Friday, June 27, 2014

Kevin Costner Sports Movies and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie version of "Jersey Boys," the DVDs "At Middleton," "Gloria" and Neil Jordan's "Byzantium" and P.J. O'Rourke's new book "The Baby Boom."]

But First

I am not a sports person. 

Probably because I wasn't very good at sports.  In fact, I was terrible.

It might have been that I had a sister who was a tennis wunderkind who became a tennis professional.  I wasn't a natural at sports.  My sister used to call me a "Motor Moron."
Then I met Hubby who was a sports junkie.
Add to that a son who excelled at every sport, and I was doomed.

I have been to more sporting events starring my son than I dare count.

But my niche was the theatre, and I had a few moments of stardom doing that, and that is still one of my many interests, along with movies, of course.

But it takes someone or something special to get me to watch a sports movie. 

Well, let's go with the someone.

And that someone is Kevin Costner. 

He has that guy's guy quality that appeals to men, and he appeals to women...let's just say the sport I enjoyed watching him play the most was the first time I took notice of him in the film, "No Way Out."

First there was the white navy dress uniform and then there was that thing in the back seat of the cab with Sean Young. Yowza.

If you haven't seen that film, see it and you will know what I mean.  And this was way before Sean Young went round the bend.


I saw him in person once playing in the A T & T golf tournament at Pebble Beach.  There he was in head-to-toe Armani looking just fabulous.  I think I might have yelled, "You look fabulous!" at him.  Not sure, but he looked my way and looked mighty fine.

But Kevin has evolved from pretty boy sex object to a serious actor and for some reason he is synonymous with many of our greatest sports movies.  There are those who speculate about why that is,  but I think it's his cool demeanor under pressure and his just plain likability that makes him perfect for sports films.  He has also perfected playing the washed-up guy who triumphs.

I agree with Tim Grierson in his article on Costner in "The Concourse," when he says,

"There is something reassuring about Costner's presence—rugged but familiar—that's akin to the return of your favorite sport each year. We take pleasure from it, we know what to expect from it, and we take it for granted, always knowing it's going to be there. We tend to get a little too sentimental about our connection to our favorite sport or favorite team—it's not just grown men playing a game, it has to mean something—and at his best, Costner seems to embody this tendency. He's all aging masculine dignity and sappy sincerity, like a Cialis commercial imbued with the sepia tones of a Ken Burns retrospective."

Here they are:
Rosy the Reviewer says... well, this isn't one of the greatest sports movies, but it was Kevin's first, a poignant story of bicycle racing, sibling rivalry and father issues.  It bombed.  But it was the beginning.
Bull Durham (1988)
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is the classic baseball film that brought Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins together.  Robbins may have gotten the girl in real life, but Kevin gets the girl here and his leading man status was assured, especially when he uttered the famous line to Sarandon  "I believe in long, slow, soft, deep wet kisses that last three days... Good night." 
Some believe this is the best sports film ever made.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this classic tearjerker film just celebrated its 25th Anniversary on June 14th with a big shindig on the movie site.  Fathers and sons were there as was Costner and other members of the cast.  Ray Kinsella is a struggling farmer with Daddy issues.  Then he hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his field (his Dad loved baseball). Who can forget the classic line "If you build it, he will come." Few men can avoid tears at the end when Ray asks his Dad if he wants to have a catch. 

And who can resist a movie that makes men cry?

Tin Cup (1996)
Rosy the Reviewer says...a washed up pro-golfer tries to win the U.S. Open. You can see right away where this is going to go, but this is actually a good film that has been underrated.  

By the way, whatever happened to Renee Russo?
Rosy the Reviewer says...Billy Chapel, a major league pitcher, finds himself at the end of his career with one last game to play.  As it plays out, the game itself becomes a metaphor for Billy's life.  

Again, you can see where this is headed, but Kevin makes it real. 

Draft Day (2014)
Rosy the Reviewer says...Our hero has one day to put together the perfect football team.

I said it all here in an earlier blog.

So I hope this inspires you to check out some or all of these films and glory in all that is Kevin (as I do).
What do you think is the greatest sports film?

Now since I have said such nice things about you,

Kevin, call me!

Now on to 
 The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres Now***

Jersey Boys

This is the story of Frankie Valli and the forming and storming of the musical group The Four Seasons.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stays true to its stage play roots.  Characters break "the fourth wall" and talk directly to the audience, many of the actors are from the stage version and the ending credits start with a recreation of a curtain call.

But the film has the added benefit of allowing us to get up close and personal with the characters and their stories.  Frankie (John Lloyd Young, who starred in the play version), is the good teen who falls in with the wrong crowd.  Tommy (Vincent Piazza) is an amoral hustler and serious Nick (Michael Lomenda, (who is also reprising his Broadway role and making his film debut) just wants to get along.  All three try to make it as a trio, but it's not until Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) introduces them to Bob Gaudio (Eric Bergen, from the "Jersey Boys" touring company), who has written some songs.  Bob plays the group his song "Sherry" and The Four Seasons are born.

Rumor has it that this is the sanitized version of Frankie Valli's story, but it's still a good story. 

A young Frankie hangs out with some two-bit hoods, but makes an impression on Gyp, one of the mob's kingpins, when he sings his favorite song, "My Mother's Eyes," an incredibly mawkish song that is Gyp's favorite.  The mobster played by Christopher Walken gives him a marker for future use. 

Frankie uses it to save Tommy from gangsters who want the money he owes them, but it ultimately tears the group apart.  Frankie, on his own, takes on Tommy's debt, works every club he can until he hits it big with "Can't Take my Eyes Off You," and then tragedy hits. The group is eventually reunited at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Young's voice is uncanny as Frankie and he does a good job of aging from a 16-year-old to the middle-aged Frankie.  The other actors are also convincing.  Clint has done a great job of bringing this Tony Award-winning musical to the big screen and pays due respect to this iconic group.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you loved the Broadway musical, will you love this film?  Yes.  If you didn't see the play version, will you like this film?  Yes.  If you don't like musicals, will you like this film?  Yes.  It stands on its own as a great biopic.

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

At Middleton (2013)


Two parents, Edith and George, meet on a college tour with their kids and go off together and have a "moment."

This film is a sort of modern day "Brief Encounter," but not nearly as captivating and memorable as that classic film.

It's difficult to believe these two helicopter parents would wander off and leave their kids to their own devices.  They have some adventures together due to the "adventurous" Audrey, such as stealing some bikes and climbing a clock tower (George is afraid of heights), but the biggest stretch for the viewer is the improv class they happen upon.  They are asked to participate and they reveal their deepest feelings to each other -- and the entire class!

I usually enjoy slow-moving two-person character studies like the "Before" series, especially ones that focus on mature adults instead of teenagers, but this just went too slow and had too many plot elements that were unbelievable.  I found myself fast-forwarding the remote.  The end was predictable but touching, but by then it was too late.

Vera Farmiga is a wonderful actress, but her character here is irritating. I really dislike those forced "free spirit" types.  It's nice to see Andy Garcia again and he is convincing as an uptight heart surgeon, bow-tie and all.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you or your child went to Gonzaga, you might like this (it's filmed on that campus), but otherwise, it's a snooze.


Gloria  (2013)


Here is what it's like to be a divorced woman of a certain age in Santiago, Chile.  Well, if you are Gloria, it is.

Gloria lives alone, works a 9-5 job and goes to clubs at night to meet and dance with men.  She meets Rodolpho and they have an affair.  Rodolpho is separated from his wife but it's clear that he is still tied to his wife two daughters and this interferes with the relationship.

Paulina Garcia plays Gloria and she is a wonder to behold.   She is a nice but ordinary looking middle-aged woman who wears glasses, but she is mesmerizing in her portrayal of a lonely woman who loves life and wants to live it fully.  Despite being lonely, Gloria engages in life:  she sings in her car on the way to work, dances by herself at clubs, is friendly with her ex-husband and loves her children.  When she meets Rodolpho, there is hope for a new chapter and she gives herself in to it.  When all does not go as planned, she takes her revenge.

It is refreshing to see mature romance and director Sebastian Lelio pulls no punches when it comes to the sex scenes - it's all there, rolls of fat and all.

It is amazing how Garcia is able to carry this film, which is subtle and realistic, but she makes you really care about Gloria.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A must see for Garcia's remarkable performance (sub-titles).

Byzantium (2012)


A couple of British vampires get together and make a bloody mess.

Ever since "The Crying Game," I have been a huge fan of Director Neil Jordan. I even remember the person who told me the ending (you know who you are, Lois).  He has written and directed some great films since - "Michael Collins," "The End of the Affair" and written and directed several episodes of "The Borgias," but here he misses the mark.  Maybe that's the problem.  He should have written this one.

It starts out well with a strange man confronting our heroines Eleanor (the remarkable Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton).  We don't know anything about them yet but as the film progresses, we see more and more of their history and how they ended up as immortals. 

During the Napoleonic Wars, Clara is seduced by a soldier and forced into prostitution.  She gives birth to Eleanor and places her in a convent to save her life, secretly visiting her. Through a series of events, Clara becomes a vampire and part of a secret society of vampires called "The Brethren" and because she is a prostitute, the other Brethren think she is not worthy and hunt her down to kill her. In the meantime, in present day, Eleanor gets sick so Clara must once again save her, this time by turning her into a vampire. Eleanor meets a boy who also get sick...well, yada yada yada.  It goes on and on and gets worse and worse. 

The cinematography is typical moody Jordan and all is well until about the second half when it all falls apart.

This reminded me a bit of "The Hunger," except these ladies turn out to be mother and daughter, not lesbians.  If they had been lesbians, it might have been more interesting.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like vampires, you might like this, but if you are expecting a film worthy of Neil Jordan's reputation, this isn't it.


***Book of the Week***

The Baby Boom:  How It Got That Way And It Wasn't My Fault And I'll Never Do It Again (2014) by P.J. O'Rourke
Humorist O'Rourke uses his usual wry sense of humor to talk about and make fun of "The Baby Boom Generation," of which he is also a member.
O'Rourke takes us through all of the social mores peculiar to the Baby Boomer generation.
The book begins with "We are the generation that changed everything.  Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression - on ourselves."
"There are some things the Baby Boom has done that we're not proud of.  We used up all the weird.  It has always been the special prerogative of youth to look and act strange, to alarm and surprise our elders with peculiar dress and manners.  But the Baby Boom exhausted the available supply of peculiar.  Weire clothes, we wore them.  Weird beards, we grew them.  Weird words and phrases, we said them.  Weird attitudes, we had them.  Thus when it came time for the next generation to alarm and surprise us with their peculiarities they were compelled to pierce their extremities and permanently ink their exposed flesh.  That must have hurt. We apologize."
"The world is our fault.  We are the generation that has an excuse for everything --one of our greatest contributions to modern life-but the world is still our fault.  This is every generation's fate.  It's a matter of power and privilege demography.  Whenever anything happens anywhere, somebody over fifty signs the bill for it.  And the Baby Boom, seated as we are at the head of life's table, is hearing Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennials all saying, "Check, please!"
We are the generation that heard our parents wonder if the automatic dryer would send the electric bill "through the roof," that used to write letters and people used to "drop over" unannounced.  There were rules:  everybody outdoors on nice days, no crossing busy streets, come when you're called for dinner and everybody home when the street lights go on.
Then everything went to hell when the Vietnam War started.
It's interesting to note that many of the icons of the Baby Boom generation were not Baby Boomers at all.  Mick Jagger was born in 1943, Ken Kesey in 1935, Malcolm X in 1925, Bob Dylan 1941 and Gloria Steinem in 1934.  We really aren't the generation of the Beatles, Black Power and Women's Liberation.  He points out that perhaps Donovan (1946) and Twiggy (1949) were the actual sixties scene makers.
Our last youthful exuberance was Punk which then gave way to Generation X's Goth, as he points out a subtle shift from "fuck you" to "I'm fucked."
We unleashed the "safety hysteria" where if you buy a ladder it is so festooned with stickers warning you of the dangers the only one missing is one that says "Don't step on ladder." 
Rosy the Reviewer says...every Baby Boomer will find something here to laugh about. 
That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Retirement - One Year Later:
A Retired Baby Boomer Reflects on What She's Learned So Far"


Thanks for reading!

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Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).
If I reviewed a movie, you can now find my reviews there too.
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why Working Full-Time Makes You Fat - UPDATE

Right after I retired almost a year ago, I lost a few pounds which brought me to the conclusion that working makes you fat. 

So I wrote a blog post called "Why Working Full-Time Makes You Fat," which included my findings.

Well, this is very hard to admit, but I was wrong.

This morning when I got on the scale I let out a scream that my friends in the U.K. could hear.

Oh, I know, a few pounds had been creeping up here and there, but I was pretty much staying the same, but this morning, the scale turned on me and crossed the line, and now have to admit that I am much more likely to get fatter while retired than when I was working.


Despite the old adage that you will be busier when you are retired than you were in "real life," I have found that to be only partly true.  In retirement, you can be as busy as you want.  And sometimes as busy as I want to get is sitting in a chair watching a "Celebrity Wife Swap" marathon.

When you work 40 hours per week and factor in your commute time, errands, making meals and cleaning them up, not to mention the requisite amount of reality TV you have to get in, it not only wasn't easy to get to the gym, I can't believe I raised a family, stayed married and didn't go bat shit crazy (though there are those who would probably say I did).

So you would think in retirement, exercise and eating right could now be a priority.

And, oh, dear readers, that was the plan.

But now that I am left to my own devices, hauling my butt out of bed to get to work is not on the agenda.  I don't see the light of day until at least 9am.  That then sets me up for staying up late and you know what that means.  Midnight snacks while watching Jimmy Fallon.

And now that I have few "must do's," I realize my default is "want to do's," which often do not include the gym, but instead many movies (hey, it's my new job.  I blog about movies!) and reality TV shows (I don't have an excuse for this one), which in turn require munchies and sitting on that ever widening butt.

So today sitting on my butt once again and reading the most recent AARP Magazine (geez, I can't believe I just said "reading" and AARP Magazine in the same sentence), I came across an article called "7 Ways to Lose Those Last 5 Pounds," which in my current state of mind is of great interest.  And let me add, I need to lose way more than five pounds, but, hey, it's a  start.

So let's see.  What do they tell me to do?

1.  Avoid environmental toxins
Who knew that leftovers stored in plastic and leaving old Macy's receipts lying around would make me fat? 

I knew it!  It's not those chocolate covered bananas I've been eating, it's thermal cash register receipts!  I knew I would have to pay the price for all of that shopping some day.  But if I throw all of my receipts away, will I automatically lose weight?

2.  Chill out
Believe it or not, there is some good news about fat. We have some good fat around those hips and thighs.  It's called brown fat and it naturally raises your metabolism in order to keep your organs warm. 

Bad news - us larger than life folks don't have as much of it as our skinnier counterparts.  Crap. 

But there is a fix.  Chilly temperatures help stimulate that brown fat.  Excuse me a minute...I need to run into the bedroom to turn on the air con.  Now I can watch my reality TV shows and burn fat at the same time!

3.  Check your medications
I've already tried to blame being fat on those.  Didn't work.

4.  Work your cell phone
Now you're talkin.'  I have a cell phone.

I thought I would have something here, but reading further it says to use my cellphone to CALL MY FRIENDS TO EXERCISE!

5.  Rethink the kitchen
Put trigger foods in the back of the fridge or cabinet so you are less likely to mindlessly reach for them. 

Are you kidding me?  Do you really think that if I put the Hostess Twinkies or the Cheetos way back in the cupboard I won't know they are there?  Are you really serious that my rocky road ice cream won't find me, even if it's way, way back in the freezer?  Get serious.

6.  Follow a budget
This one really gets me. 

"Women who have trouble paying their bills are more likely to be obese."  Huh?  The leap here is money troubles lead you to McDonalds. 

No, people, craving a Big Mac leads me to McDonalds!

7.  Zap nighttime light
"Constant exposure to light may be a contributing factor to disease and obesity."

I can't use that one either.  I live in the Pacific NW.  There is no light here.

Well, there you have it.

Yet another article on losing weight that does not have the magic bullet I am waiting for.

But in the meantime, here is what I am going to do right now.

First, I will admit that I was full of it regarding working making you fat. 

Yes, I was wrong.  I probably lost that weight initially when I retired because I was freaking out and stressed about it (read some of my early blogs and you can see what I was going through).

Now that I have settled in nicely to the fact that I have no real deadlines anymore, no one to tell me what to do, no rules to follow (and I like it!), I have to face up to the fact that some of my, shall I say, less than stellar habits have raised their little heads and I need to pay attention.

But I refuse to stress about it. 
I'm 66 for god's sake, not a young woman on the prowl, so I don't need to wear a size 6 anymore.

Sorry, Hubby.

I just want to be healthy, so I can stay around to see my grandkids grow up. 

I may be old, but I also want to look good in my clothes, of course, of which I still have massive amounts, some more appropriate than others.


So I am going to start with some small changes.

  • No more late nights watching TV with the wine guzzling poodle.

  • Keep on the gym schedule, ride my new bike and shoot for 10,000 steps a day.
  • Eat those fruits and veggies and avoid extra calories.  Wine doesn't have calories, right?
  • Have one piece of toast instead of two, 2 scoops of ice cream instead of four - just kidding.  I never had that many scoops of ice cream.  How many scoops in a pint?
  • Be mindful about what I eatI hear that thin people eat a lot of avocados.

Well, that's it. 

Now I need to go into my 68 degree bedroom, so I can start losing weight while I watch "The View."

And try to stay on the sunny side of retirement while working on shedding those pounds. 

Want to share some of your practical 
weight loss tips?

Thanks for reading!

See you Friday for
 "Kevin Costner Sports Movies" - yes, I said sports movies -
and The Week in Reviews

And I will check in with my weight loss progress, in, say a year or so?

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