Why Would You Want To Fight The Moonlight?

On LeAnn Rimes' contributions to Coyote Ugly, Hilarie Burton Morgan's memoir, the Vine app in Zola, and of course, Dune.

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Nothing like two little white girls dancing on top of the bar to really make you miss the outside world. This will be my first karaoke song once karaoke can be a thing again.

I’ve had Can’t Fight The Moonlight by LeAnn Rimes from the film Coyote Ugly (2000) stuck in my head for a full week now. Rimes was also Piper Perabo’s voice double in the film, at least when Perabo performs Can’t Fight The Moonlight at the end of the film. Perabo’s character, Violet, struggles with stage fright and finally overcomes it during her triumphant performance at an open mic night in the Bowery Ballroom. Rimes later duets with her at the Coyote Ugly saloon months after her record deal-winning gig, where she essentially sings with a pitched down version of her own voice on the same song.

Can’t Fight The Moonlight reminds me of Cinderella, the i5 song popularised by the Swedish band Play and later The Cheetah Girls. It’s dreamy, part-hip hop, and part-pop rock, complete with several key changes and fluttering chimes. The harmonies are full and gorgeous. Every time the key changes it felt like you were kicking it up a notch and LeAnn Rimes was right there with you, every step of the way. Why would you want to fight the moonlight? It’s a song about not being able to resist, about giving in to love, passion, and their other consorts. I am utterly powerless to this song.

I learned how to play it on the piano and it took me about twenty minutes, singing it over and over probably pissing off my cats. It’s incredibly nostalgic. It sounds like the first time you feel like you’re listening to a grown-up song as a kid, songs you would listen to in secret because you don’t exactly understand the lyrics yet but you know you shouldn’t be listening to them. It’s a similar experience to the first time I heard The Tide Is High by Atomic Kitten on TV in Australia. It’s just so very specific in its mass appeal. It’s special to me in that way.

Coyote Ugly is also special to me in that kitsch way Miss Congeniality and Charlie’s Angels are. I’m obsessed with the wardrobe. Simple baby tees, halters, and crop tops paired with flares, on-trend low-rise jeans, and leather trousers. It made me want to rewatch 2 Fast 2 Furious just so I could witness Devon Aoki’s hot pink reverse chaps again. I want to dress like this and I will. I want to embody this LeAnn Rimes song and how it got Bridget Moynahan and Isabella Miko dancing on the bar countertop. I don’t want to fight the moonlight anymore, do you?

Ol’ Miss Sawyer Has A Farm

I’ve almost finished The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm, Hilarie Burton Morgan’s memoir. I grew up watching her on One Tree Hill as the enigmatic artist and cheerleader, Peyton Sawyer. Peyton was my mum’s favourite character. I remember seeing White Collar on TV in passing and going: “Hey! That’s Peyton!” and running to show my mum. I think she’s a brilliant actress. More recently, she blew me away playing Lucille, Negan’s late wife, on The Walking Dead opposite her real-life husband, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Their episode ‘Here’s Negan’ is genuinely the best out of the six COVID episodes they shot. At least to me, anyway.

Burton’s memoir is actually really awe-inspiring. I’ve been following their Mischief Farm Instagram for a while, and it’s really just stirred a warmth and a longing in my heart. There’s nothing I want more than to just become a farmer. I suppose it’s never too late, and I’ll figure that out someday soon, but right now with the way the world is, I’m feeling a lot more lost than usual. Reading The Rural Diaries has sort of been anchoring. Not because I, too, would like to raise alpaca and make dandelion wine (which I do), but because Burton’s tales of farm blunders, loss, heartaches, and ultimately resilience reminded me of what it was I was looking for, what I felt like I had been missing: life. Life in a way that wasn’t chasing my next job, or unnerved by former classmates and their debonair social media presences. I just want to live again. Which is such a foreign feeling after a couple of decades of wanting just the opposite.

I want to stop being so afraid and stop comparing where I am in my life to where other people are, whom I am well aware are leading completely different lives. I think I came across this book at the right time, in that I needed something that was nice but wasn’t afraid to address really difficult emotions.

Peppered in among her accounts are her recipes; everything from dandelion wine to corn cakes she made competing with a Real Housewife in front of Martha Stewart. The recipe I’ve tried is a little trick she does with her coffee. Burton sprinkles in a little bit of cinnamon in her coffee grounds before she brews them. It’s a dream. I do it every day now. It goes well with the way I take my coffee (almond milk and salted caramel syrup). It smells divine.

I’m excited to finish the book, but I’m reluctant to. I don’t want it to end. But I’m excited to come away from it a little bit braver, and a little bit more pragmatic in my optimism (if I had any to begin with at all). Burton writes with a steadfast conviction, vulnerability, and warmth that I can’t even begin to articulate to you properly. It’s not your typical live, laugh, love girlboss moment.

Existing under capitalism has been hard on me, as I’m sure it has been on you. I hate that we’ve been wired to believe we have to earn our rest. To earn our peace. I don’t wanna work till I die and I don’t want to do work I don’t care about. I think I’ve been struggling to reconcile my pursuit of a career in the arts with the internalized, points-based reward system of a declining system we’ve been living in for god knows how long. None of what I’m saying is new or nuanced enough and I don’t have any energy for analysis. Because that’s where the problem is: I’m tired. I’m tired, and I don’t feel like I can rest yet because I haven’t earned it somehow. I’m trying to shake that off. Hilarie Burton’s book has been helping me with that a lot.

What’s been helping you get through this? What’s been helping you resist this incredibly unsustainable way we’ve all been living? I’d genuinely love to know. We’re in this together.

Didn’t Do It For The Vine

I got to watch Zola last week and I really liked it. I’d been really looking forward to seeing it since its Sundance debut last year. Zola brings to life an iconic and infamous Twitter thread by Aziah ‘Zola’ King, recounting her trip to Florida with another exotic dancer she met whilst working at Hooters. The trip spiraled out of control and includes tales of prostitution, murder, attempted suicide, and viral infamy.

Zola is anxiety-inducing and immersive, much like its A24 kin Uncut Gems or American Honey. I loved the way this film was shot and edited. Despite being shot on 16mm, elements of the digital world aren’t lost within the grain and grit of the cinematography. I loved the timestamps dressed up as wide iPhone locked screen displays, complete with the unmistakeable click of the lock button. I loved the fluttering sound of a Tweet notification. I loved that X (Colman Domingo) had what was then the latest and most business-y Blackberry model. I loved that their trap phones did not have touch screens. I loved when they read out what they were texting.

What really got me was how much time Derrek (Nicholas Braun) spent on Vine. Zola published her thread in 2015; so the film’s production and costume design stayed true to its mid-2010s aesthetics, including mid-2010s technology and trends. Vine’s 6-seconds of chaos as a cultural touchstone of that time was used so endearingly to me in the film. Braun’s character is often on his phone, showing his girlfriend Stefani (Riley Keough), Zola (Taylour Paige), or X a video he watches on a loop. There’s a scene towards the end of the film where he sits with a disinterested Zola in the car and he tells her he wants to make ‘films’ like the vine he’s showing her. It’s small on the screen, you can barely make out what the clip is, but it’s of a white guy screaming and freaking out in the shower. I even wondered if it was Braun himself in those vines.

I thought that it was interesting to see how their attention is constantly divided at all times, especially in the lulls and silences of tension and waiting. There are plenty of moments in the film where Zola and Stefani are absorbed in their phones either scrolling social media or texting each other. I think Zola is a great example of our relationships with the internet and how it continues to change and evolve visually in storytelling. It doesn’t talk about or use social media/the internet at large in a corny, out-of-touch way. It does it in the same way the iCarly reboot doesn’t patronize the native internet users that make up the majority of its audience. I really liked this film. Go see it on the big screen if you get the chance, but to be safe, go see it on demand.

John Oliver Horse Girl Era

I would like to address the Burberry ad Adam Driver starred in. You know which one I’m talking about. The one on the beach with the horse and Two Weeks by FKA Twigs. I would not like to address the ad itself, but rather a specific response to it: John Oliver’s response to it.

I like that the Last Week Tonight team is keeping John Oliver’s thirst for Adam Driver bit alive and well. Well done social media intern/John Oliver thinking this was his burner account!

Hey Steven (Like The Taylor Swift Song)

It’s been a good couple of weeks for us Steven Yeun enjoyers. He joins Jon Bernthal and Oscar Isaac as Hyperfixate It Boy mainstays. Steven’s a good egg. I think he’s simply wonderful.

A first look at The Humans came out yesterday and all I have to say about it is a wistful “wow.”

He looks so good in his little glasses!

The poster for Jordan Peele’s upcoming film Nope also came out the other week. Yeun will star alongside fellow sexy people Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. Love that Jordan Peele is always looking out for us.

I was also reminded of this photoshoot he did with then-co-star Lauren Cohan, looking like they were right behind Lana Del Rey and A$AP Rocky in the National Anthem music video representing the Republic of Wasia.

Unsolicited Duke Pics

Of course we’re going to talk about Dune. The Venice Film Festival line-up is not only shaping up to be very, very sexy cinematically speaking, it’s also been subjected to Oscar Isaacification. Dune will premiere at Venice alongside Facebook uncle Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter and the first five episodes of HBO’s Scenes From A Marriage remake, all three projects starring Oscar Isaac.

Duke Atreides had a considerable amount of screentime in this trailer. And I want to go through a few of his looks:

This one really got me. I had to pause the trailer for several moments. I had to take a breath. Everything from the uniform, to the swoop of his hair, to the beard is a lot to take in. Denis Villenueve is playing with fire here, if he wasn’t already too busy playing with sand, salt, and pepper.

I still cannot believe that Oscar Isaac will be playing Timothée Chalamet’s father. The math isn’t math-ing to me. Some computations are not, how you say, adding up! But regardless, I think they’ll make it work. The beard is serving. He will out-perform ole Peach Boy there without question. My favourite tweet in the world re: Timothée as some guy called Paul allegedly being fathered by the pictured man above is as follows:

I haven’t stopped thinking about this tweet.

All that’s missing from the image above is a cat and a guitar. I would not be surprised if Duke Leto was a singer too. Elvira Lind’s husband has truly been breaking the internet again! Good for him! I don’t even have anything new to say. We know this man has no social media but an iron vice grip over his fans. We know he can send even the most composed and unnecessarily professional journalists and industry professionals alike into a tizzy online. He just has that It factor! When hot people are ridiculously talented, it always feels like a gift. Positive representation for the sexy community. We love to see it.

The Dune trailer also featured many wonderful Zendaya Is Meechee moments as well as Jason Momoa saying more words that I had ever heard him say as Aquaman and Khal Drogo combined. Rebecca Ferguson is looking good. This makes Dune a lowkey The Greatest Showman (2017) reunion, much to my own dismay. Ferguson portrayed singer Jenny Lind who made headlines making out with a married man on stage and Zendaya rewrote some stars with Troy Bolton. I don’t remember the film. I worked many a Greatest Showman sing-a-long during my time at the Prince Charles Cinema but I was very sure that I disassociated for many of those events. Don’t tell.

That’s all for this week!

Take care.

All my love,

Ari.