Showing posts with label Kathy Griffin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathy Griffin. Show all posts

Friday, October 25, 2019

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

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

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Maiden (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edwards and other members of the crew narrate the film. 

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

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

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

The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

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

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

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

But back to the dog.

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

"Todd filled us with purpose."  

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

But they had no money.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

57 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932)

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

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

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

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

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

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

***The Book of the Week***

Inside Out: A Memoir by Demi Moore (2019)

Actress Demi Moore shares her story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.