Showing posts with label Storm Over Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Storm Over Asia. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2019

"Hail Satan?" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the documentary "Hail Satan?" as well as DVDs "Glass" and "Replicas."  The Book of the Week is "What My Mother and I Don't Talk About."   I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" with "Storm Over Asia."]

Hail Satan?

Who knew I had so much in common with Satanists?

Growing up, I had an unconventional religious education.  No, my parents weren't Satanists.  Far from it.  My mother was a Lutheran and my Dad was a Christian Scientist.  I was baptised a Lutheran but when I was five, I started Sunday School at the Christian Science church because my Dad was a reader there and my mother thought it looked bad if our Dad was a reader at the church and we didn't go there.  What the "neighbors" thought was very important in the 1950's.  However, I moved back to the Lutheran Church for awhile when I wanted to sing in the choir and heard that the Sunday school was more fun there. The Christian Science sunday school was basically discussing the "lesson," stuff you were supposed to read before coming to church.  It really was like school whereas the Lutheran Church Sunday school had coloring books and quizzes, dramatic reenactments and all kinds of fun stuff. So it was a back-and-forth kind of thing. My Dad and Mom actually took turns each Sunday going to each other's churches - and though the teachings were quite different (the Christian Scientists don't believe in the devil or hell, by the way), I was basically taught Christian principles.

My Dad had TB before I was born.  In those days, when you got TB you were sent to a sanitarium.  He was gone for a long time leaving my mother to raise my older sister alone, and I think my brother was born during that time.  Somehow, Christian Science came his way and he converted and attributed his early cure to that religion so that was it.  He was in.  But whatever you have heard about Christian Scientists, they DO believe in doctors.  They just don't believe they need them!  And to my Dad's credit, he never forced his conversion on my mother.  We all had our shots and went to the doctor if needed but I have to say, not needed much.

One more thing and it's a happy memory.  I didn't really know this growing up and perhaps it was something he did after we all left home, but turns out when my Dad attended the Lutheran church he would take notes during the sermon and then "share" them with the minister after church when everyone was leaving.  He would waylay the minister and share his "notes" with him, basically the wrong road the minister was taking.  How do I know this?  At my Dad's funeral, there was a Christian Scientist and that very Lutheran minister talking about my Dad and I could tell that the Lutheran minister got a kick out of my Dad's earnestness to try to get him to see his way.  And let me say, my Dad was a gentleman.  He would have been very polite about it but he was certain in his beliefs.

So my family was very entrenched in religion and church-going. However, going to church was never my thing, mostly because I had to get up early on a Sunday (I am NOT a morning person).  But my Dad made it clear that since I wasn't in a position to do much to pay him back for everything he had done for me, the one thing I needed to do for him was to go to church every Sunday, which I did until I turned 18 and then I got the hell (pardon the expression) out of there, off to college. It didn't help when I took Philosophy 101 where much of it debated the existence of God. Let's just say that I never attended church again.

But that doesn't mean I don't have an interest in religion.  I do.  I am interested in what makes people tick regarding their beliefs, especially when those beliefs are outside the usual conformity of conventional religions. And certainly Satanism fits that bill.

That finally brings me to talk about this film. I know, FINALLY, right?  But if you read my posts, you know I review but I also talk about myself too.  That's what makes this blog special, right?

OK, back to this film.

Anyway, let's just say this film is more "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" than "Rosemary's Baby."  Yes, there is information on the infamous Anton LeVey and his group from the 1960's, but this film is mostly about The Satanic Temple, which was founded in 2013, and has no relationship to Le Vey, unless you count Satan. The film and the Satanic Temple are both all about the separation of Church and State and religious freedom, and though there is some humor and absurdist stuff, it's an eye-opening look at a group exercising their right to free speech and to practice their beliefs. And despite the fact that the followers like to wear devil horns (the movie has a sense of humor and so do these folks), Satan is not worshiped as a supreme being but rather is held as a symbol of freedom.

Much of the movie dwells on the rise of the Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, the co-founder, and his and the Temple's efforts to prevent government entities from placing Ten Commandments monuments on government property.  And when Greaves and his cohorts can't get the Ten Commandments monuments removed, they work to get a statue of Baphomet, a goat deity often used to depict Satan, erected alongside the one listing the Ten Commandments. That's only fair, right?  

Directed by Penny Lane, the film is sometimes very tongue-in-cheek, funny actually, as it makes fun of right wing Christian groups like the awful Westboro Baptists and others who think their way is the only way.  But it's also serious as we learn that this group of Satanists actually has a very noble side, especially when you read their Seven Tenets

In addition to the issue of separation of church and state and personal freedom, the film balks at the notion that the United States is a Christian nation. Those Ten Commandments scrolls that started appearing in government buildings?  You can thank Cecil B. DeMille's publicity machine for that.  He thought of a great way to publicize his upcoming movie,  "The Ten Commandments." 

So back to my realization that I may be more Satanist than Christian.  

The Satanic Temple's tenets include acting with compassion and empathy toward all creatures, social justice, power over one's own body, not encroaching on the freedom of others, believing in science, and being forgiving when we fallible humans make mistakes. Those are all good things, right? Christian values embrace a lot of "shall nots" that we must follow if we want to get into heaven and the fear of going to hell if we don't. Ironically, the members of the Satanic Temple are trying to create a heaven on earth rather than waiting for their reward in the afterlife. That sounds good to me!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I just might join.

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


Glass (2019)

The third installment of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" series.

Here is another one of those movies where if you haven't seen all of the films referenced you are kind of lost.  I was anyway.  I saw "Split," which pretty much stood on its own, but I never saw "Unbreakable." Since this film features two people from "Unbreakable" and only one from "Split (unless you count all of Kevin's personalities)," I hardly knew what was going on.  Turns out that might have been the case anyway, even if I had seen "Unbreakable," because this film doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.

As in "Unbreakable," Shyamalan is continuing to ask the question: "What if superheroes were real and lived among us as seemingly ordinary people?"

So for this film, coming in, you need to know that David Dunn (Bruce Willis) was the sole survivor of a train accident.  He then discovered he had supernatural powers and that he could tell the crimes someone had committed by touching them so then he became a sort of vigilante.  Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) was born with a rare brittle bone disease.  He ran a comic book store and was obsessed with super heroes.  When he heard about David, he contacted him and David fell under Elijah's influence until he discovered that Elijah was a sort of mental superhero and, not good, a terrorist.  It was he who masterminded the train wreck that David was in. (I learned all of this by reading up on the "Unbreakable" movies). Kevin (James McAvoy) in "Split" had many personalities and kidnapped cheerleaders to feed to his bad "superhero" personality, "The Beast." Bruce Willis actually showed up at the end of "Split," and it made no sense to me then.  Now that I have learned that "Unbreakable" was the first film in what Shyamalan had intended as a trilogy, it makes more sense.  

Interestingly, Shyamalan abandoned the idea of a trilogy after "Unbreakable" didn't do as well at the box office as "The Sixth Sense," despite the urgings of Willis and Jackson, who wanted him to continue the trilogy.  But then he made "Split," linking it to "Unbreakable" with that weird cameo from Willis, and "Split" was one of the highest grossing films of 2017.  So voila!  If there is some money to be made, let's go for it! Shyamalan completed the trilogy with "Glass (Here is what I said about "Split" when I reviewed it)."

I started out a huge fan of writer/director Shyamalan. I loved "The Sixth Sense," though I completely didn't get the ending at first.  I remember sitting in the theatre and giving my daughter a quizzical look at the end and she mouthed (OK - HUGE SPOILER ALERT - DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN "THE SIXTH SENSE!") and she mouthed "He's dead, Mom." Oh. Sometimes I'm not very smart.  But despite that little blip, I loved his movies.  They were always stylish and riveting if not completely understandable.  "The Sixth Sense" was followed by "Signs," "The Village," "Lady in the Water," all of which were fine but didn't quite have the impact of "The Sixth Sense."  But then "Split" came along and James McAvoy just blew me away.

But how did I miss "Unbreakable?"  That totally screwed me up for this one.

Anyway, our three "superheroes" are now all locked up in a psychiatric hospital and are being treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who is a psychiatrist specializing in people who think they are superheroes (I wonder how many colleges have that specialization).  She has Kevin with 20 million personalities who has been nicknamed "The Horde;" David, who can divine the evil deeds of people by touching them; and Glass, who is really Elijah and who is an evil mastermind. She has three days to convince the three that they are not superhumans but merely men with delusions of grandeur or they will be confined for life. But we will see about that. The three escape, wreak havoc and the film comes to a tidy conclusion. Too tidy.

Willis is Willis which may or may not be satisfying to you.  I have come to accept him for what he is and find his smirking persona rather enjoyable.  Jackson always brings it, but it's McAvoy who is just amazing as Kevin and all of his personalities.  I was amazed by him in "Split" and I am amazed by him here.

But it's all kind of a haphazard mess meant to capitalize on the success of "Split." Shyamalan had abandoned the idea of a trilogy after "Unbreakable" didn't break any box office records.  He should have left that idea abandoned. And you know how much I hate sequels?  I hate trilogies even more!  And I just thought of another reason why I don't like sequels and trilogies and on and on.  When too much times passes, you can't remember the first one!

Rosy the Reviewer says...Shyamalan makes some fascinating, enigmatic films but this isn't one of them. Even if you have seen the first two, I think you will still be confused. 

Replicas (2018)

When his family dies in a car accident (he was driving), William Foster (Keanu Reeves) a scientist, brings them back to life.

Well, it doesn't hurt that he is a scientist already working on cloning.  Now he gets to have his real chance to show what he can do!

The premise is that William works for an organ donor lab where when the body arrives, they harvest the body.  BUT THEN they turn the dead bodies into synthetic bodies - as in robots.  Kind of a cliche with scientists trying to create alternative forms of life or super life. Haven't we seen that before - like many times?  His wife (Alice Eve) isn't so sure about his work saying to him "Maybe there is more that makes us human like a soul?"  Duh.

Keanu is under the hammer to justify his work so how CONVENIENT is it that his wife and three children are killed.  Cue the thunderstorm car ride (another cliche)?  I see an accident in their future. Right. So now Keanu has to "replicate" his family.  Get it?  Bingo!  Except there is a sort of "Sophie's Choice" component.  There are only three cloning pods available so he has to sacrifice one of the children and erase her memory from the other family members.

Sheesh.  Are there no original plots left?

The first hour is boring as hell as the film tries to justify Keanu as a scientist (hard to grasp), and William/Keanu tries to hide the fact that his family is dead and he is replicating them.  And bringing them back to life TAKES FOREVER.  Yawn.  All kinds of scientific gobbledegook that when it comes out of Keanu's mouth sounds like Ted trying to explain algebra. Remember the "Bill and Ted" movies?

But then once brought back to life...guess what?  Oh, I forgot to mention there was one little glitch in William's work.  Yes, they can create clones but there are all kinds of problems with them. And to make things worse, turns out that Jones (John Ortiz), the owner of the lab, is a bad guy and the company isn't what it seems. The clones were actually being made as military weapons and when Jones finds out about the clones that Williams has made of his family, Jones decides he needs to eliminate them.

Written by Chad St. John and directed by Jeffrey Nachmannoff, the whole thing is a snooze fest and it doesn't help that Reeves seems like a sleepwalker in it.

I just don't know what to make of the rise and fame of Keanu Reeves.  I find him totally believable as the clueless Ted in the "Bill & Ted" movies, but every time I see him in a drama I just don't get it.  Maybe it's the hair.  He needs to get a grown up haircut.  And his acting reminds me of a high school student trying to do Shakespeare. But, OK, he can do action stuff like "The Matrix," but being an action hero doesn't require "ACTING!" And that hair.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I usually like scifi/thrillers, but this one is kind of a mess.  Keanu, at least get a big boy haircut!

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

93 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Storm over Asia (1928)
("Potomok Chingis-Khana")

An epic fable about a herdsman who becomes a great Mongolian leader.

In 1918, Bair, a poor Mongol, is cheated out of a rare silver fox pelt by a Western fur trader and comes to distrust capitalists.  He joins Socialist partisans who are fighting against the British occupying army.  Bair is captured and ordered to be shot until he is saved by a document that is found on him declaring him a direct descendant of Genghis Khan.  He is installed as a puppet king by the British but escapes to lead his people to freedom.

Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin, the film is full of action as well as socialist propaganda but I am just not that attuned to silent films, especially ones about the ancient world.  However, I might have enjoyed it more if it had sound.  I know, I know, it's a silent film, but it was supposed to have a soundtrack.  A silent film is much less enjoyable when it's really, really silent.  And it was long especially for a very, very silent film!

Why it's a Must See: "...never less than entertaining."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I beg to differ.  I wasn't entertained. Maybe some music would have helped!
(Silent, in b & w)

***The Book of the Week***

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: 15 Writers Break Their Silence edited Michele Filgate (2019)

We all have things we wished we had asked our mothers, right?  Or things we wish we had told them?  Fifteen writers share their stories.

The idea for this book came from an essay that editor Michele Filgate wrote and that went viral.  The essay was about the abuse she took at the hands of her stepfather, how it affected her later life and her sadness that her mother didn't protect her.  The response to her essay gave Filgate the idea for this book where she invited 14 other writers to share their stories.  And don't think that it's only women affected by their mothers.  Men share their experiences too.

The stories range from wondering who one's mother was before she became a mother to a mother with a domineering husband to what it was like to have a deaf mother.  Some of the writers are still close to their mothers, some estranged. But the fact remains that our mothers have a major impact on us growing up and in our later lives, for better or worse, and that relationship affects our relationships with others.

I have written my own stories about my mother. 

Thinking about my mother and writing about her has helped me understand her better and myself too. Many of you have probably already read those posts but if not...

My Mother's Diary

A Mother's Love

What My Mother Told Me

"Our mothers are our first homes, and that's why we're always trying to return to them."

Filgate has put together a series of emotional, difficult and sometimes funny, essays that illustrate how important our mothers were, one way or another.  And what an almost impossible task it is to be mother.  Now that am one, I know. But the bottom line is - talk to your mothers now, leave nothing left unsaid, no questions unanswered. Breaking the silence helps to heal the relationship, not only with our mothers, but others and ourselves. Despite all of the turmoil between my mother and myself over the years, I wish I had her here now

Rosy the Reviewer says...a poignant and important book.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday




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

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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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.