Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II (Review)


Because I really, really liked the first one, I had been wishing and waiting to see the second installment of "A Quiet Place," a horror story about blind aliens with a keen sense of hearing who take over our planet. This sequel was supposed to come out in theatres last year, but then a real life horror story came out – the Pandemic. And if you read my review of the first one, there is an eerie prescience about living life during a horror story.  Anyway, when the film was finally released into theatres this year, I wasn’t keen on sitting in a theatre anymore so was happy when the DVD came out but, now I am saying to myself, "Be careful what you wish for."

And I should have known better, because you know how I feel about sequels.  I will get to that in a bit.

First, let me get you caught up.  Oh, wait, the sequel does it for you.  It spends 12 minutes of a 97 minute movie showing you what happened in the first one, possibly helpful if you didn’t see the first one, confusing for those of us who did see the first one because we see a character who had died in the first one. We think, “Huh?”  It’s also a questionable choice to spend 12 minutes of a 97 minute movie in a recap since it leaves little time left to expand the new story. Was the recap really needed? I understand the desire to make this sequel a stand alone film so giving the newbies a heads up might be helpful in that regard but those 12 minutes wouldn't really help those who hadn't seen the first one and just confused those of us who did. I also wonder why someone would want to see a sequel without seeing the first one anyway, so may I recommend that you see the first one? Like I said, the first one was really, really good.

Anyway, in the interests of this review, I will give you a quick update and I promise it won’t take 12 minutes. The planet has been invaded by some scary, spidery aliens who can’t see but are sensitive to sound, so to avoid getting torn apart, everyone must be very, very quiet.  That’s basically it.

Part I focused on the Abbott family, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Lee (John Krasinski, Blunt's real-life husband) and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) and a newborn baby that was born in the first one (can you imagine – she had to give birth in silence)! Regan is a particularly interesting character in light of the keen sense of hearing that the aliens have. She is deaf (Simmonds is also deaf in real life). At the end of Part I, Evelyn had figured out how to blow the heads off the aliens with a shotgun, but we were pretty much left up in the air about what was going to happen to them all, hence this sequel.

So now in Part II, what’s left of the Abbot family is living with the reality of these alien creatures.  It’s their New Normal (where have I heard that before)?  As long as they are quiet, they can mostly avoid them. There is no childbirth scene in this one, but Marcus gets his leg caught in a bear trap, so kind of the same thing.  Again, difficult to keep quiet. The family meets up with old friend, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who isn’t so friendly now, but who reluctantly allows them to share his bunker. When they hear a mysterious signal coming from their radio transmitter, Emmett and Regan head off to try to find where it’s coming from.

The first film was a tantalizing idea for a sci-fi horror film... 

Space aliens with impeccable hearing.  Kind of reminded me of my mother.  Her hearing was so good that when she was down in the basement ironing, she could hear my brother and me whispering about her on the second floor. “I heard that,” she’d yell.  It was our own little horror story.  

Anyway, sadly, this sequel is just more of the same – a lot of running around, a lot of shushing and many shotgun blasts to the heads of these unattractive aliens. Written and directed by John Kasinski, this time around, the film focuses less on Blunt and more on Murphy and Simmonds.  The acting is good and we are given some closure on what happens to the family, but that really could have been done in the first one.

Did we need this sequel?  Not really.  Was I disappointed? Yes, because I will say once again, I really, really liked the first one. Is this the end?  Probably not.  

If this sequel makes money, it’s all about ka-ching.  There will be yet another installment. And, that my friends, is the problem with sequels. A movie starts out as a good idea.  It makes a lot of money and then that good idea gets run into the ground until we have forgotten what was good about the first one.  If you have a hit movie, why not bask in the glory?  Don’t sully that first movie with an inferior one just to profit from the popularity of the first one.  The only movie series I can name where the sequels were as good or even perhaps better than the original was “The Godfather.

Rosy the Reviewer says…though there was a certain amount of closure here, it seems to me the door has been left open for a third installment.  Please, god, no.

(Available on DVD from Netflix or for rent or purchase On Demand or from Amazon)


Thanks for reading!

See you soon!



If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

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 IMDB.com, 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)!


 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

What I Watched (and Liked) While on My 2021 Summer Stay-cation: Movies - Part 1

[I review "In the Heights," "The Courier," "The Last Vermeer," "Things Heard and Seen," "Memories of Murder," "The Woman in the Window" and "Another Round"]

I realize that the summer is not over but there are so many movies on my radar, I thought I had better get this first installment out.  

I had put out teasers for these films on my Rosy the Reviewer Facebook page but I have expanded those reviews and now you have a handy list of must-see movies, all in one place!

Let me know what your think!


In the Heights (2021)


Ever wonder what Lin-Manual Miranda did before he took the world by storm with “Hamilton?” Well, this was it.

He wrote this show in 1999, his sophomore year in college. It eventually made its way to Broadway in 2008, garnering 14 Tony Award nominations and winning four.
The story is set over three days in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, a predominantly Hispanic enclave and follows Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner who dreams of going back to his native Dominican Republic; Nina (Leslie Grace), who has made it out of the neighborhood to Stanford but is having difficulty finding her place there; Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), an aspiring fashion designer who yearns for a nice apartment of her own; local businessman, Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits) and other Washington Heights community members, all seeking un sueno, “the dream.”
It seems a lottery ticket worth $96,000 was sold at the bodega so everyone wondering who has won that money is a theme throughout the film and there is a blackout, but other than that there isn’t much of a plot and it’s a bit long, but that doesn't matter, because this is all about these engaging characters and the exuberance of a vibrant community. Directed by Jon M. Chu (who made a big splash with "Crazy Rich Asians") and an adapted screenplay by Quiara Alegria Hudes, this is a celebration of community, music, dance, love and, life itself, and yes, rap...and you can’t help but get swept up in it all. It’s also an homage to the immigrants who have made this country great.

And for you Miranda fans (he has a cameo, by the way), as you watch this, it will be fun for you to think of him, that college boy writing this show fusing rap, hip-hop and salsa music before anyone did such a thing. And there is even a hint of "West Side Story" in there. And then came “Hamilton.” You can’t listen to the song “96,000” without thinking of “Hamilton.”

Rosy the Reviewer says…"West Side Story" meets "Hamilton." People, Broadway is BACK!
(This was streaming for free for subscribers of HBO Max but it's no longer available - these free streams only last a month - so if you want to see it, you will need to venture out to the theatre or wait for it to appear on the other streaming services. It is scheduled to be released on DVD August 31 so it should be On Demand or on Amazon or Netflix soon after).



The Courier (2020)


During the Cold War, an English businessman is recruited by MI6 and the CIA to spy on Russia.

Is there nothing Benedict Cumberbatch can’t do? Okay, he can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, though he has done some crazy stuff as Dr. Strange, but he is one hell of an actor who can play any character with ease and make him exceedingly believable.
That is the case here as he takes us on a Cold War journey as Greville Wynne, a British businessman who is approached by MI6 and the CIA to help them get information on the Soviet’s nuclear program. He is recruited to act as a business partner to Russian official, Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), to take messages back to the West which eventually provided crucial intelligence that helped to end the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event that led us perilously close to a nuclear war. However, Wynne's and Penkovsky's participation led to some severe consequences for them.

Wynne is an unlikely spy. He is kind of a nerdy businessman who is better at schmoozing than spying, but it's the story of how ordinary people can be thrust into history for the greater good. It's a spy story you will recognize with the usual spy story tropes but this is also an intense and important story brought to life by wonderful performances by Cumberbatch and Ninidze.
Rosy the Reviewer says…based on a true story, adapted by Tom O'Connor and directed by Dominic Cooke, this is an intense spy thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!
(Available on DVD, On Demand and to rent on Amazon Prime)





Post WWII, collaborators with the Nazis were not very popular...to say the least!

When Hitler’s Reich fell in May of 1945, the Americans discovered art that the Nazis had looted, one of which was a valuable Vermeer called “Christ and the Adulteress.” We all know that the Nazis were bad guys who killed six million Jews but they also stole their art. Joseph Piller (Claes Bang) is assigned to find the owners of the art and to return it to them, if they are still alive, that is.
Piller tracks down Han Van Meegeren (Guy Pearce), an artist who was known to have sold the Vermeer to Goring (Goring was a monster but I guess he loved art. Does that make him less of a monster? I think not). Now Van Meegeren is in the cross hairs as a possible collaborator with the Nazis. Was he? Turns out, nothing is as it seems.

He is brought to trial and his defense is that he was not collaborating with the Nazis, he was defrauding them because, you see, Van Meegeren is a master forger. Thus the age old question, "What is art?"
Written by John Orloff, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby and directed by Dan Friedkin, this is an examination of war and what people do to survive it.

Pearce (I am obsessed with his hair in this!) and Bang make great foils and might I add that Claes Bang is certainly a nice big handsome man?! I'm just saying.
Rosy the Reviewer says…an intellectual and, dare I say, “arty” foray into a little known part of the aftermath of WW II. If you like serious historical dramas, this is for you.
NOTE: I think this is available on STARZ, if you are currently signed up for that. However, I watched it on a DVD from Netflix. Okay, I know what you are thinking. Who on earth still gets DVDs from Netflix? Well, lest you think I am the little old lady holding up the line writing a check at the grocery store or fishing into my coin purse for exact change, my still getting DVDs from Netflix (I stream as well) puts me ahead of you in the queue. I have access to movies as soon as they are released on DVD, well before Netflix or Amazon or any of the other services get the film…so there! But watch for it, it will stream soon.







This is one of those “married couple moves into creepy house and creepy stuff happens” kind of movie.

It doesn’t help that the couple in question, George (James Norton) and Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) are also a bit creepy, well, George anyway.
As well as a ghost story, this is a story of a couple in trouble. Or, more like a couple with a really bad husband. George is a “failed artist,” who is forced to take a job as a professor in an upstate New York college, and Catherine has an eating disorder and other issues, probably because her husband is a cad. It isn’t long until ghostly happenings occur because it turns out there was a murder/suicide that took place in that house and it seems the murdered wife wants to get in touch with our Catherine, because, “Catherine, you are in danger, girl.”
Gee, I wonder if more bad stuff is going to happen. Duh, you think?
You “Granchester” fans might be uncomfortable seeing James Norton, who you remember as a benign priest solving crimes in a lovely English town, as a bad guy, but he does bad guy really well. And I enjoyed seeing Karen Allen, Michael O’Keefe and F. Murray Abraham get some screen time – where have they been?
And would you believe, the library plays a big role as Catherine does research on her “haunted” house? Yes, people, libraries are more than books and reading – you can research your house, town and your ancestry, take computer classes, find answers to questions that you can’t find on Google (it’s called asking a reference librarian who is trained to find answers to the most obscure questions) and meet up with your fellow community members. The library is a community gathering place where you can actually see your property taxes at work.

Based on the book "All Things Cease to Appear" by Elizabeth Brundage and adapted and directed by husband and wife team Sherry Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, this is an atmospheric ghost story with some psychology thrown in.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like ghostly stories about couples in trouble and things that go bump in the night, you will enjoy this.
(Now streaming on Netflix)




Before "Parasite" surprisingly won the Academy Award for Best Picture, there was this film from director Bong Joon Ho.

As you movie fans will remember, “Parasite” was a surprise win for the the Best Picture Oscar in 2020 and its director, Bong Joon Ho, who won Best Director, was only the second “foreign” director to win a Best Director Oscar.
This 2003 film about the inept investigation of a serial killer in Korea (based on a true case that was unsolved at the time of this film’s release) was only Ho’s second feature film and shows his filmmaking expertise – his ability to weigh humor vs. suspense - that would lead to his Oscar in 2020 for "Parasite." Thanks to his 2020 Oscar win, this earlier film is now available.
It’s the 1980’s and women are being killed in a small Korean town where the police are not prepared for this kind of investigation. In fact, they are incompetent and brutal, and not above forcing false confessions. When another officer comes from Seoul to help, he is shocked by the incompetence of the local cops and they are all shocked when they realize that perhaps this killer is getting the best of them. Like “Parasite,” it’s creepy and moody, but also funny and there are twists and turns, with a bit of a political statement about the state of affairs in Korea too.
Kang-Ho Song, who also starred in “Parasite,” stars here but the ensemble cast also deserves recognition.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you had seen this back in 2003, you might have said, “Wow…I see an Oscar in this guy’s future!” If you were a “Parasite” fan, you will enjoy this.
(Available on DVD from Netflix and streaming on Hulu. In Korean with English subtitles)




An agoraphobic woman spies on her neighbors and witnesses a murder.

Amy Adams stars in this psychological thriller about an agoraphobic psychologist (you heard me) who hasn’t been out of her Manhattan brownstone in over 10 months. When new neighbors move in across the street she spends some time spying on them only to witness a murder…and because she likes to drink wine with her meds (who doesn’t?), no one believes her because it appears no one is dead!

Anna is a psychologist who has experienced a breakdown. She hasn't been out of her house in 10 months and relies on food deliveries, old movies on TV and red wine. A family has moved in across the street and now part of Anna's routine is to watch their every move through their windows which are conveniently rarely covered. Jane (Julianne Moore), the new neighbor, visits Anna and the two hit it off (red wine will do that!) so it's a huge shock when Anna, during one of her "spying on the new neighbors" sessions, thinks she sees Jane's husband stabbing her. Anna calls the police and when they arrive with Jane's husband and Jane in tow, Anna is horrified that this Jane is NOT the woman she had just spent the evening with! What the...? And therein, my fellow peeps, lies the mystery ahead.
I am a big reader, mostly nonfiction, but I try my hand at fiction every third or fourth book, and I like the occasional thriller, so I read this bestseller by A.J. Finn a couple of years ago and looked forward to this movie version... and it mostly works. It’s a kind of modern day “Rear Window,” with agoraphobia instead of a wheelchair and lots of star power: in addition to Adams, there is Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, an almost unrecognizable Jennifer Jason Leigh (I think she's had some work done), and an uncredited Tracy Letts (a man of many talents, he also adapted the screenplay).

Directed by Joe Wright, this is atmospheric, suspenseful and has a very big twist.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you liked “Rear Window,” “Gone Girl” or “The Girl on the Train,” you might also like this one.
(Now streaming on Netflix)




Four Danish school teachers hitting a midlife crisis get this idea that consuming just the right amount of alcohol every day will give them their mojo back. Mmmm.

Four Danish teachers - Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nicolaj (Magnus Millang) - are just phoning it in. They have become boring. They know it and so do their students and the other faculty members. But when one of them comes across a study that says the human body is lacking .05% alcohol in order to live happy, productive lives, the four embark on a social experiment to see if that is true. They start spending their personal and professional lives just a little bit drunk. But there are rules. They are not to drink more than required to get to .05% and they are not to drink after 8pm.

And wouldn’t you know it? They all have a renewed interest in their work, they are inspired to teach and their students are inspired by them. Martin reconnects with his wife and kids. But if a little booze is a good thing, more booze is better, right? Next the group decides to expand the drinking to .10% which also seems to work so why not try some binge drinking to see how that goes? Do you see where this is going to go? Right.

Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, this is an engaging and entertaining film with an wonderful ensemble cast with Mads Mikkelsen a stand-out (his is a face you will recognize for his roles in many English language films as well as the TV show "Hannibal").
Rosy the Reviewer says…this won an Oscar for Best International Film and it’s a wonderful film experience, but I have to admit, not sure if the message here was booze is good or booze is bad. Watch the movie, have another round, and let's discuss!
(In Danish with English subtitles. And c’mon, folks you can do it. If you don’t watch films with subtitles, you are missing out! Available from Netflix on DVD or to rent on Amazon)

Thanks for reading!

See you soon
for My Summer Stay-cation Movies Part 2!



If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

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 IMDB.com, 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)!


Monday, March 8, 2021

What I Enjoyed Watching While Waiting for Vaccine #2

I have to say it was a big relief to get my first shot of the vaccine. We had to drive 75 miles to get it but we got it. But one shot does not make me want to go out and mingle, so I am still on a kind of self-imposed lockdown until shot #2, though I do venture out upon occasion to sit, drink a glass of wine (or two) outside and listen to music.

But despite those few forays out into the world which provides a modicum of normalcy, it's still the old TV that keeps me company these days and thank goodness there are some great movies available out there to get me through.







A little known side of singer Billie Holiday's life.

Diana Ross introduced audiences to singer Billie Holiday back in 1972 in "Lady Sings the Blues" and showed theatre goers she could act. She was awarded a Golden Globe as "Best Newcomer" and a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. Now almost 50 years later yet another generation is being introduced to Holiday, this time starring singer Andra Day.

One can't help but make comparisons between this new biopic and "Lady Sings the Blues." Both films explored Holiday's tumultous life that included a horrific childhood and later an adulthood rife with drug abuse; both showed Holiday was hounded by the FBI for her drug abuse; both films starred singers in their first acting roles; and both actresses won awards for their performances (Andra Day won this year's Golden Globe for Best Actress).

But what sets this film apart from the first one is the premise that the real reason the FBI hounded Holiday was not as much about her drug use as her song "Strange Fruit," which metaphorically dramatized the horrors of the lynching of black people.

When the film begins, Holiday's career is in full swing and so is her drug use. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover and Head Narc, Harry Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund) are bent on bringing Billie down, seeing the song as un-American, a call for civil rights that would stir people up and a threat to the status quo, the status quo being white supremacy. Ainslinger also had a vendetta against jazz! So they recruit Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), a black agent, who wants to make something of himself, to go undercover and befriend Holiday, "befriend" being a euphemism for some very steamy sex scenes. This film is almost as much about Fletcher as Holiday as he was one of few black agents in a segregated agency. Anslinger and the FBI harassed her to the end of her life at 44, even when she lay in a hospital dying her feet were handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Day is a compelling Holiday and I couldn't help but remember that Billie Holiday was also called "Lady Day," so Day starring as Holiday is an interesting coincidence, though she gave herself that stage name in honor of Holiday. And her performance is not just interesting, but raw, compelling, riveting and wonderful, and her Golden Globe win for Best Actress is well deserved, which brings me to one of my pet peeves that I rant about from time to time. Okay, I rant about it a LOT.

I have not liked it when first timers like Day and Ross won the big awards over veteran actors who have paid their dues. For example, Day beat Frances McDormand for this one, and I was not happy when the award was announced, because I thought that McDormand was flawless in "Nomadland (see review below)." However, that little hissy fit was before I saw this film, and after seeing it, I have decided that I will no longer have this bias about first-timers getting awards over old-timers. Day was phenomenal as an actress and a singer, bringing Billie Holiday to life for modern audiences. Her rendition of "Strange Fruit" is beyond moving.

So from now on, I will take it case-by-case, or should I say performance by performance (In future, I will have to come up with something new to rant about. And you know I will)!

Anyway, based on the book "Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs" by Johann Hari (adapted for the screen by Suzan-Lori Parks) and directed by Lee Daniels, this film is a grim and harrowing account of Holiday's later years and what she went through trying to speak her truth.  It resonates today because people of color are still being harassed for not only speaking their truth, but just living their lives.

Oh, and by the way, the film begins with a written opening sequence that reads:

"In 1937 a bill was introduced to ban lynching."
"It didn't pass."

And the film ends with this epilogue:

"The Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act was brought back in 2020 and has yet to pass."

Do you believe that? We can't even get a bill passed TODAY that says it's not okay to lynch someone!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a tough movie to watch but a profound and satisfying film experience that brings Billie Holiday and her music to life for a new generation. Day does Lady Day proud.






A docudrama about Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) and the undercover FBI informant who brought him down.

The name Fred Hampton is probably not a name that most of you remember today, but in the late 60’s he was the Illinois Chairman of the Black Panther Party and Deputy Chairman of the National Black Panther Party, and it was a name that J. Edgar Hoover knew well. You see, Hoover wasn't too thrilled with the Black Panthers and he was particularly concerned when Fred founded the Rainbow Coalition, a political organization, that not only included the Black Panthers, but also the Young Lords and other street gangs, an alliance that was meant to stop the infighting among the various groups so they would all work together for social change. J. Edgar Hoover felt threatened by that and didn’t want that to happen so he planted an informant, Bill O'Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) in Fred’s midst which eventually led to Fred’s assassination (and planting informants seems to have been one of Hoover's things. See review of "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" above).
I remember the name Fred Hampton well because I was living in Michigan at the time, I was a young woman also interested in social change (you may not know this, but the SDS started in Michigan) and because how Fred died was so shocking. He was only 21.
How it all got to that point is explored in this powerful docudrama starring Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield who both bring in incredible performances. Kaluuya won this year's Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, which was well-deserved, but I was surprised that Stanfield was overlooked because this film is really about him and what happens when you make a deal with the devil. With a screenplay by Shaka King and Will Berson and directed by King, the film is also a reminder of how hard the struggle for justice and equality has been for people of color. And a reminder that the struggle continues still.
Rosy the Reviewer says…lots of buzz around this movie of the Oscar variety. Don’t miss out. And when you watch, don’t miss the epilogue. It will choke you up and make you go “Whaaat???” as you wipe away the tears. (Now streaming on HBO Max)




The repercussions of a tragic home birth.

You fans of “The Crown” will recognize Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret from the first two seasons. She was wonderful in that, but the character she plays here is about as far from Princess Margaret as she could get. But she is still wonderful.
Here she plays Martha, a woman grieving the loss of her baby after a tragic home birth. And the birth itself takes up the first 20+ minutes of the film and it’s pretty real and raw made worse by the fact that the baby doesn't make it.
The crux of the film written by Kata Weber and directed by Kornel Mundruczo asks the question: How does one pick up the pieces and go on after giving birth and then having no baby as life goes on around you? There is grief, guilt, isolation and shame. And then anger and blame. Whose fault was this? It must be someone’s fault. Martha wonders did she do something wrong while pregnant? Was it the midwife’s fault? Anyone who has lost a baby would be able to relate to this. But anyone who has gone through any kind of loss can also relate because the film is about mourning, how the sadness from loss affects entire families and how one learns to go on.
Kirby puts in a profound performance that pulls no punches. Her performance won her a Best Actress Golden Globe nomination, and I would guess an Oscar nomination is also in the offing. Ellen Burstyn has a small role as Martha’s mother and shows that at 88 she can still bring it (she has several award nominations for this performance) and Martha’s husband is played by Shia LeBeouf, who always puts in great performances in films but can’t seem to put in very good performances in real life. But I digress.
This is all about Kirby’s performance. However, sadly, as a completely satisfying film experience, it kind of fell apart.
Rosy the Reviewer says…I can’t whole heartedly recommend this film. It isn’t for everyone, but if you are into great acting, it’s worth seeing for Kirby’s performance. (Now streaming on Netflix)


Nomadland



After losing her job and her husband, a woman starts her life over as a modern day nomad.

It seems that every film that Frances McDormand stars in results in not only an award for her but for the film as well. And her latest film is no exception. Her performance won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress and the film won Best Picture along with a nomination for Best Screenplay and a win for director Chloe Zao, one of three women directors nominated this year and the first Asian woman winner ever for Best Director (she wrote the screenplay too).
And these wins and nominations are well-deserved because this is an extraordinary film with an extraordinary performance by McDormand. You can expect that there will be Oscar nominations as well.

Based on the nonfiction book, “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder, this is the fictionalized story of Fern, a victim of the Great Recession of the late 2000’s. In 2011, the US Gypsum plant where she worked closed down after 88 years, turning the town of Empire, Nevada into a ghost town. You know things are bad when a town’s zip code is discontinued. And then her husband died leaving her alone.
So Fern hits the road in her van she dubs “Vanguard” and becomes part of the Nomad culture, people who move from place to place, following job opportunities. We see Fern working in an Amazon warehouse, a rock quarry and a beet farm and along the way forming relationships with other nomads.
But this is not a story of despair. As Fern explains, she is not homeless, she is just “houseless” and it seems she prefers it that way. Yes, some living the nomad culture are there by circumstance but others have chosen this life. Many are older Americans who love the freedom of living on the open road, explaining that it’s a last chance to really live, to do the things they want to do before it’s too late. “Don’t die with your sailboat in the driveway.”
Though Fern makes connections with others on the road, we see that she is ultimately alone, living a life of solitude, but you don’t feel sorry for her because there is a quiet resignation, dignity and humanity about her. But one also can’t help but draw some comparisons to the uncertainty of today and think, “There but for fortune…”
This is a quiet film where not much happens as we follow Fern on her journey, but the beauty of the landscapes and the short scenes keep the pace brisk and I guarantee that you will be mesmerized.
And much of that is because of McDormand. She does a lot of listening and reacting in this film, listening and reacting to her fellow nomads, many of whom are not actors but actual nomads living the lifestyle. Hers is the quiet performance of an accomplished actress at the top of her game. She has an amazing ability to express herself without speaking. She can act with her eyes.
You know how I judge a movie? If it makes my eyes well up at the end. And I’m not talking about a sad movie. The film can be a drama, a comedy, a thriller, whatever, but if my eyes well up when it’s over (I also might chuckle, too), it’s because I just had a very, very special and wonderful movie experience.
So…
Rosy the Reviewer says…my eyes welled up. (Now streaming on HBO Max)




After the death of their only son, a retired sheriff and his wife set out to find their only grandson.

Kevin Costner plays George Blackledge, a retired Montana sheriff. When we meet him, he is living on his ranch with his wife Margaret (Diane Lane), his son, James (Ryan Bruce), James’ wife, Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their newborn baby son, Jimmy. All is happy families until James dies in an accident, and a couple of years later, Lorna remarries Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), and Margaret observes Donnie abusing Jimmy and Lorna.
And then one day Donnie, Lorna and Jimmy are gone.

So Margaret decides that she and George need to go find them and bring Jimmy back to live with them. And that’s not an easy task, because they don’t know where they went nor much about Donnie and it’s the 60’s as in no Internet, no cell phones, nothing but good old-fashioned sleuthing. They do find them but get much more than they bargained for because the Weboys turn out to be one nasty family, thanks to Blanche (an almost unrecognizable Lesley Manville), the matriarch.
Halfway into the film it looks like George and Margaret will be reunited with their grandson, but when there is still an hour to go, you know there is time for everything to go terribly wrong and it does.
Leslie Manville as Blanche is one mean mother. Manville is a British actress you have probably seen a million times and recognize but have never known her name. However, here, playing a tough and ornery North Dakota farm woman, she was unrecognizable to me at first which says something about what a great actress she is.
Now, let me wax poetic for a moment about Kevin Costner.

Okay, it’s not exactly poetic. I am just going to slobber a bit over him. I just think he is one handsome, sexy guy and at 66 he is still one handsome, sexy guy. I have never gotten over the sex scene in the back of the car in “No Way Out” and seeing him here once in person playing at the Pebble Beach A T & T Pro-Am dripping in Armani, well, let’s just say going into this film I was already a fan. Oh, and did I mention he is a really good actor too?
But this is really Diane Lane’s movie. She is one of those actresses who puts in subtle performances that exude light. No actressy mannerisms for her. Her Margaret is a grandmother with quiet determination who can’t be stopped when it comes to saving her family. And you believe her.

Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha and based on the novel by Larry Watson, this is a compelling story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Rosy the Reviewer says…really liked this one. And the moral of the story? Don’t mess with us grandmas!

(Available on DVD from Netflix and to rent on Amazon Prime. By the way, I would say Kevin has a thing about Montana. We are currently working on Season 1 of “Yellowstone,” now available on Amazon Prime).



A Deputy Sheriff from Bakersfield becomes embroiled in a search for a serial killer in L.A.

Denzel Washington plays Joe “Deke” Deacon, a Bakersfield Deputy Sheriff, who is sent to Los Angeles to retrieve some evidence and finds himself involved in a search for a serial killer. He teams up with local detective, Jim Baxter, played by Rami Malek, and the two hone in on Albert Sparma (Jared Leto) who pulls them into a cat and mouse game.
This will pull you in, too, with a harrowing “woman in danger” opening scene and, from there, it’s a fast-moving crime drama – almost too fast for me because sometimes I didn’t know what was going on. But that’s okay. It’s all very noir and compelling and the last 20 minute sequence is a nail biter.
Denzel may be getting older but he’s still got it as a disgraced and tormented cop (that’s how he ended up in Bakersfield – Deke, not Denzel); Rami Malek is fine but a strange choice for this – I guess I can’t forget him as Freddie Mercury; but it’s Jared Leto who almost steals the show. I say almost because nobody steals the show from Denzel. But Leto is chilling and creepy. Do you notice that most of the characters he plays these days are odd or extremely strange? When did he change from that handsome teen idol from “My So-Called Life” to Rayon in “The Dallas Buyers Club” or The Joker in “Suicide Squad?” Anyway, I guess it works for him. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination for this latest strange, but riveting, performance.

Rosy the Reviewer says…an old-fashioned who-done-it crime drama with some modern twists and some great performances.
(Now available On Demand)


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