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.

BARE1

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

Purple-Milk-Square

Christine Macdonald

Artifact: a music lover’s review

ar·ti·fact

      noun \ˈär-ti-ˌfakt\

     : a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past

     : an accidental effect that causes incorrect results

 

This article isn’t coming from a cubicle nestled in a concrete jungle of Corporate America. There are no supervisory editors in suits to edit my brain, and the only payment I’ll receive from this piece is personal satisfaction that because I’m putting it out in the universe, my voice is being heard.

But here I sit. In my 700 square-foot apartment in Costa Mesa, worlds away from the rock and roll underbelly of Los Angeles, curled up with my coffee and determination. I’m eager to pour my thoughts on the page for no other reason than palpable inspiration, born on the heels of watching such an epic documentary, driving me to do so.

My introduction to Bartholomew Cubbins (30 Second’s front man, Jared Leto’s directorial alias) was delivered via ARTIFACT – his sweat and tears, pumped through his veins with an infectious passion, far beyond the comprehension of the corporate dudes behind their lawsuit.

Just minutes in, I snagged the remote and hit rewind. I needed to watch what little I saw again. The beginning of the film introduces us to various artists talking about what music means to them – how we as human beings cannot live without it.

I connected with each industry insider interviewed (including one with neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music), but it was musician Kenna’s piece that induced a familiar tickle in my nose, coupled with watery eyes, which were quickly wiped from the curve of my smile.

“A song has a story in it, there’s a heart behind it, there’s a frequency within it and you as a person delivered it, and that’s why people care. Music is the most powerful vehicle in the world. Period.”

I’m not a musician. And before ARTIFACT, I didn’t know the first thing about the industry’s convoluted relationship between artists and labels. Who I am, is simply a [music] fan. I’m a singular drop in a vast ocean of music lovers who marvel at the magic; how an artist delivers (within the space of only a certain amount of notes) continual creations of infinite melodies weaved throughout original lyrics, which solidifies our passion and moves us beyond compare. Again. And again. And again.

If you’re expecting a narcissistic, self-indulgent, “look at us, we’re rock stars, here’s how we roll” type of film, ARTIFACT ‘aint it.

This documentary views like a cinematic dream – or rather – dream come true – for the three men who make up 30 Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Shannon Leto (drums, percussion) and Tomo Miličević (lead guitar, bass, strings, keyboards, other instruments). Leto is the first to admit, their band’s record-breaking success wasn’t expected in their wildest dreams, and we believe him. Not because his breathtaking looks and disarming prose lure us in; but because we learn early on in the film that Leto and his band mates are simply asking for what is fair. We learn that like most things in life – even when our dreams are realized, there’s always shit hitting the proverbial fan. And in the case of EMI versus 30 Seconds to Mars, that’s a thirty million dollar clean up.

Adding to the meat of this 100-minute ride is a visual feast I didn’t see coming. Leto’s directorial eye is born for cinematic artistry. We’ve seen his signature talent several times in his self-directed music videos (my faves are Up in the Air and his most recent, City of Angels), and ARTIFACT is no exception.

This is a feel-good movie – after it pisses you off – but in the end, you’re left with a fire inside your belly that will inspire you to kick ass and draw your sword with whatever shit comes your way. And with This is War in your corner, you’ve got a killer soundtrack for the fight.

Official Trailer:

Christine Macdonald