Regrets, Please (Movie Thoughts: The Wedding Invitation)

MV5BMWY4ZTIwOWEtMjA2MC00MjQ3LWE1Y2YtZWJiMzRlN2FlZTQwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2MzgyOTU@._V1_UY1200_CR92,0,630,1200_AL_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.

Here Comes The Sun (Perfume Thoughts, Sun di Gioia , Giorgio Armani)

nd.36600Summer 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.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (Film Thoughts: Beatriz At Dinner)

BEATRIZ_046-e1497039599437One 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.

They Built A Zoo (Film Thoughts: The Zookeeper’s Wife)

large_zookeepers_wife‘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.

Buczek Fenced (Music Thoughts: Ella Lives, Vivian Buczek)

405224-350x350In 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.

Breaking Bread (Movie Thoughts: The Dinner)

dinner_ver2_xlgDirected 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.

The Glamorous Band-Aid (Perfume Thoughts, Guilty Absolute, Gucci)

nd.43040I sometimes forget that the Gucci house makes good performances (well, sometimes)  and I also forgot you can get some great perfumes at the men’s department store counter. Put those two sentences together and I am delighted to write that Gucci’s newest men’s scent, Gucci Guilty Absolute is a complete knockout. It’s quirky and unique, and I think very accessible, though I have read that it has incited polarizing reactions.

It’s a very woods-centric fragrances – as it starts with very dry woods – a dark resinous forest with hints of a hospital ward tainted with a hot of whiskey. And then some vetiver comes in, but the dark moody kind – inky and dank. But it all comes together in a surprisingly light way. Here I am right now, with three digit temperatures, but it never feels overwhelming. It’s heady but not headache inducing. Alberto Morillo signed this fragrance with Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele and I bet this doesn’t stay long out there. It’s not mainstream enough and some people have even described it as something that smells like Band-Aid. But it has gotten almost unanimous raves from perfumistas everywhere, and I am scared that that would seal its doom. I haven’t kept track of every single release this year, but Gucci Guilty Absolute would be tough to beat as the year’s best men’s department store fragrance.  This is the perfect scent to pick up at Duty Free, and I am traveling soon so it would be safe to assume a bottle would be mine soon. Very soon.