Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Best of Rosy the Reviewer's Tuesday Blog Posts

Here is a recap of Rosy the Reviewer's most popular Tuesday posts.

A Baby Boomer's Fashion Show: A Short History of the Last 65 Years and the Clothes We Wore 
(August 13, 2013)

Baby Boomers will be able to relate! And for the rest of you? You will better understand those Boomers!

The Sturm und Drang of Writing a Blog (July 4, 2014)

Writing helps you remember.

Parisian Chic (October 25, 2013)

I debunk the myth that all French women know more about fashion than we do!

Why the Beatles Matter (July 23, 2013)

The title says it all!

Cooking in an Empty Nest (February 4, 2014)

What it's like when the kids leave home along with some of my mother's best recipes.

20 Books and Films that Helped Shaped this Baby Boomer's Life (September 3, 2013)

Some food for thought.  What books and films influenced YOU?

Librarian Fashion (January 13, 2015)

No the title is NOT an oxymoron!

Retirement:  Do Dogs Ever Retire? (July 30, 2013)

According to my dogs, the answer is no!

(Update:  This is by far my most popular and most-viewed post.  People love dogs in costumes, I guess)!

Why I Love England: An American Anglophile's A-Z (February 11, 2014)

I think I was a Brit in my past life!

My Favorite Summer Vacation: A Narrow-Boat Cruising Adventure in England (March 26, 2014)

The best vacation ever.  You should try it!

The Mother Daughter Connection (February 18, 2014)

Experts say that the mother daughter bond is one of the most intense relationships a woman experiences. A Baby Boomer mother talks about her Millennial daughter.

Some of my posts that readers have reported have affected them deeply:

Why Long Distance Relationships Don't Work (July 5, 2016)

The difficulty of staying close to family members when you live far away from each other and what to do about it.

Sisters (November 2, 2018)

In honor of my sister and all sisters everywhere!

O Brother Where Are Thou? (October 4, 2016)

The pain of family estrangement and its possible causes.

Make Someone Happy (September 8, 2015)

It takes so little to do so much.  And you know what?  You discover that you have made yourself happy too.

Why Movies Matter (November 1, 2015)

They do!

And here are some of my own favorites:

How Would I Do On "Naked and Afraid?"  (July 14, 2014)

Not well!

Things Librarians Hate (November 19, 2013)

You would be surprised!

What is a True Friend? (May 31,2016)

Are you a true friend?

Why is "Feminist" Such a Dirty Word?  (November 10, 2015)

Yes, why is that?

My Colonoscopy (September 26, 2014)

A colonoscopy can be fun!  Well, kind of...

A Little Meditation on a Little Meditation by an Unlikely Meditator (May 13, 2014)

Who knew?  But it has changed my life.  Why not give it a try? These are down-to-earth tips from someone who never thought she would ever get into meditating.  

Why Have a Husband? (May 19, 2015)

There is also "Why Have a Wife?" "Why Have a Child?" and "Why Have a Dog?"  It's called my "Why?" Quartet.

I get down to the nitty gritty!

How to Say Married Forever (May 24, 2016)

Tips from someone who has been married forever (or it seems like it)!

Grounds for Divorce (November 8, 2015)

But sometimes things don't work out!

My Menopause (November 18, 2014)

You will get through it!

Fashion Essentials for a Woman of a Certain Age (September 6, 2016)

You may be old but you can still look good!

A Woman of a Certain Age Flying Solo (March 22, 2016)

It's not just flying on a plane but navigating life on your own when you are a women of a certain age.

Thanks for Reading!

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Friday, August 5, 2016

"Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie" as well as DVDs "Green Room" and "The Adderall Diaries." The Book of the Week is "The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories From Those Who Knew Him Best." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the classic Lon Chaney silent film "The Unknown"]

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are back, this time in a feature film where Edina accidentally knocks Kate Moss into the Thames, and thinking she has killed her, they flee to the South of France.

What can I say, Sweetie Darling?

Well, I can say that this movie is absolutely fabulous!

I have been watching AbFab (that's what us real fans call it), the BBC TV show, ever since it first aired on PBS back in the 1990's and later aired on BBCAmerica with some anniversary specials. I couldn't get enough of the antics of Edina and Patsy, two over-the-top British friends who overindulged themselves in booze, drugs and fashion trends. My then young daughter and I were faithful watchers, though now looking back, I am questioning my parenting skills as in letting a little girl watch the debauched antics of those two.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, Edina Monsoon is a heavy-drinking, drug-taking PR agent who embraces every fashion trend and pop culture fad in an effort to stay young and hip to hilarious results.  Her best friend is Patsy Stone, whose boozing, drug taking and promiscuity makes Edina look like a nun.  Both women are over-the-top and absolutely fabulous, well, in their own minds, anyway.

Edina has a daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha) who by contrast IS practically a nun.  She is buttoned-up and disapproving of her mother, and she hates Patsy.  The feelings are mutual, though Edina is dependent on "Saffy" for money and support when her projects and ideas go awry.  Edina's mother (June Whitfield), who appears to go in and out of dementia, also lives with them as does Bubble (Jane Horrocks), Edina's wacky and ditsy personal assistant. British celebrities weave in and out as Edina attempts to maintain her credibility as a PR agent while at the same time screwing up at every turn.

This first AbFab feature length film finds Patsy and Edina now in their 60's, but they don't plan on going quietly.  Edina is still self-absorbed and still running her PR business, but finding herself losing money and worse, becoming less and less relevant.  She is also not enjoying getting older.  When Patsy discovers that model Kate Moss is looking to change her PR representation, she tells Edina, and the push is on to get Moss as a client.  While attending a fashion event, Edina and Patsy, or I should say, Eddie and Pats, see Kate Moss sitting out on the edge of the balcony out on the terrace.  Edina rushes up to Kate to speak to her and accidentally knocks her off the balcony and into the Thames where she is thought to have drowned. Pats and Eddie take Bubble out in a boat to try to find Kate.  They outfit Bubble with a headlamp and order her to swim around looking for Kate, and suddenly Bubble too is gone and presumed drowned.

Now they are really screwed so to avoid all of the media attention (something which under other circumstances they would bask in), the two flee to the South of France to lie low and try to get out of their predicament.  How Patsy pretending to be a man will help them is anybody's guess, but that's what is so fun about these two.  They don't make any sense and everything they do, every idea they have is full on. They are unpredictable and very, very funny.  All sorts of the usual Patsy and Eddie hijinks ensue.

The TV series was written by Jennifer Saunders and was based on a sketch created by her and her comedy partner Dawn French ("French and Saunders"), who makes an appearance in the film.  And so do many other celebrities.  In addition to Moss (who does not appear to be aging well - meow), there is Graham Norton, Lulu (who is looking very good these days), Stella McCartney, Jerry Hall, and many more.  Saunders brilliantly skewers our obsession with celebrity, image, youth, the media, materialism and everything else that her skeptical eyes come across.

Some favorite funny moments:  an upset Edina says she needs to practice her mindlessness and Bubble reading Nietzsche and chuckling.

Written by Saunders and directed by Mandie Fletcher, the film is a send-up of women who can't accept getting old, women who are fashion victims and the whole adoration of pop culture.  But it's also about an enduring female friendship.

Saunders and Lumley as Edina and Patsy do not disappoint.  Saunders is always funny as the insecure, bumbling Edina.  With Lumley being so over-the-top, it's easy to overlook Saunders' comic abilities, but her quirky Edina mannerisms are subtle and very funny.  But it's Lumley who is center stage here as Patsy, with her ever-present cigarette dangling from her lips and her physical humor.  She is just shameless, and they both are absolutely fabulous.

From Patsy waking up in the morning after being passed out on the toilet and injecting herself with botox to Edina's outlandish outfits, it's an AbFab reunion you will love, especially if you are already familiar with the TV show or love British humor.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure, doing a little catch up on the TV show would probably add to your enjoyment of the movie, but however you get there, join the party!

And as I said in my "Ghostbusters" review, who said women aren't funny?  Now I can say, "Who said women of a certain age aren't funny?"

Rosy the Reviewer says...the most fun I have had in a movie theatre all year (and it didn't hurt that they served champs)!

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

Green Room (2015)

A punk rock band witnesses a murder in a skinhead bar...oops!

Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawcat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) are members of a punk rock band called "The Ain't Rights.  Like most wannabe bands, they are traveling around on a shoestring doing gigs.  While in the Pacific Northwest, they meet, Tad (David W. Thompson), a local radio personality, who gets them a gig outside of Portland.  Turns out the gig is at a skinhead bar in a remote part of Oregon.  Ruh, roh.

The audience is an unruly bunch who spit, throw bottles and glasses at the stage, but the band eventually wins them over. After the show Pat goes back to the green room and discovers a girl with a knife in her head.  Not good.  He calls the police, but the bouncers, Gabe and Big Justin, are not happy about that, and Gabe pays a skinhead to stab another one as a sort of cover story.   He also calls Darcy, the bar owner (Patrick Stewart), who decides the best way out of this is to kill the band so there are no witnesses.  This is not good news to the band so they barricade themselves in the green room.  Amber (Imogen Poots), a girl who witnessed the murder, is also in there with them.  They try to get out a few times and one of those times they discover a heroin lab in the building.  Double ruh, roh.

Let the disembowelment, shootings, stabbings and death by pit bull begin!  And let's just say, everyone doesn't get out of that damn green room alive, but the bad guys don't fare very well either.

This is a sort of slasher film but instead of knives the slashers are pit bulls.  Ick. It's one of those classic the hunted become the hunters, but let's just say the trailers for this were way scarier than the reality of the film.

Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, it's an interesting premise. What if you were a hardworking unknown band and you witness a murder and the Green Room becomes a horror chamber?  Unfortunately, it didn't end up being that horrific.

It's sad to see Yelchin here fighting off bad guys only to end up dead too young in real life and it's fitting that Imogen Poots is here because she went on to star in "Roadies," which is playing on Showtime now.

Patrick Stewart plays the intimidating owner.  Wonder what he did wrong that he ended up here.

Rosy the Reviewer says...there is some blood and gore and some thrills to be had but I actually thought the trailer was scarier.

The Adderall Diaries (2015)

A writer with a serious case of writer's block and substance abuse, becomes obsessed with a murder trial.

James Franco plays Stephen Elliott, a bestselling writer living in New York City.  He had written a memoir of growing up with an abusive and neglectful father who is now dead, but is suffering writer's block (what movie these days about writers doesn't involve writer's block?).  At a reading from his book, his father (Ed Harris) shows up saying he is alive and well, and none of what Elliott wrote about him is true. 

With his credibility in question, Elliott turns to a high profile murder in hopes of becoming the next Truman Capote, who famously wrote about the Clutter family murder in "In Cold Blood."  A woman has gone missing and her husband (Christian Slater) is arrested and goes on trial.  But as Elliott becomes fascinated with the murder trial, it brings back memories of his own life and calls those memories into question.  Amber Heard plays, Lana, a reporter covering the case.  Elliott and she get close and some hot bathtub sex ensues.  He also has some fetishes about pain - clothespins, clamps and the like.  Ew.  As the trial progresses, Elliott gets deeper and deeper into drugs and sexual kinky stuff with Amber until he goes off the rails completely.

A dark-haired Amber Heard, who you probably had never heard of until she married Johnny Depp, may be a strange duck as portrayed in the tabs but she is a very good actress.

Written and directed by Pamela Romanowsky (and based on the memoir by the real Stephen Elliott), the film explores our memories and the parent/child dynamic. When the accused Dad said he was the best Dad he could be, Elliott remembers his own Dad saying that.  We all have different perspectives from a parent vs. child perspective, and we sometimes remember our pasts in a way that saves us guilt and remorse.  We are quick to question memory in other people but not ourselves, but our memories can't be trusted because our memories are now colored by who we are now.

Those are some of the messages inherent in this film, which redeem it somewhat.  However, I can't recommend it.  I am starting to be afraid of James Franco movies.  When he stars, you know it's going to be a difficult and/or strange film.

Rosy the Reviewer says...though the messages in this film are profound, I can't recommend it because I don't want you to watch it and think, "Why the hell did she recommend this?"  It's not an easy film to watch.

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

241 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Unknown (1927)

Two circus performers are both in love with the same girl and you won't believe what one of them will do to win her.

Lon Chaney was known as "The Man of a 1000 Faces" for a reason.  There was nothing he wouldn't do to create a character.  Here he plays a man with no arms who is part of a circus, and he is quite a curiosity since he is an armless man who is also knife-thrower (he throws with his feet).  He is in love with his assistant, the lovely Nanon (Joan Crawford).  Unfortunately, he has a rival in the strong man, handsome Malabar (Norman Kerry).  However, Nanon is tired of being pawed by men and hates men to touch her.  She hates mens' hands. 

"Hands. Men's hands!  How I hate them!"

So the fact that Alonzo has no hands is a plus.  A love triangle emerges as Malabar eventually convinces Nanon that he doesn't plan to paw her.

But here's the thing.  Alonzo really DOES have hand...and arms.  He and his cohort, Cojo (John George) are not only running a scam on the circus owner, Zanzi (Nick de Ruiz), who just happens to be Nanon's father, but they are robbing the towns where the circus performs.  Who would suspect an armless man of committing robberies, right?   

And let's just say that Alonzo is not only a fake and a robber, but he's also not a very nice guy.  He's one of those guys who says "If I can't have her, no one can!"  He gets in a fight with Zanzi and kills him.  Nanon sees the fight but not her father's killer, though she sees the hands.  Unfortunately for Alonzo, he has a hand with two thumbs.  He knows that Nanon saw his hands when he killed her Dad because she said he was killed by a man with two thumbs, so he decides he needs to cut off his arms for real.  And then he goes about trying to get rid of Malabar.  Will he get the girl?

Tod Browning, who later directed the well-known and shocking film "Freaks," also about a circus, wrote and directed this silent film as well.  Browning obviously had a thing for the strange and what Alonzo was willing to do for love would have also been shocking in its day.  Crawford had played many small parts in silents up until her starring turn here as Nanon.  She had to play a lot of floozies before she ended up the DRAMATIC ACTRESS she became.  I capitalize those two words because that was how Crawford saw herself and she was always over the top BIG. As Gloria Swanson said in "Sunset Boulevard," "I am big, it's the pictures that got small."

But it's Cheney's movie.  From his realistic depiction of an armless man to his smoking and throwing knives with his feet, it is clear that Cheney would do anything to create a character.

With all of the CGI and production values we have today, not to mention sound, when I first started watching this film I was thinking to myself "Who wants to watch silent films today?  How can we possibly relate?"  But it was a compelling 46 minutes .

Rosy the Reviewer says...expand your horizons with this classic film from the silent era.

***Book of the Week***

The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories from Those Who Knew Him Best
edited by Mr. Peter L. Winkler

A collection of reminiscences about the legendary screen icon from his teachers to the actors he worked with.

James Dean was a young actor whose untimely death at the age of 24 in a car crash epitomized the saying "Die young and leave a pretty corpse."  In the 1950's, Dean made three films where he played troubled, angry young men -  "Rebel Without a Cause," "East of Eden" and "Giant," all on the American Film Institute's list of the top 400 best movies of all time - but what many people may not realize is that all three films were released after his death and Dean never saw stardom in his lifetime. That could account for his almost mythic status today.

At the time of his shocking death, scores of interviews were given by those who knew him, and according to author Peter L. Winkler, those recollections would be lost if he had not gathered them into this compilation. There are personal accounts from everyone from his grandmother to his father to his teachers to his ex-lovers to actors and directors he knew or worked with (Hume Cronyn, Shelley Winters, Elia Kazan, Raymond Massey and others.  Vampira even weighs in (they were friends). He liked exotic women.

This compilation paints a picture of a talented but complex and tortured man. Dying at 24, it is difficult to say what Dean might have achieved.  But in death he became something he might never have become in real life - a legend .

Rosy the Reviewer says...A fascinating compendium but one wonders: does anyone really care about James Dean anymore?  You tell me!

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!

See you Tuesday for

 "The Best of Rosy the Reviewer"

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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). 

Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Once there, click on the link that says "Explore More" on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down to External Reviews and when you get to that page, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.
NOTE:  On some entries, this has changed.  If you don't see "Explore More" on the right side of the screen, scroll down just below the description of the film in the middle of the page. Click where it says "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, August 2, 2016

Why A Woman of a Certain Age Hates Summer

I know that "hate" is a strong word, so let me just say that I have always had an uneasy relationship with summer.

It's not really summer per se that I hate, it's all of the baggage that summer connotes.  It's not just the bathing suit issue but it's shorts and picnics and reruns and sun.  Let me elaborate.

It started early.

Let's begin with the sun.

I grew up on Lake Michigan so you would think that I was a beach bunny.  NOT! I had (and still do) the palest skin you can imagine.  Just sticking my arm out the car window would result in third degree burns.  I was so pale that my brother called me Casper (for the Friendly Ghost).  Thanks, Bro.  So while other people are swanning about in bathing suits and sleeveless dresses and shorts, I was wearing long sleeves and trousers.  Add that to the fact that I am now a woman of a certain age, I don't want those upper arms flapping around anyway, so sleeveless tops are out.  And I hate to say this, but the sun doesn't match how I feel when I wake up in the morning, either, which is crabby.  I am not a morning person and seeing that old sun there every single morning just doesn't match my mood and makes me feel even crabbier.  I am more of a rainy day kind of gal.  But then if it rains too much, I bitch about that too.


I don't like heat, and summer brings the heat.  I don't like to be sweaty and now that I am of a certain age, my idea of a fun summer is sitting in front of a fan.

Power mowers and power washers.

Summer invites people to get out into their yards and cut the lawn, weed wack, power wash, and hell, why not build a deck while you are at it?  Anything so you can make some noise, guys, right?  And why not do it at 8am when I am trying to continue my beauty sleep?  Or why not get out the old weed wacker after I have had a hard day of retirement, when I am ready to sit out on the deck with Hubby and enjoy Happy Hour?  We even had one neighbor who power washed his car IN THE RAIN!

Picnics, which are also a big part of summer, are another thing I came to loathe.

There were just too many of them. My mother was obsessed with picnics.  She must not have had a very exciting life because her idea of a good time was eating outside.  We even had a picnic table in the driveway.  We had one of those homes where the garage was in the back of the house, so to put the car in the garage, you would drive down a driveway next to the house to get to the garage.  Well, our picnic table sat on the driveway in the back.  Every sunny day in summer, we had to haul all of the food out to the picnic table and then haul it all back in again when we were finished.  And if that wasn't bad enough, every Sunday after church if the weather was nice, we would have to go to the lake for a picnic. More hauling.

My sister managed to get out of some of this by sitting in the car listening to the ball game on the radio.  I would have joined her, but I didn't like sports either. I would have rather stayed home and watched "Louisiana Hayride" on TV. Anything but this.

Speaking of watching TV.

Another thing I hated about summer was the TV reruns.

Of course, as a woman of a certain age, I grew up when there were only three TV channels. The networks started their new programming every fall.  Now as you know, I am a TV addict and that started very early. I could recite every TV program on all three channels starting at 7pm all the way up to the late night talk shows for every day of the week.  And I was only seven! Back then, there were only so many network shows and once they aired the new ones, in summer they showed them again. So by the time summer rolled around, I had already seen all of the TV shows I wanted to see, so I couldn't wait until fall when there would be new ones.

Now that I am a woman of a certain age and I can choose from 100's of channels, reruns are not a problem but summer programming is.  In summer, the networks cart out new shows to test whether or not they are worth bringing back in the fall and most of them are duds.

Sunday drives

Though as a little girl I was plagued with Sunday drives most of the year, they were even more frequent in summer.  My mother didn't drive so the Sunday drive was a big deal for her. Like I said, she must not have had a very exciting life.  My Dad would drive, she would be sitting next to him up front oohing and ah-ing over other people's houses, and I would be bored out of my mind in the backseat, not to mention being nauseous from the food I had just eaten at that picnic I just endured. 

Now as a woman of a certain, I don't mind going for a bit of a ride but I just can't find the time. I am retired after all.

You feel guilty if you don't go outside.

I'm not really an outside person.  I can appreciate the beauty of nature but I prefer seeing it from the car or out my window while I am watching TV.  But in summer, especially around here, where it rains 9 months out of the year, when the sun comes out (and that's usually only in summer), you are made to feel guilty if you don't hop off your butt and run outside to catch the rays.

So as a woman of a certain age, summers can be an annoyance...but then I start remembering some happy childhood summers and am reminded how quickly the time has passed and that I should be grateful that I am still here for another summer when so many people are now gone.

And I am.

Oh, geez, the guy across the street is power-washing again!

Thanks for reading!
See you Friday

for my review of

"Absolutely Fabulous: The 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."

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