Let’s Get Political (Movie Thoughts: Irresistible)

irrestistableThere’s a lot to unpack in Jon Stewart’s ‘Irresistible.’ It’s one of those movies, for me, that start out really well. Steve Carell plays Gary, a Democrat operative and we see him the day after Trump wins. He and his counterpart, Faith, (Rose Byrne) are both spinning their respective messages. And Gary is dejected, not wanting to answer the phone fielding his reaction to the election results. Then Gary zeroes in on a guy (Jack, played by Chris Cooper) from a viral video –  a Democrat in conservative clothing who he deems as some kind of savior for the party. So he goes to Wisconsin to convince Jack to run for mayor. And before you know it, the election cycle goes to high spin, with millions of dollars being thrown in each campaign. The main impression I got from the film? For a comedy it seems to be pretty joyless. The premise is familiar, but the ‘twist’ made it really hard to believe. Yes, it’s a parody, and satire, but the message is packaged differently. It’s a feel-bad movie – it is harsh to both political parties, so I don’t know what audience it is trying to get. Carell and Byrne are good – surprisingly subtle both – but in the end, I lost interest in whatever game they were trying to play.

Beauty Freed (Film Thoughts: Miss Juneteenth)

mjI think ‘Miss Juneteenth’ is a perfect way to spend your time on Juneteenth. It is a wonderful story about a mother and daughter at a crossroad in both their lives, Nicole Beharie plays Turquoise Jones, a woman who won the Miss Juneteenth title from 2004. In the beginning of the film, we see her fall in not so prosperous times – she is working at a bar doing multiple shifts to keep her daughter afloat. We see her mentoring her daughter to become the next Miss Juneteenth, but Kai’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it.

Channing Giodfrey People’s film is set in a very specific world – Fort Worth, Texas – and she presents that world lovingly. We see a woman who may not be where she wants to be, and you know she means well for her daughter Kai so even her stage mothering doesn’t seem too problematic. We see the love between the two women, and somehow you know that everything will be alright for them, even if it seems like it might not be. Beharie is great as Turquioise, and we see her trapped in a dream, but not enslaved by it. I think it’s one of the best performances in this weird film year.

Victor’s Unraveling (Television Thoughts: Love Victor S01 E 05 06 07 08 09 10, Hulu)

love-victor-movie-posterI was right. The latter five episodes of Hulu’s ‘Love Victor’ was much better. In a way, the first set is a set up, as after it, Victor has realized more and more that he is gay, and that he is attracted to Benjie. I think George Sears is adorable as Benjie, and I am even using his poster for this post. I think one of the best episodes is when Victor goes to New York City to meet Simon, and is welcomed by a diverse and loving gay family there. It tore me up, because it is true, When you are gay, your friends become your family, and sometimes not-blood family is more precious than the bloodlined ones. I appreciated Nick Robinson’s cameo as Simon, tying everything up together. When he gets back to Atlanta, the show all of a sudden became deeper, and the relationships he has with all these people got more textured. I loved the scene when he comes out to Felix, and want to believe it is a better world out there with young people that this sort of thing is no longer a big issue. And the scenes leading to the dance is heartbreaking – I can relate top what Victor was going through, keeping a secret that is slowly unraveling before his eyes. I hope there is a second season.

Stop The Beat (Movie Thoughts: Feel The Beat, Netflix)

Feel_the_Beat_(film)_posterIs Netflix really ushering a new age of teen movies? Or is it just the same old crap?  Hav e to say that nowadays it feels like there’s more trash than gold there, and you can put ‘Feel The Beat’ in the meh department. Elissa Down’s film is formula through and through, and I just couldn’t get into it – it took me two days to watch this when something like this should be a nice easy viewing. I think it may also have to do with Sofia Caron, who stars in the film. I guess she has done a slew of Disney films as a teen, but i really did not know. She is one of the most wooden actresses I have ever seen. There is not a lot of characterization here, and I felt nothing for her character. The kid dancers were cute, and Wolfgang Novogratz’s crooked smile got me, but honestly, there is nothing here for me to write about.

Make Me Feel Like A Teenage Dream (Film Thoughts: Babyteeth/Looks That Kill)

babyShannon Murphy’s ‘Babyteeth’ is a film about a couple of things  – it’s a teenage romance story, a teenage coming of age, and also of the teenage with a disease genre. You would think that would be too much all in one film but the parts of the stories intermingle with each other seamlessly that everything jiust works.

Milla (Elizabeth Scanlen, from the last Little Women film) has cancer, and when she thinks her life has stood still because of it meets Moses (Tobey Wallace) at a train station and falls in love with him. At first he is ambivalent about her, but responds to the affection she shows him. This, for me, is the most interesting aspect of the film – that push and pull of emotions between the two characters – is it an unrequited love? Does he become to love her because of pity, or is it genuine? In stories like these, we never really know what’s real, and the screenplay plays with all aspects of emotions, and Scanles and Wallace are both fantastic – vulnerable both at unexpected times, and showing strength when their characters need to be. What happens is ultimately heartbreaking, and is fantastic filmmaking.

81NwMxL2sTL._RI_On a smaller level, teenage angst is explored as well in Kellen Moore’s ‘Looks That Kill.’  The premise is cringe-worthy.  Max  is a teenager (Brandon Flynn) possesses such beauty that whoever sees him, dies. Like literally. It took me a long while for me to get on board with that idea and I didn’t know where the film would go, until Max meets Alex (Julia Golden) and the film, as it turns out, becomes a sweet love story. I mean, even the most beautiful is looking for love, right? It seems like a waste to have Flynn star in a film and then cover his face with bandage, but here we are. I got caught in their sweet story and I bet a lot of young people will, too. This film would be great summer watching while in quarantine.

Love, Actually (Television Thoughts: Love, Victor S01 E 01 – E 05)

love-victor‘Love Simon’ really touched so I was elated to find that there was going to be a television show spinoff from it. From Hulu comes ‘Love, Victor,’ about a teenager, George Salazar, who moves to Georgia from Texas, the same world where Simon Spiers (Nick Robinson’s character in the film) inhibited. Victor’s journey isn’t as easy as Simon’s – he has more conservative parents and is quickly drawn to situations that will make him fit in his new school – dating a girl. I am about halfway through the series and I have some thoughts.

First, I know this was developed for Disney+ and was banished to Hulu, perhaps because they deemed the material too racy for Disney. Puh-leese – this is as safe as a series gets, and the first half shows it was clearly meant for the Disney audience, manly tween girls, Victor starts dating a girl, even as he questions his orientation. This is clearly meant to satisfy that audience. At times I felt like I was watching the wrong show – is this about a straight teenage couple? I hope the latter half improves on that front.

But i can’t knock the show – it is cute and charming and the cast is great. Michael Cimino as Victor is superb, able to show vulnerability even as he is awkward and self-deprecating. And George Sear as his male love interest is cute, and I gotta admit I was drawn into that cute scene where Benji starts singing ‘Call Me Maybe’ on stage because that’s become their theme, a wink to the secret the audience only knows. By the end of the fifth episode, the path isn’t clearer, and it just whets my appetite for what’s to come next.

Trans Lives Matters (Film Thoughts: Disclosure)

large_disclosure-movie-posterNetflix’s new documentary ‘Disclosure’ has never been timely and should be required viewing during Pride Month. If there was ever an eye-opening documentary, this would be it. The film, directed by Sam feder, looks at trans representation in films throughout history, from the silent films of D W Griffiths to the current landscape. it shows us how badly represented trans people have been in history. It’s so weird, because I have seen most of the films featured in the film, and it feels like I am looking at those films with new eyes, and I kick myself for not looking at it that way before, ads I am a member of the LGBTQ community myself. It is made up of interviews with trans people, and how these films have shaped how they see themselves in society – how trans people have been portrayed for comedic purposes most of the time, and how their representation have been mostly negative – prostitutes or murderers, giving society a most narrow view. It covers a lot of things, though sometimes too much that. it doesn’t give a viewer time to think and absorb their points. But darn it if it isn’t essential viewing for everyone.

The Deep Blue Sea (Perfume Thoughts: Polo Deep Blue, Polo Ralph Lauren)

375x500.59650I don’t know what I was expecting when I tried a sample of Polo Deep Blue. Maybe I had high hopes because once upon a time, decades ago, I wore the original Polo green bottle almost everyday. But I can’t remember the last time a Polo fragrance impressed me – I think I like the coffee note in Polo Red but that’s about it. Polo Deep Blue is exactly what you think if would be – an aquatic aromatic fragrance. I see the top notes listed as mango ang grapefruit, and if they were there they must have been fleeting because what I get here is just the boring middle notes – generic woodsy citrusy notes that are everywhere in designers’ men fragrance. They are so basic and interchangeable, and this smells like any other mens fragrance out there. This has no unique personality whatsoever. I gotta say, though, it is strong – the sillage is enormous – I kind of felt bad for my Uber driver this morning.

Who Could Imagine A King? (Movie Thoughts: The King Of Staten Island)

kossI miss those days when every weekend, more often than not, I would looking forward to seeing a new film, whether it be a studio or independent release.  This week I only have Judd Apatow’s ‘The King of Staten Island,’ and I am only mildly interested in it. The scariest thing about it for me? The film runs at 145 minutes, a length that should be reserved for epics. This film isn’t one.

The film is a plodding mess. I disliked most of the characters in it, especially the main character, Scott. Played by Pete Davidson, Scott is one of those boys that never grew up. His family around him mentions some kind of mental illness, but we don’t really know how they get to that. What we do know is that he is ‘damaged’ because he lost his firefighter father at aged seven. Sure,  that’s a touch card to be dealt with, but a lto of other children experience the same thing and they do not act as childish and bratty as Scott. And Davidson is perfectly cast in that regard, for his acting range runs from angry to petulant. Most of the time, I just want to shake him and say grow up.  I disagreed with almost every action his character makes, making me not want to spend time in his world. As a result, that 145 minute felt like an eternity. Thank God for Marisa Tomei, the only bright spot i n the film for me – I always say she is an underrated actress, always an MVP in the films she is in.

Yes To Never (Television Thoughts: Never Have I Ever Season One)

nhivSo yeah, I finally finished a Netflix show by really bingeing it. ‘Never Have I Ever’ goes by so quickly and easily it’s so easy to devour it. Call me hooked, but I got sucked into Devi’s life and loves. There were a lot of things that happened on the second half of the series, and I thought most of it was pretty good. I like the fact that we saw the depth of the character – we see how the death of her father really affected her psyche, and we even get sub storylines from her friends that are pretty satisfying. And just when we thought we were all rooting for her to end up with Paxton, there’s Ben. I am usually good at gauging how things go, but I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by that, and I kick myself for not really entertaining the idea earlier. I have to say, though, that I like the Devi/Ben pairing, only because the Paxton character is such a wuss. I hear that the show is a success, and I look forward to Season 2 !