Thursday, January 26, 2023

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" and Some Movies You Might Not Know About

[I review the movies "Everything Everywhere All At Once," "Ummi" and "Smile." The Book of the Week is "Sex, Drugs & Pilot Season: Confessions of a Casting Director" by Joel Thurm ]

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

A middle-aged Chinese woman must save human existance by doing some universe hopping. 

Trying to summarize this film in one sentence is practically impossible. Trying to explain it is just as difficult. Having no idea it was going to become the darling of Awards Season, I wasn't going to review this film, but then it started to win awards (it won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Picture), and then it was not only nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, but it received the most Oscar nominations of all of the other films (11), so I thought I needed to weigh in. 

I was not going to review it because I did not like it. 

In fact, I very much did not like it. I would say I hated it, but my mother taught me not to say hate.

Anyway, the story revolves around middle-aged Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), who runs a laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). They have been married for 20 years and have a daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu).  They are being audited by the IRS, Waymond is about to serve Evelyn with divorce papers, daughter, Joy, is gay and depressed that she has disappointed her mother, and Evelyn's difficult and judgmental Dad, Gong Gong (James Hong) has been staying with them. Life is not happy in the Wang household and Evelyn's life is not going the way Evelyn thought it would.

Okay, I get that.  Our lives don't always turn out as we expected. Life is hard. I can totally identify.  But then the film lost me.

Enter the "Alphaverse," a set of parallel universes that exist because of the various life choices one has made. The "Alphaverse" includes "verse-jumping," which enables people to access skills, memories, and even bodies from their parallel-universe selves.  Turns out this "multiverse" is threatened by Evelyn's own daughter, Joy, AKA Jobu Tupaki, and in her misery, she has created a black-hole into oblivion called Everything Bagel that threatens the multiverse. Evelyn is called in to save the universe.

Turns out Evelyn had the possibility of many other lives -  as a professional singer, a novelist, a chef, a teacher, and a rock? She also could have been a kung fu master/movie star and all of those particular skills come in handy when she verse-jumps and lives those other lives in order to fight Jobu and the forces of evil and save reality.  And if you understood any of that, you are much smarter than I am. 

Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (AKA The Daniels), that's the story in a nutshell and it does have some fun, even poignant, moments - I liked the theme of the mother/daughter relationship - and if you are a fan of martial arts films, there is lots of that too. Jamie Lee Curtis is quite funny as the IRS agent and everyone loves Ke Huy Quan who plays Waymond because he hasn't worked much since he was a child star and starred in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Goonies" and is now very much enjoying his fame and subsequent awards. Everyone loves a comeback story, I guess. I also can begrudgingly give this film props for originality.  

BUT - and notice I put that BUT all in caps - all the jumping around from one universe to another became annoying and the film was just too much chaos for me. I consider myself a fairly sophisticated movie-goer.  I mean, "Citizen Kane" is my favorite movie, for god's sake, but this? I just didn't get it. I tried.  I really tried.

But then, I'm old. I guess I am feeling my age.  I did not get this movie and did not like it, but it appears to be the darling of the younger generation which is ironic because it stars a 60-year-old woman and it's about an older woman dealing with life.  I don't begrudge Michelle Yoeh her Best Actress nomination because she is a wonderful actress, and I don't even begrudge Jamie Lee Curtis her Best Supporting Actress nomination (her first ever nomination), despite the fact that I don't generally like her.  

The acting was not my problem with this film. It was the film!  It definitely was "everywhere all at once," and I found it annoying.  In fact, when I first watched it, I couldn't finish it.  It drove me nuts.  But then when it started to receive awards, I thought I would give it another try.  Still didn't like it, even with the mother/daughter angle and the poignant ending which almost saved the film for me, but after two hours of not getting it, it wasn't enough.  So there you go. It just wasn't an enjoyable film experience for me.

I have to add that I also ha..., I mean totally disliked "Tar," too, which was also nominated for Best Picture, but, thank god, "Babylon" didn't make the cut.  "Everything" and those two were the last three films I saw, and I very much disliked all three. So I guess it's three strikes I'm out.  Maybe I have lost my movie mojo and Rosy the Reviewer should pack up her broomstick and ride off into the sunset, because I just don't seem to like much of anything I am seeing lately.  But I won't because movies matter, and I can't help myself.  I have opinions. I won't be happy if "Everything" wins Best Picture, but if "Tar" wins, I might just have to get that broomstick out after all.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are over 55 and not a big fan of martial arts movies, I am thinking you won't like this film.  But I am not going to dissuade you, because it seems my opinion is in the minority. With Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Kwan favorites for winning Oscars, you should probably see it for yourself. (in theatres and on Showtime)

Umma (2022)

It's all about mothers.

Amanda (Sandra Oh) is a Korean immigrant living on a farm with her homeschooled daughter, Chrissy (Fivel Stewart).  They raise bees and live without technology because Amanda is "allergic" to electronics and electricity. The two are living completely off the grid.  They have a good, loving relationship and Amanda is happy with her life until Chrissy tells her she wants to leave the farm and go to college.  

Things get worse when Amanda's uncle arrives to tell her that her mother, her Umma (Korean for mother,) has recently died and he gives her Umma's ashes in a suitcase. Strange things start happening as memories of Amanda's abusive childhood come back and she is haunted by the ghost of her mother, literally. She must fight of that evil spirit that threatens to turn her into her mother. And we eventually discover why Amanda is "allergic" to all things electrical.

This is Sandra Oh as you have never seen her. The film, written and directed by Iris K. Shim, is a bit over the top and kind of slow moving and doesn't totally work, but it's atmospheric, moody and the best part?  It's only one hour and 23 minutes!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a supernatural film that deals with our own worst fears - turning into our mothers! (Netflix)

Smile (2022)

After witnessing a traumatic event, a doctor starts having hallucinations and feels she is being threatened by a deadly entity.

As a young child, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) witnessed her mother's death by suicide.  Now she is a therapist in a psychiatric ward.  Laura (Caitlin Stasey), a Ph.D. student, is brought in after witnessing the suicide of her art history professor.  She claims that ever since the suicide an entity with a crazy smile has been stalking her and telling her she is going to die.  Then she falls to the floor, screaming, overturning a table and breaking a vase.  Rose calls for help and when she returns to the room the girl is standing with a crazy smile on her face and proceeds to slit her own throat with a broken shard from the vase.

And that, my friends, is how this horror pic begins. 

After witnessing this suicide, Rose is given some much-needed time off, but then she starts having hallucinations, seeing people looking at her with crazy smiles and telling her she is going to die. She starts to exhibit odd behavior. What is happening?  Is this all in her mind? When she learns that Laura's professor was grinning at her when he killed himself, Rose interviews the professor's wife and discovers that someone killed himself in front of him.  She goes on a mission to try to understand what is happening and to find a way to elude her own possible death, and after doing more research Rose, discovers that there is a pattern of people who killed themselves after witnessing suicides.  It's as if an evil entity is being passed from one person to another.  Is that what is happening?

This is your classic "B" horror movie starring unknowns (except for Kal Penn, who plays Rose's boss), featuring menacing music and lots of "gotcha" moments - you know those close-ups of a face, quiet moments where nothing seems to be happening, and then GOTCHA!  You jump out of your seat.  Lots of those here. 

There is nothing like a scary movie to get the blood pumping and take you on a wild ride, and this one, written and directed by Parker Finn, will do that. Though I am not a big fan of blood and gore, I sometimes like scary films, because what people in horror films have to go through somehow makes our own worries seem small.  I mean, if I was being followed by an evil entity, I don't think I would worry so much about whether the house was clean or if Oprah would discover my blog.  So I indulge from time to time, though I have to watch alone because Hubby gets too scared. And speaking of blood and gore, a warning: there is lots of it here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like scary, this is scary as hell. It will make you nervous the next time someone smiles at you! (On DVD, Fubo, Paramount+ and for rent on various platforms)

***The Book of the Week***

Sex, Drugs and Pilot Season: Confessions of a Casting Director by Joel Thurm (2022).

Behind the scenes at some of your favorite TV shows and movies!

Joel Thurm may not be a name you recognize, but he was a starmaker, one of the most powerful casting directors in Hollywood, responsible for casting such films as "Grease," "Airplane!" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," as well as the TV shows "Cheers," "Taxi," "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Starsky & Hutch," "Charlie's Angels," "The Golden Girls," "Knight Rider," "The Cosby Show," and more. His first big moment was recognizing John Travolta's potential and casting him in the TV movie "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble," which took him from being a teen idol to a major movie star. Thurm also played a role in the careers of River and Joaquin Phoenix

So Thurm has insider tales to tell and he doesn’t hold back, though he is adamant there was no proverbial casting couch shenanigans on his watch.  However, he has no problem weighing in on other production bigwigs who indulged. He also details just what it is that a casting director does and reveals how casting decisions were made and those who almost made the cut. Can you imagine James Mason as Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island" instead of Ricardo Montalban?  Or Elaine Stritch as Dorothy on “The Golden Girls" instead of Bea Arthur? Those were early thoughts until Thurm worked his magic.

Thurm asserts that 90% of the success of a TV show or film is good casting, and he laments that casting directors don't get the respect they deservie, hence this book about show business from a casting director’s viewpoint, one that as far as he knows has never been written. The book ends with a list of every pilot that made it to series at NBC when he was there with his trenchant opinions about each.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like show biz behind-the-scenes tell-alls, 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)

Friday, January 13, 2023

"Babylon"...and More!

[I review the new movie "Babylon" as well as "The Invitation" and a book! - Geena Davis's memoir "Dying of Politeness"]

Babylon (2022)

The not so golden side of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

After "La La Land," which I loved, I said in my gushing review that I couldn't wait to see what writer/director Damien Chazelle would do next.  Well, here it is and, for me, it is a shocking addendum to "La La Land."  Where "La La Land" was a love letter to Hollywood and the movies, this film is like a Dear John letter, as in the romance is over. It is for me, anyway.

Like I said, I loved "La La Land," but I am sad to say, I did not like this movie.

This is all about the Golden Age of Hollywood, but the part that wasn't so golden - the unglamorous, dark side of Hollywood, with the price of fame and its ephemeral nature and the drudgery that sometimes accompanies the making of films so that we in the audience can be entertained.  It's also about the effect talking pictures had on Hollywood.  According to Chazelle it was a big party during the silent movie era, but as soon as sound came to town, everyone had to shut-up and take movies seriously.  Careers fell when audiences didn't like the sound of their favorite actors' voices or tried and true storylines that worked well with no sound suddenly seemed silly with dialogue.

The story is told in part through three characters: Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), a young woman who has come to Hollywood in the 20's to become a star; Manny Torres (Diego Calva), another Hollywood wannabe who will do anything to get ahead in Hollywood; and actor Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), the handsome but aging leading man.   

When Nellie meets Manny early in the film, she tells him "It's written in the stars.  I am a star."  And she manages to make a name for herself in silent films by being able to not only cry on demand but manage her tears one by one, but sadly, when sound arrives, her voice is considered annoying and she finds her career in trouble. 

Manny makes himself useful to powerful people like Jack Conrad and works his way up the ladder. Manny's story is all about the American dream, and Manny's American Dream is to make it in La-La Land. All of these characters intersect at various times during the 1920's and 30's as their careers go up and down.

So that's the basic story, but to tell that story, Chazelle seemed to feel he needed to go very dark and shocking.  

If you remember the movie "Singing in the Rain," which also told this same story - the advent of talkies and the actors who struggled with it - this is almost a remake of that, and Chazelle gives it a big nod at the end of the film, and there are many other nods to Hollywood movies and actors of the past. You can figure that Brad Pitt is playing a John Gilbert character, a silent movie idol who struggled when the talkies came along.  It's fun to try to match the characters with real life actors from back in the day, to catch the allusions to other films and recognize the faces of many actors doing cameos. 

But that's where the fun ended for me. I understand Chazelle wanting to show us that Hollywood can eat people alive and making movies can sometimes be hard, tedious and even boring work but for some reason he felt the need to add the shock factor. The film starts with a cringeworthy scene featuring elephant poop and continues with projectile vomiting and a man eating live rats.  And there is more, but I choose not to remember the rest, because as the movie progressed, it seemed to be just one unpleasant situation after another.  

This film was just trying too hard to be shocking and what shocked me the most was that this was where Chazelle went after the beautiful, delightful and uplifting "La La Land."

I know the movie industry has been in a slump since the Pandemic, and watching this, I couldn't help but wonder if Chazelle, and/or the movie industry in general, has decided they need the shock factor to get us all off our couches and back into the theatres. If that's the case, I am going to stay home.  

And speaking of trying too hard, I have always been a big fan of Margot Robbie, but I just didn't believe her as the "wild child," Nellie LaRoy.  I could feel her trying too hard to be this out-of-control woman who has come to Hollywood to become a star. But no doubt she will get nominated for her performance because there was a lot of ranting and raving and crying going on. 

Sadly, this was just was not an enjoyable movie experience for me nor was it a satisfying one.  That is how I judge a film.  Was it an enjoyable or at least satisfying movie experience?  And it makes me sad to say it because I loved "La La Land" so much but for this film the answer would be a no.

And here's the thing.  Maybe if this movie hadn't been so long I would have enjoyed it more.

This movie was THREE HOURS and eight minutes!  That is just uncalled for.  Chazelle could have easily cut an hour off of this film without it making any difference and probably would have made it better.  PLEASE...filmmakers, if you want us back in the theatres do not make us sit through three hour films!

Okay, rant over.

However, there is a positive.

I have to give a shout out to Brad Pitt.  He almost saved this movie for me.  I have been wanting him to flaunt his handsomeness and here he does that, but he also shows his acting chops.  As the handsome matinee idol whose career takes a turn for the worst, he is funny but also poignant.  A wonderful tour de force and he certainly should have won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, though I question whether his part was a supporting role. In my book, he was the star. Let's hope the Oscars do better because he deserves one for this. 

As I was watching the film, I was thinking that Chazelle was mad at the movies because he paints such a cynical picture. But then he gives Jean Smart, who plays columnist Elinor St. John, one of the best moments in the film, when she sets Jack Conrad straight about his career.  In a brilliant speech, she tells him that the spotlight is fleeting, but he can take comfort in the fact that his movies will live on after he has gone. He will come alive for future audiences who see his films. And though Chazelle goes dark to make us appreciate what it takes to make a movie, I think he ends on a positive note by saying that movies matter because of what movies can do. They bring a disparate group of people together who are all enjoying the same experience.  For a few hours, it's a community.  

And I agree, but if he wants me to continue to be a part of that community, he shouldn't make a three hour movie and he needs to leave out the elephant poop!

Rosy the Reviewer says...all in all, though there were moments I enjoyed and this film will no doubt get many award nominations, because it's the big, boisterous, epic kind of movie that gets nominations, for me this was a huge disappointment (in theatres).

The Invitation (2022)

A young woman is invited to a wedding in England but it turns out to be much more than she a bad way.

The film begins with a suicide and then fast forwards to Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel who you might recognize from "Game of Thrones"), a New York City hospitality worker, who attends a self-help event with one of those "find-your-relatives" DNA tests in her swag bag.  She decides to try it and wouldn't you know?  She discovers a cousin she didn't know about and he's a charming Brit named Oliver L. Alexander (Hugh Skinner).  Since both of Evie's parents are dead, she is keen to find family.  Oliver invites her to join him at the wedding of a rich friend in England, an offer she can't refuse since all expenses will be paid.

The wedding is at the estate of the DeVille family and there she meets Walter - "Walt" - the handsome Lord of the Manor (Thomas Doherty).  And can I say that Evie is a bit over incredulous at the luxury of the place and actually acts like an Ugly American and is a big klutz? Not a good look. She is an accident waiting to happen and her behavior makes a bad impression on the scary butler (Sean Pertwee). But she appears to make a good impression on the handsome Walt.

But like I said, she isn't a very good guest. On her first night, Evie goes for a jog. Who does that?  Who goes for a jog at night in an unfamiliar place? And she goes into a room that she was particularly told to stay out of. But okay, let's see what will happen. She starts to see things and also starts to have nightmares that relate to that suicide I mentioned. What's going on?

Written by Blair Butler and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, this is a gothic thriller with the requisite gotcha moments (I counted five), but despite the gotcha moments, it takes over an hour before "the secret" is revealed and what is really going on at the DeVille mansion and this so-called wedding. It's a bit slow but I enjoyed the female empowerment theme.

Nathalie Emmanual does a fine job as Evie, but I was distracted by how much she looks like Meghan Markle, except with a nose ring.

Rosy the Reviewer step above a Lifetime movie but, hey, I have been known to do the occasional Lifetime movie.  A fun gothic diversion (Netflix, Prime).

And if you aren't up for a three hour movie in the movie theatre and you are not in the gothic mood, why not read a book?

"Dying of Politeness" by Geena Davis

Actress Geena Davis shares her life and accomplishments in this candid and self-deprecating memoir.

Who knew that Geena Davis and I had so much in common?

  • We both wanted to be actresses from a young age, studied acting in college and our Dads encouraged us.
  • She was an exchange student in Sweden and I have visited my Swedish relatives there.
  • We grew up with no shower and everyone used the same bath water on Saturday nights (I know, ew)!
  • And it was important to be polite at all costs

We are so alike except the main difference: she became famous and I didn't. Ha!  

Davis tells her story that starts with her knowing she was going to be an actress from a very young age.  She shares her romantic interests including her marriage to actor Jeff Goldblum, who it seems from reading this she never got over.  She also talks about finding a sort of second career as an Olympic archer as well as her lifelong fight for women's rights.

There are also behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the many movies that she has made such as "The Fly," "A League of their Own" and, of course, the iconic "Thelma and Louise."  She met Susan Sarandon on set and they became besties in real life. Total opposites in their approach to the world, Geena says that Susan helped her speak up and give up on some of that politeness. It's all told in a breezy and, shall I say? A very polite way.

Rosy the Reviewer says... it's a funny, candid and touching memoir, and if you are a fan or even just a celebrity maven, you will enjoy this. (check it out from your local library)!

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

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

Friday, December 30, 2022

Rosy the Reviewer's Favorite TV Series of 2022

It's been a good year for some really interesting, challenging and fun TV series.  I wish I could say the same thing for this year at the movies.

Here is what I watched and loved!

The White Lotus - Season 2

Once again a disparate group of people come together at the White Lotus resort and once again there is a dead body but this time the White Lotus is in Sicily.

The ending of Season 2 of this series has sparked more controversy than any other series this season (and no, I won't give it away).  If you were expecting Season 2 to be a continuation of Season 1 with the same setting and the same characters, you would be wrong. 

This series has turned out to be more of an anthology series starring various characters vacationing at a White Lotus resort in various locations.  Last season, the series was set in Hawaii.  This time it's Sicily and the only returning characters from Season 1 are Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and Greg (Jon Gries).  However, Season 2 is just as good as Season 1, if not better, and many of the themes from Season 1 remain - class dynamics, wealthy people with issues and... murder. 

Season 2 begins with a flash forward. A dead body is discovered in the water and there are rumors of other people found dead.

Then in a flashback, we meet the new cast of characters. Like I said, Tanya is back and is now married to Greg, though their relationship is rocky.  Tanya has brought her young assistant, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), along and Greg is not happy about that so Tanya orders Portia to stay out of sight.  Portia meets young Albie (Adam DiMarco) who is at the resort with his father, Dominic (Michael Imperioli) and his grandfather Bert (F. Murray Abraham), who are in Sicily to get in touch with their roots and find some long lost relatives.  Dominic's marriage is also on the rocks due to his many affairs and Bert is just a dirty old man.  Other guests include married couple Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza), who have joined Ethan's old college roommate, Cameron and his wife, Daphne. Harper doesn't like Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghann Fahy), finding them fake. This time the hotel manager is Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), a seemingly unhappy woman, and it doesn't help that she is constantly having to keep tabs on sex workers, Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Granno), who keep insinuating themselves into the lives of the hotel guests. 

It all makes for a delicious mix of drama and dark comedy. 

Everyone has a storyline, but the heart of the series is Tanya, a dippy but very wealthy woman. Her husband,Greg, tells her he has to go back to the States for work, but Tanya is suspicious, thinking he is having an affair. Bored and adrift at the resort, Tanya meets Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his friends, a group of gay men who "adopt" her.  The handsome and mysterious, Jack (Leo Woodall), Quentin's "nephew," befriends Portia who in turn dumps Albie and Albie ends up with Mia. More drama ensues. And then there is the mystery about that dead body.  Who is going to die?

Created by Mike White, this is social satire at its most brilliant.

The story moves at a fast pace, the characters are interesting, the dialogue is snappy and the Sicilian landscapes are breathtaking. The San Domenican Palace stands in for the White Lotus, and it's beautiful, but if you are hoping to plan a vacation to Sicily so you can stay there, forget it.  For one thing, the suites with views are $3000 a night and the place is already totally booked. The power of TV!

Rosy the Reviewer says...can't wait for Season 3! What character(s) will return?

Welcome to Chippendales

This docudrama series tells the story of Somen "Steve" Banerjee, the guy who came up with the idea for Chippendales, and the evil deeds that took place.

Kumail Nanjiani plays Somen "Steve" Banerjee, an Indian immigrant who in the 1980's worked his way up from gas station owner to become the owner of the most famous and successful male strip club in Los Angeles - Chippendales. But Banerjee wasn't happy with that. Banerjee was an immigrant seeking the American Dream and that dream was to be the next Hugh Hefner, the top dog. He couldn't stomach competition so perhaps a little fire might start at a bar that also had male dancers? And then there was his partner and choreographer, Nick di Noia (Murray Bartlett), who was handsome and charismatic, appearing on talk shows to promote the club and being called "Mr. Chippendales." And when he opened a very successful club in New York City and then took the Chippendales dancers on tour with even more success, Banerjee was livid, so livid that murder came to mind.

Who knew that handsome men taking off their clothes and wiggling their butts could cause such havoc?

This is a departure for Nanjiana who is more known for comedies but he carries the role brilliantly. Other standouts are Annaleigh Ashford as Irene, Banerjee's very sweet and supportive wife, Irene, who finally lets Steve have it when she finds out what he is really up to, and Bartlett, who fans of "White Lotus" will recognize as Armand, the White Lotus manager from Season 1. Well, maybe you won't recognize him. I didn't at first, probably because he is one of those really good actors - a chameleon. And the rest of the ensemble cast is first rate, including Juliette Lewis, playing her usual kooky self.
Rosy the Reviewer says....created for television by Robert Siegel, this dramatization of how the male stripper franchise "Chippendales" came to be and the criminal activity that ensued is riveting. Nanjiani is a revelation as Banerjee and you won't be able to take your eyes off of him...or this exceptional series.

Firefly Lane - Season 2

A dramatic series that follows the friendship of two women from their teens to their forties.

This is decidedly a bit of a soap opera, but there is a reason soap operas are so popular. There is lots of drama! Taken from the novels by Kristin Hannah, and adapted by Maggie Friedman, Season 2 continues where Season 1 left off and continues the story of the friendship of Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) and Kate Malarkey (Sarah Chalke), two besties, who met each other in the 1970's as middle-schoolers when Tully moved across the street from Kate on Firefly Lane.

Tully was the beautiful, popular and strong one, Kate, nerdy and smart and the series follows the ups and downs of their friendship over three decades, hopping around in time. Tully becomes a celebrated television anchor, Kate works along with her but also marries, Johnny (Ben Lawson), and has a child. As Season 1 wraps up, Tully and Kate are at a funeral and Kate tells Tully she is not welcome! What could have caused the rift between these two long-time friends?

So, Season 2.

Season 2 focuses more on Tully and her relationship with her hippie mother, Cloud (Beau Garrett), and Tully's search for her father, who she never knew. As for Kate, the series explores her relationship with Johnny - they got married, they broke up, they got back together. Tully and Kate work together to film a documentary about finding Tully's father but the two eventually have a falling out. Then Kate has a health scare and realizes she needs her friend but when she goes to Tully's apartment to rekindle their relationship, Tully is gone.

To be continued. This is the last season of "Firefly Lane," but the season's 16 episodes have been divided into two different "seasons," so the final eight episodes will come out in 2023.  So we are still on that cliff, hanging.

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke play the adult Tully and Kate and do a good job of portraying the yin and yang of Tully’s and Kate’s friendship, but Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis are just as good as the young Tully and Kate.

Like I said, this is a bit of a soap opera but there is a reason why soap operas are so successful. They engage us with characters we root for and intriguing plots and that describes this series.

Rosy the Reviewer says….despite my comment about the soap opera aspect of this series, it’s a coming of age tale that not only celebrates female friendship, but explores what it was like for women coming of age in a time when they suddenly had more choices and how difficult it can be to make the right ones. If you loved “Beaches," you will love this.

From Scratch

While studying in Sicily, an American woman falls in love with a local chef.

When American student, Amy (Zoe Saldana), meets Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea), a handsome Sicilian chef, and falls in love, she doesn't realize the cultural shock she will go through.  It's a clash of cultures and just as a chef starts dishes from scratch, so too must these two lovebirds "start from scratch" to make their relationship work. 

Based on Tembi Locke's memoir of the same name, Lino's traditional Sicilian family does not approve of Amy, especially when he moves with her to Los Angeles. Amy has a loving but boisterous, opinionated family and Lino must also get used to Amy's life in America but time passes.  Lino and Amy adopt a child and things look like they will work out.  But then tragedy strikes and everyone must "start from scratch" again.

Zoe Saldana is a very sincere actress.  She is one of those actresses you believe whether she is painted blue in "Avatar" or here as a young mother coping with tragedy. Eugenio Mastrandrea is also believable, and might I add, handsome?  He is someone to watch.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a well-acted and touching love story.

Only Murders in the Building - Season 2

There has been another murder in the building!

This time in Season 2 of this hilarious series, it's the Anconia's HOA President, Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell) who is murdered, and neighbors and amateur detectives Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) are once again putting together a podcast about the murder and trying to discover who the murderer is.  

But because Bunny was murdered in Mabel's apartment and Mabel is found covered in blood and not remembering what happened, Mabel comes under suspicion, and it doesn't help that someone is trying to frame all three of them. But there are other suspicious neighbors and friends about, like Alice (Cara Delevingne), Mabel's artist friend; rival podcaster, Cinda Canning (Tina Fey); Leonora, Bunny's mother (Shirley MacLaine), and even Detective Krebs (Michael Rapaport).  Amy Schumer makes an appearance as herself along with a foul-mouthed parrot who knows more than he is letting on.

The usual hilarious Martin Short and Steve Martin hijinks ensue with Selena Gomez holding her own which is not an easy task considering Martin and Short will do anything for a laugh, especially Short.  There are also many red herrings and twists and turns. But no matter what is happening, it's always fast and funny.

This season, the series, created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, gets into more character development and we learn more about our main characters, and there is some poignancy mixed in with the comedy.  And yes, there will be a Season 3.  No mystery there.

Rosy the Reviewer says...watching Martin Short and Steve Martin run around is funny enough but the plot is also always fun.  The series is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Comedy as are all three of the stars.

Hacks - Season 2

Legendary Las Vegas stand-up comedian, Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), is back for Season 2.

Deborah is worried about her career.  She decides she needs to be more honest on stage but how to do that when she isn't really sure of the meaning of her life off stage?

Season 1 ended with Deborah finally accepting her young assistant, Ava (Hannah Einbinder), as her co-writer, but that's before Deborah finds out that Ava has dished about what a bad boss Deborah is to some TV writers. Subsequenly, Ava is tortured, worried that about Deborah will find out. To make matters worse, they are stuck together as Deborah takes her show out of Las Vegas and on the road. The two are an odd couple, an aging comedian and a young Zoomer, who are both trying to figure out their lives, and who, despite some ups and downs, can't seem to quit each other. It's a comedic road trip but also an interesting story of female friendship spanning a couple of generations. 

Jean Smart has come into her own and is finally being recognized for the wonderful actress she is.  She won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy series last year and is up for it again this year, as is the series itself.  But the entire ensemble is first rate as well as the smart writing, no pun intended.

Rosy the Reviewer says...created by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky, this is about as perfect as a series can get and Jean Smart is perfect in it!

And in case you missed these other TV series (and my reviews) the first time around, here is my wrap-up of more of the best series of 2022 (if you want to see the original full review, click on the title).

The Crown - Season 5

The story of the Royal Family continues.

Rosy the Reviewer says...the best season yet and I proclaim that Imelda Staunton is the best Queen Elizabeth yet!

Pam & Tommy

It's all about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, their love story and that infamous sex tape.

Rosy the Reviewer says…a really good, engrossing story, stylish, and a lot of fun, and, even if you aren’t interested in Tommy Lee and Pamela and their sex tape, this is just a really well-done series, one of the best of the year! And no, I never saw the tape.


The story of Julia Child and the beginning of TV cooking shows.

Rosy the Reviewer says…this series is a confection, the best meal you will ever have. It’s bingeable, delicious and satisfying. You won’t be able to put down your fork, er, the remote! Bon Appetit!

Bad Sisters

What do you do when you discover that your sister's husband is abusing her?  Why, you decide to kill him, of course!

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a celebration of sisterhood.  These "bad sisters" are really good sisters who are loyal and love each other very much and it is a joy to watch...Brilliant writing, brilliant actresses and a brilliant villain. (Apple+)

The Patient

A therapist takes on a new patient only to discover his new patient is a serial killer...and then the serial killer decides he needs his therapist all to himself and kidnaps him!

Rosy the Reviewer says…this brings a whole new meaning to the guy living in his mother's basement. From the start, you will be hooked and want to know what is going to happen to Alan (Steve Carell) and Sam (Domhnall Gleeson). A tense, sometimes humorous but always fascinating look at empathy, isolation and the world of therapy and one of the best series of the year. Not be missed. Trust me. I'm a criticologist! (Hulu)


The story of Adam and Rebekah Neumann and their start-up, We Work, one of the world's most valuable start-ups, and how it all went wrong.

Rosy the Reviewer times this show was above my mental pay grade when it came to the ins and outs of the business financial world e.g. IPO's, S-1's, etc. but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.  I did.  The story is engrossing and the acting is phenomenal. (Apple+)

The Tourist

A man wakes up in the Australian Outback with no memory of how he got there or even who he is.

Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like thrillers with a Coen Brothers vibe, this is a must see. Another great series that you won’t be able to stop watching. (HBO Max)


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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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)