Thursday, April 30, 2015

To Dream The Impossible Dream (Fans Of The Impossible Life, Kate Scelsa)

This book, "Fans Of The Impossible Life," by Kate Scelsa just got to me good. In the middle of reading it, I suddenly realized that I care immensely for the three characters in the book - Sebby, Mira, and Jeremy - and felt protective about them, and I just craved for all of them to have a happy ending. These are three young seemingly-broken souls finding a way to be happy when you are young, unafraid, and insecure. These are people who do not think they deserve to be happy. These are characters who feel like they are trapped in a life with no way out - and didn't we all feel that way at some point when we were young? Scelsa has a good feel for these characters as they are written very real. (I particularly didn't thinks she needed the 'gimmick' of having every character written in a different person)  This book is one of my favorites so far for 2015.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Betty's Still Here (Stage Thoughts: Betty Buckley at Royal Albert Hall, London)

Here is a stunning Betty Buckley at Royal Albert Hall. Probably my new favorite Carlotta, after Elaine Paige. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tehran To Park Slope (Movie Thoughts: Appropriate Behavior)

If you read reviews of the movie "Appropriate Behavior," you will find mostly glowing reviews not only of the film, but also of its writer and director, Desiree Akhavan. Akhavan bases thsi movie from her own experience in dealinf with the breakup of her lover, and in the film the character is named Maxine. The protagonist of the movie is named Shirin, and just like Akhavan is a bisexual Iranian young woman, but more so is a twenty something hipster from Brooklyn. I was on board until that last detail, and I told myself, no not another film about an annoying and entitled millennial Brooklynite.  Sure, I get the wit in her screenplay - she has been described as a Middle-Eastern Lena Dunham - but really, there is nothing much to see here beyond that. I guess we get a glimpse of how someone her age thinks, but for me, no big whoop there. So she goes through lovers - male, female, even a couple, but what about her dates give her the wisdom and acceptance that she supposedly arrives at in the end of the movie? Maybe I also need to be her peer in order to get it? What I get here is just another self-absorbed young woman with a typewriter and a camera, not much ellse.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Just Joshing (Music Review: Stages, Josh Groban)

We all know Josh Groban can sing. But has he really released a good album? Individually, there are tracks that are great but in "Stages" he has finally released an album that is cohesive and well-thought out. And the repertoire, though safe and calculated, does showcase a lot of the finest musical theater songs in recent history, though I would have wanted less name-brand songs and less obscurities. But Mr. Groban et al are trying to sell an album and this is what sells. And Groban sings all of these songs well - with soaring heights and every available string is employed in the arrangements, no stone unturned in making them all sound lush.  So why then do they sound so hollow? Perhaps to me all the details are so fine-tuned with no spontaneity, and no soul. Well, except for one track: "If I Loved You," which is a duet with the great Audra McDonald.  Listen to her first note and you can sense the understanding of the material there. I am not kidding when I say that I wept when I first heard the track. The much-lauded duet with Kelly Clarkson in "All I Ask Of You," is nice, sure, but to my ears sounds derivative of every other cover out there. And I am also particularly glad for "Finishing The Hat," and there you can see how Groban does when he tries to go deep in the material - or maybe because the material is challenging that he had no choice but to understand it. The rest, they're fine, but probably better suited as muzak at Border's, if they still existed. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Isn't It Bromantic? (Movie Thoughts: The Wedding Ringer)

Before I saw this movie, I had no idea what Kevin Hart did. Well, I knew he was a comedian and he is the next big thing, but other than that...nada. And "the Wedding Ringer" I knew was some kind of comedy movie, and based on the previews I saw, one of those that catered to young me, so, yeah not my demographic at all. But it was a Saturday night, and I chose this, because I guess I wanted to see something that I thought would not really make me think, that would be fun. I wasn't wrong. "The Wedding Singer" is exactly what the doctor ordered. And for the record, I liked it much more than I thought I ever would - because and despite the fact that Josh Gad is an actor I can't stand. Here he plays the "straight man," mostly setting the jokes for Hart. I thought of this more as a buddy car movie without the car. or perhaps a Bromantic-comedy - a genre where two guys don't realize they are best friends, even as we, the audience, can see it from the beginning. I must say that Hart (and Gad) did make me laugh, even as the situations got a little too raunchy and too testosterone-filled for my taste. But I am not the target audience for this, and the fact that even I appreciate this movie has to be some credit for it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Touched For The Very First Time (Book Review: Better Than Okay, Jacinta Howard)

When I first read the synopsis for Jacinta Howard's "Better Than Okay,"  I thought it would be a light-hearted story about two friends who turn into lovers. Wrong. The story, in its core, is of the friends-to-lovers variety but it is much darker. Destiny and Michael play the two friends who turn into lovers, but their path is much more convulated, and it is an emotional roller coaster. I must admit that I was kind of side-swiped by it. But Howard has a great ear for dialogue - they both sound so authentic and likeable characters that you are instantly hooked in their journey. And I didn't even realize that these characters were African-American until maybe a fifth into the book: they just are people that live and breathe and love.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Young Man In Paris (Movie Thoughts: 24 Days)

As I turn my television on and watch riots and protest marches in Baltimore, I watch the French movie "24 Days" and realize that other countries have demons of their own to deal with, and in this movie's case France and their history with anti-semitism. This movie tells the story of the kidnapping of Ilam Halimi, a young man in Paris who was targeted because he was Jewish. The movie acts like a procedural crime drama, but told more from the point of view of Halimi's family. On one hand, it is a moving, powerful, and disturbing film that shows how the French police bungled the investigation and that may have aggravated the case and Hiliam's demise. Yet, the movie is also sympathetic to the family's message. I wish it gave a little more depth into some details from the French police side. Much was said that the police force was very late in assessing that the crime was a hate crime. Yet, we see that while the gang members targeted Jews, it was more because of stupidity than religious beliefs. Still, this movie is fast paced and engrossing, and will get you involved from the first scene to the last. You just need to open your mind about it and listen to both sides.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Leather Bar (Perfume Thoughts: Tokyo Milk Dark Tainted Love)

Margot Ellena's Tokyo Milk is a line I don't really talk about much, but I should. It's a cheap thrill in the best sense of the word. And it's Femme Fatale series - darker, more mysterious scents - really gives you big bang for your buck. At $30 for a 1 oz bottle, your return of investment is huge. Today I am wearing Tainted Love, and it's glorious. I know marketing is just marketing, but the scent really evokes something dark and mysterious. It's tonka bean, and it clings close to skin. It has a rubbery note that reminds me of a basement of a leather bar. It has white musk that is sexy and raw. And there's vanilla, but the effect isn't of a baked good, but more sensuous. There's even a bit of tobacco and clove. I am trying to think of something else that is similar, and I am getting a lighter version of Bvlgari Black, or a sweeter Etat Libre d'Orange Tom of Finland. And for some reason, this doesn't turn too sweet on my skin, as most fragrances do. It definitely is interesting, a head-turner, a head shaker.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

All About Jane (Television Thoughts: Younger S01 E06 , Shedonism)

This week's "Younger" episode. "Shedonism" puts Liza in a situation: a party situation. She gets tasked to organize a party for author Annabelle Bancroft, played by Jane Krakowski. That's always good news - Krakowski is one of my favorites - but I just wished they had a little more imagination as to what character to give her, as I feel her Annabelle Bancroft is not much different from the characters she played in 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But no matter, she can play this role perfectly even in her sleep. She steals the episode here with a great mix of character and physical expertise - the scene where she bangs her face in glass to get to her coke dealer is comedy gold.  Elsewhere, Liza's ex-husband shows up and she has to deal with him and more monetary problems and Hillary Duff's character starts going deeper and deeper into an affair with the Swedish author. But I hardly noticed all the other stories, it was all about Jane last night for me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Starting Over Again (Book Thoughts: Cure For The Common Breakup)

Minutes into the book, Flight Attendant Summer Benson has gone through two devastating things: surviving a plane crash and getting dumped by her pilot boyfriend. So where does she go? Black Dog Bay, a town in Maryland where all broken hearted people go (She read about it in the inflight magazine)  Immediately, she begins her life anew, and, of course, falls in love with the town's mayor (after running over his rose bushes) Kendrick has a light hand in her writing - the book is always funt o read, and the town's characters are quirky and interesting. Cliches abound, though, and Summer's character is never really consistent - one minute is is smart, the next she is dumb and gullible. But, this is perfect beach read, and is guaranteed to  put a smile on your face.

Monday, April 20, 2015

And When I Grow Too Old To Dream (Movie Revew: The Age Of Adaline)

When was the list time I Paid attention to Blake Lively? I mean, she wasn't even my favorite in "Gossip Girl." But here, in Lee Toland Krieger's "The Age Of Adaline," she is a major movie store. She is beautiful, luminous, and charming. Dhe knows how to use those traits for the camera, and I predict people will notice, as I have. The movie? It's a mixed bag. Lively makes the most of an underwritten character, and her co-stars also shine (Harrison Ford is unforgettable in a smaller role) all their efforts cannot mask a tepid screenplay. We never really know who the real "Adaline" is, and her character is written a little too "modern" for someone who was born in the early 1900s.  But all in all, I liked the movie a lot more than what confused me about it. The story was believable enough (even with the scientific mumbo jumbo explanation as to why Adaline doesn't age) and nowadays it's kind of hard to find a movie aimed at adults.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bears Repeating (Television Thoughts: #Repeat After Me, ABC)

Everything old is recycled again. Once upon a time there was Candid Camera, and the idea of a hidden camera foisted on unsuspecting people came about. Over the years there have been variations to this set-up, and the last one I remember was Ashton Kutcher doing "Punked" for MTV.  "#Repeat After Me"'s premise is more or less the same, with the twist here being that celebrities are the ones paying jokes on unsuspecting people, with the orders barked by the host, in this case it is Wendy McLendon-Covey. My initial reaction was, wasn't this idea initiated by Ellen DeGeneres? Then I saw the credits at the end of the show and it did say that one of the executive producers was DeGeneres. In any case, I found this show hilarious - good natured humour, and the episodes I saw (Episodes 7 & 8) never crossed the line to cruelty. If for anything, the jokes were more on the celebrities than the people they were playing a joke on. Believe it or not, I found myself squirming with laughter at some of the situations, and one that really got me was Josh Groban at the Fredericks of Hollywood store sniffing negligees. Who says nice doesn't make it anymore?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bad History (Book Thoughts: The History Of Us, Leah Stewart)

Life gets in the way of my reading sometimes, and then I get stuck with a book so slow that it takes me a while to "move on." Leah Stewart's "The History Of Us" was so slow and unengaging that I read it for two weeks, and I got in a rut.  I liked the premise enough - a 28 year old woman, Eloise gets stuck taking care of her three nephews and nieces after their parents die in a car accident. But the book does not focus on that. Rather, it fast forwards to years after, when the kids are all adults. And there's not one likeable kid in the bunch: all selfish, manipulative self-centered pricks. I wouldn't want to spend any time with these fools, never mind  read a book about them. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Some People Can Get A Thrill (Movie Thoughts: Such Good People)

"Such Good People" is kind of a rare thing: a gay screwball comedy. Actually, it can even be just a screwball comedy, because the "gay" aspect of the main characters is inconsequential. Randy Harrison and Michael Urie play a couple who finds a million dollars inside a house they are sitting. What would you do if you were int heir position? It is not an easy decision, of course, and everything gets compounded by the actions of another couple, played Carrie Whilta and James Urbaniek. The best thing about this movie is the easy performances of Harrison and Urie, and actually by everyone else, including cameos by Lance Bass and Alec Mapa. The movie tries hard, it tries way too hard to be funny, and I couldn't say that it was, for me, too successful. Too many plot points and not enough laughs. But I give it an A for effort - smooth technical elements present a very professional job. And for some people, this movie can be satisfying. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Lady SIngs Lady (Music Thoughts: Rebecca Ferguson, Lady Sings The Blues)

Color me impressed. When I first heard this album, I had no idea who Rebecca Ferguson was. Apparently, she was a contestant in the UK run of X-Factor from 2010, and had some semi-success as an R & N singer/songwriter. And apparently, she released an album of songs as a tribute to Billie Holiday. Interesting, as this year is Holiday's 100th birthday year, and there have been a bunch of people paying tribute, and I wonder if she knew. In this album "Lady Sings The Blues," we get a great singer interpreting wonderful songs. I get a sense that she did not just randomly sing these songs. I sense a singer who understands the material. At the same time, there is no mimicking, or copying Holiday, She puts her own stamp in her interpretations that at once the songs sound modern. The style veers more pop than jazz, but with jazz stylings. I love the arrangements - they pay tribute to the original orchestrations but infused with very modern elements. Listen to her version of "Stormy Weather," it's a mixture of Chaka Khan and Beyonce but neither referencing either. This album is a pleasant and wonderful surprise.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You Gotta Have Friends (Television Thoughts: Younger S01 E05 Girl Code)

Is it just me? This episode seemed rote. While it had a lot of good things - Debi Mazar gets more than one scene! - it was just a bit predictable. So Liza hasn't been spending a lot of time with Maggie and they plan to go out, in this case, go to an art opening at the gallery showing Maggie's art. And then we see a little bit of conflict - Kelsey and her friends naturally do not initially warm up to Maggie. I kind of thought that was the predictable part. I think maybe it should have been better had they got along. Later on, of course, they all help Maggie, because of the "girl code," and I thought that reaction was just as predictble. A little "friction" between these freinds - who obviously have differences - would have given more dramatic possibilities for Liza (I can see episodes of her just juggling both sets of friends) But it was also nice to see Liza and her younger boyfriend "advancing," although that also is going the way of boring. I hope next week's episode gets better, for me a least. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Good Grace (Perfume Thoughts: Creed Fleurissimo)

If you weren't invited to Grace Kelly's wedding day in 1972, you can at least have the olfactory experience of being there when you are wearing Creed's Fleurissimo, which was commissioned by the Royal prince Of Monaco for her to wear on her wedding day. Can you believe I never smelled this perfume until today? But, finally, I tried on a sample I have of it. It;'s a white floral, with notes of tuberose, violet, Florentine iris. It's a nice restrained floral, and I don't know if it was originally done like this, what with modern reformulations. The tuberose is discreet, not having the traditional indolic tropical feel of most tuberose scents, and I think it is because of the violet note which gets more prominent in the middle and dry down of the scent. I like it, but don't love it. Without the "back story" behind this, I don't know if I would even give it any attention, though I have to admit the idea is very tantalizing. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

EIght Second Romance (Movie Thoughts: The Longest Ride)

I don't think I have ever read a Nicholas Sparks novel. However, I think I have seen most, if not all, of the movie adaptations of his noels. For some reason, his movies are easier to take than his novels. Yes, they are sentimental and sappy, but let's face it, I am the target audoence for sentimental and sappy. The newest movie adaptation, "The Longest Ride" is as sentimental and sappy as they come, and I loved every minute of it. I can always check in logic and disbelief when I watch a Sparks movie, and I gladly do it to experience and see people falling in love, and having them beat all the odds to achieve a happily ever after. I don't think I am spoiling anything anyway by saying that - I think a Sparks story guarantees a HEA, right? But before that, everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown at them. In here, we even get a 1 for 1: a modern couple, Luke (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia (Britt Robertson) in a city vs country love affair, and a 40s romance set amidst the second world war. They are both simple stories, and perhaps was put in to augment the thin storylines. Eastwood is in a star-making appearance: the camera objectifies him at every turn and we are so much better for it. He is one of those actors who the camera loves, and I gladly will look at him for two-plus hours. In fact, I can barely remember Robertson. I credit the movie for having a bit of spice: the 40s characters are Jewish, and the faith is mildly displayed - nice to see diversity in a Sparks movie which more often than not has Christian subtexts. If you are a fan of romance, you will be satisfied and if you aren't, you shouldn;t even be looking at a poster of this movie.

(A bizarre thought, though: why is the movie loaded with so many horror movie trailers? I would think teh two genres would have two different demographics?)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Three's Company A Crowd (Television Thoughts: One Big Happy)

"One Big Happy," whether intentional or not, made me think of the classic sitcom "Three's Company." It has the modern day equivalent set-up: Luke and Liz have been best friends for years, and they made a pact that by age 30, if they are still both childless, they would have a baby. Enter Prudence, a British illegal alien who has a quick affair with Luke, and they get married. We now have the set up of the sitcom with all three of them living under the same roof. Hilarity ensues, right? The pilot was just okay, and I gave it a chance - Eliza Cuthbert as Liza has a nice goofy charm, and Nick Zano is funny in a John Ritter kind of way(he even looks like him, kinda) But whatever charm they have cannot salvage the idiotic scripts they have to work with. I swear I did not even crack a smile by the third episode - they are put in tedious situations with predictable gags. I wish it was even offensive but they were just kind of lame and corny. Executive produced by Ellen de Generes, I bet this show bites the dust by the end of Springtime. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Drive By Diana (Stage Thoughts: Diana Ross, The Essential Diana Ross, The Venetian Theater, Las Vegas)

Checking off my bucket list: seeing Diana Ross in concert.  I can't say that I am her biggest fan, but I do like her recorded output, though in reality I like her solo recordings more than her work as a member of The Supremes. But she obviously is one of the few living legends we have nowadays and it would be a treat, I thought, to see her. I wasn't mistaken. She still has that voice, and it's as robust. Sure, the styling is wispy, whispering, but it has always been that way. This is a Vegas show, so "The Essential Diana Ross: Some Memories Never Fade" barrels through all her hits in a seventy five minute show. Blink and you'll miss one. I guess she is more a 'nostalgia' act nowadays, as evidenced by the older-skewing demographic of the crowd. Still, the energy was palpable, and she got off on that - she is one of those "divas," I suspect who gets her kicks from people adoring her. Seventy five minutes go by very quickly here, and it mostly satisfies like junk food: before you can appreciate a song, she is moving to her next one. The repertoire is heavy on the uptempo, and even in the ballads (where I prefer her) she seems to be barreling towards them. And of course, her trademark sparkling sequins and feathers are in evident here. It seems like she spent just as much time changing as performing. But, no complaints there - she has a magnetic stage presence and you can't help but stare at her on stage. The whole experience felt like a drive-by shooting: quick fast, does what it is supposed to do. I think it's money well spent. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Young And Foolish (Movie Thoughts: While We're Young)

I never know what to expect whenever I see a Noah Baumbach movie. I like half of them (Margot) and loathe the other half (Frances Ha) But I always feel something, and I because of that, I hold his films with high regard. So of course, I was looking forward to "While We're Young."  I even liked the idea of the plot - a couple in their 40s (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) befriend a young one (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) and discover things about themselves. The film starts out funny, and I can identify with a lot of the situations. This is one of those New York movies - perhaps only New Yorkers can really understand the film - and this one even has a Brooklyn touch. Stiller and Watts are so convincing as a couple - I have met and known this couple - and Driver and Seyfried represent the typical young hipster couple to a T. But I wanted more a movie that is more internal than the semi-morality play that we have here. There are tons of funny bits, but the last third of the move turned irritating for me. It's still worth seeing all in all - the performances alone is worth the price of a ticket - but your mileage may vary. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

White Man (TelevisioN Thoughts: Happyish, Showtime)

Oh, the white man mid-life crisis - that's not a well documented phenomenon, is it? Well, looks like we have another new television show that - if the pilot is to be believed - will focus on it. Steve Coogan stars as Thom in "Happyish," where he stars as a 44 years old man who resists the changing of the times. Here it deals specifically with how a Gen Xer has to adapt to a world dominated by the digital age and social media. He resists it, even as the advertising company he works for is bought by young Swedes. Coogan is good, delivering the right amount of angst. The role was originally intended for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and I do think Coogan is a much different actor that I wonder if the tone of the show was changed after he took over. The supposrting cast is wonderful - Bradley Whitford stars as Coogan's boss, and the wonderful Carrie Preston (from The Good Whife) is his co-worker. If the show evolves to something beyond the white man angst, I could just be interested more. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Embraceable me (Perfume Thoughts: L'Artisan Skin On Skin)

I remember I was at Harrod's London when I sampled the first batch of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Explosions d'Emotions trio, and of the three releases - Skin on Skin, Deliria, and Amor Noctourne - I opted to purchase Deliria (which is still me favorite of the three, a sort fo a winky nod to the fruity floral)  All the releases from the series have showed up in the discount sites, and I ended up getting all of them for a song. So I am now, today, wearing Skin on Skin. When I first smelled it, I remember thinking that it was okay, but it's been done before, most notably from Dior and their classic Dior Homme.  A bed of iris, dry, powdery, sultry, sure. Skin on Skin doesn't go too far away from that formula - but with these added notes: Iris, suede, leather, saffron, whisky, lavender, rose, musks, skin effects.  Add to that this copy: “Skin on Skin awakens our animalistic instincts – to touch, to get closer, to smell…A carnal creation to be used without moderation, ” and that little blurb of the scent being a "wanton embrace."  If you were to go by their marketing, you would think thsi would be a sexy, leathery fragrance, but on my skin, on this cold-ish Spring day, it's still just iris - and it's a pretty iris. I never get the animalistic notes (skin effects?and where are the musks?)  I just get a powdery, powdery, and more powdery. I get a little bit of aldehydes, and it amps up the iris. I wish it was more interesting, but it isn't. I don't even get that explosion of notes that the Harrod's salesperson was selling - how notes come and go in a circular notion as you wear the scent. This is a well-done iris fragrance, at a ginormous price point. I never succumbed to that, but at teh discount that I got, it delivers only at this level.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Running In Charleston (Television Thoughts: Southern Charm Season Two, Mondays on Bravo)

I liked the first season of Southern Charm, I have to admit. Seeing these entitled Southerners act stupid was entertaining. I mean, they're rich but dumb so it levels the field, right? And here they are now, back. I just watched the first four episodes (they've been sitting on my DVR)  and I have to say that the show is more entertaining than ever. I mean, Thomas Ravenal is running for Senate (against Lindsay Graham!) I mean, who would even a think Ravenel, who been in jail, and impregnated a twenty one year old young woman, has a chance on winning on this very conservative red state? (Although, I myself would voe for him against the execrable Graham) Also, why senator? Couldn't he aim a little lower (Councilor, perhaps?) But here we are, and we see him campaigning, and of course there's drama: Kathryn feels left out in campaign decisions, and their friend Whitney is producing funny-yet-inappropriate television commercials. I get the sense that Ravenel is not taking this too seriously, like he is doing it for the benefit of the reality show. But whatever, the storyline is immensely watchable. It was laughable that he has fundraisers and you can see just dozens of people attending - probably just fans of the reality show. And Kathryn's sense of entitlement is hilariously infuriating, without any sense of irony at all. Elsewhere, Craig has been partying too much and there's a new young woman Landon, who moves to a houseboat after a divorce. Theya dd some little accents but really, the thing to see here is Ravenel, and it makes for compelling (reality) television. Bravo got me hooked yet again.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Circling The Gays (Film Thoughts: The Circle)

I had no idea what "Der Kreis" (The Circle) was all about when  I put this film on my Netflix queue, except for the fact that it is gay-themed. Well, little did I know that not only would I watch quite a powerful movie, but I would also get a gay history lesson. "The Circle" is a magazine - gay- that was established in the 1930s in Switzerland, and it was the only outlet that homosexuals had during that time. It was also a way for gay men and women to socialize - people who subscribe get invited to the balls, wher ethey would drink, dance, and get to know each other. But this was in the 60s, and gay rights were still a thing of imagination in Switzerland. I mean, who knew? I thought Europe was already more liberal with these things. After a gay closeted composer was killed, police in Zurich had a reason to arrest homosexuals, tying them to rentboys. This movie shows the struggle gay men had to face then. It also tells the love story of Ernst and Robi, who met when they were members of The Circle. The film moves from documentary-style interviews between the two men, and then dramatic re-enactments of what transpired. At first, I was confused, but was quickly swept by their epic story, culminating as the first same-sex married couple when it became legal in 2003. This is truly a powerful piece, and was Switzerland's entry for Best Foreign Film for the Academy Awards last year. I really do think all the gaylings nowadays should see this so they would be reminded of what the previous generations have to go through so they could enjoy the freedom they have today. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Wrong Turns (Music Thoughts: Stephanie Porter, How Deep Is The Ocean)

What do you do when an album you are listening to starts on the wrong foot? I asked myself that because Stephanie Porter, in her album. "How Deep Is The Ocean," sings the title track, and it's...horrid. The arrangement made me scratch my head, and she totally ignores Irving Berlin's wonderful lyric, syncopating at the wrong syllables with no regards to what the words mean. I was almost flabbergasted. Did no one hear how "wrong" this was? I had to keep on listening, because I was unsure if I was being played. She follows it up with a bossa nova version of "At Last," and I thought, this is, again, totally wrong. The arrangement totally clashes with the spirit of the song, causing me to shake my head. Porter has a pleasant enough voice, and I had to google her and read an article where she says she listened to all these standards growing up, and she listened to everyone singing them. I think she may have heard too much - in her quest to do somethign "different" to these songs, she just takes the wrong turn. Even when she tries to tone it down, like in "Speak Low," she always does something to break the integrity of the piece. It is almost interesting in the most bizarre way, liek asking what is she going to screw up now. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Apple Jack Jacked (Film Thoughts: John Apple Jack)

You know, sometimes you can only give a film so many chances. "John Apple Jack" had all the signs of being a good movie, and I liked the idea of a gay movie featuring an asian and a caucasian romance because it is not as frequently done. Plus, this movie had an appealing and photogenic case. But after scene after scene of stupidity, I just gave up. I thought the characters were all unlikeable, and there was not only zilch chemistry between Chris McNally and Ken Leung, who play lovers here, that they were even acting liek they didn;t like each other! So, how possibly could one be rooting for them? The plot is unbelievable, and the direction so numbingly bad that it felt like pure torture for me. I had to pat myself in the back when I realized I had finished watching the movie! What a missed opportunity - this had such potential it could have been a modern version of Ang Lee's "The Wedding Banquet."

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Road To Getting Younger (Televison Thoughts: Younger Season One, Episode Three and Four)

I am really starting to love "Younger," and episodes three ("IRL") and foru ("The Exes") both solidify my affection for it. As the series moves on, the "feel" of the series is resembling "Sex And the City" more and more. For example, there is a subplot in episode three that could have come out from SATC: when Liza's boss joins an internet dating site and gets photographed with her rare Judith Lieberman bag, and gets a "match" and then gets catfished by someone who only wanted to see (and get that selfie) with that bag. If this were SATC, that would have been a storyline for either Samantha or Charlotte. Of course, Liza is teh "Carrie" here and we get to see the progression of her relationship with tattooed Josh. They finally have sex on episode four, and even break his bed. But all is not well when she catches him with another woman. I was expecting the storyline to go on the "safe" side (I was imagining that the woman is his sister) but the series goes one step further when he confesses that she is his ex, and they are in a kind of friends-with-benefit arrangement. Liza seems a little too mature to just accept that - I was expecting her character to be more stubborn. Epsiode Four focuses a little more on Kelsey, and Hillary Duff isn't charming enough (right now) to get away with her character's flaws that I foudn myself getting irritated by her actions. Maybe I need to get used to her character more, and I think I am on that path. I cannot wait for the next episodes!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spice Market (Perfume Thoughts: Amouage Fate Men)

This is why I don't like testing. I have a mountain of samples that I just can't bear to sniff. Why? Because, to quote Larry Hart, i fall in love too easily, I fall in love too fast. I used a sample of Amouage Fate and I was instantly smitten - it's so me : the incense, the honey to sweeten it, the cumin to spice it. Christopher Chong makes such beautiful perfumes and i wish I could own all of them, but let's face it, it's not so economical. Today was a nice cold-ish day, and Amouage Fate men was just perfect for it - the perfume bloomed as perfumes do, the cumin and saffron mix provided just enough warmth and didn't get too hot, with the honey providing just right amount of sweetness. I read that there's a ginger note here somewhere, and even though it is not quite prominent, I can sense it more than I can smell it. Is Fate Men the most original thing? Probably not. Is it worth the high price point? Probably, because you can tell it was done with the best raw material out there. Do I want it? Of course. Am I gonna rush? Probably not. If I want a very quick fix, there are other scents in my wardrobe that will do the same trick. But you can bet that this is going on my wish list.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

He Loves And She Loves (Film Thoughts: Boy Meets Girl)

Love is universal, sexuality is fluid. We've heard these words so much they probably sound like clich├ęs, but by God they are so true. And that is most evident in this movie, "Boy Meets Girl," which I think is a very powerful movie of these times we live in. Ricky and Robby have been best friends since they were sic years old. hes straight, she's transgendered. One day another young woman, Francesca enters their lives, and Francesca falls in love with Ricky. Weird? Perhaps on paper it does, but in here you won't even blink because it would seem like the most natural thing in life. And why not? Falling in love is the most natural thing. This love triangle gets complicated, but it's really not. I will not give anything away but suffice it to say there are surprises here that could be shocking, but there will be a familiarity to it and nothign will be hard to swallow. I love this movie, it made me sit up and liste, and pay attention. Who would ever think that a rom-com (of sorts) starring a transgendered woman, played by Michele Hendley (a trans woman herself) would rip my heart into pieces? But it did. I was swept away with the love stories of these people, and I was able to get pass all the bluriness of sexualities. This is not a trans woman falling in love, or a straight woman, or a bicurious female - these are people falling in love and in the end we are all just people...(who need peopel?) Director Eric Schaeffer has such a fine light hand that nothing gets too serious - this topic is serious enough, and he gives it simplicity and clarity because, really, love is not a complicated matter - either you feel something or you don't. So in the end, we can only go by our emotion, and nothing else. You will be rooting for all these characters and will never forget them.