Showing posts with label Society of the Snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Society of the Snow. Show all posts

Thursday, March 28, 2024

"Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" and More!

[I review the new Ghostbusters movie - "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire" - as well as "Society of the Snow" and "Falling for Figaro."  And there's a book too! - "Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My Forty Something Years in Hollywood" by Ed Zwick]

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

Ghostbusters is now a family affair and this time they need to save the world from a second Ice Age.

If you have been following me, you know how much I hate sequels.  

And even if you haven't been following me, now you know.  So why did I go see this movie, then, you ask?  Well, at this point, this film is more a part of a franchise than a sequel, like "Mission Impossible" or "Jurassic Park," so I am going to give it a pass on the sequel thing.  And even though I am not particularly a fan of franchises, also known as "beating a good idea into the ground," I am not going to pick on this movie for that either.  It's the fifth in the series, but in my opinion, the second, third and fourth installments don't really count.  They weren't very good.  

Besides, it's been 40 years...repeat, 40 years...since the very first "Ghostbusters," a movie that became a cultural phenomenon. It was critically acclaimed, cementing the movie careers of Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd, it was the first comedy to employ expensive special effects, and it was number one at the box office for seven consecutive weeks making it the then-highest-grossing comedy ever. And let's not forget that iconic theme song, which became a number one hit. 

And 40 years later, it's number one at the box office again, so I had to pay homage.  Was it worth it?

Well...first let me bring you up to date.

If you saw "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," we were introduced to Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) and her kids, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), who were living in Oklahoma after inheriting the farm where Ghostbuster Egon Spengler had lived and which also served as a plot device and homage after the real life death of Harold Ramis, who played Egon. Turns out the farmhouse is haunted and the surviving Ghostbusters are called and, along with Phoebe's science teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), they all rid the farm of the harmful entities.

Okay, that's what has happened before this latest film begins, so fast forward to present day. Now Callie and Gary are a couple and they are living in New York City with Trevor and Phoebe.  The OG's have retired and ghostbusting has become a family affair for Callie, Gary and the kids. They are all living in the original Ghostbusters firehouse that original Ghostbuster Winston (Ernie Hudson) had restored when he became a rich entrepreneur and Callie et al have taken on the responsibility of keeping New York City free of nasty paranormal beings. Original Ghostbuster Ray (Ackroyd) has a book shop - Ray's Occult Books - where he also collects rare cursed artifacts with the help of Podcast (Logan Kim) and Winston has a privately-owned paranormal research center staffed by Dr. Lars Pinfield (James Acaster) and his assistant, Lucky Domingo (Celeste O'Connor).  Not sure what Peter (Murray) is doing in retirement but he appears briefly to administer a parapsychological evaluation on Nadeem Razmaadi (Kuymail Nanjiani).  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman and directed by Kenan, the film opens in 1904 when New York City firefighters find over 30 people frozen to death in a gentleman's club and there is this mysterious orb that seems to have something to do with that.

Now in the present day, Nadeem Razmaadi (Nanjiani), a rather sleazy huckster, comes into Ray's shop to sell some old items that belonged to his grandmother.  Okay, you guessed it.  It's that same orb we just saw in the opening scene and that, my friends, is the crux of the movie.  The orb houses a very, very bad ancient god who wants to turn the world to ice and our Ghostbusters, old and new, have to figure out how to destroy it.

There is a side story about Phoebe meeting another young woman, Melody (Emily Alyn Lind), while playing chess with herself in Central Park.  Melody just so happens to be a ghost trying to get to the other side to be with her family, and Nadeem turns out to have some pyrokinetic powers and both of those characters will play pivotal roles in the finale when they all meet up with Garraka, an evil entity who had been enslaved in the orb.

So, 40 years later did this reboot do justice to the OG movie?  Was it worth seeing?

Well, let me focus on the positive first...what I liked.

The opening chase scene was fun, I like Paul Rudd and I LOVE Kumail Nanjiani. I laugh just looking at his reactions to things and his dry delivery. The young characters are engaging and it's always a treat to see the OG Ghostbusters again along with Annie Potts, who have more to do this time than they did in "Afterlife," except for Potts. The special effects were also good - those gross, gooey ghosts are fun - and I love the scenes in the New York Public Library and Patton Oswald as a librarian. We librarians need to be in the movies!

What I didn't like:

Plot holes, too many "huh?" moments, it dragged in the middle, and it wasn't that funny, though I will say I did chuckle a few times, which is more than I can say about the many comedies I have watched over the last couple of years. I could also have done without the shushing ghost librarian in the library.  People, librarians no longer shush people! I was hoping to see more of Bill Murray. Murray's appearance was too brief but not surprising since he was never particularly interested in the reboots. And I can't believe I am saying this, but I was really hoping the iconic theme song would have shown up during the movie instead of at the end. Speaking of the end, there is a bit of an epilogue but you will have to sit through quite a bit of the end credits to see it.

All in all, better than the ones that came after the original, but, of course, nothing can reach the iconic status of the original.  That first one made a huge impact on us younguns in the 80's and as I always say about sequels...let us remember that great first one.  But it was good to see the OGs again. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you can ignore the plot holes, it was entertaining...ish. And remember, for your movie reviews, who you gonna call? (In theatres)

Society of the Snow (La sociedad de la Nieve) (2023)

Dramatization of the aftermath of the 1972 plane crash that stranded a Uruguayan rugby team in the Andes.

Nominated this year for an Oscar for Best International Feature, this Spanish film is an enactment of the true story of the plane crash of the Uruguayan rugby team headed for Chile and what they had to do to survive.  It attempts to explain how that plane crash might have happened in a harrowing scene just fifteen minutes into the film when the plane hits a mountain peak, breaks apart and skids to a landing upside down in a remote part of the Andes. There were 45 passengers and crew, nine died on impact.  The survivors make it through the freezing night only to be faced with the magnitude of their situation. They are in the middle of nowhere and miles from civilization.  Over the next two hours we watch as 20 more die until only 16 survive. And those of you who remember this international incident, know that cannibalism played a role in the survival of those 16 people.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, who cowrote the script with Bernat Vilaplana and Jaime Marques, and based on the 2009 book of the same name by Uruguayan journalist Pablo Vierci, this is a more personal and detailed take on the event than the film "Alive," which was based on the book by Piers Paul Read that was written two years after the event and had more of a reportage slant. Also based on the stories of the actual survivors, this film tries to get to the heart of what was going on inside of the survivors.

Seen through the eyes of Numa Turcatti (Enzo Vogrincic), a member of the rugby team on board the plane, we see him and the others survive two avalanches, freezing temperatures and lack of food for two months and what lead them to make the difficult decisions they made.

This was a shocking incident that has since inspired similar films like "Alive" and TV series like "Yellowjackets" and "The Wilds," but this film does this fateful event justice, treating it with respect (each person's death is noted with their name), focusing not just on the sensational elements but also on the compassion and humanity that took place, but, be warned.  It is sometimes difficult to watch. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...perhaps too long and perhaps too grim for some, but it asks the question - what would you do? Would you be able to do what you had to do to survive? (Netflix - in Spanish with English subtitles) 

And now on a lighter note -

Falling for Figaro (2020)

Millie Cantwell, an American fund manager living in London, moves to the Scottish Highlands to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer.

Millie (Danielle McDonald)  quits her job and leaves her boyfriend in London and heads to a small Scottish village to train with ex-diva, Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (Joanna Lumley)  in order to compete in the "Singer of Renown" contest.  She gives herself a year to prepare. However, there are some obstacles.

One of them is Jeoffrey-Bishop  herself who is, how shall I put this?  Less than encouraging? She tells Millie that some people say an opera singer needs to suffer and Meghan plans to make Millie suffer and she does with her diatribes and biting comments.  Millie also has to deal with Max (Hugh Skinner), who is one of Meghan's students...well, her only other one, and he is almost a surrogate son, who doesn't want Meghan concentrating on anyone else.  He has tried to win the "Singer of Renown" contest several times and has always been a runner up.  So he is not happy about the competition, not just for Meghan's attention but for the contest itself. And then there is The Filthy Pig Pub with its gruff landlord (Gary Lewis), its lack of amenities and nosy villagers. But Millie is determined to follow her dream. Will she make it?

Rom-com tropes are in evidence here. Two young people meeting and hating each other on sight but then, well, you know.  Giving up everything to follow a dream. A love triangle. Obstacles. A beautiful landscape and a village full of eccentric people inexplicably interested in opera and rooting for our hero and heroine. And a happy ending.

In case you think McDonald is a newbie, you would be wrong.  She has starred as Patti in "Patticake$" as well as in "Dumplin" and "Bird Box" and the TV series "The Tourist."  It's refreshing to see a successful actress who looks like a regular woman.

Written by Ben Lewin and Allen Palmer and directed by Lewis, this is an Australian-British collaboration and both countries are great at producing small but charming films, and this is that and more with wonderful performances by Aussie Danielle McDonald (her American accent is perfect) and that actress of renown, Joanna Lumley.

Rosy the Reviewer helps if you love opera (which I do), because there is a lot of it here, but you don't have to love opera to enjoy this film. You will love the acting, the feelgood moments and the beautiful Scottish countryside. (Netflix)

***Book of the Week***

Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My 40 Something Years in Hollywood” by Ed Zwick.

Director Zwick shares his award-winning career in this candid and self-deprecating memoir.

Co-creator of the ABC family drama “thirtysomething” when he was appropriately in his 30’s, he went on to a movie career, directing such films as “About Last Night” (1986), “Glory” (1989), “Legends of the Fall” (1994), “The Last Samurai” and others. He also was a producer for “Shakespeare in Love,” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.
Starting out in the theatre, when he got his break in TV and movies, he had to learn the difference, especially when it came to directing actors. Director Sydney Pollack mentored him and Zwick shares his ups and downs as he climbed the cinematic ladder. The book is punctuated with lists of directorial advice and what he has learned – e.g. “Ten Tips From Long Lunches With Sydney [Pollack],” “Eight Helpful Hints For Young Directors,” “Ten Things Every Director Needs To Know,” and “Ten Tall Tales From The Makeup Chair.”
Zwick also takes the reader behind-the-scenes of “thirtysomething” and his many films, with no-holds barred when it comes to revealing funny and sometimes not very complimentary observations about the actors and others he has worked with, such as directing Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington and working with Harvey Weinstein. And can you imagine Julia Roberts and Daniel Day Lewis in “Shakespeare in Love?” He also shares Hollywood anecdotes, such as director Frank Pierson’s reply when asked what it was like to direct Barbra Streisand in the 1976 version of “A Star is Born” – “I wouldn’t know.” Lol

Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like fun and revealing Hollywood memoirs, you will enjoy this but his insights into directing will also appeal to film students and filmmakers alike. (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)!

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Getting Ready for the 2024 Oscars, Part 2: "American Fiction" and "Poor Things"

[I review the last two movies I needed to see to be Oscar Ready: "American Fiction" and "Poor Things"]

American Fiction (2023)

An African American professor/novelist whose books haven't sold and who is fed up with best sellers that stereotype the black experience as one filled with drug dealers, rappers and poor single moms, changes course, and under a pen name, decides to write his own book - filled with black drug dealers, rappers and poor single moms. But, hey, it's a joke! But, much to his chagrin, it turns into a best seller!

This is a smart movie on several different levels. 

First of all, what some fail to realize is that the so-called "black experience" runs the gamut.  Yes, there are rappers, drug dealers and people living in poverty, but there are also many African American upper middle class people who are doctors and lawyers and know little about rappers, drug dealers and poverty.  And that is the world that Thelonious "Monk" Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) grew up in.  

Monk is a professor in Los Angeles whose novels have been awarded praise but none have been best sellers, and recently he can't even get published because his books are not "black enough."  And to add insult to injury, he is given a temporary leave of absence from his job because he is upsetting his students over racial issues. So he heads home to Boston to spend some time with his family and to take part in a literary seminar where, after low attendance at his panel, he discovers Sintara Golden (Issa Rae), whose new best-selling book about poor, black single mothers - "We's Lives in Da Ghetto" - has drawn huge attendance to her book reading. Ironically, like Monk, Golden, even though her book is about poor, single mothers, grew up middle class and privileged.

Disgusted, Monk pens a send-up, to show what black writers are burdened with, having to write about the "black experience" as one filled with bad English, violence, and drugs. He names the book "My Pafology" and uses the pen name Stagg R. Leigh and gives this new persona a criminal record. It was a joke!  But wouldn't you know, he is offered a $750,000 advance and a movie deal.  Again, disgusted, he demands that the title be changed to "F**k."  Surely that will scupper the deal.  Nope.  

Now we are on to level number two - family, where we are reminded that no matter what your color, there is drama and Monk's family is no exception.  His mother, Agnes (Leslie Uggams), is showing signs of dementia; his brother, Cliff (Sterling K. Brown), who is a plastic surgeon, is divorced and has come out as gay, now abusing drugs and alcohol; and his sister, Lisa (Tracee Ellis Ross), also a doctor, has issues. Neither sibling can help Monk care for their mother, so with Monk on his own, facing the financial responsibility of finding their mother a care facility, the book and movie deals for his so-called joke of a book are very tempting.

Now, buttoned-up and professorial, Monk, is stuck with impersonating a thug with a criminal history, and to make matters worse, his book is submitted for a literary award and he is one of the judges, so now he has to judge his own book!

And then we have level three - this film is also a commentary on what is being published these days, the junk so many of us read, especially books that pander to white people stereotypes of life in the "hood." I know, it's judgy, but there is some merit to that.  Monk has written intellectual books to appeal to smart people, regardless of color, but his books don't sell because the public wants something easy and fast, something they can relate to even if it reinforces stereotypes, which in turn, forces black writers to write what sells.

Needless to say, this is a satire and very funny, but not without lots to think about.  

Jeffrey Wright is wonderful as Monk and deserving of his 2024 Best Actor Oscar nomination. Sterling K. Brown was a surprise and has earned my respect.  His uptight character in "This is Us" irritated the hell out of me, so I am glad I am able to give him another chance as he plays against that character as the "out of the closet," drug-using, "I don't give a damn," Cliff.  He, too, has been rewarded with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Erika Alexander as Monk's love interest and Myra Lucretia Taylor as Lorraine, the family's loyal housekeeper, add to this engaging ensemble. And good to see Leslie Uggams, who looks wonderful. Hard to believe she is old enough to be playing Monk's mother, a woman struggling with dementia.  

Fun fact: Speaking of Leslie Uggams, when accepting an award from her at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Wright couldn't help but reveal his longtime crush on her - “I've had a crush on you since the first day I saw you, mother. Who did not?”  Awww...

Adapted by Cord Jefferson from the novel "Erasure" by Percival Everett (Jefferson's adaption also has an Oscar nomination) and directed by Jefferson, this film forces us all to face our stereotyping, shines a light on the roadblocks that black people in the creative community often must navigate and reminds us that no matter what our race, we all share many commonalities.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a smart, grown-up film for smart, grown-up people. (In theatres - streaming soon on Apple+) 

Poor Things (2023)

A new take on the Frankenstein's monster story.

I am going to warn you right now.  If you loved this movie, you will not like my review because I decidedly did NOT love this movie, nor did I even like it, so if my criticisms of the film will make you mad, best to stop reading now.

But, anyway, before I get into all of that, here is some background.

Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) lives with Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe).  She calls him God and you soon find out the reason why, a rather obvious film nod to his skills of bringing back the dead. Bella, before she was Bella, when she was a sad and heavily pregnant other women, had jumped off a bridge and killed herself but was saved by Baxter when he transplanted the brain of her still alive unborn baby into her. Now Bella is a full-grown woman with the brain of a baby. You learn Baxter likes to do those kinds of experiments when you notice the chicken with the pig's head, the goose with a bulldog head, and the goat with a duck head wandering around the house. Yes, there are some laughs to be had in this film. A few.

And if Dr. Baxter's face is any indication, he appears to have come by this penchant naturally as his father also liked to experiment.  He has the face of Frankenstein's monster, all scarred and stitched up. Baxter hires Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef), a young doctor, to work with Bella and observe her because in the end she is an experiment. God wants to know how her brain will progress. God keeps Bella close and even suggests that Max marry Bella, though he must agree to stay with him in the house forever.  Max agrees because he has feelings for Bella.

But then, Bella meets Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), an arrogant rake, who whisks her off on an adventure.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Bella is already addicted to masturbation and sex (she calls it "furious jumping") and Duncan is not averse to having sex several times a day, so it's a good match until Bella finds her way and matures and he loses control of her.  His frail masculinity is wounded. So Bella continues to mature and find herself until the movie finally ends (thank god) with a derivative ending reminiscent of the movie "Freaks."

So a case could be made for this film having a feminist message. Based on the novel by Alasdair Gray and adapted by Tony McNamara, it's about loss of innocence, how a woman goes from a child to embarking on a journey to find herself and eventually shedding herself from male dominance and control and becoming her true self.  I usually like movies like that, but sadly how it was presented overshadowed any deep message.  The film was too much in my face all of the time - masturbation, sex, full nudity, body parts being removed, blood and guts. I know it was supposed to be funny and surreal, but sitting in the theatre, I felt like I was in a Dali painting and I was the melting watch!

I can appreciate originality, good acting, beautiful production design and great cinematography (though the switching from black and white to color and back again was confusing as was the views from a fish eye lens and just seemed a bit indulgent).  I also like films with a message, which this film has, but it all has to add up to an enjoyable movie experience for me, and sadly, it was not. All of those good things I mentioned were overshadowed by overindulgence, shock value and just plain nuttiness.  I am sick of nutty movies. Don't get me started on "Everything, Everywhere All At Once."

And to continue my rant, I would like to comment on Emma Stone's Best Actress Oscar nomination for this (she has already won a Best Actress Golden Globe) and Margot Robbie's Oscar snub for "Barbie."  Emma basically played a two-year old for the first half of the movie and Margot played a doll come to life. Similar mental states, I would say.  Though Emma is an excellent actress, I just did not believe her in this role.  Her performance screamed of "Look at me, I'm a two year old!" She walked around stiff-legged, masturbated with an apple, talked funny and took a pee on the floor, all things I guess a two-year-old would do, but I didn't buy it.  I don't like it when I can tell an actor is acting. It did get better as her character matured, but I was already over it.  As for Margot as Barbie.  I believed and enjoyed every minute of her performance. Yet Emma received an Oscar nod and Margot did not. End of rant.

On the other hand, lest you think I can't find anything good here, Mark Ruffalo was quite wonderful and played against the usual brooding dark souls he plays.  His Duncan was a dark soul but a funny one. Dafoe and Youssef were also good. And the film is worthy of its Oscar nods for makeup and costume.

Speaking of Oscar nods, I know this film has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director (Yorgos Lanthimos, who was also nominated for a Best Director Oscar for "The Favourite" in 2019), and more, so I guess perhaps I am not the best judge of nutty movies. I mean, look what happened with "Everything, Everywhere All at Once." I really disliked that one, too, and said so, yet it went on to win seven Oscars including Best Picture.  I think I was the only person who didn't like that movie, and it looks like I am the only person who didn't like this one.  So does that mean my bad review of this one clinches a Best Picture win for it?  I hope not, but even if it does win, that changes nothing for me. Didn't like "Everything, Everywhere All at Once," and I really didn't like this one.

Rosy the Reviewer says..."Frankenstein" meets "Freaks" kind of sums it up for me.  Not an enjoyable experience. (In theatres)

There you have it.  I have now seen all of the movies nominated for Best Picture that I could find in the theatres or streaming.  As we get closer to Oscar Night - March 10 - more films might become available.  I will keep you posted.  Until then...

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)!