In Search Of The Man (Television Thoughts: Manhunt, American Crime Story, The Assassination of Gianni Versace Episode 2)

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I don’t really know if I will be writing about every episode of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace but here I am, compelled to write about episode 2. A friend of mine who I discuss the show with has said that he finds the show a little slow. I don’t know if I agree with that, but I do think that the jump in timelines make watching the show a little difficult to watch at times. But I have to say, though, I am now on the Darren Criss side – he is easing into the character more, and he is doing a great job. There is one scene where Andrew gets caught by a little girl at a parking lot changing his car plates and when he catches her looking at him, he gives her a big smile and seconds later throws the license plate at his truck. It showed the charming psychopath that Cunanan was.

The series also shows that at the time, Versace had already been diagnosed with HIV, which was the rumour going around at that time, and allegedly the family had been trying to conceal it. Penelope Cruz as Donatella is great, although her Catalan accent is kind of bothersome. But still, her presence gives Donatella the proper justice. Ricky Martin continues to surprise me, showing Antonio with a lot of depth. And Max Greenfeld as Ronnie was fantastic, playing a junkie that Cunanan met at the rundown hotel he was staying at.

The show still fascinates me, and I am still baffled by how incompetent the FBI was in handling the case. Cunanan, at that time, had already murdered four people, and was already in America’s Most Wanted list (he was even recognized by a sandwich shop employee) yet was free to roam all over Miami. If only they were able to distribute the flyers all over the gay clubs, one wonders if the crime could have been averted.

What To Post (Film Thoughts: The Post)

large_Post-posterFor all you young ones, ‘The Post’ is not about Facebook or Instagram.  Rather, it is Steven Spielberg’s new film about freedom of the press, and in this day and time, it really is a message that resonates. Apparently, Spielberg rushed this in time for Oscar bait season, if only to reiterate that this as relevant today as it was in 1971 when the movie is set.

The film has megastars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in it, playing, respectively Kay Graham and Ben Bradles. It tells the story of the publication of The Pentagon Papers, which showed the United State government deceiving the American people regarding involvement with Vietnam. The New York Times began to publish excerpts from it but the courts stopped them from further printing because of alleged threats to national security. When The Washington post got access to the same papers, they face a dilemma: should they go ahead and publish it face repercussions, which could close the paper and put its publishers in jail.

Both Hanks and Streep are great here, although really this are roles that really both could do in their sleep. There are people who say that Streep doesn’t do anything new here, and sure, the same mannerisms and tics do show up in her Kay Graham, but I think she gives a more understated performance here than usual, and I kind of liked that. Does the film feel like a rush job? I don’t  particularly think so, although I think the film carries it own weight a little too much. Yes, we know freedom of the press is important but the film hammers it a little too much. It’s not the worst thing in the world, and the film is good solid entertainment. One should certainly see it.

Eternal Fling (Perfume Thoughts: Une Amourette, Etat Libre d’Orange x Roland Mouret)

375x500.46517I’ve been waiting to sniff ‘Une Amourette’ for the longest time since I read about it last year. It’s a collaboration between fashion designer Roland Mouret and Eta Libre d’Orange. I love the exclusivities of collaborations, and I know that if there’s one house where you can be creative and out-there, it would be Eld’O.

It’s my new favorite perfume of the new year, and I know January has barely started but this one would be pretty hard to beat. Apparently Mouret has described this scent as ‘the smell of skin after sex,’ and really, if this was the case, I would have more sex because the perfume just smells so divine.

It starts with a big patchouli note, but it’s a gauzy patchouli. That is not a surprise, since the perfume is signed by Daniela Anders, who does all the gauzy Prada perfume. there’s the freshness of neroli in the opening, and it is not your usual juicy kind – this one is tempered and transparent. There’s something spicy there (black pepper, amber) but again the effect is kind of a silhouette – it’s delicate but not too flighty. If this scent was a color, I would describe it as gold – not the flashy kind but a nice understated one. Mouret has also said that there is an animalistic quality to the perfume, and I don’t quite get it, and that’s fine, because on my skin, the richness and opulence takes center stage. On his Spring 2018 show, he sprayed these in between the thighs of his models, because he wants this to be worn that way.  No complaints here.

My perfumes are in storage right now because of my big move (I am living off my samples, believe it or not) but if I had the luxury of space, i would get a bottle right now. At some point, I know I have to have this, it’s going to be just a matter of when \.

Unfriend This Film (Movie Thoughts: Almost Friends)

almSince I never saw ‘Bates Motel,’ I only know of Freddie Highmore from his role as the autistic savant title role in ‘The Good Doctor.’  For some reason, I cannot get that out of my head, and I know it is totally unfair but I cannot separate that from his character Charlie, here in ‘Almost Perfect.’ I’m sorry to say I thought Charlie was ‘special.’

Of course, he is not. This is supposed to be a young man kind of coming-of-age story (but not really) and Charlie is supposed to be in love with Amber (Odeya Rush)  But who would want to fall in love with Charlie, all jitter and nerves. Highmore is cute, but too bland, and honestly too bland to be anything, so you don’t fall in love with his character. You won’t even like it.

And the screenplay doesn’t help. It’s generic and feels like ten thousand other similar movies, most done better.

Deep In Vogue (Television Thoughts: The Man Who Would Be In Vogue, Pilot Episode, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, F/X

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I had been looking forward to seeing ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ because o a couple of things. Firstly, I remember when this incident happened, and followed the case close enough when it was on the headlines. Of course, the old me don’t remember really that much about the case, so I thought it would be well to see it unfold in a different way. Second, Versace’s killer, Andrew Cunanan, is half-Filipino so culturally it is resonating with me – although really being a psychopath doesn’t really get dictated by nationality. And lastly, this looks to be one of the gayest shows this season – directed by Ryan Murphy, and starring Ricky Martin and Darrin Criss. Well, Criss isn’t technically gay, but I have only seen him play gay, so he might as well be.

And the pilot. ‘The Man Who Would Be Vogue’ was pretty engaging. I know some have complained that it was a little slow, but I thought it moved quickly enough, and really, is there that much to say to warrant nine episodes? It begins at the day of the shooting, and moves back and forth in time. There were details I didn’t really know – that bird which got killed by a stray bullet was something I didn’t know. Plus, I thought the performances were universally good. Edgar Ramirez looks and talks like the real Gianni that it was sometimes jarring. And what great revelation Ricky martin is here. I know he has acted before, and I have seen him on stage even on Les Miserable, but his Antonio D’Amico here has great shades of subtlety (I suspect Murphy’s hand there)  Penelope Cruz is inspired casting – there’s just a dash of camp there for vavavavoom but you never feel it isn’t real – Cruz gives her great humanity. And Darren Criss is blazing hot to look at as Andrew Cunanan, which probably best represented the character: all accounts from people he knew said he had charm. There are moments of deep depth in Criss here – in the ‘fantasy’ sequence of him and Versace on stage at the San Francisco Opera, you can see his mind swirling as Cunanan’s probably was- but slim writing probably hindered him in some scenes. When he gets to his car after killing Versace, we never truly know what is going on in Cunanan’s mind, and Criss never really filled in the blanks there.

For sure, though, the show is great to look at and sounds incredible. The bright Miami sunlight gives it a great glow, and there is that stunning opening sequence of Casa Casuarina choreographed to Albinoni’s Adagio. I am hooked, and cannot wait for the next episodes.

Come Look At The Freaks (Film Thoughts: Freak Show)

freakOften I wonder if kids today have it easier than I did. Is there more tolerance out there among teenagers, or are kids going to be kids, with opinions unformed and at times misled? Either way, I am glad that movies like ‘Freak Show’ exist, because this movie celebrates being different, because in life being true to yourself makes a happy life. We should always be reminded of that.

This is Trudie Styler’s directorial debut, working from a script by Patrick Clifton and Beth Ragazio, and in case one doesn’t know, Styler is the wife of pop star Sting. Alex Lawther stars as Billy Bloom, a teenager who is ‘trans-fabulous,’ and of course where does he get his fabulosity from, but from Bette Midler who plays his mother (she gives a memorable star performance here in a small but important role)  Billy moves from Connecticut to a generic red state, where star cheerleaders quote Donald Trump. And on his first day, he dresses like Boy George, much to the shock of his schoolmates. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the student body, and he gets beaten up shortly. The star football player (super cute Ian Nelson) forms an unlikely friendship with him, but their friendship is tested when Billy sets out to run for Homecoming Queen, against said Trump-quoting villain.

There’s a lot going here, and it is matched visually. You are never bored with the beautiful things on screen and there are enough distractions to steer you away from realizing there isn’t much plot here. But there’s enough to make it very interesting. There are great performances all around, although a slightly chunky Abigail Breslin doesn’t quite fit the villainy homecoming queen nemesis (Surely a red state version would be suffering from anorexia) There are nice casting touches, like John McEnroe as the gritty physical education teacher, and Laverne Cox as the reporter assigned to cover the homecoming queen competition. Lawther is quite fin as Billy, although I feel so much for the friendship with the cute football player – surely he will fall in love him, and it will be unrequited, and will truly not end well for Billy, but sure those are just my projections here. Overall, I still recommend the movie – it has quite a few funny and touching moments, and as I said before, the message of inclusion and tolerance cannot be stressed enough, especially in these Trump times.

We Can Be Kind (Movie Thoughts: Paddington 2)

p2I liked the first Paddington movie enough that I am very interested in seeing ‘Paddington 2.’  And the Anglophile that I am makes me doubly excited about it. Plus, every critic I know and trust has given this film a rave, so as I sat down waiting for the film to start, I was already salivating.

Well, Paddington 2 was….cute. It was very cute. On a personal level, it was just exactly what I needed, because I have been dealing with some stress lately. It made me smile; maybe not laugh out loud, but at the very least a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I wish I loved it. I wish I connected with it. I wish it made me want to see it again right after, but honestly, I totally forgot about it minutes after it ended. There are a lot of very nice things about it – the picturesque London locale, the warm and soothing and very expressive voice of Ben Whishaw voicing Paddington, and the wonderful cast (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville) There’s a great performance here by Hugh Grant as a villain, and he seems to be enjoying every minute playing it (though him replacing Armie Hammer for a BAFTA nomination is a bit much, really, but I am just bitter)  I even love its pro-immigration lesson, and I hope kids growing up with these films take it to heart, especially in these Brexit/DACA climate.

I just wish the plots were less predictable, that there was some element of surprise. I wish there was more oomph for me – at times it felt just so formulaic you could immediately see where it is going right from the very beginning.

One observation, though, if I may: I thought it was interesting that there is a Sally Hawkins scene here towards the end that is very similar to a scene she has in ‘The Shape Of Water.’ I am sure it is a great coincidence, but still worth observing.