Blossoming Iris (Perfume Thoughts: Iris Rebelle, Atelier Cologne)

375x500.48137It’s a new year and here is the new release from Atelier Cologne – Iris Rebelle.  I saw this while browsing through Sephora, so it must be one of Atelier’s ‘common’ releases, and I do like the pinkish-purplish bottle. I thought to myself, I can wear this scent on Mondays.

Obviously, it is an iris perfume, and this is a soily, rooty iris, freshly picked from the ground. I have seen a lot of people describe a ‘carrot’ note and I do get why they do. I think what they got is the soil that’s embedded with the iris flower.

I love iris based perfumes, and this one has a surprising twist – it is mixed with a citrusy orange blossom note. It’s ‘fresh,’ and I am surprised that I like it because normally, I despise scents that smell ‘fresh.’ But the orange blossom here is nice and refreshing, not the normally indolic type. It stays all the way through the drydown, and here I am sniffing my wrist hours after, and it is still bright and sunshine-y. I wish they offered this in their 1 oz bottle, but they only have two choices – the massive (for collectors) 100 ml. But, they also have the 10 ml travel spray for $32.00 and that is enough of a concession.


Well Hello Hampstead (Movie Thoughts: Hampstead)

01-489772I don’t want to harp too much on ‘Hampstead,’ because it is one of those rare things: a movie written for older people. And, well, i am getting older and do appreciate the effort.  And there are a lot of things to like about the film, directed by Joel Hopkins. There’s Diane Keaton, in an almost signature role for her – slightly neurotic, kind of bumbling, chic in menswear. Brendan Gleeson, as Donald, has low-key charm. Sadly, though, the two actors have no chemistry with each other, and try as I might, I just couldn’t warm up to whatever they are serving.

Donald’s character is inspired by Harry Hallowes, who famously squatted at Hampstead Heath Park and won the deed for his square space there. It was a celebrated case in London in 2007. That might have been an interesting premise in itself, and why Hopkins framed the story as a rom-com is a question I have. But, as I said, the film is pleasant enough.

I guess I should note that this film was produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, so I am guessing this film will not get a major release in the states. I don’t really know if I would consider that as a great loss for the film, but such is the case.

Forty Minutes (Television Thoughts: LA To Vegas, Fox)

e9518fde6f76e8581c96650f25a9a1e4Here it is, the first I am writing about for 2018, and it is a sitcom whose premise I am a little familiar with. ‘LA To Vegas’ is about people who fly every weekend from Los Angeles to Vegas, and even though I am not one of those people, I have taken this forty minute flight a lot of times, so many times that I could close my eyes right now and can experience it in my mind.

Really, though, this is a workplace sitcom about the weekly Jackpot Airlines flight (think Spirit or Frontier) starring Dylan McDermott as Captain Dave, the kind of irreverent pilot who mans the flight.  (He drinks, he shakes) There’s flight attendant Ronnie (Kim Matula) who dreams of working a more exotic flight but is stuck in this route. And of course there is a gay flight attendant Bernard (Nathan Lee Morris) and a host of different supporting characters, mostly regulars who take the same flight each week.

I was attracted to this initially because of producer Steve Levithan, from  ‘Modern Family.’  At two episodes in, this isn’t as laugh out loud as that show is for me, but I want to give this time. None of the characters has irritated me yet, and the familiar circumstances give it more appeal for me,

War Stories (Film Thoughts: BPM)

bpmI am one of the generation who ‘grew up’ with ACT-UP. I remember once going to one of its meetings by mistake. It was at the “Keith Haring Room’ at The Center in New York City in the Mid 80s, and I thought I was going to a group meeting of some sort, and walked in to ACT UP.  And I was scared, I was trembling. It was a whole group of very militant people, all garbed in black. of course, I knew what they were fighting for, but seeing their faces and their hostility face to face was an affront i didn’t expect. I ran out of there right away. I couldn’t handle it – their intensity weakened me. I look back at that now and think, can you imagine being on the receiving end of all that energy? Well, darn right, I could, and it was that rage that spurred the action that was needed at the time. I often saw the news reports of their activism, and then I would kind of shake my hand, but with my eyes now, knowing what I know, and after time has passed, I can only view all of as great bravery – hand battle in the war that is still on going.

BPM captures the Parisian energy of the time. Directed by Robin Campillo from his screenplay (with Phillippe Mangeot) this film is a depiction of a war, in the same vein as one would see ‘Schindler’s List,’ for example. While we are fortunate to be living now in a time where much of what was discussed here as battles won, it is good to see how we got to this place. This film tells the story of the activism in Paris that went on, and the loves and battles they lived through. It has the great performance of Nahuel Perez Biscayat as Sean, who is one of the activists who got the disease from his teacher, and his unlikely partner in Nathan (Arnaud Valois) who is negative. They form a bond that is unflinching in its honesty.

But, like all war films, it’s too exhausting to watch for me. In these times where we see resistance in form everyday, it is a reminder that we never do stop fighting in life. This is the opposite of the feel good movie, and I spent the evening after seeing this in deep solitude. I thought about the friends I have lost, the friends still affected by this. I thought about my life – how I survived all of this, and how I still do not feel completely safe from it. I slept with these thoughts, and this morning still could not figure out how to feel, how to write. I think this film is a great representation of the war a lot of people had to go through, and I hope people see it.

Is It A Video (Music Thoughts: Call me By Your Name Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Call Me By Your NameThe one thing I loved most about ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is its music. I thought it not only enhanced the film, but it seems like it was another character. The music helped build tension, it emphasized how characters are feeling, and in some cases helped advance the story.

Since the movie is set in Northern Italy 1983, we get a glimpse of pop music then. I loved how Giorgio Morroder and Joe Esposito  ‘Lady Lady Lady’ described the emotional turmoil in Elio’s mind as he watched Oliver dance with another girl. I was racking my brain as to why that song sounded so familiar and voila, I googled and found out that it was on the ‘Flashdance’ soundtrack, which of course I used to play back in the day. And I am nowhere near an 80s pop music expert, but I don’t think I recall ever listening to Miss Cha Cha Cha’s ‘Paris Latino,’ and now it’s one of my favorite things.

Then there’s the classical stuff. I cannot stop listening to “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme,” which id of course from one of my favorite scenes from the movie, when Elio starts showing off to Oliver how he can change arrangements of a piece based on how Liszt would do Bach’s version, among other variants. On the soundtrack, Alessio Bax’s recording of the tune is perfection. I also love all the other ‘modern’ instrumental pieces, like Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Germination.’

And really, we also get Sufjan Steven’s three songs, two that were made especially for the film. They are all magnificent, each and every single one of them. They all fit perfectly in each of the scenes, and even Luca Guadigno describes the songs as part of the narration of the film. There’s the urgency of ‘Fultiel Devices’ when Elio starts looking for Oliver after he has professed his love for him. And there’s the swooning, romantic ‘Mystery of Love,’ and I don’t think I will ever listen to ‘Vision of Gideon’ without shedding a tear.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ is rich in sensory artistry – the lush cinematography, the ripeness of the peach, the cracking of the soft-boiled egg. The music, evidenced in this soundtrack, contributes to what makes it unforgettable.

Style (Film Thoughts: Phantom Thread)

Phantom-Thread-alternate-poster-4-620x916Supposedly, ‘Phantom Thread’ is Daniel Day Lewis’ last film, and I am suddenly sad if ever. You see, he gives a great performance here – he is one of those actors who does both ‘studied’ and ‘natural’ acting – each performance is an exercise in restraint, and he has one of the most expressive faces – one look from him can convey a multitude of things. His Reynolds Woodcock in this film is a very complex character, a couturier of post war England, and he is a study of elegance and class, and class here has double meaning. He is artistic, moody, and never tells you what he really wants as he is telling you what he wants. Lewis somehow makes the character relatable – you understand Reynolds right away, or you think you do, even as the same character confounds you.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, from his screenplay (he is also the Director of Photography) is art house in the most varied definition of that word. An elderly woman I spoke to before seeing this film described it to me as ‘very European,’ and I wanted to tell her that it was by an American director. It is a study of art, of how it is conceived, presented, and assessed. The film is also a love story. Woodcock meets Alma (Vicky Krieps) a waitress at a provincial hotel where he is staying at – she suddenly becomes his lover, and muse. She starts to live with him and his sister Cyril (Leslie Manville) and the three of them do a delicate dance – playing off each other with each other, for survival. Manville gives a great showy performance, but showy in the most subtle way. I hope she gets an AcademY Award nomination for her performance here.

phtI liked most of the film. It’s visually stunning, and kept me on my toes. I didn’t know which side to always take, and sometimes regretted my choice when I did. And Lewis makes Babcock unforgettable. I think this is one of those films that benefit from a second viewing. I just don’t know if I have the inclination to give it one.

It’s Just Another

Ending the New Year in a quiet note – there are a lot of life-changing changes coming up for me, and I am just sitting and contemplating what the year has been for me. It was good, it was not so good, but I survived and 2018 will be great. I know, I can feel it already.

I am watching the CNN coverage and I am missing Kathy griffin – this was a tough year for her but I hope she hears that she is missed – the two Andys are boring together, and Cohen seems smug and unlikable, dragging Cooper with him. And Mariah is salvaging what she ruined for herself last year – but barely.

I hope I get to feature everything I want to in the New Year.