Friday, October 13, 2017

"The Mountain Between Us" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Mountain Between Us" as well as DVDs "Going in Style" and "Rough Night." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Puppetmaster."  The Book of the Week is a novel: "One Perfect Lie" by Lisa Scottoline]



 
The Mountain Between Us


After a plane crash, two strangers find themselves stranded on top of a snow-covered mountain.

Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) is a photographer who needs to get home because she is getting married tomorrow.  Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is a neurological surgeon who has an important surgery he needs to get to, so both are not happy that all planes have been cancelled from Idaho to Denver.  Alex gets the idea to rent a private plane, and after overhearing that Ben is in the same predicament as she is, asks him if he wants to join her.

The two find Walter (Beau Bridges) and his dog (Raleigh) and after agreeing on a price, Walter takes them up in his small plane.  As they are flying high over some treacherous mountain peaks, Walter has a stroke and the plane crashes.  Fortunately for Alex, Ben and the dog, they all survive, though Alex has a bad leg injury which Ben is able to treat. Good thing he just happens to be a doctor. Walter is not so lucky.

So now there they all are, alone on the top of a mountain with nothing but other mountains and snow between them and safety and a couple of candy bars and some almonds to keep them company. What to do?

When one finds oneself lost or stranded, the main issue is to stay or go.  Do you sit tight and wait to be rescued?  Or do you leave and hope for the best?

Ben uses his brain (he's a neurological surgeon, get it?).  He wants to stay.  Alex uses her heart. Not sure why that's her thing?  She's a woman? She wants to leave.  The head versus heart is a theme here as is the mountain.  When two beautiful people find themselves stranded together for a long period of time, stuff is going to happen, but there is also a figurative mountain between them - the mountain is the fact that Alex is set to be married and Ben has his own issues about love and relationships.

So this is a story of survival but it's also a love story.

You can always tell when it's awards season, when animated films and superhero movies give way to more serious fare where actors can show off their skills. This film is what the Brits would call a two-hander, meaning that most of the film is just two actors - Winslet and Elba - talking and interacting as they try to get off that physical and emotional mountain.  And it takes acting skill to carry a film when it's just the two of them.  Don't get me wrong, Winslet and Elba are both wonderful actors,

But...

I had some issues with this film.

  • First of all, when all flights are cancelled out of an airport, what regular person decides to not only rent a private plane but also asks a total stranger to come along?

  • Who doesn't call someone to tell them that flights are canceled out of the airport, so they are going to rent a small, rickety private plane in horribly bad weather and not ask for them to pray for them?

  • What pilot doesn't bother to file a flight plan?

  • And why did Ben have a lighter?  Very strange for someone who doesn't smoke to carry a lighter around, but highly convenient in case he gets stranded on a snowy mountaintop some time, right?

  • If you had just been in a plane crash and were stranded on a desolate, snowy mountaintop, why wouldn't you have the flare gun locked and loaded just in case? It's the one thing that still works after the crash. There are a couple of instances where the flare gun would have come in handy, oh, like when another plane flew over, but no, they had to run and get the gun, load it and by the time they did that, the plane had flown.

  • I knew things were going south when I was rooting more for the dog than Alex and Ben.  Not a good thing.

  • And what has happened to Dermott Mulroney's career?  He has about ten lines in this film. Since "My Best Friend's Wedding," in the last ten years he has gone from leading man roles in movies to TV to doing mostly supporting work.  That's too bad because he is a handsome guy and a good actor and should be able to still get those romantic lead gigs. 

  • Worst of all?  How can it be that beautiful Kate Winslet and handsome Idris Elba seemed to have zero chemistry? She usually takes her clothes off in her movies.  She didn't in this one.  Maybe that was the problem!

Those might seem like little things - well, Winslet and Elba not having any chemistry isn't a little thing - but those other issues I had seemed to only serve the plot and not reality.  I'm telling you, that lighter bothered me through the whole film.

Written by J. Mills Goodloe and Chris Weitz from the novel by Charles Martin and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, this is the kind of film I usually really like.  It's a love story with a thriller component. I should have cried at the end, but I didn't.  The film should have been tense and exciting, but it wasn't. The most exciting part of the film happened early on and that was the plane crash but then the film just kind of kept crashing after that.  Somehow the whole thing just felt as cold as that icy mountain they were trying to get off of. And the beauty of Winslet and the handsomeness that is Elba and their combined powerhouse of acting talent just couldn't save it.

Oh and by the way, if you are afraid to fly, this movie is probably not for you. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this wasn't a bad film; it was just disappointing.




 
***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

On DVD






Going in Style (2017)



Three senior citizens embark on an elaborate heist to get their money back from the bank that has stolen their pensions. 

Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), and Albert (Alan Arkin) are senior citizens and lifelong friends living in Brooklyn. All three are having financial problems. Joe had recently been at the bank to discover that his house was being foreclosed on. He had fallen for a "teaser rate promo" and now he can't afford his house, a house where his daughter and granddaughter also live.  They will be out on the street.  Willie is suffering from kidney disease and needs a transplant and Albert is barely getting by giving saxophone lessons. To add insult to injury, the company they worked for was bought out and their pensions have been canceled. The company is going to use that money to move their operations overseas and the local bank is handling the money transfer.

While getting the bad news at the bank, Joe witnesses a robbery, which, after all of this bad news, inspires him to throw out the idea to his friends of robbing the bank, the very bank that was helping the new company steal their pensions. They do a dry run by shoplifting some items at the grocery store in a silly scene that ends with Willie making his escape in a shopping cart but they get caught and are humiliated but decide to go ahead with their bank robbery plan anyway.  What do they have to lose?  So they decide they need some professional help. Joe says he doesn't know any criminals but he knows a low life - his former son-in-law, Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz) - so they hook up with him and his friend, Jesus (John Ortiz), to teach them the ropes

Joe, Willie, and Albert disguise themselves with "Rat Pack" masks (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.) and use guns with blanks so that no one gets hurt. Of course it all goes wrong but they still get away with 2.3 million dollars  However, the heist was not without its problems.  Willie, not able to breathe through his mask, collapses and a little girl pulls off his mask.  Willie engages her in some friendly conversation so that the little girl is not scared of him but despite that they get away.  Remember when I mentioned that dry run at the grocery store where the guys tried a little shop lifting?  Well, it was all captured on video tape and the manager of the grocery store recognizes Al's walk from the video surveillance, so they are arrested by FBI Agent Hamer.  But they stick to their alibis, and later when the little girl is shown a police line-up, she refuses to point the finger at Al even though she recognizes him. See?  Being nice during a bank robbery has its advantages!

In the course of the investigation, we get to see the whole plot played out and the alibis,which are elaborate and ingenious.  It was a well-thought-out heist and there are some twists and turns that you didn't see coming.

Old people need something to live for.  So what if that something is robbing a bank?  Planning the heist and undertaking it gives Joe, Willie and Albert a new lease on life.  I'm not saying that planning and carrying out a bank robbery is a good thing to do, but old folks need something to look forward to!

Ann-Margret makes an appearance as a grocery clerk interested in Albert and the sexy grandma of one of Albert's untalented students and a barely recognizable Matt Dillon plays the detective investigating the bank robbery.  Whatever happened to HIS career? Kenan Thompson of SNL fame has a brief moment as the grocery store manager but it's a highlight.

Directed by actor Zach Braff with a screenplay by Theodore Melfi, it's all pretty silly stuff and the movie uses many of the clichés about old people that I hate - old people swearing, old people having sex, old people getting stoned - all movie clichés that are supposed to be funny but aren't to those of us who are old, but it doesn't really matter the vehicle, because when three veteran actors like Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin, get together you've got to be there. These three actors constitute 174 years of TV and movie acting, and they are actors at the top of their game and can make any story work, even if that story has been done before (this is a loose remake of the 1979 Art Carney-George Burns-Lee Strasborg film), but this kind of story - getting even with the evil souless bank that is ruining your life - is also a film trope. I mean, it could be a geriatric heist version of this year's "Hell or High Water". But hey, like I said, watching Caine, Morgan and Arkin interact is worth the rerun.  And can you believe it?  Speaking of movie tropes. No power walk! 

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, there are old people stereotypes, yes, it's sentimental, yes, it's full of clichés but it's also kind of fun. There are worse movies out there and I would watch these three guys read the phone book.







Rough Night (2017)


A group of girlfriends head to Miami for a bachelorette party,but when they hire a male stripper things go terribly wrong.

Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is getting married and her besties and ex-sorority sisters want to give her a bachelorette party she will remember. The girls bonded in college at a frat party where they beat the boys at beer pong and pledged to be friends forever.  Now it's ten years later and Jess has moved on from beer pong.  In fact she is running for State Senate.  Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher; Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is a protester/activist; and Blair (Zoe Kravitz) is a Mom going through a divorce.

When they arrive in Miami, they head to the condo they have rented and go to the neighbors for the keys.  The neighbors are a swinger couple - the sexually active Lea (Demi Moore) and Pietro (Ty Burrell), who turn up now and again for their sexual comic relief and this film needs it.  Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess's roommate from her Australian foreign study, also shows up much to Alice's dismay.  You see, Alice has jealousy and neediness issues.

None of the girls really want to party.  Jess doesn't want to do anything that would jeopardize her chances of winning a Senate seat and basically wants to flake out, but you know that's not going to happen.  First, cocaine shows up, then they get drunk, more cocaine, then some marijuana, then some pizza, then a stripper, then they kill the stripper. Yes, you heard me.  Alice jumps on his lap, the chair falls over and he hits his head and dies.  Naturally they can't call the police and tell them it was an accident like any normal person would do.  Oh, no.  Then we wouldn't have a movie.  They all have reasons why they can't call the police.  So they decide to call a lawyer instead who tells them if there's no body, there's no crime.  Mmmm.

This is one of those movies where one bad decision leads to another leads to another and things get worse and worse.

Directed and co-written by Lucia Anielo with Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jess's fiance, this is all part of the "Bachelor/Bachelorette-Party-Gone-Wrong-Genre ("The Hangover," "Bridesmaids") that makes the case that women can be just as raunchy and bad as men when it comes to partying.  It also feels a bit like "Weekend at Bernie's" as the girls try to figure out how to dispose of the body.

Meanwhile, Jess's fiancé calls and asks how they are doing.  He says he is having a wild time - but in fact he and his friends are in suits wine tasting - but he gets suspicious about what is happening in Miami so decides to do a "sad astronaut" trip - remember that case where an astronaut woman was in love with an astronaut man and was jealous of his new relationship so she decided she was going to kill her rival, and so she drove non-stop a thousand miles or something wearing an adult diaper so she wouldn't have to stop?  So Peter dons a diaper, uses some meth and makes the trip, and of course, he gets stopped by the police.  This part of the film was actually funny.

One can't help but compare this film to "Girls Trip," a very similar film, that unfortunately for this film, came out at the same time. The two films even start out the same - ex-sorority sisters who haven't seen each other in awhile and whose lives have evolved get together to celebrate. Both films have the supposedly responsible one and then there is the absolutely crazy one and in both films the women get themselves in some very bad situations.  Except when you compare the two, "Rough Night" doesn't fare as well because "Girls Trip" was actually funny.

This is a departure role for Scarlett Johannson. We don't often see her in comedies which is probably why she wanted to do this film.  That's the only reason I could think of why she would.

Kate McKinnon is one of those actors I love.  She is always all in and this role is no exception. She almost saves this film with her broad Aussie accent and nutty physical humor...but, alas, she didn't. 

The main problem with this film is that it just isn't very funny.

Rosy the Reviewer says...see "Girl's Trip" instead.  That film was funny.





***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***



166 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?





The Puppetmaster (1993)


Based on fact, this film recounts the life story of Li Tien-lu, a famous Taiwanese puppeteer, during the Japanese occupation of China.

During the Japanese occupation of China which lasted from 1895 to 1945, young Li Tien-lu joins a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. We witness the events of his life - he gets married, has a mistress, deals with the complications of his life - with the political climate as a backdrop.  Tienlu and his puppet skills were also used by the Japanese during World War II for their war propaganda. The story is all pretty grim.

The real Tien-lu is shown from time to time throughout the film and narrates and there are several segments highlighting the puppet shows themselves.

Li Tien-lu had a very hard life, and this is the kind of biopic that makes you grateful for the life you have had.

Why it's a Must See: "Director Hou Hsiao-hsien has an unhurried style with long shots that calmly observe the interaction of the characters...a deeply felt portrait of Taiwanese life."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says..."unhurried style" is code for boring.  It was just a bit too unhurried for me.




***The Book of the Week***




One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline (2017)



Who is Chris Brennan and why has he come to Central Valley?

Chris Brennan has applied for a teaching job at Central Valley High School. His resume and references are impeccable.  He is also ready to step in as the assistant baseball coach but it's all a lie.  His name isn't even Chris Brennan.

He is there to find a young man who can help him with his plan.

The young men he has targeted are Raz, the high school baseball team's pitcher, whose father has just died leaving him vulnerable; Jordan, a shy kid who has just made the team and who lives with his single Mom, Heather; and Evan, a rich kid with a surgeon father and a mother who copes by filling her days with social events and drinking too many gin and tonics.

Chris is looking for a vulnerable kid who he can manipulate.

So goes the first part of this novel, and you get the idea that Chris is some kind of domestic terrorist plotting a bombing on the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing, but then Scottoline flips on the reader in Part II and the story changes from the BIG LIE to what is really going on with Chris and to each of the boys' lives because there are enough secrets and lies to go around in this little thriller.

This is the kind of novel that is often called a "fast read," because there is lots of dialogue and a fast-moving plot.  It's the kind of novel that would make a good film so I couldn't help but cast the parts as I read it.  I think Jake Gyllenhaal would make a good "Chris," Heather, who becomes Chris's love interest, could be played by Rachel McAdams.

 
Evan could be played by Miles Teller, Jordan by Ansel Elgort and Raz by Nick Robinson, all hot young actors.



I know, I couldn't help myself.  Movies are always on my mind! You will have to read the book to see if you agree with me!

I liked this book, but it was a bit lightweight, even for me, and I'm not that keen on baseball or books that are mostly about guys.  But hey, that's just me.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a fast-read that would appeal to teens as well as men and women and won't take much mental energy.




Thanks for reading!


 
See you next Friday 


 


for my review of  

 


"Victoria and Abdul"  


 
 and



The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on



"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."

  

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or 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

Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.
Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 






 
 
 

 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What's in a Name? - Making a New Case for Naming Your Children After Friends and Family Members

(As those of you who are my regular readers know, I used to publish on Tuesdays and Fridays.  On Tuesdays I would "review" pop culture, fashion, food or just life in general, whatever was on my mind.  On Fridays I would review movies and books.  However, these days I mostly review movies and books, and you can still find my reviews and me here every Friday, but once in awhile I am still prone to "review," OK, rant about something I am thinking about and this is one of those days).

What's in a name?  A-LOT!

I've been thinking about this topic for awhile, and it's been nagging at me, so I thought I would get it out of my head and onto my blog so I don't have it nagging at me anymore.  I mean, you know how epiphanies are and this was kind of an epiphany for me.

Picking a name for a new baby can be almost as stressful as planning for the new arrival. 

It's not easy coming up with a name that not only the new parents both love but everyone in the family approves of.  Some new parents-to-be won't even give away the names under consideration so as to avoid early disapproval of parents and loved ones.

I know, because my own mother offered to pay me $100 to NOT name my daughter Ashley.  She thought I was naming her after Ashley Wilkes in "Gone with the Wind," which is not necessarily a bad thing. Not sure why that was an issue for her.  Actually I was naming her after Lady Brett Ashley in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises."  And before any of YOU smirk disapprovingly, the name Ashley was not yet on the radar as the most popular girls' name of the 1980's.  So now, in some ways, I wish I had listened to my mother.  And $100 in 1984 meant something.

But seriously, I still love the name even if it turned out to be a rather common name in my daughter's age group.

I grew up in a family where bestowing a family name on a child was common practice.  I don't think that is a very common practice any more. Today young parents want to come up with a new name, but I think they are doing their children a disservice, which I will get to in a minute.

My sister was born first and was given my grandmother's - my Dad's mother's- name for her middle name. 



Then my brother arrived and my mother was so grateful to her doctor for getting her through two caesareans that she gave him her doctor's last name as a middle name AND a family name so he had two middle names. 



My brother actually didn't appreciate that at all, but when his own son came along, he gave him our Dad's name as his middle name.

 

Then when I came along, my mother gave me her name as my middle name.

 
 


Both my sister and I had names with "Rose" in it - she was Rosemary, I was Rosellen.  My mother loved roses, I guess. They called her Posy and me Rosy. 



 


I know...awwww. 

The reason why she was Posy and I was Rosy is lost to the ages.



Rosellen is an unusual name, especial the spelling, and everyone always mispronounced it, calling me Rozelyn, Roselyn and other mispronunciations which embarrassed me growing up so I got into the habit of saying, "Just call me Rosy."  But since my mother loved the name Rose so much and it played such a big role in my family, I wanted to pass it on to my daughter so I gave her that middle name despite the fact that Ashley Rose sounded a lot like a china pattern.



As for my son, I was able to find a name that wasn't as popular as Ashley would become, though Alexander was the most popular name in Europe at the time.  That was fine since I considered myself a bit worldly and since I didn't live in Europe I didn't think there would be a whole bunch of Alexanders.  Likewise, I felt the worst nickname he could get would be Alex which I liked.  Wouldn't you know, though, the mother of one of his friends insisted on calling him Al. Ugh. But for his middle name I wanted to give him a family name.  I would have given him my father's name as a middle name but my brother had already given his son that name, so instead, I combined the names of a grandfather and a great-grandfather.



Unfortunately, my son didn't feel the same way about bestowing family names on his children when his children were born, except for one son who is named after his wife's grandfather. But I understand.  Everyone has to name their children names that they like so this was not something that I pushed on my own children.

Many mothers and fathers like to name children after themselves.  Robert might name his son Robert Jr. or Robert the II and call him junior.  Some people would say naming a child after yourself is a bit of a conceit, honoring oneself like that and maybe it is. But that is anyone's choice. However, I am not actually big on naming the child after yourself just because I think it would be confusing to have two people in the house with the same name. 

Yes, it can be an ego thing to name your child after yourself, a way for you to live on after you have gone.  And that's fine.  I totally get that. Though I am not a big fan of a Jr. or a II or III, I do believe in passing a family name along but it might not be for the reason you think.


I have thought of a more powerful reason to pass on family names to your children or to name a child after a special friend. 

When you name your child after a beloved family member or a close friend, you are actually giving the CHILD, not you, something special.  As that child grows up and you talk about their namesake, the child will feel very special that he or she is named after someone you loved.  You can tell the child stories about the person and the child can then aspire to the accomplishments and characteristics of the family member of the other loved one.



If I had named my son after my Dad, I could have reminded him that he was named after a talented musician (he could play any instrument), a man who loved hot cars, who always wanted to be a cowboy and who was an extremely generous person.  I could go on and on.  I feel that knowing you are named after someone special makes you feel special.



However, my son knows he is named after my mother's Swedish father who was known as "Prince" among his Swedish neighbors because of his proud bearing. He was a fine carpenter who built the home my mother grew up in. 


Because of that Swedish heritage, my son became interested in Sweden, so interested in fact that he spent a college semester there and met many of his relatives who still lived there. I also wanted to throw my own Dad into the mix too, so I combined that name with the name of my Dad's father's father.

I know I felt special that I had my mother's name as my middle name.


and whenever I sign my full name, I think of her and feel good that she wanted to give me her name. 

My first name is from a good friend of my mother's, though the spelling is a bit different.  Every year on my birthday, her friend would send me a birthday card with a dollar in it (back when a dollar was worth something).  I had never met this friend but when my mother reminded me who the card and money was from and why she was sending it to me, I felt very special.  I was one of those kids who wanted to be someone's favorite.  I knew that my sister was my grandmother's favorite, my brother had an uncle who doted on him and so this little gesture from my mother's friend and knowing that I was named after her made me feel like I was someone's favorite too.  Those kinds of things are important to kids and gives them confidence that they are lovable.

So you parents-to-be, don't get mad at your parents if they suggest some family names. 

Give it some thought.  Who in life do you admire who would be a good role model for your child?  Consider bestowing that name on your child - it can just be the middle name - and then sharing that person's life with your child as the child grows, thus giving your child something to aspire to.

And for those of you who have already named a child after a family member, good for you.

But be sure to tell your child where the name came from and who the person was and share the reasons why you named your child after that person so your child will feel a bond to that person, aspire to be like that person and just feel special that he or she has the name of someone you admired.  It's a seemingly small thing, but I think that helps create confidence in children - to know that their names have meaning. 

Lord knows, we all need all of the confidence we can get growing up in this crazy world.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I feel better now!

 
Thanks for reading!

 

See you Friday 



for my review of  

 

"The Mountain Between Us" 


and


 
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on



"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."

  

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to copy and paste or 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, October 6, 2017

"American Made" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new Tom Cruise movie "American Made" as well as the new Jane Fonda-Robert Redford film currently streaming on Netflix "Our Souls at Night" plus the DVD "Shall We Kiss?"  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Playtime."  The Book of the Week is "Love and Trouble" by Claire Dederer]




American Made



The true story of Barry Seal, who went from a TWA pilot to working for the CIA to smuggling Colombian cocaine to gun-running for the Contras.  How did that happen?

Well, good old American guts and ingenuity, I guess.  Or maybe he was just greedy and stupid.

To give you an idea of what kind of guy Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) was, while flying a commercial jet during an all-night flight with his co-pilot asleep next to him, he thought it would be fun to take the plane off of auto-pilot and do a nose dive, just to shake people up a bit. Oh, and he liked to smuggle Cuban cigars into the country too. That's the kind of guy Barry Seal was so when he was approached by Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), a CIA guy, to do covert photography over Central America filming communist-based guerrilla groups, it's not a stretch that Barry would say yes especially when Schafer also offered him a fast little tricked-out spy plane to do the job in.

Likewise, when Barry was later approached by a member of the Medellin drug cartel to smuggle cocaine out of Colombia, that was also believable.  But as he himself says in the film, it started to get unbelievable when the CIA asked him to not only start supplying guns to the Contras (remember that whole Iran-Contra thing in Nicaragua during the Reagan administration?), but to actually bring the Contras themselves to the U.S. for training in his back yard!  And that's not all.  He then started giving the guns to the drug lords and the cocaine to the Contras and America became complicit in the drug trade while Nancy Reagan was telling young people "Just say no!"  Whew!  Only in America!

Barry is married to Lucy (Sarah Wright), and they have a couple of kids and the money is rolling in so fast and heavily that Barry has his own vault at the bank.  Bags of money are buried in the backyard, falling out of closets and peeking out from under the beds.  Barry and Lucy are living the high life in their small town of Mena, Arkansas until Lucy's redneck brother, JB (Caleb Landry Jones who was so good in "Get Out") shows up.  Everyone has an Achilles Heel and JB is Barry's.  It all starts to fall apart until it all ends tragically.

Now don't get me wrong.  This is not a dark drama at all nor is it really an action film.  It's a true story with some action - especially in the air - but it also has a comic, devil may care feel to it much like "War Dogs" and "Catch Me If You Can."  Barry narrates, there is some animation to help us understand the political climate, and Barry's cheeky, though you could also say clueless, attitude is fun to watch.  The film is fast-moving and full of twists and turns and double-crosses. 

However, my problem with the film is that it doesn't really seem to be saying very much other than revealing a part of American political history that we shouldn't be proud of.  And it doesn't help that Barry was a bit of an arrogant jerk.

But the actors do a good job of pulling this film off.

I know being a Tom Cruise fan is no longer very popular.  I think it all went downhill for him when he jumped on Oprah's couch.  And what with his mysterious divorces from Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes and his connection to Scientology, his star has started to fade a bit, despite that mega watt smile.  Now when I proclaim my fandom for Tommy, people shake their heads.  But I don't care.  He will always be my Tommy.  He had me at "Taps," and I remain loyal, and this movie suits him.  Despite the fact that he is 55 and a bit frayed around the edges, his smile still fills the screen and even in extreme close-ups he is still swoon-worthy.  And this is Tom's kind of film where he can not only flex his acting muscles but spread that special charisma of his all over the screen.

The rest of the actors do a good job of filling in the cracks when Tom isn't doing his thing. Sarah Wright is a beautiful actress to watch and I love the twitchy Jones. Likewise Gleeson is a good actor who can seemingly do anything.

Written by Gary Spinelli and directed by Doug Limon, who also directed "Edge of Tomorrow," this is a film that both men and women will enjoy.  I just wish it had a bit more depth to it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a Tom Cruise fan you will be in Tom Cruise heaven (he's still got it), but even if you are not, this is still an enjoyable adventure film that won't tax your brain too much.

 




***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

Streaming and on DVD






Our Souls at Night (2017)



A widow and widower, who have been neighbors for years but never really knew each other, enter into a relationship.

This film is new and can only be seen on Netflix.  It is billed as a Netflix Original, and since I wondered what that actually meant - I mean, did Netflix produce this movie starring two of our most famous actors? - I thought you might wonder too. 

Netflix does produce some of its own content such as "House of Cards."  But other shows such as "Arrested Development" are continuations of cable shows that Netflix bought.  As for this film, it falls into the category of a film that Netflix paid a lot of money for so you couldn't watch it anywhere else.  This movie comes to us via Netflix straight from the Venice Film Festival, and I loved every minute of it.

Louis Moore (Robert Redford) and Addie Waters (Jane Fonda) are neighbors.  They have both lost their spouses and live alone.  Though they both live in a small Colorado town, they never really had much of a relationship.  They knew OF each other, but didn't really know each other.  One day, out of the blue, Addie knocks on Louis's door and proposes to Louis that they start sleeping with each other.

"We are both alone.  We've been on our own for years.  I'm lonely and I'm thinking you might be too."

Now, don't get the wrong idea.  This is NOT about sex.  It's about getting through the night.

"Nights are the worst, don't you think?" she says to Louis. 

And she goes on to ask him if such a proposition would be of interest to him.  They would get into bed together and talk, and then, hopefully, fall blissfully asleep.

Louis is taken aback, naturally, but he says he will think about it.

After thinking about it, Louis lets Addie know that he would like to try sleeping together so they make a date.  Louis tells Addie "I'm not much of a talker," which is funny since Redford has made a name for himself playing laconic characters. It's charmingly awkward as the two get ready for bed, Addie in her nightgown buttoned up to her chin, and Louis in his pajamas, and before Louis can say anything to Addie, she is sound asleep, snoring quietly.

The two continue meeting with Louis carrying his paper bag of belongings and knocking on Addie's back door so that the neighbors won't talk until Addie demands that Louis enter through the front door - to hell with the neighbors! - and of course it's not long before word gets out about the two of them and the neighbors do talk.  Each night as they prepare for bed, they share their stories with each other and that's how those of us watching learn about them too. Slowly their relationship flowers. 

In the meantime, Addie's son, Gene (Matthias Schoenaerts), arrives.  He is having business and marital problems and asks Addie to care for his seven-year-old son, Jamie (Iain Armitage) for awhile until he can sort things out.  Jamie doesn't know his grandmother very well and is shy, which reinforces what I have said about long-distance grand-parenting.  It doesn't work very well.  Jamie is also a child who appears to not have had many experiences.  He has never been to a baseball game, doesn't know how to throw a baseball and is addicted to his computer games on his phone, but it isn't long before Addie and Louis both win him over and wean him off his phone.  Louis produces his prized train set.  What little seven-year-old boy can resist a train set?  And then they get him a dog!

It's no surprise that Addie and Louis fall in love and eventually get it on. Thank goodness we are spared the gory details of the act itself, not because I don't want to see old people having sex but because in general I find sex scenes boring.  That happens after a certain age.  And the fact that there was mutual attraction that led to sex reinforced my controversial belief that men and women can't just be friends. I should write a blog post on that some time.

Anyway, we knew Louis and Addie were going to fall in love, right? But that doesn't matter because, remember, it's the journey, not the destination, that matters.  And the journey is a delight.  I believed every minute of it and loved every minute of it.  

Fonda and Redford first acted together 50 years ago, when they starred together in another love story, "Barefoot in the Park," and Louis and Addie could be Paul and Corie from that film, 50 years later because Addie is impulsive, just as Corie was, and Louis is quieter and solid, like Paul.   I am of an age where I like seeing people my own age (actually they are older than I am) portrayed in the light of reality, and by that I mean, no old people movie clichés such as breaking out with the F-bomb or having trouble with the computer or suddenly doing a break dance, all things that some filmmakers seem to think are funny when old people do them. 

Whatever you might think of this film, it's always good to see actors at the top of their game and these two actors are about as on top of their game as actors can get, and because of that, you are drawn to them and their story. And they both look great. Redford's face looks lived in which I appreciate, and for an old dude, he still has a nice head of hair.  Jane may have had some work done but her plastic surgeon knew what he was doing.  And when Jane was in bed without her nightgown on, I couldn't get over the fact she had no back fat! 

The film written by Ken Haruf, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber and directed by Ritesh Batra (who directed "The Lunchbox," which I loved - see the "Featured Post" on the sidebar for the full review of that) captures what it must be like to be old, alone and lonely, a place I am probably not too far from, and the barriers that keep people from connecting.  And this film isn't just for us old folks.  I think the younger generation should see this so they can see that our bodies may have aged but inside we old folks still care and talk about the same things we did when we were younger, feel the same things and seek love just like the younger generation.

Now I have to eat a bit of crow. 

I know that I yammer on endlessly about how much I dislike child actors.  I had a bit of an epiphany watching this film.  I realized that it's really not the child actors who actually annoy me but the screen writers who write the precocious crap they want the children to spew.  I particularly thought this while watching young Iain Armitage who played little Jamie.  You might also remember him from his amazing performance in "Big Little Lies."  This kid is adorable and a wonderful young actor.  I believed him every step of the way, too, and, believe me, I was watching him with an eagle eye, waiting for him to turn into one of those child characters I dislike so much.  But he didn't miss a beat.  And kudos to the writers who wrote a believable child.

I also have to point out the film's score which is spot on.  It has a western vibe which highlights the Colorado setting but it also is tantalizing as we wait to see what is going to happen between Louis and Addie.

If you blink you will miss Bruce Dern who plays one of Louis's cronies that he hangs out with in the coffee shop.  If he gets nominated for an Oscar, he will beat Judy Dench who won one for less than eight minutes on screen. You never know.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you Baby Boomers are yearning for a movie you can relate to, this is it. It's quite wonderful.  And you younger folks can see what your parents are really up to!





Shall We Kiss? (2007)



A romantic comedy about a kiss offered, a kiss declined and the reason why.

Two strangers, Emilie (Julie Gayet) and Gabriel (Michael Cohen), meet in Nantes, France, and share an evening together. She is there on business and knowing that they will probably never meet again, Gabriel asks to kiss Emilie, a kiss with "no consequences."  She wants to kiss him but explains that a kiss can have very big consequences.

"Before a kiss has been given, no one knows if it will be big or small."

Emilie then proceeds to tell Gabriel a story to explain why they should not kiss, and through a series of flashbacks, the story of Judith and Nicholas (Emmanuel Mouret, who also directs) unfolds, and we learn that one kiss can have wide-ranging consequences.

Judith (Virginie Ledoyen) is a lab technician happily married to Claudio (Stefano Accorsi), a pharmacist. Nicholas was Judith's high school friend and is still her very best friend.  They meet often and talk about everything.  Nicholas had a girlfriend but they broke up and one day, Nicholas confides in Judith that he lacks physical affection (a euphemism for the fact that Nicholas is horny), and he is so starved for it that he is obsessed.

Judith recommends that Nicholas see a prostitute, and he tells her that he already has in a story within a story where he relates his bad experience with that. Turns out the prostitute does not allow kissing and without kissing Nicholas doesn't have a, er, good experience, so that didn't work for him.  He couldn't go through with it because he needs to kiss.  

So Nicholas shyly proposes that he and Judith get together, and Judith, being the good friend that she is, decides to help Nicholas out - just this once.

There is a long scene of awkward foreplay with the music from "The Nutcracker" playing in the background and then --- THE KISS! --- once again confirming my theory about the fact that men and women can't just be friends (see review above).

However, the two part, Nicholas acquires a girlfriend, Caline (Frederique Bel), and Judith and Nicholas don't see each for awhile, but when Nicholas and Judith do meet again a month later, they both confess that since the kiss things have not been the same for Judith with Claudio and Nicholas isn't really feeling it with Caline.  So now they decide they have to have sex again to make sure that the first time wasn't a fluke and to try to do it mechanically so as to break whatever spell might have been cast on them.  They decide to do it on the floor so it will be uncomfortable but, yes, you figured it out.  IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN THE FIRST TIME!  

Horrified that they want each other so much, they realize they are in love and embark on a full-blown affair.  But an affair is one thing.  "Should one overturn one's life for kisses and caresses?"  The reality of leaving a marriage is another, so Judith and Nicholas concoct a plan for Claudio to meet Nicholas's girlfriend, Caline, hoping that Claudio will fall in love with her and leave Judith.

Well, my peeps, we all know about those best laid plans right?

The film continues back and forth between Emilie relating the story to Gabriel and Judith and Nicholas as their worlds fall apart and a twist is revealed by Emilie as to why she won't kiss Gabriel.

After seeing this film, I feel bad that I have been bashing French films so much lately.  This is the kind of romantic comedy I love.  The story is funny and appealing, the comedy is subtle and the characters are engaging. Gayet looks like a young Catherine Deneuve and Mouret has not only directed a film reminiscent of a Woody Allen romantic comedy, he looks and acts like a young Woody.  It's a sweet love story where even the music - Tchaikovsky and Schubert - play important roles.

And now we all know why prostitutes don't kiss.

Rosy the Reviewer says...utterly charmant (I didn't know how to say utterly in French).
(In French with English subtitles)




***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***



167 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

(Note:  In case you are the kind of person who notices such things, I know there is a discrepancy between the number of movies I still need to see from what I reported last week.  That is because I did a recent inventory and realized that I had miscalculated somewhere along the line and I had in fact seen 20 more films than reported so now onwards and upwards!)




Playtime (1967)


Monsieur Hulot (Jacques Tati) gets caught up with a band of American tourists as they wander around a high-tech Paris.

Jacques Tati is practically a national treasure of France and "Monsieur Hulot" is his trademark character, a silent gentleman much like the U.K's Mr. Bean or Chaplin's "Little Tramp" stomping around Paris with his sideways walk, his trademark hat, pipe and overcoat befuddled by technology and the changes around him.

Here Monsieur Hulot finds himself entangled with a group of American tourists who are shown around "modern Paris," which seems to consist mostly of a modern office building and an area of modern buildings, never the sights we have come to associate with Paris.  Paris is presented as bureaucratic and modern and Monsieur Hulot is struggling with all of that, embodying the human isolation that technology and the changing times can bring.  

The film is beautifully produced and very stylized and Tati shows off his silent comic skills without speaking a word.  Lots of physical humor of which I am not a big fan, but I could appreciate the set design, the music and the look of the film, all of which Tati reproduced at great expense, which at the time was the most expensive movie in French film history and which eventually bankrupted him.  He built the entire set outside of Paris - an airline terminal, office buildings, even a traffic circle - which became known as Tativille, and it is something to behold. 

Despite the amazing look of the film, there is no real plot and no characters to grab onto, just hundreds of people moving on and off the screen, no real dialogue and a series of strange scenes. It was all shot in 70mm using only medium and long-shots and there is a lot going on at all times in every corner of every frame on the screen.

However, I see this film as one man's personal expression, an historical film curiosity rather than a satisfying film experience.  Personally, I found this film boring.

Despite what Tati was trying to do, the film was just too impersonal and chaotic for me.

Why it's a Must See: Playtime is less a film than one man's successful attempt to encourage us to see with new eyes.  Indeed, director Jacques Tati's timeless masterpiece is concerned, from start to finish, with imbuing the viewer with a totally new set of sensory experiences.  Like no other movie, Playtime has the power to make us question our very faculties of eyes and ears...The gags in [Tati's] films aren't really gags at all, but odd little moments that add up to an overall tone of a world being slightly askew."

Rosy the Reviewer says...now I'm not liking French comedies again.
(In French and English with English subtitles)




***Book of the Week***




Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning by Claire Dederer (2017)




A Gen-X'ers midlife memoir.

I remember reading the book and writing about "The Mad Woman in the Volvo," which takes on the topic of menopause and how menopause is supposed to be a time of returning to the carefree feelings of our youth.  Our children are grown and we don't have to worry about having any more.  We only need to take care of our own needs.  We become middle-aged teenagers.  But when we wait to have children, we throw the natural cycle of things off so when we should be enjoying our new freedom we find ourselves caring for little children and possibly aging parents as well.

I thought of that book while reading Claire Dederer's memoir and thought that she might be having some of those "mad" episodes as she enters middle age and reflects back on her younger years.  She is 45 (oh, to be 45 again), a seemingly happily married mother of two, ages nine and twelve, but she finds that her mind is returning to her younger years when she discovered sex, was wildly boy crazy and eventually wildly promiscuous. She is unsettled by these feelings appearing again and shares a series of essays as she tries to understand what is happening to her. 

This memoir shifts back and forth between her present experience as a middle-aged mom in the grip of mysterious new feelings and herself as a teenager and young adult punctuated by passages from her diaries that she kept in her younger years.

I was originally drawn to this book because Dederer "lives on an island near Seattle," and I always enjoy books that draw on locations where I have lived or been.  And she doesn't disappoint.  People who live in the Seattle area or who have been here will enjoy her references to growing up in Laurelhurst, remembering cool places on The Ave (University Way) in the 1980's and her chapter "How to be in Seattle in the '90s."


"Move to Phinney Ridge because it's cheap and you can have a yard."

Ah, if only.  Phinney Ridge is no longer cheap in Seattle, the fastest growing city in the U.S.

On the occasion of her daughter's 13th birthday, Dederer writes a letter to Roman Polanski about his rape of a 13 year old girl; there is a chapter called "A Kiss May Ruin a Human Life (see movie review above and be reminded that you shouldn't be kissing people willy nilly because it can lead to problems);" a list of things she didn't want to think about that kept her up at night - "My children talking about me the way I have talked about my parents," taxes, rats and flossing" - and her experiences at Oberlin College, which weren't very good.

We believe in the midlife crisis that men experience and mostly give them a pass, but we give little thought to the same thing happening to women.  Believe me, it does, and Dededer is here to testify to that fact in a witty and engrossing memoir.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a candid and intriguing look at the female experience from a Seattle Gen X-er's point of view.

 

Thanks for reading!


See you TUESDAY 



for a Rosy the Reviewer
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Making a New Case for Naming Your Children After Friends and Family Members


 
 
  

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