Wednesday, June 29, 2022

"Elvis" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new "Elvis" biopic as well as the movie "Stillwater" and the documentary series "Bad Vegan." The Book of the Week is "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of an American Fortune"]

Elvis (2022)

Director Baz Luhrmann's two hour and 39 minute take on the life of Elvis Presley.

This movie could also have been called "Colonel Parker" or "Colonel Parker and Elvis," because it is as much, if not more, about Colonel Parker as Elvis.  He was Elvis's manager, almost a Svengali, and is the narrator of the film as he tries to prove that he wasn't a crook and didn't abuse Elvis.  

Or the film could have been called "The Baz Luhrmann Show" because Luhrmann throws everything he's got at this long, long film - split screens, animation, film footage, flashbacks, flash forwards, ominous music, and an epilogue of footage of the real Elvis from his early days to the end, in case you weren't paying attention during the first two and a half hours. It's frantic, over-the-top and A LOT! But there is a lot that's good.   

The film follows Elvis from his early days as a boy living in a mostly black neighborhood, attending black tent revivals and being filled with the holy spirit, which Luhrmann attributes to Elvis's wild, hip swinging movements when he performed. And it was Elvis's love of rhythm and blues that popularized him with white folks.  But it was that very same thing that got him in trouble in the segregated South.  The white girls loved Elvis but their white Daddy's did not. They didn't like Elvis the Pelvis singing that devil music. Supposedly Colonel Parker made him join the Army to clean up his image. Was that really true?  Who knows?  

After the army, Elvis's story is fairly well known.  He married Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge), they had little Lisa Marie, he became a movie star and then when his star began to fade he had a famous comeback.  You know the one - the black leather Elvis period.  And then there was the residency in Las Vegas, that also according to Luhrmann, is what killed him because Colonel Parker just would not let him stop.  Elvis was Colonel Parker's meal ticket to cancel his debts and allow him to gamble at will.

And it's Parker's story that is probably unfamiliar to the general public.  He was always there with Elvis and guided his career (taking 50% of everything), but he was a shadowy figure.  Here we learn he was an ex-carny who was known as The Snowman because he could "snow" anyone and that's what he sold to Elvis. He was also not a colonel, nor was his name Tom Parker.  He was born Andreas Cornelis (Dries) van Kuijk, was from Holland and his American citizenship was dubious.  Hence the plot line where Elvis wanted to tour abroad but Parker did everything he could be prevent it, probably because he had no passport. Yes, he made Elvis a star, but according to this film he also contributed to Elvis's death. Luhrmann made sure we knew he was a bad guy because whenever Parker was around or made a trenchant statement, ominous music played. 

Tom Hanks chews the proverbial scenery as Parker.  He's all padded and pancaked up and if the make-up team that did what they did to make him look like Parker doesn't get an Oscar nod, I will be surprised. I enjoyed Hanks' performance and I will also be surprised if he doesn't get an Oscar nod as well.

But the real kudos go to Austin Butler who plays Elvis.  

He embodies Elvis at all stages of his career, from the hip-swiveling 50's to his stint in the army to his film roles to his TV specials to his Las Vegas residency to his last bloated appearance.  He is believable at every turn.  He supposedly studied Elvis for two years, read every book about him and watched every movie and special and it paid off.  I thought I was watching Elvis. This guy is going to go far and I see an Oscar in his future as well. 

But speaking of bloated. The unhealthy, aging, drug-addicted Elvis is given less than 30 minutes of this bloated film, and before I go on, let me rant a bit. No movie should be two hours and 39 minutes unless it's "Gone With the Wind," and I am even having second thoughts about that one.  Movies seem to be getting longer and longer and directors more and more long-winded.  They can't seem to edit themselves. Luhrmann could have pulled this film in at two hours and he would have still been able to say what he wanted to say.  And he had a lot to say about the influence of blues and gospel music on Elvis, about racism, segregation, capitalism, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and more. Maybe he tried to say too much.  

Despite my wondering if everything in this film was true about Elvis (I think Luhrmann used some dramatic license here and there), the film, written by Luhrmann, Sam Bromell and Craig Pearce has the blessing of Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley and I see why.  Priscilla is shown in the best possible light and as the real love of Elvis's life. No marital fights and no mention that she was only 14 when they met. Elvis is shown in the best possible light too. There was no mention of Elvis's obsession with Nixon or his really bad eating habits which led to his weight gain and bad health, and his womanizing, shooting up TV screens and drugs are given short shrift. It's Parker who is not portrayed in a good light.  In fact, he is portrayed as the villain. 

Despite some of my reservations, if you loved Elvis and you don't mind really long films, Butler does him proud and the music and performances are wonderful.  The film is also beautiful to look at though at times frantic.

Rosy the Reviewer says...wait, let me catch my breath...I was kind of out of breath after seeing this film because it was A LOT.  It was stylish and beautiful to look at, the kind of epic experience that only Baz Luhrmann can deliver. If you like A LOT and you love Elvis, you will enjoy this. Just don't have too much to drink before you go! It's a loooong movie! (In theatres)

Stillwater (2021)

An Oklahoma father moves to France to try to help his imprisoned daughter.

Matt Damon is Everyman because he can play every man.  Here he plays Bill Baker, a sometime oil worker, a sometime construction worker, a sometime handyman from Stillwater, Oklahoma.  He has had a tough past with drinking and drugs and has been estranged from his daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin), but now he's clean and he wants to help her.  She is in prison in France for murdering her girlfriend but claims she didn't do it.  She also says she has new evidence that will clear her if only her lawyer would reopen her case. Supposedly there is prison gossip that a guy named Akim did it, so Bill travels to Marseilles to talk to her lawyer. When her lawyer says she can't help, Bill takes the case into his own hands.

Bill is a religious good old boy who not only doesn't speak French, he doesn't have much concept of European culture. The first thing he does when he gets to Marseilles is get a Subway sandwich to eat in his Best Western hotel room. But he's a good guy who fortunately meets Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her precocious young daughter, Maya (Lilou Siauvaud), who help him navigate Marseille and the French legal system.  And let's just say, Marseille isn't a charming French village.  It has its rough edges and there are people who don't like nosy Americans asking about a guy named Akim.

And then there is the whole murky issue of Allison's guilt or innocence that hangs over the film.  Did she do it?

Written by Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey, Noe Debre and Thomas Bidegain and directed by McCarthy (who also directed the Oscar winning "Spotlight"), one can't help but draw a comparison here to Amanda Knox, the American girl studying in Italy, who was convicted of killing her roommate, despite her protestations of innocence. 

But there is more to this film than the guilt or innocence of Bill's daughter.  This is also a story of family relationships, a clash of cultures including those within France itself, a fish out of water, and second chances with some vigilantism thrown in. Bill may be from Stillwater, Oklahoma, but "still waters run deep."  Get it?  With that said, perhaps this film tried to do too much, and as the film wrapped up, there were several unbelievable plot twists that left me saying "Huh?"

But Matt Damon's performance saves the day.  He is one of those actors who is believable no matter what he plays.  He can play an astronaut marooned on Mars ("The Martian"), a zookeeper ("We Bought a Zoo") or an ex-CIA assassin on the run (the Bourne series) and you believe him.  French Actress Cottin is also believable.  You may recognize her from "Killing Eve" and "House of Gucci." And Abigail Breslin is all grown up.  I didn't recognize her at first but she has matured into a fine actress, though she doesn't have very much to do here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though there are a few "Huh?" moments, all-in-all this is a satisfying, though perhaps overlong, film experience thanks to the wonderful performance by Damon.
(On DVD, Showtime, and for rent on most platforms)

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives (2022)

A successful NYC vegan restauranteur meets a guy who says he can make her dog immortal and then everything goes to hell.

Sarma Melngailis seemingly had it all.  She was beautiful, smart and had a popular New York City vegan restaurant called "Pure Food and Wine."  Celebrities like Alec Baldwin were regulars and he actually met his wife, Hilaria, there (after actually flirting a bit with Sarma). Both Forbes and New York Magazine named it one of the top restaurants in New York City.  Everything was going along smoothly until Anthony Strangis AKA Shane Fox slid into Sarma's DM's.  

Anthony or Shane was a con man and gambler who used elaborate mind games on Sarma and convinced her that he could make them both immortal, including her beloved dog, Leon. She just had to believe him. So she married the guy, they stole money from her own restaurant and went on the run. You can't make this stuff up, people.  

As crazy as all of this sounds, director Chris Smith (who also brought us "Tiger King") does a good job of telling this story, how someone as smart as Sarma could be lured into the nutty world Anthony created. This four-part docuseries follows Sarma through her meeting Anthony or Shane or whomever he was, marrying him, embezzling money from her own restaurant, ($1.6 million) and going on the run, leaving the restaurant and her employees high and dry.  The story is told through a series of interviews with past employees, investors and celebrities. 

Sarma herself cooperated with this docuseries and tells her story without the help of Anthony, who wasn't happy about it. She claims it was all him, he brainwashed her and just wore her out so much she couldn't think. Turns out, in the end, Sarma wasn't happy with the docuseries either.  Check out how it ends. You will have to decide just how culpable she was.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this series shows that reality really is so much stranger than fiction and why it's so much fun. And here's the most fun part. The two were eventually caught after using a credit card to buy a pizza from Dominoes! I wonder if it was vegan!

***The Book of the Week***

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of an American Fortune by Bill Dedman

Who was Huguette Clark and why did she have so many empty mansions?

F. Scott Fitzgerald said "...the very rich...are different from you and me."  You got that right, F. Scott.  They have more money.  Though actually, I don't think they are that different. They just have enough money to allow themselves to give into their personal craziness.

And here is just such a story.

This is the fascinating story of Huguette Clark, a woman who inherited millions of dollars when her father W.A. Clark died.  It's strange that W.A. Clark is unknown today because in his day he was probably richer than Rockefeller.  During the late 1800s, he was one of the "Copper Kings."  He was also a politician, was involved in banking and railroads and was one of the founders of Las Vegas.  He built a "palace" in New York City, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventy-Seventh, right in the middle of Millionaire's Row, "up the avenue from Vanderbilt and Astor, down from Carnegie. By the time it was finished in 1911, was 'without doubt the most costly and, perhaps, the most beautiful private residence in America" and was estimated to have cost the equivalent of $250 million in today's dollars. It was nine stories high and consisted of 121 rooms - 26 bedrooms, 31 bathrooms, five art galleries, a Turkish bath, swimming pool, a storage room for furs and more, with 17 servants in attendance and that is where Huguette lived from the age of five to eighteen. Yes, the very rich are different from you and me.

Huguette was one of two daughters that Clark had later in life when he married his second wife, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle.  He was 62 and she was 23. The first daughter, Andree, died at 17 of meningitis, leaving Huguette as the only child of that marriage. 


Huguette spent her early years in France but eventually moved to New York and after a marriage and divorce and inheriting millions when her father died, became a recluse, collecting dolls, watching "The Smurfs," and spending the most of her later years in a hospital, even though she wasn't sick. Why?

Despite owning estates in New Canaan, Connecticut ("Le Beau Chateau") and Santa Barbara ("Bellosguardo" which will soon be open to the public) and several floors in an apartment building on Fifth Avenue in New York, in later life, Huguette never lived in any of them, though she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain those residences as if she would return at any moment. But she never did. They remained empty. Why?

Huguette lived to be 105 and left $300 million and two wills, one that shared her fortune among relatives, the second left most of it to charity, but $30 million to her nurse and $12 million to her goddaughter.  Mmmm.  Needless to say, the second will was contested. Was she coerced by those closest to her at the end to change her will?

With the help of one of Huguette's cousins, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few people to be in contact with Huguette through the years, Dedman attempts to answer those questions and shed light on this very rich and eccentric but practically unknown heiress. But this is not just the story of Huguette. It's also the stories of her father, W.A. Clark, her mother, those who surrounded her...and those empty mansions.  It's a piece of little known history.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are interested in The Gilded Age, enjoy historical biographies about eccentric people with architecture as a theme or you just like a fascinating story, this is for you.  And it's not surprising that the film version of this book has been optioned by Ryan Murphy!
(Check it out from your local library)

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 

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, 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)

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

"Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new Hulu film, "Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" as well as  "Blacklight" and an anime classic that somehow I missed, "Spirited Away."  The Book of the Week is “Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and the Romance of the Century” by Stephen Galloway]

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (2022)

Widow and ex-school teacher Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) hires a young sex worker so she can experience some good sex!

I never thought I would ever say a movie that is all about sex was sweet but I am going to say it. This film was sweet.  But it was also charming and wonderful.

Widow Nancy was married for 31 years and the sex was the slam-bam-thank-you- ma'am variety and she had never experienced an orgasm.  Her husband was also the only man she had ever been with. Oh, she has had opportunities to be with other men since her husband's death but they were all old.  She doesn't want old, she wants to be with a young man and to experience some good sex.  So she hires a young handsome (and I DO mean handsome) sex worker named Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) to learn about the joys of sex. So she books a lovely London hotel room, meets Leo and is then utterly terrified and wondering what she has done.  Over the course of four meetings, Leo is patient, non-judgmental and amazingly understanding as Nancy works through her fears and old beliefs and patterns.

This film, written by Katy Brand and directed by Sophie Hyde, is what the Brits call a two-hander. It's just two people, Nancy and Leo, meeting over the course of a few weeks and Nancy trying to get up the courage to try all of the sex situations she has on her list.  So they talk...and talk...and talk.  But don't get me wrong. It is not boring.  In fact, it's quite wonderful.

Emma as Nancy displays the whole range of emotions that a woman of a certain age might feel meeting a gorgeous and very young kind man, a woman trying to spread her wings and, uh, have an orgasm.  Thompson is a wonder of an actress and is at the top of her game. But McCormack holds his own.  As I said, he is gorgeous so just watching him gave me a bit of a flutter.  But he is also a good actor who shows vulnerability and kindness.

Yes, it's all about sex, but there is much more.  The film also deals with aging, body image, self-empowerment, not to mention a plug for legalizing sex work but all-in-all, it's a lovely, er, satisfying film experience that is not to be missed.  And I predict a long successful career for an actor!

Rosy the Reviewer matter how you feel about a movie about sex, this one will make you smile.(Hulu)

Blacklight (2022)

Liam Neeson is a deep cover FBI operative with a shadowy past and when his past catches up with him, he has to save his family.

Okay, I know, I know. How many iterations of “Taken” is Liam going to star in? But you know what? I don’t care. He has “a very particular set of skills” that I like, so they could film him putting on his shoes and I would watch. Yes, you might think he is getting a bit long in the tooth for this stuff but, c’mon, look at that movie poster. He’s still got it. He is such a nice big tall man and with that Irish lilt in his voice…sigh. What woman wouldn’t want to…well, you know…ahem…be rescued by him? Yes, you will chuckle at some of the really serious lines he delivers but I believe everything he says and does.
Anyway, this time Liam plays Travis Block, a deep cover FBI agent with some OCD, a penchant for Bud Lights and the desire to retire and become a good grandpa. His job is rescuing other deep cover agents who have lost it or gone rogue. But when Sofia Flores, a progressive politician who is running for Congress and who looks just like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, is mowed down in a hit and run and one of Block’s operatives contacts a reporter with information about it that implicates the FBI, Block discovers corruption at the FBI (I guess the FBI didn't like progressives). He confronts his boss, who he thought was his friend and mentor, but it doesn’t go well and then his daughter and granddaughter disappear – IT’S GAME ON!
Written by Nick May and Mark Williams (from a story by Brandon Reevis) and directed by Williams, this has all of the usual Liam Neeson thriller tropes: ominous music, rather unbelievable fist fights, guns, car chases - though I had never seen a Dodge Charger chasing a garbage truck before - and Liam using his “particular skills” to nail the bad guys – all the usual stuff you have come to expect in these Liam Neeson thrillers, though in light of recent events, the gun fight was rather stomach churning.

Rosy the Reviewer it a good movie? Not really but if you enjoy Liam in his predictable troubled hero role and want to see the bad guys get what's coming to them, you will probably like this. (On DVD, Apple+ and for rent on most platforms)

Spirited Away (2001)

A ten-year-old girl finds herself in a strange fantasy world.

I have to confess a little crack in Rosy the Reviewer’s movie cred. I just don’t understand how I missed this one. I mean, I worked my way through all of “The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” book, and I guess I thought I had seen this one, but when it came to my attention recently as the most celebrated animated film of all time, I had to ask myself, “Had I?”
I had not.
When I say the most celebrated animated film ever, I’m not kidding. It was not only Japan’s highest grossing film of all time, it is considered by some the greatest animated film ever. It is #6 on IMDB’s “1001 Greatest Films of All Time” and won the Oscar for Best Animated feature film in 2001, the only non-English animated film to have done so and it was hand-drawn as opposed to all of the computer generated films we now have.
Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and dubbed in English, it tells the story of 10-year-old Chihiro (voice of Daveigh Chase) who is on her way to her new home in the suburbs with her parents when they take a wrong turn and discover a mysterious tunnel. They explore the tunnel and find themselves in what looks like an abandoned amusement park. Chihiro’s parents discover a food shop that is open, the counter filled with food. Her parents stuff themselves with the food (Chihiro isn’t hungry) and are turned into pigs, and it’s all one crazy adventure after another for Chihiro as she makes her way around this strange fantasy world, “Alice in Wonderland” style.
This is one of those animated films that will appeal to all ages. Kids will enjoy it because there are all kinds of wild shape-shifting creatures and a lesson about friendship. Adults can get into the deeper messages of western consumerism and the environment as well as the beauty of the animation itself and be blown away by the fact that it was so meticulously hand drawn frame by frame.
Rosy the Reviewer says…I am not usually a huge animation fan but this is a very special film that everyone should see. Am I glad I finally saw this? Yes! You will be too!
(Available on DVD, on HBO Max and for rent on most platforms)

***The Book of the Week***

Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and the Romance of the Century by Stephen Galloway (2022)

American audiences probably know Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” and possibly also as Blanche Du Bois in “A Streetcar Named Desire (she won Oscars for both performances)” and Laurence Olivier gained widespread acclaim as a movie actor as Maxim de Winter in “Rebecca” and as Heathcliff in “Wuthering Heights,” but what Americans might not know is before that, they were both British stage actors, most notably Olivier, who brought Shakespeare to the masses.
But perhaps what made them even more famous was their epic love affair and the aftermath.
When the two met, they fell “truly, madly” in love. Unfortunately, they were both married to other people, and in those days, a woman, unless she could prove abuse or abandonment, could not get a divorce without her husband’s permission. Yes, you heard me. And Vivien’s husband was not about to give her a divorce. But Olivier and Leigh couldn’t live without each other and eventually did marry. They lived and worked together for 20 years hoping to become the British version of Lunt and Fontaine until Vivien’s mental illness drove them apart.
Though Galloway’s prose is at times a bit overly dramatic, the Olivier and Leigh love story was a dramatic one and he includes new research, unpublished correspondence and interviews with family and friends and lots of behind the scenes anecdotes. It’s juicy.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you are fans of Leigh and Olivier or want to know more about them or you miss The Golden Age of Hollywood, this is for you! And here’s a fun fact. My little beloved poodle, Tarquin, was named after Olivier’s son!
(Check it out at your local library)!

(Tarquin as Romeo)

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 

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, 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, June 2, 2022

"Downton Abbey: A New Era" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Downton Abbey movie - "Downton Abbey: A New Era," as well as the movie "Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the TV series "Physical."]

This blog post represents a turning point for Rosy the Reviewer.  

It represents the first time I have been back in a movie theatre since Covid and the Stay-At-Home order, two and one half years ago.  I vividly remember the last movie I saw in the theatre - "Emma."  Watching and reviewing that film, I had no idea what was to come. And then, when Covid hit, that closed up theatre in my small town was a constant reminder of what used to be, because that movie poster stayed on the outside of that closed theatre for almost two years.

But now I'm back at the theatre! And you faithful Rosy the Reviewer fans will recognize the old format.  

When I first started this blog back in 2013, I published twice a week.  On Tuesdays I would rant about retirement, life, how not to get a bad table at a restaurant, talk about fashion and ruminate on how I would do on "Naked and Afraid" or to throw out questions like "Will Your Husband Cheat?"( Okay, I feel your judgment but even the best of us can't be serious and depressed about the state of the world all of the time. We have to have some fun some time).

And then on Fridays I would publish a review of a current movie showing in the theatre along with "The Week in Reviews," DVDs and TV shows I watched that week as well as a book review and reviews of concerts or restaurants. I can't believe I was as prolific as I was but I stuck to that schedule for years.  Then I moved into just the once a week Friday movie and DVD reviews and then Covid hit, so my blog changed again - talking about the virus and reviewing what I was able to watch at home.  

And, by the way, thank you Netflix, Prime, Hulu and you other platforms.  You stepped up and offered us so much content I certainly didn't miss out on movies and TV shows.  But then something else strange happened.  I stopped thinking of myself as a moviegoer. Why go out when I could stay at home, drink wine, eat snacks and wear my jammies and still watch movies?

So pros and cons of going out to the movies?

Pros - I get to see the movie right when it comes out on a big screen with great sound.

Cons - Twenty minutes of previews, people talking behind me or sitting next to me and coughing, no wine.


But here I am again.  This is a turning point.  Will I go back to my weekly forays out to the theatre?  Not sure but at least my beautiful toes have touched back in (and believe it, I have nice toes!)

So let's get on with it and celebrate.  And there is something to celebrate.  If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you will no doubt love this latest movie version.  And even if you were not a fan in the past, give it a try.  Enter this other world of privilege and forget your troubles for a couple of hours.

Only In Theatres

Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)

Hollywood comes calling to Downton.

As the film begins, it is now 1929 and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton) are getting married (fans will remember that Tom was Lord and Lady Grantham's family chauffeur, who married their daughter Sybil, who died in childbirth). And as the camera pans up the aisle of the church, fans will be happy to see all of their favorite characters. There is Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) with her characteristic seriousness and sometimes disapproving scowl; dithering Lord Granthan (Hugh Bonneville) and beautiful Lady Grantham (Elizaabeth McGovern); and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) as well as Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton) and all of the servants we have come to know and love. Everyone is back and they are all presided over by Violet Grantham (Maggie Smith), or Old Lady Grantham, as she is often referred to.   

In the first film version, the King and Queen paid a visit.  This time, Lord Grantham has been asked to allow a film to be made at Downton.  Naturally, he is aghast at such a thought, but Lady Mary, who has mostly taken over running Downton, reminds her father that the roof is leaking and Downton needs repairs that they cannot afford.  So it is decided that the film will happen. Despite some reservations by some of the servants, most are all aflutter at meeting movie stars Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock).

At the same time, Violet tells the family that she has inherited a villa in the South of France from a past admirer and she wants to give to Sybby (Fifi Hart), Tom's young daughter, since she is the only one who will not get a big inheritance.  But the identity of the admirer and why he would give Lady Grantham a villa is mystifying to everyone so off most of the family goes to see what's up with that villa...and to get away from those vile movie people.

So the film goes back and forth between those two plot lines - the making of the movie and the investigation of the villa and all of the characters get some screen time and a storyline, though some more than others.  Lots of characters, lots of storylines, all packed into just a little over two hours.

The movie storyline has a familiar plot that fans of "Singin in the Rain" will recognize.  The film being made at Downton is a silent film but talkies are taking over so the film is shut down until someone gives Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), the director, the idea to turn it into a talkie.  But here's the problem.  The beautiful leading lady has a voice like a truck driver.  What to do?  At the same time, the leading man is attracted to Barrow and makes him an offer he can't refuse.

In the South of France, while investigating the villa and it's former owner, Lord Grantham discovers something about his mother's past that upsets him.

Written by Julian Fellowes and directed by Simon Curtis, it's all very British, very proper and, though there are some surprises and some tears, it's very slow-moving. But that's okay. While watching, I couldn't help but hear the booming of the new "Top Gun" movie playing next door, and I couldn't help but see the dichotomy between the two films, the contrast between the time we live in now and Downton Abbey time. Yes, this movie moved at a snails pace and had no breathtaking cinematic tricks or heart-stopping acrobatics, but we fans of Downton Abbey don't care if the story moves slowly and the film lacks excitement, because we are here for a quieter experience, to revisit characters we care about and to go back to a time of civility, something that seems sadly lacking these days. And that's what we got.

Rosy the Reviewer says...just what Downton Abbey fans would expect and an enjoyable break from modern day turmoil that brought back some happy memories.  I was actually there at Highclere Castle where Downton is filmed, and when I was in that iconic drawing room, I touched every sofa and every curtain! It was fun for me watching the movie and remembering that day!

Now On DVD and Streaming

When her estranged father dies, a single mom inherits his farm where she and her two kids discover his connection to the original Ghostbusters.

The film begins with a high speed chase and the man being chased uses everything at his disposal to get away from the unseen forces chasing him. He is killed but he leaves a mysterious device behind.

Fast forward - Callie (Carrie Coon), the man's daughter, has inherited his farm and moves in with her two kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace). The farm is clearly in disrepair and they discover that her father was heavily involved with the paranormal. And guess what?  The house is haunted! That mysterious device her father left behind is a ghost trap and when Callie pushes the button, she unleashes a monster.  

Phoebe discovers that her grandfather was Egon Spengler (played by Harold Ramis, in the original "Ghostbusters," and who sadly is no longer with us) one of the original Ghostbusters, and with her round glasses and interest in science, Phoebe looks like him and is clearly meant to carry on her grandfather's legacy as is Trevor, who finds the old Ghostbusters car in his grandfather's garage.

The kids end up riding around in that car fighting off the forces of evil and end up in jail.  When they ask for a phone call, the cop asks...wait for it...all together now..."Who ya gonna call?"

I usually have an aversion to precocious kids but Trevor and Phoebe are engaging young actors. Maybe I am getting soft. And Carrie, you are not in "The Gilded Age" anymore, and actually she is much better as a modern mom. Paul Rudd plays a local seismologist who seems to be channeling Rick Moranis from the original film.

And that's what is going on here.  Lots and lots of nostalgia for the original film.  It is even directed by Jason Reitman, who is the son of Ivan, who directed that first "Ghostbusters." As with most sequels, this one, written by Reitman and Gil Kenan lacks the luster and originality of the first film, but there are all of those nods to that first one that you might enjoy - from the arrival of hundreds of mini-marshmallow babies to the ghost Muncher, who could be related to Slimer from the original, to the iconic theme song played at the end. You might have fun catching all of the references and inside jokes related to the 1984 film.  Or maybe not. 

And then here's the question. Do the remaining original Ghostbusters (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson) show up?  Duh. I mean, you got ghosts? Again, let's say it together..."Who ya gonna call?" And there is also a sweet and very sentimental (did I say VERY SENTIMENTAL) CGI homage to Ramis.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I know, I know.  This isn't "Citizen Kane" but it's a light diversion from all of the bad that is happening in the world. Is it as good as the original?  No, but if you miss that movie, this is a fun revival and kids will especially enjoy this. (On DVD and STARZ and available for rent on Apple+)

Now Streaming

Physical (2021)

A bored, angry and frustrated housewife, who also suffers from an eating disorder, finds meaning when she discovers aerobics.

It's 1981 and Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) is a lonely and very angry mom who tortures herself with negative self talk.  She also mentally bad mouths everyone else too.  She is a very unhappy woman battling personal demons, one of which is an eating disorder, which is depicted, so be warned. Sheila and her professor husband, Danny (Rory Scovel), have moved to San Diego from Berkeley. Sheila has anger issues because she gave up her career to care for their daughter and him, and he is a jerk. And things are not going well for Danny, who has been fired from his job. So what do you do when you get fired from your job teaching political science?  Well, you run for political office!  So that is another disruption to Sheila's already disorderly life.

But then she discovers Bunny's (Della Saba) aerobics classes in the newly opened mall and becomes obsessed. She discovers a way to empower herself. But she is still pissed off most of the time.

Remember those Jane Fonda aerobics videos?  "Feel the burn!"  Well, this series, created by Annie Weisman, embodies that, leotards and leg warmers and all things 80's. 

I watched all ten 30 minute episodes in one night, and it was strange watching this series from beginning to end, because even though I didn't really like any of the characters, I couldn't stop watching. It's that kind of series. 

I enjoyed seeing Rose Byrne carrying the weight of this series.  I always think of her as playing wives to the stars in comedies, but I am going to stop thinking of her that way. She has incredible range as an actress.

Rosy the Reviewer says....with its edgy and unusual concept, rather unlikable characters, and dark comedy, it's a strangely compelling series that brings back the 80's. Season 2 starts June 3 (Apple+)

And lest you think that all I did this week was watch movies and TV, you would only be partially correct.  I also went to a killer Boz Scaggs concert. Our rock heroes may be getting older, but with age comes more and more skill.  Boz still has it going on. 

If you have a chance to see him, highly recommended, so says Rosy the Reviewer!

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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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, 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)