Friday, March 29, 2019

"Captain Marvel" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Captain Marvel" as well as DVDs "Puzzle" and "Ben is Back."  The Book of the Week is "The Easy Noodle Cookbook."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Shock Corridor."]

Captain Marvel

How Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel.

With the exception of Batman and Superman movies, I was never much of a superhero fan and avoided those comics for most of my life.  So the superhero movie versions weren't of much interest either.  However, I am a big fan of woman empowerment so I went to see "Wonder Woman," and loved it so much that I thought I should give Captain Marvel a try as well. But, sorry, Captain Marvel is no Wonder Woman.  And Brie Larson is no Gal Gadot.  I guess it's a DC comics vs. Marvel comics thing and I am in the DC camp.

I think one of the reasons that I am not drawn to the superhero films, despite their incredible popularity at the box office, is the fact that the plots are so complicated and intricate it's like taking calculus again. The characters and people have difficult names like Yon-Rogg and Skrulls and it just gets exhausting.  I don't want to have to work so hard to enjoy a movie.  And this one is no exception.

Carol Danvers AKA as Vers AKA as Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is an ex-U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and member of the Kree military unit called Starforce.  Her DNA was altered during an accident thus giving her super powers: superhuman strength and the ability to fly without a plane.  Members of the Kree race are generally unemotional but Danvers has a human side and if she has a weakness it is keeping her emotions in check (you can tell this was written by a man. Of course a woman superhero has to be emotional)!

OK, so that's Marvel's story.  Now here is the plot.

When the movie begins, Carol/Marvel is Vers, a Starforce member who is suffering from amnesia.  She doesn't know her own backstory.  The Krees are at war with the Skrulls, who are alien shapeshifters, and Vers is kidnapped by Skrull commander, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).  Her memory is probed but she escapes and crash lands in 1990's L.A. where the film has some fun reminding us of what the 90's were like - Blockbuster Video, pay phones, pagers, the scratchy sound of dial-up Internet and the music of TLC and Nirvana.  There she encounters S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, digitally enhanced to look 40 years younger) and Coulson (Clark Gregg), who should be good guys but those darn shapeshifters keep impersonating people.  Vers finds a crystal with her memories in it and eventually finds out who she is, who her enemies really are and that the Skrulls aren't so bad after all.  That's about all I can say about the story and probably all I figured out.

Written by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (and a bunch of others) and directed by Boden and Fleck, that's basically the story in a very small nutshell.  It's far more complicated before Vers discovers she is really Carol and then becomes Marvel and, like I said, getting there was just exhausting.

I also didn't get Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.  How did that happen?  I totally understand Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman because she is a wonder of a woman.  But Larson?  I know she is a good actress.  I mean she is an Oscar winner for "Room," and she was wonderful in that, and she is perfectly OK in this, I guess.  But she doesn't really have much to do because the character is not fleshed out very well.  And I just couldn't help wondering, why her?  How did that come about?  The Hollywood suits were sitting around and wondering who should be a superhero woman with incredible strength and Brie Larson is who came to mind?

Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel have similar superpowers and when Wonder Woman wielded her bracelets at the end of the film, I cried and cheered at the same time.  But when Marvel unleashes her talents, I just felt kind of blah.  And of course, this was our introduction to Marvel who we learn at the end of the film will be joining her other Marvel compatriots in "Avengers: Endgame," out very soon.

Rosy the Reviewer even though a superhero woman movie directed by a woman is a good thing, this didn't change my mind about superhero movies.  Not a big fan.

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


Puzzle (2018)

A suburban mother who is taken for granted finds her passion - jig saw puzzles!

Now you might be thinking, "Huh?  Jig saw puzzles?  Do I really want to watch a movie about jig saw puzzles??  Yes, you do.

Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) is a hard-working but bored stay-at-home Mom whose kids and husband take her for granted and treat her like a dummy. She has to throw herself her own birthday party and then clean up afterwards! She gets an IPhone for her birthday and doesn't have a clue how to use it which doesn't help her intelligence cred with her kids.  But she also gets a jigsaw puzzle as a present.  And it's not one of those easy ones, either.  She lays out all of the pieces on a table and wouldn't you know. She aces it in record time and gets a huge dose of pride.  So now she's addicted and wants more.

She travels into the City, which is a big deal because poor Agnes has been pushed down so far she is barely existing.  She gets another puzzle and once again puts it together in record time.  Turns out, Agnes is a puzzle savant.  At the shop she sees an ad for a puzzle partner and intrigued answers the ad and meets Robert (Irrfan Khan), a rich, super smart inventor who lives in the city.  She impresses him with her savant-dom and how fast she can solve the puzzles so he wants her as his puzzle-solving partner.  Now Agnes has to find a way to get into the City regularly to practice with Robert for a big upcoming puzzle competition.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub and adapted by Polly Mann and Oren Moverman from the Argentinian film "Rompecabezas," which I am guessing means "puzzle" in Spanish (see?  I'm no dummy), I found this little film interesting and charming.  Yes, it is yet another female empowerment film - naive, shy woman everyone takes for granted blossoms when she discovers her passion - but, as I have said many times, I love female empowerment films, and what sets this one apart from the usual cliches were the performances by MacDonald and Khan and the puzzle aspect.  I find it amazing the things that motivate people and this film was entirely believable - that this bored, unappreciated housewife would find something she was good at, in this case, working out puzzles, and that it would empower her.

Macdonald, a Scottish actress who many will recognize from "Boardwalk Empire," is believable and poignant as the lonely, unappreciated Connecticut housewife and Irrfan Khan is wonderful as Robert.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed this film, I had a couple of teeny tiny problems with it.  For example, not sure why Agnes had to go all of the way to Manhattan to get another puzzle.  Don't they have jig saw puzzles in Connecticut?  I know she was supposed to be a naive, very sheltered woman but Bridgeport, Connecticut?  Hardly the Outback.  I also don't understand women who have to lie to get out of the house.  Just tell your husband you are going!  What's the big deal? 

But all-in-all, my kind of film.

And in case you still aren't sold on a movie about jig saw puzzles, maybe what Robert says about that in the film will help:

"Everything's random...  There is nothing we can do to control anything. But when you complete a puzzle, when you finish it, you know you have made all of the right the very end everything makes one perfect picture. What other pursuits can give you that kind of perfection?"

We all need to find that bit of perfection - something we are good at.

Rosy the Reviewer enjoying a movie, especially when it's a charming little film like this.  Perfection.

Ben is Back (2018)

A teen who is supposed to be in rehab shows up at home unexpectedly on Christmas Eve.

Another drug addicted kid movie and another one starring Lucas Hedges.  Do film producers automatically think of Lucas Hedges when they need an angst-ridden teen?  My god, he's in everything.  We've seen him as an angst-ridden teen who has lost his Dad and is estranged from his Mom in "Manchester by the Sea."  We've seen him as an angst-ridden gay teen in both "Lady Bird" and "Boy Erased" and he was an angst ridden teen beating up his little brother in "Mid90s (yes, mean kids are angst-ridden too)." And that's not even naming all of the films he has starred in since 2016. But he's good so I'm not complaining.

And then there's Julia.  You know if Julia Roberts is in something, it's going to be high class and good.  Can you tell I am a big fan?  Well, I am.  I mean, c'mon, she had me at "Mystic Pizza."  That smile. That je ne sais quoi that just oozes off the screen. And she is just a really good actress too.

Anyway, despite the smile, our Julia has now graduated from pretty women to playing Moms and here she is Holly Burns, mom to Ben (Hedges) who is supposed to be in rehab for drug addiction but decides he is fine and comes home.  Can she trust him?  Not really.  Holly spends the entire film making sure Ben is not using which could be boring but it's not.  Ben is back physically but Holly has to get him back mentally.

Ben has learned how to work his Mom. She tells him he can stay for one day but he can't leave her sight but Ben knows how to charm his Mom and she doesn't handle things particularly well so things kind of get out of hand, especially when they come home from church and discover the house has been broken into and the dog is missing.  Who would steal their dog?  Well, Ben thinks he knows as his past comes back to haunt him. Holly and Ben go on an odyssey to find the dog and Holly gets an up close and personal look into the seedy side of Ben's old life, the drug-addicted one, and we get a closer look at Holly. Ben had become addicted to pills after a snowboarding accident so when Holly runs into the doctor who prescribed the pills to Ben she lets him have it telling him she hopes he dies a horrible death. Holly clearly hasn't really worked out Ben's responsibility in all of this yet.

Written and directed by Peter Hedges (Lucas's Dad), this is a powerful story of what drug addiction can do to a family.

Ben is back can mean more than one thing.  Ben is back home to deal with all he wrought before he left for rehab or he is back from the hell of drug addiction.  Sadly, neither of those things holds true in this film and that's actually a good thing because the film does not offer easy answers to the issue. What do you do with a drug addicted son?  You love him but can't trust him.  You like him but can't trust him.  You want him home but can't trust him.

Rosy the Reviewer says... an in your face look at the power of drug addiction and the lengths a mother will go through to save her child.

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

101 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Shock Corridor (1963)

A journalist has himself committed to a mental hospital to try to solve a murder.

Newspaper guy, Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck), decides that the quickest way to a Pulitzer Prize is to solve a murder at a mental hospital and then write an article about it. OK, I get that.  But then he decides that the best way to get the story is to be declared insane and committed to a mental hospital.  Bad idea.  He also decides that his mental illness should be his "unnatural" attraction to his sister, who is really his girlfriend, Cathy (Constance Towers) who is also a stripper.  An even worse idea. You can see where that is going to go.

Speaking of stripping, Cathy is one of the worst strippers I have ever seen, not that I've seen loads but I know a bad strip when I see one.  She does this  strange strip tease with feathers and fringe where she starts out with a feather boa covering her face and then sings while the boa is still covering her face and all we see are the feathers flapping up and down from her breath.  Very, very strange.  And then some of her moves which were supposed to be sexy (I think), were actually NOT!

Anyway, back to the murder.

The witnesses to the murder were three guys at the hospital:

  • Stuart (a very young James Best), who is obsessed with the Civil War and thinks he is J.E.B. Stuart
  • Trent (Hari Rhodes), one of the first black students to integrate a segregated college in the South who now believes he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  Yes, you heard me.
  • Boden (Gene Evans), an atomic scientist who has regressed to the mentality of a six-year-old

There is also a fat guy who thinks he is an opera singer and a room full of nymphomaniacs.  I am still reeling from the scene where the Johnny gets locked into the room with the nymphos. Not sure I will ever get over that!

Written, directed and produced by Samuel Fuller, a famous B-movie guy, this movie plays with the whole notion that just being around mentally ill people will make you mentally ill, which in today's world is not a very PC notion.

Why it's a Must See: "The...acting is all over the place, with the cast obviously encouraged to give voice to their inner psychotic...Fuller doesn't always arrange the film like he knows exactly where it's going, and its inherent trashiness never belies it's B-movie origins -- but he does imbue [this film] with a crazed energy more than befitting its striking name."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

OK, I am starting to rebel against the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book.  The acting is all over the place?  Fuller doesn't make a film where it looks like he knows what he is doing?  It's trashy?  Then why in hell do I need to see this thing?

The film begins and ends with a quote from Euripides:

"Whom God wishes to destroy he first makes mad."

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am mad.  I am mad I had to watch this film!

***The Book of the Week***

The Easy Noodle Cookbook: Noodles Recipes You Can Make in Less Than an Hour! by Daniel Humphreys (2019)

Noodles and more noodles!

As you know I love cookbooks and as you also probably know, I get these little obsessions from time to time.  Right now it's - NOODLES!

I found this little nugget on Amazon when I decided I wanted to immerse myself in noodles.  It appears to be a self-published book but the 25 noodle recipes included in this little book are actually really good.

Humphreys takes us from classic recipes for Spaghetti and Meatballs and tuna noodle casserole  and then moves on to Chicken Ramen Pot Pie," "Orange Chile Noodles" and "Spicy Sesame Noodles."  All kinds of noodles are represented: regular egg noodles and spaghetti but also ramen, udon, soba noodles and my new big discovery - Chinese egg noodles, which are delicious (I ordered them from Amazon).  These are very simple recipes that you can add to as you see fit.

When I was young, I was very finicky.  How finicky were you, Rosy?  I was so finicky I didn't even try pizza until I was 15.  And I certainly didn't like spaghetti with spaghetti sauce.  It looked funny.  So my mother would make me spaghetti with just butter on it.  How spoiled were you, Rosy?  Let's not get into that.

But Humphreys includes a "Simple Buttered Noodle" recipe so if you have finicky kids, here is a taste:

Cook 12 oz. of wide egg noodles (spaghetti would work too).  Meanwhile heat 2 T. of butter in a skillet.  Add shallots and chopped garlic, cook for 3 minutes, then add 2 more T. of butter.  Add in some chives, 2 T. of parmesan, 1 T. lemon juice and mix with the cooked noodles.  Voila!  Easy and delicious, even for a finicky eater!

Humpreys is a chef who says in his 15 year career, no one has ever sent a dish back. In his conclusion he writes "Hopefully by the end of this cookbook, you have found plenty of easy to make noodle recipes that you can prepare for your family any night of the week."

And I did.

Rosy the Reviewer says...noodle recipes you will make over and over again that can also act as jumping off points for your creating your own versions.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday




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

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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.

Friday, March 22, 2019

"Velvet Buzzsaw" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the Netflix original "Velvet Buzzsaw" as well as DVDs "Boundaries" and "Shoplifters." The Book of the Week is a novel: "Daisy Jones & The Six."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Louisiana Story."]

Velvet Buzzsaw

A dead artist's paintings come to life to exact revenge from those who try to profit from them.

More and more, Netflix is becoming a player in the production and/or distribution of original movies. Good ones.  Does "Roma" ring a bell?  And more and more I am not finding anything out there in the theatres that makes we want to get dressed and go out (hey, I'm retired. I sometimes don't get dressed)!  So it looks like you will see me reviewing new Netflix movies on a regular basis.  And this is one of them, just out this month.

Jake Gyllenhaal is no stranger to strange parts.  Think "Nightcrawler."  Even his character in "Brokeback Mountain" was a bit strange.  The parts he chooses are odd considering he could easily play the handsome lead in a rom-com.  But the pattern seems to be that no matter how handsome or beautiful an actor or actress might be, they want to be taken SERIOUSLY - "I am a serious actor" - so they are drawn to projects where their beauty is not an issue.

So this is yet another strange part for Jake who sports over-sized glasses and a wacky haircut to play Morf Vandawalt, a effete, libertine art critic who goes both ways when it comes to his sexual liaisons and doesn't seem to have many scruples in the art world. His caustic reviews can make or break an artist. 

He embarks on a relationship with Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who just happens to discover her neighbor dead in the hallway of her L.A. apartment building. Whensthe peeks into the open door of his apartment, she also just happens to see a plethora of amazing and haunting art works.  Turns out the old man was an artist and has left a wealth of work behind, a wealth of work that he has instructed must be destroyed upon his death.  Well, Josephina thinks that would just be a waste, so she helps herself to some of them, well, most of them.  When her boss, gallery owner Rhodora (Renee Russo), finds out about the paintings, she wants in and blackmails Josephina, so they concoct a plot that Josephina found the paintings in a dumpster.  Likewise, Morf and his art curator friend, Gretchen (Toni Collette), also get in on it.  The paintings are exhibited and naturally it's a huge success because art aficionados always want to get in on the new big thing.

But not so fast. Turns out the artist was an abused orphan.  When he left the orphanage he disappeared but had been laying out his angst in his paintings, paintings that depicted horror and madness. And no one was supposed to see them or, god forbid, profit from them.  So all of the characters who interact with the paintings suddenly start dying very terrible and over the top deaths. When Rhodora says to Morf, "All art is dangerous, Morf," she doesn't know how true that statement will actually be.

The film is a satire about the art world, how full of crap it is, world where commercial art is in conflict with creativity and personal expression. There is a lot of posturing and pretension. There is one scene when a guy enters the gallery room and sees a pile of garbage in the middle of the room and says something like "That's wonderful" to which artist Piers (John Malcovich) replies, "That's not art," a funny comment on conceptual art. And, yes, this is a horror film (in more ways than one), but it's also funny.  Darkly funny.

I have a similar story, though it's the opposite of my mistaking a pile of garbage for art.

I was in an art museum in Seattle with my husband, daughter and her husband. We walked into one exhibit room, and I saw a cardboard box with styrofoam packing peanuts spilling out of it.  One had made it's way over to the walkway, so I kicked it back over toward the overturned box.  All of a sudden, one of the art docents said, "Don't touch the art installation!"  I was dumbfounded.  Not only was the overturned box with the styrofoam packing peanuts spilling out one of the art installations, but that one little peanut lying in the walkway was also part of the installation and WAS PLACED THERE ON PURPOSE!

Needless to say, I am not a big fan of that kind of art nor performance art such as Yoko Ono playing one note on a piano for an hour.  My son is in my camp as well.  I have fond memories of walking around the Tate Modern in London with him looking at Dali's Lobster Telephone and the tower of radios and him behind me whispering "Mom, Mom, is that art?  Mom, Mom, is that art?" He was annoying but I got it.

So it's kind of funny when the art in this film actually turns on all of those pretentious greedy art lovers.  And it's certainly a strange film. You know a movie will be strange if John Malkovich is in it!  And come to think of it, someone needs to explain to me WHY he is in it.  If you see the film, you will know what I mean. Malcovich doesn't have much of a role.  He just purses his lips a lot.  He does that so you will know he is acting.

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy (who also wrote and directed "Nightcrawler"), the film doesn't always work, but the star-studded cast, which I am happy includes 65-year-old Russo who worked with Jake and Gilroy on "Nightcrawler and looks fabulous, appeared to be having fun with this and I did, too, as the obnoxious, greedy elites got their comeuppance. 

Rosy the Reviewer says.... A strange and original little slasher flick that is darkly funny and actually trying to say something.  A fun one for a Netflix and Chill night (and I DO know what "Netflix and chill" means)! 

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


Boundaries (2018)

Laura (Vera Farmiga) and her son, Henry (Lewis MacDougall) unwillingly go on a road trip with her Dad, Jack (Christopher Plummer) after he is kicked out of his nursing home for selling pot.

Don't be fooled by the movie poster.  This is NOT a happy road trip!

Everyone is crossing boundaries in this film.

Jack is a curmudgeon, inappropriate in his assisted living facility (growing pot is a no-no); Laura, Jack's daughter, is an overwhelmed single mother with no boundaries when it comes to her son, Henry (oversharing with a young kid and asking his advice is a no-no); and Henry, well, Henry is one of those precocious kids who is also a delinquent. He hit a teacher.  Oh, and he also has this penchant for imagining people in the nude and then drawing them saying that he is drawing their souls. That's also a no-no.

Laura is clearly an unhappy woman.  She is obsessed with rescuing animals when she probably needs to rescue herself (Jack calls her "The Pied Piper of Mange"). And she needs to rescue Henry, who is being kicked out of school for hitting a teacher.  She wants to get him into a special school but can't afford it, so, even though Laura is estranged from her Dad, she decides to get in touch with him.  Unfortunately, when she arrives, she discovers that Jack has been kicked out of his assisted living facility for dealing pot.  Laura clearly doesn't approve of her Dad and won't let him live with her, but he makes her a deal. If she will drive him to L.A. (from Seattle) so he can go live with Laura's sister, Jojo (Kristen Schaal), he will give her the money for Henry's new school.  But what Laura doesn't know is that Jack plans to do some "business" on that trip.

So let the dysfunctional family road trip commence with several interesting pit stops along the way as Jack sells his wares to a series of quirky characters: the nutty and naked Stanley (played by the usually nutty Christopher Lloyd), rich guy, Joey (Peter Fonda) and an especially funny scene when Jack arrives at a Buddhist retreat to supply some Buddhist monks.

Written and directed by Shana Feste, this is yet another road trip where our characters don't seem to know that there are freeways out there that will get them to their destination quickly.  Highway 5 is a clear shot from Seattle to L.A. but noooo - these folks have to take the scenic route. Also not sure why they keep calling this a cross-country trip.  Seattle to L.A. is hardly cross-country. But that's OK because it's a quirky and enjoyable trip for the audience.

Vera Farmiga can usually be counted on to put in a powerful performance but this is a departure for her.  Her Laura is flustered and funny as she deals with her impossible father, Jack.  And, well, what can I say about 89-year-old Christopher Plummer?  He is a National Treasure.  We can't exactly claim him but Canada can.  He is always good.

Not sure why I didn't know anything about this film.  I watched it based on the preview which is usually a no-no but for once it worked.   

What did I learn from this film?  People's lives are messy but this film treats those messes in a kind and benevolent way.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a charming film that you shouldn't miss.

Shoplifters (2018)

A family of small-time crooks kidnap an abused little girl.

This film won the Palm D'Or at Cannes and was one of the films nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film and it is more than deserving.

When we first meet Osamu (Lily Franky) and Shota (Jiyo Kairi), they are casing out a small grocery store.  After a signal from Osamu, Shota sticks some food into his jacket and they exit the store. They clearly have this down. On their way back home, Samu and Shota see a little girl who has been locked out of her house.  It's cold so they take her with them.

Like Fagin and his boys, Osamu and Shota are part of a band of misfits living in Tokyo, getting by as best they can. Shoplifting is not the only game. They do what they have to do. There is also Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), who works in a laundry sweat shop; Aki (Mayu Matsuoka), who works in a sex club; and Hatsue (Kirin Kiki), the grandmother who is supporting everyone as best she can with her widow's pension. The relationships of these characters is not clear at first but becomes clear as the film evolves and there is a twist when we find out each character's history.

Later, when Osamu and Shota try to take the little girl (Miyu Sasaki), who tells them her name is Yuri, back home, they hear Yuri's parents fighting over her, saying they never wanted her in the first place.  So they return home with Yuri. The crux of the film is what to do about Yuri, especially when it is reported that Yuri is missing.  It's been two months and the parents never reported her missing and are now under suspicion for killing her.  And her name is actually Juri.  But she doesn't want to go home.

So...what do you do when you find an abused child, rescue her but then find out that her parents are being accused of killing her?  

Save the parents by returning the child but putting her in harm's way and also possibly be accused of kidnapping?  Or keep her safe and let the chips fall where they may? They choose the latter, so they attempt to disguise little Juri by cutting her hair and changing her name to Lin.

This film is all about finding family, love and acceptance where you can. These people may be shoplifters and grifters but they are good people.  Being poor often makes people do certain things to survive but that doesn't mean they don't have feelings and emotional morals.  Shota takes on the role of big brother to little Juri/Lin and in one important scene he sees little Lin copying him and shoplifting.  The shopkeeper notices (has probably known all along) and gives Shota a head's up, a look that says "Don't let that little girl go down that path." Shota gets it.

The cinematography is brilliant, especially using closeups effectively.  Written and directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, it's a character driven film and you begin to really care about these characters and what will happen to them.  Despite a hard life, they find joy - the warmth of the grandmother, a game of tag with Dad, a day at the beach, and though it could have gone there, there is nothing sentimental or cloying here. Though not a lot happens in the first part of the film, the film is surprisingly affecting from the first scenes. The film moves slowly but it is mesmerizing until the final scenes where secrets are revealed.

This film lets you be a fly on the wall into another culture, another life and that's why films matter and also why foreign language films are so important.  We see people's lives around the world.  We hear them speaking differently, doing things differently but dealing with the same things that all humans deal with - making their way in the world as best they can - dealing with loss and sadness and wanting to find and show love. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is the kind of film that celebrates what it means to be human and brings us all together. I loved this film and I feel a better person for having seen it.
(In Japanese with English subtitles)

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

102 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Louisiana Story (1948)

An oil well disrupts the tranquil life of a young Cajun boy and his pet raccoon.

The film begins with a leisurely exploration of the Louisiana swamp where the boy (Joseph Boudreaux) lives. The first half of the film is like a nature film showing the bayou as a magical place with little alligators and all kinds of other critters frolicking around, all accompanied by Virgil Thomson's music played by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy.  And when I use the word leisurely, that usually means slow. And it is.

The boy paddles around, plays with his pet raccoon (which is a bit of an anomaly if you know how vicious raccoons can be)! And then after what seems like an eternity, the oil men arrive and the oil drilling begins. 

At first the boy and his family are not happy but eventually these happy-go-lucky oil men win our Cajun folks over and everything is hunky dory.

This was documentarian Robert J. Flaherty's last film and he directed the film under the sponsorship of the Standard Oil Company to show how oil derricks and people can coexist.  The funding supposedly came without strings, but c'mon.  This film makes the oil company look like the Second Coming or, at the very least, a benevolent benefactor doing no spoiling of the unspoiled wilderness. There is minimal dialogue which is probably a good thing since Flaherty worked with local people, not actors, so it plays a bit like a silent film which seems like an anachronism considering how many sophisticated films had been made by 1948.  But then when there was dialogue, the Cajun dialect was so strong the film actually needed subtitles. 

Why it's a Must See: "...Flaherty relies mainly on his charged, lyrical images and Virgil Thomson's score to carry the narrative.  Thomson's music, drawing ingeniously on original Cajun themes, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize -- the first film score to win this in all his finest work, Flaherty celebrates the beauty, danger, and fascination of the wild places of the earth."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

If you were to happen upon this film without any background on it, you would wonder what the heck you had wandered into.  And even knowing how and why this film got made, I certainly do NOT understand how this film made it into the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book, the beautiful score notwithstanding.  I am going to have to have a word with Mr. Philip Kemp, who wrote the review on this one.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are into raccoons and oil wells, you might like this, but trust me.  You really won't.

***The Book of the Week***

Daisy Jones & the Fix: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)

Why did Daisy Jones & The Six split up at the height of their success?  Nobody knew.  Now we do.

As described in this novel, which is also an oral history of a 1970's rock band, Daisy Jones was about as beautiful as a young girl could get.  She was not only beautiful but confident, quirky and talented. She could really sing.  She also did drugs and didn't care what people thought. Her parents were rich and didn't really care what she did, so Daisy hung out in the clubs on the Sunset Strip.  By the time she turned 20, she was getting noticed.

Billy Dunne was the lead singer for The Six and he and his band were also getting noticed, and when Daisy and Billy crossed paths, it was magic musically, though they loathed each other at first.  Well, you know where that is heading, but it actually doesn't go exactly as you would think.

Using an oral history approach, this novel chronicles the making of a legendary band in the crazy seventies with all of the drugs, drinking, band hook-ups and break-ups and personality clashes. Think Fleetwood Mac during the "Rumours" album or The Eagles documentary when Glenn Frey said to Don Felder, "Only three more songs until I kick your ass, Pal!"  Author Reid is able to capture the time and place and Baby Boomers can bask in it and the younger generation can get a taste of what they missed.

I found the oral history concept fascinating as that is my favorite way to read biographies, but does it work for a novel?  It's works very well for character development.  You really get to know all of the band members, wives and managers and they are so well drawn through their recollections, you will have no problem picturing them.  However, this literary concept might not work for those of you who only like very plot heavy novels.  There is a plot but it's slow to develop.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Baby Boomers who loved rock and roll will love this book!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Captain Marvel"


The Week in Reviews

(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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