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.

Mmmm...

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!

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)



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