Thursday, April 11, 2024

"Wicked Little Letters," "Saltburn" and "Book of Love:" It's British Movie Week!

[I review three British films: "Wicked Little Letters," "Saltburn" and "Book of Love"]

When the residents of Littlehampton, England start receiving anonymous insulting and profane poison pen letters, Rose, the less than proper newcomer from Ireland, is blamed.  But is she really the culprit?

It's the 1920's in the small town of Littlehampton, England, and it's Edith Swan (Olivia Colman), who first receives profane and bullying letters (remember when we wrote letters?  Now we can just bully people online).  

Edith is a pious spinster living with her controlling father, Edward (Timothy Spall), and her mother Victoria (Gemma Jones). After receiving 19 letters filled with profanities, Edward contacts the local police accusing their next-door neighbor, Rose Gooding (Jesse Buckley), of sending the letters.  Rose is an easy target because the Swans do not approve of Rose.  Where they are very religious and upright, Rose has no problem doing what she pleases, telling people off when she feels like it using some choice profane words, living with a man who is not her husband, having loud sex, and drinking and carrying on in the pub. Rose and Edith started out as friends but after Rose headbutted one of Edward's guests at his birthday party and refused to apologize, their friendship ended. And truth be told, Rose isn't that easy to like.  

So Rose is arrested and not being able to come up with bail is sent to Portsmouth Prison to await trial, leaving her young daughter, Nancy (Alisha Weir), in the care of her partner, Bill (Malachi Kirby).

In the meantime, police officer, Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) is not so sure that Rose is the culprit and gets involved in the case, despite the fact that her boss, Chief Constable Spedding (Paul Chahidi) forbids her to. Let's just say that women police officers in the 1920's didn't get much respect, but Gladys's father was a police officer and she can't help herself.  She believes an injustice is being done.  She enlists the help of  Edith's friends - Ann (Joanna Scanlan), Mabel (Eileen Atkins) and Kate (Lolly Adefope) - and they all take on the case. Mabel and Ann like Rose and don't think she is guilty so they bail Rose out of the prison and, with Gladys, set out to prove her innocence.

Though I figured out who the letter-writer was way before it was revealed on screen, it didn't matter, because watching the story, written by Jonny Sweet and directed by Thea Sharrock, unfold was a delight.  Thank goodness for the Brits and these "little movies" they are able to produce, full of recognizable character actors and interesting stories.  Olivia Colman is wonderful, as expected, and though Jesse Buckley might not be a name you recognize, she is a veteran actress who made a big splash in "Wild Rose" in 2018, starred in Season 4 of the TV series "Fargo,"  and more recently in the movie "Women Talking." The two together are a wonderful treat.

The film is quirky and fun and actually based on a true story that made national news in England in the early part of the 20th century, but it's also a reminder of what women have gone through in a patriarchal world. Gladys is always referred to as "Woman Police Officer Moss" by her male fellow officers, a passive-aggressive put-down of her role, and Rose is targeted because she doesn't fit the mold of obedient housewife, instead living life on her own terms.  If she doesn't fit the mold, she must be guilty of something, right?

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are tired of superheroes and horror films, take a break and check out the comedy and drama in Littlehampton.  You won't be disappointed. (In theatres) 

Saltburn (2023)

Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) is a seemingly shy, awkward Oxford student who is befriended by Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), a handsome charismatic classmate, who invites him to Saltburn, his family's estate, for the summer and it turns out to be a summer of death and destruction.

Oliver Quick is having a difficult time fitting in at Oxford.  He is a poor kid amidst England's elite, but when he meets Felix Catton, a rich, popular student and shares his story about growing up poor, his parents' substance abuse and mental health issues, Felix is sympathetic.  Then when Oliver tells Felix that his father has died, Felix invites him for the summer at his family's country estate, Saltburn. Oliver is over the moon because he is obsessed with Felix. And then he wants to be him.

At Saltburn, Oliver meets Felix's parents, Sir James (Richard E. Grant) and Lady Elspeth (Rosamund Pike); Felix's sister, Venetia (Alison Oliver); Elspeth's friend, Poor Dear Pamela (Carey Mulligan); and Felix's American cousin, Farleigh (Archie Madekwe).  Oliver is welcomed into the family, and Elspeth is especially taken with him, but Farleigh is suspicious. All is well until Felix discovers that Oliver is not all that he seems and the summer turns deadly. Years later, the truth about what happened that summer at Saltburn comes out.

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, who also wrote and directed "Promising Young Woman (she won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay)," this is a tale of class and social climbing that is reminiscent of "The Talented Mr. Ripley," a story that has been the plot of many films but here there is much more kinky stuff going on, particularly the scenes where Oliver...well, Oliver does all kinds of deviant stuff.  The bathtub scene and the one on the grave are particularly cringey. You will have to see for yourself. If you saw "Promising Young Woman," you know that Fennell is not afraid to "go there."

The acting ensemble is first rate with veteran actors Grant and Pike. Pike is particularly mean-spirited in a funny upper class way. Fans of the recent movie, "Priscilla," will recognize the handsome Elordi as Elvis in that and here he effortlessly again plays an object of desire.  But this is Keoghan's film as he goes from adoration of Felix to envy and resentment and reveals the real Oliver. His Oliver exudes both subservient charm and weird creepiness. And a shout-out to production designer Suzie Davies and cinematographer, Linus Sandgren.  The film is beautiful to look at.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a stylish (and kinky) gothic thriller that satirizes class and social climbing. (Amazon Prime) 

Book of Love (2022)

A British novelist whose book is not selling in the U.K. discovers that it is a big hit in...Mexico!  When he travels there to do a book tour, he discovers why.

Henry Copper (Sam Claflin) is an uptight Englishman who has written a novel called "The Sensible Heart," which is a romance novel, but it lacks passion, as in no sex.  Therefore, no one wants to read it. But then Henry's publisher, Jen (Lucy Punch), tells him that his book is number one --- in Mexico.  Henry has no social media skills, so his publisher says that he needs to go to Mexico to promote the book.

When he arrives, Henry meets Maria (Veronica Echegui), the person who translated his book, and she and the Mexican publisher, Pedro (Horacio Villalobos), along with her son, Diego (Ruy Gaytan), and grandfather, Max (Fernando Becerril), take Henry on a three-city tour with Maria acting as Henry's translator. After getting over his culture shock, Henry is enthusiastically welcomed at the book signings, especially by avid female fans, but Henry is confused because everyone is talking about sex. His book is NOT about sex, or so he thought.  But, ahem, now it is. And he is perceived as a sort of love guru by his fans. It turns out that Maria has not only translated Henry's book, she has rewritten it, transforming it into a steamy, bodice-ripping romance novel! 

This is a good old-fashioned opposites attract rom-com written by Analeine Cal y Mahor and David Quantick and directed by Cal y Mahor. Maria is a no-nonsense Latina who has always wanted to write and Henry is a buttoned-up Brit.  She has had a hard life serving men in a neighborhood bar and putting her own dreams aside and she resents what she perceives as Henry's easy life. And Henry is a kind of clueless prude who needs loosening up.  But after lots of arguments and misunderstandings, and some interference from Maria's ex, Antonio (Horacio Garcia Rojas), Henry does loosen up and the two create a romance of their own. 

The handsome Claflin recently starred in "Daisy Jones and the Six" and once again plays a brooding leading man but this time an uncool one. Echegui reminded me of a young Penelope Cruz. She is engaging and likable, and the two create a charming little fish-out-of-water love story that is fun to watch.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a rom-com fan, this is a sweet, satisfying one with an interesting premise. (Amazon Prime - in English and Spanish)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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)!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

"Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" and More!

[I review the new Ghostbusters movie - "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" - as well as "Society of the Snow" and "Falling for Figaro."  And there's a book too! - "Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My Forty Something Years in Hollywood" by Ed Zwick]

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

Ghostbusters is now a family affair and this time they need to save the world from a second Ice Age.

If you have been following me, you know how much I hate sequels.  

And even if you haven't been following me, now you know.  So why did I go see this movie, then, you ask?  Well, at this point, this film is more a part of a franchise than a sequel, like "Mission Impossible" or "Jurassic Park," so I am going to give it a pass on the sequel thing.  And even though I am not particularly a fan of franchises, also known as "beating a good idea into the ground," I am not going to pick on this movie for that either.  It's the fifth in the series, but in my opinion, the second, third and fourth installments don't really count.  They weren't very good.  

Besides, it's been 40 years...repeat, 40 years...since the very first "Ghostbusters," a movie that became a cultural phenomenon. It was critically acclaimed, cementing the movie careers of Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd, it was the first comedy to employ expensive special effects, and it was number one at the box office for seven consecutive weeks making it the then-highest-grossing comedy ever. And let's not forget that iconic theme song, which became a number one hit. 

And 40 years later, it's number one at the box office again, so I had to pay homage.  Was it worth it?

Well...first let me bring you up to date.

If you saw "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," we were introduced to Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) and her kids, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), who were living in Oklahoma after inheriting the farm where Ghostbuster Egon Spengler had lived and which also served as a plot device and homage after the real life death of Harold Ramis, who played Egon. Turns out the farmhouse is haunted and the surviving Ghostbusters are called and, along with Phoebe's science teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), they all rid the farm of the harmful entities.

Okay, that's what has happened before this latest film begins, so fast forward to present day. Now Callie and Gary are a couple and they are living in New York City with Trevor and Phoebe.  The OG's have retired and ghostbusting has become a family affair for Callie, Gary and the kids. They are all living in the original Ghostbusters firehouse that original Ghostbuster Winston (Ernie Hudson) had restored when he became a rich entrepreneur and Callie et al have taken on the responsibility of keeping New York City free of nasty paranormal beings. Original Ghostbuster Ray (Ackroyd) has a book shop - Ray's Occult Books - where he also collects rare cursed artifacts with the help of Podcast (Logan Kim) and Winston has a privately-owned paranormal research center staffed by Dr. Lars Pinfield (James Acaster) and his assistant, Lucky Domingo (Celeste O'Connor).  Not sure what Peter (Murray) is doing in retirement but he appears briefly to administer a parapsychological evaluation on Nadeem Razmaadi (Kuymail Nanjiani).  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman and directed by Kenan, the film opens in 1904 when New York City firefighters find over 30 people frozen to death in a gentleman's club and there is this mysterious orb that seems to have something to do with that.

Now in the present day, Nadeem Razmaadi (Nanjiani), a rather sleazy huckster, comes into Ray's shop to sell some old items that belonged to his grandmother.  Okay, you guessed it.  It's that same orb we just saw in the opening scene and that, my friends, is the crux of the movie.  The orb houses a very, very bad ancient god who wants to turn the world to ice and our Ghostbusters, old and new, have to figure out how to destroy it.

There is a side story about Phoebe meeting another young woman, Melody (Emily Alyn Lind), while playing chess with herself in Central Park.  Melody just so happens to be a ghost trying to get to the other side to be with her family, and Nadeem turns out to have some pyrokinetic powers and both of those characters will play pivotal roles in the finale when they all meet up with Garraka, an evil entity who had been enslaved in the orb.

So, 40 years later did this reboot do justice to the OG movie?  Was it worth seeing?

Well, let me focus on the positive first...what I liked.

The opening chase scene was fun, I like Paul Rudd and I LOVE Kumail Nanjiani. I laugh just looking at his reactions to things and his dry delivery. The young characters are engaging and it's always a treat to see the OG Ghostbusters again along with Annie Potts, who have more to do this time than they did in "Afterlife," except for Potts. The special effects were also good - those gross, gooey ghosts are fun - and I love the scenes in the New York Public Library and Patton Oswald as a librarian. We librarians need to be in the movies!

What I didn't like:

Plot holes, too many "huh?" moments, it dragged in the middle, and it wasn't that funny, though I will say I did chuckle a few times, which is more than I can say about the many comedies I have watched over the last couple of years. I could also have done without the shushing ghost librarian in the library.  People, librarians no longer shush people! I was hoping to see more of Bill Murray. Murray's appearance was too brief but not surprising since he was never particularly interested in the reboots. And I can't believe I am saying this, but I was really hoping the iconic theme song would have shown up during the movie instead of at the end. Speaking of the end, there is a bit of an epilogue but you will have to sit through quite a bit of the end credits to see it.

All in all, better than the ones that came after the original, but, of course, nothing can reach the iconic status of the original.  That first one made a huge impact on us younguns in the 80's and as I always say about sequels...let us remember that great first one.  But it was good to see the OGs again. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you can ignore the plot holes, it was entertaining...ish. And remember, for your movie reviews, who you gonna call? (In theatres)

Society of the Snow (La sociedad de la Nieve) (2023)

Dramatization of the aftermath of the 1972 plane crash that stranded a Uruguayan rugby team in the Andes.

Nominated this year for an Oscar for Best International Feature, this Spanish film is an enactment of the true story of the plane crash of the Uruguayan rugby team headed for Chile and what they had to do to survive.  It attempts to explain how that plane crash might have happened in a harrowing scene just fifteen minutes into the film when the plane hits a mountain peak, breaks apart and skids to a landing upside down in a remote part of the Andes. There were 45 passengers and crew, nine died on impact.  The survivors make it through the freezing night only to be faced with the magnitude of their situation. They are in the middle of nowhere and miles from civilization.  Over the next two hours we watch as 20 more die until only 16 survive. And those of you who remember this international incident, know that cannibalism played a role in the survival of those 16 people.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, who cowrote the script with Bernat Vilaplana and Jaime Marques, and based on the 2009 book of the same name by Uruguayan journalist Pablo Vierci, this is a more personal and detailed take on the event than the film "Alive," which was based on the book by Piers Paul Read that was written two years after the event and had more of a reportage slant. Also based on the stories of the actual survivors, this film tries to get to the heart of what was going on inside of the survivors.

Seen through the eyes of Numa Turcatti (Enzo Vogrincic), a member of the rugby team on board the plane, we see him and the others survive two avalanches, freezing temperatures and lack of food for two months and what lead them to make the difficult decisions they made.

This was a shocking incident that has since inspired similar films like "Alive" and TV series like "Yellowjackets" and "The Wilds," but this film does this fateful event justice, treating it with respect (each person's death is noted with their name), focusing not just on the sensational elements but also on the compassion and humanity that took place, but, be warned.  It is sometimes difficult to watch. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...perhaps too long and perhaps too grim for some, but it asks the question - what would you do? Would you be able to do what you had to do to survive? (Netflix - in Spanish with English subtitles) 

And now on a lighter note -

Falling for Figaro (2020)

Millie Cantwell, an American fund manager living in London, moves to the Scottish Highlands to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer.

Millie (Danielle McDonald)  quits her job and leaves her boyfriend in London and heads to a small Scottish village to train with ex-diva, Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley)  in order to compete in the "Singer of Renown" contest.  She gives herself a year to prepare. However, there are some obstacles.

One of them is Jeoffrey-Bishop  herself who is, how shall I put this?  Less than encouraging? She tells Millie that some people say an opera singer needs to suffer and Meghan plans to make Millie suffer and she does with her diatribes and biting comments.  Millie also has to deal with Max (Hugh Skinner), who is one of Meghan's students...well, her only other one, and he is almost a surrogate son, who doesn't want Meghan concentrating on anyone else.  He has tried to win the "Singer of Renown" contest several times and has always been a runner up.  So he is not happy about the competition, not just for Meghan's attention but for the contest itself. And then there is The Filthy Pig Pub with its gruff landlord (Gary Lewis), its lack of amenities and nosy villagers. But Millie is determined to follow her dream. Will she make it?

Rom-com tropes are in evidence here. Two young people meeting and hating each other on sight but then, well, you know.  Giving up everything to follow a dream. A love triangle. Obstacles. A beautiful landscape and a village full of eccentric people inexplicably interested in opera and rooting for our hero and heroine. And a happy ending.

In case you think McDonald is a newbie, you would be wrong.  She has starred as Patti in "Patticake$" as well as in "Dumplin" and "Bird Box" and the TV series "The Tourist."  It's refreshing to see a successful actress who looks like a regular woman.

Written by Ben Lewin and Allen Palmer and directed by Lewis, this is an Australian-British collaboration and both countries are great at producing small but charming films, and this is that and more with wonderful performances by Aussie Danielle McDonald (her American accent is perfect) and that actress of renown, Joanna Lumley.

Rosy the Reviewer helps if you love opera (which I do), because there is a lot of it here, but you don't have to love opera to enjoy this film. You will love the acting, the feelgood moments and the beautiful Scottish countryside. (Netflix)

***Book of the Week***

Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My 40 Something Years in Hollywood” by Ed Zwick.

Director Zwick shares his award-winning career in this candid and self-deprecating memoir.

Co-creator of the ABC family drama “thirtysomething” when he was appropriately in his 30’s, he went on to a movie career, directing such films as “About Last Night” (1986), “Glory” (1989), “Legends of the Fall” (1994), “The Last Samurai” and others. He also was a producer for “Shakespeare in Love,” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.
Starting out in the theatre, when he got his break in TV and movies, he had to learn the difference, especially when it came to directing actors. Director Sydney Pollack mentored him and Zwick shares his ups and downs as he climbed the cinematic ladder. The book is punctuated with lists of directorial advice and what he has learned – e.g. “Ten Tips From Long Lunches With Sydney [Pollack],” “Eight Helpful Hints For Young Directors,” “Ten Things Every Director Needs To Know,” and “Ten Tall Tales From The Makeup Chair.”
Zwick also takes the reader behind-the-scenes of “thirtysomething” and his many films, with no-holds barred when it comes to revealing funny and sometimes not very complimentary observations about the actors and others he has worked with, such as directing Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington and working with Harvey Weinstein. And can you imagine Julia Roberts and Daniel Day Lewis in “Shakespeare in Love?” He also shares Hollywood anecdotes, such as director Frank Pierson’s reply when asked what it was like to direct Barbra Streisand in the 1976 version of “A Star is Born” – “I wouldn’t know.” Lol

Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like fun and revealing Hollywood memoirs, you will enjoy this but his insights into directing will also appeal to film students and filmmakers alike. (Check it out at your local library)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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)!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

What I'm Watching Now

 [I review the TV series "Feud: Capote vs. The Swans," "The New Look" and "Regime"]

Feud: Capote vs. The Swans (2024)

Based on the book "Capote's Women" by Lawrence Leamer, a docuseries about writer Truman Capote's falling out with his society "girlfriends."

This is the second season of an anthology series about famous feuds created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, and Michael Zam for FX (the first was the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford). Directed by Gus Van Zant, and written by Jon Robin Baitz, it tells the story of how Truman Capote (played by Tom Hollander), ruined his friendships with a group of New York socialites dubbed "The Swans" by writing a thinly veiled novel called "Answered Prayers" about their lives, scandals and all.  

Though Truman Capote wrote "Breakfast at Tiffany's," people are probably more familiar with the movie version of that than his novella.  But Capote's real fame came from his nonfiction true crime book "In Cold Blood." With his fame, he embraced a jet set lifestyle in the 60's and 70's, partying at Studio 54 and hanging out with New York City's famous socialites: Babe Paley (Naomi Watts), Slim Keith (Diane Lane), C.Z. Guest (Chloe Sevigny), Lee Radziwill (Calista Flockhart) and others, all of whom were his close friends. His Black and White Ball in 1966 was the talk of the town and cemented his place in high society. 

Capote was openly gay, nastily funny and endlessly amusing to these ladies who loved having a man to accompany them to events when needed without having to worry about any sexual situations.  They also shared their deepest, darkest secrets with him over lunch at their favorite restaurant, La Cote Basque. So when Truman turned around and shared those secrets in a chapter from the book he was working on that starred thinly disguised versions of these ladies - "La Cote Basque 1965" - and it was published in Esquire, the ladies recognized themselves, and all hell broke loose.  They not only cut Truman off but declared they would get revenge.  And sadly on some level they did because Truman was ostracized, let his drinking get the better of him, and died an ignominious early death never completing "Answered Prayers."

The series follows Truman and his Swans from the happy beginning to the sad end

The Swans:

Babe Paley - wife of William S. Paley, head of CBS, back when there were only three television networks. Babe was always #1 on the Best Dressed lists but sadly had to fight cancer. She also sadly had a philandering husband.

Slim Keith - famously married to director Howard Hawks, then producer Leland Hayward and finally to a British Baron, Kenneth Keith, Baron of Castleacre.  Born in Salinas, California, she was another fashion icon who had no problem sleeping with Babe's husband.

C.Z. Guest - an ex-debutante, she married William Frederick Churchill Guest, a rich guy whose mother was first cousin to Winston Churchill.  Ernest Hemingway was best man at their wedding.  She, too, another fashionista.

Lee Radziwill - Jackie Kennedy's sister.  Lee's second husband was a sort of a prince so she started calling herself Princess and was often called Princess Radziwill in the press.  Her third husband was director Herbert Ross.

There are also additional famous characters played by other famous actresses: Ann Woodward (Demi Moore), who famously shot her rich husband, supposedly thinking he was an intruder and, when prosecuted, got off; Joanne Carson (Molly Ringwald), Johnny Carson's ex-wife, who let Truman stay in her guest house in LA when no one else would have anything to do with him; and Jessica Lange as Truman's mother.

I very much remember Capote, his New York City antics and his "Swans."  He was a popular guest on late night talk shows and was always outrageous.  He also had a feud with Gore Vidal that was notorious and funny.  

Because of Capote's literary fame, most people remember him.  However, despite the fact that these women were very famous in their day, especially if you followed the fashion mags (which I did), I couldn't help but think while watching this series, how many people remember these women today?  And there is all kinds of name-dropping and references to incidents in the 60's and 70's that might go over the heads of most younger people, but if you are of a certain age and followed the fashion mags and gossip columns back in the day (I mean, what else was there to do then?  No Internet yet), you will enjoy this.  It's Ryan Murphy at his snarky best, not to mention director Gus Van Zant's expert directorial hand in all of this.  The production values capturing the era are first rate and the arty opening credits alone are worth your time.

This all-star cast of women is just wonderful and the acting stellar, especially Naomi Watts, but it's a tour de force for Hollander, whose performance embodies Capote. He deserves accolades for it. Sadly, this was Treat Williams' final performance (as Bill Paley) before a motorcycle accident took his life.

Whether you knew who these people were or not, it doesn't really matter. You will benefit from watching this wonderful series that reminds us that no matter our station in life, rich or poor or somewhere in between, we all suffer from the human condition: love, friendship, jealousy, betrayal, revenge, sickness and death. It's all there.  It's our lives.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if Tom Hollander doesn't win an Emmy for his portrayal of Capote, I will eat my copy of "In Cold Blood!" (Hulu)

The New Look  (2024)

A biopic about designer Christian Dior and what he had to go through to create his "New Look"  which breathed life into the fashion world after the austerity of WW II.

Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of Paris during WW II and based on real-life events, this series tells the story of designer Christian Dior (Ben Mendelsohn) and how he rose to fame with his "New Look."

So what was "The New Look?"

During the austerity of WW II, women's clothes had a masculine, utilitarian, oppressed feel that reflected the hardships of the War. 

Coming out of the war, The New Look celebrated femininity, elegance, freedom and a return to abundance.  It was a silhouette characterized by broad shoulders, a narrow waist and a full skirt.

But this series is not just about fashion.

The Nazis occupied Paris for four years during WW II.  People did what they could to survive.  Some formed a resistance, some collaborated.  Christian Dior was a young designer trying to make a name for himself working for designer Lucien LeLong (John Malkovich) and was forced to make dresses for Nazi wives and girlfriends.  However, his sister, Catherine (Maisie Williams), was involved with The Resistance, and this series is as much about her and what she went through as it is about Christian and his fashion career.

In contrast, the series, created by Todd A. Kessler, also focuses on Coco Chanel.  She took a different path during the occupation.  History has indicated she was an antisemite and a willing Nazi collaborator. Was she?  Or did she make certain decisions to survive? The series is a bit wish-washy on that.

But Juliette Binoche is anything but wish-washy as Coco Chanel.  She chews up the scenery in a very, very good way. When she is on screen the series sings. Mendelsohn as Dior is a bit of a sad sack throughout but that was probably a creative choice on his part or of the creators as Dior was a closeted gay man trying to keep going during the Nazi occupation with his sister in a prison camp. And the story of Dior's sister is one that is not well known.  She was tortured in a prison camp for her work with the Resistance and after her release struggled with what she had endured there. There is a particularly poignant moment in the series when Dior names his perfume after her - "Miss Dior."  Now we know who she was.

All in all, the War took a toll on those who lived through it, but "The New Look" as a fashion statement was also a metaphor for better times to come after a war of sacrifice and scarcity. And, though it could have been a bit shorter, this series is a powerful reminder of what people went through during that war.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite the controversial take on Chanel, it's a stylish new look at fashion history with great performances. (Apple+) 

The Regime (2024)

The head of a small European nation has many personal issues, such as being a despot, a bully and not very smart, and did I say crazy? Those and other issues cause her country to unravel.  Easy to draw some comparisons, yes?

Kate Winslet seems to have a lock on HBO.  She killed in "Mildred Pierce" and "Mare of Easttown" and here she plays Elena Vernham, the despot of a small European country, in another amazing performance.  

Despite running a country, Elena isn't all there.  Because her father died of lung disease, she is obsessed with the mold levels in her palace and has it endlessly tested, hiring Herbert (Matthias Schoenaerts), a soldier with a brutal history, to follow her around measuring for mold at every step.  He is a handsome lunk of a guy and you can see where this is headed - sex and our soldier working his way up. Then Elena discovers potato steam. Don't ask. That's just the beginning of her eccentricities. And speaking of Elena's father.  His well-preserved corpse is kept in a glass coffin so Elena can have tete-a-tetes with him.  I could go on and on. Elena is a mess and everything is about to go to hell.  And she is poised to be taken over by Herbert, a modern day Rasputin with populist views. A civil war breaks out and things don't look good for Elena or Herbert.

Created by Will Tracy and directed by Stephen Frears and Jessica Hobbs, this is a comedy satire but Winslet plays it straight. It's also very, very strange.  Whether or not this series hits a home run with statements about politics and the state of the world is beside the point.  It's all about Winslet's performance which is a lot of fun. And I just love her lisp. Hugh Grant shows up in episode four in a cameo as the imprisoned ex-chancellor and it's always good to see him.

Rosy the Reviewer says..."People Magazine" loved this; "TV Guide" gave it a thumbs down.  However, I enjoyed it. It's over-the-top but strangely amusing. (HBO and HBO Max)

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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)!