Sit And Wonder (Film Thoughts: Final Portrait)

final-portrait‘Final Portrait feels like a film where you just watch Armie Hammer (as James Lord) sitting down as Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti paints (or ties to paint) his portrait. But since it’s Armie Hammer, I am game. In real time, I can watch him sit still for hours and I wouldn’t mind it.

I do have to admit that at certain points in the film, I had to ask myself, where is this film going? And I had to tell myself, just enjoy the ride. And it could be a slow, laborious, ride, but it is very pleasant. Geoffrey Rush plays Giacometti like a manic, and I am just going to assume it is an accurate portrayal, since I know little about the artist, plus, this movie is based on Lord’s memoir about sitting for the portrait. Hammer doesn’t really do much here but react to Rush’s antics, and is able to convey his (and presumably the viewer’s) exasperation of the whole process. I like the slice of what it documents of Giacometti’s life, and I am now inclined to google some of his artistic work. This film is written and directed by the actor Stanley Tucci, and he has made an actor’s film. It’s a small film, but the characters are big – and human.

Split Up With Splitting Up (Television Thoughts: Splitting Up Together)

p14160248_b_v8_abAfter watching the pilot episode of ‘Splitting Up Together,” I was going to say that family sitcoms are probably not for me, but then I realize that what I don’t like are bland family sitcoms. I started watching ‘Splitting Up Together,’ and about ten minutes into it, I already felt claustrophobic about being trapped with these people. The characters in this show are just a bunch of stereotypes – the father, played by Oliver Hudson is a man child, the wife, Jenna Fischer, is a neurotic mom, and the kids are cockie cutter in their trying to be interesting.  I know Ellen is an Executive Producer of this show, and I don’t realize why she put her name into something this blah. Total waste of my twenty two minutes.

Sunglasses At Night (Movie Thoughts: Midnight Sun)

large_large_cEd3PYAEkRbuAr9SgTC8l6znac‘Midnight Sun’ is your latest in the line of teen romance/tearjerkers along the vein of ‘A Walk In The Woods,’ and ‘The Fault In Our Stars,’ and I don’t know if that is a spoiler of sorts for you.  It is a love story between two young people, and the conflict stems from the young girl, Katie (Bella Thorne) having the rare disease XP (Xeroderma Pigmentosum) which is a skin disease that makes sun exposure dangerous for her. So, she only come out at night. When she meets Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) her childhood crush, she years to take a stab at love, but …and you can kind of tell how this ends up… with tears.

The film has been getting pounded by critics, and I wasn’t expecting it to be great. But, I was thoroughly in it. I believed. I think Thorne here is amazingly sweet and vulnerable, and had just the right pathos for her character. Schwarzenegger was okay, too, but you can kind of see his limitations. But he looks so fine, at the prime of his youthful looks, that most times, it really did not matter – and this has more to do with me than anything else. I think the two had good chemistry, but the film is very chaste so that didn’t really have a chance to combust as it should. The film kind of goes haywire in the last part, where a lot did not really make sense, but probably that was because director Scott Spears was intent on giving viewers that ending. And yeah, I’ll admit to having a small bite sized lump in my throat then. So, it’s all good. I didn’t feel like this was a waste of my time or energy. And perhaps you will feel the same way as well.

In Love Again (Movie Thoughts: Love, Simon)

luvsimI remember reading the Becky Albertalli book ‘Simon Vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda’ years ago when it was first popular. I even think it was the very first gay YA book I read, and introduced me to the explosion of great YA novels. When I started seeing the trailers for ‘Love Simon,” I did not connect until later that this movie is an adaptation of that book. I should have, because I loved the book. I don’t remember too much about the minor details of the book, but the film stands on its own, and I think will connect with the younger generation. This is a movie that Mike Pence will not want you to see, and I hope it drives everyone to go see it.

It’s the movie I have most connected with since seeing ‘Call Me By Your Name’ late last year. This film has been perfectly described as a John Hughes kind of movie for this generation, and it’s apt. Greg Berlanti has directed a great film, written by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker (who write for ‘This Is Us.’) It’s topical, it’s hilarious, it’s tender and touching, and even though it is a movie with a gay angle, it has universal appeal. i think a lot of people will be able to relate to the lead character, Simon, who otherwise leads a normal, well-adjusted perfect life – aside from having a big secret, and that he is gay. When a young man from his school anonymously confesses on the school blog that he is gay, this gives Simon an opportunity to communicate with him, and tell him that, he too, has the same secret.

Nick Robinson is swoon-worthy in the title role – and he is a great young actor, possessing just the right amount of vulnerability for the character. I suspect this will catapult him to stardom – boys and girls will fall in love with him. And they have cast the perfect people to be his parents – Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, although it really makes me feel old that these age contemporaries of mine are playing parents of teenagers.

In the sneak preview screening I went to, the mostly young crowd screamed and applauded at all the right places, and it warmed my heart that everyone started applauding when the two male characters kissed for the first time. Of course, this is in Los Angeles, but I suspect people will react similarly everywhere. I cannot recommend this more highly.

The Flower Is The Thing (Movie Thoughts: Flower)

flo‘Flower’ is one of those movies that I both like and hate. I like it because it is a wisecracking Indie movie, and tells a story inventively. It stars Zoe Dutch (mark my words, a star in the making) is Erica, a teenager who has the sweet face of a young Tea Leoni but a mouth like a sailor. She and her friends like to pal around and frame corrupt cops by having Erica give them oral pleasures while filming them, then blackmailing them for money. But Erica has a goal for that money, which is to bail out his father. She also has a nice friend-type relationship with her mother (Kathryn Hahn) but that relationship goes sour when she has her boyfriend and his son move in. The son is weird – he just got out of rehab and Erica has to babysit him.

I didn’t like these characters one bit, and when they start doing bad things, I begin to like them less. But I have to admit that even as I say I do not like these characters, I am not able to take my eyes off them as the film progresses. The last part of the film made me cringe, and I thought the ending was kind of wimpy compared to the big set-up. Max Wrinkler, the director, has an eye for something, and his next film I bet will be better than this one.

In Wine We Trust (Film Thoughts: Ce Oui Nous Lie/Back to Burgundy)

newI loved ‘Back To Burgundy,’ maybe because I love wine (it’s my poison of choice) Cedric Klapische’s movie was interesting to me, first and foremost because it was beautifully shot on location in French Wine Country, and it’s a region I have been wanting to visit. It was fascinating to me how wine is produced, and from what I can gather, this film expertly shows that. The film tells of a story of three siblings who have o deal with divvying up what their father left them – and how to reconcile preserving what they grew up with, and moving on with their lives. There are great performances here, especially the three main actors: Pio Marmai, Ana Girardot, and Francois Civil. At times the plot goes the way of soap opera territory, and the scope of it may not be big enough for feature film nowadays, but I followed the plot closely, and was deeply affected by it.

Eau de Outrage (Perfume Thoughts: Outrageous, Frederic Malle)

o.45935Whenever people hear that I love perfume (and collect) more often than not, they always ask me ‘Do you have Frederic Malle?’ The snarky reply would be ‘Of course, any perfumista has,’ but of course I am much nicer than that (most of the time) Truth is, I love Malle perfumes, and for me collecting all of them would be more ‘aspirational’ than anything else because of their price. But sure, I own a couple of bottles and honestly, use them sparingly. I would love to own all of them and use them everyday, but of course, the likelihood of that happening is tiny.

The other side to that equation is that the perfume snob that I am, I now kind of look at the brand with some wary. It has become so popular, every knows about them, people consider it the Hermes bag of perfumes, and frankly, a lot of people wear them. So now I kind of put my nose up on them. But in my heart of hearts, I love them because in the end, they are good perfumes, done well with fantastic ingredients. I mean, you see where your money is going when you purchase a bottle.

Which brings me to Outrageous. This is a collaboration between Malle and Sophia Grojsman, who Malle considered as some kind of idol. And why not? She created Opium and Paris for YSL. This was originally a Barney’s Co Op exclusive from way back, and I always thought of it as ‘diffusion Malle’ because it was priced more accessibly. I have had numerous samples of this, but never really immersed myself into it. Recently, it has now been added to Malle’s regular roster, and I got another sample recently, and tried it.

It’s a beauty. A nice tropical cocktail of a perfume perfect for the higher temperature days to come. It has breezy notes of tangerine and green apple, and bergamot makes it zing. It has cinammon that rounds it up, and is finished off with white musk that is not generic smelling. It is full-bodied but feels light, and it stayed with me for hours, which is unusual for a citrusy scent, proving the worthiness of its price point. It seems a tad dated, like this was something from the nineties or early aughts – but that could be me projecting – I don’t know why, but it feels like an Annick Goutal to me for some reason. Nowadays, this is not terribly niche-y in unique wise. But all in all, I would be happy to add this to my collection, as it were. Just don’t ask me if I have it.