Friday, April 10, 2015

"Woman in Gold" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Woman in Gold" and the DVDs "The Equalizer"  and "The Rewrite." The Book of the Week is "Audrey and Bill: A Romantic Biography of Audrey Hepburn & William Holden" and I alert you to some noteworthy television:  "Sinatra: All or Nothing at All."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with: the Iranian film "Taste of Cherry." ]

 

The true life story of Maria Altmann, a Holocaust survivor, who takes on the Austrian government for restitution for the art stolen from her family by the Nazis - most notably, Gustav Klimt's "Woman in Gold."

Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), who left her homeland of Austria as a young woman to escape the Nazis, discovers, when her sister dies, that paintings that were once owned by her wealthy Jewish family and stolen by the Nazis now sit in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. She especially wants the Gustave Klimt painting, "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I," also known as "Woman in Gold," because it is a portrait of her Aunt Adele, an aunt to whom she was especially close.  Maria seeks out the son of a friend to give her legal advice as to her rights to get the paintings back especially in light of Austria's 1998 Art Restitution Act.  The Klimt painting alone is worth over 100 million dollars, but it's not about the money.  She wants the stolen paintings back because they also symbolize her stolen life, the life she was forced to flee.

Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a descendant of the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, is a young lawyer with limited experience but is basically railroaded into helping Maria until his own fervor for the cause kicks in. However, the Austrian government is not happy to let loose of one of its most famous paintings.  After all, they sell refrigerator magnets with that picture on them.  So Maria and Randol have a long and arduous fight ahead.

Helen Mirren has made a career out of playing imperious women who can wither those she disapproves of with a single glance - I mean, she's played Queen Elizabeth more than once, for god's sake, and is currently starring in that role on Broadway.  And didn't she play this same character in "The Hundred-Foot Journey," except with a different accent? It's starting to be a bit one note. And Mirren's portrayal of Maria is not played as a particularly sympathetic character until the end and by then, it's too late. 

However, the film is saved somewhat by the counter story of her younger self (played by Tatiana Maslany, who has made a name for herself in "Orphan Black") escaping Austria during the Nazi occupation.  But Mirren as an 80 year old?  I think not.

It's good to see Ryan Reynolds again.  He hasn't had a big film role for at least a year and those he has had since 2012 haven't done that well at the box office. I mean, tell me you have heard of "The Captive" or "Mississippi Grind" or "R.I.P.D." If you have, you must be either a huge Ryan Reynolds fan or a much more rabid movie fan than I.  I figure he is trying to shake the pretty boy rom-com typecasting, but, hey, I really liked "The Proposal."  I say, when you are good at something, why not stick to it?  Or maybe he just wanted to enjoy his marriage to Blake Lively. Here it looks like they have tried to "dumb down" his looks, or should I say make him look smarter (he plays a lawyer) and more like the real life person he portrays, by giving him false teeth and glasses.  A shame because he is such a handsome guy.  The director must have not wanted us to be distracted.

Austria is not painted in a particularly good light except for the presence of the journalist (Daniel Bruhl, "Rush") who wants to help them so as to make reparations for the fact his father was a Nazi as in "not all Austrians are bad."

But the film belongs to Mirren and Reynolds, so one wonders why Katie Holmes would choose to play the small role of Schoenberg's wife, and even more mysterious is why Elizabeth McGovern would want the few minutes she gets as the judge who allows Maria's case to go forward in the United States.  Doesn't playing Lady Cora on "Downton Abbey" pay enough?  Oh, sorry. She's married to the director. OK, I get that, then. But why would Jonathon Pryce want this miniscule role as the Chief Justice on the Supreme Court or Frances Fisher hers as Randol's mom?  Charles Dance as Randol's employer in his law firm at least gets some good lines for his short time on film.

But despite all of that talent, the film just didn't gel.  It didn't make me really care whether or not Maria got her paintings back or not.

Directed by Simon Curtis with a screenplay by Alexi Kaye Campbell, the films stands as a grim reminder of the atrocities visited upon the Jews by the Nazis during WW II, only some of which was their stolen art.  In that, the film is a success.  As a piece of film art on its own, not so much.

The story is an interesting, though small, one but it is just too pat and clichéd in its depictions to make us care very much. It's a typical Daniel vs. Goliath formula.  And there are some preposterous scenes such as when searching for her Aunt's will in Vienna, Maria and Randol are confronted with a room full of rows and rows of files that they must search through by hand in one night and naturally Randol finds the relevant file. The whole time they were searching I was thinking, "But can he read German?" 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked "Philomena," you might like this film, but it doesn't have the power of "Philomena."  It's just an interesting idea turned into an ultimately disappointing film.


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


The Equalizer  (2014)
 
 
A mysterious man with a mysterious past tries to live a quiet life, but is called into action when he meets a young prostitute who needs his help.

Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall.  McCall lives alone in Boston in an immaculate apartment, works at a Home Depot-like store and is helping his young colleague, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), lose weight so he can get a job as a security guard there.  McCall also can't seem to sleep because he spends most of his nights sitting in a diner reading classic novels. He has a bit of OCD as he is constantly straightening the salt and pepper shakers on the diner's table and timing everything he does. He also seems to be too controlled, as if he is poised to attack at any minute.

He meets Elena, whose street name is Teri, a young prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz, "Carrie, "If I Stay") and they strike up a friendship.  When he finds out she is being used by a Russian crime ring and that they beat her up, his vigilantism begins.  He shoots up a restaurant which acts as a headquarters for the bad guys, which brings him to the attention of the head honcho, Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich).  Pushkin sends his baddest bad guy, Teddy (Marton Csokas), to deal with McCall.  Teddy is a very bad guy (Teddy is a strange name for a bad guy, don't you think?), who reminded me of a young Kevin Spacy in "Seven,"  one of the creepiest movies of all time.  However, Teddy has no idea who he is dealing with.

The film is slow to start but trying to solve the mystery of McCall's past is as much fun as the action that will soon ensue. If you stick with it, it gets really good with lots of action and violence.  Denzel is one calm, cool and collected kick-ass action hero.  There is a grand finale bloodbath in the Home Depot-like store where, let's just say, Denzel makes use of the many tools that are available there.

Denzel is a credible action hero and gives another one of his great performances.  One can't help but compare him to the original Equalizer, Edward Woodward, but that would be a disservice to Denzel.  Denzel is less like the original Equalizer and more like his character in "Training Day," which is not surprising since this film is directed by Antoine Fuqua, the director of that film too.  Fuqua has created a gritty, moody milieu for Denzel to be one big bad ass, but Denzel exudes a sensitivity that keeps McCall from turning into a cartoon character.  The screenplay (Richard Wenk) is sharp, sometimes humorous and fast paced.

From the ending shot, this appears to be a prequel so expect some sequels.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a smart, riveting action movie.  You will never see a Home Depot the same way again.
 


The Rewrite (2014)
 
 
A Hollywood Oscar-winning screenwriter has writer's block and can't get a job, so takes a job teaching screenwriting at a college in the Northeast.

Hugh Grant plays Keith Michaels, a writer whose screenplay "Paradise Misplaced" won an Oscar, but now he can't even get hired to do a reality show.  He's also a kind of sleazy guy. He hasn't talked to his son in a year. His agent gets him a teaching gig at Binghamton College (not to be confused with SUNY Binghamton), where he almost immediately manages to insult the woman who teaches Jane Austen (Allison Janney) - not a good idea - and he clearly doesn't know what he is doing so he tells his class to come back in a month.  He is just basically a sarcastic, jaded Los Angelean who is disdainful of what he perceives as "the boonies." Enter Marisa Tomei, an "older" serious student who is trying to get her life together and you can tell what is going to happen from a mile away.

Where is our stuttering, cute little Hugh who thrilled us ladies to the core in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Notting Hill?"  I know, we all get old.  But that doesn't excuse him from sleepwalking through this thing. I should have realized what I was in for when I saw him on talk shows recently promoting the release of this DVD.  He was sleepwalking then too.

J.K. Simmons is Dr. Lerner, the Head of the Department, an ex-marine who "likes to follow the rules."  Too bad "our hero" doesn't.  He shags a student and chooses his class from their pictures on Facebook (pretty girls and geeky boys), rather than on the merits of their submitted screenplays. His class is like something out of "Welcome Back, Kotter," except each of them is obsessed with something. You have the sex-obsessed girl, the guy obsessed with Star Wars, the girl obsessed with "Dirty Dancing," the know-it-all girl obsessed with hating "Dirty Dancing" and you have the usual kooky mix.  Where is Vinnie Barbarino when you need him?

Chris Elliott shows up (where has he been? - I used to love him in "Get a Life") - but doesn't bring the kookiness of his past.

Marisa Tomei is always good and is the bright light here, but she and Grant have zero chemistry and in fact, this is not really a rom-com at all.  She is here more to help Keith out of his slump, so if you are expecting our usual charmingly clumsily romantic Hugh, you will be disappointed.


Writer/Director Marc Lawrence and Grant have collaborated several times, most notably "Music and Lyrics" and "Two Weeks Notice."  Unfortunately, things have gone downhill since "Did You Hear About The Morgans?"  And now this.

Basically this is your typical "fish out of water" story where our hero learns from those he originally disdains and they learn from him (Yawn), and I guess the theme here could be: Sometimes our "rewrite" isn't exactly as we would write it for ourselves but at least we get a second chance.  If Hugh continues to sleepwalk through his films, he might not get another one.

This must have gone directly to DVD because I don't remember it in the theatres at all.  Good thing, because if I had spent real money on this I would have been even more disappointed.

Rosy the Reviewer says...for a movie about writing a brilliant screenplay, too bad this wasn't one.

 
 
 
 
***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***
 
 
 
268 to go!
 
Have YOU seen this one?





Taste of Cherry (1997)
 

An Iranian man drives around Tehran looking for someone to bury him under a cherry tree after he kills himself.

Why it's a Must See:  [Director] Kiarostami] is a master at filming landscapes and building parable-like narratives whose missing pieces solicit the viewer's active imagination.  This even extends to the film's surprisingly cheerful, self-referential coda: profound isolation radiates with wonder and euphoria."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
 
Despite the fact that I know you all respect me as a serious film-goer and though I can appreciate the originality of the story and the artistry, there are four things that can mar my enjoyment of a film:  No women, bleak desert locations, long monotonous periods of time where nothing happens and non-stop talking. Unfortunately, this film had all four and translates to me as boring. Maybe I am not such a serious film-goer after all, but despite the "art" part of a film, in my mind, it must also be an enjoyable movie experience.
This wasn't.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...I didn't get it and not really sure it's a movie I must see before I die.
 
 
 

***Noteworthy Television***





Sinatra: All or Nothing at All

(Showing on HBO through mid-April)


The life and career of "Old Blue Eyes."
 
Alex Gibney, who brought to the screen "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," turns his lens on Frank Sinatra, the "Poet Laureate of Loneliness" and shows what a brilliant documentarian he is. 
 
This two-part HBO series begins in 1971 with Sinatra's first "retirement" concert.  Sinatra chose the songs for his swansong to illustrate his life and Gibney uses those songs as a jumping off point through this series to focus on aspects of Sinatra's life.  He backtracks to Sinatra's early years, his strong-willed midwife mother, his desire to be the next Bing Crosby, his early marriage to Nancy, his obsession with Ava Gardner, his so-called Mob connections, his views on race and women, his women, his acting career, the kidnapping of his son, what he did to elect President Kennedy and Kennedy's subsequent snub, Sinatra's marriage to Mia Farrow and the denouement of. his career  It's all here and I dare you not to be moved.
 
Sinatra would have been 100 this year so there are few who remember the phenomenon that he was.  Hysterical "bobby soxers" screaming for Sinatra predated the hysteria that Presley and the Beatles unleashed.
 
Sinatra exuded the cool that the TV series "Mad Men" has exploited but he also wasn't able to change with the times.  Women were "dolls," smoking and hanging with the Mob were cool and rock and roll mystified him.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...Sinatra never wrote an autobiography so this serves us well as a full homage to the legend that was Sinatra and Gibney does him proud.

 

***Book of the Week***



Audrey and Bill: A Romanic Biography of Audrey Hepburn & William Holden by Edward Z. Epstein (2015)
 


Reveals the love affair between Audrey Hepburn and William Holden during the filming of the movie "Sabrina."

Audrey Hepburn, with her elegant gamine looks, has remained a cultural and fashion icon despite the fact she passed away 22 years ago.  Holden, possibly not as well-known today, was known for his American manliness.  Both were Oscar winners and when they met on the set of the movie "Sabrina," a love affair ensued, despite the fact that Holden was married.

However, when the much younger Hepburn learned that Holden could not have more children, she broke off the affair and despite affection from afar, they were never really together again.

So the title of this book is a bit of a misnomer. However, it is a well-written dual biography of two of Hollywood's greats.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite the fact the title is a bit misleading, this is a good run-down on the lives of two popular actors from The Golden Age of Hollywood and who should not be forgotten.


Thanks for Reading!
 



That's it for this week.



See you Tuesday for

"Anglophilia"
(and no, it's not a disease. 
Well, maybe it kind of is. 
Check it out on Tuesday to see what you think)

 


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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, April 7, 2015

The Good and Bad News About Aging: How To Advocate For a Happy Old Age (and it's never too early to start)!

I am going to deviate a bit this week from my cheeky pop culture and lifestyle observations and talk about something more serious.

I was recently invited to attend a White House Conference on Aging Forum here in Seattle (sponsored in part by the AARP), where I listened to Federal and local politicians and others talk about what needs to be done to address the needs of the increasing aging population ("The Age Wave"), and then, in small groups, I was given an opportunity to also weigh in.

The Federal priorities regarding aging that were discussed at the White House Conference on Aging Forum are Healthy Aging, Long-term Support and Services, Retirement Security and Elder Justice.

What I came away with was...that when it comes to aging,

there is some good news and some bad news.


The good news is we get old.  

Which is a good thing when you think of the alternative.  We are living longer than those before us.

However, the bad news...

Bette Davis was right.  "Old age ain't no place for sissies."



With a longer life comes chronic illness (you live long enough, you are bound to get something), Alzheimer's, financial issues, we don't die as fast and easy (we can be kept alive longer, sometimes to our and our loved ones' detriment), etc.

But despite that, if we are lucky, we will all get old, even those of you reading this now who might be under 40. 

And it's never too early to start planning for how you want to spend the last years of your life.

I was invited to the White House Conference on Aging Forum, because I am currently a member of our local Council on Aging.  When I retired I wanted to do something meaningful with my time, and issues of aging are of interest to me, not just because I am an old lady, but because of what happened to my mother.



My mother outlived my father by 8 years.  For some strange reason she thought she would die first and because of that, she didn't plan to be on her own.  However, despite the fact that her children were flung far and wide around the country, she had relatives and friends because she lived in the town she grew up in, and she was physically active, engaged and well until she turned 89.  But then she had a stroke that didn't affect her physically, but threw her into a haze of dementia that belied her living on her own any longer.  Because there were no affordable services in place to allow her to stay in her own home, she was forced to become indigent to pay for nursing home care and the last three years of her life were not pretty.

My mother was not alone in this.  Women are in a particularly precarious situation when it comes to aging.  Women who leave the workforce to care for children lose $650,000 in earnings over their lifetime and still only make 78 cents to the dollar that men make when they are working outside the home. That wage gap leads to a Social Security gap.  Add to that the fact that women usually live longer than men, and you can see why one in ten older women live in poverty.

So because of my mother and my not wanting to end up as she did, "Aging in Place" is an issue I am very passionate about.  If there had been services available for her to stay in her own home for those last three years of her life, she would have been able to die with the dignity she deserved.

But there are also other issues of concern:  end of life issues, Social Security, Alzheimer's Disease, lack of savings for long term care, elder abuse and the home care workforce needs.

End of Life Issues

We don't like to think about dying but the best gift we can give our loved ones is letting them know how we want them to handle things if we can't handle them ourselves.

Social Security

There has been an organized campaign to discredit Social Security by its opponents.  So much so that young people actually think it won't be around when they need it.  That is not true, but if people think something is not relevant to them, they are not likely to support it, right?  So our young people need to be educated about it so they will support it.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Disease is the only disease that cannot be cured or slowed.  If we live long enough, that could be in our future.  Continued research is a must.

Long-term Care

People should not have to use up all of their resources in order to be eligible for nursing home care or other services.  They should be able to "age in place" in their own homes. Home health care workers need to be trained, paid well and given benefits.  Being a home health care worker has a bad reputation and it needs to be made a "good job" so home health care will be available to all.

Elder Abuse

Elders, especially those who are disabled or have had setbacks, need to be protected against scams and fraud, often from their own family members.


So whether you are now 65 or 25, those are the issues we will all face and whether you are 65 or 25 it's never too late or too early to get involved to decide how you want to spend the last years of your life.

But things don't happen on their own. 

If you want something to happen, you must advocate.


This year marks...


These laws are in place to give older Americans a better life as they age.  But they are constantly under attack. If you want a happy old age, you need to protect these important laws and advocate for more long term care and services for our older population, a population that YOU will be a part of one day.

Advocacy is not rocket science.  It's just a matter of picking up the phone, writing an email, introducing yourself to your legislators.  They are there to work for YOU, so be sure they know what you want.

Thanks to a workshop I took last year from Nancy Amidei, a renowned local advocate and author of the book "So You Want to Make a Difference," I learned some tips (and added some of my own) that can take the mystery out of advocacy and that everyone can do: 


Five Easy Steps to Turn You Into an Outstanding Advocate!

 

1.  Sign up with an advocacy group that tracks issues you care about and then do what they ask e.g. write letters or emails in support of an issue, show up at a meeting, etc.

2.  Know who your legislators are and introduce yourself to them when they are at home and not in session (when they are not in session they can focus on you).
 
You can find your U.S. Senators and Representatives here  

For local legislators and to find what legislative district you are in in Washington State go here, and for everyone else, just Google "what legislative district am I in" and add your State.

Also call your County Administrative offices and find out who the County Administrator is and the County Council members.  Do the same for your city - who is the Mayor and who are your city Council members?

Better yet, call the library. 



They can do all of that for you.  You want to find out who your U.S. Representative for your U.S. legislative district is, who your two U.S. Senators are, and your State Senator and Representative for your district as well as your local legislators.  Get their email addresses if you are comfortable with email or their office addresses if you want to write a letter.  Also their phone numbers so you can call them.

When you introduce yourself by phone or in person, say your name, what district you are in and what group you might belong to.  Strength in numbers.

If you want some guidance on writing an advocacy letter, check this out. Be sure to include your legislative district so your legislator knows you are his or her constituent.

Find out what committees your State and U.S. legislators are on
Bills go to committees and that is where they either move forward or are quashed.  Does your representatives sit on a committee that affects an issue you care about?  If so, yay!

3.  Advocacy is only a phone call away. 
Call your local Legislative Hotline. You can Google this for your State or again, call your library for the number.

They track issues and will make sure your legislator gets the message. They can also help you understand the legislative process.

4.  Advertise your issue at every opportunity. 

Have a little 30-60 second "elevator speech" in your head and when you meet with your legislator share it. I can tell my mother's story in 30 seconds.  But don't stop there, share it standing in line at the movie theatre, at the grocery store and with your friends while playing cards.



5.  Know who to ask and who has the power to make a difference with your issue.

Don't ask the Mayor to protect Social Security and don't ask your State Senator to help you with the barking dog next door.


So there you have it.  It's that easy to get involved and make a difference. 

However, I don't want to minimize the efforts of advocates.  There is much more you can do, too, but if you just did these things - if you just took five minutes to email, call or write your legislator - you will make a huge difference.  You can certainly spare five minutes to make a difference, can't you?

 
But lest you think it's all bad news about  getting old.  It's not.

With age comes wisdom, deep expertise, a better ability to solve conflicts and a desire and chance to make a difference. 

One last takeaway from the White House Conference on Aging: 

Regarding health, "Sitting is the new smoking."

 


So get up off that couch and use your wisdom, expertise and conflict resolution skills to make a difference for your golden years and for those who come after you!


Thanks for Reading!
 

See you Friday
 
for my review of the new movie
 
"Woman in Gold"
 
and
 
The Week in Reviews
 
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 
I Die Project."

 

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer








Friday, April 3, 2015

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and DVDs  "Song One" and "Horrible Bosses 2."  I also alert you to a noteworthy bit of television:  "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief." The Book of the Week is  "How To Cook Everything Fast" by Mark Bittman.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project:" "Three Kings"]
 

Kingsman: The Secret Service


A secret gentleman spy organization recruits a young street kid as they wage war against a diabolical villain who has a misguided solution to global warming.
 
The film begins with a botched raid in the Middle East in 1997 where a rookie ("Lancelot") within The Kingsman organization, a private spy group based on The Knights of the Round Table and noted for their bespoke suits (they operate out of a tailor's shop on Savile Row) and ingenious weaponry, sacrifices himself to save his colleagues.  Colin Firth is Harry Hart AKA Galahad who must tell "Lancelot's" wife, Michelle (Samantha Womack) and her young son Gary AKA as "Eggsy" (Taron Egerton) that her husband is dead.  He feels guilty about losing "Lancelot" and gives her a bravery medal telling her if she ever needs anything to call the number on the back of the medal. 
 
Fast forward 17 years. 

"Eggsy" is now unemployed, a delinquent, and living with his mother and her abusive boyfriend.  He is arrested for stealing a car and decides to take Harry up on his offer, hoping he will get him out of jail.  However, it just so happens that The Kingsman need a new "Lancelot ("Lancelot's" don't do too well.  Yet another one bit the dust) and Harry takes "Eggsy" under his wing, where he joins some other young recruits to try to snag the position.  Harry introduces "Eggsy" to the leader of the group, Arthur (Michael Caine) and Harry's trusted side-kick Merlin (Mark Strong).
 
Meanwhile, billionaire philanthropist Richmond Valentine (a lisping Samuel L. Jackson) is meeting with the world's heads of states, some of whom mysteriously go missing.  He also announces that he plans to give a free SIM card and free Internet and cellular service to everyone in the world.  Mmmm, what is it they say about "too good to be true?"  Also "you get what you pay for" might also apply here.
 
Colin Firth is always wonderful.  I don't think I can ever give him a bad review, not since his Mr. Darcy, anyway, and I don't need to, because he is perfect for the role of Harry Hart, a gentleman spy.  And young Taron, in his first big role, is likable and believable. But Samuel L. Jackson is a stand-out. He's not your usual villain.  He has a hilarious lisp and an aversion to blood so his side-kick, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), with her razor-sharp bionic legs does his dirty work.  Mark Hamill plays a kidnapped professor and is almost unrecognizable.  I think it's an inside joke.
 
Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn and directed by Vaughn, "Kingsman" is a comedy-thriller based on the Mark Millar comic book series "Secret Service."  They poke fun at past James Bond films and throw in all kinds of literary and pop culture references from "My Fair Lady"  to McDonald's  It's witty, exciting, original, full of surprises and just plain fun.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...Highly recommended, especially if you loved the original James Bond films.  You will love this R-rated version.
 
 

***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
 
 
 
Song One (2014)
 
 
A young woman whose brother is in a coma seeks out his favorite musician in hopes his music will awaken him.
 
Anne Hathaway stars as Franny.  She is working on her anthropology Ph.d in Morrocco studying nomadic tribes when she receives a call from her mother (Mary Steenburgen).  Franny's busker brother (Ben Rosenfield) has been hit by a car and lies in a coma.  She rushes home to his bedside, feeling guilty because they had not spoken since he had left school to pursue music and she had not approved.  But hoping that sounds and music will bring him out of his coma, Franny wanders around New York City recording buskers in action and the sounds of New York, much as an anthropologist would, to play for him.  
 
In going through her brother's things, Franny discovers that he had been sending his songs to James Forrester (Johnny Flynn, who in real life really is a musician), a well-known singer/songwriter.  Unbelievably, she also finds a ticket to one of Forrester's concerts and while there, gets up the courage to go to the merch table and introduce herself to him.  Again, after that encounter, unbelievably, Forrester shows up at her brother's hospital room. 
 
Franny and James meet again in a club where he shares with her that he has been having trouble writing and tells her he must leave soon to do some recording.
 
You can see where this is going from a mile away, but there is a sweetness about this film and lots of indie music, though none of it particularly memorable.
 
Flynn's acting is a bit wooden, but he displays a vulnerability and sensitivity and there is chemistry between Hathaway and him.  Steenbergen is particularly good as Franny's flibbertijibbet mother, but I was distracted by the fact that it appears she has succumbed to that face lift frenzy actresses of a certain age fall victim to - those lines, almost like a clown smile, that form at the corners of the mouth are tell-tale signs.  She would have looked better if she had just let age happen.
 
Written and directed by Kate Barker-Froyland, this film is a poetic little love song to people who yearn to be musicians and who will sing in subways to do it if they have to.  But this is Anne's movie and she even gets to sing a bit, though you would think with her Oscar from "Les Miserables," there would be more of that here.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet story that will remind you of "Once."
 
 
Now from the sweet to the ridiculous...
 
 
 
Dale (Charlie Day), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Nick (Jason Bateman) return, this time to start their own business.  But a series of events leads them to a hair-brained kidnapping scheme.

Our hapless trio have invented "The Shower Buddy," a shower head that also delivers shampoo and conditioner.  Along comes rich investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son, Rex (Chris Pine) who cheat our moronic heroes out of their invention.  So what does one do when one is cheated?  One, or should I say three, plot revenge. 

If you remember the first film (and it would help if you did), our guys planned to kill their mean bosses.  So they can't do that again here.  So they decide to kidnap Rex and hold him for ransom.

Jennifer Anniston is back as the dentist, Dr. Julia Harris, an insatiable sex addict, who still wants to seduce Dale. This time around she is running a sex addict support group which works well for her to find fresh blood. Some of the raunchiest stuff in this movie comes out of her mouth, none of which can be repeated here.  Kevin Spacey returns for a cameo and manages to chew the scenery and Jamie Foxx is also back as "Motherfucker" Jones, an ex-con they consulted in the first film.

If there are any redeeming features of this film (and there really aren't), Chris Pine, despite his unbelievable handsomeness, is quite funny as the jerk Rex who also has it out for his Dad and does some double-crossing.  And Jennifer Anniston is funny, too, except there is just not enough of her.
 
Speaking of the first film, except for possibly Dale, these buddies don't really resemble the characters they played before.  Kurt is a hopeless womanizer and Nick seems to have lost any sense he displayed the first time around. And also remembering the first film, I think it was kind of funny. 

Unfortunately, this one is not funny at all.  Just gross bathroom humor and humor that is in really, really bad taste. None of it funny. When the outtakes at the end while the credits are rolling are the funniest things about a movie, you have a problem. 

Oh, there was actually one funny bit that made me laugh.  When asked "What do you know about executing a kidnapping? the reply was "Zip ties."  It was funny at the time.  Maybe you had to be there.  But don't.
 
How can a film with Jason Bateman, Christoph Waltz, Kevin Spacy, Jennifer Anniston, Jamie Foxx and Chris Pine suck so badly?  I don't know, but it does.

After suffering through another really unfunny sequel, "Dumb and Dumber To," I am starting to fear for the state of comedies these days.  As for sequels, I am always wary of those.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Forget the "Bosses" part.  This was just plain horrible.

 

***Noteworthy Television***


Going Clear (2015)


Alex Gibney's HBO documentary based on Lawrence Wright's book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief (2013)."

The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and received praise for its brief history of Scientology and founder L. Ron Hubbard combined with interviews by ex-members (as notable as director Paul Haggis, who won an Oscar for "Crash") who shed light upon abuse and exploitation within the church.  How the church woos and keeps Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta is also explored.  Needless to say, the Church of Scientology was not happy about this documentary. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a riveting and eye-opening look at the Church of Scientology.  Church or cult?  You decide.
(Playing on HBO through April 14)

 

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



269 To Go!
 
Have YOU seen this one?



Three Kings (1999)



This film tells the tale of the first Gulf War (1991) through the eyes of three American soldiers who begin the war as naïve yahoos and come out exposed to the cruelty, the innocent lives lost and the corruption that is war.

Why it's a Must See:  [This] is a millennium-capping antiwar film that employed what was then state-of-the-art tools (fast edits, dizzying camera work, color schemes that pop off the screen) and combined them with a helping of old-fashioned M*A*S*H-style politics...It's heady, even dense, stuff made accessible and urgent through a snappy script, relentlessly energetic pacing, dassling visuals, and taut acting...it's part war story, part heist thriller, and wholly an antiwar creed..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

David O. Russell ("American Hustle") wrote the script and it is original and fast-paced. I found it frenetic and chaotic.  And with that, since I am not a huge George Clooney fan nor do I like war films, it was bound to fail for me.   Hubby liked it.  Maybe it's a guy thing.

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite the message, I didn't need to see this one before I died.  Didn't like it.



***Book of the Week***



How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman (2014)



Prolific columnist and write Bittman has produced a compendium of 2000 main dish recipes that you can prepare in a hurry.

What makes this cookbook stand out from others are the time management tips Bittman offers.  For example, instead of having to refer back to the list of ingredients all of the time, he includes the measurements again in the instructions.  Likewise, he lists in blue text prep you can do while other things are cooking.

Bittman takes classic recipes such as Spaghetti and Meatballs and shows you how to speed up the process by "dropping" the meatballs rather than rolling and shaping and also includes many ethnic treats such as "Caramel Stir-fried Beef with Green Beans" and "Warm Tabbouleh with Mussels."

Rosy the Reviewer says...sure to be a kitchen classic.

 
Thanks for Reading!


That's it for this week.


See you Tuesday for

"The Good and Bad News About Aging:

How To Advocate

For a Happy Old Age"


 


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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.