Showing posts with label Animation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Animation. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2018

"Isle of Dogs" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "Isle of Dogs" as well as DVDs "Molly's Game" and "Proud Mary."  The Book of the Week is "I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Lola."]

Isle of Dogs

It's a Japan of the future and the fear of Dog Flu and Snout Fever has banished all dogs to Trash Island but an intrepid little boy travels there to find his dog, Spots.

I am not a big fan of stop-action animation and Wes Anderson is a strange guy.  I mean I am still mulling over what the heck was going on in "Moonrise Kingdom," though he won me back with "The Grand Budapest Hotel," and I am still a big fan because I absolutely loved this film.  And it is a testament to Anderson that so many big name actors wanted to do the voices in this film - from Bryan Cranston to Scarlett Johansson to Yoko Ono, there are almost 20 A-listers here, not to mention a boat load of big name Japanese actors.

There is a dog flu virus rampant in Japan and the new mayor of Megasaki City, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), a member of a long-time cat-loving family, banishes all dogs to Trash Island, despite the fact that a scientist named Professor Watanabe (Akira Ito) insists he is close to finding a cure. But Kobayashi ignores him. Japan is a cat world now. The first dog to be banished is Spots (Liev Schreiber), who was the canine bodyguard for twelve-year-old Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), the orphaned nephew and ward of the mayor.

Missing his beloved Spots, Atari steals a plane and flies to Trash Island to find him. After a crash-landing, he is rescued by five dogs: Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), Boss (Bill Murray), and Chief (Cranston) who decide to help Atari locate Spots, although Chief, who was a former stray, wants nothing to do with it at first.  He doesn't trust humans, is bitter about his life and often says, "I bite."  But with the help of a female show dog named Nutmeg (Johansson), Chief has a change of heart and decides to help.

Nutmeg: Will you help him, the little pilot?
Chief: Why should I?
Nutmeg: Because he's a twelve year old boy, dogs love those.

So the motley crew traverse Trash Island to look for Spots and survive a series of adventures that involve fighting off a rescue team sent by Kobayashi to retrieve Atari and a band of cannibal dogs.
Meanwhile, back in Megasaki City, Professor Watanabe finds a cure, but is poisoned by Mayor Kobayashi to prevent the dogs from being returned from Trash Island, but American foreign exchange student, Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig), suspects a conspiracy to exterminate all dogs and begins to investigate.  When Atari and his dog friends arrive back in Megasaki City and confront the Mayor, a fight ensues, but it all wraps up nicely because, hey, it's a cartoon.

I say it's a cartoon but that's not to say that this film is for children.  It's not. 

This is definitely too dark for young children. On a superficial level, it's about the love between humans and dogs and the companionship they provide, though Anderson uses a humorous device to remind us that little Rover doesn't really understand us when we ask him about his day.  All of the humans speak only in Japanese with no subtitles and the dogs speak English, reminding us what we humans must sound like to our dogs, like we are speaking in another language. But there are deeper themes at work here - genocide, loyalty, death, and the abuse that animals suffer at the hands of humans 
Narrated by Courtney B. Vance, the story, which Wes Anderson wrote with Roman Coppola, Kunichi Nomura and long-time collaborator Jason Schwartzmanis an engrossing and often humorous one but also a touching tale of dog and human love.  It has also been controversial as some critics felt the film was an appropriation of Japanese culture and an example of the "white savior."  You will have to decide what you think of that. 
As I said, I am not usually a fan of stop-motion animation, but thanks to animation director Mark Waring, who worked with Anderson on "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," this film pays homage to Japanese anime and pop culture and was really life-like and lovely to look at, and thanks to Anderson's story, it pulled my heart strings.  However, it helps if you love dogs.

And I do.

Rosy the Reviewer enjoyable and original film experience and a clear nominee for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.  One of my favorite films of the year so far.  

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


Molly's Game (2017)

What do you do when you are an Olympic class skier who has sustained a career-ending injury?  Why you run one of the world's most high class and exclusive poker games, right?  Huh?  How did that happen?

Based on a true story, this film takes us on Molly Bloom's journey from a skier on her way to Olympic glory to a career-ending back injury to running high stakes poker games and ultimately tangling with the FBI.

Molly (Jessica Chastain) was one of those athletes with a Dad who was short on praise ("What's the worst thing that can happen in sports?  Coming in fourth.") and big on working his daughter to the point of exhaustion.  When a back injury ended her skiing career, Molly moved to L.A. to go to law school but before starting school she just wanted to take some time off, be young and enjoy the nice weather.  

So she got a job as a cocktail waitress, but when she met Dean (Jeremy Strong), an obnoxious but successful real estate developer, she became his office manager. But her job didn't just include office work.  Dean also ran underground high stakes poker games for celebrities, so when he asked Molly to help him - set up the bar, handle the music and the food - and she made $3000 in tips, a light bulb went off in her head so I guess it was only natural that when Dean and she had a falling out Molly figured she could run her own games.  And that's how Molly found herself running her own poker games and raking in the cash.  And she was good at what she did.  She kept the confidences of the rich and famous players who populated her underground (but still legal) games, and she was living large until the inevitable happened.  She got into drugs, started taking percentages of her large pots and found herself involved with the Russian mob.  That's when the FBI got wind of what she was up to which led to her arrest. Not good.

Adapted from Molly Bloom's memoir and directed by Aaron Sorkin who is best known for his writing smart and fast-paced dialogue for "The West Wing" and movies such as "Moneyball" and "A Few Good Men," this is his directorial debut.  It's also a tour de force for Jessica Chastain because the film is all about her and it's a true tale of a tough woman making it in a man's world.  Told in a series of narrated flashbacks, she plays a powerful woman living life on her own terms and she delivers a powerful performance.  

The rest of the cast is also good especially Idris Elba (sigh) as her lawyer, Kevin Costner (another sigh - he and Idris are two of my celebrity crushes) as Molly's father and Michael Cera as Player X, who I am pretty sure was supposed to be Tobey Maquire. Remember?  I told you it was a true story.

Anyway, with that said - all of those great performances - the film just didn't resonate with me.  It was too long and there just wasn't that much of a story to sustain it.  The first half of the film sizzled.  The last half fizzled.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Though I enjoyed Chastain's performance, the second half of the film bogged down and I couldn't help but wonder why this story was worth telling. 

Proud Mary (2018)

Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a hit woman for a crime family whose life is changed when she meets a young boy in trouble.

This is a stylish film that pays homage to the Blaxsploitation films of the 1970's - remember "Foxy Brown" and "Shaft?"  And in case you didn't notice that right away, the film begins with "Papa Was a Rollin Stone," which puts you in the mood as we watch Mary get ready for a hit. 

During the hit, Mary notices a young boy in one of the rooms and realizes that she has just killed his Dad.  Then she sees him later walking around town, and figures out what he is up to.  He is a young drug runner and when he is beaten up and lying in an alley, Mary's so far suppressed maternal instincts kick in and she takes him to her apartment.  

When it becomes clear that Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) is in deep with "Uncle (Xander Berkeley)," a Russian mob drug dealer, she takes charge and shoots "Uncle" to save Danny, but in so doing becomes a target herself, not just of the rival drug gang but in her own circle as her boss (Danny Glover) tells the rival gang he will find out who killed "Uncle" and deal with "him" so as to avoid a drug war. To point suspicion away from herself, Mary fingers someone else and when ordered to kill him she does, so our girl is not above immorality to save her own skin, but the gangster life is starting to get to her and her relationship with Danny brings those feelings to the surface.  So now she wants out and she discovers getting out is not as easy as getting in.

Directed by Babak Najafi with a screenplay by Steve Antin, John Stuart Newman and Christian Swegal, this reminded me of "Atomic Blonde," which was also about an empowered woman who takes care of business, her business being shooting people.  But "Atomic Blonde" was a stylish cartoon compared to this gritty story of the drug culture, child abuse, young children just trying to survive and a hit woman who experiences guilt.

Speaking of children.  By now you must know how much I dislike annoying, overly precocious child actors but I have to say that Jahi was not that kid.  His Danny was a tough street smart kid who was suffering and he brings that character to life beautifully.

Taraji B. Henson is wonderful in this. She makes a great conflicted hit woman.  This film pays homage to the Blaxsploitation films but where those were short on character development, this one allows Henson to show her full range of acting skills and characterization. 

I have to add that twenty minutes into the film, I thought I had figured out the twist.  Turns out there was no twist, but I really think this film would have been better if my plot line twist had been how it ended.  But that doesn't matter.  I still liked the film.  The soundtrack is spot on and of course we can't call this film "Proud Mary," unless we play that iconic song, perfect for when Mary is taking everyone out.  This film is as much about the soundtrack as it is the story.

Rosy the Reviewer says...not a fan of gangster films that involve nail gun torture and plastic bags over people's heads, but I love bad ass women characters and this film showcases Henson nicely.

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

147 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Lola (1961)

Two ex-lovers rekindle their romance even though one of them is carrying a torch for another old love.

Lola (Anouk Aimee) is a cabaret dancer who is still in love with Michel, who left her.  However, she rekindles a romance with Roland, a childhood friend she hasn't seen in ten years and, if that wasn't enough, an American sailor is also in love with her.  Our Lola is a busy girl.

Lola has never gotten over Michel (Jacques Michel) who is the father of her child and she is waiting for him to come back to her, but in the meantime she carries on romances with Roland (Marc Michel) and Frankie (Alan Scott), the sailor.  There is a parallel story about Roland and his inability to get his life together but when he meets Lola that gives him the spark he needs to get a job and become someone.  However, wouldn't you know it's a dodgy smuggling job.  Can't end well.  And the film is all about unrequited love which also can't end well.  And it doesn't.

Anouk Aimee was already a star when she made this film but before she became a huge international star in "A Man and a Woman." Here she personifies the feminine yet complex woman men so adored in French New Wave, but her acting ability imbues the role with a softness and vulnerability not often found.

The score is lush and romantic and establishes the long-ranging relationship that would develop between composer Michel Legrand and Director Jacques Demy.  Anouk pays homage to Marlene Dietrich in "Blue Angel" with her cabaret act (Dietrich's character's name was also Lola) and writer/director Jacques Demy dedicates this film, his feature film directorial debut, to Max Ophuls who was known for his smooth camera shots and films told from a female point of view. It's also a sort of fairy tale of lost love, which hints at Demy's films to come, the dreamy "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," which was to follow three years later and "The Young Girls of Rochefort" which followed six years later.

Why it's a Must See: [This film] is imbued with a poignanet awareness of the transience of happinesss and the difficulties and unlikelihood of love...Oh, and Anouk Aimee is unforgettable."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...if, like I did, you loved "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," you will like this.

(b & w, in French with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (2018)

For over ten years in the 1970's, The Golden State Killer sexually assaulted 50 women in Northern California, then became a murderer, killing ten people in Southern California, avoided capture and then disappeared. Who was he and would he ever be caught?

Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist and creator of the website was obsessed with finding out who The Golden State Killer was.  His crime spree began in the Sacramento area in the 1970's where he was dubbed The East Area Rapist.  He had an MO - he was a young Caucasian guy who staked out his victims beforehand, often entered their homes to check out it out when they weren't there, then wearing a mask broke in during the night shining a flashlight in their eyes to blind them.  He had a strange gutteral whisper of a voice seemingly through clenched teeth, smelled bad, and took items of little value.  He started by attacking women who were alone but graduated to attacking couples as they slept.  He terrorized the Sacramento area  - and then he moved South and his rapes became murders.

Thirty years later, McNamara, who was also the wife of actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, became obsessed with him and it was she who dubbed him The Golden State Killer.  For years she focused on his crimes by reading police reports, interviewing surviving victims and participating in online communities who were also obsessed with trying to figure out who he was.  Sadly McNamara died tragically before finishing the book, but it was completed by her lead researcher and friend using McNamara's notes, and it's a compelling true crime story as well as the story of a woman's dogged journey to discover the identity of the Golden State Killer and bring him to justice.

The title comes from something The Golden State Killer said to a victim:  "You'll be silent forever and I will be gone in the dark." Chilling.

Did McNamara discover the identity of the Golden State Killer?  You will have to read the book to find out.

Rosy the Reviewer...if you enjoy true crime, this is a good one.  But be forewarned.  It's scary and you will also want to make sure all of your windows and doors are locked!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

"I Feel Pretty"

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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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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 down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

Friday, March 30, 2018

"A Wrinkle in Time" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "A Wrinkle in Time" as well as DVDs "Brad's Status and "Loving Vincent."  The Book of the Week is "Two's Company: A Fifty-Year Romance with Lessons Learned in Love, Life and Business" by Suzanne Somers.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Eraserhead."]

A Wrinkle in Time

Three magical beings come to help a young girl find her missing father.

I wanted to love this movie.  I really did.  I mean, what's not to like?  It's a film version of a children's classic, it stars handsome Chris Pine (though he is a bit disheveled in this), it's directed by Ava DuVerney who directed the powerful "Selma," and it has Oprah looking very Presidential, er, I mean regal.  So why didn't I like it?

Because it was a soppy bore.  And I feel really sad saying that, I really do.  I mean, Oprah.  You know how I feel about her (in case you don't, read this).  I adore Oprah but even she can't save this movie.

After looking forward to seeing this film and being so shocked and disappointed by it, I texted both of my kids who I knew had read this book in school and asked them if they had liked it.  My daughter didn't bother to reply and my son replied that it was probably why he didn't like fantasy.  Oh.

Now I haven't read it so I can't compare the book and the movie and I tend to not do that anyway feeling that books and movies are two different art forms and should stand on their own, but one of my problems with this movie was the story itself.  It didn't really make any sense.  See what you think.

The film is all about young Meg Murry (Storm Reid), whose father, Alex Murry (Chris Pine), a renowned scientist, who appears to have been working on time travel with Meg's mother, Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), also a scientist, (but even that I wasn't sure about because what he was actually up to was glossed over using scientific gobbledygook and made-up language, for example, what exactly was a tesseract?).  But anyway, he has disappeared, supposedly having gone off into space but nobody knows what has happened to him.  But before he left, when Meg was little, he was all love and spouting mystical stuff about how we are all part of the universe and so on so of course she loved her Dad and misses him.  

Now it's been four years and for some reason the kids in Meg's school find her father's disappearance to be a source of bullying.  I mean, these would have to be some mean kids to bully a girl because her father was missing. And Meg's little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) overhears a teacher bad-mouthing his Dad for leaving his family.  So even though Meg has a good relationship with her mother and her very smart little brother, Meg is messed up about not having a Dad and gets in trouble at school and is depressed until one day...

Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), a ditsy space oddity, appears in Meg's living room and it isn't long before Meg meets two other strange but magical women, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah).  Mrs. Whatsit is a sort of scatterbrain but can transform which proves helpful later.  Mrs. Who speaks in quotes which becomes VERY annoying after awhile and then there's Mrs. Which - angel chorus please - OPRAH!

These women are interstellar beings who have come to help Meg and her brother find their father and they need to do it fast because "IT" is coming, a dark scourge that embodies all that is bad in the world and if we didn't get just how insidious "IT" is, we see a montage showing one of the mean girls who behind closed doors is really insecure and struggling with an eating disorder and that teacher who was bad-mouthing Meg's father was passed over for a promotion and is really angry about it, so I guess we are supposed to figure out that "IT" has made these people act out and will make everyone else in the world mean, too, if something isn't done about it.  Or I think that's what we're supposed to figure out.

So Meg, her little brother and Meg's new love interest, Calvin (Levi Miller), go off into space with the three Mrs. and have some adventures that I think were supposed to be scary (NOT!) and uplifting (depends on how you define uplifting) and life-changing (you could see that coming a mile away), but were in fact confusing and muddled. I was never really sure what the actual plan was.

I know I am being hard on this film, but it is rare that I get to have the theatre almost to myself (there were only a couple of other people there), which I love because I can really get into the film without annoying distractions, and I still found myself bored and looking at my watch.  And I was really looking forward to enjoying this film.  I know it was aimed at kids but if I was bored, I would think it would be even more boring for kids who have a shorter attention span than I do.

I don't know who to blame for this. 

Madeline L'Engle for the story (maybe there's a reason why it's taken so long to make this 1962 children's classic into a movie), Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell for their screenplay or Ava DuVernay for her direction or all three? But whatever or whoever is to blame, this film just didn't do it for me. The book is known for it's religious and political themes - good triumphing over evil, being able to stand up against conformity and the status quo - but the film didn't do a very good job of projecting a clear message.  And despite the strong young girl character, which I enjoyed, the film was just an overly sentimental mish mash. But as I said, I enjoyed young Storm Reid's performance and little Deric, who could have been one of those obnoxiously precocious kids that I dislike, was fine, too, as was young Levi Miller.

And then there is Oprah who can do no wrong.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the film had a good message (I think), it was overly sentimental and just plain boring.

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


Brad's Status (2017)

A father takes his teenaged son on a tour of colleges which makes him question his own life.

Ben Stiller could make me laugh just looking at him.  He does hapless sad sack like no one else and his deadpan reactions are hilarious. Just think "Meet the Fockers" and "There is Something about Mary." He is the Buster Keaton of his day.  But here he puts on the brakes a bit to play Brad, a man in midlife who questions his career choices and his life. Brad lives in Sacramento and is the head of a non-profit that helps other non-profits, but though his career is a worthy one, he can't help but compare himself to some of his college mates who he imagines have become richer and more successful than he has. 

Brad lies in bed at night worrying about money and feeling like he has not lived up to his potential.  We know this because the film is narrated by Brad/Stiller, and we get to see inside Brad's mind as he focuses on himself and his supposed failures. 

"It's stupid to compare lives but when I do I feel I've failed."

"This is not the life I imagined."

Now his son, Troy (Austin Abrams), who is academically gifted and a musical prodigy, is getting ready to go to college and Brad is taking him on a tour of Eastern colleges. Troy is so smart and gifted that Harvard is a very real possibility. This gets Brad to thinking about his own college years when he had his whole future ahead of him and he loved life. He was the one most likely to succeed. Where did it all go wrong?

At the same time, he thinks about some of his old college friends who he thinks have more glamorous and rich lives than he does. Nick made the cover of Architectural Digest, Craig (Michael Sheen) is a successful writer and politico, Jason (Luke Wilson) made a fortune with his hedge fund and Billy (Jermaine Clement) sold his company and retired at 40 and now lives the good life on a tropical island with not one, but two girlfriends.  He imagines them in private planes or flying First Class, living the high life, but when he needs to call in some favors to help his son and meets up with Craig, in a very entertaining and enlightening scene, Brad learns that maybe he has it better than he thought.

This all sounds like a male midlife cliche movie, but the film, written and directed by Mike White (he also plays Brad's friend, Nick), takes that whole idea, and with Ben Stiller and the understated and likable Austin Abrams, turns it into something thoughtful, humorous, engaging and very human, a film that those of us in midlife can truly relate to. 

When our kids were ready to go to college, how many of us didn't think back to our own college days and wonder if we had lived up to our potential?  And how many of us have put our own hopes and dreams onto our kids?

There is a thing about comic actors.  They all want to be dramatic actors and Ben Stiller is no exception.  But don't think that this film has no humor because it does.  For example, as Brad and Troy get ready to board their plane, Brad tries to upgrade them to business (actually an anachronism - no domestic flights have business class anymore, do they?) in a very funny scene that doesn't help Brad's sense of worth, and like I said earlier, when Ben Stiller does sad sack it's just plain funny.

I really loved this film.  My only criticism is the title, which I didn't really understand and even if I did, it doesn't describe the film at all or make you want to see it.  I think it would have done better in the theatres when it was released with a more appropos title.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a compelling, humorous and touching reminder to live in the present and appreciate what you have.  I loved this film!  

Loving Vincent (2017)

Depicted completely in animated oil paintings, this is the story of a man who travels to Vincent Van Gogh's final home town and discovers a mystery surrounding Van Gogh's last troubled days. 

This film was a strange nominee for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature film when you consider its fellow nominees were Disney's "Coco," "Boss Baby," Ferdinand" and "The Breadwinner," all more conventional animated films aimed at children.  This film was not only not aimed at children, it was not conventional animation.  It was a hand painted film that brings Van Gogh's paintings to life and tells the story of Van Gogh's final weeks.

It is one year after Van Gogh has killed himself and postman Joseph Roulin asks his son Armand (Douglas Booth, voice) to find Vincent's brother, Theo, and deliver Vincent's last letter to him.  But when Armand travels to Paris to deliver the letter to Theo, he discovers that Theo died six months after Vincent. He is told that he should go to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent spent his last days.

When Armand arrives in Auvers-sur-Oise, he meets people who knew Vincent (all people who were subjects in Van Gogh's paintings so the paintings literally come to life on screen), and they all share their very different feelings about him and speculate on what was going on with him in his final days and hours. There is some speculation that perhaps Van Gogh was murdered. It's a bit of a mystery that Armand tries to solve as he goes about interviewing the villagers.  Did Van Gogh really kill himself or was he murdered?  

Written by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Jacek Dahnel and directed by Kobiela and Welchman, this was an amazing undertaking. It took seven years and 125 artists to create this film and some well-known English and Irish actors do the voice-overs: Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd, Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson. I couldn't help but notice that the animated character of Armand looked and talked strangely like Johnny Depp and Vincent looked very much like Kirk Douglas, which I guess is not that strange since he played Van Gogh in the movie "Lust for Life."

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the story itself is not that compelling, this is a fascinating experiment in animation, and if you are a big Van Gogh fan, you will be in heaven. 

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

150 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Eraserhead (1977)

Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is depressed.  He lives in an inhospitable industrial environment, his girlfriend is angry all of the time and he has a screaming mutant baby.  No wonder he's depressed.

Before "Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks," and "Mulholland Drive," there was ---
"ERASERHEAD," --- David Lynch's first full-length feature film.  And if you had seen this film before you saw his later films, you would have been forewarned about what was to come, though those later films weren't even close to how weird this one is.

If you stick with this film past the seven minute inexplicable introduction, you will discover that there is actually a plot here, sort of.  Reminiscent of Todd Browning's 1932 film "Freaks," and the futuristic "Metropolis," except instead of an unfriendly circus environment, the film takes place in an unfriendly industrial town.

Henry lives alone in a very dystopian world and with his bouffant hair looks like he could be the son of The Bride of Frankenstein.  He looks like he stuck he finger in an electrical outlet and maybe he did.  That would explain him a bit.

Henry is invited over to meet his girlfriend Mary's (Charlotte Stewart) parents and some very strange things occur.  He is served a chicken that appears to still be alive and filled with goo, and Mary's mother (Jeanne Bates) starts kissing him on the neck. But the strangest thing of all is Mary has had a baby and says, "We're still not sure if it is a baby."  Yikes.  And she's right. The baby actually looks like something out of "Little Shop of Horrors." Mary's mother says they have to get married, so Mary moves in with Henry but the baby won't stop crying so she leaves him.  Later after a bunch of other really strange stuff happens, Henry's head explodes and erasers blow out, and the baby gets more and more grotesque and Henry has sex with the Lady in the Radiator (yes, you heard me)...and it goes on and on like that.  I thought MY head was going to explode. 

These people are clearly in hell and this film gives you a glimpse inside the mind of David Lynch, but if I am wrong and they are not in hell, then I certainly thought I was while watching this film. 

I think this film is about fear of sex, fear of commitment, fear of connection, fear of babies, fear of death, your basic "we humans are all isolated and disconnected."  But who knows?  It's very strange.

And speaking of strange.

Sometimes I wonder if filmmakers put things in movies that are meaningless just to get us talking and to make us think that the movie is deeper than it really is. I'm still not sure if I like David Lynch or not.  I loved Season 1 of "Twin Peaks," but it fell apart for me in Season 2.  I loved "Blue Velvet" but didn't understand "Mulholland Drive" at all.  But this was his first full-length film so I have to give him and it the benefit of the doubt and props for innovation.

Why it's a Must See: "No mere summation of the plot...can possibly convey the tone (and, indeed, sound) of this unique and challenging film.  The feelings of unease, even horror, that result from watching it and that only increase in intensity on repeated viewings are simply unforgettable."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Challenging?  Yes. Unforgettable? Yes, but maybe not in a good way.

Rosy the Reviewer says...almost incomprehensible but I forgive you, David.  It was your first film, but geez...

(b & w)

***Book of the Week***

Two's Company: A Fifty-Year Romance with Lessons Learned in Life, Love and Business by Suzanne Somers (2017)

Actress Suzanne Somers shares what she has learned over the course of her 50 year relationship with husband Alan Hamel.

What married person or person in a relationship wouldn't want to find out how these two stayed together for 50 years, especially in that marital minefield called show business? Somers tells her story (which you might already know if you read her earlier autobiographies), but it's an interesting story that bears repeating, and this time she peppers it with what she has learned.

Somers grew up with an alcoholic father who when drunk terrorized the family at night driving them to hide from him in a closet.  He called Suzanne a loser and said she would probably get knocked up, which, unfortunately, she did, forcing her to give up her dreams and get married young.  The marriage didn't last so then she was a young single mom living a hardscrabble life doing what she could to raise her son in San Francisco. She did modeling jobs here and there, but there was never enough money and she was going nowhere when she met Alan Hamel, who at the time was the most famous TV personality in Canada.  They had an instant connection and embarked on a romance that lasted ten years before they got married, with him going back and forth between Canada and the U.S. 

But then some things started happening for Suzanne. Suzanne got a break as the blonde in the sports car in "American Graffiti," she wrote a book of poetry that was published, and while auditioning for a part, caught the eye of Johnny Carson who regularly had her on "The Tonight Show," where she was already perfecting the ditzy like a fox blonde character that would serve her well in the TV show "Three's Company," which was one of the most popular TV shows in the late 70's.

Suzanne hit it big as Chrissy Snow on "Three's Company," and Alan decided that his job was now going to be managing Suzanne, which in many circles was considered not a good thing for Suzanne. After three years as Chrissy she went to the bosses of CBS for a raise and she was fired. Hamel did the negotiating and was blamed for playing hardball with the network bigwigs and getting her fired, thus ruining her career, and despite a pointed effort in this book to dispute that claim, from the comments he makes in this book, I kind of believe that's what happened and that's why she was fired.

But anyway, despite that setback, Suzanne was able to reinvent herself and went on to a successful stint with a Las Vegas show and lucrative success with The Thighmasterselling jewelry on the Home Shopping Network and eventually she landed another sticom, "Step by Step," which ran for seven seasons.  She has written 26 books and is a health advocate, having survived  breast cancer and menopause using alternative health methods, both of which she wrote about in controversial books.

So having read her books you might already know most of that, but here she shares her story and what she has learned with some self-help advice on having a happy marriage. 

"I wrote this book to give hope to all who might have given up on their dreams.  I hope it helps to know that there are two people who against all odds made it... I wrote this book to express gratitude for having learned (and in many cases the hard way) what is important.  Love is the answer.  The journey in life is to teach ourselves what we want.  Those two questions in life: Who am I? and What do I want? Most people are never able to answer either question.  Now I know.  I have my answers...It's not who you are, it's not what you do, it's not what you have; it's ONLY...only about who you love and who loves you.  I live by those words.  I am loved and I love fiercely.  I wish the same for you."

Hamel also weighs in:

"How is it fifty years later?  Well, we don't pull off the freeway to make love anymore.  And we don't pull into the Papaya Restaurant parking lot to make love on our way to the airport anymore.  And we don't make love in the water at Waikiki Beach surrounded by hundreds of people anymore...We still make love a lot...I still can't get over that Suzanne lets me do anything I want with her..."


So basically what did I learn? 

Their successful marriage boils down to the fact that they have lots and lots of sex, they haven't spent a night apart in 37 years, she is easy to get along with and Alan runs the show. So... 

If I wrote a book about marriage advice, here is what I would say: "
How to Stay Married Forever." 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Somers has an interesting story to tell and some hard-earned wisdom to share, though some of it is a bit much but it's an enjoyable read. 

Thanks for reading!

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