Friday, January 24, 2014

Ten Movies You Should See by the Age of 14 and The Week in Reviews

[ I review the movies "Her," "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Bless Me, Ultima," "Gangster Squad" and "Sunlight Jr.]

But first

Ten Movies You Should See by the Age of 14

In 2005, the British Film Institute (BFI) put out a list of the 50 films kids should see before the age of 14 in order to inspire parents and educators to take films as seriously as books and other kinds of art. 

The list was put together by 70 film producers, authors and critics, and the top ten were the films that received the most votes. 

Here are the top ten.

How many of these have you seen?

Spirited Away (2001)

This film registered the most votes and won a Best Animated Film Oscar in 2002.

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Vittorio De Sica's classic Italian film about a man and his son searching for his stolen bicycle which he needs to earn a living.

E T The Extraterrestrial (1982)

E.T. Call home!

Kes (1969)

First Ken Loach film about a young working class British boy who spends his time training his pet falcon.  I am a big Ken Loach fan and can't believe I haven't seen this one, but it's now on my list.

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Charles Laughton's only directorial effort, Robert Mitchum plays a bad guy (what else?) who marries a gullible widow to  get his hands on her husband's money and in the meantime terrorizes her children.  A classic American thriller that would probably scare the pants off young kids.

400 Blows (1959)

Francois Truffaut's French New Wave film about a misunderstood young boy entering into a life of crime.

Show Me Love (1998)

Swedish film whose original Swedish title caused a bit of a stir about two young girls embarking on a romantic relationship.

Toy Story (1995)

Who doesn't love this film? 

I especially loved Toy Story 3, which might have been on this list if it had been made when this list was compiled.

Where is the Friend's Home (1987)

An Iranian film that tells the simple account of a conscientious schoolboy's quest to return his friend's notebook so the friend will not get in trouble.  The film has been seen as a metaphor for civil duty, loyalty and everyday heroics.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Who hasn't seen this classic film?

So what do you think? 
Did they get it right? 
What other films do you think belong in the top 10 of films kids should see by the age of 14?

I cannot find a similar list put out by the American Film Institute (AFI), but if they had, I wonder if their list would include as many "foreign" films as are on this list or as many with what I might call a "cosmopolitan" bent.

Also I am struck by the limited number of Disney animation films.

And what the hell?  Where is "Mary Poppins?"

Here is the complete list of all 50.

(All films in the top 10 are on DVD so check your local library.  They are also available through Netflix except "Where is the Friend's House?" which can be found at

There are three on this list that I have not seen so I have requested them through my local library and added others to my Netflix queue.

***In Theatres Now***


Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is grieving the breakup of his marriage and embarks on a "relationship" with his computer's artificially intelligent operating system (OS).

From the looks of this film, everyone in the immediate future will look like a nerd.  I have never seen so many buttoned up shirts and high-waisted trousers on men since the 1950's.

This is a touching and funny (didn't expect the funny part) look at human relationships and how technology can isolate us so much that we can fall in love with the voice on our computer (Think Hal from "2001, A Space Odyssey," but female and not sinister)

Then we don't have to deal with the failings of humans, right? Theodore's operating system becomes his best friend, confidant, girlfriend and yes, lover. But what do you do if your computer crashes?

Makes me look at my computer in a whole new way.

Joaquin Phoenix should have gotten an Academy Award Best Actor nomination for this performance.  In most scenes,  he is acting alone to the sound of Scarlett Johansson's voice (she is also very good).  It is not an easy feat to act without another actor who is physically there and from whom you can draw energy.  And this is not the usual type of role for him either, nor does it indicate that crazy persona he took on a few years back.

Here's a little challenge:  The film is set in L.A. 
See if you can catch the other city that sometimes stands in for L.A. 
(I realized right away it wasn't L.A. I was close, but didn't get it right).

Rosy the Reviewer says...A strange, but original script (I always give props to originality), beautifully executed by writer/director Spike Jonze, who is nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (the movie is nominated for Best Picture). 


You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
White House butler Cecil Gaines serves eight Presidents and is a witness to history.
Though I eagerly anticipated this film because of it's interesting concept, I was ultimately disappointed.  The production values bugged me and the whole thing was too earnest and heavy handed.  Though I loved Oprah.  I always love Oprah.
Lee Daniels directed "Precious." 
Rosy the Reviewer says...Ambitious film that is ultimately a disappointment. 

Based on the Rodolfo Anaya novel which blends Catholocism and mysticism to tell a coming of age story set in the rural New Mexico of the 1940's.
The book is considered a classic of Chicano literature and has won many awards.  It has also been one of the most challenged books in the U.S due to scenes of violence and sexual references.  Christy Walton, one of the Walton heirs, set up a production company with the sole purpose of getting this film made.
Rosy the Reviewer fare.  This is what I think of most family fare:  Zzzzzzz
It's 1949 and mobster Mickey Cohen is terrorizing L.A.
I didn't think I was going to like this film, but it's snappy dialogue, film noir production values (the blood and gore notwithstanding), and Sean Penn chewing up the scenery like mad, it was a lot of fun.  Nick Nolte appears to be improvising the part of a refrigerator.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you don't take this one too seriously, you will enjoy it.  Think those old pulp fiction novels.

Sunlight Jr. (2013)

A convenience store (Sunlight Jr.) clerk and her paraplegic boyfriend, living hand to mouth in a motel, fall onto even harder times.

Here is the poster child for raising the minimum wage.  Crap happens when you are poor and crap is compounded upon crap.

Naomi Watts is known for "getting her kit off," a British term for taking off her clothes and this is no exception.

Rosy the Reviewer says...why Matt Dillon and Watts signed up for this thing, I am not sure, but there is no sunlight shining hereFor hardcore Matt Dillon and/or Naomi Watts fans only.

***Book of the Week***

Her (2013) by Christa Parravani

Not to be confused with the film of the same name, this is the true story of the close relationship between two twin sisters until one of them dies tragically

When her sister dies from a life of depression and excess, Christa tries to become her to her own detriment.

This is one of those memoirs that has so much bad stuff happen that it's almost unbelievable.

Rosy the Reviewer says...depressing and probably better understood by another twin.

***Musical Theatre***

Ladies, it's all here:  the hot flashes, the mood swings, the incontinence, the insomnia, the antidepressants, the weight gain, the anger, the Mom issues, memory loss, wrinkles and yes, vibrators...all set to the tunes we grew up with sung by four women who meet by chance in Bloomingdales.

Here is a taste:

(To the tune of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight").

Weeeee.. We um baum baum away
Weeeee.. We um baum baum away
(Shes a witch, shes a witch,
shes a bitch, shes a bitch
Shes a witch, shes a witch,
shes a bitch, shes a bitch
Shes a witch, shes a witch,
shes a bitch, shes a bitch
Shes a witch, shes a witch,
shes a bitch, shes a bitch)

In the guestroom or on the sofa,
my husband sleeps at night;
In the guestroom or on the sofa
my husband sleeps at night...
(it goes on)

Other songs include:

"Puff, My God I'm Draggin" and "My Thighs (think "My Guy)."

And we got up on the stage and danced with the stars at the end.  I am always amazed at the talented people out there in the world we have never heard of. This is a first rate show.  See it if it comes your way.

Rosy the Reviewer every husband and family member who was wondering what has come over their wife and mother, you need to see this so you can understand the "Change, Change, Change."

That's it for this week. 

See you Tuesday

for my

"Word a Day Project" 


Thanks for reading!

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Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

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