Showing posts with label Crosby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crosby. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2019

"Poms" and The Week in Review

[I review "Poms" and the DVDs "Serenity" and "The Escape."  The Book of the Week is "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup" by David Browne.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Kid Brother."]


I just saw one of the worst movies of the year (or perhaps ever).  And this is it.

There was a time when Diane Keaton didn't need Woody or "The Godfather" and could carry a movie on her name alone.  Remember "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," "The Little Drummer Girl" and "Mrs. Soffel?"  Once again she stars, but this time she acts like she would rather be anywhere but there.  And that's how I was feeling in the theatre watching this film.

I feel bad about that, too, since this movie was aimed at my demographic, and Lord knows, we women of a certain age need movies about us.  But let's have realistic movies about us, not silly, frivolous depictions of aging. And the film uses old lady tropes that are supposed to be funny.  Why is it funny when an old lady says "f**k?"

Anyway, the story centers around Martha (Keaton) who is suffering from cancer.  She has decided not to fight it, to sell her belongings and her New York apartment, and to end her days in a retirement community in Georgia.  OK, let me start there.  Who in their right mind would do that?  Didn't she have any friends in New York after living her whole life there?  Why would she move to a retirement community to be left alone to die? And a retirement community in Georgia when she lived her whole life in New York? That's all a stretch. But then we wouldn't have our comedy, now would we?  Or a stab at one.

When she arrives, Martha is greeted by the equivalent of the Welcome Wagon, except it's actually a golf cart.  She is given a tour of the facility by Vicki (Celia Weston), the leader of what would be the equivalent of high school "mean girls," except this time it's old lady arbiters of local protocol and Martha learns that she is required to join at least one of the clubs that are part of the retirement community.  And she can even start her own club, if she wants to, opening the door to the "poms" part of "Poms."

In the meantime, it seems Martha has a neighbor who likes to party.  Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) likes to play loud music and hold poker games and after a rocky start (Martha calls Chief Carl (Bruce McGill), the local cop on her for playing loud music), Sheryl takes Martha under her wing and the two become friends.

One day Sheryl is over at Martha's house and sees Martha's old cheerleading uniform draped over a chair in the living room.  OK, here I go again. I thought Martha got rid of everything before she moved.  The movie started with a big yard sale on the streets of New York (another stretch).  Why in hell would she keep the cheerleading uniform and what is it doing lying around her living room?  Why, it's there so she can get the idea to start a cheerleading club, of course.  And does the uniform still fit?  Of course it does!

So out of the blue and still dying, Martha decides to start her own club.  A cheerleading club.  Naturally Celia, the leader of the mean girls and arbiter of good taste, doesn't want her to do it (why she cares, I have no idea), so there are some dumb things that go on there with Celia trying to stop the group. And speaking of dumb, there is also a young high school cheerleader (Alisha Boe), who was originally a mean girl and skeptical of the geriatric cheerleading squad, who out of the blue, does an about face, stands up to the other mean girls and helps the old ladies out by teaching them to cheer (really big stretch). Of course, Martha and her girls prevail, and in so doing, female empowerment and all of that.

The other ladies consist of Alice (Rhea Perlman), whose husband forbids her to join the group - "over his dead body!"  And guess what? He conveniently dies, thus ridding Alice of a controlling husband and paving the way to finally do what she has always wanted to do.  No, not join the cheerleading club, but - curse! But, yes, she joins Martha's cheerleading club along with Sheryl and the other ladies: Helen (Phyllis Somerville), Olive (Pam Grier), Phyllis (Patricia French), Evelyn (Ginny MacColl) and Ruby (Carol Sutton) - you need 8 members to form a club.  And why these women would want to join the club or even be in this movie is beyond me.

Written by Shane Atkinson (I should have known it was a man!) and directed by Zara Hayes (who also co-wrote), this movie is a bore. You can see what is going to happen from miles away, and who really cares about a bunch of old ladies starting a cheerleading club?  The fact that Martha is dying is barely touched upon, and, if I was dying, I certainly wouldn't want to move to a retirement community in Georgia where I knew no one to spend my last days nor would I want to start a cheerleading club. Just couldn't relate. But, hey that's me.

I am happy to see older actresses getting work, and I actually rather enjoyed Jacki Weaver. It's also good to see Pam Grier and some of the other character actresses you may recognize.  They do what they can with what they were given except Diane who clearly seemed to be trying to find a way out of there.  Sleepwalking came to mind.

I know I should be on the side of this film because, as I said, this was aimed at my demographic and it meant well (I think). I really do want to see shows like this. For example, I love "Grace and Frankie." But I am not going to give this film props just because it's about older ladies and meant well. A film needs to be some kind of worthwhile experience such as funny or uplifting or cathartic.  None of those apply here.  And if Diane Keaton didn't want to give this thing her all, why should I join her club?

There was fodder here to really camp things up.  Sometimes movies can be so bad they are good but even that wasn't the case.  It was just bad. Pretty bad when my favorite things about the movie were seeing Pam Grier wearing a workout outfit I actually own and a lamp I bought at Target in Martha's bedroom.  Faint praise indeed.

Rosy the Reviewer says...terrible.

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


Serenity (2019)

A fishing boat captain's past catches up with him and nothing is as it seems.

I belong to a Fantasy Movie League where each week we try to  determine what the weekend box office will be for a combination of films.  I remember when this film was part of the mix and it did not perform well at the box office, despite a star-studded cast. But I am not a particularly huge Matthew McConaughey or Anne Hathaway fan so when I started watching this film I wasn't expecting much.

But I liked it!  Mostly.

Baker Dill (McConaughey) is the down on his luck captain of a charter fishing boat named "Serenity," living on an island off the coast of Florida.  Baker is also after "the big one," a big tuna that vexes him "Old Man and the Sea" style.  He lives in a shipping container with the bank breathing down his neck. 

Dill's ex-wife, Karen (Hathaway) appears from his past film noir style.  She tells Baker that her husband, Frank (Jason Clarke), is abusing her and her son but he is too well-connected (i.e. he's a bad guy) to divorce.  So she wants Baker to kill him.  She will give him ten million dollars if he takes her husband out on the boat and dumps him in the ocean. Conveniently, Frank has already booked a charter on Dill's boat.

Weaving in and out of the story is a banker-type dressed in a black suit who keeps trying to make contact with Baker and Constance (Diane Lane), a mysterious character who is always looking for her cat.

The film is film noir but sometimes a bit too noir-y as in over-dramatic.  The dialogue was also really bad at times, and it didn't always make sense, but I have to say, despite all of that, the film drew me in and I wanted to know what was going to happen. 

This is your classic "woman wants to rid herself of her abusive husband so she enlists the help of a clueless/needy/not very bright guy" movie. But nothing in this film is as it seems, and turns out, it's really a scifi/thriller, and I give it props for originality and surprise. Yes, it's kind of bad but unlike "Poms (see above review), it's so bad it's good. And actually, when the plot is revealed, it possibly explained a few things like why the dialogue was so bad. 

I will give you a hint about the twist:  I once had a friend in middle school who told me we could all just be living in a corpuscle in a giant's blood.  I know, a bit nihilistic for a middle schooler.  That gave me the creeps but also was the start of my interest in exisentialism.  I even started a philosophy club in high school with one of my friends. So that's your hint about the twist and as always, a little something about me.

Written and directed by Steven Knight, who wrote "The 100-Foot Journey" and "Eastern Promises," and wrote and directed "Locke (one of my favorite films)," the film is reminiscent of "Inception" with a little "Body Heat" thrown in. I am guessing that Matthew was drawn to this film so he could show off his dramatic acting chops and not have to say "Alright, alright, alright."  And I have to say he did "alright, alright, alright."

Rosy the Reviewer says...the film is over-the-top but poses the questions, is life a game? And how much free will do we really have?  It's worth taking a look.  But I never did figure out what the cats were all about!

The Escape (2017)

Who doesn't think about escaping one's life?

Well, Tara (Gemma Arterton) doesn't just think about it. She does it.

Tara is a married woman with two children.  She lives in England with her husband, Mark (Dominic Cooper), who is a demanding, insensitive guy who takes Tara for granted and wants to have sex all of the time and doesn't notice that she doesn't really want to. Eventually, Tara decides enough is enough, but unfortunately, in this film it takes forever.  I sometimes wish movies would get to the point.  Alright, already.  We know she is unhappy because she looks off wistfully into space and walks aimlessly.  We get the picture.  She is unhappy and unfulfilled dealing with the dreariness of being a suburban wife. But we eventually get to "the escape part," and then the film gets going.

Tara sees a book of medieval tapestries ("The Lady and the Unicorn") which inspires her to take an art course.  But after several incidents that shows us just how unhappy Tara is, she finds herself just leaving.  She takes off to Paris and leaves Hubby to deal with the dreariness of everyday life.  And then the film becomes a kind of Parisian travelogue where Tara wanders the streets of Paris on her own.  And guess what?  She finds those actual tapestries (at the Musee de Cluny)...and a guy.  Of course, she finds a guy.

The two have a one-night stand and turns out Phillippe (Jalil Lespert) is also married. But Mark calls Tara and begs her to come back and he eventually comes to get her in Paris.

And that's that...but there is a bit of a twist at the end.

Written and directed  by Dominic Savage, this is a slow-moving affair that doesn't really tell us anything new about a woman who is bored with her marriage, but the main reason to see it is Arterton, a beautiful actress who started out as a Bond Girl in "Quantum of Solaceand has gone on to prove herself a wonderful actress. I loved her in "The Disappearance of Alice Creed." She is an underrated actress who I would like to see more of.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like slow-moving British marital dramas, you might like this...but probably not.

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

95 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Kid Brother (1927)

The weakling son of the local sheriff gets to show that "mettle is stronger than muscle!"

When I think of Harold Lloyd, I always think of him hanging from a clock face in "Safety Last."

Never thought of him as a cowboy until now.  But what's funny, even though this is a western, he still wears his trademark pork pie hat and suit.  In fact, everyone in this wears a suit! 

Harold Hickory (Lloyd) is the smallest and weakest of a family of musclemen.  His father is the local sheriff and his two brothers are brawny.  When a medicine show comes to town, Harold meets Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston), a lovely young woman who is recently orphaned and who, now that her parents are gone, must run the medicine show by herself.  Harold rescues Mary from the advances of Sandoni (Constantine Romanoff), one of the medicine show's workers, and Harold and Mary have an instant connection.

Meanwhile, Harold's father and brothers have gone to town to pass a resolution for a new dam.  Harold is not allowed to come because "the meeting is for men, not boys."  Money for the dam is put in the care of the sheriff and when it goes missing he is accused.  But in fact it's Sandoni who has stolen the money and Harold gets an opportunity to fight Sandoni once again, get the money back, save his dad's reputation and prove he is a man.

In this day and age of social media and information and images coming at us so fast and loud, you have to be a real movie lover with an interest in the history of film to be able to appreciate silent films.  But just think, when "moving pictures" were rolled out to the public in the early part of the 20th century, imagine what an amazing thing that must have been. Now when I watch them I am also amazed at how little dialogue is actually needed to tell a story.  It's true - "A picture is worth a thousand words" - and silent films are a clear expression of that saying.

Harold Lloyd was part of the triumverate that also included Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, but Lloyd is probably not as well known today as the other two.  But he was actually considered funnier and guess what?  He really is funny.  And you know what a grump I am about comedies.  With his pork pie hat and horn-rimmed glasses as his trademarks, even in this, a western, he goes through a series of slapstick vignettes that are quite funny and I usually don't like slapstick humor.

Why it's a Must See: "Harold Lloyd is often regarded as the 'third genius' of silent American comedy, his 1920's work often more successful with the public than that of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin...[This film], Lloyd's second feature for Paramount, is often considered to be the bespectacled comic's best and most holistic film."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...a surprisingly enjoyable romp back in time.

***The Book of the Week***

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup by David Browne (2019)

The inside story of how Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young got together and what happened before, during and after.

Ever since Crosby Stills & Nash (and later with Young) hit the scene, I was a fan but I learned some stuff from this book.

  • Did you know that Stephen Stills was originally asked to be part of a TV show featuring the formation of a pop band?  He didn't want to do it because he would be required to turn over his writing to the production company so he recommended his friend, Peter Thorkelson.  Guess what TV show that turned out to be?  Can you imagine Stephen Stills as a Monkee?

  • On the cover of their first album, you probably already noticed back in the day that Crosby, Stills and Nash are not sitting on that couch in band name order.  When that was noticed, they went back the next day to the house where they took the picture to rectify the situation but the house had been torn down!  And, despite rumors and popular opinion, that is not Neil Young looking out the window.

  • Though Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young played Woodstock, Young was edited out of the movie -- because HE TOLD THE FILMMAKERS TO! Something about not wanting to bend to commercialism.  Neil is an odd guy.

  • I also learned that David Crosby was an arrogant pain in the ass but we already knew that, right?

Longtime journalist and writer for Rolling Stone, Browne delves deep into what made these four men tick and how they came together to form one of the most influential rock groups of the 60's and 70's. Browne starts in the early days of each, how their careers took off and then Browne follows them all the way through 2018, and though the entire story is fascinating, what is really intriguing is what happened after the group broke up and what the four are doing today.  

Four men couldn't be any different but when singing together they created a unified sound like no other.  There probably isn't one Baby Boomer who can't immediately recognize a Crosyby, Stills & Nash or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating rock biography.  One of the best of the year!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Wine Country"


The Week in Reviews

(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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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). 

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.