Showing posts with label Concentration Camps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Concentration Camps. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Now Playing in a Living Room Near You! - "Unfrosted," "The Idea of You," "Argylle" and "The Zone of Interest."

[I review the new Jerry Seinfeld movie "Unfrosted," now playing on Netflix as well as the May-December love story "The Idea of You," now playing on Amazon Prime, the spy spoof, "Argylle," now playing on Apple+ and a 2024 Best Picture nominee "Zone of Interest," now playing on Max]


Unfrosted (2024)

The story of the creation of Pop Tarts - well, kind of.

I had the pleasure of seeing comedian Jerry Seinfeld live on a couple of occasions and despite the fact that he avoids politics and never goes "blue," he was and is very, very funny.  Sadly, I wish I could say the same thing about his latest effort writing, directing and starring in this feature film. Though there are some funny bits, much of it falls flat.

Here's the set up.  

It's the early 60's and cereal makers Post and Kellogg's are in a bitter rivalry to be King of the Cereals. Bob Cabana (played by Jerry but not a real person) is an executive at Kellogg's and is on a mission to stay ahead of Post. It just so happens that both businesses are in the small town of Battle Creek, Michigan, which adds to the competition. So far, Kellogg's is kicking Post's butt, but then, Post comes up with a little breakfast fruit treat with a long shelf life called "Country Squares" and Kellogg's can't stand that.  They must come up with their own product, one that little kids can pop into a toaster.  And they do.  This is the Kellogg's story about Pop Tarts.

Well, let's just say, that's the only part of this story that is true and it's actually Jerry's story which is 99% fiction populated with big name comic stars, a sort of cereal manufacturing version of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

But despite all of the comedy stars in the film, the film is surprisingly unfunny most of the time.  It's very slapstick with old-fashioned schtick that made me groan more than laugh, but I did chuckle a few times. Jim Gaffigan always makes me laugh, and I enjoyed Amy Schumer as Marjorie Merriweather Post.  But Hugh Grant as Thurl Ravenscroft, a Shakespearean actor who was the real life voice of Tony the Tiger, was particularly funny, especially in a bit where he leads the Kellogg's mascots on a takeover of the Kellogg's building as the bigwigs are certifying the Pop Tarts, a funny spoof of January 6th. Likewise, another stand-out was Kyle Dunnigan who played both Walter Cronkite and Johnny Carson, though sadly those characters were probably way over the head of younger viewers as in "Who are they and why is this supposed to be funny?" 

But other than that, despite appearances by Melissa McCarthy, Christian Slater, SNL past and present cast members Mikey Day, Kyle MooneyFred ArmisenBobby Moynihan, Beck Bennett and Darrell Hammond, Max Greenfield, Cedric the Entertainer, Sebastian ManiscalcoJames Marsden, Peter Dinklage, George Wallace Dan Levy, and Jon Hamm, who of course channels "Mad Men," and other recognizable faces, the movie just wasn't that funny.

But here's the thing.  

Jerry Seinfeld has revealed that Pop Tarts changed his young life. Obviously, if he wanted to make a film about them, he is obsessed, and if he has the means to feed his obsession, then who am I to judge? He is clearly enjoying the heck out of this movie, and I rather enjoyed watching him and the others enjoy themselves.

I also have a personal angle.  

I grew up two hours from Battle Creek.  I remember a school trip or two to visit the Post and Kellogg's manufacturing plants.  And then I went to college in Kalamazoo, just a half hour from Battle Creek, so there is a little Michigan pride going on there for me.

And in case you didn't know, frosted or unfrosted Pop Tarts is a thing amongst Pop Tart aficionados.  From the title you can see where Jerry stands on that issue.

Rosy the Reviewer's 90+ minutes of positive silliness. Though not as funny as I would have liked, I could describe it as cute, so if you are in the mood for that, you might enjoy this, especially if you have kids.  Kids would love it. (Netflix)

The Idea of You (2024)

Older woman, younger man.  My kind of love story!

Solène Marchand (Anne Hathaway) is a divorced gallery owner in Los Angeles who ends up at Coachella with her teenaged daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin) and her friends. Solene meets cute with Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), one of the members of the boy band, August Moon (she mistakes his trailer for a porta-potty), and despite the age difference they are instantly attracted.

After Coachella, Hayes tracks Solene down and shows up at her gallery and they hook up, have hot sex and enjoy a May-December love story until Solene gets outed in the press and on the Internet as a Cougar - though 40 and 24 doesn't seem that bad to me (but perhaps that's just my wishful thinking) - and she can't handle the heat, pardon the expression, and then we have the usual coming together, breaking up, coming together, yada yada yada, because whether you are 24 or 40, as Gene Pitney told us (and if you don't know who Gene Pitney is, you are probably both 24 or 40), "True love never runs smooth." 

"I'm too old for you...", no, no, yes, yes, know the drill. And then Izzy is totally embarrassed at school by her mother's relationship, forcing Solene to make a choice. She breaks up with Hayes.  Will our lovers be able to get together? C'mon. Like I said. You know the drill.

Based on the book by Robinne Lee and written by Michael Showalter (who also directed) and Jennifer Westfeldt, the plot of this film is nothing new when it comes to a romantic movie. What makes this film stand apart from the usual love stories?  Two very attractive people and giving older women some props.  Anne Hathaway is luminous on screen as a woman over 40 who is actually an object of desire. It used to be when a woman turned 40 she was invisible, especially in Hollywood. Now 40 is the new 20. (Can I ask if 75 is the new 55)? And then there is newcomer Nicolas Galitzine who made his mark in "Red, White and Royal Blue." He is a handsome fellow if ever there was one. I have always been a sucker for an English accent.  And all of the romance is punctuated with some fun boy band music.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need a little romance in your life (and some hot sex), this is a sweet little romantic getaway! (Amazon Prime)

Argylle (2024)

A reclusive author, who writes spy novels, discovers that her latest book has come to life.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an introverted spy novelist, who is working on her fifth book about Aubrey Argylle (Henry Cavill), the eponymous character of her Argylle series, is saved from a mysterious altercation on a train by Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell), who identifies himself as an actual spy.  He also tells Elly about a nefarious organization called the Division, and she has been targeted because her novels appear to predict their future.  The two join forces, hoping that what Elly writes next will come up with a plan to stop the Division. In the meantime, Aidan and Elly search for a Masterkey that would help expose the Division.

A convoluted plot ensues, much like James Bond films of the past where I never knew what was going on or who was doing what to whom, but I still loved them.  Turns out, Elly has some suppressed memories and a big secret is revealed about Elly's true identity.

Written by Jason Fuchs and directed by Matthew Vaughn, this is a fun premise and a stylized spoof of spy movies with some great stunts and performances from Bryan Cranston, Richard E. Grant, Dua Lipa, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson. And then there is Alfie, the cat.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like stylized versions of spy movie spoofs like "The Man from Uncle" or "Our Man Flint," and you can suspend disbelief for some major over-the-top goofiness, you might like this. (Apple+)

The Zone of Interest (2023)

The everyday life of Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his family as they go about their daily lives living next door to the camp.

We don't see much happening in this depiction of Rudolf Hoss (Christian Friedel), his wife, Hedwig (Sandra Huller), and their five children, as they go about their lives in 1943, enjoying their lovely home with a garden... right next door to Auschwitz.  But there is no enjoyment next door where gunshots and shouting can be heard and smoke can be seen rising out of chimneys.  

And that's the horror here, how Hoss and his family are going about their mundane lives while hundreds are being killed next door.  One particular horrible scene shows Hedwig and her German friends going through the belongings of Jewish women deportees, with Hedwig trying on a fur coat that once belonged to a doomed Jewish woman and whirling around in it without a care in the world. One of their sons plays with his collection of gold teeth.

Hoss clearly loves his job as he meets with some people to design a new crematorium that will kill more efficiently, and he is rewarded for his work by being promoted to deputy inspector of the camps.  However, he must move but Hedwig wants to stay behind in the house.  Why not? It's idyllic...for her.  Later, he heads an operation that will transport 700,000 Hungarian Jews to work camps or to be killed.  Once again he does a good job and reunites with his family at Auschwitz.

Based on the novel by Martin Amis and written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, this is a Polish film that was nominated for an Oscar, not just for Best International Feature Film, but also for Best Picture.  It's slow moving and almost feels like cinema verite as the cameras follow the family, going about their lives, nary a thought about what is going on next door, except Rudolf who is always working on how to kill more people faster. The horror is in the mundanity of it all. And watching, we don't see anything either except for smoke billowing out of chimneys next door and hear sounds of screams, dogs barking, and trains coming and going, which makes the film truly horrific, bringing home the atrocities without actually showing them. It's like reality TV at its most horrific. 

The cast is excellent. Christian Friedel is chilling as Rudolf and Sandra Huller gives another great performance as Hedwig (She was also in "Anatomy of a Fall" and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for that). The last couple of years have been big ones for her.  

Rosy the Reviewer have never seen a film about the Holocaust like this one. It's not an easy film but we need to bear witness and never forget. The indifference of the Hoss family to the human suffering taking place next door is a sad reflection of the kind of indifference that still exists today. (In German, Polish and Yiddish on Max) 

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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