Gonna Go Through It Together (Film Thoughts: Together Together)

Nikole Bekwith’s ‘Together Together’ premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and I wanted to see this film so badly but couldn’t get a ticket, and I heard so many good things about it that I was determined to see this as soon as I can. And my instincts were right – this is a wonderful film, the first one that touched me deeply in a long while, and for now, my. favorite film of the year.

Bekwith takes the rom com genre and its tropes and spins it, flips it, reverses it. You think the movie is going somewhere familiar (and I was totally fine with that) but it upends itself and gives you something even more meaningful.

Patti Harrison plays Anna, who agrees to be the surrogate to single guy Matt (Ed Helms) Anna is fiercely independent and determined to make this a business arrangement. But we all know that nothing in life is such, and both characters learn to accept and feel.

Helms is terrific. I only know of him from his stupid comedies but he shows surprising sensitivity here. And Harrison is a find, a modern day romantic leading lady – I hesitate to add that she os tarns because all in all it doesn’t matter, but her performance here just proves that point more effectively than anything else. I found myself laughing and crying, and that last frame will haunt anyone forever. Run and go see this film.

Look Back (Television Thoughts: The Real World: Homecoming, Episode 6/Finale)

Pictured: Kevin Powell, Heather B Gardner, Julie Gentry and Norman Korpi of the Paramount+ series THE REAL WORLD HOMECOMING: NEW YORK. Photo Cr: MTV 2021 Paramount+, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I don’t know why the finale of ‘The Real World: Homecoming’ affected me so much I guess it’s because the show reminds me so much of my youth, of when I started looking forward to life and what it could give me, and here I am now, worlds away from where and who I was when I first started watching the show. And it’s ok, I am ok. But my youth is gone. The show made me face where I am headed, and it’s the autumn of my life. I related to the show because I was more or less the same age as these people when it first aired. And just like them, I am older and have gone through a whole lot since.

In Aida’s Eyes (Film Thoughts: Quo Vadis, Aida?)

‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ is one of the most harrowing films of late, a sort of ‘Sophie’s Choice; kind of movie. It is set during the 1995 Serbian/Bosnian war, which, to be honest, I did not really follow then. But looking back, you think, how could something like this happen? This film captures a lot of what happened during that time, as seen through the eyes of Aida (Jasna Djuricic) who was an interpreter for the United Nations at the time.

We see the story start when the Serbians took over the town of Srebenica, sending its thousands of residents to the safe haven of United Nations base. Things escalate from there, culminating in the killing of thousands of men and boys. We see the drama go from bad to worse, as Aida attempts to rescue her family. Djuricic is terrific – strong and vulnerable, a fighter when she is not heartbroken. I wish she had gotten more recognition for her. This is the kind of film that everyone should see, so people can see the horrors of what war could do. This film is the face of humanity. If I had a vote, this would be, in my opinion, this year’s Best Foreign Film.

Bye Bex (Television Thoughts: The Real World Homecoming S01 E 03)

So in this episode Becky says goodbye.

Seriously? becky’s defense on why she is not a racist? She took a Afro-Brasilian dance class. Girl, you really should know better. She has said that she is a victim of bad editing, and she said the show needed a villain and it was very convenient for her to be the one. But really, you should have known then – you guys created this reality show genre. Have you not paid any attention all these years? Apparently not, because she still employs these sad defense mechanisms and really, it does look like she hasn’t learned a lick since she was last on this show. And off she goes.

And I think this is just the drama the producers have been waiting for. They got it – she handed it to them on a platter.

Cheaters (Movie Thoughts: Operation Varsity Blues)

Without much thought, I pressed play on Netflix’s ‘Operation Varsity Blues,’ and found myself getting into it for the first couple of minutes that I ended up going through the whole thing. This documentary is about the 2019 College Admission scandal that sent actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman to jail. Basically, the whole thing was masterminded by Rick Singer, a college ‘coach’ who helped students get into their desired colleges through a side door – basically cheating their way in via the athletic program, aided by the college coaches he was in cahoots with. The other part of his scam included having someone else finagle with kids’ SAT scores, so you know all wholesome stuff. The documentary has a lot of reenactments, mostly phone conversations wiretapped by the FBI. Did I learn anything new from this? Honestly, not much, but I have to admit it was good for hate-watching so much so time flew by quickly.

The Boy’s In Love (Music Thoughts: Wonder, Shawn Mendes)

Shawn Mendes once said he couldn’t wait for his heartbreak so he could write songs about it. In his new album ‘Wonder,’ he isn’t truly there yet, but I feel like he is halfway. On this album, we see a boy in love, and he is desperately trying to tell us he is. Are we convinced.

On the first track, ‘Intro,’ he says that he has a million different faces, and we don’t see all of it, and you wonder about its real subtext. This uncertainty – maybe insecurity – shows up everywhere int he lyrics, and he keeps hammering this point. Dude, you are a handsome white-bread pop star, why all the angst? This album should be a celebration of love, why don’t I feel the joy?

Mendes’ tunes here have less pep and zing than his previous albums, though it’s not from lack of production. In fact, there’s too much production at times, I think. It highlights his voice’s sometimes limitations, although he is very adept with working with what he has. The grandiosity at times highlights the depth (or lack of it) of the songs. In his case, I do hope his heartbreak comes soon, as I think that would be critical in him giving us a better album next time round.

I Don’t Really Care, Do You ? (Film Thoughts: I Care A Lot)

Rosamund Pike is so very good in ‘I Care A Lot’ you almost admire here, especially in the beginning. She plays Marlam, a ‘guardian’ to the elderly. But it’s all a scam – these seniors don’t really need one, and it’s a scam to take advantage of them as the guardian starts to have power over their assets. The beginning sequences move so swift and gives you a entry punch to the film that it is deliciously entertaining – one of those dark comedies where you root for the villain.

But then there’s the villain’s villain. When Marla takes over the guardianship for Jennifer Petersen (Dianne Weist) it seems she has chosen the wrong prey – this patient has ties to the undesirables.

And then you just have a bunch of deplorables fighting against each other. The movie stalls for me at this point – there is no one to root for, and it becomes a run-of-the-mill thriller. And then I found that it was I who didn’t care what happens next.

Party and Play (Film Thoughts: Goodbye Seventies)

Todd Verow’s ‘Goodbye Seventies’ has a story that has been told numerous times already. It’s about a bunch of men in the 70s who start to make gay porn, and become successful at it, and then have heartbreaking ending, as the new decade ushers in AIDS. But Todd Verow is a different kind of filmmaker. Under his hands, his film becomes a celebration of a certain kind of smut film, so specific to the era. The movie is filmed like one of those films, complete with grainy film, stilted dialogue, awkward pauses. You will be transfixed watching this as if it is trying to hypnotize you. I admit not ‘getting’ it t first but once you get its wave length, you will understand (and appreciate) what exactly Verow is doing.

Boys, Always (Film Thoughts: To All The Boys Always & Forever)

Valentine’s Day is here again, and I normally just ignore this holiday but i was walking last night and felt that slight pang – seeing flower vendors on the street selling roses. But it passes – there’s always rom coms. And Netflix has released the final installment on their ‘To All The Boys Series,’ this one sub titled ‘Always and Forever.’

Directed by Michael Fimognari, we see our high school lover Lara Jean and Peter spend their Senior year in High School, and you know what that means – college applications, proms, and (though perhaps a little late) sex. The film offers no surprises in any of these fronts, but Lana Condor and Noah Centineo have mastered their chemistry that it hardly matters – you take everything easily, and it comes out sugary sweet like the cupcakes that Lara Jean bakes.

I wish I loved the film instead of just liking it though. I found it just a bit too long, and some of the situations felt forced, though the actors sell them well. Condor’s styling seems a little ‘off’ to me – I guess they are trying to make her look older – and Centineo seems a little bored (his body is jacked though) All in all, the film is not as memorable as the first one, but who are we kidding? The fans will lap this up.

Moments (Movie Thoughts: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things)

I was skeptical about Lev Grossman’s ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.’ I mean, didn’t we just all watch ‘Palm Springs’ last year, and here we have the same conceit – the ‘infinite loop’ kind of day, but with teenage characters. But it promised me romantic comedy, and I am always game for that, so I acquiesced.

It’s not bad. I got bored with the Groundhog Day idea in the beginning, but the film is trying to say something: I think that we should enjoy tiny little ‘perfect moments’ because in the end that is what matters in life. In the Covid world we live in nowadays, it is resonating. There is some cute acting from the leads, so I didn’t get bored, and mostly believed what they are selling. But mostly, I felt like I have seen all of this before… as late as yesterday.