Friday, December 18, 2015

"Spotlight" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Spotlight" and the DVDs "The Pyramid" and "A Good Year."  The Book of the Week is "My New York: Celebrities Talk About The City."  I also bring you up-to-date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the romantic Swedish vampire film "Let the Right One In."]


Dramatization of how The Boston Globe uncovered the widespread molestation of children by priests within the Catholic Church and the cover-up that had gone on for years.

"Spotlight" stands for the team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe newspaper who take on a story and spend, sometimes a year or more, investigating and then reporting on it.  In 2001, when a new editor arrived, there was an inkling of sexual abuse in the Boston diocese and that the head of the diocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, knew about it.  Turns out this story had been swirling around for years and the story had been quashed. Nobody wanted to touch it.

When the film begins, it's 1976 and a priest is talking to a mother who is crying while her children sit nearby innocently coloring.  Another priest is also there. The mother wants to press charges against Father Geoghan, a notorious priest pedophile. There is whispering but you can hear the priest telling her they will send the priest away and this will never happen again. Then the priests get in a big black car and drive away.  It looked like the mafia driving away from a crime scene.  And in fact, as this film will show, it kind of was. 

You see, Boston is a Catholic town.  Everyone in Boston it seems is Catholic.  And the Catholic Church runs the show.  Fertile ground for priests to do whatever the hell they wanted and no one wanted to believe that such a thing could happen.

Fast forward to 2001 to a retirement party for the Editor-in-Chief of the Boston Globe.  Everyone is anticipating the arrival of the new Editor-in-Chief and wondering about him.  He's coming from Miami - a Jewish guy.  An outsider.

When the story of child abuse within the Boston Catholic Church diocese and a possible cover-up by Cardinal Law (Len Cariou) surfaced, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), the new Editor-In-Chief, told the Spotlight team (Walter "Robby" Robertson, Mike Rezendes, Sasha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll) to stop what they were currently working on and to take this story on. Interestingly, all four had some ties to the Catholic Church and all four had very mixed feelings about ruffling the feathers of the diocese and their fellow Catholics. No one realized just how big this story was and how widespread the corruption within the Catholic Church.  Pedophile priests were not kicked out of the church or robbed of their duties, but merely moved around. The team eventually uncovered over 1000 victims and 70 pedophile priests and won the team a Pulitzer Prize.

Don't be fooled by the fact that we know how this movie ends.  It is a riveting mystery from beginning to ends.

This is a newspaper film of the highest order (think "All the President's Men" which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976). The ensemble acting here is first-rate throughout.  Michael Keaton (Walter "Robby" Robertson) employs his best Boston accent and gives us as good a performance as he did in "Birdman," and Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes creates a twitchy character who enters a room like a sneaky Tyrannesaurus Rex looking for his next meal.  He's never been this good. One wonders if Rezendes actually had those mannerisms. Rachel McAdams as Sasha Pfeiffer is always beautiful but here plays down her beauty, wearing baggy khakis and little makeup to highlight her acting skills.  And Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll is almost unrecognizable with his mop of curly black hair.  You would never know he was Shrek.  There are some Oscar nominations in the offing for some or all of these folks.

Other standouts were Billy Crudup as a sleazy lawyer in cahoots with the Church, Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer representing some of the now adult abused children and Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron, the new editor, whose deadpan portrayal belies all of the stuff he stirs up.

But the real stars of this show are the screenplay by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy and the editing by Tom McCardle. The screenplay is slick, intelligent and fast and the editing keeps what could be a lot of boring talking heads into a fast-paced film that makes you almost breathless. The film hums along like a printing press in action thanks to McCarthy, who also directed.

I predict "Spotlight" wins Best Picture in 2016.

Rosy the Reviewer says...when this film was over I cried, not because the film was sad, but because it was such a wonderful film experience.


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

***Now Out on DVD***

The Pyramid (2014)

Five archaeologists walk into a pyramid...
You know the rest.  Some really bad stuff is going to happen.
Archaeologist Holden (Denis O'Hare) and his daughter Nora (Ashley Hinshaw) along with a documentary crew discover an underground pyramid, not realizing it is inhabited by an ancient - and angry - monster.  And then they get stuck down there.  And it's booby-trapped.  And there are feral cats...
This is your typical "B-Movie" horror film starring relative unknowns. It has a wobbly camera production value and bad acting and is part of that "found footage" genre.  Think a "Blair Witch Project" but in a pyramid and with bad acting.  It's your typical "I got to get the hell out of here" scenario.  Imagine being locked underground and being stalked by a million year old creature.
There is one scene where a woman falls down a shaft onto some spikes and some ancient Egyptian cat creatures come and start eating her while she is stuck on those spikes.  It's like that.  Ew. 
Why would a sophisticated movie goer and reviewer such as I resort to spending a couple of hours with a film like this?  Sometimes you just have to succumb to a mindless bit of horror now and then, and what better stress reliever during the holidays than a good old horror film.  And this one is definitely cringeworthy, gory and "hands-over-the-eyes scary."  Delish. 
Rosy the Reviewer says...The lesson here?  You don't want to go messing around in an old pyramid.

A Good Year (2006)



A hard-driving investment banker inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence. 
Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) spent his summers with his uncle Henry (Albert Finney who hasn't aged well, by the way.  Remember him in "Tom Jones?"  Swoon) in the south of France after his parents were killed in an accident, so it's a walk down memory lane for Max when his uncle dies 25 years later and leaves him his chateau and vineyard. 
Max is a cutthroat investment banker in London and not a very nice guy, but he feels a bit of guilt that he didn't keep in touch with Uncle Henry. There are some nice flashbacks showing the relationship the young Max (Freddie Highmore) had with this uncle. However, Max has every intention of fixing the place up and selling it as fast as he can, so he can get back to his life in London.  But that's what he thinks before he meets Fanny, a local woman (Marion Cotillard) and another young American, a wine aficionado from the Napa Valley, who has some ties to Uncle Henry (Abbie Cornish). 
Max and Fanny "meet cute," when Max almost runs her over while she is riding her bike.  When she passes the chateau, she recognizes his car and goes to give him a piece of her mind.  Instead she finds that he has fallen into an empty pool and can't get out.  She seeks her revenge by filling the pool with him in it.  Of course, they fall in love.  That's what's called "meeting cute" in film lingo.  You are very welcome.
Peter Mayle made his fortune writing about his life in Provence and making the rest of us yearn for such a life.  His "A Year in Provence" was an international bestseller and was made into a wonderful British mini-series starring John Thaw.  This film is based on Mayle's 2004 novel, but is very similar to "A Year in Provence," so I couldn't stop thinking of John Thaw and wishing he was in this one too.  Despite his Morse-like gruffness, which he can't seem to shake, at least he has some comic timing.
Unlike Russell. I am not a huge Russell Crowe fan. I have never forgiven Russell for "Noah" and his abominable singing as Joubert in "Les Miserables." I also can count on my one hand the number of movies where Russell Crow was the romantic lead.  Wait.  Actually I can't think of any except the one where he starred with Meg Ryan and, in real life she fell in love with him and ran off, leaving husband Dennis Quaid behind.  I don't think her career ever recovered from that.  I mean, name that movie. See you can't.  OK, I will tell you.  "Proof of Life." Let's just say that Russell Crowe is not known for his romantic moves or comic timing.
But here he has some help from Marion Cottilard (before she hit it big) in a sort-of romantic comedy directed by Ridley Scott.  Russell probably wanted to do something lighter after "A Beautiful Mind," "Gladiator" and "Master and Commander."  But I can't account for what Ridley Scott was doing directing this film.  This isn't a bad film but it's hardly "Blade Runner" or "Alien."  But Scott shows the French countryside in its best light.  In fact, he uses light to show the changes in Max. He uses a darker lighting effect when Max is in London showing Max's darker (and unhappy?) side and then the lighting changes to a bright, vibrant cinematography when he is back in Provence. 
The story is actually fun and light and Russell grew on me, though he is not very good at comedy and though he was supposed to be an Englishman, his Aussie accent drifted in and out from time to time.  It's also fun to see an actress in something before she hit it big.  Cotillard did this one right before her smash hit and Academy Award for Best Actress in "La Vie en Rose." Abbie Cornish does an able job as the young American, Christie.
Gorgeously photographed in French wine country, the chateau and the beautiful French countryside are the stars of this film and enough to recommend it as it transports you to a good year in France.
Rosy the Reviewer says...when you have a guy who is overly ambitious and married to his work, who inherits a chateau in the South of France, the ending is inevitable but it's a gorgeous ride to get there.


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

269 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Let the Right One In (2008)

Oskar, a bullied boy, finds a friend in Eli (Lina Leandersson), a young neighbor girl who has a secret.

Oskar (Kare Kedebrant) is a middle-schooler who is being bullied by a group of boys and ignored by his divorced parents. The score is very melodramatic and ominous as the film begins, and we see Oskar is in his room playing with a knife and acting out revenge on his tormenters.  Oskar is a pale, sensitive and lonely kid. Meanwhile we also see a middle-aged man, Hakan (Per Ragnar), who is a Bryan Cranston lookalike from "Breaking Bad," going out into the snow, killing a young person and extracting his blood.

You see, Eli is a vampire and Hakan is her (or his? She tells Oskar she is not a girl) father or familiar. Again, we are not sure but he is devoted and does her bidding. When he botches a murder and disfigures himself, it's almost like a Bela Lugosi film where the townspeople storm the castle with torches.  It's also an unusual twist to have a child vampire, though Anne Rice employed that device in her "Interview with a Vampire."  There is some humor and also some gore as Hakan and Eli try to fulfill Eli's need for blood.  But take away the vampire element, and this is a tender story of young love between two outsiders who let each other in.

Why it's a Must See: "Set in the early 1980's, there is no social media, no frantic chatter to relieve the sense of isolation.  Into this constellation comes the dark, brooding Eli; she is a guest, but it is not clear how welcome she is.  The title refers to the fact that, according to folklore, vampires must be invited in by their victims...[this film] thus asks the question whether hospitatlity means one has to accept the bad with the good.  A pointed commentary on immigration, perhaps; an enchanting fairy tale, for sure."
"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

It has the feel of a Tarantino film and what better place for a vampire film than Sweden in winter where the sun rarely shines. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, this film is atmospheric and dreamlike and not your usual vampire film, though you can guess once Oskar and Eli becomes friends what is going to happen to those bullies of his. 

This film also has a similar feel to the Tilda Swinton film "Only Lovers Left Alive" - life as a modern vampire is not easy.  And it's even harder when you are a kid.

Rosy the Reviewer says...This is a remarkable vampire film like you have never seen.  And you bullies out there?  Watch out.  Those people you are bullying might have a vampire friend!
(In Swedish with English subtitles)

***Book of the Week***

My New York: Celebrities Talk About The City by Alessandra Mattanza (2015)

Celebrity New Yorkers talk about what they love about The City.

This is a love letter to the city of New York from 20 celebrities who call New York City home or who are inextricably entwined with its delights.
Woody Allen, Candace Bushnell and Robert De Niro are obvious but we also have James Franco, Al Pacino and Moby weighing in along with others.
Mattanza is a writer and photographer, a transplant from Italy, who fell in love with the city in her twenties: "Everybody will find himself or herself here, in one way or another..."   She has gathered together beautiful photographs of the city and interviews with celebrity New Yorkers who share what The City means to them.
Mario Batali:  "New York is rich in different flavors, spices, and colors, and is classic, modern, and experimental all at once."
Yoko Ono: "I just like the hustle and the bustle of the city.  It gives electricity for your mind."
Taylor Swift: "What makes New York City New York City is that it is unlike anywhere else in the world.  It's almost as if the City has its own heartbeat."
Those are just some tastes.  The interviews are longer and the photographs copious.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A beautiful coffee table book that would make a great gift for someone who loves New York City.

That's it for this week!

Thanks for Reading!

See you Tuesday for

"Christmas Days and Memories Past"
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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

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

NOTE:  This has changed.  Find the page for the movie and scroll down just below the description of the film in the middle of the page.  Find where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics." 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, December 15, 2015

My Top 10 Best (and Must-See) Films of 2015

Back in July I gave you a list of the best movies I had seen so far in 2015

Now that the year is ending, I thought I would put together a handy dandy list for you so you can get caught up on some of the best of the best, movies you should see.

That list back in July included films I really enjoyed, not necessarily Academy Award worthy, but still really good films.

This list will not include all of those I listed in July, not to diminish the enjoyment I felt watching those films, but as I look forward to Academy Award season, my criteria has changed when I say "best films."

So some of the films here will be repeats from that July list and some will be films I have seen since then.  However, note that most of the Academy-worthy films are just now being released in December to be eligible for nominations so this list will not include some that will surely be honored such as Todd Haynes new film "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett which is already racking up awards; the new David O. Russell-Jennifer Lawrence-Bradley Cooper collaboration "Joy;" and "The Revenant" starring Leonardo Di Caprio and the incredible Tom Hardy.  I haven't seen those yet so I can't comment.  However, I did see "The Martian" and it will surely get an Oscar nod, but it's not on my list, because, frankly, other than Matt Damon's performance, I didn't really like it that much.  For me it's not just about the movie being "good," it's about my enjoyment of the film too.  And frankly, that film bored me.

It's been a good year for film. 

I had a difficult time narrowing down my list and The Academy is also going to have a difficult time picking the Best Picture nominees this year because it has gone back to nominating only five, as it did in the past, instead of "up to 10" over the last couple of years, which I did not approve of.

I will make my Oscar predictions in January.

Until then, here is my list of the

10 Best Must-See Movies of 2015

with some brief but pithy comments (click on the movie title if you want to see my full review of the film). 

Enjoy - and let me know what you think!

1.  Amy

Amy Winehouse comes back from the grave to tell her story in her own words.  Heartbreaking.  This one is sure to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary.

2.  Inside/Out

This Pixar film explores the meaning of joy in a most joyous way. Though kids will find much to like here, this one is definitely for the adults.  Expect this to be nominated by the Academy for Best Animated Feature.

3.  Ex Machina

An intelligent, mesmerizing sci fi thriller starring Alicia Vikander, who is sure to get an Oscar nod for her role in "The Danish Girl."

4.  Love & Mercy

A biopic on Brian Wilson's rise and fall and the burden of genius.  Paul Dano as the young Brian is not to be missed (but try not to be distracted by John Cusack as the older Brian.  Why he was cast is a mystery because is so does NOT look like Wilson it's a distraction.  Cusack is a good actor but not that good)!

5. Creed


Sylvester Stallone as you haven't seen him in a long time.  Rocky is an old man now and Stallone's performance gives this classic fight movie real heart. Stallone has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for this and is likely to get an Oscar nod as well.  Michael B. Jordan is no slouch either.  One fights to make a mark for himself and another fights for his life.  That adds up to a brilliant film that even people who don't like fight movies will enjoy.
(See my full review next week).

6.  Beasts of No Nation

Isris Elba puts in an Oscar worthy performance as does the young Abraham Attah in this story of the lost innocence of boy soldiers.  And for me to praise a child actor...well, that means A LOT!

7.  Everest

The 1996 Everest Disaster brought to heartbreaking life.

8.  Straight Outta Compton

The beginning of "gangsta rap" and the group N.W.A., with a brilliant script and brilliant young actors.  Now you will know what your kids were listening to when they started to listen to rap.

9.  Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan (her first name is pronounced Seer-sha, in case you are wondering) is sure to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in this lovely, romantic tale of a young Irish immigrant girl coming all alone to the United States in the 1950's.  Imagine how tough that would have been.  No Internet!  No cell phones!

10.  Spotlight

This was how the Catholic Church Abuse Scandal was uncovered and brought to light.  This film has already won several awards and will most assuredly be nominated for Best Picture by the Academy.  When this film ended, I cried.  I cried not because it was sad but because it was SO GOOD!
Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday

for my review of the new movie



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."




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Friday, December 11, 2015

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 And The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" and the DVDs "Tomorrowland" and "The Secret in Their Eyes."  The Book of the Week is "Happier at Home," Gretchen Rubin's second "Happiness Project." I also bring you up-to-date with my "1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die" with "Blue is the Warmest Color."]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

The war in Panem continues and Katniss Everdeen seeks to kill President Snow.

This fourth (and thank god, last) installment of "The Hunger Games" films literally begins where the last film ended. And I can't tell you how miffed I was at Mockingjay Part I for leaving me hanging for another year or so. So by the time I saw this one, I had forgotten what went on in the last film.  I am not a fan of having to do my homework before going to see a film.

Anyway, Katniss is still being used as a propaganda tool by the rebels to get the loyalists to drop their weapons and join them to take over the Capitol.  Meanwhile, Peta (Josh Hutcherson) is still suffering from the effects of the brainwashing that took place in the last film and hates Katniss (which was the whole point of the brainwashing), but they still team up with the other members of her squad to get to the Capitol.  As her team members are killed off, Katniss vows to kill Snow.

Speaking of Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence, as good an actress as she is, is just sleepwalking through this thing.  Even she seems to be thinking, "Let's get this thing over with already!" She has one expression throughout - "concerned."

Julianne Moore is a cartoon as President Coin and Donald Sutherland as Snow chews the scenery in his usual competent way.  Woody Harrelson and Philip Seymour Hoffman are wasted and I am not talking about Harrelson's well-known proclivities.

You know how I feel about sequels.  Well, this one is a sequel to a sequel - and that's even worse.  I didn't really like Mockingjay Part I that much and this one is even worse.  It was actually boring.  Part I and Part 2 of Mockingjay could easily have been cut down and made into one movie and that might have been an improvement.  As it is here, they used a lot of close-ups of the actors looking concerned to fill the time, and the film just plodded.  It also turned into more of a horror film than the dystopian thriller that began the series.  There was something interesting and exciting about young people hunting each other.  Now it has all just deteriorated into a combination of horror and war clichés.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I think even hardcore "Hunger Games" fans will be disappointed with this one, despite the fact it ties up all of the loose ends.

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

***Now Out on DVD***

Tomorrowland (2015)

Former boy genius John Francis Walker and teenager Casey Newton defy time and space to find Tomorrowland and save the world.

The film begins with Frank Walker (George Clooney) having a dialogue with an unseen voice.  We see a close-up of Frank saying "This is a story about the future...and the future is scary."

"When I was a kid, the future was different. We were all about the future." 

And that's true.  Who of us of a certain age don't remember the excitement when Disneyland added Tomorrowland to the park?  Growing up in the 50's and 60's, everyone wanted to go into space.  So it's no surprise this is a Disney film.  But the film is not about Disneyland or Disney's Tomorrowland. It's about disappointment, hope and the end of the world.

Flashback to a young Frank at the 1964 World's Fair.  He is a happy, optimistic kid inventor.

Frank goes to the Hall of Invention where  Professor Nix (Hugh Laurie) is a science fair judge.  Nix is blown away by our young Frank's jetpack.  A little girl approaches Frank - her name is Athena (Raffey Cassidy) - and she asks him "Did you make this yourself?  Why?" to which Frank replies, "I got tired of waiting around for someone to do it for me."  Athena leads Frank to a secret part of the Fair where he experiences some robots and other strange futuristic phenomenon and Athena gives Frank a mysterious pin.

And then we hear the grown-up Frank say "And then it all went to hell."

Turns out Frank, now grown up, disappointed and cynical, was talking to someone that circumstance had brought to him.

Enter Casey (Brit Robertson), a badass young woman doing some protest mischief at Cape Canaveral.  The space program has been defunded and her Dad (Tim McGraw) is out of work.  She gets arrested and when she is released and gets her personal affects, there is that same pin that Athena gave Frank.  She checks Ebay to find out about the pin, finds an address and decides to go there. Turns out that pin has magical powers to transport people to Tomorrowland, a place where anything is possible. 

And everyone wants to get in on the action including the Men in Black, the mysterious Athena who makes another appearance and Hugo (Keegan-Michael Key), the owner of a shop called "The Blast from the Past" where Casey is led after her search on Ebay. This last bit is a funny scene that is one of the highlights of the film. 

Athena takes Casey to meet the now grown-up Frank who is disillusioned and predicting the end of the world.  If they want to save it, they must all go back to the future to Tomorrowland where Nix is now the resident misguided baddie.

It took forever for this film to get started - 40 minutes to be exact but once it kicked in, it grabbed me.  However, if you are expecting this to be a full-blown George Clooney film, think again.  It's not.  After the opening sequence, he doesn't show up for another hour.

But it is obviously a Clooney labor of love because he goes on a rant at the end about our civilization being negative and wanting to believe the worst and giving up.  Why bother to save the environment when there is nothing we can do anyway?  It's a bit of a simplistic, heavy handed diatribe on the importance of optimism and hope that was so in your face that it brought the film down a bit. However, it's a good film for kids to see, especially little girls because  Robertson and Cassidy are plucky girls who do a great job showing that girls can be scientists, they can be fearless and they can make their own future.

Written by Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof and directed by Bird, who also did the latest impressive "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation," this film is reminiscent of "Back to the Future," though it lacked that film's finesse and humor. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a sci-fi fantasy that budding scientists and their parents will enjoy.

The Secret in their Eyes

A retired court investigator is writing a novel about an unresolved rape and murder case that still haunts him.  As he gets involved in the case once again, he gets in over his head.

This film should not be confused with the film of the same title out in theatres now. The current film starring Julia Roberts is an English language version of this one, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film back in 2010. 

Now I feel a bit of a rant coming on.

I always have a problem with English language remakes of foreign language films that were perfectly wonderful films.  The original, the Swedish version, of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a case in point. It made Noomi Rapace a star.  Why make it again?  And now this film.  It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2010.  Why do we need another version of this starring Julia Roberts?  OK, Americans don't like to read subtitles.  But we even do it with British movies and TV shows, "Broadchurch" being another example.  "Broadchurch" was a wonderful crime drama starring David Tennant that showed on BBCAmerica. We remade it here in the U.S. as "Gracepoint," an American remake of the exact same story that played on the Fox channel and even had David Tennant star in it and it wasn't nearly as good.  Explain that to me when we could have just rebroadcasted "Broadchurch" on Fox.

Anyway, sorry for my rant but I have a thing about that.

But let's get to this original version of "The Secret in Their Eyes."

Benjamin (Ricardo Darin), a retired court investigator in Buenos Aires wants to write a novel about a 25-year-old unresolved rape and murder that still haunts him.  He is secretly in love with Irene (Soledad Villamil), a judge who had been his colleague when the murder occurred.  Two workmen were suspected of the murder but Benjamin was never fully convinced they were the murderers.  He decides to look into the case again as he writes his novel and he meets up with Irene again to tell her about his book and renewed investigation.  He is aided by his drunken partner, Sandoval (the excellent Guillermo Francella).

Benjamin had his own idea about who the killer was after seeing a man in a group picture that included the rape victim.  The man is looking at her in a way that sparks Benjamin's suspicions, as if he can see "the secret in his eyes."  Twenty-five years later we see a similar picture of Benjamin looking at Irene.  Does the first picture reflect the murder in the killer's eyes?  Does the second picture reflect Benjamin's unrequited love?

Director Juan Jose Campanella moves the story back and forth in time from the politically repressed years of the 1970's in Argentina when the murder occurred and when Irene and Benjamin first met to the present (2000) when Irene and Benjamin meet up again.  It's a murder mystery, a political thriller and an unconventional love story with a very Hitchcockian feel.  The love affair aspect can be frustrating at times, because Benjamin is a grown man who loves Irene but never says anything and you can tell she cares for him too.  So why don't they say something and get on with it?

However, that aside, the film is mostly riveting and beautifully acted by Darin and Villamil, whose abilities make us believe them as their younger selves as well as 25 years later. 

So as I said, there was no need to make this film again. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...I have not seen the remake of this but it's difficult to imagine it could be better than this one.  See this one first.
(In Spanish with English subtitles)

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

267 to go!

Have YOU Seen this classic film?

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Young Adele meets Emma, an artist with blue hair, and they fall in love.

Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a student with lots of friends and boyfriends, but she is questioning her sexuality.  When she goes to a gay bar she meets Emma (Lea Seydoux, who made a splash recently in the latest James Bond film "Spectre") an artist, an older woman with striking blue hair.  They begin a sexual relationship.

Emma is clearly the more sophisticated of the two.  She talks to Adele about Sartre, introduces her to oysters and they march in a gay pride parade together. But as their relationship progresses, it becomes apparent that they both come from two different worlds. Adele goes on a journey of sexual exploration and learns the meaning of love, commitment and loss.

This is an adaptation of the graphic novel by Julie Maroh adapted by director Abdellatif Kechiche along with Ghalia LacroixIt's beautiful to look at and the acting is first rate.  It won the Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.

However, the sex scenes are extraordinarily explicit and one might ask why is this necessary?  Is a movie good because it pushes the limits of explicitness?  And there is lots of it. This is a three-hour movie. Way too long.  Without those extended sex scenes, it might have just been two!  Also, with that fine line between what is pornographic and what is artistic, one can't help but wonder about the prurient being drawn to this film with little interest in the artistic side of it.

Why it's a Must See:  "[This film]...smashed taboos at every turn...[But] to focus on the sex scenes is to betray the extraordinary strength of a writer/director who understands the nature of drama, from how long to show a scene to when to cut...But above all else, it's a study of the complexity of romantic and sexual obsession...[Director Abdellatif] Kechiche's confidence to hold our gaze with sex scenes, breakup scenes, and all the seemingly insignificant moments in between, results in a riveting film that demands and rewards our attention."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

What "1001 Movies..." believes is the strength of this film, I'm sorry to say, is its greatest hindrance.  For one thing, it's three hours long which for most films is probably too long unless you are talking about "Gone With the Wind," and some people have an issue with that one too.  But for a film about a romance, it's way too long and those long, lingering shots that are mentioned are the  main problem.  I say Kechiche didn't cut enough.  For example, do we need to see a character walk the entire length of a hallway in real time with absolutely nothing happening except she is walking down a hall?  Or do we need to watch someone sleep for about two minutes?  I usually love French films, but I am not a fan of those long lingering shots of people doing nothing or where they stare off into space contemplating their navels.

What I did like was the cinema verite feel as Adele interacted with her fellow students in a realistic and casual fashion.  It had a "you are there" feel as these young people went about their business at school and at home. So writer/director Kechiche should be congratulated for his screenplay which is realistic and poignant.  However, rumor had it that he was a hard task master as a director on Exarchopoulos and Seydoux and both have vowed never to work with him again.

And speaking of Exarchopoulos and Seydoux, they are both lovely actresses, which could explain why Kechiche used those long lingering close-ups of them so much, but that is not to discount that both are also exceedingly good actresses who make you believe in their relationship.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a poignant coming of age story that could have been an hour shorter.
(In French with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin (2013)

Rubin continues her "Happiness Project" but this time focuses closer to "home."

Last month I reviewed Rubin's first "happiness project" where she sought to make her life happier by dedicating each month of the year to a theme she could work on- friendship, work, etc.  From that she worked out her "general theories of happiness."  

But now in her second foray into the realm of happiness, Rubin wanted to build on what she had already learned but this time as happiness related to "home:" relationships, possessions, time, body and neighborhood.

In her first project, this is what she learned:

  • Accept myself, and expect more of myself
  • Give myself limits to give myself freedom
  • Make people happier by acknowledging that they're not feeling happy
  • Plan ahead to be spontaneous
  • Accomplish more by working less
  • Happiness doesn't always make me FEEL happy
  • Flawed can be more perfect than perfection
  • It's very hard to make things easier
  • My material desired have a spiritual aspect.
  • Hell is other people.  Heaven is other people.


(For more on that, go check our her first book from the library).

So she learned all of that.  Why start another happiness project?

She decided that concentrating on happiness was a good thing so why not?

As she had with her first project, she gave herself a goal for each month, starting with "Possessions," which basically involved not becoming a slave to them, keeping those that were important and getting rid of those that no longer served her.  She also learned that if you want your stuff to work right, "read the manual."  As the months went on, she worked on her marriage by kissing her husband more, was a better parent because she chose to "underreact to a problem," and tried acupuncture to help her body.

There are many positive tips here for your own happiness project that concentrates on your home, family and neighbors, but...

Rosy the Reviewer says...for those of us in the glass half-empty club, happiness sounds like a lot of work! 

That's it for this week!

Thanks for Reading!

See you Tuesday for

"My Top 10 Best (and Must See) Films of 2015

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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."