Showing posts with label Horror films. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Horror films. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Some Fun Films: "A Haunting in Venice," "Theater Camp" and "Killer Book Club"

[I review the movies "A Haunting in Venice," "Theater Camp" and "Killer Book Club."]

A Haunting in Venice (2023)

Hercule Poirot is back, this time in Venice.

I have been mad at Kenneth Branagh ever since he left wife Emma Thompson and ran off with Helena Bonham Carter.  But time heals all wounds and even though he and Helena are no longer together, I guess it was meant to be. All have moved on.  And I guess Agatha Christie was meant to be in his life, too, as he has basically turned his acting and directing career into her franchise. I wonder if anyone remembers his bravura performances in "Henry V" and "Hamlet." He is now Hercule Poirot and he has made a career out of Agatha Christie mystery films with all-star casts. 

In this third installment, it is 1947 and master detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is in self-imposed exile in Venice.  He is tired of everyone clamoring for his expertise but when old friend and mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) arrives, she convinces him to attend a Halloween night seance at the home of opera singer Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly).  Poirot does not believe in the dead coming back but Oliver says that medium Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) seems to be the real deal and she wants Poirot to see what he thinks.  She uses her charm, hanging over his head the fact that he is famous because of her, because she made him a character in her books.  They make a wager and Poirot reluctantly agrees to go.  

Rowena lives in a supposedly haunted palazzo.  It was an orphanage where the children were mistreated by the doctors and nurses and now the place is thought to be haunted by the children who want revenge. Rowena's daughter, Alicia, had supposedly committed suicide the year before when her fiance, Maxime Gerard (Kyle Allen) broke off their engagement. Rowena wants to commune with her daughter. When Poirot and Ariadne arrive, they meet Rowena's housekeeper, Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin), the family doctor, Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan) and his creepy little son, Leopold (Jude Hill), and Joyce Reynold's assistant, Desdemona Holland (Emma Laird), all with, shall I say?  Issues.

During the seance, Poirot spots the set-up right away and reveals Desdemona's half-brother, Nicholas (Ali Khan), hiding in the chimney and helping with the special effects. But when Joyce speaks in Alicia's voice and reveals that she had not committed suicide, but rather had been murdered, Poirot is pulled back into what he does best - solving murders.

But the arrogant Poirot is also forced to wonder if he is losing his mojo as he starts seeing and hearing things that make him wonder if the house really is haunted. Is he ever wrong? Could he possibly be wrong about ghosts and hauntings?

After several perplexing incidents and a murder, in true Agatha Christie fashion, during a storm, Poirot gathers all of the suspects together in one room to solve the case. 

They are all there: Maxime, who broke off the engagement because Alicia was too obsessed with keeping her mother happy; the creepy little kid, Leopold, who says he talks with the dead children in the palazzo; unhappy housekeeper, Seminoff;  and Nicholas and Desdemona, who dream of making their way to St. Louis, Missouri to live a life like in the film "Meet Me in St. Louis (long story)." Rowena, Oliver and Poirot's bodyguard, Vitale (Riccardo Scamarcio), are also there.

Loosely based on Christie's story "Hallowe'en Party," with a screenplay by Michael Green and directed by Branagh, this is a haunting (hee hee) visually beautiful and moody tale told in true Christie style.  It has an "old movie" feel but with modern special effects. The film reminded me of the wunderkind Orson Welles and "Citizen Kane," not surprisingly because Branagh, in his early days, was compared to Welles.  It was Welles who started using unusual camera angles, shooting from below, up, down and all around and that is very much in evidence here.  Almost too much.  The camera angles should get their own screen credits.

But the film is fun.  It's fun to try to put the clues together along with Poirot and guess who done it (I got there almost in time).  The film is also very atmospheric and beautiful to watch and the acting is first rate, though Branagh seems to be having just a bit too much fun with Poirot's French accent.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like Agatha Christie who-done-its or Branagh's Poirot films, this is the best one yet. (In theatres)

Theater Camp (2023)

When the beloved founder of a theater camp in Upstate New York becomes ill and the bank wants to foreclose, her son and the camp staff work to save the camp. 

Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) is the co-founder and director of AdirondACTS, a summer theater camp.  As the summer begins, Joan attends a performance of "Bye Bye Birdie," starring one of her campers, experiences a seizure and falls into a coma caused by a strobe light that is used during the show (see, those signs you see in the theaters mean something)!  So with Joan in the hospital, her son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) takes over, but Troy is as about as far from being a theater kid as you can get.  When someone mentions a straight play, he asks what a gay play is called.

Troy is a "crypto bro" who looks like a skater dude, and he has difficulty getting along with the theater people.  There is Clive (Nathan Lee Graham), who teaches dance; Amos (Ben Platt), who teaches acting; Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) teaches music, costuming and past lives; and Glenn (Noah Galvin), the techie with a secret, who teaches "The Art of the Spotlight."  A camera crew is following Amos and Rebecca-Diane around as they work on an original play about Joan's life called "Joan, Still." 

But for all of his shortcomings, Troy really wants to help, especially when he discovers that the camp has financial difficulties and the bank is about to foreclose. Troy is approached by Caroline (Patti Harrison), who represents Barnswell Capital, the owners of Camp Lakeside, the more upscale camp next door.  They want to buy AdirondACTS but it comes to light that they plan to dismantle the camp. 

Highjinks ensue as everyone bands together to help Troy save the camp. Think of those Judy Garland movies where theatre kids decide to put on a show in a barn "and my mother will make the costumes!"  Here a character says, "We're theater people.  We know how to turn cardboard into gold!" The movie culminates in the hilariously bad production of "Joan, Still."

Written by Gordon, Platt, Galvin and Nick Lieberman and directed by Gordon and Lieberman and based on their short 2020 film of the same name, this feature length mockumentary features an ensemble cast and affectionately makes fun of actory actors and theater affectations.  Much of it is improvised but it's funny and you theater nerds out there who went to theater camp or longed to become a performer will get the jokes.  

Some funny moments include Amos' comment upon hearing a child's audition piece will be "I Had a Dream" from "Les Miserables."  He says "That's a good song choice.  I totally believe her as a French prostitute," upon which Rebecca-Diane says "Amos!" and he replies, "Sorry.  Sex worker."  There is also a past life regression class where Rebecca-Diane tells one student - "You were once President Warren G. Harding!"  

Platt, Galvin, Gordon and Lieberman are all theatre people and old friends.  The pictures of children at the beginning of the film are of them. Platt is probably best known for his success on Broadway in "Dear Evan Hanson" and Gordon, also in that, is now engaged to Platt and starring in the TV series "The Bear."  It's a great ensemble cast that also includes many talented young kids. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...not sure that anyone else besides theater nerds will get this and find it funny but since I was one from a young age, I enjoyed it. And there is a good message: No matter what the talent level, the theater gives kids a way to express themselves and a sense of belonging. (Hulu)

Killer Book Club (2023)

(Original title: El Club de los Lectores Criminales)

A killer clown is after eight horror loving friends.

Who said horror films can't be fun?  Blumhouse has proven they can be with such "fun" films as "Happy Death Day" and "M3gan." And this film, though gory, is no exception.

Angela (Veki Velilla), Sara (Ane Rot), Nando (Ivan Pellicer), Sebas (Alvaro Mel), Rai (Carlos Alcaide), Koldo (Hamza Zaidi), Eva (Maria Cerezuela) and Virginia (Priscilla Delgado) are all students and friends who form a book club. This is not your old lady book club where the old ladies get their kicks reading "Fifty Shades of Grey."  This is a book club where the kids get their kicks reading horror stories.  Their latest fascination is killer clowns.

Our heroine is Angela, a writer who has experienced writer's block ever since her book was published years before.  But then she gets inspiration and has some chapters she wants her professor to look over. But when she goes to his office, he tries to rape her.  She tells her friends and they devise a plan to seek revenge on the professor.  They all dress in killer clown costumes with the idea of scaring him but the prank turns ugly and the professor is killed.  The kids are now in deep you-know-what, especially when they figure out that one of them is a real killer clown planning to pick them off one by one.

The killer clown publishes a story online called "The Mad Clown," dedicating each chapter to one of the students as he (or she) kills each one, so time is running out. The kids need to solve the mystery before the killer clown gets them all.  Who is the killer clown?  Is it one of them and why is he or she wanting them dead? And what is the secret that Angela has been keeping all of these years? We discover what it is along with what the heck was going on with that cold opening. 

Written by Carlos Garcia Miranda and directed by Carlos Alonso Ojea, this is
derivative of such slasher films as "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" with classic horror tropes in evidence - lots of running around, bloody impalements (I counted at least three), and plot twists, but what sets this one apart from your standard slasher film is the literary angle and the idea that horror stories are not given the gravitas they deserve because they are considered inauthentic.  I would say that horror films suffer from that same discrimination. But then the students become part of a real life horror story as they are tormented by a killer clown, so as far as they are concerned, horror stories are authentic! And don't we all have our own "horror stories?" 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have coulrophobia, this is not for you (look it up)! But if you like your horror with a little literature and tongue-in-cheek gore, you will enjoy this. (Netflix - in Spanish with English subtitles)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

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)

Monday, August 28, 2023

"Strays" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Strays" as well as "Master Gardener," and "Bird Box: Barcelona"]

Strays (2023)

A little dog whose owner has abandoned him teams up with some strays to get revenge.

I know. An R-rated movie starring anthropomorphic dogs.  But, hey, sometimes you just need to go for it and dogs are hilarious, especially dogs that talk, use the F word and consider a billboard featuring a postal worked "the devil in the sky." I'm glad I went for it!

Since this movie is R-rated, I am going to have a difficult time relating the plot or quoting from the movie without offending someone, but basically it's all about little Reggie (voice by Will Ferrell), a border terrier who lives with Doug (Will Forte).  Reggie was Doug's live-in girlfriend's pet but when she left, Doug kept Reggie out of spite even though he hated little Reggie and called him bad names (names I can't repeat here).  You see, Doug is not a very nice person. In fact, he's a bad man.  But Reggie doesn't know that Doug is a bad man.  He thinks Doug loves him and that when he takes him out into the country, throws a ball for Reggie and then drives off that Doug isn't abandoning him, he is playing a game with him called "Fetch and F***."  Doug throws the ball, tells Reggie to fetch and when Reggie finds his way back home Doug says "F***!"

But one day, when Reggie makes his way back home once again, Doug has had enough and takes Reggie three hours away to the big city, and this time Reggie has trouble finding his way back home.  But he meets up with Bug (voice of Jamie Foxx), a street-wise Boston Terrier, Hunter (voice of Randall Park), a Great Dane wearing a "cone of shame," who failed police dog school and is now a therapy dog at an old peoples' home, and Maggie (voice of Isla Fisher), a sweet Australian Shepherd with an uncanny sense of smell, and the three take Reggie under their wings, er, paws and become Reggie's friends.  They convince Reggie that Doug does not really care about him and that he is now a stray.  Reggie can't come to grips with that at first, but when he does, he gets mad and decides that he wants to take revenge by, well, what they want to do to Doug is a bit graphic, but let me say it involves biting a part of Doug's anatomy off and that part rhymes with "stick."  So off the four go to seek revenge on Doug.

And now we have an R-rated version of "The Incredible Journey (except without the cat)."

The screenplay by Dan Perrault is very scatological but hilarious with references to other films like "A Dog's Purpose" and "A Dog's Journey" (there is a funny bit featuring Josh Gad as a Narrator Dog) and Dennis Quaid even makes an appearance being, well, Dennis Quaid. And misfit dogs on an adventure finding friendship is a sort of dog version of "Stand By Me."  

But the dogs themselves are the highlight. This is not an animated film. This film stars real dogs and the dogs "talk." You know how sometimes when the mouths of animals move in films and it looks wonky?  Not here.  It's all spot on and the body language of the dogs reflect the dialogue and emotions perfectly. These are well-trained dogs! But like I said, it's R-rated so lots of leg-humping, butt sniffing, pooping and other activities we have come to know and love from our canine friends. And they are brought to life by wonderful actors.  Jamie Foxx is always funny and I don't think I will ever look at a Boston Terrier the same way again and Will Ferrell is perfect as Reggie.  

But the film, directed by Josh Greenbaum, isn't just about dogs dropping the F-bomb and revenge, it's also about getting out of toxic relationships and the power of friendship.  And believe it or not, I think you will tear up from time to time. But you will also laugh - a lot- especially when Doug gets what's coming to him to the tune of Miley Cyrus's anthem "Wrecking Ball!"

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, the movie is very scatological and obsessed with poop, but if, like me, you love dogs, you will laugh and you will cry and you will run right home and give your furry friend a hug.  And it's only an hour and 33 minutes long! (In theatres)

Master Gardener (2022)

A buttoned up horticulturist with secrets is the caretaker for a garden on a beautiful estate.

Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) tends the gardens at Gracewoods, a beautiful estate owned by the wealthy Mrs. Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). He also tends to Mrs. Haverhill, if you get my meaning. Unbeknownst to those he works with, Roth has a dark past and a dark secret that belies his passive nature, reminding us in these dark political times that we have no idea what is going on inside our fellow humans. And that's the case with Narvel. Slowly it unfolds just who Narvel was. But he has found solace in his role as gardener, quietly tending to plants.

But then enter, Maya (Quintessa Swindell), Mrs. Haverhill's grand-niece, a young biracial girl. Her mother has died and Mrs. Haverhill wants Roth to take Maya on as an apprentice so that she can eventually take over the Gardens, an odd assignment since Mrs. Haverhill has little to do with Maya while she is there.  And it doesn't help when Maya and Roth become close (we saw that coming a mile away). When Norma spots Roth leaving Maya's room, she fires them both. 

Like Roth, Maya has a troubled past, and though she is trying to clean herself up, her drug dealer, R.G. (Jared Bankens) and his friend, Sissy (Matt Mercurio), show up and cause her trouble and eventually vandalize the gardens leading to a violent showdown.

Writer/director Paul Schrader is known for his gritty films like "Hardcore," "Raging Bull" and "American Gigolo," and one can't help but draw parallels here with one of his most famous films - "Taxi Driver."  An odd older loner befriends a troubled young girl that culminates in violence? Mmmm, sounds very familiar.    

But though it's slow to get going, when it does it exudes the dark, sinister quality we have come to associate with Schrader, but unlike with "Taxi Driver," Schrader has softened a bit because there is an optimism here as he draws parallels to the life of a garden to life itself. And Schrader shows here that he is also the master of his film garden with interesting camera angles, an intense focus and artistic juxtaposition of the quiet solitude and healing of a garden and the violence of the real world.

Joel Edgerton has perfected the hang dog, troubled-guy-with-demons persona and newcomer Swindell holds her own with him.  And 73-year-old Sigourney Weaver, who doesn't look a day over 50, lends her own finely honed persona, that of the well-bred icy wealthy woman.

As an aside, this film is all about flowers and plants and stars Weaver.  Interestingly, there is a series on Amazon Prime right now starring Weaver called "The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart" which is also all about flowers and plants. I guess flowers and plants as symbols of life is a thing. But I digress...

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you seek a "smart" movie like "Oppenheimer," except shorter and better, this not only gives you something to think about but combines an interesting story with lots of drama. Worth seeking out.  (Amazon Prime)

Bird Box: Barcelona (2023)

There is an evil entity out there and if you look at it, you will kill yourself.  

"Bird Box" starring Sandra Bullock was one of the most popular movies of all time on Netflix and this film is clearly taking advantage of that.  I am usually not a fan of remakes or sequels, but in my mind, this one isn't really either of those things. It's a more like another chapter. It makes sense that the evil entity we first encountered in "Bird Box" would have taken over the world and is now in Spain wreaking havoc there, so I am not mad at that, and this is in fact a sort of reverse version of the original as it has a major twist.

If you remember from the first one, there is something out there that no one can see but if their eyes are open when it swirls around and they "see" it, it somehow manipulates their emotions and they will instantly kill themselves. So everyone wears a blindfold when outside. 

At the beginning of the film, we meet Sebastian (Mario Casas) and his daughter, Anna (Alejandra Howard), but in a series of flashbacks we learn that Sebastian lost his wife and driven by grief and despair is on a mission. We also learn that our hero is perhaps not really a hero.

It seems that some people can look at the entities and not turn to self harm and a cult has formed around these people led by Padre Esteban (Leonardo Sbaraglia), who believes that the entities are angels and that humanity would be liberated from suffering by embracing death. So there are people out there trying to avoid looking at the entities and other people out there trying get people to look so they will be saved. In flashbacks, we learn that Sebastian encountered the Padre and his life changed. 

Later, Sebastián encounters another group that believes that they will be saved if they reach Montjuic Castle, considered a safe haven. Sebastian joins them but has an existential crisis as he begins to doubt his beliefs.

Written and directed by David and Alex Pastor, unlike the original "Bird Box," the film has many religious overtones that questions organized religion and blindly following one's beliefs.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the flashbacks that eventually reveal Sebastian's mission are confusing at times, the film is engrossing and scary and one can't help but wonder if this is the beginning of a franchise.  Is "Bird Box Paris" next? (Netflix - In Spanish, English and German with English subtitles)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

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)


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

More Good Movies You Might Not Know About

[I review M. Night Shyamalan's latest film "Knock at the Cabin" as well as two British films: "The Phantom of the Open" and "Love Sarah."]

Knock at the Cabin (2023)

Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are on vacation with their daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), at a remote cabin when there is an ominous knock on the door.  Uh-oh.

This is one of those "What if...?" movies as in what if you were having a nice vacation in a cabin in the woods - just you and your husband and your daughter - and four people knock on the door and then force their way into your life and tell you that if you don't decide to kill one of your family members, the world will end.

That's a big "what if...?" right?

Well, that's what is happening here. 

Eric and Andrew are on vacation in a remote cabin with their adopted daughter, Wen.  While Wen is outside capturing grasshoppers "to study," she is approached by a man who introduces himself as Leonard (Dave Bautista).  But after awhile he gives Wen the creeps and she sees three other strangers carrying weapons.  She runs inside to tell her dads about the man.  But before anyone can do anything, Leonard and the three others are knocking on the door and eventually break it down.  

Along with Leonard, we meet Redmond (Rupert Grint), Adriane (Abby Quinn) and Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird).  They have come to tell Eric and Andrew that the world will come to an end if they don't decide to sacrifice one of their family members. Naturally, Eric and Andrew say, "" But then Eric and Andrew are tied up as Leonard tells his doomsday story.

Leonard tells Eric and Andrew that they are not there to kill them, but if they don't make this sacrifice, they will live but will roam the earth alone after the rest of humanity has perished.  Leonard turns on the TV to show Eric and Andrew what is happening in the world - first a tsunami hits the West Coast, then a virus, then airplanes start falling from the sky. Is any of this true? Is it a conspiracy?  What will Eric and Andrew decide?

Leonard's menacing physique belies the fact that he is actually a gentle giant, a second grade teacher who has joined forces with Sabrina, who was a nurse and Adriane and Redmond (not sure what they did before becoming weapon-wielding prophets of doom), all of whom have had the same apocalyptic visions.

Through a series of flashbacks we get to know more about Eric and Andrew and the others, and the film briefly deals with same-sex marriage and hints at the discrimination that gays have experienced but it doesn't really go there. I wish it had explored that more.

Based on the book "The Cabin at the End of the World" by Paul Tremblay and directed by M. Knight Shyamalan (who also wrote the screenplay with Michael Sherman and Steve Desmond), Shyamalan is good at these kinds of horror films with preposterous plots.  Shyamalan has a knack for creating tension and making you question reality, so despite the outrageousness of the premise, I was hooked and it was tense.  I mean, really?  Is this for real? What is going to happen? 

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, it's a crazy premise and sometimes the film is almost laughable, but, at the same time, it is gripping and makes us wonder, just what would we do to save others and that is the kind of movie that becomes a cult classic. (On DVD and for rent on Amazon Prime)

The Phantom of the Open (2021)

Maurice Flitcroft, a complete novice golfer, manages to get himself into the qualifying round of the 1976 British Open. True story.

No, I did not do a typo.  This was not meant to be "Phantom of the Opera."  It really is "Phantom of the Open," and it's all about a guy who couldn't play golf to save his life, but somehow he managed to get himself into the British Open ...and not once, but six times... using pseudonyms and disguises.

Maurice (the Brits pronounce this "Morris") Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) is a retired crane operator who needs to find purpose.  He had never attempted to play golf before but after seeing a clip of Tom Watson winning the British Open in 1975, just like that, he decides to take up golf and enter the 1976 British Open.  And through a fluke, he gets himself in as a professional and scores 121, the worst score every recorded at the Open by a so-called "professional golfer." 

Based on the book "The Phantom of the Open: Maurice Flitcroft, The World's Worst Golfer," written by Scott Murray and Simon Farnaby (screenplay by Farnaby), this is based on a true story - yes, Maurice Flitcroft was a real guy. 

After the initial debacle that Flitcroft caused at the 1976 Open, the Open did what they could to keep Flitcroft out, but he continued to try to enter and often succeeded by using fake names like Gene Paycheki, Gerrard Hoppy, James Beau Jolley, Arnold Palmtree and Count Manfred von Hoffmanstel and by wearing disguises.  But despite his ineptitude as a golfer, he gained fame, or rather notoriety as "The World's Worst Golfer" and had the distinction of a golf tournament named after him in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Oh, those crazy Michiganders!

Directed by Craig Roberts, this is an enjoyable movie that pokes fun at the stuffy aspects of golf and shows where there's a will, there's a way, as Maurice doggedly follows his dream. Mark Rylance, one of those actors who can do anything and be anyone, embodies the ever optimistic Flitcroft, and likewise, Sally Hawkins as Maurice's loyal and supportive wife, Jean, is perfect.  If Maurice was the world's worst golfer, his wife Jean was the world's best wife.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a feel good movie that golfers will especially like. (Amazon Prime)

Love Sarah (2020)

When her mother is tragically killed right before realizing her dream of opening a bakery in London, 19-year-old Clarissa decides that with the help of her mother's best friend, Isabella, and her grandmother, Mimi, she will open the bakery herself.

Baker Sarah (Candice Brown) and her friend, Isabella (Shelley Conn), were going to open a bakery in London, but Sarah is killed cycling to her new bakery and Isabella is left holding the financial bag.  Not a confident baker herself, she decides to give up and sell the store until Sarah's daughter, Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet), talks her into going ahead with the bakery. Clarissa is a wannabe ballerina with some bad habits who has just broken up with her boyfriend.  She enlists the help of her grandmother, Mimi (Celia Imrie), a retired trapeze artist (I know, where did that come from?), not an easy feat since she has been estranged from her.

At first the women struggle to find their footing, but Mimi hones in on the idea of creating pastries and desserts that honor the diverse Notting Hill population, to give them a taste of home.  You want a Kringle from your home country of Denmark?  Sure, you got it!  Want a Japanese cake?  They will figure out how to make it!

Enter Sarah's ex-boyfriend, the handsome Mathew (Rupert Penry-Jones), who just happens to know how to bake and might just be Clarissa's father.  And there is even some romance for Mimi when inventor Felix (the veteran actor, Bill Paterson) enters the picture.

All of these characters come together to form a community. Wounds are healed as these three women of three different generations grapple with their grief and differences to honor Sarah. They name the bakery after her - Love Sarah.

All of the cast members are excellent, especially Celia Imrie, who is one of those ubiquitous British actresses who you recognize but you don't know her name (right now she is starring in the Netflix series "The Diplomat" and the movie "Love Again.")

Written by Jake Brunger (story by Mahalia Rimmer, Eliza Schroeder and Brungerand directed by Schroeder, this is one of those small heart-felt movies that the Brits are so good at.

Rosy the Reviewer of the Great British Baking Show (aka "The Great British Bake Off") will particularly enjoy this (the Sarah of the title - Candice Brown - who is briefly seen at the beginning of the film, is one of the real life winners).  It's a film as sweet as the pastries made in the bakery and just like eating a delicious macaron, you will feel good after seeing this film. (Amazon Prime)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

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)

Sunday, April 30, 2023

When "Cocaine Bear" is the Best Movie You Have Seen in Weeks! Some Movies You Might NOT Enjoy Watching At Home.

[I review the movies "Cocaine Bear," "80 for Brady," "Magic Mike's Last Dance," and "Women Talking"] 

Is "Cocaine Bear" a wonderful movie?  No.  I wouldn't go that far. But I knew what I was going to get - an entertaining, sometimes funny, horror film - and that is important. I wasn't disappointed, so it's the best movie I have seen in a long while.  

Sadly, the other movies I am reviewing here were very disappointing. I think they were trying to do something more but failed miserably.  What is going on in the movie world these days? So far, for me, few have been worth seeing.  And that makes me sad.  Let's hope it's just a blip, but in the meantime, I'm going to be b**chy, er, tell it like it is about the movies. As always, you can count on me.

Cocaine Bear (2023)

A huge black bear goes on a rampage after ingesting cocaine.

So how does a bear find cocaine?  Well, a drug smuggler (Matthew Rhys) tries to parachute out of his plane with a duffel bag full of cocaine but knocks himself out as he exits the plane, falling to his death.  The duffel with the cocaine falls into the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest where a black bear eats it, likes it, goes berzerk and attacks two hikers from Iceland.  The hikers should have realized they were in trouble when they saw the bear beating its head against a tree. 

Meanwhile middle-schoolers Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery) skip school and head for the forest where they find a brick of cocaine and try some.  When she discovers that Dee Dee has skipped school, her mother, Sari (Keri Russell), enlists the aid of Liz (Margo Martindale), a forest ranger, and ventures into the forest to find her daughter.  At the same time, the drug smuggler's cohorts Daveed (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) are sent looking for the cocaine by their boss, Syd White (Ray Liotta in his last role) and some local delinquents are hanging around causing complications.  

All of these disparate characters encounter the bear and mayhem ensues - literally.  Legs and arms are flying around all over the place and it isn't always the bear doing the damage. The characters are not the sharpest tools and find ways to hurt themselves too! I have to admit I laughed quite a bit, because, though, grizzly (pardon the pun), this film is actually funny. Nothing like a head rolling into view after a particularly bad encounter with the bear.

Now I know the idea of a bear eating cocaine and going berserk sounds rather far-fetched, but believe it or not, this film, written by Jimmy Warden and directed by Elizabeth Banks, is actually based on a true event, though granted very loosely based. In the original event, the bear unfortunately died.  Here, the bear gets hooked and therein lies the comedy. All of the actors seem to be having a good time and you will too. And you will find yourself rooting for the bear, who it turns out, aided by lots of CGI, is quite a good actor.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like over-the-top comedy/horror, you will enjoy this.  And remember that old anti-drug commercial - "This is your brain on drugs?"  Well, this is a bear on drugs!  (now streaming on Peacock)

Okay, so I liked "Cocaine Bear." 

It didn't try to be anything but what it was - a comedy/horror film with a sense of humor about itself. But as for the next few movies I am going to review...let me preface them with this.

If you have never read the search description of my blog, here it is: 

"In her often humorous yet personal style, Rosy reviews movies, TV shows and books you will want to know about (and some you will want to avoid)!" 

Well, here comes the AVOID part.

(And I know some of these films may have fans, but you know that old saying "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like?"  Well, I know a lot about movies and I know what I DON'T like!)

80 for Brady (2023)

Four women of a certain age go on a mission to attend the Super Bowl and meet Tom Brady. 

Four friends - Trish (Jane Fonda), Lou (Lily Tomlin), Maura (Rita Moreno) and Betty (Sally Field) - are all octogenarians.  Well, not Betty, as she keeps pointing out. They bond over their love of Tom Brady.  They discovered him sixteen years ago when Lou was battling cancer.  They thought he was hot and they started a tradition of being super fans. So now it's 2017 and the Patriots have made it to the Super Bowl against the Steelers, and the four are determined to somehow go there to see their hero. They manage to win tickets for the game and off they go. Silly, Old Lady shenanigans ensue. And that's it. That's the whole movie.

I swore I was not going to see this movie, because I am not a fan of movies where Old Ladies are made to look ridiculous, and I had a feeling that's what was going to happen in this movie. But I am Rosy the Reviewer, after all, so I felt that I needed to do due diligence for my fans, and as an Old Lady myself, I felt I had the cred to give my take on this film. So I watched it and I was right. It was a nightmare of Old Ladies running around like madwomen trying to get tickets to the Super Bowl so they could drool over Tom Brady, and once they were there, getting themselves involved in all kinds of crazy stuff. It was also about Old Ladies obsessed with sex (which is almost always a theme in these kinds of movies), smoking pot and getting high (another cliche) and participating in silly antics for the amusement of the masses. 

"Oh, look at that old lady.  She is high and wearing a mask and thinks she is in an 'Eyes Wide Shut" scenario with a bunch of guys who all look like Guy Fieri. Isn't that hilarious?" Not

"Oh look Betty is competing in a hot wings eating contest and can eat the hottest of the hot! Isn't that hilarious?" Not.

"Gee, Trish writes erotic fan fiction about Rob Gronkowski.  Isn't that hilarious?" Not.

"Wow, look at Lou giving Tom a pep talk so that he can come back from behind and win the game! Isn't that hilarious?" Not. 

But the final straw was when the ladies made their way into the coordinator's booth and called the plays for the game!! What? Hilarious, right? Old Ladies calling the plays for the Super Bowl and their team wins.  I give up.

So here's the question.  

What are seasoned, award-winning actresses doing in a mess like this?  Shouldn't they be playing the great roles for older women created by Shaw, Lorca, Chekhov and Wilde?  But no, they have to pander to the masses and make fools of themselves, and for that, okay, they did a good job of that. Because instead of playing some of the great roles for women of a certain age, they are playing old ladies lusting after Tom Brady!

I know actresses of a certain age have to hustle for roles.  They are not respected as they should be and I get that but c'mon, ladies. Can't you finance something serious for yourselves that celebrates being a successful woman of a certain age that helps us learn something from your lives? Or maybe Broadway is calling. Broadway doesn't require close-ups (though Jane at 80 looks like a baby doll - I need to know who her plastic surgeon is!), and it doesn't pander to Avenger fans.  Don't soil your awards with stuff like this.  You deserve better.

Written by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern and directed by Kyle Marvin, this film is based on a true story and I will give it props for celebrating female friendships, but why make this movie? So four Old Ladies love Tom Brady and want to go to the Super Bowl.  That's really stretching it as the plotline for a film. Oh, right, Tom Brady is one of the producers.

The best thing about this movie was the football footage and I'm not even a football fan!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you want a good movie about older women watch "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" or "The Joy Luck Club."  But not this one. (Streaming on Paramount+, on DVD and for rent on Amazon Prime)

Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023)

Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) is back and offered a deal he can't refuse.

And thank god this is his last dance.  I mean, how many more hip gyrations can our now aging Mike do before he throws his hip out?

When the movie starts, Mike is 40 and the pandemic has taken a toll on him. He feels adrift.  He has given up dancing and started a furniture store but it was failing so now he is hustling and taking any gig he can get.  But then, while bartending at a charity event, he meets Max Mendoza (Salma Hayek), an older, very rich woman who is also adrift. Her marriage is in trouble and she is bored. She propositions him.  At first, Mike thinks she has mistaken him for a male prostitute, but then she explains that one of her friends had told her he did a "nice little dance."  She thought if he danced for her, it would lift her spirits.  She asks him how much and he says "$60,000."  That's a bit much even for a very rich woman.  How about $6000?  It's a deal.

Well, my peeps, let me tell you. Boy, did our Mike do a dance!  It was actually a bit cringey but when he lifted her up onto his shoulders and pressed her against the sliding glass door... Let's just say it all became less a dance and more like a simulated sex act, but still really cringey...and, then, well, they ended up in bed as one does after a dance like that.

And based on that dance, Max gets her groove back and decides to hire Mike to come to London to choreograph a show in her theatre.  You see, her husband (Alan Cox) owns a famous, historic theatre - Rattigan's - in the West End and Max looks after it. So far, they have been producing stuffy period plays but now Max, with her newly ignited passion, wants to capture the magic of our Mike and put on a male stripper show.  How do you think that's going to go over?

This is not just a sequel to the first hugely successful 2012 "Magic Mike" movie.  And you already know how I feel about sequels (if you don't, you haven't been reading my reviews very long). This is a sequel to a sequel  and the fact that it's a sequel to a sequel makes it that much worse.  They should have all stopped while they were ahead.  

I am a Channing Tatum fan and was a fan of the original movie, but this is a perfect example of wringing as much out of a concept as possible, and not in a good way. With a screenplay by Reid Carolin (he wrote the first two Magic Mike films), this is about as far-fetched as you can get and takes away any good feelings you might have had about the original film. It did for me, anyway. 

Why would a rich woman hire a perfect stranger, who gave her an elaborate lap dance, to come to London to choreograph a show at her theatre?  I don't care how good a dancer he is, she has known this guy for ONE DAY! And to make matters worse, the film is slow to get going, there is the requisite disaffected teenage daughter, which I have become sick of encountering in films, and there's not enough sex.  Some good sex can sometimes save a bad movie but, anyway, I digress.  This is basically a "let's put on a show" movie, but it makes you wish Judy Garland and Micky Rooney would turn up (I know, you young-uns don't have the slightest idea who I am talking about)! 

And then Max's husband does what he can to shut down the show. A bureaucratic prig has a problem with the stage, but the male strippers get her to change her mind by taking over the city bus she is riding on and doing a dance for her. Please. Have you ever been to London? THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. I am absolutely gobsmacked that this thing was directed by Steven Soderbergh.  He must have also been affected by the Pandemic!

It seemed this film was striving for a metaphor - dance is life or something like that. The teenaged actress playing Max's daughter (Jamelia George) narrates and brings up highfalutin stuff about dance and life but if you are going to do that, DON'T CHOOSE MALE STRIPPERS.  When male strippers personify dance as life, I'm saying, nope.

Rosy the Reviewer says...just awful.

Women Talking (2022)

In 2010, the women and girls of an unnamed, isolated Mennonite colony discover that the men have been using livestock tranquilizer to subdue and rape them. What should they do?  Nothing?  Stay and fight?  Or leave?

When the women discovered that the men had been raping them, they had been told that the acts were the acts of demons.  Right, demon men in their community.  The attackers are arrested and imprisoned and the women are told they need to forgive the men and that forgiveness gets them into heaven.  If they don't forgive they will have to leave the colony.  So while most of the men are away posting bail, the women decide to vote on whether or not to forgive the men.  So lots of talking and arguing about what to do and we get to know the women.

Scarface Janz (Frances McDormand) wants to stay along with Salome (Claire Foy) and Ona (Rooney Mara), who is pregnant after being raped, but she votes to stay only if new rules give women equality. However, Ona changes her mind and joins Mejal (Michelle McLeod) to leave the colony along with Mariche (Jessie Buckley). There are those set in their ways who want to uphold the status quo, even when there is abuse, and then there are those who want to embrace change no matter what. 

August (Ben Whishaw), the colony's schoolteacher, joins the women to record the meeting, as none of the women were taught to read or write. Their reasons for leaving are transcribed by August: to ensure the safety of their children, to be steadfast in their faith, and to have freedom of thought. They decide to try to take boys aged fifteen years and younger with them. The women plan to leave at sunrise but it's not that easy.  Who will get away, who will stay?

Oh, the evil that men do.  Sorry, guys, but we women don't do this sort of thing, subjugating you, making you powerless, and worse, drugging and raping you.  But the bottom line here is the power that women have once they start talking and sharing and when they realize they are not alone.  When women get together and share a common bond of mistrust and abuse, watch out!  

Written and directed by Sarah Polley, the film is based on a 2018 Canadian novel of the same name by Miriam Toews (who also contributed to the screenplay) and was inspired by rapes that occurred at the Manitoba Colony, a remote and isolated Mennonite community in Bolivia. 

This film was nominated for Best Picture of 2022, which brings me to my usual rant about the Academy raising the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10.  It is sometimes a stretch to get to 10 and, though this film has redeeming qualities in its message, I don't really see it as a Best Picture. It has limited appeal for various reasons i.e. it would mostly be of interest to women and those watching "Return to Amish (okay, don't come after me.  That's my sense of humor);" it's very claustrophic and talky; and it has a one note plot that is slow, slow, slow and not much happens. The film is aptly titled. The women talk and talk and talk and talk.  I usually have a high tolerance for movies like this, but my finger was itchy on the fast forward button for most of it.   

But it looks like I am in the minority. 

It was named one of the top ten films of 2022 by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute and won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 28th Critics Choice Awards and the 75th Writers Guild of America Awards. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time but I am thinking you won't be either. 

I wanted to like this film. 

It had qualities I usually like: a film about women written and directed by a woman, an outstanding cast and a hopeful theme - that the young people will learn from the past and come to save us. God knows we need the young people to save us these days but sadly they can't save this movie.

Rosy the Reviewer says..though the film features an all-star cast and has redeeming qualities, it failed at the most basic level. It was boring.

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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