Showing posts with label Chrissy Teigen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chrissy Teigen. Show all posts

Friday, December 14, 2018

"Dumplin (Netflix Original)" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the Netflix Original movie "Dumplin" as well as the DVD "Juliet, Naked."  The Book of the Week is Chrissy Teigen's new cookbook "Cravings: Hungry for More (the sequel to her first book "Cravings").  I also bring you up-to-date with my "1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "WR: Mysteries of the Organism"]


Willowdean Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) is a plus-size teen who has the unfortunate nickname of Dumplin,' and the unfortunate circumstance of an ex-beauty queen mother who just happens to run the local Miss Teen Bluebonnet Pageant. But Willowdean is no shrinking violet and decides to enter the pageant herself -- as a protest. 

Thank god for Netflix! Sometimes there just isn't anything playing in the theatres that I want to see.  And this was such a week,
so after seeing Jennifer Anniston and Dolly Parton making the talk show rounds promoting this Netflix Original film that started airing last Friday, I decided that would be my feature film this week.  And thanks to Netflix, I could watch a first-run film in the comfort of my home.  I also have always had a bit of a thing about beauty pageants ("What I've Learned from Beauty Pageants") so this one was right up my alley.

Texas doesn't do anything by halves and Texas beauty pageants are no exception.  It's a big part of the Texas culture, just like football. And in this film, the Miss Teen Bluebonnet contest takes hold of the little town of Clover City every year and Willowdean's mother, Rosie (Anniston), is not only also obsessed with the pageant but runs it.

However, Willowdean does not share her mother's enthusiasm for the pageant nor does she feel close to her mother who irritatingly calls her Dumplin' and seems to love the beauty queens in her pageants more than Willowdean.  Well, that's what Willowdean feels anyway.  Willowdean had been closer to her Aunt Lucy (Hilliary Begley), partly because, unlike Willowdean's mother, Lucy was also a plus-size girl but mostly because Lucy was a happy, free spirit, who loved Dolly Parton's music and Dolly's message to be yourself and live life to the fullest (though Dolly doesn't appear in the film, she is very much in evidence. Her music plays a big role in this film with some old favorites and some new songs and there are even some Dolly Parton drag queens)!  Lucy was also responsible for Willowdean's friendship with Ellen (Odeya Rush), who became her best friend and shares Willowdean's love of all things Dolly.  But sadly, Lucy died.

One day, while going through Lucy's things, Willowdean sees a pageant application that Lucy had started to fill out, which surprises Willowdean but then gives her an idea. She knows she is not the typical pageant girl but decides to compete in the pageant herself as a sort of protest - "a protest in heels" - but deep down (and she doesn't know this but I do) to compete for her mother's love. Willowdean teams up with her pal, Ellen, and a couple of other misfits - Millie (Maddie Baillio), another big girl who loves everyone, thinks the pageant would actually be fun and takes it seriously as in she thinks she can win it and Hannah (Bex Taylor-Klaus), a hard-core feminist who is also protesting the pageant.  But what starts out as a way to make a statement to her mother, Willowdean ends up empowering herself, with some help from some drag queen friends of Lucy's and a pageant performance to a Dolly Parton song that actually made me cry. And Rosie, who didn't really understand her daughter but loved her all along, realizes that her daughter may not look like her and want the same things but she has her own beauty and talents.

Speaking of drag queens, how can you miss when you have Dolly Parton and drag queens in one movie?  Dolly once famously said, "Good thing I was born a girl or I would have been a drag queen!"

Based on the 2015 young adult novel by Julie Murphy, this film is an all-ladies effort, directed by Anne Fletcher, with a screenplay by Kristin Hahn and starring mostly ladies, well, except for the drag queens but they are kind of like ladies, right? 

Danielle McDonald is a wonderful young actress.  I loved her in "Patti Cake$," but where "Patti Cake$" was unsentimental, I found her struggling a bit to rise above the schmaltz inherent in this film.  But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.  I did.  And I look forward to seeing more of her. The other young actresses are also enjoyable, and the film plays with some important themes: the mother/daughter relationship; loyalty and friendship; the definition of beauty; and female empowerment.  

Anniston is also good. As popular as Jennifer Anniston was in "Friends," you would think she would have gone on to super stardom in feature films.  But she didn't, which is a curiosity. I mean she was a phenomenon in "Friends." We even copied Rachel's hair, right? And she was married to Brad! She is really a good actress, but perhaps Rachel is her curse, that she will always be the ditsy young Rachel in the eyes of the public. It's difficult for audiences to see her as anyone else.  It's also difficult to believe Jennifer is turning 50 and playing the mother of a teen and yet, I guess that's age appropriate. It's also an interesting role for Anniston since she herself had an actress/model mother who made her feel inferior and she was estranged from her mother for many years of her life. Some catharsis for her, no doubt, playing this role.  

But what I liked was the fact that Rosie, though seemingly obsessed with the beauty pageant and sometimes clueless about what was going on with her daughter, truly loved her daughter, didn't mistreat her and meant well.  That works because Anniston has a real warmth that comes across from the screen, even when Rosie is being clueless, and that rings true because mother/daughter relationships are never just one way or the other. Even when there is a lot of love, they can be all over the place.

Rosy the Reviewer says...some important themes and, hey, sometimes we just all need a little inspirational schmaltz.

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


Juliet, Naked (2018)

No, it's not about a girl named Juliet who is naked (Hubby was disappointed)!  It's about Annie, the long-suffering girlfriend of the pompous Duncan who is obsessed with Tucker Crowe, a once-famous rock star who mysteriously disappeared from the music scene but who just as mysteriously pops up again and starts a transatlantic correspondence with Annie.

The film begins with Duncan (Chris O'Dowd) broadcasting on his Tucker Crowe fan vlog:

"Hello! Welcome to 'Can You Hear Me?' your source for all things Tucker Crowe.  If you're here, you're probably already a fan of Tucker's music.  But if you're merely 'Crowe-curious,' or you clicked on the link by accident, allow me to introduce you to one of the most seminal, and yet unsung, figures of alternative rock."

Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) was big back in the day as in the 90's, especially with his album "Juliet," but then he just gave up the music scene and disappeared.  Rumors abounded about what happened and where he ended up, most famously that he grew a beard and retired to a sheep farm.  Duncan teaches a college class on television, the kind of class where one might draw a parallel between Shakespeare and "The Wire," but his main focus is all things Tucker Crowe.  He runs a fan page and spends hours on his computer chatting with others who are also obsessed with Crowe, much to the chagrin of his long-time and long-suffering girlfriend, Annie (Rose Byrne), who couldn't care less about Crowe. She runs a local museum in a small British seaside town and takes a backseat to Duncan's obsession, and has pretty much resigned herself to her rather dull life with Duncan sans kids (he doesn't want them). But then, Duncan embarks on an affair and justifies it by saying it's because the other woman likes Crowe too!  Duncan is actually a clueless pompous ass but he is actually kind of likable times.

One day Duncan is sent what appears to be a rough demo of the "Juliet" album called "Juliet, Naked." He is in fanboy heaven.  He reviews it and puts it up on his web page and invites discussion.  However, one person makes a snarky comment about it and, wouldn't you know, it turns out it was Annie having a laugh.  Duncan has a fit but it also turns out that there is one other person who agrees with her review - Tucker Crowe!  He surfaces to write Annie a self-deprecating email and the two embark on a correspondence, one that Annie does not share with Duncan.

Crowe hasn't been on a sheep farm.  It's worse than that.  He lives in his ex-wife's garage and takes care of their son.  He also has many other children with other women, some of whom don't even know each other.  He is taken to task by his pregnant adult daughter who has come to visit him from London which will turn out to be a convenient plot device for Crowe to eventually travel to England and see Annie.

I didn't realize that Rose Byrne was Australian nor did I realize what a good actress she is.  She has played so many American wives of guys in comedies I have overlooked her but she is quite lovely in this film. She is in fact the centerpiece that carries this film along.  We are rooting for Annie to get out of her boring life and find herself. Chris O'Dowd is also really good here and, though he often plays kind of clueless guys, his Duncan is rather poignant. Though he can be an ass, you want to take care of him.  And Ethan Hawke, who I didn't recognize at first (really like him with facial hair), is perfect for this.  He has matured into a wonderful actor, not to mention he is aging well.

Written by Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins (based on the Nick Hornsby novel) and directed by Jesse Peretz, this is a sweet romantic comedy that reminds us not to give up on life.  But it's also about idolizing artists and what that means to us common folks and that perhaps we might be disappointed if we ever actually met our idols, especially ones shrouded in mystery.  Once Duncan meets Crowe and finds out what he has been doing over the last 20 years, he no longer has a purpose, that being speculating with his fan friends about Crowe's life and music.  But when Tucker is cynical about Duncan's fandom, Duncan makes a point for us groupies, "Art isn't for the artist no more than water is for the bloody plumber."  Mmmm - deep.  Duncan also chastises Tucker for his cynicism when he says that people like Tucker don't value what comes easy to them - for Duncan, Tucker's music meant something and gave his life purpose.

Rosy the Reviewer says...we need more movies like this: good story, well drawn characters and heart.  Lovely, sweet film.  One of my favorites of the year. Don't miss it.

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

115 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971)

This one actually DOES have naked people in it -- and lots of sex! A documentary on the work of psychologist Wilhelm Reich coupled with a story about a Yugoslavian girl's affair with a Russian skater.  I know, weird.

The film begins by stating that we humans will have 4000 orgasms in our lifetime (I wish)!

Reich was an Austrian doctor and psychoanalyst whose teachings were some of the most radical in psychiatry.  He believed the orgasm was the key to happiness and might even cure diseases. His promotion of sexual liberation made him an increasingly controversial figure in the psychiatric community (he coined the term "sexual revolution"), mostly because of his orgone accumulators (devices he believed could harnass "orgone," a term he used for sexual energy which in turn he likened to God), but which the media called sex boxes. When they reported that Reich claimed he could cure cancer with them he ultimately landed in jail and his writings were burned.  He died in prison. 

I completely got that part of this film which clearly was an homage to Reich who I had heard of (of course he was big in the 60's), but I didn't know that much about him.  So that part was interesting though watching people in therapy sessions gyrating and seemingly in orgasmic trances, I couldn't help but get a little judgy and think how susceptible we humans can be as we search for the quick fix for pleasure and happiness. But beyond the documentary about Reich, the film is also a mishmash of footage of Stalin; Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs wandering around Manhattan in an orange jumpsuit and brandishing a rifle; and a woman making a plaster cast of a guy's penis. 

However...there's more.  There's this other weird part of the film, a movie within a movie, about a sexually liberated feminist-communist named Milena who  seduces a conservative Russian ice skater and then he beheads her with his ice skate. That's when they lost me.  Well, that's not quite right.  Kupferberg and what he had to do with anything in this film lost me.

I know this was supposed to be a comedy and it was probably supposed to shock.  I usually like comedies if they are funny, but this was just absurd, and I wasn't particularly shocked, but I at least like to know what is going on when I watch a film and most of the time I didn't. 

Why it's a Must See: "Dusan Makavejev's most critically acclaimed film... a magnificently obscene parody of Cold War politics and social mores...[This film] may be the only avant-garde slapstick communist documentary sex romp ever made. That alone makes it a must-see."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...a better title would have been "Mysteries of the Orgasm or What The Hell is Going on Here?"

***The Book of the Week***

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen (2018)

The latest cookbook from Chrissy Teigen.

I know you probably think I'm being lazy when "The Book of the Week" is a cookbook, but you would be wrong because I really READ cookbooks.  I love to cook but I also love to read cookbooks.  And in this case, I also love Chrissy.  She isn't one of the hottest stars on Twitter and Instagram for nothing.  She is very, very open and funny and her cookbooks are no exception, not to mention her great food.  I reviewed her first cookbook, "Cravings," and loved it but I think this one is even better.

In case you don't know who Chrissy Teigen is, she is the daughter of a Norwegian father and Thai mother, was a successful model and is now married to singer John Legend.  And she has also made a name for herself as a fun and funny cookbook author.

Here is an example. 

For her "Blueberry Cream Cheese Pancakes" she writes:

"I am no stranger to the chain restaurant.  I tried, and failed, to work at Red Robin just for access to their steak fries.  I was, for a moment, a Hooter Girl hostess.  I remember running food for one of the other girls (A HUGE HOSTESS NO-NO IN A TIP-BASED RESTAURANT) and almost getting smacked in the face with a pair of double G's...I am not the biggest fan of desserts, EXCEPT for the sour cream blueberry pie at Marie Callender's...These pancakes remind me sooooo much of that pie behind that glass..."

See?  Lots-o-fun!

The book is divided into Breakfast & Brunch; Soups; Salads; Sandwiches; Snacks; Potatoes & Their Friends; Supper and Sweets.  But she also celebrates her mother in the chapter "Thai Mom," with some delicious Thai recipes: "Tom Yum Noodles," "Crab Fried Rice," "Red Chicken Curry," and more.

I am going to try every single recipe in this book and I might even tag Chrissy on Instagram as I do it.  

The first one I want to try is her "Taters, Shrooms & Peas with Parmesan Cream.  She and I are on the same page about frozen peas!

"Aren't frozen peas just the best?  They're sweet, they're perky, and they're always ready for a good time (are they on Tinder?)  Please exit now if you even thought about popping fresh ones out of their little shells -- with peas, it's all about the bag. Besides, the potatoes (don't overcook 'em!) and mushrooms (hard to mess up) are fresh, so your foodie cred is covered...Serve this with fried eggs for a simple meal."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like to read cookbooks  and you love great food, this cookbook is for you!

Thanks for reading!

   See you next Friday 

"The Mule"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)


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, April 8, 2016

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" as well as DVDs "Freeheld" and "Legend."  The Book of the Week is my new favorite cookbook "Cravings" by Chrissy Teigen.  I also bring you up-to-date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the Japanese film "Onibaba (The Demon Woman)."]

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

The Portokalos family gets together for another Big Fat Greek Wedding - 14 years later.

This is a sequel and you know how I feel about sequels, so I was prepared to hate this movie  -- and I did!  Ugh.  Awful.

Here is the rule for most sequels (and I said "most" - I know "The Godfather" sequels were brilliant):  Take a small, charming film that surprises everyone and then make the same film again except this time add clichés and really unfunny jokes.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding (the first one)" was the highest grossing romantic comedy EVER.  For that reason, I am surprised it's taken someone 14 years to remake this thing, but Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson (who is also in the film) stepped up to the plate and here we are again.  Too bad.

In the first one, Toula Portokalis (Nia Vardalos) is a Plain Jane who at 33 feels like her life is over because she hasn't found a husband.  You see, supposedly in the Greek culture - did I mention that she is part of a big fat Greek family? - marriage is not just an important thing for a woman, it's the ONLY thing.  She is stuck working in the family restaurant, Dancing Zorbas.  However, she gets inspired when she meets a local school teacher, Ian Miller (John Corbett).  She cuts her hair, gets contacts and gussies herself up a la Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager" and then of course that's all it takes to get her man. But here's the hook:  he's not Greek so Toula tries to keep that fact secret, but when her father Gus (Michael Constantine) finds out, all hell breaks loose.  But it wouldn't be a proper rom-com if it wasn't eventually sorted and a "big fat Greek wedding" ends the film.

So here we are 14 years later, and Toula is married to Ian and their daughter is about to leave for college...and everything else is pretty much the same.  Same cast of characters, same big fat intrusive family, same obsession with all things Greek, more Windex jokes and basically the same story except this time it's Toula's mother and Dad who are getting married.

Toula has reverted back to her Plain Jane look because, hey, she's married now. She can let herself go.  Ian is now the principal of the school and both are so busy, their marriage has suffered.  Toula is the go-to in the family, looking after everyone, and that appears to take precedence over her husband. Their daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), is heading to college and Toula doesn't know what she is going to do without her. So we have the sandwich generation, Toula and her husband, who on one side have elderly parents that need more care and on the other, a dependent child leaving home for college.  Add a wedding to that and that's pretty much it.

The wedding?  Well, you see Gus is trying to prove that he is a direct descendant of Alexander the Great, and, while going through some papers, discovers his marriage certificate, and the fact that it was never signed by the priest so, horrors, he and Maria, his wife, are not married. 

The comedy here is supposed to be the antics of this tight, intrusive family that does everything together and pokes their noses into everyone's business.  They all live next door to each other. Also there are the usual jokes about old folks trying to use a computer and being obsessed with sex.  Is it funny?  No.  Is it even cute?  No.  Did I laugh even once?  No. 

I am not Greek, but I can't help but wonder what Greek people feel about these over-the-top stereotypes that abound in this film.

Vardalos wrote the screenplay for the first film and also wrote the script for this one, but surprisingly, this time around didn't really give herself much to do, which is strange because she is supposed to be the star.  John Corbett, as hunky and handsome as he is, also doesn't have much to do, so the very thing that made the first MBFGW a success was the romantic comedy aspect which is completely lost to the antics of the supporting actors - Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine as Toula's parents and Andrea Martin as her aunt and others.  They are good but just doing what they did in the last film, Windex and all. Newcomer Kampouris is a stand-out but doesn't have much to work with.

Rosy the Reviewer says...the white hairs in the audience seemed to be enjoying this and it's doing well at the box office, which is Greek to me.  I thought it was awful. That's why my hair is not white and it never will be, if I can help it!


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

Now Out On DVD

Freeheld (2015)

True story of the battle police detective Laurel Hester, who was diagnosed with incurable cancer and who waged a campaign with her local New Jersey Freeholders to secure her pension for her domestic partner, Stacie Andree.

Julianne Moore stars as Hester, a hard-working and decorated cop in Orange County, New Jersey. 

In 2002 Hester meets a much younger Stacie (Ellen Page) playing volleyball.  They fall in love and set up housekeeping together. There is the usual lovey dovey stuff when a couple falls in love.  They buy a house together and the film shows them happily renovating until the other shoe drops - Laurel is diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Knowing she doesn't have long to live, Laurel wants to pass her pension on to Stacie so she will be able to keep their home after she dies, but it's denied even though they are Registered Domestic Partners. Though the Domestic Partners Act was passed in the state of New Jersey, the Orange County Freeholders would not recognize it and denied her request.  Laurel and Stacie have to fight the local government to get their relationship recognized by the Freeholders.

This film is one of those very earnest films.  It means well and that is the very thing that hurts it.  This is the kind of film that gives Julianne Moore a chance to give a long dramatic speech at the end.  Steve Carrell plays Steven Goldstein and gets to show his versatility as an actor again here (as he did in "The Big Short" and "Foxcatcher") as a representative from Garden State Equality. He is a gay Jew who wants to get gay marriage passed in New Jersey so Laurel's and Stacie's fight becomes a cause celebre.  So Steve gets to make an impassioned speech too. So does Laurel's cop partner played by Michael Shannon, who was outstanding in "99 Homes."  But none of that is enough to give this film real drama. It's more of a reciting of events.

Moore has always been lured to edgier roles and playing a lesbian would probably fall into that category.  She also plays the entire film with no make-up, but good cheekbones certainly help. She has one of those faces that would look great no matter what. Moore is always good as is Page, but I never quite believed the romance.  Speaking of  faces. Shannon's face alone is worth watching.  He has a memorable face. This guy is turning up everywhere and is an excellent actor.

This true life event took place ten years before gay marriage was law and was an important precursor to gay marriage for everyone.  The film is the expanded and dramatic version of a documentary short by Cynthia Wade that won an Oscar in 2007 and that's what it feels like. The film directed by Peter Sollett is a faithful reenactment of events by screenwriter Ron Nyswaner who also wrote "Philadelphia," but it lacks the dramatic depth of that one and feels more like a documentary. The characters are noble and so is the fight. But no matter how noble the cause or the characters, when the film is over, one must ask, "Did I connect?  Did I feel anything?" 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Earnest and noble but, despite good performances, very "Lifetime Movie."


Legend (2015)

Reggie and Ronnie Kray were identical twin gangsters who ruled London's gangland during the 1960's.

What could be better than a movie starring Tom Hardy?  Why, a movie with TWO Tom Hardys.  This movie about the infamous London gangsters, the Kray twins, stars Tom as BOTH Krays.

Reggie was the dapper charmer; Ronnie was the vicious nutter.  But no matter how crazy Ronnie got, Reggie backed him up because "he is my bruvver."  Ronnie is also gay and makes no bones about admitting it, even back then when it was illegal in the UK to be gay until 1967.

While Reggie and Ronnie are running London's gangland, Reggie meets sweet Francis (Emily Browning) and falls in love with her and gets married.  She wants him to go straight so Reggie tries to tamp down the gangster life, but Ronnie, who is jealous of Reggie's relationship with Francis, is just out of control and keeps pulling Reggie back in. By the way, Ronnie isn't just a nutter, he is certifiable.

The Krays' arch rivals were The Richardsons and once Ronnie and Reggie got them taken care of, The Kray Twins were the gangster Princes and even made deals with our own gangsters. Chazz Palminteri (does he ever play any roles other than gangsters?) shows up representing one of our own gangsters, Meyer Lansky, who wanted to turn London into the "Las Vegas of Europe."

This film reminded me a bit of "Black Mass," the film about Whitey Bulger's stranglehold on Boston.  Whitey managed to run amok in Boston because he was a supposed FBI informant. The Krays had carte blanche in London because they compromised a member of Parliament, but when Ronnie kills a guy, Scotland Yard decides that is crossing the line.  Prostitution, gambling, protection racket, torture, blackmail, intimidation, fine.  Murder a guy and we find out about it?  Not having it! 

Directed by Brian Helgeland (he wrote the screenplay too), the story is told from Francis' point of view to dramatic effect when the final scenes are revealed.

Don't be fooled by the lovely British accents. British gangster films are some of  the goriest and most perverse and give movies like "Good Fellas" a run for their money.  This one is no exception. Guy Ritchie, you know him, Madonna's ex, made a name for himself with some gritty hardman movies like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," so never underestimate the British hard man movies.

Speaking of accents: If you are not good with London's East End accents, you may find yourself wishing this film had subtitles.

Pros and cons of this film:

Cons - hard to understand dialogue, disjointed story, lots of violence and as famous as the Krays are in the UK (so famous in fact that there was actually another film about them in 1990 - "The Krays" - starring the Kemp brothers from the rock group Spandau Ballet - I saw that one too), Americans have never heard of them.

Pros - Tom Hardy, Tom Hardy, Tom Hardy, one of the most amazing actors working today.  He can do anything.  (I take credit for first noticing him in the one-man show "Locke.")

Veteran British actors - Paul Bettany, Christopher Eccleston and David Thewlis - round out the cast.

Despite Hardy, this film seemed to be buried.  I had not heard about it until I saw it on DVD.  Probably not large distribution because it was a British film and Americans don't know who The Krays were.  They will now.

Rosy the Reviewer matter what the cons, any movie starring Tom Hardy is worth seeing.

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

253 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Onibaba ("Demon Woman" - 1964)

A Japanese horror film about two impoverished women - a mother and her daughter-in-law - living alone in 14th century Japan who survive by killing lost Samurais and selling their weapons and armor.  However, when a man shows up, lust and jealousy abounds.

A mother (Nobuko Otowa) and her daughter-in-law (Jitsuko Yoshimura) live alone amongst the reeds in a hidden hut.  It is a time of war and the son, Kichi, has been conscripted. To survive, the two women hide in the tall reeds and kill lost and wounded Samurai, dumping their bodies in a nearby hole and then selling their weapons and armor to Ushi, one of their neighbors.  Soon Hachi (Kei Sato) another neighbor shows up. He had gone off to war with Kichi but has come back alone, telling the story of how Kichi died. Kichi hasn't had a woman in awhile so naturally he lusts after the younger woman, causing jealousy in the mother.

One day a samurai appears at the old woman's hut and asks her to lead him through the reeds.  He is wearing a scary mask.  She kills him and when she removes the mask, his face is hideously deformed.  The old woman puts on the mask and pretends to be a demon in order to scare her daughter-in-law away from Hachi but when she tries to take the mask off, it won't come off.  She admits to her daughter-in-law what she had done and begs her to help her get the mask off.  The daughter-in-law uses an axe to break open the mask to reveal the old woman's face, covered in sores.  The daughter-in-law runs from her mother-in-law screaming that she is indeed a demon.

Why it's a Must See:  "Kaneto Shindo's [film] portrays history as a tale of unmitigated horror...In so doing, he makes an allegorical statement about life amid both scarcity and class and gender antagonism, and also reveals the ideological impulses behind the horror genre itself."
---"1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die"

You have to get used to the occasional over-acting which is reminiscent of Kabuki but Kiyomi Kuroda's black and white cinematography is gorgeous and along with Hikaru Hayashi's jazz soundtrack creates a dark, forbidding atmosphere.  This is an allegory for how animalistic humans can become to survive.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a slow-moving but eerie horror experience.

***Book of the Week***

Cravings: Recipes for all the Foods You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen (2016)

My new favorite cookbook!

Chrissy Teigen is probably best known as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and the wife of John Legend.  But she is also a co-host of the new TV show "FabLife," Tyra Banks' foray into daytime talk.  Chrissy, who is the resident foodie - something I find ironic considering she is a MODEL! - is joined by three other co-hosts - Joe Zee (the fashion expert - I reviewed his book back in October), Lauren Makk (Interior Design) and Leah Ashley (DYI).  The show wants to be a one-stop show for all things FAB-U-LOUS but doesn't look like the audience stopped there, because the show will not be renewed for a second season.  It didn't help that Tyra, who originally hosted, dropped out of her own show after only the first few!

That's too bad, in a way.  The show is OK but I LOVE Chrissy.  She may be a model and married to a Legend, but she is more like the girl next door than a celebrity.  She has a fantastic sense of humor about herself, something I admire in everyone and she can certainly cook.

And that's good for us since she has published her own cookbook, which is my new favorite.  Her subtitle is right on the mark because I want to make every single thing in it.  What's fun, too, is that she uses her self deprecating sense of humor to introduce each recipe.  She is very funny, sometimes risqué, but always down to earth.

To introduce her "Creamy Parmesan Skillet Eggs" she says,

"These eggs are my personal go-to for brunches (Can we just all call brunch what it is?  It's morning alcohol.  We're boozing in the morning).  The cream in the pan makes these eggs easy to control without overcooking for all your bourgie, brunch-loving friends!  Plus, I love cream's flavor punch.  Combined with the chees, it caramelizes into a sort of crust under the eggs.  What's the point of a bite unless it's one of the best possible?"

Chrissy is half Thai so there is a whole chapter on Thai recipes that are very accessible to the beginning cook, but the rest of the book is filled with recipes that really are things you crave - well, I do now.

Who can resist?

  • Pull-Apart Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
  • Pot Pie Soup with Crust Crackers
  • Split Pea Soup with Crispy Hot Dogs
  • Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread
  • Cheesy Jalapeno Tuna Casserole with Potato Chip Topping
(she likes that cheesy jalapeno)

I had already tried her "Done and Dump Ramen Salad" that uses uncooked ramen and veggies to make a delightful and delicious salad.  My new fave!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am going to try every one of these recipes!  Wait, I'm on a diet!  Grrrrr

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!

See you Tuesday for

"A Woman of a Certain Age
Goes to See Bruce Springsteen - And Lives to Tell:
Baby Boomer Concert Tips"

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