Friday, October 24, 2014

It's a Matter of "Pride" and the Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Pride," DVDs "Godzilla" "Venus in Fur" and the book "I'll Drink to That" by long-time Bergdorf Goodman premiere personal shopper, which fashionistas will enjoy.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" and share this week's "A-HA Moment" - "Do you know how to apologize?"]

It's a Matter of "Pride"


An unlikely alliance is struck in 1984 between a U.K. gay activist group and striking coal miners.

This is a real-life account of the famous 1984-1985 coal miner's strike in the U.K and the real life alliance between a London fund-raising group called Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and the Welsh village of Onllwyn.

The film begins in 1984 in London where Mark (played by the wonderful Ben Schnetzer, who you might recognize from "The Book Thief (I know I did)," and who is also wonderfully handsome by the way) and his friends are marching in a gay pride parade.  They are joined by Joe (George MacKay - "How I Live Now") who is 20 and just feeling his way out of the closet (his parents do not know he is gay).  Gethin (Andrew Scott) and Jonathan (Dominic West who is currently starring in "The Affair" on Showtime) are a couple and own a gay and lesbian bookstore from which the activists operate. 

Mark is clearly the leader and decides that they are not the only people who are being oppressed. The coal miners are in the midst of a strike in the Thatcher dominated UK.  Thatcher wants to close the mines, the pits, as they are called, and the coalminers walked out in protest.  But Thatcher was a hard-ass and the miners were struggling.  Like the beatings that gay men were often getting, so too the coal miners were being disrespected and beaten. Mark decides that he and his group need to step up and help.  But it becomes clear, the miners are not particularly taken with being helped by a bunch of gay men and women.  Mark and his friends name themselves "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" and quite literally pick a village off the map - Onllwyn, Wales - and make it their focal point.  They enlist the help of one of the activist miners, Dai (Paddy Considine) and descend upon the residents of Onllwyn, some of whom welcome them, some of whom very decidedly do not.

This story has been told many times before and no one does working class people coming together for the common good better than the Brits and this film is no different except it comes with a bit of a twist:  striking Welsh coalminers and a gay and lesbian group.  And the side stories of the miners and their families coming to grips with their own bigotry and the gay men whose families don't accept them, all in the shadow of AIDS, are especially moving.

If you are a fan of British films, you will recognize many of the faces: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Considine. They do a great job as do the newcomers, Schnetzer, MacKay and Jessica Gunning

This film is funny, poignant, bittersweet and inspiring, and as they say in the U.K. - it's bloody brilliant!  If you don't stand up and cheer at the end (well, feel like doing that at least), there's something wrong with you.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked "Billy Elliot," "The Full Monty" and "Kinky Boots," you will love this film.


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

Godzilla (2014)

Modern remake of the classic 1950's original
(no one likes to talk about the 1998 remake).

It seems that all of that nuclear testing that took place in the 1950's was really trying to kill Godzilla.  Who knew?  But now there is a whole lotta shaking going on and Godzilla is waking up and so are some other really nasty creatures.

The movie begins with the meltdown of a nuclear power plant that kills the wife in a husband and wife team of scientists, Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche).  Fast forward 15 years to San Francisco where their son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), returns from his job as a military bomb expert to his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and his young son, only to be summoned to Japan because his father, Joe, one of those scientists seen earlier in the nuclear plant, has been arrested for trespassing on said nuclear plant because he believes something fishy is going on.  His son thinks his Dad is a conspiracy theory nut job, but it turns out Joe is right. 

Something is going on but it's not exactly fishy.  It's more like something MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms).  Scientists have been keeping a cocooned radioactive insect contained in Japan.  Why?  That's the problem.  Seems kind of stupid since the insect is being contained with massive doses of radiation which is sapping energy.  Turns out there is another one, a female, being kept in the States and when these creatures escape they cause mass destruction, because they want to mate and make more MUTOS.  And that won't be good for humanity.  It's up to Godzilla to save the day.  Yes, Godzilla is the good guy.

Sally Hawkins, Ken Wantanbe and David Strathairn round out the cast but have little more than cameos. Likewise, Binoche was only on the screen for a few minutes. How this film drew that many big names for bit parts is anybody's guess.
But sometimes nothing hits the movie spot like some monsters.  I get that way sometimes.  Unfortunately, you don't get to see Godzilla until you have spent almost an hour waiting for him.  But once the film gets going, it's a lot of fun in that monster movie way.  But I couldn't help thinking how much better it would have been on the big screen in Imax and 3-D.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are in the mood for some monsters and are not expecting "Citizen Kane," you will enjoy this.

Venus in Fur (2013)

Roman Polanski directs his real life wife (Emmanuelle Seigneur) in this film adaptation of David Ives' Tony winning play of the same name about a determined actress who is trying to convince a director she is perfect for his play.
The movie begins with a director, Thomas (Mathieu Amalric), on the phone complaining that he can't find anyone suitable for the lead in the play is going to be directing, an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's (he's where we get sado-masochism from) 1870 erotic novel about sado-masochism called "Venus in Furs (not to be confused with the song by the Velvet Underground)." Vanda blows in on a rainy night, late, wet, scattered, slightly trampy and wearing a dog collar.  She ironically has the same name as the character she is auditioning for (which may or may not be true). Thomas is unimpressed with her.  She is chewing gum, seemingly uneducated, but she also has a copy of the play, much to Thomas' surprise, and has even brought a costume with her.  She finally persuades him to let her read for the role.  As they read together and Vanda transforms herself into the refined upper class lady Thomas is seeking, Vanda teeters between the character Vanda and her own persona.  Slowly but surely an erotic game of cat and mouse begins and the tables are turned.  His misogyny gives way to her feminism and he finds himself humiliated. 
Almaric looks so much like Polanski himself, I thought it was he at first until I realized Polanski would be much older.  This is a two-hander, which means the two actors carry the show, which is in fact a play within a play within a film and Polanski throws in several homages to his own past directorial efforts, which will be fun for filmophiles to detect.
 Rosy the Reviewer says...Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but it's all about the acting here.

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project"
306 to go!

Gun Crazy (1950)

This could be the poster child for the NRA.  Kid grows up crazy about guns and ends up using them to rob and kill.  Nice.

Bart Tare (John Dall) had a fascination for guns from an early age.  After a stint in the military, he meets and falls madly in love with Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), a sideshow sharpshooter.  They embark on a life of crime that culminates in an elaborate plot to steal the payroll of a meat-packing plant.  Things don't work out too well for them.

A common device in B movies was the "deadly female" leading the hapless boyfriend astray.  So no surprise that this film was also released under the title "Deadly is the Female."  It's too bad that when a female character has "spunk," she is usually a baddie.  And she talks tough too..."You will never make big money.  You are a two bit guy."

My Dad taught me to read the credits and look for actors and actresses on their way up, possibly with their original names. Here, the young Bart is played by Rusty Tamblyn, who grew up to be Russ Tamblyn of "West Side Story" fame (he was Riff). 
Why it's a must see: ...aesthetic innovations within low budget constraints -- the long single shot scene of a bank robbery, the chase through an abattoir --and in [the] peerless characterization of a psychotic femme fatale.  This timeless tale of amour fou was a major influence on Jean-Luc Godard's French New Wave classic "Breathless (1960)."
---"100" Movies You Must See Before You Die."

I should add MacKinlay Kantor and Dalton Trumbo wrote the screenplay, though Trumbo under a pseudonym because he had been blacklisted - he was one of the famous Hollywood Ten.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like the "B" films of old, this is a good one.

Fight Club (1999)

A mild mannered guy (Edward Norton) has such a boring life, he attends support groups just to have someone to talk to, until he meets Tyler, who shows him that fighting will give him a better life.

"The first rule about Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club.  The second rule about Fight Club is that you don't talk about Fight Club." 

So go the rules as laid down by Tyler (Brad Pitt), in this movie version of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name and directed by David Fincher, who went on to direct "The Social Network," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and, most recently, "Gone Girl."

Our hero, if you can call him that, narrates his own story.  He is depressed and isolated so he attends 12-step meetings so he can feel better about his own life.  He notices a woman who appears to be doing the same thing he is.  Marla (Helena Bonham Carter).  When he meets Tyler, his seeming opposite, he is led into a secret society of men who find redemption by beating the crap out of each other.

Not sure how I missed this one the first time around.  I think I was scared it was too violent (and it IS violent) or maybe I was in a rom-com phase.  Amidst the violence, the film is also humorous and ironic and it's powerful:  from the art direction to the acting to the twist ending, which has been used in a couple of films since, so I saw it coming.  And who can resist Meat Loaf with enormous breasts?
Why it's a must see: "...David Fincher's film stakes out manly territory in 1999's most intriguing and angry, yet witty cinematic fantasy...[it's] an exciting, distressingly inspiring movie that makes even the strangest event seem normal..."
---"100" Movies You Must See Before You Die."

Rosy the Reviewer says...whether or not you agree with the message here, you would have to agree that this film is original and fresh, and when a film is original and fresh, I am all over it. 

***Book of the Week***
A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich

Betty Halbreich, who has been the legendary personal shopper (though she hates that moniker) for Bergdorf Goodman for over 40 years, shares her personal story and her personal fashion sense.

Halbreich grew up a privileged only child and is old enough (86) to remember when one was supposed to wear gloves on an airplane (sounds like MY mother).  She has helped to style costumes for the actors in Woody Allen films and soaps as well as every day fashion for the rich and not so rich women off the street. She has a strong idea of what is right and wrong in fashion and in life.

But there are many anachronisms that show her age.  One that I particularly enjoyed was her no longer being able to carry a small purse once she no longer had a husband.  I guess your husband is supposed to carry all of your essentials in his pockets so you can carry a tiny fashionable clutch!  Nowadays you just see the husband carrying the purse!

She married young and her husband turned out to be a womanizer and alcoholic and when they finally split up, she had a nervous breakdown.  When she was able to pull herself together, she fell into a job at Bergdorf Goodman, which gave her purpose, even though working was not something her class did in those days. Working the floor as a salesperson was not her cup of tea, but she was able to carve a niche for herself as a personal shopper.  She became beloved for her tactful but honest opinions. She is so opinionated that she won't sell something that she thinks is too expensive or wrong for her "patients," er, clients. She thinks of them almost as patients because they share so much with her of their lives and there is an intimacy in helping people find what looks good on their bodies.  That's why people go to her.  She tells it like it is but has great compassion for people.

"I wasn't beyond letting a client walk out empty-handed.  An appointment was a failure in my eyes only if the woman didn't walk away feeling better than when she came in.  That was challenge enough with all that people have to endure."
Rosy the Reviewer says...Halbreich is a true original and her views on fashion, etiquette and manners are fascinating.  If you love fashion and candid memoirs, you will enjoy this book.

**My A-HA Moment of the Week**
People don't seem to know how to apologize anymore.
These are NOT apologies:
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"If I hurt you, I'm sorry."
"I deeply regret..."
"I am sorry you misinterpreted what I said."
"We both said things we regret."
"I am sorry this happened."
"If I made a mistake, I'm sorry."
(or any statement that begins with "If")
These statements imply that you didn't do anything wrong and actually puts the blame back on the person you are apologizing to.  An apology must include YOUR responsibility.
Also don't try to justify yourself. Avoid the word "but."
"I'm sorry I hurt you but this is really hard for me too."
This is what a real sincere apology sounds like:
"I am sorry I hurt you.  I didn't mean to do that."
"I can see that I hurt you by what I said.  I am really sorry."
"I realize what I did and said was really shitty and I am SO sorry."
Remember, an apology has two components: 1) Admission of error. 2) Regret for the action.

Something I am sure we all need to work on.

Thanks for Reading!


See you Tuesday


"My Son"



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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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


Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."

Or you can go directly to IMDB.  

Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friends: Old and New

I am reading a memoir ("Before the Year Dot") by my favorite soap star on my favorite British soap.  June Brown is the actress and "Eastenders" is the soap. (I have been watching that show for over 25 years, since it was first introduced to American audiences on PBS).

In her memoir she says about old friends,

"In the end I lost touch with most of my school friends but when you meet people who were your childhood friends you just pick up where you left off.  You have your childhood in common and your youth - there is an understanding there that you don't share with friends you make when you are older.  Your childhood friends know you as you were - before the baggage of life and age attached itself."

I latched onto that because I think it is so true.

I have been fortunate enough to keep in touch with some childhood friends over the years and have found many more of my old friends through Facebook.  I know there are many of you out there who believe Facebook is evil, and that might be true to a certain extent, but Facebook has also put me back in touch with those childhood friends who knew me as I was..."before the baggage of life and age attached itself."  And we have indeed picked up where we left off, sharing memories and getting to know our new selves, the ones with baggage. 

It's funny, though, what each of us remembers and what each of us has forgotten.  For example, my college roommate and I used to play a card game (Nertz) almost every night our Freshman year, a card game that SHE taught ME.  I recently asked her about the scoring.  I remember how to play the game, but I couldn't remember how it was scored.  SHE NOT ONLY DID NOT REMEMBER THE SCORING SHE DIDN'T REMEMBER PLAYING THAT GAME WITH ME AT ALL!

But I can forgive her.  Memories are strange things.  We retain some; discard others.  Some mean more to me; some mean more to them. Some get tarnished or embellished with time.

I have many happy memories.  I have learned a lot from my friends - old and new.

Here is what we were like before age and "the baggage" set in and some things I learned from them.

One of my very early friends was Bobby, who lived down the alley from us.  We used to play Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the rock garden next door to his house.  His family had a bomb shelter in their back yard.  That's when I started worrying about the bomb.


When I was seven, we moved, and my best friend was another boy - Chucky.  He lived around the block from me and his family also had a collie, except it was one of those black and brown collies.  His name was Buzzy.  Here Buzzy and Echo (our collie) are playing and running free as dogs did in those days. Chucky and I acted out all of the "Twins" books ("The Dutch Twins," "The American Twins of the Revolution," etc. ) by Lucy Fitch Perkins.  They were boy and girl twins so that fit perfectly into our dramatizations.  We also played with my dolls together. His Dad didn't like that.  I learned much later that Chucky was one of the early victims of AIDS.


Barbie was one of my best friends in elementary and middle school.  You can see how much I liked her because I am photo bombing the picture with my fingers behind her head (someone should bomb my glasses and hair).  She and her family (that's her sister in the foreground with the glasses) lived in a fantastic mansion with a ballroom on the top floor, and we would go up there and play dress up and get up to all kinds of mischief.  I remember loving her mother. 

Barbie and I went to camp together when we were seven.  I was a fussy eater and we were required to take at least one bite of everything served to us. I would gag just thinking about it.  I also couldn't swim and was not good at making lanyards.  I think it got to be too much, and I humiliated myself by crying for my Mom.  When I was trying to go to sleep at night I would see tuna fish sandwiches and my mother's face swirling around and it was more than I could bear.  They let me call my Mom and then I managed to make it for the rest of the time.  Barbie never held that against me.


First big crush.  In grade school he called me a freckled faced monster and I hit him with my bucket purse.  But here we are older - 7th grade.  I asked him to a Sadie Hawkins type dance and he said yes. He taught me to like nice, tall, handsome boys.

Janice was one of my best friends since middle school (we called it Junior High in those days).  She was the first to like Bob Dylan (I'm talking 8th grade here and we were so sophisticated we loved his "Baby Let Me Follow You Down"), when even the DJ's didn't know who he was and didn't pronounce his name properly - they called him Bobby Die-lyn.  She wrote wonderful poetry and was very intellectual. We worked on the problems of the world.  We even started a school Philosophy Club together.  She taught me what it was to be cool.

Another best friend, Linda, was an only child so her parents took me on lots of trips with them - Chicago, Florida, New England.  I have so many memories, but one in particular was her showing me how to shave my legs and some other girl stuff.  My mother was clueless when it came to that kind of thing.  Linda taught me what it was to be a loving friend.

We are the smarty pants being inducted into the Honor Society but starting to show our rebellious side.   Long story about Charles Hackley.

Speaking of rebellious, it's the late 60's.  My roommate in college.  Poor girl.  She wanted a non-smoking roommate, but I couldn't say I smoked on my college application. My mother would see.  I remember my parents dropping me off on the first day and then when they left, flopping down in a chair and with my best Tallulah Bankhead impression (I was very dramatic) saying to her, "By the way, I smoke and I sleep with my boyfriend."  What could she do?  So we became best friends.  She taught me about being a loyal friend even when I was a pain in the butt.

And here we are at Thanksgiving at my parent's home. She lived on the West Coast and we were in college in Michigan so she came home with me.  We are thinking we are very cool in our "kooky" sunglasses.  And, Mom, what's with that wallpaper?

Right after college, I moved to San Francisco.  That was what everyone from Michigan was doing in those days.  My first job was working for the Bank of America and Jeanne was my best friend there.  She was a Californian. She just about choked on her lunch when I said I wanted some "pop," meaning a soft drink.  She also couldn't believe anyone would eat doughnuts with apple cider, a Fall highlight of my growing up years in Michigan.  She taught me it was OK to be opinionated and not to suffer fools.  I liked that.  I just found her recently on Facebook after over 40 years.  We just picked up where we left off.

After a horrible divorce that left me devastated, I met soon-to-be Hubby and his friends and they took me on.  Let's just say it was the 80's.  They taught me how to party again.


When Hubby was immersed in the computer industry, he traveled to the UK frequently and I got to tag along.  We made many friends there.  They taught us that some things travel well:  friendship. 

If you read my blog post on my Swedish heritage, you know all about my cousin Jane. Having her in my life has been a great gift. She looked after my son when he studied in Sweden, she and her husband have made the effort to travel with us in Europe and she is that wonderful link to my mother's Swedish side of the family.   

And as for new friends... ten years ago, Hubby and I took a leap and moved to a completely new city, not knowing anyone.  We had heard that people in Seattle were friendly and polite, but not likely to invite you over for BBQ.  That is true to a certain extent, but despite the difficulty of meeting and making friends when you are older and encumbered with that aforementioned baggage, we have some wonderful friends who have welcomed us over for BBQ!

So many wonderful friendships in my life, and I am so glad I am still in touch with many of the people I have known over the years, even if it's just in cyberspace. Barbie, Candy, Lois, Janice, Linda, Rick, Ralph, Paul, Jeanne, David, Stephen, Dan, Bob, John, Leslie, Bill, Glenn, Steve, Judy, Lois, Lesley, Myra, Janie, Chris, Jim and John. So many more and too many new faces to list here.

No matter what you feel about the Internet or Facebook or any form of social media, it does have the power to bridge the time gap, to reach out over time and bring back happy memories and reunite us with those who knew our young and pure selves, before we had all of that baggage to carry.

Thinking about them all, I am wondering if our memories of each other would be the same.  If they remember the same things that I remember.  What remains and what has fallen away?
My 50th High School Reunion will take place in 2016 and I plan to attend so I can see my "childhood" friends in person once again.  And you know what?  I think we will just pick up where we left off!
Have you reunited with your childhood friends?
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie
 and my
Week in Reviews
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Judging "The Judge" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Judge," the DVDs "Obvious Child" and "Summer in February," the Broadway touring company production of "Kinky Boots," and Brooke Shield's new memoir.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" and share my "A-HA Moment of the Week"]

Judging "The Judge"

The Judge

Hotshot big city lawyer, Hank Palmer, is called back to his small Indiana town upon the death of his mother.  He is not happy about having to go back.

Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again."  He should have said "You shouldn't go home again."

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) will do anything to win a case.  He's selfish, he's a liar and an arrogant smart-ass.  Did I mention that his marriage is also in trouble?

When his mother dies unexpectedly, Hank must return to his small Midwestern home town.  He wasn't happy when he left and he is not happy to return. 

This is a family drama, a courtroom drama, a mystery and a tearjerker.

The family drama begins when it becomes clear early on that Hank's marriage is in trouble and he also doesn't get along with his father and brothers.

Hank's father, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) has sat on the bench as one of the local judges for 42 years.  He's a hard-hitting curmudgeon with those who stand before him and with his sons too. Hank and "The Judge," as Hank calls his father, trade barbs and clearly don't like each other.

The courtroom drama begins when "The Judge" is charged with murder and Hank must step in to save him. 

The mystery begins when you wonder whether or not "The Judge" did it.

The tearjerker part begins when you find out that "The Judge" is dying of cancer.

Robert Downey Jr. has perfected the smart-ass persona in his "Iron Man" films and elsewhere and here it's no different.  But he also shows his tender side as he navigates the difficult waters of his relationship with his father.

It's good to see Duvall again (he only made one film last year), and he gives a magnificent performance.  It's also refreshing to see Downey warming up his dramatic chops.  He's a fine actor.  They are both supported by Vincent D’Onofrio, who brings in a poignant performance as Hank's older brother; Jeremy Strong as his younger autistic brother obsessed with filming everything; Vera Farmiga (high school girlfriend), who is always good but here really doesn't have enough to do, and Billy Bob Thornton, who cuts an imposing figure as the prosecutor, Hank's nemesis at trial.

The parent child dynamic is reminisicent of "On Golden Pond" and seems to say be sure you say what you need to say to your loved ones before it's too late.

I judge comedies by whether or not I laugh. 

I judge tearjerkers by whether or not I cry.

I cried.

Yes, like "Gone Girl,"  it's too long (what's with these two and a half hour movies these days?) and yes, some things don't add up, but it's good old-fashioned movie making, a riveting story with fantastic performances.

Rosy the Reviewer says..."Judge," I sentence you to several Academy Award nominations, especially for Duvall's performance.

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

Obvious Child (2014)

Ex-SNL alum Jenny Slate stars in this indie tale of a young woman trying to make it as a stand-up comedienne, while at the same time trying to sort out her life.

The film opens with our heroine, Donna, doing stand-up in a seedy little club in Brooklyn.  Donna's brand of humor is off-the-cuff and very off color, scattered and personal.  Her boyfriend takes issue with her using him as laugh fodder and breaks up with her.  She doesn't take it well and her stand-up routine takes a hit when she goes on stage drunk.

Donna is almost 30 and still lives with her parents and works a dead-end job and manages to lose that too.  This break-up breaks her and one night she has a one night stand and ends up pregnant.  What to do?  She hardly knows this guy.

So the discussion leads to the "A" word:  abortion.

Slate's Donna is quirky, raw and annoying.  You may or may not like her, but this film tackles real issues young women face today and it's a brave little film.  Much of the film feels unrehearsed, adding to its authenticity.

Donna is a mess as many twenty-somethings are, but she has loyal friends and a life she needs to sort out.  It's called growing up.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a strange little rom-com that is almost anti-rom-com and far from obvious.

Summer in February (2013)

True tale of a love triangle among members of a bohemian group of British artists called the Lamorna group.

It's 1913 and, young Florence  has arrived in Cornwall to join the Lamorna Group.  Alfred Munnings is the leader who is prone to reciting American poetry such as Poe's "The Raven" and Wadsworth's "Hiawatha."  He is instantly attracted to Florence, but so is newcomer Gilbert, a military officer and friend of Alfred’s. Gilbert falls in love with Florence but Alfred gets there first and asks her to marry him.  She says yes which is strange because despite how handsome Dominic Cooper is, there was absolutely no build-up in this relationship.  I remember watching the film and when she said "Yes," I literally said "What?" out loud.

Gilbert is crushed but remains friends with the couple.  When Florence realizes what she has done, she embarks on an affair with Gilbert.

The film stars Dominic Cooper (who I loved in the mini-series "Fleming") as British artist Alfred Munnings, Emily Browning as wanna be artist Florence Carter-Wood, and Dan Stevens (this is where you Downton Abbey fans can see Matthew again) as Gilbert Evans.  It focuses on the early 20th century love triangle of these three.

Gorgeous Cornwall vistas beautifully photographed and gorgeous Dan Stevens, who we all loved in Downton Abbey, are the highlights of this rather dull tale of love gone wrong.  Stevens shows much more passion here than he did with Lady Mary in Downton, but alas, that does not save this plodding tale that doesn't seem to have much of a point since all of the characters are kind of nutty.

For example, every time things don't go well for Florence, she tries to poison herself.

An entire hour goes by before anything happens.  At exactly one hour and 17 minutes things get going, but it's too late.  I have already gone to sleep.

The Brits usually do ill-fated love stories very well (think "Wuthering Heights" and "Waterloo Bridge"), but not this time.

Rosy the Reviewer says...even you hard-core lovers of British costume dramas won't be able to slog through this.

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project"
308 to go!

The Black Cat (1934)

American honeymooners visiting Hungary are taken to a creepy castle after an accident.

Joan and Peter Allison meet Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi) aboard the Orient Express.  They all get off at the same stop and Werdegast offers them a ride.  After a car accident en route, Joan is injured so Wedegast takes them with him to the castle of Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff, but billed as just "Karloff") and then the fun begins.  Poelzig lives in a creepy, though very modern, castle that sits on the graves of men killed during the war.

This movie doesn't stand up very well to today's standards.  Campy is the word that comes to mind.  Many of the old over-dramatic movie-making devices are at work here: musical crescendos every time Karloff enters the room, the long suspicious looks, train wheels chugging to show the passage of time, buggy eyes, but if you can get over all of that, it's quite an enjoyable film.  It would make a great late night double feature with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," since naïve Joan and Peter Allison are dead-ringers for Brad and Janet.

Why it's a Must See: "...the first screen teaming of the great monster stars of the 1930's, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi...the most perverse and the artiest of the original run of Universal horror pictures..."
("1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.")

Rosy the Reviewer's stylish and campy, but I prefer Bela as Dracula and Boris as The Mummy, though I did find Boris' lisp and his ducktail haircut quite adorable, but kind of distracting for a horror film.

In a Lonely Place (1950)

A screenwriter with a violent temper is cleared of a murder by his lovely neighbor.  But did he do it?

Dixon "Dix" Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is a down-on-his-luck screenwriter. At a nightclub, Dix notices that the hat check girl is reading a book he wants to adapt, so he invites the girl, Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart) to his apartment to give him the synopsis so he doesn't have to read it himself.  Nothing untoward happens and he gives her money to catch a cab home.

The next morning, a police detective (Frank Lovejoy), who just happens to be an old friend arrives and tells him that Mildred was murdered during the night and Dix is a suspect.  However, Dix's beautiful neighbor, Laurel (Gloria Grahame), is brought to the police station and confirms seeing the girl leave Dix's apartment alone.  Laurel and Dix begin to fall in love but Laurel begins to wonder if Dix might have killed the girl when she witnesses some violent behavior. When Dix asks her to marry him she says yes, but only because she is too afraid to say no.  She makes plans to leave town but when Dix finds out, he almost strangles her. Red flags for the relationship, wouldn't you say?

Grahame does sultry and steamy very well, something that is de rigeur in film noir, and Bogart is hard-boiled and moody, another staple.
Why it's a Must See: "...[this] qualifies as a masterpiece on many grounds: as the single best film of cult director Nicholas Ray (he also did "Rebel without a Cause"); as a uniquely romantic and doom-haunted noir drama; as a showcase for personal best performances by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame; and as one of the most insightful films about Hollywood."
("1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.")

Rosy the Reviewer says...Film noir at its best and it's even more fun when you realize that Gloria Grahame not only married Nicholas Ray, she also married his son (from another marriage, of course)! You can't get any more "noir" than that!

***At the Theatre***



A struggling shoe manufacturing company in the north of England must come up with a way to save the company. The young owner joins forces with a drag queen to manufacture thigh-high stiletto heeled boots - Kinky Boots.
Kinky Boots is a new musical with music and lyrics by Cyndy Lauper (and the songs sound just like her pop hits) and book by Harvey Fierstein based on a British film based on true life.  It won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical and is currently on tour in the U.S.
It's a story that's been done before - working class folks who join forces to overcome adversity but there is the added story that explores "what is a man?"
In this touring company, Kyle Taylor Parker is a stand-out as Lola (nee Simon), but sadly many of the other characters are stereotypes. But that doesn't mean it's not fun.  It is.  It's a real crowd-pleaser.
When I watch new musicals, I can't help but compare them to the musicals that have stood the test of time:  "West Side Story," "South Pacific," "Les Miserables," you know the ones.  Are the songs memorable?  Is the story original?  Was I moved by it?

Rosy the Reviewer says...the verdict is out on whether or not "Kinky Boots" will stand the test of time, but in the meantime, it's lots of fun.


***Book of the Week***
There Was a Little Girl  (publication date: Nov. 18)
This is a portrait of Terri Shields, Brooke Shield's mother who was portrayed in her obituary as a classic stage mother who inappropriately put her daughter out there in show business for her own gain.  Brooke wants to set the record straight.
Brooke Shields is probably best known today for her TV show "Suddenly Susan" and possibly her marriage to tennis star Andre Agassi.  However, as a child actress she starred as a young prostitute in "Pretty Baby," a highly controversial role and film for which her mother, Terri, took a lot of heat.
Though Brooke wrote an earlier memoir, "Down Came the Rain" (2006) that detailed her post-partum depression after the birth of her first child, here she turns her attention to her mother, Terri.  Terri, tough and gregarious, divorced Brooke's father after a whirlwind courtship and short marriage when Brooke was just a baby.  Brooke grew up feeling responsible for her mother and cites a story where Terri, driving with Brooke in the front seat, yelled at Brooke to jump into the back seat to avoid being injured in an inevitable crash. Brooke's reply was "If you die, I die."
Brooke was a beautiful child so modeling opportunities came her way and Terri took advantage of them.  Eventually, acting opportunities also started coming in, but it was Brooke's role as a child prostitute in "Pretty Baby" that earned Terri a reputation as a single mother who sold her daughter out for her own ambition.  It didn't help with subsequent roles in "Endless Love" and "The Blue Lagoon," both involving sex and/or nudity. 
Brooke talks about her career, but mostly this book is meant to set the record straight about her mother, but she pulls no punches about her mother's alcoholism and the role that played in both of their lives.  Terri died young of dementia and this book is Brooke's response in part to her own guilt that she never told her mother what she meant to her, because despite the fact that her mother's alcoholism was an embarrassment and a worry, she was her mother and she loved her very much.

Rosy the Reviewer says...An honest look at a relationship between an only child and her single alcoholic mother that will resonate with all mothers and daughters.

***A-HA Moment of the Week***

I have discovered BAKED grilled cheese sandwiches.

Works like a charm.  Put a baking sheet in the oven while it is heating to 400 degrees.  Butter one side of two pieces of bread.  When oven is heated, place the buttered side of the bread onto the baking sheet, top with cheese (2 Kraft singles work great), top with the other piece of bread, buttered side up.  Bake for 7 minutes, then flip the sandwich over and bake for another 6 minutes.  If you want to be really fancy, sprinkle with parmesan when flipping.  You can add ham, tomatoes, etc.  Enjoy!  I'm sold on this method.
Thanks for Reading!


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