I See Me (Film Thoughts: The Invisibles/Die Unsichtbaren)

mv5bntm3ntblnmytndzhzc00mzm5lwexnmitmjvlm2m4mmm0ymjmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjq3nzuxotm@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,706,1000_al_Since yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, i thought it would be fitting that I saw ‘The Invisibles.’ (Die Unsichtbaren) From Germany and directed by Claus Rafle, it tells the real story of four Jewish people who were ‘left behind in Germany during World War II as they try to disappear and blend in with everyone. The film is told part documentary style, with the four narrating their stories as ‘re-enactments’ are shown. The format reminded me of those old television show wherein a televiewer would send their stories to be told and there would be dramatic scenes so the tales can be visualized. On the biog screen, it minimizes the drama. Still, I thought these stories were compelling enough to get my attention. For some reason, I am now always fascinated with these WWII stories, perhaps this is because Past couple of years, I have visited all these European cities that have been affected by the war. I sitll for the life of me cannot understand how the Nazis were able to do this, but I take a look at the United States today and basically Trump is trying to do the exact same thing. I liked this film, and I thought it was a fitting tribute to remember Holocaust Remembrance Day,

When You Look At Me (Film Thoughts: Never Look Away)

never_look_awayI have seen all of the nominees for Best Foreign Film this year, except for one: Germany’s Never Look Away.  I have to admit, there is one thing about it that scares me: its three and a half hour running time. But of course, beauty comes in all forms and sizes, and I am glad I braved it, because that same running time flew by – it certainly deserves a spot on the best foreign films of last year,

The film is about a lot of things and spans decades, but it ultimately is about art – about how it is influential in forming what we are a society, and how it is indispensable. The film, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is the story of Kurt Barnett, and int he beginning we see him as a young boy at an art exhibit denouncing modern art. The exhibit is used as propaganda, of course, against free thinking, and featured works by Picasso and Mondrian. We see this boy grow up to be an accomplished painter (it is supposed to be based on Gerhard Richter) and we see his art grow and try to adapt with times, only for it to evolve back artistically – and that’s when he gets his biggest acclaim. Never_Look_Away_(film)But there’s more to his life, which is mostly told in melodrama. That made it more interesting for me, on how the woman he falls in love with is connected to his own family. Schilling is fine as Barnett, and he is fine-looking so my interest is never waned. In the end, there’s a lot to take away from this film, and one comes out enriched.

Then Came A Small Sweet (Movie Thoughts: Then Came You)

ltrPeter Hutching’s Then Came You’ was a nice surprise for me. I wasn’t expecting much, and I was only on board for Asa Butterfield who I think is a cute and charming actor (he is getting buzz for his Netflix series ‘Sex Education’) but I found the movie engaging even though I shouldn’t – the story is predictable, and no twists or turn was unexpected. But it has some great acting – not only from Butterfield, who delivered, but also from Maisie Williams, who plays Skye, a young woman who has been diagnosed with cancer. She enlists Calvin to help her finish her to-do list, and well, yadda yadda we kind of know that they both learn from each other and end up being better people because of knowing each other. Williams has a more formidable task, as her character isn’t written as the most sympathetic, but she more than overcomes that and you end  up loving Skye more than you probably should. All in all, I think this is the tcyperfect ‘rainy day’ movie (it was when I saw it)  If you don’t expect too much from it, you will get properly rewarded. And Asa Butterfield – I bet he becomes a big star very shortly. I will be watching.

Reality Stinks (Perfume Thoughts: So Real, Moschino Cheap and Chic)

P32408497What’s in a bottle? If you look at the case of Mochino Cheap and Chic’s So Real, it says a lot. Look to the left and you either are enamored by it, or think it’s the ugliest thing out there. I don’t mind it – it’s certainly kitsch and I have similar looking bottles, and I think I have the solid colored one from the same line.

But how does it smell? Well, in line with its name, it smells cheap – your generic synthetic smelling floral, the sugary kind. I don’t get any floral here, really, but the notes say pink peony and white petals. I get generic citrus, which could be anything and everything…amounting to nothing. It’s gone in an instant, too. But then again, it is literally cheap – you can get a bottle at discount sites for almost nothing. So should this exist?

Super Serene (Movie Thoughts: Serenity)

serenity-ka-1I probably would not have paid any attention to ‘Serenity’ had I not read that there was a surprise ‘life-changing’ twist in the middle of the film that everyone is saying is so insane it had to be seen to be believed.  And of course, since I hate surprises, I went along and searched the internet for this ‘twist.’ Well, it turns out that this twist is the only interesting thing in this movie – which is essentially just a generic thriller/potboiler that we all have seen before. I cannot believe Matthew McConnaughey, Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane all got attached tho this piece of crap. I mean, I probably will watch Hathaway read the phone book (and she will make it interesting) but here they are not able to save the flimsy plot and tepid direction, utilizing some of the stupidest cinematic cliches (mysterious woman wears a wide brimmed hat)  Perhaps I should not have read up on the twist – because it made my experience more boring – there was nothing else there for me to be excited about. I am giving it two stars, one star just for the gall of the ‘twist.’

To The Girl I Loved Before (Film Thoughts, Dear Ex, Netflix)

MV5BNTY3NjIxZjktODRlYS00MTMyLWJjMmItY2NjN2ZlM2ZkNjQ1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjg0MTI5NzQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,678,1000_AL_On May 2017, same-sex marriage was legalized in Taiwan, and I honestly did not realize that the country was that progressive. But I was pleasantly surprised by that, and when I saw that Netflix had acquired the LGBT film ‘Dear Ex,’ I wanted to see it right away. I had read some glowing reviews of the film, saying it was touching and heartbreaking. After seeing it, I wish I could say the same. I really wanted to love the movie, but I barely like it. Directed by Hsu Chin-Yeh, it is just so overwrought and loud, and the performances are same – screechy, and they hit you like a blunt instrument – making all the characters unlikable I didn’t want to spend any time with any of them. Worst is Ying-Xuan Hsieh, who plays the wife/mother who gets short shifted her husband’s Life Insurance payment. She starts the movie screaming, and never lets up – I have never seen such a shrill performance that is so noisy and it’s all hollow noise. By the time the character does something nice at the end, I have long checked out on it. All in all, this was supposed to be a feel-good movie, but I just got so tired of it about half-way through that I felt the film unredeemable at that point. Still, I am glad that Netflix is supporting these kinds of films so I won’t really put it down. I am glad this film exists on this platform and hope more will come. And maybe my reaction is isolated – I see a lot of people connecting with this film, and that’s good.

If Teal Street Could Talk (Music Thoughts: The Teal Album, Weezer)

d380b9-20190124-weezer-teal-albumOn New Year’s Eve this year, I was watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve (with Ryan Seacrest, natch)  and saw Weezer performing Toto’s ‘Africa.’ OMG, they covered this song? I exclaimed and everyone around me said duh – it’s a big radio hit now. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, and I guess it was also conflicting the fact that I also cannot wrap my head around how Rivers Cuomo looks much older now, though he still looks decidedly boyish. I wish I could say I loved their cover of the song – it is solid, for sure, but did they really add anything to the song, besides Cuomo’s excellent guitar riffs. But, I guess I do get why it worked, and I can see how millennials think they re so cool listening to the song.

But even more interesting is that Weezer has released a whole covers album, with a teal background album art, hence its called ‘The Teal Album.’  I have a fondness for this band, and during my CD days collected their stuff. This one is a solid album with great renditions of songs like ‘Happy Together’ and ‘Paranoid.’  But the great thing about it ? It sounds like a Weezer album, even as they cover songs I never thought they would ever do – like ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’ and ‘Take On Me’  I love the fact that the songs sound like Weezer performing these songs. I mean, a rockin cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’? The kid is not my son!