Showing posts with label The Kingdom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Kingdom. Show all posts

Friday, March 6, 2020

"The Invisible Man" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "The Invisible Man" as well as DVDs "Frankie" and "Dr. Sleep."  The Book of the Week is "The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter -- One Month at a Time" by Jennifer Ashton, M.D.  I also bring you-up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Kingdom."]

The Invisible Man

Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) manages to escape her abusive boyfriend and when she discovers that he has committed suicide, she thinks she is finally free.  But is she?

I feel like I have been attending a Blumhouse film festival, Blumhouse being the number one producer of horror films right now.  Last week, I reviewed their remake of "Fantasy Island" and now this one.  I didn't like "Fantasy Island" and had this feeling that Blumhouse was basically B-movie schlock, but after seeing this, I realize there is Blumhouse and then there is BLUMHOUSE!  Yes, there is still the B-movie Blumhouse, but I guess there is also the premiere Blumhouse, too, because this film was really good.  More of a thriller than a horror film, it ticked all of the boxes of an exciting movie experience.  Great screenplay by Leigh Whannell. Not a loose end in sight.  Tick.  Wonderful acting. Tick. Satisfying ending. Tick. Tense, tense, tense thanks to Whannell, who also directed. Tick, tick and tick.

When we first meet Cecilia it's the early morning hours, and she is lying in bed wide awake, her boyfriend, Adrian's (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) arm across her side, an early indication that perhaps Adrian is a bit of a control freak.  But she doesn't lie there long.  She is getting ready to make her escape, and she does in a harrowing opening fifteen-minute sequence that will get your heart pumping and it doesn't stop building from there.

Cecilia is picked up by her sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer), and finds a safe house because she is terrified that Adrian will find her.  You see, Adrian was an abusive boyfriend.  Cecilia is staying with her friend, James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter, Sydney (Storm Reid), but Cecilia is a nervous wreck, so nervous that she can't even make herself go out to the mailbox.  So when her sister arrives and tells her that Adrian has committed suicide, Cecilia is relieved to say the least.  And not only is he dead but he has made her the beneficiary of millions of dollars.  Time to celebrate!


Then strange things start occuring, things that lead Cecilia to not only believe that Adrian might not really be dead but that he has been able to make himself invisible and is now tormenting her and turning her life into a nightmare. But how do you get people to believe it's not you punching young Sydney or writing nasy emails to your sister, that it's really your dead boyfriend who has somehow come back to life and is now invisible? Is Cecilia really being tormented by her now invisible boyfriend or is she going insane? 

Inspired by the 1897 book by H.G. Wells, you might want to compare this film to that or the 1933 film, but this is no rehash of either of those.  This is the terrifying story of an abused woman who is not believed, certainly a metaphor for today.

Though the other actors are fine, this film is practically a one-woman show for Moss and nobody does beleagered women and scary, tense escapes like Elisabeth Moss. If you have seen her in "A Handmaid's Tale," you know what I mean.  But she is a wonderful actress in general, keeping what could have turned into a horror soap opera into a thrilling and scary ride.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a thrilling thriller.

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


Frankie (2019)

Frankie (Isabelle Huppert), an ex-actress, is dying and her family gathers in a village in Portugal to say goodbye.

I have had a long history with Isabelle Huppert.  I had an early affinity for foreign films.  We had an "art" theatre in our town and you had to be 18 to go see all of those foreign films because, heaven forbid, we can't have our teenagers seeing some nudity in those French films, now can we?  But we got ourselves in and then would show off the next day at school, talking about the film, feeling very sophisticated.  So my love for foreign films continued. I first saw Huppert in 1974 in "Going Places," and I have been a big fan ever since, and she has had a long and celebrated international acting career.  Sadly, this film doesn't do her justice.

Frankie is a former film star but has maintained the haughty presence of one who is still popular. She has summoned her family to the Portuguese village of Sintra for a family reunion, but it's also to say goodbye because she has cancer and his going to die.  Her husband, Jimmy (Brendan Gleeson), is there as well and he is already suffering at the thought of losing his wife. There is also Frankie's ex-husband, Michel (Pascal Greggory), with a male companion (you heard me) followed by Ilene (Marisa Tomei), Frankie's hair dresser and confidant and her significant other, Gary (Greg Kinnear), and Frankie's son, Paul (Jeremie Renier) who looks like a character from "Trainspotting."  He is having trouble settling down.  There is also Frankie's step-daughter, Sylvia (Vinette Robinson), her husband, Ian (Ariyon Bakare), and their daughter Maya (Sennia Nanua), who is not getting along with her mother. To complicate matters even more, Sylvia plans to leave Ian.

Written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias and directed by Sachs, the premise is similar to "The Farewell," - the family has been summoned for a reunion but also to say goodbye, though in this case Frankie knows she is going to die. There is also an Eric Rohmer meets Woody Allen feel, too, but this film is neither as affecting as "The Farewell," nor as deep as Rohmer's films (I say deep because I never really understood them) nor as funny as Allen's. It's all very slow moving, with all kinds of walking and talking with absolutely nothing happening. It is an absolutely gorgeous film to look at because of the lovely Portuguese village and the surrounding vistas, forests and beaches, but if I wanted a travelogue I would have watched a travelogue where I didn't have to listen to all of these boring characters talk about nothing, which is sad because these are all wonderful actors. They deserved better.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A big cast of characters and a lot of walking and talking that doesn't add up to anything. Zzzzzz

Dr. Sleep (2019)

A sequel to "The Shining," as in what happened to young Danny, Jack and Wendy Torrance's son, the kid with "The Shining?"

Well, when you have "the shining," as in psychic abilities, I guess you turn into an alcoholic and have a bunch of psychic vampires chasing you down!

In this sequel, we have the adult Danny (Ewen McGregor) with all kinds of issues from the past, not the least which is that old, naked lady in the shower, but now he also has to contend with another kid with "the shining," young Abra (Kyliegh Curran), and a new problem, some psychic vampires called the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who feed off of the "steam" of little kids who have "the shining," as in they kill those little kids and suck up the steam from their tortured and then dead bodies. If you have a problem with children being tortured, this probably isn't for you.  There is one particular scene that is very hard to watch.  The "ew factor" is huge.

So we have poor Danny who has already lived through a murderous Dad and alcoholism, trying to control his "shining" abilities and using them for good, working in a hospice, helping people go over to the other side, hence his nickname and the title of this film.  But all of that is interrupted when Abra is able to psychically communicate with Danny and he realizes he now has to protect her.  

It's all very Stephen King and looks very much like the original film except that the Overlook Hotel appears to have new carpet. Many of the tropes from the first film were in evidence, though it probably would help the enjoyment of this one to go back and watch the first one again. It's all very moody and stylish, and the vampire gang is a new twist, but the film, adapted from Stephen King's own sequel and also merged with the first film and directed by Mike Flanagan is VERY LONG! That's what happens, I guess, when you try to merge the first film (which King supposedly did not like) with King's book sequel and then add some changes of your own. 

Now here is a little film lesson.

How can you tell when a movie is going to be very long?

First, watch out for a film marked "Director's Cut." For some reason, the DVD you get from Netflix is a Director's Cut.  You know what that means, right?  LONG!!!  "Director's Cut" is actually an ironic name for the film the director really wanted to release.  It's ironic because it means THERE ARE NO CUTS.  If director's could have their way, no one would cut one moment of their precious films and all films would be over three hours.  Well, this one was three hours. 

The second way you can tell that a movie is going to be very long is when it is broken up into chapters.  This one had SIX!  I knew "Director's Cut" was bad, but as soon as the film began and I saw "Chapter One," I said out loud, "Oh, geez."

The film used a whole hour to just set us up with Danny's current situation.  That could have been cut down to fifteen minutes.  And then at the end there is a vampire fight, with each vampire getting a very long, extended and disintegrating death scene. Could have done away with all of that. Kill them already and be done with it. So those would be Rosy the Reviewer's cuts.

But thank god for the remote. When you have a three hour movie and you are watching it at home, there is a tendency to fast forward through the boring bits.  Even when I am in the movie theatre, I can't tell you how many times my hands get twitchy and I reach for an imaginary remote when I am bored ("Fantasy Island" was a perfect example)!

That's not to say this film did not have some redeeming qualities. It did. Despite the length, it was actually good. Those True Knot nutters were interesting - Ferguson is always good and a stand-out in this - and Ewen McGregor can do no wrong in my book, except maybe singing in "Moulin Rouge."  For some reason, when he sang he looked just like a Muppet.

Young Kyliegh is an engaging young actress.  With a character name like Abra, I was surprised her last name wasn't Cadabra. I know, I'm terrible. I mean, she did have magical abilities.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a perfectly good Stephen King film but it was 60 minutes too long. Try to avoid the "Director's Cut" version if you can.

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

40 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Kingdom (1994)
(Original Title: Riget)

Some supernatural goings on at a Danish hospital called The Kingdom.

There is an arrogant Swedish neurosurgeon, Dr. Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Jaregard), who has been demoted to working in Denmark after plagiarizing some medical papers, and he is not happy about it.  It seems Swedes don't like Danes very much. There is also Mrs. Drusse (Kirsten Rolffes), an old woman who keeps checking herself into the hospital so she can make contact with the spirit world; all kinds of sexual shenanigans amongst the doctors and other hospital staff; a little girl ghost in the elevator shaft; a demonic dog; and two kids with Down Syndrome who are the hospital dishwashers and appear to be a sort of Greek chorus talking about what is going on upstairs.  All of that adds up to not much in my opinion.  The best part of it all was creator/director Lars von Trier coming in at the end of each part and saying some strange stuff about good and evil.

Why it's a Must See: "The Kingdom's spare, but escalating, supernatural manifestations, are genuinely eerie, sometimes magical...with the mock-documentary aesthetic of irony-laden 1990's soap."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Hospitals are great places to film horror films because hospitals hold so many horrors that we humans sometimes have to go through. I get that part. Stephen King based the 13-episode TV miniseries "Kingdom Hospital" on this Danish TV show that was later cobbled together into this two part film.  That and the fact that writer/director Lars von Trier created and co-directed this series with Morton Arnfred early in his career before his successes with "Dogville" and "Melancholia" are the only reasons I can come up with as to why this was included in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book.

Rosy the Reviewer incomprehensible mishmash that I certainly did not need to see before I died.
(In Danish with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter -- One Month at a Time by Jennifer Ashton, M.D. (2019)

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC's Chief Medical Correspondent, outlines a year long plan to improve our emotional and physical health.

Ashton confesses that, like the rest of us, she usually makes New Year's resolutions but for 2018 she decided to try something different, to implement a plan where she was not just the researcher but also the subject.  She was going to try something new every month for the year, something that would improve her health and well-being, and then see how that made her feel.  She thought she could certainly make something work for a month.  And this book is the culmination of that year.  She shares the results and how we can make it work for us.

Each month poses a new challenge:

January - No booze 
(since January is already over...)

February - Doing push-ups and planks 
If you don't have time to go to the gym, you can certainly spend a few minutes doing some push-ups and planks and why push ups and planks?  Push ups have been hailed as the world's greatest and most perfect exercise.  Why? Because push-ups work nearly every muscle in your body. And she says everyone can do them, even if it's just pushing off the wall or from your knees. Likewise, planks use important muscles and especially work the abdominal muscles for a strong core, something that helps with back problems.  She also adds tips for making this work: do them first thing in the morning; add music; and do them with a partner!

I wasn't exactly sure how to do a plank so here it is!

(and in case you just gave a sigh of relief, thinking that's all she expects exercise-wise, you would be wrong.  April is all about cardio)! 

March - Meditation
She credits meditating with everything from helping you sleep to staving off depression to lowering your blood pressure to losing weight to making you smarter.  Not sure about all of that, but I know it has helped me.  I wrote about it in one of my early blog posts - "A Little Meditation on a Little Meditation by an Unlikely Meditator.

April - Cardio
You've heard the new saying that sitting on the couch is the new smoking, right?  Well, Ashton reminds us of that and guilt trips you into getting your butt in gear.  But the good news is a little is better than nothing. Even 20 minutes of brisk walking will help you with sleep issues, fat, blood pressure, cholesterol, you name it.  Exercise is the wonder drug.

May - Less meat, more plants
When you read her reasons why we should eat less meat and more veggies, you won't want to see a piece of meat again!

June - Hydration (that's water to you and me)
Did you know that three-quarters of all Americans are chronically dehydrated?  And now here is ANOTHER thing that's as bad as smoking!  So start sucking down that water!

July - More steps
I already shoot for 10,000 steps a day and probably get that half the time.  She wants me to DOUBLE my steps?

August - Mindful tech (as in turn off your phone)!
Now this I agree with! Ashton promises that if you get off your phone you will sleep better, have more time for friends and family, your leisure time will turn from fun to phenomenal and you will be less anxious, stressed, lonely and depressed. She also warns that your smart phone will make you stupid and look older, it sabotages your sleep and social life, is wrecking your posture, eyesight, and dexterity AND it can even kill you!  Click!

September - Less sugar
Does this mean I have to throw away those boxes of See's I have in the fridge? Oh, c'mon, as bad as smoking, too?

October - Stretching
She's into foam rollers.

November - Sleep
"Just one night of poor sleep can affect your mood and energy levels."  
I must be doing something right.  I have no problems sleeping. 

"Sleep can make you happier and sexier."  
I'm heading off to bed now!

December - Laughter
It would help if someone would make a comedy that was actually funny! But this is all about finding joy.

Sound doable?  Or just too much?  Ashton ends each chapter with how to make each monthly challenge work, and she ends the book with tips on how to turn these changes into lifelong habits.

All good ideas and when broken up into monthly challenges, I think they are doable and it's always good to have a plan when you want to make changes.

Rosy the Reviewer says...we all want to be better people, right?  Well, here is a plan!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"The Way Back"


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.