Showing posts with label Tea with the Dames. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tea with the Dames. Show all posts

Friday, February 15, 2019

"What Men Want" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "What Men Want" as well as DVDs "Tea With the Dames" and "The Bookshop."  The Book of the Week is "The Duchess," a biography of Camilla Parker-Bowles.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Eagle."]

What Men Want

When sports agent, Ali Davis, is denied a promotion because she doesn't click with men, she hits her head and when she wakes up she has the power to read mens' thoughts -- and that changes everything.

OK, how many movies have there been where someone gets hit on the head and wakes up with some new ability? Let's count.  Well, there is "Phenomenon (1996)" where an average guy gets hit with a ball of light and wakes up really smart; In 2004, Tracy Ullman became a sex addict after getting hit over the head in "A Dirty Shame;" then Amy Schumer stars as an insecure girl who nobody notices until she bumps her head and wakes up thinking she is a supermodel in "I Feel Pretty (2018)," and today, Rebel Wilson opens in "Isn't It Romantic," a film about yet another woman being hit on the head, but this time she wakes up and her life has turned into a romantic comedy.  

And now we add this film to the list, which, of course, is a remake of "What Women Want (2000)," which starred Mel Gibson back before we hated him for being a racist.  His character didn't exactly get a bump on the head, but he was "shocked" into having the ability to read women's thoughts.

Now you know how I feel about remakes.  I rant about them enough, but in case you missed the earlier rants, let's just say I don't like them.  My feeling is if the film was good to begin with, why not watch that one?  Why do it again? But I am going to now shock you. I liked this one, and it's because of Taraji P. Henson who makes this film work, and in this political climate, the film is especially fun and relevant because we get to hear what men are actually thinking.

And what do we women learn when we can hear what men are thinking?  They are worse than we thought!

Ali Davis (Henson) is a sports agent, clearly a woman in a man's world.  She has not yet been able to break into the boy's club and become a partner in her firm, but she is confident it is going to happen at the next big meeting.  She thinks that to make it she needs to act like a man - be ballsy, don't take any crap, be one of the boys, that kind of thing. But when she is passed over once again for partner and that title goes to a guy, she is ironically told it's probably because she just doesn't connect with men. She is discouraged but decides that if she signs young Jamal Barry (Shane Paul McGhie), who is slated to be the NBA's number one draft pick, she will get in with the boys and get her promotion.  But to get to Jamal she needs to get to his Dad, Joe "Dollah" Barry (Tracy Morgan).

In the meantime, Ali drowns her sorrows with her girlfriends, Olivia (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Ciarra (Phoebe Robinson) and Mari (Tamala Jones) at Mari's bachelorette party where part of the fun is Sister (Erykah Badu), a quasi psychic who also sells pot out of the back room of a beauty parlor.  Sister reads Ali's tarot cards, has her drink some strange tea and later Ali passes out and hits her head.  When Ali wakes up in the hospital, she can hear the doctor's thoughts. She actually thinks she hears him speaking so isn't especially concerned, but later in the car when she realizes she can hear her assistant, Brandon's (Josh Brener) thoughts and, he realizes it too, the two scream in unison over the revelation and I got my first laugh.  That screaming trope is something that makes me laugh every time.

This remake pretty much follows the same story as the Mel Gibson version.  Gibson was a man thought not capable of selling products to women but when he gets the ability to read women's thoughts, his life changes for the better --- for awhile.  The same thing happens here.  When Ali realizes what has happened to her, Ali thinks, yeah, now is my chance. I can use this to my advantage. She makes the best of it...for awhile. But eventually it all goes wrong.

Ali has a series of silly adventures using her new knowledge but what she really learns in the end is that she doesn't need to act or think like a man to influence and interact positively with men.  She just needs to be herself.

So here is the measuring rod for comedies.  Is it funny?  Yes, mostly, but more important, the film is enjoyable.

I am a huge Taraji fan, even more so after seeing this.  I thought she was robbed by not getting a Best Actress nomination for her role in "Hidden Figures," that one being a more dramatic role and the most pivotal of the film.  We all know her as Cookie in "Empire," so we know she can play that kind of role, too, but this is strictly light comedy, slapstick even, and she can do that too.  She has that je ne sais qua of wonderful film actresses. J-Lo has it too.  Her realness oozes off the screen.  We really care about her and we forgive her everything.  So when the movie goes a bit off track, that's OK, because we love Taraji.

Tracy Morgan does his usual thing, though he is actually toned down a bit which is good, but the funniest person in the whole film is Erykah Badu.  She is a singer/songwriter in real life, so who knew she was also a comic actress?  With her huge wig, fake teeth and glasses she is absolutely hilarious.  Don't miss her in the credits at the end when the ladies improvise a visit to Sister for a reading.

With a screenplay by a ton of people and directed by Adam Shankman, who I think of more as a choreographer and ex-judge on "So You Think You Can Dance," this film is a fun female empowerment movie similar to another one I liked this year, "Second Act." As far as I am concerned, we can never have enough women empowerment movies.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are looking for a great Girls Night film, this is it.

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


Tea With The Dames (2018)

A documentary where Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins get together for tea to talk about their lives and careers. 

And what lives and careers these ladies have had!

This is not exactly a documentary. It's more like four friends getting together for a chin wag!

If you haven't been living under a rock, you no doubt know who Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are but Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins might be names you don't know.  But they are both also venerable British actresses, and Plowright was also famously married to Lawrence Olivier. When you see the archival footage of stage and film performances, old interviews and photos included in this film, you will no doubt recognize those two as well or, if not, be introduced to them.

The four are taking tea at Joan's lovely country house, but sadly Joan is blind having suffered from macular degeneration and her hearing is bad as well.  But she hasn't lost her sense of humor.  Nor have the other ladies who are clearly enjoying their time together, especially Judi whose whole body shakes when she laughs.

With questions from director Roger Michell, the dames talk about playing Shakespeare; their acting styles; Joan talks about Larry (Olivier) and how being married to him was "a privilege" and "a nightmare." Joan and Eileen share what it was like to not be conventionally pretty actresses; the four talk about getting old; death; and how women of a certain age get treated.  They also wonder who was a Dame first (Judi).  

All are old friends who have not only played the same roles but acted together e.g. hey were all in "Tea with Mussollini."  They also all played the role of Shakespeare's Cleopatra, though most of them didn't feel beautiful enough to play her. Judi remembers that when asked to play the role she replied, "Do you really want a menopausal dwarf to play the part?"

It's also juicy as each weighs in other actors and do a bit of name-dropping so it helps if you know your British actors (Timothy West, the formidable Edith Evans) or the classic plays ("The Importance of being Earnest," "The Three Sisters"). Of course, Maggie talks about being on "Downton Abby," and when she gets mad at a photographer, shows that she might actually be as much a rather negative curmudgeon in real life as her character, Violet Crawley.

When Michell asks, "What would your advice be to your young selves?"

Joan -  "It's never too late."
Eileen- "Not to be so very bad tempered and confrontational.  Listen more."
Maggie-"When in doubt, doubt." (see what I mean about negative?)
Judi -    "Try not to be so susceptible to falling in love" which made everyone                  laugh including Judi!

It's wonderful to see four successful actresses, all looking wonderfully their age without benefit of plastic surgery having such fun together, some of it silly, such as when they wondered: "How many times can you say "Dame Judi Dench" really fast (without messing up)?"

The film ends with Judi reciting the lines from Shakespeare's "The Tempest,"

"We are such stuff as dreams are made of..."

"Our revels now are ended.  These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.  We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with sleep."


I was an actress once and watching this film, I was in heaven. 
The only thing I didn't like about this film was that they lamented that we Americans call them Dame Smith, Dame Dench instead of Dame Maggie, Dame Judi.  No we don't.

If you love acting and these actresses, you are invited to their tea and it's a lovely way to feel like you are spending time with them.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a tea you don't want to miss.
(So how many times could YOU say "Dame Judi Dench" really fast?)

The Bookshop (2017)

In a small 1950's fishing village in East Anglia, Florence Green decides to open a bookshop not realizing the kind of ruthless opposition she would face.

Florence Green (Emily Mortimer), a widow, moves to a small town after the death of her husband and decides to open a bookshop there to help get her life back together again. She chooses The Old House, a building that has been standing vacant for years. The village is populated with an odd assortment of characters some of whom do not wish Florence well in her endeavor.  There is the rich hermit, Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy), who loves to read and with whom Florence corresponds; there is Mr. Keble (Hunter Tremayne), the skeptical banker; Milo North (James Lance) the ex-actor; young Christine (Honor Kneafsey), a young girl who Florence hires to work in the shop and who ironically doesn't like to read; and Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson), a wealthy local resident who had wanted The Old House for a local arts center and who goes on a mission to get the bookshop shut down.  

The film has a voice-over narration throughout and at the end in a bit of a twist we discover who that person is.

Emily Mortimer is one of those actresses who you recognize but don't know her name but she has had a successful acting career since the 90's.  She also has one of those poignant English faces and is one of our most underrated actresses.  Every time I see her, I think, "I really like her.  This is going to be good."

Bill Nighy also guarantees a good time and Patricia Clarkson seems a strange choice for a British matron but she pulls it off.  She does evil very well.

Written and directed by Isobel Coixet (from the novel by Penelope Fitzgerald), this is my kind of film.  Lovely, quaint English town, British actors I recognize, a bit of a romance and a quiet little story with a sweet, fateful ending, not to mention that, I too, wanted to run a book store before book stores went the way of the dinosaur.  Thanks, Amazon!

My mother used to say that you would never feel alone if you read.  Here that same sentiment is expressed:

"No one ever feels alone in a bookshop."

Very much in the English tradition, this little film doesn't have a lot of drama except for whether or not Mrs. Gamart is going to screw things up for our heroine, Florence, but if you love books and long for the old days when things seemed less complicated, this is for you.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked movies like "84 Charing Cross Road" or "The Hundred-Foot Journey," you will enjoy this.

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

107 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Eagle (1925)

A Cossack becomes a wanted man when he seeks revenge on the man who stole his family's land.

Vladimir Dubrovsky (Rudolph Valentino), one of the Czarina's (Louise Dresser) soldiers, comes to her attention when he saves a runaway carriage carrying Mascha (Vilma Banky), a beautiful young woman.  The Czarina invites Dubrovsky to come to her chambers at six.  Dubrovsky worries why the Czarina wants to see him but his colleague says, "Don't worry my boy.  If she wants you at six it means supper not Siberia." But let's just say, it wasn't supper she wanted. So when our handsome hero spurns the Czarina and leaves her in a huff, she is not happy - a woman scorned and all of that.  He is branded a deserter and she orders that he is to be captured "dead or alive." Then she moves on to the next handsome soldier.  Our Czarina is kind of a sexual predator.

Dubrovsky becomes a wanted man.  

In the meantime he also discovers that Kyrilla Troekouroff (James A. Marcus) has stolen his family's land so he sets out to seek revenge on him. He takes on the persona of the Black Eagle, a sort of Robin Hood character, in order to terrorize Kyrilla.  He also impersonates a French tutor that Kyrilla has hired to teach French to his daughter.  And speaking of the daughter, well, there is a hitch in Dubrovsky's plan. She turns out to be Mascha, the young woman in the runaway carriage he saved. He falls in love with her, so now he is torn between his love for her and his desire to seek revenge.

I remember seeing Rudolph Valentino for the first time in "The Sheik," a movie that would certainly not go over today in this age of "Me too."  He literally kidnaps a woman, takes her to his tent in the desert, and has his way with her.  To a young girl who didn't know any better, that seemed quite romantic, and I wasn't alone, which probably explains some of the problems we have today.  But Valentino was a dashing figure known for his smoldering looks.  Here he's not quite as dashing as he was in "The Sheik," but this one is much more PC and Valentino is able to show some of his comic skills.  Directed by Clarence Brown, this film holds up surprisingly well for a silent film. Even the acting isn't as broad as some.

In case you are not familiar with Valentino, he was born Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguella in 1895 in Italy and became a sex symbol pop icon of the 1920's.  He was the first "Latin Lover" and his film "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" was the first film to make a million dollars and stands today as the sixth highest grossing silent film ever.  He was a handsome, charismatic fellow known for his "smoldering looks" and when he died prematurely at 31 it caused riots around the world.

Whenever I watch silent films, I am reminded of how little dialogue is needed for us to know what is going on. A picture is worth a thousand words. All of the romance, humor and drama could be conveyed with looks and gestures and minimal intertitles (that's what those dialogue cards are called). When I watch silent films I am drawn back to before I was born, when my parents were young.  They were born in 1908 so those were the kinds of films that filled their childhoods.  That was what going to the movies was for them.

I found this film on Amazon Prime and the quality isn't that good but I was amazed that these films even exist today which is a good thing.

Why it's a Must See: "...a light-hearted frolic whose balance of comedy and drama foreshadows later action films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and The Mark of Zorro (1940)."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...what they said.

***The Book of the Week***

The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair that Rocked the Crown by Penny Junor (2018)

A biography of Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Warning:  If you are in the Diana camp and blame Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles for everything bad that happened to the Princess (and I do), then you might not want to read this flattering biography where Junor thinks Bowles is the best thing to happen to Prince Charles since sliced bread. 

Though I admit, I have always been and always will be in the Princess Diana corner and feel she was an unwitting lamb led to the slaughter that was life as Prince Charles' wife, this is a well-written and fascinating biography of Bowles and her rise fame.

Camilla met Charles early on and he was smitten.  But he dragged his feet and Camilla really had her heart set on the handsome and sought after Andrew Parker Bowles.  Despite the fact he was a womanizer, she hung in there until he finally proposed but even marriage didn't stop the womanizing.

Then Charles, over 30, was pressured to find a virgin, get married and provide an heir.  Enter 19-year-old Diana, who was more a suitable bride for Charles than a love match.  Marriage followed, then "an heir and a spare," and Charles had done his duty.  Through all of that, Camilla and Charles remained friends and she was often his confidant especially since they ran in the same circles and she enjoyed the same things that he did - polo, gardening, the joys of country life, yawn, and other stuff.

Junor swears there was no hanky-panky between Charles and Camilla after he married Diana until Diana's and Charles' marriage was "irretrievably broken" but Junor can't be trusted because she clearly disapproved of Diana over the years.  This book is all about improving Camilla's image and, I hate to say, it does to a certain extent, but I have and always will be in the Diana camp.

I have been a royal watcher for most of my life.  

Prince Charles was born the same year that I was which must have given my mother the idea that perhaps her little daughter might one day marry a Prince, because growing up I remember that she had a LOT of Prince Charles memorabilia and books about the Royal Family.  But when Diana came along, I, too, was totally hooked.  I loved her and loved living in the world with her in it.  When she died so tragically, I was devastated.  It's so strange how one can have feelings about someone one has never met, but like I said, I liked sharing the world with her.  Here is a taste of how I felt - "Remembering Diana."

So if you admired her like I did and you read this book, you might want to throw it against the wall at times because Junor is clearly in the Camilla-Charles camp and has some not so nice things to say about Diana, in fact it's a bit of a hatchet job, but despite that, she has also been Royal watching a long time, is well-connected and knows how it all operates, so the sections in the book where she breaks down all of the various Royal titles and who outranks who and why and how Royalty "works" is fascinating.

Similarly, Camilla's history is interesting.

There is nobility in her lineage (she and Charles are actually ninth cousins once removed and might even be closer to second cousins if the rumors about her grandmother being the child of Edward VII are true), as well as some not so noble behavior. You see, her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, though married herself, was the favored mistress of King Edward VII, and when Camilla and Prince Charles met, Camilla supposedly remarked about that by saying something cheeky like "How about it?" 

But if you are still not convinced that Camilla deserves to be forgiven, here are some Camilla "Fun Facts" that might even the playing field a bit where Diana is concerned (my own research)!:

  • Camilla wears Spanx
  • She uses bee-venom facials
  • And best of all (Diana would love this) Camilla and Charles can claim a connection to Dracula
Diana called Camilla "The Rottweiller."  I think she might have also enjoyed calling her Dracula.

Rosy the Reviewer Royal watchers out there might enjoy this if you can get over the Charles-Diana-Camilla triangle!  

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Isn't It Romantic?"


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.