Wednesday, September 28, 2022

"Don't Worry, Darling" and The Month in Reviews

[I review the new (and kind of controversial movie) "Don't Worry, Darling (yes, I will share the gossip), as well as the horror film "Goodnight Mommy" and the supernatural thriller "The Empty Man."  The Book of the Month is "I'm Glad My Mom Died" by Jennette McCurdy]

It's been a horror of a month - well, at the movies, anyway! Sometimes you need a little movie horror to take you away from the horrors of real life!

Don't Worry Darling (2022)

A woman with a seemingly perfect life discovers that all is not what it seems.

Okay so let's get this stuff out of the way first.

There are all kinds of burning questions surrounding the making of this movie.  Did Shia LeBeouf quit or was he fired from this film?  Did Florence Pugh and director Olivia Wilde not get along?  Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?  And can Harry Styles act?

You might think, who cares?  But there is possibly something at work here that smacks of sexism in undermining a film in this way before it has even been released. According to Olivia Wilde, this is the kind of backlash a woman gets when a woman tries to step into a traditional man's role, here, as a director. And I agree that some of that might be happening here.  For one thing, you can count on one hand the number of successful female directors in Hollywood, and I don't think a male director would be getting the kind of negative outside-the-movie press that Wilde is getting.  Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for abusing his actresses, especially Tippi Hedren in "The Birds." He had a penchant for blondes and when she rebuffed him, Hitchcock used real birds rather than mechanized birds in that famous scene in "The Birds," where birds cover Tippi's head and attack her. Likewise, directors Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick and Werner Herzog, were notoriously difficult, but we never heard about their controversies at the time. But here we have a female director who is accused of things not even remotely like what those other male directors did and it's big news. 

Rant over. I rest my case.

Anyway, let's get to the important thing.  The movie.  

And I have to say that after seeing it, I have all kinds of other burning questions, the main one being...if men had the opportunity to design the perfect world, would it consist of mid-century homes with sunken living rooms, green bathtubs and stay-at-home wives who have dinner on the table every night when they got home and a desire for sex on said table? Duh.

Florence Pugh plays Alice, who is just such a wife.  She is married to Jack (Styles) and they live in the perfect 1950's desert community of Victory. Every morning, along with the other wives in the neighborhood, Alice stands out in front of her house and dutifully waves her husband goodbye as he and his fellow husbands head off to work in their cool vintage cars, out into the desert at the Victory Project, a top secret government project.  While they are gone, the women clean their homes, hang out the wash, take ballet lessons, shop and gossip. In the evening, they all party together.  All the women have to do is stay in their little town and never go out into the desert or show up at their husbands' work. Sounds pretty ideal for the husbands, right?

But then Alice starts to experience bits and pieces of strange memories.  Her friend, Margaret (KiKi Lane), appears to be having a breakdown, calls her and tells her that things are not what they seem and then commits suicide. While out riding in the town trolley, Alice sees a plane crash and goes out into the desert to investigate and finds a mysterious build. Then she wakes up in her bedroom with no recollection on how she got back home. When Alice tries to talk to her friend, Bunny (Wilde also stars), about her fears, Bunny tells her to keep quiet. And then Frank (Pine), the town founder, gives her a warning.  Something is not right and Alice soon discovers the secrets behind not only the Victory Project but her own life and it's not good.

As I said, after seeing this movie I have some burning questions of my own but sadly, I can't really get into them without spoiling the twist but let me just say when the twist came I thought, "What the hell?" I might have even said it out loud. And I laughed.  I don't think I was supposed to laugh.

With a screenplay by Katie Silberman who also wrote "Booksmart," Wilde's first directorial feature, this film is very much in the "Rosemary's Baby" and "Stepford Wives" thriller genre - a seemingly happy woman discovers that her life is not what it seemed and starts questioning her sanity but there are some huge stretches here. However, this story is not as smart as "Booksmart." There are holes in this story as big as the Grand Canyon, some bad directorial choices and more questions than answers, except I can answer this one.  Can Harry Styles act?  Surprisingly, yes.

And speaking of the acting, Florence Pugh can always be counted on to give a great performance and Wilde is also good in a smaller role. Pine can also be counted on to be very, very handsome. Just kidding. He was also good, though his role was not very complex. The whole ensemble is fine and the set design beautiful.  But the soundtrack was very annoying at times, the visuals used to show that Alice was losing it were distracting and monotonous, and I just wish the twist had made more sense.

Freud supposedly asked "What does a woman want?"  Disturbingly, this film appears to ask and then answer the question "What does a man want?"  And it's scary. Perhaps, the theme of this film is why Wilde was getting such a backlash. I liked the idea of this film, I just wish it had been better.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a stylish film that will take you on a journey, but sadly it's a journey with a lot of potholes. I like movies that make me think but I don't like to have to wrack my brain to understand what I just saw. Though I liked some things about this film, I can't really recommend it. (In theatres)


Goodnight Mommy (2022)

Twin brothers return home to live with their estranged mother and begin to wonder if she is really their mother.

Twin Elias (Cameron Crovetti) and Lukas (Nicolas Crovetti) move back in with their mother (Naomi Watts), a former actress, after staying with their father since their divorce. When they see her again, her face is fully bandaged as if she were wearing a ski mask.  She tells them she has just had plastic surgery.

The boys quickly sense something different about their Mother.  She has told them they can't go into her room or into the barn and she is drinking and smoking, something they don't remember her doing.  When asked to sing them the lullaby she always sang to them, she doesn't seem to remember it and she hardly acknowledges Lukas at all. Lukas also tells Elias that their mother had green eyes.  This woman has blue eyes. They both start questioning whether this is really their mother.

After Elias tells her she is not their mother, she slaps him.  Things are getting out of hand so the boys run away but are soon returned by two State Police troopers.  When they get back home, their mother has removed her bandages but the boys still don't believe she is their mother.

The next morning, Mother awakes to find herself tied to her bed with duct tape and demands to be freed.  She says she is their mother and when they ask why her eyes have changed color she explains that she wore green contact lenses as an actress and they are downstairs in her purse.  Lukas tells Elias he searched the purse and she is lying. So they leave their mother tied to the bed and run away again.  But Elias says he needs to go back to get his toothbrush and when he does he looks in his mother's purse and finds the contacts.

What is going on here?  Is she their mother or isn't she?

Things go from bad to worse but all is revealed in this scary and moody remake of an Austrian film. I am not a fan of remakes of perfectly good foreign films, but since I did not see the original, I guess I can't complain too much. As for the concept, is there anything scarier than children in jeopardy or Naomi Watts in a white ski mask?  But she is fine in this role. And speaking of children, I usually don't like child actors, especially the very precocious smart alecky ones, but these two boys are very good little actors, very believable and poignant.  

And speaking of believable, the film, directed by Matt Sobel with a screenplay by Sobel and Kyle Warren was compelling, and I bought everything right up until the very end, but then I had yet another "What the hell?" moment. But it was enjoyable getting there.

Rosy the Reviewer says...motherhood can be a horror story! (Amazon Prime)

The Empty Man (2022)

While investigating a missing person, ex-cop James Lasombra stumbles upon a sinister cult that is trying to conjure a supernatural entity.

The film begins in Bhutan in 1995.  

Day 1 - Four friends - Greg (Evan Jonigkeit), Fiona (Jessica Matten), Ruthie (Virginia Kull) and Paul (Aaron Poole) - are hiking on a mountain when Paul hears a strange sound.  When he goes to investigate, he falls down a crevice.  Greg gets down there to investigate and finds Paul in a catatonic state, staring at a skeleton hanging from the wall of the cave.  The group gets Paul out of there and Greg carries him to an empty house.  

Day 2 - some strange start happening. 

Day 3 - some really, really bad things happen.

Fast forward to 2018.  

Ex-cop James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) is grieving the death of his wife and son.  When Nora (Marin Ireland), his neighbor, tells him her daughter, Amanda (Sasha Frolova), has run away and left a message written in blood that says "The Empty Man made me do it," James begins an investigation and discovers that Amanda and her friends were into a local legend, summoning The Empty Man. To summon him, you find an empty bottle on a bridge and blow into it and think of The Empty Man. The first night you hear him, the second night you see him and the third night, he finds you. Oooh, scary.

So James goes to the local bridge, finds a bottle, ("Don't blow into it!)m he blows into it and when he goes underneath the bridge, he finds Amanda's friends dead, hanging from the bridge.

James had also found a brochure for the Pontifex Institute in Amanda's room.  When he researches it, he discovers it is a cult originating in Bhutan.  He goes to the institute and hears a talk by the leader who refers to The Empty Man and says he is an entity that gives his followers what they want as long as they do what he wants.

Remember that James blew into the bottle on the bridge?

Day 1 - James starts to hear what he thinks is The Empty Man. 

Day 2 - James starts to see what he thinks is The Empty Man.

Day 3 - Gulp.

This did not need to be two hours and 17 minutes, but I have to say it moved along and the 22 minute cold opening is literally a killer.  Starring mostly unknown actors, all very believable, the movie, written and directed by David Prior and based on the Boom! Studios graphic novel by Cullen Bunn, is clearly capitalizing on the Slenderman legend and the notorious murder of a young girl by his young followers but this film did not initially do well at the box office. However, it has since taken on its own cult status, and I have to say, it's compelling, even if at times there are some gaps in the plot. I almost said "What the hell?"

Rosy the Reviewer eerie thriller and a cautionary tale.  Do you know what your teens are up to right now?  If you like strange and moody supernatural films, you will like this. (HBO Max and on VOD and on DVD)

***The Book of the Month***

"I'm Glad My Mom Died" by Jennette McCurdy (2022)

Actress Jennette McCurdy shares her story of growing up a TV child star.

You might not think that this fits into the horror theme this month, but child abuse is definitely horror and McCurdy experienced an exquisitely strange and sad bit of horror growing up.  Her mother desperately wanted her daughter to be a child actor and would go to extreme lengths to make it happen.  Jennette didn't really want to do that but wanted to please her mother, so went along with it. 

Ex-child actor McCurdy shares the story of her growing up years in Hollywood with an overbearing mother who worked to achieve stardom for her young daughter, and, wanting to please her mother, McCurdy endured endless auditions, eyelash tinting, daily weigh-ins, guilt trips and breast and vaginal exams from her mother until she was 17. Her mother made “Mommy Dearest” look like Mother of the Year. Though McCurdy achieved success (Nickelodeon’s “ICarly” and the spin-off “Sam and Cat” with Ariana Grande), it was not without a price. There was bulimia, addiction, and bad relationships. “Fame… I wanted [my mother] to be happy.  But now that I have it, I realize that she’s happy and I’m not.  Her happiness came at the cost of mine.  I feel robbed and exploited.” So no wonder she is glad her mother died because then she was free.

But McCurdy eventually sought help and found herself.  Though this is a grim tale of a lost childhood, a real life horror story, it's not unlike stories of other child actors. But McCurdy is a good writer and her compelling story is not without humor, though as one can tell from the title, the dark kind.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like candid celebrity memoirs and stories about overcoming the odds, this is for you. 

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)

Thursday, September 1, 2022

"Three Thousand Years of Longing" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new film "Three Thousand Years of Longing" as well as "Jurassic World: Dominion" and "Memory." ]

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

A literary scholar on a trip to Istanbul finds a genie in a bottle. And you know what that means.

Tilda Swinton plays Alithea Binnie, a "narratologist," a scholar who studies narrative structure.  She travels the world giving lectures on mythology vs. science.  During a trip to Istanbul, she purchases a little bottle in an open market and back in her hotel room, while cleaning the bottle, wouldn't you know?  A djinn, also known as a genie, appears (Idris Elba).  And what do genies do?  Why they grant three wishes. Except it turns out it's not as easy as that, and this genie didn't know who he was dealing with.  

Alithea lives alone, is divorced, has no children, no family but likes her life. She is fine, thank you very much, and she is suspicious of the genie and his three wishes, aware that there are tricksters out there and wishes can come back to haunt you.  She asks the genie if he knows the story about the three men stranded in a boat.  Each are given a wish and the first two men wish to be back with their families and the third man misses his friends and wishes them back in the boat!  So Alithea says she doesn't want the three wishes.  That is very bad news for the genie who must grant the three wishes to be free or forever be banished to oblivion.

Now the genie must convince Alithea to use her wishes so he tells her three stories of how he ended up in the bottle and thus the film takes a very different turn.  

Elba now becomes the narrator of three epic tales, the first where he was the companion of the Queen of Sheba, but when she met King Solomon, Solomon threw him into the bottle and tossed it into the sea. There the genie laid until he was found by a young slave in the palace of King Suleiman the Magnificent during the Ottoman Empire 100 years later.  She wished to be the Prince's concubine and to have his child, but palace intrigue against the prince caused her to flee and she never used her third wish, thus condemning the genie back to his bottle.  Finally, the genie's bottle was found once again, this time in the 19th century by Zefir, a young genius with no education who wished to know everything there was to know in the world.  And sadly, the genie made the fatal error of falling for the girl and wishing for himself to stay with her, which backfired. He didn't press her to ask for the rest of her wishes and as you know, he must fulfill all three.

So now Alithea realizes that she and the genie have something in common - loneliness.  So she makes a wish.

Tilda Swinton is a very quirky actress.  You never know what kind of twist she will add to a role, what accent she will sport or what color her hair will be.  Likewise, you never know what she will show up in at events. Here she has short, very bright red hair and talks with a northern English accent. But calling her quirky does not mean that I don't like her.  I do.  She is one of our premiere actresses who takes her job seriously, losing herself in whatever part she plays. Sadly, she doesn't have much to do in this film.  It's all about Idris.

Ah, Idris Alba.  There is a reason there is buzz about him becoming the next James Bond.  Even with pointy genie ears, he is swoon-worthy to be sure, but he is also a wonderful actor and here he gets to play against type.  He's a genie with issues!

Oddly, the first half of the movie hardly involves Swinton, and Elba is only incidentally a part of it as these tales unfold, so if you were hoping for a big dose of them together, you will be disappointed. I also had a difficult time understanding what constituted freedom for the genie - does he want to be in or out of the bottle? But there is a lot going on with this film and perhaps it needs to be seen more than once. 

Based on the short story "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye" by A.S. Byatt with a screenplay by George Miller and Augusta Gore (Miller's daughter) and directed by Miller, who is best known for the Mad Max franchise.  It's interesting that Miller appeared at the opening of the film to thank the audience for venturing out to the theatre to see his film on the big screen.  I remember that Tom Cruise did the same thing for "Top Gun: Maverick." Filmmakers and stars want to remind us that these films are meant to be seen on the big screen, not at home in our jammies with a glass of wine and some crackers (you caught me).  But he's right.  I feel bad that the movie industry has suffered so much since the pandemic.  There were only two other people along with me and my friend in the theatre when we saw this film.  Granted it was an early matinee, but still a sign that the movies have not yet recovered from the pandemic.  Even though the pandemic changed my movie going, I am going to support going to the movies again, even though I miss my jammies (and the wine).  And I have faith.  The movie industry weathered the advent of TV and other obstacles, and it will weather this. 

This is a beautifully filmed fantasy with an intellectual bent. The stories that the genie weaves are lush and beautiful and there is a moral to be had. Science has given us our creature comforts and technological advances and helped us to understand how the world works.  We have computers on our wrists and we have been to the moon.  But for all of the scientific discoveries that have happened over the last 3000 years, science cannot help us understand the vagaries and longings of the human heart. Maybe that's why we need mythology.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have been craving a smart movie, one that requires you to think, then this is for you. (In theatres)

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

I really have no idea what was going on in this movie.

Let me get this out of the way from the start.  There are very few movies that need to be over 2 hours...and this is NOT one of them!  Okay, I'm done. Actually, I'm not done.  Sequels.  Sigh.  This is number seven of the Jurassic Park franchise.  I guess when there are that many, they aren't even sequels anymore.  They are part of a FRANCHISE. I know I rant and rave about how much I don't like sequels, so I have decided to pull back a bit. I have decided that I should evaluate a sequel on whether or not it can stand alone.  I mean, "Godfather II" was a sequel and was probably the best of all of the Godfather films (there were four of those), so I am going to try to be more open-minded.  

So does this film stand alone? Does one have to see the first six of the Jurassic Park/World movies to understand this one?  Mostly, yes.

Though I thought the exposition at the very beginning of the film was good - quick and to the point - I was hopeful.  But as the film progressed, I realized that I hardly knew what was going on at any given moment. Who are these people? Having only seen the first two of the Jurassic Park movies and only the first Jurassic World, I was lost.  

Anyway, here's what I think this movie was about.

There seems to be four storylines at work here. Okay, it's four years after a volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar (didn't know what Isla Nublar was), dinosaurs are no longer extinct and now freely roam the Earth.

Storyline #1 -Biosyn Genetics run by Dr. Lewis Dodgson (I can't help but think this is some sort of play on Lewis Caroll's real name), seeks to control invasive species so he has set up a dinosaur preserve in Italy which is really a cover for his big pharma to do genomic research in hopes of developing new drugs (Dodgson is played by Campbell Scott) and other diabolic plans.

Storyline #2 - At the same time, dinosaur poaching is rampant and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) are part of the Dinosaur Protection Group that seeks to save and relocate dinosaurs.  Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Claire's boyfriend, is the dinosaur wrangler.  

Storyline #3 - Claire and Owen are hiding and raising Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), Benjamin Lockwood's 14-year-old biogenetic granddaughter, who appears to be hunted by bad guys who want to do something with her DNA. Don't ask me who Benjamin Lockwood is, because I have no idea.  But naturally she is kidnapped and then this turns into the search for Maisie and the dinosaurs take a back seat, for awhile anyway. 

Storyline #4 - giant locusts.  Turns out the people from Biosyn are bad guys and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) thinks whatever it is they are doing is resulting in these giant locusts.  Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who now works for Biosyn, has asked Sattler to help him expose Dodgson because he has discovered that Dodgson's ultimate goal is to control the world's food supply. So she teams up with her former lover, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), to stop Biosyn.  Turns out Dodgson is also behind the kidnapping of Maisie. All of these characters eventually band together to stop Dodgson and wrap up this trilogy.

Whew!  Anyway, I think that's what was going on. Lots of characters, lots of storylines and lots of dinosaurs in a movie written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow and directed by J.A. Bayona.  

And that's the problem with this movie. Well, not the dinosaurs.  I liked the dinosaurs. As Christopher Walken might have said, "We need more cowbells, I mean dinosaurs!" But just too much other stuff going on. And despite the early exposition, if you had not seen the previous film, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," I think you would be as lost as I was.

The thing that bothers me about these endless sequels - I guess they are called franchises now - is that as long as the producers think they can get an audience and make a buck, they are going to keep going.  Oh, look, we have a blockbuster, and remember, that first one, "Jurassic Park," based on the book by Michael Crichton really was.  It was directed by Steven Spielberg, and 29 years ago CGI dinosaurs were a big thing. Spielberg stuck around for a sequel - "The Lost World," - but bowed out after that. But looks like the powers that be wanted to keep that money train rolling. So they probably thought, let's just run with it as long as we can until we run it into the ground.  And that's what this movie feels like. It pulls out all of the stops - plucky kid, cute dinosaurs, scary dinosaurs, car chases, bad guys, strong women,  romance, and some really soppy sentimentality, all the tropes that adventure/spy movies play on and on. There is all of this running around the world to save Maisie.  What happened to the dinosaurs? And the really big hook? Why let's bring back Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, who starred in the "Jurassic Park" films.

And now I am going to be even more bad and judgy.

Chris Pratt?  What happened to you?  "Guardians of the Galaxy," I thought you and the film were incredible and couldn't wait to see the next one but as happens with sequels, I was disappointed.  But then you did "Passengers," and I mostly liked it and thought you were going to go somewhere.  And then you did Jurassic World, which I saw in 3-D and also liked, but then you were lured into these sequels.  

Jeff Goldblum?  Okay, Nicolas Cage haters.  Tell me that this guy is any better. He is about as actory and mannered as an actor can get.  Laura Dern?  What happened? Where have you been?  Bryce Dallas Howard?  Have you done anything except this Jurassic World stuff?  If you have, I have forgotten.  And Sam, Sam Neill.  C'mon. You can do better than a cameo in this sort of thing. Okay, the first ones were cool, but you were in "The Piano," and "A Beautiful Mind," both Oscar nominated films ("A Beautiful Mind" won Best Picture), you were Reilly, the Ace of Spies, you have a New Zealand accent, you don't need a comeback in a movie like this.  And Campbell Scott?  I never really got you.  But I know it must have been difficult having acting titans like George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst as your parents.

So, there I said it. Didn't like it. I know actors have to work, but these people who perpetuate endless sequels, oh, sorry, franchises, have worn out their welcome, and I am not a fan of those who participate. The dinosaurs needed more screen time.  I know.  I'm bad. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...unless you are a die-hard fan of this franchise, save your money and your time. (In theatres and on DVD)

Memory (2022)

It's Liam Neeson as a hitman once again but with a twist - this hit man is losing his memory.

I don't know what it is about Liam Neeson but for some reason I am willing to watch him in movies with plots he has done a million times before, not to mention some absolute stinkers.  Well, I do know what it is.  He is a nice big tall handsome man with a fabulous nice big tall handsome man voice, and I will probably follow him anywhere.  

Which is how you find me reviewing this movie about yet another hit man with a conscience - he doesn't want to kill a kid.  Sound familiar?  See my review of "The Gray Man."

Anyway, there is actually a twist here that sets this film apart from all of the other Liam Neeson hit man movies.  He plays Alex Lewis, who is struggling with his memory.  He has Alzheimer's which is a very bad thing for a man on the run.  He went against his contract because he doesn't want anything to do with child trafficking, which is his employer's game, so his employers want him dead. Likewise, the FBI led by agent Vince Serra (Guy Pearce) is after him too. 

Remember Neeson's "Set of skills" speech from "Taken?" 

"I do have ...a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you." 

Well, now Liam runs the risk of forgetting those particular skills! I guess he could also run the risk of forgetting who he is supposed to kill too.  Not good for a hit man.

There are mostly bad guys in this movie (screenplay by Dario Scardapene and directed by Martin Campbell) and lots and lots of violence and gore. You might remember when I said I was not going to support films with gratuitous gun violence and I'm not. There really isn't a lot of gun violence in this film, but there is all kinds of other gratuitous violence to the point that it was almost laughable. Don't like that either. 

Though the idea of a hit man losing his memory is an interesting one, I just wish the movie had been better.

Alex knows he is losing his memory and he wants out of the hit man game.  I wonder when Liam is going to want out of the hit man movie game. He is really too good for these kinds of movies, and despite my saying that I would follow him anywhere, I have changed my mind a bit and have to say, "Liam, if you keep making these kinds of movies, we will have to part company."

Rosy the Reviewer says...I wish I could lose the memory of this film.   (For rent on most streaming platforms)

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, August 26, 2022

If You Like Documentaries...

[I review some new documentaries: "The Princess," "Trainwreck: Woodstock '99," "The Most Hated Man on the Internet," and "The Tinder Swindler."]


The Princess (2022)

Marking the 25th anniversary of her death, a look back on the life of Princess Diana.

There have been many books, movies, TV shows and documentaries about Princess Diana in life, and, also, since her untimely death at the age of 36, but what sets this latest documentary apart is the fact that it contains no talking heads, no dramatizations and no narration, just the chronological telling of her story since her engagement to Prince Charles, using nothing but reportage, news coverage and various comments from the public and media.  After Princess Diana's and Charles' wedding, one commentator said that this is what fairy tales are made of and fairy tales end with "And they lived happily ever after."  Well, not this time.  In fact, right after the wedding as Prince Charles helps Diana out of the carriage, he already does not look happy. No need for narration.  The footage speaks for itself.

Of course, now we all know this was a marriage of convenience for him.  He was in love with another woman.  I

Despite a bad marriage, Diana was able to mature into an accomplished woman, a spokesperson for AIDS and leprosy patients, children, the disabled, the homeless and she also helped in the call for an international eradication of land mines, something her son Prince Harry has also taken on now.

This is Diana's story through the media coverage that hounded her, and some say, contributed to her death.  She began as a shy young girl whom everyone loved. During the 80's, when England was in a recession with cultural unrest, support for the monarchy was at 50-50.  When Diana entered the picture, it became 80-20. But then as Diana matured, she upstaged Charles and created upheaval in what was a constrained and strait-laced monarchy. She became a problem for the monarchy, and thus began her love-hate relationship with the press. As much as the press loved her and needed her, they also villified her.  One commentator actually said she was a monster. 

Did this documentary reveal anything about Diana that we didn't already know?

Not really, not for me anyway, but I am one of those devotees who stayed up all night watching the hearse take her casket to Althorp, crying all the while.  But the documentary did include news coverage I had never seen.  I knew that people in the UK and the U.S. took Diana's death hard but didn't realize people were crying all over the world. And the lack of talking heads and narration creates an eerie foreshadowing. Without anyone saying anything, it is easy to see the cracks in the marriage just from the news reporting.  An example?  Just one hour after bringing baby Harry home from the hospital, Charles hops in his car and heads out to play polo.  And who was in the audience?  Camilla.

Written and directed by Ed Perkins, this documentary shows that now, 25 years after her death, Diana still casts a huge shadow.  So amazing that one woman could have such an impact on so many, that so many who had never met her would feel an emotional connection to her. I certainly felt that connection.  I wrote a tribute to her early in my blogging career ("Remembering Princess Diana").  For some strange reason, I found it comforting to know she was in this world that I, too, inhabited, even though we didn't know each other and existed thousands of miles apart.  I still think of her and feel sad we no longer share this world together. From this documentary, I see I was not alone in that.

Rosy the Reviewer was sad to relive Diana's story knowing how it would all end.  I cried once again, but I was also happy to be reminded of how, despite the odds against her, Diana went from a naive 19-year-old to a force for good in the world.  She deserves to be remembered. (HBO)

Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 (2022)

The sequel to Woodstock 69.  Don't I always say that sequels suck?

Well, I might not say it exactly like that, but I don't like sequels.  This time it's not a movie sequel but a sequel to a success, an almost once-in-a-lifetime event, and what happens when you get dollar signs in your eyes and try to recreate it.

Remember Woodstock?  Even if you don't remember it, you have probably heard of it.  Michael Lang was the man behind that 1969 music festival, where almost 500,000 people showed up and they all got along, they embodied peace and love.  Well, Lang tried to recreate Woodstock in 1994, which was supposed to be a 25th anniversary of the first one, and it was a failure because it rained every day.  So, that didn't work?  Let's try it again, but this time let's call it the 30th anniversary.  Well, that one didn't work, either. It was a riot - literally.

For Woodstock '99, a three day weekend music festival, Friday started out okay with 250,000 kids attending the festival which was set up at a decommissioned military base (no bucolic farm setting this time), and it was hot, hot, hot with no shade provided.  The concession stands were all privatized, and no one was allowed to bring in food or water and the concessionaires were charging huge amounts of money for food and water ($4.00 for a bottle of water which would be the equivalent of $7.00 in today's dollars). Korn was the headliner on Friday night. Needless to say, they riled up the crowd. 

By Saturday, it all starting falling apart. 

The toilets were overflowing (again, sanitation had been privatized and they just weren't up to it) and trash was everywhere.  One of the volunteers, a woman who had attended the original Woodstock, took it upon herself to go around handing out garbage bags and asking the kids to clean up.  The reply?  "I paid $150 to come here, you clean it up."  The infrastructure in place just could not support the people.  The attitude of the concertgoers was that if the venue didn't care, why should they care?

While Lang and his cohorts were being interviewed and cluelessly basking in what they deemed a successful festival, outside, 1000 people were being treated for heat stroke, dehydration and heat exhaustion, there was no shade, there was price gauging going on by the concessionaires, no one was dealing with sanitation and there was little security.  

By Saturday night, everyone was really pissed off and the concert goers started throwing things at the tower where the MTV coverage was taking place, and when people realized they could do whatever they wanted with no consequences, all hell broke loose. 

When Limp Bizkit came on Saturday evening, lead singer Fred Durst didn't help matters.  He really enjoyed ramping up the crowd and instigating them to go wild, so by the time Fatboy Slim came on chaos had taken over and he had to be lead off the stage.  By Sunday, women had been molested, the showers didn't work, the toilets were overflowing, mud was everywhere (and I won't elaborate on what was actually swirling around in that mud), and there was a riot going on. Now water was $12 a bottle. 

But the festival went on. Sunday night the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on to end the festival - Flea was naked, of course - and there was a rumor that someone really big would come on last as a surprise- the Stones? Michael Jackson?  So when it turned out the final act was handing out 100,000 candles for an anti-gun vigil and that was it, the festival was over...what?  No Rolling Stones? No Michael Jackson?  No surprise artist to end the festival? That's it?  After everything we have had to put up?  So with no way to protest, what to do?  Well, let's tear the place up. And look, we have lighted candles. Okay, let's start some fires.  And that's what the kids did. It didn't help that the last song the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed was the Jimi Hendrix song "Fire."

An animal mentality took over. That's what happens when people are treated like animals. It was "Lord of the Flies," except with 100,000 pissed off kids who had no way to protest their bad treatment. The vendors were vandalized, the sound towers were brought down, the trailers were set on fire and anyone associated with MTV was a target (they had to hide or get the hell out of there). Then the trailers exploded and the State Troopers arrived.

Mic drop. 

But not in a good way.

So what went wrong?  

Was it using a decommissioned military base with no shade, instead of a bucolic farm setting?  Was it not letting attendees bring in food or water and then selling the concessions to a private company that overcharged for food and water?  Or was it selling the event to Pay Per View where the cameras filming the event encouraged bad behavior?  Or was it Lang's lack of awareness about new bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit, angry bands that can really ramp up a crowd and not in a good way?  Was it good old-fashioned greed? It was probably all of those things together that sent this concert spiraling down with rape, rioting, fires and explosions. 

This is an engrossing tale of what can happen when people are treated like they don't matter.  It's also a tale of greed and incompetence. There are some dynamic musical performances, but it's the antithesis of the first Woodstock.

The first Woodstock was all about The Peace and Love Generation - 500,000 people who gathered together to smoke pot, make love not war and listen to music.  Nothing bad happened.  Woodstock '99 was the MTV and Pay Per View Generation, all about ecstacy and greed.  Never the twain shall meet.

Rosy the Reviewer know what they say about trainwrecks, right?  You can't look away and you won't be able to look away from this three-part Netflix series that reminds us that when you have an initial wonderful success, forget the sequel.  Sequels suck.  (Netflix)

The Most Hated Man on the Internet (2022)

The story of Hunter Moore, the self-proclaimed "Life ruiner."

This three-part docuseries is the story of Hunter Moore, the man who created the website, a site that encouraged people to post "revenge porn."  It's logo?  "Thank you for being evil."  And this guy really was. He not only hosted the pictures but linked them to the social media pages, the emails and sometimes the addresses of the subjects. He would also get people to do outrageous things on his site, a sort of porn meets "Jackass."  I won't even get into what he had a girl dubbed "Butt... Girl" do.

In January 2012, Moore published a topless photo of Charlotte Laws' daughter, 24-year-old Kayla.  Kayla had never sent the picture of herself to anyone, so it came to light that Moore was hacking peoples' accounts.  Law decided she had to go after this guy. Don't mess with a mother! And don't mess with a woman who wrote a book ("Meet the Stars" under the name Missy Laws) about how to crash the parties of the rich and famous. She had moxy.

Laws was able to get Moore to take the image of her daughter down, but she wasn't done with him.  Now she had a mission.  She wanted to help the other women whose images had been hacked or put up on the site by a jilted lover.  By February, she had spoken with 40 of Moore's victims. She tried to get reporters to tell this story but she was told there was no story (what)?  

Meanwhile, Moore was getting attention by appearing on talk shows, and when he appeared on the Anderson Cooper show confronted by a couple of his victims, he came off as an a**hole, but that didn't seem to matter. What is the expression about publicity? There is no such thing as bad publicity.  Moore became even more famous, especially with his followers, who called themselves "The Family."  Fitting, because Moore likened himself to Charles Manson, which should tell you something about this guy.

Many efforts from various people and groups were made to stop Moore but he just kept going.  He capitalized on the media attention and went on tour, hired for parties across the country.  What went on at these parties is not for the faint of heart. 

All of this publicity and activity finally caught the attention of the FBI and Charlotte was able to share all of her sleuthing with them.  But even when the FBI is involved, the wheels of justice move slowly.  Yes, it was discovered that Moore was indeed hacking accounts, but did he get what he deserved? You decide. 

But there is a sort of redemptive epilogue. The producers said that Moore initially said he would take part in the series and then declined, but they "decided to use his image anyway."  Touche!

However, one can't help but wonder how many other Hunter Moores are out there on the Internet.

This is a fascinating documentary about the underbelly of the Internet and a really bad guy who didn't seem to have any concern or empathy for others.  When asked if he felt bad for these women whose images were plastered all over his website, he said, no, he felt nothing. They were like emojis to him.

Oh, and by the way, if you want to know how your accounts can get hacked, this is a tutorial.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I don't even know this guy but after seeing this docuseries, I hate him too! (Netflix)

The Tinder Swindler (2022)

"One little swipe can change your life forever."  That's for sure.  Especially if you meet the wrong person on Tinder. 

Meet Simon Laviev, supposed billionaire's son.  Meet three Scandinavian women who made the mistake of swiping right on Simon, who ended up swindling them.  Simon was no catfish.  He existed and actually wined and dined these ladies in Paris, took them for rides on his private jet and literally charmed the pants off of them.  And then something happened to his credit cards and he, uh, needed a little help from them.

So how was Simon able to pull off the rich man scam?  

Why, the old Ponzi scheme, of course.  While wining and dining a new woman, he would be leeching off of earlier women. He would wow the new mark on the first few dates, and wouldn't ask for money until about a month of wooing. Then he would have some hard luck story about a temporary money squeeze, could she please lend him some money? Then, when he would get the money, he could continue his lavish lifestyle. 

But then Simon meets the wrong woman, a woman who discovers the scam and is really pissed. She partners with another of Simon's victims and they decide to take him down! The first half of the film is testimonials from the women he swindled.  The second half focuses on how Simon was tracked down. Turns out Simon had been writing bad checks and swindling people since he was 18 and he was wanted by the police in several countries.

It's shocking how gullible these women were. But as P.T. Barnum once said, "No one has ever gone broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."  These women in the film weren't Americans but you can extrapolate that quote to entire populations who believe in the glitz and glam and overlook the lack of substance in a person. You can read into that what you want.

So does Simon get his just desserts?  Not exactly.  You will have to watch and find out.

Rosy the Reviewer says...written and directed by Felicity Morris, this is a fascinating true crime story that reminds us to beware of men who seem to be too good to be true, especially if they ask for money! (Netflix)

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