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

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Journey to My New Bionic Shoulder - Part 3: What Got Me Through - TV Series I Watched During Recovery

(Squid Game, Maid, The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Only Murders in the Building, What We Do in the Shadows, Jeopardy)

It's amazing how time and place can etch things in your memory.  At the beginning of quarantine for the Coronavirus back in 2020, as I sat at home wondering when I would be free to go out again, I turned to two of my favorite pasttimes, TV and movies, and was enthralled with "The Queen's Gambit."  That wonderful series helped me get through that time.  

Now I have been in another kind of quarantine sitting at home for the last six weeks, working on becoming the next incarnation of The Bionic Woman as I recovered from shoulder replacement surgery, unable to drive, not being able to do much (Hubby had to set my hair - take a picture of that in your mind), and when I did try to do something, I had to do it with my left hand while wondering when this fresh hell would be over and I would be free to get my life back. 

So once again, my TV helped me through (you know I am a TV addict, right?), and this time, it was "Squid Game," Netflix's now most popular series ever, that helped me get through the pain and boredom of recovery.  

So let me wax poetic about that and some other highly bingeable shows that have helped me get through these last six weeks. (And you don't need to be in pain or quarantine to enjoy them)!

Squid Game (Netflix)

A group of people hopelessly in debt play children's games to win a big prize.  The downside?  You lose, you die.

Nothing like seeing a bunch of people massacred after losing at Red Light/Green Light to take your mind off your own troubles.  Yes, it's bloody but it's also bloody engrossing and fun. Schadenfreude at its best.

Now if you haven't heard of this series, I don't want to be mean, but you have probably been under a rock, because this show is the most watched Netflix series ever. And there is a reason for that.  It's, pardon the pun, bloody good! 

This South Korean series has been called a sort of "Hunger Games" for adults.  That is true to some extent, but I think that comparison doesn't give credit to just how original this series is and the message it delivers.  Just from an entertainment standpoint, it's great, but it also serves as a metaphor for the disparity between the classes as poor people and people hopelessly in debt play children's games for a big cash prize and the amusement of the very rich. And then there's that whole thing about what happens if they lose. If they lose, they die. Mmm. Which is worse? Being poor or being dead?

Our hero, if you can call him that, is Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a divorced ex-chauffeur and indebted loser due to his penchant for gambling. He has disappointed his young daughter and also lives with his mother and we all know what that means.  He is invited to play a series of children's games for a chance at a huge cash prize as in 45.6 billion South Korean won (that's over 38 million dollars). Since he is being chased by some very bad guys to whom he owes money, he decides he has nothing to lose, so he buys in and is taken to an unknown location where he finds himself among 455 other players who are in his similar situation.  Gi-hun allies with other players including a childhood friend, Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo), who just happens to also be in a difficult situation and they all try to survive. 

The players are all overseen by guards dressed in red jumpsuits and masks and everything is manipulated by the Front Man, who is dressed all in black and also masked and who looks like a low-rent version of Darth Vader. The players soon learn that losing a game results in death with each death adding 100 million South Korean won to the prize.  Yes, death is on the table but the prize is just too big to let get away.  And yes, Gi-hun is a big loser but he grows on you and you don't want him to die. Likewise, the other players are unique individuals and well-drawn, including a young detective who infiltrates the compound looking for his brother.  All of these characters will grow on you too and you will be kept on the edge of your seat as you wonder what the outcome for each of them will be. Who will survive?

There is a Korean Wave taking place with the increase in popularity of South Korean culture.  The movie "Parasite" was a surprise hit and won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2020, the boy band BTS has sold over 20 million albums and now this series has taken over TV. South Korean film-making is huge these days. And the reason?  They are putting out great movies and TV shows. 

Rosy the Reviewer's a bit cartoonish and bloody, but get yourself through the first episode, and I guarantee that you will be hooked.  And, yes, subtitles, but you can do it. If you like dark but original and engrossing, this is for you!

Maid (Netflix)

Young mother, Alex, takes her daughter and leaves an abusive relationship and works as a house cleaner to try to make a better life for them both.

Margaret Qualley stars as Alex, a young woman living with her husband, Sean (Nick Robinson), and young daughter, Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet), in a trailer in the Pacific Northwest. It's not a happy arrangement as her husband is a drunk and abusive so she leaves.  But what does a young woman with no education or job experience do? Her mother, Paula (Andie MacDowell), is an aging hippie living in an RV with her much younger husband and Alex doesn't want anything to do with her Dad.  So with no safe place to land, she finds a job as a maid and struggles to find daycare for her daughter and a place to live.  It's not a happy life with one stumbling block presenting itself in every episode. She just can't seem to catch a break.  But she is determined to have her own life and to make her way as a writer.

Created by Molly Smith Metzler and based on Stephanie Land's memoir, "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive," this is an interesting, though often dark and difficult story of how hard it is to survive in this world, especially for women without resources trying to escape abusive situations, but, though it's not an easy road to get it, there is help out there.  And there is hope.

Qualley made a big splash with a small role as one of Manson's girls in "Once Upon a Hollywood." But now she carries an entire series, and her performance here is wonderful and real, and I predict it will be her big break out. Expect awards.  

And did you know that Qualley is Andie MacDowell's real life daughter? Qualley and McDowell make an intriguing mother and daughter acting duo with MacDowell playing against type so much that in her appearances on several talk shows she has wanted to make sure that people don't think this character is anything like her real self.  Let's hope not.  Paula is not only a flibbertigibbet, she is selfish, mean and probably bi-polar and MacDowell sells it (even though she assures us none of that is really her).  

The rest of the cast are first-rate, and though at times you might say "Sheesh," as yet another catastrophe hits Alex, you will stay-tuned to see how she fares, because you are rooting for her. Oh, and by the way. You know how I usually dislike overly precocious child actors?  Little Rylea as little Maddy not only didn't bother me, I thought she was adorable (I must be getting soft)!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I predict a long and exciting career for Qualley.  Here is your chance to say you knew her when. If you like shows with well-drawn, strong characters and an engrossing story, this is for you.

The Morning Show - Season Two (Apple +)

A dramatization of the emotional and political life backstage at a TV morning show where the male anchor has been fired for sexual harassment - sound familiar?

Season One (which I reviewed back in February) was a juicy hit that won many awards.  Now we are in Season two --- and it's even better and juicier.

Created by Jay Carson and Kerry Ehrin, Season Two picks up where we left off in Season One, after Morning Show anchor Alex Levy's (Jennifer Aniston) on-air meltdown that exposed the toxic culture at the UBA Network still stinging.  She has left the network and is working on a memoir and wondering what her future holds. Alex's on-air partner, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) is settling in as the main anchor on The Morning Show with help from Laura Peters (Julianna Margulies) and Daniel Henderson (Desean Terry), who as the only black anchor is unhappy about the lack of diversity.  Meanwhile, Network executives Stella Bak (Greta Lee) and Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup) are still trying to get past Mitch Kessler's (Steve Carell) sexual transgressions and the unfortunate aftermath. Meanwhile, Mitch is hiding out in Italy and meets a local documentarian and they embark on a relationship of sorts with tragic consequences.  

And all the while some strange virus is creeping up on the world.

There is lots going on, but it's great fun and Jennifer Anniston and Billy Crudup are outstanding, she running the gamut from caring friend to her colleagues to bitter rival, he a smarmy, winking schemer who you don't want to turn your back on. The entire ensemble is first rate, and you won't be able to wait for the next installment.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you enjoy behind the scene exposes of television productions anchored by great performances, you will enjoy this (new episodes every Friday).

Ted Lasso (Apple +)

An American college football coach with no experience with soccer is recruited to run AFC Richmond, a London soccer team.  Huh?  Well, you will just have to trust me and run with that. It's good!

Created by Jason Sudeikas, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly and Bill Lawrence, even though the premise of this didn't appeal to me, when I saw it cleaned up at this year's Emmys, I had to check it out.  I must admit, it took me a couple of episodes to get into, because Ted Lasso (Sudeikas, who also stars) is just so, irritating, er, well, nice. He's one of those guys who tries to put a positive spin on everything. But I got hooked partly because it's in England, my favorite country, and also because the characters are all well-drawn and interesting.  It also turns out that Ted isn't everything he appears to be.  He has some demons and there is drama. I will get to that.

In Season One, Ted is recruited by owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddington), to run her soccer team, AFC Richmond, despite the fact that he has absolutely no experience running a soccer team. But that's the point.  She hires him because she wants the team to lose.  You see, the team is her husband's pride and joy, because he's a cheating cad and she knows how much it would hurt him to have a losing team. So that's the plan. So Ted shows up with his sidekick, the deadpan Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), both fish out of water in Jolly Old England, and, of course, things don't go as planned for any of them.

The team is made up of an assortment of interesting characters, most notably: 

  • Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster), an egotistical striker, who is dating top model Keeley Jones (Juno Temple). Jamie doesn't think much of Ted.
  • Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), the aging and irritable captain of the team who is now on the downside of his career and who also doesn't think much of Ted.
  • Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), a young Nigerian who is fighting homesickness and very much wants to make his Dad proud. 
  • Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernandez), a young, talented and enthusiastic forward from Mexico who comes on board later in the season and makes Jamie feel threatened that he will be replaced as the team's star. 

But in Season Two, things change.  Rebecca has come around and is no longer the villain and has an unlikely romance.  Likewise, other characters who started out as villains turn good and there is even a psychologist to help everyone with their game and personal lives. And that's what I found to be a bit of a problem with Season Two.  Everyone was just too nice and good and there was no real drama until well into it, but I still enjoyed hanging out with these characters and was rewarded with a final episode which caught me by surprise and made me wanting more.

But don't let any of that deter you. This series is not just endearing, but also engrossing, and Jason Sudekis has created an interesting, though sometimes obnoxious character in Ted, a guy so talkative and positive you can't seem to get him to shut up long enough to really get to know him. But as time goes by, we learn he is more complex than he first appeared to be and there is a reason for all of that yacking that he does.

This series is original, it's fun and, though the series falters a bit in Season Two, it leaves you with a cliff hanger that will have you anxious to see what will happen in Season Three. And yes, there is sure to be a Season Three.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you like soccer, fish out of water stories and some positivity in this time of so much negativity, this is for you!

Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

When Tim Kono is found dead in his New York City apartment, three neighbors team up to solve the murder and what better way to solve a murder than to start a podcast?

Charles Haden-Savage (Steven Martin) is an aging actor who had success with a TV detective show; Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) is an aging Broadway director with money problems; and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) is a young woman renovating her aunt's apartment.  All three live in the Anconia apartment building but are strangers until they discover a mutual love of true crime after the murder of their neighbor, Tim Kono.  The three also love true crime podcasts and decide to start their own (with Oliver directing, of course) in order to solve the murder.  

Created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, the series makes use of the usual murder mystery tropes and red herrings but what's not to like about Martin Short and Steve Martin teaming up?  You know it will be funny and this is. Yes, Marty mugs like mad, that's expected, and Steve does his usual delivery of straight-faced zingers, but it's all tempered by the presence of young Selena Gomez, with her deadpan expression and delivery and her oddly deep voice.  She gives the threesome an odd couple vibe that is very appealing.

The rest of the cast is also first-rate: Amy Ryan as Jan, a bassoonist living in the bulding who becomes a love interest for Charles; Tina Fey as a competing podcaster; Jane Lynch as Sazz Pataki, Charles' former stunt double; and Nathan Lane as Teddy Dimas, an old friend of Oliver's who owns a deli chain and offers to sponsor the podcast.  There are many character actors coming and going - you know, those actors you recognize but don't know their names - and even Sting and Jimmy Fallon make appearances.  It's all very evocative of old New York and old-timey murder mysteries.  Oh, and did I say it's funny? With Short and Martin and Lane, would you expect anything less? And might I also add: the opening credits and music over them just sets the stage for the charm and humor that will ensue.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a charming and funny murder mystery series reminiscent of classic movies from the 1930's. If you like old-fashioned whodunnits, this is for you.

What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu)

Centuries-old vampires living in modern day Staten Island.  That alone is funny.  

This comedy series, now in it's third season, follows three centuries-old vampires of the blood-sucking variety who are all living together in a mansion on Staten Island - Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), an Iranian warrior who was once a part of the Ottoman Empire; Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), a Greek Romani vampire; and Laszlo (Matt Berry), an English nobleman vampire who was turned by Nadja and who is now married to her.  Oh, and he was once a porn actor so sex is on his mind a lot.  There is also Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), an energy vampire.  He doesn't suck blood, he sucks the energy out of people.  You know the type.  The geeky mansplainer who thinks he is an expert on everything and comes by your cubicle at the office and bends your ear endlessly on every innocuous topic under the sun.  And then there is Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), Nandor's familiar, who keeps the household running but ironically discovers he is a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire killer, which puts him in some decidedly awkward situations. 

This is your classic "fish out of water" story except our "fishes" are vampires and they know nothing of the modern world.  Remember?  They are from centuries ago.  So, many laughs ensue. Oh, and there is a film crew filming them for a documentary about what? Vampires living in Staten Island. Anyway, think "Big Brother" for vampires.

Every short episode (less than 30 minutes) stands on its own, but I encourage you to binge and then binge some more.  It's not a good night if Hubby and I don't end it with an episode. 

Based on the 2014 mocumentary comedy horror film of the same name that was written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (they are behind this series too and Waititi went on to win an Oscar for his screenplay for "Jojo Rabbit"), the humor is reminiscent of "This is Spinal Tap," a similarly very dry humor character-driven mockumentary. And you don't need to be a horror or vampire fan to enjoy the exploits of our vampires (There are currently three seasons of short episodes to binge to your hearts content).

Rosy the Reviewer says...perhaps this is an acquired taste, but I know it's mine! Loved and laughed every minute of it! If you loved "This is Spinal Tap," you will enjoy this (and it helps if you love vampires)!

And finally, if you will forgive me, I am compelled to add this semi-unrelated show but because it really was a high point for me while stuck at home I hope you will bear with me.


I know you know all about "Jeopardy," but I have to say that the Matt Amodio winning-streak was just what I needed during my recovery.

This long-running quiz show (since 1964) has had a difficult time finding its way since the death of longtime beloved host, Alex Trebek. A series of hosts of varying abilities have come and gone, but then Matt Amodio came along.  No, he wasn't one of the rotating hosts. But he had the second longest-running winning streak of all players behind only Ken Jennings who had an incredible 74 wins (Matt had 38). Watching Matt plough through all contenders was so much fun.  Even though in practically every show, by the end of the show, he was so far ahead that no one could catch him in Final Jeopardy, and even though I knew he would win every time, I still looked forward to the contest.  

And then...he lost and rather ignominiously. 

On his last show, he uncharacteristically faltered and left room for his challengers to catch him in Final Jeopardy and then when Final Jeopardy came around, everyone else knew the answer but Matt including ME! I still think he got bored and threw that last show.  I mean, maybe he was happy with now being second after Ken Jennings for most wins but he robbed me of seeing him compete while Ken Jennings hosted (which he began this week).  Now that would have been something - Ken officiating while Matt broke his record.  But it wasn't to be.  

Still, loved Matt and loved watching his success. Didn't like the guy who beat him - Jonathan Fisher - who went on to win more games than I thought he deserved.  Let's just say, I looked forward to seeing Matt win and watched the show after that to see Fisher lose - which he eventually did. I know, I'm bad. But Matt was a humble winner.  In my opinion, the new guy was smurking and smug. But maybe I was still mourning the loss of Matt.

Rosy the Reviewer says...still love the show but miss Alex and wish they would find a permanent replacement.  Didn't like Mayim Bialak who dressed like the stereotypical librarian caricature which I think is the look they were going for (made her look smart? Which she is by the way), but which offended my librarian self, who would have rather died than dress like that!  

Thanks for reading!

See you soon for some movies you might not know about that also helped me get through!

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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)!

Monday, February 15, 2021

What I Enjoyed Watching While Waiting For the Vaccine

[I review the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small," "Firefly Lane," "Pretend It's a City," "Bling Empire," "The Morning Show," and films "Blood and Money," "One Night in Miami," and "What Would Sophia Loren Do?"]

Who knew it would be so difficult to get the Covid vaccine?

But thank you, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and yes, PBS, for some stellar programs to keep me occupied while I wait.  Even though some places are no longer on lockdown or only in limited lockdown, once I heard that we needed TWO masks and it's not really safe to go grocery shopping, I decided to continue a sort of self-imposed lockdown until I get that elusive vaccine.  

So if you are like me, in a sort of self-imposed lockdown, here are some more movies and TV shows that will keep you company while you wait for that first shot!

All Creatures Great and Small

James Herriot and his cronies are back in a new version of this beloved show.

If you were around inte 70's, you couldn't avoid the books of James Herriot, the Yorkshire veterinarian who shared his G-rated stories about life in Northern England from the 1930's to the 1950's. A PBS series followed and if you were around then, you probably got to know James and the other cast of characters: Siegfried, James' mentor who ran the surgery in the fictional town of Darrowby; Tristan, Siegfried's feckless brother; the practical and caring housekeeper, Mrs. Hall; Helen, soon to be James' love interest; and Tricki Woo, rich Mrs. Pumphrey's Pekingese who dined on caviar, roast beef, trifle and brandy with Mrs. Pumphrey wondering why Tricki was under the weather and getting fat.  

Back when I was working full-time and raising my family, I would take refuge in this program that played for four seasons on PBS back in the late 70's and late 80's (The series had two runs: the original -1978 to 1980, based directly on Herriot's books - was for three series; the second - 1988 to 1990, filmed with original scripts but generally regarded as a continuation of the 1978 series - for four. A total of ninety episodes were broadcast.) I could forget my troubles, travel back in time to a lovely English village where everyone was civil to each other and the worst thing that could happen would be that Tricki Woo would have a tummy ache.  Well, not exactly, but let's say this show was as soothing as "The Great British Baking Show" is now. 

But now it's back in a new incarnation, and I wouldn't blame you if you had been a fan of the earlier series and are now reticent to commit to this one, thinking it couldn't possibly be as good as the first one.  Well, my peeps, it's not only as good but might just be better. It's so good that there will be a Series Two! 

We still have the same cast of characters but younger versions.  James (Nicholas Ralph) is just out of vet school and gets the opportunity to work for Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), who already has a practice in Darrowby and is much admired by the townsfolk.  So James needs to prove himself and not just to Siegfried, but to the townspeople as well.  Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) is still sternly comforting and Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), Siegfried's ne'er do well brother, just out of vet school himself, is clueless and on board to provide some comic relief. Helen (Rachel Shenton), Mrs. Pumphrey (Diana Rigg) and Tricki Woo also make appearances.  Sadly, this was the last performance of the late Diana Rigg.

And don't worry about this just being a rehash of the original. It all feels fresh and new, just waiting for some new fans. But don't worry if you are a fan of the first one.  James is still sticking his arm up both ends of a cow!

If you want to get away from Covid, political divide and the cares of the modern world, this one does the trick.

Rosy the Reviewer says... and if you love British dramas, the beautiful English countryside and humorous, warm-hearted stories, you will love this. I know I do.  I am loving every minute of it. (Now playing on PBS)

Firefly Lane

A dramatic series that follows the friendship of two women from their teens to their forties.

Though there is some cheese to be found here (as in cheesy), this is a satisfying and very bingeable story of female friendship.  Think “Beaches.” Taken from the novels by Kristin Hannah, and adapted by Maggie Friedman, this 10-part series follows Tully Hart (Katherine Heigl) and Kate Malarkey (Sarah Chalke) over three decades in a coming-of-age tale of two besties, one beautiful, popular and out-going, the other nerdy and smart.

They meet in the 70’s when Tully moves across the street from Kate on Firefly Lane.  Tully has a hippie mother who abandons her so she sets out on a journey to find love and looks to men to fill that void. She is a bit of a slut.  She is also ambitious and becomes a celebrated television star. Kate, on the other hand, plays second fiddle to her more glamorous friend, envying her success and doesn’t really have much ambition herself besides being a wife and mother, never realizing that perhaps Tully wants what she has.

The series follows the up and downs of their friendship – jealousy, hurt, betrayal, those things that put friendship to the test - and hops around willy-nilly in time, but it’s not too confusing because it's amazing how music and hairstyles tell you what decade you are in!

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke do a good job of portraying the yin and yang of Tully’s and Kate’s friendship, and it’s nice to see Heigl having some success.  Despite her being the Rom-Com Queen in the late 2000’s, she has had a rocky career of late but this is right up her alley.

As an aside, the series supposedly takes place in Seattle, so having lived in Seattle, I was surprised I didn’t recognize any of the bars (and I’ve been in a few!) or other sites, so I decided to look one up and yep!  Just as I figured.  The series was filmed in Vancouver, a common occurrence.  Whenever you see a TV movie that takes place in Seattle, especially if it’s a Lifetime movie, you can bet it’s really in Vancouver, B.C.  

But, this is no Lifetime movie.  It’s a coming of age tale that not only celebrates female friendship, but explores what it was like for women coming of age in a time when they suddenly had more choices and how difficult it can be to make the right ones.

Rosy the Reviewer says…we don’t see enough shows that celebrate female friendship, so despite the sometimes soap opera feel, I’m in! I mean, I loved “Beaches!” (Now streaming on Netflix)


Pretend it's a City

Writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz walks around New York City and hangs out with Martin Scorsese in the Players Club, talking about everything that bothers the hell out of her.

I am a huge fan of Fran Lebowitz, a female curmudgeon if ever there was one. She has opinions on everything, she knows everybody, and she is very, very funny. I have read all of her books and never forgot what she said in her first book, a series of essays - "Metropolitan Life" - about people who wear sayings on their shirts:

"If people don't want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?"

I think that's hilarious (and by the way, if you want to buy the book, Amazon is asking $500+ for it so get it at the library)!
Well, now Martin Scorsese is highlighting Fran as she makes her way around New York City, making those kinds of comments about everything from her stint as a New York City cabbie to working for Andy Warhol to the New York subway system to libraries in a series of 30 minute episodes about living in New York and about life itself. What's also hilarious is what a kick Scorsese gets out of Fran. He laughs his ass off at everything so watching him is as much fun as listening to her!

The title of "Pretend It's a City" comes from Fran's observations about people who don't seem to know how to walk properly through the city's streets. 

Pretend it's a city where there are other people,” she says, “Pretend it's a city where people are not just here sightseeing."

See?  How people walk around New York City also bothers her.
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is not for everyone, but if you are a fan of Fran or even a fan of the Big Apple, you will enjoy this. It's like spending the day with a crabby aunt who is also very, very funny.

Attractive rich Asians frolic and flaunt their wealth in L.A. in this eight-episode series on Netflix that will give Bravo a run for its money.

Yes, there is a stereotype at work here, but it’s not what you think. It’s not a stereotype about Asians but rather a stereotype about the superrich.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “[The rich] are different from you and me” and he was right. They are rich! But for us plebes, it’s fun to see what the very rich get up to. Think a private jet to Paris for a birthday lunch or party favors in a red box (you know what a gift in a blue box signifies, right? But did you know about the red box?)
Part soap, part reality, the series follows a bunch of attractive young people presided over by Anna, the Grand Dame, who is CRAZY rich. This offers 45 minutes of escapism into the world most of us could only dream about, but it’s not all fun and games. There is also some substance here as this is one of the first reality shows with an all Asian cast, and it casts a light on what it’s like to be Asian in the U.S. It highlights the cultural differences between Asians and Americans, but it also shows the diversity of Asian culture. All Asian communities are not the same and not everyone within each community wants the same thing.
This is also the story of Kevin, a handsome model, who is kind of a fish out of water, not only with his rich friends (because he is not rich), but with Asian culture, because he was adopted by a non-Asian couple and grew up in a white Pennsylvania neighborhood. He embarks on a journey to find his birth parents along with Kim Lee, who is searching for her biological father.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you enjoy the Housewives or loved “Crazy Rich Asians,” you will enjoy this too. It’s addictive!

A behind-the-scenes look at the nationally televised morning show. Think "The Today Show."

We're not really supposed to think "The Today Show" but you won't be able to help it because it involves a handsome achor who has been fired for sexual misconduct and a culture of silence has been uncovered. Sound familiar?

This is a wonderful, topical series that highlights the #Metoo Movement but also shows all of the behind the scenes machinations at a high pressure NYC television morning show. There is also a nod to the film, "All About Eve," as the younger anchor, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) puts the pressure on the older long-time anchor, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston).

Jennifer Anniston manages to avoid some of her twitchy mannerisms and brings a great performance. Reese Witherspoon plays against type as a tough reporter from the wrong side of the tracks and Steve Carell, not one of my favorite actors in the past, proves me wrong. He is believable as the disgraced anchor and I enjoyed his performance. 

But it’s Billy Crudup, as slimy Cory Ellison, who is the revelation.  I was a huge fan of him as a handsome leading man 20 years ago when he starred in “Waking the Dead.”  I thought he would really blow up as a romantic lead, but for whatever reason, he didn’t, but rather has made his name as a wonderful character actor. And lucky us because he really blows up in this.

Created by Jay Carson and Kerry Ehrin, I don’t know how I missed this Apple+ series.  Last year, it won Golden Globes for most of the stars and a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Series as well as five Emmys.  Oh, right.  I missed it because I didn’t have Apple+, but now I do and I am glad. 

Rosy the Reviewer says…a smart, well-written and well-acted dramatic series that will keep you guessing and coming back for more. (Now streaming on Apple+ and Season 2 is now in production)

Blood and Money

A retired loner hunting in the Maine back country stumbles upon some bad guys and a lot of money.
Remember when Tom Berenger was one of the sexiest actors of the 1980’s? I do, and I also remember that I didn’t think he was a very good actor. Well, Tom has gotten older (he’s 71) and is showing his age, but with age comes experience and he has certainly upped his acting game. He carries this film about Jim Reed, a damaged, recovering alcoholic, out in the desolate Allagash back country of Maine looking for that elusive buck so many hunters seek, but instead accidentally kills a woman who, along with four of her cohorts, had robbed a local casino of over a million dollars. Oh, and Jim finds the money, too, but the bad guys don’t like that, so now the hunter becomes the hunted. But those bad guys don’t know who they are dealing with.
Written and directed by John Barr, this is a slow-moving film but in a good, intense way. Berenger’s character is a complex man – lonely, angry and living with grief and guilt - and Berenger is up to the task of making you care about Jim.
The Allagash back country is so remote and desolate that there are checkpoint stations where those entering and leaving must check in. Naturally, he finds himself in a part of it that is not being monitored at the moment so when he encounters the bad guys, he must survive on his own.
I don’t know what it is about my love of survival shows because I am not an outdoor type at all. My idea of roughing it is having to shop in an outdoor mall. But for some reason I can’t resist movies and TV shows about survival – everything from “Survivor” to “Alone” to “Naked and Afraid (I even wrote a whole blog post called “How Would I Do on Naked and Afraid?- not well, as it happens).” I may not be a survivalist myself, but I can appreciate what it would take and am in awe of people who can and want to do it.
Rosy the Reviewer says…if you like harrowing stories of survival against all odds this is a good one.
(Available on DVD from Netflix and for rent on Prime ($3.99) and Vudu ($2.99) – well worth the price!

One Night in Miami

This is one of those "What if?" movies. What if Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown got together to talk about Civil Rights and what was going on in the 1960s? It's a fascinating "What if?"

It's 1964, the eve of Cassius Clay’s (Eli Goree) victory over Sonny Liston to become the Heavy Weight Champion of the World (Clay was soon to become Mohammad Ali), and he has gathered in Miami with Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) to celebrate.
Though this is a fictionalized account, the four did know each other and did get together and we get to be flies on the wall and hear what they might have talked about.
All were already famous but not everyone had made the impact they would soon make, but it was clear that no matter how famous they all were, they were still struggling with what it meant to be a black man in America as well as coming to grips with the struggle within the black community itself – does one try to get along in the white world or shake everything up?
There is something for everyone here: boxing, politics and the dulcet sounds of Sam Cooke thanks to Leslie Odom Jr. who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. But it's also about so much more and where we still haven't gotten to when it comes to equality.
Ali says later in the film, when talking about Black Power: “Power just means a world where it’s safe to be ourselves.”
Written by Kemp Powers and directed by Regina King, who is also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director, this is a film about a time 60 years ago that resonates today because, even though Sam Cooke sang that “A Change is Gonna Come,” sadly nothing seems to have changed. We not only no longer have the Black Power movement, America still does not appear to be a safe place for black people to be themselves.

Rosy the Reviewer says…knowing what we know about the lives of these four men and everything that has transpired since, if the ending doesn’t make you cry, then you have no heart. A must see!
(Now streaming on Amazon Prime)

Penguin Bloom

A paralyzed woman finds something to live for when her family rescues an injured magpie.

Describing the plot, it probably sounds corny as hell but I promise you it is not. Based on a true story from the book by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive and adapted by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps, Naomi Watts plays Sam Bloom, an energetic and happily married Aussie with three sons who goes on a fateful trip to Thailand where she falls off a balcony and is paralyzed. Goodbye old life. Needless to say, she doesn't deal well with this.

In the meantime, her young son, Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnston), finds a baby magpie that has fallen from its nest. He rescues it and nurses it back to health. He names it Penguin because of its black and white markings and it becomes a pet. But Sam wants nothing to do with it or anyone else for that matter until one day she is alone in the house and must look after Penguin. A bond is forged (and can I say for a magpie, Penguin is awfully cute)?

Needless to say, Penguin worms his way into her heart. But this isn't just a story of an animal healing a human. Penguin has issues with flying and Sam, of course, has her own issues. Both overcome. Both learn to fly.

Like I said, this could have been a corny film but it is saved by the direction of Glendyn Ivin and stellar performances, most notably Watts, whose quiet strength permeates the film.

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, this is a quiet film but a testament to the healing power of our connection to animals and a reminder, especially relevent today, that no matter what your situation, there is still joy to be found in life. Now pass the box of Kleenex, please.
(Now streaming on Netflix).

What Would Sophia Loren Do?

A short documentary on the power our heroes have on our lives.
Eighty-two-year-old Italian-American Nancy Kulik, who lives in New Jersey, is a Sophia Loren superfan who, when facing adversity, was helped by Loren's movies. The film intertwines Kulik's story with Loren's, both of whom faced challenges in life. Kulik looked up to Loren's portrayals of strong women and mothers in her films and highlights how two very different women were connected by the power of film.

But this documentary short directed by Ross Kauffman is not a puff piece about a movie star. This is also an homage to the power of movies and how our admiration for celebrities can sometimes be a good thing that actually inspires us and helps us get through life. It also reminds us what a superstar Loren is.

And get out your handkerchief because the ending is not just surprising but heartwarming.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a fan of Sophia Loren, and I am, you will enjoy this, but now I am a superfan of Nancy Kulik! A very powerful and emotional 32 minutes. (Now streaming on Netflix)

Oh, and by the way. NEWS FLASH! I just had my first shot of the vaccine! My wait is over. My next post will be about waiting for the second dose!

Thanks for reading!

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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 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.