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

Monday, December 21, 2020

What I Have Loved Watching So Far During Lockdown

In these terrible times, thank god for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple+ and HBO Max (did I miss anything)?  They have been my best friends off and on for the last nine months but especially during this latest lockdown.  

If you have been following my Facebook page, you will recognize some of these recommendations but, if not, here are some movies and TV series I have enjoyed while sheltering at home.  And even if you do follow me on Facebook, these are expanded reviews that might get you to watch if you haven't already.


1.  The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)



So...ever wonder what flight attendants get up to as they travel around the world? Well, my oh my, according to this, A LOT! Drinking, sex...AND MURDER? (Dateline fans, do Keith Morrison's voice when you read the word "muuurder").

Kaley Cuoco plays Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant who often finds herself waking up from a night on the town and not remembering what happened or who that guy is in bed with her. She's a bit of a party girl, well, actually not a bit of a party girl, a BIG party girl, and she has no problem entering the Mile High Club with customers. But when she wakes up the next morning in Bangkok after hooking up with Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), a handsome passenger and finds him lying next to her, covered in blood, yes, dead, she decides to do a runner. Maybe no one saw her with him? Not likely. Bad choices and chaos ensues...and believe it or not, at times it's funny because Cassie is a cross between Goldie Hawn and Lucy Ricardo!

There are some side plots revolving around Cassie's brother (T.R. Knight) and her fellow flight attendant, Megan (Rosie Perez), who has gotten into some shady stuff herself but this is really all about Cassie and her crazy life.

Created by Steve Yockey (adapted from the novel of the same name by Chris Bohjalian), this is very entertaining and addictive, and Kaley Cuoco carries us along as Cassie tries to find out who killed Alex. There is a strange little hook with dead Alex turning up every so often to try to help Cassie figure his death out, which I rather liked, because did I say that Alex was handsome? But you know how I am with these elaborate spy movies. After many twists and turns and double-crosses, I often have trouble figuring out exactly what is going on - who is doing what to whom? So the last episode? Kind of didn't get it, but all-in-all, this was an enjoyable romp and maybe I was left a bit hanging because it looks like there will be a sequel.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a series that is both stylish, delicious and binge-worthy! And a lot of fun!



2.  A Teacher (Hulu)


A teacher and her student have an inappropriate relationship.

Meet Claire Wilson (Kate Mara), the new high school AP English teacher who has a handsome husband and a seemingly happy marriage. I mean, c’mon, they are trying to have a baby. But then enter Eric Walker (Nick Robinson, who starred in teen hits “Love, Simon” and “Everything, Everything), a handsome Big Man On Campus, who is hot for teacher. Both have issues. We learn early on that Claire is not your average teacher when she shoplifts some lipstick. We see some rebellion and entitlement there. And our young Eric? Who isn’t entitled when they are 17? He is the soccer team captain and wants to be a doctor, but he needs some help with his SATs. Claire conveniently steps up. And yes, they embark on a sexual relationship, and yes, they think it's love.

I know, there is a certain "ick factor" here, especially for you teachers out there. But the series offers some perspectives on this teacher-student phenomenon which we all watched play out most spectacularly and sadly with the Mary Kay Letourneau story, and believe it or not, teachers crossing the lines with their students is not as unusual as you might think. Google it. The title tells it all. It’s not “The Teacher,” it’s “A Teacher.” Teenaged boys want to be adults and young women teachers maybe don’t want to be and there you go. In this story, one bad decision leads to another and we know nothing good will come of it.

Mara is vulnerable and poignant as Claire, even as we shake our heads at her decisions. She is very believable and Robinson is the next big thing. I see a long career ahead for him.

Created and directed by Hannah Fidell (who also directed a feature film on which this TV series is based), this is a serious look at a gender stereotype that is often overlooked - the male sexual victim.
Rosy the Reviewer says…watching this, teachers and parents may cringe and be thankful school is not in session but this is a compelling series. You can’t take your eyes off of it. You know, like a train wreck? But it's a beautiful train wreck.
(The final two episodes air December 22 and December 29)


3.  The Prom (Netflix)


A group of Broadway stars on their way down head to a small Indiana town to give their lives some relevance by taking up the cause of a young girl who has been told she is not allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom as her date.

The Great White Way may be dark right now but thanks to Netflix we can still enjoy Broadway with this film version of the groundbreaking musical “The Prom.” It’s kind of like “Footloose,” but instead of an uptight town banning dancing, this is about an uptight town canceling Prom because two young lesbians want to go as a couple.
Four narcissistic Broadway stars (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and James Corden) need a cause to make themselves relevant. Their show closed due to bad reviews, so they grab onto this story of these two Indiana teen girls who want to go to Prom together and think they can help. But despite a sympathetic principal (Keegan-Michael Key), the PTA headed by the uptight Mrs. Greene (Kerry Washington) says no, so our fish-out-of-water, clueless Broadway stars show up in Indiana to try to save the day.
If you are familiar with Broadway musicals, you know that people will break out into song and dance in malls and other odd places and there will be sentimentality and seemingly bad people will see the error of their ways and become good, but suspend your disbelief. It’s a musical. It’s meant to make you feel good and this one does just that.
But don’t think this is one of those fluffy musicals. This one has substance because it takes on the struggles of LGBTQ teens and is actually based on a true story. Yes, in this day and age, a school tried to keep two girls from going to Prom together. And "the prom" itself is also a metaphor for everyone's teenage angst and subsequent neurosis, right?
Once again Meryl kills. Who knew she could sing like that? And she shows her comic chops too. And James? Who knew he was so light on his feet? And Nicole? Well, actually, not sure why a star of her stature was in this because her part as a Bob Fosse chorus girl is small, though she has one of the great lines.

“When your hands are shaking, turn them into jazz hands!”

But still, I am glad she hooked her star to this because it’s a great show. And thanks to Ryan Murphy's direction and a wonderful screenplay by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin, they are all hilarious and the young lovers are engaging.
The show opened on Broadway in 2018, was nominated for seven Tonys and ran for almost a year with a planned tour, but, well, you know how that went. But in the meantime, you can catch the show on Netflix and, I guarantee if you love musicals, you will love this (but remember, it’s a musical).
Rosy the Reviewer says…a feel good show where the Midwest meets Broadway. It shines a light on the struggles of the LGBTQ community, but it’s also an homage to the theatre, a reminder of what we are missing.


4. The Bee Gees: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart (HBO Max)


The extraordinary story of the Bee Gees, one of the best selling artists of all time, with sales of over 120 million records.  But what was most extraordinary was how they were able to keep reinventing themselves to stay relevant with the times over a 45 year career.

The brothers Gibb, Barry, the oldest, and twins Robin and Maurice, formed the Bee Gees in 1958 and performed for 45 years and had a major impact on pop culture from the 60’s through the 90’s. Through a series of interviews with Barry, the sole surviving brother (teen idol Andy is also gone) and archival interviews with Maurice and Robin, the story unfolds.  Yes, this is an homage to the band and doesn’t go into too much detail about some of the issues they faced, though In the “Never-Before-Seen” category we see Robin attempting a solo career and at a performance in New Zealand the crowd is so incensed that it’s only him and not all three of the Bee Gees that they throw things at him, attack him and run him off the stage.

Written by Mark Monroe, and directed by Frank Marshall, this is a fascinating story of some brilliant singer/songwriters and it’s a brilliant film, so evocative of the times, a time captured so completely that it can be emotional for us Baby Boomers.  I actually cried…because I was that young 60's girl who loved the Bee Gees. 


Rosy the Reviewer says…not to be missed!




5.  Murder on Middle Beach (HBO Max)


A young filmmaker tries to solve the mystery of his mother's murder.

If you are a true crime aficionado, as I am, you will be intrigued by this four-part HBO documentary, “Murder on Middle Beach,” where a son tries to find his mother’s killer.
Madison Hamburg directs his first film in an effort to solve the death of his mother, Barbara Hamburg, who was brutally murdered March 3, 2010 at her home in Madison, Connecticut. After the case went cold, Madison interviewed his family members and others to try to gather evidence to solve her murder. As he did so, he uncovered many family secrets and long-term resentments and the thought that perhaps one of his own family members had killed his mother.

Did Barbara's ex-drug addict sister, Conway, kill her? Or Madison's entitled sister, Ali? What about his Dad who had some shady business dealings that Barbara had uncovered and who was due in court regarding their contentious divorce? Or was Barbara's involvement with Gifting Tables a reason for murder?
This is one of those crime stories made all the more ominous because of the setting – a beautiful serene little New England town where nothing bad could ever happen, right? – and a seemingly close-knit, normal big family that murder could never touch, right? And yet...

Rosy the Reviewer says…a spell-binding story full of twists and turns made all the more poignant because it’s also the personal story of a son trying to not only find his mother’s murderer but a son trying to understand who his mother really was.




6.  Big Sky (ABC)


A private detective and an ex-cop try to solve a kidnapping. 

Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) are private detectives searching for two sisters who were kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana.  But when Cody goes missing, Cassie joins forces with ex-cop Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), Cody's estranged wife, an uneasy alliance since Jenny discovered Cody had been having an affair with Cassie. But that's the least of their problems when they discover that those are not the only girls who have discovered missing.

From the pen of David E. Kelley (best known for "L.A. Law" and "Chicago Hope" and "Big Little Lies" - he's also married to Michelle Pfeiffer), this is a little bit thriller, a little bit mystery and very character driven by, shall I say, odd characters? There is a twisted cop (John Carroll Lynch), a nerdie truck driver (Brian Geraghty), who not only lives with his mother but sometimes sleeps with her, prostitutes working truck stops and more. The series reminded me a bit of "Twin Peaks," and well, yes, "Big Little Lies," without the Monterey landscapes, because all of these characters are not just odd but have, shall I say, "issues?" And the first episode had a shocking ending! Enjoyed it in a perverse sort of way. Looking forward to its return.

Rosy the Reviewer says...check it out (you can probably find it on On Demand) and let me know what you think. It's a bit over-the-top but stylish and intriguing and surprisingly out there for mainstream TV (or maybe I just don't watch enough mainstream TV).
(Currently on hiatus until January 26 - and yes, it will leave you hanging)


7.  Dash & Lily (Netflix)


A boy with a broken heart and a naive but optimistic young girl embark on a series of dares via a notebook they hide around New York City.

Now that we’ve all seen “The Queen’s Gambit (see below),” we needed another bingeworthy Netflix show, and thank you, Netflix for “Dash and Lily,” which will be the next big thing, and it’s here just in time for the holidays to take our minds off of lockdown.

“The Queen’s Gambit” was about chess, “Dash and Lily” is about books…well, a notebook... and romance. Based on the young adult series "Dash & Lily's Book of Dares" by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, the series plays out in eight 25+ minute episodes (totally bingeworthy), we meet Dash (Austin Abrams), a handsome New Yorker, who is nursing a broken heart and is humbug about Christmas. Lily (Midori Francis) is his opposite. She loves the holidays and is looking for love but she is also socially shy and awkward. She has planted a notebook in the famous NYC Strand Book Store with a series of dares for anyone up to the challenge. Dash finds the notebook and embarks on the dares and then dares Lily. They leave the notebook in places around NYC with new dares for each other. Will they meet? The anticipation is half the fun and you care because these are two engaging young actors. And, yes, it’s a rom-com and it’s about young people but all ages will enjoy if you remember what falling in love is like.

Filmed prer-Covid, this is a love letter to New York City, too, showcasing its delights as Dash and Lily dash about the City, and it will put you in the holiday spirit.
Rosy the Reviewer says…it’s quirky and funny and utterly charming and isn’t charm something we sorely need right now?


8Emily in Paris (Netflix)


A young American girl from the Midwest gets a chance to live and work in Paris.

Emily (Lily Collins, yes, Phil's daughter) is a driven 20-something from Chicago who gets an unexpected job opportunity and moves to Paris. She is supposed to bring an American point of view to a French marketing firm. However, the Parisiens she works with not only don't think much of her Midwestern upbringing, they don't think much of America either. Emily is a fish-out-of-water, but there's a twist. She doesn't know it.  She thinks she is cool and swans around Paris like she owns the place. Her colleagues make fun of her behind her back and put roadblocks in her way, but this girl has pluck (don't you just love the word "pluck?") and some handsome suitors.

Created by Darren Star, this is a sort of Parisien version of "Sex and the City," and it's just as much fun. It's frothy, Lily Collins is a delight and so is Paris. So sit back and do some armchair traveling as Emily takes Paris by storm in some great clothes! Ooh la-la, the clothes!

Rosy the Reviewer says...rom-com fans rejoice and, ah, Paris, armchair travelers will also enjoy. Une délicieuse petite aventure.


9.  The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)



The true story of the Chicago 7 arrested for protesting at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

And the wheels go round and round.

Don’t think writer/director Aaron Sorkin, the creator of “The West Wing,” doesn’t draw some connections between the trial of the Chicago 7 and the protests of the late 60’s to present day events. He does.

What became known as "The Chicago Seven" was a disparate group of organizers and protesters: Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), John Froines (Danny Flaherty) and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), who along with Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the current President of the Black Panther Party, were arrested and tried for crossing state lines to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention when in fact they were there protesting the Vietnam War. They all had their own issues and causes and what they deemed appropriate protest. I mean, Abbie Hoffman was a Yippie who liked to plan over-the-top theatrical protests, Dellinger was a pacifist who promoted non-violent change and Hayden was one of the founders of the SDS - Students for a Democratic Society - and not particularly against violence but what they all had in common was a shared hatred of the Vietnam War. However, despite their differences, but they were rounded up and treated as one entity - The Chicago Seven.

Mark Rylance plays their attorney, William Kunstler, and Frank Langella plays Judge Julius Hoffman as rather senile, which would explain why the trial was such a circus.

Ah, 1968, the year that Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, racism and political corruption abounded and the draft lottery sent 35,000 young men to Vietnam, some of whom were my friends. Hell, my ex-husband was sent there six months after we got married. Some of that from 1968 may sound familiar, except we Baby Boomers had Vietnam and now this generation has Covid. Both wars and still lots to protest.
And the wheels go round and round.
Rosy the Reviewer says…it’s a star-studded cast and a compelling story that resonates today. And next time you Gen-X-ers and Z-s sigh and say “Okayyyy, Boomers,” to your parents or grandparents, and blame us for where we are today, think twice. We had our own stuff. We tried to change things. Now it's your turn.




10.  The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)


Young orphan Beth Harmon becomes a chess prodigy and learns that success has a price.

This has been the hit of quarantine.

First there was "The Tiger King (remember that one? - we weren't quite as evolved then as we are now!)," and then there was "The Queen's Gambit." They actually have nothing in common except "The Tiger King" was a Netflix phenomenon and so is this one. In fact, "The Queen's Gambit" has become the most watched scripted series of all time for Netflix.

Beth Harmon has not had a good life. Orphaned in the 50's at a young age, sent to an orphanage and lonely, she befriended the janitor who taught her how to play chess. She quickly proves to be a prodigy at the game and starts entering competitions.

And then the older Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) takes the chess world by storm, something that was the world of men, and now there is Beth and she is crushing everyone. But here's the thing. Beth has some major emotional problems and a drug and alcohol addiction.

Speaking of taking the world by storm. That is what Anya Taylor-Joy has done. Not just with this, but her early foray into feature films was "The Witch," a film I didn't really like but I liked her. And in just five short years, she has a long resume that includes her most recent film, "Emma," which by the way was the very last film I saw in a theatre. She is a beautiful, talented actress who really shows what she's got in this incredibly mesmerizing series.

However, I also have to give a shout-out to Marielle Heller, who played Beth's foster mother. She went from an unsympathetic character who drank a bit, okay, a lot, and didn't understand her adopted daughter to become a lynchpin and huge supporter of Beth's career. Heller is also the writer/director of "Diary of a Teenage Girl" and the director of "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" and "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" - three movies I loved. So she is a successful writer and director and now we know she can also act. Keep your eye out for her!

Anyway, yes, this film is about chess, but don't let that turn you off.

It's about chess, but so much more. I mean, c'mon, "The Tiger King" was about big cat zoos, and you watched that one. This miniseries, which is not a documentary, by the way, but a dramatic series, might just make chess the next big thing! But this is so, so much better than "The Tiger King" and so much more than just about chess. Let's just say, chess is a metaphor here. And Beth Harmon is our new kick-ass woman!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you don't want to be the only one who hasn't seen this show, better get out the remote! Trust me, you won't be sorry!

NOTE: You might notice one obvious series that is missing - "The Crown." Duh. Yes, I binged on that one too but hasn't everyone?

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!



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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 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.

Friday, October 13, 2017

"The Mountain Between Us" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Mountain Between Us" as well as DVDs "Going in Style" and "Rough Night." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Puppetmaster."  The Book of the Week is a novel: "One Perfect Lie" by Lisa Scottoline]



 
The Mountain Between Us


After a plane crash, two strangers find themselves stranded on top of a snow-covered mountain.

Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) is a photographer who needs to get home because she is getting married tomorrow.  Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is a neurological surgeon who has an important surgery he needs to get to, so both are not happy that all planes have been cancelled from Idaho to Denver.  Alex gets the idea to rent a private plane, and after overhearing that Ben is in the same predicament as she is, asks him if he wants to join her.

The two find Walter (Beau Bridges) and his dog (Raleigh) and after agreeing on a price, Walter takes them up in his small plane.  As they are flying high over some treacherous mountain peaks, Walter has a stroke and the plane crashes.  Fortunately for Alex, Ben and the dog, they all survive, though Alex has a bad leg injury which Ben is able to treat. Good thing he just happens to be a doctor. Walter is not so lucky.

So now there they all are, alone on the top of a mountain with nothing but other mountains and snow between them and safety and a couple of candy bars and some almonds to keep them company. What to do?

When one finds oneself lost or stranded, the main issue is to stay or go.  Do you sit tight and wait to be rescued?  Or do you leave and hope for the best?

Ben uses his brain (he's a neurological surgeon, get it?).  He wants to stay.  Alex uses her heart. Not sure why that's her thing?  She's a woman? She wants to leave.  The head versus heart is a theme here as is the mountain.  When two beautiful people find themselves stranded together for a long period of time, stuff is going to happen, but there is also a figurative mountain between them - the mountain is the fact that Alex is set to be married and Ben has his own issues about love and relationships.

So this is a story of survival but it's also a love story.

You can always tell when it's awards season, when animated films and superhero movies give way to more serious fare where actors can show off their skills. This film is what the Brits would call a two-hander, meaning that most of the film is just two actors - Winslet and Elba - talking and interacting as they try to get off that physical and emotional mountain.  And it takes acting skill to carry a film when it's just the two of them.  Don't get me wrong, Winslet and Elba are both wonderful actors,

But...

I had some issues with this film.

  • First of all, when all flights are cancelled out of an airport, what regular person decides to not only rent a private plane but also asks a total stranger to come along?

  • Who doesn't call someone to tell them that flights are canceled out of the airport, so they are going to rent a small, rickety private plane in horribly bad weather and not ask for them to pray for them?

  • What pilot doesn't bother to file a flight plan?

  • And why did Ben have a lighter?  Very strange for someone who doesn't smoke to carry a lighter around, but highly convenient in case he gets stranded on a snowy mountaintop some time, right?

  • If you had just been in a plane crash and were stranded on a desolate, snowy mountaintop, why wouldn't you have the flare gun locked and loaded just in case? It's the one thing that still works after the crash. There are a couple of instances where the flare gun would have come in handy, oh, like when another plane flew over, but no, they had to run and get the gun, load it and by the time they did that, the plane had flown.

  • I knew things were going south when I was rooting more for the dog than Alex and Ben.  Not a good thing.

  • And what has happened to Dermott Mulroney's career?  He has about ten lines in this film. Since "My Best Friend's Wedding," in the last ten years he has gone from leading man roles in movies to TV to doing mostly supporting work.  That's too bad because he is a handsome guy and a good actor and should be able to still get those romantic lead gigs. 

  • Worst of all?  How can it be that beautiful Kate Winslet and handsome Idris Elba seemed to have zero chemistry? She usually takes her clothes off in her movies.  She didn't in this one.  Maybe that was the problem!

Those might seem like little things - well, Winslet and Elba not having any chemistry isn't a little thing - but those other issues I had seemed to only serve the plot and not reality.  I'm telling you, that lighter bothered me through the whole film.

Written by J. Mills Goodloe and Chris Weitz from the novel by Charles Martin and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, this is the kind of film I usually really like.  It's a love story with a thriller component. I should have cried at the end, but I didn't.  The film should have been tense and exciting, but it wasn't. The most exciting part of the film happened early on and that was the plane crash but then the film just kind of kept crashing after that.  Somehow the whole thing just felt as cold as that icy mountain they were trying to get off of. And the beauty of Winslet and the handsomeness that is Elba and their combined powerhouse of acting talent just couldn't save it.

Oh and by the way, if you are afraid to fly, this movie is probably not for you. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this wasn't a bad film; it was just disappointing.




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

On DVD






Going in Style (2017)



Three senior citizens embark on an elaborate heist to get their money back from the bank that has stolen their pensions. 

Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), and Albert (Alan Arkin) are senior citizens and lifelong friends living in Brooklyn. All three are having financial problems. Joe had recently been at the bank to discover that his house was being foreclosed on. He had fallen for a "teaser rate promo" and now he can't afford his house, a house where his daughter and granddaughter also live.  They will be out on the street.  Willie is suffering from kidney disease and needs a transplant and Albert is barely getting by giving saxophone lessons. To add insult to injury, the company they worked for was bought out and their pensions have been canceled. The company is going to use that money to move their operations overseas and the local bank is handling the money transfer.

While getting the bad news at the bank, Joe witnesses a robbery, which, after all of this bad news, inspires him to throw out the idea to his friends of robbing the bank, the very bank that was helping the new company steal their pensions. They do a dry run by shoplifting some items at the grocery store in a silly scene that ends with Willie making his escape in a shopping cart but they get caught and are humiliated but decide to go ahead with their bank robbery plan anyway.  What do they have to lose?  So they decide they need some professional help. Joe says he doesn't know any criminals but he knows a low life - his former son-in-law, Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz) - so they hook up with him and his friend, Jesus (John Ortiz), to teach them the ropes

Joe, Willie, and Albert disguise themselves with "Rat Pack" masks (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.) and use guns with blanks so that no one gets hurt. Of course it all goes wrong but they still get away with 2.3 million dollars  However, the heist was not without its problems.  Willie, not able to breathe through his mask, collapses and a little girl pulls off his mask.  Willie engages her in some friendly conversation so that the little girl is not scared of him but despite that they get away.  Remember when I mentioned that dry run at the grocery store where the guys tried a little shop lifting?  Well, it was all captured on video tape and the manager of the grocery store recognizes Al's walk from the video surveillance, so they are arrested by FBI Agent Hamer.  But they stick to their alibis, and later when the little girl is shown a police line-up, she refuses to point the finger at Al even though she recognizes him. See?  Being nice during a bank robbery has its advantages!

In the course of the investigation, we get to see the whole plot played out and the alibis,which are elaborate and ingenious.  It was a well-thought-out heist and there are some twists and turns that you didn't see coming.

Old people need something to live for.  So what if that something is robbing a bank?  Planning the heist and undertaking it gives Joe, Willie and Albert a new lease on life.  I'm not saying that planning and carrying out a bank robbery is a good thing to do, but old folks need something to look forward to!

Ann-Margret makes an appearance as a grocery clerk interested in Albert and the sexy grandma of one of Albert's untalented students and a barely recognizable Matt Dillon plays the detective investigating the bank robbery.  Whatever happened to HIS career? Kenan Thompson of SNL fame has a brief moment as the grocery store manager but it's a highlight.

Directed by actor Zach Braff with a screenplay by Theodore Melfi, it's all pretty silly stuff and the movie uses many of the clichés about old people that I hate - old people swearing, old people having sex, old people getting stoned - all movie clichés that are supposed to be funny but aren't to those of us who are old, but it doesn't really matter the vehicle, because when three veteran actors like Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin, get together you've got to be there. These three actors constitute 174 years of TV and movie acting, and they are actors at the top of their game and can make any story work, even if that story has been done before (this is a loose remake of the 1979 Art Carney-George Burns-Lee Strasborg film), but this kind of story - getting even with the evil souless bank that is ruining your life - is also a film trope. I mean, it could be a geriatric heist version of this year's "Hell or High Water". But hey, like I said, watching Caine, Morgan and Arkin interact is worth the rerun.  And can you believe it?  Speaking of movie tropes. No power walk! 

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, there are old people stereotypes, yes, it's sentimental, yes, it's full of clichés but it's also kind of fun. There are worse movies out there and I would watch these three guys read the phone book.







Rough Night (2017)


A group of girlfriends head to Miami for a bachelorette party,but when they hire a male stripper things go terribly wrong.

Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is getting married and her besties and ex-sorority sisters want to give her a bachelorette party she will remember. The girls bonded in college at a frat party where they beat the boys at beer pong and pledged to be friends forever.  Now it's ten years later and Jess has moved on from beer pong.  In fact she is running for State Senate.  Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher; Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is a protester/activist; and Blair (Zoe Kravitz) is a Mom going through a divorce.

When they arrive in Miami, they head to the condo they have rented and go to the neighbors for the keys.  The neighbors are a swinger couple - the sexually active Lea (Demi Moore) and Pietro (Ty Burrell), who turn up now and again for their sexual comic relief and this film needs it.  Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess's roommate from her Australian foreign study, also shows up much to Alice's dismay.  You see, Alice has jealousy and neediness issues.

None of the girls really want to party.  Jess doesn't want to do anything that would jeopardize her chances of winning a Senate seat and basically wants to flake out, but you know that's not going to happen.  First, cocaine shows up, then they get drunk, more cocaine, then some marijuana, then some pizza, then a stripper, then they kill the stripper. Yes, you heard me.  Alice jumps on his lap, the chair falls over and he hits his head and dies.  Naturally they can't call the police and tell them it was an accident like any normal person would do.  Oh, no.  Then we wouldn't have a movie.  They all have reasons why they can't call the police.  So they decide to call a lawyer instead who tells them if there's no body, there's no crime.  Mmmm.

This is one of those movies where one bad decision leads to another leads to another and things get worse and worse.

Directed and co-written by Lucia Anielo with Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jess's fiance, this is all part of the "Bachelor/Bachelorette-Party-Gone-Wrong-Genre ("The Hangover," "Bridesmaids") that makes the case that women can be just as raunchy and bad as men when it comes to partying.  It also feels a bit like "Weekend at Bernie's" as the girls try to figure out how to dispose of the body.

Meanwhile, Jess's fiancé calls and asks how they are doing.  He says he is having a wild time - but in fact he and his friends are in suits wine tasting - but he gets suspicious about what is happening in Miami so decides to do a "sad astronaut" trip - remember that case where an astronaut woman was in love with an astronaut man and was jealous of his new relationship so she decided she was going to kill her rival, and so she drove non-stop a thousand miles or something wearing an adult diaper so she wouldn't have to stop?  So Peter dons a diaper, uses some meth and makes the trip, and of course, he gets stopped by the police.  This part of the film was actually funny.

One can't help but compare this film to "Girls Trip," a very similar film, that unfortunately for this film, came out at the same time. The two films even start out the same - ex-sorority sisters who haven't seen each other in awhile and whose lives have evolved get together to celebrate. Both films have the supposedly responsible one and then there is the absolutely crazy one and in both films the women get themselves in some very bad situations.  Except when you compare the two, "Rough Night" doesn't fare as well because "Girls Trip" was actually funny.

This is a departure role for Scarlett Johannson. We don't often see her in comedies which is probably why she wanted to do this film.  That's the only reason I could think of why she would.

Kate McKinnon is one of those actors I love.  She is always all in and this role is no exception. She almost saves this film with her broad Aussie accent and nutty physical humor...but, alas, she didn't. 

The main problem with this film is that it just isn't very funny.

Rosy the Reviewer says...see "Girl's Trip" instead.  That film was funny.





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



166 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?





The Puppetmaster (1993)


Based on fact, this film recounts the life story of Li Tien-lu, a famous Taiwanese puppeteer, during the Japanese occupation of China.

During the Japanese occupation of China which lasted from 1895 to 1945, young Li Tien-lu joins a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. We witness the events of his life - he gets married, has a mistress, deals with the complications of his life - with the political climate as a backdrop.  Tienlu and his puppet skills were also used by the Japanese during World War II for their war propaganda. The story is all pretty grim.

The real Tien-lu is shown from time to time throughout the film and narrates and there are several segments highlighting the puppet shows themselves.

Li Tien-lu had a very hard life, and this is the kind of biopic that makes you grateful for the life you have had.

Why it's a Must See: "Director Hou Hsiao-hsien has an unhurried style with long shots that calmly observe the interaction of the characters...a deeply felt portrait of Taiwanese life."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says..."unhurried style" is code for boring.  It was just a bit too unhurried for me.




***The Book of the Week***




One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline (2017)



Who is Chris Brennan and why has he come to Central Valley?

Chris Brennan has applied for a teaching job at Central Valley High School. His resume and references are impeccable.  He is also ready to step in as the assistant baseball coach but it's all a lie.  His name isn't even Chris Brennan.

He is there to find a young man who can help him with his plan.

The young men he has targeted are Raz, the high school baseball team's pitcher, whose father has just died leaving him vulnerable; Jordan, a shy kid who has just made the team and who lives with his single Mom, Heather; and Evan, a rich kid with a surgeon father and a mother who copes by filling her days with social events and drinking too many gin and tonics.

Chris is looking for a vulnerable kid who he can manipulate.

So goes the first part of this novel, and you get the idea that Chris is some kind of domestic terrorist plotting a bombing on the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing, but then Scottoline flips on the reader in Part II and the story changes from the BIG LIE to what is really going on with Chris and to each of the boys' lives because there are enough secrets and lies to go around in this little thriller.

This is the kind of novel that is often called a "fast read," because there is lots of dialogue and a fast-moving plot.  It's the kind of novel that would make a good film so I couldn't help but cast the parts as I read it.  I think Jake Gyllenhaal would make a good "Chris," Heather, who becomes Chris's love interest, could be played by Rachel McAdams.

 
Evan could be played by Miles Teller, Jordan by Ansel Elgort and Raz by Nick Robinson, all hot young actors.



I know, I couldn't help myself.  Movies are always on my mind! You will have to read the book to see if you agree with me!

I liked this book, but it was a bit lightweight, even for me, and I'm not that keen on baseball or books that are mostly about guys.  But hey, that's just me.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a fast-read that would appeal to teens as well as men and women and won't take much mental energy.




Thanks for reading!


 
See you next Friday 


 


for my review of  

 


"Victoria and Abdul"  


 
 and



The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and 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).