March 30th, 2020 – COVID-19 spreads

Week One of self-quarantine is complete.  I feel fine.  No symptoms of any kind (knock wood) but this is the right thing to do.  There is so much information and misinformation out there.  We have world leaders being indecisive and others doing what they can.   I think that we should all be learning from what is happening in places which are ahead of North America (like Italy, Spain, Germany).  This staying at home and not interacting will mean no cinema visits for a while, and lots of movies at home.   Even Hollywood blockbusters like the new James Bond are being impacted.  More scary will be how new movies won’t be made at all for the foreseeable future.   So there will be a delayed effect as films go on hiatus.  Could make the 2021 Oscars an interesting show since 2020 movies will, for the most part, already be filmed and in post production.

As for movies, I am realizing as I am writing and reviewing Frozen II, that I don’t appear to have ever reviewed the original Frozen.  I can remedy that now.   So back in 2013, Disney released a princess-based traditional story about Nordic royal family.   I give away nothing in saying that, like most Disney movies, there is parental death.   The two sisters (princesses) in the story need to make due.   They are close.   The elder sister has a magical gift, which if used improperly could be harmful.  This is shown early on as the younger sister almost has an accident.   Things happen.   There are a couple memorable songs like “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” and the mega-hit “Let It Go”.   Idina Menzel belts out the hit and it is the inspiring anthem for that character.  What worked best for me with Frozen was how it veered into non-traditional territory, in dealing with the “damsel in distress”.   Anna and Elsa aren’t Snow White, or Ariel or Belle awaiting their Prince Charming.   The story unfolds in a way that was satisfying and appropriate for today’s audiences.

Frozen II was the inevitable sequel, given the tremendous success of the original.   It took six years to finally get there, but the main characters all return.  As in any time a successful original is followed up, you run the risk of trying to repeat success while bringing something new for the characters.   Disney has shown that they are more than capable of doing this with the Toy Story franchise.   I can’t say that this was as successful.  The songs weren’t as memorable.  The story provides more backstory to the royal family and its earlier days when the father of the princesses was a young man.    It involves an enchanted forest and relations amongst peoples of different cultures.   It is believable in the grand scheme of things.   In the end it was decent.  If you haven’t seen the first, see it first.  Feel free to stop there, as you will be missing out on not very much.   If you like the characters and want to see more of them, then feel free to watch the sequel.

On Netflix I was told about at-home viewing parties for people (mostly women) with the series (11 episodes including a reunion at the end) for Love Is Blind.   In many ways it mirrors, and uses the success of The Bachelor series to its advantage.   The premise is one of putting together 12 men and women together who are both ready to settle down and get married.   The twist is that these groups are segregated apart and cannot see one another as they get to know one another.   They talk in pods, where in this small room is a couch and carpet and they can talk with the other person.   They can talk as often as they wish, after what appears to be a speed-dating introduction where you meet everyone going from pod to pod.   The idea is that one party needs to propose marriage to the other.  The social experiment is to see whether love is truly blind.   It was a three-week event.   Remarkably six couples actually propose to one another in the pods.   They are obviously the focus.   Once they propose they get to actually lay eyes on the other person.   The big reveal.   Once the couples pair off, they are whisked away to Cancun Mexico and see if their relationship can become more physical.   Physical becomes an operative word between some of the couples.   They spend time there, and then head back to Atlanta and live in a condo building all together.   They are given their phones back and have introductions to friends and families as they prepare their weddings.   Let the drama begin throughout.   For those looking for some mindless escapism, this could be the vehicle.   You don’t have to see rising COVID-19 cases.   You don’t hear about ventilator shortages and no mask wearing.   It is a train wreck to be sure, with a flawed premise.  I don’t think many would believe that love is blind.  We all recognize that there are economic, physical, family, race, religion, geographic, career aspects of who we are that impact on our potential partner.   Sometimes love can overcome.  So watch.   In the end, as in most of these series, you are only privy to what you see.   Editing is a marvelous thing for putting forth the characters involved in the light that the producers want to achieve to make you continue to watch.   For what it is, I watched it to the end.   It delivered on what it is.

Finally I re-watched Bugsy, the 1991 film starring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, where the two met and feel in love for real.  This is the movie about Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, the NY mobster who also was a flamboyant ladies man, and loved living the life of a gangster.   It was nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture, and Best Actor, and Supporting Actor.   Amazingly to me, Annette Bening was not nominated here.  She has been nominated four times before and has never won.  Playing Virginia Hill, she shows spunk and attitude which turns Ben Siegel for a loop.   I had showed this movie to my youngest as he has been to Vegas, and this shows the initial inspiration for Vegas.   Vegas in the 1940s was a small insignificant town in the desert.  With the completion the Hoover Dam, though, it would have all the electricity that it would need and water.   Siegel saw this inspiration, and convinced his good friend Meyer Lansky to invest the mobs money.   Siegel had a temper and Beatty shows the volatility of the man, and just how quickly he could turn around and bring himself back.   As the Lanksy character says early on, Siegel’s flaw was that “he doesn’t respect money”.   He was an idea man, and wanted to leave something behind;  make a lasting impression.    There are quality performances all around from Ben Kingsley (Lansky) to Harvey Keitel (Mickey Cohen) and others.   Beatty and Bening steal the show and the chemistry between them is undeniable.   Silence of the Lambs won the Best Picture that year, justifiably, but this was a very good film and worth your time if you are looking for something to watch at home.

Stay safe all.  Stay healthy.  Stay home.



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