Thursday, July 31, 2014

Top Ten Things to Do This Summer and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new film "Lucy," DVDs "The Beautiful Person," "Le Weekend" and the book "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer and I also weigh in on how I am doing with my project of shaking up my life by instilling a new habit every month for the next year. Check out how I'm doing]

But First

Top Ten Things To Do This Summer

Ah, summer.  We are in the midst of a gorgeous summer here in Seattle.  Sometimes it arrives kicking and screaming-but when it does get here, it is glorious. 
 
 
Now we get to enjoy our two months of nice weather before hunkering back down into the gloom.
But let’s not think about that right now.  Let’s talk about fun and (mostly) cheap things you can do to enjoy what Seattle and its environs have to offer this summer. 

And if you don't live near Seattle, hopefully you will come out to visit or some of these ideas will spark your enthusiasm for your own part of the world.

My daughter and her husband are coming to visit this month, so I am thinking about all of the fun things we can do together.
All of these activities have been personally tested by yours truly,  so I can attest to the fun you will have!

Seattle Stair Walking.

I adore outdoor steps, especially the hidden little gems that populate Seattle (San Francisco has them, too). 
If you have been reading my blog, you know that Hubby and I climbed and descended all of the steps in "Seattle Stair Walks" by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo.
 
It took us a year to do all 23 walks, but it not only helped us learn more about Seattle, it was fun and healthy alone time for us.  Well, the Happy Hour after was probably not so healthy, but we had to have some kind of reward for all of those stairs.
 
 

Eat Your Way Through Pike Place Market.

Granted you can do this any time of the year, but on a sunny day it’s just that much more fun.  Get there early to watch the Market come alive.  Grab an espresso at the original Starbucks (before it is full of tourists) and a piroshky from the Piroshky bakery a couple of doors down.  For lunch, restaurants abound, and later have a martini on the deck at the Pink Door and take in the view and the sun. There are a wealth of options for dinner, but a personal favorite is the Steelhead Diner (can’t resist the poutine).  Walk past the gum wall to the Alibi Room for a nightcap and some people watching.  If movie people are in town you might catch a famous face. In between eating at the Market, you can watch flying fish, shop for produce and crafts, listen to street musicians, and take a picture with Rachel the Pig.

Take the Clipper to Victoria.

 

“More British than Britain,” Victoria is one of my most special places. 

I have my little rituals – mussels at Santiago’s Cafe, buy a supply of tea at Murchies, head over to Munro’s Books (one of the last great independent book stores) to buy an autobiography of some obscure British television actor who only I have heard of published only in the UK, take the “putt putt boat” across the Inner Harbour (note my British spelling) to Barb’s for the best fish & chips, tea at the James Bay Tea Room (locals laugh at you if you have tea at the Empress, but you have to do it at least once), but definitely drinks at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress, take in the lights that outline Parliament at night and walk, walk, walk.  You don’t even have to spend the night if you don’t want to. You can get on the Clipper at 8am in Seattle and be in Victoria by 10:30 in the morning and have the whole day to enjoy Victoria and then go home in the evening.  A little bit of England just a few hours away.

Water Taxi to West Seattle.

Hop the King County Water Taxi over to West Seattle for killer views of the City. There is a free bus to take you to “The Junction,” the heart of West Seattle and then you can wind your way back on foot to Alki Beach (more stairs, too!)
 

Ballard Locks and the Fish Ladder.
 I will never forget the first time I visited the locks.  My husband, my children and I were visiting Seattle for the first time and went to the locks to see the salmon make their way up the fish ladder.  There we were, noses pressed to the glass awaiting the leaping, flying salmon as they made their way up the ladder. We waited and waited and waited.  Nothing.  Finally, along came one lone little minnow who reminded me of Don Knotts in "The Incredible Mr. Limpet." 



On a recent visit, however, Hubby and I were rewarded with a salmon jumping so high it almost hit Hubby in the head. However, salmon or no salmon, the locks are situated in a beautiful park and as you walk across the locks, you can watch a lock fill up, chat with the boat people as they wait and then make your way over to the Magnolia side for a pleasant walk around the neighborhood. 

Take your dog to an off-leash dog park.

Or if you don’t have a dog, go anyway.  It’s a hoot.  Or should I say a woof!

You can watch a Yorkiepoo try to provoke a Great Dane, a white fluffy Bichon Frise roll around in the dirt and German Shepherds chasing Frisbees into the water and then shaking the water off onto their owners.  A personal favorite is the scene around the communal drinking bowl.  Have you ever noticed that when a dog looks up after drinking out of a bowl, water continues to ooze out of both sides of its mouth. They are so ridiculously unselfconscious! (Particularly noticeable with a collie, and she knows who she is). And along with the canine shenanigans, dog parks are often in prime locations. Edmonds has one right on the Sound; and the one at Magnuson Park in Seattle is ginormous.  Your little Fido could think he was a free dog there.
(And for you etymologists, yes, ginormous is a word and made it into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2009. It’s definition?  Humongous. )


Snoqualmie Falls.
 
Lovely drive into the foothills. For those of you who are of a certain age, it is difficult to not think of the TV show “Twin Peaks” when standing near the Salish Lodge overlooking the Falls.  As the mist rises, so do images of the dancing dwarf and FBI Special Agent Cooper drinking his cup of “damn fine coffee.” If you snag a seat by a window in the restaurant, you will have a wonderful view while dining.

Wine Tasting and Concerts in Woodinville.

When I moved here eight years ago, there was Chateau Ste.Michelle and the Columbia Winery.  And the tastes were free.  Now there are something like 300 wineries populating the Woodinville area and tastings are anything but free unless you are a member.  But on a lovely day, there is nothing finer than a stroll on the grounds of the Chateau, discovering a new wine tasting room or a new wine.  Just be wary of “palate fatigue,” if you know what I mean. 
 Ringo
The Chateau also hosts music concerts in its outdoor venue, a gorgeous setting to listen to music while drinking that wonderful wine.

Kayaking.

The last time my daughter and her husband visited we rented kayaks at Aqua Verde and ventured out into "The Cut" toward Lake Washington.  Not long into the trip, Hubby lost control of the foot rudder and we had to manage on our own. We were sharing the waters with much bigger boats.  I think they could hear me yelling at Hubby all the way to Bellevue.  My first and last kayaking adventure.  But I know you all are much more brave than I.
A mere 20 minute ferry ride and you are in a rural paradise (though in the summer, lines to get ON the ferry can be long.  Plan accordingly). Miles of beaches, wineries, good food and lovely, historic towns like Langley and Coupeville.  You know those Penn Cove mussels you love you much?  They are from here.

 

No Matter Where You Live, Visit Your Library. Make it a destination.
Your local public library has all kinds of summer activities.  Take your child or grandchild and have some fun summer adventures sharing the joy of reading.
 What summer fun are you looking forward to?

 
Now on to The Week in Reviews
 
***In Theatres Now***
 

 



This Sci-Fi thriller explores what could happen if humans were able to use 100% of their brains while juxtaposing that with drug-smuggling Taiwanese gangsters.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), currently living in Taiwan, finds herself involuntarily involved in a drug smuggling operation.

Her boyfriend of about a minute, Richard, forces her to deliver a briefcase to a Mr. Jang by handcuffing her to the briefcase. Jang and his gang of thugs then turn her into a drug mule by planting a bag of CPH4 into her and three other men's stomachs (CPH4 will be explained in the film, so I don't need to do it here).  When Lucy's bag of drugs is dislodged by an over amorous and brutal goon, the drug starts to leak into her system and takes her brain from the usual 10% usage we humans supposedly and arguably only use to an ever-increasing amount as the film progresses and eventually to 100%, turning her into a superhuman, capable of unimagined strength and knowledge.  With that as her weapon, she goes in search of Mr. Jang to seek revenge.  But when she realizes the drug will also kill her, she seeks out the preeminent mind on brain function, Dr. Samuel Norman, played by Morgan Freeman (what movie ISN'T he in?), to help her make sense of her gift and whose lecture about the human brain parlays back and forth from the action at the beginning of the film.

Writer/Director Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita," "The Fifth Element") has combined a bit of Quentin Tarantino (I had my hands over my eyes for the first half hour)  and a bit of "2001: A Space Odyssey" to create a tense thriller with an examination of what constitutes existence and humanity. He has created another strong female like Nikita and Scarlett does not disappoint.  She starts out as a sort of air-head slutty girl and turns into a mental superhero. The film is all about her. It is a tour de force.

True to his "Transporter" roots, Besson also treats us to a fantastic car chase through the streets of Paris that can only be imagined as CGI or some other special effects - if not, how could Paris officials agree to a car chase like that?  The sequence through the pedestrian arcade was amazing - I think I walked through that one - and when Lucy was driving against traffic, it was spectacular.

My one irritation was the montages of animals mimicking the action and during Freeman's lecture.  I'm not a fan of that stuff and I don't need to be bonked on the head to know that our Lucy is a reference to the "famous Lucy fossil."

Rosy the Reviewer says...whether or not you think this is believable, you will be gripping the arms of your chair while you try to decide.  Thrilling.
 See it in Imax.


***DVDS***
                                   You Might Have Missed
                        And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
                         (I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

 

 

La Belle Personne (The Beautiful Person) (2008)

 

Sixteen-year old Junie changes high schools mid-year, following the death of her mother, and goes to live with her cousin Mathias, who introduces her to his friends. All the boys want to date Junie, especially Otto, but her real attraction is to the lothario Italian teacher, Nemours. 
This French film, adapted from the classic French novel “La Princesse de Clèves,” by Madame de Lafayette (1678 ) and directed by Christophe Honore explores the illusion of love and whether or not enduring love is possible.

When we first meet Nemours, who looks young enough to be one of the students, he is having an affair with another teacher and a student.  Junie's cousin, Matthias is having a secret affair with Martin and they fear exposure from a love letter that fell out of Martin's pocket. Otto, another student, loves Junie and when he is rejected by her, jumps off the third floor balcony of the school, all the while lip-synching the lyrics to a French pop tune.  Strange.

When Nemours becomes love struck with Junie, he breaks off his other affairs to concentrate on her, but Junie fears that love won't last and gets the hell out of Dodge.

If you are a fan of French films, then you get how they roll - all very New Wavy, not a lot happens, but it's all very deep and moody with French pop tunes playing in the background while people look off into the distance.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I can tell I am getting to the bottom of my Netflix queue.  You can pass on this one. (subtitles)




Le Weekend (2013)
 

A British couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary return to Paris to try to rejuvenate their failing marriage.

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play Nick and Meg, a married couple who you can tell right away have "issues."  They have fallen into a pattern of insult, boredom and taking each other for granted.  This weekend is meant to be a time to find each other again.

It begins with Meg objecting to their room because the bathroom is too beige.  So Meg impulsively changes hotels to one very much more upscale than the original and when Nick tells Meg he has been forced to retire from his professorship for saying something inappropriate to a black student, it becomes apparent that they can't afford this hotel.  The weekend continues with their running out of a restaurant without paying and other shenanigans, all of the while Meg insulting Nick and Nick trying to get Meg to love him.  Meg seems to have great contempt for Nick.  These are not pleasant people.

Both Nick and Meg have had teaching careers and they have two sons.  But when Nick runs into an old school chum, Morgan, (Jeff Goldblum, who overdoes it a bit here), who appears to be everything Nick is not - successful, optimistic, and he has a young, pregnant wife - Nick is moved to deliver a dinnertime soliloquy about the disappointments of his life.  But the film ends where it began.  Nick and Meg are still together.  A long marriage can be a strange dance.

Hanif Kureishi ("My Beautiful Laundrette" and "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid") wrote the screenplay, and I know he's edgey, but with Roger Michell ("Notting Hill") directed so, I was expecting the charm of "Notting Hill" and instead got "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." 

This film is a testament to what a long marriage is:  tender, cruel, boring, exciting, recriminations and reconciliations, but this film is not exactly an endorsement and not exactly entertainment. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Broadbent and Duncan are wonderful actors and they do a great job showing the ups and downs of a long marriage.  But that doesn't mean this is a pleasant film to watchIf you are expecting a "mature" version of "Notting Hill," you will be disappointed.
 
***Book of the Week***
 
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer (2007)
 More on the quest for inner peace.

I first heard of Michael Singer when Oprah interviewed him on her "Super Soul Sunday" show.  I was so impressed I had to buy his book as I continue my own journey to enlightenment.

It's not an easy concept - that your thoughts are not you.  He likens the voices in your head to an unruly roommate.  Would you really be friends with someone who says the crazy things your mind says?  Would you listen to that person?

Singer hopes to free us from those voices that cause us so much pain.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Learn how to put an end to the habitual thoughts and emotions that hinder you by tapping into meditation and mindfulness to dwell in the present moment. It's only 181 pages. A small price to pay for enlightenment, wouldn't you say?

 
UPDATE: If you have been following my blog, you know I wrote a post on my 66th birthday called "Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life," where I talked about wanting to shake up my life a bit and instill some new habits.  For July, I said I would NOT order my usual Starbucks drink, but rather anything but...try some new ones.  AND I DID IT!  I did not order a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte once.  I tried hazelnut, caramel and my new favorite, cinnamon dolce. 

Now it's on to August, month #2, where I said I would moisturize every day! I know, but this new habit thing isn't easy.  Check back next month to see if I did it! 





That's it for this week!


Thanks for reading!
 
See you Tuesday for
"It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time"
 
 

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.


Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 
Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."
 
Or you can go directly to IMDB.  
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."
 
 

 
 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Not To Look Like a Tourist in Paris or Anywhere Else

With summer upon us, I hope that you have a wonderful vacation planned.  If it's a trip to Paris or some other overseas destination, even better.

My experience has been that the best vacations are ones where you blend in with the local culture.  In so doing, you can have some very special experiences.

That said, in order to blend in, you need to do a little homework before you leave.

I spent most of my adult life on the coast of Northern California and no one seems to understand that Northern California has nothing to do with Southern California.  There is a reason why each wanted to secede from the other.  But it's the weather that differs most of all.  I can't tell you how many times I would tell people I was from California and how many times they would extol its weather virtues and I could tell they were talking about Southern California. Likewise, now that I have moved to Seattle, everyone wants to know how I could leave sunny California for the rain and gloom of Seattle.  They can't believe it when I say we came for the Seattle summers.  For two to three months a year, it's warm and sunny.

In Northern California, it is cold in the summer!  Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever spent was the summer he spent in San Francisco. In summer, when the fog rolls in, it's cold.  It's a joke among locals in San Francisco as to how you can spot a tourist.  Tourists are those folks wearing shorts (no one wears shorts in San Francisco) and an "I Love San Francisco" sweatshirt because they didn't bring any warm clothes and were so cold they had to buy one!



That's just a little anecdote to illustrate the pitfalls of not doing your homework.

When I travel, I don't want to look like a tourist.  I want to blend in and hang with the locals.  That often means keeping my mouth shut so I can observe.

Hubby's job used to take him to the U.K. quite frequently and his office was in a small town about 60 miles west of London.  While he worked, I would play.  But occasionally I would head down to the launderette (that's Brit speak for the laundromat) to do some needed laundry.  Unlike many of our laundromats, it had a person running the place, and I could eavesdrop on him and his interactions with the ladies doing their wash. I could feel like I was one of them.  One time I arrived and there was no hot water.  That being the case, the local ladies decided they would have to do their laundry another time and left. They couldn't fathom washing their clothes in cold water. The fellow running the launderette said to me, "Well, I know they do their laundry in cold water all of the time in America."  I responded and blew my cover, but he and I engaged in an interesting conversation.  

The point is, blending in, not proclaiming that you are American (especially talking loudly, which is an American stereotype over there) and seeking out the locals can lead to all kinds of interesting encounters.

So if you want to blend in and try being a local, you need to also look the part.

Nothing screams tourist more than a baseball cap with an American team on it, a windbreaker heralding said team, athletic shoes and carrying a map.


This is an American tourist.

Sorry, Hubby.

Though Paris can be casual, I would say they dress a step up from what we Americans consider acceptable.  You are not likely to see a Parisian wearing flip flops, a fanny pack or a baseball cap, though, of course, there are exceptions.  And scarves are de rigeur.


This is an American tourist who could "pass."  I have actually been asked for directions by a local.

However, if you want to meet other Americans, the baseball cap works well.  Hubby and I were standing outside this crepe shop in the Marais, Hubby with his ever present Mariners cap on, and we were approached by a young woman who noticed Hubby's cap. 


She was not only American, but from Seattle and had been living in Paris for several months and longed to speak English with someone.  We had a lovely conversation and she recommended a wonderful bistro where we dined that evening.

It's also a good idea to at least try to speak the language.  Parisians can't stand you mangling their language, so as soon as you make the attempt, they will usually start speaking English, but they usually appreciate the attempt.  I took eights years of French and my attempts are usually met with, first a look of confusion, then disgust, then English.

However, good manners require that you always say "Bon jour" when entering a shop or encountering a local in Paris.  I learned this the hard way when my ticket for the Metro didn't open up the little gate to let me in.  I scurried over to the ticket taker and said in English, "My ticket doesn't work," to which he replied with dripping contempt, "BON JOUR."  I had skipped the greeting and got schooled!

So when you travel to other countries, do you homework so you have some idea of what the weather will be like, learn a few phrases, dress appropriately, learn the currency and not only don't talk loudly, but sometimes it pays to not talk at all.



If you want to blend in and not look like a tourist, you would NEVER do stuff like this!


 
 




 

But who cares!  Have fun!
 
What are your travel tips? 


See you Friday for

"Top Ten Things to Do This Summer"
and
The Week in Reviews

 Thanks for Reading!
 
And check your local library for travel guides to help you read up on your destination.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer.
 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Best and Worst Films and DVDs of 2014 - So Far and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Sex Tape" and DVDs "Face of Love," $ellebrity," "Delivery Man" and "I Give It A Year" as well as Molly Wizenberg's new book "Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage."]

But First


Since 2014 is already more than half over, I thought I would recap some of my reviews and weigh in on the Best and Worst in new movies and new DVD releases this year (all films are in theatres now or available on DVD or soon to be) and give you some great movie watching ideas for you weekend.

The Best Movies and DVDS of 2014...So Far



The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


Writer/director Wes Anderson ("The Royal Tanenbaums," "Rushmore" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" ) has gathered together a stellar cast to tell the story of Gustave H. renowned concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel and his Lobby Boy, Zero.

He pulls out all the stops in this beautifully crafted, stylish and hilarious comedy, starring Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe, Jeff Goldbloom, Harvey Keitel, Owen Wilson, Tom Wilkinson, and Bob Balaban.  It has all of the elements of a French Farce and you have never seen a wackier Ralph Fiennes.

See my full review here




Somm (2012)






 
 
Four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam to become a part of the Court of Master Sommeliers, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. 
 
The film counts down the final weeks before each has to take the test. 
They must memorize the most esoteric facts about wine.

We have Ian, Dustin, Brian and DLynn.  Who will pass? 

The most fun is the blind wine tasting they do where they describe a glass of wine thusly:  Starbright, slight acid with a hint of tennis ball and cat pee.  Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma 1999.

I made that up but it's close.

A wine lover's dream.



See my full review here






 

The Lunchbox (2013)


A lonely wife in Mumbai sends her husband his lunchbox, but it is delivered to a man on the verge of retirement by mistake.  They begin a correspondence via the lunchbox and share confessions about dreams, regrets and unhappiness.  Will the older man in the later part of his life and the young, unhappy housewife fall in love and live happily ever after?

This is an utterly charming film about two lonely people who bond over food and mutual loneliness.
See my full review here





Chef (2014)



Miami-born chef Carl Casper (John Favreau) is a chef in an LA restaurant who wants to create his own menu but the owner (Dustin Hoffman) forces him to keep doing the same old thing.  When he is raked over the coals by a critic (Oliver Platt), Chef Casper reacts on Twitter, followed by a public meltdown in the restaurant, which is, of course, recorded and goes viral on the Internet.  He finds himself out of a job, so he moves to Miami with his ex-wife (Sophia Vergara) and opens a food truck.

A sweet, charming film food lovers and everyone else will enjoy.
 
See my full review here




Gloria (2013)



Paulina Garcia plays Gloria and she is a wonder to behold.   She is a nice, but ordinary looking middle-aged woman who wears glasses, but she is mesmerizing in her portrayal of a lonely woman who loves life and wants to live it fully. You will fall in love with Gloria.

See my full review here





Jersey Boys (2014)


The film version of the Broadway hit show of the same name.

If you loved the Broadway musical, will you love this film.  If you didn't see the play version, you will like this film. It stands on its own as a great biopic.
 



 
Rosy the Reviewer says...An utterly stunning and beautifully photographed documentary on the Controversial Russian performance art band, Pussy Riot, that protested against Putin and Russia's anti-feminist policies and got two years in Siberia.

See my full review here


The Worst Movies and DVDS of 2014...So Far



Mom's Night Out (2014)


Allyson (Sarah Drew), a harried young mother who can't handle the stresses of motherhood and  her own perfectionism, arranges a night out with her girlfriends to "unplug" and unwind.
 
The women plan a nice dinner out and leave the kids with the husbands (Sean Astin and Robert Amaya).  In the course of the evening, there is no dinner reservation, a baby goes missing, a parakeet gets sat upon and a tattooed biker named Bones (Trace Atkins) gives our heroine the message she needed to hear.  God doesn't expect her to be perfect.  And her husband confirms the importance of her role as a mother.

 Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 
Even if you have been longing for a Christian-themed movie, you don't want to waste your time.  It's not funny and it's not even uplifting.


See my full review here




Pompeii (2014)


A slave turned gladiator finds himself fighting for his life not only against other gladiators but a volcano. 

What happens in this film defies plausibility so you will be fighting to get through it.

See my full review here




Nymphomanic Vol. 1 (2013) and Vol. II (2013)


Who knew nymphomania could be so boring?


See my full review here




Enemy (2013)


Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a history teacher living a bland and boring life.  One night he watches a film and spots an extra who is his exact look alike.  He becomes obsessed with finding this doppelganger.  He eventually finds him - Anthony St. Claire (also played by Gyllenhaal), and each man couldn't be more different.  It starts out OK and then falls apart into all kinds of wacky images of spiders and fetishes.

The title sequence includes the quote: "Chaos is merely order yet deciphered."

After seeing this film, you will say, "That's for damn sure."  This was definitely chaos that you won't decipher ever.

See my full review here





Reasonable Doubt (2014)


A young district attorney played by Dominic Cooper is involved in a hit and run and tries to cover up his crime until another man (Samuel L. Jackson) is arrested for it and charged with murder.  Our "hero" is a bit of a slime ball but guilt ensues.

This movie is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of being terrible.

See my full review here



Under the Skin (2013)

 
What appears to be an alien woman (Scarlett Johansson) trolls for men in Glasgow, Scotland and lures them to their death in a thick black goo. 
 
That's how I would describe this film - incomprehensible thick black goo.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What do you think of my Bests and Worsts?
 
What are yours?
 
 
 
 

Now on to
The Week in Reviews


 


***In Theatres Now***
 
 
 
 
A married couple decide to make a sex tape to spice up their lagging sex life, but discover it has somehow gotten into "The Cloud," for all of their friends and family to see.

Annie and Jay meet in college and have sex every which way.  He gets an erection when she is just in the vicinity.  But once they are married and have two kids, they go the way of most couples:  less sex.  They finally get a night to themselves and discover it's not that easy to just resume their hot sex so they decide to make a sex tape and act out every position in "The Joy of Sex."  That right there is strange. 

Does anyone really talk about "The Joy of Sex" anymore?  That was from the 70's.  I guess it gave them some supposedly funny dialogue on how hairy people were then, and I am not talking about the hair on their heads, faces, backs or chest.

They have a great night and the next morning, Annie tells Jay to delete the "tape" from his IPad.  Unfortunately, somehow the tape gets synched onto some IPads that have been given away, including to the mail man, and the tape now resides on "the cloud," so they must get those IPads back!

No one understands what "the cloud" is and this film is capitalizing on that big time, because how their sex tape gets out there into the world doesn't make much sense, but that's the least of this film's worries.

The quest is even more important as Annie is trying to sell her "Mommy" blog to a conservative company and doesn't want to do anything to mess that up and wouldn't you know, the head of the company that wants to buy her blog also has one of those IPads.
Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel make a cute couple and this story of what happens after you have kids starts out well but slides into the abyss of slapstick.

I love Cameron Diaz but she is having a hard time finding a vehicle that highlights her strengths.  In fact, she has been in some clunkers lately.  "The Other Woman" was also not a success.  Here is what I said about that.

Rob Lowe plays the head of the company that wants to buy Annie's blog.  Lowe has worked to get out of the "pretty boy" mold to play more eccentric characters such as his turn in "Behind the Candelabra."  Here he is again as a seemingly conservative guy who just likes to snort a bit of cocaine and listen to Slayer when his wife and kids are away.  He's the best thing about this movie.
You know you are in trouble when Jack Black delivers the moral of the story.
 Rosy the Reviewer says...Cute premise but no cigar.


***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
 
Face of Love (2013)
 


A widow falls in love with a man who looks exactly like her dead husband.

Annette Benning plays Nikki, who found her husband of 30 years drowned on a Mexican beach.  She grieves for five years until she meets, Tom, an art teacher and a dead ringer for her dead husband (Ed Harris plays both parts).

Naturally, Nikki never tells Tom he looks just like her dead husband.  That is the whole crux of this film.  She is using Tom to relive her marriage and in so doing, must make a choice.  As for Tom, his love for Nikki inspires him to paint again.  She cloisters herself with Tom, not wanting her daughter, Summer to see him or her neighbor, Roger (Robin Williams), because that would blow her cover.  The basic question that is explored here is:  Does Nikki really love Tom or is she reliving her lost marriage?  And what is going to happen when Tom finds out he looks like her husband? You are never quite sure if Nikki is on the verge or madness or not or if Tom really does mirror her dead husband.

There is a little bit of Hitchcock here with references to his "Vertigo."  But what's with these movies lately about people and their lookalikes?  (See my review of "Enemy" above).

I give Benning credit for not going the plastic surgery route.  Her age is there for all to see and it's refreshing.  Ed Harris, on the other hand, is too damn skinny.  And why Robin Williams took this role, I don't know.  He doesn't have much to do except moon over Nikki, who has no interest in him romantically.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you crave plots that make sense, this isn't for you, but if you enjoy wonderful acting moments, you will like this film. There is chemistry between Benning and Harris and many touching moments.




 
$ellebrity (2012)
 

Celebrity photographer Kevin Mazur draws the line between authorized photographers and the cult of paparazzi.
 
Mazur stars in and directs this documentary about the cult of celebrity and our obsession with celebrity gossip.  That, he says, is what drives rogue photographers to stalk celebrities in order to get that one BIG picture that will set them up for the year.  Mazur, known for his red carpet photos, strives to distance himself from the stalker types.  He seems to be saying here that he is authorized and legitimate, whereas those "other guys" are just stalkers, which I guess he is since he has called upon Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez (and Marc Anthony - they were together then), Sheryl Crow and others to comment and lament about the good old days before TMZ and those "They're Just Like Us" pictures.  He also goes on to blame the consumer for reading those magazines in which those pictures appear.  And yet he made this movie. I don't particularly like watching a film that blames me for watching it.
 
Believe it or not, People Magazine is portrayed as the good guy compared to "those others."
 
There is some history thrown in such as where the name "paparazzi" came from and the years that "Confidential" ruled the celebrity gossip roost.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you already feel guilty reading celebrity gossip mags, this will make you feel worse.  It's all YOUR fault!  Now let me get back to my "Star Magazine!"
 
 

Delivery Man (2013)

 



A man who donated sperm 20 years ago discovers that his donations resulted in over 500 babies, 142 of them who now want to meet their biological father.

David (Vince Vaughn) can't seem to get much going in his life.  Basically he is a screw up.  He has a $100,000 loan shark debt hanging over his head and his girlfriend, despite being pregnant, has just about had it with him. Twenty years ago he donated sperm under the name "Starbuck" to make a little cash and now he discovers that his sperm was so desirable that it was used to make 533 babies and 142 of them now want to meet him.

(The name "Starbuck" is not to be confused with the coffee.  It's the name of a famous Canadian bull whose sperm was so prized it was worth millions and he fathered over 200,000.  Since the bull was Canadian, our hero's choice of name as a sperm donor probably made more sense in the Canadian film).

David decides that checking up on his "kids" would give him some purpose so he seeks some of them out anonymously and ends up having a positive effect on their lives.

This is almost an exact remake of the French-Canadian film "Starbuck," which makes you wonder why it needed to be remade.  But since it was in French and many Americans can't deal with subtitles, I guess that explains it.

Ken Scott, the same writer/director, who helmed the French-Canadian film is behind this American version and having seen "Starbuck," a couple of years ago, it looks to be the exact same film.

Vince Vaughn has a warm, endearing quality about him and his incompetent lawyer friend, Brett, played by Chris Pratt is the comic relief, but overall, the film didn't work very well.

Rosy the Reviewer says...see "Starbuck."  It works where this one doesn't.  And yes, you can do the subtitles.  Yes, you can!

 
 
 

 

Nat and Josh fall madly in love and quickly get married with most of their friends skeptical about it lasting.

Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rose Byrne) marry after only seven months of courtship.  At their wedding, Nat's sister (Minnie Driver, who doesn't seem to be getting many big roles these days) whispers to her husband "I give it a year," hence the crux of this British romantic comedy that isn't really very romantic nor is it very funny.  But everyone ends up with who they are supposed to be with, so I guess that's the romantic part.

Sure enough, nine months later, the couple is in counseling with a counselor who could care less (Olivia Coleman in a comic role, a far-cry from her role in the wonderful "Broadchurch").

I had high hopes for this film.  I love British films and British romantic comedies in particular, but this is no "Four Weddings and a Funeral" or "Notting Hill."  Where is Hugh Grant when you need him?

Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais' sidekick, is the funniest thing in this film but he's not enough to save it from itself.  Anna Faris plays, Chloe, Josh's ex-girlfriend, and wears a god awful brown wig that makes her look quite unattractive, but she brings some stability to the film.  There are assorted other characters, such as Simon Baker, who comes to Nat for some help rebranding his cleaning supplies company.

The first half of the film is promising but then it just deteriorates into silliness.

Brought to you by Writer-Director Dan Mazer, who brought us Borat (although this is not as funny), so that should give you an idea of the kind of humor you are going to encounter here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you want to give it its 97 minutes and you like low-brow, cynical humor, then go for it. Otherwise, save yourself the trouble. It's not that funny.

 


***Book of the Week***
 
Molly Wizenberg is a Seattle based food writer whose blog "Orangette" is wildly popular.
I read her first book, "A Homemade Life (2010)," which talks about growing up in Oklahoma City, her happy times making food with her Mom and Dad and meeting her husband. She combines memoir with recipes (her father's potato salad is the best I have ever made) in a conversational, confessional and intimate style of writing, which I love.
This second book is no exception. 
In her first book she meets and falls in love with her husband, Brandon.  In this one, they open a restaurant together, something Molly never thought she would ever do.  She takes us through this difficult process step-by-step (with recipes!) - the emotional issues that cropped up for her husband and her and the stress it put on the marriage.
When she published her first book, her editor asked about the restaurant and what it would be like to now make cooking a public thing after it having been a part of her private life.  Her blog and first book talked about cooking at home.  Now she was cooking for paying customers.  It was a journey she needed to take.
She quotes from Jack Kerouac's journal: "You have to believe in life before you can accomplish anything.  That is why dour, regular-houred, rational souled State Department diplomats have done nothing for mankind.  Why live if not for excellence?"
Wizenberg was by her own admission a perfectionist, always striving for excellence and someone who liked to make plans and have things work the way they were supposed to.  The unpredictability of the restaurant experience tested her beliefs and her marriage, but despite the differences in her husband and herself, they were both striving for that excellence together.
Seattle folks will recognize Delancey as the popular pizza place in Ballard.  Lines form at 5pm when it opens. But Molly and her husband didn't know that it would be a success when they decided to open a pizza restaurant. But it is.  I have dined there and loved the thin crust pizza.  Now that I have read her book and know what she and her husband Brandon went through to perfect their recipes, I will enjoy it even more. Can't wait to go back.
Molly also mentions other local haunts that Seattlites will recognize, such as Boat Street Café (one of celebrity chef Renee Erickson's restaurants - she was one of the local chefs featured on Top Chef Seattle) and Café Lago, both of whose staff were instrumental in helping them get their restaurant off the ground. 
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a fan of Orangette or loved "A Homemade Life," you will enjoy this as well.  And if you are a foodie and not already a fan of Molly Wizenberg, you will be!

That's it for this week!
See you Tuesday for
"How Not To Look Like a Tourist in Paris
or Anywhere Else"
 Thanks for Reading!
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