Showing posts with label Whiskey Galore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whiskey Galore. Show all posts

Friday, January 17, 2020

"Little Women" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the latest version of "Little Women" as well as DVDs "Ready or Not" and "Angel Has Fallen."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Whiskey Galore."]

Little Women

The latest version of "Little Women."

When I was a little girl I subscribed to a kids' Book of the Month Club that specialized in classic stories and one of the books I received was "Little Women."  I remember sitting on the basement stairs reading it to my mother while she ironed.  All of us little girls read that book and wanted to be one of the March sisters and if we had any gumption we wanted to be Jo.  Then there were countless movie adaptations but the movie version I remember most was the one starring June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor.  And now we have Greta Gerwig's version which she adapted and directed...and yes, I know, I usually hate remakes...but not this time!

In case you didn't have the privilege of reading Louisa May Alcott's famous book, let me bring you up-to-date.  

The four March sisters are Meg (Emma Watson), the eldest; Jo (Saoirse Ronan), the literary tomboy; Beth (Eliza Scanlen), the saintly one who always seems to be sick; and Amy (Florence Pugh), the one who is a major pain-in-the-butt. The sisters live in Concord, Massachusetts, under the care of their almost too-good-to-be true Marmee (rhymes with smarmy), their always understanding and do-gooder mother (Laura Dern), who must raise her daughters mostly alone because the father is fighting in the Civil War. Through a series of back and forth vignettes in the film, we follow the girls as they grow from adolescence to womanhood.

The family has little money so the hope for all poor families in those days was that the daughter would marry a rich man. But Meg falls in love with a local teacher, which screws her chances of marrying rich; Jo appears to have no interest in romance and would rather write stories; and, like I said, Beth is always sick, so Amy is the family's one hope to marry rich, so Aunt March (Meryl Streep) takes her to Europe to find a rich husband.  And by the way, Aunt March is rich and why she doesn't help the March girls is really not explained except she isn't very nice. But the main focus is on Jo (as were the books, because as we know, Jo was Alcott's alter-ego), and Gerwig has turned her into a 19th century feminist, a young woman easily relatable today, writing her stories, negotiating her book contract by herself and not giving any of her dreams up for a man.

I first knew about Greta Gerwig when she starred in Woody Allen's film "To Rome with Love." But it was her association with director Noah Baumbach and her starring in his films - "Frances Ha" and "Mistress America" - that really brought her to my attention.   She was what could be described as a quirky actress, tall and unconventional looking by Hollywood standards, and I just couldn't take my eyes off of her.  Then she went on from acting to write and direct the fresh and original "Lady Bird" - and now this - well, that just sealed the deal for me. She is one talented lady and I am a big fan!

But now I am going to rant a bit.  

The Oscar nominations for the 2019 film year are now out, and despite the fact that "Little Women" was nominated for Best Picture, Gerwig was not nominated for Best Director.  What is it with Hollywood?  Oh, right, the power is in the hands of old white men. Only five women have EVER been nominated for Best Director, and, though Gerwig was one of them last year for "Lady Bird," the "Academy" deemed her not worthy this year, despite the fact that I found this film even better than that one.  So despite this whole brouhaha about diversity over the last few years, women are still being discriminated against. Here was a chance to put that right - this film is wonderful and the direction was a lot of it - and she was still left out.  Get with the program Hollywood! 

Rant over.  Back to a more pleasant subject - my admiration for this film.

Yes, this story has been told over and over, but Gerwig, who wrote the screenplay as well as directing it, brings it up-to-date by using it as a platform to make some profound statements.  From Amy explaining to Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) why she needed to marry a rich man (a woman had no means to make money except as Aunt March explained running a cat house or performing on the stage, both the same thing in her mind) to the book publisher telling Jo her stories must end with the heroine getting married or dying to the loving relationship among the sisters, Gerwig has images and dialogue that make statements for women and young girls today. For all of us, actually. For example, in the book when Jo does finally marry and inherits Aunt March's house, she and her husband turn the house into a school for boys.  In the film, it's a school for boys and girls. And there is a scene on Christmas morning showing Marmee and the girls taking their breakfast over to a needy family as townspeople are entering a church for the Christmas morning service so they can sit there and feel righteous while the March family is actually doing something righteous.  Brilliant.

My only criticism of this lovely film is the fact that Gerwig chose to tell the story in a series of flashbacks and flash forwards, almost in a series of vignettes, rather than in a linear fashion, which I think might make it difficult for those who are not familiar with the story.  But that's a little thing compared to the beauty of this film.

And the acting is flawless.  

Ronan is one of our very best young actresses but Pugh is also a stand-out as Amy.  She has been making a name for herself in just the last three years, starting out as a cold-hearted young wife in "Lady Macbeth," moving on to a comedy in "Fighting with my Family" and then on to some horror with "Midsommar." Her range is incredible. Streep has a small role but gets all of the zinger lines and Dern is fine as Marmee, though I prefer her in roles like the attorney in "Marriage Story," which gives her more to do and for which she is sure to win an Oscar. 

Watching this film, I was transported back to those basement steps, an eight-year-old girl, reading to my mother as she ironed, inspired by plucky Jo March to be anything I wanted to be.

Rosy the Reviewer says...the screenplay is fresh, the acting is impeccable and it's a return to childhood, all wrapped up in a beautiful- to-look-at film.  Utterly and wonderfully charming.

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


Ready or Not (2019)

The in-laws from hell!

Grace (Samara Weaving) has married Alex (Mark O'Brien), a rich guy whose family manufactures games. In fact, the Le Domas family is THE manufacturer of games and that made them a pile of money. And fittingly, it's a family tradition that whomever marries into the family must play a game on the wedding night.

"At midnight, you have to play a game.  It's something we do when someone new joins the family."

The new family member draws a card out of a sinister box and whatever game is written on the card - that's the game that must be played.  It might be "Old Maid" or "Monopoly," but what you don't want to draw is "Hide and Seek."  Gee, guess which card Grace draws?

Similar to the film "The Most Dangerous Game," a classic film where humans are hunted, this game of "Hide and Seek" pits Grace against Alex's family members who believe that she must be killed by sunrise or they will all die. What a lovely bunch of people (I'm being sarcastic). We have Tony (Henry Czerny) and Becky (Andie MacDowell), Alex's parents; Daniel (Adam Brody), Alex's alcoholic brother; Emilie (Melanie Scrofano), his drug addicted sister; Charity (Elise Levesque), Daniel's snobby wife; Emilie's ineffectual husband, Fitch (Kristian Bruun); and the malevolent looking Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni).  Grace doesn't get it at first, that this is a deadly game, just that her new in-laws are, shall we say, a bit eccentric, so off she goes to hide, but it all soon becomes clear as the in-laws, armed with guns, axes, knives and cross-bows, try to find her - and kill her -- in the big, dark gloomy mansion.

And what's the reason for all of this?

Well, supposedly, their ancestor, Victor Le Domas, made a deal with someone named Le Bail.  Le Bail would make sure the family made a fortune if they would participate in this ritual. Okay. Odd.  But anyway, the night wears on with Grace being stalked by her new family, but of course, our Grace is plucky and she soon turns the tables.

The film, written by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, plays like a Lifetime Movie.  But as you probably know, I rather enjoy Lifetime Movies and I loved this movie.  It's all very gothic with many of the gothic tropes we have come to love: darkness, isolation, madness, the artistocracy, death. But there is also lots of humor.  Yes, folks, this film is quite funny, and I hope it was supposed to be because that's what I liked about it. Black comedy is my thing and this is about as darkly funny as you can get. Lots of over-acting, lots of over dramatic characters and a great metaphor for unfriendly in-laws! It's also a great metaphor for today's political world - the rich hunting the poor!

The ensemble acting is quite wonderful but Weaving steals the show.  When she grabbed the big gun and strapped on that bandolier, I knew all hell was going to break loose...and it did!

Rosy the Reviewer says...Comedy-horror.  I loved it!

Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Another installment in the "Fallen" series ("Olympus Has Fallen; "London Has Fallen"), this time secret service officer, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is framed for an attempted assassination of the President (Morgan Freeman) and must try to clear his name while at the same time evading capture.


In "Olympus Has Fallen," Secret Service agent Banning must save the President from terrorists.  In "London Has Fallen," he has to save all of the world's leaders from assassination and now once again, for the third time, their is yet another assassination attempt on our President (Morgan Freeman - just how many Presidents has he played?), and Banning must save him - again.  I mean, do you see a theme here?  How many times are they going to recycle this same plot?  But Butler seems to be Teflon Man when it comes to the box office.  These movies keep making money so I guess that's why they keep making them.  We want to see Butler getting blamed for stuff but then rise to the occasion and save the President yet again, over and over again.

Despite everything that has happened, this time Banning has been made head of the Secret Service despite the fact that he has insomnia, chronic migraines and takes meds for back pain. It's no wonder after everything he has been through in the first two films.  He is assigned to  protect the President on a fishing trip but when there is an assault on the President and he is left in a coma, Banning is blamed and arrested.  However, he escapes and spends the rest of the movie trying to solve the mystery of who attacked the President and prove his innocence, a plot line we have seen many, many times.

With a screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen, Matt Cook and Ric Roman Waugh and directed by Waugh, this film provides many opportunities for car chases, explosions and Butler to say the "F" word a lot with a conclusion you can see coming from a mile away.

Rosy the Reviewer says...nothing new here. Didn't love this one.  Didn't even like it!

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

47 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Whiskey Galore (1949)

It's what happens when an isolated Scottish village runs out of whiskey.

The inhabitants of the fictional Scottish island of Todday, part of the Outer Hebrides, love their whiskey.  It's a very isolated island, and there is not much else to do there except drink.  But it's also WW II, and when rationing occurs, the whiskey dries up and gloom descends on the island.  Life is no longer worth living.

"From that day, everyone went into mourning."

But then a boat carrying 50,000 cases of whiskey to America runs ashore, and the islanders figure out a way to get it, foiling the teetotalling by-the-book English Home Guard Captain Waggett (Basil Radford), who is working with government officials to reclaim the "salvaged" whiskey, which the locals have hidden all over the island.

Meanwhile, romance is in the air. George (Gordon Jackson) wants to marry Catriona (Gabrielle Blunt) and Sergeant Odd (Bruce Seton) wants to marry Peggy (Joan Greenwood).  George's mother is a harridan and doesn't want anything to do with Catriona and Peggy's father doesn't want anything to do with Odd.  But whiskey has a way of changing things.

Directed by Alexander MacKendrick and based on a true incident, it's a slight plot - the islanders run out of whiskey; they go into mourning; a boat carrying whiskey runs ashore and they figure out how to get it - but it's a charming and funny ride with quirky, lovable village folk getting it over the pompous rich folk who think they run the show but who get their comuppance, all held together with that dry British humor.

This film was a feather in the cap of the Ealing Studios, which earned a reputation for producing high quality British comedies, and the film received a BAFTA Best Film nomination in 1950.

Why it's a Must See: "The universal appeal of the film's antiauthoritarian humor lies in its idealization of a remote, isolated village world full of eccentrics, cards, pretty lasses, and gutsy, commonsensical folk pricking the balloons of the pompous and bureaucratic types opposing them."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fun little romp - but did I need to see it before I died?  Not really.
(In b & w)

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday




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

as well as

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.