Friday, November 29, 2019

"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the Mr. Rogers movie "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" as well as the DVDs "After the Wedding" and "The Peanut Butter Falcon."  The Book of the Week is "Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover and Me" by Adrienne Brodeur.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Fires Were Started."]


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood



A fictionalized version of the true-life friendship that developed between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

Mr. Rogers isn't just for kids as this film shows. Yes, he was the beloved star of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," a force for good in the lives of so many children, but in this film we also learn what a force for good he was to everyone he met, young or old.  

If you were expecting a biopic on the life of Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), you might be disappointed because the story focuses more on Lloyd Vogel (a fictional version of writer Tom Junod played by Matthew Rhys), a cynical journalist at Esquire Magazine, who is assigned to do a piece on American heroes, Mr. Rogers being one of them.  However, Lloyd is not happy with his assignment because he is an investigative journalist who likes to uncover dirt on people, not write puff pieces. But he is informed by his boss (Christine Lahti) that he doesn't have a very good reputation in the journalism world, and, in fact, Rogers was the only one of the prospective "heroes" who would sit for an interview with him because of his reputation for doing such a hatchet job on people. So, basically she gives Lloyd an ultimatum.  He accepts the assignment, but he is not happy about it.  You see, Lloyd is not a happy man in general. He reluctantly embarks on the interview, but then becomes intrigued by Rogers.  Could this guy be for real?  Is he really as nice as he seems?  Let's see what we can dig up on him!

As I said, Lloyd is not a happy man.  In fact, he is a broken man who is estranged from his father, Jerry (Chris Cooper) and sister and is a workaholic, leaving his wife, Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson), to care for their new baby on her own. He also has conflicted feelings about his role as a father because of his relationship with his own father.  His relationship is so bad that when he meets Rogers for the first time, he has cuts on his face from an altercation with his father at his sister's wedding and Rogers, in his inimitable and emphathetic way, immediately sizes Lloyd up.

Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, one can't help but compare this film to the 2018 documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," a film I listed as one of the best of 2018, and one that captured the power of Fred Rogers.  I mean, he single-handedly saved PBS! Though this film touches on many of the aspects of Rogers' life that were part of the documentary, it ultimately goes in a different direction, highlighting the effect that Fred had on others by living a good life and always striving to be a better person.  Yes, people, he was for real.  And we should all try to be the kind of person Fred Rogers was.

The story is based on the experiences of journalist Tom Junoh who was assigned to write a short 400 word piece on Rogers on whether or not he was for real or not as in can anyone really be this nice? Thinking he would be exposing a fraud, Junoh was so affected by Rogers that he wrote a 10,000 word piece instead and was forever affected by his friendship with Fred Rogers.  

It is that piece upon which this film is based.

But this film, directed by Marielle Heller, is also a tutorial for us all in how to live our lives, and a reminder that there really was a wonderful man named Fred Rogers who walked his talk.  If you can keep yourself from crying or at least tearing up during this film you are a better person than I or you just have a cold, cold heart.

There are all kinds of special moments in this film: when Fred asks Lloyd to close his eyes and think for one full minute of all of the people who loved him and helped him get to where he is today (everyone in a diner participates and if you are alert you will see Fred's real life wife); or when he helps Lloyd share his feelings, telling him if it's "mentionable it's managable," or when he tells Lloyd that Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love." 

Yes, Fred Rogers was for real.  He really loved people and prayed for them. He listened.  He practiced forgiveness.  But most of all, he wanted to help children with their feelings, to let them know it was okay to be sad or mad or scared.  And then he helped them direct their anger away from hurting others. And ultimately, he helped raise those children into better adults. Fred Rogers was an amazing role model but he was also human. He could get angry just like everyone else. Though we never see him get angry in the film, there is a beautiful moment at the end  that shows Fred's humanity when Fred is playing the piano. No words necessary.

Who could play the nicest man on television but the nicest man in Hollywood?  

Every time Hanks was on screen I teared up.  He embodied Fred Rogers. However, though I loved this film, I wish Hanks had been in more of the scenes.  He plays more of a supporting role, because, as I said, the film is about Lloyd. But as Fred might have said, "That's okay," because Rhys is also quite wonderful as Lloyd, showing his transformation after meeting Fred and being changed forever.  I also have to give a shout out to Susan Kalechi Watson.  She is a beautiful actress whom I have admired on the TV show "This is Us." She exudes a warmth and comes across as a real person. So glad to see her on the big screen.

In this time of so much divisiveness and hatred, where is Fred Rogers when you need him? 


  • How much better would it be for us all to take that one minute every day and think about and mentally thank those who loved us and helped us get to where we are today?  
  • How much of a better world would it be if we were able to share our real feelings with those we love? 
  • How much of a better world would it be if we could forgive?
  • How much of a better world would it be if we stopped talking and started to listen?  
Speaking of listening, I saw Tom Hanks on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" recently where he talked about what he learned from playing Mr. Rogers, and he said,

"He taught me that listening is a million times more important than talking.  There is an acronym that I've now started using in my own life -- W-A-I-T, wait -- which stands for 'why am I talking?' You should just sit and start listening to everybody that comes across your way and you'll be amazed at what you learn."

I know several people who could learn from that!

But we can't change other people.  We can only change ourselves. I feel I am a good listener, but after seeing this film, I have decided that I am going to be even more conscious of listening more and talking less, and when I am in a difficult or uncomfortable situation, I am going to ask myself  "What would Fred Rogers do?" Not a bad idea for all of us to do, don't you think?

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film is a must see!  You will leave the theatre wanting to be a better person. And you should. We all should. Oh, by the way, ring, ring!  Mr. Hanks?  Oscar calling!



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


On DVD




After the Wedding (2019)

A woman who runs an orphanage in India travels to New York to meet a possible donor.

This is one of those talkie domestic dramas, also known as "women's movies," but I am not complaining because I am a woman and I love "women's movies."  And who can resist a film starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams? So I had high hopes for this.

Isabel Anderson (Williams) is an American do-gooder who has devoted her life to the children of India, running an orphanage there. But she needs money.  There is an interested donor but the donor wants to meet Isabel in person so reluctantly Isabel leaves the orphanage and travels to New York City where she meets Theresa Young (Moore), a rich media mogul who is busy preparing for her daughter Grace's (Abby Quinn) upcoming wedding.  After meeting with Isabel, Theresa tells her that she needs to think more about how she can help Isabel so she invites her to the wedding and tells her that they can talk more after the wedding.  Isabel is not happy about staying in New York but reluctantly attends the wedding only to see someone from her past - Theresa's husband, Oscar (Billy Crudup), her ex-boyfriend from high school!  Ah, the serendipity of life! Ah, the secrets that will be revealed! Ah, the contrivances that ensue.

Theresa and Isabel could not be more different.  Theresa is a New York business woman who overshares and can make small talk and joke convincingly. She is caught up in the planning of her daughter's wedding, but it soon becomes apparent that Theresa is not Grace's biological mother.  Theresa met Oscar when Grace was only one, but Grace considers Theresa her mother and loves her very much.  Isabel, on the other hand, is childless and devoted to her orphanage in India.  She is a serious, no-nonsense woman who has devoted her life to the lofty goal of helping others.  She just wants to get her money and get the hell out of Dodge, er, New York and back to doing good. She doesn't want to hang with these rich people who don't seem to have a care in the world. You can see some judgment on Isabel's part as she listens to Theresa making plans for the wedding - lobster or shrimp? Sigh.

Written and directed by Bart Freundlich (who just happens to be Moore's real life husband), this is a remake of the 2006 Danish/Swedish film of the same name. Since I don't remember seeing the original film, I can't blast this one for being a remake (which I usually do). So I won't.  As the film goes on, we learn more and more about each of these women's lives, and it becomes more and more complicated as secrets and resentments are revealed.  We also discover how they ended up where they are and the connections they share. 

Up to and before the many twists were revealed, the film was quite wonderful, but then too many little very convenient, contrived plot points cropped up and the film kind of went off the rails and turned into a bit of a soap opera. But that's not to say that I didn't like this film. I actually did, contrivances, convenient plot devices and all.

For me, Julianne Moore is one of those actresses like Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep, an actress who can be counted on to give a good performance and garner awards.  Can you believe there was a time when I didn't appreciate Streep and Fonda? I felt they had actressy mannerisms that got on my nerves at times.  But then they grew on me and I realized what great actresses they really were.  I have the same kind of feeling about Moore. She has entered that echelon of icons of acting, but I sometimes feel like I can tell she is acting.  She also has some actressy mannerisms, but here she pulls back and is convincing and a nice counterpoint to Williams.  And just as Theresa and Isabel are polar opposites, so, too, are Moore and Williams as actresses. Williams is a more subdued actress, and because she is not as flashy as Moore, she sometimes doesn't get the props she deserves.  I tend to like her style of acting best but the two together created a memorable film experience. It's also good seeing Billy Crudup.  He is everywhere these days and after his promising start as a leading man back in the 80's appears to have found his niche has "the husband."

Rosy the Reviewer says....contrived and melodramatic but other than that, I rather liked it.



The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)


Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, runs away from his care home to become a professional wrestler.

Zak has Down Syndrome but has been placed in an old people's home because no one knows quite what to do with him.  He is obsessed with the Salt Water Redneck, a professional wrestler who advertises his wrestling school on TV.  Zak is tired of hanging with the old folks, so regularly tries to escape the home and finally does, taking off his clothes, slathering himself with soap, and wiggling out through a barred window that his old nursing home friend, Carl (Bruce Dern, whose career has embraced playing curmudgeonly old guys), has helped him pry open the bars.  He heads out to Salt Water Redneck's wrestling school.  He hides in a swamp boat owned by Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who himself is running away from some guys who want to hurt him because Tyler has the bad habit of stealing from other fishermen. The two form an unlikely duo and a sort of buddy/road trip film ensues. Meanwhile, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), one of Zak's caregivers, is sent out to search for him and when she finally finds Zak and Tyler, the three misfits band together to help Zak live out his dream as a professional wrestler.

If that all sounds too good to be true, it is, but this is one of those films meant to tug at your heart strings. Tyler starts out as a grumpy guy but Zak's winning ways win him over and he bonds with Zak, teaching him how to fish and swim and drink!

Shia LaBeouf has had some personal problems over the years and gotten himself into some trouble (most recently while making this film), which has overshadowed his acting but there is no denying that he is a good actor. I didn't even really recognize him at first. Dakota Johnson doesn't have much to do in this except provide a female presence so don't expect any "Fifty Shades" stuff, but it's Gottsagen who is at the heart of this film.  And the film does have heart, though for me that wasn't enough.

Written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, this is one of those feel good films - you are supposed to feel good after you see it - but I didn't.  I found it far-fetched and actually kind of boring.  I know.  I'm a cynical grouch.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like sentimental and cliched, you might like this.  I didn't.



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



52 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?



Fires Were Started (1943)



The story of firefighters in London during the Blitz.

Humphrey Jennings may not be a director remembered today, but Jennings was an English documentary filmmaker during the 30's and 40's with over 25 films under his belt before his death at the age of 43.  This one was also considered a documentary but is really a dramatization of the lives of firemen in London during WW II and was produced as propaganda to bolster the spirits of the Brits during the War.  Humprey used actual firefighters and nonprofessional actors to play fictional characters depicting a day in the life of a fireman during the London Blitz and, which sometimes is not a good thing, because you can tell these guys are not actors. 

The film begins by showing a "day in the life" of a London fireman at the firehouse, dancing to music, singing and hanging out. You know, the kinds of things people did before TV, computers and cell phones. It's all very happy-go-lucky until halfway through the film when the bombing begins.  But still they sing.  I'm sure it was all meant to calm the spirits of the civilians living through the bombing, to reassure them that they were in good hands.  I mean, these guys are singing and dancing knowing that they will soon be out there fighting fires with bombs falling all around them every single night. Even the lady firefighters who do the office work get their due.  When a bomb hits the firehouse and blows out a wall, they are knocked off their chairs but one plucky lady, despite a wound on her head, pops up and continues her phone report as if nothing had happened. If that doesn't exemplify, "Keep calm and carry on," I don't know what does. 

The film is capped off with the firemen fighting a huge blaze with bombs falling, saving a munitions ship in jeopardy and having to rescue their fellow firefighters. The film ends with an homage to the bravery and sacrifices that the firefighters had to make.

I get this as a document of a terrible time in British history and an homage to the bravery of those who must carry on against all odds, but as a satisfying film experience, for me, not really.

Why it's a Must See: "...an archetypal story of a day on shift and a fire at night...in which a blaze is controlled before it sets light to a munitions ship, delivers action and suspense."

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is one of those films that made me wonder why I needed to see it before I died.  Zzzzz





***The Book of the Week***



Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover and Me by Adrienne Brodeur (2019)


Why mothers shouldn't make their teenaged daughters their best friends!

When Brodeur was just 15, her mother, Malabar, woke her up one night and said "Ben just kissed me."  Ben was her husband's best friend and that marked the beginning of a long affair and Brodeur was pulled into it to help her mother keep her mother's secret.

Malabar was a flamboyant, beautiful woman who was a brilliant cook and who loved to entertain.  She was married to her second husband, Charles, who sadly had a stroke and could no longer do many of the things he once could. He liked to pass his days reading and, as a descendant of the pilgrims, working with the local pilgrim museum. Ben was Charles' best friend, a dynamic and charming fellow who loved to hunt and fish and he was married to Lily, a woman who didn't really care about her appearance and was not in good health.  The foursome had been friends for years, but I guess it was inevitable that the two more dynamic partners would be drawn to one another.

At first Adrienne was thrilled that her mother confided in her.  She felt very special and grown-up to have her mother's attention even if she did feel guilty about Charles.  The two came up with a plan to allow Malabar and Ben to get together without anyone getting suspicious.  They decided to write a cookbook on preparing wild game.  Ben would hunt and fish and Malabar would prepare recipes and they would all taste the food.  Get it?  Wild game?  That's the name of the cookbook but also the name of the crazy affair that ended up not only hurting the main players but affected Brodeur for the rest of her life as well.

If ever there was a story that shows why you shouldn't want to be besties with your children, this is it.  You will find yourself pulling your hair out reading all of the oversharing Brodeur's mother did with her.  It's cringeworthy but the book is engrossing.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a cautionary tale for mothers and daughters!



Thanks for reading!


See you next Friday

for 


"Knives Out"


and


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" 





If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 






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 IMDB.com, 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, November 22, 2019

"The Good Liar" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "The Good Liar" as well as DVDs "Stuber" and "Pavarotti."  The Book of the Week is "Letters From Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Deewaar."]



The Good Liar


Con man Ray Courtnay (Ian McKellen) and widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) meet online, a relationship develops, and secrets are revealed.

Ray Courtnay and Betty McLeish, both people of a certain age, meet online and hit it off on their first in person date. Ray seems to be a suave older gentleman, but he is not at all what he seems. He is actually a hard-working and ruthless con man. Betty seems to be a rather naive widow living in a rather bland London suburb under the watchful eye of her adult grandson (Russell Tovey), who is suspicious of Ray from the get go.  Much to Ray's delight, Betty is rolling in cash.  However, she is not what she seems either.

When Ray finds out what Betty is worth, he embarks on a plan to con her out of her money with the help of Vincent (Jim Carter), his partner in crime.  Their plan is to get Betty to set up a joint account with Ray, and once that is done, take all of the money.  Well, that's the plan, anyway.

This is one of those films that is very difficult to review because saying too much about it will give it away.  However, let's just say I knew what was going to happen from the first frame.  But I didn't know how it was going to happen and, as they say, it's the journey, right?  And I loved almost every minute of this journey, though the twist ending was a stretch.

Audiences can always count on Helen Mirren to put in a great performance and she does here too. But it seems to me that casting her in this part is a sort of giveaway of the movie.  I have this theory about figuring out "who dunnits."  If there is someone in the cast who is quite famous but seems to have a very small part, that's your killer. So even though I had not read the book upon which this film is based nor did I know exactly how it would end, I knew right away that Betty McLeish was not the sweet, naive soul she seemed, because we all know that our Helen doesn't play sweet and naive. 

And then there is Sir Ian McKellan.  He is just a marvel.  At age 80, he is still going strong and in this role he is a long way from Gandalf. Here he is very believable as a ruthless con-man posing as a doddering sweet old man.

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher from the novel by Nicholas Searle and directed by Bill Condon, this is a smart and fast-moving drama that will keep you guessing on how it's all going to end and a chance to see two consummate actors at the top of their game.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are sick of superheroes, comedies that aren't funny and Disney's live action remakes, then this is for you!




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


On DVD





Stuber (2019)


An unexpected night of adventure for an Uber driver.

Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is a part-time Uber driver (his real job is in a sporting goods store working for a snotty rich kid whose Dad owns the store).  He drives an electric Prius and is after the ultimate prize - a five star rating.  However, it eludes him because he is socially awkward and says inappropriate things. But he doesn't plan to drive an Uber for the rest of his life. He is planning to start a fitness business with Becca (Betty Gilpin), the girl he is in love with, but who he is too afraid to tell. 

Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) is a cop whose partner was killed by gang villain, Oka Tedjo (Iko Uwais), and Vic wants revenge.  When Vic gets a tip where Tedjo is, he heads out to get him.  Unfortunately, Vic has just had lasik surgery and can't see for the next 24 hours while his eyes adjust.  However, that doesn't stop him.  Off he goes in an absurd attempt at driving, that results in his wrecking his car.  So, what does one do when one wrecks one's car?  Why one calls an Uber!  And that's right. Vic gets Stu and a reluctant Stu is forced into helping Vic. An odd couple buddy movie ensues.

That's the basic premise and the film has its funny moments, because Nanjiani is the king of deadpan, funny throwaway lines and bits such as calling Vic "Douche Lundgren" or saying to Vic "Thank you for that Ted Talk" when Vic was mansplaining something to him; and when asked where he was shot, his reply? "Where the blood is coming from."  I find that kind of dry humor funny.  He also does a "drop the mic" thing after a fight but instead of dropping a mic, he drops the frying pan that he had just hit a guy with. 

Some other scenes also made me chuckle, like when other people pile into the back seat of the Uber because Vic chose the pool option by mistake, and when Vic couldn't make Tedjo talk through brute force, he made him talk by grabbing his phone and telling him he was going to make it look like Tedjo had posted tweets saying he liked Ryan Gosling movies, especially "The Notebook."  Tedjo didn't mind getting beaten up but he couldn't stand the idea that his friends might think he liked Ryan Gosling movies!

However, what wasn't funny was the whole concept of Vic not being able to see but carrying on anyway, and that became really annoying after awhile and just absurd.  What cop would go after his arch enemy when he can't see anything?  However, if you like violence, there is a lot of it in some stylized fight scenes all accompanied by a pop song. There is also a particularly jaw-dropping scene where Tedjo repels down the side of a high-rise atrium.

There are also a couple of side stories.  One involves Vic's daughter, Nicole (Natalie Morales), who is an artist having her first gallery showing and Vic not being a very considerate father. She doesn't have much faith in him when she says "Who goes and has laser surgery right before going to see his daughter's art show?" Vic is literally short-sighted: he can't see because of his lasik surgery, but he also can't see that he has ignored his family. And Stu is in love with Becca and wants to get away from Vic to get to Sara because she is drunk and wants to hook up. Both are trying to get this whole Tedjo thing done so they can get back to their real lives.

Bautista, best known for playing Drax the Destroyer in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, does a decent job of holding up his end in this buddy film, but his contribution is mostly slapstick as he bumbles around not being able to see.  That's not my kind of humor.  The laughs come from Nanjiani who wrote and starred in one of my favorite films of 2017, "The Big Sick."

Directed by Michael Douse with a script by Tripper Clancy, I will give this movie some props for originality: those fight scenes choreographed to "The Clapping Song" and Air Supply were good and the idea of a fussy Uber driver comandeered by a blind cop had potential.  The dialogue was funny at times, but the premise doesn't really live up to the dialogue and ultimately "Stuber" was kind of stupid.

Rosy the Reviewer says...faint praise.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  It was bad but not AS bad...




Pavarotti (2019)


A flattering documentary about the life and career of opera great, Luciano Pavarotti.

Narrated by several people who knew and loved Pavarotti, as well as interviews and narration from Pavarotti himself, this Ron Howard film shows Pavarotti as a happy, carefree person who was grateful for what he had.  When asked how he wished to be remembered in a hundred years, he replied, "...as a man who took opera to the people..."  And he did that, because he not only had a big talent, he had a big smile and a big personality and people loved him. Pavarotti became the rock star of opera. This film shows how and why.

Born in Modena, Italy, during WW II, Luciano's father was a baker, but also a tenor, so Pavarotti felt the pull to follow in his father's footsteps.  In 1955, Pavarotti won first prize in an opera contest in Wales and the prize was the opportunity to sing in a big opera production.  He sang the part of Rudolfo in "La Boheme," a role that became one of his signatures.  However, he did not hit it big until later.  He was a school teacher with a wife and they had three daughters in four years.  They were struggling and his first wife was the breadwinner while Luciano tried to get his career going.  He got his big break when he stood in for a sick Giuseppe Di Stefano, the reigning tenor. 

Pavarotti then hired Herbert Breslin, "the most hated man in opera" to be his manager and that is when Luciano started not only starring in opera productions but doing recitals and concerts.  In 1968, Pavarotti debuted at The Met and that became his artistic home and his star ascended.  One person who weighs in says that a tenor must have a high C and Pavarotti became The King of the High C's" when he sang the part of Tonio in "La Fille du Regiment," a role requiring the tenor to hit not one but EIGHT high C's. Later, he formed a partnership with Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo and The Three Tenors was formed, becoming "The biggest band in the world."  Pavarotti even performed with Bono.  He truly became the rock star of opera.

The film skirts Pavarotti's private life, mentioning an illness that struck one of his daughters, but only briefly covering his first marriage and no mention of his indiscretions, other than to say that life on the road was lonely, a euphemism for why so many touring singers and musicians stray.  The film is clearly a love letter to Pavarotti, a fairly straight-forward linear narrative about Pavarotti's life and career, and if you are a Pavarotti fan, you will eat this up.  However, I found the narrative rather dry, and I hate to say it, rather boring at times, but the performances were wonderful. And yes, he sings "Nessun Dorma" at the end, a song that never ceases to make be tear up.





Rosy the Reviewer says...a positive portrait of arguably the greatest opera singer of all time whose smile and personality were as big as his voice.



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



53 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?



Deewaar (1975)


Two brothers, one a dockworker, who becomes a leading figure in the underworld, and the other, an educated and honest police officer, lock horns.

Directed by Yash Chopra, this is the story of Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) and Ravi (Shashi Kapoor), two brothers whose activist father has abandoned them and their mother, Sumitra (Nirupa Roy), under duress. Vijay, the older brother, is bitter about what happened to their father, but sacrifices his own education so his younger brother, Ravi, can go to school.  As time passes, the streetwise Vijay becomes a leader in the underworld and Ravi, a hardworking student, becomes a police officer.  Despite their differences, both are good sons who love and respect their mother.  When Ravi is assigned the task of arresting Bombay's criminals and smugglers, he discovers that his brother is one of them.  Now Ravi must decide between arresting his brother or quitting the police force. In the meantime, Vijay has problems of his own. 


It's a strange dichotomy - a movie about the criminal underworld of Bombay interrupted from time to time by Bollywood song and dance numbers, but that's the charm of Bollywood films, I guess. The film was also very over-dramatic, almost a parody of a soap opera - someone makes a statement, then the camera zooms in on each face to get a reaction and the music goes dun-dun-dun... It's almost three hours long and, sadly, with its 1970's hair and clothes (there is a lot of polyester) and overdramatic acting, music and camerawork, the film doesn't really hold up well today.  

Why it's a Must See: "...one of the best scripts in Hindi film history, written by the major screenwriters of the 1970s, Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar...[starring] Indian's greatest-ever superstar, Amitabh Bachchan...[as] Vijay...[The film ends]...in one of the most celebrated and symbolic death scenes in the history of Hindi film."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...even though this film doesn't hold up well today, it is still a fascinating escape into another world.

(In Hindi-Urdu with English subtitles)



***The Book of the Week***




Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking by Rocky Lang and Barbara Hall (2019)


A history of Hollywood through letter writing.

Rocky Lang, the son of Jennings Lang, a powerful Hollywood agent, producer, and studio executive for MCA/Universal, has teamed up with Hall, a film historian and archivist, to create this homage to Hollywood through the correspondence of many of its most famous denizens. After thousands of hours of research, they have reproduced letters, telegrams and memos written by more than 130 members of Hollywood's film community starting in 1921 with a letter to Adolph Zukor, the head of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation from Houdini, asking him to screen one of his films in hopes that Zukor will distribute it, and the book ends with a letter from Jane Fonda to director Fred Zinnemann in 1976 expressing her concerns about meeting with Lillian Hellman regarding the movie "Julia (which was about Hellman's life and which starred Fonda)."

In between there is a letter from Bette Davis to Jack L. Warner, the head of the Warner Brothers studio, about being overworked and unhappy with the terms of her contract, an issue which eventually went to court:

"Would appreciate your not communicating with me -- it upsets me very much.  I must be allowed to completely forget business...Also arguing with me is of no use -- nor do I want to come back until it is settled."

And a telegram from Greta Garbo to Marion Davies, who was the mistress of newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst:

"I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING OF THE WORLD TRYING TO DO SO NOW NEWSPAPERMEN MAKING MY LIFE UNBEARABLE WHEREVER I GO FEEL YOU CAN HELP ME KNOW YOU WILL UNDERSTAND I SHALL FOR EVER BLESS YOU."

I guess she really did want to be alone! 

There are also letters from Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Gloria Swanson, and more.  I feel sad to think that so many of these actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood are not remembered today, but these letters help shed light on not just movie making during the 20th century but the private lives of those who made them.  Each letter is accompanied by background information on the writers, the recipients, and the contents of the letters.  I am happy that this book has arrived to keep their memories alive and shed light on their golden days in Hollywood.

"There is nothing like reading a letter written seventy or ninety years ago to make you realize how much, and how little, the world has changed."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a movie lover's dream of a book!



Thanks for reading!


See you next Friday

for 


"It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"


and


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" 





If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 






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 IMDB.com, 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.