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

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Now Playing in a Living Room Near You! - "Unfrosted," "The Idea of You," "Argylle" and "The Zone of Interest."

[I review the new Jerry Seinfeld movie "Unfrosted," now playing on Netflix as well as the May-December love story "The Idea of You," now playing on Amazon Prime, the spy spoof, "Argylle," now playing on Apple+ and a 2024 Best Picture nominee "Zone of Interest," now playing on Max]


Unfrosted (2024)

The story of the creation of Pop Tarts - well, kind of.

I had the pleasure of seeing comedian Jerry Seinfeld live on a couple of occasions and despite the fact that he avoids politics and never goes "blue," he was and is very, very funny.  Sadly, I wish I could say the same thing about his latest effort writing, directing and starring in this feature film. Though there are some funny bits, much of it falls flat.

Here's the set up.  

It's the early 60's and cereal makers Post and Kellogg's are in a bitter rivalry to be King of the Cereals. Bob Cabana (played by Jerry but not a real person) is an executive at Kellogg's and is on a mission to stay ahead of Post. It just so happens that both businesses are in the small town of Battle Creek, Michigan, which adds to the competition. So far, Kellogg's is kicking Post's butt, but then, Post comes up with a little breakfast fruit treat with a long shelf life called "Country Squares" and Kellogg's can't stand that.  They must come up with their own product, one that little kids can pop into a toaster.  And they do.  This is the Kellogg's story about Pop Tarts.

Well, let's just say, that's the only part of this story that is true and it's actually Jerry's story which is 99% fiction populated with big name comic stars, a sort of cereal manufacturing version of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

But despite all of the comedy stars in the film, the film is surprisingly unfunny most of the time.  It's very slapstick with old-fashioned schtick that made me groan more than laugh, but I did chuckle a few times. Jim Gaffigan always makes me laugh, and I enjoyed Amy Schumer as Marjorie Merriweather Post.  But Hugh Grant as Thurl Ravenscroft, a Shakespearean actor who was the real life voice of Tony the Tiger, was particularly funny, especially in a bit where he leads the Kellogg's mascots on a takeover of the Kellogg's building as the bigwigs are certifying the Pop Tarts, a funny spoof of January 6th. Likewise, another stand-out was Kyle Dunnigan who played both Walter Cronkite and Johnny Carson, though sadly those characters were probably way over the head of younger viewers as in "Who are they and why is this supposed to be funny?" 

But other than that, despite appearances by Melissa McCarthy, Christian Slater, SNL past and present cast members Mikey Day, Kyle MooneyFred ArmisenBobby Moynihan, Beck Bennett and Darrell Hammond, Max Greenfield, Cedric the Entertainer, Sebastian ManiscalcoJames Marsden, Peter Dinklage, George Wallace Dan Levy, and Jon Hamm, who of course channels "Mad Men," and other recognizable faces, the movie just wasn't that funny.

But here's the thing.  

Jerry Seinfeld has revealed that Pop Tarts changed his young life. Obviously, if he wanted to make a film about them, he is obsessed, and if he has the means to feed his obsession, then who am I to judge? He is clearly enjoying the heck out of this movie, and I rather enjoyed watching him and the others enjoy themselves.

I also have a personal angle.  

I grew up two hours from Battle Creek.  I remember a school trip or two to visit the Post and Kellogg's manufacturing plants.  And then I went to college in Kalamazoo, just a half hour from Battle Creek, so there is a little Michigan pride going on there for me.

And in case you didn't know, frosted or unfrosted Pop Tarts is a thing amongst Pop Tart aficionados.  From the title you can see where Jerry stands on that issue.

Rosy the Reviewer's 90+ minutes of positive silliness. Though not as funny as I would have liked, I could describe it as cute, so if you are in the mood for that, you might enjoy this, especially if you have kids.  Kids would love it. (Netflix)

The Idea of You (2024)

Older woman, younger man.  My kind of love story!

Solène Marchand (Anne Hathaway) is a divorced gallery owner in Los Angeles who ends up at Coachella with her teenaged daughter, Izzy (Ella Rubin) and her friends. Solene meets cute with Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), one of the members of the boy band, August Moon (she mistakes his trailer for a porta-potty), and despite the age difference they are instantly attracted.

After Coachella, Hayes tracks Solene down and shows up at her gallery and they hook up, have hot sex and enjoy a May-December love story until Solene gets outed in the press and on the Internet as a Cougar - though 40 and 24 doesn't seem that bad to me (but perhaps that's just my wishful thinking) - and she can't handle the heat, pardon the expression, and then we have the usual coming together, breaking up, coming together, yada yada yada, because whether you are 24 or 40, as Gene Pitney told us (and if you don't know who Gene Pitney is, you are probably both 24 or 40), "True love never runs smooth." 

"I'm too old for you...", no, no, yes, yes, know the drill. And then Izzy is totally embarrassed at school by her mother's relationship, forcing Solene to make a choice. She breaks up with Hayes.  Will our lovers be able to get together? C'mon. Like I said. You know the drill.

Based on the book by Robinne Lee and written by Michael Showalter (who also directed) and Jennifer Westfeldt, the plot of this film is nothing new when it comes to a romantic movie. What makes this film stand apart from the usual love stories?  Two very attractive people and giving older women some props.  Anne Hathaway is luminous on screen as a woman over 40 who is actually an object of desire. It used to be when a woman turned 40 she was invisible, especially in Hollywood. Now 40 is the new 20. (Can I ask if 75 is the new 55)? And then there is newcomer Nicolas Galitzine who made his mark in "Red, White and Royal Blue." He is a handsome fellow if ever there was one. I have always been a sucker for an English accent.  And all of the romance is punctuated with some fun boy band music.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need a little romance in your life (and some hot sex), this is a sweet little romantic getaway! (Amazon Prime)

Argylle (2024)

A reclusive author, who writes spy novels, discovers that her latest book has come to life.

Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), an introverted spy novelist, who is working on her fifth book about Aubrey Argylle (Henry Cavill), the eponymous character of her Argylle series, is saved from a mysterious altercation on a train by Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell), who identifies himself as an actual spy.  He also tells Elly about a nefarious organization called the Division, and she has been targeted because her novels appear to predict their future.  The two join forces, hoping that what Elly writes next will come up with a plan to stop the Division. In the meantime, Aidan and Elly search for a Masterkey that would help expose the Division.

A convoluted plot ensues, much like James Bond films of the past where I never knew what was going on or who was doing what to whom, but I still loved them.  Turns out, Elly has some suppressed memories and a big secret is revealed about Elly's true identity.

Written by Jason Fuchs and directed by Matthew Vaughn, this is a fun premise and a stylized spoof of spy movies with some great stunts and performances from Bryan Cranston, Richard E. Grant, Dua Lipa, John Cena and Samuel L. Jackson. And then there is Alfie, the cat.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like stylized versions of spy movie spoofs like "The Man from Uncle" or "Our Man Flint," and you can suspend disbelief for some major over-the-top goofiness, you might like this. (Apple+)

The Zone of Interest (2023)

The everyday life of Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his family as they go about their daily lives living next door to the camp.

We don't see much happening in this depiction of Rudolf Hoss (Christian Friedel), his wife, Hedwig (Sandra Huller), and their five children, as they go about their lives in 1943, enjoying their lovely home with a garden... right next door to Auschwitz.  But there is no enjoyment next door where gunshots and shouting can be heard and smoke can be seen rising out of chimneys.  

And that's the horror here, how Hoss and his family are going about their mundane lives while hundreds are being killed next door.  One particular horrible scene shows Hedwig and her German friends going through the belongings of Jewish women deportees, with Hedwig trying on a fur coat that once belonged to a doomed Jewish woman and whirling around in it without a care in the world. One of their sons plays with his collection of gold teeth.

Hoss clearly loves his job as he meets with some people to design a new crematorium that will kill more efficiently, and he is rewarded for his work by being promoted to deputy inspector of the camps.  However, he must move but Hedwig wants to stay behind in the house.  Why not? It's idyllic...for her.  Later, he heads an operation that will transport 700,000 Hungarian Jews to work camps or to be killed.  Once again he does a good job and reunites with his family at Auschwitz.

Based on the novel by Martin Amis and written and directed by Jonathan Glazer, this is a Polish film that was nominated for an Oscar, not just for Best International Feature Film, but also for Best Picture.  It's slow moving and almost feels like cinema verite as the cameras follow the family, going about their lives, nary a thought about what is going on next door, except Rudolf who is always working on how to kill more people faster. The horror is in the mundanity of it all. And watching, we don't see anything either except for smoke billowing out of chimneys next door and hear sounds of screams, dogs barking, and trains coming and going, which makes the film truly horrific, bringing home the atrocities without actually showing them. It's like reality TV at its most horrific. 

The cast is excellent. Christian Friedel is chilling as Rudolf and Sandra Huller gives another great performance as Hedwig (She was also in "Anatomy of a Fall" and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for that). The last couple of years have been big ones for her.  

Rosy the Reviewer have never seen a film about the Holocaust like this one. It's not an easy film but we need to bear witness and never forget. The indifference of the Hoss family to the human suffering taking place next door is a sad reflection of the kind of indifference that still exists today. (In German, Polish and Yiddish on Max) 

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)!

Friday, January 26, 2018

"I, Tonya" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "I, Tonya" as well as DVDs "Marshall" and "Kingsman: The Golden Circle."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Stalker."  The Book of the Week is a novel: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware. and there is a bonus feature this week: "TV - What I'm Watching!"]

I, Tonya

A pseudo-documentary on the notorious attack on figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, at the 1994 National Figure Skating Championships.

When she first heard this story of the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 National Figure Skating Championships, Margot Robbie, who plays figure skater, Tonya Harding in this film, thought it was a fairy tale.  She couldn't believe something like this could happen in real life, but it did.

As those of you who have been following this blog for awhile must know, I am a huge fan of figure skating.  I even wrote a blog post a few years ago that highlighted the parallels between figure skating and my life so of course I knew it happened.  I knew all about the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan "incident."

But in case you aren't a fan of figure skating or are too young to remember it, here's a recap.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were figure skating rivals and polar opposites.  Nancy Kerrigan represented the perfect little ice skating princess with her New England up-bringing and her Vera Wang skating costumes.  Tonya Harding came from a poor Oregon background, had to make her own costumes, swore like a truck driver, had a husband, and smoked.  Her coach said to her mother that Tonya looked like she chopped wood every morning to which her mother replied, "She does!"  But Tonya could also really skate.

Tonya Harding was the first woman to complete a triple axel in the short program; the first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a single competition; and the first ever to complete a triple axel combination with the double toe loop.  She was also the 1991 National Champion, won a silver medal in the 1991 World Figure Skating Championship, won Skate America twice and was a two-time Olympian.

But the story doesn't end there. 

At the 1994 National Figure Skating Championships, a step closer on the road to becoming a member of the 1994 Olympic Figure Skating Team, someone (later identified as Shane Stant) attacked Nancy Kerrigan as she stepped off the ice after a practice session, hitting her in the knee with a baton.  It came to light that Tonya's husband, Jeff Gillooly and his side-kick, Shawn Eckhart, masterminded the hit in hopes of injuring Kerrigan badly enough that she would not be able to skate in the Nationals and thus get her out of competition for the Olympics leaving the road open to Tonya.  After the attack, Tonya went on to win Nationals, but Kerrigan was not seriously injured and, ironically, they both went to the Olympics where Kerrigan won a Silver Medal and Tonya finished eighth. 

When the conspiracy was discovered, Gillooly was offered a plea deal to implicate Tonya, which he accepted.  However, Tonya has always maintained her innocence but pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution, meaning once she knew what her husband and his cohorts did, she said nothing.  Now here's the rub.  The guys got 18 months and Tonya got probation BUT she was banned for life from the United States Figure Skating Association meaning that even though Tonya was not one of the attackers, she  actually got something worse than the prison sentence that the actual attackers received.  She could never compete as a skater again.

So the story at face value paints a picture of Tonya Harding as a villain picking on poor little Nancy Kerrigan, and today there are still people who feel that way about Tonya and refuse to see this movie.  But this film brings to light the true story of Tonya's life, something that was not widely known.

The film concentrates on Tonya's personal life, and according to this film, she grew up with her mother, LaVonna (Allison Janney), an abusive mother who beat her and never had a kind word to say to her.  Tonya fell in love at 15 with Jeff Gillooly (played by an oily Sebastian Stan), the first guy to tell her she was pretty so what do you do when you are insecure, wearing braces and a guy tells you that you are pretty?  Well, I guess you marry him...and she did.  And then she went from an abusive relationship with her mother to an abusive marriage. 

Because of her upbringing, Tonya grew up to be a tough cookie. She drank and smoked and drove a truck and because she didn't fit the mold of the pretty skating princess, her component scores (those are the artistic scores for a skater) supposedly suffered and she became more and more angry at her treatment.  But Tonya was already an award-winning skater, so we will never know why Gillooly thought he needed to cut down Tonya's competition or whether or not Tonya knew about it, and this film doesn't really attempt to answer that question.  You will have to decide for yourself. 

And lest you think this is a dark tragic story, you would be wrong. 

It's dark alright, and possibly a tragedy, but it plays as a dark comedy. 

Filmed like a pseudo-documentary or an episode of "Dateline," the characters break the fourth wall and talk directly to the camera, each telling their side of the story, and much of the film is "in their own words."  I recently watched an ABC special - "Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story" - and recognized that much of what was said in the film came directly from interviews with Tonya and LaVonna. 

Margot Robbie is an unlikely Tonya, but believable, though I couldn't quite buy her as a 15-year-old, despite the braces.  Though Robbie is the star and in practically every scene, Allison Janney as Tonya's mother steals the show.  She makes Mommy Dearest look like Mother of the Year.  But both actors have deservedly been nominated for an Oscar for their wonderful performances.

Gilooly's friend, Eckhard, who fancied himself Tonya's bodyguard and was delusional about his role in international espionage and who stupidly screwed up the whole plot is wonderfully and hilariously played by Paul Walter Hauser and the rest of the ensemble are also all first rate.

This was a sordid little piece of figure skating history brilliantly adapted by Steven Rogers and directed by Craig Gillespie.  But it's also the story of class consciousness and a young girl with a brutal history who wanted to beat the odds and be somebody, but because she didn't fit the mold or have the tools to move forward, was beaten down.  If Tonya was involved in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, then she deserved to go to jail. But if she wasn't, then this story is indeed a tragedy because she was given what could only be defined as a life sentence for a skater - she could never skate in competition again.

The way the film incorporated Robbie into actual footage of Tonya was also brilliant, though Robbie said she took skating lessons and did much of the skating herself, though I doubt she was pulling triple axels. 

However, there was one little thing that I noticed that grated:  In one of Tonya's competitions she skated to a ZZ Top song - with lyrics!  Now I know the filmmakers probably did that to show that Tonya was a rebel and a sort of wild child, to skate to a rock song instead of a classical piece as most of the skaters were doing.  But the filmmakers should have done their homework.  Skaters were not allowed to use music with lyrics until 2014!

But that was a small thing in an otherwise funny, sad and quite wonderful film!

Rosy the Reviewer enlightening and original take on this little bit of history with stellar performances by Robbie and Janney, who are both deservedly nominated for Oscars. 

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


Marshall (2017)

A biopic about Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African American Supreme Court Justice.

This film concentrates on Marshall's (Chadwick Boseman) early career starting in 1941 when he was only 32 and the head of the Legal Defense Fund for the NAACP and part of one particular trial.  He is approached by Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), a Jewish civil lawyer from Connecticut, to help him with a case where Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson), a rich white woman has accused Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), her black chauffeur, of rape and attempted murder.  The pairing of these two lawyers, seemingly opposites, is an interesting one as they work together to defend their client, but it becomes clear that both men have faced their share of racism.

This is a classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" type courtroom drama except this is real. 

It also happened during Jim Crow when a black man accused of rape could be depicted in the newspaper as a gorilla.  So it was in that atmosphere that Marshall was involved in this case, but even though he had already argued a case in front of the Supreme Court, because he had not passed the bar in Connecticut, the white and probably racist judge (James Cromwell) would not give him a special dispensation to practice in Connecticut and told Marshall he could not speak, argue or examine witnesses during the trial.  That made it a bit difficult for Friedman, who was a civil lawyer with his life and practice on the line for taking this controversial case.  He had to conduct the trial with Marshall in the background, providing support and information behind the scenes and from the sidelines.

But the film is not just a courtroom drama.  It's also a mystery.  Did Joseph rape and try to kill Eleanor?  And if not, why did she accuse him?

Chadwick Boseman is wonderful as Marshall and is a versatile actor when you consider that his next movie is the superhero film "Black Panther!" And Gad, who often plays portly comic characters, pulls his dramatic weight against Boseman and creates a sympathetic character in Friedman who has his own battles to wage.

I am a big fan of the TV show "This is Us," which stars Sterling K. Brown, who plays Joseph Spell in this film, and I have to admit I have not been a big fan of his because of his character, Randall, on that show.  Despite all of the awards Brown has received for playing that character, I find Randall to be annoying in his intensity.  I was never sure if Brown was playing Randall or Randall was playing Brown. So here I kept waiting to see little signs of Randall in Brown's performance, and I have to say I didn't detect any, so kudos to Brown.  He really is a good actor.  I like him now.

Written by father-son writers Jacob and Michael Koskoff and directed by Reginald Hudlin, the film has been sited as an accurate depiction of Marshall and this trial and is an inspiring reminder of what Black Americans have had to endure to not just succeed but to exist.  When Marshall comes out of the courtroom after hearing he and Friedman had won their case (and you knew they would so I'm not spoiling anything here - this film is not about the outcome but about the journey), he is confronted with a "Whites Only" drinking fountain.  He drinks anyway.  Hello Supreme Court Justice Marshall.

Marshall went on to win many civil rights cases in front of the Supreme Court, most famously Brown v. the Board of Education.  Keep watching the credits to hear the real Marshall speak.

"You know, there are so many people, indeed my own sons at times, look at me with an expression on their face that they don’t believe what happened in the past.”

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a movie that needs to be seen to remind us of what has happened in the past so we won't repeat it.  We have come a long way, but not far enough.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Another one of those spy films where an evil organization holds the world hostage.

Spy movies and I don't usually get along. 

Even as far back as the James Bond films, whenever I watched a spy movie, I never seemed to know what was going on.  Now, I am an educated woman who has managed to get through life without screwing up too much, but for some reason, I don't seem to be smart enough when watching these spy films to figure out who the bad guys are, who the good guys are and what the hell is going on.  For some reason, the screenwriters of these things feel the need to  write convoluted plots that take every twist and turn possible - agents, double agents, double-crossing, triple-crossing, all of whom are looking for something - until it all makes no sense, I have no idea what they are looking for (though often it's a list) or why.  And then there's that whole question of why the bad guy doesn't kill the good guy when he has a chance - this happened all of the time in the Bond movies.  Bond is trussed up like a turkey and the bad guy only has to shoot him to get rid of him once and for all, but no...he wants to torture Bond, so he leaves him in the room with a ticking time bomb and, of course, Bond figures out a way to save himself.

But hey, I am here to report that I actually could follow what was going on here and the film is campy and fun!

This is round 2 of the Kingsman franchise based on the comic book "The Secret Service," and knowing how these things work, I would imagine there will be more.  Colin Firth starred in the first one and played a bigger role than he does in this sequel, especially since we thought he was dead (he got shot in the first film), but though Firth is in this one too, Taron Egerton, who we met in the first film, is the star as Eggsy, a street kid by day and dapper Kingsman by...well, day and night when needed.  When he dons his Kingsman duds, he could be a young Colin Firth, and I suppose that's the whole point.

The Kingsman Headquarters is under attack by evil drug kingpin, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), who dresses like a 1950's housewife and oversees a 50's style amusement park called Poppyland in Cambodia.  Why Cambodia?  We will never know. Despite her sweet façade, she is prone to putting her enemies in meat mincers head first.  Not pretty.  Poppy also oversees the Golden Circle, a drug cartel, and she wants to force the world to legalize drugs.  If they don't, she is going to poison all drugs with a virus that will cause the victims to first go through a manic stage, then become frozen and then they die.  However, if the world succumbs to her demands, she will pass out the antidote and save the world.  But Poppy also wants fame.  It's not enough to take over the world.  She wants the world to know that SHE, Poppy, is the one taking over the world.

Poppy's slogan is "Save lives/Legalize!"

Because this is a worldwide issue and the Kingsman Headquarters has been blown to smithereens, Eggsy and his sidekick, Merlin (Mark Strong), are forced to team up with some Americans in Kentucky - the Statesman, a group of agents that includes Jeff Bridges as Champagne (AKA Champ), Channing Tatum as Tequila and Pedro Pascal as Whiskey. As you can probably tell from their names, just as the front for the Kingsman organization is the bespoke tailoring, the front for the Stateman is Kentucky Bourbon and they certainly don't want drugs to be legal since they sell alcohol!

See?  I figured this thing out. 

The film has the usual spy movie fights, car chases and spectacular disaster sequences, most notably a tram careening wildly down a mountain toward an old people's home that ends with one of the funniest lines in the film - I actually laughed.

As I said, Mr. Darcy, er, I mean, Colin was more in evidence in the first film.  He doesn't show up until the last hour in this one, and when he does he is wearing sweats.  Colin Firth wearing sweats is not quite the same as Colin Firth in full gentleman drag but I was glad to see him.  Edgerton is a sweet-faced young man who could pass as a young Colin Firth, and he is joined by Halle Berry as Ginger Ale (in case you haven't noticed, everyone has catchy James Bond kinds of names), but she doesn't do much except look dowdy. Julianne Moore overacts like mad - well, actually everyone overacts like mad - making this film one big campy romp.  I mean, Elton John is even in this.  He has been captured by Poppy and must dress like the old Elton, wear the flashy costumes and sing his old songs on demand but he gets a big moment at the end.

Directed by Mathew Vaughn with a screenplay by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, this is a comic spy film that is also a sort of satire on the pharmaceutical industry and the war on drugs with a bad American President who gets impeached.  Mmmm.  There is some fun to be had but at two hours and 21 minutes, it's too long.

Rosy the Reviewer says...silly and dumb but kind of fun.  It grew on me.

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

158 to go.

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Stalker (1979)

It's post-apocalypse and aliens supposedly reside in an area known as The Zone, but if you can make your way into The Zone, there is supposedly a room where wishes can be granted.

I know, it sounds weird and it is, but this film is a kind of weird gem.  And it's also Russian which explains a lot.  The Russians make some weird films.

It's the future and life is bleak.  The Zone is an area where it is rumored that some aliens have landed and taken control.  The laws of physics and geography have been suspended and power and transcendence are rumored to exist inside The Zone, a place where wishes can come true, so a cynical writer (Anatoliy Solonitsyn) and a renegade scientist (Nikolay Grinko) hire Stalker (Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, who looks like a Russian Woody Harrelson) to take them there.  The Zone is patrolled by police to keep the unwary out and only stalkers can navigate the treacherous but magical space known as The Zone.

The scientist wants to go to The Zone to see reason triumph over faith and the writer seeks inspiration that the grim world of the future no longer provides.  The stalker also has his reasons.  Something bad has happened to his daughter and he wants to make that right.  Those three things - science, faith and feeling come together to produce an ending considered one of the most enigmatic in film history.

"The Zone is a series of traps and they are all deadly."

And so is life. The Zone is also a metaphor for life and a treatise on the human spirit and the will to live.

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky ("Solaris"), and adapted from a science fiction novel - "The Roadside Picnic" by Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky - this is one of those movies that is all about the visuals, all sepia and shadows, a chiaroscuro.  The world is in black and white and The Zone is in color, kind of like Oz, and we certainly aren't in Kansas anymore or any other place you would recognize.  The film is a kind of horror film but without the usual components of horror. It's more of a moody horror film with lots of philosophizing about the meaning of life.

Why it's a Must See: "The Zone is one of cinema's great magical places: damp green and sylvan above-ground giving way to watery, muddy, uninhabited recent ruins as the party nears the perhaps-mythical Room."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Be forewarned.  It's REALLY long.  It's so long it comes in two DVDs, and I usually don't like that, but this film is mesmerizing.  Strange, yes, but mesmerizing.  If you can make it through the set-up, the first hour, you will be rewarded.

Rosy the Reviewer says...very eerie and compelling.  It creates a mood that envelops you - you get into The Zone.

***Book of the Week***


The Lying Game by Ruth Ware (2017)

Four young girls at an English boarding school create "The Lying Game," where they tell elaborate lies to their teachers and fellow students as a lark, not realizing that one day they will need to perpetuate a really big lie.
Isa, Kate, Thea and Fatima all meet in their teens at boarding school in the picturesque village of Saltern.  They form a clique and have fun with a game they call "The Lying Game," where they tell lies large and small.  Kate kept the score with a tally sheet she kept above her bed: points for a new "victim;" points for getting someone to completely believe; plus extra points for elaborate details or for being able to reel someone back in after almost calling their bluff. 
"The Lying Game," like "The Fight Club," had its rules:
  1. Tell a lie
  2. Stick to your story
  3. Don't get caught
  4. Never lie to each other
  5. Know when to stop lying
However, now the girls are grown women with lives of their own.  Isa is married with a baby, Fatima is now a practicing Muslim and a doctor and Kate is an artist and has stayed behind in Saltern at the family home where she had lived with her artist father, Ambrose.  Thea was always the wild beautiful one and is still wild and beautiful.  The four haven't seen each other in years.

But when Kate sends them all a mysterious text:  "I need you," they all make their way back to Saltern to face the really big lie that they have all kept for over 15 years.
Ware is the author of "The Woman in Cabin 10," a novel I reviewed back in 2016, and like that first book, she has a way with dialogue.  And because of that, as you read you can imagine a movie.  But this is one of those novels with a mystery where the mystery is leaked slowly in bits and pieces and that became irritating after awhile. I kept thinking, "Get to the story!"  She did a similar thing in "The Woman in Cabin 10," but it worked better there. Though I was initially pulled in and liked the characters, I found myself scanning the pages to get to the end rather than really immersing myself in the story.

Rosy the Reviewer says...didn't like this one as much as "The Woman in Cabin 10," but if you like novels that read like movies, this one has its moments.

***TV - What I'm Watching!***

Yes, because I am a reality TV junkie, I am watching my usual favorites "The Amazing Race, "Project Runway All-Stars," "The Bachelor," "America's Next Top Model," "Catfish, "Married at First Sight" and "Ru-Paul's All Star Drag Race," but I also want you to know that I have other interests so I thought I would share with you some TV shows I am currently watching that you might like and might not know about.

Victoria on Masterpiece - Season 2

Miss "The Crown?"  I know I do but until the next season, this one fills the niche, though on a more melodramatic level.


(You don't need to see Season 1 to enjoy this but I recommend that you do - catch it On Demand or your favorite catch-up source or check out the DVD from your local library).

Grace and Frankie - Series 4

I mean, c'mon, women of a certain age starting a vibrator business?  That's FUNNY!

And you ladies will also find inspiration watching now 80-year-old Jane Fonda and still very funny Lily Tomlin do their thing.

This one and earlier seasons available on Netflix.


American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

From Ryan Murphy and the folks who brought us the amazing "American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson" comes this new crime story, the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.  It was filmed in Versace's actual home, which is enough reason to watch but this is another brilliant mini-series. Just like the O.J. story, this 10-part story will pull you in and expect it to capture many awards.  It's riveting.

On FX.

The Great British Baking Show

Who knew watching regular people like you and me bake could be so relaxing and yet so riveting at the same time. It's like a baking meditation but you get involved with the bakers and root for them too.  It's all very British and lovely and not a cross word is spoken.

I just finished bingeing Season 2 on Netflix.  There are four seasons there and this is also showing on some PBS stations.

Sadly, stars Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have parted ways and Paul has a new show which is ostensibly the same as this but on a different UK station. Not sure if Mary will get her own show or not.

On Netflix and PBS.


I know, I wouldn't be me if I didn't include at least one low-brow reality show and this one fits the bill perfectly.  I couldn't help it.

People give up everything they own and I mean everything.  Even their clothes.  And all of their belongings are kept in a locker a half mile away.  Each day they can go to the locker and choose one item.

It's fun to see what their priorities are and yes, people, they learn from the experience!

What would your priorities be if you were stripped of everything?

On Bravo

And on that note...

Thanks for reading!


with a special edition of

"Rosy's Test Kitchen"

where I will be testing various methods for cooking eggs and sharing some yummy recipes!

See you then!

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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.