Back before the pandemic hit, Macy’s sent me a small box of samples, mostly department store brands. I have been slowly sampling them, and I am almost finished. One of the scents in there is CK Everyone, which is a flanker of CK One. I used tp douse myself in CK One back in the day, so I was kind of looking forward to this – I thought, if for anything, it might remind me of that classic scent (and my memories of them)
Well, surprise, but this has none of the charm of the original. What do we get? A basic generic cedar-ish scent. I say ish because the cedar here smells so synthetic. There is a quick orange blast in the opening, but blink and it’s gone, and then you get the aquatic notes that dilute whatever character that orange brought. Seriously, I keep on sniffing it to see if there is any depth to the scent, but nada. Not really a scrubber but devoid of any artistry.
I’ve been burned too many times now with these Netflix teen films that I was ready to write off ‘The Kissing Booth 2’ right away. Besides, I cannot remember a lick about the first movie, only that I kind of liked it? And anyway, the sequel, directed by Vince Marcelo, clocks in at two hours and twelve minutes. I mean, who does it think it is, Titanic? About a couple of minutes into in, I was already sold. Joey King is really great, and she can make you believe in anything here, and she enjoys a breezy chemistry with Joel Courtney that you can kind of forgive the silly plot, and the sillier circumstances that their characters get into. And I did not need a lot of convincing in the story, even if some of it is far fetched. They even give the gays a throw-around minor storyline (every representation helps!) Before I knew it, I was swooning, I was crying and laughing along with the characters. I am sorry I doubted you, kissing booth, I eagerly await the third installment.
A bunch of show tune loving teenagers putting on a show? Seems right up my alley, no? But Lord help me, I despised Ryan Patrick Bartley’s ‘Divos!’ And I swear, I tried. The film centers mostly on Ricky Redmond (Matt Steele) who is a teenager obsessed with musical theater – he is a performer and has been playing the lead in his high school production for years. When Josh (Timothy Brunridge) enters the picture , he suddenly gets a rival for the lead in ‘How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,’ the season’s musical. And yes we all know where this goes. First of all, Steele as a high school student is more than a stretch, as he looks like he is in his 40s. And his character is so unlikable it is almost homophobic. And for a film about a musical, it has almost no music – were the rights too expensive? The whole production seemed amateurish, at best. I have to say above everything else, I was quite disappointed with this.
Under Putin’s regime right now, gay people are in danger in Russia. It’s unfathomable, but we see all the danger in David France’s documentary ‘Welcome to Chechnya,’ and it is a depressing, sobering, and disturbing watch. In the region of southern Russia’s Chechnya, gay people are haunted, tortured, and killed because of their sexual orientation. In the film, we see alarming footage of gay men whose cars are stopped, then are beaten to death by the police. A famous singer, Zelim Bakaev, visits his sister’s wedding, and suddenly disappears, and up until now, no one really knows what happened to him. We see a young girl call the crisis hotline because a young woman, Anya, has been found out by her uncle, and is blackmailing her for sex so he would not snitch to her father, who is a Government official – we see her later being smuggled out successfully. Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the region, laughs off questions about these human rights abuses, saying ‘ We don’t have that kind of people here – we ship them to Canada.’ The film is riveting, and made me want to do something to help these people. The Trump administration is a travesty to gay rights, but we still enjoy a lot of freedom here not afforded in other places. In some ways I feel lucky, but the film. ultimately made me want to throw up.
Another day, another department store mens fragrance to try. I have to say, though, that I have not smelled Bad Boy by Carolina Herrera yet, and I already want the bottle – look at it, it is like a lightning bolt squared with a stapler. The women’s version is a studded high heel, and I am guessing the bottle is supposed to be some kind of men’s shoe, and it’s stunning.
The scent? It’s not too bad. I actually like CH scents, they are. little different than most. The initial blast of Bad Boy is very familiar – the ‘fresh; bergamot woodsy accord, but as it settles down, it gets just a little bit more gourmand-y – a chocolate/coco note thats’ dark and sweet. It’s not the most unique scent, but it’s at least not the same old thing that you get everywhere. Will I wear it? I imagine it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for colder temperature months. The bottle, though, is luring me…
I think ‘White Lie’ is one of the more interesting movies I have seen of late. Directed by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, it is about a young college student, Kacey Rohl as Katie. In the opening scene, we see Katie shaving her head, and is faking cancer. She has a lot of campaigns going on, fundraisings for her condition and for her dancing career. In the course of the film, we see her trying to save this lie: falsifying medical records, pretending to take medication and chemotherapy for it funding these by fooling her girlfriend for cash. It’s kind of a thriller – we don’t know if she will get caught. For some reason, I sympathized with her, even though clearly what she is doing is wrong. I had questions, too: for example, where was she spending the money? It doesn’t look like she is living some lavish lifestyle. It looks like she has been pretending to do this since she was younger, but it is unclear as to why – attention, fame? Rohl is convincing – a little scary, but for some reason I was taking her side, which makes me question myself, perhaps the directors wants us to? This is what made for the film to be such an interesting watch.
Michael Maren’s ‘A Short History of Decay’ was suggested for me on Amazon Prime, and sometimes I toil too much on what to watch, I just press play without thinking. I saw that this had Linda Lavin and that alone was reason enough for me to keep on watching. The story revolves around Nathan, played by Bryan Greenberg, who goes to Florida to visit his parents after his father suffers a stroke. There he is confronted by the fact that his parents are starting to get to a place where they are slowly disintegrating – his mother’s Alzheimer’s is not getting better, and they have to start making decisions as to what the next chapter will be – there is talk of going to a assisted living facility for both elders. This is such a sweet film that you cannot help but like it, and maybe it was a little sentimental for me. I got reminded of a time when I, too, had to make sacrifice for my father, and in hindsight, was one of the best life choices I ever made. I loved the naturalistic feel of the film, the cast is so in tune with each other it wasn’t hard to imagine them being a real family. Greeneberg was good (I get hot and cold on him) and Lavin was excellent, of course, shining in the little that was given her. This is a thoughtful, contemplative story, and if you have elderly parents, you will surely identify.
Covid 19 has instilled some artistic inspiration from some artists, and I understand why – the whole pandemic instills emotion, and I imagine that could be a powerful way to express artistry. Melissa Errico has released a two song EP, titled ‘Two Spring Songs For Summer,’ and she picks two songs that give some meaning to the times we live in. First she sings Alec Wilder’s ‘Blackberry Winter’ and it speaks to how the pandemic has surpised us, halting our lives. On the second song, ‘You Must Believe In Spring,’ the Bergmans add additional lyrics to update for our times now, but the message of hope is still there, conveyed, that if we just believe, everything will be alright. Errico sings with tenderness and hope in both, and it soothes.
Amazon Prime suggested some new movies for me lately. I kind of look at the service as a stepchild: I know it’s there buy never really spend a lot of time on it. I feel like they have a lot of ‘middling’ films that are kind of fillers, but once in a while I chance upon something interesting, like for example, John Cerrito’s ‘The Way You Look Tonight.’ First off, I don’t know how I feel about the film using the title of one of my favorite Jerome Kern songs, but the title does fit. The film is an ‘accidental’ LGBTQIA+ film, if you ask me. It’s about Peter (Nick Fink) who goes on a blind date and after a wonderful time, the woman disappears in the morning. He keeps on dating and finds a common thread with all the women – a green sweater. It turns out Helois is a changeling – a person who changes bodies everyday. And during a certain cycle in. a month even changes genders. The film shows us that we really fall in love with the person inside, and not the physical body that we possess. But of course, that physicality is what attracts us in the first place. The film posits quite a thoughtful premise, and it made me really think about a lot of things, and was presented in a serious manner, minimizing obvious cheap laughs.
Things are still bleak over at the second episode of ‘I Know This Much Is True.’ And honestly, I don’t know how much if it I can take. I know the show aired in May but I am just watching it now, and in the middle of the pandemic, it is not the cheeriest thing to watch. As Thomas gets into a facility ad Dominick tries to get him out of there, there are pile ons – red tape, mostly – and it’s too much to bear. It has been like this for two episodes now, and is light ever going to come ?
It’s not boring, though. I find myself watching, and yes, I find myself wanting to see what happens next, although I don’t know if the show is bingeable that way, as I kind of want space between episodes. Mark Ruffalo is great in boith his roles, although I still say he is a little on the ‘over’ side of things. And the supporting cast is great from Kathryn hahn, Rosie O Donnell, and Archei Panjabi.