Showing posts with label The Lost City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Lost City. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2022

"The Gray Man" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Netflix original movie "The Gray Man" and Sandra Bullock's latest film "The Lost City" as well as a local theatre production of "Mary Poppins"]

The Gray Man (2022)

When a CIA operative discovers agency corruption, international assassins come after him. An around the world cat and mouse game ensues.

What do Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Billy Bob Thornton, Rege-Jean Page (yes, the very hunky Duke from "Bridgerton," Season One - I wondered where he went!), and Ana de Armas all have in common?  They are all in this new Netflix thriller that isn't very good.

It's 2003 and a man (Gosling) is being interviewed in prison by Donald Fitzroy (Thornton). The man is in prison for murdering his Dad, though he was just a kid trying to protect his brother. That's his defense, anyway. Fitzroy is there to commute his sentence if he will come to work for him and "kill bad guys."  You see, Fitzroy is from the CIA and it seems the CIA likes to recruit from the prison pool for their Sierra program, a unit of men who "exist in the gray."  It's one of those movies where a supposed bad guy gets recruited for the CIA.  If you watch enough of these kinds of movies you would think that everyone in the CIA is an ex-con.

Fast forward, 18 years and our guy is now called Sierra Six, Six for short.

Six is now on a mission to assassinate a target suspected of selling off national security secrets. This is when we learn that Six isn't really a bad guy after all.  He  has a conscience. He is a sniper and killer but he won't take a shot at a bad guy if a little kid could possibly get hurt. He is finally able to hit the target, but before the target dies, he reveals to Six that he also worked in the Sierra program as Sierra Four, and gives Six an encrypted thumb drive that proves that CIA official Denny Carmichael (Page) is corrupt. 

Carmichael finds out about the incriminating thumb drive and hires mercenary Lloyd Hansen (Evans), a former CIA agent kicked out of the agency for being a nutter to track down Six and retrieve the drive. Hansen does so by kidnapping Fitzroy's niece Claire (Julia Butters) and then blackmailing Fitzroy to authorize Six's murder.

Now Six has to save Claire and wouldn't you know. Conveniently for Six, Claire has a pacemaker. Did you know once you have the serial number for a pacemaker, you can follow it anywhere?  I didn't.  So Six heads to Croatia to save Claire, all the while playing a cat and mouse game to escape Hanson and his goons who want him dead.


I admit that my mind isn't what it used to be, and I often have problems following intricate spy movie plots, but this one was ridiculously convoluted and far-fetched.

Based on the book by Mark Greaney with a screenplay written by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (the Russo Brothers are also responsible for "Avengers: Endgame"), there is the usual macho snappy dialogue between the good guy and the bad guy especially when the good guy is tied up and about to be killed. Why are you exchanging snappy dialogue? Kill him already! Do you remember how many times the bad guys in the James Bond films could have killed James if they had just stopped talking?  It's like that. And spy movie tropes abound here - family member in jeopardy (it helps if it's a kid), can't tell who is the bad guy and who is the good guy (sometimes they are both), a bad ass woman or two, beautiful European locations and torture. This time lack of character development so I didn't care about any of these people, and fingernails being pulled out with pliers. Didn't like that.

Sometimes there just isn't anything playing in the theatres so when I don't feel like watching "The Bachelorette" or the cooking shows I often have on my DVR, I am happy to see that Netflix has released a new "original" feature film.  There was a lot of hype around this film because it was to be Netflix's big summer blockbuster (they spent a ton of money on it) starring Ryan Gosling, so even though I have vowed to stop promoting revenge movies that glorify gun violence, I thought I would give this one a try in case it was just the usual car chase, bomb-throwing knife wielding spy thriller. I do enjoy the occasional spy thriller, and was curious what usually intense and sensitive Gosling would do with this role as a badass action star. I also usually like Chris Evans but here he looks more like Freddie Mercury than Captain America and, for being an ex-CIA villain, he is surprisingly incompetent.

Did I enjoy this? Is Ryan Gosling our next big action star?  To quote from a movie I saw recently that I actually liked, "Nope."

Netflix, you let me down.  If I want to experience torture, I will stick with "The Bachelorette."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like Ryan or Chris, lots of violence, a very convoluted, far-fetched plot and characters you won't care about or you are just in the mood for a travelogue on Vienna, Prague and Croatia with some torture thrown in, this is for you.  Otherwise, you can skip this. (Netflix)

The Lost City (2022)

A reclusive romance writer finds herself living through a real life romance novel plot.

Usually when a movie is free on Amazon Prime soon after it's release in the theatres, that's not a good sign, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Dr. Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a reclusive best-selling romance writer who is losing her mojo since the death of her husband. She is depressed and wants to be left alone, but she has a new book to promote - she writes a series about Dr. Angela Lovemore and her lover, Dash McMahan -  and Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), her agent, tells her she has to do a book tour. So off she goes with her cover model, Dash, whose real name is Alan (Channing Tatum), a Fabio look-alike who graces the covers of her books and is the real draw on this tour, that is, until his wig falls off. Turns out Alan is kind of a dork. 

The tour is not going well and Loretta and Alan are not getting along.  Gee.  I wonder how that's going to turn out.  But then Loretta is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), a rich man (yes, you heard me, a man named Abigail), who believes Loretta can translate an ancient language (he found out she had studied dead languages in college) and lead him to the Crown of Fire, a priceless treasure located in a lost city on an island in the Atlantic.  

Alan, who has a crush on Loretta, witnesses the kidnapping so he recruits Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a former Navy SEAL turned CIA operative, to help him rescue Loretta. Jack is immediately on the case and doing all of the work. In fact, Jack is a one-man wrecking crew, beating up three or four guys at a time, while Alan is more of a liability than a help. But then Jack gets shot and Alan has to go on alone. He may be a dork but he wants to prove to Loretta that he is the brave romantic hero she has portrayed him as in her books, because he really cares about her.  Many hijinks ensue with lots of witty banter between Alan and Loretta, as Alan tries to save Loretta, and the two try to escape the island before a volcano erupts. Loretta finds herself the heroine in her own real life romance novel.  And Alan must prove to her that he is in fact Dash-ing.

If you were around in 1984, and this story by Seth Gordon and screenplay by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Aaron Neeseems strangely familiar, you are not imagining it.  This could be a remake of "Romancing the Stone," though it's not. But even though it feels like a "Romancing the Stone" derivative, it's still enjoyable and hey, "Romancing the Stone" was 38 years ago.  You aren't supposed to be able to remember that far back.

Watching this film also reminded me of how much I liked Sandra Bullock from the moment she made a big splash in "Speed."  She embodied the girl next door, a regular girl who was funny and quick-witted and not afraid to look silly now and then. We regular girls could relate to her.  But now Sandra Bullock is a superstar but, alas, an aging superstar, and it seems she is going to semi-retire and that's a shame because as this film shows, she's still got it.  She may be 58, but she looks wonderful and still has that regular girl thing, with the witty repartee and that klutzy physical humor that we other 58 year olds, er, older regular girls can relate to. Sandra, don't go!

I also remember the first time I saw Channing Tatum do his thing in "Magic Mike."  Yikes. What a specimen. A true romantic hero in real life.  I don't mean to objectify Channing.  Well, I kinda do.  Sorry.  And he certainly turns on the sex appeal during a dance that he does with Sandra in this film - ooh la la.  My little ancient heart was pounding.  But Channing also has personality and he is not above making fun of himself, too, which makes him even more lovable.

And then there is Brad, the Grand Old Man of Romantic Heroes, a real life Fabio,  who is also not afraid to make fun of himself and his image.  I think he is the one having the most fun here.

Kudos also to Randolph and Radcliffe (our little Harry Potter is all grown up).  They also add to the fun.

As I said, I did not have high hopes for this film going in, but nothing warms the heart of an avid movie fan more than starting with low expectations and being pleasantly surprised. There aren't enough rom-coms these days, so this was a breath of fresh air and a lot of fun. If you watch, be sure to hang in through the credits because there is a very cute epilogue.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have been missing rom-coms or just need something light to help you get away from it all, this is a very fun rom-com adventure, a romance novel come to life.

Important Note:'s not all about going out to the movies or Netflix and Chillin' - there is a whole other world out there waiting for you and that is local theatre.

You all know that I am a big movie and TV lover, but what you might not know is that my first love was the theatre.  I was an aspiring actress from the age of, oh, when I first saw "Gone With the Wind" at the age of 5 - and no, I didn't see it when it first came out in 1939. I'm not that old. You younguns out there might not realize that before the one million TV stations you now have, there were just three and when a movie came to your local theatre, if you missed it, you missed it - never to be seen again unless it was re-released and that's what would happen with "Gone With the Wind." It would be re-released every ten years or so. I saw it in the 1950's. So there.

Anyway, back to the theatre. I had a small student career as an actress that spanned about ten years. 

Aristophanes "The Birds" 

The highest moment of my pseudo-acting career was when Karl Malden directed a play I was in at my college. Sadly, that might have been the moment I decided I wasn't going to become a professional actress - when he didn't say, "Rosy, I'm going to make you a star."  Hey, I was 21.  What did I know? I thought that's how it worked. Famous guy saw how awesome I was, he made me a star.  That's all I had to do.  Anyway, needless to say, here I am, a retired librarian - long story - but I have always maintained my love of the theatre and all things acting and that is why you find me now writing this blog.

But despite the fact that I had only an amateur career as an actress, I have nothing but respect for those who went on to actually pursue their careers, and I am still totally in that world, if only in my mind.

Mary Poppins at the Forest Theatre

So that said, I had the pleasure this week of attending the musical, "Mary Poppins," at the Forest Theatre in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California, a place very near to where I live and very near to the heart of this once-aspiring actress.  The Forest Theatre productions are in a beautiful outdoor theatre (you can bring a picnic, and best of all, wine!), and they are professional productions with wonderfully talented actors and technical staff.

You probably all know the basic story about Mary Poppins, but what you might not know is that this musical production came after the Disney movie starring Julie Andrews and the story varies somewhat from that. The Disney movie was in 1964 and the stage musical opened in the West End in London in 2004, and you "Downton Abbey" fans will be happy to know the script was written by none other than Julian Fellowes, the creator of "Downton Abbey." 

In this wonderful Forest Theatre production, Mary Poppins is played by Malinda DeRouen, who, as Mary sings about herself, is "practically perfect."  I could listen to her gorgeous voice forever.  And Corey Wright guides us through the production as Bert, his dancing a major highlight.  The rest of the cast are also wonderful.  It's a huge cast so kudos to director and choreographer Lara Devlin and vocal director Janice Marotta-Perl. 

This version of the Mary Poppins story focuses more on the children, Jane and Michael (sharing the roles: Heidi Witten-Forsythe, Zoe Ushakoff, Caden Devlin and Daisy Pearl Ashby), and what brats they are, and the problems George (Rob Devlin) and Winifred Banks (Chrissy Brooks) are having in their marriage until Mary Poppins arrives to show them the way. There are also some new songs and other differences from the film, but if you love the character of Mary Poppins and her magical way of transforming a family, you will love this magical production produced by Stephen Moorer and the Pacific Repertory Company. The sets (Patrick McEvoy) and costumes (Ziona Goren) are amazing and that wonderful music is enhanced by sound designer, Tony Nocita. There are even special effects by ZFX.

When it comes to entertainment, it's not all about TV and movies. Don't forget you have live theatre.  There is nothing like sitting there watching it all happen live before you with your fellow humans. Theatre promotes community.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you live on the Monterey Peninsula or in the Bay Area and want to have a lovely, magical weekend, don't miss this wonderful production.  It's "practically perfect!" (playing Thursday-Sunday through September 18.  For tickets)

It's important to support local theatre, so if you can't see this production, check to see what is playing in your community.

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)