Showing posts with label Live Wire: Long Winded Stories (Book Review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Live Wire: Long Winded Stories (Book Review). Show all posts

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

"Blonde" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Blonde" as well as a little British mystery film: "Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop." The Book of the Week is Kelly Ripa's "not-a-memoir," "Live Wire: Long-Winded Stories."]

Blonde (2022)

A very fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe.

There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this movie with it taking a lot of criticism about its accuracy when it came to Monroe's life.  However, what you may not know is that this movie is based on Joyce Carol Oates' book of the same name, a book that was a work of fiction.  It was her fictionalized account of Marilyn. So with that in mind...

I get the controversy, but I am not against movies having creative license when it comes to telling true stories.  What I am against is an unpleasant film experience. This is not just a fictionalized account of Marilyn's life but a horror movie.

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson (baptized Baker) in 1926. Raised in Los Angeles, without a father, her mother suffered from mental illness and Norma spent much of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage.  She started out as a pin-up model during WW II and soon found fame in the movies as a "blonde bombshell," and became one of the most famous sex symbols of the 50's and 60's starring in such movies as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "The Seven Year Itch" and "Some Like it Hot." But her turbulent personal life seemed to outweigh her career accomplishments.  She was married to James Doherty at the age of 16 (not touched on in the movie), baseball hero, Joe DiMaggio, and playwright Arthur Miller, neither of whom seemed to really take her seriously.  She supposedly had an affair with JFK and she struggled with drug addiction. She died mysteriously in 1962 at the age of 36 and she remains a pop culture icon to this day.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominick, the movie touches on much of that, but quickly skips from the orphanage to modeling to acting without much detail about how Norma Jean got there and became Marilyn. The film mostly concentrates on the sad side of Marilyn:  her exploitation by men, her mentally ill mother, her absent father, an abortion that she never got over (with a very cringy abortion scene), a miscarriage that she also never got over, drugs and possibly her own mental illness. The film also has another very cringy, an oral sex scene with JFK. In fact, there are many cringy scenes in this film. 

Marilyn, played by Ana de Armas, is portrayed as a victim who just happened to make it big.  All she really wanted was to be loved and to be taken seriously and to find that absent father.  But according to this, that never happened.  She was a victim who was taken advantage of time and time again. It's a dreary and grim story, and at almost three hours, it's a dreary, grim, and over-dramatic film experience that eventually becomes irritating because it seems to never end. 

Production wise, the film was also irritating.  It moves back and forth from black and white to color without a rhyme or reason.  At first, I thought the black and white sections were memories or the past but that didn't add up. I never did figure out what that device was supposed to embody, but it bugged the heck out of me.

The only thing I really liked in this film was Ana de Armas' performance which is extraordinary.  She embodies Marilyn and I can envision an Oscar nomination for her performance.  I just wish she had more to work with.

Much of the controversy surrounding this film is about the factual accuracy of this depiction of Marilyn's life. Did Marilyn's mother really try to kill her? Did Joe really beat her up during their marriage? Did JFK really rape her? What if she was a drug addict, what if mental illness was taking her over? Lots of what ifs and did that really happen questions. I don't mind the questions. What I minded was the relentless dreariness of this story.

Yes, Marilyn had a rough life in many ways but what's the lesson here? Is there one?  If there was, I didn't get it.  Men in power exploit women?  Yes, we know that. Horrible childhoods result in messed up adults. Again, yes. Marilyn Monroe was really little Norma Jean trying to find her Daddy. Okay. But when all of this bad stuff goes on and on with no let up and no real message, it feels like Marilyn is being exploited all over again and leaves the viewer feeling exploited too.

Marilyn Monroe may have been dead for 60 years but her memory deserves more than this.  Yes, she was probably exploited in life, but I don't like the feeling I get watching her memory get exploited in death. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...according to this film, Marilyn had an extremely unpleasant life, and for me, this was an extremely unpleasant film experience. (In theatres and on Netflix)

Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop (2021)

An amateur detective investigates some strange goings on at a bookshop.

Miss Elizabeth Willoughby (Nathalie Cox) is a poor little rich girl who grows up to be a professor and an amateur sleuth.  Her parents died when she was very young and she was left with her father's friend, Robert (Kelsey Grammer), an American, as her guardian. As a young girl, Lizzie was an insatiable reader, so Robert let little Miss Willoughby read the morning away but in the afternoon he taught her martial arts, which we later learn will come in handy one day.

When Lizzie's friend, Helen (Louise Bangay), an owner of a bookshop, reports some strange goings on there, she asks Lizzie for help. Helen believes she is being haunted by the ghost of her late father. Helen's husband (Steven Elder) believes Helen is going mad.  Is the bookshop really haunted or his Helen's husband gaslighting her?  Lizzie is on the case.

Written by Kate Wood, Chad Law, and Josh Ridgway (story by Philippe Martinez) and directed by Brad Wilson, this is a bit slow to get going but very much in the vein of British TV shows like "All Creatures Great and Small" and "Grantchester," very cosy and quaint and old fashioned, with a mystery that is not really a mystery.  Let's just say, there is nothing here to get your knickers in a twist about.  It's all very uncomplicated and "G rated," but it's a pleasant story with a pleasant cast. If you were a fan of "Murder She Wrote," it's kind of like that, and this is supposedly the first in a series which would be a welcome addition to that genre.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need an escape into the beautiful English countryside with some pleasant people, and you like your mysteries British, ones that won't tax your brain too much, this is for you. (For rent on most streaming platforms)

***The Book of the Week***

"Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories" by Kelly Ripa (2022)

Actress and talk show host Kelly Ripa does her usual over-sharing, this time in a book.

Actress and talk show host Ripa (“Live with Kelly and Ryan”) wants readers to know that this is not really a memoir.  It’s a series of essays and she wrote them all by herself.  But fans will be happy to know there are plenty of anecdotes about her life delivered in her characteristic self-deprecating humor.  

She laments the difficulty of writing a book, she shares the difference between North and South Jersey (she’s from the South), muses on parenting (“I thought as long as my kids didn’t get strep throat often and had cookies for the class bake sale I was killing it in the parenting department”), the empty nest, mother/daughter relationships, botox and plastic surgery, auditioning for Live! and her tenuous relationship with ex-cohost Regis Philbin. She also overshares stories about her 25 year marriage to her husband, Mark Consuelos, whom she met on the set of “All My Children,” the birth of her first child, an embarrassing chance encounter with Richard Gere along with a lot more oversharing, but fans of Live! are probably used to that.  Ripa exhibits the same openness, bawdy humor, and TMI that her fans have come to expect.

I laughed out loud at much of this and thought, gee, I should watch the show.  So I gave it a try.  What I discovered was that Ripa is funny on the page, way too much for me in person.

Rosy the Reviewer easy funny read that includes celebrity insider info (if you are into that kind of thing) and if you are a fan, you will love this, but you don't need to be a fan of "Live with Kelly and Ryan" to get some laughs from this! (Check it out from your local library)


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)