Showing posts with label Sports Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sports Movies. Show all posts

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Rosy the Reviewer reviews some movies you might not know about: "Spencer," "King Richard" and "CODA"

[I review the Princess Diana biopic "Spencer" as well as "King Richard" and "CODA,"  all new movies that have some Golden Globe nominations for either Best Picture or for acting kudos]

Spencer (2021)

A biopic about Princess Diana.

As a huge Princess Diana fan, I paid the $19.98 to Amazon Prime (also available On Demand) to have early access to this film.  It's in theatres, too, so I figured that's what it would cost for Hubby and me to see it if we went out.  I also thought the film would be worth the price of a ticket just to see Kristen Stewart smile.  Think about it.  When have you ever seen her smile?  Well, she didn't here, either.  Or maybe once.

But Stewart did a good job of portraying Diana over the course of a Christmas weekend at Sandringham.  I wish I could say the same about the film itself portraying Diana. 

This is not a flattering portrait of Diana.

It begins in 1991 with Diana driving her car to Sandringham, the royal estate in eastern England where the family likes to spend Christmas.  Fittingly, Diana actually grew up on the estate as a young girl before her father became Earl and moved to Althorp.  This is all hinted at in the film, but if you didn't know that about her, you would either miss those references or scratch your head and wonder what the heck was that all about - her going in the night to see her old house. In these early scenes, Diana comes off as a bit of a flibbertigibbet and, yes, this film depicts a time toward the end of her marriage to Prince Charles when things were coming off the rails, but I didn't appreciate this film making her look completely nuts, which she wasn't. 

The truth of the matter was that Diana was a 19-year-old virgin, chosen to marry the 30-something-year-old Prince Charles who needed to mend his bachelor ways and settle down.  She loved him, he didn't love her.  When they were first engaged and asked by reporters if they were in love, Diana replied "Of course."  Charles nodded and said something like "Whatever in love means."  Right there, I knew she was in trouble. Despite some years where they appeared to be happy as they raised their two sons, Charles was actually in love with someone else the whole time and Diana knew it.  So that would drive me crazy too, which being in her shoes myself, it kind of did (yes, that happened to me, but I wasn't married to a prince).

To make matters worse, over the course of this one weekend, I repeat one, that was depicted in the film, Diana runs the gamut of everything we heard she went through over the entire course of her 15-year marriage: bulimia, hanging out downstairs in the kitchen and stuffing herself with food, wandering around the estate at night, trying to throw herself down the stairs, her paranoia.  On and on. But then the filmmakers really lost me when she is depicted breaking her pearl necklace at dinner and trying to eat it, I said, "What the hell?" I also couldn't help but ask myself, "What was the point of making this film?" To make Diana look bad? And what was the point of the title?

I know, the film was going back and forth between fantasy and reality to show Diana unraveling in the stultifying atmosphere of the royal family. I get that, but it just went from one crazy act to another.  Fifteen years of marriage bundled into two hours.  It was just too much.

After the weekend ends and we have endured a tedious two hours of Diana-bashing, she drives off with her sons and there is some sort of rapproachment where it appears she is finally going to find herself and become independent, which I guess is where the title came in. When asked at a KFC drive through (though, god help me, why KFC?  One more insult to Diana), who the order was for, she answers "Spencer."  But too little too late. 

This is also one of those films that does everything in real time.  Diana is going to walk down the hall?  Well, she walks...down...the...hall. To make matters worse, the soundtrack was annoying, like fingernails on a chalkboard, and veteran actors Sally Hawkins and Timothy Spall were wasted here.  

When I first heard that Kristin Stewart was going to play Diana, I didn't see it at all, but if you are going to make a film about a very unhappy time in Princess Diana's life, then Stewart was a good choice because no one does scowling like she does.  And that iconic Diana hairstyle helped a lot. Stewart actually looked like her.  Her acting was fine (she is nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance)  and her accent was even okay, but let's just say, I am sure Diana smiled much more than Stewart did here, even when her life was in shambles.

So Kristen Stewart wasn't the problem I had with this movie.

Written by Steven Knight and directed by Pablo Larrain, if I didn't know better, I would think this film was backed by the royal family themselves to show what they had to put up with and to justify their actions.  Though beautifully produced and well-acted, there was just no context to what led up to how nutty Diana was acting in this film. Yes, there were some snippets of a lonely little child (Diana's mother ran off with another man) and Diana's need for love but all of that was so fleeting, if you didn't already know her story, it certainly wouldn't justify this characterization of her. The filmmakers probably thought they could get off the hook with all of the liberties they took with Diana's story by stating at the outset that this film is a "fable."  But I'm not letting them.  This was a horror story.

And what makes me the most mad is this: 

Remember, Diana died almost 25 years ago.  There is a whole generation of people who probably don't really know the details of Diana's life, what she went through, how she overcame it and the good that she did.   Princess Diana was a young woman who was fed to the royal lions at age 19, eventually found herself and became an advocate for those who couldn't speak for themselves. But this movie shows nothing of that and paints a very negative portrait of her and I can't stand to think of her remembered this way. So I didn't appreciate this very dark portrayal of a dead woman who can't now speak for herself.

Rosy the Reviewer says...can you tell that this movie made me really mad? It was a huge disappointment.  Save your money. 

King Richard (2021)

How Venus and Serena Williams rose to the highest echelons of the tennis world – because their dad Richard Williams, had a plan for them even before they were born.
This is a biopic done right, and it’s also Will Smith as you have never seen him. If you didn’t know it was Will Smith, I would bet you would not recognize him here playing Venus and Serena's Dad, Richard Williams, a man who had a plan for his daughters and who carried it out. He transforms himself and is just wonderful.
And speaking of Richard Williams, think about it, this guy was an African American with five daughters living in Compton, California in the 1990’s. His wife worked as a nurse by day, he worked security by night and spent all of his free time working with his daughters, keeping them focused, prepping them to win at tennis, up until then, predominantly a sport for white people who could afford the country club. He was a controversial figure who faced racism and barriers but, he had an unwavering plan. His motto: “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail” and he instilled that in his daughters.
With a screenplay by Zach Baylin and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, this is also a great sports movie with lots of tennis footage, but you don’t need to like tennis to love this movie, but if you are a tennis fan, you will love it even more. And the epilogue will make you cry.

Smith is joined by an outstanding ensemble cast highlighted by performances by Aunjanue Ellis in a small but pivotal role as Richard's wife and Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as Venus and Serena respectively. It all adds up to a wonderful film experience not to be missed.
Rosy the Reviewer says…Just an extraordinary performance by Will who doesn't often get props for his acting. This time he has been rewarded with a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination. I expect that the Academy will also recognize him. This should be on your list of Must Sees!
(In theatres and on HBO Max)

CODA (2021)

A young hearing teen, whose family is deaf, is torn between caring for her family and striking out on her own.

Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a CODA, a Child of Deaf Adults. Her parents Frank (Troy Kotsur) and Jackie (Marlee Matlin) are both deaf as is her brother, Leo (Daniel Durant), and as the only hearing member of her family, interpreting their sign language for others is one of her main duties. The family lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts and Frank and Leo are both fisherman. It's a hardscrabble life as prices for their fish go lower and lower. But they are a close-knit, loving family. As for Ruby, she is a high school student and we learn that she was bullied as a child because "she talked like a deaf person," which makes sense if she didn't have speech role models who were hearing people. She has some insecurities and is still being bullied by the "mean girls," but Ruby is slowly starting to literally find. her voice. She joins the high school glee club where she is befriended by the music teacher (Eugenio Derbez), who though he employs tough love to his students and is not easily impressed, he thinks Ruby has talent and encourages her to apply to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

So that's the plan until the family fishing business takes a hit.

When the family realizes that the fishermen are being taken advantage of by big business, they strike out on their own and form a fishing co-op, but then Ruby's father and brother are busted by the Coast Guard, because they are not supposed to be out on the boat without a hearing person - and they face losing the business unless Ruby stays home and continues to act as the ears of the family and ride with her father and brother on the boat. Ruby has a beautiful singing voice and wants to go to college and develop her talent. But her parents need her to be their voice. They don't want her to go. What to do, what to do, when you are a caring, loving, responsible girl?

Let's just say there is lots and lots of family guilt aimed at Ruby. But then her brother gives her a pep talk. Remember that scene in "Good Will Hunting," where Ben Affleck tells Matt Damon if he doesn't get out of the town and make something of himself, he's a pussy? Well, this is like that and, thus, there is another kind of coda at work here, the musical one and the figurative one that marks a conclusion...a happy Ruby's very moving college audition that will make you cry.

Based on the 2014 French comedy "La Famille Belier" and adapted and directed by Sian Heder, this is a fairly predictable coming-of-age tale. A kid has a dream but has to choose between the dream and (you fill in the blanks).


Despite the predictability of the plot, the film is saved by the charm of lead actress Jones and her co-stars who are all deaf actors in real life and the insight this film provides into a story you don't see or hear much about - a deaf family, a young hearing girl with lives in two different worlds - the deaf world and the hearing world - and the profound love and respect among the family members, despite their differences. It's all very real. The family may be deaf but they share the same concerns and issues as everyone else.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a satisfying film marked by a wonderful, real story and wonderful real performances. Recently nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture-Drama, this charming and heart-warming film already has 53 other nominations and 21 wins. It's a must!
(Now streaming on Apple+)


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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)!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kevin Costner Sports Movies and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie version of "Jersey Boys," the DVDs "At Middleton," "Gloria" and Neil Jordan's "Byzantium" and P.J. O'Rourke's new book "The Baby Boom."]

But First

I am not a sports person. 

Probably because I wasn't very good at sports.  In fact, I was terrible.

It might have been that I had a sister who was a tennis wunderkind who became a tennis professional.  I wasn't a natural at sports.  My sister used to call me a "Motor Moron."
Then I met Hubby who was a sports junkie.
Add to that a son who excelled at every sport, and I was doomed.

I have been to more sporting events starring my son than I dare count.

But my niche was the theatre, and I had a few moments of stardom doing that, and that is still one of my many interests, along with movies, of course.

But it takes someone or something special to get me to watch a sports movie. 

Well, let's go with the someone.

And that someone is Kevin Costner. 

He has that guy's guy quality that appeals to men, and he appeals to women...let's just say the sport I enjoyed watching him play the most was the first time I took notice of him in the film, "No Way Out."

First there was the white navy dress uniform and then there was that thing in the back seat of the cab with Sean Young. Yowza.

If you haven't seen that film, see it and you will know what I mean.  And this was way before Sean Young went round the bend.


I saw him in person once playing in the A T & T golf tournament at Pebble Beach.  There he was in head-to-toe Armani looking just fabulous.  I think I might have yelled, "You look fabulous!" at him.  Not sure, but he looked my way and looked mighty fine.

But Kevin has evolved from pretty boy sex object to a serious actor and for some reason he is synonymous with many of our greatest sports movies.  There are those who speculate about why that is,  but I think it's his cool demeanor under pressure and his just plain likability that makes him perfect for sports films.  He has also perfected playing the washed-up guy who triumphs.

I agree with Tim Grierson in his article on Costner in "The Concourse," when he says,

"There is something reassuring about Costner's presence—rugged but familiar—that's akin to the return of your favorite sport each year. We take pleasure from it, we know what to expect from it, and we take it for granted, always knowing it's going to be there. We tend to get a little too sentimental about our connection to our favorite sport or favorite team—it's not just grown men playing a game, it has to mean something—and at his best, Costner seems to embody this tendency. He's all aging masculine dignity and sappy sincerity, like a Cialis commercial imbued with the sepia tones of a Ken Burns retrospective."

Here they are:
Rosy the Reviewer says... well, this isn't one of the greatest sports movies, but it was Kevin's first, a poignant story of bicycle racing, sibling rivalry and father issues.  It bombed.  But it was the beginning.
Bull Durham (1988)
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is the classic baseball film that brought Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins together.  Robbins may have gotten the girl in real life, but Kevin gets the girl here and his leading man status was assured, especially when he uttered the famous line to Sarandon  "I believe in long, slow, soft, deep wet kisses that last three days... Good night." 
Some believe this is the best sports film ever made.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this classic tearjerker film just celebrated its 25th Anniversary on June 14th with a big shindig on the movie site.  Fathers and sons were there as was Costner and other members of the cast.  Ray Kinsella is a struggling farmer with Daddy issues.  Then he hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his field (his Dad loved baseball). Who can forget the classic line "If you build it, he will come." Few men can avoid tears at the end when Ray asks his Dad if he wants to have a catch. 

And who can resist a movie that makes men cry?

Tin Cup (1996)
Rosy the Reviewer says...a washed up pro-golfer tries to win the U.S. Open. You can see right away where this is going to go, but this is actually a good film that has been underrated.  

By the way, whatever happened to Renee Russo?
Rosy the Reviewer says...Billy Chapel, a major league pitcher, finds himself at the end of his career with one last game to play.  As it plays out, the game itself becomes a metaphor for Billy's life.  

Again, you can see where this is headed, but Kevin makes it real. 

Draft Day (2014)
Rosy the Reviewer says...Our hero has one day to put together the perfect football team.

I said it all here in an earlier blog.

So I hope this inspires you to check out some or all of these films and glory in all that is Kevin (as I do).
What do you think is the greatest sports film?

Now since I have said such nice things about you,

Kevin, call me!

Now on to 
 The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres Now***

Jersey Boys

This is the story of Frankie Valli and the forming and storming of the musical group The Four Seasons.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stays true to its stage play roots.  Characters break "the fourth wall" and talk directly to the audience, many of the actors are from the stage version and the ending credits start with a recreation of a curtain call.

But the film has the added benefit of allowing us to get up close and personal with the characters and their stories.  Frankie (John Lloyd Young, who starred in the play version), is the good teen who falls in with the wrong crowd.  Tommy (Vincent Piazza) is an amoral hustler and serious Nick (Michael Lomenda, (who is also reprising his Broadway role and making his film debut) just wants to get along.  All three try to make it as a trio, but it's not until Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) introduces them to Bob Gaudio (Eric Bergen, from the "Jersey Boys" touring company), who has written some songs.  Bob plays the group his song "Sherry" and The Four Seasons are born.

Rumor has it that this is the sanitized version of Frankie Valli's story, but it's still a good story. 

A young Frankie hangs out with some two-bit hoods, but makes an impression on Gyp, one of the mob's kingpins, when he sings his favorite song, "My Mother's Eyes," an incredibly mawkish song that is Gyp's favorite.  The mobster played by Christopher Walken gives him a marker for future use. 

Frankie uses it to save Tommy from gangsters who want the money he owes them, but it ultimately tears the group apart.  Frankie, on his own, takes on Tommy's debt, works every club he can until he hits it big with "Can't Take my Eyes Off You," and then tragedy hits. The group is eventually reunited at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Young's voice is uncanny as Frankie and he does a good job of aging from a 16-year-old to the middle-aged Frankie.  The other actors are also convincing.  Clint has done a great job of bringing this Tony Award-winning musical to the big screen and pays due respect to this iconic group.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you loved the Broadway musical, will you love this film?  Yes.  If you didn't see the play version, will you like this film?  Yes.  If you don't like musicals, will you like this film?  Yes.  It stands on its own as a great biopic.

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

At Middleton (2013)


Two parents, Edith and George, meet on a college tour with their kids and go off together and have a "moment."

This film is a sort of modern day "Brief Encounter," but not nearly as captivating and memorable as that classic film.

It's difficult to believe these two helicopter parents would wander off and leave their kids to their own devices.  They have some adventures together due to the "adventurous" Audrey, such as stealing some bikes and climbing a clock tower (George is afraid of heights), but the biggest stretch for the viewer is the improv class they happen upon.  They are asked to participate and they reveal their deepest feelings to each other -- and the entire class!

I usually enjoy slow-moving two-person character studies like the "Before" series, especially ones that focus on mature adults instead of teenagers, but this just went too slow and had too many plot elements that were unbelievable.  I found myself fast-forwarding the remote.  The end was predictable but touching, but by then it was too late.

Vera Farmiga is a wonderful actress, but her character here is irritating. I really dislike those forced "free spirit" types.  It's nice to see Andy Garcia again and he is convincing as an uptight heart surgeon, bow-tie and all.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you or your child went to Gonzaga, you might like this (it's filmed on that campus), but otherwise, it's a snooze.


Gloria  (2013)


Here is what it's like to be a divorced woman of a certain age in Santiago, Chile.  Well, if you are Gloria, it is.

Gloria lives alone, works a 9-5 job and goes to clubs at night to meet and dance with men.  She meets Rodolpho and they have an affair.  Rodolpho is separated from his wife but it's clear that he is still tied to his wife two daughters and this interferes with the relationship.

Paulina Garcia plays Gloria and she is a wonder to behold.   She is a nice but ordinary looking middle-aged woman who wears glasses, but she is mesmerizing in her portrayal of a lonely woman who loves life and wants to live it fully.  Despite being lonely, Gloria engages in life:  she sings in her car on the way to work, dances by herself at clubs, is friendly with her ex-husband and loves her children.  When she meets Rodolpho, there is hope for a new chapter and she gives herself in to it.  When all does not go as planned, she takes her revenge.

It is refreshing to see mature romance and director Sebastian Lelio pulls no punches when it comes to the sex scenes - it's all there, rolls of fat and all.

It is amazing how Garcia is able to carry this film, which is subtle and realistic, but she makes you really care about Gloria.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A must see for Garcia's remarkable performance (sub-titles).

Byzantium (2012)


A couple of British vampires get together and make a bloody mess.

Ever since "The Crying Game," I have been a huge fan of Director Neil Jordan. I even remember the person who told me the ending (you know who you are, Lois).  He has written and directed some great films since - "Michael Collins," "The End of the Affair" and written and directed several episodes of "The Borgias," but here he misses the mark.  Maybe that's the problem.  He should have written this one.

It starts out well with a strange man confronting our heroines Eleanor (the remarkable Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton).  We don't know anything about them yet but as the film progresses, we see more and more of their history and how they ended up as immortals. 

During the Napoleonic Wars, Clara is seduced by a soldier and forced into prostitution.  She gives birth to Eleanor and places her in a convent to save her life, secretly visiting her. Through a series of events, Clara becomes a vampire and part of a secret society of vampires called "The Brethren" and because she is a prostitute, the other Brethren think she is not worthy and hunt her down to kill her. In the meantime, in present day, Eleanor gets sick so Clara must once again save her, this time by turning her into a vampire. Eleanor meets a boy who also get sick...well, yada yada yada.  It goes on and on and gets worse and worse. 

The cinematography is typical moody Jordan and all is well until about the second half when it all falls apart.

This reminded me a bit of "The Hunger," except these ladies turn out to be mother and daughter, not lesbians.  If they had been lesbians, it might have been more interesting.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like vampires, you might like this, but if you are expecting a film worthy of Neil Jordan's reputation, this isn't it.


***Book of the Week***

The Baby Boom:  How It Got That Way And It Wasn't My Fault And I'll Never Do It Again (2014) by P.J. O'Rourke
Humorist O'Rourke uses his usual wry sense of humor to talk about and make fun of "The Baby Boom Generation," of which he is also a member.
O'Rourke takes us through all of the social mores peculiar to the Baby Boomer generation.
The book begins with "We are the generation that changed everything.  Of all the eras and epochs of Americans, ours is the one that made the biggest impression - on ourselves."
"There are some things the Baby Boom has done that we're not proud of.  We used up all the weird.  It has always been the special prerogative of youth to look and act strange, to alarm and surprise our elders with peculiar dress and manners.  But the Baby Boom exhausted the available supply of peculiar.  Weire clothes, we wore them.  Weird beards, we grew them.  Weird words and phrases, we said them.  Weird attitudes, we had them.  Thus when it came time for the next generation to alarm and surprise us with their peculiarities they were compelled to pierce their extremities and permanently ink their exposed flesh.  That must have hurt. We apologize."
"The world is our fault.  We are the generation that has an excuse for everything --one of our greatest contributions to modern life-but the world is still our fault.  This is every generation's fate.  It's a matter of power and privilege demography.  Whenever anything happens anywhere, somebody over fifty signs the bill for it.  And the Baby Boom, seated as we are at the head of life's table, is hearing Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennials all saying, "Check, please!"
We are the generation that heard our parents wonder if the automatic dryer would send the electric bill "through the roof," that used to write letters and people used to "drop over" unannounced.  There were rules:  everybody outdoors on nice days, no crossing busy streets, come when you're called for dinner and everybody home when the street lights go on.
Then everything went to hell when the Vietnam War started.
It's interesting to note that many of the icons of the Baby Boom generation were not Baby Boomers at all.  Mick Jagger was born in 1943, Ken Kesey in 1935, Malcolm X in 1925, Bob Dylan 1941 and Gloria Steinem in 1934.  We really aren't the generation of the Beatles, Black Power and Women's Liberation.  He points out that perhaps Donovan (1946) and Twiggy (1949) were the actual sixties scene makers.
Our last youthful exuberance was Punk which then gave way to Generation X's Goth, as he points out a subtle shift from "fuck you" to "I'm fucked."
We unleashed the "safety hysteria" where if you buy a ladder it is so festooned with stickers warning you of the dangers the only one missing is one that says "Don't step on ladder." 
Rosy the Reviewer says...every Baby Boomer will find something here to laugh about. 
That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Retirement - One Year Later:
A Retired Baby Boomer Reflects on What She's Learned So Far"


Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at

Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.

Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).
If I reviewed a movie, you can now find my reviews there too.
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."