Showing posts with label Educated. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Educated. Show all posts

Friday, September 13, 2019

"It Chapter Two" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "It Chapter Two" as well as DVDs "Under the Silver Lake" and "Climax."  The Book of the Week is "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Wavelength."]

It Chapter Two

Twenty-seven years after their encounter with the menacing clown, Pennywise, the now grown-up members of the Losers Club return to Derry, Maine.

I was going to rant about how much I hate sequels when I discovered this wasn't really a sequel.

I have enjoyed the movies based on the Stephen King novels, but I must confess I have never read one, so at first I didn't realize that what looks like a sequel is just the second half of the book.  So I can't really blame the fact that I didn't like this film on its being a sequel. 

As you may or may not know, in the first film "stuttering Bill (Jaeden Martell)," overweight Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), smart ass Richie (Finn Wolfhard), OCD Stan (Wyatt Oleff), bullied Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and abused Beverly (Sophia Lillis) had joined together as middle schoolers and formed The Losers Club.  Together they fought off the evil clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), who was killing children, one of whom was Bill's younger brother, and that crazy clown was terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine.  The kids vowed that if Pennywise ever came back they all would return to Derry.  

Now, in "Chapter Two," it's 27 years later and it's happening again.  Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who is now the town librarian, notices incidents that remind him of when Pennywise was running rampant and calls everyone back to Derry.

Bill (James McAvoy) is now a successful novelist; Ben (Jay Ryan) has lost weight and is a handsome and successful architect; Eddie (James Ransone) is a risk assessor; Richie (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian; and Beverly (Jessica Chastain), who had endured an abusive relationship with her father, is married and in an abusive relationship with her husband.  All except Stan (Andy Bean) return to Derry, but no one can really remember what happened 27 years ago. 

OK, right there, I went "Huh?"  You don't remember fighting off a murderous clown and all kinds of other monsters when you were in middle school?  I mean, I don't remember things that happened to me when I was three, so if those kids had been under five, I would understand that.  But those kids were twelve or thirteen.  I remember most of my life during that time, which centered around going to Walgreens for a cherry coke and wondering when a boy was going to kiss me.  I certainly think if I was spending my down time fighting off a murderous clown, I would remember that!

Anyway, don't mind me.

Mike reminds them that Pennywise has returned, but he has discovered the way to rid the town of Pennywise for good, a native American ritual called The Ritual of Chud (see you can count on librarians)!  Okay, I have to stop and rant again.  What is it with Native American rituals and burial grounds being such an overused horror trope? King used it in "Pet Sematary" and it was also used in "The Amityville Horror" and other horror films. Haven't Native Americans been through enough?  Do we really have to add horror films to their lives?

But moving on. Pennywise preyed upon the kids by haunting them with their greatest fears.

So Mike tells them that for the ritual to work they must find an artifact from the past to burn.  Beverly goes back to her old house and finds a love letter that Ben had written to her, though she had always thought it was from Bill.  Bill goes to the storm drain where his little brother, Georgie, had been killed by Pennywise and finds the paper boat he had made Georgie; Ben travels to the high school and finds his yearbook page where only Beverly had signed it; Eddie goes to the pharmacy and gets an inhaler; and Richie finds a game token at an arcade.  Each also encounters ghouls and goblins and there is lots of back and forth between past and present, the adults as kids and the kids as adults, as the grown up kids start to remember what happened 27 years ago.

Many psychological and emotional issues are brought to light but are frustratingly unresolved which is one of the main problems with this film. 

And though all of that back and forth from past to present is a bit helpful in reminding us of the first film, it's not really enough, so if you haven't seen the first film or read the book, this film will be confusing.  There is also a side story, a bit of a red herring, really, concerning Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), who as a teen (Nicholas Hamilton) was the town bully.  He also killed his father and was blamed for the child killings thus ending up in a mental hospital.  In this second installment, he escapes the mental hospital and is also back in Derry muddying what is already an overwrought and over long story.  Yeah, don't get me started on how long this thing is. 

In the film, much is made of Bill's writing and how bad the endings of his books are.  Not sure if King was poking fun at himself with that (and he makes an appearance in the film, which seems to say he approves - and, if you go, see if you recognize director Peter Bogdanovich in a short cameo), but I have to say the ending of this film was the final straw for me. All we have to do is think positively? C'mon. After sitting there for nearly three hours, I wanted a bit more than that.

Directed by Andy Muschietti (who also directed the first installment) and written by Gary Dauberman (based on the Stephen King novel), the mystery centers around whether or not the adults can rid the town of Pennywise once and for all, but the real mystery for me was why Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, two award-winning actors who can each carry a film on his and her own, are in this film with not very much to do except look nervous, concerned and scared.

"It" was the highest grossing horror film of all time, making over $123 million in its opening weekend.  "It: Chapter Two," didn't do quite as well, but still made over $91 million to become the second highest opening for a horror film.  But that also illustrates how I feel about this film versus the first one.  I liked the first one but this one, not so much.

I think the first film worked so well because the kids were so engaging and Pennywise menacing them was really scary. Who didn't think there was a monster in the closet or something scary under the bed?  However, it's not so scary for adults to be fighting off ghosts and goblins. We do that every day. Seriously, though, after awhile, all of those monsters that kept showing up with eyeballs popping and breasts hanging out just got to be overkill, pardon the expression. And the ending was silly. After sitting through this three hour movie, I was shaking my head and muttering, "Enough, already." 

Rosy the Reviewer your money.  Read the book.

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


Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Sam, an unemployed loser, meets a young woman swimming in the pool at his apartment complex, and when she disappears, he goes on a mission to find her.

This is one of those - "Did I really meet that girl who has now disappeared without a trace? Or was it a dream?" - kind of movie.

Sam (Andrew Garfield) is kind of a loser. No, not kind of a loser.  A real loser.  He has lost his job, is about to be evicted and spends his time on his balcony smoking weed and spying on his topless neighbor across the way while she waters her plants.  He doesn't seem to have much of a life, but one night he meets Sarah (Riley Keough, Lisa Marie Presley's daughter), a lovely young girl swimming in the pool at his apartment complex.  He spends the evening hanging out with her in her apartment, but the next morning, when he goes back to her apartment, not only has she disappeared but all of her stuff is gone too.

So Sam sets out on a mission to find her only to be drawn into a really crazy scenario driven by a graphic novel he finds called "Under the Silver Lake," one that highlights a very weird side of L.A.

There are also stories in the background about billionaire Jefferson Sevence (Chris Gann) being missing and a dog killer on the loose.  The missing billionaire actually plays a role in the story, but I never did figure out what the dog killer was all about.  Then there is the "Owl's Kiss" and the "Hobo Code."  Don't ask.  Let's just say the film likes conspiracy theories, codes, pacts and subliminal messages.

The film brought back a childhood memory when one of my middle school friends asked, "What if we are all just living inside a corpuscle in a giant's blood?"  I fancied myself a bit of an existentialist at 13 but that was just too much to take in.  Never forgotten it and it has always haunted me.  What if we are?

Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, this movie has that kind of feel - with a little "Mulholland Drive" and "L.A Confidential" thrown in.  There is all kinds of ominous music and foreshadowning to remind us that some strange stuff is going to happen, which it does. What Sam discovers defies reality and shows what can happen when you are unemployed and have too much time on your hands. The whole thing is dark comedy, a comment on pop culture and commercialism and just nutty enough to be fun but not so nutty you don't know what is going on.

Never much of an Andrew Garfield fan but I enjoyed him in this.  He goes against type here as the stoner, loser Sam, but is completely believable.  Andrew Garfield as you have never seen him!

Rosy the Reviewer says...nutty but strangely watchable and engrossing.

Climax (2018)

What starts out as a rehearsal for a 1990's dance troupe turns into an orgy of drugs and sex.

Well, what can I say?  It's a French film.

The film starts out with a half-naked girl wandering in the snow and then falling down in a sort of final deathly snow angel and then the credits roll.  Huh?

Time for a flashback!

We first meet the dancers through audition tapes for a dance troupe that is being put together to tour France and maybe even the U.S.  They are asked questions about what dance means to them as well as personal questions.  They talk about drugs, their worst nightmares, what they think of the other dancers...

Then they all meet in a big hall on a wintry night to rehearse and it all starts falling apart.

Though we see some interesting dancing - popping, locking, breaking and flexing, and the film plays a bit like a dance documentary - this is no "So You Think You Can Dance."  Well, maybe an X-rated version. The dancing and the loud house music is enjoyable, but then someone spikes the sangria with LSD and what started out as good natured comradery turns dark and XXX and a mob mentality takes over.

Written and directed by Gaspar Noe and starring Sofia Boutella, this is an arty dance horror film, a crazy nightmare. The film wasn't bad per se, I just couldn't quite grasp the point, and it had an ick factor that reminded me of my all-time most hated sex, torture and humiliation movie - "Salo." The main plot point here was "Who spiked the punch?" But by the time I sat through all of the debauchery, I didn't care anymore.

Rosy the Reviewer says...disturbing, to say the least.
(In French and English)

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

62 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Wavelength (1967)

Considered one of the most unconventional and experimental films ever made, this is a 45 minute shot of a wall of windows in a city apartment accompanied by the most annoying sound you will ever hear!

Other than a couple of people wandering in and out at the beginning of this film, the camera is focused on four windows on what appears to be a loft apartment in a big city.  Three pictures hang in the middle of the windows.  Traffic and other noises are heard outside and then a recording of "Strawberry Fields Forever" plays.  But then about ten minutes into the film, there is the most annoying "wavelength" hum (I think it's called a sine-wave) that starts deep and low and then gets increasingly shrill as the camera slowly zooms closer and closer to the windows.  This sound inhabits the rest of this 45 minute film and was so annoying that I thought I was about to lose my mind.  Was that the point?  Or was the point to create the most boring movie ever? Whatever the point, I don't care.  

Written and directed by Michael Snow, a member of the American avante-garde, I think the film is meant to challenge filmmaking techniques and our perceptions about film, but I think there could have been a more interesting way to go about this than creating a boring and annoying film. I can't believe anyone gives this thing praise. My ears still haven't stopped ringing!

Why it's a Must See: "Like much underground and experimental cinema, [this film] is easy to parody as pretentious, but it is still a vital, important, and necessary work."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Oh yeah?  It's pretentious as hell that anyone would expect you to sit through this thing!

Rosy the Reviewer says...this will challenge even the most devoted cinephiles. Avoid, avoid avoid.
(But if you like torture, you can find it on YouTube)

***The Book of the Week***

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (2018)

A girl who was raised off the grid by a fundamentalist Mormon family and who never went to school eventually ends up with a Ph.d from Cambridge University.

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover and her parents lived their own version of Mormonism and believed the end of the world was nigh.  She and her mother and other siblings spent many hours canning food and preparing for the end days.  Tara's father also didn't believe in registering the births of his children or their going to school.  But when one of her brothers got into college, Tara decided to change her life. It wasn't until she was 17 that Westover stepped into a classroom, but through all kinds of sturm und drang, Westover eventually went to Harvard and then to Cambridge University.

How was she able to do that? It's a riveting story with an ending that made me cry.

"I am not the child my father raised, but he is the father who raised her...No matter how much I appeared to have changed -- how illustrious my education, how altered my appearance-- I was still HER.  At best, I was two people, a fractured mind.  SHE was inside, and emerged whenever I crossed the threshold of my father's house.  [But] She left me...The decisions I made after that...were not the ones she would have made.  They were the choices of a changed person, a new self.  You could call this selfhood many things.  Transformation.  Metamorphosis.  Falsity.  Betrayal.  I call it an education."

This book was a #1 Best Seller on the New York Times Best Seller List as well as being named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post and other prominent critics.  It was also one of President Barack Obama's favorite books.  One of mine too!

Rosy the Reviewer of the most powerful cases for the importance of  education and it's also a good read!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"The Goldfinch"


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.