Friday, August 7, 2015

"Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" and DVDs "Men, Women and Children" and "The Drop." The Book of the Week is "What Comes Next and How to Like It" by Abigail Thomas.  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the Russian classic "The Cranes are Flying" and review the new Edmonds restaurant "Salt & Iron"]


Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is back.  This time he needs to eradicate The Syndicate, a rogue organization that wants to eradicate the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) and cause worldwide chaos.  Hunt has to get them before they get him.
It's actually not just The Syndicate that wants to get rid of the IMF. The head of the CIA, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), also wants to get rid of it, feeling it has gotten out of control, so the IMF is under attack on two different fronts. 
Ethan's boss at the IMF, Brandt (Jeremy Renner), calls Ethan in but Ethan needs to find Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) who he suspects is running The Syndicate.  He also wants to know which side beautiful Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is on.  So he is disavowed by the U.S. government and is on the run, while at the same time trying to find out what evil plan The Syndicate is going to pull off next.
Simon Pegg, star of his Three Flavours Cornette Trilogy ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz" and "The World's End") provides comic relief as Benji, Ethan's sidekick who provides behind the scenes back-up for Ethan, much as Melissa McCarthy did for Jude Law in the recent summer blockbuster, "Spy." Ving Rhames rounds out the IMF team.
The plot is really quite simple which I was glad of.  I can't tell you how many times I watch spy movies and the plots are so intricate I don't have a clue what's going on.  Here it's just find the head of The Syndicate before he does his dastardly deeds with a few red herrings thrown in along the way.
Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, this is a thrilling ride.
The opening scene with Ethan hanging from the outside of a jet as it takes off is heart pounding.
There is also a spectacular "Phantom of the Opera" segment in the Vienna Opera House while "Turandot" is being presented.  You know, the opera with "Nessum Dorma" that we all first heard in "The Killing Fields?"  Ethan fights the bad guy up in the flies above the stage with that fantastic music playing in the background. That theme was also used during the romantic scenes, what few there actually were between Ethan and Ilsa.  Delicious.
Another thrilling segment features motorcycles racing through the streets and surrounding area of Casablanca.  People getting rammed, motorcycles falling all over the place.  Great stuff.
It's one amazing stunt after another with that wonderful "Mission Impossible" theme music (Lalo Schifrin).
Yes, it's far-fetched at times, but Ethan Hunt is that kind of operative.  Master of disguise, knows what is going to happen before the bad guy does, and can get out of impossible situations.  That's why it's called Mission Impossible. Though I never understand why the bad guys always want to capture him, tie him up, and torture him, giving him an opportunity to escape.  Why don't they just shoot him and be done with it?  I felt the same way about James Bond. That, of course, is their undoing.  Speaking of James Bond, the thrills mixed with the fun here reminded me of the original James Bond films before they got so dark.
My only criticism was that the dialogue was sometimes clichéd and melodramatic but that's only a minor thing. We all know this isn't real life, right?
The cast is first-rate and Rebecca Ferguson (Queen Elizabeth in "The White Queen") is a stand-out.  She is beautiful and a badass and her Ilsa is a perfect foil for Ethan.
Now I want to say a few words about Tom Cruise.  I know there are many Tom Cruise haters out there. No matter how good the film, many can't help but take cheap shots that he is really very short and others have not forgiven him for Scientology so it seems more people don't like him than do. I have been a long-time fan of Tommy, ever since I spotted his handsomeness in "Taps" way back in 1981.  I don't care that he is short.  He can't help that.  As for the Scientology thing, we can only hope he sees the light.  A different one.  But he is a good actor and he is very good at the action film. Tom is 53 and still doing all of his own stunts.  Amazing.  Another reason I think he is hot!
Rosy the Reviewer action film at the top of its game. This is the best "Mission Impossible" yet.  Thrilling and lots of fun!  See it in IMAX!

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
Emma Thompson narrates this indictment of technology that examines how the Internet affects teens and their parents.
An all-star cast has come together to make a statement about how the Internet has affected how we communicate.
We have a girl addicted to anorexia sites, a young guy addicted to porn, a mother who is obsessed about her daughter being victimized on the Internet so is constantly "cleaning up" her phone and computer, a football player who wants to quit football so he can concentrate on playing video games, a mother who has left her family and keeps in touch via Facebook and a husband and wife playing Words with Friends while they are in bed together instead of talking or having sex.
Don (Adam Sandler) and Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) Truby are a married couple who on the outside seem to be happy, but they are living separate lives. Don likes to masturbate to porn on his computer but when his computer goes down he uses his son's computer, only to discover his son's porn activity.  He is horrified.  It's one thing that he likes to do it, but not his son!  Don is also not happily married.  He signs up for an escort service.  He doesn't realize that his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) is also unhappy and has signed up on the Ashley Madison website.
Tim (Ansel Elgort, who wowed in "The Fault in Our Stars") is a high school football star who no longer wants to play football.  He wants to spend his time playing computer games. As far as his teammates are concerned, that is heresy.  But Tim doesn't care. He cares more about his online gaming friends than his teammates and is mourning his mother leaving his Dad.  He is in the midst of teenage nihilism, quoting Carl Sagan who said we are just all molecules and thinking that we are somehow important in this vast cosmos we inhabit is silly.
Patricia (Jennifer Garner) is terrified that her daughter Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) will be victimized on the Internet so is constantly monitoring Brandy's every move.  She is right about the potential evils of the Internet but she is such a pain in the ass about it that she has ruined her relationship with her daughter and even her friends.  The irony is that she spends more time on the computer checking her daughter's activities than communicating with her daughter. If she would just talk to her daughter she would find out more.
And that's the point here.
Everyone is communicating on their phones and devices but not with each other.
Jason Reitman has written and directed another thoughtful film ("Juno," "Up in the Air").  This time he uses the Internet and social media as a metaphor for our inability to share our innermost thoughts and feelings with living, breathing human beings sitting right next to us. Everyone wants to make a connection but they don't know how. No one knows what their kids are doing and the adults and married people don't know what each other is up to either. Maybe if they got off their computers and starting talking to each other they might find out.
The adults in this film are using the Internet to find what they've lost and the kids are using it to find what they have not yet had.  The Internet was supposed to make communication easier and bring us all closer together, but it has in fact driven us all further apart. It's friends in real life vs. our online friends.
Usually when Adam Sandler is in a film these days, it means the film is going to be terrible.  But not this time.  He's only IN this one, he isn't producing it, thank god.  It's not an Adam Sandler film.  Whew! Adam Sandler is actually a good actor and puts in a toned down and believable performance here. 
Garner is good as the uptight mother obsessed with her daughter's Internet activity and Judy Greer, a much underrated actress, is wonderful as the mother who is trying to get her daughter into show business. Likewise, DeWitt is another actress who consistently puts in great performances, but is still not well-known.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Now get off your computer and see this film!


   The Drop (2014)

 An unassuming bartender finds himself at the center of a robbery gone bad.

Tom Hardy is Bob Saginowski, a bartender at Cousin Marv's in Brooklyn.  Cousin Marv (James Gandolfini in his last film) runs the bar and is actually Bob's cousin, but the bar is owned by Chechen hoods, the kind of guys you don't want to cross. Cousin Marv's is a "drop" bar in that illegal money is dropped there to be laundered.  Marv and Tom nightly retrieve the envelopes of cash that are dropped there, count the money and place it in a safe.  They have been doing this for so long it's business as usual. 

Bob is a good-hearted Catholic boy.  We know this because he finds a puppy in a garbage can and rescues him.  That's how he meets Nadia (Naomi Rapace, the original "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"). The garbage can is in front of her house and she agrees to babysit the dog for awhile and a relationship develops between them.  

When the bar is robbed, the Chechen gang is not happy and they want their money back, which is a real problem for Marv and Bob. As Marv puts it, if we could find the money we would know who robbed the bar which would mean we were in on it which means we are dead.

Tom Hardy is amazing here.  From "Locke" to Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises" to Max in "Mad Max: Fury Road" to this, we see his range.  He is an English actor, but from the accent he effectively employs here, you would never know it. His acting range is amazing and in every role, he just gets more and more amazing.

I didn't think I would like this movie but it is an absolutely riveting movie experience.

From the script by Dennis Lehane (based on his own story "Animal Rescue")  to the direction by Michael R. Roskam to the wonderful acting, this is a taut crime drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a wonderful thriller made all the more thrilling by Tom Hardy's mesmerizing performance.

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

298 To Go!
Young lovers are separated by the W.W. II German invasion of Russia.
Boris (Aleksey Batalov) and Veronika (Tatyana Samoylova) are in love but when the Germans invade Russia in 1941, Boris enlists without telling Veronika.  She is angry with him but then unsuccessfully tries to find him to say goodbye. No one hears from Boris and they assume he is dead.  

As the bombing begins, Veronika takes shelter in the subway but her parents stay behind at their apartment.  When she returns, the apartment has been bombed and her parents are dead.  Boris' family invites her to stay with them and Boris' cousin Mark who has avoided going to war and also lives there.  Mark pursues Veronika and seduces, read that rapes, her. They are shamed into marrying and Boris' family does not forgive her for betraying Boris.  Women always get the blame!  Mark is a philanderer and they are not happy together.  Things look bleak for Veronika and she contemplates taking her own life until she rescues a little orphan boy, also named Boris, thus giving her something to live for as she holds out hope that Boris will return. 
Why it's a Must See:  "In the last years of Stalin and Stalinism, Soviet cinema almost vanished. The continuing economic devastation wrought by World War II, as well as the pervasive fear that defined everyday alife, caused the once-thriving Soviet studios to practically close shop.  after Stalin's death in 1953, a reborn Soviet cinema slowly began to emerge, and the film that came to symbolize that rebirth was Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes Are Flying...It also became the first Cold War-era Soviet film to receive wide distribution (by Warner) in the United States."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die 

Samoylova looked like a 1950's Audrey Tautou, her face beautiful and expressive.  This was her first role and she shot to fame, but the Russian government blocked her from starring anywhere outside of the Soviet Union. Ten years later she starred in a Russian production of "Anna Karenina (1967)."  In 1993 she was deemed "The People's Actress of Russia."

Kalatozov worked in Hollywood on a diplomatic assignment and the Hollywood influences are apparent here with the juicy close-ups and production values. This film won the Palme d'Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the only Russian film to ever win that high honor. 

Kalatozov collaborated with cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky who used a hand-held camera well before this became a popular cinematic device.  There is a sequence where Veronika, failing to say goodbye to Boris as he leaves for the front, rushes to find him.  The camera follows her from her looking out of the bus window to getting off and weaving through the crowd and eventually panning up to see her crossing between some tanks rolling down the street.  A cinematic moment before its time.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a classic of Russian cinema that deserves to be seen.
(b & w, In Russian with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***


A series of essays and musings about aging, family, the writing process, friendship and coping with life's disasters, big and small.

Thomas, whose book "A Three Dog Life," was named one of the best books of 2006 by the L.A. Times and the Washington Post, is now in her 70's and shares the loss of her husband, her family, her daughter's breast cancer, how she is spending her retirement (painting on glass in addition to writing), and yes, stories about her dogs.

I call these musings because some of the "essays" are only a few sentences long.  But she draws you in as she copes with not smoking, drinking too much, failure, being forgetful, and that final great unknown:  death.

There is some wisdom here:

"I hate chronological order...The thought that this happened and then this happened and then this and this and this, the relentless march of event and emotion tied together simply because day follows day and turns into week following week becoming months and years reinforces the fact that the only logical ending for chronological order is death."

"Love can accommodate all sorts of misshapen objects: a door held open for a city dog who runs into the woods; fences down; some role you didn't ask for, didn't want.  Love allows for betrayal and loss and dread. Love is roomy.  Love can change its shape, be known by different names.  Love is elastic.
And the dog comes back."

And humor:

"What are these awful days?...I can't rouse myself longer than half an hour before I again climb the stairs with the dogs for another long nap...But if this lasts too long, Jennifer alerts Catherine and Catherine calls Chuck, and someone comes over to see if I'm OK. 'Your daughters are worried about you,' says Chuck this morning. "I came to see if you were dead."

Speaking of Chuck, the major part of this book centers around the long friendship Thomas has with a man ten years her junior. I have always said men and women cannot be friends.  They like to say they are friends, but I would bet you a million bucks that one or both would jump the other if the green light was given.  I believe this because I have seen it happen time and time again, and I also believe that people - men and women and even those of the same sex - are attracted to each other in some visceral way.  We are friends with certain people because we are attracted to them.  That said, she never did get it on with this guy per se, but he got it on with her DAUGHTER!  Now what does that tell you?

Rosy the Reviewer says...everyone in mid-life will be able to relate.

***Restaurant of the Week***

Salt & Iron


From the slick long bar to the great food to the friendly staff, this newish restaurant in Edmonds should be part of your foodie repertoire. 
The sign of a good restaurant is a small, manageable menu so that attention can be given to each item.  And that's the way it is here.  Just the right amount of choices for variation, but not so much choice you feel like you are at Denny's.
Favorites so far are the grilled corn, the seafood chowder and the steak salad, but I look forward to trying all of it.
At Happy Hour, the prices are lower but it's still many of the same food choices as the regular menu.  But get there early as the bar fills up quickly starting at 4pm.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a fine dining destination in Edmonds to rival Seattle restaurants.

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Confessions of a Baby Boomer Consignment Queen:

Tips for Making Money on those Clothes
You Don't Wear Because
You are Retired, Too Fat or Too Old


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

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). 



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, August 4, 2015

Why Have a Child?

Since I have already taken on the task of answering the questions "Why Have a Husband?" and "Why Have a Wife?" I thought I should also tackle that other hot potato, "Why Have a Child?"

(Now it's time for the little ones to leave the room so that their little ears will not hear something they can't handle).

When you have a child, you will discover new interests, activities and insights into yourself that you never knew existed.

You will realize that you thrive on drama!

When you have a child...

You will attend more sporting events than you ever thought possible, some at 8am on a Saturday morning with the winds from Hell, er, cold winds blasting sand and dirt over the bleachers while five year olds try to hit T-balls.  You will encounter strange sights on the ball field, such as a bored outfielder throwing his glove up in the air and catching it over and over while waiting for a ball to come his way.  It doesn't.

You will realize sleep is over-rated.

You and your significant other will come to the conclusion that neither of you ever really liked talking about books, films, current affairs or feelings.  You will discover that talking about whose turn it is to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, which pre-school in the area is the best and what baby's diaper rash looks like today are far more interesting topics.

You will enjoy never-before-heard piano variations of Mozart and Bach played to the sound of a metronome.

You will have new food experiences and discover that Kraft macaroni and cheese and fish sticks are actually really good.  The foodie in you enjoys finding ways to take mac and cheese to new levels such as mixing in bacon or hot dogs.

Interesting fashion choices will enter your life.

You discover that Catherine Deneuve was right when she said that as you age you have to choose between your face or your ass.  Since the baby, you have chosen your face and you actually like carrying around that extra 20 pounds.

You will get to realize your dream of owning a mini-van instead of a Lamborghini.

"Fine!," "That's not fair!," and "So?" will be a regular part of family conversations.

You will reacquaint yourself with the classics of children's literature - over and over and over and over and over again.  "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Goodnight, Moon" will be committed to memory.

You realize that "Because I said so" is the only way to end a "discussion" with your teenager.

You will finally find a way to spend that $200,000 you have managed to save after sweating and slaving your whole life and that is burning a hole in your pocket.  Oh, right, let's spend it on college!  How fun!  Well, it was the dream.


You realize that

You will have some of the happiest and some of the saddest days of your life.


(I don't have any pictures of the sad times.  Why would I?)

Unless you count this, which was written to make all of us parents cry.

(from "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein)

But the main reason to have a child?

From the moment you first set eyes on your child, you will finally know how much you were loved by your own parents.

And if you are lucky you will get to experience the joys of grand parenting when your child, too, has a child. Or two.

You are part of the cycle
of love and life.

See you Friday

for my review of the new movie 
"Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation" 

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."

And I will even throw in a restaurant review.

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

"Mr. Holmes" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Mr. Holmes" and DVDs "Clouds of Sils Maria" and "5 Flights Up." The Book of the Week is "Model Woman."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Earrings of Madame de."  I also review the Seattle restaurant Stateside and Tony Bourdain's "Close to the Bone Tour"]

This week, films that grown-ups will enjoy.

Mr. Holmes

Three mysteries comprise this fictionalized biopic of the fictional Sherlock Holmes, starring the inimitable Sir Ian McKellan.

We know Sherlock Holmes is not a real person, but let's pretend that he did exist and now it's 1947 and he is 93.  And it wouldn't be a movie about Sherlock Holmes without a mystery, now would it?  Here we have three:  one about a suspicious husband, one about a man in Japan and one about bees.

As the movie begins, Sherlock is 93, definitely a curmudgeon, and living by the sea.  He retired from his detective work over 30 years ago and now he is tending his bees and falling into senility.  He can't remember things so he travels to Japan in search of the prickly ash, which has supposed regenerative properties that Holmes hopes will help restore his memory or at least stave off senility.  He has been in correspondence with a Mr. Umazaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Umazaki is going to help him find the coveted herb.

At home he has a housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and Holmes has taken a liking to her young son, Roger (the engaging Milo Parker).  Roger clearly looks up to Holmes asking him to "do it," "it" being Holmes' ability to deduce where someone has been just by looking at them.

Holmes is writing a book about his last case, lamenting the fact that it was Watson who wrote the books upon which the Sherlock character and his movies were based. He never really wore that deerstalker hat nor did he smoke a pipe (he prefers cigars). "Penny Dreadfuls" but with good writing, he says.  Now Holmes wants to tell his own story.  Roger is encouraging Holmes to finish the book, but poor Holmes can't remember all the details of the case anymore.

Holmes' last case was over 30 years ago and was the one that he couldn't solve and the reason why he retired.  It involved a husband whose wife had two miscarriages and had never gotten over them.  The husband wanted her to forget about them so he hired a woman to give her lessons on how to play a glass armonica, but when the husband heard his wife talking to her dead children, he cut off the lessons.  You see, the glass armonica is often associated with talking to the dead.  Later he suspected she was still taking lessons behind his back despite her and her teacher's protestations, so he hired Holmes to find out what was going on.

Through a series of flashbacks and interwoven stories, the mysteries unfold.  We find that Mr. Umazaki had ulterior motives for luring Holmes to Japan, we also learn why his last case has haunted Holmes for the last 30 years and did Holmes' bees really attack Roger?

Ian McKellan effortlessly and believably goes back and forth from 93 to 60 (when this film was made he was 76).  It is a wonder to behold someone at the top of his game, whether that person is a doctor, lawyer, carpenter or musician.  McKellan is at the top of his game as an actor and his portrayal here is a wonder indeed.  The nuances of his expressions, his attention to detail, his bits of business (actor talk for working with props), how he relates to the other actors, all finely tuned and on point.  Juliette Binoche is another actor at the height of her powers (see review below).

Laura Linney is fine as she usually is, though I have always thought she underplayed too much, ever since I first laid eyes on her in the PBS series "Tales of the City," all the way back in 1993.  But what marred her performance here was her lack of an English accent.  I couldn't tell if she was supposed to be American or trying out some form of a Welsh accent.  Whatever she was doing, it wasn't working.

Directed by Bill Condon (he also directed McKellan in "Gods and Monsters" for which Condon won an Oscar for Best Screenplay and McKellan was nominated for Best Actor) from the book "A Slight Trick of the Mind" by Mitch Cullen, this is lovely story of an aging icon starring an aging icon.  Condon makes the most of the lush Sussex countryside, and despite the many flashbacks and flash forwards, has made a Sherlock Holmes mystery that is comprehensible, unlike some.  But in general, I would imagine he gave McKellan free reign to do what he does best:  make us believe.

Rosy the Reviewer says...As far as I am concerned, whether McKellan is Gandolf or Holmes he can do no wrong.  I think the Academy will agree and reward him with a Best Actor nod.  You heard it here first, folks! 

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


A famous actress prepares to star in a revival of a play that made her a star 20 years before. But this time she is not asked to reprise her part as the ingénue but rather play the role of the older woman.

Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) starred in the play and film "Maloja Snake" by Wilhelm Melchior as Sigrid, a young lesbian woman who is seduced by Helena, an older woman, and who then breaks Helena's heart and drives her to suicide. This part made Maria a star at 20. As the films begins, it is 20 years since "Maloja Snake," and Maria is on a train headed to an awards ceremony with her young assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to accept an award for Melchior, who she adores, but who is a recluse, only to discover he has committed suicide.

At the ceremony, Maria is approached by a young director to do a revival of the play, but this time as the older woman, Helena, with a young out of control Lindsay Lohan type starlet, Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz), who heretofore has made her name in a superhero franchise, playing the part of Sigrid. Though Jo-Ann is a YouTube and TMZ darling for all of her out of control exploits, upon meeting her, Maria is struck by the young woman's story and desire to be a good actress, reminding her of her own young self and the passing of time.  Jo-Ann in turn looks up to Maria, could be jealous even, of her fame and the place she holds in the acting firmament.  Remind you of anything?  "All About Eve," maybe?

Maria reluctantly decides to do the play and also accepts Melchior's widow's offer to stay in their home in Sils Maria while she leaves to recover from her grief.  During the course of their stay at Sils Maria, Valentine helps Maria with her lines.  As they do the read-throughs of the play together, the lines between employer and assistant, friend and mentor and youth and aging are blurred.  It's a play within a play, a film within a film.

The film explores the nature of fame, its fixation on youth and what it's like to be an aging actress.

Binoche is wonderful here, as she always is.  We are talking an Academy Award role here. This is Stewart's biggest role since the Twilight series and she holds her own with Binoche, which ain't easy. 

There is an interesting scene where Binoche and Stewart take off their clothes to swim.  Binoche takes off all of her clothes (nice to see some pubic hair again these days), but Stewart remains in a bra and the biggest pair of granny pants I have ever seen. Juliette is 50-something and Kristen twenty something.  Must be a French thing.

Speaking of French thing, does Juliette Binoche ever age?  Must be that French women don't get fat thing.  Does Kristen Stewart ever smile?  Must be a bad teeth thing.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, this is an intelligent, thought-provoking film, despite the rather unsettling and obscure ending, that lets us into the inner world of acting and the theatre.  The cinematography is spectacular with the scenery of the Alps also starring.

The name of the play - "Maloja Snake" - comes from a cloud phenomenon in Sils Maria where the clouds roll through the mountains like a snake.  And the clouds also seem to symbolize the ending of the film, which is cloudy and murky at best.  I didn't get it, but that didn't harm my feelings about the film.  It is one of those rare films aimed at adults that gives you something to think about afterwards.

Rosy the Reviewer says...for the thinking adult with the acting, script and production values all first-rate.

5 Flights Up (2014)

Ruth and Alex Carver live in a Brooklyn apartment five flights up.  They are getting old and think that it's time to move after 40 years to a place with an elevator.  But letting go of all of those memories will not be easy.
Downsizing is a fact of life for retirees and people as they age and romantic comedies for us older folks are not, so it's refreshing to see a film aimed at the older crowd. 
One might argue a movie about a couple who have been married for 40 years is hardly a romcom, but Ruth (Diane Keaton) and Alex (Morgan Freeman) are about as romantic as you can get and this is a comedy.  Plus in a series of flashbacks we get a glimpse into the young couple who moved into the apartment 40 years ago - their romance and their ups and downs. So I rest my case.
Ruth and Alex try to sell their apartment with the help of their real estate agent niece played by Cynthia Nixon, though I question her expertise as this film is a poster child for why you should NOT let the owners attend their own open house.  The people viewing the house range from the disparaging husband, the annoying children and the clueless folks who sit and watch your TV and lie on your bed.  It's a reminder of how horrible people can be during an open house and as Alex says, "One of the 10 plagues.  First locusts, then house hunters." Alex is not keen to sell, can you tell? Alex is an artist and has painted in the same light-filled room for 40 years.

There is a side story about their dog Dorothy getting a ruptured disk and having to have a operation that costs $10,000. Alex is at first reluctant to pony up that kind of money but the dog represents Ruth's happiness (I hate to think what would happen in this household if any of our dogs need an operation that costs that much)!
There is a back story playing out on the TV about a supposed Muslim terrorist holding up traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, hence possibly hindering the sale, making house hunters to think that Brooklyn is too far away. This was a device we could have done without.
But not a lot happens in the film.  It is mostly a vehicle for Freeman and Keaton to do what they do best:  let that old charm ooze off the screen.  They do a good job of it and more than that, the apartment stands as a metaphor for Ruth's and Alex's marriage and is the device for the flashbacks that tell the story of a happy 40-year marriage despite the ups and downs.
Diane Keaton has come to represent an ingénue to us old folks.  I know several women of a certain age who say "Something's Gotta Give" is their favorite film.
However, when Keaton was hitting the talk show circuit promoting this film, I couldn't believe her silly mannerisms.  It was as if she was trying to relive Annie Hall but on steroids.  Not a pretty sight in a woman of 60+.  So I started watching this film with trepidation, thinking her character would be like that, but thank the lord, no such thing.  She toned it way down to play straight woman to Morgan Freeman, Ruth's artist husband, who decidedly does not want to sell.
One aside:  I couldn't help but think - a million for this big Brooklyn apartment with their own roof deck?  I think not.  More like 3 mil but that's a minor criticism of a film that probably won't appeal to anyone under the age of 40.
Rosy the Reviewer says...maybe it's a slight plot but it's an original and charming little story that we over 40's need.

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

299 To Go! 

The Earrings of Madame de (alternate title "Madame de") (1953)

Louise, Madame de (Danielle Darrieux), who is a wealthy aristocrat married to a general (Charles Boyer), needs to sell some jewelry to pay off some or her personal debts.  She sells a pair of earrings that her husband gave her as a wedding gift and they come to symbolize both power and love, and when returned, tragedy.
Louise is married to Andre, a wealthy general.  Both live in a privileged world in Vienna where all proprieties are kept despite the secrets behind the façade.  When Louise needs some money, she sells the earrings Andre gave her as a wedding present and tells Andre she has lost them.  However, when Andre discovers that Louise has sold the earrings, he discreetly buys them back and gives them to his mistress, Lola, who is leaving to go to Constantinople. 

When Louise meets and falls in love with Baron Donati (Vittorio De Sica), he gives her a pair of earrings he bought in Turkey.  Guess what?  They are the very earrings she sold.  However, not realizing that Andre already knows she sold the earrings, Louise pretends to find them, thus setting in motion a series of events that will lead to tragedy. The earrings now have special meaning to Louise because Donati gave them to her, but they also come to symbolize the power Andre has over Louise, the love she and Donati shared and ultimately, the tragic ending.

The dance sequences showing the passage of time as Louise and the Baron fall in love is brilliantly reminiscent of Orson Welles' deterioration of a marriage scene in "Citizen Kane."

Danielle Darrieux was a French actress whose career spanned 80 years - one of the longest in acting history - and she was one of France's most revered icons.  Charles Boyer was one of the great French "lovers," most famous for his line in "Algiers," "Come with me to the Casbah," which he actually never said in the film, only in the trailer.  However, it has become a phrase that hints at romance and seduction.  It's also especially good when said with a French accent!

Why it's a Must See: "Madame by turns brutal, compassionate, and moving.  [Director Max] Ophuls delineates his world with Bechtian precision, yet he never discounts the significance of stifled, individual yearnings.  Even as the characters writhe in their metaphoric prisons or shut traps on each other. their passions touch us:..."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Rosy the Reviewer says...This film stands up well to today's standards. These classic films need to be seen. It kills me to think that the current generation does not know who Charles Boyer, Vittorio De Sica or Danielle Darrieux were.
(In French with English subtitles, b & w)

***Book of the Week***

Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty by Robert Lacey (2015)

A biography of Eileen Ford, who transformed the world of modeling and invented the "Super Model."

Eileen and her husband, Jerry, created one of the most successful modeling agencies in the world and discovered Lauren Hutton, Suzy Parker, Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall, Naomi Campbell and others.

Robert Lacey has written extensively about England's Royal Family, Princess Grace and the Saudi kingdom.  Here he focuses his keen eye on the world of modeling and Eileen Ford's imprint on it in this literate biography.

Ford had high standards and wasn't afraid to speak her mind, telling skinny modeling hopefuls to lose 15 pounds and then come back.  But she was also a mother hen to her "girls," often letting them stay with her and her husband and warning off predator photographers, who if they displeased her would never again be able to work with her famous models.

She was great at picking talent, though she wasn't infallible.  She passed up a skinny little English girl and a tall Dutch girl who grew up in Germany.  Can you guess?  Right.  Those two girls blossomed into Twiggy and Verushka.

Lacey spent over four years researching his subject and has presented a fascinating inside look into the world of modeling and the famous models who inhabited that world.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Just in time for Cycle 22 of "America's Next Top Model" which starts August 5th.

***Restaurant of the Week***

Stateside Restaurant

If you like Vietnamese food with a French/Chinese twist, this restaurant is for you. 

The restaurant is unpretentious with clean lines and comfortable seating looking out onto the bustle of Capitol Hill.  The menu is not extensive but I like that.  When the menu is focused, you know you are going to get good food because the chef is not going to be trying to be a short order cook to satisfy all tastes. This isn't Denny's. 

On a recent visit, we ordered the grilled corn on the cob rolled in lime leaf and pork floss and it was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in a long time.  Of course, corn on the cob is "one of those things."  It's good with everything.

For my main course, I ordered the "Master Stock Crispy Chicken," chicken that is cooked in a stock that is perpetually simmering, giving the chicken a rich deep taste and the skin is indeed crispy.  Our wait person recommended that I order the ginger rice and the snap peas as accompaniments and she was right on.  Delicious melding of flavors.

Hubby ordered the Bun Chun Hanoi.  If you are not familiar with bun (pronounced boon), it's vermicelli rice noodles, often served cold.  Here the bun was accompanied by pork patties and belly in a caramel fish sauce.

Dessert was a fantastically delicious cinnamon parfait that we shared.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Chef/owner Eric Johnson lived overseas for over 10 years, working in Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong and now has returned "stateside," to enliven our taste buds. We are so glad he is here!

***At The Theatre***

Tony Bourdain and his Close to the Bone Tour
Who knew Tony Bourdain could do stand-up? 
He recently regaled audiences at The Paramount in Seattle with over an hour of hilarious anecdotes about food, celebrity chefs, travel and his life.

He particularly couldn't help but take a poke at The Food Network and its many stars: he skewered Guy Fieri, said Giada was a little bird-like creature with a big head (most all TV and movie stars are really short and have big heads, didn't you know that?) and made some allusions to Bobby Flay's alleged philandering ways. He wasn't happy with the Food Network ("A Cook's Tour") or the Travel Channel ("No Reservations" and "The Layover") and is happy to now be at CNN, where they let him do whatever he wants ("Parts Unknown"). So I guess he won't be doing any more "Layovers," which I loved. (When I met him for my picture I asked him about "The Layover," and he said he hated doing that show because they expected him to do too many in a short period of time).

While praising "Top Chef," because at least the contestants were professionals and he got to try some decent food, he alluded to that "other show I did," where some of the food was horrendous.  He must have been talking about "The Taste," which makes me wonder if that show is also no more.

Tony also had some fun with what a "foodie" nation we have become.  We used to go to the theatre and then out to eat to talk about what we had just seen at the theatre.  Now we go to the theatre and go out to eat to talk about where we are going to eat next!  Guilty as charged, Tony!

He also made fun of gluten intolerance, vegetarians and travelers who are picky about food. (I think the people in front of us in the audience were gluten intolerants, because as soon as he went there, they seemed to ristle)! Speaking about picky travelers, he made the point that he always ate his grandma's overcooked turkey and bottled gravy and even asked for seconds because, hey, he was at grandma's house.  Likewise, when a traveler is in another country - "grandma's house," if you will - you should likewise be polite and eat what is put in front of you.  He knew what was going to happen when he ate the pig rectum (he paid for it the next day), but he ate it anyway.
That's how Tony came off.  He came off as a nice guy who has seen it all and knows how to get along and not leave that old "Ugly American" footprint all over the world.
The show ended with a Q & A.
We were lucky to have VIP/Meet and Greet tickets so had our pictures taken with Tony afterwards and enjoyed some food and wine from our own local celebrity chef, Tom Douglas, who was also present along with Thierry Rautureau, who was also there (I had my picture taken with both of them, too, because I'm that kind of girl)!
When Hubby's turn in line finally came for his picture with Tony, he asked Tony "Tired of smiling yet?" and Tony replied, "It's all good, Man."
That's how Tony comes across.  He is grateful for his life and enjoying it all.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Tony's current tour is winding down now, but if you get a chance to see him, take it. It's an enjoyable and funny "cook's tour" with "no reservations" to "parts unknown."
Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

"Why Have a Child?"


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons and/or share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at

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). 

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."