Friday, July 31, 2015

"Mr. Holmes" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Mr. Holmes" and DVDs "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "5 Flights Up." The Book of the Week is "Model Woman."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Earrings of Madame de."  I also review the Seattle restaurant Stateside and Tony Bourdain's "Close to the Bone Tour"]

This week, films that grown-ups will enjoy.

Mr. Holmes

Three mysteries comprise this fictionalized biopic of the fictional Sherlock Holmes, starring the inimitable Sir Ian McKellan.

We know Sherlock Holmes is not a real person, but let's pretend that he did exist and now it's 1947 and he is 93.  And it wouldn't be a movie about Sherlock Holmes without a mystery, now would it?  Here we have three:  one about a suspicious husband, one about a man in Japan and one about bees.

As the movie begins, Sherlock is 93, definitely a curmudgeon, and living by the sea.  He retired from his detective work over 30 years ago and now he is tending his bees and falling into senility.  He can't remember things so he travels to Japan in search of the prickly ash, which has supposed regenerative properties that Holmes hopes will help restore his memory or at least stave off senility.  He has been in correspondence with a Mr. Umazaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Umazaki is going to help him find the coveted herb.

At home he has a housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and Holmes has taken a liking to her young son, Roger (the engaging Milo Parker).  Roger clearly looks up to Holmes asking him to "do it," "it" being Holmes' ability to deduce where someone has been just by looking at them.

Holmes is writing a book about his last case, lamenting the fact that it was Watson who wrote the books upon which the Sherlock character and his movies were based. He never really wore that deerstalker hat nor did he smoke a pipe (he prefers cigars). "Penny Dreadfuls" but with good writing, he says.  Now Holmes wants to tell his own story.  Roger is encouraging Holmes to finish the book, but poor Holmes can't remember all the details of the case anymore.

Holmes' last case was over 30 years ago and was the one that he couldn't solve and the reason why he retired.  It involved a husband whose wife had two miscarriages and had never gotten over them.  The husband wanted her to forget about them so he hired a woman to give her lessons on how to play a glass armonica, but when the husband heard his wife talking to her dead children, he cut off the lessons.  You see, the glass armonica is often associated with talking to the dead.  Later he suspected she was still taking lessons behind his back despite her and her teacher's protestations, so he hired Holmes to find out what was going on.

Through a series of flashbacks and interwoven stories, the mysteries unfold.  We find that Mr. Umazaki had ulterior motives for luring Holmes to Japan, we also learn why his last case has haunted Holmes for the last 30 years and did Holmes' bees really attack Roger?

Ian McKellan effortlessly and believably goes back and forth from 93 to 60 (when this film was made he was 76).  It is a wonder to behold someone at the top of his game, whether that person is a doctor, lawyer, carpenter or musician.  McKellan is at the top of his game as an actor and his portrayal here is a wonder indeed.  The nuances of his expressions, his attention to detail, his bits of business (actor talk for working with props), how he relates to the other actors, all finely tuned and on point.  Juliette Binoche is another actor at the height of her powers (see review below).

Laura Linney is fine as she usually is, though I have always thought she underplayed too much, ever since I first laid eyes on her in the PBS series "Tales of the City," all the way back in 1993.  But what marred her performance here was her lack of an English accent.  I couldn't tell if she was supposed to be American or trying out some form of a Welsh accent.  Whatever she was doing, it wasn't working.

Directed by Bill Condon (he also directed McKellan in "Gods and Monsters" for which Condon won an Oscar for Best Screenplay and McKellan was nominated for Best Actor) from the book "A Slight Trick of the Mind" by Mitch Cullen, this is lovely story of an aging icon starring an aging icon.  Condon makes the most of the lush Sussex countryside, and despite the many flashbacks and flash forwards, has made a Sherlock Holmes mystery that is comprehensible, unlike some.  But in general, I would imagine he gave McKellan free reign to do what he does best:  make us believe.

Rosy the Reviewer says...As far as I am concerned, whether McKellan is Gandolf or Holmes he can do no wrong.  I think the Academy will agree and reward him with a Best Actor nod.  You heard it here first, folks! 

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)


A famous actress prepares to star in a revival of a play that made her a star 20 years before. But this time she is not asked to reprise her part as the ingénue but rather play the role of the older woman.

Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) starred in the play and film "Maloja Snake" by Wilhelm Melchior as Sigrid, a young lesbian woman who is seduced by Helena, an older woman, and who then breaks Helena's heart and drives her to suicide. This part made Maria a star at 20. As the films begins, it is 20 years since "Maloja Snake," and Maria is on a train headed to an awards ceremony with her young assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to accept an award for Melchior, who she adores, but who is a recluse, only to discover he has committed suicide.

At the ceremony, Maria is approached by a young director to do a revival of the play, but this time as the older woman, Helena, with a young out of control Lindsay Lohan type starlet, Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz), who heretofore has made her name in a superhero franchise, playing the part of Sigrid. Though Jo-Ann is a YouTube and TMZ darling for all of her out of control exploits, upon meeting her, Maria is struck by the young woman's story and desire to be a good actress, reminding her of her own young self and the passing of time.  Jo-Ann in turn looks up to Maria, could be jealous even, of her fame and the place she holds in the acting firmament.  Remind you of anything?  "All About Eve," maybe?

Maria reluctantly decides to do the play and also accepts Melchior's widow's offer to stay in their home in Sils Maria while she leaves to recover from her grief.  During the course of their stay at Sils Maria, Valentine helps Maria with her lines.  As they do the read-throughs of the play together, the lines between employer and assistant, friend and mentor and youth and aging are blurred.  It's a play within a play, a film within a film.

The film explores the nature of fame, its fixation on youth and what it's like to be an aging actress.

Binoche is wonderful here, as she always is.  We are talking an Academy Award role here. This is Stewart's biggest role since the Twilight series and she holds her own with Binoche, which ain't easy. 

There is an interesting scene where Binoche and Stewart take off their clothes to swim.  Binoche takes off all of her clothes (nice to see some pubic hair again these days), but Stewart remains in a bra and the biggest pair of granny pants I have ever seen. Juliette is 50-something and Kristen twenty something.  Must be a French thing.

Speaking of French thing, does Juliette Binoche ever age?  Must be that French women don't get fat thing.  Does Kristen Stewart ever smile?  Must be a bad teeth thing.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, this is an intelligent, thought-provoking film, despite the rather unsettling and obscure ending, that lets us into the inner world of acting and the theatre.  The cinematography is spectacular with the scenery of the Alps also starring.

The name of the play - "Maloja Snake" - comes from a cloud phenomenon in Sils Maria where the clouds roll through the mountains like a snake.  And the clouds also seem to symbolize the ending of the film, which is cloudy and murky at best.  I didn't get it, but that didn't harm my feelings about the film.  It is one of those rare films aimed at adults that gives you something to think about afterwards.

Rosy the Reviewer says...for the thinking adult with the acting, script and production values all first-rate.

5 Flights Up (2014)

Ruth and Alex Carver live in a Brooklyn apartment five flights up.  They are getting old and think that it's time to move after 40 years to a place with an elevator.  But letting go of all of those memories will not be easy.
Downsizing is a fact of life for retirees and people as they age and romantic comedies for us older folks are not, so it's refreshing to see a film aimed at the older crowd. 
One might argue a movie about a couple who have been married for 40 years is hardly a romcom, but Ruth (Diane Keaton) and Alex (Morgan Freeman) are about as romantic as you can get and this is a comedy.  Plus in a series of flashbacks we get a glimpse into the young couple who moved into the apartment 40 years ago - their romance and their ups and downs. So I rest my case.
Ruth and Alex try to sell their apartment with the help of their real estate agent niece played by Cynthia Nixon, though I question her expertise as this film is a poster child for why you should NOT let the owners attend their own open house.  The people viewing the house range from the disparaging husband, the annoying children and the clueless folks who sit and watch your TV and lie on your bed.  It's a reminder of how horrible people can be during an open house and as Alex says, "One of the 10 plagues.  First locusts, then house hunters." Alex is not keen to sell, can you tell? Alex is an artist and has painted in the same light-filled room for 40 years.

There is a side story about their dog Dorothy getting a ruptured disk and having to have a operation that costs $10,000. Alex is at first reluctant to pony up that kind of money but the dog represents Ruth's happiness (I hate to think what would happen in this household if any of our dogs need an operation that costs that much)!
There is a back story playing out on the TV about a supposed Muslim terrorist holding up traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, hence possibly hindering the sale, making house hunters to think that Brooklyn is too far away. This was a device we could have done without.
But not a lot happens in the film.  It is mostly a vehicle for Freeman and Keaton to do what they do best:  let that old charm ooze off the screen.  They do a good job of it and more than that, the apartment stands as a metaphor for Ruth's and Alex's marriage and is the device for the flashbacks that tell the story of a happy 40-year marriage despite the ups and downs.
Diane Keaton has come to represent an ingénue to us old folks.  I know several women of a certain age who say "Something's Gotta Give" is their favorite film.
However, when Keaton was hitting the talk show circuit promoting this film, I couldn't believe her silly mannerisms.  It was as if she was trying to relive Annie Hall but on steroids.  Not a pretty sight in a woman of 60+.  So I started watching this film with trepidation, thinking her character would be like that, but thank the lord, no such thing.  She toned it way down to play straight woman to Morgan Freeman, Ruth's artist husband, who decidedly does not want to sell.
One aside:  I couldn't help but think - a million for this big Brooklyn apartment with their own roof deck?  I think not.  More like 3 mil but that's a minor criticism of a film that probably won't appeal to anyone under the age of 40.
Rosy the Reviewer says...maybe it's a slight plot but it's an original and charming little story that we over 40's need.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

299 To Go! 

The Earrings of Madame de (alternate title "Madame de") (1953)

Louise, Madame de (Danielle Darrieux), who is a wealthy aristocrat married to a general (Charles Boyer), needs to sell some jewelry to pay off some or her personal debts.  She sells a pair of earrings that her husband gave her as a wedding gift and they come to symbolize both power and love, and when returned, tragedy.
Louise is married to Andre, a wealthy general.  Both live in a privileged world in Vienna where all proprieties are kept despite the secrets behind the façade.  When Louise needs some money, she sells the earrings Andre gave her as a wedding present and tells Andre she has lost them.  However, when Andre discovers that Louise has sold the earrings, he discreetly buys them back and gives them to his mistress, Lola, who is leaving to go to Constantinople. 

When Louise meets and falls in love with Baron Donati (Vittorio De Sica), he gives her a pair of earrings he bought in Turkey.  Guess what?  They are the very earrings she sold.  However, not realizing that Andre already knows she sold the earrings, Louise pretends to find them, thus setting in motion a series of events that will lead to tragedy. The earrings now have special meaning to Louise because Donati gave them to her, but they also come to symbolize the power Andre has over Louise, the love she and Donati shared and ultimately, the tragic ending.

The dance sequences showing the passage of time as Louise and the Baron fall in love is brilliantly reminiscent of Orson Welles' deterioration of a marriage scene in "Citizen Kane."

Danielle Darrieux was a French actress whose career spanned 80 years - one of the longest in acting history - and she was one of France's most revered icons.  Charles Boyer was one of the great French "lovers," most famous for his line in "Algiers," "Come with me to the Casbah," which he actually never said in the film, only in the trailer.  However, it has become a phrase that hints at romance and seduction.  It's also especially good when said with a French accent!

Why it's a Must See: "Madame by turns brutal, compassionate, and moving.  [Director Max] Ophuls delineates his world with Bechtian precision, yet he never discounts the significance of stifled, individual yearnings.  Even as the characters writhe in their metaphoric prisons or shut traps on each other. their passions touch us:..."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Rosy the Reviewer says...This film stands up well to today's standards. These classic films need to be seen. It kills me to think that the current generation does not know who Charles Boyer, Vittorio De Sica or Danielle Darrieux were.
(In French with English subtitles, b & w)

***Book of the Week***

Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty by Robert Lacey (2015)

A biography of Eileen Ford, who transformed the world of modeling and invented the "Super Model."

Eileen and her husband, Jerry, created one of the most successful modeling agencies in the world and discovered Lauren Hutton, Suzy Parker, Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall, Naomi Campbell and others.

Robert Lacey has written extensively about England's Royal Family, Princess Grace and the Saudi kingdom.  Here he focuses his keen eye on the world of modeling and Eileen Ford's imprint on it in this literate biography.

Ford had high standards and wasn't afraid to speak her mind, telling skinny modeling hopefuls to lose 15 pounds and then come back.  But she was also a mother hen to her "girls," often letting them stay with her and her husband and warning off predator photographers, who if they displeased her would never again be able to work with her famous models.

She was great at picking talent, though she wasn't infallible.  She passed up a skinny little English girl and a tall Dutch girl who grew up in Germany.  Can you guess?  Right.  Those two girls blossomed into Twiggy and Verushka.

Lacey spent over four years researching his subject and has presented a fascinating inside look into the world of modeling and the famous models who inhabited that world.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Just in time for Cycle 22 of "America's Next Top Model" which starts August 5th.

***Restaurant of the Week***

Stateside Restaurant

If you like Vietnamese food with a French/Chinese twist, this restaurant is for you. 

The restaurant is unpretentious with clean lines and comfortable seating looking out onto the bustle of Capitol Hill.  The menu is not extensive but I like that.  When the menu is focused, you know you are going to get good food because the chef is not going to be trying to be a short order cook to satisfy all tastes. This isn't Denny's. 

On a recent visit, we ordered the grilled corn on the cob rolled in lime leaf and pork floss and it was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in a long time.  Of course, corn on the cob is "one of those things."  It's good with everything.

For my main course, I ordered the "Master Stock Crispy Chicken," chicken that is cooked in a stock that is perpetually simmering, giving the chicken a rich deep taste and the skin is indeed crispy.  Our wait person recommended that I order the ginger rice and the snap peas as accompaniments and she was right on.  Delicious melding of flavors.

Hubby ordered the Bun Chun Hanoi.  If you are not familiar with bun (pronounced boon), it's vermicelli rice noodles, often served cold.  Here the bun was accompanied by pork patties and belly in a caramel fish sauce.

Dessert was a fantastically delicious cinnamon parfait that we shared.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Chef/owner Eric Johnson lived overseas for over 10 years, working in Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong and now has returned "stateside," to enliven our taste buds. We are so glad he is here!

***At The Theatre***

Tony Bourdain and his Close to the Bone Tour
Who knew Tony Bourdain could do stand-up? 
He recently regaled audiences at The Paramount in Seattle with over an hour of hilarious anecdotes about food, celebrity chefs, travel and his life.

He particularly couldn't help but take a poke at The Food Network and its many stars: he skewered Guy Fieri, said Giada was a little bird-like creature with a big head (most all TV and movie stars are really short and have big heads, didn't you know that?) and made some allusions to Bobby Flay's alleged philandering ways. He wasn't happy with the Food Network ("A Cook's Tour") or the Travel Channel ("No Reservations" and "The Layover") and is happy to now be at CNN, where they let him do whatever he wants ("Parts Unknown"). So I guess he won't be doing any more "Layovers," which I loved. (When I met him for my picture I asked him about "The Layover," and he said he hated doing that show because they expected him to do too many in a short period of time).

While praising "Top Chef," because at least the contestants were professionals and he got to try some decent food, he alluded to that "other show I did," where some of the food was horrendous.  He must have been talking about "The Taste," which makes me wonder if that show is also no more.

Tony also had some fun with what a "foodie" nation we have become.  We used to go to the theatre and then out to eat to talk about what we had just seen at the theatre.  Now we go to the theatre and go out to eat to talk about where we are going to eat next!  Guilty as charged, Tony!

He also made fun of gluten intolerance, vegetarians and travelers who are picky about food. (I think the people in front of us in the audience were gluten intolerants, because as soon as he went there, they seemed to ristle)! Speaking about picky travelers, he made the point that he always ate his grandma's overcooked turkey and bottled gravy and even asked for seconds because, hey, he was at grandma's house.  Likewise, when a traveler is in another country - "grandma's house," if you will - you should likewise be polite and eat what is put in front of you.  He knew what was going to happen when he ate the pig rectum (he paid for it the next day), but he ate it anyway.
That's how Tony came off.  He came off as a nice guy who has seen it all and knows how to get along and not leave that old "Ugly American" footprint all over the world.
The show ended with a Q & A.
We were lucky to have VIP/Meet and Greet tickets so had our pictures taken with Tony afterwards and enjoyed some food and wine from our own local celebrity chef, Tom Douglas, who was also present along with Thierry Rautureau, who was also there (I had my picture taken with both of them, too, because I'm that kind of girl)!
When Hubby's turn in line finally came for his picture with Tony, he asked Tony "Tired of smiling yet?" and Tony replied, "It's all good, Man."
That's how Tony comes across.  He is grateful for his life and enjoying it all.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Tony's current tour is winding down now, but if you get a chance to see him, take it. It's an enjoyable and funny "cook's tour" with "no reservations" to "parts unknown."
Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Why Have a Child?"


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Check your local library for DVDs and books 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). 

Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Best Movies of 2015 (So Far)!

If you have been reading my movie reviews since the start of 2015, you already know which films I have deemed "Must Sees." 

And perhaps you made a to-do list of those films so that you wouldn't miss them. But if you are not a list maker, I thought I would give you a handy dandy list of the best films I've seen all year so far, so you can enjoy them too.  Some are still in the theatres, but most are out on DVD now or you can find them ON DEMAND or however you view the latest films these days.

But first, what is my criteria for a BEST FILM,
for a MUST SEE?

1.  It must have a believable, or at least, an engaging, accessible story
2.  Great acting
3.  Wonderful direction and production values
4.  If it's a comedy, did I laugh?  If it's a drama or documentary, was I affected
     or moved by it?  Did it say something meaningful about the human
5.  Did I feel something afterwards, especially the desire to talk about the film
     and share my enthusiasm?
6.  Was it an overall enjoyable movie experience?
So without further ado, on with the show!
(I have given each film a short but pithy Rosy the Reviewer review but if you are interested, I have also linked each to my original longer review).

1.  Amy

Rosy the Reviewer says...if someone can come back from the grave and tell her own story, here it is. Another incredible talent lost to "The 27 Club."  Whether you were a fan of Amy Winehouse or not, this film can't help but move you.

2.  Inside/Out

Rosy the Reviewer says...we can learn from what goes on inside the brain of an 11-year-old in this wonderful Pixar film that is more for us older folks than the little guys.  And have your hankies handy because it's all about joy vs. sadness and the end of childhood.

3.  Danny Collins

Rosy the Reviewer says...Al Pacino fans rejoice.  He is back in the very best way playing a successful musician who tries to go back in time to reclaim something that was lost.  It might be Oscar time for Pacino.

4.  Love & Mercy

Rosy the Reviewer says...Expect an Oscar nod to Paul Dano for his uncanny ability to channel the young Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys in this biopic that captures Wilson's genius creative process.

5.  Ex Machina

Rosy the Reviewer says...beware of free vacations and sexy robots.  This is a mesmerizing, intelligent scifi thriller.

6.  Cinderella 


Rosy the Reviewer says...there has never been a more enchanting Cinderella than Lily James ("Downton Abbey") or handsome prince than Richard Madden.  Add Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother in a series of outrageous costumes and you have a wonderful retelling of this classic fairy tale that all ages will enjoy

7.  Spy

Rosy the Reviewer says...Melissa McCarthy's slump is a thing of the past as she scores in this send-up of James Bond.  I laughed. Enough said.

8.  Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Rosy the Reviewer says... "I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not."  I guess that way of thinking was at the heart of what killed Kurt Cobain.  His own self-loathing.  Another must-see documentary about a major talent gone too soon.  Guess how old he was?  Right.  27.

9.  Trainwreck

Rosy the Reviewer says...Amy Schumer is hot, hot, hot right now and this film is the new face of rom-coms. I laughed...a lot.  Enough said.

10.  Chappie


Rosy the Reviewer says...if a robot can make me cry, that says something about the film.

See you Friday

for my review of the new movie 
"Mr. Holmes" 

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on

My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."

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Friday, July 24, 2015

"Trainwreck" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Trainwreck" and DVDs "The Duff" and "Inherent Vice."  The Book of the Week is "Living with Intent."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the classic film "Love Me Tonight" and the 1980's thriller "Diva"]

A week's worth of comedies (well, almost all of them are comedies...I think)!


Amy (Amy Schumer) is commitment phobic, has lots of drunken sex and never lets any man get too close...until she meets Aaron (Bill Hader).

When you are a little girl and your father sits you and your sister up on the hood of the car and gives you a long speech about monogamy and why he and Mommy are getting a divorce using your little dollies as a metaphor - "Would you want to have to play with the same doll for the rest of your life?" - and then has you repeat "Monogamy isn't realistic" over and over, you are not likely to grow up seeking long-term fulfilling relationships. 

So is it with our Amy when we see her 23 years later having sex and then telling the guy to leave because she can't bear to have him around in the morning. And don't even THINK about spooning.  However, Amy's sister, Kim (Brie Larson), must not have gotten the same message from their father because she is married with a baby on the way.  Both she and Amy are trying to find a nicer assisted living facility for their curmudgeon father, Gordon (Colin Quinn).  Amy is a Daddy's girl; Kim not so much.

Amy works for Dianna (an almost unrecognizable and very funny Tilda Swinton - who knew she could be funny? - playing a sort of mean Anna Wintour character) at S'Nuff, a men's magazine that delights in being outrageous, titillating and anti-woman. Dianna wants someone to research whether or not eating garlic makes semen taste different and one of Amy's colleagues pitches the idea of an article, "Are you gay or is she just boring?"  If you didn't get it from the title of the magazine, you get the idea here. 

Amy does have a "regular" boyfriend, a meathead bodybuilder (WWE wrestler John Cena), and they have a funny sex scene together where Amy wants him to talk dirty to her and all he can come up with are sports slogans like "There's no I in team" and "Winning's not everything, it's the only thing!"

Amy is assigned to interview an NBA sports doctor, Aaron Conners, something she is not pleased about because she hates sports. But when Amy is interviewing Aaron, and he asks her if she likes sports, she says she loves them. He then asks, "What's your favorite team?  She gulps and says The Orlando Blooms?

Amy Schumer wrote the entire script and it is very, very funny.  She is on a high right now with her TV show "Inside Amy Schumer," which is also very, very funny. Her acting is also right on point.  She is going to be very, very big, because she represents all of us ordinary gals - pretty but not so pretty that other girls would hate her, and a normal figure: not fat and not a skinny bitch either.  And a sweet face that belies what comes out of her mouth.

But the real revelation here is Bill Hader.  All SNL fans will remember his SNL characters: Stefon, Devon (One of "The Californians") and his takes on Clint Eastwood and Keith Morrison of "Dateline (you know, the guy with the creepy voice)," but there is no trace of any of that shtick here.  He plays it straight as a charming, good-hearted guy who is willing to put up with all of Amy's defenses and foibles because he loves her. He is completely believable and somebody we would all want to marry.

Speaking of SNL, ex-cast members abound: Along with Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Pete Davidson, and Tim Meadows all have roles.  It's like an SNL reunion.

This is the new face of rom-coms:  feminist, raunchy and real. I like it, but I know it's not for everyone.  After about 20 minutes of sex and F-bombs, two old ladies left the theatre. I could tell they were leaving for good because they had their purses.  I couldn't help but wonder, if you know anything about Amy Schumer, what did you expect and why are you here? But that's just me.

Women will enjoy Amy, but we also have the sports element here to get the guys.  I mean, LeBron James, Marv Albert and Amar'e Stoudemire are featured.  Very smart. 

And who knew LeBron was such a funny guy and good actor? He is portrayed as a cheapskate who never has money to pay the bill at a restaurant and who loves "Downton Abbey (along with his teammates)."

So this is a date movie with something for everybody.

Directed by Judd Apetow, whose films I haven't liked of late finding them very male-centric, but he is a good fit for Amy who is not your usual girly girl.  The  ending is a bit soft, but like I said, there is something for everybody here.

Maybe my slump is over.  I am finally seeing some funny films.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this joins Melissa McCarthy's "Spy" as one of the funniest comedies of the year.  I guess it takes "the girls" to finally give us some funny films.  Who says women aren't funny? 

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)

The DUFF  (2015)

A high school senior is perfectly happy until she finds out she is a DUFF - the "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" - of her two other prettier girlfriends.

OK, I knew you were going to ask, what is a 60-something doing watching a movie like this?  Well, I was in high school once.  And some things never change.  No matter how old you get, you can relate to this story which is as old as the end of time.

These days, teens may have cell phones, computers and social media, but they still must endure mean girls, bullying and low self esteem.  You didn't hear much about bullying back in the day and certainly we didn't have cyberbullying, but bullying still existed. We just didn't talk much about stuff in the "olden days," but that didn't mean it didn't exist.

Mae Whitman ("Parenthood") plays Bianca Piper, a perfectly nice-looking young girl. However, as is established at the outset by two boys in the school hallway, her best friends, Jess Harris (Skyler Samuels) and Casey Cordero (Bianca A. Santos), are decidedly much hotter. But they are nice girls. Jess is a kind girl who likes yoga and Casey is a soccer player. Our heroine, Bianca, has more esoteric tastes: "B" horror films and playing the violin. But these three have been besties for years. No one seems to be keeping score here.

Bianca also works on the school paper and is given the assignment of writing an article on what the homecoming dance means to her, but since it doesn't mean much, she declines. Bianca is also in love with Toby Tucker (Nick Eversman), but can't even muster the courage to speak to him.

Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne) is the hottest girl in school but also the meanest.  She wants to be a reality star so goes around school with her posse filming herself.  She has taken it upon herself to make Bianca's life a living hell.

Wesley Rush is Bianca's next-door-neighbor.  They have known each other forever and have a sort of love-hate relationship. Bianca treats him with disdain.  And I want to state right now, Bianca must be crazy because Robby Amell, who plays Wesley, is hot, hot, hot and I predict the next big thing. Sorry, I got a little excited there.  Anyway, whenever you have a love-hate relationship, you can pretty much figure out what's going to happen down the road.

When Wesley tells Bianca she is considered a DUFF, she is totally shocked.  Initially she "breaks up" with her girlfriends but in the end, you can's make-over time.  When Bianca overhears Wesley's teacher telling him if he doesn't get his grades up, he will not be able to play football, she offers to tutor him if he will help with her makeover and coach her on how to talk to Toby.

Bianca's mode of dress consists of crocs and pajama bottoms so Wesley takes Bianca clothes shopping so she will "send the right message."  One of Madison's friends sees Bianca modeling clothes for Wesley and kissing a store mannequin, pretending it's Toby, and she films it. The video goes viral and humiliates Bianca.  But, predictably, she gets her revenge by turning into a hottie!  But her own kind of hottie as she has an epiphany about being a DUFF and writes that article for the school newspaper.

The message here is that in the end everyone is somebody's DUFF because there is always going to be someone hotter, smarter, richer or something better than you, so don't obsess about it.  Be yourself, which is a good message for not just teens, but us all.

Mae Whitman is adorable as Bianca and I have already waxed poetic about Robby Amell.  He has mostly been on TV shows until now but I predict he will go far. He and Whitman have real chemistry so their scenes together are fun to watch. Speaking of fun to watch. Now I know why I watch movies aimed at high school girls. Hot high school boys! (Don't judge me!) Oh, the other young actors are also really good.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though predictable, a perfectly acceptable teen film that adults will also enjoy.


Inherent Vice (2014)

It's 1970 and Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a P.I. and doper, investigates the disappearance of an old girlfriend.

Shasta Fey Hepworth (played by the beautiful Katherine Waterston, Sam's daughter), an old flame, visits Doc at his place on Gordita Beach.  She is having an affair with Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), a real estate developer.  She tells Doc that Mickey's wife, Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas, Kristin's younger sister) is having an affair and that Mickey's wife and her lover are planning on abducting Mickey and putting him in an insane asylum (I know I'm not being PC, but that's what they called it back in the 70's).

Meanwhile Tariq Khalill (Michael Kenneth Williams) hires Doc to find an ex-prison mate of his, Glenn Charlock. Glenn owes him money and just happens to be one of Wolfmann's bodyguards.

As if things weren't confusing enough, enter Hope Harlingen (Jena Malone), a former heroin addict who is looking for her husband, Coy (Owen Wilson).  He was presumed dead but Hope believes he is alive.  Coy finds Doc and tells him he is hiding out in Topanga Canyon fearing for his life because he is a police informant.  Coy just wants to get home to his wife and child.

Shasta disappears and Doc goes to a massage parlor and gets knocked out.  When he wakes up he is framed for the death of Glenn Charlock, who was supposed to be guarding Wolfman.  Now Wolfman is missing too.  From there we have drug smuggling, a ship called "The Golden Fang, and a cult and all kinds of other stuff that becomes murkier and murkier.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed "There Will Be Blood," "Boogie Nights" and "The Master," is at the helm here and adapted the script from Thomas Pynchon's novel.  This one has the grit of "Blood," the atmosphere of "Boogie" and the mystery of "Master," and when I say mystery, I mean not sure I got it.  But, hey, it's Thomas Pynchon.  I don't think we are supposed to get it.  It's all about the present experience. Toss in some vibes from "Pulp Fiction" and "Chinatown" and you have a murky but atmospheric comedy/drama that captures the psychedelic, drug infested world of L.A. in the early 70's.  The "Summer of Love" is well over.

Anderson has gathered together a line-up of A-list stars.  Phoenix can be a complete nut ball as he has shown on some past Letterman appearances.  But here he is perfect as the pot smoking Doc moving about in a pot infused world.  We also have Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short and other names rounding out the cast of strange characters.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I think I liked it.  See it, so you can tell me what it was about.  Or maybe I should have smoked some pot first.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

300 to go!

Love Me Tonight  (1932)

A Parisian tailor pretends to be a baron in order to collect a bill from an aristocrat and in so doing, falls in love with a princess.

Maurice Chevalier is Maurice, the tailor.  He can't seem to get Viscount Gilbert de Vareze (Charlie Ruggles) to pay his bill so he takes it upon himself to pay the Viscount a visit at his chateau. When he arrives he is mistaken for a baron and falls in love with the sexually frustrated Princess Jeanette played by Jeanette MacDonald (they sure weren't very imaginative with the characters' names), who is holed up in the chateau.

Why it's a Must See: "As with so many of the sadly underrated [of] Rouben Mamoulian's finest films...he makes the whole thing feel wonderfully relaxed, good-natured, and somehow perfect...what is really impressive about Love Me Tonight is how music, dance, dialogue, performance, décor, lighting, camera work, editing, and special effects are all combined to create a cogent whole in which each element serves narrative, characterization, and short, an enormously entertaining masterpiece."

Rouben Mamoulian directed this sophisticated musical, full of pre-code double entendres, comedy and romance. His directorial innovations were also a rarity for the 1930's: zoom lenses and slow motion camera techniques. Add the music of Rodgers and Hart music including the wonderful "Isn't It Romantic?" and you have a delightful romp that Leonard Maltin is quoted as saying "One of the best musicals ever made!"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I wouldn't go that far, but we just don't have anything like those Jeanette MacDonald musicals anymore...and I miss them.

Diva (1981)

A young French postal worker illegally tapes an American opera singer in concert who has never been recorded and finds himself being chased for the tape by Taiwanese bootleggers and at the same time becomes embroiled in a police corruption cover-up.

Jules (Frederick Andrei ), a young mail carrier, is infatuated with American opera singer, Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Fernandez).  She has refused to be recorded and never heard the sound of her own voice. He tapes her performance illicitly and finds himself not only being hunted by Taiwanese bootleggers who want the tape, but corrupt cops who think he has a very different kind of tape, one linking a corrupt cop to running a prostitution ring.

Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, part of the Cinema Du Look Movement - films with a slick visual style that highlighted the marginalized French youth of the early 1980's - Beineix combined opera with gangsters, corrupt cops and hip arty types to create a stylish and vivid thriller.

Why it's a Must See: "Beineix draws on...1940's noir to create an entertaining and visually resplendent confection, whose artfulness and dynamic gives it a vibrancy and allure that has outlasted many other films from this period."
---1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die
Rosy the Reviewer says...Jules racing his moped through the Paris Metro is a chase scene not to be missed!
(In French with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

Living With Intent:   My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra (2015)

A memoir and self-help book by Deepak Chopra's daughter.

I would imagine it's not easy being Deepak Chopra, with everyone looking to him for guidance and the meaning of life - even Oprah!  So you can imagine what it must be like for his daughter.

Here daughter Mallika shares her story, what it's like having a father like Deepak, what she learned from him and her own quest for meaning. It's part self-help book as she gives practical pointers on finding ones way back to a life of intention, but it's also the story of a regular woman, like most of us, who knows where she wants to get to but is having a hard time getting there. She struggles with reconciling her upbringing with her current situation:  soccer Mom, overscheduled and striving working woman and a wife with little time for her husband.  She continually beats herself up at what she feels are her shortcomings and doesn't take the time to see and be grateful for what she already has.

If you read my blog post last Tuesday, you will know that I feel that expressing gratitude is an important part of finding joy.  Mallika talks about gratitude, too. 

She eventually realizes that "gratefulness isn't just a worthy practice; it's also powerful medicine -- possibly even an antidote to my toxic mind-set.  There is a clear line connecting how our thoughts affect our emotions, our emotions affect our choices, and our choices shape our experiences."

And finally..."life suddenly seems so clear to me.  As you get older, you winnow your life down to the things that matter most: Spending time with loved ones.  Finding solace in simple rituals.  Nurturing your body and soul.  Those are the places where happiness lives...It's so easy to let the days slip by in a stream of distracted busyness, but we all need to find ways to somehow stitch simple pleasure into our busy days."

So how to live with intent? 

Chopra has come up with a mnemonic to help us do it:

I - Incubate
Quiet your mind to tap into your deepest intentions, see where this leads.

N - Notice
Become mindful of your thoughts and action and pay attention to what they tell you about what gives you meaning and a sense of purpose--and look for signs hat can point you toward your true path.

T - Trust
Have confidence in your inner knowing -- and in the messages the universe sends you -- and allow that knowledge to guide you forward.

E - Express
Write down your intentions; say them out loud or share them with others to fully embrace them and help you move ahead in your journey.

N - Nurture
Be gentle with yourself as you try to find your way.  Intention isn't always a straightforward path, just like life, and giving yourself opportunities to try -- and fail -- is often part of, and even crucial to, the process.

T - Take Action
Once you've identified an intent, or even multiple ones, don't sit and wait for it to magically manifest: instead take the practical steps that can make each become a reality.  It may be easiest to choose one intent first and set short-term goals to help you get started.

Rosy the Reviewer accessible book that helps us to live with gratitude and intent.  Her Dad should be proud.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"The Best Films of 2015 (So Far)!"


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