Showing posts with label Social Media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Media. Show all posts

Friday, February 2, 2018

"The Post" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "The Post" as well as DVDs "Happy Death Day" and "The Snowman."  The Book of the Week is "Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid)" by Greta Van Susteren.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Salo (and I apologize for this one in advance"]

The Post

Before "fake news" and "alternative facts," people read newspapers and believed in the power of the press.

In an age where "fake news" and "alternative facts," two phrases unheard of ten years ago, have become part of our lexicon, no one seems to trust the press anymore, especially millennials, despite the fact that the press is an integral part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and acts as an important part of the checks and balances that make up our democracy. 

The First amendment of the U.S. Constitution as adopted in 1791 reads as follows:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

However, our own current President has said that "The Press is the enemy of the people," something that Joseph Stalin also said.  Not sure if our President knew that Stalin said it first.  He probably heard it somewhere.

Now I am going to quote someone: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" - so said philosopher George Santayana and history tells us that newspapers were and are a vital part of our free speech. Members of the press have risked their jobs and lives to give the American people the truth. It was the press that exposed the widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests ("Spotlight") and it was the press that told the American People about Watergate ("All the Presidents Men") and the corruption of the Nixon White House.  A free press protects our right to read and exposes corruption and lies, so, naturally, the first thing despots and dictators do when they take control is stifle the news.

Clearly the press is under attack today with our own President taking to social media and telling us the press is our enemy, but at the same time, since our President has been caught in lie after lie and exaggeration after exaggeration, we need the press more than ever. But we are also in a time when people are more likely to believe what they read on Facebook and Twitter than what they read in the newspaper, if they are even reading the newspaper anymore.

So in the midst of this controversy about whether or not we can trust what we read in the press vs. what our President says, here is the story of yet another secret kept from the American people that was exposed by a vigilant and courageous press, the story of the 1971 publication by the Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the lies that had been told to the American people by the government about Vietnam ever since Truman's Presidency.  Katherine Graham, the owner of the paper, and Ben Bradlee, the editor, published the papers despite the fact that they were under duress by Nixon's government to not do so and faced possible arrest for treason. 

The New York Times had first published revelations from the Papers but faced an injunction by Nixon's government if they continued.  Since The Post also had access to the Papers, they wanted to pick up the gauntlet and publish them, but Graham and Bradlee didn't know what the government would do if they did so. The Press and the First Amendment was clearly under attack by the government.  Sound familiar? 

This film is timely and could be taking place today except this was about the Nixon White House and the Pentagon Papers, a leaked report exposing America's losing strategy in Vietnam, a report showing that the government knew for years that the war was unwinnable despite the fact that the powers that be continued to send young men there to die.

But this film is not just a newspaper story.  It's also a story about the people behind the story.  It is also about gender bias and the courage of one woman, Katherine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post and the first female owner of any major newspaper.

The film reminds us that only 47 years ago women were not considered capable of having their own credit cards, let alone running a newspaper.  When he died, Katherine Graham's own father left the paper he owned to Katherine's HUSBAND instead of her because she was a woman.  

Katherine was a rich socialite who hobnobbed with the political glitterati, including Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense. She wasn't prepared to ruffle the feathers of people she had known for years and socialized with. She also wasn't prepared to take the helm of this lofty newspaper that was in the midst of negotiating to go public, so she was under intense pressure and scrutiny. 

When given the opportunity to make history by publishing the Pentagon Papers, Graham also had to not only weigh the legal repercussions but also the political and social repercussions.  She was courageous in her desire to print the truth because despite the injunction against the New York Times, she made the decision to forge ahead anyway.  The Washington Post was a well-respected newspaper and printing the Pentagon Papers would blow the lid off of Nixon's Washington, which it did, but it took Watergate (another Washington Post news coup which happened soon after) to finally get rid of Richard Nixon.

Meryl Streep once again shows her range as an actress, with a nuanced performance that beautifully expressed Katherine's trepidation as she was just starting to take control of the paper after her husband's death.  She has a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her performance.

Tom Hanks can also be counted on to put in a good performance and he does here as Ben Bradlee, the Editor-in-Chief who wants to publish the Pentagon Papers but must convince Katherine to be brave. He and Streep are great together and it's amazing to realize the two have never worked together before.  We are also used to Tom Hanks getting Oscar nominations for practically everything he does, but not this year, which is considered by many to be a major snub by the Academy.

Directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay by Josh Singer and Liz Hannah, it will not be lost on anyone who sees this film where Spielberg's political allegiance lies and what the parallels are between what happened in 1971 and what is happening today. Just as Nixon tried to stifle the press, so, too, today the press is under attack.

Interestingly, Spielberg was also snubbed by the Academy and was not nominated for a Best Directing Oscar, despite his deft direction, which included parts of Nixon's tapes, bringing this piece of history to the screen. The film is a real story about real reporting and the characters are real.  You can't make this stuff up.  But it's also good old-fashioned storytelling that even though you know how it ends will keep you riveted to your seat.

Rosy the Reviewer important but entertaining film that resonates in today's political climate.  It is also up for a Best Picture Oscar.


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


Happy Death Day (2017)

Think a horror version of "Groundhog Day."

Like "Friend Request," which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, this film falls into the category of "horror lite."  You don't need to worry about blood and gore and in fact this one actually is quite fun.

It begins with Tree Gelbman (Jessical Rothe) getting a text wishing her a "Happy Birthday" and waking up in a guy's dorm room after what looks to be a drunken one night stand despite the fact that the guy in the room with her, Carter (Israel Broussard), tells her nothing happened. However, she haughtily tells him that he had better not say anything to anyone.  Just as she is putting herself back together, Carter's roommate comes in and makes some crude remark about his getting some action the night before and Tree brushes past him to make the walk of shame across campus. 

As she does so she is approached by a young girl with a petition, she hears a car alarm go off, a hipster dude looks at her over his sunglasses, a young man, who is doing some sort of "99 beers on the wall" endurance challenge falls over and the sprinklers go on.  She runs into Tim (Caleb Spillyards) who asks her why she didn't text him back.  She insults him and heads to her sorority house where she is accosted by Danielle (Rachel Matthews), one of her sorority sisters, who reminds her about a house meeting at lunch.  She staggers up to her room and meets up with her roommate, Lori (Ruby Modine), who has baked her a cupcake for her birthday. Tree gets to class late, turns up at the lunch sorority meeting where Carter also shows up and she dumps a drink on him, and later we see that she is having an affair with her teacher. 

A day in the life of a college girl. 

Except, that night, as she heads to a party, she is followed by someone in a baby face mask (the baby face giving the killer an even more macabre feel), and, when she enters a tunnel by herself, she is confronted by the person in the mask and stabbed!

So is that the end of our Tree?

Not hardly.

Day 2, she wakes up in that same dorm room with Carter- ALIVE!  So thinking that her death was just a bad dream, she gets dressed and heads out onto the quad but there is that girl with the petition again, and the hipster who looks at her over his sunglasses and the guy in the endurance challenge who falls over, and the car alarm and everything else that happened the day before.  What's going on?  So you can imagine how nervous she is as she once again enters that tunnel on the way to the party, but when she manages to avoid the tunnel and thinking she is in the clear, breathes a sigh of relief and then - wham!

By Day 3, as Tree wakes up in Carter's room with everything happening AGAIN, she is really freaked out but she finally decides to break the cycle and, instead of going to that party, stays in her room, locking her door and boarding up the window.  You can guess what happens next.

And then we have Day 4 and Day 5...

But slowly, Tree figures out that every time she avoids being murdered the same way from the day before, the day expands and the murderer comes up with a new way to kill her, so she finally decides to tell Carter what is happening and he encourages her to solve her own murder.

Now it's ON!  Tree decides to try to take control of the situation.

Yes, she keeps getting murdered, but each day she tries to do something different and she gets closer and closer to solving her own murder.  And each day she starts to realize things about herself and, wouldn't you know, Tree turns from a mean girl to a nicer, more sensitive girl.

You see, this isn't just a horror film.  It's a film about learning to be a good person.

Carter tells her, "Each new day is a chance to be somebody better."

And Tree realizes that..."When you relive the same day over and over you kind of find out who you really are."

Directed by Christopher Landon with a screenplay by Scott Lobdell, and starring relative unknown but very engaging young actors, the solution to the mystery isn't that satisfying but the getting there is lots of fun.

Pay attention to the opening credits which are clever and fun and hint at the Groundhog Day aspects to come.

Rosy the Reviewer says...clearly aimed at teens, this film is fun even for us older folks and it has a good message, though getting murdered day after day is a rather radical way to get the message across to someone to become a better person.

The Snowman (2017)

A former legendary Oslo cop who has hit hard times and is on the way down finds himself trying to find a serial killer.

I remember seeing the previews for this in the theatre for months before its release and it actually looked quite good.  I like Fassbender and who wouldn't be intrigued by a serial killer who cuts people up and leaves a snowman as his calling card?  But when the film was released it was just trashed by the critics and ended up on many "Worst Films of 2017" lists.  So, OK, it was bad, but it wasn't that bad (I could name some worse movies - check out my worst list for 2017). 

The film starts with a young boy sitting at a table with his mother and a gruff old guy.  He is being grilled on Norwegian history by the old guy and, when the kids gets a question wrong, he doesn't get slapped, his mother does.  But then the guy and the mother have sex, and we realize that he is a married man having an affair with the woman.  When she threatens to tell his wife, he says she will never see him again and leaves in his car as if for good.  The mother and the boy chase him in her car but then, realizing the futility of the situation, the mother drives the car onto a frozen lake. with the car breaking through the ice and slowly sinking into the water.  The boy manages to get out but the mother stays in the car in a catatonic state as the car slowly slides under the ice.  Last we see a sad little snowman outside the house where the boy and his mother had lived.

So the film begins.

Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is an Oslo policeman.  He is an alcoholic grieving his marriage break-up and has literally fallen into a hole of alcoholism and defeat. Harry doesn't seem to have a home.  He sleeps on couches in the office or even on the street.  He's a legendary cop who is now on his way down so he needs a big case to solve so he asks his boss to assign him to a murder case.  His boss says Oslo doesn't have much in the way of murders and then, guess what?  A serial killer emerges and a rather nasty one, too. Women are disappearing and then found dismembered and weird snowmen have something to do with it.   

The film was beautifully photographed and shot in Norway, even if it was in my hated digital, but it's all very stylish. "Stylish" is the word I use when a movie is moody and beautiful to look at but one I don't really get at all or one that's pretty to look at and bad.  This film wasn't bad so much as boring and disjointed and there were some big holes in the plot.  The serial killer was almost an afterthought with all of the interpersonal angst that was going on - along with the deaths there was infertility, children born out of wedlock, infidelity.  Even The World Cup was thrown in.  .

But the film boasts a stellar cast in addition to Michael Fassbender: Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, J.K. Simmons and Val Kilmer, who looks terrible, by the way, ravaged by throat cancer.  It even seemed like Kilmer's lines were dubbed.  I have to say that some of Fassbender's films have been strange choices (I mean, did you see "Shame?"), but not as strange as some of the films that Charlotte Gainsbourg has been in. When she stars in a film, all bets are off.  You know it's going to be weird.  If you don't believe me, see "Nymphomania 1 and 2." 

So with the beautiful production values and that all-star cast, what went wrong?

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, directed by Tomas Alfredson with a screenply by Peter Straughan, Hossein Amini and Soren Sveistrup, the film just lacked the intensity that a serial killer movie needs to have and Fassbender was a bit of a sad sack, and lacked any kind of charisma, though I will say there was a brief glimpse of Fassbender's junk which woke me up for a minute (and those of you who did see "Shame" will know what I mean), but then I went back to sleep. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film was as cold as a Norwegian winter, tried to do too much and the point was lost.

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

157 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

In WW II Italy, fascists round up 18 young men and women and subject them to humiliation and torture.  And trust me, it's bad.

OK, I have finally seen the worst most disgusting film of my life.  I defy anyone to justify this film.

When director Pier Paulo Passolini shows people eating excrement and later says it was a response to our capitalistic junk food society, I am out the door...or should I say, in this case, off the couch.  This movie made "Caligula" look like a Disney film.

Basically, four fascist libertines imprison attractive young people in a beautiful mansion in a beautiful bit of Italian countryside and subject them to Marquis de Sade experiences. The depravity amidst the beautiful classical architecture and Italian countryside makes it all worse.  I mean, really?  Nazis AND the Marquis de Sade?  No one in the house is allowed to have heterosexual sex and if they do, death.  All of the young people are naked and treated like dogs, literally.  They are chained and must crawl around on their hands and knees and when eating out of a dog bowl, one of the men puts some glass in it so the girl eats glass and bleeds.  They get their eyes gouged out, scalped, their nipples burned...and that's only a small part of it.  The depravity just goes on and on with one shocking image and horrific scene after another with the libertines feeling nothing. In fact, at the end they do a little chorus dance together.

Watching this film, I was trying to figure out where the line is drawn between art and pornography.  I guess if you are not sexually aroused, it's not pornography but the brutality shown in this film and the images that I will never get out of my head certainly smack of pornography to me because brutality and violence toward other human beings is the worse kind of pornography.  It's a horrible tale of power over others and I see why it was banned in many countries. 

Why it's a Must See (and this better be good!): "Pasolini's intent was to use the unbridled use of power, taken to the ultimate of sexual degradation, as a metaphor for Fascism itself, seen as a philosophy that worships power for its own sake."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Nope, not good enough. So it's an anti-fascist film showing the evils of fascism.  OK, but you can sugar coat this film all you want and paint its lofty motives, but it still wasn't necessary for me to see people getting peed on or eating excrement or all of the other horrific images of depravity for me to get that.

I have never seen anything like this before in my life and I never want to again. I have no idea why this was included in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book.  Nothing written there justified it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I certainly could have died and gone to heaven without having seen this depiction of hell.  Remember I warned you.

**Book of the Week***

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid) by Greta Van Susteren (2017)

The title tells it all.

Considering my age, I probably would be as computer incompetent as movies like to make old folks look.  But I was a librarian in a public library so I had to have a basic knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. so I could help library users access those sites.  But it's mostly been self-taught, so I was drawn to this book to see if there was anything I didn't know or some tips that would help my social media experience.

And the answer is not really.

Veteran newswoman Van Susteren gives the basic mechanics of social media with chapters on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and personal communication outlets such as YouTube, blogging and others, but when I say basic, it really is.  As you can tell from the subtitle, this book is clearly aimed at the older folks and technology savvy younger people might find it a bit of a yawn.

However, I did learn a few things:

Facebook - Tagging

If you really want someone to see your post, you can tag them but I didn't realize that not everyone wants to be tagged. 

When you tag someone, your photo or post can be added to that person's timeline so their friends, who may not also be your friends, will see the post.  "Tagging could be considered invasive.  If your privacy settings are set to public for that post, the post will appear not only on their personal page but it will be published in all of their friends' News Feeds and available to anyone.  And when you tag someone, your post shows up in the New Feeds of their friends, many of whom don't know you." 

So technically, though in most cases it's not really practical, you should ask your friends if they mind being tagged.

Also did you know you can actually set your tag settings? 

Under Settings, you can click on Timeline and Tagging and find your tagging options and one allows you to review posts that your friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline.  If you set the Review tag to ON you will get to approve tagged photos before they appear on your timeline.  You can also remove tags and set who can see posts you are tagged in.  Seems like a lot of trouble and worry, but if you care about that kind of thing, you have options.

Facebook - Hiding Posts

If you have friends who constantly post what they ate for lunch or their political views and you are sick of it, you can hide certain kinds of posts.  Click on the little down arrow on the upper right of a post and you will get a box with multiple options.  If you choose Hide Post, FB will try to send you fewer of that kind of post, which once again reinforces that FB has power over what you get to see.  I swear that I don't see half of the posts my friends put out there and that they don't see mine.  I read in the paper today that fewer people are spending time on FB on a daily basis and perhaps that's why.  We are tired of being manipulated.

Twitter - Privacy settings

If you are worried about who can follow you, you can take steps upfront about that as well as other privacy issues, so check out your privacy settings.

Twitter - Pictures

Believe it or not, I have just discovered I can add pictures to my Tweets, so I guess I didn't know everything after all. For some reason, I never knew that.  


Does anyone actually use LinkedIn anymore?


Again, you might not want your Instagram account to be public.  You can set it to Private and people will have to ask to follow you.


I'm too old to go there.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though this may be too basic for most, the overview will be helpful to those who are just beginning and even the most seasoned social media users - like me - might find some helpful tips.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

"Phantom Thread"

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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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.
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.