Showing posts with label Documentaries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Documentaries. Show all posts

Friday, October 25, 2019

"Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the documentaries "Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story" now streaming on Amazon Prime as well as the documentaries "Maiden" and "The Biggest Little Farm," now on DVD.  The Book of the Week is Demi Moore's memoir "Inside Out."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Bitter Tea of General Yen."]

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story

The aftermath of comedian Kathy Griffin posting a picture of herself holding the bloody likeness of Donald Trump's severed head.

I wanted to review this film because of what happened to Kathy Griffin after that picture came out back in May of 2017.  You all have probably forgotten the picture right after it was posted, but Donald Trump didn't and he didn't like Kathy Griffin for posting it. And when Donald Trump doesn't like someone, he goes after that person with full force, and in this case, he had the full force of the United States Presidency. 

Whether or not you thought her putting out that picture was funny or in good taste or not, this is a free speech country and it's pretty shocking what happened to Kathy.

Almost immediately after Kathy posted the picture on May 30, 2017, her career was ruined. First, she lost her New Year's Eve gig on CNN, then all of her upcoming comedy shows were canceled and no one would take her calls, which is death to the career of a performer.  Even though she apologized for the picture, almost overnight, she basically could not make a living in the U.S. So she had to leave the country and tour overseas, which was also a problem, since she was put on the no-fly list and was hassled by Homeland Security going through customs in every country. She was also accused of being a member of ISIS and inciting people to kill the President. She endured death threats and was plagued by the Department of Justice. She even had a ketchup bottle thrown at her during a concert in New Zealand by a Trump supporter (there's a Trump supporter in New Zealand)?  

Her life turned into a version of hell and this film is her side of the story.

Since that so-called horrible picture was merely Kathy holding a mask of Donald Trump covered in ketchup, I thought what happened to her was very unfair and the reaction overdramatic, so I wanted to review the film.

Written by Griffin, directed by Troy Miller, and shot using a cell phone (because Griffin doesn't quite have the resouces she once had), the first part of the film is a rehash of what Griffin has been through since posting the picture followed by one of her comedy performances since then.

Now, I have to say that I have always been a Kathy Griffin fan.  I have seen her live in concert two times and she is funny and amazine.  She is the Bruce Springsteen of comedians.  I mean, she has the energy of a rock star and stands up there for three hours and riffs on everything and everyone from what's happening in the news to pop culture to politics.  She is especially fond of making fun of Kim Kardashian. Kathy has no boundaries (even her mother tells her that!), but I have always thought she was very, very funny.  But I also understand that she is not everyone's cup of tea.  Women comics have it rough, because to make it in show biz, especially the mostly male world of stand-up comedy, you have to be tough and tough women are not often popular with audiences.  

But popular or not, Kathy Griffin did not deserve what she got for posting that picture.

This is an important reminder that we live in a free speech country and what happened to Kathy Griffin should not have happened.  That said, it pains me to say that this film would have been better off without the concert footage. She reads some of the death threats she received and rants about Donald Trump, Anderson Cooper (who turned his back on her), Andy Cohen (who was given her New Year's Eve gig and pretends to not know her), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who is just generally a pain in the ass), and everyone else who played a role in her being outcast.  

She is really, really pissed off and she deserves to be, but I fear that Kathy has been cursed with the same curse that plagued Lenny Bruce at the end of his life, when he started ranting about the unfairness of his arrests for obscenity and stopped being funny.  Now Kathy is ranting about what happened to her in the guise of comedy, but sadly, it's just not that funny. I miss the old Kathy, but I know that what she has been through has wounded her and bitching about Kim Kardashian doesn't really seem very important or relevant anymore.  But I hope she doesn't go off the deep end like Bruce did, and I'm not talking about a drug overdose.  I'm talking about giving up on what she does best. I know she has to do this now, but I hope she eventually finds a balance between her more light-hearted stuff and her mission to protect the First Amendment.

But that said, this film is still important and needs to be seen.  

Griffin is now dedicating her life to protecting the First Amendment so I applaud her for that.  Making this film took courage, so I want you to see this film, because we need to support the fight for free speech in this country, especially in the political climate we are now in.  Kathy had every right to say and do what she wanted. She held up a mask with blood on it, for god's sake. Why was she targeted when so many other people, especially men, have said and done much worse things when it came to Donald Trump? Comics play a real role in free discussion and should not be gagged, pardon the pun.

Rosy the Reviewer says...what happened to Kathy Griffin was historic and unprecedented, and for that reason, whether you are a Kathy Griffin fan or not, you should see this film. It's also a reminder that this kind of hell should not happen to anyone in our free country. You could be next.

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


Maiden (2018)

The true tale of Australian Tracy Edwards and her 1989 bid to win the Whitbread Round the World Race with an all female crew.

I especially like the title of this film because it's so meaningful.  It was the name of the boat that entered the race, it was its maiden voyage and the crew was a bunch of maidens. Well, not exactly maidens.  They were young unmarried twenty-somethings, but they were all bad ass women too.  But here is my first question: Since one person said in the film, "The ocean is always trying to kill you," why would someone want to do this? Well, this film tells you why.

"It wasn't a choice, it was just the sort of thing I had to do."

The Whitbread Round the World Race (now known as The Ocean Race) is the longest race on earth - 33,000 nautical miles and nine months of sailing, not to mention the cost of fitting out a boat, hiring a crew and the danger involved.

Written, produced and directed by Alex Holmes, this documentary tells the story of Tracy Edwards, a twenty-something young woman who was compelled to enter this male dominated race.  Raised by parents who instilled a sense of determination and adventure in her, Edwards learned to be strong after the death of her father when she was 10.  She learned a lesson about male dominance from her mother who tried to run her father's business after his death but was forced out by the male contingent who didn't want to take orders from a woman.  She then remarried an abusive alcoholic and sailing became a way for Edwards to leave all of that behind.

When Edwards got herself a job as a cook on an all-male sailing vessel in the Whitbread, she witnessed again that male dominance when it was made clear to her that she was only there to cook and clean. No woman could be part of the crew for the Whitbread. She was treated like a servant, but that helped her make the decision to put an all female crew together for the race.  She mortgaged her house to buy an old boat that didn't look like it could make it across the English Channel let alone around the world, but when it came to getting a sponsor and the funding needed to enter the race, she met resistance at every turn, until eventually, after two years of frustration, an unlikely source appeared: King Hussein I of Jordan who Edwards had met some years before.

Edwards and other members of the crew narrate the film. 

No one had any faith in the women and misogyny ruled, partly because the men couldn't stand to think they might be bested by women.  And the press was just as bad, treating the men as seasoned sailors but asking the women about fashion and makeup.  But after the women won the first leg of the race, the men started taking them seriously and the women knew they were contenders.  In the end, they knew they had done something very special, something they were all told they couldn't do.

This is a compelling story and moves with breathtaking speed and excitement.  You root for these women.  My only complaint is I wish there had been an epilogue so I could have found out what happened to each of the women after the race, but that's a minor complaint about an amazing film about some amazing women, most notably Edwards who became the first woman to be named Britain's Yachtsman of the Year.

Rosy the Reviewer says...who knew I would love this film?  I can't even swim let alone sail!  But I did!

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

Filmmaker John Chester and his wife Molly struggle to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles.

"This all started with a promise he made to a dog."

John and Molly Chester lived in a tiny apartment in Santa Monica.  He was a wildlife cameraman and she was a healthy food blogger, but they had promised each other they would build a life of purpose together and they decided a farm was the answer, a farm where they would grow their own food in perfect harmony with nature.  Easier said than done.  This is the story about how they went from having no money and living in a small apartment in Santa Monica to a 200 acre sustainable farm.

But back to the dog.

John was shooting a film about an animal hoarder and he rescued one of the animals, a little border collie who he and Molly named Todd.

"Todd filled us with purpose."  

And they made a promise to him that his home with them would be his last.  However, the problem was he barked all day long when they were at work and they were eventually evicted from their apartment.  But they were not going to give up on him because they had made him that promise so they decided now was the time to get that farm.

But they had no money.

But several investors who believed in their vision came along and Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark, California, two hours from Los Angeles, was born.  But the soil was dead and there was a long road ahead to find that sustainability they were after. So they came up with the idea of opening up the farm to young people from all over the world to come and work and by year three there was a 500% improvement.

Chester's skills as a photographer are evident in this beautifully shot film that he also wrote (with Mark Malone) and directed.  You would think a film about a couple starting a farm would be boring, but it's not. It draws you in and is a relaxing, almost soothing experience.  It's almost like a "you are there" experience as they tackle daily life on the farm.  We see bees, a little lamb whose mother died finds a new mom, a pig gives birth (I may never eat bacon again), ducks, and we witness the symbiotic nature of life on a farm.  Everything that dies also brings life.  But a farm is also ripe for disaster.  There is wind, drought and fire to contend with.

I've always been a city girl but even I was drawn into this experience. This film made me realize that we are all part of something much bigger than our individual selves.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you ever dreamed of going back to the earth, this film will take you there.

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

(Author's note:  If you have been following my progress on this project, you will probably notice that the book cover for the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book has changed.  Yes, my peeps, this book comes out in a new edition every couple of years and each new edition adds titles and deletes titles. As of last week, I had wittled my project down to 57 movies to go but decided to update myself and compare the book I had been working on with this new edition. Since I have been using the 2015 edition for this project, I thought I needed to update.


Why?  Because all of the movies added are ones I have seen! And basically all of the movies up to the last few years remain and only some fairly recent movies were eliminated to make room for the newer films. So my list of what I still need to see remains.

However, I have to take issue with what was eliminated vs. what was added.  Eliminated from this new edition were Oscar-winning films like "The Theory of Everything," "Life of Pi," "Slumdog Millionaire," "Black Swan" and "Lincoln" with absolutely no explanation to make room for the newer films "Hereditary," "Sorry to Bother You," "The Favourite" and "Phantom Thread," mostly good films but lacking the pedigrees of those that were eliminated.  And to add insult to injury, they kept such horrors as the egregious "Salo," the incomprehensive "Wavelength" and the ridiculous "Blonde Cobra," to name just a few of the films I had to endure during this project. The mind boggles. Just goes to show that one man's "Wavelength" is another woman's "Black Swan."

So the bottom line is this:  if you see a lot of films and have an edition of this book, you probably don't need to update your copy for another ten years. I am still stuck with the same number of movies I need to see and didn't get any off my list that I do still need to see, so I paid $35 for nothing!)

57 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932)

A chinese general and a Christian missionary come together during the Chinese Civil War and an unlikely love affair ensues.

Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck) has just arrived in China to marry her sweetheart, Robert Strike (Gavin Gordon).  Both are missionaries and their wedding has been planned for that day.  But as soon as Megan arrives, Robert is called upon to save some orphans who are in the midst of the fighting so the wedding is postponed and both head out on their mission of mercy.  You see, our Megan is one of those plucky heroines we loved so much in those old movies.  But the two become separated in the melee and Megan is rescued and taken to the home of General Yen (Nils Asther), a Chinese warlord, where the two become close. 

Directed by the legendary Frank Capra, who was more famous later in his career for his light comedies, this was a melodrama with some mystical elements.  It was also one of Stanwyck's early films and the story had a kind of "The King and I" vibe - the proud General learning a thing or two from the plucky heroine.

An uncharacteristic bathing scene and even the idea of a white woman and a Chinese man falling in love was pretty heady stuff for 1932.  However, characteristically, Yen was not played by a Chinese man but rather a Danish man made to look Chinese in some very overdone makeup, though thankfully he played it straight and avoided cringeworthy stereotyping.  And to the film's credit, the rest of the cast playing Chinese people appeared to be Asian.

Why It's a Must See: "The unlikely love story that ensues is not only Capra's unsung masterpiece but also one of the great Hollywood loves stories of the 1930's: subtle, delicate, moody, mystical and passionate."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like the old Hollywood movies from the 30's, you will enjoy this.

***The Book of the Week***

Inside Out: A Memoir by Demi Moore (2019)

Actress Demi Moore shares her story.

I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is celebrity memoirs, the juicier the better and Moore does not disappoint.  Like celebrity gossip, these books are safe.  We can indulge in our darker impulses without hurting anyone.  I mean, I will never meet these folks so it's OK for me to gossip about them, unlike when friends gossip about each other which hurts in real life.

Anyway, Demi, once the highest paid actress in Hollywood, finds herself older, divorced, and convulsing on the floor after puffing on some synthetic pot:

"...How did I get here?  After all the luck and success I'd had as an adult.  After all the running I had to do to survive my childhood.  After a marriage that started out feeling like magic, to the first person I ever really tried to show my whole self to...And, most importantly, after I'd raised three daughters and done everything I could think of to make myself the mother I never had.  Did all of that struggle really add up to nothing?...How did I get here?  This is my story."

Moore puts it all out there: her difficult childhood, her marriage to Bruce Willis, with whom she had three daughters, and her marriage to the much younger Aston Kutcher, who broke her heart and who is now happily married to Mila Kunis and father to their kids. He is supposedly not happy at all about this memoir, especially Demi talking about their threesomes and other personal details. Along with her celebrity, Moore struggled with childhood trauma and her parents' disfunctional marriage, drugs, body image issues, her insecurity about motherhood and the feeling that she really didn't belong in Hollywood.  She talks candidly about all of that and other intimate details, but more importantly, she is now able to reflect on her life and have some peace.

"Everyone scattered for New Year's Eve, and I stayed there at the house by myself.  There was a full moon in the sky that night, and I felt like a full person looking up at it.  I didn't need to jet off to a party.  I didn't need a date.  I felt I had everything I needed.  I belong here.  Here, in myself, in this house, on this planet."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like juicy celebrity memoirs, this one will not disappoint.  She spills the juice!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil"


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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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, March 16, 2018

"Black Panther" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the superhero film "Black Panther" as well as the film "The Cloverfield Paradox," now streaming on Netflix and the Showtime documentary "Eric Clapton - A Life in 12 Bars." The Book of the Week is "Wallis in Love" by Royals watcher Andrew Morton.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "A Brighter Summer Day."]

Black Panther

T-Challa (Chadwick Boseman) rises to the throne of Wakanda, a technologically developed but purposely isolated African nation, but he is faced with many challenges before he can take his rightful role as King and as the Black Panther.

It's a sad testament to Hollywood that a film starring mostly African-American actors is still such a novelty in 2018 and that it took a Marvel Comics superhero story to make that happen.  It's also a testament to the movie-going public that this film was the ninth highest grossing film in the United States and the 41st of all time.  The public obviously wants to see more movies like this.  

The story centers around a centuries old tribal war over a meteorite that fell to earth.  The meteorite contained vibranium, a precious metal with super powers and when one of the warriors ingested a heart-shaped herb containing the precious metal he gained superhuman powers and became the first Black Panther.  He was then able to unite all of the warring tribes except the Jabari and formed the country of Wakanda.  Vibranium was the source of wealth and technological advancements for Wakanda making it the most technologically advanced country in the world, but in order to keep other tribes from invading and trying to steal the vibranium, Wakanda isolated itself from the rest of the world and posed as a third world farming nation.

Fast forward to the present day.  The people of Wakanda live in peace and harmony, enjoying the technological advancements that vibranium has given them while still posing as a primitive farming nation thus having avoided colonization. 

T-Chaka, the King of Wakanda, has died and his son T-Challa is called upon to become king and lead Wakanda but he is faced with challenges to his throne and the dilemma of whether or not to continue to remain isolated from the rest of the world or help other African nations by sharing Wakanda's riches.  Share with the world but run the risk of the problems that would bring? How does a very rich country share its wealth while at the same time not bring itself down?

Meanwhile, evil arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) along with Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) are trying to steal the vibranium.  These two are very bad guys.  Klaue murdered the parents of T'Challa's best friend, W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) and Killmonger is bent on revenge against T'Challa.  T'Challa must hunt down Klaue and in so doing discovers the truth about the true identity of Killmonger.

This may be a superhero film based on a comic book but don't think it doesn't make political statements, especially in light of President Trump's recent comment about Third World nations.  This is a film about tradition vs. progress and revenge vs. doing the right thing.

I have never been much of a fan of superhero films and have little knowledge of the Marvel superheroes and how they all fit together, but that is not necessary to enjoy this film because it's beautiful to look at and has a story that stands on its own.  But don't take my word for it. The film has already received high praise from critics for its cinematography, screenplay, direction, performances, costume design, soundtrack, and action sequences. 

It's also exciting and refreshing to see so many African-American characters and actors in one film, especially the strong women characters, another element that sets this movie apart: From T'Challa's regal mother, Ramonda, played by Angela Bassett to Nakia, a spy and T'Challa's ex-girlfriend (Lupita Nyong'o) to Okoye, the head of Wakanda's all-female Royal Guard (Danai Gurira) to T'Challa's sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is the tech wizard responsible for Black Panther's high-tech suit - a sort of female version of James Bond's "Q" - these women kick butt. It's also fun to see Andy Serkis without his ape make-up.

Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole and directed by Coogler (Coogler also directed "Creed" and the astonishing "Fruitvale Station," both starring Michael B. Jordan), I hope the fact that this film made so much money is a wake-up call to Hollywood that black actors are in demand and that there are many more opportunities for actors of color to star in films.  Clearly the public is thirsting for this.  As Frances McDormand said at the Oscars - "Inclusion Rider!"

Rosy the Reviewer says... This is a pop culture phenomenon so if you want to be in the know you need to see this film, but it's also a really good movie with wonderful production values and some serious themes. Might we see this film in Oscar contention at the 2019 Academy Awards?

Oh, and by the way, this movie is so good that some people think Wakanda is a real place! 

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

Now Streaming on Netflix

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

It's 2028 and Earth is facing a global energy crisis. The world is experiencing blackouts and gas shortages.  Energy supplies are running low. The good news is that there is a possible solution: the Shepard particle accelerator.  The bad news is that if it is successful it could unleash horrors from a parallel universe.  Gee, I wonder what's going to happen.

The Cloverfield Station is orbiting earth and onboard is the Shepard particle accelerator which, if successfu,l would provide Earth with all of the energy that it needs. All of the nations of the world are working together to make this work, and the Cloverfield Station contains a crew representing several nations. There is Ava Hamilton, an English engineer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Commander Kiel, an American (David Oyelowo), German physicist Ernst Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl), Brazilian medical doctor Monk Acosta (John Ortiz), Irish engineer Mundy (Chris O'Dowd), Russian engineer Volkov (Aksel Hennie), and Chinese engineer Tam (Ziyi Zhang). They have all been up in space for over two years and so far tests of the particle accelerator have been unsuccessful.  Testing the accelerator is not an easy task and every time they test the accelerator it disrupts space and time.  The crew members are also anxious and worried about being away from their families, especially Ava Hamilton whose relationship with her husband Michael has floundered since the loss of their children to a house fire.

And then there is that little thing that conspiracy theorists fear - that if the particle accelerator is successful, yes, the needed energy for earth would be provided but it could also open parallel universes and possibly unleash demons or worse, hence the "Cloverfield Paradox."

So after several attempts, the particle accelerator is successful. And yup - this is one time the conspiracy theorists are right. Let the horrors begin!

Oh, and there's more.  Someone is sabotaging the space station.

I have been a big fan of the Cloverfield franchise that began with "Cloverfield" and was followed by "10 Cloverfield Lane."  Watching the first two films, they seemed to not be particularly related, but this film tries to bring them all together. Does it succeed?  Sort of. But all three are very creepy and scary. What makes these films so scary is not what you see on screen but rather what you don't see.  Our imaginations are far worse than anything movies can conjure up.  When right along with the characters you have no idea what is going on, that is creepy and scary.

That's not to say that there aren't some unsettling things that are actually seen on the screen such as an "Alien" inspired scene where one of the crew members is invaded by worms and another where a crew member's arm is cut off and the arm runs around wreaking havoc on the ship.

As I said, I didn't have a clue about what was going on half the time.  I have never been very good at understanding time travel or other dimensions.  I wish I did because I find it incredibly tantalizing.  I consider myself a smart woman, but for some reason I am not very smart about intricately plotted spy movies and movies that travel time and take place in different dimensions. For example, Ava discovers that her children, who she thought were killed in the house fire, are actually alive in another dimension.  Huh?

This film directed by Julius Onah with a screenplay by Oren Uziel was released directly to Netflix during the Super Bowl, an interesting way to market a film. It is really good, really creepy and really scary even though much of the time I was confused thus creating another paradox.  It's possible to enjoy a film even though you have no idea what is going on.

However, I did get this part... Don't mess with Mother Nature!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I didn't know what the hell was going on most of the time...but I LIKED IT!

Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars (2017)

A documentary about the guitar "god," Eric Clapton in his own words.

Clapton narrates this film and gave director Lili Fini Zanuck free rein to tell his story, warts and all.

It begins with Clapton describing an idyllic childhood until he was around nine.  He was an introvert who liked to draw comics.  But from the start he felt he was different and had an inferiority complex.  Turns out the woman who he thought was his sister was really his mother and the woman he thought was his mother was his grandmother.  Back on the day, this was more common than you might think.  I actually had a friend in a similar situation, but what was done to save the reputation of an unwed mother back in the 50's turned out to be a traumatic situation for the child when the truth was discovered and that was the case with Eric. The woman he thought was his sister had moved to Canada but when she came back to visit when he was nine, he found out she was his mother.  When he asked her, "Are you going to be my Mum?" she replied no, that it was best to leave it where it was. He was devastated to learn that his life had basically been a lie and he wasn't a very happy guy for his whole life after that.

But then he discovered the blues and the guitar and both became his obsessions and his life.

Eric says, "One man with his guitar versus the ease his pain and it echoed what I felt."

He met Mick and Keith and Brian at the Marquee Club on Oxford Street and they all bonded over the blues.  Eric's first band was The Roosters when he was 17 and from the start he decided he wanted to be a professional musician. Next stop, The Yardbirds who were hardcore blues men and who all thought the Beatles were "wankers," though later George Harrison became one of Eric's best friends.  But even The Yardbirds weren't into the blues enough to satisfy Eric.  When they had a hit with "For Your Love," Eric left disgusted that the band had sold out to pop music.  So then he joined John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers and
discovered Marshall amps.  That's when the "Clapton is God" graffiti started to appear.

And finally came Cream and Blind Faith.  

Clapton changed how people thought about lead guitarists.

The film provides all kinds of great never seen footage of Dylan, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix as well as rare audio during recording sessions and it's all seamlessly infused. This film is a sort of oral autobiography.  It's all here.  Finding out that his sister was his mother, his obsession with the blues, his love for his best friend's wife (George Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd who inspired the "Layla" album), his career choices, the drugs (about heroin - "I felt like pink cotton wool surrounding me"), his conquering heroin but then his subsequent alcoholism, his little son's death falling from a high rise - it's a raw documentary with Eric weighing in as well as Pattie, Steve Winwood, Ahmet Ertegen, Eric's grandmother and others who played a role in his life.  

The whole love story between Eric and Pattie is an amazing one and if you want more information on that she wrote a fascinating book about it.  Eric basically became obsessed with Pattie and because she was loyal to George, she didn't succumb, even after he played the "Layla" album for her. So Eric became a recluse heroin addict for over four years but he continued to woo and badger Pattie until she eventually left George but then not long after she did it all fell apart.  Ironically, George and Eric were able to remain friends and Patti was out.

Clapton's story is a fascinating one and the chronology is effective as Baby Boomers can't help but reflect on where they were themselves as Eric's life unfolds.  And his story is also an inspirational one because despite all of the tragedy, Eric's life turned around. After the death of his little son, Eric vowed to live the rest of his life honoring his son and he has done that.  He is happily married with three young children and he founded Crossroads in Antigua, a drug treatment facility. 

But it was the music that healed him.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like Eric Clapton and are a fan of the blues, you will be fascinated and inspired by his story and how beautifully it captures the demons that drove Eric but also how he was able to pull himself out of the depths of despair.

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

152 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

This is a tale of restless Taiwanese youth, a Romeo and Juliet love story and a coming of age tale gone wrong.

First of all, I have to say that I am fundamentally opposed to any movie that is longer than two hours unless it's "Gone With the Wind."  There has to be a mighty good reason to go beyond the two hours.  And this film is FOUR hours long!  And though the story is compelling, it just does not warrant four hours.

Based on a true crime event, this film tells the story of S'ir (Chen Chang), a Chinese teenager living in Taiwan in the late 1950's.  It was a time when many Chinese moved to Taiwan but it was an uneasy life for them there and many of the kids formed gangs.   S'ir is the fourth child of a large Chinese family living in Taipei.  His father works for the government but it is clear that S'ir's parents are not happy living in Taiwan. The film covers a four year period and when it begins S'ir is in middle school and his father is pleading with a school official to let his son attend day school rather than night school, because night school has so many delinquents but that's where S'ir ends up. And yes, there are two gangs of kids - the Little Park Gang which consists of kids of civil servants and the 217 Gang, kids of military parents - and these kids don't get along.

S'ir meets Ming (Lisa Yang) who was the girlfriend of Honey (Hung-Ming Lin), a member of a rival gang.  Honey isn't around because he has disappeared, supposedly having killed a kid who tried to get close to Ming.  S'ir falls in love with Ming but then Honey comes back and we basically have a Taiwanese "West Side Story" with the same kind of tragic ending.

As I said, I am fundamentally opposed to really long films but I have to say that this film has a tendency to envelop you and it did me.  It's a fascinating look inside a history and culture we know little about.  It's also an epic story that shows what the adults were going through having to leave their homes in China and start a new life in another country and then the kids trying to shape an identity through joining gangs.  It's mesmerizing.

Why? What makes a film mesmerizing?

Directed by Edward Yang, who is probably best known for his film "Yi Yi," which I reviewed last year, this film is based on a true crime event from director Edward Yang's own childhood and evokes the world he grew up in.  He has created a combination of time and place and coupled that with an exotic atmosphere and pending doom that draws the viewer in and you feel as if you are living it all with the characters. That is what makes a mesmerizing film.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film] manages to seamlessly weave together the story of Taipei street gangs, puppy love, rock and roll, lost cultural signifiers, and the search for a national identity. While often compared to Nicholas Ray's moody classic Rebel Without a Cause (1955), [this film] is so much more.  A masterpiece of the Taiwanese New Wave and a cinematic highpoint of the tail end of the twentieth century, this is a film whose grasp of period and place is masterful almost beyond the realm of mere storytelling."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" 

Rosy the Reviewer says...but with that said, did it really need to be four hours long?

***Book of the Week***

Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy by Andrew Morton (2018)

The subtitle for this book could also be "Be careful what you wish for!"

Wallis Warfield Simpson took the rap for Edward VIII's abdication - who gave up the the throne for "the woman I love" - but according to author Morton, Edward didn't really want to be king, though Wallis, a social climber of the highest order, certainly wanted to be Queen. But as we all know (and there are various versions of exactly how it all came down) Edward VIII stepped down, his younger brother became King George VI and George's daughter, Elizabeth, ascended to the throne when he died.  If Edward had not abdicated, Elizabeth II, now the longest ruling monarch in history, might never have been Queen.  Funny how life works.

Royal watcher Andrew Morton, who is best known for his then shocking book about Princess Diana (
which turned out to be practically written by her), doesn't paint a particularly flattering portrait of Mrs. Simpson.

Raised in Baltimore, her supposed first words were "me, me, me." She was a spoiled child who grew up to be a charming but ambitious woman who ruthlessly sought status and social acceptance.  She had already been married twice when she met the Prince of Wales and his falling in love with a divorcee and wanting to marry her and make her his Queen caused a major threat to the Monarchy eventually leading to Edward abdicating.  The irony of Mrs. Simpson's life was that in seeking social status - marrying a king is about as high up the social ladder as you can get - she was cast out of society when the King abdicated. It also didn't help that they were both Nazi sympathizers as well. 

Though Wallis did get a title when Edward was made the Duke of Windsor (she the Duchess), she was denied the title of HRH, something that nagged at her for her whole life.  Also neither were welcome in England and the two basically lived sad lives, the Duke utterly devoted to her until the end, she in love with another man and treating the Duke like a bothersome pest.

Morton includes many new details of Mrs. Simpson's life and clears up some rumors and gossip about her, such as she was able to mesmerize the Prince with sexual wiles learned at a Shanghai bordello.  Not likely, says Morton.  A fascinating glimpse into another era of class consciousness and privilege.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a soap opera of the highest order -- and it's all true!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

"Red Sparrow"


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and 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.