Sunday, January 10, 2021

What I Have Loved Watching During Lockdown, Part 2

I was thinking this would be my last Lockdown installment but looks like we are in for more of the same - long days at home - so as usual you can count on me to help you decide on what is worth watching.

So here is Part 2 of what I have enjoyed watching while staying home during this latest lockdown. (Even if you aren't locked down anymore or are in more relaxed conditions than we are, these will all be enjoyable watching experiences). 

(As I said in Part 1, if you have been following my Facebook page, you will recognize some of these recommendations but, if not, here are some movies and TV series I have enjoyed while sheltering at home.  And even if you do follow me on Facebook, these are expanded reviews that might get you to watch if you haven't already).


Bridgerton


Wealthy and romantic shenanigants in Regency England.

Produced by Shonda Rhimes, who wrote and produced “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and other successful television series and based on the novels by Julia Quinn, this is a Regency romance about the wealthy Bridgerton family, particularly Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the oldest of eight, who feels compelled to find a husband during her debut year into London society. But she wants to find love too.
At first Daphne is the belle of London society until Lady Whistledown (the voice of Julie Andrews), who writes a high society scandal sheet, casts aspersions on young Daphne. Daphne's prospects start to dwindle. So when she meets Simon Basset (Rege-Jean Page), the handsome Duke of Hastings (and did I say he was handsome?), a desirable catch but one hell-bent on avoiding marriage, the two join forces to help each other, even though they start out not liking each other at all (see where this is headed)? Here's the deal: He will pretend to be her suitor thus making her more desirable and shield her from unwanted suitors and his being her suitor will ostensibly take him off the market, because remember, he doesn't want to get married.

However, with Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) doing a bit of matchmaking and Daphne's older brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) meddling in Daphne's affairs (there is a duel in his future) as well as the Featherington family, who are in competition with the Bridgertons, also in the mix, all kinds of drama ensues. You see, Daphne's brother feels a responsibility to marry Daphne off to someone suitable, and in the meantime, make sure she doesn't do anything to sully her reputation while the Featheringtons have daughters they need to marry off too, but they are having a bit of a problem about money which poses a difficulty when it comes to the issue of dowries. There is also a secret pregnancy, unrequited love and some lies and betrayals. You know, those sorts of things that find their way into costume dramas. All very delicious. And just who is the mysterious, gossip mongering, Lady Whistledown?

Dynevor and Page are a handsome couple, she projects a shimmering beauty and I am obsessed with her adorable bangs. And did I mention that he is just handsome as hell? It’s a big cast and almost everyone gets their time in the spotlight, though some more than others. Not everything works, but this will still quench your appetite for romance and opulence (the costumes and set design are to die for) and take your mind off your troubles for a time.

Created by Chris Van Dusen, who also worked with Rhimes on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," the series is definitely a comedy of manners. Yes, there is some comedy, some manners, but there is drama, too, and it's quite scandalous, with a decidedly modern feel. There are people of color in high places, all kinds of sexual inuendo, not to mention actual sex (the "modern" kind), and if you listen closely you will notice that the chamber music playing in the background is actually a current pop tune from today. However, for me, sometimes the anachronisms were a distraction.
Rosy the Reviewer says… if you have been missing “Downton Abbey,” you might enjoy this Regency comedy of manners that also plays a bit like “Pride and Prejudice” with a some of “The Bachelorette” thrown in. Yes, you heard me.
(Now streaming on Netflix)



Long Way Up

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman continue their motorcycle journeys, this time from the tip of South America to Los Angeles -- on ELECTRIC bikes!

I am not a huge fan of motorcycles, but I am a huge fan of this new 11-part documentary series now showing on Apple+ TV that follows actor Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman (son of director John Boorman – “Deliverance”) as they ride motorcycles from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. I have to say it doesn’t hurt that I am a huge fan of Ewan McGregor too!

This is not the first time that these two adventurers have ridden their motorcycles on epic journeys. In 2004 they rode “around the world,” a 19,000 mile journey from London to New York, documented in “Long Way Round” and in 2007, it was “Long Way Down,” their motorcycle journey from Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. Both of those series were fascinating and exciting but what sets this 2019 trip apart is the fact that this time they are riding electric motorcycles. You see, our Ewan is not only talented, super handsome and sexy but also environmentally conscious and cares about his carbon footprint.
The first episode is all about getting ready (it took eight months to prepare for this trip 13,000 mile trip), and if you are not into motorcycles, you might think that would be a snoozer but it’s not. Harley-Davidson makes them some killer electric bikes and the crew travels to my home state of Michigan to get some electric support trucks from Rivian, a company that looks like it will give Tesla a run for its money.
Ewan and Charley rode for three months (pre-Covid, of course), and had many adventures, some good and some bad (finding places to plug in the bikes was always challenging). There is beautiful scenery and they met some amazing people along the way. One was man riding a regular bicycle through the Andes -- and he only had ONE LEG!
And did I say how much I love Ewan? I know I did, but what you may not know is that I almost didn’t forgive him for singing in “Moulin Rouge.” I thought he looked like a Muppet. But I forgive you, Ewan. And thanks for being such a swashbuckling adventurer. You, too, Charley!
Rosy the Reviewer says…nothing like an exciting adventure to escape a pandemic lockdown!


Sylvie's Love


Two beautiful young people meet in 1950's Harlem and embark on a love story that endures through changing times and personal choices. 

I needed the comfort of a good old-fashioned love story and I got that with this romance that reminded me a bit of “The Way We Were.”
The film takes place in the 1950’s and 60’s in Harlem. Sylvie (Tessa Thompson) is a young woman working in her father’s record shop and Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) is a saxophone player in a jazz band. Robert sees Sylvie through the window of the shop and gets a job there in hopes of getting to know her. Unfortunately, Sylvie has a fiancé fighting in Korea and her mother is an etiquette teacher so a jazz musician is certainly not a fit for her daughter. But the two get locked in the record store’s basement and sparks fly, literally. As in, how come I didn’t know what a “French light” was? Well, in case you didn't know either, it’s when your cigarette is only half lit. It means you will soon fall in love. Awww. Guess what? It happens to both of their cigarettes!

Let the love story begin.
But you know how these love stories go. True love never runs smooth. She gets pregnant but doesn’t tell him because he gets a gig in Paris, you know, that old love story trope – she doesn’t tell him, he doesn’t tell her, so they break up, years pass, they meet again.
We also have that other trope - boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy gets girl - then what happens? You will have to watch this and see. And if you like engaging actors, an engaging love story and great music, you will enjoy this.
Written and directed by Eugene Ash, the film also touches on issues of class, racism and the expected role of a woman in the 1960’s (did you know, a married woman could not get birth control until 1964 or her own credit card without her husband’s signature until 1974? That's not all in the movie. I'm just saying), but this is really one of those old-fashioned love stories that cuts through racial and cultural lines with a great musical score.
Rosy the Reviewer says…love, great music and a time that will bring back many memories for Baby Boomers (you young’uns will enjoy it too). Just what you need while you wait for that vaccine!
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime)


The Wilds


After a plane crash, nine young girls find themselves on a deserted island...but turns out, they didn't end up there by accident! 

It begins with nine girls from disparate backgrounds on a plane headed to some kind of retreat. The plane crashes and eight of the girls survive but find themselves stranded on the proverbial desert island. However, we know they get rescued because each episode focuses on one of the girls as she is interviewed by some mysterious guys in suits. We learn each girl’s story, how she ended up on that plane to that mysterious retreat (each is damaged in some way) and how she fared on the island.

But were they really rescued? Twists and turns ensue.

As each episode progresses, we learn about each girl and the mysterious Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths) who seems to be the mastermind of an experiment and these girls are her lab rats! Turns out, the plane crash was supposed to happen and the girls were all being watched to see how they would handle their survival!
Created by Sarah Streicher, there is a strong ensemble cast of young women and it's all about female empowerment, friendship and survival.
Rosy the Reviewer…it’s a little bit “Lord of the Flies” and a little bit “Lost.” It will grab you because it’s a crazy plot, you will begin to care about these girls, and you will want to know how it ends. But let me warn you...you might have to defer gratification because it kind of doesn't end. Looks like a sequel in the offing.
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime)



A Rainy Day in New York


A young couple plan a day together in New York City but get separated and embark on a series of separate adventures on a rainy day.

Whatever you may think of the controversy surrounding writer/director Woody Allen (and I personally think he got a bad rap), you would have to agree he is one of our premiere filmmakers. It says something about his stature that so many big name actors have wanted to work with him and at 85 he is still at it with his 48th film starring Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning and other all-stars.
Chalamet plays Gatsby Welles, a young college student at Yardley College, a lovely little college in the middle of nowhere (think Dartmouth). However, Gatsby is more of a gambler than an academic. When he wins big in a poker game, he invites his girlfriend, Ashleigh (Fanning), to a day in New York City where he wants to wine and dine her at some of his favorite spots (the Carlyle figures prominently) and hit the museums (wonderful scene in the Metropolitan Museum of Art). But Ashleigh is an aspiring journalist and gets an opportunity to interview Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber), a famous director, and though Gadsby and Ashleigh make it to the City together, they get separated and basically spend the day each on their own having some wacky adventures in the beautiful atmosphere of New York City on a rainy day. A lot can happen in one day! And it does!
Chalomet is decidedly Woody’s surrogate here, even down to capturing Woody’s speech cadence and hangdog demeanor, a far cry from Chalomet's usual forays into handsome romantic leaddom. And Fanning is a ditsy blonde, a trope Allen seems to enjoy, who is caught up in some romantic situations with not just the director but his long-time friend (Jude Law) and a famous actor (Diego Luna). They seem to enjoy the fact that she can’t hold her booze. And Selena Gomez stands out as the younger sister of one of Gatsby’s old girlfriends.

Like I said, it's an all-star cast. Everyone seems to want to work with Woody!
Is this one of Woody’s best? No, but even his lesser films are better than most that are out there. And if you are a Woody fan, many of his signatures are here –a glum protagonist, a soundtrack of 40’s standards, witty repartee, references to classic films and beautiful cinematography, with the Big Apple playing a prominent role.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a classy, atmospheric day in New York City. Wish I was there right now!
(Available for rent on Prime - $4.99)



Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


August Wilson's award-winning play brought to the screen.
Ma Rainey was an early blues singer, considered “The Mother of Blues” and Viola Davis does her justice, fat suit and all, in this filmed version of August Wilson’s acclaimed play. August Wilson was referred to as "the theatre's poet of Black America." His plays reflected the African American experience in America but also the human experience.

The film begins in a rundown recording studio in Chicago in the 1920's while the band members who arrived on time wait for Ma to arrive. Three veteran band members, Toledo (Glynn Turman), Cutler (Colman Domingo), and Slow Drag (Michael Potts), show up followed by Levee (Boseman), the trumpet player.  Levee takes his time because he likes himself.  The older band members have been around the block a time or two and know the drill, but Levee has higher ambitions. He wants to write and play his own songs.  He is also holding back the rage of a black man in America, a man who has been held down.

When Ma finally arrives, she is not in a good mood because someone ran into her new car. She also doesn't want to do what has been planned, she has some demands of her own, and because her records make money, the white men who run the studio will do what she wants. She can throw her weight around, literally, but as a black woman, she also knows it all hinges on her continuing to make money for the white man. As the day progresses, we also get to know the band members as everyone gets a monologue that tells his story.

Viola is the centerpiece and is wonderful in the film, but Boseman is also wonderful and the film also marks his last performance before his shocking and untimely death. He is skinny and gaunt and you can see that he is not well but to think that he delivered this performance in the last months of his life is just jaw-dropping. When Boseman shares Levee's story of his mother getting gang-raped, and he rages against God - if he exists how could he let that happen? - one can't help but think that Boseman knew he was dying and was talking about himself. It's a powerful moment for him as an actor and for us watching him. It’s a physical performance, but it’s also a deep, heartfelt performance that not only embraces the struggles and exploitation of black people in the United States but foreshadows Chadwick’s own future. So sad to think that he won’t be able to bask in the glory of probably the best performance of his career.

Adapted from Wilson's play by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and directed by George C. Wolfe (Denzel Washington was executive producer), the film has performances that are not to be missed, especially since we won't be seeing Chadwick Boseman anymore, but the film is also relevant for today as the struggle for equality continues.

Rosy the Reviewer says…This is a must see. Ring, ring! Viola Davis? Oscar calling. Chadwick Boseman? Wherever you are... Oscar calling.
(Now streaming on Netflix)




Wonder Woman 1984





Rosy the Reviewer says...don't bother.



Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!



If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 


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 IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

My Un-Resolutions 2021

It's that time again.

The holidays are over and now it's time to look toward the New Year, a time when we are prone to make resolutions so we can be better people. I always want to be a better person, but back in 2016, I decided I was no longer going to make any New Year's Resolutions.  I mean, what's the point? If I decided I was going to cut down on my drinking, by January 2, I had a drink in my hand.  If I decided I was going to lose weight, by January 2, I was eating a donut followed by a drink.  And if I decided to not spend any more money, by January 15, two boxes from Amazon arrived while I was drinking.

So I decided to make "Un-Resolutions," resolutions about what I was NOT going to do in the New Year (and if you are interested, here is my original post about that from 2016 - "My New Year's Un-Resolutions." )


But now it's four years later and much has happened. 

First of all, was I able to keep my "Un-Resolutions" from 2016?

Sort of.

I didn't gain any more weight.  In fact, I lost weight.  When I get stressed, I stop eating, and moving back to my hometown after 14 years away was stressful, so four years after making that un-resolution, I actually lost weight.

If you read that original post, on numbers 2,3,4,7 and 8, I confess that I didn't do so well, because the state of the world has deteriorated quite a bit since then, but I have kept my resolutions to NOT stop watching TV (good thing, since the pandemic, what else is there to do?), and I have completely given up on Oprah discovering my blog.

But even though I was not able to keep all of my un-resolutions from 2016, that doesn't mean I'm not going to continue on my "un-resolutions" resolution. It just means more have come to mind, so if you will indulge me, here are some new Un-Resolutions for 2021.


I will NOT send out Christmas cards anymore.

With everything that has happened this year, I wasn't in a celebratory mood.  I couldn't even bring myself to put up the seven-foot tree, and instead, opted for a little four-footer.  So because I just wasn't feeling Christmas, I thought sending out Happy New Year's cards made more sense. Saying goodbye to 2020 was something to celebrate.

Also, not everyone celebrates Christmas and who needs the added stress of sending out Christmas cards before Christmas when there is so much to do and so little to do after Christmas when nothing much happens?  

So if you have been on my Christmas card list and thought I wasn't thinking of you because you didn't receive a Christmas card from me this year, you would be wrong.  I am thinking of you and you will be getting my New Year's wishes soon.  It's now my new tradition.




I will NOT be a victim of a scam.

For awhile there, I thought I was on the "lonely old lady" list.  

I was getting Facebook friend requests from men in uniform practically every day. I would have been flattered except for the fact that they all had strange names, and when I looked at their FB pages, they had no friends! So I realized they weren't attracted to little old me, more like little old me's money.

But this is a real thing.  Many people of a certain age are targeted, so you know the drill.  Never give out personal information to an email, even if it LOOKs legit. The banks and PayPal are particular targets of these bad guys.  Go to the bank's or credit card's web page or call them.  Likewise, never give out personal info on the phone.  For example, the Social Security office is NOT going to call you.  I mean, c'mon, really?  You actually think a live person from the Social Security Administration is going to pick up the phone and give you a personal call? You can barely reach a live person in that department even if you go to their office!


I will NOT impulse buy. 

After two (or more) glasses of wine, I sometimes get the urge to hop onto Amazon on the computer and buy the latest item showcased on "Shark Tank." 



And then while sipping my glass of wine, I might think of something else I need.


It's just so easy to hit that old "Buy Now" button. Sip.  It makes me feel good that Amazon knows who I am, where I live, my credit card number. It's just all so easy.  Sip.  But, no. No, no, no. Sip. 



When Hubby's snoring keeps me awake, I will NOT give him a big nudge and yell in his face "Stop snoring!"  

Though it is highly efffective, it is not very nice and scares the crap out of Hubby.



I am NOT going to do any more remodeling ever again.  

When we moved to our current home two years ago, we redid all of the bathrooms, the kitchen, added hardwood and a gas fireplace, and believe it or not, before we moved we had just renovated the kitchen of that house... and then we moved...so TWO kitchen remodels in the space of a year.  



It's nice to have a brand new kitchen or bathroom, but the getting there is soul destroying. So I have instructed my kids to shoot me if I say I want to redo the kitchen or bathroom ever again even though we need new windows, new flooring, it sure would be nice to paint... Stop it, Rosy!  (You can relive my pain here if you want to - "My New Kitchen, or How I Survived a Kitchen Remodel.")



I am NOT going to use cooking as therapy anymore. 



You see, when I am at loose ends, I tend to cook. 

Like really cook...A LOT.  I like to try various recipes, like three or four at a time.  You see, for me, it's not so much about eating the food, it's more about making the food and tasting the food, so then when I am done, there is a lot of food that somebody has to eat.  My cooking forays are usually following by Hubby shouting, "Who's going to eat all of this food?"  Oops.



I am NOT going to stop exercising, even though the gyms are closed and I am tired of going for walks.


In the meantime, I have taken up YouTube exercise videos for old folks, some of which are a major hoot, especially the ones on yoga.  However, I can't believe how difficult really easy yoga is. I can't even keep up with 80-year-old Betty who is trying to teach me from the living room in her trailer.  And no, I refuse to do chair yoga. How can you do yoga in a chair?  And anyway, that's for really old, creaky people but geez.  I can barely get down on the floor anymore without feeling like a beached whale. And getting back up?  Forget it.  But I will carry on as long as I can.






I will NOT watch "The Bachelor" when the new season starts in January.



I have never missed a "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" in all the years it has aired on television, even though as time went by I felt like I needed to take a shower after watching. I know.  How could someone has erudite as myself watch such a show? Well, um, I am one of those people who has a sort of perverted loyalty to things.  Even though I don't really want to watch, I feel since I had started and already given this show so many years of my life, I needed to continue or somehow I would miss something or even feel guilty for giving up on it.  I know, it's a strange obsession that explains why I still watch "The Challenge" on MTV and "Sister Wives!" 

"The Challenge" is a reality show starring ex-reality stars, most of whom were on "Real World (another obsession, but in my defense one of the original of all reality shows)" and some other MTV shows and was meant to give out-of-work MTV reality kids something to do. The contestants go through a series of physical challenges to win money.  Funny thing is, though, this show has been going on for so long that some of those "kids" are no longer kids. In fact, they are probably grandparents by now.  As for "Sister Wives," I can't explain that one.  

But anyway, I know I need to break this addiction to certain reality shows, starting with "The Bachelor," but then, just when I am going to take it out of my taping queue, I think, okay, our new Bachelor is the first African American bachelor and I should support that and I would miss the really crazy girl and Chris Harrison saying "This will be the most dramatic Bachelor ever" and then I think, okay, I will just watch the first episode...


I am NOT going to yell at Hubby for playing his harmonica when I am trying to watch "The Bachelor..."



... er, I mean, when I am trying to watch my usual very intellectual and serious  television fare, like PBS or the news or "60 Minutes."  Hubby is a really talented musician and plays the harmonica well, but we live in a small home, and I just don't like the sound of a harmonica that much and have been known to yell "Knock it off!" I will NOT do that anymore. But I think I come by that naturally, as they say.  My Dad was a musician and played the trumpet and my mother made him practice down in the basement.  At least, I don't do that.  Wait, we don't have a basement!


I am NOT going to get on a plane for awhile, though, I also do NOT plan on giving up on travel.

I have a Swedish cousin whom I love and who, when our son did his foreign exchange in Sweden, looked after him.  She and her husband, Lars, meet up with us every time we go to Europe, so I don't want to think I will never do that again.


(Dublin 2017)

I have documented my many European trips on this blog, everything from Sweden to England to Ireland to Italy, Venice, Prague, Reykjavic, and more.  It's my jam, so give me that damn vaccine and I'm on a plane outta here!


I will NOT get the virus.

Even though I am bored stiff, I am staying home and, when I go out, I stay away from people and wear a mask even though it messes up my hair, gives me acne and makes me look stupid. But I am doing my part to not get the virus and to make sure others don't get it either.



I have also decided that I will NOT be held hostage by other people's agendas.  

All of this staying at home has given me plenty of time to reflect, on life, on my mortality, on relationships and how I am spending my time. 

I was taught that you are supposed to sacrifice for your loved ones, family and friends, that it's important to sometimes do things you don't really want to do, because you are doing them to make others happy. That's what family and friends should do. I still believe in that, but now that I have been face to face with the grim reality of my own mortality and add to that fact that I am old and have less time on this earth anyway, I will be less inclined and patient when led astray on someone else's journey. Among loved ones and true friends, there should be no jealousy or competitiveness. We should respect each other enough to be on time, to honor our commitments and to not bail on each other, to listen to them, to not be self-serving and thoughtless. Oh, and don't get me started on mansplaining and pompous asses. 




 

Even in the best of times, life is short, and this pandemic has shown us not only that life is short but that anything can happen at any time.  Sadly, it has also exposed our true colors and many of our fellow humans have not stepped up to the plate to care for others. I'm too old to put up with much these days, and especially after everything we have been through in the last year, I want to spend what time I have left caring for others and with those who show they care. 


Anyway, finally, I am NOT going to remember 2020 fondly, but I DO look forward to 2021.  

Nothing like a global pandemic has ever happened in my lifetime, and I've been around for awhile, and I think we will all come out of this forever changed.  What I am hopeful about, though, is that we will come out of this changed for the better with more positive behavior - that we will be grateful to be alive and, because of that, we will have developed compassion for our fellow humans who have also been through this and a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. May we all NOT be self-serving and thoughtless.


Happy New Year everyone and may 2021 be your best year ever!



Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!



If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 


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 IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.







Monday, December 21, 2020

What I Have Loved Watching So Far During Lockdown

In these terrible times, thank god for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple+ and HBO Max (did I miss anything)?  They have been my best friends off and on for the last nine months but especially during this latest lockdown.  

If you have been following my Facebook page, you will recognize some of these recommendations but, if not, here are some movies and TV series I have enjoyed while sheltering at home.  And even if you do follow me on Facebook, these are expanded reviews that might get you to watch if you haven't already.


1.  The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)



So...ever wonder what flight attendants get up to as they travel around the world? Well, my oh my, according to this, A LOT! Drinking, sex...AND MURDER? (Dateline fans, do Keith Morrison's voice when you read the word "muuurder").

Kaley Cuoco plays Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant who often finds herself waking up from a night on the town and not remembering what happened or who that guy is in bed with her. She's a bit of a party girl, well, actually not a bit of a party girl, a BIG party girl, and she has no problem entering the Mile High Club with customers. But when she wakes up the next morning in Bangkok after hooking up with Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), a handsome passenger and finds him lying next to her, covered in blood, yes, dead, she decides to do a runner. Maybe no one saw her with him? Not likely. Bad choices and chaos ensues...and believe it or not, at times it's funny because Cassie is a cross between Goldie Hawn and Lucy Ricardo!

There are some side plots revolving around Cassie's brother (T.R. Knight) and her fellow flight attendant, Megan (Rosie Perez), who has gotten into some shady stuff herself but this is really all about Cassie and her crazy life.

Created by Steve Yockey (adapted from the novel of the same name by Chris Bohjalian), this is very entertaining and addictive, and Kaley Cuoco carries us along as Cassie tries to find out who killed Alex. There is a strange little hook with dead Alex turning up every so often to try to help Cassie figure his death out, which I rather liked, because did I say that Alex was handsome? But you know how I am with these elaborate spy movies. After many twists and turns and double-crosses, I often have trouble figuring out exactly what is going on - who is doing what to whom? So the last episode? Kind of didn't get it, but all-in-all, this was an enjoyable romp and maybe I was left a bit hanging because it looks like there will be a sequel.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a series that is both stylish, delicious and binge-worthy! And a lot of fun!



2.  A Teacher (Hulu)


A teacher and her student have an inappropriate relationship.

Meet Claire Wilson (Kate Mara), the new high school AP English teacher who has a handsome husband and a seemingly happy marriage. I mean, c’mon, they are trying to have a baby. But then enter Eric Walker (Nick Robinson, who starred in teen hits “Love, Simon” and “Everything, Everything), a handsome Big Man On Campus, who is hot for teacher. Both have issues. We learn early on that Claire is not your average teacher when she shoplifts some lipstick. We see some rebellion and entitlement there. And our young Eric? Who isn’t entitled when they are 17? He is the soccer team captain and wants to be a doctor, but he needs some help with his SATs. Claire conveniently steps up. And yes, they embark on a sexual relationship, and yes, they think it's love.

I know, there is a certain "ick factor" here, especially for you teachers out there. But the series offers some perspectives on this teacher-student phenomenon which we all watched play out most spectacularly and sadly with the Mary Kay Letourneau story, and believe it or not, teachers crossing the lines with their students is not as unusual as you might think. Google it. The title tells it all. It’s not “The Teacher,” it’s “A Teacher.” Teenaged boys want to be adults and young women teachers maybe don’t want to be and there you go. In this story, one bad decision leads to another and we know nothing good will come of it.

Mara is vulnerable and poignant as Claire, even as we shake our heads at her decisions. She is very believable and Robinson is the next big thing. I see a long career ahead for him.

Created and directed by Hannah Fidell (who also directed a feature film on which this TV series is based), this is a serious look at a gender stereotype that is often overlooked - the male sexual victim.
Rosy the Reviewer says…watching this, teachers and parents may cringe and be thankful school is not in session but this is a compelling series. You can’t take your eyes off of it. You know, like a train wreck? But it's a beautiful train wreck.
(The final two episodes air December 22 and December 29)


3.  The Prom (Netflix)


A group of Broadway stars on their way down head to a small Indiana town to give their lives some relevance by taking up the cause of a young girl who has been told she is not allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom as her date.

The Great White Way may be dark right now but thanks to Netflix we can still enjoy Broadway with this film version of the groundbreaking musical “The Prom.” It’s kind of like “Footloose,” but instead of an uptight town banning dancing, this is about an uptight town canceling Prom because two young lesbians want to go as a couple.
Four narcissistic Broadway stars (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and James Corden) need a cause to make themselves relevant. Their show closed due to bad reviews, so they grab onto this story of these two Indiana teen girls who want to go to Prom together and think they can help. But despite a sympathetic principal (Keegan-Michael Key), the PTA headed by the uptight Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington) says no, so our fish-out-of-water, clueless Broadway stars show up in Indiana to try to save the day.
If you are familiar with Broadway musicals, you know that people will break out into song and dance in malls and other odd places and there will be sentimentality and seemingly bad people will see the error of their ways and become good, but suspend your disbelief. It’s a musical. It’s meant to make you feel good and this one does just that.
But don’t think this is one of those fluffy musicals. This one has substance because it takes on the struggles of LGBTQ teens and is actually based on a true story. Yes, in this day and age, a school tried to keep two girls from going to Prom together. And "the prom" itself is also a metaphor for everyone's teenage angst and subsequent neurosis, right?
Once again Meryl kills. Who knew she could sing like that? And she shows her comic chops too. And James? Who knew he was so light on his feet? And Nicole? Well, actually, not sure why a star of her stature was in this because her part as a Bob Fosse chorus girl is small, though she has one of the great lines.

“When your hands are shaking, turn them into jazz hands!”

But still, I am glad she hooked her star to this because it’s a great show. And thanks to Ryan Murphy's direction and a wonderful screenplay by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, they are all hilarious and the young lovers are engaging.
The show opened on Broadway in 2018, was nominated for seven Tonys and ran for almost a year with a planned tour, but, well, you know how that went. But in the meantime, you can catch the show on Netflix and, I guarantee if you love musicals, you will love this (but remember, it’s a musical).
Rosy the Reviewer says…a feel good show where the Midwest meets Broadway. It shines a light on the struggles of the LGBTQ community, but it’s also an homage to the theatre, a reminder of what we are missing.


4. The Bee Gees: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart (HBO Max)


The extraordinary story of the Bee Gees, one of the best selling artists of all time, with sales of over 120 million records.  But what was most extraordinary was how they were able to keep reinventing themselves to stay relevant with the times over a 45 year career.

The brothers Gibb, Barry, the oldest, and twins Robin and Maurice, formed the Bee Gees in 1958 and performed for 45 years and had a major impact on pop culture from the 60’s through the 90’s. Through a series of interviews with Barry, the sole surviving brother (teen idol Andy is also gone) and archival interviews with Maurice and Robin, the story unfolds.  Yes, this is an homage to the band and doesn’t go into too much detail about some of the issues they faced, though In the “Never-Before-Seen” category we see Robin attempting a solo career and at a performance in New Zealand the crowd is so incensed that it’s only him and not all three of the Bee Gees that they throw things at him, attack him and run him off the stage.

Written by Mark Monroe, and directed by Frank Marshall, this is a fascinating story of some brilliant singer/songwriters and it’s a brilliant film, so evocative of the times, a time captured so completely that it can be emotional for us Baby Boomers.  I actually cried…because I was that young 60's girl who loved the Bee Gees. 


Rosy the Reviewer says…not to be missed!




5.  Murder on Middle Beach (HBO Max)


A young filmmaker tries to solve the mystery of his mother's murder.

If you are a true crime aficionado, as I am, you will be intrigued by this four-part HBO documentary, “Murder on Middle Beach,” where a son tries to find his mother’s killer.
Madison Hamburg directs his first film in an effort to solve the death of his mother, Barbara Hamburg, who was brutally murdered March 3, 2010 at her home in Madison, Connecticut. After the case went cold, Madison interviewed his family members and others to try to gather evidence to solve her murder. As he did so, he uncovered many family secrets and long-term resentments and the thought that perhaps one of his own family members had killed his mother.

Did Barbara's ex-drug addict sister, Conway, kill her? Or Madison's entitled sister, Ali? What about his Dad who had some shady business dealings that Barbara had uncovered and who was due in court regarding their contentious divorce? Or was Barbara's involvement with Gifting Tables a reason for murder?
This is one of those crime stories made all the more ominous because of the setting – a beautiful serene little New England town where nothing bad could ever happen, right? – and a seemingly close-knit, normal big family that murder could never touch, right? And yet...

Rosy the Reviewer says…a spell-binding story full of twists and turns made all the more poignant because it’s also the personal story of a son trying to not only find his mother’s murderer but a son trying to understand who his mother really was.




6.  Big Sky (ABC)


A private detective and an ex-cop try to solve a kidnapping. 

Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) are private detectives searching for two sisters who were kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana.  But when Cody goes missing, Cassie joins forces with ex-cop Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), Cody's estranged wife, an uneasy alliance since Jenny discovered Cody had been having an affair with Cassie. But that's the least of their problems when they discover that those are not the only girls who have discovered missing.

From the pen of David E. Kelley (best known for "L.A. Law" and "Chicago Hope" and "Big Little Lies" - he's also married to Michelle Pfeiffer), this is a little bit thriller, a little bit mystery and very character driven by, shall I say, odd characters? There is a twisted cop (John Carroll Lynch), a nerdie truck driver (Brian Geraghty), who not only lives with his mother but sometimes sleeps with her, prostitutes working truck stops and more. The series reminded me a bit of "Twin Peaks," and well, yes, "Big Little Lies," without the Monterey landscapes, because all of these characters are not just odd but have, shall I say, "issues?" And the first episode had a shocking ending! Enjoyed it in a perverse sort of way. Looking forward to its return.

Rosy the Reviewer says...check it out (you can probably find it on On Demand) and let me know what you think. It's a bit over-the-top but stylish and intriguing and surprisingly out there for mainstream TV (or maybe I just don't watch enough mainstream TV).
(Currently on hiatus until January 26 - and yes, it will leave you hanging)


7.  Dash & Lily (Netflix)


A boy with a broken heart and a naive but optimistic young girl embark on a series of dares via a notebook they hide around New York City.

Now that we’ve all seen “The Queen’s Gambit (see below),” we needed another bingeworthy Netflix show, and thank you, Netflix for “Dash and Lily,” which will be the next big thing, and it’s here just in time for the holidays to take our minds off of lockdown.

“The Queen’s Gambit” was about chess, “Dash and Lily” is about books…well, a notebook... and romance. Based on the young adult series "Dash & Lily's Book of Dares" by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, the series plays out in eight 25+ minute episodes (totally bingeworthy), we meet Dash (Austin Abrams), a handsome New Yorker, who is nursing a broken heart and is humbug about Christmas. Lily (Midori Francis) is his opposite. She loves the holidays and is looking for love but she is also socially shy and awkward. She has planted a notebook in the famous NYC Strand Book Store with a series of dares for anyone up to the challenge. Dash finds the notebook and embarks on the dares and then dares Lily. They leave the notebook in places around NYC with new dares for each other. Will they meet? The anticipation is half the fun and you care because these are two engaging young actors. And, yes, it’s a rom-com and it’s about young people but all ages will enjoy if you remember what falling in love is like.

Filmed prer-Covid, this is a love letter to New York City, too, showcasing its delights as Dash and Lily dash about the City, and it will put you in the holiday spirit.
Rosy the Reviewer says…it’s quirky and funny and utterly charming and isn’t charm something we sorely need right now?


8Emily in Paris (Netflix)


A young American girl from the Midwest gets a chance to live and work in Paris.

Emily (Lily Collins, yes, Phil's daughter) is a driven 20-something from Chicago who gets an unexpected job opportunity and moves to Paris. She is supposed to bring an American point of view to a French marketing firm. However, the Parisiens she works with not only don't think much of her Midwestern upbringing, they don't think much of America either. Emily is a fish-out-of-water, but there's a twist. She doesn't know it.  She thinks she is cool and swans around Paris like she owns the place. Her colleagues make fun of her behind her back and put roadblocks in her way, but this girl has pluck (don't you just love the word "pluck?") and some handsome suitors.

Created by Darren Star, this is a sort of Parisien version of "Sex and the City," and it's just as much fun. It's frothy, Lily Collins is a delight and so is Paris. So sit back and do some armchair traveling as Emily takes Paris by storm in some great clothes! Ooh la-la, the clothes!

Rosy the Reviewer says...rom-com fans rejoice and, ah, Paris, armchair travelers will also enjoy. Une délicieuse petite aventure.


9.  The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)



The true story of the Chicago 7 arrested for protesting at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

And the wheels go round and round.

Don’t think writer/director Aaron Sorkin, the creator of “The West Wing,” doesn’t draw some connections between the trial of the Chicago 7 and the protests of the late 60’s to present day events. He does.

What became known as "The Chicago Seven" was a disparate group of organizers and protesters: Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), John Froines (Danny Flaherty) and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), who along with Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the current President of the Black Panther Party, were arrested and tried for crossing state lines to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention when in fact they were there protesting the Vietnam War. They all had their own issues and causes and what they deemed appropriate protest. I mean, Abbie Hoffman was a Yippie who liked to plan over-the-top theatrical protests, Dellinger was a pacifist who promoted non-violent change and Hayden was one of the founders of the SDS - Students for a Democratic Society - and not particularly against violence but what they all had in common was a shared hatred of the Vietnam War. However, despite their differences, but they were rounded up and treated as one entity - The Chicago Seven.

Mark Rylance plays their attorney, William Kunstler, and Frank Langella plays Judge Julius Hoffman as rather senile, which would explain why the trial was such a circus.

Ah, 1968, the year that Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, racism and political corruption abounded and the draft lottery sent 35,000 young men to Vietnam, some of whom were my friends. Hell, my ex-husband was sent there six months after we got married. Some of that from 1968 may sound familiar, except we Baby Boomers had Vietnam and now this generation has Covid. Both wars and still lots to protest.
And the wheels go round and round.
Rosy the Reviewer says…it’s a star-studded cast and a compelling story that resonates today. And next time you Gen-X-ers and Z-s sigh and say “Okayyyy, Boomers,” to your parents or grandparents, and blame us for where we are today, think twice. We had our own stuff. We tried to change things. Now it's your turn.




10.  The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)


Young orphan Beth Harmon becomes a chess prodigy and learns that success has a price.

This has been the hit of quarantine.

First there was "The Tiger King (remember that one? - we weren't quite as evolved then as we are now!)," and then there was "The Queen's Gambit." They actually have nothing in common except "The Tiger King" was a Netflix phenomenon and so is this one. In fact, "The Queen's Gambit" has become the most watched scripted series of all time for Netflix.

Beth Harmon has not had a good life. Orphaned in the 50's at a young age, sent to an orphanage and lonely, she befriended the janitor who taught her how to play chess. She quickly proves to be a prodigy at the game and starts entering competitions.

And then the older Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) takes the chess world by storm, something that was the world of men, and now there is Beth and she is crushing everyone. But here's the thing. Beth has some major emotional problems and a drug and alcohol addiction.

Speaking of taking the world by storm. That is what Anya Taylor-Joy has done. Not just with this, but her early foray into feature films was "The Witch," a film I didn't really like but I liked her. And in just five short years, she has a long resume that includes her most recent film, "Emma," which by the way was the very last film I saw in a theatre. She is a beautiful, talented actress who really shows what she's got in this incredibly mesmerizing series.

However, I also have to give a shout-out to Marielle Heller, who played Beth's foster mother. She went from an unsympathetic character who drank a bit, okay, a lot, and didn't understand her adopted daughter to become a lynchpin and huge supporter of Beth's career. Heller is also the writer/director of "Diary of a Teenage Girl" and the director of "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" and "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" - three movies I loved. So she is a successful writer and director and now we know she can also act. Keep your eye out for her!

Anyway, yes, this film is about chess, but don't let that turn you off.

It's about chess, but so much more. I mean, c'mon, "The Tiger King" was about big cat zoos, and you watched that one. This miniseries, which is not a documentary, by the way, but a dramatic series, might just make chess the next big thing! But this is so, so much better than "The Tiger King" and so much more than just about chess. Let's just say, chess is a metaphor here. And Beth Harmon is our new kick-ass woman!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you don't want to be the only one who hasn't seen this show, better get out the remote! Trust me, you won't be sorry!

NOTE: You might notice one obvious series that is missing - "The Crown." Duh. Yes, I binged on that one too but hasn't everyone?

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!



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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.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.