Showing posts with label Rom-coms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rom-coms. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

More Good Movies You Might Not Know About, Part 2

[I review the new documentary "Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg," as well as an indie character study, "Mickey Hardaway," and the rom-com, "Somebody I Used To Know."] 

Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg (2023)

A documentary about a famous person you have probably never heard of....rock and roll muse, Anita Pallenberg, who was most famous for her relationships with the Rolling Stones (yes, more than one) in the 1960's and 70's, but who was much more than that. 

I was a child of the 60's and loved the Rolling Stones.  I knew who Anita Pallenberg was, but I didn't really know anything much about her.

What I knew:

She was a model and an actress who was the girlfriend of Brian Jones, then Keith Richards with a bit of dabbling with Mick Jagger.  Well, I didn't really know the Mick Jagger part. She was a style icon of the 60's and 70's, starred in some movies, and she and Keith were both addicted to heroin.

What I didn't know:

Born in either Rome or Hamburg (her early life is unclear), she moved to New York City at 19 and became part of Andy Warhol's Factory.  She became a model and traveled the world, meeting the Rolling Stones back stage in Munich in 1965. She was a free spirit who drew people to her infectious personality. Immediately attracted to Brian Jones (he was the handsome Rolling Stone), the two became an item and she gave up modeling and moved to London to be with him.  The two got involved in taking drugs, but Brian's drug use overtook him.  He was abusive to Anita, at which point Keith, who had always had a crush on her, moved in to rescue her, though she hardly needed rescuing.  When she and Brian would fight, she threw as many punches as he did. 

It didn't help the relationship with Brian when Anita discovered acting and starred in "Barbarella" and later the cult classic "Performance," the latter film also starring Mick Jagger. Those two hooked up briefly, though Anita always said she was never that attracted to Mick. By then, Anita had moved on from Brian to Keith and her affair with Mick upset Keith so much he wrote "Gimme Shelter." And when she went back to Keith, Mick wrote "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Drugs had always been a part of Anita's life but with Keith, the heroin addiction began in earnest and when Brian Jones died and she had her first child, she started going off the rails.  There was the death of a child, a breakdown and and break-up but like a phoenix from the ashes, Anita endured.  She died in 2017.

After watching this riveting documentary directed by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill, now I know all about her and what a presence she was. Her impact on the Rolling Stones and others who knew her was enormous. She was the ultimate 60's rock chick.

Both of Keith's and her living children - Marlon and Angela (aka Dandelion) - weigh in on their mother's life and her impact on them.  At her death, an unpublished autobiography was found and in the film, Scarlett Johansson tells Anita's story "in her own words." Keith and Marianne Faithfull also weigh in along with others who knew Anita. The film is full of never-before-seen footage, film clips, photographs and home movies. 

Keith calls Anita "a piece of work (in a good way)," and others talk about her charisma, her intellect and talent and what a force of nature she was. Keith ends the film by saying "She made a man of me."  Mick does not weigh in.

Rosy the Reviewer absolutely fascinating true story that is a must-see for Rolling Stones fans, and you Baby Boomers out there will enjoy reliving your youth. I know I did. (in theatres or for rent on Amazon Prime)
Note: A great double feature would be this film along with "The Stones and Brian Jones," another documentary I reviewed back in April. 

Mickey Hardaway (2024)

A young man tries to rise above the trauma and abuse he suffered as a child to follow his dreams.

Mickey (Rashad Hunter) is a talented artist who dreams of being a cartoonist and sketch artist, but he can't seem to rise above the abuse he suffered at school and at home. His father (David Chattam)not only beat him physically but beat down his dreams. He thinks art is a waste of time. But Mickey finds encouragement from his art teacher (Dennis L.A. White) and later his counselor (Charlz Williams) at the Art Institute where he was awarded a scholarship.  But sometimes, when abuse runs deep, even well-meaning people are not enough. After being taken advantage of by an employer who Mickey thought was going to help him with his animation career, he starts drinking and his life unravels.  But Grace (Ashley Parchment), his caring girlfriend, encourages him to seek help. He meets with Dr. Cameron Harden (Stephen Cofield Jr.), and in a series of flashbacks during his sessions, we see just what Mickey has gone through.

Filmed in black and white, with a brief bit of color, this is a grim character study, very neo-noir and talky with some actors better than others, but, you will keep watching, because you want to see what will happen to Mickey.  Will he make it?  And you care because of Hunter, whose portrayal of Mickey is poignant and effective. And when Mickey says things like, "When you feel the world doesn't give a damn about you, you feel you have nothing to lose," you worry about Mickey, and, as the film progresses, and he says,  "It's hard to be good when all you know is evil," you worry even more as you get insight into why some young men turn to violence.

Written and directed by Marcellus Cox and based on his short film of the same name, this is his feature film debut, a bit of raw naturalism reminiscent of early Spike Lee, and a look at what can happen when someone feels he has nowhere to turn after years of abuse and disappointment.  

Cox says the film showcases "the generational trauma and mental exhaustion that people, in particular black men, have to endure and how we're taught to keep moving on with life without discussing our emotions and seeking help until it's too late and even then sometimes it's not enough once you find's a conversational character study that doesn't seek to give you answers but more to show how folks, in a time more than ever with depression being a mainstay, reach their breaking points...with mental health being at an all-time high in the Black community, I really wanted to bring this subject to a much needed forefront."

And Cox has done that.

Rosy the Reviewer says...some grim realism but the film shines a light on the effects of generational trauma and mental illness, and for a first feature film, Cox shows promise for a long career as a serious writer/director. Make some room, Spike! (Tubi)

Somebody I Used To Know (2023)

Workaholic Ally returns to her hometown and reconnects with her old boyfriend - trouble ensues.

Ally (Alison Brie) is a showrunner for a reality show called "Dessert Island," that is part "Survivor," part "Love Island" and part "The Great British Baking Show (sounds like my kind of reality show)!" In case you didn't know, a showrunner literally "runs the show," so Ally is a bit of a workaholic and doesn't have much going on except work.  And she has never taken the time to evaluate her life and ask herself if she is happy, so when her show is canceled she decides to go back to her hometown - Leavenworth, Washington and visit her mother (Julie Hagerty).

While there, she runs into her old boyfriend, Sean (Jay Ellis), at a bar and they spend the evening together reminiscing. Ally had always wanted to leave town to follow her dreams to become a documentary filmmaker, but so far that dream as eluded her, but Sean likes it in Leavenworth, thank you very much.  He is close to his family and even has a house on their property. With no job and few prospects, getting back together with Sean seems very appealing to Ally. Maybe she made a mistake to leave. The evening ends with a kiss with Ally wanting to go further but Sean begs off.  She finds out why the next day - Sean is getting married the next weekend. Awk-ward!  And even more awkward is the fact that Sean's mother, Jojo, insists that Ally come to the wedding and film it! Ally jumps at the chance because now she thinks she should be with Sean, not his fiance, Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). 

But wait, there is more awkward stuff.  With a nod to "My Best Friend's Wedding," Ally starts meddling in an effort to split them up.  But then things get complicated when Ally and Cassidy get to know each other and their initial suspicions about each other fade away. Things continue to be awkward and go from bad to worse... until they get better.

The Christmas-oriented Leavenworth, Washington makes for a scenic backdrop for a rom-com. Having lived in Washington for several years, I have personal experience about the cuteness of Leavenworth, and it has an interesting history.  It is a small town in the Cascade Mountains styled after a Bavarian village. In the 1960's when the lumber mills closed and the town was in decline, the city looked to tourism to revitalize the area.  They modeled the town after the Danish-themed town of Solvang, California, and today Leavenworth is a hotspot of tourism, especially at Christmas.  There are countless restaurants serving German food, pretzels and beer, a nutcracker museum and even a Snow Train from Seattle that takes visitors there (I've done that too)! 

Brie is a talented comic actress and she and Ellis are an engaging couple. Brie is especially good at awkward, and I mean that in a good way.  The rest of the ensemble are also first-rate and the town of Leavenworth also stars. 

Written by Dave Franco and Brie (who are married in real life) and directed by Franco, this is not your usual silly rom-com. It's a smart one with real, believable characters and a message about loving yourself before you can love anyone else. Instead of "boy meets girl, boy and girl break up and then get back together," this is more "boy meets girl and girl finds herself."  And there is even a satire on reality TV thrown in.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet and enjoyable rom-com with a serious message. (Amazon Prime)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And 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 over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Now Playing in a Living Room Near You! - "Unfrosted," "The Idea of You," "Argylle" and "The Zone of Interest."

[I review the new Jerry Seinfeld movie "Unfrosted," now playing on Netflix as well as the May-December love story "The Idea of You," now playing on Amazon Prime, the spy spoof, "Argylle," now playing on Apple+ and a 2024 Best Picture nominee "Zone of Interest," now playing on Max]


Unfrosted (2024)

The story of the creation of Pop Tarts - well, kind of.

I had the pleasure of seeing comedian Jerry Seinfeld live on a couple of occasions and despite the fact that he avoids politics and never goes "blue," he was and is very, very funny.  Sadly, I wish I could say the same thing about his latest effort writing, directing and starring in this feature film. Though there are some funny bits, much of it falls flat.

Here's the set up.  

It's the early 60's and cereal makers Post and Kellogg's are in a bitter rivalry to be King of the Cereals. Bob Cabana (played by Jerry but not a real person) is an executive at Kellogg's and is on a mission to stay ahead of Post. It just so happens that both businesses are in the small town of Battle Creek, Michigan, which adds to the competition. So far, Kellogg's is kicking Post's butt, but then, Post comes up with a little breakfast fruit treat with a long shelf life called "Country Squares" and Kellogg's can't stand that.  They must come up with their own product, one that little kids can pop into a toaster.  And they do.  This is the Kellogg's story about Pop Tarts.

Well, let's just say, that's the only part of this story that is true and it's actually Jerry's story which is 99% fiction populated with big name comic stars, a sort of cereal manufacturing version of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

But despite all of the comedy stars in the film, the film is surprisingly unfunny most of the time.  It's very slapstick with old-fashioned schtick that made me groan more than laugh, but I did chuckle a few times. Jim Gaffigan always makes me laugh, and I enjoyed Amy Schumer as Marjorie Merriweather Post.  But Hugh Grant as Thurl Ravenscroft, a Shakespearean actor who was the real life voice of Tony the Tiger, was particularly funny, especially in a bit where he leads the Kellogg's mascots on a takeover of the Kellogg's building as the bigwigs are certifying the Pop Tarts, a funny spoof of January 6th. Likewise, another stand-out was Kyle Dunnigan who played both Walter Cronkite and Johnny Carson, though sadly those characters were probably way over the head of younger viewers as in "Who are they and why is this supposed to be funny?" 

But other than that, despite appearances by Melissa McCarthy, Christian Slater, SNL past and present cast members Mikey Day, Kyle MooneyFred ArmisenBobby Moynihan, Beck Bennett and Darrell Hammond, Max Greenfield, Cedric the Entertainer, Sebastian ManiscalcoJames Marsden, Peter Dinklage, George Wallace Dan Levy, and Jon Hamm, who of course channels "Mad Men," and other recognizable faces, the movie just wasn't that funny.

But here's the thing.  

Jerry Seinfeld has revealed that Pop Tarts changed his young life. Obviously, if he wanted to make a film about them, he is obsessed, and if he has the means to feed his obsession, then who am I to judge? He is clearly enjoying the heck out of this movie, and I rather enjoyed watching him and the others enjoy themselves.

I also have a personal angle.  

I grew up two hours from Battle Creek.  I remember a school trip or two to visit the Post and Kellogg's manufacturing plants.  And then I went to college in Kalamazoo, just a half hour from Battle Creek, so there is a little Michigan pride going on there for me.

And in case you didn't know, frosted or unfrosted Pop Tarts is a thing amongst Pop Tart aficionados.  From the title you can see where Jerry stands on that issue.

Rosy the Reviewer's 90+ minutes of positive silliness. Though not as funny as I would have liked, I could describe it as cute, so if you are in the mood for that, you might enjoy this, especially if you have kids.  Kids would love it. (Netflix)

The Idea of You (2024)

Older woman, younger man.  My kind of love story!

Solène Marchand (Anne Hathaway) is a divorced gallery owner in Los Angeles who ends up at Coachella with her teenaged daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin) and her friends. Solene meets cute with Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), one of the members of the boy band, August Moon (she mistakes his trailer for a porta-potty), and despite the age difference they are instantly attracted.

After Coachella, Hayes tracks Solene down and shows up at her gallery and they hook up, have hot sex and enjoy a May-December love story until Solene gets outed in the press and on the Internet as a Cougar - though 40 and 24 doesn't seem that bad to me (but perhaps that's just my wishful thinking) - and she can't handle the heat, pardon the expression, and then we have the usual coming together, breaking up, coming together, yada yada yada, because whether you are 24 or 40, as Gene Pitney told us (and if you don't know who Gene Pitney is, you are probably both 24 or 40), "True love never runs smooth." 

"I'm too old for you...", no, no, yes, yes, know the drill. And then Izzy is totally embarrassed at school by her mother's relationship, forcing Solene to make a choice. She breaks up with Hayes.  Will our lovers be able to get together? C'mon. Like I said. You know the drill.

Based on the book by Robinne Lee and written by Michael Showalter (who also directed) and Jennifer Westfeldt, the plot of this film is nothing new when it comes to a romantic movie. What makes this film stand apart from the usual love stories?  Two very attractive people and giving older women some props.  Anne Hathaway is luminous on screen as a woman over 40 who is actually an object of desire. It used to be when a woman turned 40 she was invisible, especially in Hollywood. Now 40 is the new 20. (Can I ask if 75 is the new 55)? And then there is newcomer Nicolas Galitzine who made his mark in "Red, White and Royal Blue." He is a handsome fellow if ever there was one. I have always been a sucker for an English accent.  And all of the romance is punctuated with some fun boy band music.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need a little romance in your life (and some hot sex), this is a sweet little romantic getaway! (Amazon Prime)

Argylle (2024)

A reclusive author, who writes spy novels, discovers that her latest book has come to life.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an introverted spy novelist, who is working on her fifth book about Aubrey Argylle (Henry Cavill), the eponymous character of her Argylle series, is saved from a mysterious altercation on a train by Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell), who identifies himself as an actual spy.  He also tells Elly about a nefarious organization called the Division, and she has been targeted because her novels appear to predict their future.  The two join forces, hoping that what Elly writes next will come up with a plan to stop the Division. In the meantime, Aidan and Elly search for a Masterkey that would help expose the Division.

A convoluted plot ensues, much like James Bond films of the past where I never knew what was going on or who was doing what to whom, but I still loved them.  Turns out, Elly has some suppressed memories and a big secret is revealed about Elly's true identity.

Written by Jason Fuchs and directed by Matthew Vaughn, this is a fun premise and a stylized spoof of spy movies with some great stunts and performances from Bryan Cranston, Richard E. Grant, Dua Lipa, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson. And then there is Alfie, the cat.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like stylized versions of spy movie spoofs like "The Man from Uncle" or "Our Man Flint," and you can suspend disbelief for some major over-the-top goofiness, you might like this. (Apple+)

The Zone of Interest (2023)

The everyday life of Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his family as they go about their daily lives living next door to the camp.

We don't see much happening in this depiction of Rudolf Hoss (Christian Friedel), his wife, Hedwig (Sandra Huller), and their five children, as they go about their lives in 1943, enjoying their lovely home with a garden... right next door to Auschwitz.  But there is no enjoyment next door where gunshots and shouting can be heard and smoke can be seen rising out of chimneys.  

And that's the horror here, how Hoss and his family are going about their mundane lives while hundreds are being killed next door.  One particular horrible scene shows Hedwig and her German friends going through the belongings of Jewish women deportees, with Hedwig trying on a fur coat that once belonged to a doomed Jewish woman and whirling around in it without a care in the world. One of their sons plays with his collection of gold teeth.

Hoss clearly loves his job as he meets with some people to design a new crematorium that will kill more efficiently, and he is rewarded for his work by being promoted to deputy inspector of the camps.  However, he must move but Hedwig wants to stay behind in the house.  Why not? It's idyllic...for her.  Later, he heads an operation that will transport 700,000 Hungarian Jews to work camps or to be killed.  Once again he does a good job and reunites with his family at Auschwitz.

Based on the novel by Martin Amis and written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, this is a Polish film that was nominated for an Oscar, not just for Best International Feature Film, but also for Best Picture.  It's slow moving and almost feels like cinema verite as the cameras follow the family, going about their lives, nary a thought about what is going on next door, except Rudolf who is always working on how to kill more people faster. The horror is in the mundanity of it all. And watching, we don't see anything either except for smoke billowing out of chimneys next door and hear sounds of screams, dogs barking, and trains coming and going, which makes the film truly horrific, bringing home the atrocities without actually showing them. It's like reality TV at its most horrific. 

The cast is excellent. Christian Friedel is chilling as Rudolf and Sandra Huller gives another great performance as Hedwig (She was also in "Anatomy of a Fall" and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for that). The last couple of years have been big ones for her.  

Rosy the Reviewer have never seen a film about the Holocaust like this one. It's not an easy film but we need to bear witness and never forget. The indifference of the Hoss family to the human suffering taking place next door is a sad reflection of the kind of indifference that still exists today. (In German, Polish and Yiddish on Max) 

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And 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 over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

"Dumb Money" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Dumb Money" and the Netflix rom-com "Love at First Sight." The Book of the Week is Kerry Washington's new memoir "Thicker Than Water"]

Dumb Money (2023)

The true story of how individual investors turned the video gaming store, GameStop, into one of the hottest stocks in the world and disrupted Wall Street.

During the height of the Pandemic, you might remember the big brouhaha over regular investors driving up the price of GameStop stock, but you probably don't really remember the details of it all because you were more concerned with not catching COVID.  And even if you did know the details, you might not have really understood it all. I know I didn't because I am not particularly savvy when it comes to the machinations of Wall Street and investing, but this film, in addition to being entertaining was very enlightening about the investment world and just what happened.

Here is what I learned:

  • Hedge Fund investorsa limited partnership of investors that uses high risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, in hopes of realizing large capital gains. They like to sell short.
  • Selling shortsell stock or other securities or commodities which one does not own at the time, in the hope of buying at a lower price later. Can get tricky.
  • Short Squeezea situation in which the price of a stock rises to such an extent that investors who have sold short purchase the stock in order to limit their losses, causing the price to rise further. Oops.
  • Diamond Handsa slang term that refers to holding a volatile investment even when there is pressure to sell. 
  • Dumb Money - that's what those hedge fund guys and Wall Street fat cats call individual investors - the little guys - us.

So now you have the basics for this David and Goliath story of a little guy and his followers who took on the big guys.

And lest you worry that this is a dry film about investing, remember I said it's entertaining?  It is.

Based on the book "The Antisocial Network: The GameStop Short Squeeze and the Ragtag Group of Amateur Traders That Brought Wall Street To Its Knees" by Ben Mezrich, adapted by Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo and directed by Craig Gillespie, this is the story of Keith Gill (Paul Dano), a young guy in Brockton, Massachusetts, working at a bank as a financial analyst, and spending his free time on a sub-Reddit site called WallStreetBets, posting his opinions on it via YouTube live streams under the name "Roaring Kitty."

During the height of the COVID Pandemic, Gill notices that the stock for the video game retailer GameStop is undervalued so he invests what little money he has in it and keeps his viewers updated on how he is doing.  At first, his followers (what few he has) and his brother, Kevin (Pete Davidson), make fun of him but soon other individual investors start investing: Nurse Jennifer (America Ferrera), GameStop employee Marcus (Anthony Ramos) and college couple Riri (Myha'la Herrold) and Harmony (Talia Ryder) and the price of the stock goes up.  

All of a sudden GameStop stock is making a ton of money for its investors. Earlier, hedge funders Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) of Melvin Capital Management and Ken Griffin (Nick Offerman) had started short selling with the the idea that the online stock buyers would pull out and GameStop would fail. That's how the hedge fund fat cats make their money - betting that a company will fail and then profiting from the failure. But not this time. As the stock prices goes up and up and up and the little guys get richer and richer, they don't sell.  They hang tough with their Diamond Hands (see glossary above).

With me so far?

Things get crazy when WallStreetBets shuts down and RobinHood, the commission-free stock trading website, screws up and all purchasing of GameStop stock is halted in an attempt to drive down the price.  This works but then the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services notices the shenanigans, gets involved and everyone is subpoenaed.

And can you believe it?  This all happened when we were in lockdown during the Pandemic!

So what ultimately happened? Does anyone get rich? Does Dumb Money win? You will have to see the film to find out!  

The film does a good job pointing out the differences between us regular folks and the big money fat cats.  In counterpoint to our hardworking regular folks, we have the spoiled Plotkin, arrogant Vlad Tenev (Sebastian Stan) of RobinHood, rich hedge funder Steven Cohen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and the cold as ice Ken Griffin.  Paul Dano is great as Gill and handily carries this entertaining film along with the star-studded cast that also includes Shailene Woodley as Gill's supportive wife (haven't seen Woodley much lately). 

All of the actors were just wonderful and did their bit to make this thrilling story come to life. Yes, I said thrilling. There is an awesome epilogue that will make you cheer!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a smart, fast-paced, often funny, film with a great ensemble cast.  If you liked "The Big Short (I loved it!)," you will enjoy this. (In theatres)

Love at First Sight (2023)

Love blossoms on a flight to London.  What are the odds?

Twenty-year old American student Hadley Sullivan (Haley Lu Richardson) misses her flight to London to attend her Dad's wedding by four minutes.  However, that's not exactly a new thing.  She is known for being late and not keeping her phone charged. She also doesn't like small spaces, dentists or mayonnaise.  So with time on her hands until her next flight, she goes to charge her phone and meets twenty-two-year old Oliver Jones (Ben Hardy), a Yale student majoring in statistics. The two have an instant connection - he doesn't like mayonnaise either. He also doesn't like surprises so he uses statistics to structure his life and make sure that doesn't happen.

Turns out they are on the same plane to London.  What are the odds?

When Oliver's seat belt doesn't work, he is moved to another seat on the plane...and it's next to Hadley.  What are the odds?

They spend the night falling in love.  What are the odds?

When they get off the plane, there is a rush and Oliver quickly puts his phone number in Hadley's phone and then they are separated.  Did I also mention that Hadley is a klutz?  She drops the phone, it breaks and there goes Oliver's phone number. She now has no way to reach him.

But, hey, this is a rom-com.  Of course they will meet again.  How they get back together and find each other in one of the biggest cities in the world, is part of the fun.  In the meantime, Hadley attends her Dad's (Rob Delaney) wedding, comes to reconcile her feelings with it and Oliver realizes he can't measure his life in statistics.

Based on the 2011 book "The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight" by Jennifer E. Smith, adapted by Katie Lovejoy, and directed by Vanessa Caswill,  this is one of those little 90 minute rom-coms with interesting characters and a quirky plot that the Brits are so good at.  Richardson and Hardy are a believable and engaging couple. She is a lovely young actress and he is totally my type, er, I mean a handsome young actor.  There is also a sort of Greek Chorus element at work with Jameela Jamil narrating the story but also showing up at various points as a flight attendant, a customs officer, a bartender, a bus driver, a wedding guest and a passerby.  Not exactly sure what that was all about, but like I said, these little British rom-coms often have their quirks and that was kind of a fun one.  I started wondering, what are the odds she will show up again?

Rosy the Reviewer this terrible time of world turmoil, we all need a little love and this charming film will make you forget your troubles for awhile. (Netflix)

***The Book of the Week***

"Thicker Than Water" by Kerry Washington (2023)

The once very private star of "Scandal" is no longer private.

SPOILER ALERT:  Well, there is not exactly a spoiler here.  Kerry Washington has been on every talk show imaginable hyping her book and talking about this (but don't read further if you are going to get mad at me):  She discovered that she was the product of artificial insemination and the man she thought was her Dad for 40 years was not her biological father.  

You see, Washington was slated to be on "Finding Your Roots," a PBS show that explores the genetics and family trees of celebrities, and when her parents found out she was going to be on that show, they thought they had better tell her.  Good idea!

So this memoir is all about what that revelation meant to her and how it affected her life.  But there is much more than that here.  In addition to the specifics of her career, she opens up about her personal life: her parents' turbulent relationship and her father's struggle with alcohol; sexual abuse she endured as a young girl; an abortion; and her struggle with anorexia.

But this is not a "woe is me" memoir by any means.  It is a book about success and finding one's true self.

Born in the Bronx with African and Jamaican roots, Washington's mother was a professor and her father was a real estate broker. She was active in the arts from an early age and her career was launched with back-to-back successful movies, "Our Song" and "Save the Last Dance."  Further acclaim followed with roles in "Ray" and "Django Unchained."  But it was her role as Olivia Pope in the TV show "Scandal" that has made her one of the most successful women on TV with nine Emmy nominations and countless other awards.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a Washington fan, you will find this enlightening and you celebrity mavens will find this a candid insider account of an actor's life and career. Check it out at your local library.

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And 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 over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

"The Gray Man" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Netflix original movie "The Gray Man" and Sandra Bullock's latest film "The Lost City" as well as a local theatre production of "Mary Poppins"]

The Gray Man (2022)

When a CIA operative discovers agency corruption, international assassins come after him. An around the world cat and mouse game ensues.

What do Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Billy Bob Thornton, Rege-Jean Page (yes, the very hunky Duke from "Bridgerton," Season One - I wondered where he went!), and Ana de Armas all have in common?  They are all in this new Netflix thriller that isn't very good.

It's 2003 and a man (Gosling) is being interviewed in prison by Donald Fitzroy (Thornton). The man is in prison for murdering his Dad, though he was just a kid trying to protect his brother. That's his defense, anyway. Fitzroy is there to commute his sentence if he will come to work for him and "kill bad guys."  You see, Fitzroy is from the CIA and it seems the CIA likes to recruit from the prison pool for their Sierra program, a unit of men who "exist in the gray."  It's one of those movies where a supposed bad guy gets recruited for the CIA.  If you watch enough of these kinds of movies you would think that everyone in the CIA is an ex-con.

Fast forward, 18 years and our guy is now called Sierra Six, Six for short.

Six is now on a mission to assassinate a target suspected of selling off national security secrets. This is when we learn that Six isn't really a bad guy after all.  He  has a conscience. He is a sniper and killer but he won't take a shot at a bad guy if a little kid could possibly get hurt. He is finally able to hit the target, but before the target dies, he reveals to Six that he also worked in the Sierra program as Sierra Four, and gives Six an encrypted thumb drive that proves that CIA official Denny Carmichael (Page) is corrupt. 

Carmichael finds out about the incriminating thumb drive and hires mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Evans), a former CIA agent kicked out of the agency for being a nutter to track down Six and retrieve the drive. Hansen does so by kidnapping Fitzroy's niece Claire (Julia Butters) and then blackmailing Fitzroy to authorize Six's murder.

Now Six has to save Claire and wouldn't you know. Conveniently for Six, Claire has a pacemaker. Did you know once you have the serial number for a pacemaker, you can follow it anywhere?  I didn't.  So Six heads to Croatia to save Claire, all the while playing a cat and mouse game to escape Hanson and his goons who want him dead.


I admit that my mind isn't what it used to be, and I often have problems following intricate spy movie plots, but this one was ridiculously convoluted and far-fetched.

Based on the book by Mark Greaney with a screenplay written by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (the Russo Brothers are also responsible for "Avengers: Endgame"), there is the usual macho snappy dialogue between the good guy and the bad guy especially when the good guy is tied up and about to be killed. Why are you exchanging snappy dialogue? Kill him already! Do you remember how many times the bad guys in the James Bond films could have killed James if they had just stopped talking?  It's like that. And spy movie tropes abound here - family member in jeopardy (it helps if it's a kid), can't tell who is the bad guy and who is the good guy (sometimes they are both), a bad ass woman or two, beautiful European locations and torture. This time lack of character development so I didn't care about any of these people, and fingernails being pulled out with pliers. Didn't like that.

Sometimes there just isn't anything playing in the theatres so when I don't feel like watching "The Bachelorette" or the cooking shows I often have on my DVR, I am happy to see that Netflix has released a new "original" feature film.  There was a lot of hype around this film because it was to be Netflix's big summer blockbuster (they spent a ton of money on it) starring Ryan Gosling, so even though I have vowed to stop promoting revenge movies that glorify gun violence, I thought I would give this one a try in case it was just the usual car chase, bomb-throwing knife wielding spy thriller. I do enjoy the occasional spy thriller, and was curious what usually intense and sensitive Gosling would do with this role as a badass action star. I also usually like Chris Evans but here he looks more like Freddie Mercury than Captain America and, for being an ex-CIA villain, he is surprisingly incompetent.

Did I enjoy this? Is Ryan Gosling our next big action star?  To quote from a movie I saw recently that I actually liked, "Nope."

Netflix, you let me down.  If I want to experience torture, I will stick with "The Bachelorette."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like Ryan or Chris, lots of violence, a very convoluted, far-fetched plot and characters you won't care about or you are just in the mood for a travelogue on Vienna, Prague and Croatia with some torture thrown in, this is for you.  Otherwise, you can skip this. (Netflix)

The Lost City (2022)

A reclusive romance writer finds herself living through a real life romance novel plot.

Usually when a movie is free on Amazon Prime soon after it's release in the theatres, that's not a good sign, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Dr. Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a reclusive best-selling romance writer who is losing her mojo since the death of her husband. She is depressed and wants to be left alone, but she has a new book to promote - she writes a series about Dr. Angela Lovemore and her lover, Dash McMahan -  and Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), her agent, tells her she has to do a book tour. So off she goes with her cover model, Dash, whose real name is Alan (Channing Tatum), a Fabio look-alike who graces the covers of her books and is the real draw on this tour, that is, until his wig falls off. Turns out Alan is kind of a dork. 

The tour is not going well and Loretta and Alan are not getting along.  Gee.  I wonder how that's going to turn out.  But then Loretta is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), a rich man (yes, you heard me, a man named Abigail), who believes Loretta can translate an ancient language (he found out she had studied dead languages in college) and lead him to the Crown of Fire, a priceless treasure located in a lost city on an island in the Atlantic.  

Alan, who has a crush on Loretta, witnesses the kidnapping so he recruits Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a former Navy SEAL turned CIA operative, to help him rescue Loretta. Jack is immediately on the case and doing all of the work. In fact, Jack is a one-man wrecking crew, beating up three or four guys at a time, while Alan is more of a liability than a help. But then Jack gets shot and Alan has to go on alone. He may be a dork but he wants to prove to Loretta that he is the brave romantic hero she has portrayed him as in her books, because he really cares about her.  Many hijinks ensue with lots of witty banter between Alan and Loretta, as Alan tries to save Loretta, and the two try to escape the island before a volcano erupts. Loretta finds herself the heroine in her own real life romance novel.  And Alan must prove to her that he is in fact Dash-ing.

If you were around in 1984, and this story by Seth Gordon and screenplay by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Aaron Neeseems strangely familiar, you are not imagining it.  This could be a remake of "Romancing the Stone," though it's not. But even though it feels like a "Romancing the Stone" derivative, it's still enjoyable and hey, "Romancing the Stone" was 38 years ago.  You aren't supposed to be able to remember that far back.

Watching this film also reminded me of how much I liked Sandra Bullock from the moment she made a big splash in "Speed."  She embodied the girl next door, a regular girl who was funny and quick-witted and not afraid to look silly now and then. We regular girls could relate to her.  But now Sandra Bullock is a superstar but, alas, an aging superstar, and it seems she is going to semi-retire and that's a shame because as this film shows, she's still got it.  She may be 58, but she looks wonderful and still has that regular girl thing, with the witty repartee and that klutzy physical humor that we other 58 year olds, er, older regular girls can relate to. Sandra, don't go!

I also remember the first time I saw Channing Tatum do his thing in "Magic Mike."  Yikes. What a specimen. A true romantic hero in real life.  I don't mean to objectify Channing.  Well, I kinda do.  Sorry.  And he certainly turns on the sex appeal during a dance that he does with Sandra in this film - ooh la la.  My little ancient heart was pounding.  But Channing also has personality and he is not above making fun of himself, too, which makes him even more lovable.

And then there is Brad, the Grand Old Man of Romantic Heroes, a real life Fabio,  who is also not afraid to make fun of himself and his image.  I think he is the one having the most fun here.

Kudos also to Randolph and Radcliffe (our little Harry Potter is all grown up).  They also add to the fun.

As I said, I did not have high hopes for this film going in, but nothing warms the heart of an avid movie fan more than starting with low expectations and being pleasantly surprised. There aren't enough rom-coms these days, so this was a breath of fresh air and a lot of fun. If you watch, be sure to hang in through the credits because there is a very cute epilogue.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have been missing rom-coms or just need something light to help you get away from it all, this is a very fun rom-com adventure, a romance novel come to life.

Important Note:'s not all about going out to the movies or Netflix and Chillin' - there is a whole other world out there waiting for you and that is local theatre.

You all know that I am a big movie and TV lover, but what you might not know is that my first love was the theatre.  I was an aspiring actress from the age of, oh, when I first saw "Gone With the Wind" at the age of 5 - and no, I didn't see it when it first came out in 1939. I'm not that old. You younguns out there might not realize that before the one million TV stations you now have, there were just three and when a movie came to your local theatre, if you missed it, you missed it - never to be seen again unless it was re-released and that's what would happen with "Gone With the Wind." It would be re-released every ten years or so. I saw it in the 1950's. So there.

Anyway, back to the theatre. I had a small student career as an actress that spanned about ten years. 

Aristophanes "The Birds" 

The highest moment of my pseudo-acting career was when Karl Malden directed a play I was in at my college. Sadly, that might have been the moment I decided I wasn't going to become a professional actress - when he didn't say, "Rosy, I'm going to make you a star."  Hey, I was 21.  What did I know? I thought that's how it worked. Famous guy saw how awesome I was, he made me a star.  That's all I had to do.  Anyway, needless to say, here I am, a retired librarian - long story - but I have always maintained my love of the theatre and all things acting and that is why you find me now writing this blog.

But despite the fact that I had only an amateur career as an actress, I have nothing but respect for those who went on to actually pursue their careers, and I am still totally in that world, if only in my mind.

Mary Poppins at the Forest Theatre

So that said, I had the pleasure this week of attending the musical, "Mary Poppins," at the Forest Theatre in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, a place very near to where I live and very near to the heart of this once-aspiring actress.  The Forest Theatre productions are in a beautiful outdoor theatre (you can bring a picnic, and best of all, wine!), and they are professional productions with wonderfully talented actors and technical staff.

You probably all know the basic story about Mary Poppins, but what you might not know is that this musical production came after the Disney movie starring Julie Andrews and the story varies somewhat from that. The Disney movie was in 1964 and the stage musical opened in the West End in London in 2004, and you "Downton Abbey" fans will be happy to know the script was written by none other than Julian Fellowes, the creator of "Downton Abbey." 

In this wonderful Forest Theatre production, Mary Poppins is played by Malinda DeRouen, who, as Mary sings about herself, is "practically perfect."  I could listen to her gorgeous voice forever.  And Corey Wright guides us through the production as Bert, his dancing a major highlight.  The rest of the cast are also wonderful.  It's a huge cast so kudos to director and choreographer Lara Devlin and vocal director Janice Marotta-Perl. 

This version of the Mary Poppins story focuses more on the children, Jane and Michael (sharing the roles: Heidi Witten-Forsythe, Zoe Ushakoff, Caden Devlin and Daisy Pearl Ashby), and what brats they are, and the problems George (Rob Devlin) and Winifred Banks (Chrissy Brooks) are having in their marriage until Mary Poppins arrives to show them the way. There are also some new songs and other differences from the film, but if you love the character of Mary Poppins and her magical way of transforming a family, you will love this magical production produced by Stephen Moorer and the Pacific Repertory Company. The sets (Patrick McEvoy) and costumes (Ziona Goren) are amazing and that wonderful music is enhanced by sound designer, Tony Nocita. There are even special effects by ZFX.

When it comes to entertainment, it's not all about TV and movies. Don't forget you have live theatre.  There is nothing like sitting there watching it all happen live before you with your fellow humans. Theatre promotes community.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you live on the Monterey Peninsula or in the Bay Area and want to have a lovely, magical weekend, don't miss this wonderful production.  It's "practically perfect!" (playing Thursday-Sunday through September 18.  For tickets)

It's important to support local theatre, so if you can't see this production, check to see what is playing in your community.

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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And 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 over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)