Unmusical (Movie Thoughts: Music)

The pop star Sia has directed her first film, titled ‘Music,’ and I really don’t know what to say. It’s not bad in the worst sense of the word, but it’s bad. Like insultingly bad. It’s about an autistic young woman named Music, played by her muse Maddie Zigler. And in this day and age, and Ziegler portrays her in teh most exaggerated ‘autistic’ mannerisms, almost to the point that the character seems like a cartoon (Bugs Bunny has more subtlety, though) Irt totally takes you out of the story (and the film) and I am bewitched how this got made. Apparently, Sia has apologized and has said she will remove offensive scenes…but the version I saw still has quite a few of them, so…

And it’s not like the cast is full of hacks. I mean, we have Kate Hudson, and Leslie Odom Jr. Sia has peppered the film with music videos, and if there were any redeeming value for the movie, it would be those. Visually, they are interesting.

But I still can’t get over everything else.

Love or Leave (Music Thoughts: Love Me or Leave Me, Joanna Berkebile)

Joanna Berkebile’s ‘Love Me or Leave Me’ is a Spotify recommended album for me. Berkebile studied and used to perform opera in Los Angeles but has since moved to Kansas City and is now singing jazz. (I think she also is in real estate there)

First off, Berkebile has a great sense of rhythm. I like her here most when she is doing swinging tunes. Her voice has remnants of operatic style, but it isn’t too pronounced or distracting.

I just wished her music excited her more. To me, it just sounds….ordinary. I don’t know how I wished it would be, but it just kinda bores me.

Best and Free (Perfume Thoughts: Libre Eau de Parfum, YSL)

YSL Libre is my favorite perfume…that I don’t own. I remember sniffing this when it first came out and loving it instantly. But I never did get a full bottle of it. I would go to Sephora and spray…but I always say that as soon as I get a deal for it, I would buy it, but never did. Today I found a sample of the Eau de Parfum, and I am reminded of how gorgeous it is: and it blooms differently today in the cold-ish Southern California weather.

It’s an orange blossom scent, for sure, one fo y favorite notes of late. Mixed with lavender, it gives a unisex vibe, even though it is marketed towards womens. My favorite thing about the scent? It has a chamomile note that is calming and gives the perfume a ‘cold’ demeanor.

The scent also feels ‘dressed up,’ akin to the YSL Tuxedo. I can see wearing it with a dinner jacket on a formal event. As I wear it to the office, it adds sheen to my office wear. I would say for me this is the best commercial; release in recent years,

On A Night Like This (Film Thoughts: One Night in Miami)

Regina King’s ‘One Night in Miami,’ for the most part, happens on the night of Feb 25, 1964. Cassius Clay isn’t Muhammad Ali just yet, and he has just became the Heavyweight Champion of the World from Sonny Liston. Sam Cooke has just flopped at the Copacabana in New York City, and Jim Brown is contemplating leaving his football career behind because of what he feels as exploitation of black players. And Malcom X is Malcom X. the film is an adaptation of Kemp Powers’ play of the imagined conversation between the two legends inside a motel room on that fateful night.

And most of the time, it feels like a play (that’s not a complaint here) King is an actor, so she gets great performances from all the actors, but for some reason Leslie Odom Jr. (of ‘Hamilton fame) stood out for me. I have to say that the film felt just a little claustrophobic for me, and I wish King had opened it up more. I think maybe the performances were at times too intense? I also have to admit I am not the biggest fan of these four legends. i respect them as legends, surely, but I am not enough of a football or boxing fan to feel terribly excited. But on this Martin Luther King Jr weekend, I give them all props.

A Million Smells (Perfume Thoughts: 1 Million Parfum, Paco Rabanne)

The Mega Million lottery jackpot is rising and by chance I happened to come upon my sample of Paco Rabanne 1 Million Parfum, so I thought it was kind of ….fitting. I know this is a very popular Sephora commercial type of scent, so I wasn’t expecting much. But when I read up on it, I thought it had a nice back story from one of its noses, Quentin Busch:

“The original idea of this one comes from an accident: back from vacation I had two bottles broken in my leather bag… one was my sunscreen and the other a sample of cistus. The smell was absolutely divine! I captured it with one simple formula: a contrasted smell of salty monoï-tuberose blended with resinous leather…”

Suddenly it became a tad more interesting, and (drumroll) I liked this a lot. In the cold weather the coconut note felt kind of decadent, and it has that suntan lotion accord that i always like when I get to smell it. Sure, the tuberose here is a watery commercial kind, but it wasn’t offensively sweet. It skews more white floral than fruity, which is a good thing. I don’t know if I would buy it, to be honest, but I can see myself wearing it to work, for example. If I win the Meg Million jackpot, I would buy something else, though, haha.

Major Mayor (Television Thoughts: Mr Mayor, NBC)

I don’t know how I ended up watching ‘Mr Mayor’ on Hulu – It was suggested to me, and I just pressed play, not knowing anything about it. Well, it turns out it stars Ted Danson (ok, I guess) and the show was produced by Tina Frey and Robert Carlock (yay)

The premise of the show is ‘novel,’ if it were 2013, I guess. A businessman runs for mayor of Los Angeles… and wins! (He only did it to impress his teenage daughter) And of course, he surrounds himself with ‘wacky’ incompetent characters, a la Veep. Holly Hunter plays his nemeses, an ultra-progressive who he makes deputy mayor.

The pilot wasn’t really that funny (is it me, or are pilots mostly horrible?) But I have to admit I laughed somewhat on the second episode, where the mayor goes to events stoned. I think the show has a lot of potential, if the characters are given enough room to breathe and develop. I sometimes have long stressful days where I want to watch something light, and this show just might do that trick.

Noises Off (Movie Thoughts: The Ultimate Playlist of Noise, Hulu)

This is how I described Hulu’s ‘The Ultimate Playlist of Noise.’ – Imagine is Amazon’s ‘The Sound of Metal’ was produced by Netlix, and more specifically Netflix’s teen universe (except that if Netflix did this, it probably would have starred Noah Centineo)

The film is about a teenager, (Keann Johnson) who learns that because of a tumor, he will have to lose his hearing. So in order to prepare for it, he goes on a quest to record noises (bowling pins hitting, fireworks, etc) and go on some kind of road trip to accomplish this. He embarks on this with a young woman he falls for, and there is a back story of how, when he was a kid, he was rescued from a fire by his older brother, who perished from it.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but the approach is YA, so most of this is easy to digest. It helps that Johnson is a good actor, so it all goes down easy. But a lot of it is mindless, and the road trip part felt very formulaic for me. But the last part packs a lot of heart, so this isn’t as worthless as you would initially deem it to be. You could do worse.

Mixed Songs (Music Thoughts: Lots of Love, Estelle Perrault)

Estelle Perrault is actually Estelle Tiyana Perrault, and has a very interesting background. She is French/Taiwanese, and living in Paris – and she is a jazz singer singing the Great American Songbook. Perrault has a slightly fragile voice, and it is softly appealing as it caresses the wonderful lyrics of these songs. Her album ‘Lots of Love’ has her singing eight well-selected songs. She is wildly swinging in ‘You Hit The Spot,’ and is tender in ‘A Sleeping Bee’ so yo uknow she can handle this music. She is quite young and will only get better. The album title is apt – she shows a lot of love for these songs and it shows.

The Good Quarantine (Movie Thoughts: Locked Down)

Honestly, ‘Locked Down’ sounded like a disaster, and in a lot of ways it is: dated jokes that went stale last summer, claustrophic set up. But the film has two great actors in Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor that it hardly mattered to me afterwards. If I were to quarantine with chosen people, I can think of thousands of worse choices. They made the film a lot more palatable (and enjoyable) than it deserved to be.

Somewhere Down The Road (Film Thoughts: Nomadland)

I have a friend who despises Frances McDormand. I think his beef with her is over a style issue – McDormand doesn’t really come off as the fashionable sort, and when she attends events such as Oscars, he finds her appearance lacking, or in his words, ‘disrespectful.’  Though I admit to agreeing with him on that front, she is also not my favorite when it comes to acting – her style strikes me as overly technical, every tic and word rehearsed. But she has won two Academy Awards so what do I know? She is in almost every frame in Chloe Zhao’s ‘Nomadland,’ and I think here she gives a masterful performance and is the heart and soul of a movie that is chock full of heart and soul.

I didn’t think I would like this film when I first heard about it. I didn’t know if a movie about nomads would hold my interest. But surely the film is much more than that. It’s a meditation on loneliness, of freedom, of what to do when you don’t know what to do next. Fern lost her husband, her home, and everything else she has known and seeks to find meaning in the open road. And the film isn’t really about what she finds – it’s about the acceptance of the choices you make based on the situations you are in. As Fern, McDormand gives an open-eyed weariness and vulnerability that will capture you. She learns more about herself in each interaction she has with people on the road. When she strikes a connection with someone you think will give her stability, the film doesn’t give you tropes, it challenges you in where it takes the story.This film has won the top prize in Venice and Toronto film festivals, and I surmise more forthcoming. It’s the perfect film for the times we live in – it offers insight on all the uncertainties we are experiencing in the world today. It doesn’t give us answers, it gives us a path to a road to it.