I Don't Feel At Home in this World Anymore
A depressed woman is burglarized, which makes her even more depressed, but when the cops won't help her get her stuff back, she decides to find the bad guys herself. She is joined by her quirky neighbor and they both get more than they bargained for.
Ruth (Melanie Lynsky) is a depressed nursing assistant who isn't having a very good day. First, a patient she is looking after dies, but not after uttering a profane racist diatribe. On her way home in her car, Ruth sits behind one of those huge trucks spewing exhaust fumes all over everyone. Then when she returns home, her neighbor's dog has defecated on her lawn once again and worst of all, she has been burgled. The thieves stole her laptop, her grandmother's sterling silver flatware and her anti-depressants. When you are depressed and your anti-depressants get stolen, you know you are having a bad day. You know that children's book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?" Well, that's how Ruth's day is shaping up.
To make matters worse, when the police arrive, and it is discovered that perhaps Ruth just might have left her back door unlocked, instead of taking the matter seriously, Detective Bendix (Gary Anthony Williams) condescendingly lectures Ruth on the importance of keeping her doors locked. Realizing that she isn't going to get much help from the police, Ruth goes door-to-door to find out if her neighbors saw anything. When she gets to Tony's (Elijah Wood) house, she realizes he is the one whose dog poops on her lawn and she confronts him. He apologizes and when he finds out she has been robbed he becomes enraged that one of his neighbors could be violated in that way. You see, Tony is a rather odd duck who is a wannabe martial arts guy with a penchant for nun-chucks and throwing stars.
Later, when Ruth's "Find Ruth's Laptop" app tells her where her laptop is, she once again asks the police for help, telling the 911 operator that she has the actual address where her stolen laptop is, and can they please send someone there to get her laptop, but the 911 operator tells her there is nothing they can do. And let me digress for a moment. This is so frustratingly true to life. Here in Seattle one of the journalists for the local paper wrote a piece about his daughter's phone being stolen out of their car, and they actually tracked the phone to a van in a parking lot and sat looking at it while they called the police. The police wouldn't do a thing. So if your stuff gets stolen, don't bother to call the police, I guess. Now I'm depressed.
Anyway, getting no help from the police, Ruth rails at the violation of her home and her life, and rants about how badly people treat each other. She wonders about the point of living when no matter what good you do in life you will end up as carbon anyway.
"Everyone is an asshole."
Ruth is a bit of a Debbie Downer.
With everything that has happened to her, Ruth is so mad that she decides she is going to find these people herself and enlists Tony to help her get her stuff back. They embark on a black comedy vigilante odyssey of originality and depressing realism filled with strange characters that ends with one of the craziest blood baths I have ever encountered in a film, and it's actually kind of funny in a funny blood bath kind of way.
The film focuses on Ruth trying to right a wrong and get justice in a world where nothing seems fair to her, but the film is bigger than that. You can substitute her world for the bigger world that we all live in now where we often deal with a lack of connection to others, shocking violence, intolerance and general indifference. We have all had very, very bad days where the last straw just could be that bit of dog poop on our lawns.
From time to time, I like to review new films that are not in wide release or are available only on Netflix or Amazon or some other streaming vehicle. It takes a village to make, release and distribute films these days, especially small independent films, so there are a plethora of really good films out there that you will never see in the theatres. They either get very limited release or can't find a distributor. So I am grateful to companies like Netflix and Amazon who have taken up the gauntlet and made some of these small films available to us. This film, now streaming exclusively on Netflix, won The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, so I am glad that Netflix has released it.
The film, written and directed by Macon Blair, stars Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynsky, who have both been working in smaller independent films since their acting careers first broke out, Wood as Frodo in the "Lord of the Rings" series and Lynsky, whose first film was "Heavenly Creatures" with Kate Winslet in 1994 (it was Winslet's first film as well) - and one of my favorite films. Woods and Lynsky have proven themselves to be distinctive actors who can take on a wealth of different kinds of roles. Linsky's "everywoman" looks makes her easy to identify with. However, for that very reason, you may not recognize her, despite the fact that she has been working regularly since her debut in 1994. She is one of those actors who disappears into her roles. She also projects a particular vulnerability which belies Ruth's ability to get herself out of sticky situations. She has created an unlikely feminist figure. Wood, in particular, has been choosing quirky roles, probably to distance himself from Frodo, and here he is a good foil for Linsky. In addition to Lynsky and Woods, Williams as Det. Bendix, is a standout as the gruff cop who breaks down in front of Ruth, telling her he is being divorced.
These days, like Ruth, many of us probably don't feel at home in the world anymore either. The world can sometimes be a difficult place to feel at home in. I think we have all had days where we wanted to just take the law into our own hands and DO something about all of the crap that is happening. Fortunately, we don't have to. We can let Ruth do it!
Rosy the Reviewer says...some vicarious adventures for the overworked, underestimated and overlooked. To see really good movies, sometimes you just need to stay at home. Don't miss this one.
***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!
The Light Between Oceans (2016)
A lighthouse keeper and his wife, rescue a baby from a boat that washes up on the shore, and raise the child as their own.
My father and I used to watch many movies together, and one of the things he enjoyed was watching movies in which the actors had met and fallen in love in real life. He liked to see if he could tell they were falling in love. This is one such movie, since Michael Fassbinder and Alicia Vikander are now an item. And it's no wonder, as this is an intense and romantic film.
Tom Sherbourne (Fassbinder) is an ex-soldier recovering from the ravages of World War I. He wants nothing more than to go off onto an island off the western coast of Australia, 100 miles from everything, be the lighthouse keeper and be left alone to heal his wounds. However, the reason this job is available is because the last lighthouse keeper had gone mad from cabin fever and isolation, and Tom is warned about that, but he is numb and welcomes the isolation. But he is also lonely, and when he meets Isabel Graysmark (Vikander), they fall in love. Since he is the only eligible man for 100 miles, I would say that was part of the attraction for Isabel, considering she would have to move to a deserted island with no one to keep her company except Tom and a lighthouse.
The two move to Janus Island to watch over the lighthouse and all is well when Isabel gets pregnant, and they anticipate having a family. But she miscarriages, and when she gets pregnant again and the baby dies at birth. Isabel falls into a deep depression... until one day, a miracle happens. A dingy washes up on shore and inside is a dead man and a baby who is very much alive. Tom wants to immediately inform the authorities but Isabel wants to keep the baby. Who will know? They will say she gave birth to the baby. Since they live an isolated life and only travel to the mainland every few months, no one will know. So the two make a pact and keep the baby.
However, at the baby's christening, Tom encounters a woman in the graveyard (Rachel Weisz), and she is clearly the mother of the baby. So now Tom has a crisis of conscience. Time passes, but there is a mother out there, the baby's real mother, who is suffering and has not given up on finding her child, which leaves a cloud over Tom's and Isabel's lives, and when it is discovered that the baby might still be alive, Tom and Isabel must make a decision. Betrayal, guilt and tragedy follow.
Based on the bestseller by M.L. Stedman and directed by Derek Cianfrance (he also adapted the screenplay), the light from the lighthouse guides ships between oceans from the northern hemisphere, but that light can also be the love that can bring people together who otherwise would be oceans apart. Tom is numb and falls in love with Isabel's energy. Isabel is lonely and wants a change in her life. Marriage is a strange institution. We often marry people we shouldn't because we think what that person has will rub off on us. Tom marries Isabel for her zest for life hoping she will heal him. She marries him because she is bored and wants a change in her life. Both learn that they cannot save each other as their decisions take their toll and the light of love fades.
The score by Alexandre Desplat is hauntingly beautiful as is the cinematography by Adam Arkapaw. And the acting is first rate. Fassbinder is one of the great brooders, so he is perfect for this role, and Vikander's Isabel artfully goes from hopeful to hopeless as the decision the two made comes to haunt them. Rachel Weitz is also wonderful as the grieving mother who must decide on whether she can forgive.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a good old-fashioned tearjerker with great acting and production values, the kind of film that we don't see much anymore. Highly recommended.
A Canadian intelligence officer and a French resistance fighter meet in North Africa during WW II and fall in love. But not everything is as it seems.
Did they or didn't they?
This is the week for real life love stories between the stars of the movies (see the review of "The Light Between Oceans" above).
Stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard were rumored to have had an affair during the making of this film, but Pitt and Cotillard denied any hanky panky despite a pretty hot movie sex scene in a car during a Moroccan sandstorm. However, it's just a teeny tiny coincidence that the break-up of the Pitt-Jolie marriage coincided with this film, and rumors abounded about a relationship between Pitt and Cotillard as the catalyst. It's too bad, because all of that press about a real life affair overshadowed what was actually a compelling film. And here is the irony about all of that. I didn't really detect a lot of chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard, that sex scene in the car notwithstanding. Nothing like the heat you could feel coming off the screen when Pitt and Jolie did "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" together, so I am thinking not much was going on between the two and that was just an excuse for Jolie to end the marriage.
So let's forget about all of that and get on with the film.
Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence agent Max Vetan (Pitt) and French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard) are thrown together in 1942 to act as husband and wife in a plot to kill a German official in Casablanca. Marianne has already ensconced herself in Casablanca and knows everyone. When she and Max first meet, she attributes her successful cover to the fact that she does really like the people she is fooling.
"It works because the feelings are real."
Before the mission, the two hook-up (yes, that kind of hook-up), but you can tell that something is going to go wrong. And it does.
However, they make it back to London and Max proposes to Marianne. They marry, they live a conventional life in the London suburbs and she gets pregnant. All seems hunky dory until Max is told that Marianne is under suspicion as a spy for the wrong side, and if it is discovered that she is indeed a spy, he must kill her. Max must set a trap for her. But he also wants to prove her innocence so he goes behind enemy lines to find out the truth. Will he be able to live with the outcome?
Directed by veteran director Robert Zemeckis with a script by Steven Knight, this is good old-fashioned storytelling with war, love, betrayal and sacrifice, all the stuff that makes up a story that is easy to lose yourself in. With so few dramas out there aimed at adults who like adult stories, this film is a welcome relief. The title of the film has a double meaning: Max and Marianne are supposedly working for the allies during the war but as husband and wife, they are also allies in life and those two personas come into conflict.
Pitt and Cotillard are certainly actors who are lovely to look at and both are also wonderful actors. I feel sorry for Brad a bit because I think his handsomeness has held him back from some of the kinds of roles that win Academy Awards, the kinds of roles that go to the more chameleon actors like Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch. But you can always count on Brad to put in a good performance. As for Cotillard, she has that face, one that not only exudes beauty, but a deep poignancy.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked the WW II spy film/love stories of the 40's, this is an updated version that you will enjoy.
***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***
211 to go!
Have YOU seen this classic film?
The Golden Coach (1952)
A troupe of commedia dell'arte actors, led by the vivacious Camilla, arrive in 18th century Peru from Italy on the same day that the Viceroy's golden coach arrives.
A Viceroy (Duncan Lamont) in the New World buys a golden coach, but when he encounters the vivacious and tempestuous Camilla (Anna Magnani), star of a traveling group of actors, he becomes enamored of her. When he shows her his coach she tells him she was on the same boat as the coach and slept in it during the voyage. That makes the Viceroy laugh, and he is so enchanted with her that he impetuously gives her the coach, much to the annoyance of the other aristocrats, whose money was used to pay for the coach. They demand that the Viceroy make Camilla return the coach.
The Viceroy is not the only man in love with Camilla. Her colleague, Felipe (Paul Campbell) and the famous local toreador, Ramon (Riccardo Rioli), whose snood absolutely fascinated me (I had never seen a snood on a man before!) are also in love with Camilla. What's a girl to do, especially a girl who now owns a magnificent golden coach? And she ain't giving it back! Farcical situations arise and the film becomes almost a play within a play as the three men vie for Camilla's affections and the coach causes a scandal that threatens everyone's lives.
With Vivaldi music playing throughout, Director Jean Renoir (yes, the son of THAT Renoir, the painter) has mounted the film as a play. When the film begins, we are in a theatre looking down on a stage with a proscenium arch and then the camera pans in and the arch and the stage disappear, and we are in the film. Beautiful costumes and sumptuous color cinematography and, just in case during the film we forget this is really a play, at the end the camera pans back out, we see the stage and the proscenium arch once again, and it ends with yet another play, an homage to actors and the theatre..
This is a showcase for Magnani, whose face is one of those ugly/beautiful - beautiful/ugly faces but she fills the screen with her personality. Camilla is a social climber who eventually realizes that success isn't everything. Magnani can do farce but she also exudes a warmth, all of it playing out on her magnificent face.
With sumptuous color cinematography provided by Claude Renoir, Jean's brother, the film is a farce but it is not without its socially redeeming qualities. It's a tale that shows the brutality and dishonesty of the so-called civilized society in contrast to the simpler, more pure lives of the Peruvian indians. It also shows the hypocrisy of political power and how the tides shift depending on what is right for whoever is in power.
I also was taken by the statement:
"Nobility has never paid taxes in any country of the world."
Renoir made more than 40 films from the silent ere through the 1960's and his "La Grande Illusion" and "The Rules of the Game," are often cited as two of the greatest films every made. Though he was a French director, this version that I saw was in English, and that was Renoir's favorite version of the film.
Film critic Andrew Sarris wrote for "The Criterion Collection:"
"In its own time, however, The Golden Coach was an international failure in all three language versions with both the critics and the public. (Produced at Cinecittà in Rome, it was premiered in its French version in Paris in February 1953. Renoir repeatedly preferred the English version presented in this release to the Italian version.) The fifties were not a time for subtextual analysis of movies. Yet even Bosley Crowther, the powerful no-nonsense critic of the New York Times, was compelled to acknowledge the sensuous texture of the color photography as he dismissed the film’s apparently naïve plot and its supposedly 'beauteous' and 'ravishing' star. 'But what we see in Miss Magnani,” the captious Crowther cackled, 'is a bar refinement of a female guttersnipe, a lusty and lumpish termagant with more raucous vitality than charm.”
Why it's a Must See: "The movie's surface frivolity and farcical plotting camouflage a mature, even melancholy film about the fraught relations between love, art, and life. Francois Truffaut called it 'the noblest and most refined film ever made..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"
Rosy the Reviewer...a frothy romp with a message in gorgeous color with beautiful Vivaldi music and the incomparable Magnani.
***Book of the Week***
Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin (2016)
The life of singer/songwriter Paul Simon.
And at 75, he is still going strong. I saw him perform in a small venue last spring and he killed it!
The grandchild of Jewish emigrants from Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire, the 75-year-old singer-songwriter has not only sold more than 100 million records, won 15 Grammy awards and been installed into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame twice, he wrote many of the songs that were anthems for Baby Boomers: "I Am a Rock," "The Boxer," "Mrs. Robinson," "Still Crazy After All These Years."
Carlin does a good job of avoiding a puff piece - in fact Simon comes off as a bit of an arrogant smarty pants - but it's a well-rounded view of not only Simon, the singer/somgwriter, but Simon the man. Carlin covers Simon's marriages to Carrie Fisher and Edie Brickell, drugs, depression, the whole gamut of the man and doesn't pull any punches. There are some facts about him that you might not know: he was a popular frat guy in college, he and Carrie got divorced but then lived together for awhile after that, and he wrote and produced a Broadway play. There's more, and Carlin tells Simon's story with a vibrant writing style that will keep your interest.
All geniuses have their issues and Simon is no exception. But what is not at issue here is his brilliant music, which formed a backdrop for the lives of many of us Baby Boomers.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a must-read for those of us who grew up with Simon's music.
Thanks for reading!
See you next Friday
for my review of
"A United Kingdom"
The Week in Reviews
and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
"A United Kingdom"
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).
Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in. Once there, click on the link that says "Explore More" on the right side of the screen. Scroll down to External Reviews and when you get to that page, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.
NOTE: On some entries, this has changed. If you don't see "Explore More" on the right side of the screen, scroll down just below the description of the film in the middle of the page. Click where it says "Critics." 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."