Showing posts with label Ladies Who Punch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ladies Who Punch. Show all posts

Friday, April 12, 2019

"Gloria Bell" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "Gloria Bell" as well as DVDs "Beast" and "Assassination Nation."  The Book of the Week is "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Unbelievable Truth."]

Gloria Bell

It ain't easy finding love when you are a woman of a certain age...but somehow you keep dancing.

Now here's a dilemma.  You know how much I hate English version remakes of foreign films, right?  But what do I do when it's an English version remake by the very guy who did the original foreign film? One that I loved?

I saw the original version of this ("Gloria") directed by Chilean director Sebastian Lelio in 2013.  Starring Paulina Garcia, it was a lovely celebration of Gloria's single life in Santiago, Chile. I absolutely loved it. Now five years later, Julianne Moore plays the American Gloria, and this time Lelio co-writes with Alice Johnson Boher, probably to get the Americanisms right, but it's basically the same story as his original "Gloria."  However, despite the fact it's almost identical to the original film (though set in the U.S.), I didn't love it quite as much as the first one. Lelio wanted to make this version specifically so that Julianne Moore could shine in the part. Though Moore's performance is a tour de force, sadly she just didn't have the same impact on me as Garcia did.  But the story itself is a lovely one, and if you haven't seen "Gloria," then I can definitely recommend this version.

Gloria is a single lady of a certain age.  She is an empty nester, living alone in an apartment with a crazy man upstairs, who keeps her awake as he yells and carries on ,and a hairless cat that keeps getting into her apartment. Gloria's adult children have their own lives.  Her son, Peter (Michael Cera in a very small role), is caring for his newborn baby while his wife is supposedly off finding herself.  Her daughter, Anne (Caren Pistorius), has met a Swedish surfer and plans to move to Sweden.  So Gloria is on her own.  But she has a job in an insurance agency, her own apartment, even if it comes with a crazy guy upstairs, and when she gets lonely she likes to get dressed up and go out dancing at a nearby club that caters to the over-50 crowd.  She loves to dance and is doing just fine, thank you very much.

But one night, Gloria meets Arnold (John Turturro).  They take to each other immediately in more ways than one and Gloria is happy until she realizes Arnold has a huge amount of baggage.  He is getting divorced but can't seem to extricate himself from his wife and daughters. They are always calling him and interrupting his time with Gloria.  And when called, he goes to them much to Gloria's disappointment.  He also has this habit of just disappearing.  When Gloria takes him to visit her family, he just quietly leaves and Gloria has no idea where he went much to her embarrassment.  Turns out he didn't feel he was getting any attention from her.  So Gloria breaks up with him, then takes him back but when she realizes that Arnold is never going to change, that he is hopelessly tied to his needy family, she takes matters into her own hands.

Julianne Moore is quite good in this.  She sheds her actressy mannerisms that have crept up on her over the years and I was drawn in.  But, she just didn't have the pathos that Garcia had in the original and I couldn't get that out of my mind, hence the main reason why I DON'T LIKE REMAKES!

Turturro is a strange choice as a love interest.  I mean, he is more known for quirky roles but he is a wonderful actor and he makes it work. He is very believable as a guy with, shall I say, problems?

Lelio has created a wonderful nuanced female character which is amazing since he is a man. So many men write female characters and get it wrong.  But he gets it just right and whether she is played by Paulina Garcia or Julianne Moore, Gloria's story is a fascinating one just for its very ordinariness. She could be any of us and you care about her. And she reminds us that no matter what, life goes on. Just dance!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you saw the first "Gloria," you probably don't need to see this one unless you are a huge Julianne Moore fan or need a film for grown-ups.  But if you didn't see the first one and, particularly if you are a woman of a certain age, you will enjoy this mostly because you will be able to relate and because there are so few films these days aimed at us.

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


Beast (2017)

A troubled young woman meets a troubled young man.  It's trouble!

Moll (Jessie Buckley) is a strange young English woman who works as a tour guide and lives with her wealthy family on the isolated island of Jersey, helping her family care for her father who has dementia. Moll is a repressed, underappreciated girl with a domineering mother (Geraldine James), who keeps her under her thumb, and a disrespectful sister who usurps Moll's birthday by taking the birthday party as a platform for announcing she is having twins.

The town Moll lives in is experiencing a slew of murders so everyone is on edge.  After her sister hijacks her birthday party, Moll seeks refuge at a club on the beach where she meets a young man who takes her out onto the beach and tries to force himself on her but she is rescued by Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a poacher with a rifle and a brace of dead rabbits. He is handsome and mysterious where Moll is quiet and repressed. He is the antithesis to her uptight family so Moll throws herself into the relationship. The two become lovers which is not something her family approves of at all because Pascal is considered an outsider.  He's also a moody guy with few manners and a violent streak and it doesn't help that he is also a suspect in the murders, none of which are traits one's mother would approve of.

But Moll has her own demons. Number one, she appears to hate herself and doesn't get along with her family. Number 2, she has a violent streak too.  After her sister gets Pascal kicked out of the country club because he is wearing jeans, Moll disowns her family and moves in with Pascal where she admits to him that she stabbed one of her classmates though she claims it was in self defense. Perhaps there is a reason why Moll's mother keeps a close eye on her.

But despite the fact that Moll comes from a life of privilege and Pascal is an outsider, they are both misfits. Moll acknowledges that they are "the same."  But what does that really mean?

Written and directed by Michael Pearce (it's his feature film debut) and starring mostly unknowns, this is a British mystery thriller combined with a strange take on the Beauty and the Beast story but the crux of the film is... who or what is the beast?

The film was nominated for a 2019 BAFTA (British equivalent of the Oscars) for Outstanding British Film of the Year and Pearce won one for Outstanding Debut for Writer, Director or Producer. The film garnered a slew of other nominations. Buckley won an British Independent Film Award in 2018 for Most Promising Newcomer and won the British/Irish Actress of the Year award from the London Critics Circle in 2019 and she is indeed an interesting actress.  Not the usual look we expect from ingenues.  My main problem with the film was how unlikable everyone was but I guess that was the point.

Rosy the Reviewer says...fresh, original and unforgettable.

Assassination Nation (2018)

Someone has hacked everyone's cell phone and computer data exposing the dark secrets of the small town of Salem.  A modern day witch hunt ensues.

"This is the story of how my town of Salem lost it's M...F... mind."

So says Lily Colson (Odessa Young) in voiceover as the film begins. Lily and her three girlfriends, Bex (Hari Nef), Sara (Suki Waterhouse) and Em (Abra) could be described as mean girls.  They lord over their high school and take no prisoners. Let's just say that Lily has high self esteem.  She has a boyfriend but texts with a guy she calls "Daddy." Bex is a trans girl who has sex at a party with her crush, Diamond (Danny Ramirez), but then he tells her to keep it to herself because he is ashamed of his own attraction to Bex. Sara and Em are odd sisters.

When the mayor's computer data is hacked and pictures of him in compromising situations are exposed, that's one thing, but then the high school principal's pictures of his six year old daughter naked are hacked into and everyone thinks he's a pedophile, so that's really bad, and then all kinds of naked selfies start showing up and things go from bad to worse.  Someone has hacked into the townspeople's phones and computers and their text messages and pictures are all exposed.  The town is in major meltdown.

And somehow the source of the problem is traced to Lily's IP address and she gets blamed. Everyone's messages are out in public and anarchy ensues.  The men in town don masks and set out to take revenge so the girls arm up and decide to take on the town.  A bloody night ensues.

You might ask what is a woman of a certain age doing watching a teenage horror film. I had to ask myself that too.  But maybe it's a good thing for adults to see this so we know what our young people are up to when the old folks aren't watching. 

But the film has a serious side. The film takes on a whole host of issues:  homophobia, hypocrisy, guns, sex, mob mentality and, of course, social media. What if all of your texts were made public? What happens when our proclivities are exposed?  We can be "assassinated," literally and figuratively. It's all about the perils of the Internet, a modern day Salem witch hunt, and a statement about our current political culture - when real, important and scary stuff is happening but what do we do?  We take selfies and party. 

Written and directed by Sam Levinson, the film uses split screen techniques and is stylish and modern in its presentation with lots of current music and lots and lots of sex and bad language and all kinds of teenaged shenanigans.  Let's just say, it's a lot of fun, even for this old lady!

Rosy the Reviewer says..."Heathers" meets "The Purge" with a LOT of social commentary thrown in.

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

99 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

What is the truth about why Josh was in prison? And do we care?

Josh (Robert John Burke) is just out of prison and returns to his hometown to encounter a bunch of weirdos.  First, there is Audrey (Adrienne Shelly), a high schooler who thinks a nuclear bomb is going to end the world at any minute. Audrey is supposed to be a teenager but if she is a teenager, I am Jennifer Lopez.  Then there is Pearl (Julia McNeal), the sister and daughter of two people Josh supposedly killed. However, the truth about all of that is finally revealed.

Written and directed by Hal Hartley, who was a key figure in the independent film movement of the 80's and 90's, the bad acting and the way this movie was filmed reminded me of one of those porn films that had a plot, not that I would know anything about porn films.  And did I say the acting was bad?  But the film also reminded me of early Quentin Tarantino without the gore.  

All of the actors are unknowns except for a very young Edie Falco in only her first feature film role.

Why it's a Must See: "...highly intriguing, if not always fully successful first feature by independent writer-director Hal Hartley...The unvarnished quality of some of the acting limits this effort in spots, but the quirky originality of the story, characters, and filmmaking, and the offbeat, deadpan humor serve to keep the audience curious and alert."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Faint praise for a movie I am supposed to be sure I see before I die, but I have to admit, despite the bad acting and the amateurish quality of the filmmaking, I watched it all the way through, never pressing that old fast-forward button on the remote which I must admit I sometimes do when a movie is particularly bad, or worse, boring.  I guess I wanted to see what the "unbelievable truth" actually was. Turns out it was underwhelming.  I had already figured it out. But the film also had a lot of humor though it was one of those films where I wasn't sure if the humor was intentional or not.  I think it was.  Hartley was showing us just how strange and wierd our little hometowns are under the surface of normalcy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a strange little film with terrible acting but the writing is smart and the cinematography is compelling.  It's like a porn film without the porn but do you need to see this before you die?  Not really.

***The Book of the Week***

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of "The View" by Ramin Setoodeh (2019)

What really has gone on at "The View?"

You may or may not know that I am a huge fan of  "The View." It's a regular part of my retirement routine.  Come to think of it, thanks to TIVO, it was a regular part of my work life too. I have been a fan for a long time. What I am not a fan of is a hatchet job on something I like and have respect for.  I am also not really a fan of a man writing about "The View," especially when he uses words like "screeching" and "bickering" and "catfights"  to describe what goes on there.

So was this book a hatchet job?

I mean what's a MAN doing writing about "The View?"  I am immediately suspect.  But he also immediately defends himself in his dedication: "To my mom, who taught me to always listen to a woman with a strong point of view."

Setoodeh does a quick recap of daytime talk television which started with Donohue and morphed into Geraldo's theatrics (remember his broken nose?), Maury's pronouncements - "You ARE the father!" - and the fistfights on Springer.  What did a serious journalist like Barbara Walters want to do getting herself into that kind of daytime talk TV scene?

Setoodeh interviewed nearly every host and ex-host and exposes how Rosie and Whoopi supposedly tried to hijack the show.  He also doesn't spare any of  the humiliations and betrayals either that went on amongst all of the various hosts.

Over the years I have had my favorites.  Right now, I think the table is almost perfect.  Love Whoopi, love Sunny, love Joy and Meghan has grown on me.  She is the main conservative voice and I know a conservative voice needs to be there but she needs to stop interrupting Joy or Joy will rip her a new one.  But Abby?  Not long for the table. She doesn't bring very much. Bring on Anna Navarro.  She is fantastic. Always on point and funny as hell.

As for past hosts:  loved Rosie (who can forget her skewering of Trump) and Sherri Shepherd, even though she didn't come equipped with very much intellectual baggage.  She thought the world was flat.  But she was always joyful. Sherri was just happy to be there and it showed.

Hosts who I did not like were many and varied and I am glad they are gone.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck (for obvious reasons but in case not to you - self-righteous and smug to the nth degree. I was initially happy to have her there because I am a big "Survivor" fan but it didn't take long listening to her before I felt I had just spent three months on "Survivor"); Nicolle Wallace (her voice was so annoying it was like listening to a car alarm going off - all day long); Sara Haines (too perky for me.  I hate perky - and she kept hitting Joy every time she made a point). But I kind of get why they were there. 

But hosts who should never have been there at all?  

I am still shaking my head about these folks and so glad those days are over - in order of how glad I am that they are gone from happy to really happy: 

Jedediah Bila (no sense of humor); Michelle Collins (too much interjecting of what she thought was humor, none of which was funny and most of which was inappropriate but she seemed like a well-meaning nice girl); Jenny McCarthy (who actually admits working on the show was the worst time of her life and it showed.  I hated every minute of it too - and I used to like her back in her MTV days.  She was another one with a very grating, annoying voice); Candace Cameron Bure (if I had to hear her talk about being a Christian one more time...);  Raven Symone (All I can ask is...Why? She had absolutely no clue what was going on); and Rosie Perez  (People, what were you thinking?).  

Can't comment on Meredith Viera when she was on the show, because I wasn't a fan back in those days, but when I do see her I think she sounds too much like a TV anchor - almost too much warmth, seems fake - nor do I have an opinion on Debbie Matenopoulos or Lisa Ling or even Star Jones, for that matter, because I wasn't watching then.  

But Setoodeh will bring you up to speed on all of it, how they came in and how they went out. He certainly seemed to have a backstage pass to all of this.  Not really a hatchet job, but I just would have felt better if this book had been written by a woman.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like juicy celebrity stuff, this is juicy.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday




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.