Jessica Szohr picture image

Jessica Szohr

 

This suggestion came off a  ideas wiki list but that list has since changed but we’re still going to go through them. Jessica Szhor is one of those actresses whom I have heard of but I have never actually seen in anything. She is most known for playing Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl and  playing Nessa on Shameless. Otherwise she has not been  in that much of note unless you like Piranha 3D, maybe it’s amazing but somehow I  very much doubt it. 

 

Jessica Szohr picture image

Jessica Szohr

As the link is for a Disney remark, Szhor is being suggested as a Disney Esmeralda and I can see why. For starters her overall look is great for Esmeralda. She part Hungarian and African-American. Her eyes are also blue. All around she looks the part. 

 

Jessica Szohr as Nessa from Shameless picture image

Jessica Szohr as Nessa from Shameless

Given the actors who appeared on the suggestion list, it seemed the idea was to go for a more comedic tone rather than a dramatic one, in this capacity Szhor could work in the role. She doesn’t seem like a dramatically driven actress. Given the right direction she could play the role effectively. 

 

Jessica Szohr picture image

Jessica Szohr

Jessica Szhor would not be my top choice to play Esmeralda but it’s understandable why someone would want her to play her in a Disney remake.

The final random pick is To and From New York. Its runtime of 80 minutes gives me pause but it’s at least short.

 

To and From New York picture image

To and From New York

 

Of all the movies I could have randomly gotten, I got this, a low budget independent  movie that is not as bad as The Room but not as enjoyable either.

The plot is an engaged woman named Lydia, goes to New York City for an article. One  night she goes with a college friend to speed dating. She meets a guy who works in a museum and through some series of events she become friends with him. However the plot is she finds a lead between two missing woman and using her new artist friend and another  friend who is a matchmarker/ hosted the speed date, she finds out what happen to these two women and it’s really anticlimactic.   But the good news is that Lydia breaks up with her fiancee and moves to New York. Though we never meet her fiancee or see the break-up.

That is pretty much the movie.

To and From New York is not good by any means. In an objective grading score it would get no high marks. The  most you can say is that at least the person who wrote, directed and produced  the movie, tried to bring his dream to life and that is worth something. Though it was misguided with too many weird chocker shots and odd edits.

It’s just better to go after a soulless studio cash grabs than a low budget independent movie where art and dating try and save the day in the end. It’s the difference between going after an establish author versus someone who self-publishes on kindle or a fanfic writer. Some people are just better but you can’t be too harsh on the work for being amateurish and unpolished.

If you truly have nothing better to do with your 80 minutes sure you could watch it but there is no reason to seek this movie out unless you want to watch every movie that The Cures’ music has been in because this movie has a The Cure song.

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys’s most interesting function in Hunchback is to act of Esmeralda’s foil. If Esmeralda is dreamy and romantic towards Phoebus then Fleur de Lys  has knowledge of his tendencies for wantonness.

 

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys & Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys & Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers

In this version’s case the Esmeralda is earthy yet childish. Many people call her “girl” and Phoebus calls her “child.”  So this Fleur de Lys is prim and for lack of a better word, an unfeeling bitch.  She also seems very sexually overt, like she always ready for Phoebus.  It just makes her more interesting than a straight depiction of the character.

 

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys

I want to mention really quickly that the juxtaposition between Fleur de Lys and Esmeralda leads to a really great edit, and this many be the only time I mention the editing in this version because there is not much to discuss.

As Esmeralda torture is going on the movie cuts to Fleur de Lys and Phoebus. Phoebus is feeding her grapes. This is symbolic of pleasure.  Fleur de Lys’ mother enters the scene and tells Phoebus his name has been brought up in a witchcraft case. Fleur de Lys questions how can that be and  he makes an excuse saying it was nothing. He then rests his hands near Fleur de Lys’ mouth and she bites his fingers. It then cuts to Esmeralda screaming as she being torture. Esmeralda’s  scream starts over the Fleur de Lys’ scene before it cuts away, or a sound bridge.

 

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Hetty Baynes as Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys is one of the few highlights of this version. Her bitchiness is just so refreshing in an otherwise soulless adaptation.   

The third random pick is Tamanchey. I have many bad feelings about this one.

 

Tamanchey picture image

Tamanchey

Tamanchey means a pistol, often one built locally with not so high quality materials, so it’s the perfect metaphor for this movie’s execution. This movie is a load of hot rotten garbage from start to finish. It just took my low expectations and really ran with them.    

Nikhil Dwivedi as Munna & Richa Chadda as Babu Tamanchey picture image

Nikhil Dwivedi as Munna & Richa Chadda as Babu

The plot is  two criminals, a gal and a dude are both captured and both of their police vehicle go off a cliff and somehow only them and one cob survive, this leads to nothing. The lady is named Babu and she is a drug ring and seems to really like her work and the guy, Munna, does something with threats. Anyway they fall in love sort of. Munna is into the crass Babu despite saying he likes the demure type.  They have train sex which is on a bed of tomatoes so I guess it’s love on his end. The next day Babu peaces out and returns to her gang and lover/boss. Munna follows and they have an affair. Violence ensues and in the end they both die even though they were turning themselves  in for their crimes.

One of the biggest issues with this movie is the characters, they are vastly unlikable. Munna is a blithering idiot even though it’s reveled at the end that he was some kind of mastermind to keep the boss in the cuckold position. Though in all likelihood the movie was trying to make him naive in matters of love. Babu on the other-hand is crass, overtly sexual and seems to enjoy her life of drug selling and somehow she is boring, not sure how the movie pulled that off but they did.

With the character being unlikable and just not caring it took scenes that are being played as tense into a farcical direction. Though to be fair during a bank robbery the two leads are grinding on each other while they steal from safety despot boxes so maybe it is all a farce. Another indicator that this movie could be a farce is it take the two leads a long time to get the idea to kill the boss so they can be together, two criminals with no real moral compass take over an hour to come to the easiest conclusion.      

Nikhil Dwivedi as Munna & Richa Chadda as Babu Tamanchey picture image

Nikhil Dwivedi as Munna & Richa Chadda as Babu

Typically there is usually something that distracts from the terrible character and lack of story like costumes, or scene framing, or the lightning or music score or with Bollywood the music numbers however this movie has nothing. It goes the extra mile in mediocrity. There is one thing that was distracting though, the sound mixing and by distracting I mean it was bad. I recall from a commentary from a better Bollywood movie that Bollywood are dub over with ADR and with this movie you can REALLY tell, it was that bad.  None of the lines sounded naturally recorded from the actors.       

There is nothing good to say about Tamanchey it was a boring movie with terrible characters and sloppy execution.    

The second random selection is…

A Cinderella Story; Once Upon a Song. Help me.

A Cinderella Story Once Upon a Song picture image

A Cinderella Story Once Upon a Song

Good news is this movie is mercifully short however I didn’t hate it. Granted I set the bar really low at the onset but it’s really just a dumb and silly movie with a Cinderella plot thrown in and  set in  a music school.

 

Megan Park as Lucy Hale as Katie and Matthew Lintz as Victor A Cinderella Story Once Upon a Song picture image

Megan Park as Lucy Hale as Katie and Matthew Lintz as Victor

The plot is Katie, our cinderella character, is the step-daughter of this shallow bitch name Gail who is the dean of a music school because she couldn’t hack it as a country singer. Gail has a daughter Bev, who can’t sing and a hellion genius of a son Victor. She also has a spiritual guru named Ravi who isn’t what he appears to be.

The Prince is this British guy named Luke. Luke’s father is a big shot music producer who loves money, because of course he does. Luke however just wants to sing and write music. Katie and Luke bond a little and when Katie turns up at a Bollywood themed dance to sing for Luke because she like-like him he falls for her. However he thinks it’s really Bev because of this  whole plot surrounding Katie singing vocals for Bev in a student showcase or Gail is going to take all Katie’s money her father left her.  Also Katie acts as the Cyrano de Bergerac to Bev’s Christian to woo Luke.

 

Lucy Hale as Katie and Freddie Stroma as Luke A Cinderella Story Once Upon a Song picture image

Lucy Hale as Katie and Freddie Stroma as Luke

Honestly this whole plot could have been avoided if Luke had just remember the color of Katie’s eyes. What is with Prince’s in Cinderella movies not recalling even one aspect of her appearance? It makes it worst since Katie’s eyes were the only thing Luke mentions about her other than her singing and he had meet two times prior to the dance.    

One good aspect was the movie did showcase the friendships between Katie and her best friend Angie and Luke and Mike. It’s just nice to see good representations of friendships with little or no drama.

Once big issue with the movie is that romance was lacking. Katie and Luke do bond over music, singing and guitars brands and there is a mutual attraction but it all feels very much like an after-thought to the larger lip-syncing plot-line. It wouldn’t be a big deal if wasn’t for the Cinderella aspect of the plot.   

The treatment of Bev was also problematic. It would have been one thing if the movie didn’t go out of its way to give her a moment of depth and vulnerability before it ends with her being throughly embarrassed on stage. It was off-putting.

 

Missi Pyle as Gail, Manu Narayan as Ravi and Matthew Lintz as Victor A Cinderella Story Once Upon a Song picture image

Missi Pyle as Gail, Manu Narayan as Ravi and Matthew Lintz as Victor

Since this movie is a musical I mention the songs. They are ok for the most part. They are by no means amazing but they suit the tone and style of the movie, bland and unassuming. The ONLY memorable part with regards to the music is the chainsaw. One of the random bands uses a chainsaw in their music and yes, it’s great. Also to the movie’s credit they did have a original Bollywood-like song made for the movie and not just a sample.    

Oddly I had a feeling I would get a Bollywood movie, like I was listening to Bollywood music right before this was randomly picked and in way perverse way I got one.

I wish this movie had a bigger budget because they had a chance for an awesome joke. At the end of the movie Gail says that she will have her ‘Nirvana moment’ and then it cuts for her singing a country version of one of the movie’s songs. It would have been much funnier  if she was singing a bad country-cover of a Nirvana song.

   

Lucy Hale as Katie and Freddie Stroma as Luke A Cinderella Story Once Upon a Song picture image

Lucy Hale as Katie and Freddie Stroma as Luke

A Cinderella Story; Once Upon a Song is a silly inoffensive movie. It’s not amazing but it’s not a total a waste of time. I would say watch it once and get a minor chuckle.

Last February I looked at four romantic period movies, this year I thought I would try something I have been watching to try for a while. I’m going to randomly pick a “romance” movie or TV show  and review it. I’m going to this four time so one post a week.  The selection is through https://reelgood.com/roulette/netflix with only the genre romance picked.  There will be no re-rolls, you have my word.

A few guidelines;

  • If I get a show I will only watch/review the first episode.
  • I reserve the right to stop watching the movie/show at least the 30 minute mark. It does take me a lot to quit a movie but I don’t want to waste my worthless time either.
  • If I have seen the movie before I will still review it but in the event that I get a movie I have already reviewed before I reserve the right to re-roll but I shall make a note in the post of that event.  The odds of very low of though so I don’t imagine that will happen.

So guide me oh Netflix gods… What is your first pick?!

The First pick is Red Carpet. Could have guessed that from the subject line though.

Red Carpet 2014 Korean Movie picture image

Red Carpet 2014

Red Carpet is a 2014 Korean Rom-com drama about a porn director, Jung-Woo who dreams of being actual film director. He also falls in love with a former child actress and encourages her to go on a audition and she makes it big as an actress and she encourages him to make his movies. Oddly I figured was going to get something from Korea but I figured it would be a K-drama, which I have seen a few, not many but a handful. I just didn’t think it would be the first one but here we are. Wonder if I will get another before the month is done?

 

Jun-hee Ko as Eun-Su and Dal-hwan Jo as Jung-Soo Red Carpet 2014 Korean Movie picture image

Jun-hee Ko as Eun-Su and Dal-hwan Jo as Jung-Soo Red Carpet 2014

I wouldn’t say this was a bad movie but it had many issues. The biggest one was just how contrived it was. The two leads meet because the some apartment mix-up where Eun-Su  moves into Jung-Woo’s apartment. Not sure how that housing thing makes any sense other than a plot device. Then they encourage each other and fall in love and hook up then the plot misunderstand occurs. You see Eun-Su doesn’t know Jung-Woo works in pornography so she think he hooking-up with someone else and thus they part ways. He tries to make up with her and eventually he does. They film his legit movie but then scandal because he was  porn director and she is a top actress but it all works out in the end. It’s just all very contrived.

Then there is the humor. I didn’t get it. It might be that I either don’t resonate with Korean humor or I just didn’t work for me. It was all very awkward. Like sure the horse in heat on the highway part was funny but it’s require so many mental loops to get there. Like the horse was used in a film production, so how does the production even allow for the horse to get off the set and on the highway and the horse was in heat. Do productions even cast horses in heat?   Is that a question I have to ask?

 

 Red Carpet 2014 Korean Movie picture image

Red Carpet, 2014

Also the passing was an issue. Most of the movie seemed like porn based comedic vignette than plot than more comedy till like the end. It made the movie  hard to get into and pay attention to and it wasn’t long movie, just two hours.    

It wasn’t a wholly bad movie, it had it’s moments but it’s very,contrived and not all the comedy lands. Plus as a movie about Pornography, it’s very tame and naive.    

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame reference in Red Carpet 2014 Korean Movie picture image

The Hunchback of Notre Dame reference in Red Carpet

This movie oddly has a Hunchback of Notre Dame reference in it, what are the odds? One of their porno scripts or movies is called, according to the subtitles “The Hunchback of Notre Dick.”  What luck finding a Hunchback reference in a random Korean movie.

Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers 1977 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Richard Morant as Phoebus de Chateaupers

Ultimately, there is not that much to say about this version’s treatment of Phoebus. He is book-accurate. He’s a soldier and a slut, that’s it for his characterization. He makes it clear he’s only marrying Fleur de Lys for her money though they are well suited for each our but that could just be the actor’s chemistry.  

That’s really all there is to say on this version of Phoebus.

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

Jehan is this version gets a lot of screen time because he actually has a functional role within the narrative. He is a plot exposition machine, if something is in need of explanation he is there to explain it to the viewer. Like how The Pope of Fools is crowned and Quasimodo’s deaf judge as well the implication what that means to the Parisian justice system which he doesn’t think highly of.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

Jehan also in his capacity for explaining is a bit of philosopher in this version, more so than Gringoire. He has this whole speech on storming Notre Dame for the “People” as it just as excuse for people to horrible things in the pursuit of wealth.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

He also doesn’t join the Court of Miracles,  he just joins in impulsive as they are in the act because it looks like fun and the promise of treasure before he unceremonious stab by a soldier.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

All in all Jehan is in keeping with his book counterpart as he is Frollo’s leech of a younger brother. He does has more of a role in this versions but he also means less to Frollo in terms of affection. Frollo just seem annoyed by his brother all the time and Jehan even mention that Quasimodo was a somewhat replacement brother. So Jehan has jealousy for Quasimodo for his brother’s affection.

 

David Rintoul as Jehan The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1977 picture image

David Rintoul as Jehan

Jehan’s character is never at the forefront of these adaptations so there is less expectation  of the character, he’s not important and quite unlikable so while in this version he is in keeping with book he at least entertaining in this version.    

I found two gowns wore at the 2018 Grammy Awards that I would consider to be Esmeralda-ish in style.

 

Camila Cabello in Vivienne Westwood Couture with a Judith Leiber Couture bag at the 2018 Grammy Awards picture image

Camila Cabello in Vivienne Westwood Couture with a Judith Leiber Couture bag at the 2018 Grammy Awards

 

This Vivienne Westwood gown wore by Camila Cabello is more in keeping with the red costume from the 1956 version. Of course the color but the lines on the gown and deep neckline harken back to Gina Lollobrigida iconic costume.

 

Kimberly Schlapman in Raisa & Vanessa at the 2018 Grammy Awards picture image

Kimberly Schlapman in Raisa & Vanessa at the 2018 Grammy Awards

 

This gown but Raisa & Vanessa wore by Kimberly Schlapman as very similar elements to Disney’s Esmeralda costume. First off the color, while lighter does hint to Esmeralda. The other elements are the vertical seam details on the bodice and the tiers of the skirt.

 

Beauty and the Beast music video with Ariana Grande & John Legend picture image

Beauty and the Beast music video with Ariana Grande & John Legend

Given that the 2017 Live Action Disney Remake was just nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costumes, I thought it would be a good time to discuss at least the Belle’s iconic yellow ball gown.

Emma Watson as Belle 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Emma Watson as Belle

Coming off Cinderella’s ball gown from the 2015 Cinderella designed by Sandy Powell, my first impression of Jacqueline Durran’s take on Belle’s gown was lackluster. Personally I find Durran’s work to be hit or miss, she did costumes for that Anna Karenina movie with Keira Knightley but that green gown from Atonement was amazing. She is a very capable costume designer who does deserves her accolades but this yellow gown miss the mark in a few fronts.

Emma Watson as Belle 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Emma Watson as Belle

Let’s get some positives out of the way since there are a few. After reading a few interviews with Durran, I can say that the color of the gown was well thought out. Yellow is a very tricky color for people to pull off, it can also look terrible on film and can  very easily look cheap. The color did work well with Emma Watson and looked nice on film. Personally I just wish it has some other level of contrast to make it look less sweet and a little more grown up but that is a personal nitpick.

Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as The Beast 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as The Beast

Another positive is the movement of the fabric. The gown just moves so well in the scene. I read somewhere that the gown was made from sustainable fabrics which is great on its own but the movement of the gown is stunning and it my favorite part.

Audra McDonald as Madam de Garderobe 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Audra McDonald as Madam de Garderobe

And now the some negatives.  One BIG issue is that while this is a magical gown in that within the narrative it was created with magic it’s still rooted in the movie’s setting and own sense of style. Durran did mention that while the gown was created for Watson’s modern Belle, she still kept into within the French 18th century style. The problem is that in that first scene everyone is in costume that look like French Rocco style. The wardrobe herself knows this style and then operation against it for Belle’s gown. I suppose the trouble is the merging of the 1991 iconic design with the semi-real style that the 2017 movie was trying to achive.

Lily James as Ella Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella

In the 2015 Cinderella, it didn’t operation in real world setting, it had a pseudo 1950’s design  to the costume so everything looked integrated into a cohesive look. Belle’s ball gown is not integrated into movie’s larger style as it’s only looked to have a modern sensibility.   

Emma Watson as Belle 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Emma Watson as Belle

However you know what COULD have pulled the modernity and the Rocco style together? Belle’s jewelry. Durran had freehand to whatever since Belle only has basic stud earrings and a hair piece in the 1991 version.  The jewelry that Belle wears is way too modern. The hair piece was fine with it’s feather motif but the other elements while lovely on their own did not work in the film. She has ear cuffs and this organic branch-like shape pendent necklace. When I first saw the jewelry in the film it took me out of the movie.  According to interviews the thought behind the ear- cuff and the necklace was keep it organic. The cuff was like a plant that was still growing and the necklace was a “tree of life that is still in motion” * It was all meant to echo the design of magical castle.

Emma Watson as Belle 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Emma Watson as Belle

I’m not without knowledge of the creative process, most of the time you get into head space with an idea or concept and you just run with it. In this case it sounds like they had their idea to base the jewelry on the castle and didn’t relate the design back to the rococo setting even though the castle has that aesthetic. Typically Rococo is very organic  and botany was a favorite source of inspiration during this period. The point is the jewelry didn’t have to look so late 2000s in design and execution, they could have looked to period the film was set in into giving the costume more 18th century influence while still giving it a sense of otherworldly magical modernity.   

Emma Watson as Belle 2017 Beauty and the Beast picture image

Emma Watson as Belle

Unfortunately Belle’s yellow gown missed the mark for the style of the movie and the impact it made on screen. It’s just one of the many misses that this movie had in totality.

*Hollywoodreporter.com/news/beauty-beast-costume-designer

For more of Jewelry Art History;
A History of Jewellery 1100-1870

Jewelry: From Antiquity to the Present (World of Art)