Showing posts with label Westerns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Westerns. Show all posts

Friday, April 6, 2018

"Tyler Perry's Acrimony" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Tyler Perry's Acrimony" as well as DVDs "Pitch Perfect 3" and "The Disaster Artist."  There are two Books of the Week this week - Good Housekeeping's "Simple Cleaning Wisdom" and "Simple Household Wisdom."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Ride Lonesome."]

Tyler Perry's Acrimony

A woman with an anger problem thinks her husband is cheating on her.  Not a good combo.

Taraji P. Henson was robbed.  

She was the heart and soul of "Hidden Figures," but didn't even get an Oscar nod for a movie that was one of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees for 2017. Though she made a name for herself as the tough over-the-top Cookie on the hit TV show "Empire," there was not a sign of Cookie in her performance as real life mathematician Katherine Johnson and she brought humor and poignancy to the role.  I loved her in that movie. However, since then she has gone back to the more "Cookie-like" characters with the recent "Proud Mary" and now this one.

When we first see Melinda (Taraji), she is in court and being ordered by a judge to stay away from her ex-husband, Robert (Lyriq Bent) and his soon-to-be wife, Diana (Crystle Stewart) and to seek counseling for anger management, so during the course of the counseling Melinda tells her story in flashback.

Melinda met Robert in college and, though she was slow to warm to him, they eventually got together.  Robert's obsession was designing a self-charging battery and for some reason that seemed to get in the way of his getting a job. He also has no family to speak of and lived in an RV.  Melinda's two sisters were less than thrilled with Robert and gave Melinda a hard time about him.  When Melinda's mother died, Melinda inherited her mother's house and $750K and, then, all of a sudden Robert needed a new car, help with his tuition and money to put into his battery invention.  

Robert comes off as a kind of a sleazy type and we start to worry about our Melinda and what she has gotten herself into, especially when she catches him cheating on her with Diana in his RV.  However, here is where we get a little insight into Melinda's anger issues - she rams his RV with her truck, not once, but twice! - and knocks it over!

But we women are ever forgiving and despite this incident Melinda takes Robert back and they get married, but Melinda can't quite shake the feeling that Robert is cheating on her and using her for money, especially since her two sisters are constantly fueling the fire.  Robert and Melinda go through some hard times, with Melinda having to work multiple jobs but eventually the money runs out, she loses her mother's house because Robert asked her to mortgage it and his battery has gone nowhere. They eventually divorce but, wouldn't you know, right after that, Robert's battery hits it big with the help of his old lover, Diana, who just happens to work at the very company Robert has been lobbying to buy his invention.

Well, let me tell you this.  That does not sit well with Melinda! And all of a sudden, things take a turn, and we start to wonder if perhaps things are not quite right with our Melinda.

Tyler Perry likes to put his name on his films, and I guess I don't blame him, since he writes, directs and produces them.  This one is no exception.  Though the story pulls you in, it's a strange little film that plays like a Lifetime Movie and though I mostly enjoyed it, I had some issues with it.

First of all, I wasn't sure if this was a drama or a comedy.  

Oh, I know Perry meant this to be a drama but at times it was so over-the-top dramatic, it made me laugh. I even laughed at the end and I don't think I was supposed to, but you never know.  Perry is known for his Madea comedies, and some of the stuff in this movie was so outrageous I started to think maybe he was putting us on.  As the movie progressed, I started to think that maybe Melinda was a young Madea.

Also, though I liked the idea of a younger actress playing the younger Melinda (Ajiona Alexus), though Taraji could have probably pulled that off, and likewise a younger actor playing the young Robert (Antonio Madison), it was quite distracting when Taraji and Bent stepped in as the older versions of the characters and Robert appeared to have grown about a foot! The young Robert was the same height as the younger Melinda but the older Robert was about a foot taller than Taraji.  I don't think college guys usually grow a foot after college, do they?  

Finally, if you see the film, please answer these questions for me: Why was the house and money left only to Melinda, the youngest daughter and why didn't the sisters seem to care? And at the end, how did Melinda get on the boat and how did the crew get back on so fast after they all jumped off?

I know those may seen like minor things, but when I watch a film, I notice plot holes and continuity issues and when I notice them they throw me off and mar my ability to really get into a film.  My mind keeps going back to them...mmm, why did Melinda's mother leave everything to just her?

Though this is melodrama of the highest order, I love Taraji and enjoyed seeing her tear up the scenery though I would like to see her do more subtle serious roles like she did in "Hidden Figures," because as an actress she has a vulnerability and warmth that doesn't come through when she is playing bad asses.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a Lifetime movie on steroids!

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


Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

The Barden Bellas are older now and have all gone their separate ways, but reunite for a USO tour and the usual over the top shenanigans ensue.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

Yet another sequel that reminds me why I hate sequels. I didn't really like the first one, though at least at the time, it felt new, original and fun, but it certainly didn't warrant a sequel and the sequel was just a rehash of the first one.  Now we have #3 and, though it's not a rehash of the first two, it's worse and had me begging the powers that be that this please, please, please be the last one.

The film starts with a cold opening and I was trying to be positive, thinking, OK, maybe this won't be so bad. I will give it a chance.  Beca (Anna Kendrick) and the other Bellas are on a cruise ship doing a routine when it becomes apparent that they are performing under duress.  Then Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) shows up, does some karate chops and they all jump off the boat in a flurry of explosions and all of a sudden it seemed like we and the Bellas were in the middle of a spy-thriller.  Flash back to three weeks earlier to discover how they ended up there.  I already didn't care.

Beca and Fat Amy are back and living together.  Fat Amy has been making a living playing Fat Amy Winehouse and Beca has just quit her job.  So why not join The Bellas to reunite for one last time on a USO tour of Italy, Greece and the South of France and, of course, this wouldn't be a Pitch Perfect movie if there wasn't a rival singing group to compete against and so there is one with the unfortunate name "Ever Moist," a girl group that - gasp! - actually plays musical instruments!

Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are also back as Gail and John, the snide judges who this time are doing a documentary on the Bellas (not sure why), so they tag along on the USO tour. DJ Khaled is also there and he looks like he is wondering why.  Turns out the groups are all vying to become his opening act, though I wonder what his fans would think with an a cappella group opening for him. 

To complicate matters even more, Fat Amy's long-lost Dad, Fergus (John Lithgow) shows up and Amy is happy until she discovers what he is really up to. He is an Australian mafioso after Amy's money, and that is the crux of the film which deteriorates into an inexplicable melee that involves thousands of bees and a fire. 

Watching this film I couldn't help but ask "Why?" - I think I said that aloud several times - and to say "Please Lord, don't let there be a 'Pitch Perfect 4' and if there is hold me down so I don't order it from Netflix.  I don't want to have to endure any more lines of dialogue like this: 

"We will be clinging to you like mom jeans to a camel toe."

Rebel Wilson's ability to go for it, to do whatever is necessary to get a laugh, can sometimes be funny but unfortunately the fat jokes and inappropriate comments wear thin after awhile.  And I know this is an unpopular stance, but I don't really think Anna Kendrick can sing.  I think she has a really nasally singing voice that I find irritating. Not a fan.

Though there is lots of catchy music to bop to, the story written by Kay Cannon and Mike White and directed by Trish Sie, is so ridiculous and not funny that you stop listening to the music and ask yourself what the hell you are doing watching this film. Mike, what happened?  You wrote such a lovely screenplay for "Brad's Status." 

Makes me sad to say that the best moment in the film was seeing one of the Bellas wearing a pair of bedroom slippers that I own!  I am a discerning movie- goer. I notice stuff like that.

Rosy the Reviewer says...thank the Lord, this is the last one.  It IS the last one, right?

The Disaster Artist (2017)

The true story of the making of "The Room," a cult favorite film now hailed as one of the worst movies ever made.
The film begins in San Francisco in 1998.  Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) are both in an acting class together and when Tommy does an over the top interpretation of Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire," Greg is drawn to him.  The two move to LA and when acting jobs are few and far between they decide to make their own movie.

Tommy is a rich and mysterious guy who says he is from New Orleans but his accent belies that.  No one knows much about him, where his money comes from or even how old he is.

He has also clearly never made a movie before and you wonder if he has actually ever seen one.  He is absolutely clueless about making a film e.g. he films in 35mm and HD at the same time and buys cameras rather than renting them.

Most of the film is about the making of the movie, recreating scenes for comic effect, but I think it would have helped if I had seen the original movie first.

Directed by Franco (James) with a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (based on the book Sestero wrote about making the film), the film is mostly enjoyable because of the performances.  James Franco, with that big smile of his, has some acting mannerisms he usually relies on, but his Tommy is far from anything you have ever seen him do before but, that said, ironically the film plays a bit like a one joke movie, the joke being Tommy himself, with his weird accent, long hair and total lack of self awareness and talent. So sadly, despite the fact that I give Franco props for his portrayal, the character of Tommy annoys after awhile and, since we never find out anything about his motivations or even his life, the film is ultimately unsatisfying. 

But don't miss the end credits where they show side-by-side scenes from the real movie next to the ones recreated here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...James Franco as you have never seen him.

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

149 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Ride Lonesome (1959)

One of those westerns where a bounty hunter is trying to get a bad guy back to town for trial and a bunch of bad guys are trying to stop him.

My Dad loved westerns and Randolph Scott was one of my Dad's favorite actors, and he is, indeed, a perfect Western hero though in this one he is starting to get a little long in the tooth.  Here he has what I consider one of the all-time great names for a Western hero:  Ben Brigade.  

Ben is escorting Billy John (James Best) back to Santa Cruz to face judgment and unwillingly takes on three companions - Mrs. Carrie Lane, a station master's wife (Karen Steele in the 50's Western staple - the push-up bra)) and a couple of bad guys, Sam and Whit (Pernell Roberts and James Coburn, both in early phases of what would be long acting careers) who are plotting to rob Brigade of Billy John.  And to make matters worse, Billy John's brother, Frank (Lee Van Cleef) is also in hot pursuit to free his brother.

I am not much of a western fan these days.  I think I OD'd in the 50's and 60's when westerns thrived on TV: "Bonanza," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Gunsmoke," and so many more, all regulars in our house because my Dad always secretly wanted to be a cowboy.  But I don't really know why I don't like them.  Westerns are just regular stories of love, drama and crisis except with horses and women wearing push-up bras.  

This film actually starts out one way and takes a dark turn when Brigade tells the story of what happened to his wife and he gets his revenge. You see, Brigade had some other things in mind besides the bounty and the film ends with an unforgettable image.

One of seven westerns directed by Budd Boetticher with a script by Burt Kennedy, it was the first of Boetticher's films to utilize Cinemascope and the film is beautiful to look at.

But these old westerns are so politically incorrect I just don't know where to begin, but I think I know why westerns were, and in some cases, still are so popular. It has something to do with "Make America Great Again."  Men were men, women knew their place, white men ruled the world and always beat the Native Americans in a fight, and it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys (good guys wore white hats and bad guys wore black hats). I guess some people think those were easier times.

Randolph Scott is a great western hero - handsome, stoic and a man of few words while Lee Van Cleef (who went on to become a famous bad guy in Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns), Pernell Roberts (who became famous on TV for "Bonanza" and "Trapper John MD") and James Coburn (who went on to many bigger film projects) made great villains in this film with a twist.

Why it's a Must See: "The seven Westerns Budd Boetticher made with leading man Randolph Scott are notable for Scott's wry, laconic, weather-beaten virtuousness, colorful secondary characters, visual gracefulness, stark, abstract landscapes, and a muted but aching sense of tragedy."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like the old westerns, this is a good one!

***Books of the Week***

It's a two-for-one this week!

Good Housekeeping Simple Cleaning Wisdom: 450 Easy Shortcuts for a Fresh & Tidy Home (Simple Wisdom 2018)

Good Housekeeping Simple Household Wisdom: 425 Ways to Clean & Organize Your Home (Simple Wisdom 2016)

We can all use some tips on keeping our living spaces livable, right?

Books like this can serve a couple of different purposes: 1) you can bask in the fact that you are doing everything right or 2) you can learn some stuff or 3) you can realize what you have been doing wrong.

So I have divided this review into three categories:

Duh, I knew that (doesn't everyone)?

  • Keep supplies handy
  • Declutter before you clean
  • Use a shredder
  • Test paint on the wall before buying
  • If you want to iron less, take clothes out of the dryer and hang them up while still damp

I did not know that... 

  • Don't wash windows on a sunny day (they get streaky)
  • Let your cleaner do the work - watch how hotel maids do it.  They spray the tub or shower with cleaner and then go do something else so while they are doing something else the cleaner is doing it's job and when they return it's easier to clean
  • For a more efficient dishwasher, run hot water into the sink before starting your dish washer to get rid of any cold water in the pipes
  • Dish towels are the most contaminated items in the kitchen, so I guess that means wash them regularly
  • Placing newspapers in stinky shoes will eliminate the smell

and finally

Oops! (I've been doing it wrong)

  • Don't store your iron with the water in it
  • Don't spray furniture polish directly on the furniture
  • Don't flush the toilet with the lid up (the water sprays all over the room - ew)!
  • Don't wear shoes in the house - have your house shoes to avoid dragging in dirt.
  • Don't wash your car with dish soap

If you want to know why we should heed these do's and don'ts and get more tips, you will just have to check out these books!

Since Good Housekeeping has their "Seal of Approval," both books recommend cleaning tools and products to make our cleaning lives easier.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I will leave you with this bit of advice from Comedienne Phyllis Diller which echoes my cleaning philosophy: "The best way to get rid of kitchen odors is to eat out!"

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

"A Quiet Place"

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and 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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Daddy's Home 2" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Daddy's Home 2" as well as DVDs "The Book of Henry" and "The Midwife."  The Book of the Week is "Cherry Bombe - The Cookbook."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die" with the western "Silver Lode."]

Daddy's Home 2

Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) are back and they are getting along fine until they not only have to deal with a blended family Christmas but they also have to deal with their own Dads.

I enjoy a good comedy.  I really do. I know you are probably thinking I don't have a sense of humor because I have been trashing so many comedies lately. I am even questioning that myself after sitting through "A Bad Moms Christmas" with nary a chuckle.  But I know I do have a good sense of humor. I really do like a good comedy and I like to laugh.  But the operative word here is "good" and the main criterion for a comedy should be getting you to laugh, right?  So hope springs eternal, and I keep watching comedies hoping for the best.  

However, with that said, I didn't hold out much hope for this sequel and was about to hold a funeral for the death of the American comedy after seeing so many disappointing comedies of late with "A Bad Moms Christmas" being the final straw, so you can imagine my surprise when I heard myself laughing. 

I actually enjoyed this film.  

Now granted, my expectations were low but there were some chuckles to be had.  Was it really, really funny?  No. Was it devoid of the usual comedy and Christmas clichés?  No. Did I feel all warm and fuzzy afterwards?  Sort of.
Did I laugh?  Yes.

If you saw the first "Daddy's Home," you know that Brad is married to Dusty's ex-wife, Sara (Linda Cardellini) and is a step-dad to her children.  Brad is a bit of a softy.  OK, he's a wimp in contrast to Dusty who is a handsome, tough man's man. He's the cool Dad where Brad is the sensitive one.  Brad had been intimidated by Dusty and struggled to be accepted by his step-children, but by the end of the first film, Dusty and Brad were friends and Dusty had remarried with a step-daughter and an intimidating ex-husband of his own to deal with.

So when the sequel begins, Dusty and Brad are such good friends and doing such a good job of co-parenting that Brad actually brings Dusty hot chocolate when he is attending to the parent drop off at school and when the kids express disappointment that they have to go back and forth at Christmas Dusty and Brad both decide to do one big family Christmas for both families.

That all seems hunky dory until Dusty's Dad, Kurt (Mel Gibson), unexpectedly shows up and Brad's Dad, Don (John Lithgow) shows up without his wife. Just as Brad is a wimp who can't seem to do much right and Dusty is a macho guy, Don is a Dad who greets Brad with a big juicy kiss on the lips and Kurt is an ex-astronaut tough guy disdainful of displays of affection.  In fact, Kurt is disdainful of almost everything about Dusty and his life choices especially this whole co-Dad thing Dusty and Brad have doing.  Kurt certainly doesn't approve of someone like Brad raising his grandchildren, but Dusty doesn't care because Kurt hasn't been around much and Dusty doesn't approve of Kurt either.  Let the tension ensue!

To give you a taste of the difference between the grandfathers:

When Don arrives and greets his grandchildren he tells them a joke:

"Why do ducks have feathers?"  "To cover up their butt quacks."

Kurt, not wanting to be outdone by Don in front of the grandkids, starts to tell a joke too:

"Two hookers wash up on the beach..."

Dusty cuts him off mid-joke.

So we quickly get the idea of the kinds of interactions we are going to get between the two grandfathers. 

When Kurt decides that they should all go spend the holiday at a lodge in the mountains, there are all kinds of opportunities for hijinks and things to go wrong.  And they do. Kurt certainly doesn't approve of Brad and Dusty co-parenting so think of Kurt as a kind of devil who looks for opportunities to drive a wedge between Dusty and Brad.

One can't help but compare this film to "A Bad Moms Christmas." "Bad Moms" added extra Moms and this one has extra Dads. Both use the device of counting down the days until Christmas for the inevitable big finale. "Bad Moms" had a disapproving grandparent in Christine Baranski and here we have Mel Gibson's Kurt.  There are overly precocious kids in both movies and both have sentimental Christmas endings. 

Except the big difference is the fact that "Daddy's Home 2" actually has some funny bits in it and "A Bad Moms Christmas" does not.

For example, those of us who, growing up, were forbidden to "fiddle with the thermostat," can relate to a little scene where Dusty's step-daughter is discovered turning up the thermostat to 85 because she likes to sleep with the windows open and all of the Dads give Dusty a hard time for not being clear with his step-daughter about "fiddling with the thermostat."  To them, it's the parenting equivalent of letting your kid run wild.

Though I am not a huge fan of pratfalls and physical humor in order to get laughs, Ferrell is the king of that sort of thing and there is a funny scene where all of the Christmas decorations get caught in his snow blower and the snow blower ends up on the roof and another where Kurt decides real men cut down their own Christmas trees in the forest and Brad cuts down a cell phone tower by accident.  I know, very broad humor but it's still pretty funny when Will Ferrell does it.

I have never been a big Mark Wahlberg fan, probably because of the kinds of movies he usually stars in - action films about firefighters or soldiers.  But I really enjoyed him in this.  His stoic acting approach was just right as a foil for Will Ferrell's over-the-top antics and the two together are very funny and have a lot of chemistry.  Likewise, John Lithgow's Don is sweet and a good foil for Gibson's macho pot-stirring Kurt. 

And speaking of Mel Gibson, he is a revelation in this.  As a womanizing lothario who was never there for Dusty and who can't bring himself to tell him he loves him, Mel Gibson still has the looks to carry off the lothario part and the machismo to be believable as a man lacking affection.  He plays it straight and is the perfect disapproving observer of all of the craziness.

Written and directed by Sean Anders, despite a few R-rated moments, this one is more toned down than the first "Daddy's Home" and makes for a fun Christmas movie that most of the family would enjoy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you want to see a funny Christmas comedy, see this one, not "A Bad Moms Christmas."  And see? I do have a sense of humor after all.

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


The Book of Henry (2017)

With instructions from her son's detailed notebook, a mother tries to rescue a young girl from her abusive step-father.

Naomi Watts stars as Susan Carpenter, a single mom with two sons: Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), a seeming genius and his younger brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay, who was so wonderful in "Room"), and they all live in a picture perfect town so right away you know there are some secrets and some evil lurking there.

Henry is a bit of a geek, meaning he is very smart and focused on geeky things, such as making Rube Goldberg structures in his elaborate tree house and keeping a notebook of sketches and plans for the future.  He is also advanced beyond his years.  That is established early in the film when we see Henry in class.  All of the students are doing oral reports on "My Legacy," and one kid talks about something trivial and then Henry gets up and gives a serious report about the meaning of life. Let's just say he is gifted. The teachers want Susan to put him in a gifted school but she wants him to experience real life in a regular school (sound familiar?  See "Gifted.")  Likewise, Henry has invested Susan's money in the stock market and built up quite a little nest egg for her. He also balances her check book and pretty much runs the household while Susan likes to play violent video games and get drunk with her friend, Sheila (Sarah Silverman).  She is actually kind of useless and can't seem to make a decision without consulting Henry. 

Henry has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He has to protect Peter from bullies at school, keep his Mom's money and life in order and even feels compelled to intervene in a domestic dispute at the grocery store.  You wonder, who is the adult here?

Henry may be geeky and have a lot of responsibilities, but he is not above having a crush on his neighbor, Christina (Maddie Ziegler, who you may recognize from "Dance Moms," and yes, she dances in this).  He spies on her from his bedroom window, and one day, he sees some disturbing interactions between her and her stepdad, Glenn (Dean Norris).  He tells Susan and she reports him to CPS but wouldn't you know, Glenn is not only a police commissioner but he has connections at CPS!

But then 30 minutes into the film, Henry dies. 

I am not really giving anything away here because his death is the crux of the film.  Susan discovers Henry's book where, knowing he was going to die, he has laid out an elaborate plan for Susan and Peter to get rid of Glenn and save Christina. Susan decides she needs to do what Henry wants her to do just as she has always done.  In addition to the book, Henry has also left step-by-step audiotapes behind that lead Susan along as she tries to save Christina, a very over-the-top device that gives Lieberher a chance to stay in the film despite the fact that he is dead. I mean, he literally carries on a conversation with this mother from the grave through the audiotapes, but through the ensuing series of events, Susan is finally able to grow up and become the adult she was supposed to be in the first place.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow with a screenplay by Gregg Hurwitz, this film was savaged by the critics, but I didn't think it was that bad.  It was only half bad.  I didn't mind the first half, I didn't mind the kid actors, because you know I had an epiphany about that recently while watching "Goodbye, Christopher Robin," and I didn't really mind the mother who let her son handle all of her finances and basically manage her life. 

But the film fell off a cliff in the second half as Susan follows Henry's instructions to rid the world of the mean Glenn.  I think it must have been when she bought the assault rifle that they lost me.   

Watts can always be counted on to bring in a good performance and Silverman is good at snarky roles like this one. Young Lieberher is an engaging young actor, and I believed him as Henry, except the writer got a bit carried away when Henry was giving the principal hell for not doing something about Christina's situation. Despite how good an actor Lieberher is, that scene was a stretch. Not sure a young kid would get away with talking to the school principal like that, no matter how smart he was. Tremblay, who wowed us in "Room" is also a fine young actor and I'm anxious to see him in "Wonder."

This is one of those movies where the idea is interesting but the execution falters and it goes over the top.  For example, a mother would decide to kill someone based on her son telling her to?  Why didn't anyone talk to Christina about the abuse directly, because what if Henry was wrong about what was going on? And then the ending gets all wrapped up a bit too tidily in a Lifetime Movie kind of way.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like engaging child actors or far-fetched Lifetime Movies, you might like this, but in general you can probably skip this one. 

The Midwife (2017)

A midwife gets an unexpected visit from her father's ex-mistress.

Claire (Catherine Frot) is a midwife and single mom whose job has been made redundant when the clinic where she works closes.  She gets an unexpected call from her father's ex-mistress, Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve) and discovers that her father has committed suicide.  It is clear that Claire does not approve of Beatrice and wants nothing to do with her. She blames Beatrice for leaving her father (and her) and for her father's death. Beatrice on the other hand wants to make amends with Claire because Beatrice is dying. 

In the meantime, we learn that Claire doesn't eat meat or drink alcohol, the latter an oddity in France and something of a theme that keeps coming up in the film.  She has a garden plot outside of town and she lives with her son, but his girlfriend is pregnant and he plans to move in with her. Claire is an uptight person with a very limited life - just her work, which is now in question, her son, who is leaving her, and her garden.

Catherine on the other hand is a bit of a libertine, a woman who not only enjoys a drink but enjoys a bit of backroom gambling so naturally her reappearance in Claire's life is a disruption, but you know in the end, it's going to be a disruption that Claire needed to shake up her staid, narrow life.

Beatrice has reunited with Claire to make amends and for Claire to help her die in peace. The two eventually bond - two damaged souls - who each in her own way frees the other. 

It's OK that you know that because it's the getting there that is so wonderful in this film.

What could have been a sentimental bit of treacle is saved by the smart script and the actors, who are women of a certain age at the top of their acting game.

Catherine Deneuve is a wonder. 

She has come a long way since she made a huge splash in 1964 as the ingenue in "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."  I mention her often in my writings because she famously said that after 30 a woman has to choose between her butt or her face, meaning you either decide to be a skinny bitch and accept that your face will probably be gaunt and wrinkly or you let your butt get big but benefit from a little plumpness in your face.  She has chosen her face, though she is hardly fat, and I only bring this up because despite the fact that Deneuve has always been one of the great beauties of the cinema, it doesn't seem that vanity has driven her to go the plastic surgery route of so many beautiful actresses and instead has taken her own advice and allowed herself to age gracefully.  And at 74, she is still beautiful and the best part - busy.  She accepts that she is no longer the ingénue and plays age-appropriate parts that allow her to show off her acting range.

But this film is really about Claire who is brought to life by Beatrice's free spirit and through helping her die.  Frot is just wonderful here. Like Deneuve, she is a veteran actress who I loved in "Marguerite," the French version of "Florence Foster Jenkins," for which she won a Best Actress Cesar Award in 2016. Her face speaks volumes and seeing these two actresses together is a wonderful experience.

Where the British are really good at historical dramas, the French are particularly good at one-on-one personal dramas and have no problem making films about men and women of a certain age.  And, of course, they are really good at sex, too especially sex between real people, people who aren't necessarily gorgeous or thin or young.

Written and directed by Martin Provost, this film is a wonderful experience about the power of forgiveness.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is also one of those films where, having seen it, you feel better about life.
(In French with English subtitles)

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

166 (revised) to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Silver Lode (1954)

Four U.S. marshals ride into the town of Silver Lode looking for Dan Ballard so they can bring him in for murder.  The problem is - he says he didn't do it and is given only a short time to prove his innocence.

Dan Ballard (John Payne) arrived in Silver Lode two years ago with $20,000.  Since then he has made a name for himself and is now a successful rancher. Everyone in town likes and respects him.  The town is in the midst of their Fourth of July celebration and Dan is about to marry Rose Evans (Lizabeth Scott), the daughter of the richest man in town, when U.S. Marshals, led by Fred McCarty (Dan Duryea), turn up with a warrant for his arrest.  At first the townspeople can't believe it and stand by Dan, but as time goes by, they slowly start to turn on him and the mob mentality takes over.

Dan asks for two hours to prove his innocence and McCarty reluctantly says OK, thus giving this film a real time aspect as the time Dan has left is equivalent to the running time of the film.

One man against the world trying to prove his innocence. 

This film was made during the heart of the McCarthy era and that is certainly apparent in this film.  I mean, the bad guy's name is McCarty!

Westerns were my Dad's favorite film genre, probably because he wanted to be a cowboy himself.  I watched a lot of them with him and remember when westerns dominated TV back in the 50's and 60's?

I am not a huge fan of westerns, despite all of those hours watching them with my Dad.  I am not sure why I don't like them, because Westerns are really just soap operas or murder mysteries set in the Old West.  I think they were popular because people find them comforting to watch because they know what to expect. 

Most Westerns share the same tropes:

  • Bad guys ride into town looking for trouble
  • The Hero protects the town
  • The Hero may or may not have a dark past
  • There is always a horse chase
  • There is always a gunfight
  • There is always a hooker with the heart of gold (of course, we couldn't say hooker in those westerns of old so we called her a saloon girl)

And my favorite, which almost always happens. 

  • The girl slaps the guy.  The guy slaps her back.  She is still defiant and the guy says, "You've got spirit.  I like women with spirit!"

John Payne made a career out of straight-backed good guys while Dan Duryea made a career for himself playing sleazy bad guys, and this movie is filled with character actors you will recognize.  Women in westerns usually don't have much to do, but at least here the women are the ones who believe in our hero and who ultimately help him.

Director Allan Dwan was a Hollywood fixture, a director whose movie career spanned almost 50 years.  He directed 125 films and many of them were award-winning films such as "The Sands of Iwo Jima." 

There are 38 westerns listed in "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" and you might ask, of all of the western films out there, why is this one a movie we must see before we die?

Why it's a Must See: "[This is...director Allan Dwan's] film par excellance: concise, plain, inventive, fluid, ironic, unspectacular-but-beautiful...Thanks to the director's visual assurance...Silver Lode is one of the best of the American cinema's many underrated Westerns."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

As I often say when reviewing these older films that often have stilted acting and cliched dialogue, many of them don't stand up today, and yes, this film suffers from a bit of that, but it is also a good example of why westerns were so popular: the greatest western trope of all: good overcoming evil.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this western had a kind of noir feel to it.  I call it Western Noir - I think I just made that term up.

***The Book of the Week***

Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu (2017)

The first cookbook from the team behind the indie magazine Cherry Bombe and the Radio Cherry Bombe podcast.

The subtitle of this delightful cookbook is "Recipes and Stories from 100 of the Most Creative and Inspiring Women in Food Today," and the authors have this to say about their book:

"What makes a recipe special and truly worth your time? For us, it comes down to the person behind the recipe.  Why cook any old dish from some anonymous recipe online when you can make one from a person you love or admire?  We prefer a recipe that's the equivalent of a sweater borrowed from a girlfriend, a dog-eared book your sister lent you, or the weird knickknack that belonged to your grandmother: Dependable, interesting, nostalgia inducing, maybe even a little quirky."

Celebrity chefs, food stylists, bakers and other creative people who are part of the current food scene - all women - share their recipes in this beautiful cookbook.

Some of the contributors include:
  • Melissa Clark, New York Times columnist and cookbook author
  • Padma Lakshmi, star of Top Chef
  • Elisabeth Prueitt, pastry chef and co-founder of Tartine and Tartine Manufactory 
  • Chrissy Teigen, supermodel and bestselling cookbook author
  • Renee Erickson, Seattle celebrity chef
  • Joy Wilson, of Joy the Baker

Here is a taste of a few of the recipes I can't wait to try:

  • Nonna Grazia's Pasta E Piselli (Grandma's Pasta & Peas) - Claudia Ficca
        Who doesn't love a creamy pasta with peas?
         What I want to know is this: if Chrissy Teigen likes to eat as much as
         she says she does, how does she stay so slim?
         Ditto for Padma!
        Renee is a local Seattle chef with some amazingly successful restaurants,
        so glad she is included here.
        I LOVE a good curry!
         I LOVE a good pie!
        I LOVE a great drinky winky!
And I LOVE that this book celebrates women!

The book is beautifully illustrated and would be a welcome addition to any cookbook collection.
Rosy the Reviewer says...this cookbook is da bombe!

Thanks for reading!


See you next Friday 

for my review of  

"Murder on the Orient Express"  


 The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."


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