Showing posts with label No Man's Land. Show all posts
Showing posts with label No Man's Land. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2019

"Long Shot" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Long Shot" as well as DVDs "Mary Poppins Returns" and "Welcome to Marwen."  The Book of the Week is "Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age" by Mary Pipher.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "No Man's Land."]

Long Shot

The unlikely romance between the beautiful U.S. Secretary of State and a schlubby journalist.

It's difficult to believe that the beautiful Charlize Theron (pronounced Thron) has never starred in a romantic comedy.  On a recent talk show she talked about this, saying that she has mostly played killers and ass-kickers.  But as I always say, the more beautiful the actor, the more he or she fears not being taken seriously so is drawn to parts where he or she looks less than beautiful and can emote dramatically.  Case in point, Charlize's Oscar came from the film "Monster," where she played the rather masculine and unattractive serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

So, Charlize finally gets to play against that usual type, this time playing Charlotte Field, the glamorous Secretary of State, who falls for Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogan), a nerdy but principled guy in this mostly fun rom-com.

Now let me rant a bit about this concept.  

Why is it perfectly OK for a gorgeous woman to fall for a geeky nerd who would not be called handsome no matter how you shave his neck, comb his hair and put him in a tux?  We think nothing of that.  But what if the movie was in reverse?  What if Chris Hemsworth fell in love with Olive Oyl, then what? I mean, no offense to Seth Rogan, but I am sure even he would say he is no George Clooney and the movie IS called "Long Shot," which, in part, refers to the likelihood of such a hook-up as Fred and Charlotte. I'm just saying, we can accept a beautiful woman falling for a less than handsome man, but get all sweaty when it's a handsome man falling for a homely woman.  OK, rant over.

Charlotte Field is the U.S. Secretary of State with ambitions to run for President. (As things have gone so far in this country, I would say another long shot reference)?  When the flunky, inept President (Bob Odenkirk), an ex-TV star (ring a bell?) tells her he is not seeking a second term so he can become a movie star, she seeks his endorsement.  Meanwhile, Fred has left his job as a journalist for an alt paper when he discovers the newspaper has been bought by a Murdoch-like mogul owner (Andy Serkis) of a newspaper congomerate. Fred's morals just won't let him work for such a man.  Fred and Charlotte meet at a fundraiser and the two realize that Charlotte was once Fred's babysitter.  He had a mad crush on her then and remembers her as a high principled teen. When Charlotte discovers that Fred is a writer, she hires him to help her with her speeches as she stumps for President and, well, you know how this is going to go...

And most of it is a fun journey.

I say most of it, because, well, I think comedies and I don't get along.  Or I am just a big grouch.  I haven't liked one for quite awhile, even ones that everyone else seemed to think were funny like "A Bad Moms Christmas" and  "Isn't it Romantic?"  Don't get me wrong, this one isn't really bad. Rogan is always fun to watch as he puts his foot in his mouth and now we know Charlize can do comedy. I mean, what can't she do? And I loved O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Lance, Fred's best friend, and the love-hate relationship between Charlotte's image-maker, Maggie (June Diane Raphael) and Fred is funny, though Raphael plays exactly the same character here that she plays on "Grace and Frankie." But I just didn't laugh much.  And isn't the "com" part of rom-com supposed to mean comedy?  And aren't comedies supposed to be funny?

Whether I laugh or not is one thing, but sometimes comedies also make me mad.  What makes me mad are comedies rooted in reality that jar you and stretch that realm of reality just to get a laugh, and this one has some of those. For example:

  • Fred jumps out of a window two stories up to escape a white supremanist group he has infiltrated and lands on a car  -- walking away unscathed.  Huh?
  • Charlotte is supposed to be a very moral, liberal public servant.  How did she get appointed Secretary of State by a President who is clearly a Donald Trump character?  I'm just asking.
  • And what's with the use of the "F" bomb?  OK, I guess it's kind of funny to have the Secretary of State say it - THE FIRST TIME.  But when it is thrown out there all of the time, it loses its shock value. I am certainly not a prude when it comes to swearing, but in this film it turned into a distraction.  And I am not even going to get into the raunchy stuff.  If it's a Seth Rogan movie, you know there is going to be raunch.

Grousing about the state of the current comedy genre aside, there is an enjoyable sweetness to the relationship between Charlotte and Fred, thanks to Charlize and Seth. 

Written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah and directed by Jonathan Levine, all in all, this film is in the right place. It has some things to say about our current political climate, the love story has charm, there are some laughs to be had, and the characters are mostly believable, except an aging TV star becoming the U.S. President?  Who would believe that?

Rosy the Reviewer says...a mostly charming little love story that works because of Rogan and Theron.

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


Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

The Banks children have grown up, but their lives haven't turned out as they had hoped, so it's time for Mary Poppins to return and spread some of her magic around once again.

Michael Banks (Ben Wishaw) has fallen on hard times.  Michael's wife has passed away leaving him to care for their children and his home is being repossesed.  He is hopeless with money because his wife always handled the practical side of the marriage.  He needs to pay the mortgage in full in five days or he loses his house. Jane (Emily Mortimer) is single and a labor organizer and is trying to help Michael.  They remember that their Dad was a banker and owned stock in the bank but naturally they can't find the paper that shows he did.  If he did, that would save the day, but they don't know where the stock certificates are.

Did I just say save the day?  It's time for Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) to return!

Or is it?  I kind of wish Mary had stayed where she was - in the glow of Julie Andrews'  iconic performance.  And you can't help but compare this film to the original.

Emily Blunt is perfectly fine as Mary except when you compare her to Julie Andrews.  It just ain't the same.  Julie had a constant twinkle in her eye that made everything she did and said magical. Julie was fully invested as Mary Poppins.  She was Mary Poppins whereas I could feel Emily acting as Mary Poppins.

Also the music is forgettable.  When we walked out of the original Mary Poppins we were singing, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, the medicine go downnn, the medicine go downnn..." and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."  Now, I can't remember one song that was in this remake.  And believe it or not, there is actually a sing-along version of this film!

Directed by Rob Marshall who also directed "Chicago," there is nothing particularly wrong with this movie. It just lacked magic. And it was a sequel/remake, and you know how I feel about those!  Disney is in the midst of remaking all of its classic films and I am not particularly happy about that but the almight dollar calls, I guess.

But I feel bad about not really loving this film. I don't want to complain about musicals because in general musicals have gone the way of the dinosaur and I love musicals.  When I was growing up, musicals were a common occurrence.  Now they are rare.  And it's ironic, because in this time of such divisiveness, we need to see people spontaneously dancing in the street and singing love songs more than ever!

The film sports a star-studded cast.  In addition to Blunt, Winshaw and Mortimer, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a nice addition as Jack, the lamplighter and he actually sports a competent cockney accent. Colin Firth and Meryl Streep also make appearances, and it was fun seeing Dick Van Dyke.  But I wondered why Angela Lansbury had a cameo?  She wasn't in the original, was she?

However, despite my reservations, this sequel/remake (not sure what you would call it) written by David Magee, John DeLuca and Marshall, is a good one for today. It's a reminder that no matter how old we get we will always be that little child who could use a Mary Poppins who shows us that nothing is impossible.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I respect this film as a musical, but as a sequel/remake, I would prefer to just remember the original.

Welcome to Marwen (2018)

The strange tale of Mark Hogancamp (played by Steve Carell), who was beaten within an inch of his life and helped heal himself through his art.

Directed by Robert Zemekis, who has brought us some really wonderful movies, this one is a very strange film, indeed. It's based on the true story of Mark Hogencamp who was beaten up outside a bar for telling some guys he liked to wear women's shoes (something that is not explained or fleshed out at all in the film) and the beating resulted in him losing his memory.  So as a sort of rehabilitation, Hogancamp created a fictional doll-sized WW II Belgian town - Marwen - in his back yard with a set of dolls, a GI Joe doll, his alter ego, Hogie, an American pilot who was shot down by the Nazis and who runs a bar there called The Ripped Stocking, and the "Women of Marwen," several Barbie dolls, who all do battle with the Nazis. Hogancamp would pose the dolls and photograph them which became part of his therapy. An award-winning documentary - "Marwencol" - was made about Hogancamp and his art.

Co-written by Zemekis and Caroline Thompson, this biopic takes license with the story, animating the dolls and going back and forth between Hogancamp's actual life and the fictional world he has created with the dolls, but instead of generic Barbie dolls, Zemekis has fashioned the dolls after characters in the film who were heroine's for Hogancamp: Hogancamp's neighbor Nicol, played by Leslie Mann; Anna (Gwendoline Christie), a nurse who helped Hogancamp recover; G.I. Julie (Janelle Monae), his physical therapist; Roberta (Merritt Weaver), who works in the hobby shop where Mark gets his supplies; Carlala (Eiza Gonzales), the bartender at the bar where he was attacked; and Suzette (Leslie Zemekis), Mark's favorite porn actress.  There is also a witch named Deja (Diane Kruger), who keeps showing up. It's a kind of film within a film as the dolls weave in and out of Hogancamp's real life to re-enact life in the WW II town. 

The film is a worthy cause, I guess, telling Hogancamp's story and trying to show the healing power of art - but it just didn't work. It was overly sentimental except when the film went down some sexually kinky roads.  The whole thing just didn't make much sense. The story that the dolls tell is forgettable and, when woven into Hogancamp's story, the film was just a big jumble. Zemekis might have been hoping to produce another "Forrest Gump," but no such luck. This is just another example of a film that didn't need to be remade.  Why not just leave "Marwencol" alone?  And Steve Carell was a strange choice for Hogancamp. He made Hogancamp seem very creepy. I wouldn't think the real life Hogancamp would appreciate the characterization.

The film has a good message, "Women are the saviors of the world," (I like that), but as gun-toting dolls?

Rosy the Reviewer...creepy and sappy. Not a good mix.

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

96 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

No Man's Land (2001)

During the Bosnian conflict, three soldiers find themselves stuck in "no man's land," that space between where the lines are drawn.

It's 1993 and a Bosnian relief squad is headed to the front but are ambushed by Serbs. Only two survive, Ciki (Branko Djuric, a dead ringer for Jon Hamm) and Cera (Filip Sovagovic), though Ciki is shot and Cera knocked unconscious.  A Serbian veteran and his partner, Nino (Rene Bitorajac), arrive to survey the damage.  Thinking that Cera is dead, they set a bomb underneath Cera hoping that when his compatriots try to move him, it will blow everyone to smithereens. It's a "bouncing bomb." Once set and weight is placed on it, nothing happens.  But as soon as the weight is released, kaboom! As soon as Cera moves off the bomb, it will explode. But Cera is not dead. Ciki shoots the veteran but Nino is left with them and the three must work together to survive.

U.N. forces arrive as does a British news crew.  When it becomes clear that the bomb cannot be disarmed, the three become victims of the politics and corruption of nationalism and war.

"No man's land" is a term used to describe the disputed ground between the front lines of two opposing armies.  This film shows that it is also a place where no man (or woman) should be - war itself.

Why it's a Must See: "[Written and directed by Danis Tanovic, this film] is a bleak affair, indeed, but a meaningful cinematic experience can be found in its dark, dark comedy of errors wherein forthright patriots festoon one another on the symbolic bayonets of their rifles."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a very tense and sad film that reminds us of the horrors of war.

***The Book of the Week***

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age by Mary Pipher (2019)

Despite ageism, misogyny and loss, we older women could be the happiest we have ever been. Find out how.

Pipher, who wrote "Reviving Ophelia," the definitive tome on raising teenage girls, now examines the cultural and developmental issues women face as they age.  And it's mostly good news.

But first, the bad news:

  • Loss of control
  • Loss of identity
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Health issues
  • Misogyny
  • Sexually devalued as in becoming invisible
  • Mother-in-law jokes and other old lady stereotyping


Now for the good news:

  • We have choices
  • We replace old roles with new roles
  • We are happier than we were in our 20's, 30's and early 40's with the peak of happiness at the end of  our lives
  • Lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress
  • We can be advocates for change and create our own communities
  • We care less about our wrinkles and stretch marks
  • We have appreciation for family and friends
  • Some of us enjoy our grandchildren
  • We gain gratitude for life
  • We learn that the most important relationship we have is the one we have with ourselves
  • We can discover our true selves and are able to tell the truth...
  • Like telling people to shut-up with the old people and mother-in-law jokes already

See?  The list of good news about growing old is longer than the list of bad news!

Pipher shares her own journey and the stories of other women who are "rowing."  She chose the word 'rowing' instead of sailing or floating because, she says, we need to "make an effort, choose a positive attitude, and maintain a strong sense of direction as we travel toward winter and the land of snow and ice."

Though I think this is an important book, I do disagree with her on one point:

She talks about her "locker room," where we women of a certain age walk around naked, unselfconscious about our flabby thighs and wrinkled butts while those poor young women with the perfect bodies huddle in the corner changing their clothes because they are so self conscious about having perfect bodies.  

Well, you ain't gonna see this lady walking around in the locker room showing off her sagging boobs.  I am proud to have made it this far, and I think I am aging well, but I also do what I can to look good and refuse to give in to the inevitable until I have to.  I wear make-up, keep those grey hairs at bay (blondes DO have more fun!) and exercise and lift weights to keep the flab away as long as I can.  I may be old, but I don't want to look like I don't care how I look, and even if I am invisible to the younger generation, I am not invisible to myself. I am a longtime feminist and proud of it.  I understand the unreasonable expectations placed on women to look a  certain way, but I also feel that taking care of oneself, throwing on a bit of makeup if that enhances you, and dressing well shows the world you care about yourself.  My getting old hasn't changed that. (You can read more of my rant about this in one of my earlier blog posts - "How Not To Look Old.)"

What Pipher says "...If we can keep our wits about us, think clearly, and manage our emotions skillfully, we will experience a joyous time in our lives.  If we have planned carefully and packed properly, if we have good maps and guides, the journey can be transcendent."

Rosy the Reviewer says...just as "Reviving Ophelia" was the definitive book on teenage girls, this will surely be the definitive book about us Baby Boomer women. And no more old people and mother-in-law jokes!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday




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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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.