Friday, April 12, 2019

"Gloria Bell" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movie "Gloria Bell" as well as DVDs "Beast" and "Assassination Nation."  The Book of the Week is "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View."  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Unbelievable Truth."]

Gloria Bell

It ain't easy finding love when you are a woman of a certain age...but somehow you keep dancing.

Now here's a dilemma.  You know how much I hate English version remakes of foreign films, right?  But what do I do when it's an English version remake by the very guy who did the original foreign film? One that I loved?

I saw the original version of this ("Gloria") directed by Chilean director Sebastian Lelio in 2013.  Starring Paulina Garcia, it was a lovely celebration of Gloria's single life in Santiago, Chile. I absolutely loved it. Now five years later, Julianne Moore plays the American Gloria, and this time Lelio co-writes with Alice Johnson Boher, probably to get the Americanisms right, but it's basically the same story as his original "Gloria."  However, despite the fact it's almost identical to the original film (though set in the U.S.), I didn't love it quite as much as the first one. Lelio wanted to make this version specifically so that Julianne Moore could shine in the part. Though Moore's performance is a tour de force, sadly she just didn't have the same impact on me as Garcia did.  But the story itself is a lovely one, and if you haven't seen "Gloria," then I can definitely recommend this version.

Gloria is a single lady of a certain age.  She is an empty nester, living alone in an apartment with a crazy man upstairs, who keeps her awake as he yells and carries on ,and a hairless cat that keeps getting into her apartment. Gloria's adult children have their own lives.  Her son, Peter (Michael Cera in a very small role), is caring for his newborn baby while his wife is supposedly off finding herself.  Her daughter, Anne (Caren Pistorius), has met a Swedish surfer and plans to move to Sweden.  So Gloria is on her own.  But she has a job in an insurance agency, her own apartment, even if it comes with a crazy guy upstairs, and when she gets lonely she likes to get dressed up and go out dancing at a nearby club that caters to the over-50 crowd.  She loves to dance and is doing just fine, thank you very much.

But one night, Gloria meets Arnold (John Turturro).  They take to each other immediately in more ways than one and Gloria is happy until she realizes Arnold has a huge amount of baggage.  He is getting divorced but can't seem to extricate himself from his wife and daughters. They are always calling him and interrupting his time with Gloria.  And when called, he goes to them much to Gloria's disappointment.  He also has this habit of just disappearing.  When Gloria takes him to visit her family, he just quietly leaves and Gloria has no idea where he went much to her embarrassment.  Turns out he didn't feel he was getting any attention from her.  So Gloria breaks up with him, then takes him back but when she realizes that Arnold is never going to change, that he is hopelessly tied to his needy family, she takes matters into her own hands.

Julianne Moore is quite good in this.  She sheds her actressy mannerisms that have crept up on her over the years and I was drawn in.  But, she just didn't have the pathos that Garcia had in the original and I couldn't get that out of my mind, hence the main reason why I DON'T LIKE REMAKES!

Turturro is a strange choice as a love interest.  I mean, he is more known for quirky roles but he is a wonderful actor and he makes it work. He is very believable as a guy with, shall I say, problems?

Lelio has created a wonderful nuanced female character which is amazing since he is a man. So many men write female characters and get it wrong.  But he gets it just right and whether she is played by Paulina Garcia or Julianne Moore, Gloria's story is a fascinating one just for its very ordinariness. She could be any of us and you care about her. And she reminds us that no matter what, life goes on. Just dance!

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you saw the first "Gloria," you probably don't need to see this one unless you are a huge Julianne Moore fan or need a film for grown-ups.  But if you didn't see the first one and, particularly if you are a woman of a certain age, you will enjoy this mostly because you will be able to relate and because there are so few films these days aimed at us.

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


Beast (2017)

A troubled young woman meets a troubled young man.  It's trouble!

Moll (Jessie Buckley) is a strange young English woman who works as a tour guide and lives with her wealthy family on the isolated island of Jersey, helping her family care for her father who has dementia. Moll is a repressed, underappreciated girl with a domineering mother (Geraldine James), who keeps her under her thumb, and a disrespectful sister who usurps Moll's birthday by taking the birthday party as a platform for announcing she is having twins.

The town Moll lives in is experiencing a slew of murders so everyone is on edge.  After her sister hijacks her birthday party, Moll seeks refuge at a club on the beach where she meets a young man who takes her out onto the beach and tries to force himself on her but she is rescued by Pascal (Johnny Flynn), a poacher with a rifle and a brace of dead rabbits. He is handsome and mysterious where Moll is quiet and repressed. He is the antithesis to her uptight family so Moll throws herself into the relationship. The two become lovers which is not something her family approves of at all because Pascal is considered an outsider.  He's also a moody guy with few manners and a violent streak and it doesn't help that he is also a suspect in the murders, none of which are traits one's mother would approve of.

But Moll has her own demons. Number one, she appears to hate herself and doesn't get along with her family. Number 2, she has a violent streak too.  After her sister gets Pascal kicked out of the country club because he is wearing jeans, Moll disowns her family and moves in with Pascal where she admits to him that she stabbed one of her classmates though she claims it was in self defense. Perhaps there is a reason why Moll's mother keeps a close eye on her.

But despite the fact that Moll comes from a life of privilege and Pascal is an outsider, they are both misfits. Moll acknowledges that they are "the same."  But what does that really mean?

Written and directed by Michael Pearce (it's his feature film debut) and starring mostly unknowns, this is a British mystery thriller combined with a strange take on the Beauty and the Beast story but the crux of the film is... who or what is the beast?

The film was nominated for a 2019 BAFTA (British equivalent of the Oscars) for Outstanding British Film of the Year and Pearce won one for Outstanding Debut for Writer, Director or Producer. The film garnered a slew of other nominations. Buckley won an British Independent Film Award in 2018 for Most Promising Newcomer and won the British/Irish Actress of the Year award from the London Critics Circle in 2019 and she is indeed an interesting actress.  Not the usual look we expect from ingenues.  My main problem with the film was how unlikable everyone was but I guess that was the point.

Rosy the Reviewer says...fresh, original and unforgettable.

Assassination Nation (2018)

Someone has hacked everyone's cell phone and computer data exposing the dark secrets of the small town of Salem.  A modern day witch hunt ensues.

"This is the story of how my town of Salem lost it's M...F... mind."

So says Lily Colson (Odessa Young) in voiceover as the film begins. Lily and her three girlfriends, Bex (Hari Nef), Sara (Suki Waterhouse) and Em (Abra) could be described as mean girls.  They lord over their high school and take no prisoners. Let's just say that Lily has high self esteem.  She has a boyfriend but texts with a guy she calls "Daddy." Bex is a trans girl who has sex at a party with her crush, Diamond (Danny Ramirez), but then he tells her to keep it to herself because he is ashamed of his own attraction to Bex. Sara and Em are odd sisters.

When the mayor's computer data is hacked and pictures of him in compromising situations are exposed, that's one thing, but then the high school principal's pictures of his six year old daughter naked are hacked into and everyone thinks he's a pedophile, so that's really bad, and then all kinds of naked selfies start showing up and things go from bad to worse.  Someone has hacked into the townspeople's phones and computers and their text messages and pictures are all exposed.  The town is in major meltdown.

And somehow the source of the problem is traced to Lily's IP address and she gets blamed. Everyone's messages are out in public and anarchy ensues.  The men in town don masks and set out to take revenge so the girls arm up and decide to take on the town.  A bloody night ensues.

You might ask what is a woman of a certain age doing watching a teenage horror film. I had to ask myself that too.  But maybe it's a good thing for adults to see this so we know what our young people are up to when the old folks aren't watching. 

But the film has a serious side. The film takes on a whole host of issues:  homophobia, hypocrisy, guns, sex, mob mentality and, of course, social media. What if all of your texts were made public? What happens when our proclivities are exposed?  We can be "assassinated," literally and figuratively. It's all about the perils of the Internet, a modern day Salem witch hunt, and a statement about our current political culture - when real, important and scary stuff is happening but what do we do?  We take selfies and party. 

Written and directed by Sam Levinson, the film uses split screen techniques and is stylish and modern in its presentation with lots of current music and lots and lots of sex and bad language and all kinds of teenaged shenanigans.  Let's just say, it's a lot of fun, even for this old lady!

Rosy the Reviewer says..."Heathers" meets "The Purge" with a LOT of social commentary thrown in.

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

99 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

What is the truth about why Josh was in prison? And do we care?

Josh (Robert John Burke) is just out of prison and returns to his hometown to encounter a bunch of weirdos.  First, there is Audrey (Adrienne Shelly), a high schooler who thinks a nuclear bomb is going to end the world at any minute. Audrey is supposed to be a teenager but if she is a teenager, I am Jennifer Lopez.  Then there is Pearl (Julia McNeal), the sister and daughter of two people Josh supposedly killed. However, the truth about all of that is finally revealed.

Written and directed by Hal Hartley, who was a key figure in the independent film movement of the 80's and 90's, the bad acting and the way this movie was filmed reminded me of one of those porn films that had a plot, not that I would know anything about porn films.  And did I say the acting was bad?  But the film also reminded me of early Quentin Tarantino without the gore.  

All of the actors are unknowns except for a very young Edie Falco in only her first feature film role.

Why it's a Must See: "...highly intriguing, if not always fully successful first feature by independent writer-director Hal Hartley...The unvarnished quality of some of the acting limits this effort in spots, but the quirky originality of the story, characters, and filmmaking, and the offbeat, deadpan humor serve to keep the audience curious and alert."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Faint praise for a movie I am supposed to be sure I see before I die, but I have to admit, despite the bad acting and the amateurish quality of the filmmaking, I watched it all the way through, never pressing that old fast-forward button on the remote which I must admit I sometimes do when a movie is particularly bad, or worse, boring.  I guess I wanted to see what the "unbelievable truth" actually was. Turns out it was underwhelming.  I had already figured it out. But the film also had a lot of humor though it was one of those films where I wasn't sure if the humor was intentional or not.  I think it was.  Hartley was showing us just how strange and wierd our little hometowns are under the surface of normalcy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a strange little film with terrible acting but the writing is smart and the cinematography is compelling.  It's like a porn film without the porn but do you need to see this before you die?  Not really.

***The Book of the Week***

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of "The View" by Ramin Setoodeh (2019)

What really has gone on at "The View?"

You may or may not know that I am a huge fan of  "The View." It's a regular part of my retirement routine.  Come to think of it, thanks to TIVO, it was a regular part of my work life too. I have been a fan for a long time. What I am not a fan of is a hatchet job on something I like and have respect for.  I am also not really a fan of a man writing about "The View," especially when he uses words like "screeching" and "bickering" and "catfights"  to describe what goes on there.

So was this book a hatchet job?

I mean what's a MAN doing writing about "The View?"  I am immediately suspect.  But he also immediately defends himself in his dedication: "To my mom, who taught me to always listen to a woman with a strong point of view."

Setoodeh does a quick recap of daytime talk television which started with Donohue and morphed into Geraldo's theatrics (remember his broken nose?), Maury's pronouncements - "You ARE the father!" - and the fistfights on Springer.  What did a serious journalist like Barbara Walters want to do getting herself into that kind of daytime talk TV scene?

Setoodeh interviewed nearly every host and ex-host and exposes how Rosie and Whoopi supposedly tried to hijack the show.  He also doesn't spare any of  the humiliations and betrayals either that went on amongst all of the various hosts.

Over the years I have had my favorites.  Right now, I think the table is almost perfect.  Love Whoopi, love Sunny, love Joy and Meghan has grown on me.  She is the main conservative voice and I know a conservative voice needs to be there but she needs to stop interrupting Joy or Joy will rip her a new one.  But Abby?  Not long for the table. She doesn't bring very much. Bring on Anna Navarro.  She is fantastic. Always on point and funny as hell.

As for past hosts:  loved Rosie (who can forget her skewering of Trump) and Sherri Shepherd, even though she didn't come equipped with very much intellectual baggage.  She thought the world was flat.  But she was always joyful. Sherri was just happy to be there and it showed.

Hosts who I did not like were many and varied and I am glad they are gone.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck (for obvious reasons but in case not to you - self-righteous and smug to the nth degree. I was initially happy to have her there because I am a big "Survivor" fan but it didn't take long listening to her before I felt I had just spent three months on "Survivor"); Nicolle Wallace (her voice was so annoying it was like listening to a car alarm going off - all day long); Sara Haines (too perky for me.  I hate perky - and she kept hitting Joy every time she made a point). But I kind of get why they were there. 

But hosts who should never have been there at all?  

I am still shaking my head about these folks and so glad those days are over - in order of how glad I am that they are gone from happy to really happy: 

Jedediah Bila (no sense of humor); Michelle Collins (too much interjecting of what she thought was humor, none of which was funny and most of which was inappropriate but she seemed like a well-meaning nice girl); Jenny McCarthy (who actually admits working on the show was the worst time of her life and it showed.  I hated every minute of it too - and I used to like her back in her MTV days.  She was another one with a very grating, annoying voice); Candace Cameron Bure (if I had to hear her talk about being a Christian one more time...);  Raven Symone (All I can ask is...Why? She had absolutely no clue what was going on); and Rosie Perez  (People, what were you thinking?).  

Can't comment on Meredith Viera when she was on the show, because I wasn't a fan back in those days, but when I do see her I think she sounds too much like a TV anchor - almost too much warmth, seems fake - nor do I have an opinion on Debbie Matenopoulos or Lisa Ling or even Star Jones, for that matter, because I wasn't watching then.  

But Setoodeh will bring you up to speed on all of it, how they came in and how they went out. He certainly seemed to have a backstage pass to all of this.  Not really a hatchet job, but I just would have felt better if this book had been written by a woman.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like juicy celebrity stuff, this is juicy.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday




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, April 5, 2019

"Us" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Us" as well as DVDs "On Chesil Beach" and "Vox Lux."  The Book of the Week is "Help Me!: One Woman's Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Can Really Change Your Life,"  I also bring you-up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die" with "Peking Opera Blues."]


A family's peaceful vacation is disrupted when their doppelgangers arrive and terrorize them.

Little Adelaide is on vacation at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in 1986.  When her parents get into a fight, she wanders off.  She goes down to the beach and sees an eerie fun house. When she goes in, she finds herself in a hall of mirrors.  Then the lights go off and as she tries to find her way out, she comes face to face with....herself!

And so begins Jordan Peele's latest horror film that is also an expose of American racial, cultural and political issues. Jordan Peele uses the horror genre as his voice to open discussion about serious current issues, and he is very good at it.  He showcases the issues but not at the expense of the horror.  He did that in "Get Out!" and he does it again here and though "Get Out!" was scary it was also funny.  This one is just plain scary.

Flash forward and now little Adelaide is the all grown up Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) married to husband, Gabe (Winston Duke), with a daughter, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son, Jason (Evan Alex).  They are a well-to-do couple and their children are happy and smart. They are all happily on their way to their summer house near Santa Cruz, bopping along to the music in the car, though Adelaide is a bit nervous remembering her scary experience years ago on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  Later, wouldn't you know, when they get to the beach with their friends, Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker), that eerie fun house is still there and some strange things start happening.

But nothing as strange as what happens when they get home.

They are settling in for the night when Jason sees some people out in the driveway.  When Gabe goes out to investigate and asks the strangers to identify themselves, they do not reply, but Jason says, "It's us."

And it is...well, sort of.

It's a family that looks exactly like Adelaide, Gabe, Zora and Jason except their names are Red, Abraham, Unbrae and Pluto and they are sporting red jumpsuits and carrying large scissors.  When Gabe asks, "Who are you people?" and Red finally answers, she says, "We are Americans."

And that sets the tone.  

In "Get Out," Peele exposed race relations.  Here he uses the home invasion genre to expose our current American experience and the everyday things we should really be scared of.

It's a home invasion by perverted versions of Adelaide and her family, and Adelaide, Gabe, Zora and Jason must fight these doppelgangers to the death to save themselves, a scary horror film to say the least.  I mean, a fight to the death with yourself?  

But what is really scary is Peele's message:  there are voiceless, marginalized people out there who get blamed for everything.  Those with voices say, "It's not us, it's them."  But us?  We need to realize that we are not blameless, unwitting players in the ills of the world. Pushed to their limits the voiceless and the marginalized might let loose on the privileged people.  And all of us, each and everyone of us has a monster within that when provoked could be unleashed.

Written and directed by Peele, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for "Get Out!" this is a thought-provoking film without skimping on the horror.  This is a scary movie.  But I have to say that while this was an enjoyable film experience, in a scary way, for me it didn't quite have the impact of  "Get Out."  Too many "Huh?" moments, but perhaps this is one of those films that needs to be seen more than once to get all of the points Peele has thrown in.  Watch it the first time for the horror, then see it again to put together the message and make the pieces all fit.  It's also fun to try to see which other horror films Peele pays homage to, "The Shining" being one.

All of the actors play a dual role - Us and Them - which also gives the actors a chance to explore two sides of their acting ranges - good and evil.  Nyong'o is especially wonderful employing a scary raspy voice which she says was modeled after a rare disorder called spasmodic dysphonia and for which she has gotten some flack.  But in this day and age, it seems everyone gets flack about something.  I was also impressed by the kid actors.  For once I wasn't annoyed.  They were wonderful as well.

Rosy the Reviewer says...As good as "Get Out?"  Maybe not, but it's still just what a good film is supposed to be - an enjoyable and, in this case, scary film, but one that also makes you think.

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


On Chesil Beach (2017)

Why being a virgin on your wedding night can be a very bad thing!

Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ronan) are on their honeymoon in a seaside hotel on the coast of England. It's 1962 and both are awkward and uneasy with each other.  In flashbacks we see the evolution of their love story.

Edward is a poor young man who loves rock and roll and whose father is a teacher and his mother has mental issues. She had been hit in the head by the open door of a moving train and was never the same.  Who would be?  Florence is upper class and has a very critical mother. She also plays violin in a quartet and loves classical music.  

After graduating university, it's love at first sight for both of them but it's 1962 and both are repressed sexually. They are also burdened by the class disparity between them. And it doesn't help that Edward is not a very sensitive guy, quick to anger and belligerence.  Florence is inexperienced and dominated by her father who may or may not have molested her. And to make it all worse, both are virgins, so these two are not particularly good candidates for a successful wedding night.  So when the wedding night does happen, let's just say it doesn't happen.  Both disappoint each other and what happened that night appears to influence the rest of their lives. We see them 13 years later and then 45 years later, both wondering what might have been.

If ever there was an indictment of being a virgin on your wedding night this is it! 

Written by Ian McEwan from his novel and directed by Dominic Cooke, this is a slow moving character study of life in England during the early 1960's, before the sexual revolution when no one talked about sex and expectations were high when it came to romance.  And I have to say that the movie was as frustrating as Edward's and Florence's wedding night.  I know it's before the sexual revolution when people not only had sex all of the time but they talked about it as well, but these two are so stilted and closed-up it's almost laughable and I don't think that was the point here. The laughing part, I mean.  I know these two are supposed to be repressed but it didn't feel like they felt anything for each other at all.  It was difficult to care about this love affair.  It could be that Ronan and Howle didn't really have much chemistry but that could have been a directorial and acting call because Edward and Florence are supposed to be so awkward.  But it wasn't fun to watch.

Rosy the Reviewer...if you like Ronan and slow moving, moody British films set in picturesque British landscapes, you might like this but don't blame me if you don't.

Vox Lux (2018)

A young girl who survives a school shooting becomes an unexpected pop star.

The film begins in 1999 when teen sisters Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) and Eleanor (Stacy Martin) survive a school shooting.  The girls write a song about it, Celeste sings it at the memorial service, the song takes off and Celeste becomes a pop celebrity.  She is discovered by a street-smart manager (Jude Law) and her career takes off.

Fast forward to 2017 and Celeste (Natalie Portman) is now 31, the mother of a teen, still a pop star, though now a more hardened one and dealing with a media scandal. Yet another act of violence has occurred, this time on a beach and the shooters are wearing masks from one of Celeste's videos.

Written and directed by Brady Corbet, the film is slow to get going - and be warned. Natalie Portman does not even show up until half way through the film and when she does, the film fizzles. Natalie Portman does not a believable rock star make.  She overacts the part like mad.  But the film shows how the media exploits tragedy, turns victims into celebrities and the price people pay for fame.  What it doesn't do is tell us anything new about that phenomenon.

The film started out strong and then fizzled but Raffey Cassidy is a young actress to watch.  She plays the young Celeste as well as Celeste's daughter and she is the heart and soul of this film.

Rosy the Reviewer interesting premise that didn't really go anywhere.

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

100 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Peking Opera Blues (1986)

An epic film about three young women - a revolutionary, an aspiring actress, and a jewel thief - set in an opera house in the early twentieth century during Sun Yat-Sen's bid to establish a democratic republic in China.

It's 1913 Beijing, during Yuan Shikai's presidency of the country that brings together an unlikely team of heroines: Tsao Wan (Brigitte Lin), a patriotic rebel who dresses as a man; Sheung Hung (Cherie Chung), a woman in search of a missing box of jewels; and Bai Niu (Sally Yeh), the daughter of a Peking Opera impresario.

Directed by Hark Tsui, this film is like a cartoon and I haven't really liked cartoons since I was six.

Why it's a Must See: "The political themes and gender issues at work within the narrative...provide a fascinating subtext for this classic of contemporary Hong Kong film.  One can only reflect back on such a burst of pure cinematic pleasure with bittersweet nostalgia [because the] Hong Kong film industry is in a catastrophic slump."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

I am thinking the Hong Kong film industry must have also been in a slump back then when this film was made. It's terrible.  I am starting to think those folks who came up with those movies in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book were smoking crack.  I am also starting to think that now that I have less than 100 films to go, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel! Haven't seen a film I liked in awhile!

Quentin Tarantino
 refers to this film as "one of the greatest films ever made" and "a blast––it's a lot of fun."  I am going to have to rethink what I think about old Quentin. He must have been smoking something too.

Rosy the Reviewer says...for me, unwatchable...and I paid good money to rent it from VOD!

(In Chinese with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

Help Me!: One Woman's Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Can Really Change Your Life by Marianne Powers (2019)

Now here's an idea!  See if all of those damn self-help books actually help!

During yet another day nursing a hangover watching "The Kardashians" and the Housewives, Marianne Powers decides she needs to do something about her life.  Ever a self-help book maven, she decides to really put them to the test.  She decides to read one self-help book a month and follow it's advice to the letter for an entire year.

Will she find happiness?

The books she tested will be familiar to those of us who have also dabbled:

1. "Fear the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers
"Take a risk a day - one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you've done it."

2. "Money, a Love Story" by Kate Northrup
"Our relationship to money is a direct reflection of how much we value ourselves."

3. "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne
"Whatever you dream can be yours."

4. "Rejection Therapy with Jason Comely" (this is actually a game, not a book)
"You must be rejected by another person at least once, every single day."

5. "F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way" by John C. Parkin
"If you're feeling stressed about something, say "F**k It" and you will feel instantly better."

6. "Unleash the Power Within, With Tony Robbins"
"There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that, once unleashed, can make any vision, dream, or desire a reality."

7. "Angels, with Doreen Virtue"
"We all have angels guiding us...They look after us.  They heal us, touch us, comfort us with invisible warm hands..."

8. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey
"Begin with the end in mind."

9. "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle
"Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy.  It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness as well as disease."

10. "Get the Guy" by Matthew Hussey
"You become so obsessed with meeting THE guy, you don't meet any guys."

11. "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead" by Brene Brown
"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

12. "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay
"Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked.  Try approving of yourself and see what happens."

Powers gives a good run-down on each of these self-help books and adds humorous stories of how she applied them and what happened.

For example, in January she chatted up strangers on the Tube, swam in frigid water and jumped out of an airplane, all things she was afraid of.  The next month, she realized just how bad her finances really were. But then "The Secret" told her that all she had to do was visualize a 100,000 pound check coming in the mail and it would come.  And on and on.

Powers is a writer who lives in London so there is a very British bent to this book, but I rather like British humor so it's funny and self-deprecating as the British tend to be.  She also takes a few swipes at us Americans who are thought to be rather naive and overly happy.  Powers' mother worried that after doing this project her daughter will have gone all American on her.  Heaven forbid!

So, what did she learn?

That self-help books are all basically telling us the same thing: 

We are all afraid we are not enough because if we are not enough we won't be loved.  So we have to keep trying to find perfection and happiness.

So did Powers heal her life following the advice from these books?

Yes and no.

   "In so many ways my year was a disaster.

   "My debt grew, my productivity plummeted and I am now a stone heavier (a stone is equivalent to 14 pounds) than when I began.  I became irresponsible, selfish and deluded, watching inspirational videos on YouTube instead of doing actual work and spending money I didn't have on the basis that the Universe would provide. Worst of all, I fell out with one of my best friends...I became a self-help junkie, disregarding my friends and family, always thinking the answer was in the next book, the next book..."

But there was a positive side.  Putting into practice all of the advice from the books made Powers put herself out there in the world, when before she had been depressed and closed-up. 

"Self-help did help -- a lot.  It, ironically helped me get past myself [to see] that [as Brene Brown said] 'connection is why we are here.' [So] As I think back on my year and a bit of self-improvement, the best bits were those moments of connection.  It's only with other people that magic happens - a magic that could be defined as love.  Or God. Or beauty. Or spirit.
   "And so for now at least, I am going out in the world with a heart open to love."

Now you might think that because I have told you how it all ends, you don't need to read this book.  You would be wrong. As they say in self-help talk, "It's not the destination, it's the journey.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Powers' journey is funny, self-deprecating and enlightening and shouldn't be missedNow let me get back to my book - "How to Get Rich and Thin at the Same Time!"

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Gloria Bell"


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.