Showing posts with label British TV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British TV. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

"Blonde" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Blonde" as well as a little British mystery film: "Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop." The Book of the Week is Kelly Ripa's "not-a-memoir," "Live Wire: Long-Winded Stories."]

Blonde (2022)

A very fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe.

There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this movie with it taking a lot of criticism about its accuracy when it came to Monroe's life.  However, what you may not know is that this movie is based on Joyce Carol Oates' book of the same name, a book that was a work of fiction.  It was her fictionalized account of Marilyn. So with that in mind...

I get the controversy, but I am not against movies having creative license when it comes to telling true stories.  What I am against is an unpleasant film experience. This is not just a fictionalized account of Marilyn's life but a horror movie.

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson (baptized Baker) in 1926. Raised in Los Angeles, without a father, her mother suffered from mental illness and Norma spent much of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage.  She started out as a pin-up model during WW II and soon found fame in the movies as a "blonde bombshell," and became one of the most famous sex symbols of the 50's and 60's starring in such movies as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "The Seven Year Itch" and "Some Like it Hot." But her turbulent personal life seemed to outweigh her career accomplishments.  She was married to James Doherty at the age of 16 (not touched on in the movie), baseball hero, Joe DiMaggio, and playwright Arthur Miller, neither of whom seemed to really take her seriously.  She supposedly had an affair with JFK and she struggled with drug addiction. She died mysteriously in 1962 at the age of 36 and she remains a pop culture icon to this day.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominick, the movie touches on much of that, but quickly skips from the orphanage to modeling to acting without much detail about how Norma Jean got there and became Marilyn. The film mostly concentrates on the sad side of Marilyn:  her exploitation by men, her mentally ill mother, her absent father, an abortion that she never got over (with a very cringy abortion scene), a miscarriage that she also never got over, drugs and possibly her own mental illness. The film also has another very cringy, an oral sex scene with JFK. In fact, there are many cringy scenes in this film. 

Marilyn, played by Ana de Armas, is portrayed as a victim who just happened to make it big.  All she really wanted was to be loved and to be taken seriously and to find that absent father.  But according to this, that never happened.  She was a victim who was taken advantage of time and time again. It's a dreary and grim story, and at almost three hours, it's a dreary, grim, and over-dramatic film experience that eventually becomes irritating because it seems to never end. 

Production wise, the film was also irritating.  It moves back and forth from black and white to color without a rhyme or reason.  At first, I thought the black and white sections were memories or the past but that didn't add up. I never did figure out what that device was supposed to embody, but it bugged the heck out of me.

The only thing I really liked in this film was Ana de Armas' performance which is extraordinary.  She embodies Marilyn and I can envision an Oscar nomination for her performance.  I just wish she had more to work with.

Much of the controversy surrounding this film is about the factual accuracy of this depiction of Marilyn's life. Did Marilyn's mother really try to kill her? Did Joe really beat her up during their marriage? Did JFK really rape her? What if she was a drug addict, what if mental illness was taking her over? Lots of what ifs and did that really happen questions. I don't mind the questions. What I minded was the relentless dreariness of this story.

Yes, Marilyn had a rough life in many ways but what's the lesson here? Is there one?  If there was, I didn't get it.  Men in power exploit women?  Yes, we know that. Horrible childhoods result in messed up adults. Again, yes. Marilyn Monroe was really little Norma Jean trying to find her Daddy. Okay. But when all of this bad stuff goes on and on with no let up and no real message, it feels like Marilyn is being exploited all over again and leaves the viewer feeling exploited too.

Marilyn Monroe may have been dead for 60 years but her memory deserves more than this.  Yes, she was probably exploited in life, but I don't like the feeling I get watching her memory get exploited in death. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...according to this film, Marilyn had an extremely unpleasant life, and for me, this was an extremely unpleasant film experience. (In theatres and on Netflix)

Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop (2021)

An amateur detective investigates some strange goings on at a bookshop.

Miss Elizabeth Willoughby (Nathalie Cox) is a poor little rich girl who grows up to be a professor and an amateur sleuth.  Her parents died when she was very young and she was left with her father's friend, Robert (Kelsey Grammer), an American, as her guardian. As a young girl, Lizzie was an insatiable reader, so Robert let little Miss Willoughby read the morning away but in the afternoon he taught her martial arts, which we later learn will come in handy one day.

When Lizzie's friend, Helen (Louise Bangay), an owner of a bookshop, reports some strange goings on there, she asks Lizzie for help. Helen believes she is being haunted by the ghost of her late father. Helen's husband (Steven Elder) believes Helen is going mad.  Is the bookshop really haunted or his Helen's husband gaslighting her?  Lizzie is on the case.

Written by Kate Wood, Chad Law, and Josh Ridgway (story by Philippe Martinez) and directed by Brad Wilson, this is a bit slow to get going but very much in the vein of British TV shows like "All Creatures Great and Small" and "Grantchester," very cosy and quaint and old fashioned, with a mystery that is not really a mystery.  Let's just say, there is nothing here to get your knickers in a twist about.  It's all very uncomplicated and "G rated," but it's a pleasant story with a pleasant cast. If you were a fan of "Murder She Wrote," it's kind of like that, and this is supposedly the first in a series which would be a welcome addition to that genre.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need an escape into the beautiful English countryside with some pleasant people, and you like your mysteries British, ones that won't tax your brain too much, this is for you. (For rent on most streaming platforms)

***The Book of the Week***

"Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories" by Kelly Ripa (2022)

Actress and talk show host Kelly Ripa does her usual over-sharing, this time in a book.

Actress and talk show host Ripa (“Live with Kelly and Ryan”) wants readers to know that this is not really a memoir.  It’s a series of essays and she wrote them all by herself.  But fans will be happy to know there are plenty of anecdotes about her life delivered in her characteristic self-deprecating humor.  

She laments the difficulty of writing a book, she shares the difference between North and South Jersey (she’s from the South), muses on parenting (“I thought as long as my kids didn’t get strep throat often and had cookies for the class bake sale I was killing it in the parenting department”), the empty nest, mother/daughter relationships, botox and plastic surgery, auditioning for Live! and her tenuous relationship with ex-cohost Regis Philbin. She also overshares stories about her 25 year marriage to her husband, Mark Consuelos, whom she met on the set of “All My Children,” the birth of her first child, an embarrassing chance encounter with Richard Gere along with a lot more oversharing, but fans of Live! are probably used to that.  Ripa exhibits the same openness, bawdy humor, and TMI that her fans have come to expect.

I laughed out loud at much of this and thought, gee, I should watch the show.  So I gave it a try.  What I discovered was that Ripa is funny on the page, way too much for me in person.

Rosy the Reviewer easy funny read that includes celebrity insider info (if you are into that kind of thing) and if you are a fan, you will love this, but you don't need to be a fan of "Live with Kelly and Ryan" to get some laughs from this! (Check it out from your local library)


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(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)


Monday, May 9, 2022

If You Love All Things British - TV, that is

[I review the British TV series "Before We Die," "Ridley Road," "Anatomy of a Scandal" and "A Very British Scandal"]

Before We Die (2021)

A police detective is put in a bad situation when she discovers her son is working as a police informant.

Based on a Swedish series, the story moves from Stockholm to Bristol, England and follows police detective Hannah Laing (Lesley Sharp) who is being leaned on to retire.  She is estranged from her son, Christian (Patrick Gibson), because a couple of years earlier she had him arrested for drug dealing and he ended up in prison.  Duh.  And she wonders why her son is mad at her.  This is an example of more than one bad decision Hannah makes in this series.

Anyway, when the series begins, Hannah is having an affair with Sean (Bill Ward), a married colleague, who had been on Christian's side while he was in prison. When Christian gets out of prison, he starts working as a dishwasher at a Croatian restaurant owned by the Mimica family, a job he was able to get because he shared a cell with Stefan Vargic (Petar Cvirn), whose girlfriend Bianca Mimica (Issy Knopfler) is a member of the Mimica family. But Christian's connection to Stefan becomes precarious when he is attracted to Bianca and she him. 

And then things get really precarious when Christian notices what appears to be criminal activity taking place at the restaurant. He alerts Sean, who, in turn, recruits Christian to continue working there but undercover as an informant for him. It doesn't hurt that Christian understands Croatian (Hannah's ex and Christian's father was Croatian). Then, Sean disappears after telling Hannah he was going to meet an informant and the next time we see him, he is being tortured by some guys with eastern European accents. Not good. And the torture stuff is also not good.

Hannah teams up with Billy Murdoch (Vincent Regan), a former soldier and expert on Eastern European drug gangs (how convenient) to investigate Sean's disappearance.  Billy suspects the Mimica family of running a drugs racket, so Hannah tries to get closer to her son to find out what the heck is going on, and in so doing, gets herself deeply involved in this whole mess and, like I said, makes bad decision after bad decision.

Meanwhile, Christian gains the respect of the family and gets deeper and deeper into the drug smuggling ring. He also gets deeper and deeper into a relationship with Bianca, because dare I say, Christian is a very handsome young man, which doesn't make Stefan very happy and things go from bad to worse, as these sorts of mystery series have a habit of doing. 

I'm not sure if it's the writing or the acting, but there are some major "huh?" and overdramatic moments, and Sharp's Hannah can be very frustrating, and did I say she makes some bad and cringy decisions?  I think I threw my shoe at the screen at least once.  And for the life of me, I could not figure out what the title of this series means, which still bugs me.

But did I mention that young Christian is hot and totally my type?  Oops, scratch that.

Rosy the Reviewer says... but, hey, this is a British mystery series. Even when the Brits don't quite hit the mark, their shows are still better than most of their American counterparts and, though frustrating at times, this one is compelling.
(PBS Masterpiece Channel, Amazon Prime and Apple+)

Ridley Road (2021)

A young Jewish girl from Manchester moves to London and finds herself involved with an anti-Semitic fascist group.

During the 60’s, many of us Baby Boomers longed to go to “Swingin’ London,” visit Carnaby Street and hang out with the Beatles.  I know I did. But what I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t all groovy.  In fact, there was some evil taking place – the rise of neo-Nazi fascism.

This four-part series from Masterpiece Theatre (PBS) tells the story of Vivien Epstein (Agnes O'Casey), a young Jewish hairdresser from Manchester, who follows Jack, her unsuitable ex-boyfriend to London, despite the fact her parents have arranged a marriage for her with someone who is suitable.  When she arrives in London, she discovers that Jack has gone underground with the anti-fascist 62 Group, run by her uncle, Soly (Eddie Marsan), and infiltrated the anti-Semitic National Socialist Movement. When Jack mysteriously disappears, Vivien changes her name to Jane Carpenter, dyes her hair platinum blonde and also goes undercover, catching the eye of the leader, Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear). It’s all about Vivian’s double life the cat and mouse game that plays out as she tries to find Jack.

Created by Sarah Solemani and based on Jo Bloom’s novel and real events (Colin Jordan was a real life bad guy and there really was a battle between the 62 Group and his National Socialist Movement), we see how the neo-Nazis were able to plant the seed in working class communities that Jewish people were responsible for what was wrong in their world. Sadly, there is still that sort of attitude circulating today in the 21st century, making this a timely reminder of how easily Fascism can creep into the world. 

Agnes O’Casey, who plays Vivian/Jane is a compelling young actress with the most expressive eyes. This is her first starring role and I expect not her last. She is on her way!

If you enjoy British dramas and can get over the idea that a young hairdresser from Manchester can convincingly infiltrate a neo-Nazi group, you will enjoy this.  I was hooked from the first episode. 

Rosy the Reviewer says…a high-class melodrama, the kind of series we have come to expect from the Brits, though it stretches credibility at times. However, it's a satisfying series about good vs evil.  And did I say it was timely? The film ends with this epilogue or post-script -

"And the fight against fascism continues..." (Masterpiece Theatre - PBS)

Anatomy of a Scandal (2022)

A British politician is on his way up when he is accused of rape.

James Whitehouse is a British Tory MP who is accused of rape by one of his younger associates, one he had been carrying on an affair with. Sound familiar? It’s a sensitive subject (quite a few descriptions of sexual violence), so prepare yourselves.

Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller play James and Sophie Whitehouse, who both met at Oxford, married, and now are living happily with their two beautiful children. His political career is thriving and it doesn’t hurt that he is a close friend of the Prime Minister. You see, James and the Prime Minister were also at Oxford together and members of the Libertine Society. With a name like that, you can guess what those boys were up to.

James and Sophie both reek of privilege and life is good until James is accused of rape by a young woman from his office, a young woman he had been having an affair with for five months. Now he must not only deal with the rape charge, but he has to deal with his marriage to Sophie, who had no idea her perfect marriage was no longer perfect.
James is arrested and put on trial and it’s all very much “he said, she said,” as these cases often are, but the prosecutor, Kate Woodcroft (wonderfully played by Michelle Dockery – you know, Lady Mary from “Downton Abbey?”) is determined to nail this guy. Needless to say, she disapproves of James, and no one scowls disapprovingly quite like Michelle. She did that a lot in “Downton Abbey,” and she does it a lot in this series as well.
Once James is arrested, there are the expected courtroom scenes, but then there is a huge twist in episode four that I didn’t see coming. How unlike me. But I loved it. And turns out the scandal isn’t just the rape case against James. There is so much more. The story goes back and forth in time from the college years to the present as the past comes back to haunt all of the main characters.
Rosy the Reviewer says...other than some questionable camera choices, the story is riveting, the acting is wonderful, the ending is satisfying and it’s all over in six episodes. What more could you ask for in a series? (This is Season One in what will be a Netflix anthology series involving various scandals).

Divorces can't get much nastier than this one.
Claire Foy stars as Margaret Whigham Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll, and it’s all about her very famous marriage and divorce from Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll. Fans of “The Crown” will recognize Claire as the young Queen Elizabeth I in the early seasons of that series. However, clutch your pearls, because, in this, Claire has been transformed into a much less sympathetic character.
It’s the 1960’s and Margaret Whigham is a rich and glamorous debutante with a bad reputation. She meets Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll (Paul Bettany), who is one of those aristocrats with a title and a big pile of a castle that needs fixing up but no money to do it. Oh, and he’s already married with two sons. But Margaret is used to getting what she wants and she wants Ian’s title and that castle, and he wants her money, so wife #1 is out the door. Not exactly the best start for a successful marriage.
Margaret goes about using her money to fund the castle’s restoration and pretty much pays for everything. Oh, and did I mention that Ian isn't very nice? In fact, he is a mean drunk and a drug addict.
However, I am not excusing Margaret. She isn't very nice either. She is a schemer and does some abhorrent things, but she didn't deserve what she got. Let me just say, that when she ran out of money restoring that money pit of a castle, things fell apart. Ian filed for divorce for adultery (he accused her of having sex with just about everybody), she counter sued and an ugly court case full of slut shaming ensued.
Created by Sarah Phelps, this is a fascinating true story with wonderful performances about a time when women, even rich ones, had few rights.
Moral of the story? Ladies, don’t marry a bastard, even if he is a Duke.
This is Season Two of yet another anthology series that dramatizes true British scandals, each series standing alone. After you watch this one, you might want to go back and see Season One which was called “A Very English Scandal” and starred Hugh Grant. That's what I'm going to do.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like true Brit, this is for you and it's a mere three episodes- you can binge it in a weekend whilst enjoying your tea and crumpets (or whatever). That’s what I did. Well, not crumpets. And not tea! (Amazon Prime)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(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)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Rosy the Reviewer's One Liners: One Line Reviews for Busy Folks Who Just Want to Netflix and Chill!

It's that time of year: the middle of the Holiday Season where there is too much to do and too little time to do it in. 

And Rosy the Reviewer is also busy, busy, busy, so I am making it easy on all of us by giving you some movie reviews that are short and sweet.  Short?  One line.  Sweet?  Not all of them.  

The shows are all streaming on Netflix so you can just Netflix and chill and enjoy the rest of the holiday season!

And I mean actually sit and watch Netflix and chill...not that other thing.

Enjoy...and you can thank me later.

Streaming on Netflix

Jerry Before Seinfeld (2017)

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a Jerry fan or really loved the TV show "Seinfeld," then you will enjoy this very funny yet poignant documentary where Jerry returns to the Comic Strip Club where he got his start; he does some stand up interspersed with reminiscences about his childhood and who he was before he was "Seinfeld."

Blue Jay (2016)

Rosy the Reviewer says...two high school sweethearts meet up 20 years later in this black and white (why?) very talkie two-hander romantic story (think a less successful "Before Sunrise" but still worth seeing) starring Sarah Paulson, who is an amazingly real actress and proves she can play someone other than a tough Marcia Clark ("American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson") or a weird character in "American Horror Story" and writer/actor Mark Duplass, who I really liked in "The One I Love," but not so much in this.

The Watcher (2016)

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is one of those horror films about an unsuspecting couple who buy their dream home only to discover that some bad stuff happened in that house, and some bad stuff is going to happen to them too, but it's only Lifetime Movie kind of bad, and really over-the-top and campy bad, and actually so over-the-top and campy bad that it's on my list of possible camp classics which translates to lots of fun.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating documentary using never-before-seen footage and interviews that investigates the mysterious death of Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender activist and veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, which was one of the most important events leading to the Gay Liberation Movement.

Big Family Cooking Showdown (2017)

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you loved "The Great British Baking Show" on PBS or, as it's known in the U.K, "The Great British Bake Off," you will love this new series that features sixteen British family teams who fight for the title Best Family of Cooks in this series presented by Zoe Ball and Nadiya Hussain (Hussain won "The Great British Bake-Off" in 2015).

And don't forget, "The Crown" which is now back for it's second season!

Thanks for Reading!

I hope you had a lovely holiday and continue to enjoy the holiday season. 

I wish you all a Happy New Year,

and I hope I will see you next year!


There will be a special
New Year's edition of
Rosy the Reviewer this coming Tuesday

"My Mother's Diary
(and a Meaningful New Year's Resolution for you to consider)"


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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).