Instant Gratification: “Meru” and four other good movies to watch on streaming



Pick of the week: “Meru” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. And you think YOU’RE COLD. Blanket up and watch this thrilling documentary about three climbers who attempt to scale the 21,000-foot Himalayan peak nicknamed the “Shark’s Fin,” fall 100 feet short, and then overcome personal tragedies to try again. Co-directed by one of the climbers, Jimmy Chin, the film gives you a terrifyingly authentic sense of what it’s like to undertake one of these expeditions, as well as insight into what sorts of people would spend their lives doing so.

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UW Reel Love LGBT Film Fest, Day 3: “The Duke of Burgundy,” “Pride,” “Stranger by the Lake”


The UW-Madison’s Reel Love LGBT Film Festival, now in its fourth year, is still the only Wisconsin film festival (and one of the few campus-based festivals nationwide) exclusively devoted to films with gay, lesbian and transgender subject matter.

The free, 15-film festival runs Thursday through Sunday at the Union South Marquee Theatre, 1308 W. Dayton St. Once scheduled in the fall, the festival has moved to the spring this year, but is otherwise another terrific collection of new films, including many Madison premieres, that show the wide range of LGBT filmmaking out there. Whether you like broad comedies, tender dramas or hot-button documentaries, they’re represented at this festival.

Each day during the festival, I’ll feature a new review of one of the films playing that day, along with capsules of the others and links to my previous reviews where available. For a full schedule, visit And, once again, it’s FREE, people!

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Chat about “Stranger by the Lake” at Sundance Tuesday night


It’s still a pretty cold March in Wisconsin. Wouldn’t you rather spend a couple of hours on a French lakeside beach, with the sun, and the sand, and the . . . murder?

“Stranger by the Lake” has all this and more — and by “more,” I mean “explicit sex scenes.” So the faint of heart might want to skip this one. But for those who aren’t deterred, “Stranger by the Lake,” set at a secluded sliver of beach frequented by gay men, is an engrossing and chilling psychological drama about desire and self-destruction. My full review is here. 

I’m hosting a post-show chat after the 7:05 p.m. show on Tuesday, March 25 at Sundance Cinemas, 430 N. Midvale Blvd. We had a lot of fun talking about “The Great Beauty” last month and I’ m thinking “Stranger” will foster some interesting convo as well. Just attend the screening and meet me in Sundance’s Overflow Bar (across from the box office) afterward — probably around 8:45 p.m.  Hope to see you there!

“Stranger by the Lake”: Where the bodies are naked and the motives concealed


“Stranger By the Lake” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, (contains explicit sexual content), 1:37, three and a half stars out of four.

“I’m not sure it’s allowed here.” “It’s not allowed anywhere.”

The sliver of  beach in rural France is an idyll for gay men, both closeted and open. They come, remove their clothes, stretch out in the sand, or go for a swim. Little is said on the beach. But, eventually, most of them go up into the woods for a stroll, and find each other there.

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