Holiday Kisses (Book Thoughts: Kiss Me In New York, Catherine Rider)

34220850Most times when I am trying to decide what books to read next, I just choose random books on my TBR Kindle pile, and just start to read. Sometimes the words just click, and sometimes they don’t, depending on my mood. Catherine Rider’s ‘Kiss Me In New York’ got me hooked right away, so I decided to keep on reading. About a couple of pages in, I realized that this book was a Christmas-themed novel, and geez, did I really want to read a Holiday themed book this early? Well, there’s no turning back now, I told myself.

At first, I thought the premise didn’t quite work, in a practical sense. A girl get stranded in New York City on Christmas Eve, so she decides to spend it in the city with a young boy she just met. They are both suffering from broken hearts – they both just ended relationships, so they traipse around NYC. I was going to swallow everything and believe – until I can’t. And about halfway through the book, I lost interest in them because the practical Virgo in me just couldn’t take the impossibilities of the situations they are getting into. I ended up really disliking this book and not caring about what happened to the characters. Yes, Bah Hambug,

Love Among The Lambs (Film Thoughts: God’s Own Country)

gocI was lucky to be in Los Angeles, because ‘God’s Own Country’ had a very limited release schedule and I was even able to use my Movie Pass to watch it. Directed by Francis Lee, this movie is set in Pennine Mountains, in England, which is a farming town. Johnny (Josh O’Connor) takes care of the herd, and he is somewhat of a lost soul, as well: he goes drinking every night at the local bar, probably to forget the fact that he is hiding his homosexuality from his parents. When Romanian Gheorghe arrives to help out (a handsome Alex Secareanu) he is met with hostility by Johnny, who is wary of him.

And they they fall in love. And what happens next is kind of sweet. Some have compared this movie to ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ but the scope of this film is smaller, and the love story is more pointed, and sweeter. One can’t help but get involved in their love, amidst the picturesque landscape. The latter part of the film is on the predictable side, but the pay off ending doesn’t feel tacked on, thanks to sensitive acting by the leads. The languid pacing can be argued, but I just take it as indicative of how slow the pace of life in those parts. But the real get here is the sense of genuine affection the two characters have for each other that was essayed by the movie. This a small film with a big heart.

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Perfume Thoughts: Brooklyn, Gallivant)

gallivant-BRooklyn-perfume-cafleurebonWhen I first sniffed ‘Brooklyn’ by Gallivant months ago, it was in the middle of me testing different scents while I was at Scent Bar, so it got kind of lost in the shuffle. But as I read more about the brand, I found a lot of things to like about the whole concept, so I made a mental note to retry the scents when given a chance. I learned that the brand was founded by Nick Steward, who was a Creative Director for L’Artisan Parfemeurs, and I certainly like the idea of scent and travel together – whenever I go on vacation, I buy a perfume to remember the trip by. I decided I really should have Gallivant represented in my wardrobe. And I do look the fact that the line comes in price-point friendly 1 oz bottles.

Right now I am wearing ‘Brooklyn’ from the line, and this was highly recommended by the folks over at Lucky Scent. This is a citrus based scent, with a little more to it. It opens with a lemnoy-limey-accord and is very light and pleasant. I like the fact that it is light but it is not fleeting – it certainly stays with you. I hints of florals here – a rooty iris, a watery magnolia – and they add weight to the citrus ‘base’ going on here. And then the scent stays there. The drydown I get is that mix, and it is …. nice. It stays pretty close to the skin and doesn’t scream. It’s subtle but you can tell there’s intelligence behind how it was made. But I ask myself – is nice enough?  At its price point, it certainly isn’t the biggest risk in the world, but I think I am getting to the point now that nice may not be enough to be included in my wardrobe. I think I have to have an emotional connection to the scent, and right now, I don’t really have that with Brooklyn.

Interestingly enough, I also got a sample for a friend who is a big fan of citrusy scents, and when he put it on he said, “I hate it,” and he says there is that note in there that he absolutely despises – I think it’s the iris.

So I don’t think this is going to be the Galivant for me yet.


Bad, You Know It (Movie Thoughts: A Bad Mom’s Christmas)

badmomxI am still trying to go through Halloween, and then not looking forward to Thanksgiving, and now I already have to deal with Christmas movies? I was really trying to ignore ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ because of a couple of things. First of all – Christmas. Second, I know I saw the original movie but was it even memorable for me? I guess it was a hit, hence the sequel. But I have my Moviepass card burning in my pocket and none of the other choices really excited me so I said I might as well, even though there is a part of me that was dreading this.

But, honestly, it wasn’t *that* bad, and some parts made me laugh. I didn’t realize that a big part of the focus here is on the bad moms’ mothers, and Mila Kunis’ character’s mom is played by Christine Baranski, and anything with Baranski is worth looking at. And even though Baranski’s role is one dimensional, this is a stupid comedy so who cares. I also likes Cheryl Hines as Kristin Bell’s mother, so that was an added plus. Susan Sarandon plays the third grandmom and frankly, it is just another variation of your typical Sarandon performance – does she play the same role over and over again? As for the original moms, only Kathryn Hahn is really worth mentioning, she is totally delightful here.

I mean, if I had to pay for this movie, I would probably me less generous. But be that as it may, I have to say that even the modest audience at my screening was howling with laughter. The mostly-woman crowd ate everything was serving, so should I really judge? It looks like this film is serving its main demographic, and if this is what Christmas means to them, then by all means Happy Holidays!

A Spring Comeback (Television Thoughts: Will And Grace, The Fall Season)

Will & Grace - Season 1Just finished watching the ‘Fall Finale’ of Will and Grace, and I guess we will not be seeing the show for a couple of months, though I think there is a Christmas episode coming up.  I know I wrote about the pilot, mainly praising it, and thankfully, with each week the show just brought it on. I will not lie and tell you that every joke on every show landed (for me) but the show did one thing for me – it made me want to ‘make an appointment’ with the show every Thursday night at 9 pm, and I don’t even do that with any of my favorite shows. I wanted to support it, and even though I am not a Neilsen household, I wanted my television to be on it on the actual time it was on.

And all four actors just got better and better every week – these characters are all second skin to them, but they even manage to flesh out a little bit something to them. Look at Hayes during the ‘gay conversion’ episode. When he tells his grandson that he is ok, it never sounded prerachy because one can actually see that character say the exact same words. And Mullaly on the sixth episode, when her maid Rosario dies, gives the character just enough pathos and vulnerability amidst the comedy. I know both have won Emmys for their roles, but I can’t see them not getting more next September. I give them special mention but McCormack and Messing both are as good. I know I am sounding like the biggest W &  G fanboy, but I have to say I wasn’t even a big fan of it when it was on. I stopped watching it after its third or fourth season, if I recall, so maybe there’s something here that is touching me – perhaps it’s the times we live in, perhaps it’s the political climate. And speaking of which, it was good to see that the later episodes become almost non-political, although the show is always topical, and perhaps too much at times.  I will eagerly await its return next year.

No Wonder (Film Thoughts: Wonderstruck)

wsThe concept and plot of ‘Wonderstruck,’ isn’t normally something I would be interested at, but I went because it is directed by Todd Haynes, whose work I really do admire. In this movie, we have two parallel stories of a child in search of something. It is based on Brian Selznick’s novel of the same name. One part is set in 1927, about Rose (Millicent Simmonds) who takes the ferry from Hoboken, New Jersey to New York City in search of an actress, Lillian Mayhew, played by Julian Moore. The second part of the story is set in 1977, where a boy Ben (Oakes Fegley) takes a bus from Minnesota to Manhattan in search for his father. The first part is shot in black white, like a silent movie (Mayhew is a silent film actress) while the latter is in glorious seventies color. I thought the production values here were excellent, especially the scenes from the 70s, which really made you feel like you were there at that particular time.

ws1However, neither of the stories moved me. They just weren’t interesting enough for me and I have to admit that some parts made me literally doze off. It was quite slow, and the payoff, especially the big reveal in Ben’s storyline, not worth the whole effort. I thought it extremely long, and pointless.  I really wanted to like this film, but ended up thoroughly disappointed and frustrated with it. And perhaps because of this, I find I can never remember the title, mistaking it for Wanderlust, or Wonderscene. It’s Wonderstruck, and I just wasn’t.

Killing Fields (Movie Thoughts: The Killing Of A Sacred Deer)

kil‘The Killing Of A Sacred Deer’ is directed by Yorgoss Lanthimos, who directed ‘The Lobster.’  I cannot remember if I liked ‘The Lobster,’ (I guess I did, because I rated it four stars on Letterboxd) but I still remember that movie vividly – its weirdness was both amusing and disturbing.

I feel the exact same way about ‘The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.’ here I am, almost a day after seeing it and I can still see some scenes vividly in my head. I am still thinking about the ending, and last night I started to google what other people thought about it. I know the initial inspiration is from a Greek tragedy (Iphiginia in Aulis) but the film is very modern, and it plays with your mind. I know if it should play like a dark comedy, but for me it is just dark and disturbing. It isn’t horror in the strict sense (I was apprehensive in seeing it because of that) but it scares you.

Colin Farrel is fantastic, and is in the center of the piece. He plays a doctor who befriends the son of a patient who dies on his operating table. From the beginning you know there is something ‘off’ about their relationship, and if I say more it would be a spoiler. And is there a more fearless actress than Nicole Kidman. She is fantastic here, as the wife who sees her family disintegrate before her eyes. And Barry Keoghan is a revelation here – innocent, creepy, that little kid you thought you could squash but is more than a menace. There are some unbelievable circumstances in the plot here, but in these actors’ hands, you just go along for the ride.

I don’t know if everyone will like this movie, of course. But I bet it will creep you out, and I bet, like me, you will be thinking about it days after seeing it.