What to Watch: Winter Movie Round-up

Oscar season has folks running to the movie theater. Is this the year Leo DiCaprio finally takes home that golden statue? Will he ban it like some members of the African American community think he should in order to support the black community or take after Marlon Brando, have someone else accept and then reject it for him? Either way, Leo deserves to win.

Office politics on a global scale are aside from the point, here are some of the films I’ve seen this winter:

  1. The Revenant: no one is laughing. The White Walkers would be no match for Leo’s depth of spirit and determination to get justice served. There was no snickering or leaving the theatre for this battle of the elements, man and the politics of the era. Never has Tom Hardy been so revile. We also got to see my quiet crush, Domhnall Gleeson as the sweet, yet naive captain.
  2. Joy– now before you join me in the when-is-Jennifer-Lawerence going to be likable, haven’t we had enough of her for the time being table, let’s say I watched this one because my family wanted to watch it. I was reluctant, aside from J.Law, the trailer didn’t wow me, and I kept thinking really? Bradley Cooper, DeNiro & J.Law? Ugh. We’ve been there…with the same producers. However, I watched it and damn. Shazam. I was wowed. It was damn good and inspirational. Everyone who has had an idea or a dream they left on the table due to a misstep in their youth, should watch this film.
  3. Train Wreck– There is a spoiler alert in here. It was more enjoyable then any other Judd Apatow-involved film. Amy Schumer was great, to a point. Then, it reverted to the same devices any other rom com uses to resolve, with a charming ending, but still why must we always find that the only way for a woman to be happy does she half to be half-naked? Is that a distraction for eating humble pie or just another distraction showing the character hasn’t grown that much, just enough to make everyone in their life who always forgives them, love them enough to go another ten rounds.
  4. Hateful 8 – was a snowy, miserable, painfully slow bloated Tarantino film. My boyfriend loved it. I tried to not fall asleep. If only he wasn’t as indulged, there could have been half an hour less to this movie, no intermission – the last time I remember hearing about one was vaguely as a child, Ghandi had one. This is not Ghandi, it will not give you inspiration but some of the acting is excellent. The overuse of racial slurs towards Samuel L. Jackson, were a bit much to take. We got the point Quentin. If you want to see Channing Tatum be horrible in a charming way, the second half will reward you, but when the break came I was ready to leave.
  5. Brooklyn – thought this one would speak to my Irish heritage. Instead, her millennial indecision annoyed me to no end. I kept waiting for something to happen, so did she. Don’t let life make your decision, make them for yourself. I would rather sit through the uneven, should-have-been-an-SNL sketch, Tina Fey & Amy Poehler  comedy “Sisters” again, then watch this. Perhaps I was annoyed she left my ginger crush, Domhnall Gleeson, to believe she was interested when she was being selfish. What I didn’t like about this film was that there were no consequences to the characters lies by inaction. She left a wake of tears, but she was happy. Well, isn’t that uplifting? No.
  6. In The Heart of The Sea– swoon hard, swoon in 3-D at Mr. Chris Hemsworth, but don’t expect a lot of plot in this one. Ron Howard expressed his excitement at using 3D, inspired by the film “Life of Pi,” which was an excellent film. Mr. Howard, you abused 3D in this film, as if you were an NYU film student learning how to use a camera. There was a serious lack of character developement but oh Thor, you are handsome and you have beautiful blue eyes.

RENTALS: This is winter. Finally.

  1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – all the banter and fun that was missing from James Bond, can be found in this great romp of a movie. Two thumbs up, a little sad I missed this one in the theaters, but it was gone fast. It’s definitely worth watching over say The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  2. The Women in Gold – another film, but smaller that I had wanted to see in theaters. The story of the rightful owner, Maria Altman, who fled the Nazis in Austria seeking the Klimt’s painting of her Aunt Adele (pronounced A-dell-ee, not like the singer), which was claimed by the Austrian government and placed in their museum. It’s a wonderful film starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. I love when a film showcases a relationship and determination of two people, who are unlikely to come together, thinking neither party will teach the other one.
  3. Everest – another true story. Why climb it? Because it’s there. I can’t imagine what would make me want to climb Everest after seeing this film and what you could happen to you as you climb, your body literally dying with each step. This film showed some of the worst and selfish parts of humanity. It showcased ego wanting to triumph over nature, and then getting ego’s ass being thrown off a mountain by its pure arrogance. The hero of the story for me was Peach, the wife left behind in Texas who rallied her minions to get a helicopter for her dying husband to get him off the damn mountain, where he had been left to die by people he paid $65,000 to be there.

NETFLIX & CHILL:

1. Jessica Jones – (series, not a film) Turn it into a drinking game by taking a shot every time Kristin Ritter pouts or there is some serious hot sex…so maybe you can have some too. Not something I could power watch because of all the pouting. Still, love a deviant, reluctant superhero- yes, that means I’m going to see “Deadpool,” despite how awful Ryan Reynold’s Green-Film-He-Got-Blake-Lively-From-As-Well-As-Paid. Ritter pulls it off and manages to pull back my interest just when I think I can’t take her pouting anymore. Great plot twists.

2. The ReWrite – this is a charming film helmed by Hugh Grant. Hugh plays a washed-up rogue writer and does it well. If you are looking for a fun film with banter insert Marisa Tome. Add reluctance, social missteps, a few literary quotes and Hugh Grant and you’ll be laughing with this one.

TV (Bonus):
Tyrant – I loved the first season. They went so far in each episode it was truly well-timed with all that is going on in the Middle East. The second season started off the same, then got quite annoying, so much so I started going back and catching up with British reality TV like “Come Dine With Me” and the ever-entertaining “Don’t Tell The Bride,” which is a great concept and never disappoints for awkwardness and dreadful “oh, hell no, he. Did. Not. Do. That! She can’t marry him!” But, after the holiday season, I caught up on the last episode and it’s back to a place where I can be intrigued again, leaving out a lot of the soap opera and focusing on the action of political decisions. This series explores the tricky lines of moral compasses, with less cursing and jazz than “Homeland.”

Music (Bonus):

X-Ambassadors “Love Song, Drug Song” may be Brooklyn’s answer to The Kings of Leon, and I love it.

King Charles–  one of my favorite artists I’ve ever worked with, is also extremely talented. I’ll never forget how all the women in the office found a way to come to my office when he was in there for two hours. He is highly entertaining. He was an absolute dream when we trekked through the living hell that SXSW can be to manage and gave his full KC charm to a small room of people at his showcase there. A true talent.

Hope you enjoyed that. Note, as much as I love film and TV, I am reading two books about product management and a novel called “Smoke,” which is riveting.

Advertisements

Fresh Off The Boat Screening Party…Ramble

Wednesday night marked the premiere of the first Asian sitcom on-air in 20 years! “Fresh Off The Boat” is based on author Eddie Huang’s memoir as the only Asians in a small Florida town.

There’s no one to embarrass you like your mother, but when you add more obstacles, i.e. Stinky (but delicious!) lunches and hours of extra learning because straight A’s mean the school is not challenging the children enough, you wind up with comic gold.

Eddie is portrayed by Hudson Yang, a New Yorker with natural charisma. He’s 12. His father, Jeff Yang, noted Asian journalist and all-around good guy, put together this viewing party to bring together not only Asians, but all minorities to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Fortunately the one and only Eddie Huang showed up to share the moment. He let us know this show, in the future should be one of many and the importance of the show is to “create a pipeline for Asian talent.” Last year I had a literary manager who told me that I should change my main character’s race from Eurasian to Caucasian for potential future casting because I “don’t want to limit access to great talent.” We were destined to have a short-lived relationship.

Although the U.S. census throws Eurasians into the two races of more category, (the 2010 guesstimate of 1.6 million Eurasians in this country), we still claim some recognizable names like Keanu Reeves. The Asian population was 7 million when Margaret Cho’s “American Girl” sitcom aired two decades (!) ago and bombed. Now it is 18 million and by 2025 it is estimated to grow to 40 million. That’s a lot of buying power. No longer will I have to listen to a friend who told me “don’t worry about the Asians, they just buy what white people buy” when conducting a focus group.

When I tweeted about my happiness for Eddie and also, Kevin Kwan’s success hello “Crazy Rich Asians,” helping to pave the way for Asian voices & the note about my former manager, a writer friend responded ‘be so good they can’t ignore you.’ Maybe I’m just not good enough. I am being included in an anthology that is specifically going to be multi-culture erotica. Should my characters have to be put in the special section just because of their race? I hope the stories are relatable and enticing to everyone.

But back to “Fresh Off The Boat,” which I had concerns about, because when you make fun of your own race, you know there are people who see it as an invitation to make proclamations like “I love the Asian culture. And I was just talking about chopsticks, and I love all that….” Honey, I’m sure you learned your lesson now, but even if you have an “Asian pass,” which you do not, especially in a professional capacity, don’t go there. It’s not your culture. Ask a question with intelligence instead of trying to align yourself incorrectly with another culture. I worked with someone who thought the way to ingrate herself with ex-US markets was to put down Americans while shoveling McDonald’s fries into her mouth. No, honey, just no.

Overall my favorite “Fresh Off The Boat” moment was when Eddie gets called a “chink” and his parents are called in because, of course, he then throws some punches at the offending party. They wanted to know why their kid was called that disgusting name, but it was done in an extremely classy way that shocked the principal who wanted to condemn their son.

The ratings showed people tuned in, giving FOTB the 2nd highest comedy debut of the season, second only to ABC’s delightful “blackish”- if you haven’t seen that show, you should. It’s exciting to see ABC putting on such diverse shows that showcase different cultures and how modern families function in different parts of the country!

Tune in to “Fresh Off The Boat” tonight on ABC.

IMG_5972

IMG_5958

IMG_5976

IMG_5978

IMG_5965

IMG_5948

Joan Rivers & The Feminists…Ramble

Last night I went to a dinner party to discuss current trends with a variety of ‘cool hunters’ ranging from fashion, hotel, and fragrance experts and more. One of the issues that came up was all of the female equality campaigns and how many people changed their social media profiles to Beyonce with the word FEMINIST behind her during the VMA’s (it also happens in her ‘On The Run’ tour.)

That word ‘feminist’ gets thrown around a lot. Joan Rivers was a woman who broke ground. She was the first female comedian, the only female ever, to get her own late night talk show. She blew my mind and curfew as a child. This sassy, smart mouthed woman who went to none other than Barnard College of Columbia University, which also happens to be my Alma Mater, where they drum female rights into the fabric of your mind, whether you are a card carrying Naomi Wolf (author of ‘The Beauty Myth’) fan or not. It is a small group of buildings with the campus being New York City. Get out there, conquer, kick ass, beat doors down and don’t let people tell you know because of your gender. 

It always amazes me how Johnny Carson could recognize Joan’s talent, making her the permanent guest host while he took off, but then when she was offered her own show, he never spoke to her again. Joan’s joke writer, Cassie St. Onge revealed in her touching tribute to Joan on XoJane.com, Joan never understood what or how Johnny wanted to be repaid, but she dealt with it, the way a true ‘feminist’ does, no need to declare it (I’m not for /against declaring it), and she made the way better for other females and her fans by saying what no one else could say. 

I watched a clip of her on E! News explaining why, off-camera, she always was nice to her fans (something I’ve heard from everyone I know who has met her and I work in entertainment so that’s a lot of people)– it was because she met three stars growing up and they were all nice to her. Her philosophy was that it was as easy to say ‘thank you’ as to say ‘no, I don’t have time right now.’ That shows a real grace of character, something that doesn’t instantly pop to mind as a description of Ms. Rivers, but true. I’ve worked with a lot of famous people, been behind-the-scenes, threatened by one boy bander with a baseball bat on a scorching hot day in Orlando, witnessed ugly behavior towards fans and that clip enforced what people who’ve met and worked with Joan have always felt from her, that she cared and she was kind, so it carries a good deal of weight with me and I will miss her shocking comments on Fashion Police, red carpets and her reality show with her daughter, Melissa. 

Sweet dreams Joan Rivers, you were a gem!

 

Crush of the Week: Sam Palladio…Ramble

Dreamy. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Sam, who portrays Gunner on ‘Nashville.’ As someone who has worked in the music industry I absolutely get a huge kick out of it, especially this season’s addition of Oliver Hudson as the hot shot new president of Edge Hill Records.

Aside from looking dreamy, here are five reasons I’m crushing on Sam this week:

1. Sam has a great voice. He is working on a solo album so watch out for that one. Who wouldn’t want to fall asleep listening to Sam’s voice? Here’s a little taste of his band Salt Water Thief:

2. He’s British. ABC loves to cast Brits. Nashville is no exception. Palladio’s American accent is really dead-on, maybe he can teach Rachel Weisz how to speak with an American accent. (Please, I love you Rach, but it’s not your strength).

3. Sam is a one woman man. He’s been dating former co-star & show love interest, Chloe Bennett. She is now part of Marvel’s ‘Agents of SHIELD’, also on ABC. Chloe is a big pop star in China (how cool is that?!) under the name Chloe Wang.

4. Sam is super responsive to fans on Twitter and live tweets the East Coast airing of ‘Nashville’ almost every week.

5. He seems to have a great time playing music and truly enjoy himself. And, yep he is super dreamy with that flop of brown hair & looks good with a little stubble.

ABC’s Favorite Sin: Lust…Ramble

ABC has fixed last season’s relentless non-committal two or even three new episodes of dramas, only to for fans to be told “a new episode in four weeks”. Fortunately I only started watching ‘Scandal’ and ‘Revenge’ when the first half of the season was already finished. Still, it was seriously annoying. I keep waiting for it to happen this season but so far new episodes for both shows have come at us since the season premieres. Applause for you lovely Programming Executives at ABC. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The big dramas are really working for ABC. While ‘Private Practice’ wrapped up last season, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ carries onward as the flagship drama. At this point I can say bye without too much sorrow because ABC has added the brilliant ‘Nashville’, ‘Scandal’ and ‘Revenge’ along with those Once Upon A Time series and ‘Betrayal’- stealing my attentions away from Bravo. Those housewives have nothing, I mean nothing on the lust filling these shows, keeping viewers at rapt attention.

Since I’m writing a few romance projects, studying lust on the small screen is my favorite hobby. Seeing different couplings, what works or obvious, is provided in spades. If I was only watching one of my three favorites, it would provide all the love triangles, backstabbing and pure heat between characters to keep my studies fresh and exciting. Thanks ABC for being so much fun.

What Does The Fox, Uh My Girl Say…Ramble

Yeah, if you hear ‘What Does The Fox Say’ one more time, you’re going to smack the niece/nephew/family member who introduced it to you/your man/your kids upside the head. Still, this SNL parody of it with Kerry Washington living out her pop star dreams is a must watch. This is going in high rotation my friends as a reward to myself. Seriously. Now watch it, cause it’s full of butts…

Faceoff: Mellie (Cuckold) vs. Olivia (Mistress) … Ramble

Gladiators rally every week on Twitter to dissect and live tweet opinions, quotes and shock for ABC’s Scandal. If you don’t watch it, the basic premise is Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a Washington Power Player who’s clients messes (from murder to terrorism) she spins into a positive light, is having an affair with the President of the United States, aka Fitz (Tony Goldwyn). Olivia met Fitz on the campaign trail, hired by his Chief of Staff, Cyrus, to help him win the presidential election.

images-1

Fitz’s wife, Mellie, is fully aware of the affair. She wanted Fitz to give up Olivia or she would go on national TV and tell everyone the image of them as a happy family, even with a newborn baby, was a sham. When Fitz didn’t cower because he had a fantasy of confessing the affair, getting a divorce and moving Olivia into The White House, Mellie carried out her threat. This season kicked off with Olivia’s name being leaked to the press as the one having the affair. However, Mellie & Cyrus found a scape goat on staff, who, after a small amount of convincing, went along with the whole thing.

Last week Olivia was almost blown up by one of her clients, along with a senator, who strapped a bomb to her chest. In the end (SPOILER), Olivia was fine, but traumatized and Mellie was celebrating her survival. Fitz was confused why Mellie would do that.  Mellie, drunk on ‘hooch’ pointed out that Olivia is his weak spot, one she can use over and over as a weapon as long as Olivia is alive. If Olivia had died, there would be no way for Mellie to compete with her memory. Powerful speech. It got me to thinking and talking with a  lot of friends whether it is better to be the lover, like Olivia, or the wife, like Mellie.

images 19-39-53

PASSION:  Despite Mellie knowing that she no longer has Fitz’s heart, she wants him to want her. While drunk she asks if he’ll screw her right on the dining room table. Mellie is tough, she is ruthless or as Cyrus said “evil” to which she responded “You’re welcome.” At the end of the day, she still wants to be loved and held or given some kind of rough sex war in the sheets so she can feel like a woman.

Olivia felt Fitz’s wrath when he first, froze her out, ending their affair after he realized Olivia was part of rigging his presidential election. Then he pulled her into an electrical outlet closet in The White House having a bit of rough sex with her last season. It was hot, it was degrading, it was over for him. There is a razor thin line between love and hate when that amount of passion is involved. Liv has had other relationships. First she almost married, for the second time, a senator, and secondly, she dated Jake, (Noel always gets the girl by default, disguarded by her true love am I right here Felicity fans!?) only to find out he is part of a black ops organization run by Liv’s own father.

WINNER: Olivia. The mistress is always going to win out on passion. Her ardor is run down by having to attend press ops, change baby nappies, do his laundry, put down the toilet seat or attend those tedious, and often, tension-filled family barbeques.

images-2

FACE TIME:This one is not a slam dunk. Though Mellie lives in the same place as Fitz, she has to manipulate staff members to find out Fitz’s schedule, who he is meeting and turn it into her advantage. When the tough decisions are made, like how to handle the exposure of the affair, she is called into the private bunker with Fitz & Olivia to give her approval of the details- how many times did they sleep together, when, how she forgives him, etc. Mellie’s QT with Fitz is often forced, obtained through subterfuge and full of rage. Cyrus informed Mellie & Fitz, they would be going to Camp David together in order to put on a show for America, of forgiveness. They were both incredibly belligerent, but escaped such a circus of affection when Olivia’s client showed up with a bomb on Capitol Hill. Oh hurrah, saved by the bomb.

Olivia is never sure when she is actually going to see Fitz. She no longer works in the White House. It isn’t as easy for her to roam the halls, especially if she is out of favor with Fitz, Mellie or Cyrus. Many of their conversations take place over a cellphone carried by one of Fitz’s Secret Serviceman.

WINNER: Mellie. Wifey is going to win on this one in general, but the quality of that face time, and the happiness is somewhat of a fantasy. Maybe it’s better a man marries a woman better for his career. According to Facebook executive, Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’, women should be just as strategic when picking their life partner. Sandberg started her career in Washington and is now married to her second husband, Dave Goldberg. Full disclosure Dave was my bosses’ boss when I worked at Yahoo! and I have big affection for both of them. I think Sheryl is right though, if you are a power couple. We can’t always chose who we fall in love with, but we do chose who we date, we can chose who we target right? Is that any different than a political marriage? How about a royal marriage made to keep two countries as allies? Or Prince Charles & Lady Diana, who clearly didn’t love each other, but it was seen as an advantageous marriage for both. Haven’t their offspring revived most people’s love for the future of the monarchy? You can’t tell me you don’t admire Kate Middleton on some level.

tumblr_mkq54ukhqA1rw6xlno1_1280

STYLE:
Mellie, as First Lady, is stuck in frump-a-licious, conservative, garb with some old school 80’s hair that sometimes calls to mind “The higher the hair, the closer to God.” Oh yeah, Mellie is a mom of three, she dresses well, but it’s a bit dated and rarely sexy.

Olivia Pope is the new Jackie Kennedy. Her fabulous coats and high-end power suits with silk shirts is being emulated by American women all over the country. The white Burberry coat, Olivia wore on the premiere, retails at just under $2600 and is sold out everywhere.

WINNER: Olivia. And of course, the costume designed on Scandal, Lyn Paolo. A mistress doesn’t have to look slutty, she looks sexy and classy. She may be have to wear a suit, but she is able to pick out one with more sex appeal dealing in the private sector of power players instead of constantly in front of the press or the PTA, playing a role that doesn’t welcome such hotness, FLOTUS, being an exception to this in real life. Of course, love the fashion of FLOTUS, however I don’t necessarily find her sexy, just modern and classy. Olivia is sexy on a stick.

CAREER:Mellie has kids, gets the public recognition, but her power plays are done behind closed doors and usually unrecognized. For the public, she has her charity work, but her attempts for more, like going out on the White House lawn or revealing Fitz has been having an affair, have made her look weak and quite frankly, like a desperate housewife. She’s a figurehead with questionable likeability.

When Olivia‘s father was trying to get her out of Washington to avoid her name being dragged through the mud at the exposure of her affair with Fitz, he told he was disappointed in her. He taught her to always be the best and aiming for being First Lady? Liv, how could you be so mediocre? OUCH! Olivia stood up to Papa after a quick chat with Cyrus, and said she would fix it. She is, after all a fixer. That’s what she does for her clients and she could just as easily do it for herself.

WINNER: Olivia. Smart, sexy and sought after, her intelligence has never been in question.

Kerry-washington_04

Now, to the roles in general of cuckold vs. mistress.

PROS AND CONS:

Cuckold, maybe he loves her on some level. There is a fondness, duty and certainly his own ego is flattered by the image he presents to the world by putting a ring on that finger. The wife gets the house, the kids and the bank account. Perhaps, two can play at that game. I’m waiting for Mellie to have an affair of her own on Scandal. Cons, she knows her husband has broken vows, she isn’t enough, endless lies and what they had once, is forever changed (and this list could go on but it’s a blog, not a book).

The Mistress may not have the ring, but she gets the passion, free time, the choice to date other men and an element of danger that is kind of hot. The mistress also holds the power, despite what the man thinks, however careful he might have been to separate ‘church and state’, it has never been easier than this technological age to connect digitally, despite any distance. There has to be a trust in that relationship, that no matter what, the mistress will not poison the well. Unfortunately, she probably gets cancelled on a lot, he can’t always take her call, and he may end the affair at any moment because he is scared of getting caught and shove her out the door abruptly, hardly flattering.

Who’s the winner? When it comes to Scandal it’s Olivia and the audience, but in real life, who am I to judge? You have to do what makes you happy.