Showing posts with label movie reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie reviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Tár and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Tár" as well as the movie "Mack and Rita."  The Book of the Week is Matthew Perry's memoir "Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Thing"]


Tár(2022)


The story of Lydia Tár, a world reknowned female symphony conductor who has some issues.

'Tis the season.

No, I'm not talking about the holiday season.  I am talking about Oscar season!  This is the time of year when the studios release their big Oscar contenders, and there is no doubt that Cate Blanchett's performance in this movie will be recognized.  As for the movie itself, er...

Hubby said to me as I headed out the door to see this film, "I have a feeling you are going to love Blanchett's performance and hate the film." He was right.

I was already worried because the film was in at two hours and 38 minutes and I often hold that against a film at the outset. I dare it to hold my interest. Few movies need to be that long.  More and more directors seem to have a difficult time editing themselves. So sitting in the theatre, I was already worried but when the film began, I knew I was in big trouble.

You know how you usually get up and leave at the end of the film when the credits are rolling because you don't really care who the grip or the gaffer was on the film or who drove the stars around?  Well, writer/producer/director Todd Field must not have wanted you to do that, because he rolled all of the credits AT THE BEGINNING OF THE FILM with an irritating soundtrack playing in the background. And other than wanting to be sure we had to watch the credits, I have no idea what the purpose of that was except to irritate.

So there I was in the theatre, already twitching in my seat and the movie hadn't even really started yet.

Now don't get me wrong.  I didn't really have a problem with the film once it got started. It actually had an intriguing storyline with a message. The problem was that the story didn't really get started until about an hour in.  Before there was any story, we had to sit through an interview and what was basically an entire class on conducting so by the time all of that was over, I was squirming in my seat.

You see, Lydia Tár (Blanchett) is a world famous conductor, the first female conductor to direct the Berlin Philharmonic.  So to be sure we know just how famous Lydia is, the film begins with an interview where the interviewer (real life New Yorker writer, Adam Gopnik) reads a lengthy introduction (she's an EGOT, an ethnomusicologist, a piano virtuoso and more) and Lydia talks about her musical philosophy. It's all very intellectual. That is followed by Lydia teaching a class to conducting students where she once again shares her philosophy, but this time she humiliates one of the young students who doesn't agree with her.  At this point, we start to learn that Lydia is not very nice. She also has a huge ego.  

As the film progresses, we discover just how self-serving, egotistical and cold she is. She upbraids her wife, Sharon (Nina Hoss), when she returns home to find too many lights on and she orders her assistant, Francesca (Noemie Merlant), around.  Later, we learn that Lydia is also, in fact, a predator. 

When I say it's all very intellectual, I mean that I can't imagine anyone other than a classical music aficionado understanding half of what Lydia talks about in her interview, in the classroom or when she is talking to her mentor. I am totally okay with exposition to get the audience oriented but almost an hour of musical tutelage to do that was too much. I was totally lost before anything really began, and it's not that I know nothing about classical music.  I am familiar with Mahler and his music, I was a fan of Leonard Bernstein, and I have even heard of Elgar, but when Lydia got into naming specific movements of orchestral pieces, using conducting jargon and throwing around the names of other female conductors, I got lost and, dare I say, bored?  And there is a LOT of that in this film, not to mention times when Lydia was speaking German and there were no subtitles. 

As for Lydia's issues, she has acute hearing and keeps hearing noises that keep her awake. She also has a neighbor knocking, she washes her hands a lot, and finds herself running down a dark tunnel.  Guilt perhaps but all devices that are never explained.

Which leads me to question some of Field's directorial choices. That strange opening of the full credits notwithstanding, there were people speaking German, sometimes with subtitles, sometimes not. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to that. There was a mysterious person, never identified, sending text messages.  An unexplained package arrives.  It goes on and on like that, scenes and ocurrences that seemed to be unrelated and never explained. And I won't even rant, like I usually do, about this being almost three hours long.  Well, I will rant a little.  I think it could have been cut by an entire hour.

But despite the fact that I didn't like this film, I can't fault Cate Blanchett's performance.  

She is a wonder. She is right up there in the Meryl Streep echelon.  When she performs I am a believer.  I forget she is acting.  She mastered the conducting and the German so I give her props for that as well. She will no doubt be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. But since I noticed, while watching those interminable opening credits, that she was one of the producers, I do have to also give her some of the blame for this film.

Overall, the production values are beautiful, the film has a message - the exploitation that can occur when someone attains a high level of fame - and it's all very arty, and that, in my estimation, is its downfall. It's as pretentious as that accent over the "a" in Lydia Tár's name, and I can't imagine the average moviegoer enjoying this film. In fact, I really can't believe that anyone other than someone heavily immersed in the music world would enjoy it. And if they say they did, well, the word pretentious again comes to mind.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a huge Cate Blanchett fan and want to watch her performance for 158 minutes, you might like this but as for the film itself, I often say, "I see the bad ones so you don't have to."  And you are welcome.



Mack and Rita (2022)


A 30-year-old wakes up to find that she has turned into her 70-year-old self.

Written by Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh and directed by Katie Aselton, this is one of those "body-swap films," like "Freaky Friday" and "Big," where the main character is transformed into a different person and inhabits a new body.  In this case, it's Mack (Elizabeth Lail), a 30-year-old writer, who doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin.  She thinks of herself as an old lady trapped in the body of a young woman. On a whim she goes into a "regression" tent at a fair, which is really an old tanning bed overseen by a seedy hippie and wishes herself to be her 70-year-old Grammy Martin, who she had always admired and had fun with. Not sure how regression makes you older, but, okay, I will go with it.  Mack thought she was doing this for fun, but when she wakes up, she has literally turned into a 70-year-old, her future old self.  

Enter Diane Keaton and all of her recent comic schtick and it's not pretty.  

Now we have ourselves a "fish out of water" story as Mack/Rita (Keaton) tries to navigate a 30-year-old's life in a 70-year-old's body while at the same time trying to find that regression guy again so she can get back into that tanning bed and return to her old, I mean, young self. 

Mack/Rita confides in her best friend, Carla (Taylour Page), who unbelievably believes her about her predicament but Mack passes herself off to the rest of her young friends as her Aunt Rita. Rita gets entangled in a pilates machine; she tries cryotherapy; she even gets to kiss her cute young neighbor, Jack (Dustin Milligan), who for some reason likes to hang around her. Diane Keaton is a nice looking older woman but it's a stretch that she would pull a cute young guy like him. Rita tries to do stuff that a 30-year-old might do and it's supposed to be funny as she falls down and gets flustered (making fun of old people is always good for a laugh, right?), but as a 70+ year old myself, I was offended. But Rita finds a posse of old ladies to hang out with, has that cute young guy and starts having such a good time as an old lady, Rita isn't sure she wants to go back to being Mack. Naturally as these movies are prone to do, Mack learns to value herself. I just wish the writers and director had valued something called character development and originality. Worst of all?  It was a comedy that wasn't funny.

Will Mack be able to get back to her 30-year-old self? I eventually thought, who cares?

Ordinarily, I would like a story like this, but in addition to the lack of character development, my big problem was and is Diane Keaton.  I used to be a huge fan.  I mean she was in "The Godfather" and "Reds" and "Annie Hall," for god's sake, "Annie Hall" being one of the funniest films of all time.  But the problem is, Diane has seemed to turn herself into a real-life version of Annie Hall and that is not funny, especially in a 76-year-old woman.  She has la-ti-da-ed herself into a character that gets on my nerves with her big hats and eccentric outfits. She now plays flibberdigibbets and whenever she appears on a talk show, she acts so dippy that I can't watch.  And I guess she is not embarrassed by that behavior because in this movie she even references her stints on "Ellen" by ordering red wine with ice cubes (when she would show up on "Ellen," that was a thing).  So obviously Diane thinks we like the persona she now gives us. And her movies are just more of the same.  I didn't like "Poms" and I didn't like this one. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a big Diane Keaton fan, you might like this but just remember you will never have this 90 minutes back again.


***The Book of the Week***


Friends, Lovers and The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry (2022)



Matthew Perry, star of the TV show "Friends" shares his story of addiction and redemption.

“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.” So begins Matthew Perry's harrowing story of addiction.

If you haven't heard about this memoir, you must have been under a rock or not have a TV.  Perry has been on every talk show and newsfeed running up to publication of this memoir.  He really wants to tell his story and it is a fascinating one. 

Best known as Chandler on the TV show “Friends,” Perry grew up in Canada but his parents divorced when he was very young. His mother was Pierre Trudeau's press secretary and his father was an actor who moved to L.A. and eventually became famous as the original Old Spice Guy.  Perry's mother remarried Keith Morrison of "Dateline" fame. You know, the guy who always purrs "Was it murrrrder?" 

With his mother in Canada and his Dad in L.A. Matty was shuttled back and forth alone on a plane, an "unaccompanied minor" and that fueled his lifelong feelings of insecurity and abandonment, a hole difficult to fill. But he tried. First, by being the funny guy, then with alcohol. That first drink at 14 was a revelation. While his teenaged friends were throwing up after their first big binge, he thought he had died and gone to heaven. That empty hole was starting to be filled.  What he didn't know was that he would almost die and he was already on his way to hell.

Then Perry moved to L.A. to live with his Dad, and he thought fame would solve all of this problems.  He already had a big alcohol habit but toiled in supporting TV roles and eventually landed the role of Chandler in “Friends," and he thought, finally, everything was going to be okay. But then he discovered opioids and his life-long battle with “The Big Terrible Thing,” his addiction, really began. He says in the book that if you watch "Friends," you can tell when he was drinking heavily and when he was mostly on pills. When he was drinking he was heavy; when he was using pills, he was skinny.  During one hiatus, he lost 50 pounds and they had to dress him in baggy clothes to cover that up when the season started up again.  At one point, he was taking 55 opioids a day.  He has been through 65 detoxes.

But it’s not all tragedy. Now sober and self-aware, Perry is grateful for his life and uses his self-deprecating humor to candidly talk about “Friends”, lovers, and yes, The Big Terrible Thing in hopes that he can help others.  Helping others has finally filled that big terrible hole.

Rosy the Reviewer says...celebrity watchers and fans of "Friends" will enjoy the behind the scenes anecdotes and Perry's encounters with other celebrities but this is also a tale of hope for those struggling with addiction.


Thanks for reading!


See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

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 IMDB.com, 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

"Blonde" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Blonde" as well as a little British mystery film: "Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop." The Book of the Week is Kelly Ripa's "not-a-memoir," "Live Wire: Long-Winded Stories."]

Blonde (2022)



A very fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe.

There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this movie with it taking a lot of criticism about its accuracy when it came to Monroe's life.  However, what you may not know is that this movie is based on Joyce Carol Oates' book of the same name, a book that was a work of fiction.  It was her fictionalized account of Marilyn. So with that in mind...

I get the controversy, but I am not against movies having creative license when it comes to telling true stories.  What I am against is an unpleasant film experience. This is not just a fictionalized account of Marilyn's life but a horror movie.

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson (baptized Baker) in 1926. Raised in Los Angeles, without a father, her mother suffered from mental illness and Norma spent much of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage.  She started out as a pin-up model during WW II and soon found fame in the movies as a "blonde bombshell," and became one of the most famous sex symbols of the 50's and 60's starring in such movies as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "The Seven Year Itch" and "Some Like it Hot." But her turbulent personal life seemed to outweigh her career accomplishments.  She was married to James Doherty at the age of 16 (not touched on in the movie), baseball hero, Joe DiMaggio, and playwright Arthur Miller, neither of whom seemed to really take her seriously.  She supposedly had an affair with JFK and she struggled with drug addiction. She died mysteriously in 1962 at the age of 36 and she remains a pop culture icon to this day.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominick, the movie touches on much of that, but quickly skips from the orphanage to modeling to acting without much detail about how Norma Jean got there and became Marilyn. The film mostly concentrates on the sad side of Marilyn:  her exploitation by men, her mentally ill mother, her absent father, an abortion that she never got over (with a very cringy abortion scene), a miscarriage that she also never got over, drugs and possibly her own mental illness. The film also has another very cringy, an oral sex scene with JFK. In fact, there are many cringy scenes in this film. 

Marilyn, played by Ana de Armas, is portrayed as a victim who just happened to make it big.  All she really wanted was to be loved and to be taken seriously and to find that absent father.  But according to this, that never happened.  She was a victim who was taken advantage of time and time again. It's a dreary and grim story, and at almost three hours, it's a dreary, grim, and over-dramatic film experience that eventually becomes irritating because it seems to never end. 

Production wise, the film was also irritating.  It moves back and forth from black and white to color without a rhyme or reason.  At first, I thought the black and white sections were memories or the past but that didn't add up. I never did figure out what that device was supposed to embody, but it bugged the heck out of me.

The only thing I really liked in this film was Ana de Armas' performance which is extraordinary.  She embodies Marilyn and I can envision an Oscar nomination for her performance.  I just wish she had more to work with.

Much of the controversy surrounding this film is about the factual accuracy of this depiction of Marilyn's life. Did Marilyn's mother really try to kill her? Did Joe really beat her up during their marriage? Did JFK really rape her? What if she was a drug addict, what if mental illness was taking her over? Lots of what ifs and did that really happen questions. I don't mind the questions. What I minded was the relentless dreariness of this story.

Yes, Marilyn had a rough life in many ways but what's the lesson here? Is there one?  If there was, I didn't get it.  Men in power exploit women?  Yes, we know that. Horrible childhoods result in messed up adults. Again, yes. Marilyn Monroe was really little Norma Jean trying to find her Daddy. Okay. But when all of this bad stuff goes on and on with no let up and no real message, it feels like Marilyn is being exploited all over again and leaves the viewer feeling exploited too.

Marilyn Monroe may have been dead for 60 years but her memory deserves more than this.  Yes, she was probably exploited in life, but I don't like the feeling I get watching her memory get exploited in death. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...according to this film, Marilyn had an extremely unpleasant life, and for me, this was an extremely unpleasant film experience. (In theatres and on Netflix)


Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop (2021)


An amateur detective investigates some strange goings on at a bookshop.

Miss Elizabeth Willoughby (Nathalie Cox) is a poor little rich girl who grows up to be a professor and an amateur sleuth.  Her parents died when she was very young and she was left with her father's friend, Robert (Kelsey Grammer), an American, as her guardian. As a young girl, Lizzie was an insatiable reader, so Robert let little Miss Willoughby read the morning away but in the afternoon he taught her martial arts, which we later learn will come in handy one day.

When Lizzie's friend, Helen (Louise Bangay), an owner of a bookshop, reports some strange goings on there, she asks Lizzie for help. Helen believes she is being haunted by the ghost of her late father. Helen's husband (Steven Elder) believes Helen is going mad.  Is the bookshop really haunted or his Helen's husband gaslighting her?  Lizzie is on the case.

Written by Kate Wood, Chad Law, and Josh Ridgway (story by Philippe Martinez) and directed by Brad Wilson, this is a bit slow to get going but very much in the vein of British TV shows like "All Creatures Great and Small" and "Grantchester," very cosy and quaint and old fashioned, with a mystery that is not really a mystery.  Let's just say, there is nothing here to get your knickers in a twist about.  It's all very uncomplicated and "G rated," but it's a pleasant story with a pleasant cast. If you were a fan of "Murder She Wrote," it's kind of like that, and this is supposedly the first in a series which would be a welcome addition to that genre.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need an escape into the beautiful English countryside with some pleasant people, and you like your mysteries British, ones that won't tax your brain too much, this is for you. (For rent on most streaming platforms)


***The Book of the Week***


"Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories" by Kelly Ripa (2022)



Actress and talk show host Kelly Ripa does her usual over-sharing, this time in a book.

Actress and talk show host Ripa (“Live with Kelly and Ryan”) wants readers to know that this is not really a memoir.  It’s a series of essays and she wrote them all by herself.  But fans will be happy to know there are plenty of anecdotes about her life delivered in her characteristic self-deprecating humor.  

She laments the difficulty of writing a book, she shares the difference between North and South Jersey (she’s from the South), muses on parenting (“I thought as long as my kids didn’t get strep throat often and had cookies for the class bake sale I was killing it in the parenting department”), the empty nest, mother/daughter relationships, botox and plastic surgery, auditioning for Live! and her tenuous relationship with ex-cohost Regis Philbin. She also overshares stories about her 25 year marriage to her husband, Mark Consuelos, whom she met on the set of “All My Children,” the birth of her first child, an embarrassing chance encounter with Richard Gere along with a lot more oversharing, but fans of Live! are probably used to that.  Ripa exhibits the same openness, bawdy humor, and TMI that her fans have come to expect.

I laughed out loud at much of this and thought, gee, I should watch the show.  So I gave it a try.  What I discovered was that Ripa is funny on the page, way too much for me in person.

Rosy the Reviewer says...an easy funny read that includes celebrity insider info (if you are into that kind of thing) and if you are a fan, you will love this, but you don't need to be a fan of "Live with Kelly and Ryan" to get some laughs from this! (Check it out from your local library)

 

Thanks for reading!


See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

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 IMDB.com, 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)


 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

"Don't Worry, Darling" and The Month in Reviews

[I review the new (and kind of controversial movie) "Don't Worry, Darling (yes, I will share the gossip), as well as the horror film "Goodnight Mommy" and the supernatural thriller "The Empty Man."  The Book of the Month is "I'm Glad My Mom Died" by Jennette McCurdy]


It's been a horror of a month - well, at the movies, anyway! Sometimes you need a little movie horror to take you away from the horrors of real life!


Don't Worry Darling (2022)

A woman with a seemingly perfect life discovers that all is not what it seems.

Okay so let's get this stuff out of the way first.

There are all kinds of burning questions surrounding the making of this movie.  Did Shia LeBeouf quit or was he fired from this film?  Did Florence Pugh and director Olivia Wilde not get along?  Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?  And can Harry Styles act?

You might think, who cares?  But there is possibly something at work here that smacks of sexism in undermining a film in this way before it has even been released. According to Olivia Wilde, this is the kind of backlash a woman gets when a woman tries to step into a traditional man's role, here, as a director. And I agree that some of that might be happening here.  For one thing, you can count on one hand the number of successful female directors in Hollywood, and I don't think a male director would be getting the kind of negative outside-the-movie press that Wilde is getting.  Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for abusing his actresses, especially Tippi Hedren in "The Birds." He had a penchant for blondes and when she rebuffed him, Hitchcock used real birds rather than mechanized birds in that famous scene in "The Birds," where birds cover Tippi's head and attack her. Likewise, directors Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick and Werner Herzog, were notoriously difficult, but we never heard about their controversies at the time. But here we have a female director who is accused of things not even remotely like what those other male directors did and it's big news. 

Rant over. I rest my case.

Anyway, let's get to the important thing.  The movie.  

And I have to say that after seeing it, I have all kinds of other burning questions, the main one being...if men had the opportunity to design the perfect world, would it consist of mid-century homes with sunken living rooms, green bathtubs and stay-at-home wives who have dinner on the table every night when they got home and a desire for sex on said table? Duh.

Florence Pugh plays Alice, who is just such a wife.  She is married to Jack (Styles) and they live in the perfect 1950's desert community of Victory. Every morning, along with the other wives in the neighborhood, Alice stands out in front of her house and dutifully waves her husband goodbye as he and his fellow husbands head off to work in their cool vintage cars, out into the desert at the Victory Project, a top secret government project.  While they are gone, the women clean their homes, hang out the wash, take ballet lessons, shop and gossip. In the evening, they all party together.  All the women have to do is stay in their little town and never go out into the desert or show up at their husbands' work. Sounds pretty ideal for the husbands, right?

But then Alice starts to experience bits and pieces of strange memories.  Her friend, Margaret (KiKi Lane), appears to be having a breakdown, calls her and tells her that things are not what they seem and then commits suicide. While out riding in the town trolley, Alice sees a plane crash and goes out into the desert to investigate and finds a mysterious build. Then she wakes up in her bedroom with no recollection on how she got back home. When Alice tries to talk to her friend, Bunny (Wilde also stars), about her fears, Bunny tells her to keep quiet. And then Frank (Pine), the town founder, gives her a warning.  Something is not right and Alice soon discovers the secrets behind not only the Victory Project but her own life and it's not good.

As I said, after seeing this movie I have some burning questions of my own but sadly, I can't really get into them without spoiling the twist but let me just say when the twist came I thought, "What the hell?" I might have even said it out loud. And I laughed.  I don't think I was supposed to laugh.

With a screenplay by Katie Silberman who also wrote "Booksmart," Wilde's first directorial feature, this film is very much in the "Rosemary's Baby" and "Stepford Wives" thriller genre - a seemingly happy woman discovers that her life is not what it seemed and starts questioning her sanity but there are some huge stretches here. However, this story is not as smart as "Booksmart." There are holes in this story as big as the Grand Canyon, some bad directorial choices and more questions than answers, except I can answer this one.  Can Harry Styles act?  Surprisingly, yes.

And speaking of the acting, Florence Pugh can always be counted on to give a great performance and Wilde is also good in a smaller role. Pine can also be counted on to be very, very handsome. Just kidding. He was also good, though his role was not very complex. The whole ensemble is fine and the set design beautiful.  But the soundtrack was very annoying at times, the visuals used to show that Alice was losing it were distracting and monotonous, and I just wish the twist had made more sense.

Freud supposedly asked "What does a woman want?"  Disturbingly, this film appears to ask and then answer the question "What does a man want?"  And it's scary. Perhaps, the theme of this film is why Wilde was getting such a backlash. I liked the idea of this film, I just wish it had been better.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a stylish film that will take you on a journey, but sadly it's a journey with a lot of potholes. I like movies that make me think but I don't like to have to wrack my brain to understand what I just saw. Though I liked some things about this film, I can't really recommend it. (In theatres)

 


Goodnight Mommy (2022)


Twin brothers return home to live with their estranged mother and begin to wonder if she is really their mother.

Twin Elias (Cameron Crovetti) and Lukas (Nicolas Crovetti) move back in with their mother (Naomi Watts), a former actress, after staying with their father since their divorce. When they see her again, her face is fully bandaged as if she were wearing a ski mask.  She tells them she has just had plastic surgery.

The boys quickly sense something different about their Mother.  She has told them they can't go into her room or into the barn and she is drinking and smoking, something they don't remember her doing.  When asked to sing them the lullaby she always sang to them, she doesn't seem to remember it and she hardly acknowledges Lukas at all. Lukas also tells Elias that their mother had green eyes.  This woman has blue eyes. They both start questioning whether this is really their mother.

After Elias tells her she is not their mother, she slaps him.  Things are getting out of hand so the boys run away but are soon returned by two State Police troopers.  When they get back home, their mother has removed her bandages but the boys still don't believe she is their mother.

The next morning, Mother awakes to find herself tied to her bed with duct tape and demands to be freed.  She says she is their mother and when they ask why her eyes have changed color she explains that she wore green contact lenses as an actress and they are downstairs in her purse.  Lukas tells Elias he searched the purse and she is lying. So they leave their mother tied to the bed and run away again.  But Elias says he needs to go back to get his toothbrush and when he does he looks in his mother's purse and finds the contacts.

What is going on here?  Is she their mother or isn't she?

Things go from bad to worse but all is revealed in this scary and moody remake of an Austrian film. I am not a fan of remakes of perfectly good foreign films, but since I did not see the original, I guess I can't complain too much. As for the concept, is there anything scarier than children in jeopardy or Naomi Watts in a white ski mask?  But she is fine in this role. And speaking of children, I usually don't like child actors, especially the very precocious smart alecky ones, but these two boys are very good little actors, very believable and poignant.  

And speaking of believable, the film, directed by Matt Sobel with a screenplay by Sobel and Kyle Warren was compelling, and I bought everything right up until the very end, but then I had yet another "What the hell?" moment. But it was enjoyable getting there.

Rosy the Reviewer says...motherhood can be a horror story! (Amazon Prime)



The Empty Man (2022)


While investigating a missing person, ex-cop James Lasombra stumbles upon a sinister cult that is trying to conjure a supernatural entity.

The film begins in Bhutan in 1995.  

Day 1 - Four friends - Greg (Evan Jonigkeit), Fiona (Jessica Matten), Ruthie (Virginia Kull) and Paul (Aaron Poole) - are hiking on a mountain when Paul hears a strange sound.  When he goes to investigate, he falls down a crevice.  Greg gets down there to investigate and finds Paul in a catatonic state, staring at a skeleton hanging from the wall of the cave.  The group gets Paul out of there and Greg carries him to an empty house.  

Day 2 - some strange start happening. 

Day 3 - some really, really bad things happen.

Fast forward to 2018.  

Ex-cop James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) is grieving the death of his wife and son.  When Nora (Marin Ireland), his neighbor, tells him her daughter, Amanda (Sasha Frolova), has run away and left a message written in blood that says "The Empty Man made me do it," James begins an investigation and discovers that Amanda and her friends were into a local legend, summoning The Empty Man. To summon him, you find an empty bottle on a bridge and blow into it and think of The Empty Man. The first night you hear him, the second night you see him and the third night, he finds you. Oooh, scary.

So James goes to the local bridge, finds a bottle, ("Don't blow into it!)m he blows into it and when he goes underneath the bridge, he finds Amanda's friends dead, hanging from the bridge.

James had also found a brochure for the Pontifex Institute in Amanda's room.  When he researches it, he discovers it is a cult originating in Bhutan.  He goes to the institute and hears a talk by the leader who refers to The Empty Man and says he is an entity that gives his followers what they want as long as they do what he wants.

Remember that James blew into the bottle on the bridge?

Day 1 - James starts to hear what he thinks is The Empty Man. 

Day 2 - James starts to see what he thinks is The Empty Man.

Day 3 - Gulp.

This did not need to be two hours and 17 minutes, but I have to say it moved along and the 22 minute cold opening is literally a killer.  Starring mostly unknown actors, all very believable, the movie, written and directed by David Prior and based on the Boom! Studios graphic novel by Cullen Bunn, is clearly capitalizing on the Slenderman legend and the notorious murder of a young girl by his young followers but this film did not initially do well at the box office. However, it has since taken on its own cult status, and I have to say, it's compelling, even if at times there are some gaps in the plot. I almost said "What the hell?"

Rosy the Reviewer says...an eerie thriller and a cautionary tale.  Do you know what your teens are up to right now?  If you like strange and moody supernatural films, you will like this. (HBO Max and on VOD and on DVD)


***The Book of the Month***



"I'm Glad My Mom Died" by Jennette McCurdy (2022)


Actress Jennette McCurdy shares her story of growing up a TV child star.

You might not think that this fits into the horror theme this month, but child abuse is definitely horror and McCurdy experienced an exquisitely strange and sad bit of horror growing up.  Her mother desperately wanted her daughter to be a child actor and would go to extreme lengths to make it happen.  Jennette didn't really want to do that but wanted to please her mother, so went along with it. 

Ex-child actor McCurdy shares the story of her growing up years in Hollywood with an overbearing mother who worked to achieve stardom for her young daughter, and, wanting to please her mother, McCurdy endured endless auditions, eyelash tinting, daily weigh-ins, guilt trips and breast and vaginal exams from her mother until she was 17. Her mother made “Mommy Dearest” look like Mother of the Year. Though McCurdy achieved success (Nickelodeon’s “ICarly” and the spin-off “Sam and Cat” with Ariana Grande), it was not without a price. There was bulimia, addiction, and bad relationships. “Fame… I wanted [my mother] to be happy.  But now that I have it, I realize that she’s happy and I’m not.  Her happiness came at the cost of mine.  I feel robbed and exploited.” So no wonder she is glad her mother died because then she was free.

But McCurdy eventually sought help and found herself.  Though this is a grim tale of a lost childhood, a real life horror story, it's not unlike stories of other child actors. But McCurdy is a good writer and her compelling story is not without humor, though as one can tell from the title, the dark kind.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like candid celebrity memoirs and stories about overcoming the odds, this is for you. 


Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

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 IMDB.com, 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)

Thursday, September 1, 2022

"Three Thousand Years of Longing" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new film "Three Thousand Years of Longing" as well as "Jurassic World: Dominion" and "Memory." ]


Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)



A literary scholar on a trip to Istanbul finds a genie in a bottle. And you know what that means.

Tilda Swinton plays Alithea Binnie, a "narratologist," a scholar who studies narrative structure.  She travels the world giving lectures on mythology vs. science.  During a trip to Istanbul, she purchases a little bottle in an open market and back in her hotel room, while cleaning the bottle, wouldn't you know?  A djinn, also known as a genie, appears (Idris Elba).  And what do genies do?  Why they grant three wishes. Except it turns out it's not as easy as that, and this genie didn't know who he was dealing with.  

Alithea lives alone, is divorced, has no children, no family but likes her life. She is fine, thank you very much, and she is suspicious of the genie and his three wishes, aware that there are tricksters out there and wishes can come back to haunt you.  She asks the genie if he knows the story about the three men stranded in a boat.  Each are given a wish and the first two men wish to be back with their families and the third man misses his friends and wishes them back in the boat!  So Alithea says she doesn't want the three wishes.  That is very bad news for the genie who must grant the three wishes to be free or forever be banished to oblivion.

Now the genie must convince Alithea to use her wishes so he tells her three stories of how he ended up in the bottle and thus the film takes a very different turn.  

Elba now becomes the narrator of three epic tales, the first where he was the companion of the Queen of Sheba, but when she met King Solomon, Solomon threw him into the bottle and tossed it into the sea. There the genie laid until he was found by a young slave in the palace of King Suleiman the Magnificent during the Ottoman Empire 100 years later.  She wished to be the Prince's concubine and to have his child, but palace intrigue against the prince caused her to flee and she never used her third wish, thus condemning the genie back to his bottle.  Finally, the genie's bottle was found once again, this time in the 19th century by Zefir, a young genius with no education who wished to know everything there was to know in the world.  And sadly, the genie made the fatal error of falling for the girl and wishing for himself to stay with her, which backfired. He didn't press her to ask for the rest of her wishes and as you know, he must fulfill all three.

So now Alithea realizes that she and the genie have something in common - loneliness.  So she makes a wish.

Tilda Swinton is a very quirky actress.  You never know what kind of twist she will add to a role, what accent she will sport or what color her hair will be.  Likewise, you never know what she will show up in at events. Here she has short, very bright red hair and talks with a northern English accent. But calling her quirky does not mean that I don't like her.  I do.  She is one of our premiere actresses who takes her job seriously, losing herself in whatever part she plays. Sadly, she doesn't have much to do in this film.  It's all about Idris.

Ah, Idris Alba.  There is a reason there is buzz about him becoming the next James Bond.  Even with pointy genie ears, he is swoon-worthy to be sure, but he is also a wonderful actor and here he gets to play against type.  He's a genie with issues!

Oddly, the first half of the movie hardly involves Swinton, and Elba is only incidentally a part of it as these tales unfold, so if you were hoping for a big dose of them together, you will be disappointed. I also had a difficult time understanding what constituted freedom for the genie - does he want to be in or out of the bottle? But there is a lot going on with this film and perhaps it needs to be seen more than once. 

Based on the short story "The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye" by A.S. Byatt with a screenplay by George Miller and Augusta Gore (Miller's daughter) and directed by Miller, who is best known for the Mad Max franchise.  It's interesting that Miller appeared at the opening of the film to thank the audience for venturing out to the theatre to see his film on the big screen.  I remember that Tom Cruise did the same thing for "Top Gun: Maverick." Filmmakers and stars want to remind us that these films are meant to be seen on the big screen, not at home in our jammies with a glass of wine and some crackers (you caught me).  But he's right.  I feel bad that the movie industry has suffered so much since the pandemic.  There were only two other people along with me and my friend in the theatre when we saw this film.  Granted it was an early matinee, but still a sign that the movies have not yet recovered from the pandemic.  Even though the pandemic changed my movie going, I am going to support going to the movies again, even though I miss my jammies (and the wine).  And I have faith.  The movie industry weathered the advent of TV and other obstacles, and it will weather this. 

This is a beautifully filmed fantasy with an intellectual bent. The stories that the genie weaves are lush and beautiful and there is a moral to be had. Science has given us our creature comforts and technological advances and helped us to understand how the world works.  We have computers on our wrists and we have been to the moon.  But for all of the scientific discoveries that have happened over the last 3000 years, science cannot help us understand the vagaries and longings of the human heart. Maybe that's why we need mythology.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you have been craving a smart movie, one that requires you to think, then this is for you. (In theatres)




Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)


I really have no idea what was going on in this movie.

Let me get this out of the way from the start.  There are very few movies that need to be over 2 hours...and this is NOT one of them!  Okay, I'm done. Actually, I'm not done.  Sequels.  Sigh.  This is number seven of the Jurassic Park franchise.  I guess when there are that many, they aren't even sequels anymore.  They are part of a FRANCHISE. I know I rant and rave about how much I don't like sequels, so I have decided to pull back a bit. I have decided that I should evaluate a sequel on whether or not it can stand alone.  I mean, "Godfather II" was a sequel and was probably the best of all of the Godfather films (there were four of those), so I am going to try to be more open-minded.  

So does this film stand alone? Does one have to see the first six of the Jurassic Park/World movies to understand this one?  Mostly, yes.

Though I thought the exposition at the very beginning of the film was good - quick and to the point - I was hopeful.  But as the film progressed, I realized that I hardly knew what was going on at any given moment. Who are these people? Having only seen the first two of the Jurassic Park movies and only the first Jurassic World, I was lost.  

Anyway, here's what I think this movie was about.

There seems to be four storylines at work here. Okay, it's four years after a volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar (didn't know what Isla Nublar was), dinosaurs are no longer extinct and now freely roam the Earth.

Storyline #1 -Biosyn Genetics run by Dr. Lewis Dodgson (I can't help but think this is some sort of play on Lewis Caroll's real name), seeks to control invasive species so he has set up a dinosaur preserve in Italy which is really a cover for his big pharma to do genomic research in hopes of developing new drugs (Dodgson is played by Campbell Scott) and other diabolic plans.

Storyline #2 - At the same time, dinosaur poaching is rampant and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) are part of the Dinosaur Protection Group that seeks to save and relocate dinosaurs.  Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Claire's boyfriend, is the dinosaur wrangler.  

Storyline #3 - Claire and Owen are hiding and raising Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), Benjamin Lockwood's 14-year-old biogenetic granddaughter, who appears to be hunted by bad guys who want to do something with her DNA. Don't ask me who Benjamin Lockwood is, because I have no idea.  But naturally she is kidnapped and then this turns into the search for Maisie and the dinosaurs take a back seat, for awhile anyway. 

Storyline #4 - giant locusts.  Turns out the people from Biosyn are bad guys and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) thinks whatever it is they are doing is resulting in these giant locusts.  Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who now works for Biosyn, has asked Sattler to help him expose Dodgson because he has discovered that Dodgson's ultimate goal is to control the world's food supply. So she teams up with her former lover, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), to stop Biosyn.  Turns out Dodgson is also behind the kidnapping of Maisie. All of these characters eventually band together to stop Dodgson and wrap up this trilogy.

Whew!  Anyway, I think that's what was going on. Lots of characters, lots of storylines and lots of dinosaurs in a movie written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow and directed by J.A. Bayona.  

And that's the problem with this movie. Well, not the dinosaurs.  I liked the dinosaurs. As Christopher Walken might have said, "We need more cowbells, I mean dinosaurs!" But just too much other stuff going on. And despite the early exposition, if you had not seen the previous film, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," I think you would be as lost as I was.

The thing that bothers me about these endless sequels - I guess they are called franchises now - is that as long as the producers think they can get an audience and make a buck, they are going to keep going.  Oh, look, we have a blockbuster, and remember, that first one, "Jurassic Park," based on the book by Michael Crichton really was.  It was directed by Steven Spielberg, and 29 years ago CGI dinosaurs were a big thing. Spielberg stuck around for a sequel - "The Lost World," - but bowed out after that. But looks like the powers that be wanted to keep that money train rolling. So they probably thought, let's just run with it as long as we can until we run it into the ground.  And that's what this movie feels like. It pulls out all of the stops - plucky kid, cute dinosaurs, scary dinosaurs, car chases, bad guys, strong women,  romance, and some really soppy sentimentality, all the tropes that adventure/spy movies play on and on. There is all of this running around the world to save Maisie.  What happened to the dinosaurs? And the really big hook? Why let's bring back Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, who starred in the "Jurassic Park" films.

And now I am going to be even more bad and judgy.

Chris Pratt?  What happened to you?  "Guardians of the Galaxy," I thought you and the film were incredible and couldn't wait to see the next one but as happens with sequels, I was disappointed.  But then you did "Passengers," and I mostly liked it and thought you were going to go somewhere.  And then you did Jurassic World, which I saw in 3-D and also liked, but then you were lured into these sequels.  

Jeff Goldblum?  Okay, Nicolas Cage haters.  Tell me that this guy is any better. He is about as actory and mannered as an actor can get.  Laura Dern?  What happened? Where have you been?  Bryce Dallas Howard?  Have you done anything except this Jurassic World stuff?  If you have, I have forgotten.  And Sam, Sam Neill.  C'mon. You can do better than a cameo in this sort of thing. Okay, the first ones were cool, but you were in "The Piano," and "A Beautiful Mind," both Oscar nominated films ("A Beautiful Mind" won Best Picture), you were Reilly, the Ace of Spies, you have a New Zealand accent, you don't need a comeback in a movie like this.  And Campbell Scott?  I never really got you.  But I know it must have been difficult having acting titans like George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst as your parents.

So, there I said it. Didn't like it. I know actors have to work, but these people who perpetuate endless sequels, oh, sorry, franchises, have worn out their welcome, and I am not a fan of those who participate. The dinosaurs needed more screen time.  I know.  I'm bad. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...unless you are a die-hard fan of this franchise, save your money and your time. (In theatres and on DVD)



Memory (2022)


It's Liam Neeson as a hitman once again but with a twist - this hit man is losing his memory.

I don't know what it is about Liam Neeson but for some reason I am willing to watch him in movies with plots he has done a million times before, not to mention some absolute stinkers.  Well, I do know what it is.  He is a nice big tall handsome man with a fabulous nice big tall handsome man voice, and I will probably follow him anywhere.  

Which is how you find me reviewing this movie about yet another hit man with a conscience - he doesn't want to kill a kid.  Sound familiar?  See my review of "The Gray Man."

Anyway, there is actually a twist here that sets this film apart from all of the other Liam Neeson hit man movies.  He plays Alex Lewis, who is struggling with his memory.  He has Alzheimer's which is a very bad thing for a man on the run.  He went against his contract because he doesn't want anything to do with child trafficking, which is his employer's game, so his employers want him dead. Likewise, the FBI led by agent Vince Serra (Guy Pearce) is after him too. 

Remember Neeson's "Set of skills" speech from "Taken?" 

"I do have ...a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you." 

Well, now Liam runs the risk of forgetting those particular skills! I guess he could also run the risk of forgetting who he is supposed to kill too.  Not good for a hit man.

There are mostly bad guys in this movie (screenplay by Dario Scardapene and directed by Martin Campbell) and lots and lots of violence and gore. You might remember when I said I was not going to support films with gratuitous gun violence and I'm not. There really isn't a lot of gun violence in this film, but there is all kinds of other gratuitous violence to the point that it was almost laughable. Don't like that either. 

Though the idea of a hit man losing his memory is an interesting one, I just wish the movie had been better.

Alex knows he is losing his memory and he wants out of the hit man game.  I wonder when Liam is going to want out of the hit man movie game. He is really too good for these kinds of movies, and despite my saying that I would follow him anywhere, I have changed my mind a bit and have to say, "Liam, if you keep making these kinds of movies, we will have to part company."

Rosy the Reviewer says...I wish I could lose the memory of this film.   (For rent on most streaming platforms)




Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

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 IMDB.com, 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)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)