Showing posts with label Restaurant reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Restaurant reviews. Show all posts

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" and DVDs "Men, Women and Children" and "The Drop." The Book of the Week is "What Comes Next and How to Like It" by Abigail Thomas.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the Russian classic "The Cranes are Flying" and review the new Edmonds restaurant "Salt & Iron"]

 
 

 
 
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back.  This time he needs to eradicate The Syndicate, a rogue organization that wants to eradicate the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) and cause worldwide chaos.  Hunt has to get them before they get him.
 
It's actually not just The Syndicate that wants to get rid of the IMF. The head of the CIA, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), also wants to get rid of it, feeling it has gotten out of control, so the IMF is under attack on two different fronts. 
 
Ethan's boss at the IMF, Brandt (Jeremy Renner), calls Ethan in but Ethan needs to find Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who he suspects is running The Syndicate.  He also wants to know which side beautiful Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is on.  So he is disavowed by the U.S. government and is on the run, while at the same time trying to find out what evil plan The Syndicate is going to pull off next.
 
Simon Pegg, star of his Three Flavours Cornette Trilogy ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz" and "The World's End") provides comic relief as Benji, Ethan's sidekick who provides behind the scenes back-up for Ethan, much as Melissa McCarthy did for Jude Law in the recent summer blockbuster, "Spy." Ving Rhames rounds out the IMF team.
 
The plot is really quite simple which I was glad of.  I can't tell you how many times I watch spy movies and the plots are so intricate I don't have a clue what's going on.  Here it's just find the head of The Syndicate before he does his dastardly deeds with a few red herrings thrown in along the way.
 
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, this is a thrilling ride.
 
The opening scene with Ethan hanging from the outside of a jet as it takes off is heart pounding.
 
There is also a spectacular "Phantom of the Opera" segment in the Vienna Opera House while "Turandot" is being presented.  You know, the opera with "Nessum Dorma" that we all first heard in "The Killing Fields?"  Ethan fights the bad guy up in the flies above the stage with that fantastic music playing in the background. That theme was also used during the romantic scenes, what few there actually were between Ethan and Ilsa.  Delicious.
 
Another thrilling segment features motorcycles racing through the streets and surrounding area of Casablanca.  People getting rammed, motorcycles falling all over the place.  Great stuff.
 
It's one amazing stunt after another with that wonderful "Mission Impossible" theme music (Lalo Schifrin).
 
Yes, it's far-fetched at times, but Ethan Hunt is that kind of operative.  Master of disguise, knows what is going to happen before the bad guy does, and can get out of impossible situations.  That's why it's called Mission Impossible. Though I never understand why the bad guys always want to capture him, tie him up, and torture him, giving him an opportunity to escape.  Why don't they just shoot him and be done with it?  I felt the same way about James Bond. That, of course, is their undoing.  Speaking of James Bond, the thrills mixed with the fun here reminded me of the original James Bond films before they got so dark.
 
My only criticism was that the dialogue was sometimes clichéd and melodramatic but that's only a minor thing. We all know this isn't real life, right?
 
The cast is first-rate and Rebecca Ferguson (Queen Elizabeth in "The White Queen") is a stand-out.  She is beautiful and a badass and her Ilsa is a perfect foil for Ethan.
 
Now I want to say a few words about Tom Cruise.  I know there are many Tom Cruise haters out there. No matter how good the film, many can't help but take cheap shots that he is really very short and others have not forgiven him for Scientology so it seems more people don't like him than do. I have been a long-time fan of Tommy, ever since I spotted his handsomeness in "Taps" way back in 1981.  I don't care that he is short.  He can't help that.  As for the Scientology thing, we can only hope he sees the light.  A different one.  But he is a good actor and he is very good at the action film. Tom is 53 and still doing all of his own stunts.  Amazing.  Another reason I think he is hot!
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...an action film at the top of its game. This is the best "Mission Impossible" yet.  Thrilling and lots of fun!  See it in IMAX!



***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
 
 
 
Emma Thompson narrates this indictment of technology that examines how the Internet affects teens and their parents.
 
An all-star cast has come together to make a statement about how the Internet has affected how we communicate.
 
We have a girl addicted to anorexia sites, a young guy addicted to porn, a mother who is obsessed about her daughter being victimized on the Internet so is constantly "cleaning up" her phone and computer, a football player who wants to quit football so he can concentrate on playing video games, a mother who has left her family and keeps in touch via Facebook and a husband and wife playing Words with Friends while they are in bed together instead of talking or having sex.
 
Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) Truby are a married couple who on the outside seem to be happy, but they are living separate lives. Don likes to masturbate to porn on his computer but when his computer goes down he uses his son's computer, only to discover his son's porn activity.  He is horrified.  It's one thing that he likes to do it, but not his son!  Don is also not happily married.  He signs up for an escort service.  He doesn't realize that his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) is also unhappy and has signed up on the Ashley Madison website.
 
Tim (Ansel Elgort, who wowed in "The Fault in Our Stars") is a high school football star who no longer wants to play football.  He wants to spend his time playing computer games. As far as his teammates are concerned, that is heresy.  But Tim doesn't care. He cares more about his online gaming friends than his teammates and is mourning his mother leaving his Dad.  He is in the midst of teenage nihilism, quoting Carl Sagan who said we are just all molecules and thinking that we are somehow important in this vast cosmos we inhabit is silly.
 
Patricia (Jennifer Garner) is terrified that her daughter Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) will be victimized on the Internet so is constantly monitoring Brandy's every move.  She is right about the potential evils of the Internet but she is such a pain in the ass about it that she has ruined her relationship with her daughter and even her friends.  The irony is that she spends more time on the computer checking her daughter's activities than communicating with her daughter. If she would just talk to her daughter she would find out more.
 
And that's the point here.
 
Everyone is communicating on their phones and devices but not with each other.
 
Jason Reitman has written and directed another thoughtful film ("Juno," "Up in the Air").  This time he uses the Internet and social media as a metaphor for our inability to share our innermost thoughts and feelings with living, breathing human beings sitting right next to us. Everyone wants to make a connection but they don't know how. No one knows what their kids are doing and the adults and married people don't know what each other is up to either. Maybe if they got off their computers and starting talking to each other they might find out.
 
The adults in this film are using the Internet to find what they've lost and the kids are using it to find what they have not yet had.  The Internet was supposed to make communication easier and bring us all closer together, but it has in fact driven us all further apart. It's friends in real life vs. our online friends.
 
Usually when Adam Sandler is in a film these days, it means the film is going to be terrible.  But not this time.  He's only IN this one, he isn't producing it, thank god.  It's not an Adam Sandler film.  Whew! Adam Sandler is actually a good actor and puts in a toned down and believable performance here. 
 
Garner is good as the uptight mother obsessed with her daughter's Internet activity and Judy Greer, a much underrated actress, is wonderful as the mother who is trying to get her daughter into show business. Likewise, DeWitt is another actress who consistently puts in great performances, but is still not well-known.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...Now get off your computer and see this film!
 

 

 
   The Drop (2014)



 An unassuming bartender finds himself at the center of a robbery gone bad.

Tom Hardy is Bob Saginowski, a bartender at Cousin Marv's in Brooklyn.  Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini in his last film) runs the bar and is actually Bob's cousin, but the bar is owned by Chechen hoods, the kind of guys you don't want to cross. Cousin Marv's is a "drop" bar in that illegal money is dropped there to be laundered.  Marv and Tom nightly retrieve the envelopes of cash that are dropped there, count the money and place it in a safe.  They have been doing this for so long it's business as usual. 

Bob is a good-hearted Catholic boy.  We know this because he finds a puppy in a garbage can and rescues him.  That's how he meets Nadia (Naomi Rapace, the original "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"). The garbage can is in front of her house and she agrees to babysit the dog for awhile and a relationship develops between them.  

When the bar is robbed, the Chechen gang is not happy and they want their money back, which is a real problem for Marv and Bob. As Marv puts it, if we could find the money we would know who robbed the bar which would mean we were in on it which means we are dead.

Tom Hardy is amazing here.  From "Locke" to Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises" to Max in "Mad Max: Fury Road" to this, we see his range.  He is an English actor, but from the accent he effectively employs here, you would never know it. His acting range is amazing and in every role, he just gets more and more amazing.

I didn't think I would like this movie but it is an absolutely riveting movie experience.

From the script by Dennis Lehane (based on his own story "Animal Rescue")  to the direction by Michael R. Roskam to the wonderful acting, this is a taut crime drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a wonderful thriller made all the more thrilling by Tom Hardy's mesmerizing performance.
 



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

 
298 To Go!
 
 
 
Young lovers are separated by the W.W. II German invasion of Russia.
 
Boris (Aleksey Batalov) and Veronika (Tatyana Samoylova) are in love but when the Germans invade Russia in 1941, Boris enlists without telling Veronika.  She is angry with him but then unsuccessfully tries to find him to say goodbye. No one hears from Boris and they assume he is dead.  

As the bombing begins, Veronika takes shelter in the subway but her parents stay behind at their apartment.  When she returns, the apartment has been bombed and her parents are dead.  Boris' family invites her to stay with them and Boris' cousin Mark who has avoided going to war and also lives there.  Mark pursues Veronika and seduces, read that rapes, her. They are shamed into marrying and Boris' family does not forgive her for betraying Boris.  Women always get the blame!  Mark is a philanderer and they are not happy together.  Things look bleak for Veronika and she contemplates taking her own life until she rescues a little orphan boy, also named Boris, thus giving her something to live for as she holds out hope that Boris will return. 
 
Why it's a Must See:  "In the last years of Stalin and Stalinism, Soviet cinema almost vanished. The continuing economic devastation wrought by World War II, as well as the pervasive fear that defined everyday alife, caused the once-thriving Soviet studios to practically close shop.  after Stalin's death in 1953, a reborn Soviet cinema slowly began to emerge, and the film that came to symbolize that rebirth was Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying...It also became the first Cold War-era Soviet film to receive wide distribution (by Warner) in the United States."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die 

Samoylova looked like a 1950's Audrey Tautou, her face beautiful and expressive.  This was her first role and she shot to fame, but the Russian government blocked her from starring anywhere outside of the Soviet Union. Ten years later she starred in a Russian production of "Anna Karenina (1967)."  In 1993 she was deemed "The People's Actress of Russia."

Kalatozov worked in Hollywood on a diplomatic assignment and the Hollywood influences are apparent here with the juicy close-ups and production values. This film won the Palme d'Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the only Russian film to ever win that high honor. 

Kalatozov collaborated with cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky who used a hand-held camera well before this became a popular cinematic device.  There is a sequence where Veronika, failing to say goodbye to Boris as he leaves for the front, rushes to find him.  The camera follows her from her looking out of the bus window to getting off and weaving through the crowd and eventually panning up to see her crossing between some tanks rolling down the street.  A cinematic moment before its time.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a classic of Russian cinema that deserves to be seen.
(b & w, In Russian with English subtitles)





***Book of the Week***

 


A series of essays and musings about aging, family, the writing process, friendship and coping with life's disasters, big and small.

Thomas, whose book "A Three Dog Life," was named one of the best books of 2006 by the L.A. Times and the Washington Post, is now in her 70's and shares the loss of her husband, her family, her daughter's breast cancer, how she is spending her retirement (painting on glass in addition to writing), and yes, stories about her dogs.

I call these musings because some of the "essays" are only a few sentences long.  But she draws you in as she copes with not smoking, drinking too much, failure, being forgetful, and that final great unknown:  death.

There is some wisdom here:

"I hate chronological order...The thought that this happened and then this happened and then this and this and this, the relentless march of event and emotion tied together simply because day follows day and turns into week following week becoming months and years reinforces the fact that the only logical ending for chronological order is death."

"Love can accommodate all sorts of misshapen objects: a door held open for a city dog who runs into the woods; fences down; some role you didn't ask for, didn't want.  Love allows for betrayal and loss and dread. Love is roomy.  Love can change its shape, be known by different names.  Love is elastic.
And the dog comes back."

And humor:

"What are these awful days?...I can't rouse myself longer than half an hour before I again climb the stairs with the dogs for another long nap...But if this lasts too long, Jennifer alerts Catherine and Catherine calls Chuck, and someone comes over to see if I'm OK. 'Your daughters are worried about you,' says Chuck this morning. "I came to see if you were dead."

Speaking of Chuck, the major part of this book centers around the long friendship Thomas has with a man ten years her junior. I have always said men and women cannot be friends.  They like to say they are friends, but I would bet you a million bucks that one or both would jump the other if the green light was given.  I believe this because I have seen it happen time and time again, and I also believe that people - men and women and even those of the same sex - are attracted to each other in some visceral way.  We are friends with certain people because we are attracted to them.  That said, she never did get it on with this guy per se, but he got it on with her DAUGHTER!  Now what does that tell you?

Rosy the Reviewer says...everyone in mid-life will be able to relate.
 
 
 

***Restaurant of the Week***
 
 

Salt & Iron
 
 
 



 


 
 
 
From the slick long bar to the great food to the friendly staff, this newish restaurant in Edmonds should be part of your foodie repertoire. 
 
The sign of a good restaurant is a small, manageable menu so that attention can be given to each item.  And that's the way it is here.  Just the right amount of choices for variation, but not so much choice you feel like you are at Denny's.
 
Favorites so far are the grilled corn, the seafood chowder and the steak salad, but I look forward to trying all of it.
 
At Happy Hour, the prices are lower but it's still many of the same food choices as the regular menu.  But get there early as the bar fills up quickly starting at 4pm.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a fine dining destination in Edmonds to rival Seattle restaurants.


Thanks for Reading!


That's it for this week.


See you Tuesday for

"Confessions of a Baby Boomer Consignment Queen:

Tips for Making Money on those Clothes
You Don't Wear Because
You are Retired, Too Fat or Too Old

 

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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). 

 

 

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."

 

 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stuff That Should NOT Happen

Something happened last night that made me think there are some things that just should not happen.

Last night I was innocently standing in the kitchen surrounded by my loved ones - my husband and three dogs - when all of a sudden I felt this sharp pain in my leg.  I looked down and saw a puncture wound and blood.  I realized I had been in the middle of a skirmish between my beloved little toy poodle and our collie.  The poodle was trying to wrest a plastic carton containing the dregs of potato salad from the collie and in so doing I had unwittingly become part of the argument and my beloved little poodle had sunk his choppers into my leg. 

He looks very innocent here.


I know it was the poodle because the plastic carton was missing and he was now under the dining room chair.  I could see the tuft of his tail peeking out from under it. And it was wagging. 

My leg hurt, but what hurt most was the reality that he was really a dog, not my new little son who would take the pain of the empty nest away.  I realized when push came to shove he would always choose the plastic carton with the remnants of potato salad in it over me, no matter how many times he sits on my lap or acts happy to see me when I come home or how many times I give him a slug of wine, and that if I get in the way, my leg will be toast.

That just shouldn’t happen.

 
So I started to think about other stuff that should not happen like…

  • School buses.  They should not be allowed to operate when I am out doing errands or in a hurry to get somewhere.  I know the little tykes need to get to school but we adults have enough stress to deal with besides sitting  behind a stopped school bus waiting for a mom to wind up her chatty conversation with the bus driver when we are late and we are trying to get to a meeting or happy hour somewhere. Those buses seem to be on the road at all hours of the day and especially when I am out there with them. Why can’t these kids walk to school?  I had to.

  • Gaining weight just because we are getting old. We should not gain weight just because we are a few years older.  We may be eating right and not making any changes to our diet at all, but whether we like it or not, at each additional decade to our lives, another decade of pounds will likely appear because our metabolism slows down in direct ratio to our age going up.  Now, I guess there are those of you out there who saw that coming and made the necessary adjustments to your calorie intake.  Well, good for you.  But how much fun is that?  It's bad enough getting old.  Can't we take our rocky road ice cream on the journey with us? 


  • Bad grammar.  I know it's probably too late to care, but what in hell has happened to our use of the English language?  Don't we speak English and didn't we learn the nuances of its use in practically 10 years of schooling? So why can't we speak it then?  Why don't we know the difference between "less" and "fewer?"  Why do we say "your" when we mean "you're?"  Why don't we use "to" and "too" correctly? Why is it so difficult to tell the difference between "there," "their" and "they're?"  And if you want to be taken seriously, don't say you want to be taken serious. And why the hell can't we spell?  It's a crime.  My mother's parents were Swedish immigrants but my mother is partly responsible for my command of the English language.  She was a stickler on that.  However,  I think Weird Al says it best:


  • On a more serious note and speaking of my mother - Warehousing old people. That should not happen. My son is a real tease.  He loves to pick out old peoples' homes for me.  Once when we were walking around Lake Merritt in Oakland (CA), he noticed one called The Rose of Sharon and said, "That looks like a nice place, Mom."  Thanks.  It's a bit of a joke now, but it's not going to be funny in a few years.  I am not talking about people who choose assisted living and have the means to be taken care of.  I'm talking about not having the means and ending up in a nursing home, sharing a room with a stranger, being taken care of by people who couldn't care less and ending your days with no dignity.  That happened to my mother. 



       I am privileged now to live in a county that has services to help people
       "age in place" and that is what all of us deserve.  Because of my mother,
       I am motivated to volunteer my time working on issues that affect the
       aged. I am a member of the Council on Aging and think of my mother
       every day and how I can help people live their best lives to the very end.
       No one should have to be put somewhere he or she doesn't want to be
       because no one wants the trouble of caring for them. That would be heresy
       in some countries where being old is revered.  Here, not so much. Here we
       become invisible after 50.  That shouldn't happen.


My Mother at 86
  • And here is my library plug.  Libraries should not have to cut hours or close branches, ever. Cutting library hours or worse yet, closing libraries not only shouldn’t happen, it is a travesty and a blow to democracy. Equal access to information is a basic right in a democratic society. Not everyone can buy books, newspapers, rent DVDs, subscribe to magazines, go to the movie theatre.  Not everyone has a computer and Internet access.  And every child does not have a quiet environment in which to study. Public libraries level the playing field.  Use of public libraries is free and not limited by race, religion, income, age, disability or education. Libraries should be supported, especially now when libraries are needed more than ever in these tough times.

  • I could go on and on about stuff that should not happen.  Leaving cabinet doors open in the kitchen, putting something down the garbage disposal and then it gets stopped up and you have to call a plumber, thunderstorms when you have a stair walk planned, people picket fencing when driving on the highway (Hubby's term for one car in the left lane, one in the right and they are driving as if they are walking hand in hand and no one can get by them), mornings (I hate getting up). 


  • Oh, and this probably shouldn't happen either.

 
 


     
 I take full responsibility.
 
You may have noticed that I have given you the blessing of a mercifully short blog post.  Well, a short one for me anyway. 

Why? 

Because for the last two weeks I have been enjoying the company of my daughter and her husband who visited us from Virginia and my son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons who we visited in California.
We shared the joys of Seattle stair walking with our daughter and her husband,




went bike riding, played games, attended an outdoor Jeff Beck and ZZ Top concert (stay tuned for my concert round-up post at the end of the summer),



discovered a great new restaurant (Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle), played games and they cooked us a delicious meal.

 
 
When we visited our son and his family in California, my daughter-in-law treated me to a pedicure and a shopping excursion, they fixed us a lovely dinner, we dined out and we enjoyed playing with our grandsons, especially feeding the ducks. 





A highlight was playing Apples to Apples and letting the three year old take part.  He can't read yet and probably doesn't understand the sarcasm, metaphors and humor that can make up that game, but he almost beat us!  We now could write the family version for all ages!

 
 
So instead of writing my blog, I have been basking in the joys that my family can bring.  Talking, hanging out, playing with the grandchildren, sharing our lives.
And that's the stuff that SHOULD happen.

 
 

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday for
 
"My Driving Pet Peeves"

and

The Week in Reviews



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Friday, July 18, 2014

Celebrate What's Fabulous and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Begin Again" and the DVDs "Getaway," "Under the Skin" and "Nymphomanic Vols. I and II plus the book "Unbreak My Heart" by Toni Braxton and recommend my new favorite restaurant, Brimmer and Heeltap].

But First
 
 It's Fabulous Friday so let's talk about what makes life really fabulous!
What makes life fabulous is not lots of money, though that helps.
It's the little things like walking on the beach at sunset.
Who am I kidding?
It’s more like pink fuzzy slippers, a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s and the latest episode of "Survivor."
Or ....
 
  • Wine bottles with twist top caps.  Never again do you need to find yourself alone in a motel room in Podunk, bored to death, with a bottle of wine and no wine bottle opener.

  • A small poodle resting sweetly on one’s lap after drinking out of one’s wine glass (he made me give him some!).



  • After a long day with no responsibilities and doing nothing, I like to maintain that theme by relaxing on the deck with Hubby for Happy Hour with these views.  Fabulous!



 
 
 
The drinks ain't bad either.
 



  • Outdoor concerts at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. On a beautiful summer night, you can take your hamper of food, purchase wine and settle in to listen to some great music as the sun goes down behind the trees.  However, one must be cautious with the purchase of wine part as it can result in not remembering the second half of the concert. (I’m not talking about myself, of course, but it could happen).

 

Ringo and his All Star Band



Patty Smyth

  • Top down on the convertible, the CD player cranked up to 11 with Bob Seger singing "Roll Me Away, Fabulous!  I named my Mustang after Mrs. Peel of "The Avengers."  (No, not the Marvel Comics Avengers, the "better" Avengers.  Hubby bought me a license plate holder that says, "Mrs. Peel, We're Needed!" Check this show out if you aren't familiar with it).  My Mrs. Peel is 11 years old (and that's about 100 in car years), but she is still fabulous!  (As an aside, my first Mustang was named Steed after Mrs. Peel's male counterpart.  Also a play on words because a mustang is a horse.  Get it?  Ok, ok...)



  • Exploring Seattle, my town: Long walks around Capitol Hill in the fall at dusk - I love kicking up the damp leaves - or stair walking and ending the evening with a fabulous meal at one of the great restaurants and a night cap at the Fireside Room.



 

  • Musicals. I have loved musicals ever since watching Nelson Eddy and Jeannette McDonald movies with my Dad.




Classic.
 
To pass on the tradition, I weaned my daughter on them too.  Though I have seen many of the “new” musicals ...I keep coming back to the classics – "West Side Story" being the best of the best.

 
  • Reality TV.  Duh.  I’m sure you have figured that out already.  I Tivo so many programs that when I had engagements two days in a row last week, I had to do a reality TV marathon to get caught up.  My husband has to watch too if he wants to spend any time with me.  The other night while deeply embroiled in the latest episode of "The Bachelorette," Hubby turned to me and asked, “Are you surprised I watch this stuff with you?”  And then he added, "I watch this show but I feel dirty afterward." Sad.
  •  Traveling to Europe is fabulous and even more fabulous if I am in business class on the plane.  Ah, pasta in Bologna, lighting a candle in Notre Dame Cathedral and a kiss on the Millenium Bridge in London.  My version of "Eat,Pray, Love."  This, however, is not one of those fabulous things that doesn't cost much.


 

  • Oprah - I have extolled her virtues in my post "Why Oprah Still Matters," but it bears repeating how fabulous she is.  Even though I have never forgiven her for inviting her “most loyal fans” to her giveaway shows and didn’t invite me, probably the most loyal of the loyal.  I have been there from the very beginning and invoked her name from everything to disciplining my children to what to eat on my diet. I have followed her from the days when she had programs like “Sixth Graders Gone Wild” to her adoration of Marianne Williamson and Elizabeth Gilbert. She has teamed up with Depak Chopra to offer free meditation challenges so she has gotten me into meditation (a new one starts August 11 - do you want to join me?), and her "Super Soul Sundays" give me my spiritual fix. I have also repeatedly entreated her to devote a show to librarians since she loves teachers so much and loves to read.  But noooooo. I have been there through it all and to add insult to injury, she gave all those wannabes trips to Australia and cars. But she is fabulous.

  • And have I told you lately how fabulous libraries are?   When people would learn I was a librarian, they invariably would say, “You must love books!”  Yes, I would reply, I do love books, but I also love helping people.  What many people don't realize is that libraries are in the customer service business as much as they are in the book business.  You have to want to help people to work in a library, because that is the nature of the business - people.  Helping people make sense of their lives.  Bringing people together.  Providing needed information.  From the laid off job hunter to the person seeking citizenship to the little preschooler learning to read, there is something for everyone at the library.  But there is also a friendly face, a helpful hand and a caring atmosphere that could make someone's day and we don’t even realize it.

And that is really fabulous.

Have a FABULOUS FRIDAY!
 


What makes you say FABULOUS!

 
 
 
Now on to
The Week in Reviews

 
  ***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Should Be Glad You Did)
 
 




Begin Again

 


 

A washed up music producer and a fledgling songwriter meet in NYC.

The movie opens with Gretta (Keira Knightly) being called up on stage to sing a song at an open mic night by her friend, Steve (James Corden).  As she sings, we flash back to Dan (Mark Ruffalo) waking up after what appears to have been a rough night.  Dan has a drinking problem, it seems and when he finally makes it to work he learns he is being asked to leave his own record production company because he has been unable to sign any new talent.  This prompts him to get even more wasted and his last bar stop just happens to be where our Gretta is singing.  He decides that she will be the next big thing.

As for Gretta, another flashback provides what happened to her prior to meeting Dan.  Gretta's boyfriend, Dave (played by singer Adam Levine in his first film role) has hit it as a singer in London and Gretta has accompanied him to the States.  His fame has come with her help since Gretta is also a singer/songwriter.  But Dave has an affair that he wants to see through, so Gretta moves out and into her friend Steve's apartment.  Speaking of Levine, his moustache and beard should have their own Facebook page - each.  And that's not a good thing.

All that precedes Gretta and Dan meeting. 

This is another entry from writer/director John Carney who gave us the charming and poignant "Once."  This isn't another "Once," though there are little bits that are reminiscent of it, such as Gretta's friend Steve is a busker, just as Glenn was in "Once."  Likewise, Gretta's and Dan's meeting provide both of them with the impetus to succeed, much as happened with Glenn and Marketa. (Not to be confused with the Broadway version of the film.  The film is far superior to it).

The music isn't as memorable as the music from "Once," but it's pleasant.

I am not a big Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightly or Catherine Keener fan.  Ruffalo always looks like he needs a bath and his voice is annoying.  With Keira, it's her teeth.  They drive me crazy.  And though I will admit that Catherine is a good actress, perhaps she is too good.  There is something about her that makes me think she is going to burst out crying any minute.  She's a bit too vulnerable.

But Knightly can sing and is believable as Gretta.

Catherine Keener plays Miriam, Dan's wife who had an affair that split them up.  Hailie Steinfeld plays his daughter who isn't taking the split very well and seems to be more mad at her Dad for his behavior than her mother for having the affair.  Steinfeld broke out for her performance in the Coen brothers' version of "True Grit," where she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but despite roles in "Ender's Game" and "3 Days to Kill (movies I have reviewed)" she hasn't yet realized the success of Shailene Woodley who seems to be the current teen darling.  But she has upcoming roles in five new films including "Pitch Perfect 2," so she could be next.

Rosy the Reviewer says...it's not "Once," but it's a lovely story of hope and redemption that is not cloying or obvious.

 

     

 
 
Getaway (2013)
 
 

Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke), a washed up race car driver, arrives home to find his wife kidnapped and now he must follow the orders of a mysterious voice if he wants her back alive.

When Brent finds his wife kidnapped, he receives a phone call from a mysterious man. Brent is told to steal a specific car, an armored Mustang Cobra rigged with cameras.  Turns out it belongs to a hoodie wearing unnamed girl played by Selena Gomez, who ends up unwillingly joining him on his quest.  The voice gives him various challenges such as driving the car through a park and running things over, all with time limits and the kinds of things the police don't take kindly to.  So there are many, many car chases.  And I mean many.  Turns out it's all an elaborate ruse to enable "The Voice" to rob a bank.

This all takes place in Bulgaria, which is odd, and it's never explained why an American race car driver is living there.

This is about as far as Ethan Hawke can get from the "Before" movies and it's kind of fun to see him in a thriller.  But car chase after car chase, crash after crash gets annoying after awhile not to mention far fetched that the car just keeps going like the Energizer Bunny, never needing gas or breaking down and the cops can't seem to ever stop him.  Gomez is a surprisingly engaging actress, though she isn't given much to do except react to all of those chases and crashes.

The most fun is trying to figure out who the person is behind the mysterious voice.  Turns out it's John Voight with a bad accent.

The film is derivative of other movies that feature car chases and heroes being forced to do stuff  such as "Drive" and "Speed." but it's not as good.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are into car chases, this is for you.  Otherwise, you can skip it.






Under the Skin (2014)



What appears to be an alien woman trolls for men in Glasgow, Scotland and lures them to their death...or something like that.

No one says a word until almost 15 minutes into this abstract film.  And that's probably a good thing because when people do start speaking, they speak with such a strong Glaswegian brogue, they are practically incomprehensible.

Scarlett Johansson plays an unnamed - is she an alien?  We think she is but nothing is ever explained.  She knows how to put on lipstick, drive a van, talk alluringly to men.  Is that what aliens do?

She trolls in her van picking up men and when they go with her, she takes them to her "lair," a dark space where they sink into a tar-like goo.  And they don't even get to have sex with her.

Scarlett has been engaging in fewer mainstream films and more indies like "Her," "Don Jon" and most recently "Chef."  And she played supporting roles in those.  Do we have another actress who feels she needs to prove her acting chops?  Or is she just bored with rom-coms?  But then she is currently filming another "Avengers" movie, so not sure what is going on with her.

I am just in awe of my fellow critics in that so many thought this was deep and symbolic and wonderful.  Sorry.  It's pretentious crap.  At least if the director Jonathan Glazer, whose big claim to fame was "Sexy Beast (2000), had used the plot of the novel from which this film is based, we would have had some understanding of what our alien girl was up to, but we were even denied that.

I liked "Sexy Beast," but here, I think, Mr. Glazer has gone spare, as they say in the UK.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Incomprehensible goo.


 
 
 
A kindly man finds a girl lying in the street, beaten, and he takes her home where she recounts her life of nymphomania.
Let me just preface this review by saying the word "nymphomaniac" is not a metaphor.  I was drawn to this film in the first place because, hey, the writer and director is Lars Von Trier, he of "Dogville" and "Melancholia."  He's an auteur.  I thought it was going to be arty.
I was wrong.  It wasn't a metaphor.
Yes, it's a bit arty-farty.  The arty part is the two minutes of black screen that starts the film, followed by another interminable amount of time showing dripping water.

The rest is hours of sex, penises and other body parts doing all kinds of things - up close. I haven't seen anything this graphic since "Behind the Green Door" and "The Devil and Miss Jones," and, which I hate to say, had more plot than this thing and I liked better.  And the many views of genitals just seemed to be there for shock value.  C'mon.

But there is actually a metaphor at work here - fly fishing - but don't ask me.  Is it about nymphomaniacs "luring" their prey?  Who knows?  There is also lots of talk about Christianity, Bach, Wagner and the Whore of Babylon.  I get the last one, but not sure about how the others fit in. 

A mainstream movie I can think of that even comes close to this is "Shame," and that was just about one guy's genitals (Michael Fassbender), which I have to say have to be seen to be believed.  But I digress.

I was guessing that this was probably some sort of feminist statement about women taking charge of their sexuality. I kept thinking there was hope.  I kept thinking, please don't let this end the way I think it's going to.  No, no, no.  But, yup, it did.  Moral of the story:  All men are scum.  Very cynical ending.
Stellan Skarsgard plays Seligman who finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lying in the street.
What were Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe and Shia LaBeof doing in this thing?  I think it has to do with a director getting a reputation as being an auteur and then actors want to work with him to prove they are SERIOUS actors.  But I think this is the film that sent Shia 'round the bend.  And Christian, work on that English accent.  (As an aside, one critic thought the erratic English accents were meant as some kind of statement.  Pulease).
Yes, folks there is enough, ahem, action here to warrant two movies - four hours worth - but it's action of a salacious nature.
After I watched Part I, you may wonder why I watched Part II.  I am wondering that same thing myself. 

I am as liberal as they come when it comes to sex and nudity in films, but this one pushes the limits.  I think I must have said "Oh my god" out loud about 100 times.

Some critics lump this in with Von Trier's "Melancholia" and call it his "Depression Trilogy."  That's a good one because after seeing this, I was depressed.  Depressed I had wasted four hours of my life.

This goes in my "Worst Films of 2013" file.

Rosy the Reviewer says...

 
 

***Book of the Week***
 
 
Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir by Toni Braxton (2014)
 
 
 
An inspiring story of a tumultuous life by singer Braxton, whose song "Unbreak My Heart" sold millions and who currently stars in the TV show "Braxton Family Values."

Braxton grew up in an ultra-religious family and was in a singing group with her sisters.  The oldest of the siblings, her mother always told her to look after her sisters and never leave them behind. But when the opportunity arose for her to sign with a record label without her sisters, she had to make a decision and when she decided to pursue a solo career and leave her sisters behind, it haunted her all of her life.

Despite Braxton's singing success, her life has not been an easy one: two bankruptcies, unsuccessful personal relationships, a son with autism and a diagnosis of lupus. 

She currently stars with her sisters in the reality TV show "Braxton Family Values," so she is back with her sisters again.  Her life has come full-circle.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a candid memoir from a singing superstar.


***Restaurant of the Week***
 
 
 



Set in the former space where Le Gourmand and Sambar once served customers, this bistro and bar is light, cheery and welcoming.  On a lovely summer day, the patio would be my choice but get there early if you want to sit out there.  Otherwise, there is seating under the windows that look out on it.

The menu is small and that is just the way I like it.  For one thing, when confronted by a huge menu, I can never decide what to order and invariably order the wrong thing.  When the menu is small, I know that each item will be fresh and well made and it makes ordering so much easier.

There are three or four items under each heading:  Snacks, Vegetable, Seafood, Meat and Desserts. 

We tried the bread and butter listed under Snacks and it was a large hunk of hot buttered bread.  Add to that a dish of Lemongrass Asparagus, the seafood of the day (Skate) and the grass fed local beef to share and you have a lovely tapas meal.  You can order a small or large plate.  We ordered a small plate of each which was plenty of food for the two of us.

We also ordered the Dungeness crab trifle which was amazing.  It has layers of gelée, custard, brioche and ginger beer with plenty of cracked crab with Brussels sprouts leaves on top.  Yum.

The name  refers to a proper pour: When full, it's a “brimmer,” and at the end, only a “heeltap” is left.

 Rosy the Reviewer says...This restaurant is just "brimming" with appeal and darn good food.
 

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!
 
See you Tuesday for
"Manners, What Happened?"
 
 

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