Contento? (Television Thoughts: Sister Act, Vida S03 E 01, Starz)

MV5BMGY0NDExYjQtN2E5NS00NDc2LWE0ODMtOWFlYTcxMGQ2ZDM2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDA4NzMyOA@@._V1_I had been looking forward to the third (and supposedly last) season of Vida. I have been with these girls from the very start, and want to continue with them on their journey. As the third season starts, we see both Emma and Lyn very… happy. Lyn is enjoying seeing a good review of Vida the bar, and Emma and Nico has been having a ‘finger fiesta.’ (Lyn’s exact words, which I thought was hilarious) But you know that there is drama around the corner, because as we learned from last season, their father is very much alive, and that is looming over everything – I suspect that will be a major story line this season.

But we aren’t there yet – their happiness seems to be sustaining even if things are coming their way. For Emma, it’s the appearance of Zoe at the bar – she is Nico’s ex and is acting like a fool. The old Emma would have made a big stink of that, but this new one is even-keeled and I like it. Lyn is still going hot and heavy with Rudy – he even invites her to a party to meet his mother, where Lyn gets to meet people who don’t think she is Mexican enough. Again, this is the new and more mature Lyn, and after a conversation with a waiter, realizes she just need to fight on. I don’t think that is the end of it, though, as I feel Rudy’s mom is up to something.

This happy set up is, of course, going to be upended. And I can’t wait for the season to rumble.

The Who In Your Heart (Film Thoughts: All About Who You Know)

MV5BMGM0YzUwNzYtODc1Zi00YjdlLTgxNmEtNGEzMjRiYzhiYmUxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjY3OTAzMDI@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_Jake Horowitz’s ‘All About Who You Know’ is one of my more interesting ‘discoveries’ this year. It’s a rom-com, but it is  an unlikely one, as it tries to upend all rom com tropes. Cole (Dylan Everett) tries to woo Haley (Niamh Wilson) in the hopes of getting close to her screenwriter father. He concocts this elaborate meet-cute scenario, and he succeeds. But his bff (played by Stephen Joffe) is skeptical, for a number of reasons. It’s a plan that is bound to backfire, and, much more interesting for me is a gay subtext sub story line here – is Cole closeted? At first, I didn’t really get that, but it becomes more evident as the film progresses. Everett and Joffe have great chemistry together that, and maybe I am also projecting here, that I found myself rooting for the two of them to connect. But then, I thought Cole and Haley were also good together as well, which makes Cole…bi-sexual maybe? I like the fact that these things are murky in the story – at their ages, it is kind of normal to doubt and question your sexual orientation. But this is also set in the now, and there’s a part of me that asks why these kids would have problems accepting themselves – there’s no background story that would make me understand why. There’s great acting all around from the young actors, and you will find yourself enthralled – though some of the millennial entitlement issues do bother me (but that’s who they are)  I found myself thinking of the characters after the movie ended, and I thought the film uses Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Circle Game’ in the most fantastic way. I highly recommend this film.

Smutna Miłość (Book Thoughts: Swimming In the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski)

45169231I have a pile of TBR books, and when I finish one, it is always tough for me to choose what to read next – do I go serious, or light? My mood changes a lot, and there have been many instances that I would give up on something a couple of pages after starting it. But I just randomly chose to read ‘Swimming In the Dark’ by Tomasz Jedrowski next. I knew this was a gay love story, and nothing else about it.  I find out later that the title comes with a lot of hype, a bidding war for its rights when it became available.

Written in. first person in a form of a letter, the story is Ludwik, and tells initially of growing up gay in Poland. He realizes his orientation early on, and meets Janusz at a summer camp in 1980. They become lovers, as they go back to Communist Warsaw in 1980. It feels like a doomed love affair – Ludwik dreams of freedom, Janusz wants tp stay, and why not, since he has connections in the government and can lead an easy life – he has to pretend he is straight, and has no problems with that. Their story develops as the country has more conflict – rebels want freedom, and the government in charge desperately holds on to it. Even though we know that Ludwik is able to escape (he starts his letter writing fro m New York) we still get caught in the suspense of his story, and feel the depth of his longing for Janusz. It’s onw of those once-in-a-lifetime love affairs, and its setting has made it infinitely more romantic. This was one of those books I couldn’t put down and in fact, I finished it in a day. I wanted to know what happened next, and I luxuriated in the romanticism of it. This feels like it would make a wonderful movie as well.

From North and South (Movie Thoughts: Siberia & Him/Cousins)

I chanced upon two films from two separate countries that are quite different from each other.

81rZE7V8hFL._SX300_From Russia comes Viatcheslav Koturevskiy’s ‘Sibera and Him,’ about two men falling in love in the midst of Siberian country. A lot of people have compared this to Brokeback Mountain and I can see why – this is set in the open country as well, as two men travel to check on one’s grandmother, who hasn’t been answering her calls. But this is Putin’s Russia, and these men cannot be themselves, to very tragic results. I thought the film was slow moving, and even its scant running time felt long. But there was always something that caught your attention, and seeing barren Siberia felt very conducive to what the characters are feeling.

 

QcodabOq0uG0anrzPjlqwusr5Q‘Cousins,’ (Primos) from Brasil, directed by Mauro Carvalho and Thiago  Cazado, is much lighter compared to the Russian film above. In fact, it is quite joyous considering Brasil nowadays seem to be as restrictive, as far as gay rights, as Russia with its new homophobic President. Two distant cousins (one just out from prison) hang out at a house, and they just start to fall in love. In the beginning, there is not much conflict, but their religious neighbors rear their ugly heads after. But it is treated almost comically, and this really is one of those feel-good films. But, there isn’t much else here if you are looking for some depth. But sometimes all you need is two young actors with great chemistry and you’re good to go.

Cute Calm Collected (Book Thoughts: Meet Cute Club, Jack Harbon)

41vjl9lz4sl-3I wanted something light and easy to read this time around, so I thought Jack Harbon’s ‘Meet Cute Club’ fit that bill. The title alludes to the weekly book club that main character Jordan holds in his house, basically a discussion book of romance novels. He meets Rex, who works at the local book store, and, well, you can probably can tell what happens next. If you want something warm and familiar, go for this, but do not expect depth. It’s cute, and with everything that is happening in the world right now, that could be refreshing.

P.S. I would be surprised if a man wrote this,

Hello Dolly (Film Thoughts: How To Build A Girl)

How-to-Build-a-Girl-2020I love Beanie Feldstein that even if there are a lot of things that do not work in Coky Giedroyo’s ‘How To Build A Girl,’ I had a smile on my face while and after watching a film. The film is based on Caitlyn Moran’s memoir, about a teenage girl outside London. She is bookish and nerdy, but she has literary dreams (her room has pictures of her idols: Sylvia Plath, Sigmund Freud, Julie Andrews, among others) and when she submits a review of the ‘Annie’ Cast Recording to a British rock magazine, she catches their attention (they bet if she is real or a joke) Cut to her dyeing her hair red, and dressing like Stevie Nicks, writing under the name Dolly Wilde, and writing scathing reviews for the magazine. Thsi is a coming of age story, so of course, the success goes to her head and she learns life lessons. The story is a bit by-the-numbers, but Feldstein captures you with her warmth and charm. I really do feel like I am seeing an actor come into her own, and I feel Feldstein is a very intelligent actress who will only grow and be better.  While her British accent here sounds wonky at times, she captures the spirit of the character so you can forgive her for that. as a film, there really isn’t much that’s new here, but her performance makes the film worth seeing.

Difficult Affections (Book Thoughts: Normal People, Sally Rooney)

rooneyI am coming to the book version of Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’ AFTER watching the Hulu series. I loved the show so much that I wanted to see if reading the book would ‘complete’ the experience. I wish I had gone in the other way around. The show was such a faithful adaptation that I felt I did not gain a lot more by reading the book. A lot of the situations and dialogues are exactly the same, and the show captures a lot of the nuisances of the characters to a T. Do I feel like I know the characters more than before? Sure, but I felt I already knew these characters well. There are some people who are watching the show and are saying they don’t get it – what’s the conflict? why can’t these two people be happy together, when obviously, they are so in love with each other. There is so much love there but for some reason, they just cannot connect, they cannot be truly themselves with each other, even if they can only be themselves when they are together. I think Rooney’s writing made me really understood that, but then again, the actors in the series were so good conveying them as well. It’s all good.