best style inspiration of tv and film 2019

My style inspiration this year comes from the sleek, the coiffured, the dapper, the delightful, the magnetic, the regal, and the tailored.

Fleabag – Fleabag Season 2

Fleabag’s killer jumpsuit in the season 2 premiere is just the beginning of her awe-inspiring looks. fleabag’s quintessentially sleek style is unique and fun. her overalls are a renewed fashion trend, while her collars are classical, and her stripes are defining. that jumpsuit, though! the cleavage is to die for.

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Shiv – Succession Season 2

Shiv means business, and it shows in season 2. she is an alpha-female who charges straight forward to get what she wants. her monochromatic turtlenecks and fitted pants are exquisite. her belted waistlines perfectly cinches her look together. her neutral tones complement her overall look, and when she wears patterns, she stands out. Her haircut is sharp and carefully smoothly styled, giving her an air of sophistication.

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Midge – The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 2

Midge always accessorizes her hair! her hats and headbands are so playful and darling. you can tell she lives to make a splash. she shines in neutral tones for the stage, matching sets for her ladylike look, and bright colors for “summering.” she flutters around and it shows in her delicate coats and swishy skirts.

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Celeste – Big Little Lies Season 2

Celeste really transforms when she is forced to fight for her children. She suits up in refined, polished clothing to show that she is going all in. her presentation is professional and immaculate. suiting her watery features, she dresses in light colors, particular pinks and whites and blues. her collars are exquisitely silky.

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Bonnie – Big Little Lies Season 2

Oh, Bonnie. Her look in season 2 perfectly encapsulates her vulnerable state. The way she wraps herself up in snug sweaters that she pulls around her to cocoon herself in softness, makes me just want to reach out and hold her gently. She looks raw and worn, making her look even more doelike in the oversized clothing that swaddles her.

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Sansa – Game of Thrones Season 8

Sansa stepped up this season to show that she is the one in control of the North! She got to wear leather armory to stand toe-to-toe with her adversaries. The debut of her leather vest was a phenomenal event. She looked so dignified and intimidating at the same time. and then, her coronation dress, with the symbolic designs, really took the cake.

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Hae-mi – Burning

Nothing but respect for MY manic pixie dream girl! Hae-mi flits about as a fluttery presence, like a hummingbird. She is minxy and dainty and irrepressibly cute. It shows in her style, which includes the buoyant haircut that perfectly frames her delicate features and baby-pouty lips, and her bright clothes that match her effusive personality.

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Emile – Synonymes

King of turtlenecks! Emile is a classical creature: he represents the genteel Parisien look. Coming from a bourgeois family, he maintains a smooth and refined demeanor. This comes across perfectly clear in his choice of clothing. Everything is nipped and tucked and well-tailored. His perfectly-coiffeured curls finish up his look.



Nicole – Marriage Story

Nicole! She is exuberance personified. At her best, she is a bright light, a soaring ray of sunshine. She draws people without even trying. However, when she feels run down, she becomes doleful, raw, sunken-in. Her outfits show both sides of her. During trying times with the husband she is in the midst of getting a divorce from, Charlie, she is dressed in austere clothing, somber and mournful. When she is surrounded by the love she needs with her family in Los Angeles, she is all dressed up in lovely florals, flowy outfits, and bright colors.  The contrast is stunning.

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Annie – Maniac

Annie in Maniac just perfectly represents an idgaf attitude.

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Azumi – Maniac

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Jackie – Jackie

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Sam – Dear White People 2

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Alex – Star

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Simone – Star

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Rose – Mrs Maisel

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Tish – Beale Street

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Emma – Vida

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Lyn – Vida

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Diana – The Boy Downstairs

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Leila – The Bisexual

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Sadie – The Bisexual

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– The Bisexual

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These are characters I have fallen in love with in different ways, that have their own distinct personalities that they carry with them no matter what they wear.

“Drive” Review: Stylistic Work of Art


Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Release Date: September 16th, 2011

Watched: November 25th, 2019

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks

Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel

Drive (2011)


Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Though he projects an icy exterior, lately he’s been warming up to a pretty neighbor named Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). When Irene’s husband gets out of jail, he enlists Driver’s help in a million-dollar heist. The job goes horribly wrong, and Driver must risk his life to protect Irene and Benicio from the vengeful masterminds behind the robbery.

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In Drive, Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed driver who mediates between the worlds of light and darkness. In a way, he reminds me of Jesse Pinkman, especially just coming from watching El Camino last month.

What initially drew me to the film came from hovering over it on Netflix. The chosen bit that played was his monologue that ends with “I drive.” I instantaneously clicked. Something about that stoic delivery of that single line sunk its talons into me.

This film utilizes the greatest form of golden lighting I have ever seen. The way the golden light represents the halo that overcomes him in his own chosen version of purity is so thematic.

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The aesthetics are benefited by the minimalist dialogue. You don’t need verbosity that would only take away from the overall atmospheric, grungey mood. Our driver says all he really needs to say with his drawn-out looks.

This film reminds me, in a way, of Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Both are career-defining turns. Both feature high-intensity driving in the underbelly of their respective cities. Both have a great deal of psychological depth.

At times, Ryan Gosling’s driver reminded me of an avenging Angel Gabriel. There are moments where he appears in his controlled fashion to exact pure vengeance on the Darkness that pervades the film, that encroaches on the objects of purity.

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The driver character, a total enigma, presents himself from the very beginning as a man who plays by his own strict rules and moral code. When he’s on the job as a getaway driver, he remains completely focused on the task at hand–an amazing feat in a job that, by nature, is high-stakes and emotionally wrought. He can thrive amid all the tension because he completely shuts down everything except for his natural, intrinsic “drive” instinct. Like his boss, played by Bryan Cranston, says, “What this kid knows is cars.”

Contrast that with his reaction at the entry of Irene (a classically doe-eyed Carey Mulligan) into the story. With her very young son and her gentle demeanor, Irene is instantly depicted through our driver’s eyes as a Madonna-like figure. There might as well be a cloak of sanctity around them whenever he sees them. In very few words, the idea that Irene and her son are the light of the earth, and so must be protected at all costs, is established in just a few key scenes. In every scene with her child, Irene is equal parts innocent, loving, and vulnerable. Our driver and Irene develop a special rapport over his devotion to the light that appears to emanate from her. As they exchange long gazes — his stoic yet definitively softening, hers sweet like warm honey — their fate is set.

The Jacket That Made Ryan Gosling a Style Hero

Drive also reminds me of Good Time, another intense thrill-ride. Robert Pattinson in Good Time was absolutely determined to get what he wanted and save someone he cared about while trying to outrun everyone seeking to impede his quest. Likewise, in Drive, Ryan Gosling has to think quickly and be on the lookout for danger at every turn, the tension never letting up. Both are, in a way, tragic heroes that were destined to be taken down in the end.

The aesthetics in both films also really stand out. First, there is the iconic scorpion jacket Ryan Gosling sports throughout Drive, along with the cinematography capturing a dreamlike-vibe, a sort of distance from reality. Then, in Good Time, there is the experimentation with neon light in everyday places, giving them a surreal, otherworldly glow. Both films lend much of their intrigue to their pumping soundtrack.

Both Ryan Gosling and Robert Pattinson push hard the grittiness of the underworld their stories are set in, while also revealing true moments of love and care. Both of their characters are masters at thinking on their feet and sliding their way through trouble.

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On to Oscar Isaac’s performance. He does a stellar job of playing a man at the end of his rope, as Santander, the troubled husband to Irene. His eyes are so wide and expressive, his every motion raw. It’s such a direct contrast from his role in Inside Llewyn Davis that I really have to marvel at Isaac’s character work. He plays both melancholic and anxiety-inducing so well.

Drive is slick, riveting, and, overall, an impressive feat in filmmaking. Ryan Gosling is a daring mix of suave and tender. The blend of high-stakes action and artsy directing just works. The way the driver has his finger on the pulse for danger keeps us watching closely, trying to figure out what he knows and how. This kind of film cannot easily be replicated. I can’t believe it took me this long to see it. Even though this isn’t typically my type of film, the unique style has me appreciating it as more than your typical car-chase film.


Rating: 4 stars


Models that Inspire Me: Where are they Now?

Years ago, I made a post about a number of models who particularly inspired me. Today, I revisit that post and see what’s happened between then and now. You can find the original post here.


  1. Marina Nery


Management: Next Models

Agency: Bravo Models


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A Hazel-Eyed, Baby-Faced, force to be reckoned with. She is a chameleon who can fit into any image a photographer desires, as evidenced by her portfolio linked above. She is most adept at playing up her doll-like features, being playful and youthful in her photoshoots. She loves leaving her hair out wispily around her face. Soft, delicate, and refined, with a little button nose. Viewers instinctively want to hold her gently.


2. Aya Jones


Profile: Net-a-Porter


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Extremely cherubic, Aya fixes you with her eyes and doesn’t let go. She loves her hair slicked back and glistening, and prefers her face glossy and glowing. Her wide-eyed gaze is her power, and her bud-like lips add to her innocent look. She has an empress-like jawline, too. She can look both like a little fawn and like an untouchable princess in one fell swoop. A total sweetheart. Viewers fall for her the moment she gazes upward.

Just a year after my post, she was in a tragic accident that almost took her life. A year later, in 2017, she resumed modeling, more powerful than ever. Here is a Vogue article that talks about her experience.


3. Zhenya Katava


Agency: Al Models


Management: Nagorny Model Management

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Zhenya has impeccable features. Her cheekbones are sharply carved. She possesses the energy of an elegant gazelle. She presents herself like a queen, her skin so smooth, her eyes piercing. Intensely self-assured, her poise is riveting. Her eyebrows, in particular, stand out for being perfectly arched. Her svelte figure lends her added impressiveness as she looks statuesque no matter what she wears. Viewers melt at her direct gaze.

Lately, she has been doing a lot of work for H&M.

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4. Isabella Peschardt



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Looking positively feline, Isabella’s mane of hair fluffs dashingly over her rounded cheeks. She has an infectious smile. Her curls are a godsend, ringlets drooping around her face in voluminous puffs. Fresh-faced, she looks rosy and helplessly cute. Her round cheeks are so adorable that viewers would want to cup them instinctually. At the same time, she has a pointy chin that gives her face an edge, and she has very strong brows.


5. Neelam Gill


Management: NEXT Management

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Neelam has a very defined facial structure. You can tell that makeup artists love her. Her sunken cheekbones give her face a fairy princess type quality. Her pointy nose and pointy chin balance her facial features out. Her droopy eyes have a mesmerizing effect. Her chin juts out prominently. Her jawline is the definition of fierce. She has such a striking look it’s almost impossible for viewers to look away.

Neelam Gill has been making waves in the modeling industry as representation for South Asians. You can read an article about this here.


Bloody Faces, Ranked

5. Richard Madden as David Budd, Bodyguard

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The shot of Richard Madden wandering down the streets of London, in a daze, a trapped participant in a terrorist plot he wants desperately to free himself from, is bold in the way it places us right in the brutal, urgent mindset of Madden’s character David Budd.


4. Aisling Franciosi as Clare, The Nightingale

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Aisling Franciosi’s face, as she plays a young woman desperate for justice after experiencing unspeakable horrors, is even more daunting when we see where the blood came from in her revenge rampage.


3. Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, Jackie


This striking shot of Natalie Portman’s face crumbling, as her character remains frozen in her worst nightmare, remains at the forefront of the viewer’s mind as she spends the rest of the film in a fog of grief.


2. Natalie Portman as Mathilda, Leon: The Professional

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A young master of the helpless cry, Natalie Portman outdoes herself in this extended shot of Mathilda as her face increasingly breaks down in desperation. There is only blood around her nose and bottom lip, but it seems more as she is literally fighting for her life.


  1. Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Game of Thrones

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In the aftermath of the horror that befell King’s Landing, Arya’s shock leaves Maisie Williams’ face frozen. The bloodiest face of all this list, the rings of blood around her eyes add to her look of utter psychological horror.

French Film at the New York Film Festival

Oh, Mercy!

Sept. 30


Oh Mercy


Oh Mercy! (Roubaix, une lumiere in France) is not an easy film to love.

The director, Arnaud Deplechin, wrote a reverse-“love letter” to the city he grew up in. While most directors try to make a splash in their appreciation for their hometowns, Deplechin prefers, instead, to examine the raw grittiness of the city that raised him. There is a seeping malaise throughout the film, accentuated by the music.

Although I have a healthy skepticism for police procedurals, Daoud (“Roschdy Zem”), the protagonist, drew me in. His quiet elegance was his strength. Even when facing the most brutal of crimes, he remained stolid, stoic, always observing, always assessing. He is of Algerian origin, and the director makes a point to focus on Algerians in the film, rather than reducing them as simply “North African.” The film, at first, follows two police officers – the head investigator of Algerian origin, and a white rookie cop. While the former has a cool elegance about him, the latter is overly eager and unpredictable.

Lea Seydoux doesn’t feature prominently until far into the film, when we arrive at the murder investigation. Claude (Lea Seydoux) and Marie were an interesting pair of suspects. Drawn out and birdlike, Seydoux plays a perfect woman-living-on-the-edge.

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Oct. 5



Sibyl, according to director Justine Triet, depicts the paths of two (unstable) women moving in opposite trajectories. It is equal parts a drama and a comedy.

The titular character, played by Virginie Efira, is a jarring narrator. Most of her actions are inexplicable, starting with her abrupt decision to fall back from her comfortable work as a psychotherapist to attempt to return to writing. Yet, she can’t resist the plaintive Margot (Adele Exarchopoulos), who is intensely, demandingly falling apart.

The juxtaposition of Margot as an actress at the end of her rope, a figure of the unraveling damsel-in-distress, and Margot as the glamorous rising star, needing to remain in control at all costs, is enough to draw me in.

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Oct. 13th

“Don’t regret. Remember.”

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the power of female anger

Adele Haenel’s character Héloïse is so tangible and unbreakable in her anger at being forced into a marriage against her will. her jawline is so strong as her chin juts out in unrelenting defiance. Noemie Merlant’s character Marianne is the witness to her anger, tasked with softening her hard edges on the canvas.

the setting

Set in Brittany, France in 1760, the beach and the cliffs and the water represented Héloïse’s intense need to get out of herself. her spontaneous burst of energy running, running, running, to the tip of the cliffs, stopping herself just in time to avoid falling into the water, was all-in. it also threaded their moments together, from Marianne’s earlier careful study of Héloïse for her painting, to the outpour of emotive love when their union is threatened later.

female-driven family dynamics

Outside of each other, Marianne and Héloïse spent a great deal of time with the servant girl in Héloïse’s bourgeoise home. the three central characters fell into comforting, tender little family dynamics. the trio care for each other so gently. in the setting of the candle-lit kitchen, cooking and eating and drinking and playing together, the cozy intimacy grew.


There was something so soothing and pleasureful in watching Marianne’s painting style. Then, we see Héloïse as the “model,” holding herself in place for Marianne’s creations. It is in those scenes that they truly get to know each other, mutually closely observing each other. One striking scene was when Marianne listed off the subtle expressions and movements adele makes when she’s feeling emotional. Naturally, she’s been really looking at her closely in order to capture her essence in the painting. Then, Héloïse catches Marianne off-guard, telling her, “I’ve been looking, too,” and releases a stream of observations of Marianne’s little tells of her subtle feelings.

the love story

The moment I could feel them truly falling in love with each other was at the piano, when Marianne began to play, and Héloïse just watched her, really seeing her, peering intently at her face.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but there is a painting of Héloïse at the end, holding a book slightly open at a certain page, that made me tear up in the face of an enduring symbol of their ephemeral love story.

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The ending shot in Portrait of a Lady on Fire rivals the emotionally arresting ending shot in Call Me By Your name, in which Timotheé Chalamet’s raw melancholy matches perfectly with the mournful music of “Visions of Gideon” by Sufjan Steven. In Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the camera focuses on Adele Haenel’s face as she listens to “the Four Seasons” by Vivaldi live. Héloïse’s acting is so contained yet so expansive at the same time. It is like she is feeling the music in every fiber of her being, pulling her emotions out of her. I walked out of the theater feeling like I was still in the presence of that moment, and I instantly started listening to that same piece of music through my headphones, needing to keep that moment alive inside of me.

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Marriage Story Review: Ying and Yang

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“Who really won in the end??” I asked my companion Alex, as we started to make our way from our seats out of the theater. We had just finished watching Marriage Story at the Paris Theater in New York City.

“Not Henry,” she responded, quick as a whip.

A moment of silence for Henry, the much fought over kid who, in the end, was just a symbol of his two separated parents’ clashing personalities.

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Nicole and Charlie. Ying and Yang. Anima and Animus. The Sun and The Moon. LA and New York.

I can’t stop thinking of that moment, near the end, in which both parties have their own, separate, musical number. Nicole doesn’t need a spotlight because she IS the spotlight. Her emphatic dance along with her singing is infectious as well as hypnotizing. Charlie is hugged by the spotlight, which soothes his melancholy. His voice carrying in the intimate space is his whole heart, on its own, breaking out from his lungs into the space between. Nicole looks like she’s never been more alive and free, magnifying the love and energy she feels surrounded by her family. Charlie is laying himself bare to his chosen family, his theater troupe, who don’t have to say a word to him for him to know that they’ve got his back. Nicole’s voice is amplified by her matriarchal unit, her mother and her sister, in a sunlit, open, airy living space. Charlie is accompanied by somber live music in a dim, monotone, quiet restaurant. Nicole has never been more LA and Charlie has never been more New York.

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Scar Jo secured her best actress nomination with her monologue near the beginning of the film. It tells an entire story of love, from the first spark to the heartbreak. Director Noah Baumbach (in a fantastic turn) deliberately shoots this in a one-take close up. Nicole had felt like the star in Charlie’s eyes, until she felt like she was feeding him her star essence for his own dream. She felt like a supporting cast member in her own life, a feeling I know all too well. She needed to walk her own path before she lost herself entirely. To her, Charlie only saw her as a piece of himself. Her heartbreak made her look like a fragile bird.

Adam Driver wore Charlie’s grief on his sleeve. Every betrayal he feels kicks him in the chest a little more than the last. At times, it was almost too painful to watch his face as the agreements they’d made, both coupled and separated, were entirely reneged upon, he felt, by Nicole. There’s denial that Nicole would do that, bargaining to try to keep whatever they had left, anger at the ensuing legal battle, depression at the loss of his life as he’d known it, and, finally, acceptance at having to make necessary changes.

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The legal battle lit me up like a livewire. Laura Dern as Nora, Nicole’s lawyer, is the perfect mix of righteous and amoral. She is so, so transparent that I adore her. She is a poodle who wins dogfights by outbarking her opponents. In another layer of her, she delivers a powerful speech on the demands on mothers while fathers are nonplussed.

I loved getting to see my civil procedure knowledge from law school play out onscreen, like how important it is in the service of process that neither one of the parties serves the other. Outside of the procedural stuff, the “legalese” was just so exciting. Nora met her match with Charlie’s bombastic lawyer. The two of them, in an excellently adversarial court scene, went to bat for their respective clients, crafting masterful sparring narratives from the exact same set of facts.

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In the personal battle, there is an explosive argument that contains some of the best-written dialogue I have ever witnessed. Noah Baumbach deserves a nomination for best screenplay for that alone. The acting by Scar Jo and Adam Driver was like a duet, leading up to the feverish intensity of the crescendo and the cathartic release of the denouement. This is something that I need to watch again when this film comes out on Netflix so that I can dissect every little detail.

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The continuity in this film is amazing. The beginning scene, with the expressive list by each partner about what they love about the other, written for therapy, mention all of the qualities that brought them together, and then wedged them apart throughout the film.

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This film, in its entirety, is a masterpiece.

It’s so interesting, because even though this film is about a couple, I can see all sorts of different relationships I’ve been a part of, and how we relate to each other. How I can be friends with someone, and so close, and know them so instinctually, and yet also feel like they can’t see me for me, for who I am outside of our friendship. I see the relationship I’ve had with my mother, in which I have to assert my independence while also wanting reassurance that she understands why I have to go. How, when I’m fighting with someone I’ve been physical with, there is the heat that comes from yelling at each other that is also the heat that comes from loving them.

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The thing is, at the end of the day, the perspective shifted from Nicole to Charlie and it lingered on Charlie for the rest of the film. Charlie is clearly the character from the director’s point of view, especially given that Charlie is a theater director himself. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by how Nicole’s perspective was shone on earlier in the film. It was shown compassionately and empathetically. And then, it swerves to Charlie, and his bewilderment, and his furious paddling to keep up with the throes of the divorce. I worry that Scarlett Johansson’s voice as Nicole is going to be overshadowed by Adam Driver’s performance as Charlie. She deserves to be regarded as an equally sympathetic figure.

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However, when it comes down to the resolution, Charlie did lose. He had to concede. He moved away from his theater troupe in New York City, to take up a residency at UCLA. He is due more than just a twinge of sympathy. Still, we can’t get too heartbroken for Charlie. As Nicole’s lawyer reminds us, Nicole had spent all those years in New York, living Charlie’s dream, while Charlie had never taken her desire to spend time in LA seriously, reducing the agreement they’d made to move to LA as a family into a mere “discussion.” We would be remiss to ignore that.

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Nicole’s physical transformation throughout the film was great. She starts out kind of folded into herself, wearing neutral clothing and a neutral haircut. The moment she moves back to be with her family in LA, it seems, it feels like she’s being watered because she stops wilting. She dyes her hair noticeably light blonde, and it suits her lighter personhood. She wears clothes that fit and flare, that she can freely move in. Her entire physicality shifts, so that she can swish around in her feelings instead of holding them in. It’s beautiful.

In the q&a afterward, Noah Baumbach said that it’s when something stops working is when you really look at it. like when a doorknob isn’t working and you suddenly look at its inner machinations. I think that says it all, really.

The two love letters bookend the film, from Charlie reading out what he loves about Nicole at the beginning, to him reading what she wrote about her love for him in the end. Perhaps this really is a love story.

Henry, at the end, wears a shirt that says, “things will be okay.” Maybe they will be.

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Rating: A


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“Jackie” Review: One Woman’s Legacy



Director: Pablo Larraín

Release date: December 9, 2016

Watched: July 4th, 2019


I watched Jackie a third at a time. Breaking it up made it easier to digest. It is a filling movie, so taking my time with it allowed me to savor it. I was driven to see it on the 4th of July, thanks to Vulture’s Hunter Harris and her persuasive piece on why, exactly, this was the perfect film for this year’s 4th of July.


I felt this sudden overwhelming pull that I NEEDED to watch close-ups of Natalie Portman’s face as her character wrestled with psychological horror and descended into emotional distress.


Natalie Portman gives the most acute portrayal of the act of bring shell-shocked, not simply the emotion. Her life becomes totally out of her control from the moment a bullet burst her husband’s brains into her lap. What happens after that moment, when she is whisked away and automatically officially stripped of her titles as “First Lady,” becomes the focal point of the film. Composer Mica Levi’s “moody, haunting score” sets the tone.


Jackie Kennedy is poised. She is grace personified. She is dignified.

Jackie Kennedy is ferocious, a lioness. She is single-minded, determined. She is relentless.


Jackie Kennedy is haunted. She is alone and isolated. She is vulnerable.


All these layers of complexity are evident in Natalie Portman’s sweeping performance.


The camera dwells on Jackie’s disrobing as she walks around her White House chambers hazily. She peels off the physical evidence of the horror she witnessed, the bloodied clothes, then cleanses herself of the blood in the shower, only able to scrub off the physical reminder, but unable to wash away the emotional terror.


“Jackie” has all the malaise of a horror film without ever verging completely into fear-evoking territory. Instead, we watch closely as one woman is forced to uphold standards of statehood during a time of intense, deeply personal unraveling. How can one truly grieve when everyone is looking to them like they are a spectacle?


Jackie’s saving grace appears in the form of Robert “Bobby” F. Kennedy, her one ally in the loss of an intimate relation. He, like her, has a vested interest in honoring JFK the man, not simply JFK the public figure. With authority, he swoops in to ensure Jackie’s needs are not swept through the cracks. They only feel safe enough to express their unadulterated anger towards their new circumstances with each other.


The film is interlaced with two very different sides of Jackie: her showcase of the White House pre-assassination, and her acerbic interview with a journalist post-assassination. The juxtaposition of Jackie’s stilted performance as a demure, doll-like hostess of well-placed proper domesticity against Jackie’s raw abrasiveness, cutting intellect, and knowing coolness is very well-played by director Pablo Larraín.


Natalie Portman’s performance is a highlight of her already prime career. “Portman has a face made for close-ups,” Angelica Jade Bastién writes in The Outline. The most arresting moments of the film were in Jackie’s daze, her signature facial expression of frozen horror as her mind worked in overdrive to figure out how she could stem the bleeding of her life and regain control. Control over her dead husband’s presidential legacy, control over her own expression of grief and suffering, and control over her newfound loss in status. Every facial expression in the midst of the turbulence of her environment, of people deciding for her what her image as a bereft former first lady should be, of unflappable chaos, depicted unfettered, pure shock and dissociation.


According to cinematographer Stephane Fontaine in a Variety interview, wide-angle lenses and extreme close-ups pushed Jackie’s distress after Kennedy’s death. “We didn’t use long lenses that would make for a more abstract background. Instead, we chose very wide lenses that allowed us to get very close to Natalie. It added to the paranoia and claustrophobia,” says Fontaine, who operated the camera himself.


Greta Gerwig’s Nancy was Jackie’s right-hand woman, her rock when she felt she was losing herself. Part acting coach, part best friend for her real-life crises, Nancy was her most trusted companion. She gave Jackie sincere love and understanding in a world where public presentation trumped personal emotionality.


Where there is life, there is hope. The priest tasked with talking Jackie out of joining her husband and giving up on life remind us of that old adage. As the light shines behind Jackie, casting a warm halo-like glow around her hair while she plays with her children in close to the final shots of the film, we are reminded that the dead live on in their loved ones who are brave enough to live in an uncertain world.



I give this film a strong A for its measured awareness, drawn-out enigma, and performative polish. Natalie Portman deserved all the awards.


Grade: 9/10

Booksmart Review: Quintessential Queer Cinema

Title: Booksmart

Genre: Comedy

Run Time: 1h 45m
Release date: May 24, 2019 (USA)
Director: Olivia Wilde
Rating: R
Synopsis: Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of not-to-be missed fun into one night — a chaotic adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for.


In Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, two high school seniors seek to reinvent themselves on the last night of their high school careers. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) is high school valedictorian and class president, en-route to Yale and decidedly into being in command over her academics, future career, and projected superiority over her peers. Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), her best friend, is somewhat of the bright light of the two, with her witty remarks, wacky dance moves, and unique style (hello, button-filled denim jacket over collared blouse!). Amy is hesitant, wary, and cautious, poised to bloom into the carefree embrace of her sexuality.


Molly and Amy have a friendship dynamic that is, at once, unique to them and achingly relatable. Having to band together as “different” in the world of their cavalier high school, they’ve formed an intense bond, replete with synced up dance moves and compliment battles. All they have, it seems, is each other, and they make sure to hold each other close. While Molly is a classic Type-A perfectionist with the need to be in control, Amy is heavily into “doing the right thing,” whether that is a consideration for others or proudly sporting pro-feminist iconography on any surface of her own she can get. It’s incredible how much this film resonates with my own teenage experience with a best friend I clung to, just in a modern-day context.  This was a valuable representation of uptight, high-strung, innocent, questioning high school girls!


A storyline I was particularly impressed by was Amy’s queer experience. I can’t express how beautiful it was that the classic slo-mo-staring-at-crush montage in a teen movie showed Amy’s object of interest as a free-wheeling skater girl. Amy is a ball of pure gay awkwardness, and I adore it. The depiction of her budding sexuality (with Diana Silvers’ excellent Hope) was equal parts sensitively handled and particularly wholesome, while still having excruciating bits recognizable to anyone who’s ever been a “useless lesbian” (myself included).


In regards to Amy and Molly’s friendship dynamic, the film does an incredible job of showing the raw deficits of such a pairing. Molly’s need for control can lead to her being overbearing, and Amy’s reticence towards confrontations can lead her to avoid uncomfortable truths. Molly’s personality can, at times, eclipse Amy’s, causing Amy to follow along with Molly’s desires. And Amy’s indecisiveness and perceived passivity can activate Molly’s “pushiness.” The most revealing aspect of a dynamic such as theirs is that of one person being possessive over the other, who ends up growing resentful of the control. The film handles this kind of relationship delicately with undeniable honesty.


The film also does not shy away from the process of individuation for the best friends. Amy does that by choosing that night before graduation to act on her attraction to girls for the first time, to delightfully shocking results. Molly undergoes a journey of noteworthy self-awareness, as she overcomes her superiority complex and rigid expectations.


Diana Silvers’ Hope steals the show in certain scenes, with her devil-may-care attitude and rogue-ish good looks. Her casual cool is heartthrob material for us gays.


Overall, the film’s comedic beat and classic storytelling make it a teen movie designed to make its mark on cinema for years to come.


4.5 Stars

Teaser Tuesday: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo



Six Of Crows was easily the best YA book I had ever read, and its sequel, Crooked Kingdom, is even topping it for me.




“There’s a wound in you, and the tables, the dice, the cards – they feel like medicine. They soothe you, put you right for a time. But they’re poison, Jesper. Every time you play, take another sip. You have to find some other way to heal that part of yourself. Stop treating your pain like it’s something you imagined. If you see the wound is real, then you can heal it.” – Inej

This hits so hard. How many of us fall into self-soothing behavioral patterns because we are trying to tranquilize our inner wounds that we can’t even face?


“I don’t hold a grudge. I cradle it. I coddle it. I feed it fine cuts of meat and send it to the best schools. I nurture my grudges.” – Kaz

Classic Kaz!


“The thought felt like cool water cascading over the hot, shameful feeling of helplessness he’s been carrying with him for so long.” – Wylan

I felt this in my chest. Wylan deserves all the happiness in the world.


I am so emotionally invested in the core six – Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, Matthias, and Wylan – and even the newest “member” of the crew, Kuwei!