Showing posts with label Noodles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Noodles. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2019

"Captain Marvel" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Captain Marvel" as well as DVDs "Puzzle" and "Ben is Back."  The Book of the Week is "The Easy Noodle Cookbook."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Shock Corridor."]

Captain Marvel

How Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel.

With the exception of Batman and Superman movies, I was never much of a superhero fan and avoided those comics for most of my life.  So the superhero movie versions weren't of much interest either.  However, I am a big fan of woman empowerment so I went to see "Wonder Woman," and loved it so much that I thought I should give Captain Marvel a try as well. But, sorry, Captain Marvel is no Wonder Woman.  And Brie Larson is no Gal Gadot.  I guess it's a DC comics vs. Marvel comics thing and I am in the DC camp.

I think one of the reasons that I am not drawn to the superhero films, despite their incredible popularity at the box office, is the fact that the plots are so complicated and intricate it's like taking calculus again. The characters and people have difficult names like Yon-Rogg and Skrulls and it just gets exhausting.  I don't want to have to work so hard to enjoy a movie.  And this one is no exception.

Carol Danvers AKA as Vers AKA as Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is an ex-U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and member of the Kree military unit called Starforce.  Her DNA was altered during an accident thus giving her super powers: superhuman strength and the ability to fly without a plane.  Members of the Kree race are generally unemotional but Danvers has a human side and if she has a weakness it is keeping her emotions in check (you can tell this was written by a man. Of course a woman superhero has to be emotional)!

OK, so that's Marvel's story.  Now here is the plot.

When the movie begins, Carol/Marvel is Vers, a Starforce member who is suffering from amnesia.  She doesn't know her own backstory.  The Krees are at war with the Skrulls, who are alien shapeshifters, and Vers is kidnapped by Skrull commander, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).  Her memory is probed but she escapes and crash lands in 1990's L.A. where the film has some fun reminding us of what the 90's were like - Blockbuster Video, pay phones, pagers, the scratchy sound of dial-up Internet and the music of TLC and Nirvana.  There she encounters S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, digitally enhanced to look 40 years younger) and Coulson (Clark Gregg), who should be good guys but those darn shapeshifters keep impersonating people.  Vers finds a crystal with her memories in it and eventually finds out who she is, who her enemies really are and that the Skrulls aren't so bad after all.  That's about all I can say about the story and probably all I figured out.

Written by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (and a bunch of others) and directed by Boden and Fleck, that's basically the story in a very small nutshell.  It's far more complicated before Vers discovers she is really Carol and then becomes Marvel and, like I said, getting there was just exhausting.

I also didn't get Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.  How did that happen?  I totally understand Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman because she is a wonder of a woman.  But Larson?  I know she is a good actress.  I mean she is an Oscar winner for "Room," and she was wonderful in that, and she is perfectly OK in this, I guess.  But she doesn't really have much to do because the character is not fleshed out very well.  And I just couldn't help wondering, why her?  How did that come about?  The Hollywood suits were sitting around and wondering who should be a superhero woman with incredible strength and Brie Larson is who came to mind?

Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel have similar superpowers and when Wonder Woman wielded her bracelets at the end of the film, I cried and cheered at the same time.  But when Marvel unleashes her talents, I just felt kind of blah.  And of course, this was our introduction to Marvel who we learn at the end of the film will be joining her other Marvel compatriots in "Avengers: Endgame," out very soon.

Rosy the Reviewer even though a superhero woman movie directed by a woman is a good thing, this didn't change my mind about superhero movies.  Not a big fan.

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


Puzzle (2018)

A suburban mother who is taken for granted finds her passion - jig saw puzzles!

Now you might be thinking, "Huh?  Jig saw puzzles?  Do I really want to watch a movie about jig saw puzzles??  Yes, you do.

Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) is a hard-working but bored stay-at-home Mom whose kids and husband take her for granted and treat her like a dummy. She has to throw herself her own birthday party and then clean up afterwards! She gets an IPhone for her birthday and doesn't have a clue how to use it which doesn't help her intelligence cred with her kids.  But she also gets a jigsaw puzzle as a present.  And it's not one of those easy ones, either.  She lays out all of the pieces on a table and wouldn't you know. She aces it in record time and gets a huge dose of pride.  So now she's addicted and wants more.

She travels into the City, which is a big deal because poor Agnes has been pushed down so far she is barely existing.  She gets another puzzle and once again puts it together in record time.  Turns out, Agnes is a puzzle savant.  At the shop she sees an ad for a puzzle partner and intrigued answers the ad and meets Robert (Irrfan Khan), a rich, super smart inventor who lives in the city.  She impresses him with her savant-dom and how fast she can solve the puzzles so he wants her as his puzzle-solving partner.  Now Agnes has to find a way to get into the City regularly to practice with Robert for a big upcoming puzzle competition.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub and adapted by Polly Mann and Oren Moverman from the Argentinian film "Rompecabezas," which I am guessing means "puzzle" in Spanish (see?  I'm no dummy), I found this little film interesting and charming.  Yes, it is yet another female empowerment film - naive, shy woman everyone takes for granted blossoms when she discovers her passion - but, as I have said many times, I love female empowerment films, and what sets this one apart from the usual cliches were the performances by MacDonald and Khan and the puzzle aspect.  I find it amazing the things that motivate people and this film was entirely believable - that this bored, unappreciated housewife would find something she was good at, in this case, working out puzzles, and that it would empower her.

Macdonald, a Scottish actress who many will recognize from "Boardwalk Empire," is believable and poignant as the lonely, unappreciated Connecticut housewife and Irrfan Khan is wonderful as Robert.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed this film, I had a couple of teeny tiny problems with it.  For example, not sure why Agnes had to go all of the way to Manhattan to get another puzzle.  Don't they have jig saw puzzles in Connecticut?  I know she was supposed to be a naive, very sheltered woman but Bridgeport, Connecticut?  Hardly the Outback.  I also don't understand women who have to lie to get out of the house.  Just tell your husband you are going!  What's the big deal? 

But all-in-all, my kind of film.

And in case you still aren't sold on a movie about jig saw puzzles, maybe what Robert says about that in the film will help:

"Everything's random...  There is nothing we can do to control anything. But when you complete a puzzle, when you finish it, you know you have made all of the right the very end everything makes one perfect picture. What other pursuits can give you that kind of perfection?"

We all need to find that bit of perfection - something we are good at.

Rosy the Reviewer enjoying a movie, especially when it's a charming little film like this.  Perfection.

Ben is Back (2018)

A teen who is supposed to be in rehab shows up at home unexpectedly on Christmas Eve.

Another drug addicted kid movie and another one starring Lucas Hedges.  Do film producers automatically think of Lucas Hedges when they need an angst-ridden teen?  My god, he's in everything.  We've seen him as an angst-ridden teen who has lost his Dad and is estranged from his Mom in "Manchester by the Sea."  We've seen him as an angst-ridden gay teen in both "Lady Bird" and "Boy Erased" and he was an angst ridden teen beating up his little brother in "Mid90s (yes, mean kids are angst-ridden too)." And that's not even naming all of the films he has starred in since 2016. But he's good so I'm not complaining.

And then there's Julia.  You know if Julia Roberts is in something, it's going to be high class and good.  Can you tell I am a big fan?  Well, I am.  I mean, c'mon, she had me at "Mystic Pizza."  That smile. That je ne sais quoi that just oozes off the screen. And she is just a really good actress too.

Anyway, despite the smile, our Julia has now graduated from pretty women to playing Moms and here she is Holly Burns, mom to Ben (Hedges) who is supposed to be in rehab for drug addiction but decides he is fine and comes home.  Can she trust him?  Not really.  Holly spends the entire film making sure Ben is not using which could be boring but it's not.  Ben is back physically but Holly has to get him back mentally.

Ben has learned how to work his Mom. She tells him he can stay for one day but he can't leave her sight but Ben knows how to charm his Mom and she doesn't handle things particularly well so things kind of get out of hand, especially when they come home from church and discover the house has been broken into and the dog is missing.  Who would steal their dog?  Well, Ben thinks he knows as his past comes back to haunt him. Holly and Ben go on an odyssey to find the dog and Holly gets an up close and personal look into the seedy side of Ben's old life, the drug-addicted one, and we get a closer look at Holly. Ben had become addicted to pills after a snowboarding accident so when Holly runs into the doctor who prescribed the pills to Ben she lets him have it telling him she hopes he dies a horrible death. Holly clearly hasn't really worked out Ben's responsibility in all of this yet.

Written and directed by Peter Hedges (Lucas's Dad), this is a powerful story of what drug addiction can do to a family.

Ben is back can mean more than one thing.  Ben is back home to deal with all he wrought before he left for rehab or he is back from the hell of drug addiction.  Sadly, neither of those things holds true in this film and that's actually a good thing because the film does not offer easy answers to the issue. What do you do with a drug addicted son?  You love him but can't trust him.  You like him but can't trust him.  You want him home but can't trust him.

Rosy the Reviewer says... an in your face look at the power of drug addiction and the lengths a mother will go through to save her child.

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

101 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Shock Corridor (1963)

A journalist has himself committed to a mental hospital to try to solve a murder.

Newspaper guy, Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck), decides that the quickest way to a Pulitzer Prize is to solve a murder at a mental hospital and then write an article about it. OK, I get that.  But then he decides that the best way to get the story is to be declared insane and committed to a mental hospital.  Bad idea.  He also decides that his mental illness should be his "unnatural" attraction to his sister, who is really his girlfriend, Cathy (Constance Towers) who is also a stripper.  An even worse idea. You can see where that is going to go.

Speaking of stripping, Cathy is one of the worst strippers I have ever seen, not that I've seen loads but I know a bad strip when I see one.  She does this  strange strip tease with feathers and fringe where she starts out with a feather boa covering her face and then sings while the boa is still covering her face and all we see are the feathers flapping up and down from her breath.  Very, very strange.  And then some of her moves which were supposed to be sexy (I think), were actually NOT!

Anyway, back to the murder.

The witnesses to the murder were three guys at the hospital:

  • Stuart (a very young James Best), who is obsessed with the Civil War and thinks he is J.E.B. Stuart
  • Trent (Hari Rhodes), one of the first black students to integrate a segregated college in the South who now believes he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  Yes, you heard me.
  • Boden (Gene Evans), an atomic scientist who has regressed to the mentality of a six-year-old

There is also a fat guy who thinks he is an opera singer and a room full of nymphomaniacs.  I am still reeling from the scene where the Johnny gets locked into the room with the nymphos. Not sure I will ever get over that!

Written, directed and produced by Samuel Fuller, a famous B-movie guy, this movie plays with the whole notion that just being around mentally ill people will make you mentally ill, which in today's world is not a very PC notion.

Why it's a Must See: "The...acting is all over the place, with the cast obviously encouraged to give voice to their inner psychotic...Fuller doesn't always arrange the film like he knows exactly where it's going, and its inherent trashiness never belies it's B-movie origins -- but he does imbue [this film] with a crazed energy more than befitting its striking name."

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

OK, I am starting to rebel against the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book.  The acting is all over the place?  Fuller doesn't make a film where it looks like he knows what he is doing?  It's trashy?  Then why in hell do I need to see this thing?

The film begins and ends with a quote from Euripides:

"Whom God wishes to destroy he first makes mad."

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am mad.  I am mad I had to watch this film!

***The Book of the Week***

The Easy Noodle Cookbook: Noodles Recipes You Can Make in Less Than an Hour! by Daniel Humphreys (2019)

Noodles and more noodles!

As you know I love cookbooks and as you also probably know, I get these little obsessions from time to time.  Right now it's - NOODLES!

I found this little nugget on Amazon when I decided I wanted to immerse myself in noodles.  It appears to be a self-published book but the 25 noodle recipes included in this little book are actually really good.

Humphreys takes us from classic recipes for Spaghetti and Meatballs and tuna noodle casserole  and then moves on to Chicken Ramen Pot Pie," "Orange Chile Noodles" and "Spicy Sesame Noodles."  All kinds of noodles are represented: regular egg noodles and spaghetti but also ramen, udon, soba noodles and my new big discovery - Chinese egg noodles, which are delicious (I ordered them from Amazon).  These are very simple recipes that you can add to as you see fit.

When I was young, I was very finicky.  How finicky were you, Rosy?  I was so finicky I didn't even try pizza until I was 15.  And I certainly didn't like spaghetti with spaghetti sauce.  It looked funny.  So my mother would make me spaghetti with just butter on it.  How spoiled were you, Rosy?  Let's not get into that.

But Humphreys includes a "Simple Buttered Noodle" recipe so if you have finicky kids, here is a taste:

Cook 12 oz. of wide egg noodles (spaghetti would work too).  Meanwhile heat 2 T. of butter in a skillet.  Add shallots and chopped garlic, cook for 3 minutes, then add 2 more T. of butter.  Add in some chives, 2 T. of parmesan, 1 T. lemon juice and mix with the cooked noodles.  Voila!  Easy and delicious, even for a finicky eater!

Humpreys is a chef who says in his 15 year career, no one has ever sent a dish back. In his conclusion he writes "Hopefully by the end of this cookbook, you have found plenty of easy to make noodle recipes that you can prepare for your family any night of the week."

And I did.

Rosy the Reviewer says...noodle recipes you will make over and over again that can also act as jumping off points for your creating your own versions.

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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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.