Showing posts with label Ruth Ware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ruth Ware. Show all posts

Friday, July 20, 2018

"Skyscraper" and The Week in Reviews

[I review The Rock's new movie "Skyscraper" as well as DVDs "The Disappointments Room" and "Mom and Dad."  The Book of the Week is "The Death of Mrs. Westaway."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Romper Stomper."]





Skyscraper


The Rock plus a burning skyscraper equals nail-biting, edge of your seat excitement...or not...

I know...

but it's been a rough week and sometimes you just need some simple, silly, mindless entertainment when there is lots of complicated, serious stuff on your mind and you can always count on Dwayne - The Rock - Johnson for some exciting stunts, humor and great abs and guns, stuff that doesn't require a lot of thought from the viewer. 

And speaking of The Rock.  For a woman of a certain age, I find him curiously attractive.  Not sure if it's that bald head, his nice big man stature or that twinkle in his eye, but I like him! I'm still thinking of those guns!

Anyway, Dwayne plays Will Sawyer, a decorated war veteran turned FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader.  He is now retired because his last assignment - ten years ago - resulted in the death of the hostages, the loss of his leg and lots of guilt, so now he works to assess security for skyscrapers and has been hired by billionaire financier Zhao Long Ji (Han Chin) to assess his new building, The Pearl, the tallest skyscraper in the world - 3500 feet and 225 stories - before it opens.  Will has brought his wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell) and children, Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell), along and they are the only ones staying in the residential part of the building before its opening, except for Ji who lives in a penthouse on top of the building.

The building is supposed to be impenetrable with an infallible fire extinction system all run by computer but somehow some gangsters led by Kores Botha (Roland Moller) have figured out how to break in, penetrate the computer system, shut off the fire system and set a fire on the 96th floor in hopes of flushing out Ji and a disk drive with incriminating evidence about their money laundering.  What they weren't counting on was the fact that Will's wife and children are in the building too and there is nothing a Dad won't do to save his kids.  Unfortunately, Will's family is inside and he is outside so now he needs to find a way to get back into the building.

Of course there is no doubt that The Rock will rescue his family.  

The fun is how he does it, and when I say fun, I mean fun.  I actually laughed more during this film than I have in most of the comedies I have seen in the last year.  I don't think I was supposed to laugh but there were some stunts that were so outrageous that I just couldn't help it.  The guy sitting in front of me in the theatre couldn't help himself either.  He was laughing more than I was.  

Maybe it was The Rock scaling the building using nothing but duct tape on his feet and hands or maybe it was that impossible leap he took from a crane to a window or his wrestling with his ex-best friend and using his artificial leg to pummel him.  Speaking of which, the leg came off and then in the next scene he was running away with his leg on.  Didn't see him put it back on but this is one of those movies you don't want to think too much about.  

The point isn't that things make sense but rather seeing The Rock do his death defying thing.  One can't help but compare this film to "The Towering Inferno" and "Die Hard" movies except those movies didn't have The Rock, did they?  He is now the one-man mega box office when it comes to action films.

It's nice to see Neve Campbell again.  Not sure where she's been but she gets to do some ass kicking too.  It's always a pleasure to see a woman take care of business though it's way, way over the top.  

But the whole movie, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, is way, way over the top and that's why we see movies like this, right?  

Rosy the Reviewer says...like I said, it's been a difficult week and this film gave me an hour and 42 minutes of relief that included a few unintentional laughs.









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

On DVD








Imagine buying your dream house and discovering ghosts in the attic.

Architect Dana Barrow (Kate Beckinsale), her husband, David (Mel Raido),  and their five-year-old son, Lucas (Duncan Joiner), move to an old mansion - The Blacker Estate - in rural North Carolina.  You can tell right away that some horror is afoot because the mansion is remote, they move in at night and it's raining, all signs that moving into this place might not be good.  And it's not.

In fact, weird stuff starts happening right away.  

Dana starts having bad dreams - but are they dreams? After one particularly bad one, she wanders outside to have a smoke and sees a light go on up in the attic, in a room she didn't know about so she goes off to investigate, even though it's in the middle of the night with bats flying around. Another sign that this is a horror film. Who IS this person?  But then if she didn't go investigate, she wouldn't find the eponymous room and there wouldn't be any point to this film, right?

Anyway, Dana finds a room that was not on the blueprint of the house.  The door is hidden behind an armoire but she manages to get in but once in naturally she gets locked in because - ooooh - there are "forces" at work. But to complicate matters, Dana has psychological issues so we will question her sanity.  Dana and David lost their infant daughter and are still struggling with their grief so we are supposed to think that perhaps she is just losing her mind over that and none of the ghostly stuff is real. Kind of like "Unsane," which I reviewed last week.  The possibly hysterical woman horror movie trope.

David is one of those clueless husbands - another horror trope - but luckily, Ben (Lucas Til), the local handyman shows up and clues Dana into the story of what happened in the house in the past.  Seems that in the old days, when a family gave birth to a deformed child or a child with issues, the child was put in a "disappointments room" where the child was kept a secret from the world and spent his or her life there. Couldn't help but wonder about a modern day equivalent.  Our kids disappoint us, into the Disappointments Room they go.  But I digress. Seems that Mr. Blacker (Gerald McRaney), the patriarch of the family and the estate, was a mean Dad who tormented his little girl, Laura, and his and her ghosts are still lurking in the house.

Kate Beckinsale is a good actress and does what she can with the material, and Gerald McRaney is a believable bad guy but I like him better as the gruff but kindly doctor on "This is Us."  But the actors can't really elevate this film from what would have been a fair Lifetime Movie.  But as a feature film?  Not so much.

I often love movies about malevolent houses and little kids who seem driven by malevolent sources.  Much prefer those kids to the overly precocious child actors with snappy dialogue that are so prevalent in films these days, but despite that fact this one is kind of a snooze fest.

Rosy the Reviewer says..."The Disappointments Room" was...well, disappointing.





Mom and Dad (2017)


A sudden outbreak of filicide breaks out and in case you don't know what that is, it's an inexplicable urge for parents to kill their children.


Parents have all probably had this urge at one time or another so this black comedy plays on that unmentionable thought not to mention Kendall and Brent lamenting when they just used to be Kendall and Brent and not Mom and Dad.
Kendall (Selma Blair), Brent (Nicolas Cage), Josh (Zachary Arthur) and Carly (Anne Winters) start out as a typical family with the usual generation gap and teenage angst with Carly wanting independence and acting like a haughty little bitch and Kendall wanting closeness but then the parents fall prey to the mysterious disease and are overtaken by a lust for blood and turn into murderous zombies. Talk about your kids disappointing you and what can happen if they do!

Carly and her little brother must survive after their parents suddenly turn violent and want to kill them.  For a harrowing 24 hours, Carly and Josh must keep their parents at bay.

Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair make a good pair of murderous parents, but I have to ask. When did Nicolas Cage get so creepy and turn into such a caricature of himself?  That's a rhetorical question.  It's actually OK because he's quite fun to watch.

Written and directed by Brian Taylor, this film explores the themes of kids disappointing their parents and the loss of identity, youth, hopes and dreams that people sometimes feel when they become parents. However, this film takes all of that to another level!

Rosy the Reviewer says...give a whole new meaning to a kid saying "My Dad's going to kill me!"









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




134 to go! 

Have YOU seen this classic film?






Australian skinheads wreak havoc on immigrants and anyone else who gets in their way.

If you ever wondered how Russell Crowe got his start, you might be interested in this film.  He is a very young, handsome and thin Russell Crowe and plays an unlikely leading man in this film about Australian skinheads in a 1990's Melbourne, Australia. 

When I see the early work of actors who became famous, I always look for the early star quality and Crowe definitely had it even though he was playing a bad dude. I have talked about this before in this blog, but my Dad and I used to watch old movies together. He was an only child and went to a lot of movies, probably to assuage loneliness.  Often right in the middle of a late movie we were watching, he would say, "I've seen this one!"  One of his favorite things was to watch the credits and point out to me a famous actor who was still so new that the credits used his real name - Bernard Schwartz who became Tony Curtis; Archibald Leach who became Cary Grant; Marion Morrison who became John Wayne.  Russell never changed his name but I would bet you didn't know his middle name was Ira!

The film begins with some skinheads beating up some Asian kids and yelling "This is not your country."  Sounds eerily familiar to what is happening today in our own country even though this film takes place in Australia 25 years ago.  Russell Crowe plays Hando, the leader of a skinhead group.  There is a side story concerning Gabrielle (Jacqueline McKenzie), a drugged out girl who appears to be sexually abused by, Martin (Alex Scott), an older man who we learn more about in a twist. And naturally her path coincides with Hando's and his friend Davey's, a more sensitive skin-head, if there is such a thing (played by Daniel Pollock, who unfortunately  in real life threw himself under a train shortly after this film was released) and a love triangle ensues.  Then Gabrielle sets things in motion for the gang to rob Martin.

One of the guys says to Martin "We've come to wreck everything and ruin your life."

But the tables get turned and it ends badly for everyone.

Written and directed by Geoffrey Wright, there is not a lot of character development and the film feels almost like a documentary but gritty and stylishly done with the fights set to punk music. Romper stomper is a reference to the children's TV show "Romper Room," an implication that when the skinheads do the stomping it's all good fun - good fun gone wrong.  

Why it's a Must See:  "[This film] ignited a passionate debate in Australia about whether it was a racist or antiracist tract...[It] does not pretend to offer a sophisticated commentary on the complexities of multicultural Australia.  These 'skins' are what gangsters or juvenile delinquents so often are in cinema -- a flamboyant metaphor for a life lived at the edge of society.  Both Wright and Crowe strive to give these events a Shakespearean grandeur, a la Richard III, and they largely succeed."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says..."Richard III?"  That's pushing it a bit but it's still a fascinating film.



***The Book of the Week***




The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (2018)


Harriet Westaway is a young woman who is broke and desperate. When she receives a letter from a solicitor (the book takes place in England) telling her that her grandmother has just died and she is heir to a fortune she thinks that her prayers have been answered.  Except there's one problem: her grandmother died over 20 years ago.

Harriet Westaway AKA Hal is young and broke.  Her mother died in a car accident and she never knew her father so she is all alone in Brighton, England, telling fortunes with her tarot cards on the Brighton Pier.  She borrowed money from a loan shark and, he has sent his goons to threaten her for repayment so when Hal receives the letter from a solicitor telling her she is an heir to her grandmother's fortune she sees a way out of her dilemma.  Except for one little thing.  It's not her grandmother.

Hal is certain this is a mistake and checks her birth certificate and yep, even the name of her grandmother is not the same but the letter was sent to her - Harriet Westaway - at her address.  

Dear Miss Westaway,

Your grandmother, Hester Mary Westaway of Trepassen House, St Piran, passed away on 22nd November, at her home. I appreciate that this news may well come as a shock to you; please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

In accordance with the wishes of your late grandmother, I am instructed to inform beneficiaries of the details of her funeral. As local accommodation is very limited, family members are invited to stay at Trepassen House where a wake will also be held.

Yours truly,

Robert Treswick
Treswick, Nantes and Dean, Penzance
So maybe this fortune really is meant for her.  

So Hal travels to Trepassen House where she meets her uncles, Harding, Abel and Ezra, and the dour Mrs. Warren who would give Mrs. Danvers a run for creepy housekeeper of the year.  As a tarot card reader, Hal feels she can read people and that she can pull this impersonation off, but what she doesn't count on are the lies and secrets this family has been harboring and that her life is in danger.

Reading this novel, I had an epiphany.  As you know, I have been working to add more fiction to my reading life but what I have discovered about myself is that I am drawn to page-turning thrillers like Gillian Flynn's"Gone Girl" and  Paula Hawkins' "The Girl on the Train."  And books by Ware.  In fact, this is the third one of hers that I have read ("The Woman in Cabin 10" and "The Lying Game" were the others).  I guess I am not that literary person I thought I was.  But hey it's summer and summer is all about easy to digest books that can be read in a few hours and this one fits the bill.

But don't think my saying that means that Ware is not a good writer.  She is.  She constructs interesting, twisty plots (though I figured this one out), has a way with realistic dialogue and her prose is not only descriptive but quite lovely.  The book reads like a movie and since I love movies, I saw the whole thing in my mind. So what's not to like?  

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like Paula Hawkins or Gillian Flynn, you will love Ware's books.



Thanks for reading!




See you next Friday 

for

"Mama Mia!  Here We Go Again"


and

  
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on


"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 
 

I Die Project." 






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


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