Remember The Time (Movie Thoughts: Denial)

denial‘Denial’ tells the story of Deborah Lipstadt (here played marvelously by Rachel Weisz) and her battle versus Holocaust denier David Irving. The latter sued her for libel in the British courts stemming from statements she wrote in her book “Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory.”  This case was celebrated much in the early 2000s, and I remember seeing the case updates on television, and of course, the eventual verdict. In this film, directed by Mick Jackson from a screenplay by David Hare (he wrote ‘Plenty’) we get to see how the case was tried.

And that’s it – that’s the premise of this two hour movie. Although the case is fascinating – and emotional, for sure – I felt it was bland. Since most viewers already knows the famous verdict, what do we get for conflict? Perhaps how conflicted Lipstadt was about the strategy of her legal team? The way Holocaust survivors were not given a voice during the trials? There was nothing much more to root for, and it doesn’t help that Irving’s character was written one-dimension like. Timothy Spall plays him like the villain that be is, but we already knew that. What drove his actions – past experience? bigoted parents? It would have been more interesting to see.

And Weisz’s Lipstadt doesn’t fare much better. Weisz gives a great performance, given she has nil to work with. I wish there were any kind of emotion anywhere, as this film feels like a procedural documentary. But this is still a very important to film to watch at this time for Americans, with the Presidential elections looming. We get to see how what happens when you give platform to a person with hate and bigotry in their hearts. Let’s learn out lesson.


They Are Bad And They Know It (Movie Thoughts: Bad Mom)

bad-moms-posterSo yes, I know everyone and their mother has raved about ‘Bad Moms,’ but somehow I never saw it, and am very late in the party on this. But better late than never, I guess. This film is from the makers of ‘The Hangover’ so it could potentially be really funny, and definitely raunchy. And it has a great cast, led by Mila Kunis, who even though I don’t think i ever saw a ‘That 70s Show’ episode, has great comedic flair. (I thought Kathryn Hahn  steals the film, though) She plays a mom who one day just snaps and says eff this – the struggle to be ‘perfect’ just got into her, and fights back. She goes against an easy target – those supermoms are rife for ridicule.

I thought the movie was amusing at times, but I really didn’t feel the film. I know, I know. I am probably not the target demographic here, and that’s fine. Jay Hernandez plays Kunis’ love interest here and he plays an almost-middle-aged man, which makes me feel real old because he was the young male ingenue not too long ago – and at that time I thought it was too young. If he is middle aged now, then what does that make me?  Probably too old to appreciate this movie.

So What About Love (Television Thoughts: What About Robert, Finding Prince Charming S01E06)









Who saw it coming? I guess we should have. On ‘What About Robert,”  Chad abruptly leaves the ceremony and throws hsi black tie on the floor, leaving Robert – and I guess the rest of the suitors – dumbfounded. He says that it is because he thinks Robert is a “player” and he has had a traumatic experience with an ex wherein he caught said ex cheating. I know I have said before that I have been rooting for Chad, and I really thought that he was going to get farther as it looked like he was having a real connection with Robert. But his exit does seem absurd – this is the whole premise of the show, for Robert to be seeing all these guys at the same time. Chad has said in interviews that he gets it – he is portrayed as the emotional villain in the show, and really, who could blame the producers when he gives them so much material. It was comical to see him rolling his suitcase while the tie ceremony was still going on.

I think the main problem with the show, now, is that this Prince Charming is not charming  enough – his own suitors can barely remember anything about him when quizzed at the top of the show. The Prince Charming should be someone the audience should be falling in love with as the show progresses, but seriously, the audience doesn’t seem to be falling.

So here we are left with the final four. I never really thought that Dillon would go this far, but there he is, and I predict he is next to go.

Love After Lust (Movie Thoughts: Theo And Hugo/Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau)

theohugo_featuredimage-copyThe first twenty minutes of ‘Theo And Hugo’ (or, ‘Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau,’ its French market title) shows raw, graphic sex. I was put off by it initially. Though not exactly porn, it is very explicit. I wondered what it was doing in a fairly mainstream, if indie, film. Directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, though, know what they are doing. they put it in juxtaposition with what comes – a real tender and sweet love story between the characters of Theo (Geoffrey Couët) and Hugo ((François Nambot)  I am reminded of that anecdote wherein a long-life gay couple was asked in their 50th Anniversary where they met, and everyone, expecting somewhere ideal and romantic, and the answer was ‘while trolling for dick.’ because surely, some of the best love stories start with sex.

The film, for me, tackles a couple of issues. First, the aforementioned romantic aspect of it – there is something almost defiant about finding love at a sex club. But it makes sense – most times people go there because they are looking for more than skin. When both of them leave the place, they find out they have unprotected sex and a reality sets in – one of them is HIV positive, though with an undetected viral load.  But in these modern times, you can actually go to the hospital and get a gay man’s equivalent of the ‘morning after’ pill – a round of medications to stop the virus from spreading. Honestly, I did not know that those things existed, but then again it could be something that may not be available in US markets yet. (And surprise of all surprises, they did not have to pay for it!)  Plus, I thought that the setting was quite beautiful. Set in the northeastern part of Paris, it was nice to see it just as beautiful without the cliched settings of the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysee.

I loved the film, which was made foe hopeless romantics. I loved the fact that these two imperfect souls met and fell in love in minutes. I loved the fact that despite the big odd, the love and attraction for each other won – I couldn’t help but think that if this story was told fifteen years ago, the HIV positive aspect would have been a mood killer. Nowadays it is treated just as another inconvenience. The latter part of the film tries a little too much and slowed a bit of the action, but ultimately, this film is a big celebration. Celebrate it.

Just Jasmine (Perfume Thoughts: Jasmine, Keiko Mecheri)

o-2713I can’t get enough of floral perfumes lately, and I think this is old age’s fault.  Today I am wearing a floral shirt so I searched for something as suitably-floral as my scent for the day. I see my neglected bottle of Keiko Mecheri Jasmine and though why not, this could be perfect. On a mid Fall day like today this is quite a good choice – the sun makes the jasmine note bloom, and the cool-ish air doesn’t saturate the indolic note usually one gets with jasmine. But no, the jasmine note in here is soft and pretty anyway – it’s full but never overpowering, and the shampoo-like accord keeps things in check. On one hand, one can say that this could be filed under “boring soliflore” category, and you may be right – there’s nothing more than just jasmine. But some days that is all you want and need. Keiko Mecheri may have agreed with the first nation, because the perfume has now been released under a new name, Clair Obscura. That’s fine and well, for it will make my older bottle vintage and more collectible.

Some Good Things Never Last (Movie Thoughts: Lazy Eye)

lazyeye_final_smallAfter seeing my last two movies, I wanted to see a movie about adult, and specifically maybe some gay adults. Or at least adults acting somewhat like adults. Or at least people I can identify with. Well, ‘Lazy Eye’ is definitely a film about adults – middle age adults. Tim Kirkman’s film posits the question – what if ‘the one that got away’ suddenly, out of the blue, gets in touch and tries to reconnect?  Let’s be honest, we all have asked this question at one point – or at many points – in our lives. Dean (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) a successful graphic designer who lives in Los Angeles, gets an email from Alex  (Aaron Costa Ganis) with an invitation to reconnect after fifteen years. Alex is the one he has thought about all these years, because after breaking up with him, Alex disappeared and is probably the only person in the world with no internet footprint. So they male plans to get away at Dean’s Joshua Tree vacation house. Seconds after seeing each other, their thirst for each other comes out in such a forceful manner, even before they can discover what and where their lives are right now. Is their relationship still a thing – can it still be? They find out that even if their passion for each other remain the same,  life has given them emotional and maybe physical entanglements that will force them to face what was, and is. I like this film, I like it’s intimacy, it’s romantic energy. You feel the way they both want each other, you feel what brought them together and what pulls them apart. You root for them, but at the same time, you realize that some things can never be the same. Both actors give wonderful performances, as they draw you in instantly with their fiery chemistry (I wonder what is up with both their hyphenated names – perhaps both married in real life?)  I would be lying if I say that this film did nto make me think of the one that got away in my life, and realize maybe it got away because it was never meant to last forever.

Desperate Housewife (television Thoughts: Pilot, Divorce, Sundays on HBO)

divorceMinutes into watching the pilot of Sarah Jessica Parker’s new show, ‘Divorce,’  he said, commenting on Parker’s acting, “That’s Carrie Bradshaw right there.”  And indeed, I had to agree, because it does seem like this new character of hers, Frances, looks, talks, and sounds like an iteration of her famous character Carrie Bradshaw. But ‘Divorce’ is no ‘Sex And the City,’ as tempting as it could be to compare both shows. This show is darker, more self-aware, its comedy more black, its tone more cynical. Just imagine Carrie and Mr Big now lived in the suburbs, and she has eschewed her city gal pals and is now friends with similarly unhappy suburban housewives. They long for the good old days in the city. As a matter of fact, Frances is even having an affair with someone Carrie may have dated years ago. the dinner parties here are dirtier – the show starts with one wherein guns and police get involved – and that sets the tone for the show. Folks, we mean serious business here.

I think I like it – the pilot ends with Frances getting a comeuppance, and you cannot help but feel just a little bit of schadenfreude. Frances is unlikable here – selfish and self-serving, even mean to her own kids. And so we go back to Parker – her sunnier disposition style of acting could be a great juxtaposition for her character here, or it could turn up to be one-note. After a month, we could either see the brilliance of her instincts, or ask ourselves, can she only do Carrie Bradshaw for all her characters. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I will be watching.

Shovel This (Movie Thoughts: Shovel Buddies)

shovel_buddiesOh, I must be really old. This is the second movie in a row about young people that annoyed me immensely. I have very little patience now about their immaturity and watching it on film is making me more irritated. Hence, “Shovel Buddies,’ which stars Bella Thorne. The only reason I know who she is is because she used to date Greg Sulkin, who I think is cute and follow on Snapchat. And speaking of Snapchat, that app fuels the story in this film. Directed by Simon Atkinson and Adam Townley, this is about a young man who films his last will and testament on Snapchat – the height of stupidity. His message is that he wanted to be buried in his football jersey and under the new stadium being built. I am already annoyed – if it was so important, why didn’t he tell his parents? So his friends go on a quest to get his body, dress him in his jersey. and bring him to the construction site of the stadium. Ha ha, it’s so funny. Think of it as a today version of ‘Weekend At Bernie’s,’ with double the stupidity. Seriously, i can find so many holes in the script but I ask myself why bother? I have already wasted a lot of time with this film, and I am not spending any more.

The Awakening (Music Thoughts, For The love Of Brahms, JoshuaBell, Steven Isserlis and Jeremy Denk)

401806I know I should listen more to classical music, and though I have a lot of it in my collection, I don’t always pull them out and play them. i always think that I shouldn’t put them on as background music, as I am wont to do when I play music – there is so much intricacy and detail here that I tell myself that when I listen to it, I should sit up and play attention.

Joshua Bell caught my attention a long time ago because, I’ll be honest, he was a 19 year old cutie who played the violin, my favorite musical instrument. I think the violin conveys so much melancholy that I think it should be the soundtrack to my melancholy life. And here he plays Brahms, and I have always been drawn to Brahms work – something about his compositions convey melancholy to me as well, and darn if I can explain to you why I feel that way. Cut to now that Joshua Bell is now the musical director of Academy of St. Martin In the Fields, and with his friends the cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Jeremy Denk, this album is created.

It’s fantastic – the arrangements by bell are from the point of view of the violin, and that makes it more appealing to me. On Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8, they opt to use the 1854 version, which Brahms later discarded. It sounds more conservative, and to my ears fresher, because it is not performed as frequently. they also perform Brahm’s last orchestral work,  the Double Concerto (for Violin and Cello) in A Minor, Op. 102, and a lot of enthusiasts consider that Brahm’s greatest piece. Here you can see why.

But the best thing here is that this record rekindled my love for classical pieces. Though not my ultimate love, classical music awakens something inside me when I listen to it, and once in a while I require some awakening.

How Dare You (Movie Thoughts: Nerve)

tumblr_oace9cj6ed1qzfh3ao2_1280Of the Franco brothers, I lean more towards Dave. I know he is probably the “lesser” Franco, but I don’t care – I like him more. Anyway, I say that because he the only reason I was interested in seeing ‘Nerve,” and as it turns out, he is the only reason why I (mildly) tolerated it. He stars as Ian/Sam, and partners with Vee (Emma Roberts) in a truth or dare game – without the truth – that is internet based, and the challenges are voted, graded, rewarded upon by “watchers,” or basically followers of these contestants. I guess it is trying to give a commentary on how today’s society’s is ruled by social media, and the game is a mixture of Snapchat, Periscope, etc. I am already yawning from the idea, and Roberts is the main character here I guess, but she bores me too – and much too scrawny to be an engaging screen presence. Besides Franco’s shirtless scenes,  there really isn’t much here for me.