Friday, October 19, 2018

"Colette" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the biopic "Colette" as well as the DVD "Hotel Artemis" and "The Kindergarten Teacher," now streaming on Netflix.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Wheel" ( "La Roue.")]


A biopic about the early life of the writer, Colette.

First of all, I can't help but wonder when Dominic West will play a likable character.  I mean in 1994 he played British serial killer, Fred West (thankfully, no relation), in the TV miniseries "Appropriate Adult."  He has also played Ernest Hemingway (in "Genius"), and we know that Hemingway wasn't a particularly nice guy, especially toward F. Scott Fitzgerald and I have never forgiven him for that.  West also plays a clueless cheater in the ongoing Showtime series "The Affair" and now this - as Henry Gauthier-Villars, Colette's first husband,
an arrogant hack writer and critic (nom de plume "Willy"), who used Colette's talents and others to subsidize his life of gambling and womanizing.  Not a nice guy. He is currently in production to play hero Jean Valjean in a "Les Miserables" TV series so maybe that will turn the tide for him. I hope so.  I like him and think he is a great actor but I want to be able to root for him instead of think he is a sh*t.

As for this film, here is yet another story of a woman's talents being used by a man, her husband for his own gain 
(for more evidence of this see my review for "The Wife"), and it's also a prequel to Colette's later fame as a writer.

When the film begins, Willy is courting a young Colette (Keira Knightley) who is living with her parents in the French countryside of Burgundy.  Willy is a bon vivant, a suave writer, but also a hustler.  He writes under the name of "Willy," but mostly hires others to do his writing and basically oversees a writing factory.  He is always short of cash and looking for the next hustle.  But he charms our Colette who, when we first meet her, is known by her real name - Sidonie-Gabrielle - or Gaby, Colette being her last name. 

Willy and Gaby marry, and he takes Gabrielle to Paris where she is introduced to society and Willy's life.  But Willy needs money.  His lifestyle requires it.  Willy remembers the lovely letters that Gaby would write to him, so as funds dwindle, Willy enlists Gabrielle to write about her life.  He just doesn't enlist her, he actually locks her in her room and demands that she write! 

So under Willy's pseudonym, Claudine is born.  The character of Claudine is so popular that she becomes a pop icon and young girls believe they are the real Claudine.  They start dressing like her and "little Claudines" are seen all over Paris. Willy basks in the popularity while Gabrielle stays in the background, but as time goes by and Willy cheats on her and belittles her, Gabrielle becomes Colette and takes back her power while at the same time embarking on affairs with women and a career on the stage. 

And this was all before Colette became the prolific and well-known writer we know today.

Colette is probably best known by American audiences as the author of the book that inspired "Gigi," but she was in fact also the author of more than 80 other titles.  But she was not just a prolific woman writer but an early pioneer of women's rights and a proponent of sexual freedom.

Keira Knightly is a lovely actress but I always had a problem with her teeth, which I find very funny now because there is a scene in the film where she is complimented on her teeth.  I think she has had them fixed but at any rate she is a believable Colette.  But the star of this film is the gauzy, beautiful cinematography and costumes that lure us into the Belle Epoch

Rosy the Reviewer says...written by Wash Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer and Rebecca Lenkiewicz and directed by Westmoreland, this is a lovely-to-look-at costume biopic that the Brits do so well.

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


Hotel Artemis (2018)

A futuristic thriller about a secret "members only" emergency room for criminals run by "The Nurse" in a riot torn Los Angeles.

It's 2028 and The Nurse, AKA Jean Thomas (Jodie Foster), a septuagenarian agoraphobe who likes to drink, runs a tight ship in her secret emergency room for criminals.  There are rules - such as no guns, no killing the other patients, you know, rules like that - and they are enforced with the help of Everest (Dave Bautista), the Nurse's right hand man.  Why is he called Everest? When you see him, you will know.

"This hospital was built on two things.  Man's natural avarice and trust."

A riot has broken out in Los Angeles over the privatization of water and the fact that most people don't have access to it. Brothers Sherman (Sterling K. Brown) and Lev (Bryan Tyree Henry), with their friend Buke (Kenneth Choi), take advantage of the riot to rob a bank.  When they can't get into the vault, they steal the belongings of the hostages.  Lev takes a pen out of one of the hostage's pockets and the hostage says to Lev "You don't want it," to which Lev replies, "No, I really do."  Turns out the hostage is a mob courier for the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) and the pen is full of diamonds worth 18 million dollars. The guy was right.  Lev really didn't want that pen.  Soon all hell is going to break loose.  

The robbery goes awry and Lev and Buke are wounded and end up at the secret emergency room.  Ironically the Wolf King, who is the founder of the hospital and Thomas's boss, is also in need of medical attention and ends up at the hospital too. Not a good thing for Lev and Buke since the Wolf King has said that anyone who steals from him dies.  Oops.  

It also doesn't help that The Nurse goes against her own better judgment and bends the rules - the no cops rule - to help an old friend, a policewoman (Jenny Slate), who she hasn't seen in 22 years.  There is also a mysterious French girl (Sophia Boutella), an arrogant arms dealer (Charlie Day), a very convoluted plot involving Thomas's son who she discovers was killed by the Wolf King, and a final blood bath complete with throat cutting and a head in a vice. Ick! Let's just say, very gory and most of the hospital rules get broken.

Everyone in the hospital is given a code name based on the theme of the room they are assigned to - Honolulu (Henry); Acapulco (Day); Nice, no she's not a "nice girl," it's pronounced Neese, you know that town in France (Boutella), she's French; Waikiki  (Brown)...and everyone has a back story and almost everyone is involved in the final bloodbath.

We don't see Jodie Foster much these days and, though the part is certainly one where she can show her acting chops, I couldn't figure out what drew her to this project.  But she is very, very good. And actually, she wasn't the only star drawn to this film. This is a star-studded film with Goldblum, Zachary Quinto (as the Wolf King's son), Slate, Boutella, et al, and they all seem to be having a lot of fun except Sterling K. Brown.  He never seems to be having much fun. I have been watching him on the TV show "This is Us (which I love)" since it began and, I hate to say it, but he just bugs me.  He is so intense.  At first, I just thought it was his character on that show, but it seems like he plays every character the same - very actory, very intense.  I would like to see how he would do with light comedy.  But I will have to wait. This isn't it.

But speaking of comedy...Written and directed by Drew Pearce, I wasn't sure if this film was supposed to be a thriller, a drama, a dark comedy or some of all of that.  I figured eventually it was the latter - some of all of that. It's a little bit Stephen King and a little bit Quentin Tarantino and original in its characters and tone. But it is also way over the top and very campy.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...I can't say I am all in on this one, but it's an original concept. and I always like original. If you are open and on that same page, then you might want to give this one a chance.

Streaming on Netflix

The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

When one of her young students recites an original poem off the cuff, his kindergarten teacher becomes obsessed with him.

You've heard these stories about pervy older male teachers running off with one of their students or young female high school teachers having sex with their young boy students, but what about a kindergarten teacher running off with one of her kindergarten students?  I haven't heard about that!

Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a kindergarten teacher who is good at what she does but she is unhappy with her life.  I'ts humdrum.  Her husband is less than exciting and her teenage children don't want much to do with her.  So she joins a poetry class and what does she discover there?  That's she's not much good at poetry.  But then one day, Jimmy (Parker Sevak), one of her little students, makes up a poem on the spot. And it's good. Lisa decides that Jimmy must be a prodigy and she is just the person to nurture his talents.  He has parents who don't have much to do with him and a nanny who is kind of clueless so now Lisa has a worthy purpose. She is going to save Jimmy's talent!  And if she lifts one or two of Jimmy's poems and passes them off as her own at her poetry class, so what?  Well, here's the what of that. She steals Jimmy's poems and then she steals Jimmy!

Written and directed by Sara Colangelo (based on a screenplay by Nadav Lapid), what starts out as a teacher nurturing a child who has an uncanny ability to compose poetry turns into an obsession that says more about what's wrong with the teacher than what's right about the little boy.

Maggie Gyllanhaal could well be one of the most underrated of our young actresses and, that's too bad, because it occurred to me while watching this that she can do anything. And perhaps that's the problem. Her roles so far have been so wide-ranging and diverse that she has not yet been pigeon-holed into typecasting.  That's a good thing for a serious actress, not necessarily a good thing for an actress who wants to be really popular. Audiences want to know what they are going to get.  But I don't think she really cares about that. Here she turns what could be a dark and boring tale into a compelling character study of a woman on the edge and shows how an ordinary and seemingly caring person can resort to obsession and a life changing bad decision.

Rosy the Reviewer says...see this for Gyllenhaal's compelling performance and a chilling final scene.

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

122 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Wheel (1923)
(Orig. title "La Roue")

An epic film about a train engineer who saves Norma, a young girl, adopts her as a companion for his son, and then as she grows up, both father and son fall in love with her. 

And nooooo - it's not only a silent film, it's FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LONG!!! And it's French.

So there is a train wreck and a little girl is left orphaned.  Train engineer Sisif (Severein-Mars) takes her home with him and Norma (Ivy Close) grows up with Sisif's son who eventually falls in love with her.  I get that.  But then Sisif falls in love with her too.  Ew.  And it doesn't end well.

The only way I can justify a four and a half hour silent film is that, perhaps, people back then were so enamored of "them there" moving pictures that they were riveted to the screen and were willing to stay there for hours and hours, all agog over all of that newfangled movie stuff.  However, I am not one of those people, so needless to say, I fast forwarded through most of it which actually works quite well for silent films.  I could tell what was going on even though I was chugging along at 50 miles per hour.

Why it's a Must See: "...wide-ranging literary references...extraordinary cinematographic effects...are admirably brought together in the central metaphor of the title: the wheel of fate...the wheel of desire, and the wheel of the film itself with its many cyclical patterns."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before I Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...That's all well and good but FOUR AND A HALF HOURS? And it's a SILENT FILM?  Word to the wise.  When a film is described as "epic," it means LONG!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 


what is rumored to be Robert Redford's last film

"The Old Man and the Gun"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)


the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

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