Wednesday, September 1, 2021

What I Watched (and Liked) While on My 2021 Summer Stay-cation: Part 2 - Some Good Movies You Might Not Know About

 [I review "Summer of Soul," "Georgetown," "The Last Letter From Your Lover," "Honest Thief," and "Supernova."]


"Summer of Soul...or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised"


A documentary of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that celebrated African-American music and culture and black pride.

The what?

Who knew that, musically, 1969 wasn't just the year of Woodstock but the year of the Harlem Cultural Festival that also drew hundreds of thousands. Except Woodstock became famous with all kinds of coverage and a feature film and the footage from the "Black Woodstock" languished in a basement for 50 years...until now. Questlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) has rescued it and makes his directorial debut with this feature film streaming on Hulu.

After the losses of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and police violence, The Harlem Cultural Festival was a chance to heal and celebrate black music and culture by bringing together some of the most famous black artists to perform in Mount Morris Park. Black Panthers were hired to provide security so that there wasn't a huge police presence.

Forty hours of footage was shot by producer Hal Tulchin but unlike Woodstock, nobody wanted to turn it into a film or show it on TV, so the footage sat dormant in a basement for decades until rescued and made into this wonderful and inspirational film. And after seeing it, one has to wonder why this got no coverage at the time or since. Mmmm, one does.

See a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder come into his own: Sly and the Family Stone kicking the usual proverbial ass; along with Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Fifth Dimension, Hugh Masekela, the stars of gospel and more. A particular moving and controversial segment shows Nina Simone reading a poem by David Nelson that is clearly not flattering to white folks.

She asks the crowd:

“Are you ready, black people? Are you ready to do what is necessary? Are you ready to smash white things, to burn buildings, are you ready? Are you ready to build black things? Black people, are you ready?"

Fred Hampton was killed later that year, and still today, continuing police brutality and deaths of young black men...At the end of the film, I cried, because so little has changed.

But thankfully, the music hasn't changed and is a positive that endures...and this film is a musical extravaganza!

Rosy the Reviewer says...you missed it in 1969 but now you get to be there!

(Now streaming on Hulu)



Georgetown


An ambitious social climber marries a much older but well-connected woman in order to be somebody.

What is it with old ladies who think a handsome, much younger man wants anything to do with them except money?  Don't they know that once they hit 50 they are invisible?  I know, I'm being cynical, but if you have ever seen some of those TV shows about older women being catfished by young men on the Internet, you would be cynical too.

So anyway, that's what this is about and, of course, it's based on a true story, an article "The Worst Marriage in Georgetown."  It's a pretty bad marriage - well, the worst, really - when the husband kills his wife, right?

Ulrich Mott (Christoph Waltz) has arrived in Washington, D.C. from...not sure where.  He has a very mysterious past but so far he has landed a job as an unpaid intern, though at the age of 50, an intern is not how Ulrich sees himself.  The congressman he works for also doesn't see it so he lets him go ("Not a good fit"), but that doesn't stop Ulrich from getting himself invites to "in" parties and attaching himself to the rich and powerful D.C. society.  And it's at just such a party that Ulrich meets Elsa Breht (Vanessa Redgrave), a rich and famous journalist who knows everybody. When they first meet, Elsa is married but Ulrich so charms her, that when her husband dies, they connect again and ultimately get married, he 50 something, she 40 years older.

When the film begins, Ulrich is hosting a dinner party and Elsa's daughter, Amanda (Annette Bening) shows up.  It is clear that Amanda dislikes Ulrich but her mother dismisses her.  After the dinner, Elsa also dismisses Ulrich telling him not to smoke in the house so he goes out for a walk to have a smoke.  When he gets back home, 91-year-old Elsa is dead.  As Keith Morrison says on "Dateline," "Could it be murrrr-der?"

Well, duh.

So in flashback we see how Elsa and Ulrich meet, how he courts her and how she helps open doors for him in D.C. society. She enjoys helping him make a name for himself in D.C.  However, realizing her mother is being woo'd by a gigolo, Amanda tries to intervene but Elsa is one of those old ladies I mentioned earlier.  She thinks she still has it.  She doesn't.  Ah, vanity. But Elsa eventually catches Ulrich in his lies. Turns out our Ulrich not only doesn't like old ladies, he doesn't like girls! 

But for a time, he manages to cast himself as a player, starting The Eminent Persons Group (I mean, who doesn't want to be an "eminent person?) and parlaying his life into that of a kind of diplomat, getting credit for a peace-making mission when in fact he just took credit for what others did.  Ulrich had a knack for being at the right place at the right time and playing whatever cards he could get. Georgetown is a metaphor for social climbing and hanging out in the corridors of power and that is what Ulrich was all about.  He was a genius at sucking up and giving the rich and powerful what they wanted and needed to hear.  

Written by David Auburn (based on Franklin Foer's aforementioned New York Times article) and directed by Waltz, the film captures the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes in our Capitol, the jockeying for position, the posing, the posers.  It's great to see Waltz, Vanessa Redgrave (who at 84 still looks great, by the way) and Annette Benning chewing that proverbial scenery. I just wish there had been a bit more background on Ulrich. What was his life like before he came to Washington?  What motivated him? Who was he really?

Rosy the Reviewer says...but all-in-all, a satisfying, old-style melodrama brought to life by wonderful performances.

(On DVD and for rent at Amazon Prime)



The Letter from Your Lover



Two parallel love stories 56 years apart.

Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is a journalist who has broken up with her long-time boyfriend. She is tasked to write an article about the recently-deceased editor of her newspaper and while searching the newspaper archives runs across a love letter to someone identified as "J" from "Boot." Intrigued, Ellie is determined to learn who "J" and "Boot" were and what happened to them.

So begins this romantic film starring Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley.

Flashback to the 1960's, we learn that "J" is married socialite Jennifer Stirling (Woodley) who meets foreign correspondent Anthony O'Hare (Callum Turner) who has arrived on the French Riviera to interview her husband, Laurence (Joe Alwyn). Laurence is called away and Jennifer and Anthony end up spending the summer together. They write little letters to each other signing them "J" and "Boot" but it's all platonic until Jennifer tries to kiss Anthony. He pulls away and rejected, she returns to London. But Anthony contacts her, asking to meet, and thus begins a clandestine love affair and the two decide to run off together. But wouldn't you know, as Jennifer rushes to meet Anthony at the train station she gets in a car crash resulting in amnesia. Yes, it's one of those where the lovers almost get away but one of them doesn't quite make it. I think that storyline started with "An Affair to Remember."

In the meantime, Laurence has found the last letter Anthony wrote Jennifer, the one where he asks her to meet him and he hides the letter. Jennifer desperately tries to regain her memory and finds several letter from "Boot" hidden around the house which in turn leads her to a post office box that Laurence has closed. When Jennifer confronts Laurence, he reveals that he knew about Anthony but that Anthony has died. And that's that. Or is it?

In the present day, Ellie has a sort of relationship with Rory, the newspaper archivist, as they get to know each other while looking for more love letters but she is down on romance because of her recent break-up.

So...will Jennifer and Anthony ever see each other again?  Will Ellie and Rory hook up?

Again, duh.

This is one of those big production, old-fashioned, romantic feature film soap operas that we came to expect from producter Ross Hunter and director Douglas Sirk during the 50's and 60's. Great sets, lavish costumes, exotic locales. Think Lana Turner in "Imitation of Life" or "Portrait in Black." It's all here: lovers thwarted, amnesia, love letters, the lovers trying to reunite but just missing each other - you know, one walks into an elevator while the other walks out, making you go "Noooo!" 

Yes, well-known potboiler tropes but I loved those movies so I loved this film too.  

I have to say that I was rather put off at first by the casting of Shailene Woodley for this, because I think of her as more of a teen action character, not a sophisticated London socialite. She is certainly no Lana Turner.  But she grew on me.  And I always like Felicity Jones. Her charm is her fidgety sweetness.

Written by Nick Payne and Esta Spalding, based on the book by JoJo Moyes and directed by Augustine Frizzell, the film beautifully recreates the mid-60's where we were still wearing hats and gloves.  A side note: Everyone thinks the 60's was all about hippies but that's not true.  I graduated from high school in 1966 and we were still dressing up with hats and gloves to go to church.


Yours truly with her mother, circa 1966.  

It wasn't until the end of the 60's and the early 70's that the hippie ethos really kicked in. 


Yours truly with a friend circa 1971.  I rest my case!


Rosy the Reviewer says.. it doesn't matter that this is predictable and that you know how it will end.  It's an old-fashioned romance and we need a satisfying ending, preferably with some tears attached - mine - and that's what I got. I enjoyed it and if you like romantic dramas, you will too.

(Now streaming on Netflix)

 



Honest Thief




A bank robber (Liam Neeson) falls in love and tries to go straight -- but it ain't workin' out.

I can't resist Liam Neeson movies. His ability to remain stoic in the face of adversity is a thing to behold. I mean who can forget these lines from the first "Taken" movie:

"...what I do have are a very particular set of skills...skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it...But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

Liam has made an entire career out of movies and lines like that, and this one is no exception, though I hate to say it's not as good. But if you like to see Liam work his way out of a sticky situation in his usual deadpan way, you will enjoy this.

Liam plays Tom Dolan AKA "The In-and-Out-Bandit," so-called because he has been robbing banks for six years. He gets in, he gets out. But now he is in love with Annie (Kate Walsh) and wants to get his past behind him. He wants to turn himself in, do his time and then get on with this life. But not as easy as it sounds. He calls the FBI to make a deal. He will turn himself in and hand over the money for a minimum sentence. However, here's the problem. THEY DON'T BELIEVE HIM! They have heard too many false confessions before. But when two of the cops finally decide to check his story out, they find the money and decide to keep it! So now poor Liam has to STEAL THE MONEY BACK!

Okay, I know. Implausible? Yes. But entertaining. Yes! It's Liam bloody Neeson. He always delivers.

So we have bent cops, car chases and over-the-top dialogue.

"I will never see you again."

"I promise you will."

"Because I am Liam bloody Neeson!"

I made that last line up but you get the drift.

Written by Steve Allrich and Mark Williams and directed by Williams, it's all very B-movie with lots of "Huh?" moments, e.g. I couldn't figure out how a guy could be stabbed in the scrotum with a pair of scissors and just keep going. But, you know, if you can suspend disbelief and all of that, this is fun.

Rosy the Reviewer says...it's kind of a cartoon but, hey, we love cartoons, right? And it's Liam Bloody Neeson!

(Available on Amazon Prime)



Supernova


Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth play a married couple dealing with dementia.

Sam and Tusker are a married couple who have been together for years, but two years before, Tusker was diagnosed with dementia and now he is declining quickly. The two decide to go on a road trip, one last one, to say goodbye to friends and family but more importantly to spend time together.  Just like a supernova - a star running out of fuel and exploding - so is Tusker's life.

So Sam and Tusker rent an RV and head out to travel around England's Lake District to see friends and family but when Sam discovers that Tusker has a suicide drug, that changes everything.

Written and directed by Harry Macqueen, this is a tender, quiet film that explores how dementia affects not just the person dealing with it, but that person's loved ones as well.

There is a quote highlighted in the film: 

"We will not starve from lack of wonders, but lack of wonder."

 And this film does not lack wonder. Tucci and Firth are wonderful in this, creating a completely believable, loving relationship between these two characters, often without saying a word.  This is probably their best work to date.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you enjoy seeing two consummate actors at the top of their games at work, then this is for you.

(On DVD and available to rent on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple+ and Vudu)

Thanks for reading!

See you 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 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)!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

What I Watched (and Liked) While on My 2021 Summer Stay-cation:TV Series - Part 2

[I review "McCartney 3-2-1," "Schmigadoon," "The Beast Must Die," "The White Lotus," and "The Unforgotten on Masterpiece"]



McCartney 3-2-1


Sir Paul discusses his songwriting philosophy and reminisces about life as a Beatle in this intimate portrait.

When I was 15 and discovered The Beatles I was determined to marry Paul. Well, we know how that turned out, but I continued with my "love affair" in my mind and have been a fan for life, not to mention my love of bass players, so I very much enjoyed this new series - "McCartney 3-2-1" - now streaming on Hulu in six-30 minutes episodes. Very easy to binge. You can watch the whole thing in one night!

But you don't need to have had a mental love affair with Paul to enjoy this intimate and enlightening series. If you are into the Beatles or even just into music, you will enjoy this up close and personal behind-the-scenes look at the Beatles, the music and the times from Paul himself with producer Rick Rubin keeping a low profile but asking all of the right quesions while at the same time queueing songs up on the mixing board so that Paul can reminisce and discuss his songwriting philosophy. You will learn some things you never knew.

I saw the Beatles back in 1964 and was fortunate enough to see Paul in 2013 in Seattle. Momentous events in my young and old life. But the Beatles represented so much more than momentous concert events.

As I wrote in a blog post "Why the Beatles Matter,"

"They brought England out of the shadows of the deprivation that came with the end of WW II and created hope and enthusiasm for the future.  America was in mourning for President Kennedy and needed a lift.  With their "long" hair, Carnaby Street attire and music that came from the American black rhythm and blues they so admired, The Beatles inspired my generation to throw off the strictures of conformity and head into the future knowing we could do anything.  It was a time of promise for us young Baby Boomers, and the joy and cheekiness the Beatles exuded spilled over onto us and made us hope and dream for more.  Goodbye "Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" and the subservient housewife.  Hello freedom and equality."
And after the Beatles were no more, Paul kept going with that same joy and enthusiasm. You feel that in this documentary at a time when we still need joy and hope.

Can I add that Paul certainly has a healthy ego? When Rubin compliments him and his songs, Paul doesn't demur, he nods in agreement. But rather than seeming to be arrogant, I found Paul endearing. I know that to make it in show business, especially the music world, you really do have to have confidence in yourself or you would never get where you need to go. And can I add that at 79, Paul still looks fab!

Rosy the Reviewer says...this captures the real Paul. It's all very candid and honest and you feel like a fly on the wall. You musicians out there will particularly enjoy this and you Baby Boomers can relive your youth! (Hulu)


Schmigadoon


A charming parody of all those classic musicals we loved!

Imagine being out on a backpacking trip and finding yourself in a MUSICAL! That's what happens to Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (SNL alum Cecily Strong), two doctors who meet cute over a candy vending machine. But as happens, the relationship starts to cool over petty things so they decide to seek some couples counseling through an outdoor adventure. While out backpacking with the other couples, they wander off the trail, cross a bridge and find themselves in Schmigadoon, where the townspeople sing and dance and act like they are in a...well, a musical. Turns out Josh and Melissa can't leave until they find true love. Hey, they thought they WERE in love! So they immerse themselves into life in Schmigadoon.

While in Schmigadoon, among others, they meet the married mayor, Mr. Menlove (Alan Cumming) a carnie (Aaron Tveit), a school teacher (Ariana DeBose), a man hungry ingenue (Dove Cameron) and the town's moral arbiter (Kristin Chenoweth), all standard musical characters except none of them are as they seem on the surface. They all have secrets! The mayor's name gives you a hint about what his secret is!
Schmigadoon-Brigadoon? Get it? This is an affectionate parody of movie musicals with all of the tropes, big dance numbers, and even songs that, though they are original, sound familiar. Those of you who love musicals will enjoy trying to figure out all of the references..."Oklahoma," "Carousel," "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "The Sound of Music" and "The Music Man" are all here, and of course the title is a huge giveaway.
Created by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, this is a light-hearted, joyful romp of 30 minute episodes that are easy to binge. Yes, it's silly fluff but that's okay. It's okay to spend some time feeling joyful. Go for it!
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you love musicals, you will find much to love here and all of those parodies of musical tropes will make you laugh.
(Now streaming on Apple+)

The Beast Must Die

A woman grieving the hit-and-run death of her six-year-old son seeks revenge.

“I am going to kill a man. I don’t know his name.  I don’t where he lives.  I have no idea what he looks like.  But I am going to find him and kill him.”

So begins this six-part British series now playing on AMC.

You know the expression "Revenge is a dish best served cold?" Well, there is nothing like losing a son to turn a mother very, very cold. And that's Frances Cairnes (Cush Jumbo) who has lost her six-year-old son to a hit and run while vacationing from London on the Isle of Wight. She is bent on killing the beast who killed her little boy because she is not happy about how the police have handled her case and she is especially unhappy that her case has now been taken over by Police Detective Strangeways (Billy Howle), who is down from London and let's just say the name fits because he is dealing with some issues of his own, and he has his own beast that he needs to kill. 

Strangeways has taken over for a long term detective who died suddenly and it seems nothing has been done on Frances' case, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.  When Frances thinks she has tracked down the driver, George Rattery (Jared Harris), a wealthy, entitled privileged type, she infiltrates his life and plots her revenge. Will she get justice for her son’s death? 

At the same time, Strangeways has inherited a police force that is parochial and ineffective.  Is Strangeways in over his head?  Well, let’s just say he’s in therapy and has massive anxiety attacks.

How will these two come together to solve this case and will Strangeways get there before Frances gets revenge on her son’s killer?

Written and developed by Gaby Chiappe, this is a classic British crime drama – twisty and turny, with memorable performances by Jumbo, Howle and Harris. I won't be forgetting them or this story for a very long time.

Rosy the Reviewer says…this is a riveting vengeance story but what makes it special is Jumbo’s performance and her face… one of the most expressive faces in film history.   (AMC and AMC+)




When staying in a hotel or resort, ever wonder about the lives of your fellow guests or what is happening with the staff behind the scenes? Well, quite a lot, as it happens!

This latest HBO series explores that concept in this satiric and rather dark comedy that follows guests and staff at the White Lotus, an exclusive Hawaiian resort, over the course of a week in this six-part series and let’s just say a lot can happen in a week.
It begins with the hint of a murder. Someone has died and we don’t know who or why and then, in flashback, we meet the guests and staff: Armond (Murray Bartlett), the unctuous manager who is starting to resent having to toady to folks he doesn't respect; newlyweds Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) and Shane (Jake Lacy), who are already having issues about whether or not she should keep working – you see, he thinks he is rich enough for both of them - she thinks that's not the point; the also rich Mossbacher family, Nicole (Connie Britton) and Mark (Steve Zahn), she a successful CEO and he, not so much - successful, I mean. They are accompanied by their disaffected teen children, Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and Quinn (Fred Hechinger) and Olivia’s friend, Paula (Brittany O'Grady). Finally, there is rich but lonely Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), traveling on her own to scatter her mother’s ashes, and Tanya is so lonely she gloms onto Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), an empathetic staff member who runs the hotel spa.
Written and directed by Mike White who also wrote “Beatriz at Dinner,” this shines a light on the economic disparity between those who stay at resorts and those who serve them and just how entitled rich white people can be, even more so on vacation.
Remember those big budget films of the 60’s and 70’s – such as “Airport” and “Hotel” – where disparate characters played by big name stars were brought together and their stories interwoven? This series is like that except it's darkly funny and the characters are entitled rich people. The ensemble cast is first-rate, with special kudos to Bartlett and Coolidge. Despite an ending that is a bit forced and not especially satisfying, this biting satire fits the world we live in now.

Rosy the Reviewer says… a satire about race, class and white privilege, which are serious subjects, indeed, but don’t think this is a stuffy lecture. This is darkly funny and gets its point across in a satisfying, and dare I say, entertaining way?
(HBO)





DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DS Sunil "Sunny" Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) try to solve a murder that occured 39 years ago. 

I hesitated posting this as a must-see when I first started watching it, because it’s in its fourth season, and I was thinking that if you had not seen the earlier series, you would be lost. But I have to recommend this because it’s one of the best true crime shows on television, and it is not to be missed. Thank you, Chris Lang, for creating it! And I was wrong thinking it was necessary to see the first three series to know what was going on. This season stands on its own, but if you do want to get the background, that’s what Wikipedia is for – to bring you up-to-date on series you have missed before. Likewise you can also start at the beginning and watch earlier episodes On Demand. It's worth it.
This time around, DCI Cassie Stuart (Walker) has needed to take some time off because of what happened to her in a previous case and basically she has had it with police work, but she realizes she still needs three months of work to get her retirement so she is back to help solve what the Brits call an “historical murder,” something we call a Cold Case.
And this is literally a "cold case." A body has been found in a freezer, a body without a head or hands, and after some investigation, it appears the body has been there for 30+ years. And after more investigation, in true Agatha Christie style, four suspects who were all fledgling police officers at the time of the death have been identified as having been together the night of the murder and with the victim. Now 30+ years later, those four are in the spotlight.

The four are DCC Liz Baildon (Susan Lynch) who is up for a big promotion; Dean Barton (Andy Nyman), who left the police force and is now a happily married family man; DCI Ram Sidhu (Phaldut Sharma), who has had several issues during his police career but feels that he has been unfairly racially targeted; and Fiona Grayson (Liz White), who also didn't continue as a police officer and has kept her past a secret from her family. For 30+ years, despite all living successful lives, that horrible night has been in the back of their minds and all hoping it would not come back to haunt them. Well, folks, sorry. Knock, knock. Cassie is on the case.
If you have watched “Last Tango in Halifax” or “MI-5 (called "Spooks" in the UK)," you will recognize Nicola Walker. She has appeared in many British TV shows as well. She is a fantastic actress whose face in this embodies those long hours trying to find bad guys. Actually in most of the work she has done, she is very, very serious. She doesn't smile much. She does “resting bitch face” really well, but in a good way. Bhaskar as DS Sunil “Sunny” Khan is another memorable actor.

Rosy the Reviewer say…if you appreciate really good crime drama, this is it, but brace yourself for a huge and sad twist in true British crime fashion. (PBS)

Thanks for reading!

See you 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 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)!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (Review)


I have been a huge fan of
Anthony Bourdain's ever since he wrote "Kitchen Confidential," a best-selling and scathing account of what goes on behind the scenes in restaurants.  Because of him, I would never order fish in a restaurant on a Monday. 

After studying at The Culinary Institute, Tony worked himself up to head chef at Les Halles restaurant in New York City and in his forties wrote "Kitchen Confidential," which in turn led to several TV shows where he traveled the world sampling international culture and all kinds of strange food.  It started with "A Cook's Tour" on the Food Network, followed by "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and "The Layover" on the Travel Channel and finally "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" on CNN, which was more travelogue than food show.  He was also a judge on a cooking competition called "The Taste" for three seasons and wrote several other books and articles.  

And I watched and read them all because I loved Tony. He had a certain combination of dark humor and sensitivity that oozed warmth from the television that made me feel like he was my friend. He was also down-to-earth as he toured the world, hanging out with the locals, showing us out-of-the-way spots and teaching us how not to act like tourists.  And he seemed to be at the top of his game.

And then he hanged himself in France while filming "Parts Unknown."

But don't think this is a downer movie.  It is not.  It's all about a life well-lived.  

Through film archive footage and interviews with those who knew him - his second wife, Ottavia Busia, his brother, Christopher Bourdain, friends, colleagues and fellow chefs David Chang and Eric Ripert (Ripert was filming "Parts Unknown" with Tony when he died and found him in his hotel room), a portrait of Tony emerges that covers his life and career and it pulls no punches. He had a heroin habit at one time that he kicked, he had a dark side but he was also a talented writer as well as being a talented chef. Before his success, Tony sent emails to a publisher friend who was blown away by his eloquence and so "Kitchen Confidential" came into being and all that followed.  Success at 43.

But did Tony enjoy being successful?  Did he like being a Food Network star?  No.  He never wanted to be an Emeril or a Bobby Flay.  In fact, he had disdain for the Food Network.  And despite Tony's elan, he was quite self-deprecating and shy. His 30-year-relationship with his first wife fell apart and, even though he found happiness with his second wife, Ottavia Busia, and the birth of a daughter, life on the road - 150 days at a time - took its toll and he started to suffer from agoraphobia. And then a third relationship fell apart.

Does any of that explain why he did it?  

There are no easy answers and this film directed by Morgan Neville (who also directed the wonderful film about Mr. Rogers - "Won't You Be My Neighbor?") doesn't offer them. This is more about Tony's life than his death.  But there seems to be a theme: a smart, charming, sensitive guy who fought demons gets caught up in the fame machine and it chews him up and spits him out.

Hubby and I had the pleasure of meeting Tony.  We attended his one man show in Seattle and had VIP passes to a reception afterwards.  





He autographed his books and took pictures with us.


  

Here I am having my picture taken with Tony, something he must have done with fans hundreds of times.

I remember saying to him how much I enjoyed "The Layover" and he laughed and said he HATED doing that show. He was just so kind and down-to-earth, nary a bit of celebrity preening. He was a superstar who didn't act like one. He oozed warmth and self-deprecation and meeting him, I felt just like I did when I watched him on TV. He felt like a friend.

But now look at this picture. This is a less "official" one. 

You can see how happy I am to have met him, to have an autographed copy of his book, but then look over to the right at Tony.  Look how happy he looks.  He looks happy for ME being happy!  That picture says so much.  He made others happy, but, sadly, it seems he couldn't make himself happy.

So why did he do it? Was it the stress of life on the road? Was it his divorce?  Was it losing his latest love?  Did he feel unlovable?  We will never know.  But one thing I do know.  I loved him. 

Someone says in the film that Tony was always in pain and he tried to outrun it.  I guess he couldn't.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a brilliant documentary about a brilliant life well-lived that burned out too soon. I predict this will win the Oscar for Best Documentary at next year's Academy Awards. (In theatres and available On Demand and from Amazon Prime)

(Note:  I chose not to address the controvery surrounding director Neville's decision to use A.I. to replicate Tony's voice at certain times in the film because I don't really care.  It's a wonderful film.  But I hope it doesn't affect his winning an Oscar).


Thanks for reading!

See you 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 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)!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

My Daughter Having a Daughter - A Letter to My Newly Born Baby Granddaughter

I never thought it would happen, that my daughter would have a baby.  She didn't seem to be into it, but then that day came..and it's a girl!

I was thrilled when, after two sons, my son and daughter-in-law had a little girl.  I so, so love my grandsons, but I think it's only natural that we women would want some granddaughters too.  So when I found out that my son and daughter-in-law were having a little girl, I was thrilled, so I wrote a letter to her on this blog to welcome her into the world.

So here I am again, sharing and updating that letter, but this time, just for you, little Ingrid . I love my first little granddaughter very much, but you are my own daughter's daughter. It's a very special feeling, and I have enjoyed this journey with my daughter, your Mother.

 



And now you are here, so here goes...


Dear Ingrid, My Newly Born Granddaughter,



Welcome to the world!

I am looking forward to all of the fun times we will have and things we will do together,

like...




Tea parties.


 
My mother used to collect cups and saucers.  She kept them in a cabinet and she would let me pick out the ones that I wanted to be "mine."  I have those cups and saucers now, and I will let you choose your favorites too.  My mother used to do little tea parties for my girlfriends and me.  She would make us some tea and toast and cut the toast into long strips that she called "fairy cakes."  I will do the same for you, and I will also make some little sandwiches and cut off the crusts and we will have scones and jam, just like they do in England.  If you like, your dolls can join us.


Playing with dolls.

Speaking of dolls, I can't tell you how many dolls I have been saving for you and your cousin, Ella. Well, you can kind of see.




Playing Dress-up.

It's no secret that I have been known to buy the odd outfit or two.  OK, or 100.  Clothes come and go, but I have saved some that I thought a little girl just like you would love to dress up in.  I loved to play dress-up when I was a young girl. So did your mother.


My grandparents lived across the street from where I grew up and I would spend time with them.  One time I was snooping around up in their attic and found a trunk.  When I opened it, I couldn't believe it.  It was like being in a movie and finding treasure.  The trunk was filled with clothes from the turn of the century, and I'm talking about the turn of the 20th century!  My grandmother said I could play with those clothes, and boy, did my friends and I have fun with them.  When we play dress up, we can pretend to be princesses or fairies or the President of the United States!


Shopping.

This is something I have honed to a fine art. 


I can teach you the "bob and veer." That's where you are shopping in a store and suddenly take a sharp turn and disappear because you spotted a Marc Jacobs dress on sale. It's like "bob and weave," but with "bob and veer," you bob and then, rather than weaving, you veer directly in a straight line to the object of your desire. Hubby, your Papi, HATES that.  

Or the "I can't afford NOT to buy this!" technique.  That means that the item is on sale and has been marked down so low you will lose money if you don't purchase it.  OK, that's sort of a joke.  My Dad, your great-grandfather, taught me that, but the idea is that it would be a crime not to buy it.  So you do.

There is also the "I can't live without it" technique.  My Dad would always ask me that. "Is that something you can't live without?"  What do you think my answer was? 

And finally, there is the "It might be gone forever" ploy.  This means that you might find something you can't really afford, but if you don't get it, then when you DO have the money the item will be gone and you will never find it again and regret it for your whole life.  So you have to buy it to avoid that kind of pain in your life.

I learned most of these shopping techniques from my Dad.  My mother, your great-grandmother, did not approve.  In fact, it is easy to misunderstand these things, so let's just keep them between you and me, OK?





Reading together.

C'mon, of course we are going to read and read and read.
 
After all, your old Glammy is a librarian and so is your Mom. We can go to the library together and get your very own library card and that card will open up a whole wide world of adventure. 
  


Here I am reading to your cousin A.J. when he was little.

And speaking of Glammy, you might wonder why I am called that.  Well, I might have wanted to be Grammy, but my mother was Grammy to her grandchildren, so that nickname was taken.  If you had known my mother, you would know why there was only one Grammy!


But since I wanted to be an actress, and I love to dress up and there has always been a bit of Auntie Mame in me, I think Glammy made sense.





Watching Musical Comedies Together.

Growing up, my mother and I loved to watch the old musicals - "Singin' in the Rain," "The Music Man," "Oklahoma."  Then I watched them with your Mom when she was a little girl, and now I look forward to showing them to you. Your mother even starred in some musicals. Here she is in "Annie" as Molly, the littlest orphan. 


Who knows?  Maybe you will be the next musical comedy star!  



Talking about boys.

And boy, can I tell you some stuff about boys! Your old Glammy has been around the block (or two)!


Those are just some things I want to share with you
.

But you know what? If it turns out you don't like those things, that's OK too.  I will just be happy to spend time with you doing whatever you love to do and getting to know you as you go through life.



And speaking of your life, I wish for you a life filled with giving and receiving happiness, thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy, compassion and equality.

You probably won't be able to believe it, and I hope by the time you are old enough to notice, there won't be any vestiges of inequality still around, but there was a time, and not that long ago, when women didn't have rights - they couldn't own property, they couldn't vote, they had to ask their husbands or fathers for permission to do almost everything, they were treated as second class citizens, and even today many women do not get paid the same amount of money for doing the same work as men.  Can you believe it?

Your mother and I are feminists and we hope you will be proud to call yourself one, too, and that you will care about women's rights. Because there is still work to be done.  I have been concerned that many young women today don't seem to wear the word "Feminist" with pride. It's almost as if they take for granted what women in earlier generations had to do to get where we are today.  I wrote about that in my blog post - "
Why is Feminist Such a Dirty Word?"   

And can you believe that the United States has never had a woman President?... though now I am proud to say we have a female Vice President.




I hope that by the time you are old enough to vote, there will not only have been a woman President, but more than one!

I hope that you will be proud to be a woman and not take any crap.  There, I said it.




I wish for you a world you feel safe in.

I want you to be able to go out in the world free of fear.  Women should be free to travel, go out at night alone, dress how they wish, all alone, without fear. But the reality is that there is some bad stuff out there. So be brave but be smart and don't take any crap.  There, I said it again.



I also wish for you a wonderful education and the joy of learning.


You come from a family that has always valued education.  Growing up, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't go to college.  Your Dad and Mother had to get a lot of education to become who they are. Your mother went to Stanford and has a master's degree and your Dad has a Ph.D! As soon as you and I can have a conversation, we can start talking about colleges.  You can never start too early.



I wish you love.


You have the most wonderful parents who really wanted you and family who love you already.  I hope you will experience lots more love in your life, giving love and receiving love, and no matter what happens, even if your heart gets broken, that you will never give up on love.


As I write this, you are barely a day old and I am 73 years and 49 days old, so I hope we will be able to do all of those things together and that I am still around to see you grow up.

But if not, you have this little thing I wrote so that you will know I couldn't wait to meet you and that I love you already.

So my darling girl, it's a big wide world out there just waiting for you. 

Live fearlessly!

Go for it!

Love,

Glammy







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 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)!