Showing posts with label Last Night in Soho. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Last Night in Soho. Show all posts

Monday, February 28, 2022

More Movies You Might Not Know About

[I review the films "Last Night in Soho," "Swallow," "On the Rocks" and "No Time to Die" - I know you know about this last one, but I will share something you might not know... read on]

Last Night in Soho (2021)

A psychological thriller about a young present day fashion designer who finds herself back in the 1960's where she has some strange and frightening adventures.

Young Eloise, "Ellie" (Thomasin McKenzie), a sheltered girl from Cornwall gets the opportunity to go to the London College of Fashion, but her grandmother (Rita Tushingham) is not sure she should go.  "London can be a lot."  And grandma is right.  She has reason to be fearful because her own daughter, Ellie's mother, went to London to be a designer and ended up committing suicide.  But Ellie is determined.

When Ellie gets to London, she discovers that the girls in her dorm are much more sophisticated than she is and not friendly, so she moves out of the dorm and finds a room in Soho in the home of Mrs. Collins (Diana Rigg in her last role before her death). Ellie is obsessed with the 1960's and somehow she is able to go back in time to the 1960's. (It would have been nice to have some sort of explanation of how that happens, for example did she get bopped on the head like the kid in "Yesterday?" Is she dreaming?  Did she find a worm hole?  But that's okay - I liked this film anyway).

I liked this film because the 1960's was my young world, and boy, did I want to live in London.  I had a bad case of Anglophilia.  No, that's not a disease.  It's a love of all things British.

So I enjoyed following Ellie as she wandered around 1960's London living vicariously through Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy, who helped us all get through the early days of the pandemic with her wonderful performance in "The Queen's Gambit"), an aspiring singer.  Ellie even takes on Sandie's look in real life - the blonde hair, the minidress - and uses Sandie as inspiration for her designs in fashion school. At first it's all fun and exciting, but as the film progresses, there is a sense of foreboding, and things start to go all wrong for Ellie and for Sandie. Ellie is haunted by her mother's ghost and Sandi meets Jack (Matt Smith), who uses Sandie's drive for success to lure her into a dark world.  Maybe the 60's weren't so magical after all.

Directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed "Baby Driver" and one of my favorite films, "Shaun of the Dead," this is part psychological thriller, part time-traveling murder mystery, part ghost story and part horror film.  The story by Wright (screenplay by Krysty Wilson-Cairns) starts out strong but, I have to say that it could have been about 30 minutes shorter and the big twist ending was totally OTT (that's brit-speak for over the top).  But the film is very atmospheric and Anya Taylor-Joy is always, well, a joy with McKenzie keeping right up with her and providing a good contrast.

Actors Rita Tushingham, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, who has a pivotal role, all fixtures of 1960's shows and films, add an authentic feel, though it's difficult to see how old they all look now, especially considering I was around in the 1960's too!  But it was great to see them.  Another bonus is the wonderful 60's soundtrack - Dusty singing "Wishin' and Hopin," Petula Clark singing "Downtown," Peter and Gordon singing "A World Without Love." Brought back a lot of memories.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if like me, you have always wanted to experience the "Swinging London" of the 1960's, this atmospheric film is for you, even if it's a bit OTT. (on DVD and available to rent on Amazon, Vudu and Apple+)


Swallow (2019)

Hunter (Haley Bennett), an overwhelmed housewife, feels compelled to swallow dangerous objects.

Okay, I know what you are thinking.  Ew.  Yes, there is an "ew factor" to this, but this is also a very compelling film.

Hunter is a soft-spoken young woman who wants to be the best wife to her rich and on-his-way-up husband, Richie (Austin Stowell).  He loves her in his way, but doesn't validate her, and Hunter just can't seem to speak up for herself.  Just telling her husband she made a decision about the color for their new drapes seems to be a huge deal for her.  Add to the mix her husband's father (David Rasche) and mother (Elizabeth Marvel), both of whom look down on Hunter there is the sense that Hunter isn't good enough for their son. After all, she worked in a department store selling toiletries.  Hunter cleans the pool, cooks, has sex with her husband whenever he wants it, but there is the sense that she isn't good enough. 

Then Hunter becomes pregnant and everyone is over the moon, but Hunter is just overwhelmed. She has no power in her home and now she has no power over her body.  She is very insecure about speaking up or having an opinion and feels like she is not living up to her husband's expectations. She is clearly her husband's possession, not his equal. Think Stepford Wives. She is a kind soul who is in over her head amongst more sophisticated people, all of whom have agendas.

She says to her husband, "I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything wrong." 

At dinner one night with Austin's parents, Hunter starts crunching on ice cubes. And then later, just like that, she swallows a push pin.  Yes, that was horrifying, but to Hunter it was a victory.  Now she has some power.  A secret life. And it's all downhill from there, especially when her husband finds out, not only what she has been doing, but a secret that Hunter has been carrying her whole life.

Now many women deal with issues like that by turning to drink or drugs or they stop eating,but Hunter falls victim to a little known disorder - Pica - which involves swallowing all sorts of dangerous objects from push pins to batteries to needles.  Like I said, the "ew factor" is huge, but think of all of those horror films you have watched. This is a kind of horror story, but this time there are no ghosts or monsters at work, just personal demons. But despite the subject matter, you will want to know what is going to happen to her.  Will Hunter escape the cold, sterile environment in which she finds herself? Will she find her voice?

So what's the point of this?  What's to be learned?

Written and directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis, this film gives insight into how some people, who feel helpless and powerless and not seen, can feel some power. What happens to women who feel they need to be quiet and compliant, to women who have no voice?  Somehow that voice will come out as a silent scream of compulsion and addiction. And having a secret life can give a person a sense of power. Bennett brings Hunter to life in a beautiful, believable performance.

I was riveted to this film despite its subject matter.  My only criticism is the ending is a bit much, and I would think very controversial in some circles, but overall, this was an original and interesting story well executed. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...highly recommended out the next time you hear someone crunching ice cubes. (On DVD, AMC+ and Direct TV)

On the Rocks (2020)

A young mother reconnects with her playboy dad over her husband's possible infidelity.

I have never quite bought into Bill Murray as a dramatic actor.  I could never get his silly SNL characters out of my mind. It always looked like he was smirking his way through his roles. But then Sofia Coppola got a hold of him for "Lost in Translation" and found just the right character for him. He was subdued and poignant. I bought it. Since then he did well in "St. Vincent" and "Monuments Men" so I have given up my misgivings. But he hasn't really done much dramatic stuff of late, but then here comes Sofia again with just the right role for him. And once again, he puts in a subdued and poignant performance. They get each other, I guess.

Laura (Rashida Jones) is a writer with writer's block.  She also has children to take care of and a hard-working husband (Marlon Wayans) who is never home.  The thrill is gone and, what makes matters worse, is that Laura thinks her husband is having an affair. Her playboy dad, Felix (Murray), one of those charmers who is a stranger to no one, stops his jet setting ways to come and help her deal with her fears. He is such a charmer that he not only talks a cop out of giving him a ticket, but the cop offers to help jump start his car! However, rather than making Laura feel better, Felix feeds the flames of that fear by saying that men are basically not monogamous.  But he wants to help, so the two go on an odyssey around New York City trying to catch her husband and adventures ensue.  Sound familiar? As "Lost in Translation" was a love letter to Tokyo, this does the same for New York City.

There is a little motif that plays out during the film. Laura can no longer whistle since she had a baby.  Gee, I wonder what's going to happen at the end of the film. Let's just say Laura holds her own and finds her voice and that's not a spoiler.  Even though you can probably figure out how it's going to go, in the meantime you can enjoy the ride because this is a satisfying and enjoyable film. And I am happy to report that Rashida Jones holds her own as an actress against that big on-screen personality that is Bill Murray.

I mean, when we are in trouble, don't we all want our dads to swoop down and help us?  But at the same time, though that is really nice, we women have to learn to take care of ourselves and that also often comes from our Dads.  My Dad was always there to help me, but he also gave me the confidence to make my way on my own. That's what is happening here.

Coppola wrote and directed this father-daughter love story, and the dialogue is real and believable.  You are brought into this father-daughter world and feel like a fly on the wall, observing a real father and daughter. Felix is a very BIG personality, one of those types that sucks up all the air around him and everyone else. Laura is a quieter type, living in the shadow of her charming, out there, Dad. You can't help but wonder if this is a love letter to Coppola's own very famous and probably charming father.

Rosy the Reviewer's not deep, but it's a lovely story about father-daughter bonding with many little moments that will bring a smile to your face. (On DVD and streaming on Apple+)

No Time to Die (2021)

James Bond is back...but not in a good way!

Okay, I know you know about this one, but if you haven't seen it, what you might not know is that it's not very good.  And it actually falls under part of the title of this blog - the "know about" part, because I just did not know what this movie was about. I mean, at any given time, I did not know what the heck was going on, and I don't think it's just me.  

So after the longest cold opening in James Bond history, or at least it felt that way, listening to a very non-iconic Billy Eilish song, and a first hour where I didn't have the slightest idea what was going on (something about microscopic robots with DNA to target a particular person?), I just lost interest. A sad commentary for Daniel Craig's last stint as 007. 

I have always been a huge James Bond fan, but maybe I'm just getting too old for these.  I mean, I still miss Sean Connery!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are into the heart-stopping chases, you might enjoy this but there aren't enough of those to sustain almost three hours. My advice? Don't bother. (But if you don't trust me, see for yourself. Available on DVD and for rent on Amazon and Vudu)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

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