Fanning The Pop (Film Thoughts: Teen Spirit)

p16391144_p_v8_abElle Fanning stars as Violet in ‘Teen Spirit,’ and perhaps the film should have been titled A Star Is Born because Fanning makes such a grand impression here that anyone who watches this will certainly pay more attention to her. She is the best thing in the film, and the screen feels alive when she is on. Director Max Minghella knows to showcase her as a would-be pop singer, and uses music-video like techniques to show her off. (Fanning does her own singing)

The story is engaging enough, but I sometimes felt like it should be more. I like the local flavour of the setting – Isle of Wright in Britain – so you can see the Cinderella-like transition when Victoria gets to London. At the same time, the story is pretty thin, and I could not help but not feel the connection Victoria has with the failed Croatian Opera Singer (Zlatko Buric) who becomes her manager. Still I liked this film a lot more than I didn’t, and I would recommend it.

Noah’s Arc (Movie Thoughts: The Perfect Date)

the-perfect-date-poster-456x676I grew up watching the John Hughes movies of the 80s, so it is nice to see that resurgence on Netflix. Noah Centineo seems to be the Molly Ringwald of this generation, and why not? He is an appealing enough actor, and he is certainly easy on the eyes, so of course, I am so there for his new movie ‘The Perfect Date,’ and look, I am not going to pretend and say that I am expecting major literary cinema here, but for me, the film serves its purpose – it’s light, it’s funny, and Noah is certainly nice to watch. (as a small bonus, there’s even a cute gay subplot)

Centineo is so good he looks like he is doing this in his sleep. We all know from frame one where this film starts and where it will go. The surprise is if it will make us believe, and believed it every step of the way.

How Little We Know (Movie Thoughts: Little)

littleDo we really need a movie that is ‘Big’ in reverse? I actually am not opposed to the idea, and much has been said about (then) ten year old Marsai Martin pitching it to Director Tina Gordon, earning her the youngest person in history to have an Executive Producer credit. And Martin chose wisely for herself, as she is great in the movie. She is effective and fearless, and you do believe that she is an adult trapped in a young girl’s body.

Too bad the script is a bit on the dry side. A lot of the jokes did not work for me, and I felt that the movie was probably fifteen minutes too long. And while I also liked Issa Rae’s performance, I thought Regina Hall was miscast in the movie. I thought her take was on the bit on the heavy side, and I keep on envisioning a more carefree performance. I don’t know, but I am just thinking Taraji P Henson would have been a better choice (although she essentially played the same role in ‘What Women Want’ earlier this year) All in all, this was a nice distraction on a weeknight during tax season, but ultimately it just did not work for me.

The Juice (Book Thoughts: The Ladies Who Punch, Ramin Setodeeh)

41cOKdI45LL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Oh God, I miss reading. I used to read a lot more, but life! So of course a juicy tell-all book like Ramin Setoodeh would be the one who would lure me to reading again. And there is plenty of juice in ‘Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View’ that I finished it all in two days. It was that good.

My takeaways:

1 – Sure Barbara Walters was a probably bitch on wheels, but if there is someone who deserves the respect, it would be her. i found it kind of disgusting that a lot of these ladies talk about her like a dog. Rosie could me mean-spirited but she was the only one who prefaced whatever she was saying with respect. And Elizabeth Hasselback – what has she proven to the world for her to act like she is the second coming?

2 – Rosie. I have read over and over that she is difficult, and she comes across here as just medically-certified crazy. She is probably on all sorts of medication and everything makes her just so messed up. But she has one thing that most of these women don’t have – a relatable charisma that endears her to anyone who watches, including me. I can still watch her after this, and I don’t know if I can say the same thing about all the other ladies.  And she seems to have an eye and ear for what will work. If she were a man, she would only be probably categorized as ‘very difficult.’

3 – Whoopi.  She is one of the two ladies who did not sit down for interview with Setodeeh, and she still comes across negatively in my eye. I disagree with her a lot on issues, especially as she takes the side of her famous friends like Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson. She seems arrogant in the way she treated Barbara towards the end and I don’t know now if I can shake that off as I watch the current shows.

I thought the juiciest parts have already leaked but that I still enjoyed the book immensely. I can’t help but think about a sequel to this. Obviously, there is still a lot of drama brewing in the show because after the second Rosie season, the book loses steam. But I wonder if Setodeeh should be the one to write it as he is one of Megan McCain’s close friends.

Israel Too (Film Thoughts: Working Woman)

large_working-woman-poster#Metoo has been going on for as long as men have been in power over women, and it is sometimes astonishing to think there aren’t a lot of these stories in film. From Israel, Michael Aviad’s ‘Working Woman’ tries to fill that void in this timely tale of workplace sexual harassment.

Orna (Liron Ben Shlush) starts working for Benny (Menashe Noy) and he shows her the ropes in real estate marketing. But he also has a different eye on her, and one night he tries to kiss her. She resists and from there we see push and pull of him exerting power over her. This film is akin to a thriller, as he tries to assert power over her, dangling money and opportunity to compensate for his bad behavior. It sometimes feel like a domestic abuse drama, like a husband beating her up, and then minutes later becomes affectionate as he asks for forgiveness. It’s uncomfortable to watch, and Aviad does a good job creating tension and suspense. Shlush’s performance is on the subtle side, and I have to admit that at times I felt like it needed more, but of course, a fully nuanced performance is better than a showy one. She is ultimately effective here, and when we see her comeuppance at the end, we are with her.

Ultimately, this film is very important in showing a story that is probably very familiar to a lot of women, and hopefully it can inspire some to speak out. As entertainment, it is horrifying and disturbing, but there’s a great payoff in the end.

Here Comes The Sun (Perfume Thoughts: Frangipani, Jo Malone)

10266254_fpxI have been attracted to the collor yellow for Spring and just my luck, Jo Malone has released a new scent in a yellow bottle. From the Blossom collection comes Frangipani, and of course I just had to sniff (and wear) it instantly. The scent’s heart is the frangipani flower, but it also has notes of jasmine and ylang ylang. So it’s basically a white flower bouquet.

I’ve been wearing it, and it is definitely a summer scent. The perfume smells like flowers that have been out in the sun for a bit – it has a creaminess that is kind of tropical and a little bit suntan lotion ( a good vibe in my book) and there is a note they call ‘solar’ that evokes warmth. It is hard to describe but once you smell it you will definitely get it. Even though it is still lightly cooler, the scent works well but I would imagine this would be particularly nice on a hot summer day.

Don’t Be Beachin (Movie Thoughts: The Beach Bum)

large_beach-bum-posterHalfway through Harmony Korrine’s ‘The Beach Bum,’ Moondog (played by Matthew McConaughey) and his wife Minnie (Isla Fisher) starts dancing to Peggy Lee’s song ‘Is That All There Is,’ and it perfectly describes how I am feeling about the film at that point. Is this it? Is the film going to mean more or is this as good as this film gets?

The answer of course, isn’t as simple. While the plot gets a minor bump after that song, the film coasts on the same stoner vibe. There simply isn’t going to be more plot-wise here, but as a film, it delivers a lot more. My advise? Just give in and let the film take control of how you view it. Just take a toke and enjoy it, man. That seems to be the vibe of Moondog, and we are just living in his world at this point. Those searching for a greater meaning here will probably not be rewarded, or depending on your high level, everything will all make sense in the world. I have to say I just tried to enjoy the film, and for the most part, I did – the vignettes featuring Zac Efron and, especially, Martin Lawrence, were laugh out loud funny. And McConaughey has never been more natural and effortless, and in my imagination, this is him in real life. Who cares if even the flimsy plot is riddled with holes, all that matters here is that everyone who watches this is on the same trip. And it’s a wild wild trip.