Before High (Film Thoughts: Eighth Grade)

fullsizeoutput_6e7e-e1531176977576How many times have you heard someone (of a certain age) say, ‘Could you imagine if you had social media during our youth?’   I always say that I lived and grew up in a more innocent time, with none of today’s constant barrage of information. Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’ gives a glimpse of how today’s youth are dealing with, and surviving life with these tools. Burnham’s film feels so deep, so true to what it really feels to be a certain age that it reads like a documentary at times. And Elsie Fisher, as Kayla, is so authentic I may never be able to differentiate her from the actor for the rest of her career. I spent a good part of this film cringing while Kayla makes the same mistakes we all made, well at least I made them. She has a YouTube channel where she gives advise, yet struggles to apply the same things to her life. She has a crush on a kid, and acts so stupid when he is around (hell, I do the same thing at my age now)  There are a couple of scary anecdotes to how these kids live nowadays. For example, kids are now trained as to how to react when there is an active shooter at their school (‘Run the other way!’) and there is a round of Truth or Dare that is creepier than any horror scene. It is all so fascinating, and left a mark in my mind.

Still Orange Flowers (Perfume Thoughts, APOM Pour Homme, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris)

375x500.6806I was interested in trying Francis Kurkdjian’s APOM Pour Homme because from what I have been reading, it is very similar to Kurkdjian’s Fleur de Male, which I think is his masterpiece. I love orange flower as a note, so it has to be a win-win situation whether it is or not. And when I spritzed this, that very familiar orange flower note welcomes – it really is his signature note, isn’t it?

The blast is pretty strong, and it is mixed with some woods (I am being told it is cedar) and then, on my skin, it just stays that way. On this warm day, it really does not turn powdery. On me, it is quite linear. I mean, it’s beautiful. but it really does not do anything else. Perhaps it is the heat and humidity that is making it act this way. Yes, I do like it, but with Maison Francis Kurkdjian price points, is it asking too much for it to do more?

Suddenly Summer (Movie Thoughts: Hot Summer Nights)

tumblr_p37rjqKK8o1vo5ua5o1_1280Happy July Fourth, and why not start it off with a summer-themed film, one with wholesome American values, like marijuana!

‘Hot Summer Nights’ is Timothee Chalamet’s follow-up feature after ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ amd just like the latter movie, takes place during a summer in a young man’s life. (The year is 1991)  I think comparison of the two films ends there. Elijah Bynum’s film is about Daniel, who in the course of the summer, gets involved in selling weed, and Chalamet here channels a bit of Tom Cruise here circa Risky Business. I think there’s no doubt that Chalamet is a great actor – he is charming and fearless and fun to watch here, but his performance alone cannot elevate a tepid and familiar script. You have seen all this before, and sometimes better. I can’t think of any original idea here. Chalamet plays well with Alex Roe, who plays Hunter, the guy who lures Daniel into a life of crime. There’s a romantic distraction as Daniel falls for the hot chick in town, played by Maika Monroe, but they are all shiny objects trying to highlight an empty room. The whole cast deserve better than this bloated almost-two-hour film, and the audience does too.

Oh My Love Is Red Red Red (Perfume Thoughts: Graine de Joie, Eau D’Italie)

375x500.24702I believe in the feng shui of wearing red on Mondays, and that extends to my scent – I always wear something from a red bottle and/or red juice. So I am always on the lookout for red-centric scents. I saw a sample of Eau d’Italie’s Graine de Joie from my stash and loved it instantly, and then I realized that it had a red bottle, so I was doubly excited. Plus, it smalls so ‘red.’ I get berries and pomegranate, and this is a nice juicy pomegranate with just the right amount of bitterness to not make it smell too sweet. The top has some fizz, akin to boozy champagne, and really, this perfume just makes me smile, and puts me in a great mood. I would imagine wearing this first thing Monday morning and it would immediately put me in a good mood. So, yeah, this goes directly on top of my want list. (And yes, I am writing this on the first day of the month so I am excited)

Let Him Eat Cake (Film thoughts: The Cakemaker)

large_Cakemaker_PressPosterHQClosing out Pride month, I am writing about, for me,  the best ‘gay’ film since last year’s ‘Call Me By Your Name.’  Written and Directed by Ofir Raul Graizer, ‘The Cakemaker’ is one of those movies that got to me. After seeing the movie, I wanted to just get home and think about it in silence. It’s the story of a German baker Thomas (Tim Kalkhof, looking like a German Jonathan Groff) who falls in love with an Israeli businessman who travels monthly to Berlin. When the businessman suddenly dies in a car accident, Thomas flies to Jerusalem and gets involved in the life of the man’s widow Anat (Sarah Adler)

This is a great example of how grief ties people together. There is a lot of softness and delicacy on the film, and I was engrossed from the first frame. It speaks to me about how a connection (or disconnection) can make a lasting impact in one’s life, and the different ways we deal with grief. Thomas changes Anat’s life for he better, and while there’s a certain plot point in there that I theoretically did not believe in, thee are fine actors that I swallowed it whole. Kalkhof is fantastic here, muted and passive, yet expressing powerful emotions in a  nod and a glance, and Adler a formative match, vulnerable, determined, sympathetic. It shows us realities in modern day Israel – the dichotomy of being religious and liberal, of tradition and acceptance. By the end, I was sobbing, and I didn’t know why. Of course, I knew it was because of the sheer beauty of the film.


Faking It (Television Thoughts: Hollywood Love Story, Viceland)

glI don’t know what compelled me to start watching Viceland’s ‘Hollywood Love Story.’ Maybe the allure of Paris Hilton? I doubt it, but by the way, she is older-looking now, and while still gorgeous, is looking a little bit like Kyle Richards. The show is a bit confusing for me – I read that these are about Instagram celebrities wanting to make it in show business. The first episode focuses on Riott, a wanna be singer with neon green hair. I live in Los Angeles, and you see these struggling artists everywhere, and it’s so tough to make it in the business, for sure, and this show showcases them. Anyhow, Riott lives in Silverlake, sharing an apartment with four other people. She documents everything on Instagram and has thousands of followers (other people are identified by their names and their numbers of followers) But, we never really hear Riott’s music – she kinda vocalizes and raps but when she had a performance, the series focused more on her tantrum about her friends not coming to the show rather than the music. And Paris is barely on – she just has these small snippets of dialogue to the camera. And by the end of the show, we see Riott moving to a new house – so is this like a ‘Real World’ type of deal where we follow her and other people in the house? Above all, though, do I really care?

Fun Home (Film Thoughts: Ideal Home)

Ideal-Home-Poster-Hi-Res-2I watch a lot of these gay-themed movies, and even though I am glad they get made and improve queer visibility, some of them just irritate me to the core. For the month of June, I am trying to feature as much gay content in my writings here, and was looking forward to seeing ‘Ideal Home,’ if only because I am a Paul Rudd fan – he can most of the time do no wrong for me. Well, he still displays infinite charm here in this film, directed by Andrew Fleming. But his charm is not enough to save this sinking ship. In here he plays Paul, who is partnered with Erasmus (Steve Coogan) and out of the blue, a kid shows up in their doorstep, Angel, who is Erasmus’ grandchild. Hilarity ensues, right, as this gay couple tries to raise a kid.

But my main problem with the film is that the characters of Erasmus and Paul are so thin that we only get ‘personality’ instead of real human beings. They fight and bicker and insult each other, and it’s like being inside a car of a fighting couple: unpleasant, awkward, and the sense that you just want to get out of there. I hated my time with these people and could care less if they succeed with raising the child. Plus, the child is entitled and spoiled so really, who are you going to root for in this film?

Fleming based this story on his experiences in raising a child. Surely, his own life is more textured than the thin plot here. I was disappointed with this picture. Coogan and Rudd try to save it with charm, but that only goes so far. I try to rid my life of toxic people, and these characters are as toxic as they get.