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About Me

I love entertainment...

Sex: Female
Language: English
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Interested In: Men and Women

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Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


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    Highest Rating

      • 5/5 (2 votes)
      • Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim
        5/5 (2 votes)
        Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim

        Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. Let me say that again because it’s little a hard to believe. Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. The first time I saw the promo of this film, I said to myself it’s going to be...

      • 5/5 (1 votes)
      • Interstellar
        5/5 (1 votes)

        Nolan’s "Interstellar," about astronauts traveling to the other end of the galaxy to find a new home to
        replace humanity’s despoiled home-world, is frantically busy and earsplittingly
        loud. It uses booming music to jack...

      • San Andreas
        5/5 (1 votes)
        San Andreas

        In a match between a supremely catastrophic California
        earthquake and the former wrestling star turned movie action hero Dwayne
        Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock, aptly enough here I guess, although he’s not thusly
        credited), who are you going to bet...

        • Entertainer

          Rim of the World

          By Entertainer
          Kids in 2019 got the raw deal of having their every embarrassing moment documented by their TikTok-ing peers, but at least they can find solace in the endless film library that comes from online streaming. There’s just so much potential...
          • Entertainer


            By Entertainer
            If fashion designer Charles James was a master of the structured aesthetic, then Halston—born Roy Halston Frowick in Des Moines, Iowa in 1932—was a maestro of fluidity. “His clothes danced with you,” says Liza Minnelli in...
            • Entertainer


              By Entertainer
              "Brightburn" is a body-count-style horror movie, only featuring a killer Superma—I mean young Clark Ke—I mean pre-teen alien who closely resembles a certain super-duper-hero who can't seem to catch a break in recent films....
              • Entertainer

                Running with Beto

                By Entertainer
                “Running With Beto” is a fly-on-the-wall documentary following Beto O’Rourke’s highly publicized, richly funded effort last year to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz from the Republican stronghold of Texas. He...
                • Entertainer

                  The Perfection

                  By Entertainer
                  At first, "The Perfection" seems like is going to be an "All About Eve"-type story, with the sexual complications of "Black Swan," and the pressures of "Whiplash," until it careens into David Cronenberg body-horror, obliterating any expectation that...
                  • Entertainer
                    Entertainer published a blog post Echo in the Canyon

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                    At a time when needle drop musicals are proving to be depressingly marketable, thanks to the financial success of critically maligned Oscar-winner “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it seems all a film has to do in order to achieve success is coast on the strength of pre-existing hit songs. Look no further than the soulless “Aladdin” remake for surefire evidence of this trend. At first glance, the new star-studded documentary “Echo in the Canyon” appears all too content in banking on our nostalgia for the formidable roster of artists it has assembled, relying solely on our familiarity with their work to keep our attention rapt. Indeed, it’s difficult to determine whether audiences unfamiliar with the mid-‘60s music scene in Laurel Canyon will view this picture as anything more than a whole lot of gabbing and back-slapping. Having been a child of the ’90s who regularly tuned into Dick Biondi and Nick at Nite, I am far more acquainted with the icons of oldies radio networks—Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Crosby, Stills & Nash, among others—who serve as interview subjects in this film than I am with the younger artists led by Jakob Dylan aiming to pay them tribute. Since I wouldn’t know The Wallflowers from any other flower on the wall, I assumed that Dylan was the director of the movie, until I realized during the end credits that it was helmed by Andrew Slater, the same man credited early on as a former president of Capitol Records.

                    Context is, alas, not a strong suit of this doc. It basically figures that if the names listed on its poster mean nothing to you, why would you be watching anyway? Yet there’s a good chance the uninitiated will find some of their favorite music echoed, in one way or another, through these timeless tunes. Introducing a 2015 concert honoring the work of various southern California legends, Slater claims that The Byrds’ 1965 debut album marked the first time that “a song of poetic depth and grace had become a hit,” thereby effectively giving birth to the Laurel Canyon scene. The particular era celebrated here by Slater and covered by Dylan & Co. took place from ’65 to ’67, when groups of artists were freely influenced by one another while pushing the boundaries for song length and complexity in the same creative environment. “Echo in the Canyon” is a perfect title in how it represents the ways in which the inspiration shared by these bands continues to reverberate through the art form, the industry and cultures not limited to America. I often find it illuminating to study an artwork through the prism of another, noting what defines each artist through the juxtaposition of similar elements. A film like this is catnip for the analytical hemisphere of my brain, as it details precisely how The Beatles led to The Byrds, and then in turn how The Beach Boys’ landmark album, “Pet Sounds,” inspired “Sgt. Pepper.” 

                    It’s fitting that the first, instantly familiar chords we hear in the film are from The Byrds’ rendition of Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, the song that unforgettably opened the pilot of Neal Marlens and Carol Black’s “The Wonder Years,” a ’60s-set series fueled by the sort of youthful memories that continue to haunt and form us throughout the subsequent decades. Slater’s film reminds us of why we turn, turn, turn to songs like these repeatedly in our lives. When we listen to them, we are transported directly back to indelible moments we experienced either through our own eyes or those of a character onscreen. I can never hear The Mamas & The Papas’ “Dedicated to the One I Love” without envisioning Samantha Morton wandering alone through the shadows of a crowded club in the masterful finale of Lynne Ramsay’s “Morvern Callar.” Not only does Slater’s film provide us with a glorious televised close-up of Michelle Phillips singing the opening lyrics of this song, it also gives us an intimate understanding of the circumstances that led to its creation. In conversation with Dylan, Phillips discusses the infidelity that characterized the free love movement, and how her own affair with fellow bandmate Denny Doherty inspired her husband, John, to pen the song unambiguously titled, “Go Where You Want To Go.” This leads to perhaps the most inspired vocal performance of the tribute concert, as Jade channels Phillips’ defiance in refusing to limit the boundaries of her sexuality. Though no mention is made of the long-secret incestuous relationship John allegedly conducted with his daughter, its very existence accentuates the hypocrisy of his righteousness.

                    The Beatles’ eternal status as the greatest band of all time is further justified here, since their 1964 appearance on “Ed Sullivan” served as the mighty oak from which all the groups in Laurel Canyon sprang like branches. Struck by how The Beatles’ chord changes in “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” were derived from folk music, Roger McGuinn decided to publicly perform his own single-guitar rendition of the number (evocative of the simplest and best cover in Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe”), which was flatly rejected by audiences in California. Yet it was this approach that resulted in McGuinn and his fellow Byrds being dubbed “America’s response to The Beatles”—shoes they were doomed never to fill—while prompting various musicians, including Dylan’s immortal father, to view their own work in a whole new light. The late Tom Petty, to whom the film is dedicated, approves of his colleagues who were able to walk the line between “cross-pollination” and “outright theft,” such as how The Beatles modeled their song, “If I Needed Someone,” after Seeger’s “The Bells of Rhymney,” or how Eric Clapton’s “Let It Rain” resembles the original version of Buffalo Springfield’s “Questions,” before the latter was altered in response to Judy Collins’ “Since You’ve Asked.” When Dylan assures Clapton that he’ll edit out his admittance that he may have “copped” the Springfield song without realizing it, the musician insists that the revelation be left in the final cut, citing its importance. 

                    Among the many traits perfected by The Beatles was their refusal to outstay their welcome by “turning on the smoke machine and playing the old hits,” as observed dryly by David Crosby. The band broke up just after the ’60s had come to a close, while many of the groups they befriended had made the decision to dissolve, allowing their members to move in separate directions. One of the more puzzling aspects of Slater’s documentary is its inclusion of footage from Jacques Demy’s “Model Shop,” the film singled out by Dylan and his tribute crew as the cultural artifact that inspired their concert, noting that the picture “looked how the era sounded.” Had Slater and co-writer Eric Barrett (producer of “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”) given us a better idea of what the film was about, perhaps its footage would’ve registered as more poignant. Instead, all we get are shots of Gary Lockwood—cast as a marketable alternative to Harrison Ford (ah, how times a-change)—looking wistfully at the LA skyline, while pursuing Anouk Aimée before ultimately splitting from her. Even stranger is the fact that the only credited music in “Model Shop” is by Spirit, a band not featured in Slater’s film. In terms of illustrating how great an era the ’60s were for music, few cinematic works are as persuasive as Hal Ashby’s 1978 masterpiece, “Coming Home,” where a married woman agrees to sleep with an injured veteran, as Springfield’s “Expecting to Fly” lends an ethereal glow to every frame. It is this song, released at the tail end of ’67 and intended by Neil Young as a warning to his bandmates of his impending exit, that Dylan believes signaled the close of Laurel Canyon’s golden period, causing its musicians to find themselves on their own, much like the three central protagonists in the final sequence of Ashby’s film. 

                    The most valuable lesson to be gleaned from “Echo in the Canyon” is that the ingenious fusion of two elements considered disparate, namely folk and rock or Bach chordal movements and “California Girls,” can lead to a revolution. I wish the film had probed more into Regina Spektor’s provocative argument that the songs released during this period, both in terms of structure and word usage, are more related to dreams than what had come before, suggesting that American musicians were getting in touch with their unconscious mind, which foreshadowed the psychedelia of Woodstock in 1969. This also happens to be the year when Dylan was born, “Model Shop” was released and where Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is set, underlining the loss of innocence that arrived with the Manson murders. Freedom is also rendered a casualty whenever innocence expires, and it was the liberation of artistic consciousness during this period that caused so many hit songs to be guided by intuition. Buffalo Springfield’s resistance to performing “faster” in the recording studio is certainly shared by David Lynch, who shot down any onset request to move “Twin Peaks: The Return” at a quicker pace. What is art if not a dream we enter to make sense of our waking life? Who would want to rush that?

                    By: Matt Fagerholm
                    Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:26 pm

                    • Entertainer
                      Entertainer published a blog post Diamantino

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                      The new Portuguese/French/Brazilian co-production “Diamantino” could technically be described as a political satire but anyone going into it expecting the hard-edged humor of a “Dr. Strangelove” or “Wag the Dog” will soon realize that it's not quite like those earlier works—probably around the time that the gigantic fluffy puppy dogs first make an appearance. Instead, it takes a far more whimsical approach that suggests a weird hybrid of “Being There” and “All the World’s a Stooge,” the 1941 Three Stooges short in which Moe, Larry and Curly are taken in by a rich woman who is inexplicably convinced that they are child war refugees, as presented by Michel Gondry at his absolute Gondriest. The results are uneven—how could they not be?—but the sheer weirdness of the whole enterprise has a charm to it and it certainly is never boring. Bewildering, maybe, but never boring.

                      Let us go back to those fluffy dogs for a minute. They are manifestations in the mind of Diamantino (Carloto Cotta), the star striker for Portugal’s soccer team, that allow him to filter out all distractions and hit the shots that have made him an idol on the level of real-life Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. Alas, one day, the power of the fluffy dogs fails Diamantino and he misses a crucial shot that prevents his team from advancing to the World Cup final and he becomes a pariah in his home country and a laughing stock around the world. This would be hard enough for most people to bear but we soon realize that Diamantino is basically a big kid himself who is innocent in most of the ways of the world—not only do the sheets on his bed have his face and logo emblazoned on them, it is evident that he has never had anyone into his room to share them with him.

                      In an attempt to do some good and honor his recently deceased father, Diamantino decides to take in a refugee to live at his palatial estate, much to the consternation of his cruel and abusive twin sisters (Anabella and Margarida Moreira), who mistreat him even as they are robbing him blind. The “refugee” turns out to be Aisha (Cleo Tavares), a lesbian Secret Service agent working undercover as a teenage boy from Mozambique to investigate suspicions that Diamantino is involved with a money-laundering scheme. That, not surprisingly, is the work of his sisters and if that were not enough, the two have embroiled their uncomprehending brother into a plot by Portuguese nationalists to leave the EU. Such a scheme includes an elaborate ad campaign focused on Diamantino as the epitome of Portuguese manhood, as well as machinations from a mad scientist determined to harvest the source of his greatness that winds up calling certain aspects of his manhood into question. 

                      So yeah, “Diamantino” is strange as can be and then some, but the problem that it's not as outrageous as it clearly wants to be in terms of the details. The material involving the shifting nature of the relationship between Diamantino and Aisha, whose true identity as an adult woman he remains blissfully unaware of for much of the narrative, would seem to be tailor-made for the kind of cheerfully transgressive humor that the writing/directing duo of Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt are clearly aiming for but never quite achieve. Likewise, the more overtly political material involving the nationalists duping Diamantino into participating in their anti-EU campaign leans a little more towards the innocuous than the incisive. The stuff involving the mad scientist and the unexpected results of her experiments on Diamantino are absurd enough but enter the proceedings inn such an arbitrary manner that it fails to land the impact that it might have had with a more focused screenplay.

                      And yet, even though “Diamantino” never quite digs beneath its aggressively goofy, candy-colored surfaces to deliver truly penetrating satire, it still manages to hold one’s interest for the most part. As a comedic collision between the not entirely dissimilar worlds of political and popular culture and the mayhem that can ensue when the two intertwine, the film has a likable oddball energy that is further boosted by an outlandish visual style that's reminiscent of what the legendarily over-the-top 1967 version of “Casino Royale” is like at its best moments. "Diamantino" is also blessed with a number of random bits of strange humor that wind up hitting more than they miss, ranging from the aforementioned bed linen to several hilarious needle drops on the soundtrack. Best of all, it has a performance by Cotta as Diamantino that is perfectly calibrated so that he comes across less as a moron, which is what might have resulted in the hands of lesser actors, than as a genuine innocent—a Candide of the soccer pitch—who we find ourselves laughing with instead of at. Admittedly, a film like this may not be to all tastes, but those with a taste for the silly and the strange should get a kick out of it.

                      By: Peter Sobczynski
                      Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:26 pm

                      • Entertainer
                        Entertainer published a blog post The Proposal

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                        “The Proposal” reckons with how deeply one can love an artist and their work—next to blood pumping romance, it’s just about the most intense relationship a human being can have with something, whether it’s with a filmography, a discography, or collection of art. Director and artist Jill Magid, for example, deeply loves the creations of Luis Barragán, a Mexican architect whose hypnotically simple projects—homes with massive stone walls, blocks of juxtaposing colors that tell a story—have inspired her for years. And yet, Barragán's legacy is virtually owned by a furniture company in Sweden, who essentially refuse to share the rights to his creations. Magid’s very passion to free Barragán's work fuels this often compelling saga through a twisty, international and years-spanning real-life mystery, and past a few disagreeable editorial choices. Magid essentially casts herself as the lead of this documentary, which has a wild way of questioning ownership when it comes to an artist that so many people love. 

                        The documentary’s mystery plot starts at a dead end: a wealthy Swiss woman named Federica. She received the rights to the art as an engagement present from her husband, and has since held onto them as part of the Swedish furniture company her husband owns, Vitra. Most distinctly, they've copyrighted Barragán’s name and designs, without the accent. Thousands of drawings, letters, blueprints, dreams—all of it hoarded in a private archive. Even photographs of Barragán’s architecture in Mexico can’t be distributed, though you can see the buildings for yourself (as Magid does, spending time in Barragán's home). This ownership has inhibited the rest of the world from seeing it, while Federica states in correspondences to Magid that they're using the archives to create a massive project about his work. 

                        With Barragán having died in 1988 and Federica not being shown on camera, the film creates elusive and enigmatic characters with its sensitive approach to the presence everyone has in this story. Federica's letters are read by someone else, but she looms throughout, especially as her letters are accompanied by exterior shots that study the Vitra headquarters, a monstrous, mostly monochrome behemoth of sloping steel walls, like a gauche bastardization of Barragán's architecture. As Magid shares their letters, Federica states at one point that things are lonely down in the archive. Magid's editing takes us back to Vitra headquarters, making us wonder how isolating it must be to see art as private property. 

                        And while Barragán and Federica are off-screen, Magid is distinctly gentle with her own camera presence, often filming herself from the back, making herself always secondary to the art she shares the frame with. In her reverent ways she’s like an Antonioni character, her presence secondary to the massive and imposing environments that the viewer studies through atmosphere, not exposition. Even her voiceover, which accompanies passages of her inhabiting Barragán's home, has the stillness of someone speaking quietly in a museum. 

                        Toward the film's halfway point, Magid hatches a bizarre plan/poignant art project to try to win over Federica that need not be spoiled, and gives the film's title its purpose. In the documentary’s nutty style, it leads to storytelling that both bolsters and hinders the project—good in that Magid’s plan sets the movie off on an exciting course of events, the story’s enigmatic characters and abundant passion combining for an increasingly controversial course of events, paved with questions considering what parts of an artist belong to their fans (it's very exciting to see Magid herself doing something others might find reprehensible). But this plan is also where the movie's cumulative power can waver, as Magid frustratingly leaves audiences in the dark about her intent, ignoring that audiences will deduce what’s really going on before the movie’s big reveal. 

                        "The Proposal" is initially a frustrated film, especially as its first act can stew on its outrage for what's been done to the artist's legacy, literally making Barragán's work speak for itself by focusing on the present more than the past. But the movie, and Magid, are sprung from this by the hope of creating a connection—the story's core is about two people with the same obsession, divided by their ideologies. As much as "The Proposal" can be gripping with its heady adventure, its compassion has the most complicated and fascinating presence throughout.

                        By: Nick Allen
                        Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:26 pm

                        • Entertainer
                          Entertainer published a blog post Funny Story

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                          Pro tip: If you’re trying to find a way to tell the estranged daughter who is still furious because you left her mother for a young airhead that said airhead is pregnant with your estranged daughter’s soon-to-be half sibling, it probably will not help to have sex with her fiancée. And yet, we have “Funny Story,” where Walter Campbell (Matthew Glave) is right in the middle of that exact quagmire. Your appreciation for this film will depend in large part on where this all falls on your personal continuum from “funny” to “funny-ish,” to “ewww.”

                          Walter, the onetime star of a cheesy but fondly remembered fantasy television series called “Youngblood,” tries to break up with the airhead, explaining that she is interested only in “fashion, reality television, and your phone,” while he is interested in ... "everything else." She pauses in posing for a selfie to inform him that she is pregnant. He hoped to tell his daughter Nic (Jana Winternitz) when she came to visit, but she cancels, so he invites himself to Big Sur, where she is staying with some friends. He knows she will be hurt and angry and so he wants to tell her in person. 

                          One of the friends meeting Nic in Big Sur is Kim (Emily Bett Rickards), but her car died and she needs a lift. Walter, eager to be accommodating, agrees. We already know Kim is troubled—and trouble. Walter just knows she is hostile. She has a nose ring and an attitude and, as he puts it, “For someone so small, you wear a huge layer of ‘bitch.'”

                          What he does not know is that his daughter is a lesbian, and plans to marry Kim in Big Sur. That is not an excuse for his cheating on the woman who is pregnant with his child after he left the mother of his other child for her. And it is not an excuse for taking advantage of a woman who is, as James Stewart memorably described it in “The Philadelphia Story,” “the worse, or the better for wine, and there are rules about that.” Walter is apparently unfamiliar with those rules, or some others. Kim made the first move, but he is twice her age and, at the least, the father of her friend.

                          The rest of the film is all about who will find out what when, in the midst of some spectacular Big Sur scenery and some unoriginal attempts at humor about the old-school cheesiness of Walter’s television show, the plankton-like earthiness of the lesbians’ cooking, and the pansexual seductiveness of yet another character who thinks Walter would be a treat in the sack.

                          Glave is so immensely appealing in the role he almost makes Walter seem sympathetic, especially singing “Unchained Melody” and good-naturedly showing off his “Youngblood” character’s special dragon call, and when we see just how much he wants to repair his relationship with Nic. But the script calls on him to find consistency in some variable behavior, including some strange ignorance about lesbian relationships and appropriate questions. It is also difficult to reconcile Nic’s devotion to her fiancee given what we have seen about Kim's choices and lack of stability. 

                          A great deal could be made of this set of characters, of Walter’s conflicts over his one achievement as an actor, of Kim’s mysterious letter from her late mother, of Nic’s attempt to find some sense of security following the break-up of her parents’ marriage, of the way that people who say, “No judgment!” when inviting a comment or question never, ever mean it. Telling the story from Nic’s perspective might also make more sense. Instead co-writer/director Michael J. Gallagher relies on the audience to sympathize with Walter to provide some depth to the sillier parts of the story, and that left me closer to the “funny-ish” side of my own scale of, well, judgment.  

                          By: Nell Minow
                          Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:26 pm

                          • Entertainer
                            Entertainer published a blog post Halston

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                            If fashion designer Charles James was a master of the structured aesthetic, then Halston—born Roy Halston Frowick in Des Moines, Iowa in 1932—was a maestro of fluidity. “His clothes danced with you,” says Liza Minnelli in Frédéric Tcheng’s gripping documentary, articulating the revolutionary craftsman’s gift for flowy bias-cut silhouettes best. “It was a dress just because of the way he cut the fabric,” we are told later on about the technique of the renowned designer, who not only understood women’s bodies, but also honored their modern-day priorities through the free-spirited late-1960s, 1970s and beyond.

                            Telling a thoroughly researched rise and fall story with artistic flair and a noir-esque cinematic mystique, “Halston” starts as an intimate investigative study of a pioneer who made a splash into the Disco Era, putting American fashion on the international map in a massive scale. Beginning his career as a milliner in Chicago, and then continuing at New York’s high-end department store Bergdorf Goodman in the 1950s, Halston left his first real mark on fashion by designing the deeply influential pillbox hat First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore during the presidential inauguration in 1961. He then moved onto opening his first salon—a design Mecca with notable celebrity clients—launched his ready-to-wear line, and ventured out to other subcategories, like a best-selling perfume with a signature teardrop bottle. It was an unstoppable climb that crowned him as America’s first “celebrity designer,” especially after a now-iconic 1973 fashion show at the Versailles.

                            The scope of history and the breadth of involved subjects here make for an intimidating undertaking. But writer/director Tcheng proves early on that he is the right man for the job to steer “Halston” away from a standard-issue snooze. With other fashion-focused documentaries already under his belt—he co-edited Matt Tyrnauer’s “Valentino: The Last Emperor” in 2008, co-directed “Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel” in 2011 and most notably, made a solo debut with the terrific “Dior and I” in 2014— Tcheng knows how to excavate the exhilarating aura of this alluring yet superficial world with all its massive egos, fake accents and era-defining gambles. To plunge the audience into the suspense straightaway, he accessorizes Halston’s story with a compelling framing device, inventing a fictional archivist (played by Tavi Gevinson) going through company records. This approach could have easily become a superfluous gimmick—and perhaps it is, as Halston’s story is rich enough even without these outside embellishments—but Tcheng commands it skillfully, weaving the archivist’s scenes into his film in a seamless fashion.

                            Tcheng indulges in the brand’s and its creator’s prosperous good times for nearly half of the movie, before a number of poor business decisions (derived from an insatiable appetite of control) paved the way for their unfortunate fall from grace. In these earlier segments, “Halston” luxuriates in the refinement and nostalgia of attractive runways and exclusive parties of the sexually liberated '60s and '70s, with a dizzying wealth of sensational archival footage that spans glamorous nights at Studio 54 and Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball. Dressed exclusively in the designer’s creations for a time (including when she accepted her Oscar for “Cabaret” in 1973), Minnelli is among the most legendary talking-head interviewees of Tcheng’s film. Others include The Halstonettes: an array of famed models in Halston’s inner, trustworthy circle (with the likes of Marisa Berenson, Pat Cleveland and Karen Bjornson), filmmaker/friend Joel Schumacher, designer Elsa Peretti, fashion historians as well as numerous past assistants to the designer.

                            As Halston’s success leads the way to uncontrolled expansion, “Halston” gradually rips its way into an examination and critique of capitalism with the right amount of shock and intrigue. From that regard, Tcheng almost accidentally hits upon a steady and all-too-sensitive contemporary nerve, by unearthing subtle connections between yesteryear’s corporate greed that gobbled up niche outliers without regard for their legacies and its present-day iterations that plague today’s increasingly monopolized cultural and media landscape. The most disastrous turn for the label, as Tcheng outlines, happens when Halston—now increasingly difficult and bullying, according to his interviewed colleagues—decided to partner with JC Penney in 1982, going from “class to mass.” A marketing decision clearly ahead of its time—today, Target and H&M frequently collaborate with the likes of Marni, Balmain, Proenza Schouler and such—the mass-market cross-over didn’t bode well with the luxury industry back then.

                            Assuming a more somber and respectful tone from this point on (especially after Halston’s battle with and eventual death from AIDS gets braided into the story), “Halston” slowly morphs into a tragedy, eulogizing not only a fashion genius who transformed the look of glamour, but also an inimitable, self-made gay talent who faded away before his time, along with countless others of his generation. Compared to the inherent compactness of “Dior and I” that crystallizes Dior’s collective craft and process under its new creative director Raf Simons, “Halston” is vast, and therefore, less of a thrill to watch than the real-life “Project Runway” challenge thrown at Simons. But it will be no less breathtaking for fashion enthusiasts, and anyone dwelling in the tricky intersection of art, history and commerce. 

                            By: Tomris Laffly
                            Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:27 pm

                            • Entertainer
                              Entertainer published a blog post The Perfection

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                              At first, "The Perfection" seems like is going to be an "All About Eve"-type story, with the sexual complications of "Black Swan," and the pressures of "Whiplash," until it careens into David Cronenberg body-horror, obliterating any expectation that you know where things are headed. Not knowing where anything is going is the primary fun of "The Perfection" (and it is fun). With a script by Eric C. Charmelo, Nicole Snyder and Shepard, "The Perfection" has a gory grindhouse sleaze overlaid with the tony gleam of the upper-crust, a very sick combo. 

                              Charlotte (Williams) was a onetime star pupil in the Bachoff Academy of Music, an elite music school outside of Boston, until she had to drop out to care for her dying mother. In the opening sequences of "The Perfection" Charlotte flies to Shanghai to reunite with her former mentor, Anton (Steven Weber) Bachoff and his glamorous wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman, mostly known for her stint on "Supernatural"). Anton and Paloma run the school Charlotte attended, a kind of Hogwarts for kid cellists, and are in China holding a competition for new pupils. Charlotte was once one of those hopeful child stars, and now all she has to show for it are long scars on her wrist from a failed suicide attempt. In China, she meets another one of Anton's protégés, Lizzie (Browning), who came into the Academy just as Charlotte left. Lizzie has had the life Charlotte wanted: fame, wealth, a solo career. At first, their conversation is stilted, weighty with suppressed intensity. All this dissolves when they go out dancing later. They get drunk, have a great time, fall into bed together. The next morning, Lizzie invites Charlotte to come with her on a roughing-it trip she's planned through western China. Charlotte, who has nowhere else to go, is thrilled to tag along.

                              As the rickety bus careens through a wild landscape, Lizzie starts to deteriorate. Maybe she has a stomach bug. Maybe she's just hung over. But she's clearly very sick. Panic ratchets up in Charlotte as she tries to help her friend. Nobody on the bus speaks English. The driver won't pull over. They are miles away from civilization. Both actresses dig into their characters' escalating terror, so much so that the film starts to feel like a claustrophobic bell jar, so stifling you'd do anything to escape. Browning, in particular, plays the illness exploding through her body with such palpable gusto you may start to feel sick yourself. And then ... things get weird. And then ... Shepard "rewinds" the film (literally running the story back in reverse), showing the exact same events leading up to the bus ride, only with some of the blanks filled in, with information and context added. 

                              It's not the last time the film "rewinds" itself but it is the most effective. The truth unfolds in hallucinatory sometimes grotesque fashion, the film looping backwards, then forward, and then back again. The pedestrian "rewind" gimmick outstays its welcome, but there's enough B-movie madness—gore and screams and violence and sex—to make up for it. There are times when Williams and Browning literally seethe with rage. Not surprisingly, these are the moments when "The Perfection" is most alive.

                              In the past couple of weeks, everyone's been talking about movie "spoilers" (to spoil or not to spoil?), and by "talking" I mean "Twitter." The debate continues as we speak. I'm not particularly interested in the spoiler conversation, but I did think of it after seeing "The Perfection." It's impossible to discuss the film without giving away its secrets, and the secrets—the tiers of reveals—are the whole shebang, really. I managed to go into it cold, despite the reviews from the film's debut at Fantastic Fest last fall. Consider the following a spoiler as well as a trigger warning, because I could have used one: Child sexual abuse and the threat of rape are plot points, which may seem like it wouldn't be a big deal in a horror movie. But using rape—particularly the rape of children—as shorthand is lazy, and handled in such a way here that I recoiled from it, and from the film itself. Your tolerance for this sort of thing may vary, but I figured a warning for this is in order. 

                              By: Sheila O'Malley
                              Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:27 pm

                              • Entertainer
                                Entertainer published a blog post Running with Beto

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                                “Running With Beto” is a fly-on-the-wall documentary following Beto O’Rourke’s highly publicized, richly funded effort last year to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz from the Republican stronghold of Texas. He didn’t win, but he came awfully close, and he shook up the complacent notion that Texas is inevitably a red state.

                                The former El Paso mayor and congressman runs from county to county across the massive state, famously hitting all 254 of them, and he runs on coffee and the occasional donut crammed into his mouth while driving between campaign stops. Sometimes we are literally running with Beto, too, joining him as he steps out the front door of his Washington D.C. townhouse and goes for a morning jog toward the Washington Monument. He’s young, long and lanky at 6-feet-4, and his boyish exuberance is a major facet of his appeal.

                                “Running With Beto” essentially does in feature-film form what O’Rourke himself did in his embrace of social media throughout the campaign, when he would live stream the seemingly mundane events of his daily life. The first images we see are of him piling into the SUV with his wife, Amy, and their three kids, adjusting the smartphone on his dashboard to make sure he’s getting the shot right. Here he is putting gas in his car. There he is getting a haircut. His authenticity is also a huge part of his appeal—along with the fact that he freely drops F-bombs in conversation and says things like: “Cool, it’s gonna be fun.” He is one of us—or at least, he’s what we aspire to be and be near, with his boundless enthusiasm and a brand of hope reminiscent of Obama and JFK.

                                But there’s an inescapable undercurrent to director David Modigliani’s film. It’s not the fact that O’Rourke lost in 2018, which we know at the outset. It’s that it’s impossible to watch it without viewing it through the prism of current presidential politics, where O’Rourke is among about two-dozen Democrats vying to run against President Donald Trump in 2020. He entered the field with a big splash and great expectations, but has faltered somewhat as more probable contenders have joined the race. Of course, we’re a long ways away and a lot can change between now and Election Night, but you still get the feeling that “Running With Beto” functions somewhat as a time capsule at a time when political fortunes can change at the speed of light.

                                Still, Modigliani effectively conveys what it is about O’Rourke that made him so exciting in the first place, especially through the eyes of the handful of volunteers and activists whose efforts he also follows. They include a lesbian Latina who engages in polite but firm debate with her conservative stepfather and a group of teenagers from Santa Fe, Texas, whose high school was the site of a massive, deadly shooting in May 2018. We see the candidate listening intensely to their concerns about gun control and taking notes, and his sincerity and empathy are palpable.

                                Over the course of a year, Modigliani reveals how O’Rourke went from chatting with a few skeptical folks at small-town restaurants to filling stadiums full of the faithful. From Dallas to McAllen and everywhere in between, he knocks on doors and refuses to take PAC money, and increasingly the number of people interested in hearing and helping him becomes legion. Tweets of support from the likes of LeBron James and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and appearances on Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Colbert’s talk shows further cement his rock star image—never mind the fact that he actually played in a punk band in his youth, which he argues quite convincingly is part of what qualifies him for the U.S. Senate. And while he’s more about personality than policy at this stage, his criticism of the Trump administration’s child separations at the border and his answer to a question about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem earn him even more attention, both positive and negative.

                                “Running With Beto” is an intimate, thorough look at a candidate on the rise and on the go. He seems to have unflagging energy: smiling, hugging, shaking hands. It’s easy to see the allure of him. To Modigliani’s credit, though, it isn’t entirely a hagiography. The film shows O’Rourke complaining to his advisers that they’re not keeping him sufficiently apprised about what to expect at each campaign event. It shows a couple of his top aides speaking with surprising candor about O’Rourke’s propensity for finding the smallest fault. And as he’s about to give his concession speech—which he delivers with grace, gratitude and a trademark touch of profanity—he acknowledges to the longtime advisers surrounding him that he hasn’t always been the most pleasant guy to deal with. Only he phrases that with an apt curse word, too.

                                Then he goes home, after a long campaign and a long night, and makes quesadillas for his kids. Maybe he really is just like us after all.

                                By: Christy Lemire
                                Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:27 pm

                                • Entertainer
                                  Entertainer published a blog post Brightburn

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                                  "Brightburn" is a body-count-style horror movie, only featuring a killer Superma—I mean young Clark Ke—I mean pre-teen alien who closely resembles a certain super-duper-hero who can't seem to catch a break in recent films. A machine to deliver gore and violence, "Brightburn" also features some of the most improbably and even hatefully dumb salt-of-the-Earth type characters in a recent American horror movie. But even if you watch "Brightburn" knowing that it doesn't have much going for it beyond a few disturbing kill scenes, you will still be disappointed. 

                                  It takes three deaths and one horrible maiming for anybody to call 911 about Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn), a gawky 12-year-old with super-powers and a temper. Granted, a local sheriff (Gregory Alan Williams) does show up right after Brandon's first (very public) act of violence. But generally speaking, Williams' laughably useless Sheriff Deever takes his sweet time while investigating Brandon. Merilee (Meredith Hagner), Brandon's aunt and school guidance counselor, isn't much more helpful: she texts her husband to say "Good night" seconds after her motion-detecting security alarm repeatedly goes off and Brandon shows up at her front door in the middle of the night, just to say that it wouldn't be a good idea if Merilee said anything bad about him to Sheriff Deever. 

                                  No, something's wrong with the people of Brightburn, though it's never really clear what. Brandon's parents, Kyle and Tori (David Denman and Elizabeth Banks), are especially unsure about what might be happening to their kid, even though they know that he's an alien—who, like Superman, mysteriously crash-landed when he was just a baby—and is therefore not completely familiar. 

                                  But for some reason, it takes a little while before Kyle and Tori notice Brandon's erratic behavior. That's the biggest idea in "Brightburn," I guess: Heartland Americans want to believe in innocence, goodness, and relatability so much that they presumably wouldn't notice an Evil Killer until it's too late, especially if Evil looks like a white male pre-teen. That's a great theme, but: Brandon's parents and neighbors are so trusting and loving that they're barely human at all. Maybe life is different in Brightburn, but it's hard to know how, given that so much of his story follows him, an obviously disturbed child, as he systematically murders everybody around him. What do we even know about the Brightburnians, other than they go hunting, they drink, they paint, and, in the case of Kyle and Tori, they have an adopted alien child? Apparently, Tori wanted to have a kid a lot more than Kyle did, but that's not apparent until the movie's almost over. That delayed response is not a trenchant insight about a certain type of person: it's just a patience-testing, but necessary plot contrivance.

                                  These characters don't just make bad decisions because they're in denial: their constant failure to act like sympathetic, recognizably human characters is the only consistent thing about the people of Brightburn. I don't really know why, except that this movie was obviously made by horror fans who are trying to outdo/pay homage to their favorite splatter flicks. Beyond that: Brian and Mark Gunn's screenplay (produced by brother James) is a toothless, vague indictment of its ideal audience: hormonal fanboys who are just as likely to torrent a superhero bonanza, like the James-Gunn-helmed "Guardians of the Galaxy" as they would a gore-fest, like the James-Gunn-scripted "The Belko Experiment." 

                                  The Gunns' contempt for their characters is apparent throughout, but especially whenever Brandon stalks his victims. These scenes are formulaic, though they're at least well-paced and blocked. Still: how many times do you want to watch various Brightburn residents try to flee (always alone and without anybody else's help) and then get slaughtered by Brandon? We all know this kid is evil—because horror movies and true-crime podcasts exist in our timeline—but these flannel-and-jeans blue-collar types are too dumb to see Brandon for who he really is? 

                                  Knowing that you can only get off on the violence in "Brightburn" by adopting a smugger-than-them attitude casts an unflattering light on the film's end-credits stinger: a conspiracy-theory-touting pundit (played by a character actor who frequently pops up in Gunn's films) warns viewers about the dangers of superheroes on his InfoWars-style talk show. This isn't just a throwaway gag, it's a snotty, nihilistic joke at the expense of anybody who buys the sort of tin-foil-hat-style paranoia and cynicism that both Alex Jones and apparently the Gunn brothers employ for cheap laughs and personal gain. But if you're going to try to provoke viewers by turning Superman—a famously cheery and un-cynical character—into a symbol of modern-day depravity: you have to at least make me care about the people he's slaughtering in creative ways. Otherwise, I'm stuck with a few appreciably icky moments and a lot of dead air.

                                  By: Simon Abrams
                                  Posted: May 24, 2019, 1:27 pm


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