Who Could Imagine A King? (Movie Thoughts: The King Of Staten Island)

kossI miss those days when every weekend, more often than not, I would looking forward to seeing a new film, whether it be a studio or independent release.  This week I only have Judd Apatow’s ‘The King of Staten Island,’ and I am only mildly interested in it. The scariest thing about it for me? The film runs at 145 minutes, a length that should be reserved for epics. This film isn’t one.

The film is a plodding mess. I disliked most of the characters in it, especially the main character, Scott. Played by Pete Davidson, Scott is one of those boys that never grew up. His family around him mentions some kind of mental illness, but we don’t really know how they get to that. What we do know is that he is ‘damaged’ because he lost his firefighter father at aged seven. Sure,  that’s a touch card to be dealt with, but a lto of other children experience the same thing and they do not act as childish and bratty as Scott. And Davidson is perfectly cast in that regard, for his acting range runs from angry to petulant. Most of the time, I just want to shake him and say grow up.  I disagreed with almost every action his character makes, making me not want to spend time in his world. As a result, that 145 minute felt like an eternity. Thank God for Marisa Tomei, the only bright spot i n the film for me – I always say she is an underrated actress, always an MVP in the films she is in.

Yes To Never (Television Thoughts: Never Have I Ever Season One)

nhivSo yeah, I finally finished a Netflix show by really bingeing it. ‘Never Have I Ever’ goes by so quickly and easily it’s so easy to devour it. Call me hooked, but I got sucked into Devi’s life and loves. There were a lot of things that happened on the second half of the series, and I thought most of it was pretty good. I like the fact that we saw the depth of the character – we see how the death of her father really affected her psyche, and we even get sub storylines from her friends that are pretty satisfying. And just when we thought we were all rooting for her to end up with Paxton, there’s Ben. I am usually good at gauging how things go, but I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by that, and I kick myself for not really entertaining the idea earlier. I have to say, though, that I like the Devi/Ben pairing, only because the Paxton character is such a wuss. I hear that the show is a success, and I look forward to Season 2 !

Sweet Summer (Film Thoughts: Days of The Bagnold Summer)

p17444458_v_v8_aaSimon Bird’s ‘Days of The Bagnold Summer’ is one of those fantastic delights that, for me, seemingly came out of nowhere. It’s a nice, quiet, thoughtful summer film, and was just right up my alley.  I don’t even recall how I discovered it, but I am mighty glad I saw it. It’s a summer coming-of-age film, but without any ‘big’ discoveries, it just highlights a relationship between a mother and son, and even though there seemed to be a big ‘change’ towards their relationship in the end, you knew that the love was there all along.

Daniel (Earl Cave, Nick’s son) was supposed to go to Florida to visit his dad for the summer, but his trip was cancelled giving him nothing to do. His mom Sue (Monica Dolan) was ready to just rearrange her attic, but now has to deal with a depressed son. This is a movie wherein you think not much happens, but a lot does, and they come from small moments. When Daniel has a falling out from his best friend, we see Daniel more withdrawn, and that’s when Sue seizes the chance to connect more with Daniel. The film is so sweet and good natured that it left me with a big smile on my face, Cave is a star – I bet we will see more of him, and Dolan is wonderful as well. This is one of those small films that pack a whallop,

Where There’s Spark (Television Thoughts: The Spark, Little Fires Everywhere S01 E01, Hulu)

little-fires-everywhereCeleste Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ has been on my to-be-read list since it came out in 2017.  But of course, I have been so behind on my reading that there is, now, a Hulu series adaptation of it. As much as I want to read the book, the series will do for now. I had also been meaning to watch this, but there is so much content out there that I just saw the first episode. And it’s riveting. I don’t know how it differs from the book, but the first episode has me hooked and I can’t wait to start watching the series.

Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington both produce and star in this show, and they are cast perfectly. Witherspoon is Elena, all type A suburban perfection and Washington as Mia her artistic urban counterpart. Of course, the two characters together would bring sparks. (The first episode is titled ‘Sparks.’) Their families start to weld together – Elena’s four kids and Mia’s one daughter.

The series starts showing Elena’s house in flames. There’s a question on what started it, and some point to Izzy, Elena’s daughter. But I know things are most probably not what they seem in the story, and I am now just too eager to find out.

How Green Is Her Valley (Movie Thoughts: Valley Girl)

vgI wonder how this new Valley Girl came about. I mean, what was the pitch – Let’s remake an iconic rom-com, and make it a jukebox musical? I was not the biggest fan of the original film, and to be honest I don’t even remember it all that well. I know it’s a Romeo and Juliet type of story between a girl from the San Fernando Valley and a punk guy from Hollywood. I also remember Nic Cage starring and it was the film that made him a star. But will this new Valley Girl movie make me remember more, or forget?

To be honest, this film isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s pretty fun, if you don’t take it seriously. I mean, they could have done more than regurgitate a random Spotify 80s playlist, but it kind of works for that their purpose. The songs and dance numbers are adequate, if instantly forgettable. Some songs are shoehorned a little too obviously, but whatever. I could even say that a song or two, ‘I Melt With You,’ and ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ were repurposed very well. The cast is fine, although I don’t know if they will follow the Nic Cage trajectory,. One of them, Jake Paul, is loathsome, and even though he plays the villain, he has the effect of making your skin crawl even moire. In some ways, I wish this film made me hate (or like) it more. As is, it’s just okay.

Lingering In Provence (Perfume Thoughts: Bucoliques de Provence, L’Artisan Parfemeur)

375x500.37737For me, L’Artisan Parfemeur *was* niche, before niche exploded. When I first discovered it more than a decade ago, the idea of the brand seemed decadent and wild, and I devoured everything about it. I started collecting as much as I can – Dzing! will always have a place in my wardrobe  – and maybe I don’t pay as much attention to it now as I should I still have tons of their stuff (some in their old original bottles) but I find I never reach for them. Last year, when they had their annual sale, they were almost giving away Bucoliques de Provence. I grabbed it, without really knowing anything about it. I assumed it was a floral, based on the label on the bottle.

So when I finally got it and opened it, I spritzed. My first reaction? It was very old school L’Artisan. It is nice and soft, and very unique. It envelopes you. I read later that it is a tribute to Provence, so obviously this would have lavender. But it is not the barber shop lavender we know – this is quite sharp. It is enhanced by a dry paper-y iris, and the combination is exquisite. There is some suede to round it up, giving this light floral heft – this one does not go away quickly.

My verdict – I like it a lot. I wonder how it projects, though. I feel it’s a skin scent, so intimate and personal, but i bet it lingers. It’s also probably discontinued, so I should savor it.

The Way We Were (Movie Thoughts: Infamous)

inf‘Infamous’ is a movie that is clearly pre Covid 19. Joshua Caldwell’s movie recycles a whole bunch of cliches from all other movies and set it for the Instagram generation. There’s no trope that is left untouched here, and I was bored to tears the whole time. Thank God Bella Thorne has great screen presence that it didn’t feel too much like hell on earth. I do wonder if, after this pandemic is over, people will be different. Will we be kinder, better people? Hopefully by then we can look at this film as ‘the way we were.’

A Quiet Thing (Television Thoughts: Love Life S01 E 07 08 09 10)

Love-Life-Anna-Kendrick-HBO-Max

I just finished the third and final drop of Love Life episodes, and I can say I am pretty satisfied with it, and the show will probably end up on my best of list for the year. There are a lot of things I liked about it, and I think Anna Kendrick was tremendous – I don’t think I have ever seen her give such an ‘adult’ performance. She has always been one of my favorite actors and this will cement her there. And, you know what? As much as a lot of the show is tropes, it surprised me in one angle – I thought Darby was going to end up with Auggie. In a way they do – they will always be coparenting their son – but I thought that they would end up together together. The last couple of episodes wisely showed the different sides of Darby – as a daughter, as a friend, as a mother. They helped show her growth as a woman, and when we see her in that last episode, we see her as a full woman, because we went through that journey with her. And I like the final sentiment – that sometimes love enters your life quietly, without bells and whistles.It reminds me of the Kander & Ebb Song, “when it all comes through just the way we planned, it’s funny that the bells don’t ring…it’s a quiet thing”

I will miss the characters.

Amber Alert (Film Thoughts: Dating Amber)

dambDavid Freyne’s ‘Dating Amber’ is a gay coming of age Irish comedy drama from Director David Freyne and it is a charmer. It stars Fionn O’Shea as Eddie, a gay teen set in 1995 who is struggling to accept himself. Cue in Amber (Lola Petticrew) who proposes that they present themselves as a couple in order to protect each other socially – she is a lesbian. We have seen this story before, but Freyne gives the film fresh spins. I was taken by O’Shea, who is wonderful here, giving a nuanced performance – his eyes are very expressive and he is able to show emotions even without dialogue. (O’Shea was also wonderful in ‘Normal People’ as one of Marianne’s boyfriends) And Petticrew is wonderfully brash, and you can see the differences in both characters that when they get together, you are excited by the prospect. The film also shows the struggles teenagers used to face regarding the issue of sexual orientation. I am far removed to the youth experience now and I don’t know if it has improved, but the film is accurate in showing the mixed signals we used to get regarding acceptance and religion.

Big Disappointment (Book Thoughts: Big Summer, Jennifer Weiner)

52755548I was looking forward to reading ‘Big Summer’ by Jennifer Weiner. Based on the synopsis, it sounded like one of those big summer books, one I can easily dig into while relaxing. And yes, it started out like that – a plus size influencer, Daphne, gets invited to the wedding of the year by her former BFF, and I thought this was going to be a story of renewed friendships and all that went with that. But no, the book veers into something else – a murder mystery. I mean, I am not averse to that, but really, it’s not what I paid for, And while the ‘mystery’ part started out well, I didn’t think it was as interesting to me as I thought it would be. In the end, this book became a big disappointment.