Tuesday, November 8, 2016

All The Lonely People: The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Being One of Them When You Get Old

"All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?"

From the looks of things - how we treat our older adults - apparently they all belong in some sort of retirement community or worse, a nursing home.

Eleanor Rigby is not alone in her loneliness. 

Many people in the world are lonely, but being old and lonely is its own kind of loneliness.

As I age, I start worrying about where I am going to end up when everyone else is gone.  If I outlive Hubby and my friends, then what?

My mother ended up all alone in a nursing home where the underpaid staff of young people seemed to care more about standing around talking about their dates than making sure the inmates, er, residents had their diapers on. Hubby's dad ended up in a place where he was constantly hearing hard luck stories from the staff and giving them money.

But before we get to the endgame of loneliness, what do we do now while we still have our faculties and some ability to make our own decisions about how we want to spend the rest of our lives?

Is loneliness and ending up alone in an institution automatically our fate when we grow old?

I say no, but there are factors that can lead to a lonely life.

It's one thing to be old, retired and alone in the town you grew up in.  Even though your spouse and parents might be dead, you most probably have a network of friends that you have had since childhood.  But many of us no longer live in the towns where we grew up.  We have moved around the country, or even the world, chasing jobs, loves and adventure, in each place having to start over making friends and creating a supportive community.  But we did it.

However, as we get older, finding ourselves in a new town and having to start over gets harder and harder.  We might not have the resources that we had when we were younger or if we had stayed in our hometowns.  Many of us old folks move to be near our adult children and grandchildren, not realizing how difficult it might be to start a new life in a new place as an older adult.  When we were young, we could walk down to the neighborhood bar and when we left, we would have had at least one new friend.  But trying to make friends when we are in our 50's, 60's and 70's is not that easy. 

  • If you have a job, the potential for friendships is there.
  • If you belong to a church, fine.  Instant community.
  • If you have a hobby and can join a gun club or tennis club, perhaps that is a good way to make new friends.
  • If you have moved voluntarily to a retirement community and there are all kinds of activities you are interested in, then great.

  • But what if you work from home? 
  • What if you are retired and can't afford to move to a retirement community?
  • What if you have health issues that restrict your mobility?

When you move to a new place, your peers most likely have their own families and friends.  They are not looking to take on new friends.  Friends take time and energy.  Even if you have moved to be near your grandchildren, your adult children have busy lives and your grandchildren have their own activities and friends.  Unless you live with them, you can't rely on them as your sole source of companionship and social life. 

I volunteer as a counselor for seniors who are going through bereavement, health issues or big changes in their lives.  Mostly, they are women who are alone and some are sadly warehoused into nursing homes or some kind of facility where their adult children don't have to worry about them.  And these parents didn't go there because they wanted to.  They went because they "didn't want to be a burden" to their kids. 



My own mother, who was a beautiful proud woman, ended up in such a place and it is something I don't think I will ever get over.  She had a stroke that affected her brain and caused some dementia, but don't think she didn't know that she was alone and without her family.  She did.  And she was the type of person who would also have not wanted to be a burden.

My mother had a stroke which resulted in dementia and she ended up in a nursing home.  I won't go into the details about why and how that happened, but it did.  And I remember she didn't want to go, but at the time, it didn't seem like she was able to stay on in her home alone.

But let me tell you, she might have been confused about where she was or not remember much about the immediate past, but she did know she wasn't with her family.  She also knew her niece's phone number.  My cousin, my mother's favorite niece, who lived in the town where I grew up and where my mother lived her entire life, had spent a lot of time with my mother over the years and was very good to my mother.  But my cousin had to change the ring on her phone for my mother's calls, because my mother called her every day, sometimes more than once, to ask when she was going to come and get her. I don't blame my cousin at all for not wanting to answer her phone every day and have to deal with my mother, but can you imagine what it must have been like for my mother to call for someone to come and get her and no one answered?  If that doesn't wrench your heart, I don't know what would.

As I mentioned, I volunteer as a senior counselor. One of my clients is housebound because of some physical issues.  She not only has difficulty moving around but she has lost the desire to do anything at all.  She wants to work with me to figure out how to deal with her situation and to find some motivation.  She moved thousands of miles from where she had lived all of her life to be near her son and grandson but only sees them once a week.   She has mobility issues and rarely leaves her home which restricts her ability to meet people. What will she do with the rest of her life? 

Another client was in a nursing home for people with dementia but did NOT have dementia.  Her health problems required nursing care but she had all of her mental faculties.  She had no one to talk to except the caregivers and her daughter, who visited once a week, unless she wanted to try to talk to one of the inmates, er, residents, a resident who thought she was on a vacation and her son was going to pick her up any day now or the guy who thought he was the king of Romania.

It seems to me that there were solutions for these people to be more of a part of their families rather than languishing alone. But what is surprising is that many people who find themselves in these situations wouldn't say they wanted their adult children to care for them even if they would.  As I said, the mantra seems to be "I don't want to be a burden."

From what I have seen, I am just appalled.  How can a loved one be a burden?

What has happened to us that instead of revering our aged population and spending time with them and learning from them, we would rather put them out of sight where we don't have to "worry about them." 

That is very different from how it used to be or how it is in other cultures where getting older was not a curse but something to be respected, where families looked after their aging relatives and learned from them.

My husband's parents took care of his grandmother.  She lived with them until her death and he remembers time with her fondly.  My grandparents lived across the street from us and my Dad went over there every day and fixed their dinner.  They both lived and died in their own home, and before they died they were able to interact with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sure, your adult children or loved ones are busy, but you were busy, too, when you were raising them, and now it's their turn if they have the means.  I know many people are struggling and don't have space for a parent or the financial ability to help.  I get that.  But I have seen situations where the ability was there but not the desire.  Sad.

Many of us don't want to be a burden to our kids or loved ones.  But did it ever occur to you that perhaps your kids and loved ones want to take care of you?  Maybe some of you have kids who now realize all you did for them and they want to return the favor.  Or not.

And if it's not, then for better or worse, for those of us who can't afford or don't want to move to a retirement community, I would guess that most of us want to stay in our own homes.  OK, if I am living alone, maybe I might fall.  Get me that alert thing that calls the paramedics. Maybe I will meet a cute paramedic.  And perhaps if my brain isn't what it once was, I might leave something on the stove and burn the house down.  OK, it's my house and I'd rather die that way than in a nursing home where I have no freedom and am treated like a prisoner for the rest of my life.

This is not for those of you who have the means and want to move to a retirement community where you have assistance, your meals, and when the time comes, nursing care. Good for you for making plans.  But those situations are very expensive and some of us don't have the means to do that nor do we want to.  Maybe we don't want to have to get rid of most of our belongings and move into a community where we don't know anyone, where there are rules we have to follow and we are treated like children.

Adult children this is for you:

Put yourselves in your parents' shoes.

How would you feel about being yanked out of your home, a home you have lived in for 25 years or more, to be placed in a strange place with strange people where you are not allowed to leave just because you have some health/mental/whatever problems that have become a problem for your children? 

How would you feel being put into a place where there are rules about what you can do, where you can go, what you can eat?

How would you like to be left alone with strangers, some of whom don't know what day it is?

Sure, you worry about your parent.  You don't want that call in the middle of the night that your parent has fallen down or set the house on fire.

But I would bet that if you asked your loved one if he or she would rather go to a nursing home or drop dead at home, the answer would be the latter. 

So before you stuff your loved one into a nursing home or someplace he or she doesn't want to be, I implore you to exhaust all options available in your community.  Your parents exhausted themselves taking care of you.  Now it's your turn.

Washington State is a leader in services for the aging population.  Because of what happened to my mother, I have become an advocate for "aging in place." I had the privilege of serving on the local Council on Aging where I was made aware of all of the services available to help people "age in place," i.e. stay in their own homes as long as possible, despite health and financial issues.  And before you say anything about how is this paid for and you don't want higher taxes and all of that, it has been proven that it is cheaper to provide services to help people stay in their own homes than to put them into an institution.
There are counseling programs that I mentioned earlier, companion programs, food services, senior centers, adult daycare, etc.  Find out what services and programs are available in your town that will help you care for your loved one, so your loved one can "age in place."

Now here is my message to my own kids. 

I may get forgetful or even suffer from dementia.  I may not be able to get around anymore, but I do not want to be warehoused.  I do not want to live amongst a bunch of other old people.  I DO want to be a burden so get used to it.  I took care of you and now it's your turn.

Besides, one of the main reasons I can't move into an old people's home is there wouldn't be enough room for all of my clothes.

But mainly, all of you "kids" out there, I want to save you from regret and guilt, which I guarantee you will have if you send your parents away against their will and they let you, because they "don't want to be a burden."  I live with the regret and pain every day that I couldn't save my mother.

Now, you old Baby Boomers, this is for you:

Whether you are or will be in your hometown in your own house when your spouse and most of your peers have died and your kids (if you have them) have moved away or you are all alone in a new town or assisted living facility, how do you cope with the loneliness that might accompany moving to a new place or suddenly being alone?
Whatever our circumstances, as we age, how do we keep living the life we deserve to live - a full one that brings us joy?

First of all, do what you can to plan for the inevitable, to decide what you want to do and how you want to live out your life, especially if you can't really make the decision for yourself, and make sure your kids or loved ones know what your wishes are. 

Find out what services are available through your local Senior Services or equivalent.  Even though you are alone and might not know many people, try to avoid being isolated. If you are able, volunteering is a good way to stay connected with people.  If you don't have one already, get a computer and learn how to use it.  Sign up for Facebook so you can talk to your children and grandkids or friends online, but don't "friend" anyone you don't know (beware of being scammed.  If a handsome stranger in a military uniform 30 years younger than you wants to "friend" you on Facebook, sorry.  He's not interested in you.  He's in a sweat shop somewhere overseas and just wants your money.  Don't fall for it). But reach out. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. There are all kinds of ways to stay connected.

But in the end, even if your living situation is to your liking, at some point you will probably find yourself alone and feeling lonely. 

As one great sage from "Real World New Orleans" said, "I am never lonely because everywhere I go, I am there." 

I know.  He wasn't a sage.  He was just a kid on "The Real World," and I think he stole that from Buddha or some other famous person, but that doesn't matter, the sentiment remains the same.  As you get older, it's important to remember that your true self is always with you, that you are your own best friend, so it's important to enjoy your own company and to recognize the joy that exists in your life. 

Your thoughts might tell you that you are old, alone and lonely, but you are not your thoughts.  Your thoughts will sometimes tell you things that make you sad, that tell you that you don't matter or what's the point of your life?  But those are just thoughts. Thoughts come and go. They are not you.  

You.  You will always be you. No matter how old you get, how wrinkled, how infirm, if you are at home alone or in a nursing home, you will always be you, and your very existence matters and is the whole point.  No one and nothing can take that from you.  Your body may have changed and gotten old, but your true self is still inside there, the person you have always been. 

No matter what, you are still YOU, the you that can choose joy.

When my clients in the counseling program are struggling with health issues, getting old, circumstances that they can't control, I try to convey that to them.

And I tell myself that too.

Even though I am old and can't do all of the things I used to do... Even though I am far from my children and grandchildren and get lonely and sad at times... Even though I don't know what the future holds...I remind myself that I am still me.  I will always be me, that person who can find joy in little things like a nice big bowl of gelato or a particularly good episode of the British soap opera I watch or a moving figure skating routine or reading a good book or relishing a great movie or watching the antics of my dogs or looking out my window and noticing the sun peeking through the trees, reminding me that I exist.

In those moments, I know I can reject the negative thoughts that come and go and choose joy instead.

I can also reflect back on my life, and when I do that, I am reminded of the person I was and will always be and there is also joy in that.

I will always be the young girl who loved her parents and had a happy childhood,

and who wanted to be an actress.


I will always be the woman who raised two successful children she loves,

who had a long and happy marriage to a man she loves,

who loves her grandchildren,

who had a successful and satisfying career,

who likes to dress up her dogs,


who finds joy in movies and books and food and fashion,

who writes a blog, and who has always tried to do the right thing and be a better person. 

When I am aware of all of those things, I feel joy and that joy I feel is my true self speaking, that part of me that has always been there.

My true self says,"You did good, kid (I know that's bad English but I don't want to be correcting my true self when she is saying something nice to me)!  And you are still here.  There is still more joy to be felt and life to be lived. You might have some bad days but, just remember, there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow might be filled with joy. Who knows? But you want to be here to find out, don't you?" 

And likewise, no matter where or how you end up, you will always be the person who lived and loved, who lives and loves, who feels joy when you think of all you have done and the joy you still feel in little things.  You may be old, but you will always be YOU and those moments of joy are glimpses into your true self reminding you that YOU are there and will always be there, and you will never really be alone.

So when you are feeling old, alone and lonely and wonder what's the point of getting up each day, tap into that core of your existence, your true self, that space inside you that has experienced joy, and despite your circumstances, can still experience joy, even if it's just a snuggle from your cat or watching your favorite TV show. Choose joy. Remind yourself that every time you feel some joy, no matter how small, it's your true self, YOU, reminding you that you are alive and you are still and always will be YOU and no one and nothing can take that away from you.

Hopefully knowing that, even though you are alone, you won't be lonely.

Now go tell your loved ones you are so looking forward to their taking care of you!

Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of

"The Handmaiden,"
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on

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

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


Friday, November 4, 2016

"The Accountant" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Accountant" as well as the Netflix Original documentary "Amanda Knox" and the DVD "The Meddler."  The Book of the Week is fashion designer Donna Karan's memoir "My Journey," and I also review the Broadway musical "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" now on tour.  And as usual, I bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the classic silent film "Foolish Wives."]

The Accountant

An autistic math savant with social issues grows up to be an accountant, a likely career path, but also a cold-blooded killer?  Who knew?

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) grew up with a military Dad (Robert C. Treveiler) and a devoted older brother. Their mother left early when she couldn't deal with Christian's behavior. You see, Christian was, how shall I say this?  A bit difficult?  He didn't talk much and needed things to be in their place and just so, and he also became very frustrated if he couldn't finish something he started and would freak out.  But on the bright side, Christian was a brilliant math whiz. He would make a great accountant.

So Christian's Dad was left on his own to raise the boys and decided that the best way to deal with Christian's special needs was to employ - what can I say? - some strange parenting techniques. Basically he expected that Christian would have to deal with the real world so he had better learn how to deal with bullies. As Dad moved around with the military, he hired martial artists to teach both boys to fight, and no matter how badly they got beaten up, he would not let them give up. He also taught them to shoot guns and rifles so both boys also grew up to be sharpshooters and just general bad asses. 

Despite his social issues, Christian grew up to be an accountant, a brilliant one, in fact. He was so brilliant that he came to the attention of bad guys around the world who needed their books cooked and their money laundered.  So Christian obliged.

However, Christian has now come to the attention of Ray King (J.K. Simmons), a Treasury Department agent in charge of financial crimes.  He is on the verge of retirement, but he wants to find out who this guy is who keeps appearing in surveillance videos with all of the bad guys of the world, and he enlists, well, actually, blackmails agent Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into putting all of her efforts into finding this guy.

In the meantime, Christian has set up a life for himself that is seemingly ordinary...except it's not.  He runs his accounting business out of an ordinary storefront in an ordinary strip mall.  He has an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood and drives an ordinary car.  However, he is also aware that what he is doing is not particularly ordinary, or legal, so he has a safe house (a trailer) where he keeps his weapons and everything he needs to make a fast getaway, should he need to. The trailer also contains a Renoir and a Pollock or two.  Also very not ordinary.  

But when Christian gets wind of the Treasury Department's interest in him, he takes a legitimate job at a prosthetics company to throw them off.  The company is run by Lamar Black (John Lithgow) and his sister (Jean Smart) and Christian is hired to try to find out what happened to 61 million dollars.  But when he and another accountant, Dana Cummings, played by Anna Kendrick, discover what is really happening at that company, all hell breaks loose.  Now Christian isn't just being hunted by the Treasury Department, but also by a mysterious thug (Jon Bernthal), who very politely beats the crap out of people who are not paying their debts and kills the rest in sadistic, though imaginative ways when he feels like it.

There are some questions you might have during the film and some holes in the plot, such as whatever happened to Christian's brother?  Well, let's just say there are several twists and turns and most of your questions will be answered, despite some "Huh?" moments that make you wonder how this or that happened, but mostly it's "I didn't see that coming" moments.  All in all this is an engrossing, well-acted wild ride of a film directed by Gavin O'Connor and showcasing Ben Affleck's talents.

Speaking of which, I am a big Ben Affleck fan. Ben first came to my attention in 1997 in "Chasing Amy," where he sported a very hipster goatee.  But the deal was sealed for me in "Good Will Hunting."  You would think that Matt Damon would have been the one I noticed most, and don't get me wrong, he was very good.  But I was most struck by Ben who played Matt's friend, Chuckie.  Chuckie was a working class guy in a working class town and he knew he would always be that.  But he knows that Will is different and destined for a better life if he would just go for it. There is a scene when Chuckie gives Will a speech about how he needs to get out of their working class town and make something of himself:

"Every day I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out. We have a few drinks, and a few laughs, and it's great. But you know what the best part of my day is? For about ten seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door, 'cause I think, maybe I'll get up there and I'll knock on the door and you won't be there. No goodbye. No see you later. No nothing. You just left. I don't know much, but I know that."

I was so touched.  He really got me. I thought, "Wow," who is this guy?  I have been a big Ben fan ever since.

Here Ben also uses his acting chops to create a complex character. Christian doesn't give a lot of himself to others but Ben is able to create some pathos around Christian, despite his seeming cold-bloodedness.

Anna Kendrick shows her dramatic side playing the young accountant who gets involved with Christian (and doesn't sing, thank goodness), but scriptwriter Bill Dubuque avoids the cliché of a romance and Christian being redeemed by love, though there is definitely some affection between the two characters.  J.K. Simmons is his usual hard-boiled self (but see him in "The Meddler" reviewed below.  He shows an uncharacteristic softer side).

Rosy the Reviewer says...one of the better thrillers of the year.

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

On Netflix and DVD

Amanda Knox (2016)

Whatever happened to Amanda Knox?

You might reply, "Who?"

This is not big news so much anymore and not sure how caught up in it the rest of the country was.  But here in Seattle this was a huge news story and it continues to fascinate since Amanda Knox is a hometown girl.

So here's a recap:

On November 10, 2007 no one knew who Amanda Knox was, not even many Seattleites. She was just a college student from the University of Washington spending an academic year in Perugia, Italy. But on November 11, 2007 that all changed for her when her English roommate, Meredith Kercher, was found murdered in the house they shared.  Though Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raphaele Sollecito were supposedly nowhere near the house when the murder occurred and maintained their innocence, they were charged, tried and convicted of Meredith's murder. 

How did this happen?

This Netflix original documentary tries to sort it all out.

Amanda Knox provides some early narration for the film that starts with actual grainy footage of the Perugian police at the crime scene.  She also provides a cautionary tagline:

"Either I am a psychopath in sheep's clothing or I am you."

Because Amanda didn't respond the way she was supposed to when she found her roommate's body and when later interviewed by police, she and her boyfriend became suspects for the crime.

The film flips back and forth from the past to the present.  We see Amanda as a carefree teen in Seattle before she went to study in Italy.  She was a fairly sheltered kid growing up in Seattle, and she thought that going to Italy would help her turn into an adult and that she would find herself there.  Little did she know what awaited.

When she arrived in Italy, she almost immediately hooked up with a local student, Raphaele Sollecito, who also appears in the film. The other main characters in this true murder mystery also provide narration - the lead prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and Nick Pisa, a reporter for the British tabloid, "The Daily Mail."  

Magnini was and is a controversial figure with some specious actions in his past.  He also fancied himself a modern day Sherlock Holmes.  He latched onto Amanda's and Raphaele's supposed guilt right away and never let go of it, despite evidence to the contrary.  The Perugian police had never had such a high profile case and needed to show they could handle something this big, especially since that small town was crawling with reporters and the murder became a cause celebre. 

Nick Pisa, a freelance journalist was covering the case for "The Daily Mail," and you know what happens when the tabloids get involved.  The British tabs are notorious anyway, especially "The Daily Mail," but with Meredith being British and Amanda being American, they had a field day.  And knife wounds and nicks on Meredith's chin implied to the tabloids that this was some sort of sex game gone wrong, and it just ballooned from there.  Pisa is the guy who came up with calling Amanda "Foxy Knoxy" and showing controversial pictures of her that made her look guilty.  In the film, he makes no effort to deny his part in sensationalizing the case and even admits to printing untrue stories about Amanda.

"I think now, looking back, some of the information that came out was just crazy, really, and completely made up," he reflects at the end. "But hey, what are we supposed to do, you know?"

Also it didn't help that Amanda had a bit of an off-putting demeanor.  She comes across as phlegmatic and even a bit self-centered, and her actions following the murder just added fuel to the fire for the lead prosecutor. The authorities perceived her as hostile and rebellious. But, hey, she was only 20, which for most young people is a very self-centered time of life.  Also the police used very aggressive interrogation techniques (we hear some of that in the film), and Amanda fell victim to making some false statements, something that is not surprising considering her age and getting slapped on the head during hours of interrogation.

If you followed this case, you know the basic facts, but this is the first time we see actual crime scene footage and hear directly from Raphaele and the prosecutor.  Naturally those of us in Seattle were riveted because Amanda was a hometown girl and it all seemed like such an obvious miscarriage of justice by an overzealous prosecutor with issues of his own, not to mention the salacious newspaper reporting.

Directed by Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn, this movie is maddening, not for anything the directors did, because they stated the case well and made their points about why it all went wrong.  No, it was this whole affair that was maddening.  Watching it as an outsider, you just can't believe that Amanda and Raphaele would be convicted of this murder, especially when Rudy Guede, a native of the Ivory Coast and a local drifter/drug dealer, was actually tried and convicted of killing Meredith.  But the two were still convicted and both spent four years in prison mainly because of a maniacal prosecutor, who was hell bent on convicting Amanda and Raphaele in court, and a press that came up with one salacious story after another thus convicting them in the court of public opinion. 

Yes, Magnini had it out for Amanda.  How can you deal with a prosecutor who said he knew Amanda was guilty because he could see it in her eyes?  And the British tabloids fueled the flames of Amanda's guilt with outrageous stories. She was declared guilty in the press before she even went to trial, and Rudy killing Meredith was just not as interesting as the idea of a drug-fueled sex game starring an American college girl so despite Rudy's conviction, the tabloids kept the stories coming.  Add those two things together - the megalomaniacal prosecutor and the bloodthirsty press - and you have the perfect storm of justice gone wrong. 

I can't think of anything worse than being falsely accused of murder and not being able to prove your own innocence, which in this case, she had to do.  Imagine being a young college girl, innocently going off to study in Europe and then suddenly being thrown into a murder case through no fault of your own, convicted and given 26 years in an Italilan jail.  What a nightmare.  Amazingly, Amanda had the fortitude to endure four years in prison before she was granted an appeals trial and ultimately freed.

The last 30 minutes of the film shows the independent Italian DNA people debunking the prosecutions assertions, thus leading to Amanda's and Raphaele's release, though they both had to go through another setback with a reversal of that judgment before a final appeal led to their exoneration.  Despite that, prosecutor Magnini remains unrepentant and convinced of their guilt and, sadly, Meredith's parents and much of the Italian public still believe they are guilty.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating nightmare. If you like true crime films like "Making a Murderer," you will like this film.

The Meddler (2015)

After her husband dies, Marnie Minervini (Susan Sarandon) moves from New York to Los Angeles to start a new life near her daughter.  The title tells it all.

Marnie is a middle-aged widow who decides to move from New York to Los Angeles to be near her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne), a television writer.  It becomes evident right away that Marnie is a "meddler."  She is one of those people who imposes her will on others because she assumes what she likes and believes is what everyone else should like and believe.  We know those people, right?  Marnie is not above walking into her daughter's apartment and looking at Lori's computer history.  Marnie even sees the same shrink as her daughter, not to get help for herself but rather to find out what her daughter is telling the therapist!

But Marnie is not completely wrong to be concerned about her daughter. Lori is a bit of a mess.  She has just had a bad break-up and is having difficulty getting over it and moving on.  She tries to set some boundaries with her mother but the two are co-dependent.  Lori doesn't want her mother in her business but she also needs her mother's help and feels guilty when she tells her mother to bug off.

When Lori has to go back to New York for work, Marnie doesn't know what to do with herself, so she volunteers at a local hospital and babysits for Lori's friends. She also befriends a young guy at the Apple Store and offers to pay for a wedding for one of Lori's friends (Cecily Strong).  You see, Marnie's husband has left her quite a bit of money and she spends it on everyone else because that makes her happy. But she overdoes it big time, and when the therapist confronts her about using her money to buy friends and affection, Marnie has to take a good hard look at her life.

This is a nice vehicle for Sarandon so she can do her "crazy mother" thing, but she actually comes off as sweet and charming, though her New Jersey accent comes and goes and often sounds more like she is from Boston.  Sarandon shows off her considerable acting skills because Marnie could be annoying as hell, but she isn't.  She is actually sweet and kind, and you realize she just wants to help. Yes, she's a meddler, but she is a good person and you root for her to find herself. And I have to say that Sarandon sure has good genes.  She not only looks good for her age, she just looks good! If she has had plastic surgery, I want to know who her doctor is.   

However, Rose Byrne needs to get some other kinds of roles.  She is most often seen as the compliant wife ("Neighbors"), and here she is the compliant daughter.  Harry Hamlin has a small role and it's fun seeing him actually acting.  These days, it seems like he is more famous for being Lisa Rinna's real life hubby on the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" than a movie actor.  Sorry, Harry, but it's true.

J.K. Simmons provides a love interest for Marnie and his role here is a nice departure from his hardass Treasury Department agent in "The Accountant (see review above)" and his hard as nails drum teacher in "Whiplash." Here he is sensitive and kind, and I like him better playing this kind of character.  As an actor, it's actually more difficult to make a sensitive, nice character interesting than it is to play a villain.

Retirees will especially like this film because figuring out what to do with oneself in retirement is one of those things we have to deal with.  A parent who is retired and alone and at loose ends about it is naturally going to want to get into his or her child's business.  But mothers and daughters will also enjoy this - to see how NOT to act.

Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, this film captures that time of life when you feel like you are no longer relevant, so if you want to be happy you need to rethink your expectations of life and change course and focus on those little things that make life worth living.  It's a wonderful depiction of what it's like to try to find purpose (and love) after your children and spouse are gone.

This is one of those "adult" films I have been talking about.  No action heroes, no zombies, just real adult interaction exploring adult issues with great characters, great acting, and a great story - a story that gives all of us older folks hope and you younger kids, what you have to look forward too!

Rosy the Reviewer says...an absolute MUST SEE!


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

228 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Foolish Wives (1922)

A Russian con artist sets up shop in Monte Carlo with his two mistresses, er, "cousins" and attempts to compromise and blackmail the wife of an American diplomat.

Erich Von Stroheim was famous for playing German villains until he also began writing and directing his own films.  Here he plays Count Sergius Karamzin, a Russian lothario who has come to Monaco with his two mistresses posing as Princesses and his cousins, to make a killing in the casino by using counterfeit money. "Princess" Olga is the hoity-toity one and has no problem pinching her maid if she displeases her. "Princess" Vera is a bit of a ditz.  They are visited by Signor Ventucci, the Count's counterfeiter and his rather simple-minded daughter, and you can tell the Count is a decadent as he gives the daughter a villainous, lustful look.  In fact, he gives every woman who comes his way a villainous, lustful look.

When Mr. and Mrs. Hughes arrive (he is an American diplomat), Sergius decides to ingratiate himself with them and seduce Mrs. Hughes and, once compromised, extort money from her.  He introduces himself and says he wishes to be her protector, to keep the con artists away, a cruel irony since she actually needs protection from HIM!  And hence the title. 

Guess what happens?  Sure.  She is a foolish wife who is easily flattered and when given the attention she doesn't get from her husband, even if it's from an oily dude, she still falls for him and gets caught in his web.  Why do we women get all of the blame?  Why couldn't this have been called "Crappy Con Men" or "Hopeless Husbands?"  But foolish or not, the wife gets saved and the Count is shown to be a coward and gets his in the end as is the usual outcome in these early films.  It wasn't until much later in film history that the bad guys ever won.

When the film was released in 1922, it was the most expensive film ever made, billed as "the first million dollar movie."  Von Stroheim intended for the film to run between six and ten hours and play over two evenings, but the studios said no, and the film was cut down to a little over two hours.  You see Von Stroheim was that kind of guy, very much like his film roles, autocratic and superior.  His unwillingness to do what he needed to do to be commercial, his haughty demeanor, his insistence that he be allowed to do whatever he wanted and his over-spending, led to fights with the studios and ultimately fewer and fewer directorial opportunities.  In his later years, he was best known as an actor.  Who can forget him as Gloria Swanson's butler in "Sunset Boulevard (for which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination).

Why it's a Must See: "Greed is Stroheim's most famous film, but [this film] is his masterpiece...This witty, ruthlessly objective film confirms its director as the cinema's first great ironist...The film's tone of cool, lively detachment is enhanced by its exhaustive elaboration of the world around the characters, articulating space through visual strategies...that make us intensely aware of the entire 360-degree field of each scene...there's hardly a shot that doesn't dazzle the eye with rich, shimmering interplay of detail, lighting, gesture, and movement."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

The cinematography was by the famous William Daniels and original prints had hand-coloring by Gustav Brock.  Not sure if the copy I saw was from the original print or a facsimile but I found the changing colors -  from sepia to black and white to blue to red -  to be distracting and even irritating as especially the blue and red lacked clarity. However, I can see that would have been an exciting innovation for 1922 audiences.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Stroheim is a thing to behold and, for me, the main reason to see this film.  With his military uniform, straight back and monocle, he is the picture of the aristocratic decadent. They don't make villains like him anymore.

***Book of the Week***

My Journey: Donna Karan by Donna Karan (2015)



Fashionistas will enjoy this look into what it takes to make it in the fashion industry as a designer.

Donna Karan made a huge splash in the 80's with her "Seven Easy Pieces."
  • The bodysuit
  • Wrap and tie skirt
  • Pants - classic menswear inspired trousers or pencil
  • Jacket
  • Suede wrap jacket
  • Camel coat
  • Gold sequined skirt
  •  Accessorries included a white shirt and tights.

With these few pieces, she proclaimed, you could go anywhere and do anything by mixing and matching, something that was quite revoutionary in the 80's as most clothes were sold as "outfits."

Barbra Streisand was a big fan and, Karan and she actually became besties and Streisand wrote the forward to this book.

Growing up, Karan's father was a tailor and her mother a model.  The Seventh Avenue fashion district in NYC was like home and Karan swore she would never follow in her father's footsteps.  She wanted to be a dancer.  But you know how those things are. She had a talent for fashion and interned with designer Anne Klein, who mentored her and believed in her, and when Klein died unexpectedly right in the middle of fashion season, Karan was able to take up the reins.  However, after success, she was ultimately fired and forced to start her own company, she persevered and thus her place in the fashion world was established. 

Her career soared, but her personal life was a bit of a soap opera. She married Mark, her high school sweetheart, but during their courtship met another man, Stephan, and she fell in love with him, but she was pressured to marry Mark and she did.  When she later reconnected with Stephan, she couldn't deny her feelings and left her husband.

Karan comes off as a ballsy woman with many insecurities - just like many successful women.  She ends the book:

 "As I reflect back, I realize that so much of my career has been an adventure with twists and turns I never could have predicted...I've never been a woman with a laid out strategy.  I have passion and enthusiasm.  The word no is not in my vocabulary.  Don't tell me something's impossible.  In my mind, anything and everything is possible.  I just need to stay open and access my gift -- the light that flows through, that flows through all of us -- and trust that it will lead me in the right direction."

And that's the kind of life she has led.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you love fashion, you will enjoy this book, but you will also enjoy this book if you like stories about strong women living the lives they want to live.


***A Night at the Theatre***

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical


This Tony-Award winning Broadway musical highlights the music and career of Carole King and is now on national tour.

Carole King, nee Carol Joan Klein, was only 15 when she sold her first song.  When she met and teamed up with another songwriter, Jerry Goffin, the two wrote some of the most recognizable songs of the Baby Boomer generation.  She wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics, which is amazing since many of his lyrics echoed a woman's sensibility.  "Natural Woman?"  "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"  A man wrote those lyrics?

Carole married Goffen and they set up shop in the Brill Building where they hung out with another songwriting team, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, but when Carole and Jerry divorced and she moved to California, she found herself and a solo career.  Her solo album "Tapestry" was one of the biggest selling albums of all time. That album was a "tapestry" of its time.

This musical touches on all of that in a fast-paced and breezy way with lots of laughs and lots and lots of wonderful music. Those of us out in the provinces are lucky to have these Broadway touring companies come through our towns.  Sure, we may not see the people who made these shows famous on Broadway, but the actors on tour and the company are just as professional, and we are lucky to get this bit of Broadway.  In this case, Carole King is played by the wonderful Julia Knitel, who was the understudy for the Broadway show, so we certainly were not short changed.  She is brilliant as are the other cast members.

Rosy the Reviewer says...touring across the country now, if this show comes your way, don't miss it.  It's a great night of music and theatre! It's absolutely "Beautiful!"

That's it for this week!

Thanks for reading!


(yes, I feel a Tuesday rant coming on!)


"All the Lonely People"

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