Strange Dear, but True Dear (Film Thoughts: Alex Strangelove, Netflix)

MV5BMjQ4MjIxOTYyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTc3MDg0NTM@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_When I first saw the trailer of ‘Alex Strangelove,’ I thought it was very similar to ‘Love Simon.’ in that it is about a high school student grasping with their sexual orientation. But Berlanti’s film is about dealing with being gay after the fact that one has accepted himself. “Alex Strangelove’ is the film right before you get to that place – it’s about the questioning and eventual acquiescence to that same fact. I think the two film are worlds apart, and ‘Alex Strangelove’ is just as good, just as entertaining, just as touching.

Alex (Daniel Doheny) thinks he is straight, and as a matter of fact has a girlfriend (Madeline Weinstein) but he questions this when he meets Elliot (Antonio Marziale) a guy who is unapologetically gay. Maybe this points to the fact that he is unable to have sex with his girlfriend (we learn later on that the suspicion has already started) and when he does, things go in a disastrous manner. Written and directed by  Craig Johnson, this film is a lot of fun in that silly, goofball way – I am sure it will attract its teen/tween target market set. But snobs like me will find a lot to like about it, and for old farts like me, it gives me a window to how kids nowadays think: sexual orientation is still a big deal, but the outcome nary matters to them anymore – it’s just the ‘getting there’ that provides stress. Doheny is perfect here with his wonderful neurotic confusion – you feel and empathize, and cringe with him when he makes his misguided choices. I thought the film was much raunchier than I thought it would be. It’s certainly racier than the squeaky clean ‘Love Simon.’ I totally enjoyed this, and highly recommend it. And as Pride Month comes upon us, I applaud Netflix for its dedication. I know this will reach a big audience, and it’s just great to be a kid these days with all these films to have access to. There’s a lot of hate nowadays, but love still comes out on top, it seems.

It’s In His Kiss (Movie Thoughts: The Kissing Booth)

45a38850d7cc93849554b98be3d82d5b251a5a99I know a lot of people have been talking about Netflix’s ‘The Kissing Booth,’  and I really have been wanting to see it. I mean, teen rom com, right? I love this genre, and I always say this – I still admire how when you are young you are still hopeful about what love (first love) can bring you, and that thrill of realizing you have fallen for someone – is there a more joyous, euphoric feeling?

You really think ‘The Kissing Booth’ hits all the marks – Elle (Joey king) and Lee (Joel Courtney) have been best friends since they were babies, but there is now a kink – Joey has fallen for his older brother Noah. The thing is, they made ‘rules’ for each other when they were kids and one of them is that relatives are off limits romantically. It’s a nice sweet and predictable set up but cute, so I’m in. King is charming, and quirky, and is a natural. Elle hides the relationship from Lee, and I think we kind of know where this is all going to turn out. It worked for me, and I even found myself tearing up. Softie me, yes, I admit.

But then after watching it, I had some troubling thoughts. Noah is nice and cute in that suburban white boy way, but his character is pretty violent and controlling, and I want to tell Elle please stay away from him – he will be a wife beater. Plus, he seems to be manipulative – warning other guys not to date her, so there’s a deadly dangerous streak there. I have read numerous criticism about how the movie is obsessed with Elle’s body, and I kind of agree – it definitely has a sexist undertone. What bothers me is that the target market for this film is teenagers – and these ideologies will shape them.

But if you take it for what it is – a sweet and silly teen rom com, then why not, it would satisfy on that front. Just talk to kids after and point to them its shortcomings.

Ricky So Fine (Movie Thoughts: Special Correspondents)

large_large_hYBJMFUI22mM1kzgHj0AsSQrrTFRicky Gervais stars, writes and directs in ‘Special Correspondents,’ a movie that is available on Netflix.  I like Gervais enough, especially when he is being acerbic and ‘mean,’ but that’s not the Gervais we get here. What we get is the nice fuzzy teddy bear section. He plays Ian, who along with his co-worker Frank (played by Eric Bana) fake their own kidnapping after they get into a mishap and doesn’t get to Equador where they are supposed to be special correspondents for a radio station. The movie is absed on the French comedy “Envoyés Trés Spéciaux,” and you get one of those bumbling, slapsicky, kind of corny kinds of films. About ten minutes in, I thought to myself, this is going to be bad. It turns out it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Gervais, and especially Bana, engage you in the action, and Vera Fermiga, playing Ian’s ambitious wife, steals whatever scene she is in. This is the type of film you may not necessarily seek, but I think is perfect for Netflix. If you find yourself flipping through titles, you could probably do a whole lot worse.