So there has been a lot of controversy over how tone deaf Netflix’s ‘Tall Girl’ can be. And sure, I can agree – in these troubled times we are living in, can we muster sympathy for a teen character who is despaired because she is…tall? I want to slap her and say, girl, celebrate being tall – you can be a model with that height. But of course, this is a Netflix teen romance presentation, so all is wrong in the world. As far as teen romances go, ‘Tall Girl,’ directed by Nzingha Stewart, is sewn very close to the 80s teen classic ‘Pretty In Pink,’ with a character almost identical to that one’s Jon Cryer character. I do like some nice little touches here, like the main characters loving and singing showtunes – they sing a somewhat off-pitch ‘I’ve Never Been In Love Before’ that is almost adorable, and on their first date, they watch the film version of “Oklahoma!’ And you know that just warms my heart immensely. Plus, the New orleans setting is unique, though I wish they explored the local flavor more because this could have been set in any random suburban high school. If I didn’t mind the film’s set up, I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more.
I always say that I want to dig in my long long list of television to-be-watched pile, but I couldn’t resist vaulting all of that in favor of Netflix’s ‘The Politican,’ only because Ben Platt. I kind of like his work, even if at times I disagree with his artistic choices (a lot of his overwrought singing exhausts me) And this was so heavily advertised on all the things that I am interested in that I feel like I am its target audience, for better or worse. Plu it has Bette Midler in it somewhere, so what’s the harm?
Well, the verdict is that I will keep watching. There’s a lot in the pilot that interested me – it’s glorious to watch, first of all, with beautiful people (David Corenswet, where have you been all my life?) and its slickness is addictive. But I wonder if I will hate watch it as well, as there are a lot of things that bothered me. First of all, I saw a lot of similarities with ‘Glee.’ Is Payton Hobart just a variation of Rachel Berry, someone who manufactured all her life so she can achieve a certain goal? And the high school setting feels as familiar, albeit with actors who look like they are in their 30s. There is even an identical disabled character here, and musical numbers with songs that are so ‘obviously chosen’ they make me cringe. Yes, I thought Ben Plat singing ‘River’ was fine, but singing that song about a character named River? Well, even Stevie Wonder could have seen that a mile away. But for sure, it has already lured me enough to want to go back. Jessica Lange is always a treat to watch but Gwyneth Paltrow playing a caftan wearing Gwyneth-Paltrow like character alone is worth the monthly Netflix subscription. Most importantly, I think the show will inspire me to write more about what I think about it.
I had just gotten back from a trip to New York City when I saw ‘The Sound of Silence’ and my first thought was, “this film is so New York.” Where else in the world would something like the plot of this film exist, wherein a man, played by Peter Sarsgaard, would go into people’s apartments and analyze the sounds and become a therapist of sorts wherein he would recommend something and people’s lives would be better (‘buy a new toaster and you will sleep better’) The concept alone is intriguing, interesting, but you know what? I believe in it, and I probably would take whatever advise he would give.
I wish the film delivered as well as its premise. We get a half-baked story here about Peter’s friendship with Ellen Chasen, played by Rashida Jones, whose apartment he tried to treat, but the situation is a lot more complicated than he initially thought. Skaarsgard and Jones are great, and somehow fill whatever void the script gives them, but their efforts are not enough to deliver the film to the finish line. There is curious greatness here, but maybe it needs some sound adjusting to be fully realized.
Intimacy, when captured on film, is a glorious thing. It’s somewhat indescribable, as it is more felt. Lucio Castro captures it perfectly in ‘End Of The Century,’ and here I am, days after seeing it, and I can still feel things from it. Set in Barcelona (that alone scores points for me) Javi (Ramon Pujol) and Ocho (Juan Barberini) first see each other on the beach, but they don’t really connect until later when Ocho sees him by the balcony of his Air BnB, calling him out by the graphic on his shirt, ‘Kiss.’ (That graphic would prove to be significant later on) He asks him to come up to his room, and they kiss passionately. There’s a tenderness and urgency at the same time in their kiss, and afterwards while sharing some wine and cheese on a rooftop, they discover that they have met each other before – and we see them decades earlier in their younger years, on that time they first met. I instantly connect with both of them, and maybe it’s the romantic in me, but these things always resonate – ships that pass each other, haring fleeting moments. You never know if you will ever meet them again, and as you separate and reflect on what you have, you discover a real ache in your heart. In some weird sense, you feel the same thing as you watch Castro’s film:: for some brief moment you witness two souls touch each other, and you also feel an ache. Some people have described this as similar to Richard Linklaer’s ‘Before’ series and it is an apt comparison. I often wonder if Javi and Ocho would ever connect again, and not knowing makes it more painful, but at the same time all the better.
There is a Barry Manilow song that I love called ‘Why Don’t We Try A Slow Dance,’ and I think it is most romantic. I think of it as a moment when you have just met someone, ad you go to the dance floor and have danced a couple of fast songs. And after getting a slow song comes on and you look at each other and say, ‘you wanna try this one?’ It comes at a moment when a flirtation levels up to something a little more, and there’s that exhilarating possibility of…something. That song captures that moment, and when I saw that ‘Slow Dance’ was the title of the new Byredo scent, I wondered if the perfume will capture that as well.
Jerome Epinette is the nose for this perfume and the inspiration is from ‘a high school dance, a heady collision of innocence and experience, of knowing and not knowing.’ Well, I don’t know about that. The scent feels pretty mature to me, and is quite sophisticated smelling. The top notes are supposedly opoponax and cognac, hardly stuff at the school gym. I get some kind of berries that dominate (well, maybe that’s the punch at the gym) and some vanilla. But this doesn’t go gourmand – there’s geranium here, and some sweet violets. It’s all very transparent, too, but not fleeting. The one spritz I had on my arm lasted a very long time, and I found myself wanting to sniff it over and over. Yes, I kind of fell for this – it’s hefty enough for colder weather days, but feels gauzy and clear. I thought it kind of smelled a little incense-y or woodsy but not overly so. It smells very Byredo-ish, and fits perfectly with their aesthetic. And above all, it smells heavenly.
I used to be such voracious reader, and in some ways I still am, but now through online and social media. An older version of me would probably have devoured Donna Trtt’s novel ‘The Goldfinch,’ but I have to confess I have not read it – the 800 or so page count really felt daunting to me. So here we are with the film version, and I wish I could do one of those side by side comparisons on how the book was treated, but I can only go through a point of view of knowing very little about the story.
And I didn’t mind the film. I am sure it was probably most difficult to translate the text, but I thought John Crowley’s film flowed well, and for the most part told a story that appealed to me. I couldn’t help but see some parallels in my life (moving from New York to Las Vegas, for example) and I thought that for the most part this is one of those New York City stories – I feel like I know and have known these people. As the young Theodore, I was most impressed by Oakes Fegley, who showed great range. Ansel Elgort is wonderful to look at for sure, but I felt Theodore became less interesting once he took over the role. Also, I think I might have liked it even better if the movie had played that interpretation of Theodore and Boris having (romantic) love for each other, but maybe that’s just my Ansel projection. All in all, not as bad as some people say, though admittedly imperfect.
Maybe I am really getting old. I just watched two movies starring and about millennials and I should have liked them both, but I ended up just being disappointed by them. These movies feature good stories, but I just cannot abide by some of the bad behaviour and entitlement issues these young people have. Or am I just being cranky.
Stella Meghie’s ‘The Weekend’ has just the right low key touch, but the biggest mistake here is it involves around Sasheer Zamata’s character Zadie. I don’t know if the character was written that way, or because of Zamata’s performance, but Zadie is insufferable. her cutting wit comes off as mean-spirited, and she is disrespectful to everyone, including her mother – and I hate people, fictional or not, who are mean to their parents. She is still hung up on her ex here, and goes on a weekend trip with him and his girlfriend, but her contempt, jealousy and sense of entitlement overpowers whatever sympathy she can get (for me: none) Zamata’s stand-up routine is probably better experienced, but her transition to the big screen is a complete failure. Someone described this film as Woody Allen-esque, aand sure, I can see some of the imitations, but all in all, this film is as much a crime as the ones Allen is accused of.
Robert Luketic’s ‘The Wedding Year’ has a nice premise about how a relationship evolves over a course of the couple attending seven weddings, but something got lost in the process here. Again, we get an unlikable character here, Mara, who is at the center of the film. She talk and acts dumb, and the weddings which are supposed to frame how she evolves, is treated as stupid comic interludes, and by the time the characters show some emotion it’s already too late. It doesn’t hurt that there is no sizzle in the leads. I never believed that Sarah Hyland and Tyler James William was a couple – never figured out why the two character saw in each other. All in all, there’s a good movie here somewhere, but you wouldn’t know it from the finished product.