Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Road to the 2022 Oscars, Part 2. "Who Will Win Best Actor?"

So far the front-runners for the Academy Award for Best Actor appear to be Will Smith for "King Richard," Benedict Cumberbatch for "The Power of the Dog" and Andrew Garfield for "tick, tick...BOOM!" - all starring in movies I reviewed previously (click on the links for full reviews).

I would venture to add Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicholas Cage to that list, who each gave outstanding performances in these unique films.


Don't Look Up (2021)





A giant comet able to wipe out humanity is headed toward earth.

Writer/Director Adam McKay won an Oscar in 2016 for his screenplay for "The Big Short," a satiric comedy/drama about the financial crisis of 2007-2008.  This time he turns his brilliant satiric mind to global warming, but it could just as easily be about the Covid pandemic.  

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a Michigan State University astronomy Ph.D. candidate discovers a previously unknown comet.  Her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates that it is headed toward earth, that it is large enough to obliterate the planet and will hit earth in approximately six months.  Along with Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), the head of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, they meet with President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her Chief of Staff, who just happens to be her son (Jonah Hill), and who keeps sniffing and rubbing his nose for some reason.  The two seem unconcerned about the comet.  

So Dibiasky and Mindy appear on television on a morning talk show, where once again they are brushed off and treated like alarmists by hosts Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) and Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett). Kate loses it on air and becomes a figure of ridicule whereas Mindy is deemed a "hot scientist" because of his looks, which gives him the confidence he had lacked, having been suffering from panic attacks and insecurity. However, despite her initial indifference to the comet, when Orlean is caught in a sex scandal she decides to divert attention from herself to the comet and the decision is made to use nuclear weapons to blow up the comet.

In the meantime, Dobiasky has been silenced and Mindy has been hired as National Science Advisor and appears regularly in the media.  He also embarks on an affair with Brie Evantee despite the fact he has a loving family back home.

Enter billionaire Peter Isherwell, a Steve Jobs-type clone brilliantly played by Mark Rylance who seems to be able to transform himself into any character.  In fact, I didn't even recognize him at first.  Isherwell owns BASH, a tech company.  He also happens to be one of Orlean's top donors and has discovered that the comet contains trillions of dollars worth of minerals so Orlean aborts the original plan and agrees to exploit the comet by fragmenting it and then retrieving it from the ocean using Isherwell's technology. We can't let all of that money go to waste, can we? 

Interestingly, Isherwell's company has such advanced technology that he reveals they can also see every moment of everyone's life right up to how and when they will die. He tells Mindy that he will die alone, which upsets Mindy and gives him pause about the choices he has made, and Isherwell tells Orlean that she will be killed by a Bronteroc. A what?  He said his company has advanced technology but couldn't figure that one out.

So how is the world reacting to all of this?

There are those who want the comet destroyed, those who are in favor of the fragmentation plan because it will create jobs and there are those who deny its existance.  The White House advises "Just Don't Look Up" as in, ignore it and it will go away, just like the flu.  Now Mindy also starts to lose it, decrying the indifference of humanity and ranting on TV that Orlean is downplaying the crisis and ignoring the data.

What will happen?  Is the planet doomed?

Okay, who are we kidding here?  This isn't really about a comet.  It's really all about our unwillingness to ignore scientific data and our indifference to impending doom, and though McKay originally wrote his screenplay about global warming, this could just as easily be a stand-in for the mishandling of the Covid pandemic by the Trump Administration. The movie was already in production when the pandemic hit but, because of all of the political and emotional strife surrounding it, McKay decided to make his screenplay "15 percent crazier."  

Though McKay hammers on the political and governmental side of inaction when faced with a crisis, he also casts a shadow on us humans too, who seem to care more about pop culture, like the break-up of a rap singer and his girlfriend, than our fellow humans and the end of the world. We are so consumed with our own lives and interests we have lost sight of the big picture - doing our part to save humanity. And it's all distorted by social media and the almighty dollar. What should really matter is our loved ones and our human connections. And this is not just about global warming or a pandemic. You can apply this to any catastrophe that involves public health or the need for us humans to give up our particular interests and band together for the greater good.

It's an all-star cast led by DiCaprio, who is no longer that young, handsome baby-faced leading man we first saw in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and who went on to play Romeo in "Romeo + Juliet" and Jack Dawson in "Titanic."  No, this is a mature DiCaprio - don't get me wrong, he's still killer handsome - but DiCaprio has moved on to character roles, albeit handsome characters, and can be counted on to give Oscar-worthy performances which he does again here (he won in 2016 for "The Revenant.")

McKay who should be nominated for a Best Director Oscar also has fun paying homage to "Dr. Strangelove," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Lawrence was up for the lead role) and all those "end of the world" movies we have come to love, but don't get me wrong.  This is very much a satire so it's not all doom and gloom.  There is fun to be had, well, fun until you realize just how right on he is.

Note: Don't stop watching when the credits roll.  There is an epilogue and you will finally find out what a Bronteroc is.

Rosy the Reviewer...along with a Best Actor nomination for DiCaprio, Rylance should get a Best Supporting Actor nod and this picture should be nominated for Best Picture.  Why?  Because they all had IMPACT!!! (Netflix)



Pig (2021)


After his truffle pig is kidnapped, a hermit living in the Oregon wilderness must go back to his old life to find his pig.

I have never been a huge Nicolas Cage fan.  Let's just say I totally got why so many comedians would do impersonations of him.  He had mannerisms.  But here all of that is not in evidence as he puts in a subdued but riveting performance as a man who has turned his back on his old life.

Rob Feld (Cage) has retreated to a life alone in the Oregon wilderness, living in a shack with his truffle hunting pig.  He supports his lifestyle, if you can call it that, through Amir (Alex Wolff), a young guy who buys Rob's truffles to supply to high-end restaurants in Portland.  When Rob's pig is stolen, he reaches out to Amir, his only lifeline to the outside world, and the two drive to Portland and enter into the restaurant "underground," a world of secrets and violence.  I mean, who knew restaurant people have their own "fight club?"

Rob thinks he knows who might have stolen his pig so the two stop at Eurydice, the hottest restaurant in town where we learn that Rob was once the hottest chef in town. The chef, Derek, who use to work for Rob reveals that it was probably Amir's wealthy father and restaurant impresario, Darius (Adam Arkin), who was behind the theft of his pig, so next stop, find Darius. 

When things start looking bleak for finding the pig, Rob tells Amir, 

"I don't need the pig to find truffles."

Amir replies, "Then why the f**k did we do all of this?"  

Rob replies, "I love her."  

Enough said.

But it's not just love for the pig that is driving Rob. Reminiscent of Ricky Gervais' wonderful series "After Life" - this is all about what can happen when you lose a loved one, how each of us grieves in our own way and what it sometimes takes to accept grief and loss.  

The film is moody and atmospheric, and when Rob visits his old house, the story of how Rob ended up in the woods slowly unfurls. But the film is not the least bit slow. I appreciated how it got down to business right away. Instead of lingering on Rob's lonely life out in the woods, within 11 minutes, the pig was kidnapped and we were off and running.

This is Cage's film and he gives a wonderful, subdued performance but Wolff holds his own and is equally excellent as Rob's sidekick.

Written by Vanessa Block and Michael Sarnoski and directed by Sarnoski, the film paints a shady picture of Portland restaurant life and shows a very unique and satisfying way to seek revenge.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if he is nominated, I don't think Cage can beat Will Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch for Best Actor but this is a very strange but original and mesmerizing little film where an older and toned down Cage gives one of the best performances of his career. Don't miss it. (Hulu)

Oscar nominations will be announced February 8.


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Road to the 2022 Oscars: "The Power of the Dog" and "The Lost Daughter"

This is the time of year when I usually make up my Top Ten Best Films list, but I just can't seem to do it.  I don't feel I have seen enough films in the last year to come up with ten, especially ones I really, really liked, so I am going to skip that little enterprise and concentrate on the upcoming Oscars instead.


The Golden Globes have come and gone.  If you blinked, you missed them because, though the awards were announced, there was actually no ceremony this year due to the controversy surrounding them. I am not surprised that the Golden Globes have lost favor since I always wondered who the heck "the foreign press" was and why they had such power.  Now I guess they no longer do, but since the Golden Globes always preceded the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe nominations often gave a hint of what would come from the Academy and I am assuming that is still the case.  

So that said, Jessica Chastain and Nicole Kidman will most likely get nods from the Academy. Kidman won a Best Actress Golden Globe for her role as Lucille Ball in "Being the Ricardos" beating out Chastain's performance in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," something I don't agree with. Chastain's performance was a career high for her. Kristen Stewart was also nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Princess Diana in "Spencer." I can't really fault her performance, but I hated that movie.  (And if you want to know how much I hated it, check out my earlier review of "Spencer."  Likewise, click on the links above for my reviews of "Being the Ricardos" and "The Eyes of Tammy Faye.") 

So I expect that those three actresses will also get nods from the Academy. 

That brings us to my latest reviews below, films and actors with Oscar buzz.


The Power of the Dog (2021)


Two very different brothers "happily" live on their ranch together until one brother brings home a wife.

Jane Campion is one of our premiere directors and screenwriters (her screenplay for "The Piano" won an Oscar) but unlike some writer/directors, she is not that prolific.  This is her first feature film in 13 years and only her eighth feature film in her 30+ year career.  Perhaps it is her meticulousness that holds her back, because a Jane Campion film is detailed, offering lush cinematography, beautifully framed shots and a slow moving but meaningful pace.  Sometimes you don't know what the hell is going on but it's always an interesting film experience.  And this film is no exception.  Settling in with a glass of wine (or two) is in order.

It's 1925 Montana (well, it's actually really New Zealand standing in for Montana)  and the Burbank brothers live together in their big Victorian house on their sprawling ranch. The two brothers couldn't be more different. George is kind, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) is mean. George is a bit chubby, wears a suit and drives a car.  Phil is lean, wears chaps, rides a horse and calls George "Fatso." George is interested in Rose (Kirsten Dunst), the woman who runs the local restaurant, Phil is interested in her effeminate son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), but not in a good way. George represents progress, Phil is hopelessly lost in his version of the masculinity of the Old West and his worship of the memory of Bronco Henry, an old dead ranch hand. 

George, played by Jesse Plemons, who is married to Dunst in real life, courts Rose and marries her.  However, mean old Phil is not happy about losing his brother. When Rose moves into the big Victorian house with her son, Peter, Phil gets really mean and torments both Rose and Peter. But you know how little boys sometimes torment little girls they really like?  There is some of that going on with Phil except its maybe Peter he really likes deep down.  However, that's not something you would want to admit if you were a cowboy in Montana in 1925. Let's just say Phil is a tad repressed and hides his true self behind a facade of masculinity.

Adapted by Campion from the novel by Thomas Savage, the film is beautiful but very slow.  Not much happens for quite awhile except Cumberbatch being mean, Rose getting drunk because life on the ranch is hell and George being gone most of the time. Then Phil warms up to Peter - mmmm - and then all of a sudden there is this unexpected ending that made me go "huh?" and then "oh." It's all pretty grim.

Not my favorite Jane Campion film, but whether it's my favorite or not, her films are always special.  

Here the performances are particularly noteworthy. Cumberbatch plays against type here. His Phil is so mean he beats up a horse (I hope that horse was just acting)! I can't really remember Cumberbatch ever playing a really mean character.  But he can play anything. Smit-McPhee has already won a Golden Globe and has been nominated for a SAG Award.  He is quite a wonderful new face. Dunst and Cumberbatch have also been nominated for SAG Awards; and Campion has already won a Golden Globe for Best Director and the film won for Best Motion Picture, Drama (Cumberbatch and Dunst were nominated), so expect similar nominations from the Academy on February 8th. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...beautifully produced and framed, wonderful performances, and even though I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, it's a must see because this is the frontrunner for the Academy Award for Best Picture. If it wins, you want to be able to say you saw it, right? (Netflix)


The Lost Daughter (2021)


Some of us are meant to be mothers and some of us aren't.

Leda (Olivia Coleman), an English professor and translator, is on vacation at a resort in Greece and everything is going swimmingly until a large family arrives to disturb her solitude, one of whom is Nina (Dakota Johnson), a young woman with her young daughter.  While everyone is on the beach, the young daughter goes missing briefly and Leda finds her but it does something to Leda. It brings up her painful past. In flashbacks, we see Leda as a young mother (Jessie Buckley) trying to balance her career ambitions with the needs of her two little girls and let's just say motherhood can be a bitch, for Leda anyway. 

Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in her directorial debut (she also adapted the screenplay from the novel by Elena Ferrante), nothing much happens in the first 30 minutes of the film but then a sense of foreboding sets in and the film takes off. It's obvious Leda is troubled, especially when she strangely makes off with the little girl's doll and keeps it, despite a huge search for the doll and the little girl being bereft.   

This is a tour de force for Coleman.  I mean what can't Olivia Coleman play?  She has been everything from a police detective in "Broadchurch" to Queen Elizabeth II in "The Crown" and everything else in between.  Now she's a messed up Mom.

So far, both Gyllenhaal and Coleman were nominated for Golden Globes as well as other awards and Coleman has been nominated for a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, winners to be announced February 27.  Expect her to get an Oscar nod as well. 

Though praise for Coleman's performance is well deserved, I can't say that as a whole this was a particularly satisfying film experience for me.  

I was looking forward to the film and then felt let down by the ending.  I think I would have liked the film more if Leda had been a sympathetic character. But she wasn't.  Don't get me wrong. That in no way is a criticism of Coleman's performance. I don't think Leda was supposed to be a sympathetic character.  She is like most of us women - complicated.  But that's the problem. The film didn't really go anywhere nor explain why or how Leda came to do what she did. So she didn't like motherhood and made some errors in judgment that haunted her. She was selfish. Many mothers have complicated feelings about motherhood, at least some of the time, and most mothers have regrets, though most mothers don't do what Leda did, but if there was more to this film than that, the ending didn't make the point. I don't feel this film said anything new about motherhood. Basically - motherhood - some of us are cut out for it and some of us are not. If there was more to this than that, I didn't get it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film is all about Coleman's performance which is wonderful and could garner her a second Oscar, so despite my complaints, you will want to see it. (Netflix) 

So we shall see.  Oscar nominations will be announced February 8.

NOTE: Despite poor box office, it is likely that "West Side Story" will get some nominations as will "House of Gucci" but since I am still not comfortable going to the theatre yet and neither of those films is available on DVD or for streaming, it is not likely I will review them prior to announcements but will try to do a post that includes reviews for all of the Best Picture nominees prior to the show on March 27th, so watch for that.


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Biopics! - "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," "Being the Ricardos" and "What Happened, Brittany Murphy?"

[I review biopics "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," "Being the Ricardos," and "What Happened, Brittany Murphy?"]

 

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

A biopic about Tammy Faye Bakker and her televangelist husband, Jim Bakker.

Watching this film, I couldn't help but wonder... why?  Why was this film made?

Why are we supposed to care now about Jim Bakker and his wife, Tammy Faye, 20+ years after they fell from grace in the midst of financial and sexual scandals?  And what led Jessica Chastain to want to play this role, portraying a woman who became a cartoon of herself? Oh, don't get me wrong. The film is well-done and Chastain channels Tammy Faye and Andrew Garfield, who plays Tammy Faye's husband, evangelist Jim Bakker, channels him too, but I don't feel that you would be able to appreciate Chastain's performance if you didn't know who Tammy Faye Bakker was (she died in 2007). So what is the deal?

Turns out, according to an interview with Chastain in the LA Times, while filming "Zero Dark Thirty" back in 2012, she came across a documentary on Bakker by Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey (2000) and connected to it.  She secured the rights and went on a ten year journey to get it made.  When asked what she thought of Tammy Faye she said,

"I had this judgment against her, and I realized it's so fascinating how the media can give everyone a collective memory that may not really be the truth.  It's not right.  I wanted to do something about it to honor her...there's shade of me in [her]...Tammy Faye doesn't write anyone off.  I love that she believes everyone is deserving of love without judgment."

So that is how it came to be but again, I can't see that Tammy Faye Bakker is relevant today.  Maybe Jessica has a Tammy fetish because her next role is playing Tammy Wynette!

Tammy Faye and Jim met in college and decided early to devote themselves to God. Their work spreading The Word began with a puppet show ("Get the kids and their parents will follow") and eventually turned into their famous, or infamous, PTL Club.  Despite Tammy Faye's giggly personality, according to this film, she was the brains behind Jim and the power behind what was to be their evangelical empire.  

Chastain was amazing in this - the makeup, the mannerisms, the Minnesota accent.  She got it all spot on.  Likewise, Andrew Garfield was Jim Bakker.  Speaking of the make-up. Tammy Faye was made fun of for, er, famous for, her elaborate make-up, especially outrageous eyelashes and eye shadow.  So the title is apt, though it's also a metaphor for how she saw things. Despite her very conservative religious beliefs, she was also amazingly accepting of the LBTGQ community and the rights of others to be happy, even if she didn't agree with them. 

But is Chastain and the make-up enough to make this film work?  Yes and no.  If you didn't really know who the Bakkers were, you could take this film at face value - a film about a sweet televangelist who just wanted to love people - but if you do remember them, then you may feel that this film didn't go far enough about their deeds and misdeeds and you may ask the same question I did.  

Why?

Rosy the Reviewer says...adapted from the aforementioned documentary by Abe Sylvia and directed by Michael Showalter, this is an interesting film that is worth a look, particularly because of Jessica Chastain's "outside of the box" performance. (Netflix)

 


Being the Ricardos (2021)


A week in the life of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

You young-uns out there (anyone born after 1960 is a young-un to me), might not know who these people are or ever seen an episode of "I Love Lucy." But back in the day, that show was a household staple, and the star, Lucille Ball, is arguably considered one of the greatest comic actresses in history, mostly because of her amazing physical humor.  Who can forget Lucy doing a commercial for the supplement vitameatavegamin and getting drunk on it (she didn't know it had alcohol in it) or her stint working in a candy factory where the assembly line got the better of her?  I could go on and on.  "I Love Lucy" was not just a household staple during the 1950's, it was also a staple of my childhood.

This film begins with Lucy (Nicole Kidman) already at the top of her game, but behind the scenes she is anything but the silly Lucy character she plays on her TV show.  In real life she is all business as she works to make her show better, deal with her husband, Desi's (Javier Bardem), suspected infidelities and fight off an accusation from Walter Winchell (no, not the donuts, he was an influential gossip columnist) that she is a Communist at a time when the House Un-American Activities Committee was going after actors suspected of liberal leanings. She was also pregnant and worried about how that would affect the show since TV not only never showed pregnant women, the word itself was taboo.  

And all of that was just one week in her life! 

And that perhaps is the weakness of this film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin.  It's all over the place and tries to tackle too many issues.  Yes, Lucy was a shrewd business woman who belied the nutty character she played on TV.  Yes, Desi was a cheater.  And yes, she "checked the wrong box" once on a voter registration card.  But there was more to all three of those stories and the film just didn't delve deep enough, though we do learn some things about Lucy that perhaps we didn't know such as why she never became a big movie star and why she wanted to do a TV show (so she and Desi could be together).

That said, I thought my biggest reservation was going to be Nicole Kidman as Lucy.  I just couldn't see it. But she lowered her voice just enough to approximate Lucy's gravelly voice and was particularly skillful at reproducing some of Lucy's most famous antics on the show. And though she is way too skinny for Lucy or any other 50's woman for that matter, she pulled it all off. I found myself believing she was Lucy.  Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance and J.K. Simmons as William Frawley were also believable.  However, Javier Bardem as Desi?  I didn't buy it.  Much as I respect him for his acting, he was just too beefy and didn't exude the charm that Desi inately had that would explain why he was such a ladies man.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite some reservations, this was still a satisfying film experience that honored Lucille Ball and brought back many happy memories of my childhood, though I could do without being reminded of the House Un-American Activities Commission (Amazon Prime).



What Happened Brittany Murphy? (2021)


An investigation into the mysterious death of actress Brittany Murphy.

Brittany Murphy was a successful actress in the 1990's who made her feature film debut as Tai Frasier in "Clueless" and went on to have critical success in such films as "Girl, Interrupted" and "8 Mile" among others. This two-part docuseries investigates her untimely and mysterious death at the age of 32. And to make matters even more mysterious, her husband died several months later of the same illness under the same mysterious circumstances.

Murphy was a successful actress whose career seemed to take a turn for the worse when she met her husband Simon Monjack, who appeared to be a con man and one of those guys who needed to run things.  Not having much going on before he met Murphy, when they married, he not only took over her career but appeared to take over her life, isolating her from others.  He also seemed to be one of those guys who liked wraiths. She lost a lot of weight after marrying him and didn't look well.  Let's just say that when she met him, she lost much of the joie de vivre for which she was known.  

Her death was a shock to those who knew her.  

An autopsy report said that the manner of death was "accidental" and the cause of death was pneumonia with secondary factors of severe iron-deficienty anemia and multiple over-the-counter drug intoxication meant to treat a cold or respiratory infection. Even more shocking was the death of Monjack soon after of seemingly similar causes. But huh?  There was no real reason for a seemingly healthy 32-year-old woman to just die. Murphy's mother lived with them and, after Brittany's death, she and Monjack went on a talk show tour of sorts, being interviewed about Brittany and there was a decided "ick factor" to that and their relationship (she would supposedly crawl into bed with Monjack to comfort him after Brittany died - double ick).  What was Brittany's mother's role?  We will never know.

This series, directed by Cynthia Hill, tries to figure out just what happened and though, frustratingly, there are no easy answers offered, the implication here is that Brittany was yet another young woman who had everything going for her but was vulnerable to her insecurities and met the wrong guy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If, like me, you are a sucker for true crime and unsolved mystery stuff, especially when it involves celebrities, you will like this. (HBO Max)   


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)



Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Best TV Series of 2021

Start 2022 out right bingeing...er, watching some great TV.  Here is a handy list to help you, compliments of Rosy the Reviewer.  

You are welcome.


The Shrink Next Door


An insecure Marty Markowitz seeks therapy and meets Dr. Ike, who turns his life around for the good...until Dr. Ike takes over Marty's life entirely...and that's bad.

Based on a true story and an award-winning Wondery podcast, Marty (Will Ferrell), who struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, seeks help from Dr. Ike (Paul Rudd), whose charm wins Marty over until he trusts Dr. Ike completely. Dr. Ike is very charismatic. At first Dr. Ike helps Marty...but then Dr. Ike takes over Marty's life. You see, Marty may be insecure, but he is rich, and when Dr. Ike sees Marty's Hamptons home, he goes ka-ching! He wants what Marty has and what Marty can give him, so Dr. Ike breaks boundary after boundary and all with Marty's approval -- for over 30 years.

Created by Georgia Pritchet and directed by Michael Showalter and Jesse Peretzthe story will grab you from the first episode but brace yourself. It can get very frustrating as Marty gives Dr. Ike more and more control over his life. When Marty gives Dr. Ike and his wife his bedroom in the main house and moves into the guest house, I wanted to slap Marty and say "Snap out of it!"
This is Will Ferrell as you have never seen him. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen him in a dramatic role before. And Paul Rudd? Well, likewise. He doesn't look anything like Ant-Man or People's Sexiest Man Alive here. But both are believable in this story of transference between a therapist and a patient that runs amok. It's an intriguing story that will draw you in. And Kathryn Hahn as Marty's sister, Phyllis, who is suspicious of Dr. Ike from the start, is wonderful as usual.
Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like true crime stories enacted by a great cast, this is for you. (Apple+)


Dopesick



Oh, the evil that men do. Well, most of the evildoers are men in this eight-part biopic that is not about a person, but about a drug – oxycontin. It tells the story of its birth, its life and the people it hurt.

The main evildoer here is Richard Sackler (Michael Stuhlbarg), part of the rich and supposedly benevolent Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, not to be confused with Perdue Farms. Those are the chicken people. These are the evil drug people who not only came up with oxycontin but figured out a way to make it a major part of our culture during the 1990’s.
Sackler and his cronies were able to get the FDA to not only approve oxycontin, but to put a label on it saying that the drug was not addictive. Then when the effectiveness of the drug was questioned, Sackler came up with the term “breakthrough pain,” meaning, oh, when that happens you just need to double the dose.

But then, he and his fellow evildoers came up with something really genius – “Pain is the 5th vital sign.” You know that little pain sign they use in the hospital, asking you how bad your pain is from 1-10 and it has those little faces on it? Yep. Them. They were able to get hospitals, doctors and nurses to buy in to “getting ahead of the pain.” And how do they do that? Why, pain medication, of course.

Oh, I forgot. One more thing. Addiction? No. It’s called pseudo-addiction. If someone appears to be addicted, it doesn’t mean they are addicted to oxycontin, it means their pain hasn’t been addressed. THEY NEED MORE PAIN MEDS! Sheesh. And then they funded what appeared to be non-profit, non-partisan “pain societies” to legitimize their drug. Sheesh again.
Through shady marketing and an aggressive sales force, American doctors who really wanted to help their patients be free of pain, were duped into believing that oxycontin was the pain medication of choice because it was non-addictive. All of this to get the public addicted to oxycontin so that the Sackler family could become even richer.
But then a couple of guys from the local Virginia attorney general’s office get involved as does the DEA. And none too soon… but they have an uphill battle.
Michael Keaton stars as Dr. Samuel Finnix, a folksy doctor in southwestern Virginia who still makes house calls and really cares about his patients, mostly injured coal miners. He is befriended by a pharmaceutical salesman (Will Poulter) and roped into believing the hype about oxycontin until he is faced with the reality of his own opioid addiction. Keaton is brilliant in this role (expect awards). Likewise, Rosario Dawson, John Hoogenakker and Peter Sarsgaard as federal investigators and Kaitlyn Deaver as a young drug addicted coal miner are all standouts.

Rosy the Reviewer says…created by Danny Strong, this is a cautionary tale about how easy it is for, not just the American public, but doctors to be sold a bill of goods based on shoddy research and lies. A depressing but wonderful series that is a warning. My warning? Don’t miss it.
(Hulu)


Yellowjackets


A girls’ high school soccer team from New Jersey – the Yellowjackets – is headed to an important tournament in Seattle when their plane goes down and they are stranded in a remote Canadian wilderness where they have to fend for themselves for 19 months. And what happens during those 19 months is not pretty.

This is “Lord of the Flies” meets “The Wilds” but what sets this apart from both of those is that we get to see not just some of what happened out there in the wilderness – let’s just say, not everyone who survived the plane crash came back - but also what happened to the girls 25 years later as adults.
The story cuts back and forth between 1996 and the present day and we get to know Natalie (Juliette Lewis, Sophie Thatcher), Misty (Christina Ricci, Samantha Hanratty), Shauna (Melanie Lynskey, Sophie Nelisse), Taissa (Tawny Cypress, Jasmin Savoy Brown) and the others as teens, then as survivors in the wilderness and then later as adults back in the “real world.”

When we first meet the adult "girls," they appear to have moved on from the trauma of what happened 25 years ago, but then a mysterious postcard arrives, bringing it all back, threatening to expose their secrets. You see, survival has a way of bringing out one’s true colors. And some rose to the occasion and some…didn't.
Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, the series features an excellent ensemble cast led by Lewis, Ricci, Lynsky and Cypress, all very different actresses who play very different characters. Likewise, their young counterparts. Natalie (Thatcher) was a rebel in high school and has had a tough adulthood (Lewis) as in drug addiction; Misty (Hanratty) was a nerd in high school, picked on by the popular girls and appears to have turned into a passive aggressive but still nerdy adult (Ricci); Shauna (Nelisse) was popular in high school but married her high school sweetheart and is now bored stiff as a housewife (Lynskey); and Taissa (Brown) was a competitive girl in high school and is running for Senate as an adult (Cypress).

Just what really happened out there in the wilderness and what is going to happen now to these women 25 years later?

Lewis ("Cape Fear") and Ricci ("The Adams Family") both had big moments of fame as young girls that made them stars. Lynsky was also an actress who started young and, though her career has done well, she has never really had that role that turned her into a household name, well, a household name in regular movie-going households. She is an unlikely movie actress in that she looks like a regular girl. I say girl because I remember seeing her very early in her career, in her first feature film, starring with Kate Winslet in "Heavenly Creatures." And she made a big impression on me because of her understated but strange and riveting performance. She has a quiet but strong presence that has a sort of ominous edge and she was the quiet, ominous edge in this. And underrated actress who needs to become a household name (in, like I said, those regular movie-going households).

This series was a huge hit for Showtime and you know what happens to "huge hits," right? They keep going, so it ends with a cliffhanger, but thankfully, Season 2 is in the works. Can't wait!
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like horror, it’s got it. If you like survival situations, check. If you enjoy coming of age stories, yep. And you want an interesting story with twists and turns and great acting? Hell, yes!

Emily in Paris - Season 2


A young American girl from Chicago gets a chance to live and work in Paris.

When Season Two begins, Emily (Lily Collins, yes, Phil's daughter) is back and still living in Paris, trying to  bring an American point of view to a French marketing firm. Her Parisien colleagues have warmed up to her a bit since Season One, but not that much. Emily's friend, Mindy (Ashley Park), shares an apartment with Emily and the series gives us more of her story as she tries to get her singing career started. And then there is the "to die for handsome" Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) who is back, creating a romantic dilemma for our Emily. As you may remember, they shared some romance last season (the best night of her life), but now Emily is wracked with guilt because he is really her friend, Camille's (Camille Razat), boyfriend. What to do? But then, enter the handsome Alfie (Lucien Laviscount). Mmmm. What to do? 

Created by Darren Star (the guy behind "Sex and the City,"), if you enjoyed Season One, this is still a frothy confection of a show, Paris is still beautiful and Lily sports the usual fastastically original clothes. I couldn't help but wonder how Emily could afford those clothes on what she must have been making as an "influencer," but this series is not meant for that kind of deep thought or any other kind, for that matter. It's meant to help you escape.  I binged the entire season while taking a long, eight-hour bumpy plane ride.  I highly recommend it.  The series, not the plane ride.

Rosy the Reviewer says...grab a glass of wine, get into your armchair, and join Emily in Paris. C'est délicieux! (a Season three is in the offing - Netflix).


And here is a handy list of the other great series of 2021 that I reviewed over the last year (click on the title link for the complete review)


Squid Game


A group of people hopelessly in debt play children's games to win a big prize.  The downside?  You lose, you die. (This is the all-time most watched show on Netflix and has garnered several Emmy awards).

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like dark but original and engrossing TV fare, this is for you! (Netflix)


Bridgerton



Wealthy and sexy shenanigans in Regency England. Ladies, if you haven't yet met the Duke of Hastings (Rege-Jean Page), brace yourselves.

Rosy the Reviewer says..."I burn for you." Sigh.  Enough said. (Netflix)


Ted Lasso

An American college football coach (Jason Sudeikis) with no experience in soccer is recruited to run AFC Richmond, a London soccer team. Huh? Interesting characters and screwball antics ensue.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you like soccer, fish out of water stories and some positivity in this time of so much negativity, this is for you! (Apple+)


All Creatures Great and Small


James Herriot and his cronies are back in a new version of this beloved show.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you love British dramas, the beautiful English countryside and humorous, warm-hearted stories, you will love this. (Find Season 1 on PBS Masterpiece and Amazon Prime- Season Two starts January 9, 2022 on PBS)


The Morning Show

A dramatization of the emotional and political life backstage at a TV morning show where the male anchor has been fired for sexual harassment.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you enjoy behind the scene exposes of television productions anchored by great performances, you will enjoy this. (Two seasons - Apple+)


Hacks


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

Rosy the Reviewer says...many well-deserved Emmy nominations for this series with a performance by Smart that is one of the best of the season! (HBO Max and Xfinity)


Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet stars as a detective in a small Pennsylvania town investigating a murder while dealing with her own turmoil.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Winslet as you have never seen her (she nails the Pennsylvania accent)! Many well-deserved Emmy nominations for this gritty and real detective drama. (HBO Max and Xfinity)


The Serpent


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.

Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like true crime, this is as good as it gets.
(Netflix)


McCartney 3,2,1


In six 30-minute episodes, Sir Paul discusses his songwriting philosophy and reminisces about life as a Beatle in this intimate portrait with music producer Rick Rubin asking the questions and playing Beatles' tracks for Paul to comment on.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this captures the real Paul. It's all very candid and honest and you feel like a fly on the wall. (Hulu)


The White Lotus

A satiric and rather dark comedy that follows guests and staff at the White Lotus, an exclusive Hawaiian resort, over the course of a week and let’s just say a lot can happen in a week.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a satire about race, class and white privilege that is darkly funny and gets its point across in a satisfying and entertaining way. (HBO Max)


The Beast Must Die


A woman grieving the hit-and-run death of her six-year-old son seeks revenge.

Rosy the Reviewer says…this is a riveting vengeance story but what makes it special is Cush Jumbo’s performance and that face of hers… one of the most expressive faces in film today.  (AMC+ and for rent on Amazon and Vudu)


The Unforgotten on Masterpiece

DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil "Sunny" Khan try to solve a murder that occurred 39 years ago.

Rosy the Reviewer say…if you appreciate really good crime drama, this is it, but brace yourself for a huge and sad twist in true British crime fashion. (PBS - On Demand - Xfinity)


Maid

A young mother takes her daughter and leaves an abusive relationship to work as a house cleaner to try to make a better life for them both.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like shows with well-drawn, strong characters and an engrossing story, this is for you. And Margaret Qualley shines as she plays alongside her real-life mother, Andie McDowell, Andie in a role as you have never seen her. (Netflix) 


Only Murders in the Building

When a young man is found dead in his New York City apartment, three neighbors team up to solve the murder and what better way to solve a murder than to start a podcast? It's actually a comedy and what better way to get laughs than to put Steve Martin and Martin Short together? Selena Gomez rounds out the team so those two don't get too carried away!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a charming and funny murder mystery series reminiscent of classic movies from the 1930's. If you like old-fashioned whodunnits, this is for you. (Hulu)



What We Do in the Shadows

A satiric comedy about centuries-old vampires living in modern day Staten Island.  Staten Island? That concept alone is funny.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you loved "This is Spinal Tap," you will enjoy this.  It's the same kind of humor (and it helps if you love vampires)! (Hulu)


(NOTE:  If you can't find a series you want to watch, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow 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)!