I Have Been Here Before (Perfume Thoughts: Explorer, Mont Blanc)

o.85444On the cardboard thingie holding my sample of Mont Blanc’s ‘Explorer,’ there is a blurb describing the scent. The copy says: ” Mont blanc Explorer is an invitation to a fantastic journey, an irresistible call to adventure.’  Sounds good, right? Since we cannot travel right now, sounds like this is the next best thing, right? So I spritz and I wait for magic to happen.  Explorer has notes of Italian Bergamot and Haitian Veitver, and Patchouli from Sulawesi. then how come it smells like I went to a department store in the Valley? This is a freshie, and sure that’s fine, bit it doesn’t take me anywhere. There’s is nothing terribly wrong with this scent – it has nice longevity and sillage – but you kind of have to ask – what differentiates it? I read on Fragrantica that three – count em, three – noses collaborated on this scent. It smells so familiar and generic, and boring that they need not have bothered.

One Two Three (Movie Thoughts: Threesome)

Threesome_ver1I chanced upon ‘Threesome,’ a movie from 1994. I remember seeing this movie, and back then (could it really be almost twenty six years ago) I remember liking the movie a lot, though I have not seen the film since I saw it, probably opening weekend that year. So I wonder whether the film still works. Does it stand the test of time?

Yes, and no. First of all, the set up. I really do think that after a certain generation, sexual orientation ceases to be a big issue for young people. Gay college students? Yeah, so what, they will say. Someone of that age nowadays will have probably gone through all the emotional journey of being gay. There would be so much support on campus that they would certainly not be as lost as Eddy (Josh Charles) was on this film. This would throw half the premise of the film. But the other half, about the ‘threesome’ is still relevant. How many times have we heard of throuples? The relationship between the three people here seems more for emotional exploratory – it’s how the three of them find a lot about themselves.

Lara Flynn Boyle reads too old to be a college student now, All three leads, in fact, to me, look too old, but then again that ay be my generational bias. Stephen Baldwin here seems a little miscast, but it was nice to see him before he became the right wing Trump supporter that he has become. Charles is best, here, and looks luminously handsome. I remember jonesing over him then, and that angle still works. This is one of those movies that is a product of its time, I think young kids nowadays would probably find the situations laughably hokey, but they have much to learn from how these characters are able to find a bit of themselves from the same situation.

Plain Ol Vanilla (Movie Thoughts: Vanilla)

vanI seem to be going through a ‘watching movie’ rut lately. Nothing is exciting me, nothing is interesting to me.  I have a huge to-watch pile but nothing is screaming to me. I pull something out of it, but I end up starting and stopping. I think I have started Will Dennis’ ‘Vanilla’ a couple of times that I just told myself, just let it play, just go along with wherever it is taking you. The film took a while for me to get going, but it’s ok. It’s kind of a love story, and a road trip film. The characters are a little interesting, an app maker and a stand up comic,  and though the characterizations are on the familiar side, the actors (Will Dennis himself and Kelsea Bauman) inject a little bit more. This is one of those films that, halfway through, you already know where you are going to end up, but Dennis gives you a twist or two to wake you up.

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.