Showing posts with label San Pietro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Pietro. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2019

"Little" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Little" as well as the documentaries "Killing for Love" and "That Summer."  The Book of the Week is my new favorite cookbook "One -Pan Wonders."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Battle of San Pietro."]


A beautiful but hard-nosed CEO gets her comeuppance when she is unwillingly transformed into her geeky younger self.

Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) was bullied in middle school when she was "little," so she vowed that when she was "big" she would get even.  And she does.  The "big" Jordan runs a successful gaming company and also runs her employees ragged.  When she comes to work, everyone heads for the hills.  No carbs allowed, no breaks, she insults her executive team for bad ideas, and she treats her assistant, April (Issa Rae), like crap.

One day while bullying a little girl who is practicing magic tricks with her magic wand outside the company where her Dad runs a food truck  - yes, Jordan also bullies little girls - the little girl asks Jordan why she is so mean and then puts a curse on her wishing Jordan was little. Wouldn't you know, the next day, when Jordan wakes up she has been transformed into her 13-year-old self (Marsai Martin) complete with geeky glasses and a mop of frizzy hair.  Once she proves to April that she is indeed Jordan but in a 13-year-old's body, April is assigned the duty of taking care of the company while the adult Jordan must go back and relive middle school (the local neighbor turned her into CPS which results in a very funny scene with Rachel Dratch as the CPS rep).

Hilarity ensues.  Well, kind of...

Remember "Big" starring Tom Hanks?  Well, this is the opposite of that.  He was a little boy in an adult body.  Now we have an adult in a little girl's body.  Written by Tina Gordon and Tracy Oliver and directed by Gordon, this is a cute concept that didn't quite make it to "Big" status.

Speaking of concepts, this was Marsai Martin's concept (she also plays the young Jordan), and she is one of the producers, making her the youngest producer ever in Hollywood.  And she is a commendable actress as well.  Likewise, you can always count on Regina Hall.  But Issa Rae saves the day here.  Most of the laughs come from her performance, with her under-her-breath asides and comic reactions. She makes it all work.

There are also some laughs to be had as the adult Jordan in the middle-schooler body must attend school and once again endure bullying. But she also befriends some "other kids" who are also unpopular and tries to help them make it through and in so doing learns about herself.  And there is also a female empowerment message as April is finally able to find her voice. But sadly there are also some cringeworthy scenes such as when thirteen-year-old Jordan gives her hunky adult teacher (Justin Hartley) some sexy come-on looks and when she sings drunkenly on a bar top, all very inappropriate behavior for a thirteen-year-old and worse, not very funny.

But, hey, it's a comedy that is better than most that have come down the pike of late. "Come down the pike?"  Did I just say that?

And there is a message: Don't be mean to little kids or you might just wake up as one!

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the film hits and misses, if you need an escape, there are some laughs to be had here.

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


Killing for Love (2016)

A true crime documentary covering the 1985 murders of Derrick and Nancy Haysom who were supposedly killed by their daughter's boyfriend.  He was convicted but did he do it?

One of my guilty pleasures (I have many) is true crime.  I am guilty of being fascinated by the guilty.  I am obsessed with "Dateline," even though I know when it's a murder case involving a dead woman, it's always the husband who did it (don't these guys know about divorce)?

But in this case, it's patricide and matricide.

Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soring were students at the University of Virginia in 1985.  Jens was a student from Germany who had never been away from home nor had he much in the way of sexual experience.  So he was swept off his feet by the beautiful upper class and worldly Elizabeth who supposedly groomed him to kill her parents.  She regaled him with stories of her mother having a sexual relationship with her and all kinds of other abuse.  Jens was so besotted he would do anything for her.  

When the two were finally arrested, Jens confessed to the murders but later recanted, saying Elizabeth had done it and he had given a false confession to protect her, feeling that he would also be protected because his father was a German diplomat.  He said she did it and she said he did it.  But since the movie began with a version of "I Put a Spell On You," it's clear that the film is sympathetic to Jens and the implication here is that she did it and tried to get him to take the blame.  She confesses to being a drug addict, abused by her mother and even an accessory after the fact, but according to her, Jens killed her parents.  

Written and directed by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger, this is a well-made film, edited to dramatic effect.  The crime scenes are gruesome and Jens' interview 27 years later is compelling. This is a German film and comes from the place that Jens should at least be allowed to return to Germany for his sentence. He seems believable in his assertion it was she who killed her parents possibly with an accomplice, and he took the rap because he believed he would be sent back to Germany where his sentence would be lighter and then he and Elizabeth would be reunited.  Unfortunately that didn't happen.

We see actual court testimony by Elizabeth, but Elizabeth refused to be interviewed for this film, which is not surprising. But Jens' interview (in his native German) is fascinating, and when all is said and done, the film is persuasive in showing reasonable doubt, especially in light of recent DNA findings showing that two other men could have been at the crime scene.  No DNA was tied to Jens.  

This case has become a cause celebre as many have sided with Jens and lobbied for his release.  In fact, in 2010, while governer of Virginia, Tim Kaine approved Jens being sent back to Germany, but that was later rescinded by his Republican successor, Bob McDonnell.  Jens has been denied parole 14 times. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like true crime, this is a good one and there is a moral to the story: be careful who you fall in love with.

That Summer (2017)

A prequel to the famous documentary "Grey Gardens."

This is a strange little film that begins with Peter Beard showing off his photographs.  Beard is a photographer famously associated with the Kennedys. Beard and Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy Onassis's sister) had collaborated with the Maysles brothers (now famous documentarians) to make a film about Jackie's and Lee's childhood memories of visiting East Hampton as children and also include all of the changes that had occurred there due to rapid development.  They were going to touch on the lives of her relatives, the Beales, Big Edie and Little Edie, Lee's and Jackie's aunt and cousin who lived there, because Lee remembers visiting them. "I was really happy that summer." 

But when Beard and Radziwill discovered the squalor and eccentric life that the Beales were living in their big dilapidated estate in East Hampton that summer while working on the film, the Edies became the story instead. With the help from money given by Aristotle Onassis, Lee helped the Beales fix the plumbing, had electrical work done and the garbage and mold removed, so that they would avoid being evicted by the local authorities.  However, for some reason, the actual making of the film fell through and the footage that was taken that summer was lost for 45 years. Until now.

The Radziwill-Beard project fell through, but their idea turned out to be a windfall for the Maysles brothers who went back on their own and eventually made the wonderful "Grey Gardens (1975)," which featured Big Edie and Little Edie and which ultimately turned them into cult figures with a song and a Broadway musical written about them.  

This little film stands as a sort of prequel to "Grey Gardens" as it contains the lost footage that was shot when Lee and Peter Beard were working on their film. And Beale fans won't be disappointed.  There is lots of Big and Little Edie here.  Big Edie grouses and bickers with Little Edie, and Little Edie compares one of their cats to Ted Kennedy, sings a rendition of "My Adobe Hacienda," and sits in her "Disappointment Chair."

Directed by Goren Olsson, there is also some insight into Lee, the Bouvier sister who always lived in Jackie's shadow and about whom much less is known.  She comes across as a very charming and elegant woman as she spends time with both Edies.  She is accepting of them and kind, so the film doesn't feel exploitive of the Beales, as some critics claimed "Grey Gardens" was.  The Beales are caught even more off guard in this than in "Grey Gardens," possibly because they were related to Lee and felt comfortable around her. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...the Beales are interesting characters indeed, but the Radziwill connection is also interesting, and this is a nice accompaniment to "Grey Gardens.

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

97 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

San Pietro (1945)
(AKA "The Battle of San Pietro")

A documentary short directed by John Huston early in his career that documented the taking of an Italian hill town from the Nazis by American soldiers in WW II.

The Americans won but at a terrible cost - 1000 American soldiers were lost.

Huston had already made "The Maltese Falcon" before he served in the U.S. Army during WW II making films for The Army Signal Corps. He was a captain when he made this film (he eventually rose to the rank of major), which was one of three propaganda films commissioned he made to gain support for the war. He narrated the film, and his purpose was to portray the experience of war seen from the viewpoint of those fighting it.  Ironically, though, the film wasn't released until after the final victory in Europe because the film also showed some failure in U.S. intelligence that led to many American deaths.

Why it's a Must See: "Made for the U.S. Army as a propaganda film, John Huston's The Battle of San Pietro remains the best war documentary ever made..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Best war documentary ever made?  

Not sure, but it's 30 minutes of actual war footage from WW II with a dramatic narration.  And in general the film is unapologetically overdramatic and pro-U.S.A.  I mean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings over his final words at the end as he talks about how much the Italians saw us as saviors.  So, you decide.  

World War II has always been depicted as a noble war for the U.S. But as someone born after W.W. II, I realized while watching this film that even at my age that I have never lived through a war that was a noble war. I like to think that the U.S. was a helper, a savior during W.W. II, because that's how our participation in WW II has always been sold to us. We know all about "The Greatest Generation."  But we have learned that we waited until it was in our best interest to get involved. And since then, all of the wars we have been involved in have seemed to be self-serving and/or unnecessary.  General Sherman said, "War is hell."  He was right.  But for many more reasons than he probaby thought at the time. War is not only hell but very, very wrong. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...compelling...and sobering.

***The Book of the Week***

One-Pan Wonders: Fuss-Free Meals for Your Sheet Pan, Dutch Oven, Skillet, Roasting Pan, Casserole and Slow Cooker by Cook's Country (2016)

Who doesn't love a cookbook that only uses one pan or pot?

I know I do.  

It has everything I love in a cookbook:

  • Colorful full page illustrations
  • Fun to read introductions for each recipe
  • Easy-to-use index
  • Delicious recipes that are easy to prepare -- in just one pot or pan!

From "Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes (all in one skillet) to "Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans and Potatoes (one sheet pan)" to "Baked Ziti with Spinach and Sausage (one Dutch oven)" to "Hands Off Spaghetti and Meatballs (one casserole dish)" to "Peruvian Roast Chicken with Swiss Chard and Sweet Potatoes (one roasting pan)" to "Spanish Chicken and Saffron Stew (slow cooker).  One pot or pan means easy prep and easy clean up.

And you vegetarians and pescatarians haven't been left out either - there's "Chickpea Tagine," "Baked Mac and Cheese" and "Lemon-Herb Cod Fillets with Crispy Garlic Potatoes," to name just a few.  Yum!

Rosy the Reviewer new favorite cookbook!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Long Shot"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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

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