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

Thursday, January 26, 2023

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" and Some Movies You Might Not Know About

[I review the movies "Everything Everywhere All At Once," "Ummi" and "Smile." The Book of the Week is "Sex, Drugs & Pilot Season: Confessions of a Casting Director" by Joel Thurm ]

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

A middle-aged Chinese woman must save human existance by doing some universe hopping. 

Trying to summarize this film in one sentence is practically impossible. Trying to explain it is just as difficult. Having no idea it was going to become the darling of Awards Season, I wasn't going to review this film, but then it started to win awards (it won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Picture), and then it was not only nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, but it received the most Oscar nominations of all of the other films (11), so I thought I needed to weigh in. 

I was not going to review it because I did not like it. 

In fact, I very much did not like it. I would say I hated it, but my mother taught me not to say hate.

Anyway, the story revolves around middle-aged Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), who runs a laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). They have been married for 20 years and have a daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu).  They are being audited by the IRS, Waymond is about to serve Evelyn with divorce papers, daughter, Joy, is gay and depressed that she has disappointed her mother, and Evelyn's difficult and judgmental Dad, Gong Gong (James Hong) has been staying with them. Life is not happy in the Wang household and Evelyn's life is not going the way Evelyn thought it would.

Okay, I get that.  Our lives don't always turn out as we expected. Life is hard. I can totally identify.  But then the film lost me.

Enter the "Alphaverse," a set of parallel universes that exist because of the various life choices one has made. The "Alphaverse" includes "verse-jumping," which enables people to access skills, memories, and even bodies from their parallel-universe selves.  Turns out this "multiverse" is threatened by Evelyn's own daughter, Joy, AKA Jobu Tupaki, and in her misery, she has created a black-hole into oblivion called Everything Bagel that threatens the multiverse. Evelyn is called in to save the universe.

Turns out Evelyn had the possibility of many other lives -  as a professional singer, a novelist, a chef, a teacher, and a rock? She also could have been a kung fu master/movie star and all of those particular skills come in handy when she verse-jumps and lives those other lives in order to fight Jobu and the forces of evil and save reality.  And if you understood any of that, you are much smarter than I am. 

Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (AKA The Daniels), that's the story in a nutshell and it does have some fun, even poignant, moments - I liked the theme of the mother/daughter relationship - and if you are a fan of martial arts films, there is lots of that too. Jamie Lee Curtis is quite funny as the IRS agent and everyone loves Ke Huy Quan who plays Waymond because he hasn't worked much since he was a child star and starred in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Goonies" and is now very much enjoying his fame and subsequent awards. Everyone loves a comeback story, I guess. I also can begrudgingly give this film props for originality.  

BUT - and notice I put that BUT all in caps - all the jumping around from one universe to another became annoying and the film was just too much chaos for me. I consider myself a fairly sophisticated movie-goer.  I mean, "Citizen Kane" is my favorite movie, for god's sake, but this? I just didn't get it. I tried.  I really tried.

But then, I'm old. I guess I am feeling my age.  I did not get this movie and did not like it, but it appears to be the darling of the younger generation which is ironic because it stars a 60-year-old woman and it's about an older woman dealing with life.  I don't begrudge Michelle Yoeh her Best Actress nomination because she is a wonderful actress, and I don't even begrudge Jamie Lee Curtis her Best Supporting Actress nomination (her first ever nomination), despite the fact that I don't generally like her.  

The acting was not my problem with this film. It was the film!  It definitely was "everywhere all at once," and I found it annoying.  In fact, when I first watched it, I couldn't finish it.  It drove me nuts.  But then when it started to receive awards, I thought I would give it another try.  Still didn't like it, even with the mother/daughter angle and the poignant ending which almost saved the film for me, but after two hours of not getting it, it wasn't enough.  So there you go. It just wasn't an enjoyable film experience for me.

I have to add that I also ha..., I mean totally disliked "Tar," too, which was also nominated for Best Picture, but, thank god, "Babylon" didn't make the cut.  "Everything" and those two were the last three films I saw, and I very much disliked all three. So I guess it's three strikes I'm out.  Maybe I have lost my movie mojo and Rosy the Reviewer should pack up her broomstick and ride off into the sunset, because I just don't seem to like much of anything I am seeing lately.  But I won't because movies matter, and I can't help myself.  I have opinions. I won't be happy if "Everything" wins Best Picture, but if "Tar" wins, I might just have to get that broomstick out after all.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are over 55 and not a big fan of martial arts movies, I am thinking you won't like this film.  But I am not going to dissuade you, because it seems my opinion is in the minority. With Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Kwan favorites for winning Oscars, you should probably see it for yourself. (in theatres and on Showtime)

Umma (2022)

It's all about mothers.

Amanda (Sandra Oh) is a Korean immigrant living on a farm with her homeschooled daughter, Chrissy (Fivel Stewart).  They raise bees and live without technology because Amanda is "allergic" to electronics and electricity. The two are living completely off the grid.  They have a good, loving relationship and Amanda is happy with her life until Chrissy tells her she wants to leave the farm and go to college.  

Things get worse when Amanda's uncle arrives to tell her that her mother, her Umma (Korean for mother,) has recently died and he gives her Umma's ashes in a suitcase. Strange things start happening as memories of Amanda's abusive childhood come back and she is haunted by the ghost of her mother, literally. She must fight of that evil spirit that threatens to turn her into her mother. And we eventually discover why Amanda is "allergic" to all things electrical.

This is Sandra Oh as you have never seen her. The film, written and directed by Iris K. Shim, is a bit over the top and kind of slow moving and doesn't totally work, but it's atmospheric, moody and the best part?  It's only one hour and 23 minutes!

Rosy the Reviewer says...a supernatural film that deals with our own worst fears - turning into our mothers! (Netflix)

Smile (2022)

After witnessing a traumatic event, a doctor starts having hallucinations and feels she is being threatened by a deadly entity.

As a young child, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) witnessed her mother's death by suicide.  Now she is a therapist in a psychiatric ward.  Laura (Caitlin Stasey), a Ph.D. student, is brought in after witnessing the suicide of her art history professor.  She claims that ever since the suicide an entity with a crazy smile has been stalking her and telling her she is going to die.  Then she falls to the floor, screaming, overturning a table and breaking a vase.  Rose calls for help and when she returns to the room the girl is standing with a crazy smile on her face and proceeds to slit her own throat with a broken shard from the vase.

And that, my friends, is how this horror pic begins. 

After witnessing this suicide, Rose is given some much-needed time off, but then she starts having hallucinations, seeing people looking at her with crazy smiles and telling her she is going to die. She starts to exhibit odd behavior. What is happening?  Is this all in her mind? When she learns that Laura's professor was grinning at her when he killed himself, Rose interviews the professor's wife and discovers that someone killed himself in front of him.  She goes on a mission to try to understand what is happening and to find a way to elude her own possible death, and after doing more research Rose, discovers that there is a pattern of people who killed themselves after witnessing suicides.  It's as if an evil entity is being passed from one person to another.  Is that what is happening?

This is your classic "B" horror movie starring unknowns (except for Kal Penn, who plays Rose's boss), featuring menacing music and lots of "gotcha" moments - you know those close-ups of a face, quiet moments where nothing seems to be happening, and then GOTCHA!  You jump out of your seat.  Lots of those here. 

There is nothing like a scary movie to get the blood pumping and take you on a wild ride, and this one, written and directed by Parker Finn, will do that. Though I am not a big fan of blood and gore, I sometimes like scary films, because what people in horror films have to go through somehow makes our own worries seem small.  I mean, if I was being followed by an evil entity, I don't think I would worry so much about whether the house was clean or if Oprah would discover my blog.  So I indulge from time to time, though I have to watch alone because Hubby gets too scared. And speaking of blood and gore, a warning: there is lots of it here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like scary, this is scary as hell. It will make you nervous the next time someone smiles at you! (On DVD, Fubo, Paramount+ and for rent on various platforms)

***The Book of the Week***

Sex, Drugs and Pilot Season: Confessions of a Casting Director by Joel Thurm (2022).

Behind the scenes at some of your favorite TV shows and movies!

Joel Thurm may not be a name you recognize, but he was a starmaker, one of the most powerful casting directors in Hollywood, responsible for casting such films as "Grease," "Airplane!" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," as well as the TV shows "Cheers," "Taxi," "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Starsky & Hutch," "Charlie's Angels," "The Golden Girls," "Knight Rider," "The Cosby Show," and more. His first big moment was recognizing John Travolta's potential and casting him in the TV movie "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble," which took him from being a teen idol to a major movie star. Thurm also played a role in the careers of River and Joaquin Phoenix

So Thurm has insider tales to tell and he doesn’t hold back, though he is adamant there was no proverbial casting couch shenanigans on his watch.  However, he has no problem weighing in on other production bigwigs who indulged. He also details just what it is that a casting director does and reveals how casting decisions were made and those who almost made the cut. Can you imagine James Mason as Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island" instead of Ricardo Montalban?  Or Elaine Stritch as Dorothy on “The Golden Girls" instead of Bea Arthur? Those were early thoughts until Thurm worked his magic.

Thurm asserts that 90% of the success of a TV show or film is good casting, and he laments that casting directors don't get the respect they deservie, hence this book about show business from a casting director’s viewpoint, one that as far as he knows has never been written. The book ends with a list of every pilot that made it to series at NBC when he was there with his trenchant opinions about each.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like show biz behind-the-scenes tell-alls, 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 

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)!

(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)

Friday, January 13, 2023

"Babylon"...and More!

[I review the new movie "Babylon" as well as "The Invitation" and a book! - Geena Davis's memoir "Dying of Politeness"]

Babylon (2022)

The not so golden side of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

After "La La Land," which I loved, I said in my gushing review that I couldn't wait to see what writer/director Damien Chazelle would do next.  Well, here it is and, for me, it is a shocking addendum to "La La Land."  Where "La La Land" was a love letter to Hollywood and the movies, this film is like a Dear John letter, as in the romance is over. It is for me, anyway.

Like I said, I loved "La La Land," but I am sad to say, I did not like this movie.

This is all about the Golden Age of Hollywood, but the part that wasn't so golden - the unglamorous, dark side of Hollywood, with the price of fame and its ephemeral nature and the drudgery that sometimes accompanies the making of films so that we in the audience can be entertained.  It's also about the effect talking pictures had on Hollywood.  According to Chazelle it was a big party during the silent movie era, but as soon as sound came to town, everyone had to shut-up and take movies seriously.  Careers fell when audiences didn't like the sound of their favorite actors' voices or tried and true storylines that worked well with no sound suddenly seemed silly with dialogue.

The story is told in part through three characters: Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), a young woman who has come to Hollywood in the 20's to become a star; Manny Torres (Diego Calva), another Hollywood wannabe who will do anything to get ahead in Hollywood; and actor Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), the handsome but aging leading man.   

When Nellie meets Manny early in the film, she tells him "It's written in the stars.  I am a star."  And she manages to make a name for herself in silent films by being able to not only cry on demand but manage her tears one by one, but sadly, when sound arrives, her voice is considered annoying and she finds her career in trouble. 

Manny makes himself useful to powerful people like Jack Conrad and works his way up the ladder. Manny's story is all about the American dream, and Manny's American Dream is to make it in La-La Land. All of these characters intersect at various times during the 1920's and 30's as their careers go up and down.

So that's the basic story, but to tell that story, Chazelle seemed to feel he needed to go very dark and shocking.  

If you remember the movie "Singing in the Rain," which also told this same story - the advent of talkies and the actors who struggled with it - this is almost a remake of that, and Chazelle gives it a big nod at the end of the film, and there are many other nods to Hollywood movies and actors of the past. You can figure that Brad Pitt is playing a John Gilbert character, a silent movie idol who struggled when the talkies came along.  It's fun to try to match the characters with real life actors from back in the day, to catch the allusions to other films and recognize the faces of many actors doing cameos. 

But that's where the fun ended for me. I understand Chazelle wanting to show us that Hollywood can eat people alive and making movies can sometimes be hard, tedious and even boring work but for some reason he felt the need to add the shock factor. The film starts with a cringeworthy scene featuring elephant poop and continues with projectile vomiting and a man eating live rats.  And there is more, but I choose not to remember the rest, because as the movie progressed, it seemed to be just one unpleasant situation after another.  

This film was just trying too hard to be shocking and what shocked me the most was that this was where Chazelle went after the beautiful, delightful and uplifting "La La Land."

I know the movie industry has been in a slump since the Pandemic, and watching this, I couldn't help but wonder if Chazelle, and/or the movie industry in general, has decided they need the shock factor to get us all off our couches and back into the theatres. If that's the case, I am going to stay home.  

And speaking of trying too hard, I have always been a big fan of Margot Robbie, but I just didn't believe her as the "wild child," Nellie LaRoy.  I could feel her trying too hard to be this out-of-control woman who has come to Hollywood to become a star. But no doubt she will get nominated for her performance because there was a lot of ranting and raving and crying going on. 

Sadly, this was just was not an enjoyable movie experience for me nor was it a satisfying one.  That is how I judge a film.  Was it an enjoyable or at least satisfying movie experience?  And it makes me sad to say it because I loved "La La Land" so much but for this film the answer would be a no.

And here's the thing.  Maybe if this movie hadn't been so long I would have enjoyed it more.

This movie was THREE HOURS and eight minutes!  That is just uncalled for.  Chazelle could have easily cut an hour off of this film without it making any difference and probably would have made it better.  PLEASE...filmmakers, if you want us back in the theatres do not make us sit through three hour films!

Okay, rant over.

However, there is a positive.

I have to give a shout out to Brad Pitt.  He almost saved this movie for me.  I have been wanting him to flaunt his handsomeness and here he does that, but he also shows his acting chops.  As the handsome matinee idol whose career takes a turn for the worst, he is funny but also poignant.  A wonderful tour de force and he certainly should have won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, though I question whether his part was a supporting role. In my book, he was the star. Let's hope the Oscars do better because he deserves one for this. 

As I was watching the film, I was thinking that Chazelle was mad at the movies because he paints such a cynical picture. But then he gives Jean Smart, who plays columnist Elinor St. John, one of the best moments in the film, when she sets Jack Conrad straight about his career.  In a brilliant speech, she tells him that the spotlight is fleeting, but he can take comfort in the fact that his movies will live on after he has gone. He will come alive for future audiences who see his films. And though Chazelle goes dark to make us appreciate what it takes to make a movie, I think he ends on a positive note by saying that movies matter because of what movies can do. They bring a disparate group of people together who are all enjoying the same experience.  For a few hours, it's a community.  

And I agree, but if he wants me to continue to be a part of that community, he shouldn't make a three hour movie and he needs to leave out the elephant poop!

Rosy the Reviewer says...all in all, though there were moments I enjoyed and this film will no doubt get many award nominations, because it's the big, boisterous, epic kind of movie that gets nominations, for me this was a huge disappointment (in theatres).

The Invitation (2022)

A young woman is invited to a wedding in England but it turns out to be much more than she a bad way.

The film begins with a suicide and then fast forwards to Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel who you might recognize from "Game of Thrones"), a New York City hospitality worker, who attends a self-help event with one of those "find-your-relatives" DNA tests in her swag bag.  She decides to try it and wouldn't you know?  She discovers a cousin she didn't know about and he's a charming Brit named Oliver L. Alexander (Hugh Skinner).  Since both of Evie's parents are dead, she is keen to find family.  Oliver invites her to join him at the wedding of a rich friend in England, an offer she can't refuse since all expenses will be paid.

The wedding is at the estate of the DeVille family and there she meets Walter - "Walt" - the handsome Lord of the Manor (Thomas Doherty).  And can I say that Evie is a bit over incredulous at the luxury of the place and actually acts like an Ugly American and is a big klutz? Not a good look. She is an accident waiting to happen and her behavior makes a bad impression on the scary butler (Sean Pertwee). But she appears to make a good impression on the handsome Walt.

But like I said, she isn't a very good guest. On her first night, Evie goes for a jog. Who does that?  Who goes for a jog at night in an unfamiliar place? And she goes into a room that she was particularly told to stay out of. But okay, let's see what will happen. She starts to see things and also starts to have nightmares that relate to that suicide I mentioned. What's going on?

Written by Blair Butler and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, this is a gothic thriller with the requisite gotcha moments (I counted five), but despite the gotcha moments, it takes over an hour before "the secret" is revealed and what is really going on at the DeVille mansion and this so-called wedding. It's a bit slow but I enjoyed the female empowerment theme.

Nathalie Emmanual does a fine job as Evie, but I was distracted by how much she looks like Meghan Markle, except with a nose ring.

Rosy the Reviewer step above a Lifetime movie but, hey, I have been known to do the occasional Lifetime movie.  A fun gothic diversion (Netflix, Prime).

And if you aren't up for a three hour movie in the movie theatre and you are not in the gothic mood, why not read a book?

"Dying of Politeness" by Geena Davis

Actress Geena Davis shares her life and accomplishments in this candid and self-deprecating memoir.

Who knew that Geena Davis and I had so much in common?

  • We both wanted to be actresses from a young age, studied acting in college and our Dads encouraged us.
  • She was an exchange student in Sweden and I have visited my Swedish relatives there.
  • We grew up with no shower and everyone used the same bath water on Saturday nights (I know, ew)!
  • And it was important to be polite at all costs

We are so alike except the main difference: she became famous and I didn't. Ha!  

Davis tells her story that starts with her knowing she was going to be an actress from a very young age.  She shares her romantic interests including her marriage to actor Jeff Goldblum, who it seems from reading this she never got over.  She also talks about finding a sort of second career as an Olympic archer as well as her lifelong fight for women's rights.

There are also behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the many movies that she has made such as "The Fly," "A League of their Own" and, of course, the iconic "Thelma and Louise."  She met Susan Sarandon on set and they became besties in real life. Total opposites in their approach to the world, Geena says that Susan helped her speak up and give up on some of that politeness. It's all told in a breezy and, shall I say? A very polite way.

Rosy the Reviewer says... it's a funny, candid and touching memoir, and if you are a fan or even just a celebrity maven, you will enjoy 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 

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)!

(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)

Saturday, December 10, 2022

"Spoiler Alert" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Spoiler Alert" as well as the Brad Pitt action film "Bullet Train" and the romantic rom-com "Look Both Ways."  The Book of the Week is "Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon" by Kate Andersen Brower]

Spoiler Alert (2022)

The film version of Michael Ausiello's memoir "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies."

We all know what a spoiler is, right?  It's when someone in an earlier time zone posts the winner of "Dancing with the Stars" before you've seen it or when you tell someone you are going to see a certain movie and she says "You know she dies at the end, right?" 

But spoiler alert?  Do you know what that is?  As someone who writes about the movies, I am acutely aware of that term because I sometimes get accused of telling too much.  And when I am aware that I am doing that, I am supposed to display "Spoiler Alert" prominently so my readers will know to stop reading in case I reveal a twist or ruin the ending of the film for them. 

That said, I think there are two different camps when it comes to spoilers.  There are those who will bite your head off if you give away too much about a film and then there are those who don't care, who just enjoy the journey.  I am part of that latter camp.  I don't really care if I know how it ends because I am much more into the journey that takes me to the end.

And speaking of the journey...the title of this film warns you about a spoiler and in and of itself is a spoiler.  First of all, Michael Ausiello's memoir upon which this film is based was titled "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies" and if you didn't already figure out what was going to happen, the film begins with one of the main characters dying in the hospital and then the film proceeds in a series of flashbacks.  So I don't need to warn you with a "Spoiler Alert" at the beginning of this because it's already been spoiled...and not by me.  

But no worries.  Even though you know how it's going to end, like I said, it's all about the journey and there are many surprises along the way.

Jim Parsons ("Big Bang Theory") plays Michael, a young rather uptight gay man working as a journalist at TV Guide in New York City. He doesn't drink or do drugs and is timid emotionally since being traumatized by the loss of his parents at an early age.  His passions are Christmas and TV, so making a living writing about TV is a lifelong dream. Growing up watching soap operas with his mother, he imagined his life as a TV sitcom (a device which the movie recreates and it doesn't really work).  

Michael meets the handsome and outgoing Kit (Ben Aldridge), a sexually active fellow that Michael considers completely out of his league.  In fact, in an intimate moment, Michael reveals himself as a FFK - Former Fat Kid.  He's insecure about his looks and body, though he is no longer overweight, but the two connect and embark on a long term relationship despite Michael's obsession with Smurfs and diet Coke. But Kit has his issues, too.  He has not come out to his parents, Marilyn (Sally Field) and Bob (Bill Irwin), but eventually does in a very funny interlude. 

Michael and Kit have a witty and fun rapport and clearly love each other, but as happens in even the closest of relationships, after 13 years, Michael and Kit hit some bumpy patches and they separate, and then the film moves from a funny, witty rom-com to a drama as the film takes a tragic turn. Kit is diagnosed with cancer, something very difficult for Michael to deal with since he had lost his mother to cancer at a young age but despite their estrangement, and despite Michael's difficult past, Michael decides this is love and he is in it for the long haul, no matter what.

Naturally my friend and I were blubbering away at the end - that was the whole point, right? These kinds of movies bring up all kinds of feelings in us - fear of dying, remembrance of loved ones dying, remembering "Love Story," probably the first of the romantic movies with death-at-the-end genre.  There is homage here to "Love Story," when Michael gets up on Kit's hospital bed and lies next to him as he lay dying.  When Ryan O'Neal did that to comfort Ali McGraw in "Love Story," I completely lost it.  

But this time I also lost it as I remembered my Dad dying.  When he was dying, I was able to travel back home to help my mother and say goodbye to my Dad.  As he lay dying and gasping in the last stages and appeared to be out of it, one of the hospice nurses said that it would probably help him to go if I told him it was okay and that we would be fine.  So as I sat next to my Dad I told him that he had been a wonderful father, that it was okay to go and that I loved him. With that he was able to say "I love you too" and he left us. When that same sort of scene happened in this movie - Michael telling Kit what he had meant to him - it brought back that memory.  But it also reinforced in me of how important it is that we gather around our dying loved ones to say goodbye and tell them what they meant to us.  

Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge are engaging and believable as Michael and Kit, two men devoted to each other, and Bill Irwin and Sally Field provide some comic relief as Kit's parents. Speaking of Sally, she reminded me of what a good actress she is. Her Marilyn was so annoying that I could totally understand why Kit didn't want to tell his mother he was gay!  So Sally did a good job there! 

Watching the film, I was struck by the lack of films where the central theme is a gay love story.  Often when there is a gay love story, it is a tangential feature of a straight rom com.  Gay rom coms should be as mainstream as straight rom coms and every other romantic iteration out there. Hopefully this and the recent "Bros" are signs that more like this will get the green light.

A sweet Christmas movie. Despite the death part, it's all about love and family, and at this time of year, which is rife with emotion, there is nothing like a good cathartic cry and you will get that with this film.  Bring tissues.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a good movie will bring up memories and emotions and this movie written by David Marshall Grant and Dan Savage and directed by Michael Showalter ("The Big Sick") did just that because it is a good movie. (In theatres)

Bullet Train (2022)

A slew of assassins with different agendas all board a bullet train. Mayhem ensues.

Ooh, Brad Pitt.  I have never forgotten his first big splash in "Thelma and Louise" and he has just gotten better and more handsome as he ages. But like many really handsome actors, it seems like he does not want to rely on his looks and play romantic leads. Darn it, Brad. I want you to play romantic leads!  But it seems he wants to be taken more seriously, so he goes for the edgier stuff now and this film is edgy.  But, Brad.  What are you doing in this mess of a movie?

Here Brad plays a former assassin, code name, Ladybug, and he is in Tokyo for a job he doesn't really want. He has had a run of bad luck lately and has wearied of killing people but thinks that retrieving a briefcase should be a piece of cake. Not! Brothers Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who happen to be assassins, are also on the train to rescue the son of a Russian-born Yakuza boss called "The White Death." Sadly, the son is poisoned and another assassin, "The Wolf (Bad Bunny)," thinks it was our boy Brad, so attacks him.  Then "The Wolf" dies. A schoolgirl character strangely called "Prince" wanders around the train getting involved leaving destruction in her wake. Then Ladybug gets into it with Lemon and other assassins and the whole thing is a big confusing mess, though it turns out all of the assassins are somehow related. I like action films, and I don't mind some violence now and then, but by the time it was all revealed, I didn't care anymore.

Written by Zak Olkewitz (based on the book by Kotaro Isaka) and directed by David Leitch, the film is part Japanese video game, part cartoon and part Tarantino-esqe dark comedy with some slapstick thrown in, but the violence overshadows what humor there is and it just all became wearying after awhile. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite Brad's presence, a very weird and not very enjoyable film experience. Brad, can't you make this old girl happy and do a romantic movie once in awhile? (Netflix)

Look Both Ways (2022)

What if you had taken that other road in life?

In her last year at the University of Texas, Natalie (Lili Reinhart) has sex with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez).  It's not about love and the two agree it wasn't a big deal. Natalie has a five year plan for her life after graduation and she means to keep it.  She plans to move to Los Angeles with her friend Cara (Aisha Dee) to become an animator. But a few weeks later, on graduation night, Natalie takes a pregnancy test and her life diverges into two parallel realities.  

In Reality #1, she is pregnant.  Reality #2, she is not pregnant.

Pregnant, Natalie moves back home with her parents who were enjoying the empty nest so they are not that happy to have her back. They are not too happy about Gabe, either, who is an aspiring musician.  But he steps up and the two struggle to coparent their daughter, Rosie.  But Natalie wants Gabe to have his own life and encourages him to date.  When he does meet someone, Natalie is not sure she has made the right decision to discourage Gabe.  But she throws herself into her artwork.

In Reality #2, relieved that she is not pregnant, Natalie moves to Los Angeles with Cara and they start their careers.  Natalie gets her dream job and becomes an assistant animator and she meets Jake (David Corenswet), who aspires to be a movie producer. They embark on a relationship but Jake is sent to Nova Scotia for a job and they struggle with a long-distance relationship.

Which path taken will turn out to be the best one for Natalie?

Written by April Prosser and directed by Wanuri Kahiu, this is one of those "what if?" films reminiscent of "Sliding Doors," the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film that explored what would happen if you miss your train.  Here we get to see what would have happened if the road not taken was taken. Will two different paths lead to the same destiny? The film goes back and forth between the two realities which you might think would be confusing but it's handled in a very stylish and understandable way.

The young actors are engaging especially Reinhardt who is the reason this film is so affecting.  Most famous for the TV series "Riverdale," I will enjoy watching her movie career unfold.

How often have we wondered how our lives might have been different if we had taken that other road - if we had moved East, not West; if we had accepted that other marriage proposal or not gotten married at all; or we decided not to have children or given up a career? The film is a reminder that no matter which path we choose, there will always be bumps, regrets and what ifs but it's our path.  It's called life.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet little story that will make you wonder about the path you chose but validate it. (Netflix)

***The Book of the Week***

"Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon" by Kate Andersen Brower (2022).

The definitive biography.

Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of the Hollywood movie star and one of the last to come out of the old Hollywood studio system. In her over 70 years in show business, she starred in 56 films, 10 TV movies and was the first actor to negotiate a million dollar contract (“Cleopatra”) and the first to use her fame for Aids activism.  However, her personal life often overshadowed her accomplishments - Eight marriages to seven different men, by 26 she had been divorced twice and widowed once and she struggled with addictions to pills and alcohol. 

Considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, she was kind, creative, empathetic and smart but she was also selfish, greedy, vulnerable, volatile and childlike and Brower uses Elizabeth’s unpublished letters, diary entries, off-the-record interview transcripts and interviews with 250 of her closest friends and family to capture those many sides of Taylor. Taylor never wrote a real memoir (she died in 2011 at the age of 79), but this well-researched biography gets as close to telling her story in her own words as we will ever get.

Rosy the Reviewer says...there have been countless biographies but this will stand as the definitive one about the legend that was Elizabeth Taylor.

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 

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)!

(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, 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"]


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 

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)!

(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)