Showing posts with label Suzanne Somers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suzanne Somers. Show all posts

Friday, March 30, 2018

"A Wrinkle in Time" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "A Wrinkle in Time" as well as DVDs "Brad's Status and "Loving Vincent."  The Book of the Week is "Two's Company: A Fifty-Year Romance with Lessons Learned in Love, Life and Business" by Suzanne Somers.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Eraserhead."]

A Wrinkle in Time

Three magical beings come to help a young girl find her missing father.

I wanted to love this movie.  I really did.  I mean, what's not to like?  It's a film version of a children's classic, it stars handsome Chris Pine (though he is a bit disheveled in this), it's directed by Ava DuVerney who directed the powerful "Selma," and it has Oprah looking very Presidential, er, I mean regal.  So why didn't I like it?

Because it was a soppy bore.  And I feel really sad saying that, I really do.  I mean, Oprah.  You know how I feel about her (in case you don't, read this).  I adore Oprah but even she can't save this movie.

After looking forward to seeing this film and being so shocked and disappointed by it, I texted both of my kids who I knew had read this book in school and asked them if they had liked it.  My daughter didn't bother to reply and my son replied that it was probably why he didn't like fantasy.  Oh.

Now I haven't read it so I can't compare the book and the movie and I tend to not do that anyway feeling that books and movies are two different art forms and should stand on their own, but one of my problems with this movie was the story itself.  It didn't really make any sense.  See what you think.

The film is all about young Meg Murry (Storm Reid), whose father, Alex Murry (Chris Pine), a renowned scientist, who appears to have been working on time travel with Meg's mother, Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), also a scientist, (but even that I wasn't sure about because what he was actually up to was glossed over using scientific gobbledygook and made-up language, for example, what exactly was a tesseract?).  But anyway, he has disappeared, supposedly having gone off into space but nobody knows what has happened to him.  But before he left, when Meg was little, he was all love and spouting mystical stuff about how we are all part of the universe and so on so of course she loved her Dad and misses him.  

Now it's been four years and for some reason the kids in Meg's school find her father's disappearance to be a source of bullying.  I mean, these would have to be some mean kids to bully a girl because her father was missing. And Meg's little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) overhears a teacher bad-mouthing his Dad for leaving his family.  So even though Meg has a good relationship with her mother and her very smart little brother, Meg is messed up about not having a Dad and gets in trouble at school and is depressed until one day...

Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), a ditsy space oddity, appears in Meg's living room and it isn't long before Meg meets two other strange but magical women, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah).  Mrs. Whatsit is a sort of scatterbrain but can transform which proves helpful later.  Mrs. Who speaks in quotes which becomes VERY annoying after awhile and then there's Mrs. Which - angel chorus please - OPRAH!

These women are interstellar beings who have come to help Meg and her brother find their father and they need to do it fast because "IT" is coming, a dark scourge that embodies all that is bad in the world and if we didn't get just how insidious "IT" is, we see a montage showing one of the mean girls who behind closed doors is really insecure and struggling with an eating disorder and that teacher who was bad-mouthing Meg's father was passed over for a promotion and is really angry about it, so I guess we are supposed to figure out that "IT" has made these people act out and will make everyone else in the world mean, too, if something isn't done about it.  Or I think that's what we're supposed to figure out.

So Meg, her little brother and Meg's new love interest, Calvin (Levi Miller), go off into space with the three Mrs. and have some adventures that I think were supposed to be scary (NOT!) and uplifting (depends on how you define uplifting) and life-changing (you could see that coming a mile away), but were in fact confusing and muddled. I was never really sure what the actual plan was.

I know I am being hard on this film, but it is rare that I get to have the theatre almost to myself (there were only a couple of other people there), which I love because I can really get into the film without annoying distractions, and I still found myself bored and looking at my watch.  And I was really looking forward to enjoying this film.  I know it was aimed at kids but if I was bored, I would think it would be even more boring for kids who have a shorter attention span than I do.

I don't know who to blame for this. 

Madeline L'Engle for the story (maybe there's a reason why it's taken so long to make this 1962 children's classic into a movie), Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell for their screenplay or Ava DuVernay for her direction or all three? But whatever or whoever is to blame, this film just didn't do it for me. The book is known for it's religious and political themes - good triumphing over evil, being able to stand up against conformity and the status quo - but the film didn't do a very good job of projecting a clear message.  And despite the strong young girl character, which I enjoyed, the film was just an overly sentimental mish mash. But as I said, I enjoyed young Storm Reid's performance and little Deric, who could have been one of those obnoxiously precocious kids that I dislike, was fine, too, as was young Levi Miller.

And then there is Oprah who can do no wrong.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the film had a good message (I think), it was overly sentimental and just plain boring.

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


Brad's Status (2017)

A father takes his teenaged son on a tour of colleges which makes him question his own life.

Ben Stiller could make me laugh just looking at him.  He does hapless sad sack like no one else and his deadpan reactions are hilarious. Just think "Meet the Fockers" and "There is Something about Mary." He is the Buster Keaton of his day.  But here he puts on the brakes a bit to play Brad, a man in midlife who questions his career choices and his life. Brad lives in Sacramento and is the head of a non-profit that helps other non-profits, but though his career is a worthy one, he can't help but compare himself to some of his college mates who he imagines have become richer and more successful than he has. 

Brad lies in bed at night worrying about money and feeling like he has not lived up to his potential.  We know this because the film is narrated by Brad/Stiller, and we get to see inside Brad's mind as he focuses on himself and his supposed failures. 

"It's stupid to compare lives but when I do I feel I've failed."

"This is not the life I imagined."

Now his son, Troy (Austin Abrams), who is academically gifted and a musical prodigy, is getting ready to go to college and Brad is taking him on a tour of Eastern colleges. Troy is so smart and gifted that Harvard is a very real possibility. This gets Brad to thinking about his own college years when he had his whole future ahead of him and he loved life. He was the one most likely to succeed. Where did it all go wrong?

At the same time, he thinks about some of his old college friends who he thinks have more glamorous and rich lives than he does. Nick made the cover of Architectural Digest, Craig (Michael Sheen) is a successful writer and politico, Jason (Luke Wilson) made a fortune with his hedge fund and Billy (Jermaine Clement) sold his company and retired at 40 and now lives the good life on a tropical island with not one, but two girlfriends.  He imagines them in private planes or flying First Class, living the high life, but when he needs to call in some favors to help his son and meets up with Craig, in a very entertaining and enlightening scene, Brad learns that maybe he has it better than he thought.

This all sounds like a male midlife cliche movie, but the film, written and directed by Mike White (he also plays Brad's friend, Nick), takes that whole idea, and with Ben Stiller and the understated and likable Austin Abrams, turns it into something thoughtful, humorous, engaging and very human, a film that those of us in midlife can truly relate to. 

When our kids were ready to go to college, how many of us didn't think back to our own college days and wonder if we had lived up to our potential?  And how many of us have put our own hopes and dreams onto our kids?

There is a thing about comic actors.  They all want to be dramatic actors and Ben Stiller is no exception.  But don't think that this film has no humor because it does.  For example, as Brad and Troy get ready to board their plane, Brad tries to upgrade them to business (actually an anachronism - no domestic flights have business class anymore, do they?) in a very funny scene that doesn't help Brad's sense of worth, and like I said earlier, when Ben Stiller does sad sack it's just plain funny.

I really loved this film.  My only criticism is the title, which I didn't really understand and even if I did, it doesn't describe the film at all or make you want to see it.  I think it would have done better in the theatres when it was released with a more appropos title.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a compelling, humorous and touching reminder to live in the present and appreciate what you have.  I loved this film!  

Loving Vincent (2017)

Depicted completely in animated oil paintings, this is the story of a man who travels to Vincent Van Gogh's final home town and discovers a mystery surrounding Van Gogh's last troubled days. 

This film was a strange nominee for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature film when you consider its fellow nominees were Disney's "Coco," "Boss Baby," Ferdinand" and "The Breadwinner," all more conventional animated films aimed at children.  This film was not only not aimed at children, it was not conventional animation.  It was a hand painted film that brings Van Gogh's paintings to life and tells the story of Van Gogh's final weeks.

It is one year after Van Gogh has killed himself and postman Joseph Roulin asks his son Armand (Douglas Booth, voice) to find Vincent's brother, Theo, and deliver Vincent's last letter to him.  But when Armand travels to Paris to deliver the letter to Theo, he discovers that Theo died six months after Vincent. He is told that he should go to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent spent his last days.

When Armand arrives in Auvers-sur-Oise, he meets people who knew Vincent (all people who were subjects in Van Gogh's paintings so the paintings literally come to life on screen), and they all share their very different feelings about him and speculate on what was going on with him in his final days and hours. There is some speculation that perhaps Van Gogh was murdered. It's a bit of a mystery that Armand tries to solve as he goes about interviewing the villagers.  Did Van Gogh really kill himself or was he murdered?  

Written by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Jacek Dahnel and directed by Kobiela and Welchman, this was an amazing undertaking. It took seven years and 125 artists to create this film and some well-known English and Irish actors do the voice-overs: Saoirse Ronan, Chris O'Dowd, Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson. I couldn't help but notice that the animated character of Armand looked and talked strangely like Johnny Depp and Vincent looked very much like Kirk Douglas, which I guess is not that strange since he played Van Gogh in the movie "Lust for Life."

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the story itself is not that compelling, this is a fascinating experiment in animation, and if you are a big Van Gogh fan, you will be in heaven. 

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

150 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Eraserhead (1977)

Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is depressed.  He lives in an inhospitable industrial environment, his girlfriend is angry all of the time and he has a screaming mutant baby.  No wonder he's depressed.

Before "Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks," and "Mulholland Drive," there was ---
"ERASERHEAD," --- David Lynch's first full-length feature film.  And if you had seen this film before you saw his later films, you would have been forewarned about what was to come, though those later films weren't even close to how weird this one is.

If you stick with this film past the seven minute inexplicable introduction, you will discover that there is actually a plot here, sort of.  Reminiscent of Todd Browning's 1932 film "Freaks," and the futuristic "Metropolis," except instead of an unfriendly circus environment, the film takes place in an unfriendly industrial town.

Henry lives alone in a very dystopian world and with his bouffant hair looks like he could be the son of The Bride of Frankenstein.  He looks like he stuck he finger in an electrical outlet and maybe he did.  That would explain him a bit.

Henry is invited over to meet his girlfriend Mary's (Charlotte Stewart) parents and some very strange things occur.  He is served a chicken that appears to still be alive and filled with goo, and Mary's mother (Jeanne Bates) starts kissing him on the neck. But the strangest thing of all is Mary has had a baby and says, "We're still not sure if it is a baby."  Yikes.  And she's right. The baby actually looks like something out of "Little Shop of Horrors." Mary's mother says they have to get married, so Mary moves in with Henry but the baby won't stop crying so she leaves him.  Later after a bunch of other really strange stuff happens, Henry's head explodes and erasers blow out, and the baby gets more and more grotesque and Henry has sex with the Lady in the Radiator (yes, you heard me)...and it goes on and on like that.  I thought MY head was going to explode. 

These people are clearly in hell and this film gives you a glimpse inside the mind of David Lynch, but if I am wrong and they are not in hell, then I certainly thought I was while watching this film. 

I think this film is about fear of sex, fear of commitment, fear of connection, fear of babies, fear of death, your basic "we humans are all isolated and disconnected."  But who knows?  It's very strange.

And speaking of strange.

Sometimes I wonder if filmmakers put things in movies that are meaningless just to get us talking and to make us think that the movie is deeper than it really is. I'm still not sure if I like David Lynch or not.  I loved Season 1 of "Twin Peaks," but it fell apart for me in Season 2.  I loved "Blue Velvet" but didn't understand "Mulholland Drive" at all.  But this was his first full-length film so I have to give him and it the benefit of the doubt and props for innovation.

Why it's a Must See: "No mere summation of the plot...can possibly convey the tone (and, indeed, sound) of this unique and challenging film.  The feelings of unease, even horror, that result from watching it and that only increase in intensity on repeated viewings are simply unforgettable."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Challenging?  Yes. Unforgettable? Yes, but maybe not in a good way.

Rosy the Reviewer says...almost incomprehensible but I forgive you, David.  It was your first film, but geez...

(b & w)

***Book of the Week***

Two's Company: A Fifty-Year Romance with Lessons Learned in Life, Love and Business by Suzanne Somers (2017)

Actress Suzanne Somers shares what she has learned over the course of her 50 year relationship with husband Alan Hamel.

What married person or person in a relationship wouldn't want to find out how these two stayed together for 50 years, especially in that marital minefield called show business? Somers tells her story (which you might already know if you read her earlier autobiographies), but it's an interesting story that bears repeating, and this time she peppers it with what she has learned.

Somers grew up with an alcoholic father who when drunk terrorized the family at night driving them to hide from him in a closet.  He called Suzanne a loser and said she would probably get knocked up, which, unfortunately, she did, forcing her to give up her dreams and get married young.  The marriage didn't last so then she was a young single mom living a hardscrabble life doing what she could to raise her son in San Francisco. She did modeling jobs here and there, but there was never enough money and she was going nowhere when she met Alan Hamel, who at the time was the most famous TV personality in Canada.  They had an instant connection and embarked on a romance that lasted ten years before they got married, with him going back and forth between Canada and the U.S. 

But then some things started happening for Suzanne. Suzanne got a break as the blonde in the sports car in "American Graffiti," she wrote a book of poetry that was published, and while auditioning for a part, caught the eye of Johnny Carson who regularly had her on "The Tonight Show," where she was already perfecting the ditzy like a fox blonde character that would serve her well in the TV show "Three's Company," which was one of the most popular TV shows in the late 70's.

Suzanne hit it big as Chrissy Snow on "Three's Company," and Alan decided that his job was now going to be managing Suzanne, which in many circles was considered not a good thing for Suzanne. After three years as Chrissy she went to the bosses of CBS for a raise and she was fired. Hamel did the negotiating and was blamed for playing hardball with the network bigwigs and getting her fired, thus ruining her career, and despite a pointed effort in this book to dispute that claim, from the comments he makes in this book, I kind of believe that's what happened and that's why she was fired.

But anyway, despite that setback, Suzanne was able to reinvent herself and went on to a successful stint with a Las Vegas show and lucrative success with The Thighmasterselling jewelry on the Home Shopping Network and eventually she landed another sticom, "Step by Step," which ran for seven seasons.  She has written 26 books and is a health advocate, having survived  breast cancer and menopause using alternative health methods, both of which she wrote about in controversial books.

So having read her books you might already know most of that, but here she shares her story and what she has learned with some self-help advice on having a happy marriage. 

"I wrote this book to give hope to all who might have given up on their dreams.  I hope it helps to know that there are two people who against all odds made it... I wrote this book to express gratitude for having learned (and in many cases the hard way) what is important.  Love is the answer.  The journey in life is to teach ourselves what we want.  Those two questions in life: Who am I? and What do I want? Most people are never able to answer either question.  Now I know.  I have my answers...It's not who you are, it's not what you do, it's not what you have; it's ONLY...only about who you love and who loves you.  I live by those words.  I am loved and I love fiercely.  I wish the same for you."

Hamel also weighs in:

"How is it fifty years later?  Well, we don't pull off the freeway to make love anymore.  And we don't pull into the Papaya Restaurant parking lot to make love on our way to the airport anymore.  And we don't make love in the water at Waikiki Beach surrounded by hundreds of people anymore...We still make love a lot...I still can't get over that Suzanne lets me do anything I want with her..."


So basically what did I learn? 

Their successful marriage boils down to the fact that they have lots and lots of sex, they haven't spent a night apart in 37 years, she is easy to get along with and Alan runs the show. So... 

If I wrote a book about marriage advice, here is what I would say: "
How to Stay Married Forever." 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Somers has an interesting story to tell and some hard-earned wisdom to share, though some of it is a bit much but it's an enjoyable read. 

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 
I Die Project." 

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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.