10 July 2019

Theory Of Love Review (TOL): Episode 4

"It's not what we sell, it's the looks of the seller," so says Kai about the booth they are setting up for the campus fair.
He might as well be talking about the BL genre -- for what are is BL selling but the looks of its actors. The plots are mere excuses for us to stare at the actors; the plots are skeletons on which to hang those melting squeal-worthy moments, dazzling ornaments that make us forget that the tree is bare. In Ep 4, one of those moments must be when Off removes his shirt to take a shower, and briefly we see his dazzling white shoulders and the teeny nips. It's a tease, for you and for Third, who takes up the discarded shirt (still warm) and writes down "I love you" - along with the signatures of one thousand schoolgirls. The teasing continues.

The savage gang sell bangers and kisses, another chance for Third to get all jelly and pouty over Kai flirting with the clamouring girls - yawn. And then, weirdly, Kai starts to flirt with Third, feeding him a sausage on a stick, a kiss on the cheek; they go on two movie dates; Kai can't keep himself off Third, getting increasingly physical - a touch on the lip, a backrub, leaning on Third's shoulder in the cinema. (At which point shouldn't Third just turn around and kiss Kai? Why the reticence? Kai had obviously crossed the line of being a buddy.) Kai even lets Third ride on his bike, a treat reserved for his girls. I like the bike scene - it's romantic in an unexpected way.

The scene is like a dream, and the Ep 4 ends with the rude awakening - Kai is only testing to see if Third is in love with him. In a drunken bout, Third (he's always creeping about, listening at doors - why?) overhears Kai telling Bone that he doesn't think Third is in love with him because Third hadn't responded to his overtures.
Third just happens to be hanging out at the gents, and then he cries.

So, why didn't Third respond to Kai's overtures?
It's just one of the bigger plot holes that make much of the story flat and unlikely.

04 July 2019

Theory Of Love Review (TOL): Episode 3

Perversity: There's a lot of dark perversity in Ep 3.

It's pure perversity, but I suppose it's one of those inevitable BL tropes, that Third would move in with Kai. This is a formula for misery, if anything, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I suppose the whole Snow White idea of setting up house, and playing the married couple, is irresistible to most queens and Ep 3 does its persuasive best to show us how prettily it could all work out. The "domestic bliss" scenes of Third in apron at the sink, or mopping the floor, scream pure "wife" fantasy. And what queen hasn't dreamed of shopping with her man in Ikea?
Unfortunately, it's all so prettily predictable that there's a deja vu effect -- you've seen it all before, and besides, you would have dreamt it up even if you hadn't seen it. How do you feel about this Ikea scene? For me it's too predictable to evoke any squeals -- I'd wish they had shown something more inventive.
And then Kai brings a back a girl (Fahsai) with Diana Ross hair who turns all psycho and gives this episode all its dramatic energy, some real emotion, which I otherwise feel TOL lacks. Like it's all too cutesy and sweet and quite... dull.
Fahsai, looks like yet another sweet-faced girl that Kai seduces, isn't dull: She unleashes a violent jealous rage like some junior demoness, breaking things, eating cake, beats up the hapless Third, hair flying (like she's doing a concert in Central Park) screams bloody murder and generally wreaks the havoc that you wished Third had the guts to do.

What's truly chilling is Kai offering Third cash to leave the apartment so that Kai can do the dirty with Fahsai -- and Third accepting it. It's unreal and impossible that Third, however besotted, would go through with this perversity. Another extra perverse scene, and this one so long-drawn and deliberate that it has a gothic creepiness: Third is feeling his way around the dark apartment and opening Kai's door, witnesses Kai in bed with yet another girl; the girl hears the door creak open and asks Kai what that was; Kai says it's nothing. It's ambiguous whether Kai knows it was Third watching him. This is creepy.

Third locks the door and weeps. (Gun displays two emotional settings so far -- weeping with self-pity and pouting like a wronged wife.)   

On the other hand, Ep 3 gives us morning-after Kai sending off Fahsai in a taxi -- in boxers! What a treat -- the glimpse of Off's unexpectedly sturdy white legs -- totally worth the tedium of Third's misery. (Equally tedious is Too's high school sweetheart making her blandly sweet appearance, and Bone's unlikely romance with the unlikely Pan -- time-wasters.)

The last perversity has to be Kai's version of "friendship" -- in a drunken bout, he says to Third (who puts him to bed): "With girls I use my body, with you I use my heart. You can't compare them." This is neither here nor there, and obviously a red herring -- that it isn't obvious to Third is his own perversity, with no one to blame for his misery but himself.

13 June 2019

Theory Of Love Review (TOL): Episode 2

TOL Ep 2 is an improvement on Ep 1, and for me, it's because Kai's clumsiness has given way to Off's considerable charms; and rather than the fleeting scenes, Off's characteristic appeal is given the emphasis it needs to give Third's longing for him meaning.
I'm surprised at how swiftly the producers have introduced the teasing foreshadowing that Kai would love Third back -- but I suppose that's really a blessing in a series of 13 episodes. And those doormat scenes of Third endlessly crying perfect, photogenic tears can become rather repetitive -- we get the drift, get going already!

This episode also develops the characters of Too and Bone giving the skeletal plot a bit of body, much-needed flesh and blood. As mentioned previously, White is a surprisingly sincere actor, and gives his "best friend" role a grounded warmth. Third confessing his three-year obsession with Kai to Too is so heartfelt, you feel the comfort a good friend can offer in the several scenes they have together in this episode. Of course, Too's efforts to set KaiThird up, and his enthusiastic support of Third's romantic feeling for a friend, is pure BL trope (in other words: wishful thinking). But yes, White is wonderfully watchable as Too, and I can watch that scene of White marching in the stadium endlessly -- it's pricelessly silly, and will cheer up your dullest day!

I'm also fixated on the blink-and-miss cameo of (Bom? Bomb?) OffGun's transgender minder playing the security officer chasing Third from the stands. Her thick bun of hair wobbles and her officer's cap just about falls off. It's Hilarious!

This scene is also notable for the dreamy Kai beaming away sunnily at the above-mentioned chase -- he's so cute you want to squeal -- a bookend scene for the slo-mo ping pong playing scene in terms of dreaminess and completely says it all about Kai's appeal.

Un (Earth), Kai's romantic rival, is introduced as the rival campus stud -- who has an attachment to Third. Poor Earth! He doesn't stand a chance, does he? The hair's all wrong and he's always rather a hit-and-miss for me -- he's all body, if you know what I mean. Earth with clothes has no meaning at all.

Kai starts to flirt meaninglessly with Third: Recording the sound of crickets in a moonlit park, to finally going on a movie date (Off in full boyfriend mode), to what will become a classic most-shared scene when Kai, with his face all sex and seduction, says to Third that everyone would fall in love with Third; to when Third is flash-carding his confession at Kai's door and Kai willfully misconstrues Third. Why is Kai doing this (and looking so meltingly beautiful while being cruel)? Why do straight men do things like that -- it's one of those mysteries that never would be solved (and then they lose all their power). You can feel Third capsize in the undertow of lust and confusion. He falls deeper.

Bone's (Mike Chinnarat of the ears) room is a mess, and is the only one who seems to live outside of an Ikea catelogue. I mean, Kai's apartment looks palatial in contrast, I suppose adding to his appeal. Third is like Elizabeth Bennet -- she's going to marry up! Bone is also the only one of the four friends who has to work (in a cafe) after school. Bone's love interest turns up -- I swear I see his ear wiggle -- in the manner of a scene from Notting Hill; Unfortunately, she's the unlikeliest of girls for Bone -- she's quite a matured actress, isn't she, and rather thin than pretty. This bit of casting is a bit of mystery -- never mind her looks: the chemistry is nil to negative.

So things are clipping along and I'm looking forward to Episode 3, aren't you?

11 June 2019

Theory Of Love Review (TOL): Episode 1

Episode 1 begins on a good note: Charming and pretty to look at, the pace bounces pleasantly along. As BL productions go, TOL looks superior in production value -- everything is polished eye candy -- the sets are pretty, the hair is fluffy, the clothes are beyond trendy, so the stage is set for pure escapist fluff of the highest quality.

Its intentions are made clear too, with the tone of the direction sliding towards the great British RomComs of the 2000s, which it actually quotes rather literally. TOL is about four film-school students after all!

Except Off Jumpol (Tumcial) isn't actually the Hugh Grant of Thai TV and that's immediately apparent in a sketchy and uneven performance as Kai, the campus cad. It's an uneasy and self-conscious performance that makes Off an uncomfortable watch, and impossible to imagine as the homme fatale that Khai is meant to be.

Off's Kai is skittish and eccentric -- not qualities to make girls swoon as they must, and as they do in real life. Off is swoonsome as himself -- pure husband material, unexpectedly deserving of the worship he gets.

But his Kai feels strangely sexless, even though he wears most of Off's own clothes (sheep in wolf's clothing?) -- with the addition of the bike that is so at odds with his wardrobe of wafty pants and Goyard purses, that the character immediately feels untrue. Off would never skip and dance around a girl as Khai does, disconcertingly.

The real Off would fit this role perfectly -- but I suppose this rather camp portrayal is some sort of lame effort to separate Khai from Off, and also Khai from Pick (Off's role from Pubby Honey Secret Love) which is something that has to be done, since Off/Khai/Pick are hard to differentiate.

A few brief scenes make sense of Off's appeal -- he's that figure in the background of a movie review that catches the eye (how can one help it!) and the scene when Khai is playing ping pong in slo-mo -- you fall in love with him just as Third/Gun would. However these scenes are brief -- mostly you see Khai painfully obnoxious, without one redeeming feature.
Ears looking at you kid: Once you see Mike's ears, you can't unsee them.

Gun is a revelation as Third; He's a wonderfully transparent actor and one feels for him, with or without the plot. However, did they have to make Third such a doormat? He lost me when he was rooting around the bin for Khai's girlfriend's (Milk) things. No one can be so downtrodden, however besotted, and Third has loved Khai for three years! It's not a positive portrayal and furthers the uke stereotype, which isn't helpful nor interesting.

Which brings me back to the point that Third's obsession would feel empathetic had they made Khai more obviously lovable or even realistic -- not this insubstantial good-for-nothing. Give us a reason to love Khai as Third does -- make him an incredible sportsman, or a brilliant filmmaker or something -- not this tedious, childish impersonation of a stud. Give us Off, in other words.

White (of Love Sick fame) makes his mark as a surprisingly convincing actor as Too, so that's a hit of surprise right there in an episode that feels flat and predictable, pretty as the thing looks. (To round off mention of the main four of this series I have to say that Mike's ears are distractingly big!)

OffGun's celebrated chemistry is always watchable -- this deserves its own post for later so that's a positive to cling on to until the dust settles (hopefully) and they get the star vehicle that these two amazingly hardworking and dedicated actors justly deserve.

08 January 2019

He Said She Said: Karl Lagerfeld On Sex and Love

"And I personally only like high-class escorts. I don’t like sleeping with people I really love. I don’t want to sleep with them because sex cannot last, but affection can last forever." - Karl Lagerfeld

20 December 2018

He Said She Said: Photography Passion

"I just had a passion to photograph. Shoot, shoot, shoot. You had the satisfaction of shooting the picture. You develop it, you have it in your hands, and it gives you another psychic reward. Then you see it published — that’s another reward. Then you get the check. That’s the final reward!" - Ron Galella

02 December 2018

Flashback: Summer at the Villa Orsula

Villa Orsula, Dubrovnik, Croatia

I can best describe Croatians as being a rusty variety of European. 
They are tawny of hair and skin, and tend to look monochromatic because the colour of tan skin is exactly the same shade as rusty hair.

In Dubrovnik, we stay at the 1939 Villa Orsula. The room, which H and I are sharing, feels claustrophobic. But it is tenderly pretty, with rambling roses on the right of the verandah, and a stunning view of the Adriatic Sea framed by cypress trees.
The bathroom has a bidet.

The medieval town of Dubrovnik, which we can see from the window, is said to be 15 minutes’ walk from the villa seems farther in the summer heat. In fact, it proved a tedious hike, but we forget everything once we get within the walled city, which is abuzz with interesting people, rich history, and beautiful squares all connected by vast glossy-smooth marble streets and dotted with mysterious dark cafes that make H smoke non-stop, in the manner of Maggie Cheung.
We go on a tour in a taxi, which is USD 70.
Breakfast at the Villa Orsula is quite the thing to do and the guests are out in full force, bright and early, eating under grape vines hanging with grapes. Stern ancient men serve yogurt and honey silently. H is thrilled by the view of the violently blue cove and sickle moon of white pebble, where later I collect vari-coloured stones in my Pleats Please pouch, watched by an old lady in a bikini, who sits there every day with her mutt until the last light fades.
The luggage boy wears tennis shorts, and is as cute as a porn actor.
The blonde towel boy is a trouble-maker who causes the lady at the front desk to lose her cool neatness and I’m sure she goes off work each day with a headache.
Blonde towel boy has a friend, a young teen, who throws mussels at the girls on the beach, causing them to shriek.
The boat man from the Villa Orsula is a white-haired mariner with white deck-shoes, who tirelessly ferries us in his boat to and from the little island of Lokrum every day.