

Christmas in July 2022

July 5, 2022

Here we go. Summer’s blazing in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to crank up the a/c and watch some dreamy holiday movies and television episodes. In 2021, Reel Charlie added two new queer Christmas rom-coms to my list of favorites:

Happiest of Season (lesbian, Hulu)
Single All The Way (gay, Amazon Prime, Hulu)

Check out openly gay, classic film YouTuber Steve Hayes 10 Year Christmas Retrospective (2010-2019). Steve’s shares the best and brightest classic holiday films.

Or peruse Reel Charlie’s classic list of perennial holiday favorites. Click on the links below for Reel Charlie’s favorite holiday reviews:
La Bûche (The Yule Log)
Christmas in Connecticut
Un conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)
Hollywood, je t’aime (just one scene, but it’s a doozy)
Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)
Love, Actually
Make the Yuletide Gay
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
White Christmas

And don’t forget your favorite television episodes. Reel Charlie favorites include:

The Partridge FamilyDon’t Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa. 17 December 1971. Season 2, Episode 13.
Queer as FolkPreponderance of Death. 30 May 2004. Season 4, Episode 7
Downton AbbeyChristmas at Downton Abbey. 19 February 2012. Season 2, Episode 9.
The West WingNoël. 20 December 2000. Season 2, Episode 10

I cry over nearly every one. Especially The Partridge Family and Queer as Folk.

The Austin Chronicle and Bustle give you a full list of all the Downton Abbey and The West Wing holiday episodes.

Whatever you watch this season, have a little fun with your selections.


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