Review: ‘Bare’ Took Me There

netflix-coverNetflix and me, we have an understanding. I’m never judged when I need my Jake Ryan fix and end up binge-watching 80’s classics all weekend instead of running errands. And I don’t think twice when indie film suggestions pop up on my video stream feed, based on my viewing history.

Indie and me go way back. Call it underdog kismet, or simply shared affinity for raw truth. I’m attracted to the underbelly of a story. Those dusty secrets that seem to only reveal themselves outside shadows of blockbuster hyperbole. Any “Feel Good Movie of the Summer”, “Gripping” or “Mind Blowing” promises served up on a marquee of bells and whistles, and my interest is a watered down cocktail during happy hour. I’ll enjoy the flavor, but the buzz just aint the same.

It’s been a while since I felt the warm embrace of indie. And like anything good that you haven’t had in a while, we forget just how much we enjoyed whatever it was that’s been missing – like with great sex or home-made lasagna.

After seeing writer/director Latalia Leite’s movie BARE, I realized just how hungry I’ve been.

It’s been twenty years since walking away from the stripper world, but I never tire of the stories. After reading the synopsis of BARE, I was intrigued:

“A young girl [Sara Barton] in Nevada becomes romantically involved with a female drifter who introduces her to a life of stripping, drugs, and metaphysical experiences that teach her what happens when real life catches up with dark fantasy.” – IMDB

Immediately, I wanted more. How young was she? Was she gay before she was a stripper? What kind of drugs did she take? Of course, I personalized the parallels. I was 19 when I stepped on stage for the first time. I slept with women after becoming a stripper. Cocaine and ecstasy were my drugs of choice.

Not only did BARE answer my questions about young Sara’s journey through the stripping world, it did something I wasn’t expecting. It drew me back into mine.

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There I was, tucked safely in bed – my laptop streaming – and bam! – it was 1987. As Sara (played by Glee’s Diana Agron) explored her new world, I was transported back to my old one.

So vividly, was my recollection. I remembered my hesitant but determined first steps on the flashing Plexiglas stage, the vibrating bass crackling through the speakers, my stage name being called as the DJ stretched out the vowels for emphasis: “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give her a warm welcome! Give it up for the sensational, Stephaaaaaaaanieeeeee”. I could almost smell the cigarette smoke that needed multiple shampoos to get out of my Aqua Net sprayed, Bon Jovi look-alike hair.

I expected to feel a connection after watching BARE, but the intense emotions that flooded through me were a welcomed surprise.

Anyone can tell a story, great writers can make you feel it.

“One thing that I’ve learned, that’s true, is that if you don’t make your own choices in life, the world will make them for you.” – Pepper  (played by Paz de la Huerta)

Natalia’s script is beautifully written and her direction is spot on, bringing out amazing performances (most notably  Dianna Agron (Glee, FoxPaz de la Huerta (Boardwalk Empire, HBO) and Chris Zylka (The Leftovers, HBO). With a subject matter that can easily teeter on campy or trite, BARE’s language is refreshingly honest – never over the top.

In a world where most people throw opinions about sex workers into a pile labeled damaged goods, BARE helps us see things through a different lens. We know Sara. Some of us are her.

Whether you chose a life of g-strings and dollar bills or have been on the fast track in the corporate world since college – BARE’s story of introspection, personal choices and consequence is universal.

As the credits rolled, I took a moment to marinate in the story. My lips curved into a smile. Because of this random indie film choice on Netflix one night – I had come full circle in my journey to the past.

There’s nothing like a great movie to remind you how far you’ve come, help you decide where you want to go, and causes you to simply – think.

Everybody has a story. We are all capable of creating our own reality and looking beyond the horizon. Thanks to Natalia Leite, we know that we are not alone.

To watch the trailer click here:

 

 

BAREPurple Milk Productions – Alexandra Roxo and Natalia Leite

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Christine Macdonald

An open letter to anyone who reads me

Dear reader – AAAAAAAAAAAT

I love learning new words. As soon as I hear someone say a word that I don’t recognize, I immediately text it to myself (guessing on spelling). When I have a minute, I Google the word and read all about its origin and meaning (I used to pull out the dictionary, remember those?).

Time passes, but I never forget the words I learn.

It’s a cool and fun personal challenge and opportunity for me to find a way to use the words I learn. This is not to word-drop just for the sake of it, but rather because it’s now part of my [self-taught] education.

There is no greater feeling than hearing myself articulate on a level that I never thought possible.

Today, I looked up two words I overheard listening to two separate interviews: cacophony and magnanimous (thank you, Carrie Brownstein and Howard Stern).

There was a time when I used to be intimidated by “smarties” – the book worms in school; the women who actually went to college while I was snorting lines, popping pills and working the [stripper] pole.

When I was in school, my dyslexia and ADD paralyzed me; brainwashed me into believing I wasn’t smart enough to be taken seriously. In my twenties, the longer I spiraled into the underbelly of drugs and stripping, the less confident I became. It’s ironic because I began working at the clubs at 19 because it gave me a sense of beauty and control. Ultimately, it’s what ended up stripping them away.

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My First Graduation

I will be 47 on November 9. The nightlife is a distant shadow in my rear view mirror and all I have to do with that world now are my words. But as long as I keep teaching myself, I will continue to expand my mind, strengthen my confidence, and craft the story I cannot wait to share.

Thank you for staying with me through this journey as I find the words to finish this book. The fact that anyone is inspired and interested bathes me with surprise and wraps me with love and gratitude. To articulate just how much, I fear, there are no words. But maybe I just haven’t learned them yet.

Christine Macdonald

What she said

I love it when friends call me on my shit. Especially when the shit I’ve been meaning to talk about is fucking awesome. So when the subject of this story called me out on my very public (Facebook) post of , “you just know I’m gonna blog about this”, I was nudged, ever so lovingly, do to so.

It’s been a few days (fine, weeks) since this thing happened, but c’mon. When have I ever let time stop me from laying it on you? I’m writing a goddammed book about shit I lived through in the 80s and 90s, for fucks sake.  What’s a handful of weeks, compared to the decades of soul-searching it’s taken me to find my balls, and actually write about it?

But this isn’t about my story. It’s not even related to me, except that it serves as a reminder and inspiration to stand up, walk the walk, and not take anyone’s shit. As much as the (recovering) narcissist in me would love this to be about me – it isn’t. It’s universal, so pull up a chair.

This has been swirling in my brain for a while, and as I was playing with my laptop keys, The World had other plans. There was a catastrophic hurricane affecting my friends (and millions of strangers), then a nail-biting presidential election that caused me to fall into a vortex of Twittergasms, not to mention inhale an entire box of Mac and Cheese. When that dust began to level, my birthday weekend quickly came, and I headed out-of-town. And on the actual day of my birthday, I learned my recent mammogram result was abnormal, so I had an ultrasound on Monday, and meet with the biopsy bitches today. Talk about a blog-buzzkill.

But fuck it. Today, before getting felt up, I’m making the time, and inducing this little fucker of a story. My posting contractions are less than a minute apart, and this baby is coming.  “It’s a Blog” balloons are blanketing the Interweb as we speak.

Every now and then it happens. You witness something that reminds you of the person you want to be. Or maybe forgot you could be. Or are. The person inside yourself, who perhaps you knew as a kid, but somewhere

Christine Macdonald