Friday, August 26, 2022

If You Like Documentaries...

[I review some new documentaries: "The Princess," "Trainwreck: Woodstock '99," "The Most Hated Man on the Internet," and "The Tinder Swindler."]


The Princess (2022)

Marking the 25th anniversary of her death, a look back on the life of Princess Diana.

There have been many books, movies, TV shows and documentaries about Princess Diana in life, and, also, since her untimely death at the age of 36, but what sets this latest documentary apart is the fact that it contains no talking heads, no dramatizations and no narration, just the chronological telling of her story since her engagement to Prince Charles, using nothing but reportage, news coverage and various comments from the public and media.  After Princess Diana's and Charles' wedding, one commentator said that this is what fairy tales are made of and fairy tales end with "And they lived happily ever after."  Well, not this time.  In fact, right after the wedding as Prince Charles helps Diana out of the carriage, he already does not look happy. No need for narration.  The footage speaks for itself.

Of course, now we all know this was a marriage of convenience for him.  He was in love with another woman.  I

Despite a bad marriage, Diana was able to mature into an accomplished woman, a spokesperson for AIDS and leprosy patients, children, the disabled, the homeless and she also helped in the call for an international eradication of land mines, something her son Prince Harry has also taken on now.

This is Diana's story through the media coverage that hounded her, and some say, contributed to her death.  She began as a shy young girl whom everyone loved. During the 80's, when England was in a recession with cultural unrest, support for the monarchy was at 50-50.  When Diana entered the picture, it became 80-20. But then as Diana matured, she upstaged Charles and created upheaval in what was a constrained and strait-laced monarchy. She became a problem for the monarchy, and thus began her love-hate relationship with the press. As much as the press loved her and needed her, they also villified her.  One commentator actually said she was a monster. 

Did this documentary reveal anything about Diana that we didn't already know?

Not really, not for me anyway, but I am one of those devotees who stayed up all night watching the hearse take her casket to Althorp, crying all the while.  But the documentary did include news coverage I had never seen.  I knew that people in the UK and the U.S. took Diana's death hard but didn't realize people were crying all over the world. And the lack of talking heads and narration creates an eerie foreshadowing. Without anyone saying anything, it is easy to see the cracks in the marriage just from the news reporting.  An example?  Just one hour after bringing baby Harry home from the hospital, Charles hops in his car and heads out to play polo.  And who was in the audience?  Camilla.

Written and directed by Ed Perkins, this documentary shows that now, 25 years after her death, Diana still casts a huge shadow.  So amazing that one woman could have such an impact on so many, that so many who had never met her would feel an emotional connection to her. I certainly felt that connection.  I wrote a tribute to her early in my blogging career ("Remembering Princess Diana").  For some strange reason, I found it comforting to know she was in this world that I, too, inhabited, even though we didn't know each other and existed thousands of miles apart.  I still think of her and feel sad we no longer share this world together. From this documentary, I see I was not alone in that.

Rosy the Reviewer was sad to relive Diana's story knowing how it would all end.  I cried once again, but I was also happy to be reminded of how, despite the odds against her, Diana went from a naive 19-year-old to a force for good in the world.  She deserves to be remembered. (HBO)

Trainwreck: Woodstock 99 (2022)

The sequel to Woodstock 69.  Don't I always say that sequels suck?

Well, I might not say it exactly like that, but I don't like sequels.  This time it's not a movie sequel but a sequel to a success, an almost once-in-a-lifetime event, and what happens when you get dollar signs in your eyes and try to recreate it.

Remember Woodstock?  Even if you don't remember it, you have probably heard of it.  Michael Lang was the man behind that 1969 music festival, where almost 500,000 people showed up and they all got along, they embodied peace and love.  Well, Lang tried to recreate Woodstock in 1994, which was supposed to be a 25th anniversary of the first one, and it was a failure because it rained every day.  So, that didn't work?  Let's try it again, but this time let's call it the 30th anniversary.  Well, that one didn't work, either. It was a riot - literally.

For Woodstock '99, a three day weekend music festival, Friday started out okay with 250,000 kids attending the festival which was set up at a decommissioned military base (no bucolic farm setting this time), and it was hot, hot, hot with no shade provided.  The concession stands were all privatized, and no one was allowed to bring in food or water and the concessionaires were charging huge amounts of money for food and water ($4.00 for a bottle of water which would be the equivalent of $7.00 in today's dollars). Korn was the headliner on Friday night. Needless to say, they riled up the crowd. 

By Saturday, it all starting falling apart. 

The toilets were overflowing (again, sanitation had been privatized and they just weren't up to it) and trash was everywhere.  One of the volunteers, a woman who had attended the original Woodstock, took it upon herself to go around handing out garbage bags and asking the kids to clean up.  The reply?  "I paid $150 to come here, you clean it up."  The infrastructure in place just could not support the people.  The attitude of the concertgoers was that if the venue didn't care, why should they care?

While Lang and his cohorts were being interviewed and cluelessly basking in what they deemed a successful festival, outside, 1000 people were being treated for heat stroke, dehydration and heat exhaustion, there was no shade, there was price gauging going on by the concessionaires, no one was dealing with sanitation and there was little security.  

By Saturday night, everyone was really pissed off and the concert goers started throwing things at the tower where the MTV coverage was taking place, and when people realized they could do whatever they wanted with no consequences, all hell broke loose. 

When Limp Bizkit came on Saturday evening, lead singer Fred Durst didn't help matters.  He really enjoyed ramping up the crowd and instigating them to go wild, so by the time Fatboy Slim came on chaos had taken over and he had to be lead off the stage.  By Sunday, women had been molested, the showers didn't work, the toilets were overflowing, mud was everywhere (and I won't elaborate on what was actually swirling around in that mud), and there was a riot going on. Now water was $12 a bottle. 

But the festival went on. Sunday night the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on to end the festival - Flea was naked, of course - and there was a rumor that someone really big would come on last as a surprise- the Stones? Michael Jackson?  So when it turned out the final act was handing out 100,000 candles for an anti-gun vigil and that was it, the festival was over...what?  No Rolling Stones? No Michael Jackson?  No surprise artist to end the festival? That's it?  After everything we have had to put up?  So with no way to protest, what to do?  Well, let's tear the place up. And look, we have lighted candles. Okay, let's start some fires.  And that's what the kids did. It didn't help that the last song the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed was the Jimi Hendrix song "Fire."

An animal mentality took over. That's what happens when people are treated like animals. It was "Lord of the Flies," except with 100,000 pissed off kids who had no way to protest their bad treatment. The vendors were vandalized, the sound towers were brought down, the trailers were set on fire and anyone associated with MTV was a target (they had to hide or get the hell out of there). Then the trailers exploded and the State Troopers arrived.

Mic drop. 

But not in a good way.

So what went wrong?  

Was it using a decommissioned military base with no shade, instead of a bucolic farm setting?  Was it not letting attendees bring in food or water and then selling the concessions to a private company that overcharged for food and water?  Or was it selling the event to Pay Per View where the cameras filming the event encouraged bad behavior?  Or was it Lang's lack of awareness about new bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit, angry bands that can really ramp up a crowd and not in a good way?  Was it good old-fashioned greed? It was probably all of those things together that sent this concert spiraling down with rape, rioting, fires and explosions. 

This is an engrossing tale of what can happen when people are treated like they don't matter.  It's also a tale of greed and incompetence. There are some dynamic musical performances, but it's the antithesis of the first Woodstock.

The first Woodstock was all about The Peace and Love Generation - 500,000 people who gathered together to smoke pot, make love not war and listen to music.  Nothing bad happened.  Woodstock '99 was the MTV and Pay Per View Generation, all about ecstacy and greed.  Never the twain shall meet.

Rosy the Reviewer know what they say about trainwrecks, right?  You can't look away and you won't be able to look away from this three-part Netflix series that reminds us that when you have an initial wonderful success, forget the sequel.  Sequels suck.  (Netflix)

The Most Hated Man on the Internet (2022)

The story of Hunter Moore, the self-proclaimed "Life ruiner."

This three-part docuseries is the story of Hunter Moore, the man who created the website, a site that encouraged people to post "revenge porn."  It's logo?  "Thank you for being evil."  And this guy really was. He not only hosted the pictures but linked them to the social media pages, the emails and sometimes the addresses of the subjects. He would also get people to do outrageous things on his site, a sort of porn meets "Jackass."  I won't even get into what he had a girl dubbed "Butt... Girl" do.

In January 2012, Moore published a topless photo of Charlotte Laws' daughter, 24-year-old Kayla.  Kayla had never sent the picture of herself to anyone, so it came to light that Moore was hacking peoples' accounts.  Law decided she had to go after this guy. Don't mess with a mother! And don't mess with a woman who wrote a book ("Meet the Stars" under the name Missy Laws) about how to crash the parties of the rich and famous. She had moxy.

Laws was able to get Moore to take the image of her daughter down, but she wasn't done with him.  Now she had a mission.  She wanted to help the other women whose images had been hacked or put up on the site by a jilted lover.  By February, she had spoken with 40 of Moore's victims. She tried to get reporters to tell this story but she was told there was no story (what)?  

Meanwhile, Moore was getting attention by appearing on talk shows, and when he appeared on the Anderson Cooper show confronted by a couple of his victims, he came off as an a**hole, but that didn't seem to matter. What is the expression about publicity? There is no such thing as bad publicity.  Moore became even more famous, especially with his followers, who called themselves "The Family."  Fitting, because Moore likened himself to Charles Manson, which should tell you something about this guy.

Many efforts from various people and groups were made to stop Moore but he just kept going.  He capitalized on the media attention and went on tour, hired for parties across the country.  What went on at these parties is not for the faint of heart. 

All of this publicity and activity finally caught the attention of the FBI and Charlotte was able to share all of her sleuthing with them.  But even when the FBI is involved, the wheels of justice move slowly.  Yes, it was discovered that Moore was indeed hacking accounts, but did he get what he deserved? You decide. 

But there is a sort of redemptive epilogue. The producers said that Moore initially said he would take part in the series and then declined, but they "decided to use his image anyway."  Touche!

However, one can't help but wonder how many other Hunter Moores are out there on the Internet.

This is a fascinating documentary about the underbelly of the Internet and a really bad guy who didn't seem to have any concern or empathy for others.  When asked if he felt bad for these women whose images were plastered all over his website, he said, no, he felt nothing. They were like emojis to him.

Oh, and by the way, if you want to know how your accounts can get hacked, this is a tutorial.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I don't even know this guy but after seeing this docuseries, I hate him too! (Netflix)

The Tinder Swindler (2022)

"One little swipe can change your life forever."  That's for sure.  Especially if you meet the wrong person on Tinder. 

Meet Simon Laviev, supposed billionaire's son.  Meet three Scandinavian women who made the mistake of swiping right on Simon, who ended up swindling them.  Simon was no catfish.  He existed and actually wined and dined these ladies in Paris, took them for rides on his private jet and literally charmed the pants off of them.  And then something happened to his credit cards and he, uh, needed a little help from them.

So how was Simon able to pull off the rich man scam?  

Why, the old Ponzi scheme, of course.  While wining and dining a new woman, he would be leeching off of earlier women. He would wow the new mark on the first few dates, and wouldn't ask for money until about a month of wooing. Then he would have some hard luck story about a temporary money squeeze, could she please lend him some money? Then, when he would get the money, he could continue his lavish lifestyle. 

But then Simon meets the wrong woman, a woman who discovers the scam and is really pissed. She partners with another of Simon's victims and they decide to take him down! The first half of the film is testimonials from the women he swindled.  The second half focuses on how Simon was tracked down. Turns out Simon had been writing bad checks and swindling people since he was 18 and he was wanted by the police in several countries.

It's shocking how gullible these women were. But as P.T. Barnum once said, "No one has ever gone broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."  These women in the film weren't Americans but you can extrapolate that quote to entire populations who believe in the glitz and glam and overlook the lack of substance in a person. You can read into that what you want.

So does Simon get his just desserts?  Not exactly.  You will have to watch and find out.

Rosy the Reviewer says...written and directed by Felicity Morris, this is a fascinating true crime story that reminds us to beware of men who seem to be too good to be true, especially if they ask for money! (Netflix)

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)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

"The Gray Man" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Netflix original movie "The Gray Man" and Sandra Bullock's latest film "The Lost City" as well as a local theatre production of "Mary Poppins"]

The Gray Man (2022)

When a CIA operative discovers agency corruption, international assassins come after him. An around the world cat and mouse game ensues.

What do Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Billy Bob Thornton, Rege-Jean Page (yes, the very hunky Duke from "Bridgerton," Season One - I wondered where he went!), and Ana de Armas all have in common?  They are all in this new Netflix thriller that isn't very good.

It's 2003 and a man (Gosling) is being interviewed in prison by Donald Fitzroy (Thornton). The man is in prison for murdering his Dad, though he was just a kid trying to protect his brother. That's his defense, anyway. Fitzroy is there to commute his sentence if he will come to work for him and "kill bad guys."  You see, Fitzroy is from the CIA and it seems the CIA likes to recruit from the prison pool for their Sierra program, a unit of men who "exist in the gray."  It's one of those movies where a supposed bad guy gets recruited for the CIA.  If you watch enough of these kinds of movies you would think that everyone in the CIA is an ex-con.

Fast forward, 18 years and our guy is now called Sierra Six, Six for short.

Six is now on a mission to assassinate a target suspected of selling off national security secrets. This is when we learn that Six isn't really a bad guy after all.  He  has a conscience. He is a sniper and killer but he won't take a shot at a bad guy if a little kid could possibly get hurt. He is finally able to hit the target, but before the target dies, he reveals to Six that he also worked in the Sierra program as Sierra Four, and gives Six an encrypted thumb drive that proves that CIA official Denny Carmichael (Page) is corrupt. 

Carmichael finds out about the incriminating thumb drive and hires mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Evans), a former CIA agent kicked out of the agency for being a nutter to track down Six and retrieve the drive. Hansen does so by kidnapping Fitzroy's niece Claire (Julia Butters) and then blackmailing Fitzroy to authorize Six's murder.

Now Six has to save Claire and wouldn't you know. Conveniently for Six, Claire has a pacemaker. Did you know once you have the serial number for a pacemaker, you can follow it anywhere?  I didn't.  So Six heads to Croatia to save Claire, all the while playing a cat and mouse game to escape Hanson and his goons who want him dead.


I admit that my mind isn't what it used to be, and I often have problems following intricate spy movie plots, but this one was ridiculously convoluted and far-fetched.

Based on the book by Mark Greaney with a screenplay written by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (the Russo Brothers are also responsible for "Avengers: Endgame"), there is the usual macho snappy dialogue between the good guy and the bad guy especially when the good guy is tied up and about to be killed. Why are you exchanging snappy dialogue? Kill him already! Do you remember how many times the bad guys in the James Bond films could have killed James if they had just stopped talking?  It's like that. And spy movie tropes abound here - family member in jeopardy (it helps if it's a kid), can't tell who is the bad guy and who is the good guy (sometimes they are both), a bad ass woman or two, beautiful European locations and torture. This time lack of character development so I didn't care about any of these people, and fingernails being pulled out with pliers. Didn't like that.

Sometimes there just isn't anything playing in the theatres so when I don't feel like watching "The Bachelorette" or the cooking shows I often have on my DVR, I am happy to see that Netflix has released a new "original" feature film.  There was a lot of hype around this film because it was to be Netflix's big summer blockbuster (they spent a ton of money on it) starring Ryan Gosling, so even though I have vowed to stop promoting revenge movies that glorify gun violence, I thought I would give this one a try in case it was just the usual car chase, bomb-throwing knife wielding spy thriller. I do enjoy the occasional spy thriller, and was curious what usually intense and sensitive Gosling would do with this role as a badass action star. I also usually like Chris Evans but here he looks more like Freddie Mercury than Captain America and, for being an ex-CIA villain, he is surprisingly incompetent.

Did I enjoy this? Is Ryan Gosling our next big action star?  To quote from a movie I saw recently that I actually liked, "Nope."

Netflix, you let me down.  If I want to experience torture, I will stick with "The Bachelorette."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like Ryan or Chris, lots of violence, a very convoluted, far-fetched plot and characters you won't care about or you are just in the mood for a travelogue on Vienna, Prague and Croatia with some torture thrown in, this is for you.  Otherwise, you can skip this. (Netflix)

The Lost City (2022)

A reclusive romance writer finds herself living through a real life romance novel plot.

Usually when a movie is free on Amazon Prime soon after it's release in the theatres, that's not a good sign, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Dr. Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a reclusive best-selling romance writer who is losing her mojo since the death of her husband. She is depressed and wants to be left alone, but she has a new book to promote - she writes a series about Dr. Angela Lovemore and her lover, Dash McMahan -  and Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), her agent, tells her she has to do a book tour. So off she goes with her cover model, Dash, whose real name is Alan (Channing Tatum), a Fabio look-alike who graces the covers of her books and is the real draw on this tour, that is, until his wig falls off. Turns out Alan is kind of a dork. 

The tour is not going well and Loretta and Alan are not getting along.  Gee.  I wonder how that's going to turn out.  But then Loretta is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), a rich man (yes, you heard me, a man named Abigail), who believes Loretta can translate an ancient language (he found out she had studied dead languages in college) and lead him to the Crown of Fire, a priceless treasure located in a lost city on an island in the Atlantic.  

Alan, who has a crush on Loretta, witnesses the kidnapping so he recruits Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a former Navy SEAL turned CIA operative, to help him rescue Loretta. Jack is immediately on the case and doing all of the work. In fact, Jack is a one-man wrecking crew, beating up three or four guys at a time, while Alan is more of a liability than a help. But then Jack gets shot and Alan has to go on alone. He may be a dork but he wants to prove to Loretta that he is the brave romantic hero she has portrayed him as in her books, because he really cares about her.  Many hijinks ensue with lots of witty banter between Alan and Loretta, as Alan tries to save Loretta, and the two try to escape the island before a volcano erupts. Loretta finds herself the heroine in her own real life romance novel.  And Alan must prove to her that he is in fact Dash-ing.

If you were around in 1984, and this story by Seth Gordon and screenplay by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Aaron Neeseems strangely familiar, you are not imagining it.  This could be a remake of "Romancing the Stone," though it's not. But even though it feels like a "Romancing the Stone" derivative, it's still enjoyable and hey, "Romancing the Stone" was 38 years ago.  You aren't supposed to be able to remember that far back.

Watching this film also reminded me of how much I liked Sandra Bullock from the moment she made a big splash in "Speed."  She embodied the girl next door, a regular girl who was funny and quick-witted and not afraid to look silly now and then. We regular girls could relate to her.  But now Sandra Bullock is a superstar but, alas, an aging superstar, and it seems she is going to semi-retire and that's a shame because as this film shows, she's still got it.  She may be 58, but she looks wonderful and still has that regular girl thing, with the witty repartee and that klutzy physical humor that we other 58 year olds, er, older regular girls can relate to. Sandra, don't go!

I also remember the first time I saw Channing Tatum do his thing in "Magic Mike."  Yikes. What a specimen. A true romantic hero in real life.  I don't mean to objectify Channing.  Well, I kinda do.  Sorry.  And he certainly turns on the sex appeal during a dance that he does with Sandra in this film - ooh la la.  My little ancient heart was pounding.  But Channing also has personality and he is not above making fun of himself, too, which makes him even more lovable.

And then there is Brad, the Grand Old Man of Romantic Heroes, a real life Fabio,  who is also not afraid to make fun of himself and his image.  I think he is the one having the most fun here.

Kudos also to Randolph and Radcliffe (our little Harry Potter is all grown up).  They also add to the fun.

As I said, I did not have high hopes for this film going in, but nothing warms the heart of an avid movie fan more than starting with low expectations and being pleasantly surprised. There aren't enough rom-coms these days, so this was a breath of fresh air and a lot of fun. If you watch, be sure to hang in through the credits because there is a very cute epilogue.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have been missing rom-coms or just need something light to help you get away from it all, this is a very fun rom-com adventure, a romance novel come to life.

Important Note:'s not all about going out to the movies or Netflix and Chillin' - there is a whole other world out there waiting for you and that is local theatre.

You all know that I am a big movie and TV lover, but what you might not know is that my first love was the theatre.  I was an aspiring actress from the age of, oh, when I first saw "Gone With the Wind" at the age of 5 - and no, I didn't see it when it first came out in 1939. I'm not that old. You younguns out there might not realize that before the one million TV stations you now have, there were just three and when a movie came to your local theatre, if you missed it, you missed it - never to be seen again unless it was re-released and that's what would happen with "Gone With the Wind." It would be re-released every ten years or so. I saw it in the 1950's. So there.

Anyway, back to the theatre. I had a small student career as an actress that spanned about ten years. 

Aristophanes "The Birds" 

The highest moment of my pseudo-acting career was when Karl Malden directed a play I was in at my college. Sadly, that might have been the moment I decided I wasn't going to become a professional actress - when he didn't say, "Rosy, I'm going to make you a star."  Hey, I was 21.  What did I know? I thought that's how it worked. Famous guy saw how awesome I was, he made me a star.  That's all I had to do.  Anyway, needless to say, here I am, a retired librarian - long story - but I have always maintained my love of the theatre and all things acting and that is why you find me now writing this blog.

But despite the fact that I had only an amateur career as an actress, I have nothing but respect for those who went on to actually pursue their careers, and I am still totally in that world, if only in my mind.

Mary Poppins at the Forest Theatre

So that said, I had the pleasure this week of attending the musical, "Mary Poppins," at the Forest Theatre in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, a place very near to where I live and very near to the heart of this once-aspiring actress.  The Forest Theatre productions are in a beautiful outdoor theatre (you can bring a picnic, and best of all, wine!), and they are professional productions with wonderfully talented actors and technical staff.

You probably all know the basic story about Mary Poppins, but what you might not know is that this musical production came after the Disney movie starring Julie Andrews and the story varies somewhat from that. The Disney movie was in 1964 and the stage musical opened in the West End in London in 2004, and you "Downton Abbey" fans will be happy to know the script was written by none other than Julian Fellowes, the creator of "Downton Abbey." 

In this wonderful Forest Theatre production, Mary Poppins is played by Malinda DeRouen, who, as Mary sings about herself, is "practically perfect."  I could listen to her gorgeous voice forever.  And Corey Wright guides us through the production as Bert, his dancing a major highlight.  The rest of the cast are also wonderful.  It's a huge cast so kudos to director and choreographer Lara Devlin and vocal director Janice Marotta-Perl. 

This version of the Mary Poppins story focuses more on the children, Jane and Michael (sharing the roles: Heidi Witten-Forsythe, Zoe Ushakoff, Caden Devlin and Daisy Pearl Ashby), and what brats they are, and the problems George (Rob Devlin) and Winifred Banks (Chrissy Brooks) are having in their marriage until Mary Poppins arrives to show them the way. There are also some new songs and other differences from the film, but if you love the character of Mary Poppins and her magical way of transforming a family, you will love this magical production produced by Stephen Moorer and the Pacific Repertory Company. The sets (Patrick McEvoy) and costumes (Ziona Goren) are amazing and that wonderful music is enhanced by sound designer, Tony Nocita. There are even special effects by ZFX.

When it comes to entertainment, it's not all about TV and movies. Don't forget you have live theatre.  There is nothing like sitting there watching it all happen live before you with your fellow humans. Theatre promotes community.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you live on the Monterey Peninsula or in the Bay Area and want to have a lovely, magical weekend, don't miss this wonderful production.  It's "practically perfect!" (playing Thursday-Sunday through September 18.  For tickets)

It's important to support local theatre, so if you can't see this production, check to see what is playing in your community.

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)


Saturday, August 6, 2022

"Nope" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Jordan Peele movie "Nope" as well as the Nick Cage film "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" and the British drama series "The Split."]

Nope (2022)

Brother and sister horse-trainers, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer), are struggling to keep their horse ranch going after their father's death, but when they see what they think is a UFO flying above their ranch, they decide filming it is their way out of financial ruin. What they don't realize is that it's not your "typical" UFO.

First there was "Get Out," then there was "Us" and now here is feature film number three from the creative mind of writer/producer/director Jordan Peele.

The film begins back in 1998, when during the filming of the TV show "Gordy's Home," one of the chimpanzees playing Gordy goes berzerk and attacks the actors.  

Fast forward to the present day to a horse ranch - Hayward Hollywood Horses - owned by Otis Hayward Sr.  He and his two children are horse trainers who provide horses for movies and TV. They claim to be the ancestors of the black jockey riding a horse featured in the famous Eadweard Muybridge stop motion animation, "Horse in Motion," that was one of the earliest moving pictures. Sadly and mysteriously, Otis Sr. is killed from a flying object that falls from the sky.  

Six months later, Otis Jr. AKA OJ is in charge of the ranch and needing money.  He has been selling his horses to Jupe Park (Steven Yeun) who runs a western amusement park called "Jupiter's Claim."  It just so happens that Jupe was once a child actor and guess what?  He was in "Gordy's Home" and witnessed the chimp attack that took place.  He is now making money off of that tragedy along with providing another sort of spectacle at his amusement park that is revealed later in the film.

Back to OJ and his sister, Emerald, AKA Em. OJ is a quiet, withdrawn guy, unlike Em who is out there, trying to make it as an actress and hustling for whatever she can get in Hollywood.  One night while on the ranch, OJ and Em witness what they think is a UFO, and Em gets the idea that if they can film it, they can make some money. They can have their "Oprah moment." So that's the plan.  They go to Fry's to get cameras and when the Fry's salesman, Angel (Brandon Perea), comes to the ranch to install the equipment, he can't help himself. He is an extraterrestrial fanatic and, not only installs the electronic equipment, he installs himself into the plan. OJ and Em also enlist the help of the very strange cinematographer, Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott). But none of them know what they are getting themselves into.  This is not just any old UFO, it's a monster of a UFO...literally.

This is "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" meets "Ghostbusters" meets "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" or maybe "High Noon," whatever your favorite western shoot out movie might be. Peele pays homage to Hollywood and combines horror, humor and the African American experience to create this unique roller coaster of a film. Here he comments on how African Americans have been excluded from Hollywood as well as how we humans love spectacle, even when it celebrates tragedy.  We can't turn our eyes away (and here is a bit of a spoiler. Looking at the alien is not good)! This film is not quite as tight as "Get Out" or "Us," and there are some head-scratching moments.  It's also a bit slow to get started but once it does, it's tense and scary and Peele always gets points for originality. 

Daniel Kaluuya is perfectly deadpan, and Kiki Palmer is characteristically manic (but it works here) but the break-out star is Brandon Perea, who adds some fun to an often very tense film. 

A favorite may or may not know that Jordan Peele was on "Mad TV," once a comedy show competitor with Saturday Night Live.  In the film, Jupe regales OJ and Em with what a great send-up SNL did of the chimp attack on the TV set.  Dark, I know, but very funny that Peele would do an homage to SNL. 

Oh, in case you are wondering about the title.

You know how you might go into a room and see something you don't maybe your parents having a fight or like, say, oh, maybe a really scary alien? That's when you might say "Nope," turn around, and get the hell out of there! Daniel Kaluuya's utterance of the word is classic.

Rosy the Reviewer says...should you get yourself to the theatre to see "Nope?"  Yep!
(In theatres)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) 

Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage in this send-up of Nicolas Cage and his movies.

Nicolas Cage just might be one of the most polarizing actors on the planet.  I can't tell you now many times I've mentioned a Nicolas Cage movie that I liked ("Pig") only to get a wrinkled nose response followed by "Ew, I don't like Nicolas Cage."  Of course, he has his fan base.  I mean he won an Oscar, for god's sake, but somehow he has gotten a reputation as a mannered, over-acting, intense actory actor.

But here's where this movie comes in.

Nick knows some of this and is not above making fun of his persona in this very self-deprecating and mostly fictionalized story of an egotistical and self-obsessed actor (Cage) who is struggling artistically and financially.  His wife (Sharon Horgan) is divorcing him and his daughter (Lily Mo Sheen) thinks he is a bit of a tool, so with nothing else going on he accepts $1,000,000 to attend the birthday party of a superfan.  It's a comedown for him, of course, but it doesn't hurt that it's in Majorca. But Nick has decided after this party, he is going to retire from acting. The superfan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), is a charming and very rich olive exporter who has written a screenplay he wants Nick to star in.  Despite Nick's initial reluctance to do this gig, strangely, the two actually bond (Javi is a charming guy), and Nick actually is interested in Javi's screenplay and becomes hopeful about his future. What he doesn't know is that Javi is under CIA scrutiny (is he a bad guy?), and Nick will be recruited by the CIA to find a girl kidnapped by a notorious arms dealer and will have to fight off bad guys to save his own life and the lives of his wife and daughter. Whew! Who knew an invitation to a birthday party could be so stressful?  But now Nick sees a new career path!  Spy!

Of course, this story, written by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten and directed by Gormican, gives Nick Cage the opportunity to channel some of his iconic characters as well as playing Nicky, his younger self, who keeps reminding him what a big star he is. And don't think they aren't dropping the titles of Nick Cage movies right and left here. "Face/Off," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "National Treasure," "Guarding Tess," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "The Rock," "Con Air." Gee, Nick's made a ton of movies, all different kinds of movies! Maybe he really is a good actor! Demi Moore even has a cameo as an homage to the 80's and 90's when she and Nick were at the height of their careers. 

Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz  play the CIA agents who recruit Nick to help them nail the bad guys. And speaking of Tiffany Haddish.  Just let me say that I feel about her how many people feel about Nick.  I am not a fan. She was funny in "Girl's Trip," but then she kept playing that character over and over. But it's not really her acting that I object to, it's her humor and how nutty she acts on talk shows.  Have you seen her on "Ellen?" But at least here, she is toned down.
This film is a lot of fun but the irony is that you will have had to have seen enough Nick Cage movies to get the many references to his films and if you don't like Nick Cage you probably haven't seen those films.  But here is the good part.  You don't really need to get the references to enjoy this film.  It's a fun romp through all of the thriller tropes you have come to expect from such movies and it's also very funny, especially when Nick and Javi take LSD together.

Nick is looking for the role of a lifetime and it turns out that role is playing himself!  The film is self-deprecating and self-serving all at once but always enjoyable!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I was once one of those Nick Cage critics but after seeing him in "Pig" and this one, I'm a fan.  Love him or hate him, you will enjoy this very fun film.
(Available on DVD and for rent on most streaming platforms)


The Split - Season 3 (2022)

The DeFoes, a family of female divorce lawyers, must face their own relationship issues.

Nicola Walker plays Hannah DeFoe, a divorce lawyer who is going through her own divorce from her husband, Nathan.  Hannah has cheated on Nathan (Stephen Mangan), thus the divorce, but Hannah doesn't really want a divorce.  Sadly, Nathan has moved on with Kate (Lara Pulver). 

Hannah has two sisters.  Nina (Annabel Scholey) is a lawyer and is having an affair with Tyler (Damien Molony) a co-worker who just happens to be married to the boss, Zander (Chukwudi Iwuji) - a guy!  And Rose (Fiona Button), a child minder (she somehow escaped becoming a lawyer) is married to James (Rudi Dharmalingam) and experiences a tragedy in her own marriage.  Their mother, Ruth (Deborah Findlay), is one of the senior members of the firm and also has a podcast espousing "good divorces."

As you can probably tell, it's all very much a soap opera but it's a British soap opera which makes it okay.  The Brits know how to make everything classy, and this series, created by Abi Morgan, is not only classy, it's wildly addicting.

I have to say that I am hard-pressed to name another actress whose face is as expressive as Nicola Walker's.  If you watch much British drama, you will recognize her from such shows as "Last Tango in Halifax" and "The Unforgotten" and many more.  She has had a long career and this British drama series gives her a chance to really show off her acting chops and that face.  She is about as real as an actress can get. The rest of the cast are also first-rate and it's always fun to see Anna Chancellor, a British drama staple who is in practically every British series and movie out there.  She plays Nathan's rather vicious divorce lawyer who belies the idea of a "good divorce."

I got into this series in its third and last season because I found it on BBCAmerica.  Somehow I missed the first two seasons, but despite some references to the past, I was able to enjoy it without having seen those first two seasons, but now I plan to go back and start from the beginning (All three seasons are currently streaming on Hulu).  I will pretend those first two seasons are prequels (I don't mind prequels. It's sequels I hate)!

Rosy the Reviewer engrossing family drama that will pull you in and keep you there.  My advice is to start with Season 1 - See you there! (Hulu)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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