Showing posts with label fashion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fashion. Show all posts

Monday, July 5, 2021

Rosy the Reviewer's Master Review of MasterClass - Part 3: Tan France Teaches Style for Everyone

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I am into fashion.  I have written about it several times from "Librarian Fashion (no, that's not an oxymoron) to a history of Baby Boomer fashion ("A Baby Boomer's Fashion Show: A Short History of the Last 65 Years in the Clothes We Wore") to fashion advice for us older, curvier ladies ("Fashion Inspiration for the Woman of a Certain Age - and Size!"). 

So, of course, I would be drawn to this MasterClass. And who wouldn't want some tips from Tan France, the style guy on the new version of "Queer Eye?"  And lest you men out there think there is nothing here for you, you would be wrong.  When Tan France says " style for everyone," he means it.

In a series of 12 videos (2 hours and 19 minutes), France teaches us how to be the very best versions of ourselves.  He promises that at the end of the class "You will feel wonderful," because style commands respect and investing in your image can change your life.

With the caveat that rules can be broken, he lays out "The Rules of Great Style," and adds, yes, rules can be broken but first, you need to know the rules.

  • Know your proportions - realize your are not a super model.  You are not meant to wear those runway clothes.
  • Know yourself - don't wear something that is not you.
  • Let go of archaic rules e.g. curvy girls don't need to wear A-line dresses (thank the lord!)

  • Let go of "dressing for your age (thank, god)!"

  • Add great accessories

And speaking of accessories, he says that Coco Chanel ruined accessories for us when she said before going out look at yourself in the mirror and remove one thing.  He says NOT to limit yourself. Load up those accessories!

France then goes on to discuss the importance of a "Capsule Wardrobe," which is a collection of neutral classic pieces that you can mix and match.  

I couldn't help but laugh here.  I have the equivalent of about 100 capsule wardrobes (this is only one of my closets)!

In fact, I've written about my tendency to, uh, dare I say it?  Hoard? ("
Confessions of a Clothes Hoarder")

Anyway, a good capsule wardrobe should consist of:

1.  A great coat

2.  A leather jacket

3.  Button up shirts in neutral colors

4.  A great fitting suit

5. Neutral sweaters

6. T-shirts (black, white, navy and khaki)

7.  A couple of pairs of denim jeans (how about 20)?

8.  Wonderful footwear - white sneakers, a nude heel or a dressed up flat.

9.  A statement belt - if you need a belt to hold up your pants they are too big.  Get them tailored!

10.  A little classic dress

Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.

And if you guys are still out there, note all of that capsule wardrobe applies to you too - well, maybe not the nude heel, dressed up flats or little classic dress. Instead, for shoes, you need the sneakers, as well as a black boot and a brown shoe or boot. But all of the rest applies.

Tan goes on to then show how to turn this capsule wardrobe into all kinds of looks, how to transition from brunch to work to evening and the importance of adding accessories (they show that you give a damn about how you look).

All along he shares various fashion tips and here is my favorite:

If you want to keep your denim jeans in great shape, don't wash them.  Keep them in the freezer.  The freezer will kill bacteria.  He only washes his jeans about twice a year.  That may work for guys but I don't see it working for us gals.

As for finding your own personal style?

Who do you admire?  Find someone you think looks nice.  You are not copying, you are being inspired.  Then create a mood board that has the vibe you are going for.  According to Tan, you don't need to wear designer clothes to have style.  In fact, just because you wear designer clothes doesn't mean you have style.  Style is how you put things together.  Fashion is fussy; style is fun.

He then goes on to show how to get the right fit (it's all about balance and he is really into tailoring), how to shop in person and online (I didn't need any help with that!), how to stay current (he's not into hoarding clothes - oops!), and he warns that you will make mistakes on your journey to find your style and that's okay, it happens. It's the way you learn what works for you.


And the final takeaway is this: your wardrobe should make you feel wonderful so stand tall with confidence in clothes you love.  Make an effort to make every day a special occasion day.

Yes, sir!

So, was it worth it?

Sure. Spending a couple of hours with Tan France was fun.  He is a charming guy who will give you confidence in finding your style.  However, I will say that this is aimed more at the fashion beginner, not someone like me who has been shopping her head off for most of her life and hoards, er, has lots of clothes.






And beyond!

But he did his job. If you are into fashion or just want to look good and need or want some inspiration, this is for you.  

As for me, he was right.  Finding my personal style has made me feel wonderful! 

Thanks for reading!

See you soon!

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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)!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fashion Inspiration for the Woman of a Certain Age (and Size)!

If you have read my blog over the years, you know that I love fashion, and despite being a woman of a certain age (and size), I still like to dress up.  I have also always enjoyed fashion magazines, ever since I found my older sister's stash of "Seventeen," way back when I was about eight. Since I love clothes and like to make a fashion statement, I always found fashion magazines inspirational. 

However, now that I am a woman of a certain age, I still enjoy them, but find that more and more, they relate less and less to women like me. It seems as we age, we become invisible, not just to the opposite sex and in fashion magazines, but to the world in general. 

So now, I still like to read fashion magazines and books not so much for the fashion inspiration I once sought but so that I can become outraged at the expectations laid out for us older women ("What Rosy Loves and a Rant About Fashion Magazines.")  Not only are we faced with 18-year-old size zero women, we are told what we should and shouldn't wear, what's out and what's in.  Because of that, it's easy to just say, "Screw it!" and give up on ourselves.  If the expectations are so great and yet nobody sees us and nobody else cares what we look like, why should we?

But we should.  We need to fight invisibility and make strong statements about the fact that we may be old but we are still alive and kicking, we still care about how we look and we look GREAT!

I recently posted "Make-Up 101 for the Woman of a Certain Age," in hopes that I could inspire the more mature woman not to give up on herself just because she is, uh, mature and a bit wrinkly.  I also wrote that post because I think we women should fight invisibility by slapping on a little color and not giving in to the ravages of old age.

So I am going to continue that theme, but this time, regarding fashion, in hopes that, despite a little extra poundage and a bit of thickness around the middle, we women of a certain age and size can still look good.  Especially if you are retired, I know it's tempting to just let it all hang out, wear sweatpants and old lady shoes because they are comfortable.  When you have put on weight, one of the first things to go is a waistband, but in the immortal words of Billy Crystal as actor Fernando Lamas on SNL  "It's better to look good than to feel good."

Actually, I am just kidding, well, sort of kidding.

I don't want you to be uncomfortable, but I also don't want you to give in to comfort to the point of not giving a damn what you look like or to think that because you weigh 20 pounds more than you should why bother to dress up?

I had fun awhile back writing a blog post called "Parisian Chic (it's one of my most popular posts, too!) where I reviewed all of those books that came out a few years ago extolling the virtues of being French.  You know the ones I mean, "French Women Don't Get Fat," etc., books meant to make us American women feel shlumpy and lazy.  We may not be French and we many not know 20 different ways to tie a scarf, but we are not shlumpy and we are not lazy.

As I said, though I am a mature woman, I still enjoy dressing up and reading about fashion, so if you, too, are interested in this kind of thing and feel like we women of a certain age and size are left out of the fashion party, I thought I would check out a few recent books on fashion to see if there are any tips that would not only make us less invisible but help us feel really good about ourselves, despite our age and size.  I am also going to see if these are inspirational, and if so, glean the best, share what I have learned and save you the trouble of having to wade through all of them yourselves.

And you are very welcome!

Oh, and I will throw in a few pictures of outfits I have thrown together too.

How To Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets For Making Your Clothes Look, Fit and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer (2015)

The title of this book is a bit misleading. It's not actually how to put on your clothes but rather how to take care of your clothes so that when you put them on you look amazing.

According to Freer, fit is the true enemy of great style and we need to get a tailor! 

"For example, for us curvy girls...

"Buying bigger and then taking in only where needed is the costume designer's ultimate secret weapon for dressing curves..."

You see, basically this whole book is about either tailoring your clothes yourself or getting it done.  I see lots and lots of dollars flying out of my bank account.

But she also talks about figuring out your own signature style, which I think is good.  Well, I thought it was good until she interviewed women in various professions and, wouldn't you know, one of them was a librarian...I had to say, "Oh no she didn't...

As you know, I am a retired librarian and have been fighting the librarian stereotype and the "you don't look like a librarian" comments all of my life.  Not sure what a librarian is supposed to look like, but I know what the stereotype is.  It's either an old fussy lady with a bun, glasses and double-tread floor gripper shoes or a buttoned up younger woman (yes, she still has glasses and a bun), who hides the dirty books under her desk and is just waiting for a man to come along so she can shake out her hair, take off her glasses, reveal how hot she is so that said man can ravage her on her desk.

So you can image what I thought of THIS then when a young librarian was interviewed about her personal style!

She was a twenty-five-year-old librarian and she had come up with "Librarian Noir" as her personal style.  Now I know she is making a statement about books with the noir part but when I read the blurb I had to cringe. 

Anyway, here is what our little librarian said:

"I run the library at my local university, so proper bookish styles have always been the cornerstone of my personal style.  But the older I get, the more I find myself wanting to break out of the classic 'librarian' mold.  I still need to look professional -- I'm just looking to add a bit of zip to my existing work clothes.  After writing down all the books and films I love, I realized that what I really wanted was to add a little classic Hollywood sex appeal to my wardrobe.  That's how I ended up with 'Librarian Noir.' I've plugged a few fluffy angora sweaters and seamed stockings into my existing closet of pencil skirts and ballet flats.  The result is a look that signals to the world that I'm a very proper lady--with a few secrets hidden just beneath the surface, should one want to scratch."

If ever there was a librarian stereotype, this is it. 

Librarian plus angora sweater and seamed stockings?  "A few secrets hidden beneath the surface?"  And scratch what?  Every man's fantasy, giving her a scratch and waking up that poor sex-starved librarian and finding out she's a sexual hellcat?

I also take issue with her talking about "bookish styles" - not sure what those are.  Likewise, don't know what the "classic librarian mold" is other than more stereotypes (reading glasses on a chain, pencil in bun, matching sweater set?)

(**As you can see, I feel strongly about the "librarian stereotype."  I actually wrote a whole blog post about it a couple of years ago called "Librarian Fashion. Others must care about it too, because that blog post has turned out to be one of my most popular ones. If you are interested, take a look).

After Freers finished discussing the importance of our finding our signature style, and I got over all of that librarian noir nonsense, she went on to list:

"Dumb Fashion Rules That Were Made for Breaking" which I mostly agreed with:

  • Be afraid of stripes
  • Don't wear white after Labor Day
  • Don't mix your metals
  • Don't wear leggings as pants
  • Don't wear boots in the summer
  • Don't mix patterns
  • Don't double up on denim

I agree that all of those are dumb rules except I think NOT doubling up on denim is a GOOD rule unless you want to look like you are just off the farm, and if leggings should be worn as pants, somebody should tell United Airlines.

Freers also offers some fun and strange tips that supposedly come from Hollywood actresses she has worked with: spraying your feet with cooking spray makes it easy to fit into stilettos - ladies, are we still wearing stilettos? - and "irons in a can (also known as wrinkle releasing sprays)" can work in a pinch.  Likewise, when it comes to our intimate wear, she says don't waste your money on expensive shape wear when granny panties and cotton bike shorts work just as well.  Good to know.  I've been wearing granny panties for years.

There is a chapter on shopping vintage and thrift and even one for the guys, but mostly this book is about clothes maintenance - stain removal, storage, shoe care and how to wash fabric the right way Yawn.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Inspiring for us women of a certain age and size?  Not really.  Some handy tips if you want to get into tailoring your clothes and need some advice on stain removal and greasing your stilettos, but this all sounds like too much work for me.  But at least all age groups and sizes can relate, though I'm still reeling from that 25-year-old librarian and her "Librarian noir."

This is what a librarian looks like!

How To Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor's Secrets to Getting Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig (2012)

No this book is not about how to look like a high priced hooker.

The title seems like it should be the title of a movie about high class call girls, but it's not.  In fact, Lustig takes issue with looking loud or tarty.

"Looking expensive is about looking chic and understated, polished and professional...It's about not being flashy or a show-off or a showgirl...It's luxe, not loud.  More Paris France than Paris Hilton."  Ouch.

This is yet another book revealing fashion secrets.  Who knew there were so many secrets about fashion out there and why are they secrets?  But in fact, rather than revealing secrets, this is more like a pep talk to not let yourself go.

"When you upgrade your look you are setting yourself up to upgrade your life."

"Improving your looks is a way to improve your life."

"Feeling like a million bucks makes you look like a million bucks."

You get the idea.

Lustig comes up with four styles to emulate to look expensive:

  • Park Avenue Pretty
  • Think Kate Middleton or Gwyneth Paltrow

  • Hollywood Boho
  • Think Taylor Swift or Chloe Sevigny

  • Glam Globe Trotter
  • Angelina Jolie or Sienna Miller

  • Modern Movie Star
  • Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lopez

She also goes into make-up essentials, the top eyebrow mistakes. wardrobe rules and more pronouncements:

  • Less is always more
  • Build an edited beauty collection (check out my Make-up 101 blog mentioned above)
  • Knowledge is priceless - DIY or know how to not get overcharged
  • You can't put a price on good taste
  • Maintenance is everything
  • Buying new beauty products is a lot cheaper than buying new clothes
  • The key to a look that reads high worth is to enhance what you've got without trying to be someone else (then why did she list those stars)?

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you feel like a pep talk will get your butt off the couch and motivate you to put on some make-up and try to look like Jennifer Lopez, then this book might be for you but I found it a bit smug.

I am channeling my inner Jennifer Lopez!



Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? by Ines de la Fressange and Sophie Gachet (2017)

You cannot escape the French and their superior attitude about fashion and not getting fat.

According to them, you should wear a lot of denim and a lot of black.

Through a series of pictures, the authors show you how you should dress for various events from going to work,

going out to dinner

and what to wear to visit the Eiffel Tower.

Huh?  There's a particular way we are supposed to dress to see the Eiffel Tower?

There is also a list of fashion faux pas, because, well, like I said these authors are French.

Not sure why Bermuda shorts with pockets are bad.  I am thinking Bermuda shorts in general are bad.  The authors also don't like leggings, knockoff bags, platform sneakers, culottes, long down jackets, head-to-toe fur, crepe-soled shoes, Crocs, bras with clear straps, piling on jewelry, cat T-shirts, Mom jeans, and more.  I mostly agree though I have to say the last time I was in Paris everyone looked like the Michelin Man in their long down jackets and I have to admit I am prone to piling on a bit of jewelry.

They end the book with what you SHOULD do - "Fashionable Style Tricks" such as pairing a straw bag with an evening dress, cinching your blazer with two belts, turning your V-neck backwards and using a pearl necklace as a belt.

Two belts? And they think culottes are a fashion faux pas?

The book is nicely illustrated with full outfits for many occasions but the models are all young, skinny bitches wearing nothing but black and denim.

Rosy the Reviewer says... If you can get past the skinny bitches and you like black and denim, you might find some inspiration here but once again, it's those damn French women trying to make us Americans feel fat and frumpy!

Gee, I wonder what they would say about an old lady in bell bottoms! 
At least I am wearing black!


The Power of Style: Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Dressed Tomorrow by Bobbie Thomas (2013)

Another fashion pep talk.

What's with these pep talks?  Are all women giving up on themselves that they need pep talks to get dressed?  I'd better read this book fast since tomorrow will be here before I know it!

Before you can even get dressed you have to go through these steps!

  • Step 1 - See yourself and ask Who Are You?

  • Step 2 - Act the part - body language and first impressions

  • Step 3 - Brand yourself

  • Step 4 - Know your worth

  • Step 5 - Put a plan in practice

OK, Rosy who are you?  I am an old gal packing a few extra pounds who just wants to be able to get dressed tomorrow and look presentable without having to ask myself "Who Am I?"  All of that just to get dressed each day?

She then goes into colors (do we still do that? - I'm summer, by the way) and finding out the best styles for your body type but for one thing - who does colors anymore and the whole body type thing has been debunked.  We curvy girls CAN wear skinny jeans.

This book is less about fashion and more of a pep talk but reading 111 pages of pep talk would keep me from getting dressed by tomorrow.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if I have to do all of that before I get dressed tomorrow, I would never get dressed!

I just threw this together!

The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces by Wendy Mak (2017)

Here is the formula: 80/20.  80% basics and 20% stuff you actually like. 

Literally 109 pages putting those 30 pieces together into outfits. Mak shows you how to take 30 pieces and turn them into 1000 outfits but I have to ask, Why?Yawn.  What fun is it to wear the same 30 pieces all of the time even if they are in all different combinations?

Rosy the Reviewer says... I don't think I am a good candidate for the capsule wardrobe.  In jackets alone, I have more than 30 pieces and I like the idea of being able to shop my wardrobe.  I don't think I'm a capsule wardrobe person.

After all is said and done, here is what I have to say about fashion for the woman of a certain age and size:


Read fashion magazines if you want.  Read books about fashion if you want.  Both will give you some ideas but don't let those skinny bitches tell you what you can and cannot wear because the bottom line is - WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT!

It's your life.  Enjoy it!


Thanks for reading!

See you Friday 

for my review of  



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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Friday, May 12, 2017

"The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Ron Howard documentary "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years" which was in limited release and is now streaming on Hulu as well as DVDs "A Monster Calls" and "The Edge of Seventeen."  The Book of the Week is "The Curated Closet."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Ikiru"]

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

A documentary about the 250 concerts the Beatles performed from 1963 to 1966 that includes never-before-seen footage and interviews.

Most of us Baby Boomers were Beatles fans. 

John, Paul, George and Ringo.  The Fab Four.  We all had a favorite (mine was Paul).  I can remember exactly where I bought my first album, how I felt when I saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (and who I was with - Hi, Linda!) and the thrill I felt at one of their concerts in Detroit in 1965.  The Beatles so affected my young life that when I first started writing this blog, I was compelled to write "Why the Beatles Matter."

And yes, that's me in my bedroom with my girlfriends!

America was in mourning for President Kennedy and the Vietnam War was looming, so with their "long" hair, cheeky attitude and upbeat music, the Beatles brought excitement, happiness and hope and made my generation, the Baby Boomer Generation, feel like we could do anything. 

Using never-before-seen concert footage and interviews, as well as present-day comments from Paul and Ringo and other artists such as Elvis Costello and Eddie Izzard, this documentary was a labor of love from director Ron Howard, who captures that special moment in time when the Beatles were first starting out and took the world by storm.

When the Beatles first got together, things were really simple for them. They paid their dues in the dingy bars and sex clubs of Hamburg.  George reminisces about being 17 in "the naughtiest town in the world."

And Ringo remembered when "Playing was the most important thing."

John recalls that when they would get depressed, he would ask them, "Where we going, fellas?" and they would answer "To the top, Johnny!"  "Where's that, fellas?"  "To the toppermost of the poppermost!"  "Right!" And then they would feel better.

See why we loved them so much?

John was also known for his wit, and in one press conference, they were asked "How do you keep up the zest?" to which John replied "We do the zest we can!"

He was a genius at playing on words.

The film also briefly profiles Brian Epstein, whose parents owned a record shop in Liverpool.  So many people started asking for records by The Beatles that he decided to check them out and when he did, he saw their potential and signed up as their manager.  He thought they had an "untidy stage presentation" so he put them in suits, "Beatle boots" and invented that hair.

By mid 1964, The Beatles were the world's leading band.

When Paul was asked about their impact on Western culture, he replied "How can you ask me that?  What do we have to do with Western culture?  We're just having a laugh."  Little did he know how much influence they would have and how many other young men would become musicians because of the Beatles.  Even women were not immune to that dream.  Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart wrote in their book "Kicking and Screaming" (co-authored by Charles Cross) that they didn't want to be groupies for the Beatles, they wanted to BE the Beatles.

When George Martin came on board as their record producer, he decided that the Beatles would put out a single every three months and an album every six months.  That and the touring took its toll.

And as they became more and more successful, things got complicated, as happens with immense success. 

Eventually, they got tired of all of the publicity and everyone wanting a piece of them.  The movie "Help" was an anthem to that.  They really did need help.  The touring and performing and not being able to hear themselves over the screaming, weighed on them.

In 1966 they had three months off, the first time in four years they had any time off and the four all started to develop other interests.  George had developed an interest in Indian music, Paul was painting and for the first time their personal lives started taking precedent.

Then came the shocking butcher album cover and John's remark about their being more popular than Jesus and a back lash began along with anti-Beatles demonstrations.  It's interesting that the Jesus remark went practically unnoticed in the U.K. but here in the U.S. our Puritan roots got the better of us, especially in The South, where there were widespread record burnings.

By mid 1966, the Beatles were not happy.  George said it was starting to feel like a freak show and they all decided "That's enough of that" and they performed their last show in August of 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

The film makes the point that because the Beatles started touring at such a young age, their growing up years were stunted, and it was not until after they stopped touring that they started to live, and some of their most creative years took root with the "Revolver" album and culminated in the Sgt. Pepper album, where they musically liberated themselves from the burden of being THE BEATLES.  Sgt. Pepper was on the record charts for three years and in 2012 "Rolling Stone" named it one of the best albums of all time. 

The film also shows the impact the Beatles had on people of color (Whoopi Goldberg shares a moving story about going to see them with her mother), and their refusal to play in front of segregated audiences.  At a concert in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964, seats at the Gator Bowl were to be separated by race, but the band refused to perform until they were assured that the audience would be mixed. Rather than risk a riot of disappointed Beatle fans, the promoters relented and the venue was integrated, setting a precedent for all future Beatle performances.

Paul said, "It's a bit silly to segregate people. I just think it's stupid. You can't treat other human beings like animals. That's the way we all feel, and that's the way people in England feel, because there's never any segregation in concerts in England – and if there was we wouldn't play 'em."

"We played to people," Ringo Said. "We didn't play to those people or that people – we just played to people."

The Beatles only performed live one more time and that was January 30, 1969 on a rooftop in London and fittingly that's how the film ends, the Beatles playing for the last time and people down on the sidewalk listening and looking up, not quite believing what they are hearing.

Director Ron Howard has put together a fascinating look back at a time that is so meaningful for us Baby Boomers and at a band that changed our lives. If you are a Beatles fan and lived through Beatlemania, there might not be much here that you don't already know, but you will delight in all of the performance footage, the never-before heard recording sessions and interviews and the behind-the-scenes look at the making of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help," and getting to relive it all over again.  But Howard didn't just want to appeal to Baby Boomers.  He made this movie for the younger generation, too, so they could see the impact the Beatles had on an entire generation and how much fun their parents had!

Rosy the Reviewer says...treat yourself to this.  It's a delight!
(This film had a limited theatrical release and is now available exclusively on Hulu but it's worth making the effort to see. If you don't have Hulu, go for the free 30-day subscription).

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


A Monster Calls (2016)

A boy with a dying mother gets help from a tree monster.

We first hear Liam Neeson's rich baritone voice say at the beginning of the film:

"It begins with a boy too old to be a kid, to young to be a man...and a nightmare."

And young Conor's life is indeed a nightmare.

Conor's (Lewis MacDougall) mother (Felicity Jones) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and Conor is devastated, but he has learned to take care of himself when his mother is at her worst. He doesn't want to face what is really happening.  Besides, he has other problems. He is lonely and isolated, he has nightmares, and he is being bullied and beaten at school.  And when Conor's grandmother (Signourney Weaver) comes to take charge, she isn't much help either.  She is stern and cold towards him.

Lewis's father (Toby Kebbell) arrives to say his last goodbye to his ex-wife, though he doesn't say that to Conor.  His Dad lives in L.A. and has remarried and Lewis wants to go live with him but it's clear he doesn't want Conor to.  Instead Conor is to live with his grandmother.

Everything is unsaid. Nobody, not even Conor, acknowledges the monster in the room - death.

Conor is dealing with a lot of monsters - bullies, death, a mean grandmother, and a Dad who doesn't appear to want him.

And as if Conor didn't have enough to deal with, one night at exactly 12:07am, the large yew tree that Conor can see from his bedroom window transforms into a huge monster with tree branch tentacles and glowing eyes and the voice of Liam Neeson and the tree monster pays Conor a visit. In his loud, booming Liam Neeson voice, he tells Conor that he will return four more times to tell him three stories, and that when he is done, Conor will tell him a fourth.

On each of the next three visits, the monster relates a story that is depicted in the film through animation.  These stories appear to be fairy tales but they all relate to Conor's life and are paradoxes meant to help him see the ambiguities of life and help him cope. Through the stories that the tree tells Conor, he is able to express his anger.

Finally, the monster calls to say that it's time for Conor to tell him the fourth tale.

Now Conor must face the nightmare he has been having, a nightmare in which he tries to save his mother from falling into a dark hole, but he can't, and through the telling of the tale, he finally acknowledges that his mother is dying, that he doesn't want to lose his mother but he wants the dying to be over. Another paradox. Another lesson for Conor. The tree has appeared to save Conor from being consumed by his mother's death and to help alleviate the guilt he feels.

"I did not come to heal her.  I came to heal you."

It's huge praise from me to love a film starring a child actor, but Lewis is wonderful here.  I believed every word.  Directed by J.A. Bayona with a screenplay by Patrick Ness (based upon his novel), this is a powerful film about death and grieving, and be warned.  Despite the animation and the monster motif, this is not a film for the very young.   

Fecility Jones has few lines but is very affecting as the mother.  Her quiet presence in the film is the centerpiece and being such a strong presence through her expressions alone is the sign of a wonderful actor.

The film is an allegory for the anger and fear of a young boy whose mother is dying and he has no way to express that anger and fear. Our lives are full of monsters but there is no monster worse than being a little child and watching your mother die followed by the monsters of anger and guilt. But in times of crisis, we create what we need to help us through. The tree monster appeared to help Conor face his monsters which in turn allowed him to finally express his love to his mother and say goodbye. Conor was able to hold his mother tight so he could let her go.  

At the end of the film, there is a bit of a twist.  Was the monster real or a figment of Conor's imagination? Let's just say that a mother's love is very powerful.

This is a three hanky film. I think I started crying about 20 minutes into this film, and I'm crying right now remembering it.  Conor is heart-wrenching, and from a young boy's perspective, it's almost inconceivable that his mother would die and that whole concept makes this film a tear-jerker.  And Liam Neesom's voice? Stentorian but kind.  I am starting to cry right now just remembering it.

Do you know the book "The Giving Tree?"  That is a book that I can't even think about without crying.  This movie is like that, and I haven't cried this much in a movie since "Titanic."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you want a good cry - in a good way - this is a must-see film and one of the best films I have seen that deals with death in such an honest and compelling way.  It's a film you won't soon forget.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is having a rough time in high school and it doesn't get any better when her best friend starts dating her brother.  Ew!

You might ask why I would watch this film.  I am decidedly NOT on the edge of 17.  I fell over the edge long ago.  But I'm not so old that I am no longer interested.  I can remember. 

Nadine lives with her widowed mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and from an early age was bullied at school but then she met Krista (Haley Lu Richardson).  A bestie can solve a lot of problems.  Fast forward and now Nadine and Krista are both 17, still friends, talking about losing their virginity and lusting over cute boys.

Nadine's mom goes away for a couple of days and Nadine and Krista have a two girl party and get drunk.  Despite the fact that Nadine had called dibs on the house from her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner), he shows up and Krista ends up sleeping with him while Nadine is throwing up in the toilet.

So Krista and Darian become an item, and it doesn't help that where Nadine is unpopular and an outsider, Darian is very popular and hangs with the cool crowd, so when it looks like Krista has moved into the cool crowd with Darian, leaving Nadine behind, Nadine is bereft.  Meanwhile, Nadine's mother is having problems of her own and shares them with Nadine, showing that while our teens are struggling with the onset of adulthood, we adults are not making adulthood look very attractive.

Nadine is jealous of Krista and her brother and tries to get Krista to choose between them.  Turns out that Nadine has a bit of a nasty side, but didn't we all when we were teens?  She doesn't have any friends so about an hour into the film she goes to see her teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). I was wondering why Woody was in this movie and when he was going to get something to do.  So Nadine rants to him about her problems in a scene that does not ring true to me. Despite the fact that Mr. Bruner is one of those really hip, cool teachers that kids wish they could have, I can't believe he would get away with his teaching techniques today. 
When I was in middle school, one of the most popular teachers we had used to have a name plaque on his desk that said "God." But today, that kind of stuff just doesn't fly in today's PC public schools.  Anyway, she goes to see him and they have one of those witty give and takes that really is unlikely to happen in the real world.

In the end, Nadine finally has sex with the hot guy and has a kind of epiphany.  Do 17-year-olds really have epiphanies? That's probably not fair, but like I said, I am not this movie's demographic.

I have not been a big fan of Woody Harrelson (he seems to play the same kind of smart assed stoned or clueless character all of the time), and you know how I feel about child actors, especially child actors who are nominated for Oscars when they are way too young to have paid their acting dues (Steinfeld was nominated for "True Grit" in 2011 when she was only 13).  I also don't like angst-ridden smart-mouthed teenagers.  Been there, done that.

So we have the smart ass Woody, the angst-ridden smart-mouthed teen and a script full of zippy smarty-pants lines. My idea of hell.  But, actually, I was surprised. The movie had some sweet moments.

Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, the film definitely captures the hell that is high school - Steinfeld is very good here, full of teen angst with a combination of self loathing and arrogance - but some of the stuff in this film is kind of cutesy.  I know this film was not aimed at my age group, but I would think some of the scenes would even be too cutesy for 17 year olds.  But you should probably take everything I say about this movie with a grain of salt, because like I said, I am not this movie's demographic.  I can only guess if these kids and their interactions are authentic teen things, but one thing we know for sure.  Being a teen ain't easy and this film nails that. 

One odd thing, though.  This film is aimed at teens and yet it has an R-rating, rated R for sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens. Seems counterintuitive that a film aimed at teens would restrict teens.  And what are we protecting them from with this rating? Teens don't have sex, swear or drink? As if.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite some things that didn't ring true to me, this is a sweet film.

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

203 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Ikiru (1952)

When a bureaucrat locked in a soulless job discovers he has stomach cancer, he decides to seek meaning in his life before it's too late.

If, when you think of Akira Kurosawa, you think of "Roshomon" or "The Seven Samurai," you will be surprised by this tender drama. Considered one of auteur director Akira Kurosawa's greatest films, this is the story of Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura), a bureaucrat who has been toiling in a Kafkaesque job in a Kafkaesque city office for years, the kind of place where if citizens have a complaint they are sent to one office after another with no one taking responsibility and no action is ever taken.

The film is broken into two parts. The first half of the film shows Watanabe's grim existence, a life with seemingly no meaning. When Watanabe discovers he has stomach cancer and not long to live, he realizes that he is going to die before he has really lived and he decides to change his life.

We can all relate to this story.  What if you discovered you only had six months to live?  Would you continue your life as you have always lived it?

Ikiru means "to live" and that's what Watanabe decides to do. He realizes that he is already dead and decides that he needs to do something important with his life.  He feels that he started out caring about others, but the bureaucratic machine has beaten him down.  He is merely a placeholder in his job, mindlessly stamping forms that will never go anywhere.

As Wantanabe starts to think about what to do with the rest of his life, he forms a relationship with a young girl (Miki Odagiri), who had quit a job in his office because she was bored.  Her quitting reminds him that if he had had the courage, he could have done that too. She is vivacious and full of life. She makes him laugh with her imitations of the people at work and the nicknames she had given everyone. She admits that she had called him The Mummy. He spends the day with her, buys her stockings and takes her to lunch. Watanabe says to her "Why are you so incredibly alive?"  He wants her to teach him how to live. But she is suspicious of his intentions and thinks he is kind of a perv.

When Watanabe tries to tell his son and daughter-in-law that he is dying, the son berates him about the young girl, worried about his inheritance and Watanabe's spending so much money on her.

Things look pretty bleak for Watanabe, but he wants to do something meaningful before he dies.  So he goes back to work but this time to make a difference. He decides to break the chain of bureaucracy and not just be a paper pusher anymore.

One of the complaints that had come to his desk was about a cesspool that had formed in one of the neighborhoods.  The townspeople wanted the city to build a children's park over it so Watanabe takes up that cause with a vengeance.  He cuts through all of the red tape and wills that park into existence.

The second half of the film, after Watanabe has died, shows his legacy.  Watanabe had discovered himself by actually doing something with his life, he had learned that doing was to live, but at his wake, he doesn't get the credit for what he did do.  Even his own son and daughter-in-law aren't sure. The bureaucrats attending his wake get drunk and start to diminish his accomplishment. No one can quite understand how Watanabe changed from a "mummy" to someone who cared about doing something.  

But then the people who wanted the park show up and Watanabe's son and daughter-in-law see that he was beloved by the people for the park and the bureaucrats are chastened by this show of affection. As they are all getting drunk and trying to figure out why Watanabe cared enough to do something and whether or not he deserved credit, they then get into railing about their own boring jobs that are robbing them of their lives and their time. 

When a policeman arrives at the wake, he tells everyone the story of Watanabe's final moments.  He had died on a swing in the park.  He froze to death there sitting on the swing in the children's park that he had willed into existence, dying knowing that he had lived.

This story and Watanabe's efforts seemed to wake everyone up.  They are all fired up to change.  When they get back to work they are all going to make things happen too...but come Monday morning?

There is an existential quality to the film. Life is meaningless and no one really cares about you, but within that existential framework, there is also an affirmation of life here that says it doesn't matter what others think of your life, if you yourself felt it had meaning. 

Why it's a Must See:  Kurosawa was cinema's greatest humanist, and nowhere is this more evident than in Ikiru..[This film] is immensely life-affirming, even if it is about death and sorrow.  Kurosawa's gift was to show how these moods are not contradictory, but united as part of the cycle of life.  His sincere belief that small things make a difference is both refreshing and touching."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Kurasawa is brilliant - from the framing to the actors to the editing - and so is Shimura's quiet and touching performance, an incredible tour de force.

Rosy the Reviewer absolutely beautiful and inspiring film. I am glad I saw this movie before I died.

***Book of the Week***

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe by Anuschka Rees (2017)

A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?  This book is for you.

Well, I thought it was for me, except I am having a problem with the word "closet,"  -- singular.  You see, I am dealing with closets -- with an "s."  But the same question still holds true.  I have more than one closet full of clothes and often lament that I have nothing to wear so I was drawn to this book. 
But let's start at the beginning.

To curate:  When I look up the definition, there are a couple of different ones. I don't think this book is about being a member of the British clergy, so, this book is using the word "curate" to mean "to take charge of (a museum) or to organize (an art exhibit) and for many of us who love our clothes, our closets are our museums and our art exhibits, and Rees promises to help us use our closets to discover our personal style and build the perfect wardrobe by using her simple system.

However, I have to say that Rees' system for discovering my personal style and building my dream wardrobe is hardly simple.

Here's why:

First of all, she expects me to take pictures of myself in every outfit that I wear for a two week period.  Since I am retired and don't do much, I hate to see what that would look like: nightgowns, fuzzy slippers, and sweatpants.  Not a pretty sight. Then I am supposed to look at every item in my closet(s) (my god, that would take me weeks) and make some decisions.  She is also addicted to pie charts and graphs and I have to answer all kinds of questions and make lists and mood boards.  I'm too old for this.

But, OK, I'm game.  I am willing to try to take her advice.

First step - Define your personal style. 

She walks you through figuring out what your clothes say about you.

Not sure what this says about me.

She also tries to get me inspired, help me discover my personal style and put together a style profile.

Then it's on to Step 2 - "Closet Detox:"

Now I am supposed to go through my closet(s) piece by piece and decide on which items are not working, which items I really love, which items are keepsakes and which items I are not sure of. 

This is the hard part for me because, as I have written in the past, I am not just a fashionista, I am a clothes collector...alright, a clothes hoarder ("Confessions of a Clothes Hoarder").  I might not wear that cute little dress but I HAVE TO HAVE IT.


So discarding items is particularly difficult for me, but OK, I did it and I have three boxes to take off to the local consignment shop. (By the way, I have the consignment thing down and if you are interested, I wrote about that too in my blog post "Confessions of a Baby Boomer Consignment Queen.)"

Next, I am supposed to pack away the keepsakes (check!), donate or sell the pieces that aren't working (check!) and of course keep the pieces I really love (check!) 

But here's my favorite step:  For the items I am not sure about, I am supposed to have a "trial separation."  I put them out of sight and once I do that in most cases they really will be out of mind because at my age, it doesn't take long for me to forget about things.  I am still looking for a velvet coat that belonged to my mother that I can't believe I would have sent to Goodwill.  So, OK, I put some things in a box for a "trial separation" and put the box out in the garage.  I do that and it works.  In fact, I can't even remember what I put on trial separation.  So when I remember them again, off those will go, too, to Goodwill or the consignment shop.

At least her method for "detoxing" my closet isn't as scary as Marie Kondo's "Tidying-up" and "Spark Joy" books where I was supposed to talk to my clothes and thank them for their existence and pack my drawers like bento boxes (I rant about her books in my blog post "How to Turn Your Undies into Origami...")

Step 3 - OK, I have done Step 1 and Step 2, so now it's time to build my wardrobe. 

Is this where I get to buy more clothes?

No, this is where I have to analyze my lifestyle by making a list of my activities.


"Repeat after me: Your dream closet should be tailored to your personal style and your lifestyle."

Right, my lifestyle.

My lifestyle consists of getting up at somewhere between 9 and 10am, reading the paper and the odd gossip magazine, shuffling upstairs to make the bed and watch "The View," shuffling back downstairs to have lunch, then heading to the gym (if it's a good day), going back home to watch "Dr. Phil (I am interested in psychology and the misery of others), fixing dinner and then settling in for a night of TV or a movie with the occasional happy hour or concert night out.  Doesn't seem like I would need more than gym clothes, slippers and jeans for that lifestyle. I'm retired, and my personal style is retirement chic on my good days and retirement slob the rest of the time.  But she's right.  My clothes need to fit that lifestyle, so I guess I no longer need my power suits or my pointy-toed high heels...

or these.

Next, she defines key pieces, statement pieces and basics and helps me discover a color palette to build on.  It all culminates in "outfit formulas," a specific combination of items I can wear in different versions, go-to outfits that will help me get ready fast in the morning (for those of you who need to get ready fast in the morning.  As I said, I don't).

But my favorite part of the book is putting together a "capsule wardrobe," 20-40 pieces (not counting accessories, underwear, gym clothes or sleepwear) that is a stand-alone wardrobe.  Other than tweaking it as the weather changes, these are the clothes I would wear most of the time and that I don't mix with my other clothes.  All of the other clothes are on hiatus until the next season or until I get tired of what I am wearing.

And so now after I have done all of the work to define my personal style, detoxed my closet, created a color palette, pinned down my lifestyle (which isn't hard because I don't really have one), etc., I finally get to buy more clothes!

Well, only clothes that fill in some gaps for my perfect wardrobe.

In addition to cleaning out my closet and putting together a wardrobe, Rees also tackles dealing with stress while shopping, how to shop like a conscious consumer and how to stop over-spending. 

Much of the book is just common sense, e.g. when she talks about fit problems and how to fix them.

"The waistband is uncomfortable."  Fix - try a bigger size.  Duh.

But, seriously, if you need to clean out your closet(s), love clothes and want to come up with a basic wardrobe that you will actually wear, this is a helpful tool.

Here is one outfit that made the cut!

Rosy the Reviewer says...though I question that anyone would go through all of the steps that she recommends, if you are serious about your clothes and about having a workable wardrobe, there are certainly many helpful tips and inspirational ideas to be found here.  In fact, I was so inspired, I bought the book (because it's going to take me forever to go through all of the stuff she wants me to do and the book was due back at the library)!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of

"LA 92"


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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