Friday, March 15, 2019

Tyler Perry's "A Madea Family Funeral" and The Week in Reviews

[I review Tyler Perry's "A Madea Family Funeral" as well as DVDs "Nobody's Fool" and "Mary Queen of Scots."  The Book of the Week is "The World According to Mister Rogers."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Song at Midnight."]

A Madea Family Funeral

A family reunion turns into a nightmare...and a funeral!

Sitting in the theatre about five minutes into this film, I wondered why I was there.  Then I remembered.  I had never been a Madea fan so I had never, ever seen any of the Madea films but, when I saw Tyler Perry on talk shows saying this was the 11th and last Madea film he would do, I thought I should see it.  (Plus there wasn't really anything else playing at the theatre I wanted to see)!

But that said, once in the theatre I really didn't know why I was there. 

As you probably know, Perry not only produces and directs these films, he also stars as Mabel "Madea" Simmons, a tell-it-like-it-is matriarch as well as other characters: Madea's brother, Joe, a crotchety, horny old man who likes to smoke pot and talks about it all of the time, and Brian, Joe's son, who is a criminal defense attorney and Madea's nephew.  As Brian, Perry plays a version of himself, who plays straight man to the other old folks characters, so basically he is playing straight man to himself.  

This time Perry also introduces us to and plays Heathrow, another brother, who has had throat cancer and uses a voice box to talk (Heathrow also doesn't have any legs and rolls around in a wheelchair). Sound funny to you yet?  Except for Brian, the characters are all over the top including Madea's sidekicks Hattie (Patrice Lovely) and Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), two characters Perry doesn't play.  

The basic premise of the film is that everyone is gathering for Vianne's (Jen Harper) and Anthony's (Derek Morgan) 40th wedding anniversary. Vianne is Madea's granddaughter, but if you ask me, that makes Madea REALLY old.  Anyway, Vianne's and Anthony's sons Jessie (Rome Flynn) and A.J. (Courtney Burrell), A.J.'s wife Carol (Kj Smith) and Jessie's fiance, Gia (Aeriel Miranda), as well as their daughter, Sylvia (Ciera Payton) and the old folks are all gathering for the anniversary party.  

The problem is that A.J. and Gia are having an affair and have hooked up in a hotel before heading over for the party.  Coincidentally, Anthony and family friend Renee (Quinn Walters) are also hooking up S & M style in the same hotel but that little tryst turns out to be too much for Anthony, who has a heart attack fully erect (if you know what I mean - a joke that is made much of throughout the film ), and the whole sordid mess is not only discovered by A.J. who just happened to be in the hotel room next door getting it on with his brother's fiance, but Madea and her cohorts as well who just happened to be passing by that hotel room on the way to theirs.  So the anniversary celebration turns into a funeral and a lot of family secrets are about to come out.  

Sound funny?

Vianne wants to have the funeral in just two days, so she has put Madea in charge of the funeral.  However, having a funeral so soon is a big no-no in the black culture, where planning for a funeral usually takes a long time so everyone can get there, but Madea complies while also trying to keep her mouth shut about the circumstances of Anthony's demise. Not an easy task for blabber-mouth, Madea.  She also tries to keep the other old folks quiet, too, something that results in a lot of face slapping. 

Sound funny?

Well, Perry is having fun satirizing black stereotypes, tropes and old black folks, and it's non-stop set up and punchline as they all interact. It's one of those situations where so much is being thrown at us in the audience that something is eventually going to make us laugh. But in addition to that, Perry has the most fun satirizing the Black Baptist funeral (if you don't know about Black Baptist funerals, look up Aretha's or here, read this). Though I started out stoned-face, after awhile these characters grew on me, and I did laugh, a little, though I couldn't help but think the Heathrow character could be offensive to similarly disabled people. But then a lot of the jokes in this film could be offensive to people.  I have discovered that's Perry's humor (see review below).

But it's not all slapstick.  Perry intersperses the antics of Madea and friends with the personal relationships of the straight characters, Jessie, A.J., Carol, Gia and Vianne.

Whether or not you approve of Perry's humor (this is mostly too slapstick for me), you have to give Perry credit for the empire he has built and the popularity of his Madea character. He is a writer, a director, a producer and an actor and owns his own studio in Atlanta. In addition to the Madea films, he also produced the highly acclaimed "Precious," wrote and directed "For Colored Girls" and "Acrimony" and had roles in "Gone Girl" and most recently "Vice."

Rosy the Reviewer says...and now I've seen a Madea movie. The end.

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


Nobody's Fool (2018)

A little bit of "Catfish" and a LOT of Tiffany Haddish and Tyler Perry.

I am starting to wonder if Tiffany Haddish has had her day.  She burst onto the Hollywood scene in "Girls Trip" but since then, with "Night School" and now this one, I am starting to wonder if she can carry a film. She is starting to try too hard.

Another one written and directed by Tyler Perry (see "Madea" review above), I just didn't find it funny.  Not my kind of humor. 

Danica (Tika Sumpter) is a hard-working advertising executive who is rising fast in her company.  Life is good and she is ever optimistic. She is also in love with Charlie, a guy she talks to online and on the phone but whom she has never met.  He supposedly works on an oil rig and has bad wifi which is why they can't Facetime.  Right.  But Danica is happy. She is so happy in fact that when she gets out of the bed in the morning, she dances around her apartment, just like Jill Clayburgh in "An Unmarried Woman." Who does that?  Well, Jill did and we know what happened to Jill (and if you don't, watch that movie. It's a classic)!

Even though Danica has never seen Charlie in person, he meets all of Danica's requirements on her list for the perfect man.  She wants a man like her Dad so she is using her mother, Lola's (Whoopi Goldberg) list that she used when looking for a husband. Danica also just so happens to be working on an ad campaign for a perfume called "The List"  about making a list of the traits of the perfect man. Life is good.

However, Danica's world is turned upside down when her sister Tanya (Haddish), fresh out of prison, comes to live with her.  Now we have the fish out of water jokes but, sadly, really lame ones. For example, Tanya is not only impressed with Danica's apartment and clothes, but even can't believe she has hot water. Don't they have hot water in prison? She also can't remember how to wear high heels.  Yawn.  Perry even pulls out that old job application saw we've heard a million times. When Tanya is filling out a job application she asks what she should put where it says "Sex," and decides the best answer is "Plenty." Likewise, where the application asks her "What position do you want to be in?" she thinks it's appropriate to put "Doggy Style." Yawn.

So Danica is in love with Charlie, but when Tanya finds out Danica has never met the guy, she believes that Danica is being catfished so Tanya gets in touch with Nev (Schulman) and Max (Joseph) from the TV show "Catfish (and if you are not watching that show, you should)!  In the meantime, Frank (Omari Hardwick), the barista guy who gives Danica free coffee drinks every day, is clearly in love with her but she doesn't see it. But this is a romantic comedy, the word "comedy" used very loosely, so all of the rom-com tropes are here (and if you need a refresher see "Isn't it Romantic?" that makes fun of all of the rom-com tropes) - mean girl at work, your perfect man is right under your nose, female empowerment, yadda, yadda, yadda and yawn.

Perry's humor seems to rely heavily on jokes laced with sex and raunch. And even if you are a fan of that kind of thing, this is a comedy.  The jokes need to be funny, right? They weren't. I like sexual humor with the best of them but the jokes have to be funny.  

But the bad jokes aside, what is really funny as in strange about this film is that Haddish didn't really need to be in it and her gifts are wasted. The first half is mostly about her as she gets out of prison and tries to acclimate to civilian life, but in fact, the film is really about Danica, and as the movie progresses, Tanya becomes more of an afterthought and doesn't have much to do. It's sad for a comedy like this that the best part was when Nev and Max from "Catfish" showed up. And Whoopi was funny.  But Haddish's talents were wasted.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I was a big fan of Haddish early on, but now I am losing faith. Even Nev, Max and Whoopi couldn't save this.

Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Another retelling of the story of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland.

Despite the fact that I have seen many movies about Mary, Queen of Scots, I have never really understood why she thought she should be Queen of England as well.  And this movie doesn't really help so I went back and did a little research. You should, too, because this film is no history lesson.

But if you know absolutely nothing about this, here it is in a nutshell.

Basically Mary and Queen Elizabeth I were cousins. Mary was related to Elizabeth through their mutual grandmother, Margaret, who was Henry the VIII's older sister (Henry was Elizabeth's father).  Margaret married the King of Scotland, James IV and had only one child who survived infancy, James V, who later was Mary's father.  Mary was only six days old when her father died and she took the throne, so Scotland was ruled by Regents and Mary lived most of her early life in France, eventually marrying Francis, the Dauphin of France.  After his death in 1560, she returned to Scotland.  Long story short, Elizabeth I was ruling England but many English Catholics considered Mary to be the legitimate Queen.  Elizabeth eventually considered her a threat, imprisoned her for many years and eventually had her beheaded.

That's the story in a nutshell, a very small nutshell. There is much more to this story and Mary's and Elizabeth's lives. It's all very complicated. British history is like that.

So now let's get to the movie.

Directed by Josie Rourke with a screenplay by Beau Willimon (based on the book "Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart" by John Guy), the film starts at Mary's (Saoirse Ronan) beheading and, by the way, that is not a spoiler.  If you didn't know Mary was beheaded by Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), get back to those history books! Then the film flashes back to Mary arriving in Scotland from France after the death of her husband.  It's not a welcome homecoming since Scotland had been ruled by her half-brother, James Stuart (James McArdle), and the Catholic Mary faces bitter opposition by the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, John Knox (David Tennant).

Elizabeth is also not so happy that Mary is back and plots to marry her off to loyal Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn), thus having some control over Mary, but Mary falls for Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden) instead, who is a libertine and has sex with everyone around, man or woman. The film goes back and forth between the two courts, following Mary and Elizabeth through all of the intrigue, and ends with the two women having a dramatic meeting, something that never happened in real life.

The film is gorgeous to look at with beautiful cinematography and costumes (though the hairdos of the Scottish women made them look like members of the Warren Jeffs Mormon cult), and the performances are outstanding, something we would expect of Robbie, Ronan and all of the recognizable and distinguised British actors associated with this film. And Margot Robbie is, thankfully, one of those beautiful actresses who isn't afraid to look less than beautiful.  Her Elizabeth goes from a relatively attractive younger Elizabeth with a very high forehead to an older woman trying to cover her age and bad complexion with heavy white powder and a bad wig.  Not a good look but right for the film.  Saoirse Ronan can always be counted on to give a good performance though here her Mary was so earnest and self-righteous, she got on my nerves after awhile.  

But in general, not sure how much of a lesson in history this film really is.  It  concentrates on the relationship between the two women, modernizing the story and giving it a feminist touch about gender and power, making it seem that if the men would just butt out, these two "sisters" would have been able to work things out.  Not sure it was as simple as that.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like historically based costume dramas, see this, but don't expect to really get any better understanding of the whole Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots story because you won't.

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

103 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Song at Midnight (1937)
(original title " Ye ban ge sheng."
Alt. Title: "Midnight Song")

Based on "The Phantom of the Opera," a disfigured musical genius roams a burned out theatre.

The new season of a theatre company has begun and a famous acting troupe makes its way to a dilapidated theatre which has been empty ever since the apparent death there of the great opera star, Song Danping. After a rehearsal, one of the young singer/actors, Sun Xiao-au, stays behind and hears a beautiful voice coming from above and which coaches him through the song.  It is Song Danping, who we discover has not died, but has been haunting the theatre ever since.  

Song befriends the young man and tells his story in flashback.

Ten years before, Song was a rising opera star in love with Li Xiaoxia.  But one of Li's jealous admirers, Tan Jun, convinced Li's father that Song was a bad man, so the feudal lord kidnapped Song and had him whipped.  However, Li continued to see Song with her father's antipathy only increasing her love for Song.  Tang also hangs in there but Li rebuffs him so this time Tang takes it upon himself to hurt Song by throwing acid in his face.

Song's friends help him and care for him, bandaging his face, and when next we see Song, the bandages are being removed and friends and family are horrified by what they see.  Song is also horrified when he sees himself and tells everyone to say he is dead because he could never let Li see him like that. 

Next we flash back to the present and Song reveals himself to Sun and Song tells him that he has been "haunting" the theatre in search of someone to not only take his place as a singer but to also take his place as Li's lover.

This is was China's first "horror film," though present day viewers would probably not consider it very horrific.  But it's a very atmospheric, moody film, shot in light and shadow.  The music is probably not to Western tastes, but many of the songs became popular Chinese standards.  It's also interesting that in this version of Phantom, the protégé is a man and the "phantom" is not an evil character exacting revenge but rather a sympathetic, benevolent character.  Sadly, the film quality on Amazon Prime, where I found the film, wasn't very good which was distracting, and in general, these older films don't really hold up well due to the kind of overacting that was so prevalent then.  

Why it's a Must See: "Gaston Leroux's 1919 novel The Phantom of the Opera gave rise to a score of films.  Ma-Xu Weibang' arguably one of the most inspired."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...for me this was more of a curiosity than a masterpiece, but if you like "Phantom of the Opera" stories, you might enjoy this.
(In Chinese with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers (2003)

The subtitle tells it all.

All of you who grew up with Mister Rogers probably have fond memories of him.  I have to admit that I didn't grow up with him, but after seeing the documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor," I wish I had (and those filmmakers were totally robbed.  That wonderful film wasn't even nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary.  Shame)!  They just don't come any kinder than Fred.  I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes during the entire film.

For those of you who don't know who Fred Rogers was, his children's program "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" ran on public television for over 30 years.  But Mr. Rogers was also a musician, a writer, a producer and a Presbyterian minister.  And if ever there was a religious man who walked the talk, it was Fred Rogers.

In a forward by his wife, Joanne, she describes meeting Fred, their courtship and their family life together and ends with this:

"When I think of the entire persona of Fred Rogers, my inclination is to put him on a very high pedestal, despite the frailties that are part of being human.  Oh, did I mention what a kind person he was?  I suppose that is part of everyone's experience of Fred -- even those who knew him for only a couple of minutes.  I don't mean to sound boastful, but he was my icon before he was anyone else's.  Being Mrs. Fred Rogers has been the most remarkable life I could ever have imagined."

The book is a compilation of stories, anecdotes and insights and is divided into chapters: "The Courage to be Yourself," "Understanding Love," "The Challenges of Inner Discipline," and "We Are All Neighbors."

Here is a taste:

"Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort."

"Children who have learned to be comfortably dependent can become not only comfortably independent, but can also become comfortable with having people depend on them.  They can lean, or stand and be leaned upon, because they know what a good feeling it can be to feel needed."

"More and more I've come to understand that listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another.  Whether the other be an adult or a child, our engagement in listening to who that person is can often be our greatest gift.  Whether that person is speaking or playing or dancing, building or singing or painting, if we care, we can listen."

"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be  to the people you may never even dream of.  There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

Rosy the Reviewer now those of us who didn't have the benefit of growing up with Mister Rogers or who wish they could spend more time with him can through this lovely, inspirational, little book.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


the Netflix original

"Velvet Buzzsaw"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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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, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

Friday, March 8, 2019

"Paddleton" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the Netflix original movie "Paddleton" as well as DVDs "Peppermint" and "The Girl in the Spider's Web."  The Book of the Week is "Dot Journaling," vs. "The Bullet Journal Method,"  basically a new way to keep your "to do" lists.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "David Holzman's Diary."]


Two neighbors form an unlikely friendship that is tested when the younger neighbor discovers he has cancer.

Sometimes there just isn't anything playing at the theatre that you want to make the effort to go out and see especially when you have to sit in a theatre and listen to people crunching popcorn, crinkling their candy wrappers and talking.  So thank you, Netflix.  More and more, Netflix is stepping up and filling that void.  I mean, they are the ones behind "Roma," which just won this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

So this week I decided to stay home and watch a new movie in the comfort of my own home, thanks to Netflix.

Is this a buddy film?  A road trip film?  A bromance?  Yes, yes, and yes.

Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) are neighbors.  Andy lives up and Michael lives down.  The two are lonely misfits who bond over kung fu movies and a game they made up called Paddleton, a kind of paddle ball game where they hit the ball against the wall of an abandoned drive-in movie with the intent of getting the ball into an empty gasoline drum sitting behind them.  They sadly bond further over the fact that Michael has discovered he has incurable cancer, and he wants Andy to help him end his life before the cancer gets too bad.

Andy is the older of the two and somewhere on the spectrum.  Michael is a handsome guy who admits to Andy that he was married once -- for about a year, he's not sure.  Both are misfits in their own way and seemingly lonely loners. 

When Michael discovers that the only pharmacy that will dispense the drugs he needs for his assisted suicide is six hours away, the two embark on a road trip to a cute little Danish tourist town (that we Californians will all recognize as Solvang) where various humorous adventures, of the dark variety, ensue.

And speaking of road trips.  Do you notice that all movie road trips take place on picturesque two-lane roads when there is probably a perfectly good freeway that would get them wherever they need to go much faster?


Written by Alex Lehmann and Duplass and directed by Lehmann, this is basically what the Brits call a two-hander, with the bulk of the film concentrating on Duplass and Romano.  It's an ode to friendship, love and sacrifice and a reminder that most people of a certain age are lonely and most of us are trying to find a connection wherever and however we can.

Andy has no one but Michael so he doesn't want Michael to die.  But he makes the ultimate act of love - sacrifice - in order to help his friend end his life, and in so doing, robs himself of Michael's friendship, leaving him alone.  But the film is not a downer.  Far from it.  It has humor and ends on a note of hope.

And who knew Ray Romano could act?

I mean, really act, like do drama and create a living, breathing, multi-layered character.  I know he starred in the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" but that didn't really require anything more of him than playing himself doing his stand-up comic act, which was where he came from to begin with.  However, I got an inkling of his straight dramatic acting ability when he played the father in "The Big Sick." I actually wrote in my review that his performance was a "revelation," but it was a small part.  Here he gets to flex those acting chops even more in a larger role.  He and Duplass practically do a two-hander, and Ray more than holds up his end.  In fact, he is the heart of this film.  His Andy is a fussy, annoying guy who puts people off, but Romano is able to give him a poignant vulnerability that makes us believe how much his friendship with Michael means to him.  Romano was so good that I was thinking Oscar, though it's probably too early in the year for his performance to be remembered, and the film is a Netflix original. Who knows if performances in Netflix originals even get considered for an Oscar. But with "Roma" being another Netflix offering, who knows?

Duplass is a handsome actor, writer and producer who is probably best known for his work on "The Mindy Project" and the two make for a believable and poignant friendship.

Rosy the will never view Ray Romano the same again.  He's an acting contender.

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


Peppermint (2018)

What would you do if you saw your husband and daughter gun-downed in a drive-by, you ID'd the bad guys, they were arrested and then the bad guys got off because of bent cops and judges?  Why you would get buff and go on a revenge rampage, right?

OK, maybe you wouldn't go on a revenge rampage, but Riley North (Jennifer Garner) does.  So here we go again.  Another revenge movie.  We had "Miss Bala" last month, "Mandy" in January and "War for the Planet of the Apes" before that. Actually, I could go on and on. Revenge movies are a thing.

But before I get into the plot, which I have already basically outlined, I have to confess something.  When I saw the trailer for this, I swear to god that when they were giving us the exposition and showing Riley as the happy mother  before all hell broke loose and she was loving on her little girl, she said "Who’s my girl? My girl has love in her heart, and snow in her eyes," and - here is the clincher - I swear she said "and peppermint in her butt!" I am not lying. The actual quote was "and peppermint in her blood," but until I saw the quote in writing, I was absolutely certain I heard "peppermint in her butt," and I thought, Whaaaat? What a great name for a movie...  I need to see this movie. 

So you can guess that I was disappointed when I found out what the quote actually was.  But I wasn't just disappointed because her daughter didn't have peppermint in her butt. I was basically disappointed because this was yet another classic revenge movie that started with the first "Death Wish (the original one)" - family mercilessly murdered, no justice, the one left behind dedicates his or her life to getting buff and then all hell breaks loose as the bad guys get what's coming to them.

Riley North is married to Chris (Jeff Hephner) and Chris has gotten himself involved with some bad guys who think it would be a good idea to rob a big drug cartel kingpin, Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba).  Though Chris backs out at the last minute, Garcia finds out about the planned robbery and decides to make those guys examples, including Chris.  Chris, Riley and their daughter Carly are gunned down, with only Riley surviving.  She is able to identify the shooters in a line-up and they go on trial.  All of the evidence points to them but a crooked judge, who is on the cartel's payroll, lets them off.

Well, that ain't OK with our Riley and she starts to make an example of all of them! 

I am glad that Jennifer Garner is getting on with her life after putting her career on hold and devoting herself to family when she was married to Ben Affleck, so this film is a kind of fantasy revenge of its own kind, but I wish it hadn't been this movie.  I know the powers that be were capitalizing on her action stint in "Alias," but wouldn't it have been a better fantasy revenge on Ben if she had starred in a hugely successful, big production romantic comedy where she was the successful CEO of a fashion company wearing really great clothes and a really handsome, much younger, guy knocks her off her feet and they fall in love in real life?  Oh, wait, that's my fantasy.  Whatever...

Written by Chad St. John and directed by Pierre Morel, I didn't really like this, though I certainly like my revenge movies from time to time. But this just isn't a very good one.  It's one of those films about the very, very good against the very, very bad with nothing in between. Though I did like the fact that Riley didn't let any of the bad guys make speeches before she killed them.  No chance they were going to distract her. She just walked up to them and let them have it.  That was satisfying. And some of the take-downs were spectacular.  But those were the only things I really liked. Plus Garner wore a really bad wig, much of the film was predictable and over the top, and I am just sick of the bad guys being Mexican drug lords.  How about getting closer to reality with the very bad guys being politicians and government officials (and I won't name names but you know who I mean)?

Rosy the Reviewer says...the ending smacks of a sequel but I hope not.  I would rather see Jennifer in that romantic comedy I mentioned instead.  She needs a happy ending.

The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)

This film is yet another badass woman kicking men's butts.

Sadly, Claire Foy is horribly miscast and the convoluted plot adapted by David Lagercrantz from his own book (he is carrying on the series started by Stieg Larsson) makes for a confusing story.  This is the fourth in the series that was started by Swedish writer Larsson, though the first three formed a trilogy and this story wasn't written by him.  And it shows.  If you have not read the books or seen the earlier films, this one could be quite confusing, not to mention if you have seen the trailer. And if you saw the trailer and expected the movie to be about a tough woman exacting revenge on men who mistreat women as the trailer implies, you will be disappointed.  This movie is basically about spies, cyber criminals and yet more corrupt government officials.

The film begins with a back story about Lisbeth Salander (who most of us already met in the film version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" which started out as a Swedish film starring Noomie Rapace and then was remade in an English version starring Rooney Mara - the Swedes continued the film trilogy with the other two).  

Lisbeth Salander is a tough cookie, tatted up and pierced, punk hair and wearing lots of leather. She doesn't take any crap from men and has been known to exact revenge on men who do give women crap. Even at a young age, Lisbeth stood her ground against men, even from her own father who was a pedophile.  She tried to get her sister, Camilla, to leave home with her, but when she chose her Dad instead, Lisbeth jumps out of the window, a really tall window, very high up, which made it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief, so right there, I thought this wasn't going to be very good.  And I was right.

When next we see Lisbeth, she is all grown up and saving a woman from her wife-beating husband so we are led to believe that this is what Lisbeth is doing now, a one-woman vigilante saving abused women.  But you would be wrong. She did that in the other films but now appears to be spending most of her time with her other sideline, computer hacking. That first scene was a just a little cameo to show what a tough cookie Lisbeth is. I wish the film had stuck to that premise, because after that first scene, the story goes off the rails.

This film is just another one of those films where someone invents some software that could end the world and it could fall into the wrong hands - this time it's something called Firefall and the evil Spiders want it - and Lisbeth, along with journalist Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason), who also figured in the earlier films, must use her cyber skills to make sure they don't get it.

Directed by Fede Alvarez, the movie is very stylishly filmed with great production values, but for all of the good actors and what should have been a compelling story, the film is surprisingly dull with all kinds of things taking place coincidentally and conveniently for the plot, such as the little boy figuring out the needed password so easily, the NSA guy conveniently also being a sharp shooter and the final reveal of who was really the brains behind the bad guys (hint:  someone once very close to Lisbeth). I get bugged by so many coincidences used to further the plot.

But the biggest weakness of the film was the casting of Claire Foy as Lisbeth. As an actress, it makes sense that she would want to rid herself of her Queen Elizabeth image ("The Crown") but she did not need to go this far to prove the point. Much as I love her and think she is a really good actress, this was not the right part for her.  Her Swedish accent was annoying and she just didn't have the edge that Noomie Rapace and Rooney Mara, the earlier Lisbeth's, were able to project.  Despite her tough talking, I just didn't believe her.  She just looked too soft, like a young girl trying to act tough.

Rosy the Reviewer says...loved the earlier films so had high hopes for this one.  Sadly, I was disappointed.

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

104 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

David Holzman's Diary (1967)

David Holzman (L.M. Kit Carson) is a filmmaker who decides he needs to film his own life in order to understand it better (it's the 60's, what can I say)?

But what starts out looking like a documentary is actually a movie about making a documentary. Holzman is full of angst about his life and its meaning.  Like I said, it's the 60's and everyone was existential and full of angst then.  As he looks directly into the camera trying to explain what and why, he quotes Godard (oh, god) who said, "Film is truth 24 times a second."  So Holzman thinks that if he documents his life through film, he will understand himself better.

So he takes a week out of his life and films everything, his neighborhood (71st Street, on the Upper West Side of New York City), his friend, Pepe (Lorenzo Mans), his girlfriend, Penny (Eileen Dietz), a model, who doesn't want any part of it, the woman in the apartment across the street who he spies on and an odd assortment of other people he runs into.

Directed by Jim McBride with only a $2500 budget, this is a movie pretending to be a documentary that explores the difference between fiction and reality over a period of one week in July 1967.  It's also very 60's with all of that trying to get in touch with ourselves stuff we did back then.  We were also very tolerant of filmmakers, too.  I mean, how else would Andy Warhol have gotten away with all of those films like "Eat" and "Sleep," which were exactly what the titles described - one of a man eating mushrooms and the other of a man sleeping. It was important to be "deep" in the 60's and finding meaning in films like that was considered "deep," I guess.

This film isn't quite like that, but close, and I found David to be quite obnoxious and so did everyone else he came across in the film.  He alienated everyone around him.  He also didn't find what he was looking for.

"I thought this would be a film about things...about the mystery of things.  I thought I would get this stuff on celluloid and I could control it and rearrange it until I could see what it meant. My life, on film, and I could understand, and I could see what was going on.  And I could make the connections and see what I was going to do. That didn't happen."

And that's the problem with this film.  Nothing did happen.  But I think that was the point.  It was a "mockumentary" about making a documentary and the self-indulgent naval gazing so prevalent in the 60's.

Holzman went on to say at the end,

"You haven't told me anything.  This is ridiculous."

And I thought, "I know."

But McBride's intent was interesting, especially since it was a precursor to what we have now in social media, with people over-sharing even the most mundane aspect of their lives, but as a whole this was not a particularly satisfying film experience.

Why it's a Must See: "Far from a standard 'mockumentary,' [director Jim] McBride's recreation of the stages of this audiovisual diary is peppered with dramatic ellipses, emotional suspense, and a pleasing, always surprising set of variations.  The result is remarkably prescient.  The cinema-verite obsessions of the 1960's targeted here were to reach their full flowering much later, in the eras of video and digital."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Rosy the Reviewer says...a cautionary tale to social media fanatics reminding them (and us) just how boring our and our friends lives really are. 
(b & w)

***The Book of the Week***

(Well, two actually)!

Dot Journaling -- A Practical Guide - How to Start and Keep a Planner, To-Do List and Diary That'll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together by Rachel Wilkerson Miller (2017)

Helping us get our lives together?  That's a tall order.

Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll (2018)

Order the present and design the future? Another tall order.

But I am now obsessed.

I actually am a firm believer in planning, to-do lists and diaries so these two books are right up my alley. And I am old school.  I mean, I have an IPhone but I never use it as my calendar or to-do list.  I still use my old Filofax.

So a planner, a diary, a to-do list, and then places to be creative, etc.?  I'm in.  But which is better?  Dot journaling or bullet journaling?

Let's compare.

How are they the same?

  • Both use a dot journal (that means the pages are dotted which supposedly makes it easier to use your ruler to create calendars, columns and to write in straight lines)
  • Both instruct you to add page numbers to your journal and make an index
  • Both have keys so you know the status of everything you list

  • Both have you title each page
  • Both recommend that you set up future spreads (or logs), monthly spreads (or logs), weekly spreads (or logs) and daily spreads (or logs)
  • Both instruct tracking habits, bills, debts, ideas etc. and making food diaries, to-do lists, shopping lists, etc.
  • You can add lists of quotes, thoughts and anything else you want to jot down
  • You can get creative and spend tons of money on colored pens, stickers and other art supplies

So how are the two methods different?

Except for some differences in jargon, they aren't.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am going to give it a try, but as for which book?  The Miller book is easier to use, more colorful and fun (and would't you know, she also has one called "How to Bullet Plan!") But I also discovered there are journals out there that are already set up! Why not just do that?

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


Tyler Perry's

"A Madea Family Funeral"


The Week in Reviews
(What To See and What To Avoid)

as well as

the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See

Before I Die Project" 

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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, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.