Showing posts with label 1001 Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1001 Movies. Show all posts

Friday, October 13, 2017

"The Mountain Between Us" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Mountain Between Us" as well as DVDs "Going in Style" and "Rough Night." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Puppetmaster."  The Book of the Week is a novel: "One Perfect Lie" by Lisa Scottoline]

The Mountain Between Us

After a plane crash, two strangers find themselves stranded on top of a snow-covered mountain.

Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) is a photographer who needs to get home because she is getting married tomorrow.  Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is a neurological surgeon who has an important surgery he needs to get to, so both are not happy that all planes have been cancelled from Idaho to Denver.  Alex gets the idea to rent a private plane, and after overhearing that Ben is in the same predicament as she is, asks him if he wants to join her.

The two find Walter (Beau Bridges) and his dog (Raleigh) and after agreeing on a price, Walter takes them up in his small plane.  As they are flying high over some treacherous mountain peaks, Walter has a stroke and the plane crashes.  Fortunately for Alex, Ben and the dog, they all survive, though Alex has a bad leg injury which Ben is able to treat. Good thing he just happens to be a doctor. Walter is not so lucky.

So now there they all are, alone on the top of a mountain with nothing but other mountains and snow between them and safety and a couple of candy bars and some almonds to keep them company. What to do?

When one finds oneself lost or stranded, the main issue is to stay or go.  Do you sit tight and wait to be rescued?  Or do you leave and hope for the best?

Ben uses his brain (he's a neurological surgeon, get it?).  He wants to stay.  Alex uses her heart. Not sure why that's her thing?  She's a woman? She wants to leave.  The head versus heart is a theme here as is the mountain.  When two beautiful people find themselves stranded together for a long period of time, stuff is going to happen, but there is also a figurative mountain between them - the mountain is the fact that Alex is set to be married and Ben has his own issues about love and relationships.

So this is a story of survival but it's also a love story.

You can always tell when it's awards season, when animated films and superhero movies give way to more serious fare where actors can show off their skills. This film is what the Brits would call a two-hander, meaning that most of the film is just two actors - Winslet and Elba - talking and interacting as they try to get off that physical and emotional mountain.  And it takes acting skill to carry a film when it's just the two of them.  Don't get me wrong, Winslet and Elba are both wonderful actors,


I had some issues with this film.

  • First of all, when all flights are cancelled out of an airport, what regular person decides to not only rent a private plane but also asks a total stranger to come along?

  • Who doesn't call someone to tell them that flights are canceled out of the airport, so they are going to rent a small, rickety private plane in horribly bad weather and not ask for them to pray for them?

  • What pilot doesn't bother to file a flight plan?

  • And why did Ben have a lighter?  Very strange for someone who doesn't smoke to carry a lighter around, but highly convenient in case he gets stranded on a snowy mountaintop some time, right?

  • If you had just been in a plane crash and were stranded on a desolate, snowy mountaintop, why wouldn't you have the flare gun locked and loaded just in case? It's the one thing that still works after the crash. There are a couple of instances where the flare gun would have come in handy, oh, like when another plane flew over, but no, they had to run and get the gun, load it and by the time they did that, the plane had flown.

  • I knew things were going south when I was rooting more for the dog than Alex and Ben.  Not a good thing.

  • And what has happened to Dermott Mulroney's career?  He has about ten lines in this film. Since "My Best Friend's Wedding," in the last ten years he has gone from leading man roles in movies to TV to doing mostly supporting work.  That's too bad because he is a handsome guy and a good actor and should be able to still get those romantic lead gigs. 

  • Worst of all?  How can it be that beautiful Kate Winslet and handsome Idris Elba seemed to have zero chemistry? She usually takes her clothes off in her movies.  She didn't in this one.  Maybe that was the problem!

Those might seem like little things - well, Winslet and Elba not having any chemistry isn't a little thing - but those other issues I had seemed to only serve the plot and not reality.  I'm telling you, that lighter bothered me through the whole film.

Written by J. Mills Goodloe and Chris Weitz from the novel by Charles Martin and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, this is the kind of film I usually really like.  It's a love story with a thriller component. I should have cried at the end, but I didn't.  The film should have been tense and exciting, but it wasn't. The most exciting part of the film happened early on and that was the plane crash but then the film just kind of kept crashing after that.  Somehow the whole thing just felt as cold as that icy mountain they were trying to get off of. And the beauty of Winslet and the handsomeness that is Elba and their combined powerhouse of acting talent just couldn't save it.

Oh and by the way, if you are afraid to fly, this movie is probably not for you. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this wasn't a bad film; it was just disappointing.

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Going in Style (2017)

Three senior citizens embark on an elaborate heist to get their money back from the bank that has stolen their pensions. 

Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), and Albert (Alan Arkin) are senior citizens and lifelong friends living in Brooklyn. All three are having financial problems. Joe had recently been at the bank to discover that his house was being foreclosed on. He had fallen for a "teaser rate promo" and now he can't afford his house, a house where his daughter and granddaughter also live.  They will be out on the street.  Willie is suffering from kidney disease and needs a transplant and Albert is barely getting by giving saxophone lessons. To add insult to injury, the company they worked for was bought out and their pensions have been canceled. The company is going to use that money to move their operations overseas and the local bank is handling the money transfer.

While getting the bad news at the bank, Joe witnesses a robbery, which, after all of this bad news, inspires him to throw out the idea to his friends of robbing the bank, the very bank that was helping the new company steal their pensions. They do a dry run by shoplifting some items at the grocery store in a silly scene that ends with Willie making his escape in a shopping cart but they get caught and are humiliated but decide to go ahead with their bank robbery plan anyway.  What do they have to lose?  So they decide they need some professional help. Joe says he doesn't know any criminals but he knows a low life - his former son-in-law, Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz) - so they hook up with him and his friend, Jesus (John Ortiz), to teach them the ropes

Joe, Willie, and Albert disguise themselves with "Rat Pack" masks (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.) and use guns with blanks so that no one gets hurt. Of course it all goes wrong but they still get away with 2.3 million dollars  However, the heist was not without its problems.  Willie, not able to breathe through his mask, collapses and a little girl pulls off his mask.  Willie engages her in some friendly conversation so that the little girl is not scared of him but despite that they get away.  Remember when I mentioned that dry run at the grocery store where the guys tried a little shop lifting?  Well, it was all captured on video tape and the manager of the grocery store recognizes Al's walk from the video surveillance, so they are arrested by FBI Agent Hamer.  But they stick to their alibis, and later when the little girl is shown a police line-up, she refuses to point the finger at Al even though she recognizes him. See?  Being nice during a bank robbery has its advantages!

In the course of the investigation, we get to see the whole plot played out and the alibis,which are elaborate and ingenious.  It was a well-thought-out heist and there are some twists and turns that you didn't see coming.

Old people need something to live for.  So what if that something is robbing a bank?  Planning the heist and undertaking it gives Joe, Willie and Albert a new lease on life.  I'm not saying that planning and carrying out a bank robbery is a good thing to do, but old folks need something to look forward to!

Ann-Margret makes an appearance as a grocery clerk interested in Albert and the sexy grandma of one of Albert's untalented students and a barely recognizable Matt Dillon plays the detective investigating the bank robbery.  Whatever happened to HIS career? Kenan Thompson of SNL fame has a brief moment as the grocery store manager but it's a highlight.

Directed by actor Zach Braff with a screenplay by Theodore Melfi, it's all pretty silly stuff and the movie uses many of the clichés about old people that I hate - old people swearing, old people having sex, old people getting stoned - all movie clichés that are supposed to be funny but aren't to those of us who are old, but it doesn't really matter the vehicle, because when three veteran actors like Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin, get together you've got to be there. These three actors constitute 174 years of TV and movie acting, and they are actors at the top of their game and can make any story work, even if that story has been done before (this is a loose remake of the 1979 Art Carney-George Burns-Lee Strasborg film), but this kind of story - getting even with the evil souless bank that is ruining your life - is also a film trope. I mean, it could be a geriatric heist version of this year's "Hell or High Water". But hey, like I said, watching Caine, Morgan and Arkin interact is worth the rerun.  And can you believe it?  Speaking of movie tropes. No power walk! 

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, there are old people stereotypes, yes, it's sentimental, yes, it's full of clichés but it's also kind of fun. There are worse movies out there and I would watch these three guys read the phone book.

Rough Night (2017)

A group of girlfriends head to Miami for a bachelorette party,but when they hire a male stripper things go terribly wrong.

Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is getting married and her besties and ex-sorority sisters want to give her a bachelorette party she will remember. The girls bonded in college at a frat party where they beat the boys at beer pong and pledged to be friends forever.  Now it's ten years later and Jess has moved on from beer pong.  In fact she is running for State Senate.  Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher; Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is a protester/activist; and Blair (Zoe Kravitz) is a Mom going through a divorce.

When they arrive in Miami, they head to the condo they have rented and go to the neighbors for the keys.  The neighbors are a swinger couple - the sexually active Lea (Demi Moore) and Pietro (Ty Burrell), who turn up now and again for their sexual comic relief and this film needs it.  Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess's roommate from her Australian foreign study, also shows up much to Alice's dismay.  You see, Alice has jealousy and neediness issues.

None of the girls really want to party.  Jess doesn't want to do anything that would jeopardize her chances of winning a Senate seat and basically wants to flake out, but you know that's not going to happen.  First, cocaine shows up, then they get drunk, more cocaine, then some marijuana, then some pizza, then a stripper, then they kill the stripper. Yes, you heard me.  Alice jumps on his lap, the chair falls over and he hits his head and dies.  Naturally they can't call the police and tell them it was an accident like any normal person would do.  Oh, no.  Then we wouldn't have a movie.  They all have reasons why they can't call the police.  So they decide to call a lawyer instead who tells them if there's no body, there's no crime.  Mmmm.

This is one of those movies where one bad decision leads to another leads to another and things get worse and worse.

Directed and co-written by Lucia Anielo with Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jess's fiance, this is all part of the "Bachelor/Bachelorette-Party-Gone-Wrong-Genre ("The Hangover," "Bridesmaids") that makes the case that women can be just as raunchy and bad as men when it comes to partying.  It also feels a bit like "Weekend at Bernie's" as the girls try to figure out how to dispose of the body.

Meanwhile, Jess's fiancé calls and asks how they are doing.  He says he is having a wild time - but in fact he and his friends are in suits wine tasting - but he gets suspicious about what is happening in Miami so decides to do a "sad astronaut" trip - remember that case where an astronaut woman was in love with an astronaut man and was jealous of his new relationship so she decided she was going to kill her rival, and so she drove non-stop a thousand miles or something wearing an adult diaper so she wouldn't have to stop?  So Peter dons a diaper, uses some meth and makes the trip, and of course, he gets stopped by the police.  This part of the film was actually funny.

One can't help but compare this film to "Girls Trip," a very similar film, that unfortunately for this film, came out at the same time. The two films even start out the same - ex-sorority sisters who haven't seen each other in awhile and whose lives have evolved get together to celebrate. Both films have the supposedly responsible one and then there is the absolutely crazy one and in both films the women get themselves in some very bad situations.  Except when you compare the two, "Rough Night" doesn't fare as well because "Girls Trip" was actually funny.

This is a departure role for Scarlett Johannson. We don't often see her in comedies which is probably why she wanted to do this film.  That's the only reason I could think of why she would.

Kate McKinnon is one of those actors I love.  She is always all in and this role is no exception. She almost saves this film with her broad Aussie accent and nutty physical humor...but, alas, she didn't. 

The main problem with this film is that it just isn't very funny.

Rosy the Reviewer says...see "Girl's Trip" instead.  That film was funny.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

166 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Puppetmaster (1993)

Based on fact, this film recounts the life story of Li Tien-lu, a famous Taiwanese puppeteer, during the Japanese occupation of China.

During the Japanese occupation of China which lasted from 1895 to 1945, young Li Tien-lu joins a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. We witness the events of his life - he gets married, has a mistress, deals with the complications of his life - with the political climate as a backdrop.  Tienlu and his puppet skills were also used by the Japanese during World War II for their war propaganda. The story is all pretty grim.

The real Tien-lu is shown from time to time throughout the film and narrates and there are several segments highlighting the puppet shows themselves.

Li Tien-lu had a very hard life, and this is the kind of biopic that makes you grateful for the life you have had.

Why it's a Must See: "Director Hou Hsiao-hsien has an unhurried style with long shots that calmly observe the interaction of the characters...a deeply felt portrait of Taiwanese life."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says..."unhurried style" is code for boring.  It was just a bit too unhurried for me.

***The Book of the Week***

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline (2017)

Who is Chris Brennan and why has he come to Central Valley?

Chris Brennan has applied for a teaching job at Central Valley High School. His resume and references are impeccable.  He is also ready to step in as the assistant baseball coach but it's all a lie.  His name isn't even Chris Brennan.

He is there to find a young man who can help him with his plan.

The young men he has targeted are Raz, the high school baseball team's pitcher, whose father has just died leaving him vulnerable; Jordan, a shy kid who has just made the team and who lives with his single Mom, Heather; and Evan, a rich kid with a surgeon father and a mother who copes by filling her days with social events and drinking too many gin and tonics.

Chris is looking for a vulnerable kid who he can manipulate.

So goes the first part of this novel, and you get the idea that Chris is some kind of domestic terrorist plotting a bombing on the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing, but then Scottoline flips on the reader in Part II and the story changes from the BIG LIE to what is really going on with Chris and to each of the boys' lives because there are enough secrets and lies to go around in this little thriller.

This is the kind of novel that is often called a "fast read," because there is lots of dialogue and a fast-moving plot.  It's the kind of novel that would make a good film so I couldn't help but cast the parts as I read it.  I think Jake Gyllenhaal would make a good "Chris," Heather, who becomes Chris's love interest, could be played by Rachel McAdams.

Evan could be played by Miles Teller, Jordan by Ansel Elgort and Raz by Nick Robinson, all hot young actors.

I know, I couldn't help myself.  Movies are always on my mind! You will have to read the book to see if you agree with me!

I liked this book, but it was a bit lightweight, even for me, and I'm not that keen on baseball or books that are mostly about guys.  But hey, that's just me.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a fast-read that would appeal to teens as well as men and women and won't take much mental energy.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 


for my review of  


"Victoria and Abdul"  


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."


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Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 



Friday, August 25, 2017

"Wind River" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Wind River" as well as DVDs "Night Train to Lisbon" and "Misconduct."  The Book of the Week is a cookbook, "Clean Eating Bowls."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with " "Vivre Sa Vie," another Godard (I'm going to give him another chance!]

Wind River

When a game warden for Wyoming's Fish and Wildlife Service finds a dead body on an Indian reservation, an FBI agent is called in and they work together to track the killer.

Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is divorced from his Native American wife, Wilma (Julia Jones), but his ties to the Native American community still run deep.  They have a son together and his wife's family lives nearby on the Indian reservation and his work as a game warden for the Fish and Wildlife Service takes him there often to track bears, wolves and mountain lions that are killing livestock.  We learn, too, that he and his wife had a teen-aged daughter who died under mysterious circumstances, and it is still an open wound. 

There is a deep sadness about Cory even as he goes about his business of tracking down predators, and it comes to the surface when out looking for a mountain lion in a remote part of the area Indian reservation - Wind River - he discovers the body of a girl.  It's Natalie (Kelsey Asbille), a girl he knows, a girl who was his daughter's best friend.

Cory summons Ben (Graham Greene), the local tribal cop, but since only the FBI has jurisdiction over homicides on Native American lands, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) arrives from Las Vegas by way of Fort Lauderdale.  She is young green, breathless and clearly underdressed for the Wyoming winter weather.  She is also clearly out of her element - this is her first murder case and she doesn't have a clue about Native American culture as she quickly insults Natalie's father, Martin (Gil Birmingham, who shows his acting versatility - he was Jeff Bridges' sidekick in "Hell or High Water").  But she is quick to see that Cory's tracker abilities would be helpful to her so she enlists his help. 

We soon learn that Natalie died from hypothermia after running barefoot in the snow from something or someone.  But we also learn that she was raped, maybe multiple times, and Cory and Jane set out to find out what happened to Natalie, and in so doing, expose the sometimes dark and troubled but also courageous and strong lives of so many Native Americans living in an unforgiving landscape.

When Jane says to Ben, "Shouldn't we wait for back up?" and he replies, "This isn't the land of waiting for back up.  This is the land of you're on your own," that says it all.

Set in a Wyoming winter, this film is a moody murder mystery, a fish out of water story, an exploration of family and loss and a tale of the clash of cultures, but it's also much deeper than that - it's a microcosm of the Native American experience with a murder at its core, serving as a metaphor for what Native Americans lost when the white man came to town and what many have had to endure ever since, bleak lives in a bleak landscape.

I have never been much of a Jeremy Renner fan.  I don't know why.   I find it strange when I think about it.  There is no reason for me not to like him.  He is a fine actor.  But we humans are fickle folks and our preferences are sometimes unexplained.  I mean I don't really like George Clooney that much either.  Why do I love Tom Hardy and not Jeremy Renner?  Well, I am going to remedy that right now.  Because of this movie, I am now a big fan.  This is Renner's best role to date and he has it all here.  He brings not only the sadness of a man who lost a daughter but the determination to not let that loss also kill him and this is brought home in a wonderful scene between him and Natalie's Dad, when they share their feelings  and grief about the loss of their daughters.

Elizabeth Olsen is a steady presence and a wonderful actress who doesn't get much in the way of publicity or accolades but she should because she has done some wonderful work.

I can't help but compare this to "Hell or High Water," and I guess that makes sense because this film was written by the same guy, Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote "Sicario."  This time, though, he directed as well, and it's clear that he is not only a top-notch screenwriter, but a top-notch director as well.  

It's refreshing to see Native American actors playing Native Americans, and we all know, that hasn't always been the case.  Graham Greene as Ben, the reservation law enforcement officer is a recognizable face but the rest of the Native Americans are relative newcomers, and they all bring an authenticity to the film. It's also refreshing to see an attractive man and woman working together (Renner and Olsen) and NOT falling in love.  A love affair between those two would have ruined this important film by diluting its themes of family, loss, alienation and retribution.

This is a really good, tight film. Based on a true story, the plot is compelling.  But this film is so much more than that.  At the end we are reminded that despite the fact that there are statistics on the many missing women in the United States, there are no such statistics for missing Native American women. It's a reminder of what the lives of the real natives of America have endured.

Rosy the Reviewer of the year's best films - a must see.  I predict some award-winning writing and performances.

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Night Train to Lisbon (2013)

When a man rescues a beautiful young girl from jumping from a bridge in Bern, he finds himself embroiled in an adventure that couldn't be farther from his buttoned-down life as a college professor of ancient languages.

Jeremy Irons stars as Raimund Gregorius, a Swiss professor of ancient languages, an unadventurous, melancholy loner, who while walking across a bridge in Bern, sees a young girl in a red coat standing on the railing ready to jump off the bridge.  He saves her and takes her with him to his college, but when she disappears, leaving her red coat behind, he also discovers a book, a memoir by Amadeu do Prado. The book is stamped with the name of the bookstore, so, intrigued, he goes there, and while there, the bookseller leafs through the book and a train ticket to Lisbon falls out, a train ticket to Lisbon for a train leaving in 15 minutes. 

Wanting to find the girl, but very uncharacteristically, Gregorius drops everything and rushes to the train station, and not seeing her, impulsively jumps on the train.  While on the train he reads the book she had left and decides to find Amadeu do Prado.  But before he can, he is hit by a bicycle and his glasses are broken.  When he goes to have them fixed, he meets Mariana (Martina Gedeck), an optometrist and he tells her his story and mentions Amadeu.  It just so happens her uncle, Joao Eca (Tom Courtney), knew him and so Mariana and Gregorius travel together to the nursing home where he lives to learn more about Amadeu, a story of the Salazar regime, Amadeu's involvement in the resistance, and the story of "The Butcher of Lisbon," all shown in flashback with Jack Huston starring as Amadeu. 

The story finally reveals the mystery of the girl in the red coat and why she wanted to jump off the bridge and leads Gregorius to a life-changing decision.

I have always been a big Jeremy Irons fan ever since "Brideshead Revisited."  Nobody does brooding like he does but he can also do menacing.  That voice! Who can forget his voice as Scar in "The Lion King?"  Here he is mainly a foil for the story of Amadeu as he travels around interviewing people who knew him and discovering his story, but Irons is such an effective actor that he is still the star.

Written by Greg Latter and Ulrich Herrmann (based on the 2004 novel Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier) and directed by Bille August, the film uses quotes from the book throughout the film as if the book itself is leading Gregorius and changing his life, but despite an interesting story and a stellar cast, the film that unfolds in flashbacks is uneven and choppy and really confusing and doesn't live up to what it could have been.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a very literary and intellectual film that will not be everyone's cup of tea.

Misconduct (2016)

An ambitious young lawyer takes on a case against a big pharmaceutical company and finds himself in over his head.

Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins) is the owner of a major pharmaceutical firm and his girlfriend, Emily Hynes (Malin Åkerman) is kidnapped for a ransom and through a series of flashbacks the story unfolds.

Earlier, Emily had contacted her ex-boyfriend, Ben Cahill (Josh Duhamel), a rather shady attorney, and had intimated that Denning had been abusing her and she couldn't get away from him.  She also told him that she had proof of criminal behavior on Denning's part - that he was using false clinical trials to get his drugs approved. 

Cahill is married to Charlotte (Alice Eve), but that doesn't stop him from starting to have some steamy sex with Emily but he pulls back at the last minute.  But he makes the most of the encounter by using the information from Emily to pitch a class action lawsuit to his boss Charles Abrams (Al Pacino). Denning settles the suit for $400 million, provided that the stolen documents are returned to him.  But it all blows up when Ben finds Emily dead in her apartment with a bottle of pills in her hand and later her body shows up in HIS apartment.  Is he being framed? 

And then everything just goes to hell for does this movie.

Just what is going on here?  That's what I asked myself throughout this movie and that's not a good thing.

Directed by Shintaro Shimasawa with a screenplay by Simon Boyes and Stephen Mason, this is one of those convoluted thrillers with so many characters doing so many shady things that you lose track of what's going on.  I do, anyway.  And it's also one of those mysteries where the least likely character did it. I have also never heard such overdone, dramatic music in my life. The music is especially dramatic when Al Pacino shows up.  The music is as over-the-top as his acting sometimes is.

Alice Eve plays Charlotte, Ben's wife, and I can kind of see why he was thinking of getting it on with Emily.  Charlotte lacks charm, to say the least and Julia Stiles plays a spunky (doesn't she always?) securities analyst in one of the many sideline plots.

Anthony Hopkins is Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino is Al Pacino, both probably wondering what they are doing in this film and Josh Duhamel is handsome.

That's about all I have to say about this one.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is one of those convoluted thrillers with so many side plots and red herrings that when it's over you say "Huh?"

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

188 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Vivre Sa Vie ("My Life to Live") (1962)

A story about how easy it is to end up as a prostitute. You know, it's very expensive to live in Paris!

It's Godard again.  I decided to give him another chance, and I kind of have to because of "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project," eight of which are Godard films.  I reviewed "Masculin Feminin" last week, and it was kind of a snooze-fest for me, but I have to say, I liked this one better.  I think I am more into prostitutes than young 60's poseurs.

This was an earlier film than "Masculin Feminin" by four years.  Again, divided into vignettes, or chapters, this film tells the story of Nana (Anna Karina) who, after leaving a loveless marriage, struggles for survival.  She ends up in a dead-end job selling records (remember those?) and wanders aimlessly around Paris.  When she can't pay her rent and is kicked out of her apartment she turns to prostitution.  Then she meets Raoul (Sady Rebbot) who becomes her pimp.  She finally finds love when she falls in love with a student, but when she tries to leave Raoul, she pays the price for her choices. It's all very dark.

Once again Godard employs his static camera, though this time, he likes to focus on the back of the head rather than the face with dialogue and action happening around the static image.  It's as if we are standing behind the characters, listening to their conversations.  In the opening scene, when Nana is breaking up with her husband, they are sitting at a bar and we just see the backs of their heads, with Nana's face reflected in a mirror across from the bar.  It's a brilliant ten-minute scene that captures the disintegration of a marriage and the camera acts as a person standing behind them.  The camera is us watching, trying to figure out what they are talking about. Godard also uses silence over the images (he did that in "Masculin Feminin" too) in between scenes. 

This is also what I call a leisurely film - not very plot driven and slow lingering real time camera work that just begs you to fast forward with the remote. But I didn't because I became fascinated by this character and what was going to happen to her.

Godard also tends to unfold his story with not a lot happening and then POW!  Out of nowhere something happens like a random act of violence.  He did it here, and as I mentioned in last week's review, he did that in "Masculin Feminin," so obviously it's one of this "things." But at least he didn't fall prey to what so many arty directors do - long movies.  This one was only 73 minutes long.

Anna Karina as Nana (Godard's then wife and muse in several films) was a beautiful, affecting actress with eyes you can fall into, but her character is an enigma.

Why it's a Must See: "...the first of Godard's mature masterpieces. Like much of his best work, it is both supremely analytical and supremely sensuous, achieving an austere, wintry beauty."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Nana's life was short and rather sordid, but it was her life to live.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Godard is growing on me.

***Book of the Week***

Clean Eating Bowls: 100 Real Food Recipes for Eating Clean by Kenzie Swanhart (2016)

How to not only eat "clean" but how to eat everything in a BOWL!

As you know, I not only love to cook (check out the latest "Rosy's Test Kitchen"), but I love to read,so it's only natural that I would love to read cookbooks.  I am also interested in healthy eating, the occasional pint of ice-cream and five or six chocolate chip cookies not withstanding, so I was drawn to this cookbook and intrigued by the idea of eating out of a bowl.  I checked with the babies who regularly eat out of a bowl...

and they said it's fun!

In case you didn't  know, "clean eating" is basically eating whole foods, or "real" foods — those that are un-refined, minimally handled, and unprocessed, making them as close to their natural form as possible and what I have discovered is that it's very veggie oriented, which, I guess, makes sense especially since most of us don't go out and hunt our own meat.

The idea of eating out of a bowl is also simplicity. 

Here is what Swanhart says about it:

"Diving into a clean eating lifestyle can seem daunting -- cutting out sugars and processed foods in favor of cooking fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats -- but bowls make it simple for cooks of all levels to make delicious, healthy meals.  With the abundance of ingredients that can be piled into a bowl, you will be able to focus on all the goodness you can eat, rather than thinking of it as a restriction."

Oh, OK, if I eat out of a bowl I will forget that I can't have anything I like?

Anyway, the book is divided into nine chapters - you have breakfast bowls, grain bowls, salad bowls, soup bowls, noodle bowls and dessert bowls.  But SMOOTHIE BOWLS?  I am going to drink my smoothie out of a bowl?

Here is a taste:
"Berry Blast Smoothie Bowl"

Put 1 c. frozen mixed berries, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 c almond milk (that you make yourself - sigh), 1 T. chia seeds, 1/2 baby spinach into a blender and blend away - and note:  It's important to put these ingredients in the blender in that exact order.  Not sure why.

Pour the smoothie into a bowl and top it with a sliced banana, 6 fresh blackberries, 8 fresh raspberries and two T. pomegranate seeds.

I wonder if I am pushing it if I use 7 blackberries and only 7 raspberries and skip the pomegranate seeds.  Would I get kicked out of the clean eating community?  Seems like there are a lot of rules.  Or what would happen if I just pour the stuff into a glass?

Anyway, there are some interesting and fun recipes here that lend themselves to a bowl:

  • Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
  • Scallop and Zucchini Noodle Bowl
  • Dark Chocolate Strawberry Bowl
  • Korean Bibimbap Grain Bowl

Swanhart ends the book with a list of NECESSITIES - things you need to have on hand - (more rules!) all of which you need to make yourself:

  • Simple Lemon Dressing
  • Jalapeno-Line Vinaigrette
  • Avocado-Cilantro Cream
  • Tahini-Ginger Dressing
  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Honey Almond Butter
  • Almond Milk
  • Homemade Granola

Do I really have to make all of that myself? Can't I just go to Whole Foods?

Oh, and in case I haven't depressed you enough, here are the "Dirty Dozen," which I know you can guess are the opposite of "clean."  These are the items that contain the most pesticides, so if you want to eat them, be sure you go organic.

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens

As I said, I do like to cook and I do like to eat well, but trying to do everything in the healthiest way just seems like so much work and mental energy.  It's kind of depressing.

Rosy the Reviewer says... I am going to go ponder all of this over a bowl of fruit loops.  What?  Is that bad?

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of  
"Ingrid Goes West"


 The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."

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