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

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 world...to 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"

 and

  
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 IMDB.com, 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, February 2, 2018

"The Post" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "The Post" as well as DVDs "Happy Death Day" and "The Snowman."  The Book of the Week is "Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid)" by Greta Van Susteren.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Salo (and I apologize for this one in advance"]




The Post


Before "fake news" and "alternative facts," people read newspapers and believed in the power of the press.

In an age where "fake news" and "alternative facts," two phrases unheard of ten years ago, have become part of our lexicon, no one seems to trust the press anymore, especially millennials, despite the fact that the press is an integral part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and acts as an important part of the checks and balances that make up our democracy. 

The First amendment of the U.S. Constitution as adopted in 1791 reads as follows:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

However, our own current President has said that "The Press is the enemy of the people," something that Joseph Stalin also said.  Not sure if our President knew that Stalin said it first.  He probably heard it somewhere.

Now I am going to quote someone: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" - so said philosopher George Santayana and history tells us that newspapers were and are a vital part of our free speech. Members of the press have risked their jobs and lives to give the American people the truth. It was the press that exposed the widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests ("Spotlight") and it was the press that told the American People about Watergate ("All the Presidents Men") and the corruption of the Nixon White House.  A free press protects our right to read and exposes corruption and lies, so, naturally, the first thing despots and dictators do when they take control is stifle the news.

Clearly the press is under attack today with our own President taking to social media and telling us the press is our enemy, but at the same time, since our President has been caught in lie after lie and exaggeration after exaggeration, we need the press more than ever. But we are also in a time when people are more likely to believe what they read on Facebook and Twitter than what they read in the newspaper, if they are even reading the newspaper anymore.

So in the midst of this controversy about whether or not we can trust what we read in the press vs. what our President says, here is the story of yet another secret kept from the American people that was exposed by a vigilant and courageous press, the story of the 1971 publication by the Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the lies that had been told to the American people by the government about Vietnam ever since Truman's Presidency.  Katherine Graham, the owner of the paper, and Ben Bradlee, the editor, published the papers despite the fact that they were under duress by Nixon's government to not do so and faced possible arrest for treason. 

The New York Times had first published revelations from the Papers but faced an injunction by Nixon's government if they continued.  Since The Post also had access to the Papers, they wanted to pick up the gauntlet and publish them, but Graham and Bradlee didn't know what the government would do if they did so. The Press and the First Amendment was clearly under attack by the government.  Sound familiar? 

This film is timely and could be taking place today except this was about the Nixon White House and the Pentagon Papers, a leaked report exposing America's losing strategy in Vietnam, a report showing that the government knew for years that the war was unwinnable despite the fact that the powers that be continued to send young men there to die.

But this film is not just a newspaper story.  It's also a story about the people behind the story.  It is also about gender bias and the courage of one woman, Katherine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post and the first female owner of any major newspaper.

The film reminds us that only 47 years ago women were not considered capable of having their own credit cards, let alone running a newspaper.  When he died, Katherine Graham's own father left the paper he owned to Katherine's HUSBAND instead of her because she was a woman.  

Katherine was a rich socialite who hobnobbed with the political glitterati, including Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense. She wasn't prepared to ruffle the feathers of people she had known for years and socialized with. She also wasn't prepared to take the helm of this lofty newspaper that was in the midst of negotiating to go public, so she was under intense pressure and scrutiny. 

When given the opportunity to make history by publishing the Pentagon Papers, Graham also had to not only weigh the legal repercussions but also the political and social repercussions.  She was courageous in her desire to print the truth because despite the injunction against the New York Times, she made the decision to forge ahead anyway.  The Washington Post was a well-respected newspaper and printing the Pentagon Papers would blow the lid off of Nixon's Washington, which it did, but it took Watergate (another Washington Post news coup which happened soon after) to finally get rid of Richard Nixon.

Meryl Streep once again shows her range as an actress, with a nuanced performance that beautifully expressed Katherine's trepidation as she was just starting to take control of the paper after her husband's death.  She has a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her performance.

Tom Hanks can also be counted on to put in a good performance and he does here as Ben Bradlee, the Editor-in-Chief who wants to publish the Pentagon Papers but must convince Katherine to be brave. He and Streep are great together and it's amazing to realize the two have never worked together before.  We are also used to Tom Hanks getting Oscar nominations for practically everything he does, but not this year, which is considered by many to be a major snub by the Academy.

Directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by Josh Singer and Liz Hannah, it will not be lost on anyone who sees this film where Spielberg's political allegiance lies and what the parallels are between what happened in 1971 and what is happening today. Just as Nixon tried to stifle the press, so, too, today the press is under attack.

Interestingly, Spielberg was also snubbed by the Academy and was not nominated for a Best Directing Oscar, despite his deft direction, which included parts of Nixon's tapes, bringing this piece of history to the screen. The film is a real story about real reporting and the characters are real.  You can't make this stuff up.  But it's also good old-fashioned storytelling that even though you know how it ends will keep you riveted to your seat.

Rosy the Reviewer says...an important but entertaining film that resonates in today's political climate.  It is also up for a Best Picture Oscar.

 




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

On DVD





Happy Death Day (2017)



Think a horror version of "Groundhog Day."

Like "Friend Request," which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, this film falls into the category of "horror lite."  You don't need to worry about blood and gore and in fact this one actually is quite fun.

It begins with Tree Gelbman (Jessical Rothe) getting a text wishing her a "Happy Birthday" and waking up in a guy's dorm room after what looks to be a drunken one night stand despite the fact that the guy in the room with her, Carter (Israel Broussard), tells her nothing happened. However, she haughtily tells him that he had better not say anything to anyone.  Just as she is putting herself back together, Carter's roommate comes in and makes some crude remark about his getting some action the night before and Tree brushes past him to make the walk of shame across campus. 

As she does so she is approached by a young girl with a petition, she hears a car alarm go off, a hipster dude looks at her over his sunglasses, a young man, who is doing some sort of "99 beers on the wall" endurance challenge falls over and the sprinklers go on.  She runs into Tim (Caleb Spillyards) who asks her why she didn't text him back.  She insults him and heads to her sorority house where she is accosted by Danielle (Rachel Matthews), one of her sorority sisters, who reminds her about a house meeting at lunch.  She staggers up to her room and meets up with her roommate, Lori (Ruby Modine), who has baked her a cupcake for her birthday. Tree gets to class late, turns up at the lunch sorority meeting where Carter also shows up and she dumps a drink on him, and later we see that she is having an affair with her teacher. 

A day in the life of a college girl. 

Except, that night, as she heads to a party, she is followed by someone in a baby face mask (the baby face giving the killer an even more macabre feel), and, when she enters a tunnel by herself, she is confronted by the person in the mask and stabbed!

So is that the end of our Tree?

Not hardly.

Day 2, she wakes up in that same dorm room with Carter- ALIVE!  So thinking that her death was just a bad dream, she gets dressed and heads out onto the quad but there is that girl with the petition again, and the hipster who looks at her over his sunglasses and the guy in the endurance challenge who falls over, and the car alarm and everything else that happened the day before.  What's going on?  So you can imagine how nervous she is as she once again enters that tunnel on the way to the party, but when she manages to avoid the tunnel and thinking she is in the clear, breathes a sigh of relief and then - wham!

By Day 3, as Tree wakes up in Carter's room with everything happening AGAIN, she is really freaked out but she finally decides to break the cycle and, instead of going to that party, stays in her room, locking her door and boarding up the window.  You can guess what happens next.

And then we have Day 4 and Day 5...

But slowly, Tree figures out that every time she avoids being murdered the same way from the day before, the day expands and the murderer comes up with a new way to kill her, so she finally decides to tell Carter what is happening and he encourages her to solve her own murder.

Now it's ON!  Tree decides to try to take control of the situation.

Yes, she keeps getting murdered, but each day she tries to do something different and she gets closer and closer to solving her own murder.  And each day she starts to realize things about herself and, wouldn't you know, Tree turns from a mean girl to a nicer, more sensitive girl.

You see, this isn't just a horror film.  It's a film about learning to be a good person.

Carter tells her, "Each new day is a chance to be somebody better."

And Tree realizes that..."When you relive the same day over and over you kind of find out who you really are."

Directed by Christopher Landon with a screenplay by Scott Lobdell, and starring relative unknown but very engaging young actors, the solution to the mystery isn't that satisfying but the getting there is lots of fun.

Pay attention to the opening credits which are clever and fun and hint at the Groundhog Day aspects to come.

Rosy the Reviewer says...clearly aimed at teens, this film is fun even for us older folks and it has a good message, though getting murdered day after day is a rather radical way to get the message across to someone to become a better person.






The Snowman (2017)




A former legendary Oslo cop who has hit hard times and is on the way down finds himself trying to find a serial killer.

I remember seeing the previews for this in the theatre for months before its release and it actually looked quite good.  I like Fassbender and who wouldn't be intrigued by a serial killer who cuts people up and leaves a snowman as his calling card?  But when the film was released it was just trashed by the critics and ended up on many "Worst Films of 2017" lists.  So, OK, it was bad, but it wasn't that bad (I could name some worse movies - check out my worst list for 2017). 

The film starts with a young boy sitting at a table with his mother and a gruff old guy.  He is being grilled on Norwegian history by the old guy and, when the kids gets a question wrong, he doesn't get slapped, his mother does.  But then the guy and the mother have sex, and we realize that he is a married man having an affair with the woman.  When she threatens to tell his wife, he says she will never see him again and leaves in his car as if for good.  The mother and the boy chase him in her car but then, realizing the futility of the situation, the mother drives the car onto a frozen lake. with the car breaking through the ice and slowly sinking into the water.  The boy manages to get out but the mother stays in the car in a catatonic state as the car slowly slides under the ice.  Last we see a sad little snowman outside the house where the boy and his mother had lived.

So the film begins.

Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is an Oslo policeman.  He is an alcoholic grieving his marriage break-up and has literally fallen into a hole of alcoholism and defeat. Harry doesn't seem to have a home.  He sleeps on couches in the office or even on the street.  He's a legendary cop who is now on his way down so he needs a big case to solve so he asks his boss to assign him to a murder case.  His boss says Oslo doesn't have much in the way of murders and then, guess what?  A serial killer emerges and a rather nasty one, too. Women are disappearing and then found dismembered and weird snowmen have something to do with it.   

The film was beautifully photographed and shot in Norway, even if it was in my hated digital, but it's all very stylish. "Stylish" is the word I use when a movie is moody and beautiful to look at but one I don't really get at all or one that's pretty to look at and bad.  This film wasn't bad so much as boring and disjointed and there were some big holes in the plot.  The serial killer was almost an afterthought with all of the interpersonal angst that was going on - along with the deaths there was infertility, children born out of wedlock, infidelity.  Even The World Cup was thrown in.  .

But the film boasts a stellar cast in addition to Michael Fassbender: Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, J.K. Simmons and Val Kilmer, who looks terrible, by the way, ravaged by throat cancer.  It even seemed like Kilmer's lines were dubbed.  I have to say that some of Fassbender's films have been strange choices (I mean, did you see "Shame?"), but not as strange as some of the films that Charlotte Gainsbourg has been in. When she stars in a film, all bets are off.  You know it's going to be weird.  If you don't believe me, see "Nymphomania 1 and 2." 

So with the beautiful production values and that all-star cast, what went wrong?

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, directed by Tomas Alfredson with a screenply by Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini and Soren Sveistrup, the film just lacked the intensity that a serial killer movie needs to have and Fassbender was a bit of a sad sack, and lacked any kind of charisma, though I will say there was a brief glimpse of Fassbender's junk which woke me up for a minute (and those of you who did see "Shame" will know what I mean), but then I went back to sleep. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film was as cold as a Norwegian winter, tried to do too much and the point was lost.







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



157 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?





 
Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)



In WW II Italy, fascists round up 18 young men and women and subject them to humiliation and torture.  And trust me, it's bad.

OK, I have finally seen the worst most disgusting film of my life.  I defy anyone to justify this film.

When director Pier Paulo Passolini shows people eating excrement and later says it was a response to our capitalistic junk food society, I am out the door...or should I say, in this case, off the couch.  This movie made "Caligula" look like a Disney film.

Basically, four fascist libertines imprison attractive young people in a beautiful mansion in a beautiful bit of Italian countryside and subject them to Marquis de Sade experiences. The depravity amidst the beautiful classical architecture and Italian countryside makes it all worse.  I mean, really?  Nazis AND the Marquis de Sade?  No one in the house is allowed to have heterosexual sex and if they do, death.  All of the young people are naked and treated like dogs, literally.  They are chained and must crawl around on their hands and knees and when eating out of a dog bowl, one of the men puts some glass in it so the girl eats glass and bleeds.  They get their eyes gouged out, scalped, their nipples burned...and that's only a small part of it.  The depravity just goes on and on with one shocking image and horrific scene after another with the libertines feeling nothing. In fact, at the end they do a little chorus dance together.

Watching this film, I was trying to figure out where the line is drawn between art and pornography.  I guess if you are not sexually aroused, it's not pornography but the brutality shown in this film and the images that I will never get out of my head certainly smack of pornography to me because brutality and violence toward other human beings is the worse kind of pornography.  It's a horrible tale of power over others and I see why it was banned in many countries. 

Why it's a Must See (and this better be good!): "Pasolini's intent was to use the unbridled use of power, taken to the ultimate of sexual degradation, as a metaphor for Fascism itself, seen as a philosophy that worships power for its own sake."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Nope, not good enough. So it's an anti-fascist film showing the evils of fascism.  OK, but you can sugar coat this film all you want and paint its lofty motives, but it still wasn't necessary for me to see people getting peed on or eating excrement or all of the other horrific images of depravity for me to get that.

I have never seen anything like this before in my life and I never want to again. I have no idea why this was included in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book.  Nothing written there justified it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I certainly could have died and gone to heaven without having seen this depiction of hell.  Remember I warned you.




**Book of the Week***




Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid) by Greta Van Susteren (2017)



The title tells it all.

Considering my age, I probably would be as computer incompetent as movies like to make old folks look.  But I was a librarian in a public library so I had to have a basic knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. so I could help library users access those sites.  But it's mostly been self-taught, so I was drawn to this book to see if there was anything I didn't know or some tips that would help my social media experience.

And the answer is not really.

Veteran newswoman Van Susteren gives the basic mechanics of social media with chapters on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and personal communication outlets such as YouTube, blogging and others, but when I say basic, it really is.  As you can tell from the subtitle, this book is clearly aimed at the older folks and technology savvy younger people might find it a bit of a yawn.

However, I did learn a few things:


Facebook - Tagging

If you really want someone to see your post, you can tag them but I didn't realize that not everyone wants to be tagged. 

When you tag someone, your photo or post can be added to that person's timeline so their friends, who may not also be your friends, will see the post.  "Tagging could be considered invasive.  If your privacy settings are set to public for that post, the post will appear not only on their personal page but it will be published in all of their friends' News Feeds and available to anyone.  And when you tag someone, your post shows up in the New Feeds of their friends, many of whom don't know you." 

So technically, though in most cases it's not really practical, you should ask your friends if they mind being tagged.

Also did you know you can actually set your tag settings? 

Under Settings, you can click on Timeline and Tagging and find your tagging options and one allows you to review posts that your friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline.  If you set the Review tag to ON you will get to approve tagged photos before they appear on your timeline.  You can also remove tags and set who can see posts you are tagged in.  Seems like a lot of trouble and worry, but if you care about that kind of thing, you have options.

Facebook - Hiding Posts

If you have friends who constantly post what they ate for lunch or their political views and you are sick of it, you can hide certain kinds of posts.  Click on the little down arrow on the upper right of a post and you will get a box with multiple options.  If you choose Hide Post, FB will try to send you fewer of that kind of post, which once again reinforces that FB has power over what you get to see.  I swear that I don't see half of the posts my friends put out there and that they don't see mine.  I read in the paper today that fewer people are spending time on FB on a daily basis and perhaps that's why.  We are tired of being manipulated.

Twitter - Privacy settings

If you are worried about who can follow you, you can take steps upfront about that as well as other privacy issues, so check out your privacy settings.


Twitter - Pictures

Believe it or not, I have just discovered I can add pictures to my Tweets, so I guess I didn't know everything after all. For some reason, I never knew that.  


LinkedIn

Does anyone actually use LinkedIn anymore?



Instagram

Again, you might not want your Instagram account to be public.  You can set it to Private and people will have to ask to follow you.


Snapchat

I'm too old to go there.



Rosy the Reviewer says...though this may be too basic for most, the overview will be helpful to those who are just beginning and even the most seasoned social media users - like me - might find some helpful tips.


 
 
Thanks for reading!

 
See you next Friday 

 
for my review of 



"Phantom Thread"

  
and
  
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 IMDB.com, 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.