Showing posts with label Bling Empire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bling Empire. Show all posts

Monday, February 15, 2021

What I Enjoyed Watching While Waiting For the Vaccine

[I review the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small," "Firefly Lane," "Pretend It's a City," "Bling Empire," "The Morning Show," and films "Blood and Money," "One Night in Miami," and "What Would Sophia Loren Do?"]

Who knew it would be so difficult to get the Covid vaccine?

But thank you, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and yes, PBS, for some stellar programs to keep me occupied while I wait.  Even though some places are no longer on lockdown or only in limited lockdown, once I heard that we needed TWO masks and it's not really safe to go grocery shopping, I decided to continue a sort of self-imposed lockdown until I get that elusive vaccine.  

So if you are like me, in a sort of self-imposed lockdown, here are some more movies and TV shows that will keep you company while you wait for that first shot!

All Creatures Great and Small

James Herriot and his cronies are back in a new version of this beloved show.

If you were around inte 70's, you couldn't avoid the books of James Herriot, the Yorkshire veterinarian who shared his G-rated stories about life in Northern England from the 1930's to the 1950's. A PBS series followed and if you were around then, you probably got to know James and the other cast of characters: Siegfried, James' mentor who ran the surgery in the fictional town of Darrowby; Tristan, Siegfried's feckless brother; the practical and caring housekeeper, Mrs. Hall; Helen, soon to be James' love interest; and Tricki Woo, rich Mrs. Pumphrey's Pekingese who dined on caviar, roast beef, trifle and brandy with Mrs. Pumphrey wondering why Tricki was under the weather and getting fat.  

Back when I was working full-time and raising my family, I would take refuge in this program that played for four seasons on PBS back in the late 70's and late 80's (The series had two runs: the original -1978 to 1980, based directly on Herriot's books - was for three series; the second - 1988 to 1990, filmed with original scripts but generally regarded as a continuation of the 1978 series - for four. A total of ninety episodes were broadcast.) I could forget my troubles, travel back in time to a lovely English village where everyone was civil to each other and the worst thing that could happen would be that Tricki Woo would have a tummy ache.  Well, not exactly, but let's say this show was as soothing as "The Great British Baking Show" is now. 

But now it's back in a new incarnation, and I wouldn't blame you if you had been a fan of the earlier series and are now reticent to commit to this one, thinking it couldn't possibly be as good as the first one.  Well, my peeps, it's not only as good but might just be better. It's so good that there will be a Series Two! 

We still have the same cast of characters but younger versions.  James (Nicholas Ralph) is just out of vet school and gets the opportunity to work for Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), who already has a practice in Darrowby and is much admired by the townsfolk.  So James needs to prove himself and not just to Siegfried, but to the townspeople as well.  Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) is still sternly comforting and Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), Siegfried's ne'er do well brother, just out of vet school himself, is clueless and on board to provide some comic relief. Helen (Rachel Shenton), Mrs. Pumphrey (Diana Rigg) and Tricki Woo also make appearances.  Sadly, this was the last performance of the late Diana Rigg.

And don't worry about this just being a rehash of the original. It all feels fresh and new, just waiting for some new fans. But don't worry if you are a fan of the first one.  James is still sticking his arm up both ends of a cow!

If you want to get away from Covid, political divide and the cares of the modern world, this one does the trick.

Rosy the Reviewer says... and if you love British dramas, the beautiful English countryside and humorous, warm-hearted stories, you will love this. I know I do.  I am loving every minute of it. (Now playing on PBS)

Firefly Lane

A dramatic series that follows the friendship of two women from their teens to their forties.

Though there is some cheese to be found here (as in cheesy), this is a satisfying and very bingeable story of female friendship.  Think “Beaches.” Taken from the novels by Kristin Hannah, and adapted by Maggie Friedman, this 10-part series follows Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) and Kate Malarkey (Sarah Chalke) over three decades in a coming-of-age tale of two besties, one beautiful, popular and out-going, the other nerdy and smart.

They meet in the 70’s when Tully moves across the street from Kate on Firefly Lane.  Tully has a hippie mother who abandons her so she sets out on a journey to find love and looks to men to fill that void. She is a bit of a slut.  She is also ambitious and becomes a celebrated television star. Kate, on the other hand, plays second fiddle to her more glamorous friend, envying her success and doesn’t really have much ambition herself besides being a wife and mother, never realizing that perhaps Tully wants what she has.

The series follows the up and downs of their friendship – jealousy, hurt, betrayal, those things that put friendship to the test - and hops around willy-nilly in time, but it’s not too confusing because it's amazing how music and hairstyles tell you what decade you are in!

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke do a good job of portraying the yin and yang of Tully’s and Kate’s friendship, and it’s nice to see Heigl having some success.  Despite her being the Rom-Com Queen in the late 2000’s, she has had a rocky career of late but this is right up her alley.

As an aside, the series supposedly takes place in Seattle, so having lived in Seattle, I was surprised I didn’t recognize any of the bars (and I’ve been in a few!) or other sites, so I decided to look one up and yep!  Just as I figured.  The series was filmed in Vancouver, a common occurrence.  Whenever you see a TV movie that takes place in Seattle, especially if it’s a Lifetime movie, you can bet it’s really in Vancouver, B.C.  

But, this is no Lifetime movie.  It’s a coming of age tale that not only celebrates female friendship, but explores what it was like for women coming of age in a time when they suddenly had more choices and how difficult it can be to make the right ones.

Rosy the Reviewer says…we don’t see enough shows that celebrate female friendship, so despite the sometimes soap opera feel, I’m in! I mean, I loved “Beaches!” (Now streaming on Netflix)


Pretend it's a City

Writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz walks around New York City and hangs out with Martin Scorsese in the Players Club, talking about everything that bothers the hell out of her.

I am a huge fan of Fran Lebowitz, a female curmudgeon if ever there was one. She has opinions on everything, she knows everybody, and she is very, very funny. I have read all of her books and never forgot what she said in her first book, a series of essays - "Metropolitan Life" - about people who wear sayings on their shirts:

"If people don't want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?"

I think that's hilarious (and by the way, if you want to buy the book, Amazon is asking $500+ for it so get it at the library)!
Well, now Martin Scorsese is highlighting Fran as she makes her way around New York City, making those kinds of comments about everything from her stint as a New York City cabbie to working for Andy Warhol to the New York subway system to libraries in a series of 30 minute episodes about living in New York and about life itself. What's also hilarious is what a kick Scorsese gets out of Fran. He laughs his ass off at everything so watching him is as much fun as listening to her!

The title of "Pretend It's a City" comes from Fran's observations about people who don't seem to know how to walk properly through the city's streets. 

Pretend it's a city where there are other people,” she says, “Pretend it's a city where people are not just here sightseeing."

See?  How people walk around New York City also bothers her.
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is not for everyone, but if you are a fan of Fran or even a fan of the Big Apple, you will enjoy this. It's like spending the day with a crabby aunt who is also very, very funny.

Attractive rich Asians frolic and flaunt their wealth in L.A. in this eight-episode series on Netflix that will give Bravo a run for its money.

Yes, there is a stereotype at work here, but it’s not what you think. It’s not a stereotype about Asians but rather a stereotype about the superrich.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “[The rich] are different from you and me” and he was right. They are rich! But for us plebes, it’s fun to see what the very rich get up to. Think a private jet to Paris for a birthday lunch or party favors in a red box (you know what a gift in a blue box signifies, right? But did you know about the red box?)
Part soap, part reality, the series follows a bunch of attractive young people presided over by Anna, the Grand Dame, who is CRAZY rich. This offers 45 minutes of escapism into the world most of us could only dream about, but it’s not all fun and games. There is also some substance here as this is one of the first reality shows with an all Asian cast, and it casts a light on what it’s like to be Asian in the U.S. It highlights the cultural differences between Asians and Americans, but it also shows the diversity of Asian culture. All Asian communities are not the same and not everyone within each community wants the same thing.
This is also the story of Kevin, a handsome model, who is kind of a fish out of water, not only with his rich friends (because he is not rich), but with Asian culture, because he was adopted by a non-Asian couple and grew up in a white Pennsylvania neighborhood. He embarks on a journey to find his birth parents along with Kim Lee, who is searching for her biological father.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you enjoy the Housewives or loved “Crazy Rich Asians,” you will enjoy this too. It’s addictive!

A behind-the-scenes look at the nationally televised morning show. Think "The Today Show."

We're not really supposed to think "The Today Show" but you won't be able to help it because it involves a handsome achor who has been fired for sexual misconduct and a culture of silence has been uncovered. Sound familiar?

This is a wonderful, topical series that highlights the #Metoo Movement but also shows all of the behind the scenes machinations at a high pressure NYC television morning show. There is also a nod to the film, "All About Eve," as the younger anchor, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) puts the pressure on the older long-time anchor, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston).

Jennifer Anniston manages to avoid some of her twitchy mannerisms and brings a great performance. Reese Witherspoon plays against type as a tough reporter from the wrong side of the tracks and Steve Carell, not one of my favorite actors in the past, proves me wrong. He is believable as the disgraced anchor and I enjoyed his performance. 

But it’s Billy Crudup, as slimy Cory Ellison, who is the revelation.  I was a huge fan of him as a handsome leading man 20 years ago when he starred in “Waking the Dead.”  I thought he would really blow up as a romantic lead, but for whatever reason, he didn’t, but rather has made his name as a wonderful character actor. And lucky us because he really blows up in this.

Created by Jay Carson and Kerry Ehrin, I don’t know how I missed this Apple+ series.  Last year, it won Golden Globes for most of the stars and a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Series as well as five Emmys.  Oh, right.  I missed it because I didn’t have Apple+, but now I do and I am glad. 

Rosy the Reviewer says…a smart, well-written and well-acted dramatic series that will keep you guessing and coming back for more. (Now streaming on Apple+ and Season 2 is now in production)

Blood and Money

A retired loner hunting in the Maine back country stumbles upon some bad guys and a lot of money.
Remember when Tom Berenger was one of the sexiest actors of the 1980’s? I do, and I also remember that I didn’t think he was a very good actor. Well, Tom has gotten older (he’s 71) and is showing his age, but with age comes experience and he has certainly upped his acting game. He carries this film about Jim Reed, a damaged, recovering alcoholic, out in the desolate Allagash back country of Maine looking for that elusive buck so many hunters seek, but instead accidentally kills a woman who, along with four of her cohorts, had robbed a local casino of over a million dollars. Oh, and Jim finds the money, too, but the bad guys don’t like that, so now the hunter becomes the hunted. But those bad guys don’t know who they are dealing with.
Written and directed by John Barr, this is a slow-moving film but in a good, intense way. Berenger’s character is a complex man – lonely, angry and living with grief and guilt - and Berenger is up to the task of making you care about Jim.
The Allagash back country is so remote and desolate that there are checkpoint stations where those entering and leaving must check in. Naturally, he finds himself in a part of it that is not being monitored at the moment so when he encounters the bad guys, he must survive on his own.
I don’t know what it is about my love of survival shows because I am not an outdoor type at all. My idea of roughing it is having to shop in an outdoor mall. But for some reason I can’t resist movies and TV shows about survival – everything from “Survivor” to “Alone” to “Naked and Afraid (I even wrote a whole blog post called “How Would I Do on Naked and Afraid?- not well, as it happens).” I may not be a survivalist myself, but I can appreciate what it would take and am in awe of people who can and want to do it.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like harrowing stories of survival against all odds this is a good one.
(Available on DVD from Netflix and for rent on Prime ($3.99) and Vudu ($2.99) – well worth the price!

One Night in Miami

This is one of those "What if?" movies. What if Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown got together to talk about Civil Rights and what was going on in the 1960s? It's a fascinating "What if?"

It's 1964, the eve of Cassius Clay’s (Eli Goree) victory over Sonny Liston to become the Heavy Weight Champion of the World (Clay was soon to become Mohammad Ali), and he has gathered in Miami with Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) to celebrate.
Though this is a fictionalized account, the four did know each other and did get together and we get to be flies on the wall and hear what they might have talked about.
All were already famous but not everyone had made the impact they would soon make, but it was clear that no matter how famous they all were, they were still struggling with what it meant to be a black man in America as well as coming to grips with the struggle within the black community itself – does one try to get along in the white world or shake everything up?
There is something for everyone here: boxing, politics and the dulcet sounds of Sam Cooke thanks to Leslie Odom Jr. who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. But it's also about so much more and where we still haven't gotten to when it comes to equality.
Ali says later in the film, when talking about Black Power: “Power just means a world where it’s safe to be ourselves.”
Written by Kemp Powers and directed by Regina King, who is also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director, this is a film about a time 60 years ago that resonates today because, even though Sam Cooke sang that “A Change is Gonna Come,” sadly nothing seems to have changed. We not only no longer have the Black Power movement, America still does not appear to be a safe place for black people to be themselves.

Rosy the Reviewer says…knowing what we know about the lives of these four men and everything that has transpired since, if the ending doesn’t make you cry, then you have no heart. A must see!
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime)

Penguin Bloom

A paralyzed woman finds something to live for when her family rescues an injured magpie.

Describing the plot, it probably sounds corny as hell but I promise you it is not. Based on a true story from the book by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive and adapted by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps, Naomi Watts plays Sam Bloom, an energetic and happily married Aussie with three sons who goes on a fateful trip to Thailand where she falls off a balcony and is paralyzed. Goodbye old life. Needless to say, she doesn't deal well with this.

In the meantime, her young son, Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnston), finds a baby magpie that has fallen from its nest. He rescues it and nurses it back to health. He names it Penguin because of its black and white markings and it becomes a pet. But Sam wants nothing to do with it or anyone else for that matter until one day she is alone in the house and must look after Penguin. A bond is forged (and can I say for a magpie, Penguin is awfully cute)?

Needless to say, Penguin worms his way into her heart. But this isn't just a story of an animal healing a human. Penguin has issues with flying and Sam, of course, has her own issues. Both overcome. Both learn to fly.

Like I said, this could have been a corny film but it is saved by the direction of Glendyn Ivin and stellar performances, most notably Watts, whose quiet strength permeates the film.

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, this is a quiet film but a testament to the healing power of our connection to animals and a reminder, especially relevent today, that no matter what your situation, there is still joy to be found in life. Now pass the box of Kleenex, please.
(Now streaming on Netflix).

What Would Sophia Loren Do?

A short documentary on the power our heroes have on our lives.
Eighty-two-year-old Italian-American Nancy Kulik, who lives in New Jersey, is a Sophia Loren superfan who, when facing adversity, was helped by Loren's movies. The film intertwines Kulik's story with Loren's, both of whom faced challenges in life. Kulik looked up to Loren's portrayals of strong women and mothers in her films and highlights how two very different women were connected by the power of film.

But this documentary short directed by Ross Kauffman is not a puff piece about a movie star. This is also an homage to the power of movies and how our admiration for celebrities can sometimes be a good thing that actually inspires us and helps us get through life. It also reminds us what a superstar Loren is.

And get out your handkerchief because the ending is not just surprising but heartwarming.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a fan of Sophia Loren, and I am, you will enjoy this, but now I am a superfan of Nancy Kulik! A very powerful and emotional 32 minutes. (Now streaming on Netflix)

Oh, and by the way. NEWS FLASH! I just had my first shot of the vaccine! My wait is over. My next post will be about waiting for the second dose!

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 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.