Thursday, February 27, 2014

More Like Nightmare (Music Review: Karen Oberlin, A Wish)

I love duet albums: voice and piano, voice and guitar, voice and voice, and any other permutations out there. I had some hope for "A Wish," the new album by Karen Oberlin with Sean Harkin on guitar. Even though none of Ms. Oberlin's previous albums have caught my fancy, I was still hopeful. Sad to say, I was far from besotted by this new effort. Paired with a nondescript voice, Oberlin doesn't really have fine lyric interpretative skills. I get bored by her renditions quickly, and it's not helped by her pitch problems. Chestnuts like "Remind Me," and "my One And Only Love" have the spark of an American Idol contestant's version. I must say that Oberlin has a good eclectic taste in her song selection. Billy Strayhorn's "no One Knows" and Fred Hersch's "Do You Think This Happens Every Day" are fine dine songs but these are forgettable versions, and she even ventures into pop sides, and Paul Simon's "Train In The Distance" could have been an inspired choice under another singer's hands. I don't want to be too negative, but the only really nice thing I could say is that the album cover is a beautiful sepia photograph, and Ms. Oberlan herself is a stunnign woman. But I resally don't want to be shallow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gay And Young (Movie Review: G.B.F)

I am in a major quandary.  One one end, I really despised the movie "G.B.F." because it is such a stupid, mindless, dumb film.  Directed by Darren Stein from a screenplay by George Nothy, it is one of those teen comedies, I guess along the lines of  a John Hughes 80s  classic. Yet, for me, it fails on a lot of levels - most of the characters are one-dimensional,  and the jokes are shallow laughs. The film was photographed with cotton candy colors, so it looks cute, but got tiresome after a while. I was ready to diss it, and not even think about it anymore. Until i realized that the film is also a great social commentary for today's times: how being gay is looked upon as normal, even revered as awesome in some circles.  As I think about it, it is kind of a less raunchy "American Pie," and really it isn't exclusively a gay movie. I am sure gay teens - gay and straight - can and do get a lot of entertainment mileage from the film. So who am I to get pissy? There's even one character, played by Sasha Pieterse (she's kind of good, actually) that has depth, and the adult characetrs played by Megan Mullaly and Jonathan Silverman are funny enough since these two actors know how to mine comedic gold even from invisible things. This is a fizzy kool aid drink made not for me, so what i think doesn't really matter. If you like this kind of thing, go and enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slumming In Dolores Park (Television Review: Looking Episode 6: Looking In The Mirror)

Commitments, Aging, Labels: these are just some of the issues this week's episode of Looking touches on. And I am still pleasantly surprised at how and where this show is going. It's making me think, it's challenging me, it's making me ask questions, it's making me "look in the mirror," as the title suggests. Let's start with Patrick. We see him at the start of the episode casually saying the word "boyfriend" to describe Richie. At once, Richie is taken aback, but then the next morning, they kind of have a talk, and yes, Richie is fine with the "label," and even buys him a scapular to commemorate the event. i won't lie, I kind of tore up at that scene - there's a purity and simplicity and the beauty to seeing two people express love for each other. But then Patrick kinds of screws up a couple of times, most notably when hey see their boss in the park with his boyfriend, and suddenly, I get a creepy feeling, like having my stomach punched. My gut instinct may be right: Patrick is settling, he really is secretly in love with the boss, and Richie may be good enough until the real thing comes along. I am glad that Richie calls him out on it later on. Patrick sees what we are all seeing. But as I think about it more, maybe he can;t help how he feels, maybe this really will make him realize, maybe he can still grow, and perhaps he can come down from his ivory tower so he can experience love. I just feel it in my gut that Richie's heart will be broken, and I will cry again. Elsewhere, Lyn introduces Don to some friends who are potentially investors for his peri peri chicken, but it doesn't pan out. Lyn makes a decision to just help fund the restaurant alone, and Dom - overwhelmed, grateful? - attempts to kiss him. A mistake, but it gives a great set up to the story line. And I am still totally bored with Augustin's story, and I have read everywhere of viewers call him an ass because of his call out to Patrick at the park. He's telling the truth, though. Two episodes to go and I am already experiencing separation anxiety.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whitey (Perfume Review: Lumiere Blanche, Olfactive Studio)

Look at the photograph above by photographer Massimo Vitale.  It is taken at a Sicilian beach, perhaps on a summer day? The white sand blends perfectly with the sky, and as I look at it more, I sense freshness, I sense a certain kind o fpurity, perhaps some innocence? But what does it convey as a sense of smell? Olfactive Studios is a niche line that pairs artistic pieces with their scents, and they pair this piece of work with Lumiere Blanche.  I admit I rolled my eyes at this idea. I think it's just a little bit too pretentious, but I will play along, why not. Lumiere Blanche has been described as a scent as "milky," and that is the main I reason why i wanted to sniff it. You see, I despise that smell of milk, and I recently figured out that there is this note - a wet tonka bean smell - that churns my stomach, and I smell it on some tonka bean creations. The first thing I thought was, oh I finally found a note that i am not attracted to. I used to be cumin and civet phobic, but now I cherish and seek those notes.But going back to Lumiere Blanche, I am happy to say that I don't get the milk and cookie note that some people get here. I do get a lot of cardamom, and some mild spice - star anise? cinammon? - that give it a little bit of weight. Oh, and there's a bit of almond here, too. I get the woodsy pencil shaving note that appears, and it's good, but when the musk comes in, it feels a spoil. (Plus, the white musk makes it smell generic)  The whole impression is indeed, "white," and clean. It's kind of a comforting scent, but here's the thing: I find it too weak, too timid. I like perfumes that make impressions, that announce their welcome. Lumiere Blanche is subtle, but in this case, just a bit too subtle. It's been about six hours since I put this on, and while I still smell some of it, it's a close-to-the-skin scent. I kind of have to strain to get something, and that makes me sad. But then again, maybe that's what that picture means to some people. 

Cast Them Away (Book Review: The Castaways, Erin Hilderbrand)

It seemed a good idea: reading this book, Elin Hilderbrand's "The Castaways." the book started out great: a couple dies in a boating accident, and three other couples who they are good friends with are severely affected by their loss. I kind of was drawn in by what could have really happened, as well as the repercussions the incident will do to their friendships. But as I discovered more and more about the characters, I found myself disliking them immensely: drug addicts, depressives, liars. It seems like they didn't really value each other's companies. 75% into the book, and we are still getting back stories on one of the characters. At a certain point, I ceased caring about them, and by the time all the knots were tied up, I started rolling my eyes. I also found that the  writing immature and sophomoric, like it needed more editing and guidance. I couldn't wait ti get away from these people, and was kind of relieved when I finally finished the book.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekday (Television Review: Looking, Episode Five: Looking For The Future)

Well, it had to happen. "Looking" is executive produced by Andrew Haigh, who did the movie "Weekend," and tonight's episode, "Looking For The Future" is basically the episodic version of that movie. Fresh from their one night stand (well, technically it's their second time together) Patrick and Richie explore each other, physically and emotionally. The first part's awkwardness is subsiding, but the second part is brutal. This is a brutally honest episode, and the chemistry between Patrick and Richie sizzles not just externally, but most importantly, intimately. In fact, very rarely do you see this kind of intimacy on a television program. Actually cross, that. It is the first tie that I have seen such intimacy between two people on network television - gay or straight. This episode is achingly real. We normally get naked intimacy between two people  - and after a while that gets boring - but in here we see two people laying their vulnerabilities out in the open, just like a real first date. Well, just like a real date when you get past your physical attraction and you want to get to know the person inside. The dialogue, so wonderful and raw, make me cringe because I have had exactly the same ones. Groff is fantastic yet again, expressing a myriad of emotions all at once: hopeful, happy, excited, aroused, scared, curious, bewildered, satisfied. Never has falling in love been more emotionally expressed in a performance. But he is also intuitive enough to not be obvious: you know there's still an element of surprise there. You never really know what he is completely feeling, and you - just like his character - are never really ready for where his story will take you. Castillo is perfectly matched - he is slightly wiser, but not really. Patrick is the type of person who thinks ten times over what he does and says, and Richie seems to be the opposite. Notice the great dichotomy when he takes Patrick on a "surprise" destination - Patrick is uncomfortable with losing control of the situation, while he seems to relish it. (Even Patrick calling in sick that day, as random as the situation is - seems cautiously calculated) In that case, they are perfect for each other. But are they? I still have doubts. And that may be the heartbreak that this episode is heading towards, and will mark this show's brilliance.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Your Eyes, Your Eyes, Your Eyes (Movie Review: Endless Love, 2014 Version)

The first thing I did after seeing the 2014 version of "Endless Love" is watch the 1981 version, which, thankfully, is on Netflix streaming. I don't remember much about the Zeferelli version, other than the fact that it starred a beautiful Brooke Shields. Then I realized that the Zeferelli version has camp value now, with the acting so bad all over. But what is more interesting for me is that today's version is much more chaste. Is this a sign of the Instagram generation becoming more conservative?  I don't think so. I think the 1981 version was marketed more for adults, while today's is geared more towards tweens. 

But I have to admit - I liked this 2014 "Endless Love." I mean, it's not a classic piece of cinema, but for what it is, it's okay. It follows a classic 50s melodrama formula that it could have been directed by Douglas Sirk. But it's not, this one was helmed by Shana Feste and she bathes her young stars (Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde) in luminous colors that you are distracted by how beautiful these two young stars are, despite Pettyfer's unfortunate hair style. And you kind of root for them, as they give credible performances, and have combustible chemistry.  I really do think Pettyfer is a great actor, and has charm for ages. He practically saves the movie from total destruction - his David is believable even when he is asked to recite ridiculous dialogue. I wonder if today's cynical youth will accept all the cliched intricacies in this movie. But if you are game enough to suspend a lot of disbelief, you should be able to relate to all of what this movie is selling. It's cheap commercial crap, much like the chocolates and flowers on Valentine's Day, but it is a movie date choice for Valentine's Day, so it fits and serves its purpose. The one thing i want to do is read Scott Spencer's book from which both movies were based from (although I hear the modern version is far from the book) as I understand it is a modern classic.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Tears Of The Heartbroken. (Perfume Review: Love And Tears, Surrender, By Killian)

Sometimes, in my quest of finding perfumes, most of the time I get caught up in something innovating, artistic, new. I sometimes forget what brought me to perfumes in the first place: the evocation of beauty, of what's familiar, of what's just plain good. Perhaps this explains my current fascination with Killian Henessey's scents for By Killian. There are perfumes I admire for being bold strokes, and there are some I appreciate just because they are solid, great examples of what a perfume should be. I think I finally get the By Killian brand: these perfumes are not created to reinvent the wheel. Rather, these are solid wheels that can take you to journeys near and far, far and wide.

It's Valentine's Day, and today I have on Love And Tears, Surrender. Created by Calice Becker, this is a perfume with a capital P, and jasmine with a capital J. It's a soliflore, and it's a big blooming one. It starts out very green in the beginning, akin to picking it with the leaves and thorns, and then it's like that photograph of a flower blooming - the sweetness and the just so very slight indolic note comes in, and it's a full bloom. Then it mellows as the photograph of the jasmine is developed. It stays with you but never overpowers. I love other jasmines too - there's the mega jasmine of Serge Lutens A La Nuit, the sheer watery jasmine of Ormond Jayne's Sampaguita, the darker jasmine of Keiko Mecheri's jasmine, but if you ask me right now, I will tell you that Love And Tears is my absolute favorite. It's a beautiful, behaved perfume that doesn't wear you, and it's wearable and comfortable, like a perfectly tailored suit. It's not cooky or artistic for art's sake. It's just...beautiful. 

On the most romantic day of the year, I feel it with me, beside me, like what cupid has ordered. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ignore This Love (Book Review: First Love, James Patterson and Emily Raymond)

Doesn't James Patterson write mysteries, or he is just known for them? Anyway, he wrote "First Love" with Emily Raymond. (But look at the typeface of both their names, and you can see who is marketed more) Maybe that's why this book is kind of a mess: it's muddled, unfocused and kind of dumb. Yes, I know it is about teenagers, and they may be the target market, but I thought the book felt dumbed-down. And I wish the characters were more likeable. Halfway through the book, I stopped caring about the characters even if the authors manipulate you into liking them. I cannot help but think that the book is a poor copy of John Green's "The Fault In Our Stars," so if you haven't read that yet, go grab that book instead because this one more or less tread the same road, and Green's book is infinitely better.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Wacky Skies (Movie Review: I'm So Excited)

Look at this great colorful poster for Peter Almodovar's movie, "I'm SO Excited," doesn't it look so cool and inviting? The movie starts with the same exact colorful neon graphics, and it's all you can do to get excited. I mean, isn't it so Almodovar? Once the film gets going, though, I felt so deflated. About ten minutes into it, we get the main conflict: the landing gear of the plain is not working because it sucked the chocks upon take off, and now it is circling in Toledo, waiting for a runway so it could do an emergency landing. At first I thought the movie would go the scary/suspense route, but of course Almodovar has other plans. The movie centers around the passengers in Business Class, and their interwoven stories. However, though they were neither funny, nor interesting: just tired old cliched plots that we've seen over and over. I got bored instantly. Well, not totally bored, I guess. Almodovar injects pops of interesting details: there's of course camp fey gay stereotypes in the male flight attendants, and they culminate on a dance number set to the Pointers Sisters song of the same title. Actually there are a lot of gay touches which amount to a whole amount of nothing. It's as if Almodovar himself got tired of his story lines that he just peppered the movie with camp. Not interesting enough for ninety minutes, though.

Monday, February 10, 2014

After The Fair (Television Review: Looking Episode 4: Looking For $220/Hr)

Halfway through the series, and things are kind of making sense to me. Well, some things anyway. At least, I have now my take on Patrick. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe he is not naive at all.  I think Augustine nails it: Patrick has some intimacy issues. I think he has lived his life cautiously: every decision weighed and dissected, every move calculated. Of course, human emotion cannot and does not work that way. We mature by taking risks, we grow by making decisions based on our feelings. We never truly live until we follow our hearts. Of course, most of the time, it's the wrong decision. But you will never wonder why - that's just the beauty of it. By the end of the episode, Patrick makes a decision. For better or worse, it will not make him stronger and wiser, just safe, and when it comes to emotions, safe is shit.  I think there lies the brilliance of the series: it's subtle, and it's real. that said, I think we see Groff's brilliance as an actor because he has great chemistry with both Tovey and Castillo. Elsewhere, Dom and Lynn have lunch, and Bakula is great in subtle acting, too. That scene when he realizes that it wasn't a lunch date rang true and honest that you cringe. I am still very confused with Augustine. I am confused by his project, by his intentions, by his motivations. I thought it was great to have the Folsom Street Fair as the backdrop for this episode, as it shows an integral part of San Francisco gay life. I am loving this show by the episode, and really hope HBO gives it a chance.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How In One Night Have We Come So Far? (Book Review: The Geography Of You And Me, Jennifer E Smth)

So talk about great timing, here I am on the beginning of Valentine's week and I just finished reading Jennifer E Smith's "The Geography Of You And Me," and I think it's one of the most romantic stories I have read of late. Most of the time, the cynical and jaded me overpowers the hopeless romantic, and it was nice to see a book fish that hopelessness out of my heart. Lucy and Owen meet during the New York City blackout, and then they are separated worlds away from each other. How in one night have we come so far, as a song lyric goes. But they do, literally and figuratively, and it was great to go along for the ride. (As a traveler, I love that the book gets set in various American and European cities, and some of the most romantic ones, too) Sure, at times, this is cloying and sweet, but one needs to indulge once in a while, right? It was great to see a novel that is unabashedly romantic, and for an YA book, this reads as pretty mature. I was riveted - talk about a page turner - and as I turned the last page, I found myself thinking about the characters. Somehow I knew they would be alright, though. 

I think this song is the perfect soundtrack for this song:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The State Of The Art (Movie Review: The Monuments Man)

I have this theory: put a bunch of great actors together, and if they have the right rapport, a movie can be thoroughly enjoyable even if it is flawed.  That basically how I would describe my reaction to "The Monuments Man."  Director George Clooney has assembled blinding star wattage, with Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Boneville from Downton Abbey, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett (plus Clooney himself)  There must be at least half a dozen Oscars between the cast, and it shows. You can see them having fun, interacting, and displaying good acting. Sure one can say that this is just a variation of "The Dirty Dozen, or "ocean 11," but whats wrong with familiarity? I guess this movie was supposed to be Oscar bait, but was pushed back to a February opening instead. That's a smart move, because I think this movie would have been lost in the shuffle. What I like about it is the same thing that others fault it for: Clooney has made a low-key movie, unassuming, and kind of old fashioned. There's a great balance in tone: you are laughing one minute, amazed the next, and be suspensed the minute after. It does seem kind of all over the place, and a bit perfunctory: each actor gets a scene, in an almost by-the-numbers way. Maybe the characters should have been wackier, to show how they succeeded despite their odds. But their subtlety on the way the actors were directed - it seemed they were more challenging you than feeding you their performances. The story itself is amazing, and historically true: a bunch of men were dispatched in various European locations towards the end of the second world war to salvage pieces confiscated by the Nazis because Hitler wanted to build Fuhrer Museum in Linz, Austria to house them. Hitler himself was an art enthusiast, though his ego trumps his passion because he gave instructions that all the artwork be burned and destroyed if he died. I have personally seen some of the pieces they spoke and rescued: the Madonna of Ghent is breathtaking, for example, and I personally think that this mission is justifiable - that is one of the questions asked by the movie, for example. All in all, I thought the movie succeeded. This is a movie for adults, it makes you think about the value art has in our lives, it gives you a chance to see masterful acting by the cast. Few people make and see these kinds of movies nowadays, and I was actually pretty glad to see a packed audience at the theater.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Charlie Screws (Book Review: The Screwed Up Life Of Charlie The Second, Drew Ferguson)

I've been wanting to read Drew Ferguson's "The Screwed Up Life Of Charlie The Second" for the longest time, and I have had numerous start/stop moments with this book. I couldn't really get into it. I it because I am kind of not liking the character? Is it because of the journal set-up of the narrative? Or maybe I can't just relate anymore to a young adult high-school read? (I don't think it's the last one) Whatever it is, I finally finished the book, and I wish I could say I loved it or hated it. It's just unmemorable to me. I appreciated the narrative, and I liked the growth in Charlie from the beginning of the book till the end. It just wasn't compelling. I didn't rush home to start reading again. As a matter of fact, I finished a book between finishing this one. I felt like I got stuck with it, and although I felt fulfilled when I finally turned the last page, I did not miss any of the characters. So, just meh.

Sweet Comic Valentine (Perfume Review: By Killian Love)

If a perfume has the word "Love" in it, I am initially drawn. I love that word, it's so romantic, it's vulnerable, but at the  same time it is also cloying, and a bit of a cliche. Since Valentine's day is coming up, I have been thinking about perfumes that signify the word "love," o of course I had to write about By Killian Love (Don't Be Shy)

By Killian is a house I both love and hate. They do perfumes I love : loud, attention-calling, luxurious. But at the same time, they are not terribly original creations, and because they are so prohibitiously priced, I think of "similar" alternatives with lower price points. But, really, if I weren't such a perfume whore, and could just one that would be my signature scent, I know I would choose a By Killian scent. 

Calice Becker's "Love" is a sweet fragrant. It's not just sweet, it's death by sweet.  The perfume is based on the marshmallow, but this is not the kind that you get at the supermarket, but rather the nice fluffy ones you see at French patisseries. It's gourmand of the most gourmand scents - the vanilla is there, a nice rich syrupy one. There is a just as rich bulgarian rose, and in my skin the jasmine is amplified. Then the sweetness swirls and swirls  around - I smell a little bit of molasses, caramel, powdered sugar, macaroons. Everything turns sweet on my skin, so you can imagine how this projected on mine. I think I needed an insulin shot after the first half an hour of its development. 

But I am craving it. I want this. For the perfect Valentine-less like me, it satisfies on all levels: the perfume gift, the flowers, the sweets. It's a midnight kiss on a winter night. When I wake up in the morning, it could all be a great big mistake, but damn if I don't enjoy it while going down. Cupid, bring a bottle to me!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Share And Share Alike (Film Review: Thanks For Sharing)

Sometimes I wonder how and why some films get made. Like, I wish I were a fly in that pitch meeting wherein the director says he wants to make a movie about sex addicts. I mean, besides the titillating factor of it, do we really want to watch a movie about recovering sex addicts? "Thanks For Sharing" sounds interesting in theory but the resulting movie is a bit of a mess. This is the kind of movie I love to support: its directed by Stuart Blumberg, who co-wrote the fantastic "The Kids Are Alright." And it employs a great cast led by Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. The film follows a group of people in a sex addicts on a twelve-step program, and their daily struggle.

I always say that I loathe Paltrow's public persona but I really do think she is a great actress. In here, she really isn't given much to do (it's kind of a thankless do-nothing role) but she still makes an impact. And speaking of loathe, I despised Josh Gad with a passion on stage on "The Book Of Mormon" and he is just as charmless and annoying here. Pink (Alecia Moore) fares better - she gives one of the best performances in the ensemble cast, though I do think she isn't photogenic at all. The films ultimately belongs to Ruffalo - he is charm personified here, and you kind of get why he gets sex easily, partly causing his addiction. 

The film is unmemorable, though. The tone is all over the place. It's a drama, and a comedy, and you are left a little puzzled as to how to feel. While the characters are well-fleshed, their stories are too ordinary to make an impact.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In Love With Frank (Music Review: Sinatra With Love (2014), Frank Sinatra

Just in time for Valentine's Day, we get a compilation of Frank Sinatra love songs titled "Sinatra With Love."  And if you want a romantic album just in time for lovers' night, you can't go wrong here. It's a collection of great love songs sung by Ol Blue Eyes himself. For Sintaraphiles, there's not much ground-breaking here. There isn't a bad song in the bunch, and in a sense it's a great compilation because it has songs from both his Capitol and Reprise years, and because of recording company mergers, both catalogues are now in one place. I have a soft spot for "Moonlight Becomes You," which opens the album. We hear a young Sinatra in this track, and while it doesn't have the emotional musical maturity of later Sinatra years, it's a great cut. I am not the biggest Sinatra fan, really. I am kind of with the school of those who thinks he lacks just a little bit of lyrical cognizance, but hey, this is still classic singing of any age. I will always have a soft spot for him, though, because he was my mother's favorite singer of all time. All the heavy hitter songs are here: "Misty," "Just One Of Those Things," and "The Way You Look Tonight." So if romantic music is what you are looking for, it's all going to be here. For those into rare Sinatra tracks, the swing-y arrangement of 'My Foolish Heart" which ends the disc is apparently a never-released version. So there's a little bit for everyone, but for those in love and looking for a soundtrack for Valentine's night, they need look no further.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Drenched In Gasoline (Perfume Review: Oud Fleur, Tom Ford)

Oy, Tom got me again. i love to hate on Mr. Ford, mostly because of how expensive his perfumes are, but they are just irresistible. And when I fall in love, it's always for forever. Oud Fleur was released last year, and I was besotted at first sniff. Another oud, you say? Well, Ford did the first really commercial oud anyway, with M7, so he knoweth were he speaketh of. But there have been so many who have come after him that you would think that creativity wise, oud would have reached artistic limit by now. Here, perfumer Yann Vasnier (one of my modern favorites) pairs the medicinal oud with osmanthus, and the result is subtler and richer. There is that slight apricot-y smell from the flower, but it's blended well and doesn't overwhelm. There's also saffron there, and I get rose in the beginning too. I read that there is one other flower in there that I am unfamiliar with: the Indian Davana. I wish I could pinpoint which of the notes it is, but I cant. The drydown is where this perfume really gtes me: it's brazenly unique. It's dark and dirty, anemalic and leathery, like you were in some leather queen's fragrant dungeon. I get a lot of castoreum, which gives this a kind of "gasoline" feel.  What I like about this fragrance is that it makes me think: it literally changes by the minute. You think it's the florals you are smelling, but then you smell again, and say, no isn't that petrol? In any event, this perfume just shot up to the top of my "want" list. It's too late for Santa Claus, so I will just ask the Easter Bunny. So Bunny, can you hear me?

The Boss, Not Diana Ross (Television Review: Looking Episode Three: Looking At Your Browse History)

Finally, "Looking" has hit its stride. The third episode, "Looking At Your Browsing History," is its best one yet: we finally get to glimpse these characters in action: reacting, making decisions, maybe even starting to fall in love. At the beginning of the episode, Patrick goes to a video game launch party inside a battleship, where he meets Kevin, a charming British guy. He flirts with him, unsuccessfully, until he realizes he may or may not be his new boss. (He turns out later to be) and I love this development. It establishes, perhaps, the geekiness and social ineptness of the Patrick character, and Groff plays him to the most adorkable effect. I loved the scene wherein he shows up at Kevin's office, and clueless as he can be, starts touching Kevin's personal effects/decor. It's still just a bit perplexing: this guy has been living in San Francisco for years and still is as naive as that? But never mind, Groff is good enough to make you believe. Russell Tovey, as Kevin, has an amazing presence that you yourself also fall in love with him right away. Or do you? He still may turn out to be an unpleasant character here, as he plays a mean trick on Patrick in this episode, we find out in the end. I loved the twist that he points out Patrick's browser history, by telling him about his clicks in OKCupid and ManHunt (which he lovingly calls "ManCunt") It's all cute, and lovable, and it got me hook, line, and sinker. Meanwhile, Dom, (Murray Bartlett) makes a decision about starting his own restaurant, and towards the end of the episode meets Lynn, played by Scott Bakula. We just know there's going to be something there. Augustine gets fired from his job, and meets a sex worker and even though Alvarez's character still has not resonated with me, that scene was interesting, if only because of T.J. Linnard who plays a bearded escort. All the characters' storylines are being laid out well, and this is the first episode that got me really interested in what would happen next for these characters. It's a shame, I read, that the ratings for the series allegedly are very weak, as I think I am starting to get hooked in the show.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I Went To Their Wedding (Book Review: Legally Wed Rick R. Reed)

I was in the middle of reading another book and was starting to get bored by it when I started reading Rick R Reed's "Legally Wed," and guess what, I quickly forgot all about that other book because I fell in love with this book instantly.  I loved all the characters in this book that even if I never truly believed the situations they were in and disagreed with their decisions, I still empathized and sympathized with them. Duncan, on the hills of celebrating Marriage Equality in the state of Washington, proposes to his boyfriend of three years, only to be rejected, and dumped at the same time. Dejected, he turns to a new found friend, Marilyn and makes a decision. Since he has always wanted marriage and family, decides to get married to this woman. But complications arise (and hilarity ensues) when he falls for the gay wedding planner. See? I told you this had a plot that is a little hard to believe, but Reed is smart enough to have fully drawn characters that you not only believe in the characters, but also enjoy the ride with them. I finished this book in mere hours because I wanted to know right away what would happen to these characters. I felt like I knew these characters inside and out, appreciated their quirkiness, and rooted for them. The last part may have been a little too long-winded but it won't deter from enjoying the book.

Zawkward (Movie Review: That Awkward Moment)

There's a great romantic comedy somewhere inside "That Awkward Moment," you just really have to look for it. And that's a shame, because it might have been a really good one. As it stands right now, this movie is in search of something, and ends up with half of something. This movie feels more of a "product," something that the producers and studio heads tinkered with until it tested well with every demographic, so much of it feels unfocused. I wonder if that was the original tone of Tom Gormican's screenplay. Zac Efron has said in interviews that he fell in love with the script when he first read it, and I wonder if the resulting movie is a result of that screenplay. I could hear executives saying, "Hey! Let's add some raunchy scenes in here to appeal to male viewers, because if we stick with the romance, only the female viewers would go!" Call it the Apatow syndrome, a trend I really despise, and hope disappears soon. Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B Jordan are great actors but something feels off somewhere because I never believed them, and any of the situations they were in when they are instructed to be bros. When it came to scenes where they are called to dig up "emotions," they all shine. So I really do blame the screenplay and direction on those parts where they feel forced. Because the latter third of the movie is poignant, and feel more "real." I wonder if this was really intended to be more of a rom-com than a raunchy comedy? It was originally titled "Are We Officially Dating," and that would have been a great premise, that of not knowing if you are already in a relationship because today's youth are more loose in dating practices. The film briefly touches that point, and for a split second, it makes you think. But maybe I am just too old for this kind of movie, and perhaps that's why I really can't relate to it anymore.