Showing posts with label Carousel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carousel. Show all posts

Friday, February 13, 2015

"The Boy Next Door" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Boy Next Door," the DVDs "The Notebook (no, not THAT notebook)," "Fury" and "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" and the book "Small Victories" by Anne Lamott as well as bringing you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project: "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Brave Heart Will Take the Bride)." I also  review the classic musical "Carousel"]

A woman has an indiscretion with the "boy next door" and suddenly finds herself saying, "Uh-Oh."

Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a teacher of "the classics" at the local high school, who is suffering from marriage troubles.  Her husband, Garrett (John Corbett), has cheated so she has kicked him out and she is on her own with her teenaged son, Kevin (Ian Nelson, who you might recognize from "The Hunger Games"). 

Enter 20-year-old hunky Noah (Ryan Guzman), who has moved in next door to help his great uncle, who is suffering from cancer.  Noah takes an interest in young Kevin and when the uncle goes into the hospital, Claire invites Noah to hang out at her house.  It doesn't take Noah long to make a move on Claire and to impress her with his knowledge of Homer. After a particularly difficult day, Claire is alone with a bottle of wine and Noah entices her over to his house and the "indiscretion" occurs, also known as the hot and heavy sex scene.  The next day Claire is totally freaked out and lets Noah know that their little interlude was a mistake.  Unfortunately, Noah doesn't agree.  That's when the "uh-oh" light bulb goes off for Claire and psycho Noah emerges.

It won't take you long to figure out what is going to happen as Noah embarks upon his stalker phase.  It gives "hot for teacher" a whole new meaning.

This reminded me of "The Guest," which I also reviewed recently (and liked better).  But it also reminded me of two zillion Lifetime "woman in jeopardy" movies, which I can watch for free on TV. And sadly some of those Lifetime movies were better than this.  I found myself actually laughing during the big scene at the end when Claire has had enough and lets our psycho have it (and I don't think I am giving anything away here. This formula has been used so many times if you couldn't figure out the end about a third of the way through, you must have been living under a rock).

OK, I know you are wondering what the hell a serious, sophisticated moviegoer such as myself was doing at this movie.  As I sat in the theatre, having just paid almost $10 for what was basically a Lifetime Movie (but not as good), I was asking myself that same question.  I wasn't sure, but blame it on the fact that I like J-Lo and was just recovering from the flu.  I didn't want a long movie and I didn't want one that would make me have to think too much.  I got my wish, but now I'm stuck thinking about this movie.

Jennifer does the best she can with what she has to work with and she is certainly a beautiful appealing woman to watch. I still like her. It's nice to see John Corbett again, too, and Ryan Guzman is certainly a handsome young actor, though not nearly sinister enough.  Kristin Chenoweth also stars as Claire's friend.

As I said, I am a Jennifer Lopez fan and feel sad that she can no longer pull off the romantic comedies of the past and is relegated to something like this, though she is one of the producers so it's her own fault, I guess.  I would like to see her forget the steamy sex scenes and instead, go for the age-appropriate romantic comedies that Diane Keaton has managed to get into.  I know J-Lo is not as mature as Diane and J-Lo is certainly a hot forty-something, but unfortunately, there just don't seem to be many vehicles for the hot 40-year-old except Mrs. Robinson roles and "hot for teacher."

Rosy the Reviewer says...For hardcore Jennifer Lopez fans only.  I can't even say it's so bad it's good.  It's just bad. 

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

The Notebook  (2013)

Two young Hungarian twin brothers try to survive WW II alone.

This film is not to be confused with the Nicholas Sparks-Ryan Gosling-Rachel McAdams film of the same name. Not even close.

The film begins in Hungary in the waning years of WWII with a happy homecoming when the father comes home from the war on leave.  Before he leaves, he gives his twin sons a notebook to write down everything that happens to them. However the mother fears upcoming air strikes and sends the boys to live out the war on their grandmother's farm, a strange choice since their mother and grandmother have been estranged for over 20 years.  And it's no wonder. Turns out, Granny is not a very nice woman. Granny locks them outside, cuffs them and calls them bastards.  And the local villagers hate her, calling her "the witch." But eventually the three form a wary alliance.  But the boys realize they will have to learn to survive so they decide to condition themselves to the abuse: hitting themselves, not eating and exposing themselves to the cold.

One day the Nazis arrive and make themselves comfortable on the farm.  The Nazi officer uses the farm as a weekend retreat and has an unnatural attraction to the boys.

Finally a letter arrives from Mother.  Turns out Mother has been sending them warm clothes and other things and the grandmother has been hoarding them and suddenly the boys turn into the Evil Twins. The tables turn and the boys become the oppressors. When they find out a local priest has molested a young girl they have befriended, they blackmail him and then there is a kinky scene with the boys and a woman in a hot tub that I am still shaking my head about.

Mother finally returns and she has a baby and a new boyfriend.  She wants to retrieve the boys but believe it or not, they want to stay with Granny. The boys fight off the boyfriend and they run off.

Considering the boys were inseparable, the ending is not believable.

War is ugly and even uglier when seen through the eyes of children.  However, other films on this topic did it better.  See "Grave of the Fireflies" instead.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Dreary and grim.  You won't like it.
(In Hungarian with English subtitles)

Fury (2014)

It's April 1945 and the war is ending.  A tank contingent makes its way deep into enemy territory on a deadly mission.

Brad Pitt stars as "Wardaddy" Collier, a war-hardened commander of a tank division of five men. His tank is named Fury. Wardaddy has to contend with a rookie, Norman, who is assigned as the new driver, since the veteran driver had been killed.  Norman has only been at war for eights weeks.  He is not doing well what with all of those dead bodies everywhere.  We see the war through his young eyes and through the eyes of those who have seen too much.  He's not handling it all very well.

We have the usual platoon stereotypes:  the religious guy, Bible (Shia LeBeouf, who has certainly shed his young boy looks), the Mexican guy (Michael Pena), the unscrupulous guy, Coon-Ass (Jon Bernthal) and the new kid on the block, Norman (Logan Lerman, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"). There is all of the usual wise-cracking and comradery among the guys that usually goes on in war movies.

There are also many gruesome scenes such as a guy who catches on fire and rather than burn to death pulls out his gun and blows his own head off and bodies being trampled into the mud by the tanks, people hanging from buildings with signs that say "I refused to fight for the German People." No holds barred on the gory images.

The new kid, Norman, is scared to death and must prove himself.  Wardaddy forces him to kill a prisoner (I didn't think they were allowed to do that) to show he can do what must be done to survive.

When they come upon a village, they take over an apartment with two women in it.  Though wary of them, the women feed them and there is even a bit of a love scene between Norman and the younger woman, which wasn't really very believable.

The production values captured the ravages of war, though the use of random fires burning on the battlefield was a bit cheesy.

I generally do not like war movies, but I do like Brad and this film is engrossing and captures the ugliness as these men make there way through the last vestiges of the war.

There is the usual last stand  - hold off the enemy even though it's a losing battle and they know they will die. It's a cliché but it's still effective here.  Norman has learned more in the short time he was at war than in a lifetime. War is hell.  Considering how it all ends, "Fury," indeed.

Written and directed by David Ayer, who also wrote "Training Day," this film is a thrilling, unsentimental, yet old-fashioned war movie depicting the devastation of war and the bravery and comradery that it instills.  The acting is first rate. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like your war movies unflinching with gruesome war footage, this is for you.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

Can this marriage be saved?
We get a taste of why Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) got together at the beginning of the film.  They like legging it out of restaurants without paying.  Next we see Eleanor she is jumping off of the Brooklyn Bridge, and we discover that Conor and Eleanor are no longer together.
Through flashbacks we see that they had one of those madcap love affairs - getting up on top of the car and dancing in the headlights, but then in dribs and drabs we discover the couple is grieving and how they each handle their grief is disintegrating the marriage. They are each lonely in their grief.  Eleanor asks her Dad how he and her mother lasted this long and he replies "Endurance.  We all think it's forever, then things get hard."  Makes marriage sound like a lot of fun.

The first 45 minutes were extremely slow, and we still don't know much more about this couple than we did at the beginning.
This film was originally three films called "Them," "Him" and "Her."  As far as I can tell, other than film festival showings, only "Them" has been released commercially, and I think that is a mistake.  This film has too many unanswered questions.  However, imagining another four hours with these people is more than I can bear.
Eleanor's parents (William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert) couldn't resist naming her Eleanor since their last name was Rigby so that's the only relationship to the Beatles' iconic song you will find here (I think). Viola Davis plays a smart-talking no nonsense teacher, but other than that persona, doesn't have much to do.  Bill Hader, who since his SNL days has been making quite a name for himself as an actor, plays their friend, Stuart, and likewise, doesn't have much to do either.
The film takes forever to get to why Eleanor and Conor are grieving, but I had already figured it out.

Written and directed by Ned Benson, the film is stylishly photographed and the cast is studded with stars. No one can doubt the sincerity and seriousness of this film, but it's difficult to care about these people.  We just don't know enough about them.  Maybe we need to see all three films, but at five hours, let's hope they can be cut down and combined somehow.
Jessica is a wonderful actress but this film seemed to bring out some "actressy" tendencies and the dialogue seemed to be just a series of platitudes and deep thoughts. The ending was the best part.  Too bad all that led up to it couldn't have been more engaging.
Rosy the Reviewer says...all the lonely people.  Where do they all come from?  I still don't know and I kind of don't care.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***
279 to go!
Have YOU seen this one?

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Brave Heart Will Take the Bride) 1995 

Two young Indians, born and raised in England, meet and fall in love while on a tour of Europe.  Sadly, the girl must go to India for an arranged marriage.
Simran (Kajol) is 18 and anxious to meet the love of her life.  She is a dutiful daughter, so when her father announces that she must marry his best friend's son in India, Simran agrees if she can have one month discovering Europe with her girlfriends. 
Raj (Shahrukh Khan) is a daredevil ne'er do well, a spoiled young man who doesn't take life too seriously.  He is considered charming, but I found his over the top behavior a bit annoying but it's all in good fun.
Raj and Simran are destined to meet and "meet cute" as in hate on first sight on the train headed to Europe.
Why it's a Must See: " of the biggest hits in Indian film history." 
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

"The film was ranked by Indiatimes Movies as the "25 Must-See Bollywood Films"... It was placed twelfth on the British Film Institute's list of top Indian films of all time. The film was declared an all-time blockbuster and is the longest-running film in the history of Indian cinema. As of 2014, it is still playing at the Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai, after 1000 weeks."
It's Bollywood so lots of singing and dancing, it is very romantic (though they never kiss in these films) and great fun.
It's three hours long as are many Bollywood films. But there is an intermission! The first half is in the Western world, the second half in India as Raj tries to stop Simran from marrying.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Glad I saw this one. Loved it!
(subtitles with some English)

***Book of the Week***

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott (2014)

Anne Lamott has written about single-parenthood, alcoholism, depression and Christianity with humor and self-deprecation.  Here she writes essays that are meant to offer hope during times of hardship and pain: forgiveness, parenthood, war, faith, and how there is love and grace to be found in even the smallest moments, if we just take the time to notice.
Rosy the Reviewer says...comfort and inspiration for believers and non-believers. 
***At the Theatre***

The classic story of the willful Julie and Billy, the carousel barker, an improbable pair to fall in love.  Their lives are full of hardship and Billy becomes angry and violent. Billy dies but has a chance to go back to earth for one day and when he does, he is redeemed by love.
This was Rogers and Hammerstein's second collaboration ("Oklahoma!" was the first) and it has some of the most beautiful songs ever written ("You'll Never Walk Alone," "If I Loved You").
I am lucky to live in what could be called a "theatre town."  In fact Seattle is said to be one of the three top theatre towns in the country.  The Fifth Avenue Theatre's production of "Carousel" is outstanding and a reminder that few of the new musicals can compete with the classics of the past.  Rogers and Hammerstein were not afraid to tackle serious themes.  In "Carousel," there are references to Billy hitting Julie.
However, I am still shaking my head at this bit of dialogue:
Louise: But is it possible, Mother, for someone to hit you hard like that - real loud and hard, and it not hurt you at all?
Julie: It is possible dear, for someone to hit you, hit you hard, and it not hurt at all.
But despite that, this musical is one of the greats.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a not-to-be missed production!

And if there is no local production near you, get the DVD.  I loved the play so much I had to see the film again.  It's quite faithful to the stage production -- and that sublime music.  Perfect for Valentine's Day!

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.


See you Tuesday for
"My Daughter"


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