Showing posts with label Mishima. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mishima. Show all posts

Friday, February 22, 2019

"Isn't It Romantic" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the rom-com "Isn't it Romantic" as well as DVDs "The Guilty" and "Dog Days."  The Book of the Week is another cookbook: Jamie Oliver's "5 Ingredients: Quick and Easy Food."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters."]

Isn't It Romantic

Yet another movie where someone gets bonked on the head and wakes up to a different life and learns she had the power all along. 

Sheesh.  Two "Bonk-on-the-Head" movies in one week (see last week's review of "What Men Want").  What's going on here?  Can't screenwriters come up with some other romantic comedy trope to get women to love themselves?  I mean, do women have to literally be bonked on the head to figure that out?

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) learns early on from her disenchanted mother that girls like them will never have lives as depicted in romantic comedies so when she grows up, she is not only cynical about romance but undervalues herself and lets herself get pushed around.  She hates romantic comedies so much that she spends all day ranting to her assistant, Whitney (Betty Gilpin) about everything that is wrong with romantic comedies. 

So of course when she bangs her head and wakes up in the hospital, her life has become a romantic comedy!

Her doctor is hunky, her room looks like it was designed by Williams and Sonoma and her clothes have suddenly been transformed into couture.  When she gets home, her New York City street is filled with flowers, smells wonderful and her apartment is gorgeous, full of designer clothes and shoes.  Her drug-dealing next-door neighbor is now the stereotypical requisite (in rom-coms anyway) very gay best friend; and where once she was overlooked and taken for granted at her architectural firm, she is now the star of the company. Of course there is also a hunky love interest (Liam Hemsworth) who instantly falls in love with her as soon as he sees her and Josh (Adam Devine), a guy at work who is obviously in love with her but who Natalie has put firmly in the friend zone.  And what makes it worse - it's PG-13 - which means no swearing and no sex!  I'm not exactly sure why we needed Priyanka Chopra in this as a love interest for Josh but then we wouldn't have a wedding for Natalie to stop, which is de rigeur to romantic comedies.

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson with a screenplay by Erin Cardillo, Katie Silberman and Dana Fox, this is a romantic comedy within a romantic comedy, so brush up on your rom-coms and all of those tropes that make romantic comedies romantic comedies.  It's a test of your skills to pick out which movies are paid homage to - can you spot Julia Roberts' dress from "Pretty Woman? Do you see shades of "When Harry Met Sally" and "My Best Friend's Wedding" in this? 

But the real test is whether or not Rebel Wilson can carry a movie on her own.  So far we have come to know her playing raunchy fat girls.  She was the raunchy fat girl in the "Pitch Perfect" films (of which I am NOT a fan, by the way) and the raunchy fat girl in "How To Be Single."  Can she shoulder a film on her own?  The answer is yes. But not as a raunchy fat girl.  Here Wilson eschews that character and lets her sweetness shine through which makes her believable as a young woman who has given up on romance but eventually realizes love was right next to her all of the time. 

I am a bit on the fence about this one.

This is yet another female empowerment film (see "What Women Want," "Second Act," "Miss Bala,"  and most female-oriented films these days), but that's OK.  We need those films.  My question is the one joke premise - woman waking up from a bump on the head and her life is a romantic comedy.  Can that one joke sustain an 88 minute film?

And then there is the most important question for a romantic comedy, comedy being the operative word.  Is it funny? Romantic comedies are my jam.  When I have choice, I usually opt for the romantic comedy but so many times I am disappointed. 

But my answer to my questions is - mostly, yes.

I have come to the conclusion that I am fast moving toward female curmudgeon-hood. I don't find many comedies funny.  I didn't laugh much but since the audience members around me were laughing, I am starting to think it must be me, so perhaps you should take some of my reviews of comedies with a grain of salt.  Likewise, I did enjoy trying to figure out which movies were being spoofed so I guess the premise engaged me.  Certainly, there are worse movies out there.  See?  There I go again.  Being curmudgeonly.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am going to stay a bit on the fence with this one but encourage you to go see for yourself and report back.  Is it me?

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


The Guilty (2018)

A police officer assigned to dispatch duty is on a race against time to save a kidnapped woman, but learns that nothing is as it seems.

Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren), who has been relieved of his beat duty, is given a desk job as an emergency dispatcher. Asger is not happy working dispatch and he is crabby about it.  When he gets a caller who says he is OD'ing, Holm tells him it's his own fault and hangs up. Likewise with a caller who has been mugged by a prostitute.  I would call him a very judgmental emergency operator and would not want to get him if I called 911, not that I would be calling 911 about taking drugs or being mugged by a prostitute. 

However, when Holm gets a panicked call from, Iben, a young mother who has supposedly been kidnapped by her husband, everything changes and we, along with Holm, are immediately embroiled in a minute-by-minute white knuckle movie as Holm tries to save her.  And then there is a huge twist, and we see that Holm's quick assumptions about other people have led him down a very dark path.

The movie is mostly Cedergren as Holm and his interaction with Iben and others on the phone in real time. All we see is Holm and his reactions to the minute-by-minute phone exchanges and our imaginations take hold, sometimes imagining a worse scenario than if we were seeing it lived out on screen.  The photography is wonderfully close-up and claustrophobic which adds to the tension as Holm gets involved in this domestic drama and he realizes just how important his job is.  We also learn why Holm was reassigned to a desk job and the drama in his own life.  Just who is "The Guilty?"

Directed by Gustav Moller with a screenplay by Moller and Emil Nygaard Albertsen, this film very much reminded me of another film, "Locke," that, like this one, was mostly just a talking head.  You might think that would be boring, but it's riveting as the story unfolds about the young mother and about Holm himself and the assumptions he makes.  The film left me wondering how often we, too, make assumptions about others when we aren't privy to all of the facts.  You know what they say about the word "ASSUME!"

This is a Danish film so that means subtitles and we Americans aren't really very tolerant about reading subtitles.  I guess that's why so many wonderful "foreign" films get remade here in America, often to the film's detriment.  But if you don't watch foreign films, you are missing out on some really amazing film experiences.  And I am not alone - this film has had 33 award nominations, winning 27.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film is not to be missed.

Dog Days (2018)

People are brought together by their dogs!

"What is it about dogs that brings us so much joy?...Whatever it is, dogs mean the world to us..."

So begins this film that shows we need dogs to find romance, friendship, love and a bunch of other stuff.  

The film is a series of vignettes about a group of dog lovers and their stories.

Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) is a barista in L.A. who discovers a little chihuahua by a dumpster.  She is hot for a cute doctor, not realizing that the nerdy guy (Jon Bass) who comes into the coffee shop all of the time is the guy for her. Then there's the couple (Eva Longoria and Rob Corddry), who have adopted a little girl and they can't figure out how to make her happy, and lonely Walter (Ron Cephas Jones), whose wife has died.  He has a rather contentious relationship with a young pizza delivery guy but when he has a heart attack and his dog, Mabel, runs away the kid helps him. And wouldn't you know, Mabel finds her way to the couple and their adopted daughter.  Then there is Dax (Adam Pally), a kind of loser musician whose sister makes him take care of her dog, Charlie, when she goes into labor even though he isn't allowed to have pets in his apartment. And, finally, Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev), a talk show host whose dog, Sammy, is depressed. She takes him to a dog therapist (Tig Notaro), but ends up pouring her heart out to the therapist about her breakup and her own depression. Later, Elizabeth interviews a football player (Tone Bell) and they get into a disagreement about whether being on a drill team qualifies as a sport and then, wouldn't you know, that football player is hired as her co-host.  But for all the dysfunction in these peoples' lives, dogs make it all better.

W.C. Fields was right when he said:  "Never work with children or animals!" Unfortunately, despite good performances by the actors, the cute dogs upstage the humans every time.  I mean, c'mon, who can resist a little chihuahua in a pink helmet.

Written by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama and directed by Ken Marino, this is one of those films with separate stories that will all intertwine at the end. Everyone is connected. Remember those Garry Marshall movies "Mother's Day" and "New Year's Eve." Like that. Except with dogs.  And not only do all of the people get together, but the dogs are brought together too!  

I have to confess that I am a dog lover, a sucker for all things dog.  I think they are adorb, funny, sweet, and innocent so a movie like this is a gimme for me.  But don't get me wrong.  It's also a romantic comedy, so add romance and that gimmick where everything wraps up in a tidy way and you have a heart-warming story that won't tax your mind too much.   

And in case you doubt my love of dogs, if you will indulge me, I would like to share with you something I wrote about the dogs who have been important in my life and the importance of having a dog in your life.

"To All the Dogs I've Loved Before"

"Why Have a Dog?"

Gertrude Stein, in her inimitable way said, "I am I because my little dog knows me."

Rosy the Reviewer says...Stein was right and who can resist movies about dogs?  I can't.  And there is an inspirational message: sacrificing time and convenience to help others.  That's the way I was brought up...and my little dog too.

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

106 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

A biopic about the life and death of writer Yukio Mishima (Ken Ogata).

Yukio Mishima was a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model, film director and nationalist.  He founded the Tatenokai or Shield Society which was a private militia dedicated to traditional Japanese values and support of the Emperor.  He wrote 35 novels, 25 plays, 200 short stories and eight volumes of essays and was considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century.  He was also a narcissist.

In 1970 with four of his militia members he took the general of the garrison hostage and gave a speech to the soldiers to try to persuade them to support the emperor and overturn the Constitution.  When this was unsuccessful, he committed suicide by seppuku, which seems to me is a rather unpleasant way to die.

This film has some amazing film credentials.

Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas produced with Paul Schrader directing and a musical score by Phillip Glass.  That tells it all.  Whether you like the film or not, it is certainly a class act.  But I have to say that Paul Schrader is a dark guy.  And he and I have a bit of a connection.  We are both from Michigan and grew up just a few miles apart.  Not sure if those Michigan winters led to his writing "Taxi Driver" and writing and directing other very dark films like "Hardcore" and "First Reformed."  More likely his strict Calvinist upbringing.  I guess this film fits right into that oeuvre with a gruesome ending, though we were spared the gory details.

Using black and white flashbacks, the film traces Mishima's life as it led up to his suicide. His grandmother took him from his mother at an early age because she thought he would die in his mother's care.  She kept him isolated and protected.  "You're just a fragile plant."  He returned to his mother at the age of 12 when his grandmother died and that is when he discovered the power of words.  As the left started staging political protests in the 60's, Mishima formed a "spiritual army" in support of the Emperor, which was more support of traditional Japanese values and trying to recreate the way of the Samurai, than support of the current Emperor.

In addition to Mashima's life story, the film also intercuts the story with scenes from his plays, "Temple of the Golden Pavilion," "Kyoko's House," and "Runaway Horses," which sadly, for me, bogged down the film.

Why it's a Must See: "Mishima is a film as illuminating and coherent as it is intricate and involved, boasting breathtaking production design by Eiko Ishioka, gleaming cinematography by John Bailey and a powerful, pulsing score by Philip Glass."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...beautiful to look at and listen to, but for me, ultimately, unsatisfying.

***The Book of the Week***

5 Ingredients: Quick and Easy Food by Jamie Oliver (2019)

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver shares easy recipes that only have five ingredients!

What everyday cook wouldn't relish a cookbook with dishes that only need five ingredients and that you can get on the table in 30 minutes or less?  I'm in!

Oliver is on a mission.  He wants us to cook!

"I want everyone to enjoy cooking from scratch and, armed with this book, there are no excuses."

Also 70% of the recipes are healthy and he covers all of the bases: meat, salads, vegetarian options, pasta and more. He also gives advice on how to stock your pantry. 

  • "Scrambled Egg Omelet"
  • "Lemony Zucchini Linquine"
  • "Chicken Noodle Stir-Fry"
  • "Peachy Pork Chops"
  • "Orange Polenta Cake"

All with only five ingredients and ready in less than 30 minutes!

This is Oliver's 20th cookbook so he certainly knows how to get the job done. One caution though. His recipes are quite British oriented, ones that perhaps are not familiar to American tastes such as fish pie and Banoffee Cheesecake.  I also ran into some recipes with unfamiliar ingredients, such as kicap manis and chili jam.  He likes that chili jam because it shows up frequently in his recipes. Those are probably common ingredients to the British cook, not so much here.  BTW, kicap manis is a sweet soy sauce and chili jam is an actual thing available on Amazon.

Also if you have ever seen Oliver on the telly (he's a Brit so I am doing Brit-speak), you know he is an outgoing guy who is enthusiastic about cooking.  I just wish the tone of the book was a little less enthusiastic about himself.  He throws around phrases like "brilliant combinations," "genius combinations," "fabulous ways with proteins" and "brilliant ways of cooking...that will blow your mind," all about him! It kind of got on my nerves after a bit but speaking of getting my mind blown. What really blew my mind was his kids' names! - Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear Maurice and River Rocket Blue Dallas.  Now those are some monikers to carry around for life!

Here is a taste (pardon the pun) of the recipes in the book:

"Speedy Spiced Shrimp Soup"

  • 8 oz. small frozen cooked peeled shrimp
  • 2/3 c. white basmati rice
  • 8 scallions
  • 2 heaping T. korma curry paste
  • 1 x 14-oz can of light coconut milk

Place the shrimp in a bowl of cold water so they can start to defrost.  Meanwhile, dry fry and toast the rice for 3 minutes in a large shallow casserole pan on a high heat, stirring regularly, while you trim and finely slice the scallions.  Add one tablespoon of olive oil, the scallions, and korma paste to the pan.  Stir for 2 minutes, then pour in the coconut milk and 2 and a half cans' worth of water.  Boil for 12 minutes, stirring everything occasionally.  With 6 minutes to go, drain the shrimp, finely chop, and stir into the soup.  When the rice is cooked through and the soup is your desired consistency, taste, season to utter perfection (see what I mean?) with sea salt and black pepper, and dish up.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you can get over the self-congratulatory tone, this is a good cookbook with easy, tasty recipes perfect for the busy person who wants to cook from scratch.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Cold War"


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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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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.