Here Comes The Sun (Perfume Thoughts: Frangipani, Jo Malone)

10266254_fpxI have been attracted to the collor yellow for Spring and just my luck, Jo Malone has released a new scent in a yellow bottle. From the Blossom collection comes Frangipani, and of course I just had to sniff (and wear) it instantly. The scent’s heart is the frangipani flower, but it also has notes of jasmine and ylang ylang. So it’s basically a white flower bouquet.

I’ve been wearing it, and it is definitely a summer scent. The perfume smells like flowers that have been out in the sun for a bit – it has a creaminess that is kind of tropical and a little bit suntan lotion ( a good vibe in my book) and there is a note they call ‘solar’ that evokes warmth. It is hard to describe but once you smell it you will definitely get it. Even though it is still lightly cooler, the scent works well but I would imagine this would be particularly nice on a hot summer day.

Don’t Be Beachin (Movie Thoughts: The Beach Bum)

large_beach-bum-posterHalfway through Harmony Korrine’s ‘The Beach Bum,’ Moondog (played by Matthew McConaughey) and his wife Minnie (Isla Fisher) starts dancing to Peggy Lee’s song ‘Is That All There Is,’ and it perfectly describes how I am feeling about the film at that point. Is this it? Is the film going to mean more or is this as good as this film gets?

The answer of course, isn’t as simple. While the plot gets a minor bump after that song, the film coasts on the same stoner vibe. There simply isn’t going to be more plot-wise here, but as a film, it delivers a lot more. My advise? Just give in and let the film take control of how you view it. Just take a toke and enjoy it, man. That seems to be the vibe of Moondog, and we are just living in his world at this point. Those searching for a greater meaning here will probably not be rewarded, or depending on your high level, everything will all make sense in the world. I have to say I just tried to enjoy the film, and for the most part, I did – the vignettes featuring Zac Efron and, especially, Martin Lawrence, were laugh out loud funny. And McConaughey has never been more natural and effortless, and in my imagination, this is him in real life. Who cares if even the flimsy plot is riddled with holes, all that matters here is that everyone who watches this is on the same trip. And it’s a wild wild trip.

Strike A Fosse (Television Thoughts: Fosse Version Episodes 1 and 2)

Americans S4 Transit Shelter.inddDo we really need ‘Fosse/Verdon’ in our lives? Should this television series exist? We already have the film ‘All That Jazz’ and Fosse himself envisioned that film to be the representation of his legacy.  But I knew I was going to watch this show anyway, and I will be excited about it, because I am a show queen, and this is what show queens live for.

And the first two episodes are certainly rewarding. On the first, we get to see intricacies in how Fosse shot ‘Hey Big Spender’ in the film version of ‘Sweet Charity.’ And on the second episode, we see how they got to create ‘Who’s Got The Pain’ from ‘Damn Yankees.’ And the one thing that is constant in those two scenes – Gwen Verdon. We get to see that she is just as responsible for Fosse’s artistry as he is. He has his own vision, of course, but she helped make it come to life.

And Michele Williams is fantastic as Gwen Verdon. For some reason, she nails her, without making it look like she is cartooning her. We get the essence of the woman so authentically I sometimes forget that this is a woman playing her character. I had to get used to Sam Rockwell as Fosse, though, and that’s probably because Roy Scheider’s performance in the film is so ingrained in my brain. By the second episode, I warmed up to Rockwell, and I am pretty sure as the series goes on, I will be on board.

 

Tears for Noodles (Film Thoughts: Ramen Teh)

CJ2-Keyart‘Ramen Teh,’ just like last year’s mega hit ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ mostly centers around the Asian experience of Chinese people living in Singapore. But just like the ramen soup dish, the story has both Chinese and Japanese elements. Directed by Eric Khoo, the film is about a young man Masato (Takumi Saito) who searches for answers in his familial history. He goes to Singapore because he wants to learn how to cook bak kut teh, but really, he is searching for what happened to his family. His father passed away cold and unhappy, unable to move on from his wife’s early passing. Their family moved from Singapore to Japan when he was young, and he only has his mother’s diary (written in Cantonese, which he doesn’t understand) as a clue.  The movie rolls smoothly, with every reveal at the right place, and you cannot help but get engrossed with these characters. It showcases Singapore pretty well, not just the ‘rich areas’ which was the focus of that ‘other’ movie. And foodies will have a field day with the rich and colorful dishes they make here. Your eyes will be inf or a feast.

And I really liked this film a lot. Sure it’s a bit on the sentimental side, but I am a very sentimental dude. I won’t lie that as Masato reminisces about his deceased parents I couldn’t help but think of mine. This is certainly better than ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in representing this specific culture, and I wish this movie reaches even a tenth of that film’s audience. It deserves it.

And Then There’s Ben (Music Thoughts: Sing To Me Instead, Ben Platt)

810erx6KzPL._SY355_As a show, I can take ‘Dear Evan Hanson,’ even though I have problems with its score. I mean, is it just me, or does every Pasek and Paul song sound exactly the same? There’s no denying Ben Platt is great in it, though, and make the songs sound much better.  But his style is molded in that modern melisma vocal-fry style that I really at times despise.  I know Platt did a version of ‘Maria’ from West Side Story that was full of those things, and I cringed when I heard it.

So call me surprised when I that I liked his debut album, ‘Sing To Me Instead.’  First of all, his vocal style is muted. I always say, let the songs showcase your voice and it will shine on its own, no need for extraneous exercises. His songs may not much variety in style, but he expresses the emotions in them with great authenticity. They are also cohesive in message – songs about love and heartbreak that you can tell come from the same point of view, making them more personal and heartfelt. I especially like three songs best: “Grow as We Go,’ wherein he sings about maybe being apart as they grow together.  There’s also ‘Older,’ which has the wise line of ‘When you are younger, you wish you’re older, and when you’re older, you’ll wish for life to turn around.’  And of course, damn if I can’t relate to ‘Bad Habit’  wherein he just can;t seem to let go of someone, as he expresses the need for that person to be in his life.  All in all, the album is quite layered, and I bet as I listen to it even more I will be able to peel more out of it.  Much has been written about Platt ‘coming out’ via the first music video for this album. but it hardly matters nowadays. Think of him as a more localized Sam Smith, just as relateable, just as bombastic.

Musicals Adjacent (Movie Thoughts: Bathtubs Over Broadway/Emo The Musical)

large_Bathtubs_POSTERI was introduced to industrial musicals when I started collecting show music. I knew some composers did them to pa the bills, but I was mostly disinterested in them. I preferred listening to the flop shows who actually made it on Broadway. Still, it is great to see that Dava Whisenant has made a documentary partly about them. ‘Bathtubs over Broadway’ is more about Steve Young, a writer who used to work for David Letterman, and his obsession with collecting them. He has a very distinct point of view about it – basically looking for comedy where you least expect it. I would have used a different lens, probably focusing more on how composers and directors juxtaposed these shows versus the real shows they were creating (Susan Stroman touched upon that briefly during her interview) but don’t get me wrong, I found a lot of positive things in the film, it just isn’t totally for me.

71Gz4yrGEWL._SY445_I thought ‘Emo The Musical’ wasn’t for me, either, but anything with the word ‘musical’ will certainly get my attention. Neil Trifett wrote and directed the film, and peppered it with some of the most generic songs that all sound like they were too witty for their own good. I hate to even say that this film is not really a musical by its strictest definition. I was mostly bored by this, if I have to be honest and the best thing I can say about it is that it has a great message.

Reality Is A Musical (Television Thoughts: All Star Musicals, ITV)

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I chanced upon ‘All Star Musicals’ by chance. I started watching it and saw the names Elaine Paige, Kristen Chenoweth together and ding ding , of course, it will cause a show queen alert. I had never heard of the show, of course, even though there has already been one iteration of it. Basically, it’s like ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ but instead of ballroom dancing, they perform scenes from a musical. So, yeah, right up my alley. And it is hosted by my dear John Barrowman, an old crush if there ever was one (He still looks foine!)  and the show is so gay he opens it by performing a ‘Mary Poppins’ medley – interspersing ‘Put The Light Fantastic’ from ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ with songs fromt he original score. Well, that put a big smile on my face already! The show is off to a great start.

I wish I knew who these local British celebrities, though, and if I did, I think I would have enjoyed the show more. I know there were a couple of soap stars, a presenter, a money expert. But, consistently, the production values of all the numbers are top-notch, and the ensemble is first rate – one of the best I have seen – they were all very versatile as they maneuvered into the different numbers from different shows. They were the real winners in my opinion.

And of course, the ultimate highlight was the duet with Chenoweth and Paige doing ‘I Know Him SO Well.’  There were show queen orgasms everywhere when they finished their duet.

All in all, I look forward to if/when they do this again. And is it too much to ask for an American version of this?