Showing posts with label Of All the Gin Joints (Book Review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Of All the Gin Joints (Book Review). Show all posts

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Favorite Movies, DVDs, TV Shows and Books of the Year 2014 (and some I hated)!

In the midst of the Holiday frenzy, I thought I would pause and reflect on some of my favorite movies, DVDs, TV shows and books of the year so that when YOU have a minute, you can relax and enjoy something new and good.  Likewise, I will steer you away from some that would ruin your Holiday. 

You can also bone up for the Golden Globes. It's gratifying to see that many of the films and actors I lauded in my earlier reviews have received Golden Globe nominations.  Stick with me.  I won't steer you wrong!

Here's my Holiday Gift to YOU!

***Because I know you are busy, busy, busy, I am just going to say a few sentences about each one.  However, if you are interested in my full review, I have linked each title back to my original review.  Enjoy!***

Rosy the Reviewer's Favorite Movies of 2014
(These are films I actually ventured out of the house and plunked down the cash to see but many are now out on DVD):


Grand Budapest Hotel

A Wes Anderson comedy in the style of French Farce and Ralph Fiennes as you have never seen him.  He actually smiles!  This film has already garnered a Golden Globe nomination for the film and for Fiennes and is a likely candidate for a Best Film Academy Award nomination.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Just a lotta, lotta fun and very, very charming.  It's that simple. 
If I had my way, this would also get an Academy Award nomination for Best Film, but these kinds of films are usually undervalued.

Jersey Boys

The film version of the Broadway stage hit of the same name that chronicles the rise and fall and rise again of the musical group, The Four Seasons.  Yes, it's a musical but a very cool one.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, could be an Oscar contender.

St. Vincent

Bill Murray plays a "get off my lawn" type of curmudgeon who seems to only care about himself until he is redeemed by the little boy who moves in next door. Yes, that's a plot line done scores of times before, but here, it's done better.  For one, the kid is not obnoxiously precocious and two, this is one of Bill Murray's best performances.  He has already gotten a Golden Globe nomination and this should get him an Oscar nod for Best Actor as well.  Also Melissa McCarthy sheds her over-the-top goofy character for once to play it straight.  If you saw "Tammy," this one should help you get that bad taste out of your mouth.


Nobody does creepy like Jake Gyllenhaal and this movie is all him as he plays a man looking for a job and finds his purpose as a crime scene photographer.  And let's just say he will do anything to get a good picture.  I would give him an Academy Award just for his buggy eyes.  He already has a Golden Globe nod.  Expect an Academy Award nod as well for him and the film.

The Theory of Everything

I predict Eddie Redmayne will win an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking.  You heard it here first, folks!  He already has been rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor as has this film.  Expect to see this film as one of the ten Best Picture nominees for an Academy Award too.

Gone Girl

A good old fashioned suspense story based on the best-selling book. This film was snubbed for a Golden Globe, but I will think it will be one of the ten Oscar Nominations for Best Film.  Rosamund Pike deservedly has a Golden Globe nomination.  She is also in the new film "Hector and the Search for Happiness" and seems to have a lock on the strange girlfriend/wife role.

Michael Keaton was a revelation in this story of an actor unraveling as he rehearses a Broadway show while trying to shake his past superhero persona, "Birdman."  Outstanding cast (Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone), original story.  If my beloved Eddie Redmayne doesn't win the Oscar for Best Actor, it will be Keaton.  Keaton, Norton and Stone all are nominated for Golden Globes as is this film.


So happy to see that this little film has received a Golden Globe nod.  It's a charming feel good picture with a lot of heart about the unlikely alliance of UK gay activists and striking coal miners in 1984 with a great British cast of recognizable actors - Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine along with some newcomers.

Rosy the Reviewer's Favorite DVDS
(2014 releases and some classics)
Tom Hardy, as successful, happily married Ivan Locke, takes you on a lonely road trip from Wales to London in this 90-minute-real time ride that slowly unfolds the reason for the trip.  Hardy, probably best known for his performance in "Inception" and as Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises" pulls off a tour de force performance here.  It's just he, his cell phone and his BMW and it's a memorable 90 minutes.

Only Lovers Left Alive

What it might be like to be a modern day vampire living in Detroit and just trying to do the right thing.  It's a vampire movie like you have never seen.

Hateship Loveship

Kristen Wiig has finally made the dramatic leap.  I didn't think she had the acting chops needed for dramatic roles but she got me here.


A woman of a certain age tries to find love in Santiago, Chile. You will fall in love with Gloria, even with those dreaded subtitles.

Grave of the Fireflies

A masterpiece of anime that will mesmerize you, even if you are not an anime fan.

2014 TV that Rosy the Reviewer Says is Worth Seeing
(and probably available on DVD)

The Affair


Playing now on Showtime, this is just what the title says, the story of an affair.  But it's an affair with many tosses and turns, a mystery, wonderful acting (Dominic West and Ruth Wilson - both are up for Golden Globes) and a haunting Fiona Apple song over the opening credits.  An adult, intelligent piece of television.

The Roosevelts

Ken Burns has done it again.  He has produced an absolutely riveting piece of history as he tells the story of Teddy, FDR and Eleanor.  Also up for a Golden Globe.  This would make a great holiday present for anyone who loves history.


This is a British mini-series about the search for a boy's murderer.  It played this year on BBC America.  As American television frequently does, it steals really good British stuff and passes it off as its own.  Thus we had this year's "Gracepoint."  However, if you watched the American version instead of this one, you missed out. David Tennant is good, which is why he also starred in the American version, but I can't imagine this mini-series without Olivia Coleman.  There will be a second "Broadchurch" series.  Not so for "Gracepoint."

The Missing

The Brits have the production of excellent dramatic mini-series down.  No one does it like they do.  Here is another not-to-be missed drama now playing on STARZ and it has been nominated for a Golden Globe.  Eerily like the famous unsolved Madeleine McCann case (and perhaps not by accident) where a little British girl was abducted from her bed in Portugal while on vacation there with her family, here James Nesbitt is in a similar situation when his son is abducted in France while on vacation there.  The series moves back and forth from 2006, when the boy was abducted, to the present, and shows the toll such a tragedy takes on everyone involved. Frances O'Connor plays his wife and is a Golden Globe nominee for her excellent work.

Appropriate Adult

This is the true story of the Gloucester, England, serial killers, Fred and Rose West who over a 20 year period tortured and murdered at least 11 young women, some of whom were family members.  This two-part series once again stars Dominic West as Fred (a far cry from his role in "The Affair" and almost unrecognizable with false teeth to make him look like West), who seems to be everywhere these days ("The Affair," "Pride" - see above) and Monica Dolan as Rose.  Emily Watson is the appropriate adult of the title, a UK position provided by the courts for adults who might be "at risk" or who might not understand the ramifications of the charges.  Fred West was barely literate so qualified. All three actors won BAFTAs for their work.

Books Rosy the Reviewer discovered in 2014

Thirteen-year-old Theodore Decker is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother when a terrorist bomb goes off. He rescues a small painting - "The Goldfinch" - which takes him on an odyssey to adulthood across country and to Europe and introduces him to many unlikely people.  A 700+ page-turner with gorgeous prose and suspenseful story.  This is Donna Tartt's third novel and one for which she won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and one of Ten Best books cited by the New York Times for 2013

An elegantly told memoir of actress Huston's early years and a profile of the acting dynasty she came from -- father/director John Huston and actor Grandfather Walter.  The second installment "Watch Me" is calling me.  Can't wait to read about Jack Nicholson and her and the crazy 70's.

Inspiration in 288 pages.  Oprah DOES know.
A boozy tour of Hollywood watering holes, restaurants and hotels that are famous for the drinks they produced and the drunks who visited.  Mini-biographies of Hollywood drinkers and the recipes they inspired make up this delightful compendium. Want to know who invented "The Moscow Mule" or why Bing Crosby was called "Binge Crosby?"  It's all here and more.  A great book for reading on the toilet if you are into that sort of thing.

You know I now have that "project," inspired by this book.  I have a bit less than 300 films to go to hit 1001.  Want to join me? Follow me every Friday to see how I am doing and hear about some movies YOU need to see before you die.

Kitchn Cookbook

From the blog Kitchn which began in 2005 comes this wonderful kitchen resource that foodies and novices alike will enjoy. Food writers Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand share their expertise about cooking with advice on setting up the kitchen, tools to have on hand, stocking the pantry, planning meals, cooking technique and recipes.  This is the kind of book you will want to own -- and I do!

Rosy the Reviewer says...


And to think that Melissa McCarthy and her husband wrote this execrable thing as a starring vehicle for Melissa.  She needs to retire this character and move on.


Sandler is just phoning it in these days.  I never thought he was funny then and he isn't funny now.

Mom's Night Out

An anti-abortion film masquerading as a comedy.  And it's not even funny.  Anything with Patricia Heaton in it, beware.

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson is some kind of vampire trolling around Scotland seducing men and then reducing them to some kind of goop.  Or I think that is what is happening here.  If you can figure out what is going on in this film, let me know.  But remember, I warned you.

Nymphomanic I and II

The most unsexy film about sex I have ever seen.  And it's boring too.

Love Punch

Don't be fooled by the presence of Pierce and Emma.  This thing is awful.


There you have it. 

***Note that this list only includes films released before Christmas Day.  As the Oscar race heats up, I am sure I will have some additional favorites.  I will give you my early Oscar picks in a January post.

Now you know what I have been doing all year.  But, hey, it's my new job!

Thanks for reading!
See you Friday
for my review of

Chris Rock's new movie

"Top Five,"

"The Week in Reviews"
and the latest on my
"1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."

Check your local library for books and DVDS. 

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


Friday, September 5, 2014

My Life Story by Mildred Pierce (the dog, not the movie) and The Week in Reviews

[I review the DVDs "The Double" and "A  Promise," the new book about famous Hollywood watering holes, "Of All the Gin Joints," and the revival of "A Chorus Line" plus I weigh in on the pizza at Serious Pie]

But First

It's Millie's birthday!

And here is her story.

My name is Mildred Pierce and today is my birthday.  Today I am six years old.  That's 42 to you humans.

I was rescued six years ago today from a life of drudgery on a ranch where I would have had to herd stuff.

When I was born in Camano Island, Washington, I was one of several and my name was Chanel. 

My biological parents, Monet and Joey, wanted a French theme, probably because my mother had a French name.



Me - Chanel

Though I looked like a rat at birth, my parents were handsome so I had hope.
And sure enough, things started to look up.



When my adoptive parents came to get me, I was ready to go!


I packed my bags and got out of Podunk.  I was ready to hit the big time!
My parents named me Mildred Pierce, after a classic movie.  My Mom thought a dog named Mildred was funny.  I chose to go by Millie.
My new parents introduced me to my brother, Frederic.
He was kind of an odd duck, but hey, it takes all kinds.
As I settled into my new life, I learned a few things, such as going to the toilet on the floor inside is a no-no, and though Freddy gets to sleep on the bed, I don't.
We were soon joined by my brother, Tarquin, a piano virtuoso (and as it turns out, heavy drinker).
As I grew, my parents gave me many opportunities. 
I graduated from school with high marks in barking at intruders and walking on a leash,
but I decided that acting was in my blood. 

I was going to be an actress.
However, I needed some income so I thought I could model while also taking acting lessons.
I practiced my modeling skills and some opportunities came my way.

I eventually landed some acting roles.
I played Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet,"
Miss Havisham in "Great Expectations."
Hester Prynn in "The Scarlet Letter"
and the cuckoo in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
I replaced Johnny Depp as Jackie Sparrow in a remake of "The Pirates of the Caribbean," with an all female cast,
and I won awards for my work as Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest."
Who can forget my famous line "NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!!!"

Despite my successes, like many celebrities, I have had to deal with some psychological issues over the years.
Thunder and firecrackers were a problem for me.
But after going into rehab and getting some counseling, my parents purchased  a "thunder shirt," and my outlook improved.
But now at 42, I have retired from acting.  Not many good roles for actresses in their forties these days.

I plan to live out my days looking after my aging parents, exercising my vocal chords, herding and looking after my brothers, Freddy and Tarquin.  They all need looking after.
Tarquin has a drinking problem.
And Freddy...well...Freddy has issues.
They all need me and it is my nature to be a caretaker. I spend most of my time these days being on guard and watching over my flock.

However, don't completely count me out.  You might see me from time to time in a cameo performance.

Happy Birthday to me!


Now let's PARTY!

Want to join me? 

And now on to

The Week in Reviews

***At The Theatre***
This is where I usually have "In Theatres Now," where I review a movie that is currently playing in a theatre.  However, to be completely honest, there just isn't a movie playing right now that I haven't already seen and reviewed or that I want to see.  It's that dark time before the fall season when all of the Oscar hopefuls are released. So I am going to review a classic musical I just saw that might be in a theatre near you or coming soon.
 A Chorus Line
Now playing at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, Seattle September 3-28


This 1975 musical pays homage to the Broadway dancers in the dance chorus of musicals.  Originally conceived, choreographed and directed by the brilliant Michael Bennett, it was only the fifth musical to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The show opens on an empty stage as dancers are put through their paces to audition for a Broadway show.  The song "I Hope I Get It" echoes their ambition and need for this job.  As the group is whittled down to 17, the chosen ones line up and tell their stories.  Each has a personal story to tell about how and why they became a dancer.  "At the Ballet" and "Tits and Ass" are stand-out as well as "What I Did For Love" when the dancers are asked what they will do when they can no longer dance. And they aren't talking about lovers. The curtain call contains the famous dance number "One." 
Bennett was himself a dancer who started out playing Baby John in "West Side Story" when he was only a teenager.  After two seasons as a dancer on "Hullabaloo" his opportunity to choreograph two Broadway shows came along.  Though they were not successful, he met Marvin Hamlisch, who eventually wrote the music for "A Chorus Line."  As his career grew, Bennett had longed to do a musical about dancers and the difficult and often humiliating road they have to travel to get professional work.  He invited a number of dancers to some late-night talk sessions where they opened up about their lives and careers.  Bennett recorded hours and hours of these talks and from those "A Chorus Line" was born.  It was a smash hit on Broadway and by the time it closed, was the longest-running musical in New York theater history.  Bennett went on to have another hit with "Dreamgirls," but died in 1987 from AIDS-related lymphoma at the age of 44.

It's clear why it took so long for the movie version of this musical to get made and why the movie failed.  This show requires the intimacy that a live audience brings.  It's just each character answering the questions from a voice coming out of a dark theatre, each telling his or her story.  No glitz, no glamour, just those characters talking to you out there in the audience.  It's brilliant theatre.

My only criticism of the show would be that there are so many references that meant something in 1975, but perhaps not to show-goers these days.  It pains me to say it, but I don't think modern audiences remember Gwen Verdon and Cyd Charisse anymore (icons in the history of dance and cinema).  I don't see that updating some of the references to dates and movie stars and dancers of the past would hurt the show and bring it up into the 21st century. (But if you do remember them and lament that the greats of the Golden Age of Hollywood have been forgotten, catch my blog post next Friday). 

That said, this is a classic show that still holds up today, because no matter what century we are in, the difficult life of a dancer remains the same.  Dancers must do things the body is not meant to do. 

"A Chorus Line" captures what many of the dancers on "So You Think You Can Dance" want.  A Broadway show.  Do they really know what they are getting into?  Do they have what it takes?  I guess it doesn't matter because they are doing it for the "love" of dance.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Even if you have seen the film, if this show comes to a theatre near you, it's a must see.

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

A Promise (2013)
A story of repressed love in 1917 Germany. 
Herr Hoffmeister (Alan Rickman), a German steel tycoon, hires young Friedrich (Richard Madden, who you may recognize from "Game of Thrones") as his assistant and Friedrich soon becomes invaluable to him.  So much so, that when Herr Hoffmeister becomes ill, he asks Friedrich to move into his mansion.  Lotte (Rebecca Hall) is Herr Hoffmeister's much younger wife and you know what that means. When Friedrich is sent to Mexico to start operations there, they promise to meet again, neither knowing how long that might be.

This film is a journey of restrained sexuality, and it's a journey not everyone might want to take with these characters.  But the cinematography is gorgeous and the mood is sensuous.

This is the first English-language film for French director, Patrice Leconte ("Monsieur Hire," "Ridicule," "Man on a Train").

As you probably have noticed from past reviews, I am a huge Rebecca Hall fan, and now I am also a huge fan of the nape of her neck which plays a huge role here as Friedrich moons over Lotte.  He also acts out in other creepy ways, such as sniffing the piano keys after Lotte has played the piano.  Rickman is always fun to watch, but Madden is a bit stiff, though a handsome suitor for Lotte's affections.

There is a slow motion sensuality about this film that will get to you (for good or ill), and there is a "promise" of a big finish. If you can hang on, you will get it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I can't promise you will like this film (most of the critics did not).  I did, but maybe that's because now that I am retired, I like things that are in slow mo.

The Double (2013)
A timid, insecure, nebishy clerk in a unenviable job in a Kafka-esque world gets a shock when a new co-worker arrives who is not only his exact physical double but also everything he isn't- loud, confident and charismatic.
Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) lives in a drab, nightmarish world that could be the past (his ill-fitting suit looks like what David Byrne wore when he was with the Talking Heads and the technology in the office is retro) or the future (post-apocalyptic?).  He is so unmemorable, his boss (Wallace Shawn) doesn't remember his name and the security guard at the company where he works never recognizes him.  But those are small things until his "double" appears, James Simon, and everyone loves James. No one seems to notice that they both look exactly alike. When James starts taking over Simon's life, Simon fights to reclaim his identity.

Mia Wasikowska plays Hannah, the object of both Simon's affections.
This film explores the duality of the human spirit:  who we are to the world and who we are inside and want to be.  When you are a cog in a wheel, you can be replaced by anyone - "doubled." Or something like that.  This film is not an easy one.
The plot of this film parallels another earlier but recent film, "The Enemy," starring Jake Gyllanhaal, but "The Double" has more humor.  However, since this is based on a Dostoevsky story, I would venture "The Enemy" borrowed more from this than the other way around.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Not really my cup of tea, but if you liked movies like "The Trial," Terry Gilliam films or you just like weird movies that make you think, then you might like this.

***Book of the Week***

"Of All the Gin Joints" - Stumbling Through Hollywood History by Mark Bailey (2014)
Anecdotes, history and quotes galore about the hotels and drinking establishments of Hollywood.

This is a unique travel memoir - a tour of the famous restaurants and watering holes of Hollywood with recipes for the cocktails they inspired, sprinkled with anecdotes about the famous drunks who drank them from the silent era to the 1960's. We tour Musso & Frank (famous for its bone dry martini - stirred, not shaken), The Brown Derby (where the Cobb Salad was invented), Trader Vic's (said to be the birthplace of the Mai Tai and if you haven't had their Scorpion Bowl, you haven't lived) and John Wayne was supposedly one of the first drinkers to try a Margarita.  The stories accompanying the recipes range from the well known such as Elizabeth Taylor loved the chili at Chasen's so much that she had it flown over to Italy while she was filming "Cleopatra. "
But there are many lesser known stories:  The Zombie was invented at Don the Beachcomber and was so potent the restaurant imposed a two-Zombie limit. 
"The Missionary's Downfall" was also invented there.
1 oz. light rum                                 1/4 c diced pineapple
1/2 oz. Peach brandy                        1/4 c mint leaves
1 oz. Honey Mix*                              1/4 c crushed ice
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice                      1 mint sprig
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend at highest speed for 15-30 seconds.  Pour into a goblet or a Collins glass.
*Honey mix:  same as simple syrup with 1 part honey to 1 part water 
John Travolta, at the height of his "Saturday Night Fever" fame went to Dan Tana's restaurant without a reservation.  When told it would be two hours before he could be accommodated, he said, "Don't you know who I am?" to which the maître d' allegedly replied, "Well, for you, Mr. Travolta, it will be three."        
Another story involves the currently immensely popular Moscow Mule. The bartender at the Cock 'n Bull Pub found himself saddled with too much vodka and ginger beer that would go bad if he didn't use it so he put the two together and the Moscow Mule was born.
Ava Gardner didn't like the taste of alcohol, but that didn't stop her because she DID enjoy being drunk.  She wanted to get there as fast as possible so she came up with "Mommy's Little Mixture."  "Dump every type of liquor you can find into a jug or pitcher or punch bowl and suck it down."
Rosy the Reviewer says...If you enjoy food, drink, humorous celebrity anecdotes and Hollywood history , you will love this book.
(this is an early review. Publication date:  September 30th)

***Restaurant of the Week***

Serious Pie

If you love interesting, thin crust craft pizzas, this is for you.

I have now tried all of Tom Douglas' Seattle restaurants, and like the others, this one did not disappoint.

Though I didn't enjoy my Yukon Gold potato with rosemary pizza as much as I had hoped, the fennel sausage pizza was to die for.  Also enjoyed the marinated lacinato kale salad with calabrian chilis and pine nuts.  Other pizza choices include Buffalo Mozzarella with red sauce and basil and the famous Penn Cove Clam with pancetta pizza, which I will try next time.

Word to the wise, the Virginia location (316 Virginia, next to the Dahlia Lounge) is small and always crowded.  No reservations so be prepared to wait unless you get there at an unfashionable time for lunch such as after 2:30 (but beware of weekday Happy Hour from 3-5pm) or late at night (Serious Pie is open 11am-11pm).  There is also a South Lake Union location that is bigger but you would have to fight off the Amazon folks, so it's probably a toss up).

Rosy the  Reviewer says...Pizza worth waiting for.

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!

 See you Tuesday


"What's Good About the End of Summer"

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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

Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."

Or you can go directly to IMDB.  

Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."