Sea Candy (Perfume Thoughts, Riva Solari, Bvlgari Allegra Collection)

Bvlgari’s Allegra’ collection is a series of scents expressing ‘Italian emotions,’ and I had a chance to sample ons of them, ‘Riva Solari,’ and the fragrance is meant to evoke a boat ride on the Mediterranean. I have always liked the Bvlgari house, and always thought their perfumes have a distinct and unique character.

This isn’t bad, if a bit slight and colorless. It is a powdery citrus, and is pleasant, but in my opinion lacks a distinct character. It also has a slightly salty feel (probably the sea reference)but kinda faintly sweet the same time. I think faint is the big takeaway here – there is very little projection from it, thought the fragrance lasted a long time (I did use the whole sample though)

All in all, it’s on the unremarkable side. I do like the candy bottle though.

Die Again (Movie Thoughts: The Obituary of Tunde Johnson)

Ali Le Roi’s ‘The Obituary of Tunde Johnson’ has good intentions – it tells a story of a gay American-Nigerian teen who gets killed by police – but somewhere gets lost in the translation. Or in the way the story is told. It uses the ‘Groundhog Day’ format and the narrator here recounts day after day the events or what happens to Tunde. But somehow, in the end, teh film becomes z message about the young man’s closeted white boyfriend, and you say what the hell (I actually did not mind as much because the boif was cute) Surely a lot of people will say, ‘that’s now what I signed for,’ and they wouldn’t be wrong.

Dear My Dear (Film Thoughts: Dear Tenant)

I saw ‘Dear Tenant’ at this year’s Frameline, San Francisco’s Gay and Lesbian Film festival. Cheng Yu-chieh’s film is one of the main films of the festival, and I was happy to support it. And the film starts out well, with a big question in the plot waiting to be answered. In the middle of the whole story is a gay love story, and the film builds its premise around it. The film has great technical aspects – it looks great on screen and is acted well – even if its ‘big reveal’ is a bit underwhelming. But it’s an interesting enough eatch, and establishes Taiwan as a great spource of modern LGBT+ stories.

Where There’s Love (Television Thoughts: Love Victor, Season Two)

I just finished watching the rest of the second season of ‘Love Victor,’ and I, of course, have thoughts. All in all, I still love the show, and there were various moments in the show where I tore up. I thought it was wise to have the show deal with life after coming out. At times, as in real life, things don’t necessarily improve – you have to deal with the ‘fallout’ from it. In Victor’s case, his mom is at first reticent to his coming out: she is a devout Catholic, after all, and has all those ‘values’ behind her. Speaking of which, the Catholic church does not come off well in the show – their bigotry and hypocrisy is shown here, and frankly, it’s not a good look. I like the fact that the show did not shy away from that issue.

There is a little bit of lazy storytelling, though. The main conflict between Victor and Benji could have been more imaginative. Sure, any relationship can go through rocky times, but what happens between them is very similar to what happens in another relationship in their group. Maybe they are trying to do parallels (and showing how similar all relationships are) but it just felt too familiar. And I liked the addition of Rahim (Anthony Kevyan) and he is a breath of fresh air, but I felt things happened too quickly for him just to have some kind of cliffhanger dilemma for Victor. That situation felt rushed. I do like that the show tackled sex issues head on. I wasn’t expecting it to be ground breaking and edgy (I’ll leave that to ‘Euphoria’) but this is real enough,a nd not as white-washed as I thought it would be. All in all, quite an enjoyable watch for me, and I am game – very game – for Season Three.

Up On The Roof (Movie Thoughts: Made In Rooftop)

It seems like Koreans are making strides everywhere – music, fashion, movies. I mean, they even won a Best Picture Oscar. So when I had a chance to watch a gay film, ‘Made in Rooftop,’ I jumped at the chance. A lot of people described this film as fun and charming, so I went in with high expectations. It is directed by Kim Joo-Kwang Soo, who is openly gay.

It’s a cute movie, but kind of ordinary. I liked the character of Bongsik (Ji Cheong-shin) who is kind of a Gen Z free-spirit, one of those social media influencers who make a living off just being who they are. The plot is pretty run-of-the-mill, though the change of tones can be a bit jarring. I also thought there wasn’t much balance in the two stories. The whole film is entertaining enough. If for anything, it gave me a little glimpse of gay life in South Korea, and I really appreciated that.

Dewy Barbershop (Perfume Thoughts: Lavande Romaine, Perris)

I don’t write about Perris that much. I don’t even think I have anything from their house. But for some reason, I was looking through my samples and found I have one from them, of Lavande Romaine. I think it is from one of my Scent Bar visits. The scent is by Jean Claude Ellena, and it is a classic Ellena – watery, transparent, very original. It basically centers on two notes: lavender and black currant. When I first spritzed it, my first reaction was: ‘this smells juicy.’ I love the sweet and tart combination of the black currant note (L’ombre dans l’eau is one of my all time favorites) and the mix here is quite original. This smells like a dewy barbershop. It’s interesting. But.. this is just so fleeting on my skin. It did not even last an hour on me – a lot of Ellena’s creations do that on my skin. I find I have to douse myself with it to capture its full intensity.

Call Luca By Its Name (Film Thoughts: Luca)

Reasons why ‘Luca’ will be forever compared to ‘Call Me By Your Name’

1.       The two movies are set in Italy about two male friends who pal and bike around and have awakenings together. In both films, same male characters are hiding a secret from the world.

2.       Is Luca named after Luca Guadigno, director of ‘Call Me Your Name?’

3.       Doesn’t Luca look like a young a pre-teen Timothee Chalamet?

4.       Luca is voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays the Elio-like character in ‘We Are What We Are,’ which is a HBO series also set in Italy, and is directed by … guess who?

Seriously, though. I thoroughly enjoyed the film. You know why? This film has a nice, simple, relatable human story that anyone can understand, and more importantly, feel. Some of these cartoon films are so fantastical when, really, you just want a story that hits your core. The film more than satisfies in that department. I fell in love with the characters, and shed a tear or two. It’s really all I need. 

Ordinary Indeed (Music Thoughts: No Ordinary Love: The Music of Sade, Bill Kwan)

Bill Kwan is a doctor by trade and discovered his love of music and decided to pursue a career in singing, recording his own versions of pop songs and jazzifying them. His latest target is the music of Sade (the singer and band) and the result is ‘No Ordinary Love.’

Look. I really tried to like this. Sade’s music is so specific in production, arrangement. Her phrasing is so distinctly hers, and creates such a mood that only she can do. I did not hear anything original in kwan’s album, which to my ears is an inferior retread of everything Sade. Why bother? If it was successful in anything, it would be to further highlight Sade’s excellence. I wanted to (and did) listen to the original versions… and everything felt better.

Go back to saving lives, Bill.

At The Ballet (Film Thoughts: Firebird)

Peter Rebane’s ‘Firebird’ is a sweeping romantic war melodrama, the kind you think they don’t make anymore. It’s lush, sentimental, and thrilling, and it’s a gay love story for the ages. It has triumph and heartbreak. For my money, it’s the perfect movie for Pride Month.

It’s also the true story of Sergey Fetisov, based on his memoirs ‘The Story of Roman.’ It tells his story, the story of his love affair with his new lieutenant. Tom prior stars (and also co-wrote the screenplay) as Sergey and he is magnificent here, with his leading man looks and soulful eyes. You can feel the pain in his eyes throughout the film and in the most poignant ending scene, expresses all the film’s emotions wordlessly. I feel he is destined to be a big name.

Some might not like the overt sentimentality of the film, but I didn’t mind it. Sometimes you just need a weepy love tale, and this one fits the bill. There is a sequence here when Sergey first sees Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird,’ and the scene made me weep in its sheer beuaty and honesty. I hope this gets a wider release and fans discover it.

Hustling (Television Thoughts: The Housewife & The Hustler, Hulu)

Even though I only watch’Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ fleetingly, Erika Girardi was never my favorite – I always thought something was off about her – she was clouded not in enigma but inauthenticity, and her self-righteousness to e was off putting, to say the least. After watching ‘The Housewife & The Hustler,’ now on Hulu, I still fell the same way, and could even say that I felt some of my instincts were right. Her husband, Tom Girardi, is accused of stealing money from clients he represented, and the stories of these victims are heartbreaking, and you think to yourself, how can he have the heart to steal from these people? And living the lavish lifestyle, I don’t think there is a way that Erika did not know that something was off there. Okay, so I may not be totally convinced that she knew everything, but she knew something, and in my opinion, she is not innocent. This documentary mostly focuses on the stories of the victims, and as you see it with clips showing their lavish lifestyle, you cannot help but be mad. I really do think Bravo is a co-conspirator here. By showing and focusing on Erika, they glamorize her, and help her. I have already soured on the franchise, but now I want to spit on it.