Saturday, August 6, 2022

"Nope" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Jordan Peele movie "Nope" as well as the Nick Cage film "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" and the British drama series "The Split."]

Nope (2022)

Brother and sister horse-trainers, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer), are struggling to keep their horse ranch going after their father's death, but when they see what they think is a UFO flying above their ranch, they decide filming it is their way out of financial ruin. What they don't realize is that it's not your "typical" UFO.

First there was "Get Out," then there was "Us" and now here is feature film number three from the creative mind of writer/producer/director Jordan Peele.

The film begins back in 1998, when during the filming of the TV show "Gordy's Home," one of the chimpanzees playing Gordy goes berzerk and attacks the actors.  

Fast forward to the present day to a horse ranch - Hayward Hollywood Horses - owned by Otis Hayward Sr.  He and his two children are horse trainers who provide horses for movies and TV. They claim to be the ancestors of the black jockey riding a horse featured in the famous Eadweard Muybridge stop motion animation, "Horse in Motion," that was one of the earliest moving pictures. Sadly and mysteriously, Otis Sr. is killed from a flying object that falls from the sky.  

Six months later, Otis Jr. AKA OJ is in charge of the ranch and needing money.  He has been selling his horses to Jupe Park (Steven Yeun) who runs a western amusement park called "Jupiter's Claim."  It just so happens that Jupe was once a child actor and guess what?  He was in "Gordy's Home" and witnessed the chimp attack that took place.  He is now making money off of that tragedy along with providing another sort of spectacle at his amusement park that is revealed later in the film.

Back to OJ and his sister, Emerald, AKA Em. OJ is a quiet, withdrawn guy, unlike Em who is out there, trying to make it as an actress and hustling for whatever she can get in Hollywood.  One night while on the ranch, OJ and Em witness what they think is a UFO, and Em gets the idea that if they can film it, they can make some money. They can have their "Oprah moment." So that's the plan.  They go to Fry's to get cameras and when the Fry's salesman, Angel (Brandon Perea), comes to the ranch to install the equipment, he can't help himself. He is an extraterrestrial fanatic and, not only installs the electronic equipment, he installs himself into the plan. OJ and Em also enlist the help of the very strange cinematographer, Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott). But none of them know what they are getting themselves into.  This is not just any old UFO, it's a monster of a UFO...literally.

This is "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" meets "Ghostbusters" meets "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" or maybe "High Noon," whatever your favorite western shoot out movie might be. Peele pays homage to Hollywood and combines horror, humor and the African American experience to create this unique roller coaster of a film. Here he comments on how African Americans have been excluded from Hollywood as well as how we humans love spectacle, even when it celebrates tragedy.  We can't turn our eyes away (and here is a bit of a spoiler. Looking at the alien is not good)! This film is not quite as tight as "Get Out" or "Us," and there are some head-scratching moments.  It's also a bit slow to get started but once it does, it's tense and scary and Peele always gets points for originality. 

Daniel Kaluuya is perfectly deadpan, and Kiki Palmer is characteristically manic (but it works here) but the break-out star is Brandon Perea, who adds some fun to an often very tense film. 

A favorite may or may not know that Jordan Peele was on "Mad TV," once a comedy show competitor with Saturday Night Live.  In the film, Jupe regales OJ and Em with what a great send-up SNL did of the chimp attack on the TV set.  Dark, I know, but very funny that Peele would do an homage to SNL. 

Oh, in case you are wondering about the title.

You know how you might go into a room and see something you don't maybe your parents having a fight or like, say, oh, maybe a really scary alien? That's when you might say "Nope," turn around, and get the hell out of there! Daniel Kaluuya's utterance of the word is classic.

Rosy the Reviewer says...should you get yourself to the theatre to see "Nope?"  Yep!
(In theatres)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) 

Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage in this send-up of Nicolas Cage and his movies.

Nicolas Cage just might be one of the most polarizing actors on the planet.  I can't tell you now many times I've mentioned a Nicolas Cage movie that I liked ("Pig") only to get a wrinkled nose response followed by "Ew, I don't like Nicolas Cage."  Of course, he has his fan base.  I mean he won an Oscar, for god's sake, but somehow he has gotten a reputation as a mannered, over-acting, intense actory actor.

But here's where this movie comes in.

Nick knows some of this and is not above making fun of his persona in this very self-deprecating and mostly fictionalized story of an egotistical and self-obsessed actor (Cage) who is struggling artistically and financially.  His wife (Sharon Horgan) is divorcing him and his daughter (Lily Mo Sheen) thinks he is a bit of a tool, so with nothing else going on he accepts $1,000,000 to attend the birthday party of a superfan.  It's a comedown for him, of course, but it doesn't hurt that it's in Majorca. But Nick has decided after this party, he is going to retire from acting. The superfan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), is a charming and very rich olive exporter who has written a screenplay he wants Nick to star in.  Despite Nick's initial reluctance to do this gig, strangely, the two actually bond (Javi is a charming guy), and Nick actually is interested in Javi's screenplay and becomes hopeful about his future. What he doesn't know is that Javi is under CIA scrutiny (is he a bad guy?), and Nick will be recruited by the CIA to find a girl kidnapped by a notorious arms dealer and will have to fight off bad guys to save his own life and the lives of his wife and daughter. Whew! Who knew an invitation to a birthday party could be so stressful?  But now Nick sees a new career path!  Spy!

Of course, this story, written by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten and directed by Gormican, gives Nick Cage the opportunity to channel some of his iconic characters as well as playing Nicky, his younger self, who keeps reminding him what a big star he is. And don't think they aren't dropping the titles of Nick Cage movies right and left here. "Face/Off," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "National Treasure," "Guarding Tess," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "The Rock," "Con Air." Gee, Nick's made a ton of movies, all different kinds of movies! Maybe he really is a good actor! Demi Moore even has a cameo as an homage to the 80's and 90's when she and Nick were at the height of their careers. 

Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz  play the CIA agents who recruit Nick to help them nail the bad guys. And speaking of Tiffany Haddish.  Just let me say that I feel about her how many people feel about Nick.  I am not a fan. She was funny in "Girl's Trip," but then she kept playing that character over and over. But it's not really her acting that I object to, it's her humor and how nutty she acts on talk shows.  Have you seen her on "Ellen?" But at least here, she is toned down.
This film is a lot of fun but the irony is that you will have had to have seen enough Nick Cage movies to get the many references to his films and if you don't like Nick Cage you probably haven't seen those films.  But here is the good part.  You don't really need to get the references to enjoy this film.  It's a fun romp through all of the thriller tropes you have come to expect from such movies and it's also very funny, especially when Nick and Javi take LSD together.

Nick is looking for the role of a lifetime and it turns out that role is playing himself!  The film is self-deprecating and self-serving all at once but always enjoyable!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I was once one of those Nick Cage critics but after seeing him in "Pig" and this one, I'm a fan.  Love him or hate him, you will enjoy this very fun film.
(Available on DVD and for rent on most streaming platforms)


The Split - Season 3 (2022)

The DeFoes, a family of female divorce lawyers, must face their own relationship issues.

Nicola Walker plays Hannah DeFoe, a divorce lawyer who is going through her own divorce from her husband, Nathan.  Hannah has cheated on Nathan (Stephen Mangan), thus the divorce, but Hannah doesn't really want a divorce.  Sadly, Nathan has moved on with Kate (Lara Pulver). 

Hannah has two sisters.  Nina (Annabel Scholey) is a lawyer and is having an affair with Tyler (Damien Molony) a co-worker who just happens to be married to the boss, Zander (Chukwudi Iwuji) - a guy!  And Rose (Fiona Button), a child minder (she somehow escaped becoming a lawyer) is married to James (Rudi Dharmalingam) and experiences a tragedy in her own marriage.  Their mother, Ruth (Deborah Findlay), is one of the senior members of the firm and also has a podcast espousing "good divorces."

As you can probably tell, it's all very much a soap opera but it's a British soap opera which makes it okay.  The Brits know how to make everything classy, and this series, created by Abi Morgan, is not only classy, it's wildly addicting.

I have to say that I am hard-pressed to name another actress whose face is as expressive as Nicola Walker's.  If you watch much British drama, you will recognize her from such shows as "Last Tango in Halifax" and "The Unforgotten" and many more.  She has had a long career and this British drama series gives her a chance to really show off her acting chops and that face.  She is about as real as an actress can get. The rest of the cast are also first-rate and it's always fun to see Anna Chancellor, a British drama staple who is in practically every British series and movie out there.  She plays Nathan's rather vicious divorce lawyer who belies the idea of a "good divorce."

I got into this series in its third and last season because I found it on BBCAmerica.  Somehow I missed the first two seasons, but despite some references to the past, I was able to enjoy it without having seen those first two seasons, but now I plan to go back and start from the beginning (All three seasons are currently streaming on Hulu).  I will pretend those first two seasons are prequels (I don't mind prequels. It's sequels I hate)!

Rosy the Reviewer engrossing family drama that will pull you in and keep you there.  My advice is to start with Season 1 - See you there! (Hulu)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And 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, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Friday, July 29, 2022

"Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" as well as the Paul Newman-Joanne Woodward documentary "The Last Movie Stars" and the Netflix movie "The Weekend Away."  The Book of the Week is "Apparently There Were Complaints: A Memoir" by Sharon Gless ] 

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022)

A cleaning lady in 1950's London decides she must go to Paris to buy a couture dress.

Sometimes I just need something light and fluffy.  With all of the bad news in the world - mass shootings, wild fires, inflation, political unrest - I want to sit in the dark and go somewhere else. The movies helped people get through the Great Depression and they will help get us through these tough times too. Movies transport us and give us a break from what's ailing us and that's why movies matter.  And this fit the bill.  So my friend and I left our cares behind and went off to Paris with Mrs. Harris!

It's 1957.  England is still recovering from WW II.  Ada Harris (Lesley Manville) is a cleaning lady whose husband has been missing in action since The War.  She cleans for an aspiring actress (Rose Williams), a bowler-wearing gentleman with a series of "nieces (Christian McKay)," and Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor), an aristocrat who is far too busy planning a wedding to pay Mrs. Harris.  Despite hanging out with her friend, Vi (Ellen Thomas) at the Legion Hall during her down time, Mrs. Harris, as a woman of a certain age, feels lonely and invisible.  

But then Mrs. Harris lays eyes on a beautiful Christian Dior gown from Paris at Lady Dant's, and she imagines what it might be like to have such a dress for herself. She would no longer be invisible! 

So that's the plan.  Go to Paris and buy a couture gown at the House of Dior. 

However, one small problem. Well, it's a big problem, actually. The dress cost Lady Dant five hundred pounds. To give you some perspective, that would be over 10,000 pounds in today's currency.  But Mrs. Harris is determined.  And through a series of ups and downs, she is able to save the money and get herself to the House of Dior on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. But who knew you couldn't just walk into the House of Dior, plunk down your money and get a gown?  She is snubbed at first, especially by Claudine (Isabelle Huppert), the snobbish manager of the salon, but our Mrs. Harris has spunk.  She is determined to get that dress and her spunk endears her to, not only the models and seamstresses at Dior, but the Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson) who invites her to sit with him during the fashion show.

Just to give you a little history on why a Dior gown was so important to Mrs. Harris.  In 1947, Christian Dior launched a fashion collection that was deemed "The New Look."  It was a youthful, glamorous look which was a far cry from the austere clothes women had been wearing since The War. "The New Look" was so revolutionary that it was credited with reviving the fashion industry in France. By 1957, when Mrs. Harris saw Lady Dant's dress, France was once again the preeminent capitol of the fashion world and the "New Look" was influencing fashion designers around the world. Having a Dior gown from Paris would have been the top of the top for a working class woman in post-war London.  So there you have your mini-history of fashion circa 1957.

Getting back to Mrs. Harris...that dress represented much more than fashion for Mrs. Harris.  Going to Paris and getting that dress also represented a new life and, maybe, even romance.  Mrs. Harris had just found out that the Army had declared her husband dead, so after ten years of waiting she was ready for love.  When she meets the Marquis, she is hopeful but there are some bumps on the runway to love for Mrs. Harris as well as getting that dress.

There is a lovely little side romance between Natasha (Alba Baptista), a beautiful model who takes a liking to Mrs. Harris and Andre (Lucas Bravo), the handsome accountant for the salon, who discover they both love Sartre! Other characters come and go in Mrs. Harris's life, but to everyone she meets she is concerned, kind, open, and genuine and they love her.  And thanks to the beautiful performance by Leslie Manville, you will love her too.

Based on the 1958 book by Paul Gallico, "Flowers for Mrs. Harris," which was published in the U.S. under the title "Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris" (I actually read that book back when I was - mumble- er, younger), this is a feature film version of a TV movie that starred Angela Lansbury in 1992 and there was an even earlier version of this story on an installment of the Studio One TV anthology series back in 1958. But because those were not feature films, I am not going to put this film in the remake category (you know I hate remakes of perfectly good films). Besides, I didn't see those two earlier versions, so they don't count.  And though I can certainly see Angela Lansbury playing Mrs. Harris, I can't believe she would be any better than Leslie Manville, because Leslie Manville was perfection.

With a screenplay by Anthony Fabian, Carroll Cartwright, Olivia Hetreed, and Keith Thompson and directed by Fabian, this film has wonderful acting (many familiar British faces) and production values -- and FASHION!  That's about as good as it gets for me. But just because the film is all about a dress and seems to be light and fluffy, it is much more than that. 

The film addresses the age old struggle between the classes. Mrs. Harris is a woman from the working class, almost invisible to the hoity-toity upper class as she goes about her work. How dare she presume to buy a couture gown. And to add another layer of invisibility to Mrs. Harris is her age. Just like Mrs. Harris, we women of a certain age often DO feel invisible.  How many times have we been ignored at a counter or in a restaurant while the young thing next to us gets all of the attention?  But though we women may be older, we still have our dreams and deserve to be seen.  And that's what this movie validates. 

But you don't need to be a woman of a certain age to enjoy this film.  

Who wouldn't enjoy a film that is reminiscent of the movies of the Golden Age of Hollywood, where a loveable character, who despite setbacks, finds happiness? In this day and age, where so much bad stuff is happening, it makes me happy when good things happen to good people. I sat chuckling with tears of enjoyment in my eyes the whole time. I think you will too. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a feel good film that was utterly delightful. (in theatres)


The Last Movie Stars (2022)

This six-part docuseries follows the lives and careers of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Ethan Hawke directed this wonderful documentary about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward that details their long careers and marriage.  Claire Newman, their daughter, contacted Hawke asking him to do a documentary on her parents.  According to him, he knew how much work that would be and wanted to say no, but couldn't.

Paul had planned to write a memoir and asked one of his friends to conduct taped interviews with friends, family and associates, but for a reason known only to him, he burned the tapes. Thankfully for us, the tapes had been transcribed and the transcripts survived.  This docuseries is based on those transcripts and Newman's journals made available by his children and are brought to life by famous actors, many who knew Paul and Joanne (George Clooney voices Paul and Laura Linney voices Joanne). Paul's and Joanne's children also weigh in.

I was a huge fan of both actors, particularly Paul, and I think I saw almost all of their movies and read about them in movie magazines (yes, people, I read movie magazines...but I was much younger then).  I thought I knew a lot about them.  Yes, I knew Paul was a race car driver in his later years and liked his beer and that they were married for a long time (50 years).  However, this documentary revealed much about them that I did not know. For example, who knew that Paul had a wife and three kids when he met Joanne?  Who knew Paul played second fiddle to James Dean? Who knew that Joanne died of Alzheimer's? And who knew that Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams played such major roles in their lives?  Those are just some of the revelations in this series.

Paul and Joanne met while acting in New York City (they were both understudies) and fell in love.  But they were both married to other people. They carried on their affair for five years before getting married, which shows the power of the movie studios in those days to protect their stars from scandal.

Also early in their relationship, Joanne was the bigger star and accorded recognition as a great actress. Paul, not so much.  He was handsome, of course (those blue, blue eyes), and he could ac,t but he wasn't really thought of as a great actor until much later. Every part he got was one that someone else had passed on.  His biggest competition was James Dean.  Dean was getting all of the parts that Paul wanted. Seeing the two together in this docuseries was a particular treat.  Paul auditioned for "East of Eden," and, of course, didn't get it.  He also tried for Curly in "Oklahoma." That's something interesting to ponder.  Likewise, after Dean's untimely death, Paul starred in "Somebody Up There Likes Me," a film meant for Dean.  Who knows what would have happened with Paul's career had Dean not died? Something else to ponder. After that film, Paul's star rose, but then he had to contend with Brando, who was already considered one of the greats. But, like Dean and Brando, Paul was a product of the Actor's Studio, an angry young man type.  He was a pretty boy but rarely had to play a silly male ingenue role.  His characters were almost always complex and intense.

But later, of course, Paul became a superstar, finally winning an Oscar for "The Color of Money (he had been nominated nine times before that)," and Joanne's star faded, despite having won an Oscar and numerous Emmys.  She complained later that is what happens when you have kids. She admitted she wasn't "a natural mother" and that actors don't make good parents. I should add a female's star also wanes when she hits a certain age. 

But this film is not just about Paul's and Joanne's careers.  It's also about their long marriage, and though there were some hints that some cheating went on at one point, somehow the two survived together, despite both working in an industry that is not very conducive to long term marriage, despite Paul's alcoholism and Joanne's sometime bitterness about taking a back seat to Paul. There were times when she didn't like being married to THE Paul Newman, because he wasn't that guy when she married him. During one interview, they said the secret of their long marriage was that they did not have the same interests! 

Hawke does a good job of capturing the time, that time when movie stars were MOVIE STARS, hence the title.  However, I could have done without so much Ethan Hawke and his kids weighing in. I mean this was supposed to be about Paul and Joanne. But I get it.  He's an actor.  He can't help himself, but not keen on the lines blurred between actor and director.  He also used footage from their films to illustrate different times and events in their lives, and though I enjoyed all of the footage, there were times when I scratched my head.  There would be a voice over from Paul and some footage that to me had nothing to do with what he was talking about. For example, what did scenes from "Torn Curtain" have to do with Paul's regrets as a father and his only son, Scott's, problems? The movie scenes often distracted from the important narrative.  I would have preferred stills during those moments or family videos. And did this need to be over six hours long?  Probably not, but I couldn't stop watching.

There will be those who might not like knowing this much about their icons - the warts and all stuff - and I can understand that.  But I liked the reminder that even superstars are human and vulnerable to all the same human conditions as the rest of us.  And that made me like them all the more. They talk about their lives, acting, their marriage, politics, their activism and their charity, and we get to witness the wonderful film legacy they left behind. It made me want to go back and see all of their films again.  After seeing this remarkable series, I think I would now appreciate them more.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite some of my complaints, this was a really wonderful documentary that shed light on two wonderful actors and real MOVIE STARS. (HBO Max)

The Weekend Away (2022)

A girl's weekend in Croatia goes very wrong.

New mother Beth (Leighton Meester), whose marriage is floundering a bit, flies to Croatia to hang out with her best friend Kate (Christina Wolfe). They go clubbing and meet two men who flirt with them. Little does Beth realize that the men were escorts and Kate had hired them. However, these weren't nice escorts. The next morning when Beth wakes up she realizes she had been drugged and her friend, Kate, is missing.

Beth contacts the police who start an investigation and when Kate's body is found, Beth becomes the primary suspect thanks to the overzealous detective Pavic (Amar Bukvic). He's not very nice either.  Beth's husband, Rob (Luke Norris), arrives and Beth discovers a secret he has been keeping.  Then she discovers that Kate had gone to the police station to report the escorts and detective Pavic was the last one to see her alive.  Zain (Ziad Bakri), the taxi driver who drove Beth to Kate's house from the airport and befriended her, is also under suspicion.  Who killed Kate?

Written by Sarah Alderson (based on her novel) and directed by Kim Farrrant, this is a fun little thriller that is a notch or two above a Lifetime Movie and won't take too much out of you. Leighton Meester, ex-Gossip Girl, is believable and likable. She looks and acts like a regular girl caught in a web of lies and intrigue and you root for her to get out of the mess she is in.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Lifetime movies have their purpose and the production values on this one are first rate.  If nothing else, the beautiful Croatian landscapes, are worth the ride. (Netflix)

***The Book of the Week***

Apparently There Were Complaints: A Memoir by Sharon Gless (2021)

Remember "Cagney & Lacey?" Actress Sharon Gless (she was Cagney) shares her story.

Fans of the 1980’s TV show “Cagney and Lacey (six seasons),” may have wondered what happened to Sharon Gless.  Sharon Gless was Cagney to Tyne Daly’s Lacey, and she often had to play straight woman to Daly who was A LOT of actress. I never quite got her.  But here, Gless gets to take center stage sharing her childhood growing up as a fifth generation Angelino in the shadow of celebrity (her grandfather was an attorney for the rich and famous).  She always wanted to be an actress, but, suprisingly, despite her grandfather's connections, she did not have an automatic entrée to show business. She had a rocky teenage life, her parents divorced and Gless toiled at many unrelated jobs until taking acting lessons, getting a contract at Universal, and making her way to various TV roles until finally finding her place on “Cagney and Lacey,” a ground-breaking show starring two strong females. Several unsatisfactory romantic entanglements later, she found happiness when she married Barney Rosenzweig, who just happened to be the producer of "Cagney and Lacey."  But Gless struggled with alcoholism and, though continuing to act ("Queer as Folk," "Burn Notice"), she never had the same success as she found in “Cagney and Lacey.”  

But this is not a sad story.  In fact, it's laugh out loud funny and full of juicy tidbits about the rich and famous who have crossed Gless's path.  Now in her late 70's, Gless is grateful for her life and hangs tough…just like Cagney.

Rosy the Reviewer says...“Cagney and Lacey” fans and celebrity memoir mavens alike will enjoy this candid and heartfelt memoir with all kinds of insider tidbits about the famous. (check it out at your local library)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And 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, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Saturday, July 23, 2022

"Where the Crawdads Sing" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new film "Where the Crawdads Sing" as well as the foreign film "The Worst Person in the World," and the documentaries "Truth & Lies - Jonestown, Paradise Lost" and "The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up," now streaming on various platforms. The Book of the Week is "Fame-ish: My Life on the Edge of Stardom" by Mary Lynn Rajskub]

Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)

Did "The Marsh Girl" kill Chase Andrews?

Part love story, part murder mystery, the film begins with the death of Chase Andrews, a local rich kid. His body is found in a North Carolina marsh. He had fallen from a fire service observation deck.  Was it an accident or was he pushed?  For some reason, everyone thinks "The Marsh Girl" killed him so she goes on trial for his murder. Kindly, retired attorney Tom Milton (David Strathairn) takes on the case, and as he tries to unravel the mystery, the film becomes a flashback to Kya's life interspersed with the present day trial.

Kya (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a young woman whose family left her deep in the marshes of North Carolina near the fictional town of Barkley Cove.  First her mother left because she was being abused by her husband, then Kya's siblings left and finally her father also left.  But Kya stayed and made her way there alone with the help of Jumpin' (Sterling Macer Jr.), the local grocer and his wife, Mabel (Michael Hyatt).  Kya tried to go to school but was laughed at, so she just stayed in the family home in the marsh, selling mussels to Jumpin'.  She was a mysterious figure to the locals who called her "The Marsh Girl."

Kya eventually meets Tate Walker (Taylor John Smith), a handsome young boy who teaches her to read and write and, eventually, the two fall in love but when Tate leaves for college and doesn't return, he breaks her heart. But then Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinsonarrives, a rich kid who takes a liking to Kya and she has hope once again for love.  But is Chase's heart in the right place? And was his death an accident?

After seeing the previews, I was really excited about seeing this film.  I had not read the bestselling book on which the film was based so went in with an open mind.  Sadly, I was disappointed, at least with the first half of the film. I found it far-fetched that a little girl would be left to fend for herself in the marsh, and the dialogue and some of the characters were just over-done. The exposition about Kya's childhood felt hurried and the characters over-dramatic and hollow which makes sense because her childhood in the book comprised several chapters whereas the film compressed those many chapters into less than a half hour. Even the young Kya (Jojo Regina) was over-acting just a teeny bit, but I will give her a break because it could also be the screenplay, written by Lucy Alibar, which didn't help her.  The dialogue was unnatural and overblown.

But the film, directed by Olivia Newman, eventually grew on me when Daisy Edgar-Jones became the centerpiece.

I loved her in "Normal People," I loved her in "Under the Banner of Heaven" and I loved her here. I just wish I had loved the film. However, I did really also love the handsome Taylor John Smith, whom I am really surprised I haven't encountered before. The love story between him and Kya was quite lovely, though a bit cliched.

But here is the big question: Do crawdads actually sing?  No, it's one of those colorful southern metaphors. It's about being deep, deep in nature communing with the critters but here it also represents Kya's innocence and her life far from people and their everyday concerns. And I have to say, the cinematography is beautiful and atmospheric as it follows Kya around in her marshy world.

If you read the book, the twist ending will come as no surprise, but I didn't read the book and still saw the twist coming from miles away, from as far away as where the crawdads sing.

Interesting side note: author Delia Owens is now embroiled in a real life possible murder case. Before becoming a best-selling author, Owens was a wildlife conservationist. She and her then husband were living in Africa when her husband killed a poacher.  Turns out, killing poachers is not an approved way of dealing with them. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you loved the book, you might want to see this, though you may be disappointed but Daisy Edgar-Jones gives a beautiful performance and the handsome Taylor John Smith and the cinematography are beautiful to look at. (In theatres)


The Worst Person in the World (2021)

(Verdens Verste Menneske) 

Four years in the life of thirty something Julie (Renate Reinsve), a millenial who is struggling with her love life and her career.

Written by Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt and directed by Trier, this Norwegian film was one of the nominees last year for Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay.  Divided into 12 chapters as well as a prologue and an epilogue, it begins with Julie as a student in medical school.  However, that doesn't last long.  Soon she is more interested in psychology, then photography.  Do you get the sense that Julie is drifting a bit?

Julie also has a penchant for getting involved with every guy she meets.  When she meets Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), a comic book artist, she takes up writing.  He is 15 years older than she and wants kids.  She doesn't.  Then she crashes a wedding and meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum).  Julie is still with Aksel and Eivind has a girlfriend, but they are attracted to each other and want to know how far they can go before it's considered cheating. So they decide it's okay to smell each other's sweat and go to the bathroom together.  Ew. Anyway, even after that intimacy, they both go their separate ways, but meet again later when Julie is working in a bookstore.  Yes, yet another career path. They eventually get together and Julie becomes pregnant but then they separate while Julie decides whether to keep the baby or not. 

I won't reveal the rest but trust me, it's more of the same which seems to be an homage to millennial angst and the difficulty of commitment and facing adulthood. It's a coming of age tale except our heroine is 30!

I am usually a fan of foreign films and I have no issues with the acting (Reinsve won the Best Actress award at Canne last year) or production values. This was just not a satisfying movie experience for me. Maybe I just don't get Millennials.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Despite its many accolades, I didn't get it. But give it a try, maybe you will, especially if you are a Millennial. (In Norwegian with English subtitles -Streaming on Hulu, and also available on DVD and to rent on most platforms)


Truth and Lies: Jonestown, Paradise Lost (2018)

A documentary marking the 40th anniversary of the largest murder-suicide in American history.

As I have said countless times when reviewing movies and books about cults, they fascinate me.  I just can't understand people giving their lives over to one person and doing whatever that person tells them to do.  In this case, the charismatic Jim Jones, who  started out as someone who appeared to help the poor and lonely, turned into a megolomaniac, as one does when given supreme power.

Jones started out as a Methodist minister in Indiana and sought to put socialism into practice via his People's Temple church. He eventually ended up in San Francisco where he was a mover and shaker until an article about him and his church appeared in New West Magazine that exposed some shady practices. Jones fled to Guyana to build a town - Jonestown - and eventually got all of his parishoners to follow him there. 

Though it appeared that people were happy in Jonestown, family members alerted California Congressman Leo Ryan that some wanted out so Ryan made a trip to Jonestown to see what was what. Though Jones put on a show for Ryan, several of Jones' followers wanted to leave with Ryan and that started a chain of horrific events.  Jones ordered his minions to fire on the plane as Ryan and his entourage tried to leave.  Ryan was killed and that's when Jones ordered everyone to drink cyanide. Jones had become increasingly paranoid in Jonestown so would periodically have drills in the middle of the night where he would wake everyone up and make them do trial runs of drinking poison.  Who knows if everyone at first thought this was just another drill?  But that night it was the real thing. Nine hundred members of the People's Church in Jonestown died drinking cyanide, a horrible and painful way to die.  Jones, the coward that he was, shot himself.

Originally an ABC News special, the tragedy is documented through interviews with Jones' two surviving sons, rare video, archival footage, audiotapes and FBI documents and tries to answer the lingering question of why?  Why did a man who cared so much about social justice become so evil?

Such a sad story of people who only wanted something to belong to, coming to such a horrible end.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a cautionary tale about the dangers of giving up your free will. (Apple+)

The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up (2022)

Celebrating "The All-Time Greats" of Comedy!

"The Hall" appears to be a sort of Hall of Fame thought up for this TV special, and George Carlin, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers and Richard Pryor are the inductees, each introduced by a current comedian followed by footage of those four greats performing.  And you know what struck me right away?  The greats really were great.  They were really funny.  And the current comedians? Not so much. 

Pete Davidson opened the show followed by Jon Stewart's introduction of George Carlin.

George Carlin's career started in 1959 as a comedy team with Jack Burns, but when the two parted ways, Carlin went on alone and became a fixture on late night talk shows.  His looks and routine mirrored many others of the era but as time went on Carlin's image changed and so did his routines.  He was influenced by Lenny Bruce and was angered by his treatment.  Carlin eventually became almost as controversial as Bruce with his "seven dirty words routine."  Today Carlin is considered one of the most important and influential stand-up comics of our time.  He commented on everything from politics to the English language.  As he aged, he became more and more angry about the state of the world and much of what he predicted ten years ago has come true. 

What do you think he would have to say about where we are now?

"The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Robin Williams was introduced by John Mulaney.

Robin Williams became so famous as an actor, first on TV in "Mork and Mindy" and later as a film actor (he won the Academy Award for his performance in "Good Will Hunting" and was nominated three other times), that it is easy to forget that he started as a stand-up comic.  As Mulaney pointed out in his introduction, Robin never phoned it in.  His stream of consciousness humor was manic but very, very funny. He brought joy to everyone who saw him.  Sadly, he ended his own life.  A poignant moment in the show was Mulaney reading a note from Robin's daughter, Zelda, who was in the audience.

"In my eyes, so much of what Dad wanted to do was to brighten people's lives. Especially those he thought may need it the most. In that way, I think his drive had much less to do with his own sadness, and much more to do with lifting the world's."

Next came Chelsea Handler's homage to Joan Rivers.

"Can we talk?" Whether or not you enjoyed Joan Rivers' blunt, self-deprecating humor, she gets the credit for opening doors for so many female comics.  The world of stand-up is definitely a man's world, but she thrived and helped other women. She was famous for all of the plastic surgery she had done but had no problem making fun of herself for it. Johnny Carson loved Joan but when she was offered a late-night talk show, making her the first woman to host a late-night talk show on a major network, he ended the friendship.  She was another comedian who died too early.  She died during a botched minor surgical procedure.  And no, it wasn't plastic surgery.

 "I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I'd look like without plastic surgery."

Finally, Dave Chapelle inducted Richard Pryor.

Richard Pryor had a hard life growing up in a brothel run by his grandmother in Peoria, Illinois, but after a stint in the Army, he moved to New York and started doing stand-up.  Inspired by Bill Cosby, he did middle of the road comedy but in 1967 he had an "epiphany" and his comedy turned more edgy and profane. Like Robin Williams, Pryor also made a name for himself as a comic actor. He also famously set himself on fire while smoking crack cocaine but he managed to turn that terrible event into one of his most famous comedy specials - "Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip." Today Pryor is considered one of our greatest comics for his wry observations, storytelling and self-deprecation.

"Listen to me, of all the people you ever heard of freebasin', have you ever heard of anybody blowin' up? Why me? Ten million motherf***ers freebase, I got to blow up."

Rosy the Reviewer says...just a reminder of how much we miss these really smart and funny comics.  I so wish I could hear what they would have to say about what is happening in our world today. (Netflix)

***The Book of the Week***

Fame-sh: My Life at the Edge of Stardom by Mary Lynn Rajskub (2022)

What it's like to be sort of famous.

You might never have heard of Rajskub.  She is one of those "faces," an actor you recognize but don't know her name.  She is an American actress and comedian best known for her roles as Chloe O’Brian on the TV series “24” and Gail the Snail on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” 

Through a series of self-deprecating humorous essays, Rajskub uses her comic talent to share her life and what it’s like to be an almost famous actress, a reminder that not all actors enjoy lives of glitz and glam.  Raiskub shops at Ross and does her own laundry.  Her essays range from her stint at Denny’s (waitressing is good training for actors because they will be doing a lot of it as they wait for their big break) to starting out in stand-up with Jack Black, Will Farrell and Sarah Silverman to tips on auditioning (don’t go drunk)!  She has accidentally kissed Rush Limbaugh in front of paparazzi, made out with Tom Cruise for 45 minutes on a couch in the film "Magnolia" only to have it cut from the film and received an acting lesson from Gary Shandling

The question she gets most?  What was it like working with Kiefer Sutherland?  Answer: He intimidated her.  

Celebrity watchers will enjoy this because she humorously dishes on everyone she has encountered and she also gives advice to young actors. "Perform as much as possible."

Rosy the Reviewer says... fans of celebrity memoirs and especially fans of “24” will enjoy this comedic romp as will aspiring actors. (Check it out at your local library)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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