Loving In Rio (Movie Thoughts: Rio I Love You)

1456606All this attention being give to Rio de Janeiro because of the Olympics made me want to visit ‘Rio I Love You,’ a movie I have been meaning to see for the longest time. The film is the third in the Cities Of Love series, after Paris and New York. Ten filmmakers have contributed shorts all centered around love in this city by the sea, and it looks like most of them have chosen to focus on the great things about Rio – the beautiful people, the lush greenery, the picturesque Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redemptor.  There are some I liked a lot: Jose Padilha’s contribution, with Ryan Kwanten as an Australian actor who climbs the Sugarloaf Mountain with his appointed driver (And this has a gay twist at the end)  Guillermo Arriaga does one about a one-armed boxer that’s full of grit and heart. Nadine Labaki has a cute contribution about a little boy waiting by a pay phone for a al from jesus – and Harvey Keitel shows his soft side on that one. Koren Director Im has oen abotu prostitute vampires that seems out of place with the scenery, and Paolo Sorrentino’s mean-spirited one about a couple at the beach just read slight. All in all, though I wished the collection was more varied. I would have liked a contemporary piece abour how corrupted the government is, or a glimpse of life in the favela slums. But perhaps that is not the point of this collection, which I am guessing served as a promotional tie in with the Olympics.

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Apples And Gone (Perfume Thoughts: Hello Kitty, Demeter)

nd.8837When I  kid, I was a casual fan of Sanrio’s Hello Kitty.  And I only say casual because I know some people who are huge collectors. I have seen several Hello Kitty perfumes over the years, mostly at Sanrio stores, but never really bought any until I saw the Demeter one on the bay for very cheap. And frankly, I just bought this as a collector, not expecting anything from this besides shelf space fodder.

Well, it’s bad. The notes are just describes as apples: red, yellow green, but truthfully, they just smell like generic fruit shampoo material, and it’s as screechy as plastic as you would expect. And whatever it is, disappears so quick – longevity is not a word to describe this. the best thing I can say about this I guess is that the label is cute.

I do wonder if this is indicative of all other Demeter fragrances – I have been curious about some of their weird offerings, like Earthworm or Holy Water.

Let Me Sing And I Am Happy (Film Thoughts: Florence Foster Jenkins)

florence-foster-jenkins-posterMy old friend Richard collects albums of bad singers. You go to his house, and he has a section of vocalists who are out of tune, out of sync, and recorded. Needless to say, he has prized possessions of the two albums that Florence Foster Jenkins (privately) recorded. I remember one of our favorite things to do then was to go to Tower Records in Lincoln Center and go through the jazz vocals section, judging discs by the covers and hoping against hope that one of these singers would be worthy enough to join his ‘awful singers’ shelf. I guess my point here is that although I am not an expert on her, I have heard a lot about La Florence from my friend, which made me more eager to see ‘Florence Foster Jenkins,’ which is the film about her.

It’s not exactly her life story, more a dramatization of the events leading up to her infamous Carnegie Hall concert. Meryl Streep plays her, in one of her larger than life performances, and she goes all out – tics, screams, arms flailing. I know she has been getting left and right raves here, but to me it rang false. From what I have heard about Jenkins, she was mostly quiet and subtle, if a lot cognizant of her deficiencies. Even though we get that on paper in the screenplay, I thought Streep played her in the opposite direction, though of course Streep is a intuitive enough actress that she knows when to to reign it in so the character isn’t a caricature. Hugh Grant, playing her companion, shows the subtlety here, and in my opinion gives the better performance even if his part is written just to react to Jenkins and her pianist Cosme Mcmoon (played with camp tendencies by Simon Helberg)

Over all, despite its oversize, Jenkins is still a small film,. It would be incorrect to call it inflated, but somehow that word also fits. Still, in this summer of frozen delight treats, this is satisfying sorbet, a tribute to anyone following her dreams as misguided some of those may be.

From Asia Comes Standards (Music Thoughts: Another Season, Julian Yeo)

FrontBlossom Dearie was one described as the librarian who sang jazz. I guess you could also describe Julian Yeo as the college professor who sings jazz. And I thought about this even before I read that Yeo taught Business school at Columbia. But indeed, he does. Yep sings with a certain rigidity and sterility that almost mathematical. At first I mistaked it for unfeeling, but as I listeed more I warmed up to his method. Yeo has a great baritone-ish voice and a style that’s plain. No melisma, no scattign here, not even extended notes. And coupled with guitar work by Tony Sorrento, the duet tracks are quite appealing in a late-night vibe that reminds me of a male Julie London. In some tracks, bassist Haeng Sol joins in, and the effect is sterile simplicity. There aren’t really a lot of Asian male jazz singers, and in that case Yeo is a welcome addition, and I even think his slight accent adds to the authenticity of his delivery. And his repertoire is stellar, from ‘Misty’ to ‘All the Things You Are’ to ‘Makin Whoopee.’ (I thought it was a nice touch in that track that in the beginning Yeo couldn’t sing the words ‘whoopee’)  This disc is a different and welcome take in singing The Great American Songbook.

The Candidate (Movie Thoughts: Wiener)

Weiner-Film-PosterDidn’t I just write about a movie about a politician with the zipper problem?  I think I just saw the documentary about the guy with the biggest zipper problem of them all: Anthony D. Wiener. ‘Weiner,’ a film by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg documents Weiner’s failed 2013 mayoral run. It starts after Wiener has resigned from Congress because of a sexting scandal. He then tries a run for Mayor of New York City, and that seems to be the best idea – because he does have an overflow of charisma, and as a politician, has bright ideas. And yes, I do agree with his politics, so he is aces in my book, in that regard. But wiener s will always be wieners, and in the middle of his campaign, more of the zipper problem surfaces: photos of his member, and extraneous activities under the guise of one Carlos Danger. We have all seen it, we have all joked about it, ha ha ha. This sinks him, and his campaign, with him landing in last place. It is a fascinating watch, and this definitely makes us think. I myself have not been happy with how Bill De Blasio has performed as Mayor, and this really made me wonder – what if, what if, what if? Wiener seems to still be ticking, and is still doing the pundit circles defending the Democratic party. And we go back to the aged old question of – do the private lives of these candidates really matter? “I lied to the people,” Wiener muses toards the end of the campaign, and ultimately,  that really was teh crux of his demise. But again, I still wonder what if, what if, what if.

That’s Entertainment! (Television Thoughts: Real Housewives Of New York, Season 8)

The Real Housewives of New York City - Season 8

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY — Pictured: (l-r) Julianne Wainstein, Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan — (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/Bravo)

I guess I should write about this season’s ‘Real Housewives Of New York’ and their craziness. This is still my favorite Housewives franchise, and I think it’s because the gals have a wink-wink attitude towards everything – they know that above all, they deliver entertainment, and they deliver just that.

  • Bethenny and Luanne. I was kind of sour on her tin the beginning, but in the dramatic ending, I am kind o back on her side. In the Luanne vs. Bethenny battle,. I am Team B. While Luann is certainly entertaining, I thought she may be crossing the line too much this year – I am not buying this whole engagement to Tom storyline. It screams fake fake fake to me, and that is most evident when after B gives her evidence of Tom’s cheating and she has that one-sided phone conversation, I cannot help but feel that she is pulling everyone’s leg.  And that whole giddiness about the relationship – it just seems like bad soap opera acting. I mean, what is she, a twelve year old?
  • Ramona – no story this year, mostly middle work and in the sidelines. She still made her presence felt, and her presence is always welcome, but she is probably being told by the producers to amp up the drama for next season.
  • The Skinny Girl product placements are a bit much. yes, I know that Bethenny probably rejoined the cast for these, but at this point it is distracting.
  • Jules – I don’t know, but I warmed up to her towards the end of the season. these girls are probably way over her head, but with her impending divorce, she has a ready made story for next season. i wonder if she gets cut, as rumoured. With the great ratings for this season, though, they may not want to tamper with the current chemistry.
  • Dorinda. I like her, for sure, but her endless meddling and shit stirring and pretending that she isn’t involved is just making her unattractive to me. And slimy John – ewww.
  • But all in all, these gals are still my gals

In Michael’s Time (Book Thoughts: Remember The Time, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard with Tanner Colby)

18467745After reading “Remember The Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days,”  by Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard with Tanner Colby, I went and looked at Goodreads to see what the consensus was of this book. What I saw first were his diehard fans’ comments saying both Whitfield and Beard betrayed Jackson by writing this book. I think that is misguided. I honestly felt their sincerity and loyalty to Jackson in the book, which tells of their time providing security for the pop star towards the end of his life.

And what a fascinating tale they tell. You get a big glimpse of how life was with Jackson, and how sometimes times were turbulent. This book is a page-turner, as I found himself devouring its 350+ pages in less than a day. Jackson’s image is, of course, larger than life, but their accounts here humanize him. This is not a tell-all nor a hatchet job, or at least it did not feel like one to me. What we do see is a multi-layered complex personality not unlike some other larer-than-life figures who preceded him. I even felt that Jackson was in so much pain towards the end of his life – mentally, psychologically – that it opened my eyes about him, thus making me more sympathetic. This was a fabulous read that’s dishy but not malicious.

Summer Whites (Perfume Thoughts: Orchid Soleil, Tom Ford Signature)

nd.38650I wish I were very rich that  could afford to collect all the Tom Ford fragrances both in his Signature and Private Collection. As a designer house with regards to scents, his is close to perfection. I really cannot even think of one fragrance of his I dislike. Sure I like some more than others (Tobacco Vanille is greater than Sahara Noir, for example) but even the lesser ones are above and beyond some of the niche offerings out there.

So, Orchid Soleil. This was released earlier in teh summer, and I am just sniffing it now, and I wish I had discovered this earlier because it is a great summer scent, in the most unexpected way. How does it smell like?

Pretend you just put on Fracas, and some gardenia scented lotion, chewed some bubble gum, and then you walked to the beach, put on some sun tan lotion, and laid out in the sun.

This is a white floral – gardenia, lily, tuberose and tuberose and tuberose – but somehow the floral doesn’t explode or bomb – there is that sun tan lotion note that keeps it contained,  and there’s just a bit of vanilla to make it smell kind of gourmand-y, and there’s that orchid note. It’s a well blended white flower scent that is unusually soft, and is great on a beachy summer night, or a city summer dinner, or a smoky rooftop party. But wait, there’s more – I think this would even be lovelier in the fall, the lower temperature will make this feel more gauzy, like that feeling of summer ending, and looking forward to the change in season. I love it so much that the reckless part of me wanted to get it right away when I sniffed it at Sephora today. Luckily, the practical Virgo in me told myself to wait, as I know I can probably get this cheaper somewhere else. Or even better – this would be a great Birthday gift for me, so is anyone listening?

Human Frailty (Movie Thoughts: Reckless)

81SxBd3RpBL._SL1500_-212x300I got attracted to ‘Reckless’ because of Patrick Wilson, who I can watch read the phone book. In this movie, he plays an up and coming politician who gets obsessed with prostitutes. Sounds a little cheesy, right? These kinds of movies have been done to death, especially after ‘Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Basic Instinct.”  I read that this was screened in Sundance in 2015, but kind of went nowhere, though it is now available on video. Don’t ignore this movie – it’s quite engrossing and entertaining, anchored by a great performance by Wilson. he gives his character Sam Ellis a great deal of humanity that you believe it in an instant, and you can actually see the character’s transformation from a family man to a modern monster, although quite frankly, in this day and age, I doubt anyone would think that he is. MV5BMjIxODgzMDcwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODIyODIzNjE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_

Apparently, this movie was originally titled Zipper, fromt he coinage “the zipper problem” which applies to problems politicians have from infidelity. I think that would have been a better title, a bit more provocative if slightly vulgar.(Plus, I find that there are at least two other movies with the same title, and that will further make this film unreachable)  Director Mora Stephens keeps a little light hand on the movie, which prevents it from being preachy. This isn’t a masterpiece of a movie, but on a lazy afternoon it more than fits the mood. Oh, and Patrick Wilson.

Save Our Show (Television Thoughts, Friendly Fire S02 E10, Unreal)

unexpected-turns-unreal

I think I have been pretty vocal about how I felt about the direction of Unreal’s second season, and I am not alone with my displeasure. So I kind of dragged my feet watching ‘Friendly Fire” which is the second season finale.

I liked how it ended, which surprised me. I found myself not invested with the plot lines, and any of the characters and here we see two villains – Coleman and Yael – who are out to destroy ‘Everlasting.” But do we really care? Should we really care?  Well, I kind of do. And here we get to see Rachel and Quinn together again, on the same side, out to stop both characters. But Jeremy savign the day? I don’t know if I quite buy it. When they started making his character hateful in the middle of the season, I remember thinking, “Hmm I wonder what this actor did to piss off the producers,” and now I see why, I get it now. Ultimately, it served the purpose for the finale and I guess I can go along with it.

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