Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II (Review)


Because I really, really liked the first one, I had been wishing and waiting to see the second installment of "A Quiet Place," a horror story about blind aliens with a keen sense of hearing who take over our planet. This sequel was supposed to come out in theatres last year, but then a real life horror story came out – the Pandemic. And if you read my review of the first one, there is an eerie prescience about living life during a horror story.  Anyway, when the film was finally released into theatres this year, I wasn’t keen on sitting in a theatre anymore so was happy when the DVD came out but, now I am saying to myself, "Be careful what you wish for."

And I should have known better, because you know how I feel about sequels.  I will get to that in a bit.

First, let me get you caught up.  Oh, wait, the sequel does it for you.  It spends 12 minutes of a 97 minute movie showing you what happened in the first one, possibly helpful if you didn’t see the first one, confusing for those of us who did see the first one because we see a character who had died in the first one. We think, “Huh?”  It’s also a questionable choice to spend 12 minutes of a 97 minute movie in a recap since it leaves little time left to expand the new story. Was the recap really needed? I understand the desire to make this sequel a stand alone film so giving the newbies a heads up might be helpful in that regard but those 12 minutes wouldn't really help those who hadn't seen the first one and just confused those of us who did. I also wonder why someone would want to see a sequel without seeing the first one anyway, so may I recommend that you see the first one? Like I said, the first one was really, really good.

Anyway, in the interests of this review, I will give you a quick update and I promise it won’t take 12 minutes. The planet has been invaded by some scary, spidery aliens who can’t see but are sensitive to sound, so to avoid getting torn apart, everyone must be very, very quiet.  That’s basically it.

Part I focused on the Abbott family, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Lee (John Krasinski, Blunt's real-life husband) and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) and a newborn baby that was born in the first one (can you imagine – she had to give birth in silence)! Regan is a particularly interesting character in light of the keen sense of hearing that the aliens have. She is deaf (Simmonds is also deaf in real life). At the end of Part I, Evelyn had figured out how to blow the heads off the aliens with a shotgun, but we were pretty much left up in the air about what was going to happen to them all, hence this sequel.

So now in Part II, what’s left of the Abbot family is living with the reality of these alien creatures.  It’s their New Normal (where have I heard that before)?  As long as they are quiet, they can mostly avoid them. There is no childbirth scene in this one, but Marcus gets his leg caught in a bear trap, so kind of the same thing.  Again, difficult to keep quiet. The family meets up with old friend, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who isn’t so friendly now, but who reluctantly allows them to share his bunker. When they hear a mysterious signal coming from their radio transmitter, Emmett and Regan head off to try to find where it’s coming from.

The first film was a tantalizing idea for a sci-fi horror film... 

Space aliens with impeccable hearing.  Kind of reminded me of my mother.  Her hearing was so good that when she was down in the basement ironing, she could hear my brother and me whispering about her on the second floor. “I heard that,” she’d yell.  It was our own little horror story.  

Anyway, sadly, this sequel is just more of the same – a lot of running around, a lot of shushing and many shotgun blasts to the heads of these unattractive aliens. Written and directed by John Kasinski, this time around, the film focuses less on Blunt and more on Murphy and Simmonds.  The acting is good and we are given some closure on what happens to the family, but that really could have been done in the first one.

Did we need this sequel?  Not really.  Was I disappointed? Yes, because I will say once again, I really, really liked the first one. Is this the end?  Probably not.  

If this sequel makes money, it’s all about ka-ching.  There will be yet another installment. And, that my friends, is the problem with sequels. A movie starts out as a good idea.  It makes a lot of money and then that good idea gets run into the ground until we have forgotten what was good about the first one.  If you have a hit movie, why not bask in the glory?  Don’t sully that first movie with an inferior one just to profit from the popularity of the first one.  The only movie series I can name where the sequels were as good or even perhaps better than the original was “The Godfather.

Rosy the Reviewer says…though there was a certain amount of closure here, it seems to me the door has been left open for a third installment.  Please, god, no.

(Available on DVD from Netflix or for rent or purchase On Demand or from Amazon)


Thanks for reading!

See you soon!



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 

And 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 over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!


 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

What I Watched (and Liked) While on My 2021 Summer Stay-cation: Movies - Part 1

[I review "In the Heights," "The Courier," "The Last Vermeer," "Things Heard and Seen," "Memories of Murder," "The Woman in the Window" and "Another Round"]

I realize that the summer is not over but there are so many movies on my radar, I thought I had better get this first installment out.  

I had put out teasers for these films on my Rosy the Reviewer Facebook page but I have expanded those reviews and now you have a handy list of must-see movies, all in one place!

Let me know what your think!


In the Heights (2021)


Ever wonder what Lin-Manual Miranda did before he took the world by storm with “Hamilton?” Well, this was it.

He wrote this show in 1999, his sophomore year in college. It eventually made its way to Broadway in 2008, garnering 14 Tony Award nominations and winning four.
The story is set over three days in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, a predominantly Hispanic enclave and follows Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner who dreams of going back to his native Dominican Republic; Nina (Leslie Grace), who has made it out of the neighborhood to Stanford but is having difficulty finding her place there; Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), an aspiring fashion designer who yearns for a nice apartment of her own; local businessman, Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits) and other Washington Heights community members, all seeking un sueno, “the dream.”
It seems a lottery ticket worth $96,000 was sold at the bodega so everyone wondering who has won that money is a theme throughout the film and there is a blackout, but other than that there isn’t much of a plot and it’s a bit long, but that doesn't matter, because this is all about these engaging characters and the exuberance of a vibrant community. Directed by Jon M. Chu (who made a big splash with "Crazy Rich Asians") and an adapted screenplay by Quiara Alegria Hudes, this is a celebration of community, music, dance, love and, life itself, and yes, rap...and you can’t help but get swept up in it all. It’s also an homage to the immigrants who have made this country great.

And for you Miranda fans (he has a cameo, by the way), as you watch this, it will be fun for you to think of him, that college boy writing this show fusing rap, hip-hop and salsa music before anyone did such a thing. And there is even a hint of "West Side Story" in there. And then came “Hamilton.” You can’t listen to the song “96,000” without thinking of “Hamilton.”

Rosy the Reviewer says…"West Side Story" meets "Hamilton." People, Broadway is BACK!
(This was streaming for free for subscribers of HBO Max but it's no longer available - these free streams only last a month - so if you want to see it, you will need to venture out to the theatre or wait for it to appear on the other streaming services. It is scheduled to be released on DVD August 31 so it should be On Demand or on Amazon or Netflix soon after).



The Courier (2020)


During the Cold War, an English businessman is recruited by MI6 and the CIA to spy on Russia.

Is there nothing Benedict Cumberbatch can’t do? Okay, he can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, though he has done some crazy stuff as Dr. Strange, but he is one hell of an actor who can play any character with ease and make him exceedingly believable.
That is the case here as he takes us on a Cold War journey as Greville Wynne, a British businessman who is approached by MI6 and the CIA to help them get information on the Soviet’s nuclear program. He is recruited to act as a business partner to Russian official, Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), to take messages back to the West which eventually provided crucial intelligence that helped to end the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event that led us perilously close to a nuclear war. However, Wynne's and Penkovsky's participation led to some severe consequences for them.

Wynne is an unlikely spy. He is kind of a nerdy businessman who is better at schmoozing than spying, but it's the story of how ordinary people can be thrust into history for the greater good. It's a spy story you will recognize with the usual spy story tropes but this is also an intense and important story brought to life by wonderful performances by Cumberbatch and Ninidze.
Rosy the Reviewer says…based on a true story, adapted by Tom O'Connor and directed by Dominic Cooke, this is an intense spy thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!
(Available on DVD, On Demand and to rent on Amazon Prime)





Post WWII, collaborators with the Nazis were not very popular...to say the least!

When Hitler’s Reich fell in May of 1945, the Americans discovered art that the Nazis had looted, one of which was a valuable Vermeer called “Christ and the Adulteress.” We all know that the Nazis were bad guys who killed six million Jews but they also stole their art. Joseph Piller (Claes Bang) is assigned to find the owners of the art and to return it to them, if they are still alive, that is.
Piller tracks down Han Van Meegeren (Guy Pearce), an artist who was known to have sold the Vermeer to Goring (Goring was a monster but I guess he loved art. Does that make him less of a monster? I think not). Now Van Meegeren is in the cross hairs as a possible collaborator with the Nazis. Was he? Turns out, nothing is as it seems.

He is brought to trial and his defense is that he was not collaborating with the Nazis, he was defrauding them because, you see, Van Meegeren is a master forger. Thus the age old question, "What is art?"
Written by John Orloff, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby and directed by Dan Friedkin, this is an examination of war and what people do to survive it.

Pearce (I am obsessed with his hair in this!) and Bang make great foils and might I add that Claes Bang is certainly a nice big handsome man?! I'm just saying.
Rosy the Reviewer says…an intellectual and, dare I say, “arty” foray into a little known part of the aftermath of WW II. If you like serious historical dramas, this is for you.
NOTE: I think this is available on STARZ, if you are currently signed up for that. However, I watched it on a DVD from Netflix. Okay, I know what you are thinking. Who on earth still gets DVDs from Netflix? Well, lest you think I am the little old lady holding up the line writing a check at the grocery store or fishing into my coin purse for exact change, my still getting DVDs from Netflix (I stream as well) puts me ahead of you in the queue. I have access to movies as soon as they are released on DVD, well before Netflix or Amazon or any of the other services get the film…so there! But watch for it, it will stream soon.







This is one of those “married couple moves into creepy house and creepy stuff happens” kind of movie.

It doesn’t help that the couple in question, George (James Norton) and Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) are also a bit creepy, well, George anyway.
As well as a ghost story, this is a story of a couple in trouble. Or, more like a couple with a really bad husband. George is a “failed artist,” who is forced to take a job as a professor in an upstate New York college, and Catherine has an eating disorder and other issues, probably because her husband is a cad. It isn’t long until ghostly happenings occur because it turns out there was a murder/suicide that took place in that house and it seems the murdered wife wants to get in touch with our Catherine, because, “Catherine, you are in danger, girl.”
Gee, I wonder if more bad stuff is going to happen. Duh, you think?
You “Granchester” fans might be uncomfortable seeing James Norton, who you remember as a benign priest solving crimes in a lovely English town, as a bad guy, but he does bad guy really well. And I enjoyed seeing Karen Allen, Michael O’Keefe and F. Murray Abraham get some screen time – where have they been?
And would you believe, the library plays a big role as Catherine does research on her “haunted” house? Yes, people, libraries are more than books and reading – you can research your house, town and your ancestry, take computer classes, find answers to questions that you can’t find on Google (it’s called asking a reference librarian who is trained to find answers to the most obscure questions) and meet up with your fellow community members. The library is a community gathering place where you can actually see your property taxes at work.

Based on the book "All Things Cease to Appear" by Elizabeth Brundage and adapted and directed by husband and wife team Sherry Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, this is an atmospheric ghost story with some psychology thrown in.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like ghostly stories about couples in trouble and things that go bump in the night, you will enjoy this.
(Now streaming on Netflix)




Before "Parasite" surprisingly won the Academy Award for Best Picture, there was this film from director Bong Joon Ho.

As you movie fans will remember, “Parasite” was a surprise win for the the Best Picture Oscar in 2020 and its director, Bong Joon Ho, who won Best Director, was only the second “foreign” director to win a Best Director Oscar.
This 2003 film about the inept investigation of a serial killer in Korea (based on a true case that was unsolved at the time of this film’s release) was only Ho’s second feature film and shows his filmmaking expertise – his ability to weigh humor vs. suspense - that would lead to his Oscar in 2020 for "Parasite." Thanks to his 2020 Oscar win, this earlier film is now available.
It’s the 1980’s and women are being killed in a small Korean town where the police are not prepared for this kind of investigation. In fact, they are incompetent and brutal, and not above forcing false confessions. When another officer comes from Seoul to help, he is shocked by the incompetence of the local cops and they are all shocked when they realize that perhaps this killer is getting the best of them. Like “Parasite,” it’s creepy and moody, but also funny and there are twists and turns, with a bit of a political statement about the state of affairs in Korea too.
Kang-Ho Song, who also starred in “Parasite,” stars here but the ensemble cast also deserves recognition.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you had seen this back in 2003, you might have said, “Wow…I see an Oscar in this guy’s future!” If you were a “Parasite” fan, you will enjoy this.
(Available on DVD from Netflix and streaming on Hulu. In Korean with English subtitles)




An agoraphobic woman spies on her neighbors and witnesses a murder.

Amy Adams stars in this psychological thriller about an agoraphobic psychologist (you heard me) who hasn’t been out of her Manhattan brownstone in over 10 months. When new neighbors move in across the street she spends some time spying on them only to witness a murder…and because she likes to drink wine with her meds (who doesn’t?), no one believes her because it appears no one is dead!

Anna is a psychologist who has experienced a breakdown. She hasn't been out of her house in 10 months and relies on food deliveries, old movies on TV and red wine. A family has moved in across the street and now part of Anna's routine is to watch their every move through their windows which are conveniently rarely covered. Jane (Julianne Moore), the new neighbor, visits Anna and the two hit it off (red wine will do that!) so it's a huge shock when Anna, during one of her "spying on the new neighbors" sessions, thinks she sees Jane's husband stabbing her. Anna calls the police and when they arrive with Jane's husband and Jane in tow, Anna is horrified that this Jane is NOT the woman she had just spent the evening with! What the...? And therein, my fellow peeps, lies the mystery ahead.
I am a big reader, mostly nonfiction, but I try my hand at fiction every third or fourth book, and I like the occasional thriller, so I read this bestseller by A.J. Finn a couple of years ago and looked forward to this movie version... and it mostly works. It’s a kind of modern day “Rear Window,” with agoraphobia instead of a wheelchair and lots of star power: in addition to Adams, there is Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, an almost unrecognizable Jennifer Jason Leigh (I think she's had some work done), and an uncredited Tracy Letts (a man of many talents, he also adapted the screenplay).

Directed by Joe Wright, this is atmospheric, suspenseful and has a very big twist.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you liked “Rear Window,” “Gone Girl” or “The Girl on the Train,” you might also like this one.
(Now streaming on Netflix)




Four Danish school teachers hitting a midlife crisis get this idea that consuming just the right amount of alcohol every day will give them their mojo back. Mmmm.

Four Danish teachers - Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nicolaj (Magnus Millang) - are just phoning it in. They have become boring. They know it and so do their students and the other faculty members. But when one of them comes across a study that says the human body is lacking .05% alcohol in order to live happy, productive lives, the four embark on a social experiment to see if that is true. They start spending their personal and professional lives just a little bit drunk. But there are rules. They are not to drink more than required to get to .05% and they are not to drink after 8pm.

And wouldn’t you know it? They all have a renewed interest in their work, they are inspired to teach and their students are inspired by them. Martin reconnects with his wife and kids. But if a little booze is a good thing, more booze is better, right? Next the group decides to expand the drinking to .10% which also seems to work so why not try some binge drinking to see how that goes? Do you see where this is going to go? Right.

Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, this is an engaging and entertaining film with an wonderful ensemble cast with Mads Mikkelsen a stand-out (his is a face you will recognize for his roles in many English language films as well as the TV show "Hannibal").
Rosy the Reviewer says…this won an Oscar for Best International Film and it’s a wonderful film experience, but I have to admit, not sure if the message here was booze is good or booze is bad. Watch the movie, have another round, and let's discuss!
(In Danish with English subtitles. And c’mon, folks you can do it. If you don’t watch films with subtitles, you are missing out! Available from Netflix on DVD or to rent on Amazon)

Thanks for reading!

See you soon
for My Summer Stay-cation Movies Part 2!



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 

And 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 over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!


Saturday, July 17, 2021

What I Watched (and Liked) While on My 2021 Summer Stay-cation: TV Series - Part 1

[I review "Hacks," "Starstruck," "It's a Sin," "Mare of Easttown," "The Serpent" and "The Drowning."

No way was I getting on a plane to go for a summer vacation, so, instead, some really good TV series have kept me company. So many good shows and too little time, so I thought I had better get this blog post out before I start watching the rest of the summer shows I have in my queue.

I had put out teasers for these shows on my Rosy the Reviewer Facebook page but these are expanded reviews and now you have a handy list of must-sees, all in one place!

Let me know what you think!


Hacks

What happens when an aging Las Vegas comedienne whose career needs a boost meets a young, entitled and disaffected writer from L.A who currently doesn't have a career? Well, a LOT as it happens!

This is Jean Smart's year. First she was awesome in HBO's "Mare of Easttown (see review below) playing Kate Winslett's mother, and now this, a complete departure from "Mare," this time playing an aging Las Vegas comedienne whose career is in trouble and who hires a young, kind of pain-in-the-ass writer who is having a problem making it in Hollywood and needs a life boost.

Smart plays Deborah Vance, a legendary comedy diva who has had a long and regular residence at the fictional Palmetto Hotel in Las Vegas. Vance has been around a block or two when it comes to making a career for herself and she is one tough cookie but smart enough to know that her material might need some refreshing so she can appeal to a younger audience. It doesn't help that her boss at the Palmetto hotel has told her she will be losing her weekend gigs and when he threatens that her tenure at the hotel might be over completely, Vance hires Ava, a young politically correct bisexual feminist writer in search of a gig.

It's not by coincidence that Vance ends up with Ava. Ava made one of those "cancel culture tweets" and now her career is at a standstill. Jimmy, her agent, finds her this gig (it just so happens he also works with Deborah) and, even though we have an oil and water coupling, he puts it together. Deborah is tough as nails but the old school type, meaning she also has heart. Ava is a bi-sexual feminist who has nothing but contempt for Las Vegas and a woman like Vance, but she wants to make this work. Deborah doesn't get Ava and Ava doesn't get Deborah. We all kind of know how this will turn out but the journey is a fun one.

Ava is played by Hannah Einbinder, the youngest daughter of Laraine Newman, an early cast member of SNL. She holds her own with Smart, though her character is less charismatic. Actually her character is annoying. There is also great supporting cast - Christopher McDonald as Deborah's boss, Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Deborah's manager, Kaitlin Olson as Deborah's nutty daughter, Paul W. Downs as Jimmy, and Megan Stalter as Jimmy's hilariously and unapologetically incompetent secretary (her Dad owns the agency).

Created by Downs, Lucia Aniello, and Jen Statsky, this wonderful series grabbed me from the first episode. It's a funny look at the generation gap with smart writing and, better yet, Jean Smart! We like our women of a certain age getting their due! Smart has come a long way since her stint on "Designing Women." She is A-MAZING!
Rosy the Reviewer says... Smart and the series have been nominated for an Emmy as well as Einbinder and Clemons-Hopkins along with several production nominations, all well-deserved as this series is destined to be remembered as one of the best of the season!
(Now streaming on HBO Max)






A young millennial living in London "accidentally" sleeps with a film star. Let this charming rom-com begin!
Rose Matafeo plays Jessie, a young New Zealander living in London who just happens to have a one-night stand with Tom (Nikesh Patel, one of the stars of the 2015 mini-series "Indian Summers"), who just happens to be a famous film star. They meet in a bar, get a bit drunk together and end up in bed. But Jessie doesn't expect this to be anything. She has no illusions about herself and a relationship with a film star going anywhere. Jessie shares a flat with a roommate in East London and works two dead-end jobs (movie theatre concession and nanny). She is a kind of goofy but charismatic young woman and not your typical ingenue in a romantic comedy. She is always finding herself in decidedly unromantic situations, hence the comedy. Tom is not your typical movie star, either. He is actually a nice guy. You will like him! And Jessie and Tom share some witty and funny banter. That's what makes this so much fun. None of it is typical rom-com. Yes, it's a girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy again, yada yada yada kind of story, and at times improbable, but it is original and lots of fun.

Written by Alice Snedden and Matafeo, who started in stand-up and was a TV presenter, writer and actress in New Zealand, this series is reminiscent of another British series, "Catastrophe." Both are irreverent, unexpected and funny with stars you can relate to, so if you were a fan of that you might enjoy this too.
Rosy the Reviewer says...comedian Rose Matafeo is a real girl. I like that and I like her. And I liked this. Just six short episodes so very bingeable. And there is a second season in the works. Can't wait!
(Now streaming on HBO Max)





Five friends living in London deal with a pandemic that appears suddenly. Except this doesn't take place in 2020 and it isn't Covid. This is the 1980's and it's AIDS.

There was a pandemic that appeared suddenly. It was a natural virus probably from animals. There was no cure and millions of people died from it and its related illnesses. All kinds of conspiracy theories and misinformation swirled around it. Sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about the coronavirus. I’m talking about AIDS. Remember AIDS? How quickly we forget when something else comes along.
This five-part HBO Max series follows five friends in London whose lives are affected by a repressive environment toward gays made more turbulent by the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Richie (Olly Alexander) and Roscoe (Omari Douglas) have left their homophobic families to make something of themselves in London. They join up with Jill (Lydia West), Ash (Nathaniel Curtis) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) and form a sort of family, and we follow them over a ten year period, from 1981-1991 as they navigate their new lives in the shadow of this mysterious illness that is starting to take hold. It’s a coming-of-age story but also the story of what it was like to be gay in a repressive environment that was seemingly trying to kill them, literally and figuratively. And watching this series, you don’t want that to happen because the performances are wonderful and you care about these kids.
There is a personal side of this for me. Growing up in the Midwest, my best childhood friend was gay, though we never thought of those things in the 50’s, and he died of AIDS much later after I had moved away and we had lost touch. His mother, who still lived in my hometown, took care of him in his last days and was shunned because everyone was so afraid of the disease, not to mention contemptuous of gay people. My mother was a staunch conservative, but I remember her standing up for my friend’s mother. Didn’t matter what or why, he was her son. I was proud of my mother for that.
Rosy the Reviewer says…from “Queer as Folk” creator, Russell T. Davies, it’s gritty and raw, but it’s also thought-provoking and poignant, a story about that other disease, one that is still with us but that we seem to have forgotten. And a reminder that fear and misinformation helped the spread of AIDS just as fear and misinformation has helped to spread the coronavirus.
(Now streaming on HBO Max)





A detective in a small Pennsylvania town investigates a murder while dealing with her own turmoil.

Kate Winslet stars as Mare Sheehan, a troubled sergeant detective in a small Pennsylvania town, who lives with her mother, Helen (Jean Smart) and young grandson, Drew (Izzy King). Mare is haunted by a cold case of a missing young girl. She lost some credibility with the community by not solving that case and it was particularly close to home. Mare grew up in Easttown and went to high school with the missing girl's mother and every time Mare sees her she is reminded that she didn't solve that case. Now she has another case to solve, the recent murder of a teen mom and the community is reeling and looking to her to get this done.

But Mare has her own problems. She is also haunted by the suicide of her son and a custody battle with her drug-addicted daughter-in-law who wants her son back. Mare's mother is not particularly supportive; Mare's daughter (Angourie Rice) is keeping her sexuality a secret; and Mare's ex-husband is getting remarried. Things aren't going so great for Mare and the weight of the world is written all over her. But a handsome writer comes to town (Guy Pearse) to give Mare a chance at romance and a young county detective (Evan Peters) also shows up to help, though Mare is not particularly pleased about an outsider coming in.
Created by Brad Ingelsby, this is not just a crime drama but a character study as well, and a look at how a crime can affect an entire small town. This is not a pretty New England town. This is a town rife with poverty and drug addiction. What sets this HBO crime drama apart from other crime dramas is how gritty and real it is. You are drawn into this town and into its inhabitants.

Though there are some very interesting and well-drawn characters with stories to tell inhabiting Easttown, this is Winslet's showcase. And Winslet displays her ability to inhabit a character right down to a perfect Pennsylvania accent. This is Winslet as you have never seen her. And when you compare Smart's performance here with her performance in "Hacks (see review above)," you will realize what an effortless and effective actress she is as well.

As I predicted, this series has many Emmy nominations: Best Limited Series; Lead Actress nomination in a Limited Series for Winslet; a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Smart and varied production nominations.
Rosy the Reviewer says…If you liked “Big Little Lies” or “The Undoing,” you will like this.
(Now playing on HBO)



The real-life story of Charles Sobhraj, a murderer and thief, who preyed on young hippies as they wandered cluelessly around Asia in the 1970's.

Who knew backpacking around Asia in the 1970’s could get you killed? Well, it could if you happened to meet up with Charles aka Alain (Tahar Rahim) and his sidekick Marie-Andree aka “Monique (Jenna Coleman),” both adept at taking on various personas, charming young hippies and then poisoning them and stealing their passports and money. He didn't do it for the thrill. He did it to maintain his lifestyle. However, you can tell he looks down on his victims and that somehow they deserve to die.

When Charles first meets Marie-Andree, she is a lonely insecure woman but he is able to make her feel special. She needs him and will do anything to keep him. They form a gruesome twosome as they make their way around Asia looking for easy marks.
Because two of the missing are young Dutch backpackers, Dutch diplomat, Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle), is drawn into the search to nab these two, despite inexperience, little help from authorities, and lots of red tape and he eventually finds himself dangerously embroiled in their tangled web. It’s a dramatized true story that unfolds in this eight-part Netflix series that is INTENSE, but hugely engrossing and entertaining, in a gruesome sort of way.

Tahar Rahim is a perfect serpent as Charles, a man who can slither into the lives of his unsuspecting victims and just as easily slither out of getting prison time and you “Victoria” fans may recognize Jenna Coleman in a very, very different kind of role as Monique but she makes it work. I didn't even recognize her at first. And Billy Howle as Knippenberg is also memorable, especially since he is the only likable character in this.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like true crime, this is as good as it gets.
(Now streaming on Netflix)



Even though Jodie (Jill Halfpenny) lost her son in a drowning accident eight years ago, when she sees a young boy she is convinced he is her son.

If you like your British mysteries twisty and turny, you will like this one (but aren’t all British mysteries twisty and turny)?
I have this theory about British mysteries and crime dramas. Watch the first episode and then fast forward to the last one when everything is solved and you will realize you didn’t miss much in-between because in between it’s all red herrings and coincidences.
This one, created by Francesca Brill and Luke Watson, is also like that but it’s only four episodes so you can do it!
Jodie’s four-year-old son, Tom, went missing eight years ago at the beach. He was assumed drowned but no body was ever found. Jodie has never gotten over his death. So eight years later when Jodie sees Daniel (Cody Molko), a kid who looks like her son right down to the scar on his face, she is certain it’s her son. Is he? Well, nobody believes her. Not her ex-husband or the police. Nobody. But she forges ahead anyway, getting a job at Daniel's school and insinuating herself into his life, much to the suspicion of Daniel's father, Mark (Rupert Penry-Jones), who himself acts suspiciously, adding to the possibility that Daniel is the missing Tom.

Is Daniel young Tom come to life nine years later? Therein lies the drama in British crime dramas. Like I said, they have to fill in those in-between episodes but it's compelling and an easy-to-binge sesh since there are only four episodes.
Rosy the Reviewer says…It’s a nice linear story (aren’t you sick of the ones that go back and forth without any context?) that is easy to follow though I have to say the ending is a huge stretch. But you will enjoy the journey.
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime via Acorn)


Thanks for reading!

See you soon for My Summer Stay-cation Part 2 where I will review more great series!



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