On Jessica Young’s Soundcloud page (here) the blurb for her have her described as “a little bit Sade, a lot Billie Holiday, a dash of Janis Joplin.” Tall orders, for sure. As I listen to her album ‘When I Fall In Love,” I can say I don’t get the Sade at all (on the album cover she looks a little bit, maybe) and there is no Joplin rawness, but there does seem to a bit of Holiday mannerisms. What I do hear is someone young with good musicality, if a bit green on lyrical interpretation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – she will obtain life experiences and her singing will deepen, and richer. Maybe she will even shed her Billie mannerisms and vocal stylings which sometimes sound forced because she wants to sound ‘jazzy.’ But she isn’t bad at all here, and shows a lot of promise. For sure, I can sense that she has great affinity for this music and will evolve on her own. But for now, not just yet.
It’s not that ‘The Wedding Invitation’ is necessarily bad, it’s just so…nothing. This film was written, directed and stars Rainy Kerwin, and is about three women killing themselves just so they can get a date for an upcoming wedding. It’s really a sad state of affairs here. But the acting wasn’t too bad, to be honest, and there were some moments I almost moved my mouth going to a smile (it did not go all the way) I guess it’s a little better than going outside when the temperature in the desert is in the triple digits.
Summer Solstice is this week, and it’s the worst time of the year for me, living in the desert. The average high temperature has been on the triple digits, so I am in a scent rut – mostly rummaging through colognes that are light and cool. But then I was at Sephora and I saw Sun di Gioia, and it sparked my interest. I am always on the look out for sun scents, aside from the suntan lotion based ones and citrussy colognes. This seemed promising, promising floral notes like freesia, frangipani and ylang ylang. And at first blast it does was nice – heavy but not overbearing. The florals are there, and it has a faded quality – smelling like you have spritzed something and is now faint and sunned-in. I must admit it’s very different from your usual summer scents, and was appealing to me. I like that it’s heavy-ish and screams PERFUME. I found myself sniffing my arm where I sprayed it, and now I want it. There was a time I was madly in love with the original women’s Acqua di Gio, it became a sort-of signature scent of mine in the late 90s. Maybe it’s time for me to use the House of Armani again.
One of the blurbs used for ‘Beatriz at Dinner’ is the quote: “The first great film of the Trump era,” and while that may be true or not, there are a lot of things in this film that says things about the times we live in right now. Salma Hayek plays Beatriz here, a massage therapist/healer who gets ‘stranded’ at her rich client’s mansion in Orange County, California. She gets invited for dinner at said client, Kathy’s and her husband (Connie Britton and David Warshofsky) We then see right away that Beatriz is out of place once the guests arrive. One one side are members of The Real Housewives of Orange County, and on the other rich mogul husbands. Beatriz thinks she recognizes one of them, Douglas Strutt, (John Lithgow) a ruthless real estate developer who destroys natural habitats for hotel and golf courses, hunts in Africa, and is merciless – reminds you of someone yet? The vagueness here is not really masked, and we get to see the good and the bad. But there are no angels here – Beatriz is pushy and talks out of turn, and is passionate about what she believes in: everything that Strutt doesn’t. There is a delicious mouse and cat play between Hayak and Lithgow, and whose side you take depends on whether you are deplorable or not. There are some big things to think about here – greed, politics, nature, even good manners and social etiquette. The ending is a bit strange, but not unreal, and I wish it was more ambiguous, so viewers can be left thinking, not seething. This is a great little film with big things to say.
‘The Zookeeper’s Wife,’ directed by Nick Caro from Diane Ackerman’s non-fiction book. It’s the story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who hid Jewish ‘guests’ at their zoo during the war. They had more than three hundred guests during the time and all but two survived.
The film is gorgeous to look at, which makes the difficult scenes depicting the horrors of war more vivid and true. The scene with Antonina and her animals may be a bit too cutesy, but it helps send the message across. Jessica Chastain is good, but I felt some ofd the scenes were too Oscar bait-y, as if she is begging for some kind of recognition. I found Daniel Bruhl more effective – eerily sexy and at the same time scary, as the Nazi zookeeper from Berlin. There were some confusing parts in the middle here, but the latter parts was poignant and wraps up the film effectively. I wish it had just a little bit more passion – at times it feels very tempered and tame. I find myself still contemplating, after all these years, all the damages the Second World War brought to a lot of people.
In case you were wondering why there have been a lot of Ella Fitzgerald tributes lately, it’s because this year would have been her 100th birthday. Swedish jazz singer has released a new album called ‘Ella Lives’ wherein she sings ten songs associated with the Queen of Jazz. Buczek, to be honest, is mostly unknown to me, but I am not on the up and up on Swedish jazz singers anyway. She has a nice reedy voice, but her style is definitely more rigid than Ella’s. I like her most when she has room to sing within the arrangements. Martin Sjöstedt apparently did the arrangements here, and some are too mannered for my taste, trying too much to be jazz than tuneful. But in songs like ‘Tenderly,’ and ‘The Very Thought Of You,’ for example, Buczek gets to exercise her appealing vocals. And even in others like ‘Misty,’ she soars. Although she doesn’t sing this particular Cole Porter song here, I wanna tell her musicians: Don’t Fence Her In.
Directed by Owen Moverman, ‘The Dinner’ is an overlong and exasperating film. I found myself so bored by it, never connected with any of its characters – loathed almost all of them, actually – and couldn’t wait for it to end. Even the food in the film (most of the time a saving grace) was annoying/ I really can’t find anything too mice to say about this. And that is weird considering I like most of the cast – Richard Gere, the luminescent Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall and Steve Coogan. Centered around a family breaking bread discussing a tragic event involving their kids, it takes too long for us to understand what is really going on – everyone keeps on avoiding the issue – so we are left feeling frustrated and, in the end, no longer caring. Plus, the movie clocks in at 120 minutes, and those feel like long long minutes. Rarely do I feel like my time is truly wasted watching a film, and this is one of those instances.