Sunday, January 10, 2021

What I Have Loved Watching During Lockdown, Part 2

I was thinking this would be my last Lockdown installment but looks like we are in for more of the same - long days at home - so as usual you can count on me to help you decide on what is worth watching.

So here is Part 2 of what I have enjoyed watching while staying home during this latest lockdown. (Even if you aren't locked down anymore or are in more relaxed conditions than we are, these will all be enjoyable watching experiences). 

(As I said in Part 1, if you have been following my Facebook page, you will recognize some of these recommendations but, if not, here are some movies and TV series I have enjoyed while sheltering at home.  And even if you do follow me on Facebook, these are expanded reviews that might get you to watch if you haven't already).


Bridgerton


Wealthy and romantic shenanigants in Regency England.

Produced by Shonda Rhimes, who wrote and produced “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and other successful television series and based on the novels by Julia Quinn, this is a Regency romance about the wealthy Bridgerton family, particularly Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the oldest of eight, who feels compelled to find a husband during her debut year into London society. But she wants to find love too.
At first Daphne is the belle of London society until Lady Whistledown (the voice of Julie Andrews), who writes a high society scandal sheet, casts aspersions on young Daphne. Daphne's prospects start to dwindle. So when she meets Simon Basset (Rege-Jean Page), the handsome Duke of Hastings (and did I say he was handsome?), a desirable catch but one hell-bent on avoiding marriage, the two join forces to help each other, even though they start out not liking each other at all (see where this is headed)? Here's the deal: He will pretend to be her suitor thus making her more desirable and shield her from unwanted suitors and his being her suitor will ostensibly take him off the market, because remember, he doesn't want to get married.

However, with Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) doing a bit of matchmaking and Daphne's older brother, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) meddling in Daphne's affairs (there is a duel in his future) as well as the Featherington family, who are in competition with the Bridgertons, also in the mix, all kinds of drama ensues. You see, Daphne's brother feels a responsibility to marry Daphne off to someone suitable, and in the meantime, make sure she doesn't do anything to sully her reputation while the Featheringtons have daughters they need to marry off too, but they are having a bit of a problem about money which poses a difficulty when it comes to the issue of dowries. There is also a secret pregnancy, unrequited love and some lies and betrayals. You know, those sorts of things that find their way into costume dramas. All very delicious. And just who is the mysterious, gossip mongering, Lady Whistledown?

Dynevor and Page are a handsome couple, she projects a shimmering beauty and I am obsessed with her adorable bangs. And did I mention that he is just handsome as hell? It’s a big cast and almost everyone gets their time in the spotlight, though some more than others. Not everything works, but this will still quench your appetite for romance and opulence (the costumes and set design are to die for) and take your mind off your troubles for a time.

Created by Chris Van Dusen, who also worked with Rhimes on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," the series is definitely a comedy of manners. Yes, there is some comedy, some manners, but there is drama, too, and it's quite scandalous, with a decidedly modern feel. There are people of color in high places, all kinds of sexual inuendo, not to mention actual sex (the "modern" kind), and if you listen closely you will notice that the chamber music playing in the background is actually a current pop tune from today. However, for me, sometimes the anachronisms were a distraction.
Rosy the Reviewer says… if you have been missing “Downton Abbey,” you might enjoy this Regency comedy of manners that also plays a bit like “Pride and Prejudice” with a some of “The Bachelorette” thrown in. Yes, you heard me.
(Now streaming on Netflix)



Long Way Up

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman continue their motorcycle journeys, this time from the tip of South America to Los Angeles -- on ELECTRIC bikes!

I am not a huge fan of motorcycles, but I am a huge fan of this new 11-part documentary series now showing on Apple+ TV that follows actor Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman (son of director John Boorman – “Deliverance”) as they ride motorcycles from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. I have to say it doesn’t hurt that I am a huge fan of Ewan McGregor too!

This is not the first time that these two adventurers have ridden their motorcycles on epic journeys. In 2004 they rode “around the world,” a 19,000 mile journey from London to New York, documented in “Long Way Round” and in 2007, it was “Long Way Down,” their motorcycle journey from Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. Both of those series were fascinating and exciting but what sets this 2019 trip apart is the fact that this time they are riding electric motorcycles. You see, our Ewan is not only talented, super handsome and sexy but also environmentally conscious and cares about his carbon footprint.
The first episode is all about getting ready (it took eight months to prepare for this trip 13,000 mile trip), and if you are not into motorcycles, you might think that would be a snoozer but it’s not. Harley-Davidson makes them some killer electric bikes and the crew travels to my home state of Michigan to get some electric support trucks from Rivian, a company that looks like it will give Tesla a run for its money.
Ewan and Charley rode for three months (pre-Covid, of course), and had many adventures, some good and some bad (finding places to plug in the bikes was always challenging). There is beautiful scenery and they met some amazing people along the way. One was man riding a regular bicycle through the Andes -- and he only had ONE LEG!
And did I say how much I love Ewan? I know I did, but what you may not know is that I almost didn’t forgive him for singing in “Moulin Rouge.” I thought he looked like a Muppet. But I forgive you, Ewan. And thanks for being such a swashbuckling adventurer. You, too, Charley!
Rosy the Reviewer says…nothing like an exciting adventure to escape a pandemic lockdown!


Sylvie's Love


Two beautiful young people meet in 1950's Harlem and embark on a love story that endures through changing times and personal choices. 

I needed the comfort of a good old-fashioned love story and I got that with this romance that reminded me a bit of “The Way We Were.”
The film takes place in the 1950’s and 60’s in Harlem. Sylvie (Tessa Thompson) is a young woman working in her father’s record shop and Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha) is a saxophone player in a jazz band. Robert sees Sylvie through the window of the shop and gets a job there in hopes of getting to know her. Unfortunately, Sylvie has a fiancé fighting in Korea and her mother is an etiquette teacher so a jazz musician is certainly not a fit for her daughter. But the two get locked in the record store’s basement and sparks fly, literally. As in, how come I didn’t know what a “French light” was? Well, in case you didn't know either, it’s when your cigarette is only half lit. It means you will soon fall in love. Awww. Guess what? It happens to both of their cigarettes!

Let the love story begin.
But you know how these love stories go. True love never runs smooth. She gets pregnant but doesn’t tell him because he gets a gig in Paris, you know, that old love story trope – she doesn’t tell him, he doesn’t tell her, so they break up, years pass, they meet again.
We also have that other trope - boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy gets girl - then what happens? You will have to watch this and see. And if you like engaging actors, an engaging love story and great music, you will enjoy this.
Written and directed by Eugene Ash, the film also touches on issues of class, racism and the expected role of a woman in the 1960’s (did you know, a married woman could not get birth control until 1964 or her own credit card without her husband’s signature until 1974? That's not all in the movie. I'm just saying), but this is really one of those old-fashioned love stories that cuts through racial and cultural lines with a great musical score.
Rosy the Reviewer says…love, great music and a time that will bring back many memories for Baby Boomers (you young’uns will enjoy it too). Just what you need while you wait for that vaccine!
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime)


The Wilds


After a plane crash, nine young girls find themselves on a deserted island...but turns out, they didn't end up there by accident! 

It begins with nine girls from disparate backgrounds on a plane headed to some kind of retreat. The plane crashes and eight of the girls survive but find themselves stranded on the proverbial desert island. However, we know they get rescued because each episode focuses on one of the girls as she is interviewed by some mysterious guys in suits. We learn each girl’s story, how she ended up on that plane to that mysterious retreat (each is damaged in some way) and how she fared on the island.

But were they really rescued? Twists and turns ensue.

As each episode progresses, we learn about each girl and the mysterious Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths) who seems to be the mastermind of an experiment and these girls are her lab rats! Turns out, the plane crash was supposed to happen and the girls were all being watched to see how they would handle their survival!
Created by Sarah Streicher, there is a strong ensemble cast of young women and it's all about female empowerment, friendship and survival.
Rosy the Reviewer…it’s a little bit “Lord of the Flies” and a little bit “Lost.” It will grab you because it’s a crazy plot, you will begin to care about these girls, and you will want to know how it ends. But let me warn you...you might have to defer gratification because it kind of doesn't end. Looks like a sequel in the offing.
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime)



A Rainy Day in New York


A young couple plan a day together in New York City but get separated and embark on a series of separate adventures on a rainy day.

Whatever you may think of the controversy surrounding writer/director Woody Allen (and I personally think he got a bad rap), you would have to agree he is one of our premiere filmmakers. It says something about his stature that so many big name actors have wanted to work with him and at 85 he is still at it with his 48th film starring Timothee Chalamet and Elle Fanning and other all-stars.
Chalamet plays Gatsby Welles, a young college student at Yardley College, a lovely little college in the middle of nowhere (think Dartmouth). However, Gatsby is more of a gambler than an academic. When he wins big in a poker game, he invites his girlfriend, Ashleigh (Fanning), to a day in New York City where he wants to wine and dine her at some of his favorite spots (the Carlyle figures prominently) and hit the museums (wonderful scene in the Metropolitan Museum of Art). But Ashleigh is an aspiring journalist and gets an opportunity to interview Roland Pollard (Liev Schreiber), a famous director, and though Gadsby and Ashleigh make it to the City together, they get separated and basically spend the day each on their own having some wacky adventures in the beautiful atmosphere of New York City on a rainy day. A lot can happen in one day! And it does!
Chalomet is decidedly Woody’s surrogate here, even down to capturing Woody’s speech cadence and hangdog demeanor, a far cry from Chalomet's usual forays into handsome romantic leaddom. And Fanning is a ditsy blonde, a trope Allen seems to enjoy, who is caught up in some romantic situations with not just the director but his long-time friend (Jude Law) and a famous actor (Diego Luna). They seem to enjoy the fact that she can’t hold her booze. And Selena Gomez stands out as the younger sister of one of Gatsby’s old girlfriends.

Like I said, it's an all-star cast. Everyone seems to want to work with Woody!
Is this one of Woody’s best? No, but even his lesser films are better than most that are out there. And if you are a Woody fan, many of his signatures are here –a glum protagonist, a soundtrack of 40’s standards, witty repartee, references to classic films and beautiful cinematography, with the Big Apple playing a prominent role.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a classy, atmospheric day in New York City. Wish I was there right now!
(Available for rent on Prime - $4.99)



Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


August Wilson's award-winning play brought to the screen.
Ma Rainey was an early blues singer, considered “The Mother of Blues” and Viola Davis does her justice, fat suit and all, in this filmed version of August Wilson’s acclaimed play. August Wilson was referred to as "the theatre's poet of Black America." His plays reflected the African American experience in America but also the human experience.

The film begins in a rundown recording studio in Chicago in the 1920's while the band members who arrived on time wait for Ma to arrive. Three veteran band members, Toledo (Glynn Turman), Cutler (Colman Domingo), and Slow Drag (Michael Potts), show up followed by Levee (Boseman), the trumpet player.  Levee takes his time because he likes himself.  The older band members have been around the block a time or two and know the drill, but Levee has higher ambitions. He wants to write and play his own songs.  He is also holding back the rage of a black man in America, a man who has been held down.

When Ma finally arrives, she is not in a good mood because someone ran into her new car. She also doesn't want to do what has been planned, she has some demands of her own, and because her records make money, the white men who run the studio will do what she wants. She can throw her weight around, literally, but as a black woman, she also knows it all hinges on her continuing to make money for the white man. As the day progresses, we also get to know the band members as everyone gets a monologue that tells his story.

Viola is the centerpiece and is wonderful in the film, but Boseman is also wonderful and the film also marks his last performance before his shocking and untimely death. He is skinny and gaunt and you can see that he is not well but to think that he delivered this performance in the last months of his life is just jaw-dropping. When Boseman shares Levee's story of his mother getting gang-raped, and he rages against God - if he exists how could he let that happen? - one can't help but think that Boseman knew he was dying and was talking about himself. It's a powerful moment for him as an actor and for us watching him. It’s a physical performance, but it’s also a deep, heartfelt performance that not only embraces the struggles and exploitation of black people in the United States but foreshadows Chadwick’s own future. So sad to think that he won’t be able to bask in the glory of probably the best performance of his career.

Adapted from Wilson's play by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and directed by George C. Wolfe (Denzel Washington was executive producer), the film has performances that are not to be missed, especially since we won't be seeing Chadwick Boseman anymore, but the film is also relevant for today as the struggle for equality continues.

Rosy the Reviewer says…This is a must see. Ring, ring! Viola Davis? Oscar calling. Chadwick Boseman? Wherever you are... Oscar calling.
(Now streaming on Netflix)




Wonder Woman 1984





Rosy the Reviewer says...don't bother.



Thanks for reading!

See you again 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 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.