Loving The Vile (Film Thoughts: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile)

extremely-wicked-shockingly-evil-and-vile-800x1200Who isn’t in love with Zac Efron? I know I have been championing him for a while now, as I do think he is an extremely talented and versatile actor. He is getting more attention nowadays for his performance in the new film ‘Extremely Wicked Shickingly Evil and Vile’ (bad choice of a title since I cannpt retain it in my memory) and rightfully so – he is extremely effective portraying the serial killer Ted Bundy. Seen in the eyes of his long time girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (who wrote a book based on her life with Bundy) this Ted Bundy is charming and handsome. It’s as if director Joe Berlinger has put you in the position of being one of his victims and you are able to experience how one gets manipulated and roped by this man. It’s a strange way to present a film about a serial killer. We never really get to see any of the killings, and at first thought you think, this film is as in love with Bundy (and Efron) as we are. But as I think about it more, I think it’s just an effective way to present Bundy. Even though Collins is great as Elizabeth, Efron takes over the film whenever he is on – his presence here i so magnetic that you are instantly and effectively drawn. Yes, it does seem like it is trying to glorify a serial killer, but in the initial eyes of his victims, he is glorified. And just like his victims, he instills fear as we get to know him better. There is a scene between Ted and Elizabeth towards the end which is supposed to be some kind of closure for their relationship, but instead is so horrifying it will make you feel sick and disgusted, yet there will be a nagging feeling in you that you will want more.

I initially had reservations about the film (even as I enjoyed Efron’s performance) – the pace is uneven, and there are some holes int he story telling. But taken as is, I think it’s still a worthwhile film. As my film ended, Netflix immediately followed my viewing with their docu series The TEd Bundy Tapes, and I think seeing those two things back to back will make the Bundy experience fuller. But then again, maybe one is enough.

The Girls Are Great (Movie Thoughts: Someone Great)

Someone-Great-thumb-700x473-208546Thank God for Netflix. They are single-handedly reviving the ‘chick flick’ genre. Yes, I know they tweeted that they dislike that term, but I am going to call ‘Someone Great’ exactly what it is: a chick flick. It’s also a solid romantic break up film, and at the same time a ‘now’ variation of the ‘Sex & The City’ formula. And you know what?  It’s all good.

Gina Rodriguez plays q woman who is moving to San Francisco for a job, and her boyfriend breaks up with her because of that. SO she and her friends want to party one last time, and…well, you can just imagine where the film journeys on. Some sequences work, some don’t but it hardly matters as she and her friends (Brittany Snow and Dewanda Wise) give you a heady trip where they (and probably you) learn more about yourself. The movie is very current, and I wonder if the references would even work six months from now, but Jennifer Kaytin Robinson directs this in so fast a pace that everything blends well in blender speed. You will be intoxicated after.

Noah’s Arc (Movie Thoughts: The Perfect Date)

the-perfect-date-poster-456x676I grew up watching the John Hughes movies of the 80s, so it is nice to see that resurgence on Netflix. Noah Centineo seems to be the Molly Ringwald of this generation, and why not? He is an appealing enough actor, and he is certainly easy on the eyes, so of course, I am so there for his new movie ‘The Perfect Date,’ and look, I am not going to pretend and say that I am expecting major literary cinema here, but for me, the film serves its purpose – it’s light, it’s funny, and Noah is certainly nice to watch. (as a small bonus, there’s even a cute gay subplot)

Centineo is so good he looks like he is doing this in his sleep. We all know from frame one where this film starts and where it will go. The surprise is if it will make us believe, and believed it every step of the way.

Fighting Fyre with Fyre (Film Thoughts: Fyre Fraud/Fyre)

fyre-fyre-fraud-posters

We have two competing documentaries on the failed Fyre Music Festival from 2017, and I have seen them both. So which one did I like better. I will give it to Hulu’s ‘Fyre Fraud’ by a small margin. It’s also a little lighter, and has a broader thing to say than Netflix’s ‘Fyre,’ which I thought was a little drier. I also saw ‘Fyre Fraud’ first and perhaos the Netflix one suffered because of that?

‘Fyre Fraud’ has an edge by having Billy McFarland interviewed – their competitors say that Hulu paid $250,000 for that, and if that’s is true, that would be disgusting. ‘Fyre,’ on the other hand has its own demons – it was produced by the media people who worked on the festival, and of course, it made the media company look good and less culapble for what happened. But for me, who cares? These rich people got scammed – boo hoo – and the social influencers got scammed boo hoo again. It’s not the end of the world for them, but how about the Bahamanian workers who shelled out money and never got repaid back. Why can’t Netflix or Hulu shell out some money for these people? In the end, I didn’t really have a lot of sympathy for some of these white entitled privileged people who got scammed.

Mrs. Tide (Television Thoughts:Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Netflix)

5efebe354f34a6ad07efd254d77ebdb1d8a56bf6It’s the New Year and people are joining health clubs and cleaning up their houses.  And of course, what better for Netflix to roll out their new series, ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.’  Kondo sparked interest a couple of years ago when she released a book wherein she tells people to get rid of things in their lives that do not ‘spark joy’ in them. And of course, that made me roll my eyes. I wouldn’t have anything in my life that doesn’t spark joy, I thought. Obviously, I have way too much clothes (don’t even pretend you don’t) but more or less, they give me happiness.

I have only seen the first episode, and the show is much more engaging than I thought it would be. It’s your typical HGTV style show, of transforming space from clutter to clean, with a bit of psychological cleansing involved – think Queer Eye where there’s crying and hugging. Kondo’s style is really simple, and seems to be effective. The new-agey part still makes me roll my eyes a bit – in the beginning she makes everyone say a prayer of thanks for their house. As for the ‘spark joy’ part, she has a thing wherein you kiss your clothes and say thank you to it if you want to discard it, but I ask: what if you never wore the clothes and it never served a purpose for you – do you still thank it, and if so, for what? But I am just being cynical, though, really if you have clutter (and I raise my hand) maybe it’s best to start tackling it instead of watching this show.

Bringing Up Baby (Film Thoughts: Private Life)

19143b091e0ee402a0be655c21aabf226dc611ddTamara Jenkins’ ‘Private Life’ centers on a couple, Rachel and Richard, played by Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti, who has been trying to have a child and has been trying to explore all their options for it. But for me, the film is more than that – it is a character study of a certain type of New Yorkers – artistic city folks who are trying to find meanings in their lives, probably trying to search for happiness just like everyone else in the world. The movie is more an observation of manners, and int hat case it was interesting to watch also because of the authentic performances from both lead actors (Hahn is a force of nature)

But beyond that, the subject matter here bored me to tears. Maybe I just don’t have that ‘parent gene’ that would make me obsess o wanting to have a child. I may belong to that school of people who would just give up after exhausting a couple of tries. I saw myself saying ‘Enough Already’ after seeing these characters go through disappointments after disappointments. I got tired of them after a while that I stopped caring about the characters. But obviously that is a more personal reaction to the film, which is not an indication of its quality. Or maybe it’s a testament of it – it is so real that I reacted this way. But all in all, I respected this movie and what it is trying to say. In the end, it just doesn’t speak to me.

Teacher Ma’m (Film Thoughts: the Kindergarten Teacher)

large_kindergarten-imageI had heard about ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ when it premiered in Sundance earlier this year, and have been on the lookout for it. Apparently, Netflix bought the film so yes, even better. I wished this had wider theater distribution, though, because it really is a special film. Yes, I know, it being on Netflix will probably give it more eyes than a regular indie distribution, but still…

Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a great performance here. She plays Lisa Spinelli, a forty-something year old kindergarten teacher who discovers that one of her students has a knack for composing poems. This stirs up something inside her – she is taking a poetry class and doesn’t seem to be tracking. When she starts presenting the kid’s poems as her own, she gains attention from the class, including the professor (Gael Garcia Bernal, also wonderful in a small role)  However, Lisa is not really interested in claiming the poems as her own, she other ideas, and writer/director Sara Colangelo takes the movie to places you never thought it would go. it doesn’t necessarily go darker, but definitely deeper.

This is one of those great small films that gives you a character that may be different, or quirky, but believable, even relatable, definitely interesting. You may even love the character, and will definitely be fond of the film.