Showing posts with label Things to Come. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Things to Come. Show all posts

Friday, November 23, 2018

"Widows" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Widows" as well as the DVD "Bel Canto."  The Book of the Week is Tina Turner's memoir "My Love Story."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Things to Come."]


Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Gina Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Amanda (Carrie Coon) are living their regular lives not realizing they will all not only soon be widows but will be involved with each other in a way they could never have imagined.

Veronica Rawlings is married to Harry (Liam Neeson) and it appears they have a loving relationship.  How do I know this?  Because at the beginning of this film we see them in bed in their high class Chicago high rise doing a huge amount of French kissing in bed.  Not being a big fan of watching open-mouthed French kissing in movies, I kind of thought "ew," but OK, I get it. They are in love.

However, Linda, Alice and Amanda don't live quite the high life that Veronica lives. Linda is a hard-working mother who looks after her husband, Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and her mother-in-law doesn't approve of her; Amanda has a new baby, and we mothers know how that is; and Alice's husband likes to give her a whack from time to time.

Oh, and in case you might wonder what these women have in common...their husbands are all criminals. 

Early in the film, all four husbands are involved in a heist gone wrong and all are killed in a fiery explosion after a police chase. This is not a spoiler. Thus the title of our film - "Widows." Duh.  So in a short period of time, the film becomes all about the ladies - mostly - except for some very nasty guys and some rotten politics swirling around.

For example, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is a bad guy running for alderman against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the son of another very bad guy (Robert Duvall).  It may be politics but it might as well be a turf war.  It turns out that Harry, you know, Veronica's husband, and his guys robbed Jamal and now, even though Harry is dead, Jamal and his very, very nasty brother, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya), want their money back. Even though the money burned up in that fiery explosion along with Harry and his cohorts, someone has to pay and Jamal decides it's Veronica.  He pays her a visit, threatens her and her little dog, just like the Wicked Witch of the West did Dorothy, and now she needs to come up with $2,000,000 or pay some kind of other unspeakable bad price, like maybe never being able to use her legs again?

OK, so let's break this down. 

You, Veronica, are a recent widow who supposedly had no idea about your husband's criminal activities.  Now those criminal activities have come to roost on YOU and your life is being threatened over something your husband did.  So what do you do?  Why, you would do what any normal woman would do, right? - you come up with the brilliant idea of entering into criminal activities yourself, to pull off a complicated heist to pay off the debt.  WHAAAT???

Speaking of heist films with women as the heisters, one can't help but compare this to "Ocean's 8," but the difference is that with "Ocean's 8," you cared about the women.  There was some humor and some humanity.  In this film, I didn't care about any of them.  The men were as evil as it gets and the women were not fleshed out and, actually, were kind of boring.

So the characters were one thing, but then there were the unbelievable, almost laughable moments.  

For example, as part of the preparation for the heist, Linda needs to find out about a building designed by a woman architect.  She goes to the woman architect's house and when her husband answers the door, Linda pretends to work for the woman's firm. However, it soon becomes apparent to the husband that Linda does not work for the firm because she doesn't know that his wife is dead!  She then breaks down and confesses that her husband has also just died.  And then out of nowhere, the two START KISSING!!!!  And then she leaves and do we ever see that guy again?  No.  I think I talked out loud to the screen saying something like "What the..?".

After another odd plot twist -- I heard one of the guys in the audience say "That was a stretch."  So now someone else besides me is talking to the screen.

We can usually count on Viola Davis to deliver wonderful performances, but here her performance was so over dramatic and dour, I almost did another screen shout to say, "Viola, get over it!"  But then I decided to cut her some slack.  I think it was Hubby who mentioned that perhaps that's what good actors do when what they have to work with lets them down, and sorry to say that the screenplay by Gillian Flynn and director Steve McQueen (based on the book by Lynda La Plante) did let the actors down.  The dialogue was over dramatic and there were just too many odd moments, plot holes, a deux ex machina or two, and I think there was even a McGuffin in there.  So when the script isn't good, actors tend to overdo it.  They just cry more and shout louder and hope that no one will notice. Sorry, Viola, I noticed.

So you get my point.  It wasn't good.  You can tell a movie isn't very good when everyone wants to shout at the screen.  Well, unless it's a horror film.  Then we are required to yell out, "DON'T GO DOWN THERE!!!"  But I don't think this was supposed to be a horror film, though, I supposed that could be debatable.

OK, so what about the other actors?

Colin Farrell is usually good, but his performance here wasn't particularly memorable.  I was more mesmerized by his eyebrows. They are very big. Which should tell you how bored I was if I was fixated on his eyebrows.  And then there is Daniel Kaluuya.  I totally get why he would want to play a bad guy after playing a good guy in "Get Out," but his bad guy is so bad it was cringe worthy and how he ends up in the film was actually kind of laughable and just a bit too convenient for the plot.  

Jacki Weaver plays a mother from hell, and Robert Duval is the father from hell so not that hard to play a one note part like that.  Lukas Haas is even in this.  Remember him as the little kid in "Witness?" He's all grown up and plays a wealthy architect who would rather pay for sex than spend the energy needed for a relationship.  All I could think while watching him in this, even though his character was needed as a plot device, was "What strange casting. Who thought of him for this?" You can put him in a suit but he still looks like the little kid in "Witness." Even Liam, who I usually adore and is a good actor, acts like he is in a soap opera. Over - the - top!  

The final straw, however, was my disappointment in the roles of the women. 

As you know, I love movies that star women and I am all for female empowerment, but I never felt these women were empowered. Veronica was forced to think outside the box to save herself and pay her husband's debt, but what does she do?  She comes up with the not so bright idea to go down into the criminal gutter to save herself when all I could think was why didn't she just sell her waterfront penthouse on Chicago's Gold Coast? I'm sure she could have gotten two mil for that.  I might have shouted that at the screen too. And the other women?  I never figured out why they went along with her because. for one thing, these women didn't really know each other and none of them were threatened by mean old Jamal and his brother. Think about it.  If a woman you had never met before approached you and said let's do an elaborate heist together because I need the money, what would you do?

The film just didn't work for me and that is so strange, because McQueen is an accomplished director who I have admired in the past and the film is full of big name actors. They just were not fleshed out very well.  The bad guys were so bad as to be laughable, and I didn't feel like I had any real idea who these women were, so, like I said, I didn't care about any of them.  There was absolutely no one to root for. 

Oh, and if you read my reviews, you know I have given you a hint from time to time about how to tell who the bad guy is or what the twist will be.  Remember what I said?  When there is a big name actor in a movie and he or she seems to only have a very small role...Watch out...

Rosy the Reviewer says...with all of this star power and the director who brought us "12 Years a Slave" and "Shame," you would think this would be a great movie.  But you would be wrong.  

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


Bel Canto (2018)

South American rebels invade the home of a wealthy industrialist where a famous opera singer is performing and take everyone hostage.

The term "bel canto" means "a lyrical style of operatic singing using a full rich broad tone and smooth phrasing."  I have no idea what that means in regards to this story line except for the fact that an opera singer just happens to be a prominent member of those held hostage when South American rebels take over a private party where the opera singer is performing.

Famous opera singer Roxanne Coss (Julianne Moore) has been brought to an unnamed South American country to perform at a private party put together for Mr. Hosokawa (Ken Wantanabe), a rich Japanese industrialist who is also a huge fan of Ms. Coss's.  He has been lured there in hopes that he will invest in the country with one of his factories. However, the party is disturbed by rebels who thought the President would be in attendance. They had planned to take him hostage in hopes of an exchange for political prisoners.  However, the President had begged off the party saying he had an important political engagement when in fact he wanted to stay home and watch his favorite telenovela. Sounds like someone we know.

Now the rebels are stuck with a party full of rich folks instead.  They let the women, elderly and disabled leave but keep Ms. Coss, realizing they have someone of worth in their midst.  Messner (Sebastian Koch), a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross, shows up as hostage negotiator, but there is a long stand off.  Days turn into weeks, and as time goes by, rebels and hostages living together becomes the new normal. They all get used to each other.  And some more than others.  Roxanne and Hosokawa hook up; his translator, Gen (Ryo Kase), hooks up with one of the female rebels, Carmen (Maria Mercedes Coroy), and even the head rebel (Tenoch Huerta) starts to loosen up a bit.  

And then it all goes to hell.

Directed by Paul Weitz, this is one of those films that looked really good from the trailer but when you see the film you realize the trailer was as good as it was going to get.

I have realized from watching this film that I am kind of over Julianne Moore.  She has developed some actressy mannerisms that bother me.  And she just doesn't look like someone who would sound like Renee Fleming (who does the actual singing in the film).  I think this wasn't very good casting, and even so, Julianne's part isn't really the lynchpin of this film. 

And like I said, I didn't really understand the relationship between the title of this film, opera and the rest of it. Perhaps it is more apparent in Ann Patchett's book upon which this film is based (adapted by Weitz and Anthony Weintraub), but it didn't seem that the film really needed the opera connection, because it's really about that whole Stockholm Syndrome thing - everyone - hostages and rebels - starting to like each other -  and there were some interesting relationships that developed that had nothing to do with Moore's character. In fact, Moore didn't really have that much to do here.  

And then, geez, there was that strange ending...

Rosy the Reviewer says...from the trailer, I was looking forward to seeing this but was ultimately disappointed.

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

118 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Things to Come (1936)

Here is what H.G. Wells thought 2036 would look like from his 1936 perspective.

But it starts in 1940, where things have settled down from years of war.  People think that things are getting better.  But then it starts all over again and by 1966, things haven't been going well for the human race.  There has been nothing but war.  And now there is a wandering pestilence that threatens to wipe out the human race.  But by 1970 things are getting better, well, better if you think that living in a kind of tribal feudalism existence constitutes better.

But then a very young Raymond Massey shows up in a futuristic airplane and proclaims that there are others calling themselves "Wings over the world" who have figured out that the world needs "the brotherhood of efficiency to save civilization."

The first 20 minutes of the film is war footage which included what was probably very advanced special effects for a 1936 film.  And it's in color, which is also unusual. The screenplay was written by H.G.Wells, based on his book "Outline of History," and it's interesting to see what 1930's people thought the world would look like in 1970 and beyond. The film has a "Metropolis" feel and is very pro technology, and as civilization progresses, I guess, even back in the 1930's, the next step is naturally to conquer space.  But there is always someone who is a sour puss.  In this case, it's Cedric Hardwicke who wants to stop progress and who misses "the good old days." Sound familiar?

The future looks a lot like classical Greece or Rome with men wearing togas and giving long speeches and proclaiming deep thoughts. 

"If we don't end war, war will end us."

"For man, no rest and no ending, conquest after conquest.  He must go on conquest beyond conquest. First this little planet with its winds and ways. And then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him.  Then the planets about him... And at last, out across immensity to the stars.  And when he has conquered all of the deeps of Space and all the mysteries of Time, still he will be beginning."

Okayyyy...Actually, the future looks a lot like "Star Trek," but you get the idea.  It goes on and on like that.  No real characterizations or plot, just guys in togas saying stuff like that.  Directed  by William Cameron Menzies, this was the most costly British production of its time and flopped at the box office.  I am not surprised.  It flopped with me too.

Why it's Must See: "William Cameron Menzies' screen version of H.G. Wells' speculations about the world's future after a disastrous second World War destroys European civilization is perhaps the first true science fiction film...In fact, few science-fiction movies are as concerned as is [this film] with a rigorously historical approach to fictionalized prophecy."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer now we know what we have to look forward to in 2036.  Togas.

***The Book of the Week***

My Love Story by Tina Turner (2018)

Tina Turner's Second Act.

If you read Tina's first book ,"I, Tina," or saw the film based on her life "What's Love Got To Do With It," where she shared the abuse she endured married to Ike Turner, you might think you know Tina's story but as she points out in this latest memoir, it's been 40 years since she got herself out of that disastrous marriage so get over it. A lot has happened since then. 

So this memoir is all about bringing you up-to-date with where Tina is today, though in case you missed her first book or that movie, she does a recap of her life with Ike, one that is almost unbelievable in its brutality.  You can't help but wonder how and why she hung in there so long. 

However, this time around, Tina recounts fascinating stories of how she rose from the ashes of her marriage to and musical collaboration with Ike to forge a career of her own that eclipsed The Ike and Tina Turner Revue.  From her hit song "What's Love Got to Do With It," to her best-selling album "Private Dancer," to her Grammys, her movie career ("Tommy," "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome"), to her dedication to Buddhism and meditation to her happy marriage, Tina shares everything that has happened since she made that fateful decision to walk out on Ike with nothing but the clothes on her back. She shares her friendships with those who helped her along the way: particularly Mick Jagger and David Bowie (she attributes Bowie's interest in her burgeoning solo career for her success on her own).

"People called me an 'overnight sensation.' Of course, there is no such thing, but there ARE second acts.  The second time around, I had the opportunity to rewrite my life -- to do it all over again, as I wanted -- without having to live in the shadow of someone else."

After her song "What's Love Got To Do With It?" hit #1 on the charts, Tina never heard from Ike again.  He died December 12, 2007.

Today at 78 Tina has been married to Erwin Bach for five years after a 27 year long love affair and despite a stroke and other health problems, lives happily in Switzerland.

Rosy the Reviewer says...let's just say, things turned out just fine for Miss Tina!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 


"Green Book"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)


the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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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.