Showing posts with label Living with Intent (Book Review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Living with Intent (Book Review). Show all posts

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Trainwreck" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Trainwreck" and DVDs "The Duff" and "Inherent Vice."  The Book of the Week is "Living with Intent."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the classic film "Love Me Tonight" and the 1980's thriller "Diva"]

A week's worth of comedies (well, almost all of them are comedies...I think)!


Amy (Amy Schumer) is commitment phobic, has lots of drunken sex and never lets any man get too close...until she meets Aaron (Bill Hader).

When you are a little girl and your father sits you and your sister up on the hood of the car and gives you a long speech about monogamy and why he and Mommy are getting a divorce using your little dollies as a metaphor - "Would you want to have to play with the same doll for the rest of your life?" - and then has you repeat "Monogamy isn't realistic" over and over, you are not likely to grow up seeking long-term fulfilling relationships. 

So is it with our Amy when we see her 23 years later having sex and then telling the guy to leave because she can't bear to have him around in the morning. And don't even THINK about spooning.  However, Amy's sister, Kim (Brie Larson), must not have gotten the same message from their father because she is married with a baby on the way.  Both she and Amy are trying to find a nicer assisted living facility for their curmudgeon father, Gordon (Colin Quinn).  Amy is a Daddy's girl; Kim not so much.

Amy works for Dianna (an almost unrecognizable and very funny Tilda Swinton - who knew she could be funny? - playing a sort of mean Anna Wintour character) at S'Nuff, a men's magazine that delights in being outrageous, titillating and anti-woman. Dianna wants someone to research whether or not eating garlic makes semen taste different and one of Amy's colleagues pitches the idea of an article, "Are you gay or is she just boring?"  If you didn't get it from the title of the magazine, you get the idea here. 

Amy does have a "regular" boyfriend, a meathead bodybuilder (WWE wrestler John Cena), and they have a funny sex scene together where Amy wants him to talk dirty to her and all he can come up with are sports slogans like "There's no I in team" and "Winning's not everything, it's the only thing!"

Amy is assigned to interview an NBA sports doctor, Aaron Conners, something she is not pleased about because she hates sports. But when Amy is interviewing Aaron, and he asks her if she likes sports, she says she loves them. He then asks, "What's your favorite team?  She gulps and says The Orlando Blooms?

Amy Schumer wrote the entire script and it is very, very funny.  She is on a high right now with her TV show "Inside Amy Schumer," which is also very, very funny. Her acting is also right on point.  She is going to be very, very big, because she represents all of us ordinary gals - pretty but not so pretty that other girls would hate her, and a normal figure: not fat and not a skinny bitch either.  And a sweet face that belies what comes out of her mouth.

But the real revelation here is Bill Hader.  All SNL fans will remember his SNL characters: Stefon, Devon (One of "The Californians") and his takes on Clint Eastwood and Keith Morrison of "Dateline (you know, the guy with the creepy voice)," but there is no trace of any of that shtick here.  He plays it straight as a charming, good-hearted guy who is willing to put up with all of Amy's defenses and foibles because he loves her. He is completely believable and somebody we would all want to marry.

Speaking of SNL, ex-cast members abound: Along with Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Pete Davidson, and Tim Meadows all have roles.  It's like an SNL reunion.

This is the new face of rom-coms:  feminist, raunchy and real. I like it, but I know it's not for everyone.  After about 20 minutes of sex and F-bombs, two old ladies left the theatre. I could tell they were leaving for good because they had their purses.  I couldn't help but wonder, if you know anything about Amy Schumer, what did you expect and why are you here? But that's just me.

Women will enjoy Amy, but we also have the sports element here to get the guys.  I mean, LeBron James, Marv Albert and Amar'e Stoudemire are featured.  Very smart. 

And who knew LeBron was such a funny guy and good actor? He is portrayed as a cheapskate who never has money to pay the bill at a restaurant and who loves "Downton Abbey (along with his teammates)."

So this is a date movie with something for everybody.

Directed by Judd Apetow, whose films I haven't liked of late finding them very male-centric, but he is a good fit for Amy who is not your usual girly girl.  The  ending is a bit soft, but like I said, there is something for everybody here.

Maybe my slump is over.  I am finally seeing some funny films.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this joins Melissa McCarthy's "Spy" as one of the funniest comedies of the year.  I guess it takes "the girls" to finally give us some funny films.  Who says women aren't funny? 

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

The DUFF  (2015)

A high school senior is perfectly happy until she finds out she is a DUFF - the "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" - of her two other prettier girlfriends.

OK, I knew you were going to ask, what is a 60-something doing watching a movie like this?  Well, I was in high school once.  And some things never change.  No matter how old you get, you can relate to this story which is as old as the end of time.

These days, teens may have cell phones, computers and social media, but they still must endure mean girls, bullying and low self esteem.  You didn't hear much about bullying back in the day and certainly we didn't have cyberbullying, but bullying still existed. We just didn't talk much about stuff in the "olden days," but that didn't mean it didn't exist.

Mae Whitman ("Parenthood") plays Bianca Piper, a perfectly nice-looking young girl. However, as is established at the outset by two boys in the school hallway, her best friends, Jess Harris (Skyler Samuels) and Casey Cordero (Bianca A. Santos), are decidedly much hotter. But they are nice girls. Jess is a kind girl who likes yoga and Casey is a soccer player. Our heroine, Bianca, has more esoteric tastes: "B" horror films and playing the violin. But these three have been besties for years. No one seems to be keeping score here.

Bianca also works on the school paper and is given the assignment of writing an article on what the homecoming dance means to her, but since it doesn't mean much, she declines. Bianca is also in love with Toby Tucker (Nick Eversman), but can't even muster the courage to speak to him.

Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne) is the hottest girl in school but also the meanest.  She wants to be a reality star so goes around school with her posse filming herself.  She has taken it upon herself to make Bianca's life a living hell.

Wesley Rush is Bianca's next-door-neighbor.  They have known each other forever and have a sort of love-hate relationship. Bianca treats him with disdain.  And I want to state right now, Bianca must be crazy because Robby Amell, who plays Wesley, is hot, hot, hot and I predict the next big thing. Sorry, I got a little excited there.  Anyway, whenever you have a love-hate relationship, you can pretty much figure out what's going to happen down the road.

When Wesley tells Bianca she is considered a DUFF, she is totally shocked.  Initially she "breaks up" with her girlfriends but in the end, you can's make-over time.  When Bianca overhears Wesley's teacher telling him if he doesn't get his grades up, he will not be able to play football, she offers to tutor him if he will help with her makeover and coach her on how to talk to Toby.

Bianca's mode of dress consists of crocs and pajama bottoms so Wesley takes Bianca clothes shopping so she will "send the right message."  One of Madison's friends sees Bianca modeling clothes for Wesley and kissing a store mannequin, pretending it's Toby, and she films it. The video goes viral and humiliates Bianca.  But, predictably, she gets her revenge by turning into a hottie!  But her own kind of hottie as she has an epiphany about being a DUFF and writes that article for the school newspaper.

The message here is that in the end everyone is somebody's DUFF because there is always going to be someone hotter, smarter, richer or something better than you, so don't obsess about it.  Be yourself, which is a good message for not just teens, but us all.

Mae Whitman is adorable as Bianca and I have already waxed poetic about Robby Amell.  He has mostly been on TV shows until now but I predict he will go far. He and Whitman have real chemistry so their scenes together are fun to watch. Speaking of fun to watch. Now I know why I watch movies aimed at high school girls. Hot high school boys! (Don't judge me!) Oh, the other young actors are also really good.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though predictable, a perfectly acceptable teen film that adults will also enjoy.


Inherent Vice (2014)

It's 1970 and Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a P.I. and doper, investigates the disappearance of an old girlfriend.

Shasta Fey Hepworth (played by the beautiful Katherine Waterston, Sam's daughter), an old flame, visits Doc at his place on Gordita Beach.  She is having an affair with Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), a real estate developer.  She tells Doc that Mickey's wife, Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas, Kristin's younger sister) is having an affair and that Mickey's wife and her lover are planning on abducting Mickey and putting him in an insane asylum (I know I'm not being PC, but that's what they called it back in the 70's).

Meanwhile Tariq Khalill (Michael Kenneth Williams) hires Doc to find an ex-prison mate of his, Glenn Charlock. Glenn owes him money and just happens to be one of Wolfmann's bodyguards.

As if things weren't confusing enough, enter Hope Harlingen (Jena Malone), a former heroin addict who is looking for her husband, Coy (Owen Wilson).  He was presumed dead but Hope believes he is alive.  Coy finds Doc and tells him he is hiding out in Topanga Canyon fearing for his life because he is a police informant.  Coy just wants to get home to his wife and child.

Shasta disappears and Doc goes to a massage parlor and gets knocked out.  When he wakes up he is framed for the death of Glenn Charlock, who was supposed to be guarding Wolfman.  Now Wolfman is missing too.  From there we have drug smuggling, a ship called "The Golden Fang, and a cult and all kinds of other stuff that becomes murkier and murkier.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed "There Will Be Blood," "Boogie Nights" and "The Master," is at the helm here and adapted the script from Thomas Pynchon's novel.  This one has the grit of "Blood," the atmosphere of "Boogie" and the mystery of "Master," and when I say mystery, I mean not sure I got it.  But, hey, it's Thomas Pynchon.  I don't think we are supposed to get it.  It's all about the present experience. Toss in some vibes from "Pulp Fiction" and "Chinatown" and you have a murky but atmospheric comedy/drama that captures the psychedelic, drug infested world of L.A. in the early 70's.  The "Summer of Love" is well over.

Anderson has gathered together a line-up of A-list stars.  Phoenix can be a complete nut ball as he has shown on some past Letterman appearances.  But here he is perfect as the pot smoking Doc moving about in a pot infused world.  We also have Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short and other names rounding out the cast of strange characters.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I think I liked it.  See it, so you can tell me what it was about.  Or maybe I should have smoked some pot first.

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

300 to go!

Love Me Tonight  (1932)

A Parisian tailor pretends to be a baron in order to collect a bill from an aristocrat and in so doing, falls in love with a princess.

Maurice Chevalier is Maurice, the tailor.  He can't seem to get Viscount Gilbert de Vareze (Charlie Ruggles) to pay his bill so he takes it upon himself to pay the Viscount a visit at his chateau. When he arrives he is mistaken for a baron and falls in love with the sexually frustrated Princess Jeanette played by Jeanette MacDonald (they sure weren't very imaginative with the characters' names), who is holed up in the chateau.

Why it's a Must See: "As with so many of the sadly underrated [of] Rouben Mamoulian's finest films...he makes the whole thing feel wonderfully relaxed, good-natured, and somehow perfect...what is really impressive about Love Me Tonight is how music, dance, dialogue, performance, décor, lighting, camera work, editing, and special effects are all combined to create a cogent whole in which each element serves narrative, characterization, and short, an enormously entertaining masterpiece."

Rouben Mamoulian directed this sophisticated musical, full of pre-code double entendres, comedy and romance. His directorial innovations were also a rarity for the 1930's: zoom lenses and slow motion camera techniques. Add the music of Rodgers and Hart music including the wonderful "Isn't It Romantic?" and you have a delightful romp that Leonard Maltin is quoted as saying "One of the best musicals ever made!"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I wouldn't go that far, but we just don't have anything like those Jeanette MacDonald musicals anymore...and I miss them.

Diva (1981)

A young French postal worker illegally tapes an American opera singer in concert who has never been recorded and finds himself being chased for the tape by Taiwanese bootleggers and at the same time becomes embroiled in a police corruption cover-up.

Jules (Frederick Andrei ), a young mail carrier, is infatuated with American opera singer, Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Fernandez).  She has refused to be recorded and never heard the sound of her own voice. He tapes her performance illicitly and finds himself not only being hunted by Taiwanese bootleggers who want the tape, but corrupt cops who think he has a very different kind of tape, one linking a corrupt cop to running a prostitution ring.

Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, part of the Cinema Du Look Movement - films with a slick visual style that highlighted the marginalized French youth of the early 1980's - Beineix combined opera with gangsters, corrupt cops and hip arty types to create a stylish and vivid thriller.

Why it's a Must See: "Beineix draws on...1940's noir to create an entertaining and visually resplendent confection, whose artfulness and dynamic gives it a vibrancy and allure that has outlasted many other films from this period."
---1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die
Rosy the Reviewer says...Jules racing his moped through the Paris Metro is a chase scene not to be missed!
(In French with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

Living With Intent:   My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra (2015)

A memoir and self-help book by Deepak Chopra's daughter.

I would imagine it's not easy being Deepak Chopra, with everyone looking to him for guidance and the meaning of life - even Oprah!  So you can imagine what it must be like for his daughter.

Here daughter Mallika shares her story, what it's like having a father like Deepak, what she learned from him and her own quest for meaning. It's part self-help book as she gives practical pointers on finding ones way back to a life of intention, but it's also the story of a regular woman, like most of us, who knows where she wants to get to but is having a hard time getting there. She struggles with reconciling her upbringing with her current situation:  soccer Mom, overscheduled and striving working woman and a wife with little time for her husband.  She continually beats herself up at what she feels are her shortcomings and doesn't take the time to see and be grateful for what she already has.

If you read my blog post last Tuesday, you will know that I feel that expressing gratitude is an important part of finding joy.  Mallika talks about gratitude, too. 

She eventually realizes that "gratefulness isn't just a worthy practice; it's also powerful medicine -- possibly even an antidote to my toxic mind-set.  There is a clear line connecting how our thoughts affect our emotions, our emotions affect our choices, and our choices shape our experiences."

And finally..."life suddenly seems so clear to me.  As you get older, you winnow your life down to the things that matter most: Spending time with loved ones.  Finding solace in simple rituals.  Nurturing your body and soul.  Those are the places where happiness lives...It's so easy to let the days slip by in a stream of distracted busyness, but we all need to find ways to somehow stitch simple pleasure into our busy days."

So how to live with intent? 

Chopra has come up with a mnemonic to help us do it:

I - Incubate
Quiet your mind to tap into your deepest intentions, see where this leads.

N - Notice
Become mindful of your thoughts and action and pay attention to what they tell you about what gives you meaning and a sense of purpose--and look for signs hat can point you toward your true path.

T - Trust
Have confidence in your inner knowing -- and in the messages the universe sends you -- and allow that knowledge to guide you forward.

E - Express
Write down your intentions; say them out loud or share them with others to fully embrace them and help you move ahead in your journey.

N - Nurture
Be gentle with yourself as you try to find your way.  Intention isn't always a straightforward path, just like life, and giving yourself opportunities to try -- and fail -- is often part of, and even crucial to, the process.

T - Take Action
Once you've identified an intent, or even multiple ones, don't sit and wait for it to magically manifest: instead take the practical steps that can make each become a reality.  It may be easiest to choose one intent first and set short-term goals to help you get started.

Rosy the Reviewer accessible book that helps us to live with gratitude and intent.  Her Dad should be proud.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"The Best Films of 2015 (So Far)!"


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