Showing posts with label Empire of Light. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Empire of Light. Show all posts

Sunday, March 5, 2023

When There Is Nothing Playing At The Movie Theatres That Makes You Want To Leave Home: Some Good Movies You Can Watch in Your PJ's!

[I review "Empire of Light," "The Good House" and "She Said," all films that you can stream at home.]

Yep.  Since the pandemic, the movie industry has been suffering and it shows.  I used to be an at least once-a-week movie goer, but, since the pandemic, when Netflix, Prime and all of those other streaming services stepped up to make our lockdown more enjoyable, it now takes a lot for me to get out of my jammies, eschew the wine and head out to the movie theatre.  It has to be something I really want to see and right now, nope (speaking of which, I did go out to see "Nope."  An exception.  I loved it.).

So if you are feeling like I am, you love movies but there is often nothing that makes you want to venture out, here are some options.  You can stay home in your jammies, drink some wine and enjoy some good movies!

Empire of Light (2022)

Lonely people connect in a 1980's English cinema - "The Empire."

Hilary (Olivia Colmanis the manager of the Empire Theatre, a movie theatre in the English seaside town of Margate. It's one of those plush, old-fashioned theatres we don't see much anymore - Big heavy velvet curtains over the screen and comfy, velvet-covered seats.  She lives alone and doesn't seem to have much going on except hanging out with the other theatre staff, and oh, maybe her occasional sexual dalliances with her pervy, married boss (Colin Firth). And strangely, Hilary may work in a movie theatre, but she never watches the movies. 

Then Hilary meets Stephen (Micheal Ward), a young black man who is hired to work in the theatre. It's Margaret Thatcher's England, a time of unemployment, turmoil and racism. Skinheads are rampant and Stephen is often the brunt of their violence. But he and Hilary share a relationship as they work together in the movie theatre, and Hilary eventually discovers that movies matter, that there are always chances for change and renewal and, though things don't go exactly as planned for Hilary, we have faith that she will make it.

There is a scene early in the film when Hilary is showing Stephen around the movie theatre. The two bond in the "pigeon room," an abandoned ballroom on the top floor that is prone to pigeons getting in and flying around.  They discover a pigeon with a broken wing and Stephen fixes a little "cast" for it out of his sock.  A pigeon with a broken wing that will eventually fly away is a rather blatant symbol for what will happen in Hilary's life but it's still a touching scene.

The movie theatre is a place where people gather to have shared experiences, to form a sort of community for a few hours. That's why movies matter.  But here the movie theatre is also a symbol of individual human connection as we meet lonely Hilary and understand her story. Writer/director Sam Mendes, who won a Best Director Oscar for "American Beauty" in 1999 and whose latest film "1917" was nominated for Best Picture last year, has created a nostalgic tribute to the movie theatres of his youth and reminds us that no matter who we are or our circumstances in life, we can all come together at the movies and have some of the same feelings and emotions, get some other perspectives on our lives and feel connected to the rest of humanity. We can also fly away to other worlds. 

Olivia Colman is just wonderful here, as she always is. It's refreshing to see an actress "of a certain age" starring in a film. I know it is not easy for older actresses to get work, but this is a case in point that older actresses don't have to resort to silly movies (that I won't name) that make fun of older women to get work. But then, this is a British film and the Brits don't seem to have the same problem with ageism as Hollywood does.

Rosy the Reviewer says...the film has strengths and weaknesses, but it is beautiful to look at thanks to Roger Deakins' cinematography, and if you are a fan of tour de force performances, Colman does not disappoint. (HBO Max)

The Good House (2021)

Hildy Good (Sigourney Weaver) is a realtor in Wendover, Massachusetts.  Everything seems to be good in her life, until it isn't.

Sigourney Weaver plays Hildy Good, a realtor and descendant of one of the Salem witches.  She was once a very successful realtor but things haven't been so good lately since her husband of 22 years left her for a man and her family staged an intervention that landed her in rehab.  And to make matters worse, while Hildy was in rehab, Wendy, her arch nemesis (Kathryn Erbe), stole her clients. To those around her, her stint in rehab seemed to work but she never really stopped drinking, she just hid it. Hildy also rekindles a fumbling but sweet romance with her old high school love, Frank (Kevin Kline), a local contractor/handyman. Kline is always pleasant to have around.

However, one night alone in her basement Hildy drinks two bottles of wine and scares herself and swears off the booze. For a time, anyway.

Meanwhile, Hildy befriends Rebecca (Morena Baccarin) and is drawn into her life, discovering that she is having an affair with Peter (Rob Delaney), the local psychologist.  She promises she won't tell but later, when Peter goes to Wendy instead of Hildy to sell his house, Hildy threatens him.  She also starts drinking again and everything goes to hell. Will Hildy survive this?

Based on the book by Ann Leary with a screenplay by Thomas Bezucha, Maya Forbes, and Wallace Wolodarsky and directed by Forbes and Wolodarsky, this is a story about a functioning alcoholic, a woman who says she doesn't NEED alcohol, she just likes it. "I was born three drinks short of comfortable."  It's a story about women and drinking and how easy it is to tell ourselves we are okay when we aren't.  Also there is a bit of "House Hunters" in this (don't you just love to see other peoples' houses?), as Hildy shows houses to her clients and a bit of "Intervention," well, you know, because there is an intervention. This is also one of those movies where you want to yell at the screen - "HILDY, DON'T HAVE ANOTHER DRINK!"

Sigourney breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience, a device I haven't seen for awhile and not a huge fan of, so at first it's a bit disconcerting, but she is wonderful in this, and I have to say, it is refreshing to see an actress of a certain age playing a real woman in an adult story that doesn't make fun of old ladies. Okay, I'll say it. Do you hear me "80 for Brady?" 

Rosy the Reviewer says...we need more movies like this, movies for adults about adults dealing with adult issues. (On DVD and for rent on Apple+)

She Said (2022)

New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor broke the Harvey Weinstein story of sexual harassment in Hollywood igniting the #Metoo movement.  This is their story.

In 2016 Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) is investigating Trump's hanky panky for the New York Times.  Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of director Elia Kazan) is working on immigration issues.  Twohey is pregnant; Kantor is a young working mother. As 2017 rolls on, Kantor gets a tip that actress Rose McGowan was sexually assaulted by Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.  Though initially reluctant to cooperate, McGowan eventually tells Kantor that Weinstein raped her when she was 23.  Then Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow also weigh in, though neither want to be named.  Frustrated, Jodi gets Megan Twohey to help her.

What the two discover as they weed through the miasma that is Miramax, for decades Weinstein has been sexually harassing actresses and staff and everyone knew it.  But they kept quiet as Weinstein paid the women off and made them sign nondisclosure agreements. No one said anything because no one wanted to lose their jobs. That is what Jodi and Megan had to deal with. They identified the women but the women were afraid to talk because of the NDA and out of shame.  But then Jodi and Megan get a tip to speak to Irwin Reiter, one of Weinstein's former accountants.  He shows Jodi an internal memo that circulated at Miramax in 2015 detailing abuse allegations. Full steam ahead!

Now despite threats from Weinstein, an article is in the works and Ashley Judd and a former employee decide to come forward and be named.  After the article is published on October 5, 2017, 82 more women came forward. Weinstein was arrested and is currently serving a 23 year sentence for sexual assault offenses in New York and has just recently been given an additional 16 years for offenses committed in Los Angeles.

Because of Twohey and Kantor, the #MeToo movement began and the sexual harassment of women in the work place was exposed, and though there is still much to do, reforms, both legal and in the workplace, happened.

I wasn't sure that I wanted to see this film because haven't we all heard enough about Harvey Weinstein?  But this movie does for sexual harassment what "Spotlight" did for child abuse in the priesthood and what "All The President's Men" did for Watergate. Those films honored investigative reporters who uncovered misconduct in areas where such misconduct was either ignored or swept under the rug and we would never have known if it wasn't for them.

With a screenplay by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (based on Twohey's and Kantor's article) and directed by Maria Schrader, this isn't just a story about Weinstein, it is a story about a system that protected abusers.

And just as I had originally thought "Spotlight" was going to be a dry investigative "Dateline" sort of film, it turned out to be my favorite movie of the year and went on to win a Best Picture Oscar.  This one isn't going to win an Oscar but it wins as an inspiring story of two intrepid women who brought habitual sexual abuser, Harvey Weinstein, down.  And how appropriate that it was two women who did that. 

Though the film is a bit slow to get going, once it does, it's a fascinating look at how these kinds of investigative stories get published.  It's also a look into the lives of two dedicated women. They were not just New York Times investigative reporters, they were young mothers and the film does a good job of showing just how difficult it is to juggle a difficult job while keeping a family together, and yet they kept going, taking phone calls in the middle of the night, getting on planes, knocking on doors, all while trying to juggle their home lives.  Their husbands must have been saints. 

Mulligan and Kazan are believable, especially Kazan who is an actress to watch.  Mulligan seemed uncharacteristically understated here but that could be because her character was suffering from post-partum depression.  Here's something: I always get Mulligan mixed up with Michelle Williams. Do you?

The whole issue of "He said/she said" is one reason why so many sexual abuse victims don't come forward.  It's her word against his and the shame surrounding these incidents is also a barrier.  But as more women stand up and demand to be heard, hopefully there will be fewer of these incidents.  But the fight is not over. There are still more Harvey Weinsteins out there. But at least now more people will believe what "she said."  

Rosy the Reviewer important film about two women who, against great odds, took on an important issue and made a difference for women.  (Available to rent on most streaming platforms)

So put on your jammies, grab a glass of wine, and watch some good movies in the comfort of home!  That's what I'm doing! More recommendations to come!


And you know what?  Here's another option.  When there is no movie you want to see, you can always read a book or share one with those you love?

And remember, books are available for free at your local library!

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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)