Showing posts with label Tokyo Story (Movie Review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tokyo Story (Movie Review). Show all posts

Friday, May 15, 2015

"The Longest Ride" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Longest Ride" and DVDs "The Last Days in Vietnam" and "The Wedding Ringer." The Book of the Week is Chuck Palahnuik's "Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project: the moving classic about the generation gap between parents and children "Tokyo Story"]

The Longest Ride

A handsome bull rider (Scott Eastwood) and a lovely young art student (Britt Robertson) meet and fall in love - Nicholas Sparks-style.
Luke Collins is a North Carolina cowboy and bull rider.  A year earlier he had a devastating fall but now he is working his way back up to becoming the best bull rider in the world, not for vanity but to keep his family farm going after the death of his father. He meets Sophia, a young art student at the local college and after the usual "meet cute" scene, they fall in love.  However, it becomes apparent that Luke doesn't fit into Sophia's artsy world and she doesn't plan to have a life on a farm.
Enter Ira Levinson (Alan Alda).
It's a dark and stormy night.  Luke and Sophia are headed home when Luke spots a broken guard rail.  He dashes down the embankment to discover a car that had run off the road with its inhabitant unconscious.  He pulls the gentleman out of the car.  The gentleman mumbles to Sophia, "The box."  There is a box on the front seat of the car and Sophia grabs it right before the car blows up.
The box contains the love letters between Ira and Ruth Levinson (Oona Chaplin, the daughter of actress Geraldine Chaplin and granddaughter of one of the most important figures in film history, Charlie Chaplin) and thus begins our parallel love story, 70+ years earlier.
Sophia goes to visit Ira in the hospital.  His car had gone off the road because he had a heart attack.  Sophia reads the letters to Ira and in flashbacks, the love story of young Ira (Jack Huston, "Boardwalk Empire" and the grandson of Director John Huston) and Ruth is told:  their separation while Ira was fighting the war, his war injuries and their despair over not having children because of those injuries.
This could have just as easily been called "The Box," it so parallels Sparks' book (and the subsequent film) "The Notebook."  At least with Nicholas Sparks stories, you know what you are getting: beautiful star-crossed lovers, a love spanning generations, gorgeous, romantic locales, steamy sex in water of some kind (rain, shower, lake), tearjerker moments, a death, a twist and then the plot all neatly tied up at the end with a big bow. And lots and lots of schmaltz. 

Speaking of beautiful lovers, the draw here is beautiful, or should I say, handsome Scott Eastwood, Clint's boy.  I first saw him in a B-movie "Enter Nowhere" (2011) and thought what a handsome guy. I predicted then that he would make it big, and now I will predict he is on his way to People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive."  I might have to push Chris Hemsworth out of bed.

Robertson has been languishing on TV ("Under the Dome" and "The Secret Circle") and in small movie roles until now.  She is a lovely screen presence and it looks like her movie stardom is taking off with this and her starring role in the upcoming "Tomorrowland" with George Clooney.

Director George Tillman Jr. does the Sparks genre proud despite the contrived and implausible ending.  But romantic movies like this are in a class by themselves.  They serve a purpose.  We all need a little romance.

Speaking of which, guys, this would make a great date movie.  You might like all of the bull-riding footage and after your date gets a load of Scott in his love scenes, she will be hot to trot.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a big budget Lifetime-like Movie with the usual sex and two-hanky moments, but who doesn't need sex and a good cry from time to time?  And I could watch Scott Eastwood do anything!

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

The chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War are chronicled by Rory Kennedy (youngest child of Robert F. Kennedy) in this 2015 Oscar nominated documentary.

As the North Vietnamese army descended on Saigon in April 1975, South Vietnamese who had been working with the Americans stormed the American Embassy, desperately try to get out of the country, facing certain death if left behind. In the meantime, American officials faced a dilemma:  do they follow orders from The White House to evacuate Americans only?  Or do they follow their morality and try to save as many Vietnamese as they can?

Using archival and private footage, Kennedy also found some of the actual people who had been filmed by the news media at the time trying to escape and they recounted their experiences.

One powerful scene shows the South Vietnamese flying little helicopters to get people out but they had nowhere to land.  So American ships allowed them to land and as one landed others hovered waiting their turn.  There was only room for one helicopter at a time so in the interest of time, as each landed and unloaded its passengers, each helicopter was pushed into the sea to make room for the next one.

Another poignant scene shows people running on the tarmac chasing after a jetliner as it's taking off.

This film highlights the heroic efforts of everyone involved such as Ambassador Martin, who could be criticized for not calling this evacuation sooner.  However, he stayed trying to help as many get out as he could and was the very last American to leave. It killed him to leave over 400 behind at the Embassy.

This film is utterly moving and should have won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature (instead of "CitizenFour"), so as to honor those who saved so many South Vietnamese instead of honoring Edward Snowden for what he did.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a must see for history buffs, students and those of us who lived through the Vietnam War era.  It will make you cry.
Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is getting married. Unfortunately, he is a socially awkward geek who doesn't have any friends.  Who can he ask to be his Best Man and groomsmen?
Doug is marrying Gretchen Palmer (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) who is planning a big wedding with seven bridesmaids and seven groomsmen. Doesn't look like her father (Ken Howard), who is a big strapping social ex-athlete type or her mother (Mimi Rogers) particularly approve of Doug, so it doesn't help that he can't find anyone to be his Best Man or his groomsmen.
Enter Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), the owner of "Best Man, Inc., a company that supplies groomsmen for socially challenged grooms like Doug. When he finds out that Doug needs seven groomsmen, Jimmy at first says it can't be done.  But when Doug says "I don't care what it costs," his ears perk up and Jimmy says he will have to invoke "The Golden Tux Package," something that has never been done before.  And Jimmy himself will be the best man.
So Jimmy assembles a group of guys that are a motley crew indeed.  So much so that when he sees them for the first time Doug utters one of the funniest lines in the film:  "They look like the entire cast of "The Goonies" grew up to become rapists."

Another funny line: when Jimmy finds out Doug and he supposedly met freshman year at Stanford, Jimmy says, "That means I'm smart.  Shit."
Each of the "new best friends" has a schtick they must learn to make them respectable and to prove they have known Doug for years.  But Jimmy makes it very clear to Doug that this is just business.  They all will never be friends.  Once the wedding is over they will all go their separate ways. 
The scene where the Dads have a touch football game with the hired groomsmen is also funny especially since some of the Dads include Joe Namath, John Riggins and Ed "Too Tall" Jones.
There is a sweet moment too, when Jimmy and Doug share their stories.  Doug doesn't have any friends because his Dad moved around for business so much.  And it turns out Jimmy doesn't have any friends either. You can kind of tell where that is going.
Wedding film homages abound. Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio), the gay wedding planner, harks back to Martin Short's take in "Father of the Bride (except with a twist)," there is always the goofy grandma and there is even a nod to "Lost," as one of the motley crew of groomsmen is Jorge Garcia, with a funny moment at the end when the plane they are in takes off.
I have been bemoaning the lack of actually funny comedies lately. However, despite what this film lacks in plot and that it wallows in sentimentality from time to time, it comes closer than any others to actually being funny, because Kevin Hart is just one funny guy. I would like to see him host the Academy Awards after the Neil Patrick Harris debacle.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a funny idea that couldn't quite sustain its one hour and 43 minutes but it's a light diversion that is funny at times because of Hart.

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

263 to go!

Tokyo Story  (1953)

An elderly couple travel from their village to Tokyo to visit their two married children.  However, their children are too busy to spend much time with them, only to realize there wasn't much time left.
Parents living in the Provinces who have never been to Tokyo make the effort to visit their adult children only to be shunted around because, basically, their children have their own families and their parents are disrupting their lives.  They exclude them from activities and barely disguise the fact that their parents' visit is a pain in the neck to them.
The parents realize they are in the way so they split up to stay with other people, the father to an old friend and the wife to their daughter-in-law, Noriko, whose husband (their son) died in the war.  She is the only one who seems to care about them.  And even when the mother is dying the children find it a pain in the ass to have to go see her.
This film may be 62 years old but some things never change.  Adult children can forget that their parents were once their age and are people who get bored when left to their own devices in a strange and new environment with little to do. This is a cautionary tale.
Why this is a Must See:  "All of this is observed with a static camera...So how does [director] Ozu hold our attention?...It all comes down to the contemplative quality of [Ozu's] gaze, implying that any human activity, however 'unimportant,' is worthy of our attention...his characters' experiences, emotions, and thoughts are as 'universal' as anything in the movies -- a paradox that has rightly enshrined this film's reputation as one of  the greatest ever made."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Rosy the Reviewer says...a classic story of the gap between the generations and a must see for all adult children who live far from their parents and take their existence for granted.
(in Japanese with English subtitles, b & w)

***Book of the Week***

Fugitives and Refugees : A Walk in Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahnuik (2003)

There are signs around Portland that say "Keep Portland weird."  Portlanders are proud of their weirdness and here Palahnuik celebrates it.

He starts with a vocabulary lesson.  If you are  going to enjoy Portland, you must know the lingo.  For example, if I say meet me at The Big Pink, would you know to go to the tallest building in Portland, the 43 story U.S. Bancorp Tower?  Or the Enema 21 (Cinema 21 theater on NW 21st St)?  Or Psycho Safeway (the Safeway on SW Jefferson St, famous for the antics of insane street people, drug-addicted shoplifters and students from Portland State University).

Once you have the lingo down, you can continue on to interesting Portland sights such as The Self Cleaning House, Eviction Court and must-go restaurants (with recipes).  There are haunted bathrooms, not to be missed gardens and where the sex trade hangs out.  It's a potpourri of Portland weirdness that is fun to read and fun to visit.  Palahnuik intersperses all of this with "postcards" of his own experiences.

Palahnuik is a funny and edgy writer who is probably most famous for "Fight Club."

Rosy the Reviewer says...even if you will never go to Portland, you will enjoy this zany view of it.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Why Have a Husband?"


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at

Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.


Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 



Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."