Happy Hardiman (Music Thoughts: Honoring Ella!, Rebecca Hardiman)

FrontDidn’t I just write about about an Ella tribute a week ago? Well, brace yourself cause here is another one – Rebecca Hardiman with er album ‘Honoring Ella!’  Don’t ask me why there is an exclamation point in her title – probably she is just excited and happy about honoring the First Lady Of Jazz.  But perhaps also because most of the album is Hardiman is at her swinging best – and she does have a chirpy and happy disposition in her singing. I didn’t mind this album at all – it was fun and bouncy listen, and I even like the scat in ‘You Turned The Tables On Me,’ and for a moment there I thought it did not sound forced or contrived. The best thing? I searched her on Spotify and put this album on my cjurated jazzette playlist.

Recallibrating (Television Thoughts: The Bold Type S01 E02 ‘Oh Hell No’)

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I wrote about out ‘The Bold Type” pilot last week, and I am even more impressed by the second episode, and for sure, this show will end up as one of my summer pleasures. The thing is, this is one of those rare times when I am looking at a show almost from the outside looking in? I mean, who would ever think I would like stories from the millennials’ points of view?

Perhaps because these three girls here aren’t as insufferable. I really like Kat most, and perhaps I gave this show less credit because it is brave of it to show a ‘transition’ of a young woman from straight to … someone sexually fluid? And I like the way they are handling it, with the confusion more internal for her. At first, I thought Jane’s ‘reveal’ was a little unreal, but statistics obviously show I am wrong. And, I like the way they resolved the dilemma of her not having had any orgasm. And I like the hopefully budding she has with he male sex columnist. Now for Sutton’s dilemma : I know I always give advice to people to ‘follow your dreams,’ I don’t know if I ever would take the route she took here. Perhaps I will always be more practical (it’s the Virgo in me) but I really am liking Sutton more and more here.

Regrets, Please (Movie Thoughts: The Wedding Invitation)

MV5BMWY4ZTIwOWEtMjA2MC00MjQ3LWE1Y2YtZWJiMzRlN2FlZTQwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2MzgyOTU@._V1_UY1200_CR92,0,630,1200_AL_It’s not that ‘The Wedding Invitation’ is necessarily bad, it’s just so…nothing. This film was written, directed and stars Rainy Kerwin, and is about three women killing themselves just so they can get a date for an upcoming wedding. It’s really a sad state of affairs here. But the acting wasn’t too bad, to be honest, and there were some moments I almost moved my mouth going to a smile (it did not go all the way)  I guess it’s a little better than going outside when the temperature in the desert is in the triple digits.

Divas Of The Day (Television Thoughts: Daytime Divas, VH1)

0f79fa150e83ecfddfd6c9a3213b44b6I love the premise of ‘Daytime Divas,’ as it explores those daily women’s chatfest shows, and this show was even created by Amy and Wendy Endelberg from the book by  Star Jones, who herself was one of the co-hosts of the ABC Daytime talk show ‘The View.’  But three episodes in, I am a little confused as what the show really is. There’s a little bit of comedy, a whole lot of melodrama, and there really isn’t a character to root for – these ladies seem to all hate each other, and for me, anyway, there’s already too much hate in the world that I don’t know if I want to watch more on my television shows.  Vanessa Williams tries a lot to put humanity in her Maxine (who is sort of like the Barbara Walters figure in here) but she’s still thinly written, and is forced to engage in scenes that are implausible. And the other ladies blend with each other, except perhaps for Mo (played by Tichina Robinson) whose character is toxic and unlikeable that in any other situation, would have been fired instantly. Still, it’s summer, and this is fluffy enough for no-frills watching. I am going on holiday soon, so I wonder if I will pick this up after.

Dance Me To The World (Television Thoughts: World of Dance, Tuesdays on NBC)

World-of-DanceI haven’t watched any of these reality competition shows in a while but somehow I was lured by World of Dance on NBC.  Perhaps jennifer Lopez and Derek Hough – two people I genuinely like – were the ones who lured me. And I wasn’t expecting much, but after watching two episodes back to back, I am now fairly certain I will watch the rest of the episodes the rest of the summer. I think what I liked about the show is the passion these contestants have for dancing. The show wisely doesn’t dwell that much on auditions that are bad and focuses on the great performances – and there are some great performances here. I know that some of those back stories can be very manipulative – tribute to dead father, I come from a broken family and boo hoo – but those stories really color their performances greatly, and helps with your appreciation of them. And Jennifer Lopez is a great judge – full of passion herself. And can I make a confession that U have never heard or seen NeYo in anything? But he is a good judge here, as well as Hough, though I would have to see more of them to really comment. and Jenna Tatum is emphatic  and bubbly enough as a host/mentor.  All in all, this is a great team assembled, and for now, I have high hopes.

Lost In Translation (Movie Thoughts: How To Be A Latin Lover)

how-to-be-a-latin-lover-50-shades-poster‘How To be A Latin Lover’ was a niche hit a couple of weeks ago when it first opened.  The movie rests on the shoulders of Eugenio Derbez, who I am told is a big star in Mexico. I have never heard of him, and if I am not mistaken this is his first film to have a major release in the States. Well, he is definitely the draw here, as he plays the role of Maximo, a jilted gigolo who has to find his way back to being taken cared of by another financier. Perhaps something is lost in translation, because I found Derbez annoying. This role should be played by someone good looking and charming, so you can understand why an older woman would be attracted by him, but I found Maximo insufferable. And physically, I don’t know how someone would find this guy attractive at all (but of course mileage on that may vary)  He is supported by a great cast – I found Rob Lowe as his fellow gigolo to be funnier, and he certainly projects better on screen (Lowe looks like how Brad Pitt should look now) and Salma Hayak, as Maximo’s sister, shows great sincerity here.  There are some genuine scenes in Derbez’s scenes with Hugo, played by cute kid Raphael Alejandro, but they aren’t enough to save the film, or my boredom.

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On Holy Ground (Movie Thoughts: The Shack)

large_shackThis will be a negative review of ‘The Shack.’ But before I do so, let me just tell you where I stand on spirituality and religion. I was raised a Catholic and a lot of it is still swimming in my head. I believe in faith, yes I believe in God, but no, for the most part, I do not believe in organized religion. I remember having a realization when I was at the Vatican years ago and saw how immensely wealthy the Catholic church is. And I thought to myself, if the church is preaching what it is about love and helping others, why is the organization such a fat pig and there are still a lot of starving people in the world? I am not totally against it, but if you are thinking person and not just sheep following, you would wonder.

I never did read the best-selling book by William P Young that this movie is based from – not my kind of reading, but I know it has a lot of fans. My initial reaction to the movie – is it one of those Christian propaganda movies, designed to bait? It’s not. It goes out of it’s way to be ‘partial.’ But it does that by going the way of new age mumbo-jumbo. Mackenzie Phillips (Sam Worthington, who I thought was Scott Eastwood) has a family tragedy and he questions his faith, which was not rock-solid to begin with. He gets summoned to go to a shack where said tragedy occurred, and there he meets The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. It should be more meaningful, but it’s worse: it was boring. And this film says what it tries to say in one hundred and thirteen minutes, and in the end it doesn’t say much. I wanted this to be better, and for sure the film has some competent performances, but there’s only so much Octavia Spencer. who plays ‘The Father,’ can do. In real life, she isn’t God.