Showing posts with label Bad Sisters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bad Sisters. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2022

But Is It Worth Watching?

[I weigh in on some popular series:  "The Watcher," "Bad Sisters," "The Patient," "Real Girlfriends in Paris," "The Mole" and the new Netflix cooking show "Easy Bake Battle."]  

"The Watcher" is currently the most popular series on Netflix. It seems the entire country is watching it.  But should you watch "The Watcher?" 

Let's see.

The Watcher 

A family moves into their dream house only to be stalked by "The Watcher." 

This is your classic tale of the malevolent house. An innocent family buys their dream house and then finds out its sad history and then everything goes to hell.  Remember "The Amityville Horror?"  Well, this one is kind of like that but in this case the evil comes from someone watching the family and sending them threatening letters.

Writer/Producer/Director Ryan Murphy ("Glee," "American Horror Story," "Pose," "Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story") has taken a true life mystery and Murphy-ized it into a gothic horror story.  

The series is based on the true story of the Broaddus Family, Derek and Maria, who bought their dream home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey in 2014.  Before moving in, they started renovating the house and soon started to receive anonymous letters from "The Watcher," someone who claimed to have lived in the house and was now in charge of watching over it.  There were four letters, all menacing, and, because of those letters, the family never moved in and eventually sold the house five years later for a loss of $400,000. "The Watcher" was never identified.

So those are the basic facts of this story, and beyond the basic facts - that the owners of a beautiful house in Westfield, New Jersey received scary letters signed "The Watcher" - the rest of this series is complete fiction. Ryan Murphy discovered this story and was off and running.

Murphy has taken the true story and run with it, adding his dramatic touches, throwing in a variety of suspects, along with a smarmy police detective (Christopher McDonald), Theodora Birch (Noma Dumezweni), an eccentric private investigator, many red herrings, a satanic cult and even the latest phenomenon of "phrogging." There is everything in this but the kitchen sink, including the real life List murders, a mass murder that happened in Westfield in 1971. John List (here called John Graff) killed his entire family and then went on the run for 18 years.  Murphy has added that as something that also happened in the house at 657 Boulevard but those murders did not happen there.

In this fictionalized account, Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale play Nora and Dean Brannock, who buy the house and move in with their son, Carter (Luke David Blumm), and daughter, Ellie (Isabel Gravitt).  Nora is an artist and Dean is a lawyer and this house is a chance to get out of the city and live the American Dream, even though it's a bit beyond their means. Well, it's a lot beyond their means. In fact, they have some real money problems. Soon after moving into the house, the Brannocks start receiving menacing letters from "The Watcher." 

So who is "The Watcher?"

Is it Maureen (Margo Martindale) and Mitch (Richard Kind), the odd, older, unfriendly and disapproving neighbors across the street who sit in their yard chairs and watch the Brannocks?  Is it, Pearl (Mia Farrow), the nutty local historian for the Westfield Preservation Society who is obsessed with the dumb waiter in the house (note: the dumb waiter plays a role) and who threatens to take the Brannocks to court if they disturb it or make changes to the house that the preservation society doesn't approve of?  Or is it Pearl's brother, Jasper (Terry Kinney) who has PTSD from finding the Graff family murdered in the house years before?  What about Dakota (Henry Hunter Hall), the young kid who is putting in the security system?  Or Karen (Jennifer Coolidge), the real estate agent who is dying for Nora to sell the house so she can list it?  And what about Theodora Birch, that private investigator that the Brannocks hired to help find The Watcher. What's her deal?  There is a lot going on in this bucolic little town, and everyone is a suspect and everyone is suspicious. And the bottom line is that everyone is watching everyone.

Naomi Watts is always good, though after seeing her last movie, "Goodnight Mommy," and now this, I'm wondering if she is headed for a career in horror films. And I can't help but ask, "What's with those huge black glasses?" But that aside, Bobby Cannavale is the one I had a problem with.  He is perfect gangster material but as a harried husband, I struggled with it, but like the show, he grew on me. But why the character of Theodora Birch?  She didn't really seem to have a purpose. In fact, there were many characters like that, who made me wonder, "What are they doing here?"  Like I said, Murphy threw everything he had at this.

So the series gives us many suspects but in the real life story?  Who sent those letters? You decide. So far, no one knows, but there are rumors out there - one is that the husband did it.  Isn't that always the case with true crime? The husband did it. 

And there is a sort of message here: There is a dark side to the American Dream, when that dream is money, status and a big house and even with all of that you still don't feel safe. 

But is "The Watcher" worth watching? (I love a little alliteration, don't you)?

After watching the first episode, I was thinking, no.  It was very over-the-top and over dramatic.  I mean Mia Farrow in pig tails and big glasses was enough to turn me off right at the beginning.  And other characters were so out there that at times I thought I was watching a comedy. Jennifer Coolidge alone makes me laugh without even doing anything. And later, some of the side storylines went completely off the rails. A satanic cult? A murder/suicide across the street? C'mon. But Ryan Murphy is never not compelling, so I hung in there and, like Bobby, the series grew on me...until the end.

The last episode...oh, dear. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...I can't wholeheartedly recommend this, but it's an intriguing story and I did stick with it.  However, it could have been executed better, but if you are a Ryan Murphy fan and like your mysteries strange and way over-the-top with some comedy moments (that maybe aren't supposed to be funny), you might enjoy this, and, hey, if everyone else is watching it, you want to be in the know around the water cooler at work, right? (Are people still at work?  Are there still water coolers)? (Netflix)

Bad Sisters 

There are five Irish Garvey sisters - Eva, Grace, Ursula, Bibi and Becka and four of them are gravely concerned about how Grace's husband, John Paul (Claes Bang), treats their sister, Grace. They all have reasons to hate him. And then he turns up dead.

And that's not a spoiler.  The series begins with John Paul's funeral and it unfolds in flashbacks as we discover just what a bad guy John Paul was. Let's just say the first episode is called "The Prick" for a reason.  That's John Paul.  And he was.

But first, let's get to know the Garvey sisters.

  • Eva Garvey (Sharon Horgan) is the oldest and feels the most protective of her sisters since she had to take care of all of them after the death of their parents. Eva is single and feeling her time running out for having children.  She and John Paul don't get along, not just for how he treats her sister, Grace, but they also work at the same architectural firm and are up for the same promotion and John Paul is not above doing some dirty stuff to ruin Eva's reputation.

  • Grace Williams (Anne-Marie Duff) is the second eldest sister of the Garvey family, John Paul's wife, and the mother of their daugher, Blanaid (Saise Quinn). Grace loves her husband, but he is, as the first episode is named, "A Prick." He is controlling and cringey and she is losing her close relationship with her sisters because of him. He demeans her and has done everything he can to make her feel bad about herself.  But don't give up on Grace.

  • Ursula Flynn (Eva Birthistle), the middle sister of the Garvey family, is a nurse, is married to Donal (Jonjo O'Neill) and has three children.  She is also having an extramarital affair with Ben (Peter Coonan) and, when John Paul discovers the affair, he threatens to expose her with some racy pictures she thought she was sending to Ben.

  • Becka Garvey (Eve Hewson), youngest sister of the Garvey family, is a massage therapist who hopes to open her own massage studio.  John Paul was going to help her with that until he reneged on his promise.

  • Bibi Garvey (Sarah Greene), second youngest sister of the Garvey family, hates John Paul after he is responsible for the car accident that resulted in the loss of her eye. She wears an eyepatch, and is the impetus for the sisters' decision to murder John Paul.

So...all of the sisters have a reason to want John Paul dead.  And, like I said, he really is a bad guy. You will want him dead, too!

Each sister is different and interesting and you can love them all or pick your favorite but you will root for them because - did I mention this?  John Paul is a very bad man.

So they decide they need to murder him. But how? They try various and humorous means, but these women are not good at murder. He's like a cockroach.  They can't seem to get rid of him.  

So how did he die?  Well, that's why you keep watching.  And you keep watching because these sisters are fun to watch. 

Then to make matters even more interesting, enter the Claffin brothers, the insurance investigators who represent Claffin & Sons.  Grace has asked for the insurance pay out for John Paul's policy and they suspect foul play.  They also do not want to pay it for reasons that become clear later.  Thomas Claffin (Brian Gleeson, son of Brendon) embarks on an insurance investigation that threatens to uncover the sister's plans.  To complicate matters, Becka becomes involved with Matt, the other, and extremely handsome Claffin brother played by Daryl McCormack, who those of you who watched the charming Emma Thompson movie "Good Luck To You, Leo Grande" will recognize as her handsome escort. 

The series goes back and forth from the present to the past in a pleasing way (not the usual confusing flashbacks and flash forwards we sometimes encounter), as the sisters try to find a way to off John Paul, and the Claffin brothers try to get out of paying Grace the insurance money. You see, the Claffin & Sons insurance company has its own issues so they have to figure out a way to prove that John Paul's death was not an accident.

This all sounds very serious but it's actually very funny, the dark kind of funny.

Conceived by Sharon Horgan, Brett Baer and Dave Finkel (Horgan was also one of the producers), this series is a follow-up to Horgan's stint in the wonderful "Catastrophe" and shows that she is much more than a comic actress in a quirky rom-com.  As for Claes Bang, I first saw him in a Danish film (he's Danish) called "The Square."  He has since made his mark in several films since, like "The Girl in the Spider's Web," and here he does a good job of playing an Irishman, a bad one.  Gleeson and McCormack are also fun to watch, and I predict McCormack will become a very hot leading man.  I mean, c'mon, he's HOT! But the entire ensemble is first rate. 

But is it worth watching?

Rosy the Reviewer says... Yes! This is a celebration of sisterhood.  These "bad sisters" are really good sisters who are loyal and love each other very much and it is a joy to watch.  And if you read my reviews regularly, you will know that I judge on whether or not a film or series is a satisfying experience.  I think you will find this fun to watch and the ending very satisfying. Brilliant writing, brilliant actresses and a brilliant villain. (Apple+)

The Patient 

Every psychiatrist's nightmare.

Created by Joel Fields and Joseph Weisberg, "The Patient" stars Steve Carell as psychiatrist Alan Strauss who finds himself locked up and chained to the floor at the home of one of his patients. Turns out, Sam, his patient, is a serial killer who wants to stop those killing urges of his and thinks the only way to do that is to have the doctor all to himself.
You Harry Potter fans might recognize Domhnall Gleeson (he played Bill Weasley and is another son of Brendon - see "Bad Sisters" above) as Sam and the series is mostly what the Brits call a “two-hander,” Alan and Sam alone in the basement with Alan trying his best to keep Sam from killing again while at the same time trying to figure out how to get Sam to let him go.
Alan is Jewish and when he is alone, he spends time thinking about his wife and his son, Ezra. Through flashbacks, we learn that Alan’s wife, Beth, was a Jewish cantor. Their adult son, Ezra (Andrew Leeds), has become Orthodox causing frustrating family events and estrangement that affected Beth’s health and she has recently died. Alan also thinks about his own therapist (David Alan Grier) and has mental conversations with him that gives the viewer more insight into Alan and forces him to examine his own life. Sam isn’t the only one with issues.
I am not usually a huge Steve Carell fan but here he embodies the kind of therapist you would want to have. He emanates warmth and kindness and trust, which is a LOT considering he has been imprisoned by a serial killer and there is a man Sam wants to kill imprisoned in the other room. Oh, didn’t I mention that?

But is it worth watching?

Rosy the Reviewer says…Yes! This brings a whole new meaning to the guy living in his mother's basement. From the start, you will be hooked and want to know what is going to happen to Alan and Sam. A tense, sometimes humorous but always fascinating look at empathy, isolation and the world of therapy and one of the best series of the year. Not be missed. Trust me. I'm a criticologist!

Real Girlfriends in Paris

Six Gen-Z’s follow their dreams and navigate the pitfalls of friendship and romance while trying to find themselves, all with the City of Love as their backdrop.
This looks like Bravo’s attempt to pull in a younger crowd to it’s “Housewives” franchise, except these ladies aren’t rich housewives, they are twenty-something ex-pat singles living in Paris, and so far no one seems to have an axe to grind nor has anyone angrily flipped a table. It’s more “Emily in Paris” meets “Sex and the City.
Victoria is 25, from a conservative family in Texas, and likes girls, but hasn’t yet come out to her mother. She had been briefly married to her college boyfriend but ended the marriage when she discovered his cheating.
Adja, who is also 25, has Senegalese roots, has family in Paris and is fluent in French. She finds European men more romantic than American men and she is working her way through a few.
Margaux, 26, has French parents and spent her life living in both New York City and France. Her Dad currently supports her until she “finds herself.” So far she has dabbled in several careers – the French would call her a dilettante. Currently she thinks she wants to open an agency to represent artists. We shall see.
Kacey is 27, African American and has lived in Paris off and on for three years. She teaches English part-time and babysits and is hoping to get a visa so she can stay in Paris permanently.
And there is a real life Emily. She is 22, has an internship at a fashion house but unlike that other Emily in Paris, knows little about fashion.
And finally, Anya. She is the only one not in her twenties. She is a fashionista, licensed tour guide and the OG of the group – 32 – and she has been in Paris for ten years so she is the shoulder the other women sometimes need.

I have a soft spot for “Emily in Paris” because it helped me endure lockdown during the height of the pandemic. This series doesn’t quite have the same charm as “Emily,” but it still has that je ne sais quoi that makes me want to know what is going to happen to these young women. And just like “Emily,” there is fashion (which you know I love) and, of course, Paris (which I really love)!

This series celebrates female friendship and six cute young women living in Paris? What’s not to like?

But is it worth watching?

Rosy the Reviewer says…Yes, for me anyway! Lots of fodder here for some interesting and fun storylines. But it's very fluffy and sometimes silly, so if you are not a fan of Bravo's reality shows, this probably isn't for you. (Bravo)

The Mole

Twelve players compete for a cash prize, except it's not really a fair contest. One of them is a mole who is trying to sabotage them. Who is the mole?

This is a reboot of a show that ran from 2001 to 2008. I loved that show back in the day, one of the original reality game shows. It's actually a kind of intellectual version of "Survivor," with some mystery thrown in. Who is trying to sabotage the other players? Contestants must complete tasks to win money but there is a saboteur amongst them and they need to figure out who that is.

Hosted by MSNBC host Alex Wagner (back in 2001 it was a very young Anderson Cooper), this time the contestants are in various parts of Australia and have to complete missions that include zip lining, climbing mountain peaks, treasure hunting and trying to follow homing pidgeons, all within a certain amount of time. If they complete the task, they add money to a pot that one of them will ultimately win. But if The Mole is able to sabotage, they win nothing.

At the end of every episode, the contestants must take a quiz that asks questions to identify about who they think the Mole is and the person scoring the lowest is eliminated.

Who is The Mole? Can you figure it out?

But is it worth watching?

Rosy the Reviewer says...Yes, it's a unique take on competition shows, so if you are a "Survivor" or "The Challenge" fan and enjoy a bit of mystery, this is for you! (Netflix)

Easy Bake Battle 

Home cooks compete to see who can make the easiest and fastest dishes.

If you like cooking competitions featuring home cooks, this is a new one.

No, they don’t really have to use a toy Hasbro “Easy-Bake Oven,” though there is a giant state-of-the-art version that plays a role in the competitions. The keyword for this show is “easy.” The recipes must be easy. In addition to easy, the dishes must also be delicious, well-presented and in one competition, "The Dish Dash," fast. fast. The cook who finishes the fastest gets extra points. That is followed by the “Easy-Bake,” where the cooks must create a dish using only the oven.

The contestants and the judges also share cooking hacks to make cooking easier, such as cooking bacon in a waffle maker, poaching eggs in the oven in a muffin tray, crushing ice in a food processor and using dental floss to cut dough.
Hosted by Anthony Porowski (“Queer Eye”) and featuring a different celebrity guest judge per episode, three home cooks square off against each other, with one winning $25,000 and then moving on to the next episode in hopes of winning up to $100,000. There are eight episodes, all with different themes (late night snacks, holiday cooking, kid-friendly eats), each episode less than 40 minutes so you can binge this entire series in one day if you are so inclined.

But is it worth watching?

Rosy the Reviewer says…Yes and no. It is entertaining and there are some good ideas for home cooks, though some of the hacks may seem a bit lame for experienced cooks. I was also frustrated that I couldn't find the recipes. (Netflix)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)