Friday, June 7, 2019

"Rocketman" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the Elton John biopic "Rocketman" as well as "The Perfection (now streaming on Netflix) and the DVD "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms."  The Book of the Week is "Duped: Double Lives, False Identities and the Con Man I Almost Married" by Abby Ellin.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "The Cow."]


The rise to fame of the incomparable Elton John.

It's inevitable that comparisons will be made between this film and last year's hugely successful "Bohemian Rhapsody."  Both are biopics about an amazingly talented singer/songwriter/performer with a complicated and tragic personal life, both films included stellar performances, and both films were directed by the same man, Dexter Fletcher, who stepped in to finish "Bohemian Rhapsody" when original director, Bryan Singer, was fired. But that is pretty much where the comparison of the two movies ends. 

"Bohemian Rhapsody" was a fairly straightforward story about Freddy Mercury's life and rise to fame in the legendary rock band, Queen, and the singing was confined to Mercury's on stage performances. Also Mercury's homosexuality was only briefly touch upon. 

"Rocketman" is more of a classic musical in that the songs are not confined to stage performances but rather turn up all over the place with people breaking into song at improbable moments. There is literally dancing in the street and Elton and the audience even levitate during an iconic performance.  Think "La La Land" or even some of the classic musicals of the past.  In some ways, it's a fantasy version of Elton's life. But the fantasy aspects of this film aside, I would call this movie an "autobiopic (I think I just made up a word)," because it's autobiographical.  Elton is one of the producers, and though it's clearly an homage to Elton, it is also brutally honest and raw when it comes to his personal demons and sexuality.  His issues with his sexuality play center stage as do his feelings that he was never loved "properly." When you realize that Elton gave all of this the green light, the film becomes even more poignant and heartfelt.

Elton John (Taron Egerton) was born Reginald Dwight to an indifferent father and a flaky mother. But his grandmother took an interest in him and when he showed musical promise early, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.  It wasn't long before he was in a band and started writing music. He didn't think Reggie Dwight was much of a rock singer name so he took the first name of one of his band mates and, when put on the spot by a musical producer for his last name, a picture of John Lennon came into view.  Enter Elton John.  But it wasn't until he met Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) that Elton's career really took off, with Bernie writing the lyrics and Elton setting them to music.  The rest is history.

However, Elton was plagued by insecurity.  He masked his insecurities and shyness with his outrageous stage costumes and wild onstage shenanigans.  He also hid his homosexuality and loneliness with drugs and alcohol and all kinds of other excesses. He was happy for a time with John Reid (Richard Madden) who became his manager and romantic partner.  However, Reid eventually took advantage of him and the two parted and Elton eventually cleaned himself up.  He has been sober for 28 years.

The film begins with Elton leaving a concert in full Elton stage regalia complete with orange sequined jumpsuit and devil horned headdress to head to an AA meeting which is used as a device for him to tell his story.  And the film ends with an epilogue covering the years following the film with pictures of Taren in the film side-by-side with pictures of Elton back in the day.  He really DID wear those clothes and he really did practically levitate off that piano!

Written by Lee Hall, I might be causing controversy here, but I liked this film more than I liked "Bohemian Rhapsody."  In fact, I loved this film.  It is a poignant, raw story of a guy whose life started out rough and who overcame his problems to find a happy ending. And then there are all of those wonderful Elton John/Bernie Taupin songs.

Taron is wonderful and nuanced as Elton especially when you consider he also did his own singing.  He is probably best known for his work in the "Kingsman" movies but here he gets the chance to really show off his acting chops. Jamie Bell is just the right partner for him as Bernie and Bryce Dallas Howard is almost unrecognizable as Elton's indifferent mother, Sheila, and that's a good thing.  She was great.  The veteran actress Gemma Jones who played Elton's grandmother always delivers and the handsome Richard Madden was just right as John Reid.

Rosy the Reviewer I said, I liked this one better than "Bohemian Rhapsody."  Even with the fantasy sequences, it seemed more real while at the same time magical.

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

Now Streaming on Netflix

The Perfection (2018)

Think "Black Swan," except this time with cellos and not as good.

Knowing this was a horror film and Alison Williams, who was in "Get Out" was in it, made me think this was going to be good.  It wasn't.

Charlotte Filmore (Williams) was a star pupil at the Bachoff Academy of music and a brilliant cellist who put her career on hold to care for her ailing mother.  Now her mother is dead and Charlotte has been called upon by her former mentor Anton Bachoff (Steven Weber) and his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman) to act as a judge for a cello competition in Shanghai.  There she seeks out Elizabeth "Lizzie" Wells (Logan Browning), the new "best thing" in the cello world who is also a judge. Lizzie has had an acclaimed career and appears to be everything Charlotte was unable to achieve. They acknowledge each other's mutual talents and even have a bit of an affair, but it's also clear they are also rivals.

The two decide to go on a "rough and tumble" around China, so Elizabeth/Lizzie can unwind but Lizzie starts to feel sick and then becomes crazed thinking that bugs are crawling underneath her skin. She becomes so crazed that she chops off her hand.  Charlotte just happens to have a butcher knife with her.  I know. That's when they lost me. Then the film literally rewinds so we can see what happened to Lizzie and why she fell ill. I never did find out how Charlotte just happened to have that butcher knife, though. We discover that perhaps Charlotte is not the sweet girl we thought she was.  In fact, nothing is as it seems in this film.

Fast forward three weeks, there is a new wunderkind at the Academy, Charlotte is back in Boston and Lizzy is seeking revenge.  But everything gets turned around when we discover who the real evil person is here and what "The Perfection" is.

Written by Eric C. Charmelo, Richard Shepard and Nicole Snyder and directed by Shepard, the whole film is a series of twists and turns.  Just when you think you know what is going to happen, it doesn't.  Something else does. Part "Black Swan," part "Rosemary's Baby," this film is very homoerotic with touches of witchcraft and child abuse.  And if that's not enough, it's also very kinky, very camp, lots of vomiting, peeing, pooping, all very over the top.  Almost so bad it's good but not good enough for me to recommend it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I know I say all kinds of good things about Netflix, but sometimes Netflix lets us down.  You don't need to chill with this one.


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Yet another retelling of the classic Christmas staple - "The Nutcracker."

It's Christmas Eve and Mr. Stahlbaum (Matthew Macfadyen) and his three children are celebrating. Well, as best they can because the mother has died.  But Mr. Stahlbaum gives the children the presents she had meant to give them. Clara (Mackenzie Foy), the youngest child, receives a fancy egg with a note from her mother that says the egg contains all she will ever need, but the egg needs a key to open it, and Clara doesn't have the key. 

The family then attends a party at Mr. Drosselmeyer's (Morgan Freeman).  He is an engineer so Clara asks him if he will help her open the egg.  Drosselmeyer explains that he made the egg for Clara's mother when she was young and her wish was that Clara should have it.  Later, at the party, the children are all given gifts on a string.  They must follow the string to find their gift.  Clara's string leads her into a forest where she sees a mouse -- and the key!  But the mouse scurries away and Clara follows it, much like Alice following the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole except this time instead of Wonderland, Clara finds herself in The Fourth Realm with Captain Phillip Hoffman (Jayden Fowora-Knight), who is in fact the titular Nutcracker.

Captain Hoffman introduces Clara to the rulers of the Four Realms - The Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) who rules the Land of the Sweets; Shivers (Richard E. Grant), who rules the Land of the Snowflakes; and Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez), who rules the Land of the Flowers.  They are all at war with The Land of Amusements which is ruled by Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren, and what she is doing in this thing god only knows)!  Clara also learns that her mother, Marie, had created this world where she was the Queen making Clara Princess and Clara is now called upon to stay and create harmony among the Four Realms.  

OK, as if all of that wasn't complicated enough, it all gets even more complicated and clumsy.

Clara's mother had also created a machine that could turn toys into real live people.  The Sugar Plum Fairy tells Clara that she needs a key to the machine so she can defend against Mother Ginger.  Clara discovers that the key to the machine is the same one she needs to open her egg, but when the key is found and Clara opens the egg she discovers that her egg is just a music box. But of course there is more and a female empowerment message.  All kinds of shenanigans ensue and it is a surprise who is evil and who isn't.

If you are familiar with the story of the Nutcracker and the ballet, this is a reworking of that story, sort of, and the first half hour was promising but then it bogged down into nonsense.

The actors were fine.  The film just had too much going on but not in a good way.  In a dull way.

The high point of the movie was Tchaikovsky's music and Misty Copeland's dancing which is used as exposition for how Clara's mother discovered the Four Realms.  The Nutcracker ballet is also used at the end of the film over the credits.  Sadly, those are the best parts of the film.  I wish the entire film had been the music and the dancing.

Written by Ashleigh Powell and directed by Lasse Hallstrom, though Joe Johnston mysteriously did reshoots and received co-directing credit, the film has a steampunk feel (is that still a thing?), but all in all, not a very engaging story.  Despite the great costumes by award-winner Jenny Beavan and the makeup (loved Keira's cotton candy hair), beautiful cinematography by Linus Sandgren, that lush Tchaikovsky score and colorful set decoration (Lisa Chugg), I don't think this will be a Christmas classic. It was kind of a dud. Go see the ballet instead.

And let me rant for a moment.  I haven't done that lately and feel the need. 

With the most recent Disney live action remake, "Aladdin," in theatres now, with "Cinderella (2015)," "Beauty and the Beast (2017)" and "Dumbo (2019)" behind us, and "The Lion King" on the horizon, Disney clearly wants to cash in on its cash cows by remaking those animated classics into live action.  Sadly, some are successful and some aren't.  And when they aren't, I feel that my childhood favorite movies are somehow tarnished.  My message to Disney:  Stop it!

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film is one reason I just wish Disney would stop remaking classic stories.

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

92 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

The Cow (1969)

This is what happens when you fall in love with a cow!

Well, maybe not in love exactly, but let's just say that Hassan (Ezzatolah Entezami) has a "very special relationship" with his cow.  He lovingly bathes her in the river, talking to her endearingly, plays with her in the barn and sleeps with her at night. His poor wife.  He calls her "woman" and would rather sleep with the cow. 

However, Hassan's love idyl with the cow comes to an end when he goes off for the day and the cow dies.  His wife and the villagers don't know what to do.  They know the loss of the cow will be a huge blow to Hassan.  His cow is the only cow in the poor village and Hassan's whole persona and sense of privilege is tied up with that cow, so they concoct a plan to tell him the cow ran away. They bury the cow and wait for Hassan to return.

When Hassan returns he doesn't believe that his beloved cow would run away and is so distraught, he goes mad and becomes the cow!

As strange as this movie sounds, I really understand Hassan's love for his cow.  That's how I feel about my little Tarquin. 

And speaking of the cow...I have to give kudos to the cow, the real one.  If she wasn't really dead, she sure played dead very well.  I mean, how do you get a cow to act?

Written and directed by Dariush Mehrjui, this is an odd little film that smacks of Italian Neorealism. It won acclaim at the Venice Film Festival in 1971.  It was also twice voted the best Iranian film ever made by a survey of Iranian film critics.  However, I have to wonder just how many Iranian film critics are there?

Why it's a Must See: "Rumor has it that after seeing [this film], the Ayatollah Khomeini opined that perhaps there might be a place for filmmaking in the Islamic Republic...[This was] the first Iranian feature film to attract international attention."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite the implausibility and strangeness, surprisingly poignant and effective.

(b & w, in Farsi with English subtitles) 

***The Book of the Week***

Duped: Double Lives, False Identities and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin (2019)

Yet another woman "duped" by a man pretending to be someone he isn't.

Ellin tells her story of meeting the Commander, being caught in his spell and falling in love.  He told her he was a military hero, involved in international espionage and all kinds of other tall tales, but as his story fell apart, Ellin was able to disentangle herself and share her story.  It was then that she discovered she was not alone, that there have been many people deceived by their loved ones - gaslighting is a real thing - which led to Ellin doing research on the psychology behind the great imposters: why people lie, how they lie and how common this kind of thing really is.

And it is. I can't tell you how many times as a librarian I was asked by customers to verify that someone had won the Medal of Honor.  There really are people out there walking around bragging about being war heroes.

In addition to her own story, Ellin shares the stories of some of the most famous and notorious of the imposters and those who lived double lives: Kim Philby, the British spy who was also working for the Russians and was so good at playing his role that when it was uncovered, his friends and neighbors were flabberghasted; Ferdinand Wado Demara Jr. AKA "The Great Imposter," who took on other people's identities, passing himself off as a monk, a doctor on a naval ship, a professor and even a cancer researcher; and Frank Abagnale, who inspired the book and movie "Catch Me If You Can." Then there  were those who faked their own deaths: Peter Young, who faked his own death to escape prison and John Darwin, a British ex-prison officer who "disappeared" to escape his mountains of debt.

But it's Ellin's own story which is a fascinating one, especially the great lengths the Commander went to pull the wool over her eyes. And to Ellin's credit and amazing ability to put herself on the line in this book, she admits that IT HAPPENED TO HER AGAIN!  Not long after breaking up with the Commander, she met another guy who bamboozled her but to her credit not for long. 

This is not just Ellin's personal story but the stories of many who have been caught up in a web of lies by a duplicitous partner, people who were smart and self-aware and could never believe they could be deceived.  She shares how and why this happens to smart people, how gullible we can be and how it's OK to be a little skeptical. It just might save your life. 

So how does this happen?  How come we are so gullible?

Well, in many cases, it's in our DNA to believe people.  But more importantly, we just don't pay attention. There are holes in our perception.  Take for example, the many tests people are given to pay attention to one action while something else enters the picture - and no one notices.  An example is "The Case of the Invisible Gorilla."  Six people, three in white shirts, three in black are filmed playing basketball.  Observers are told to count the number of passes the people in the white shirts make.  All of a sudden a person in a gorilla suit saunters into view and thumps his chest.  Would you notice the gorilla?  Of course you would.  But in fact, half of the people told to watch the basketball players in the white shirts did NOT notice the gorilla.  The researchers concluded that we miss much of what goes on around us and, worse, we have no idea what we are missing.

So what do we do?

Well, for one, pay attention!  But as Ellin says, it's OK to be a bit paranoid.  Also there are scientific studies and even classes where you can learn how to detect lying. You look for nonverbal clues, clusters of actions that all add up, watching for qualifying words, non-answer statements and asking follow up questions.  But even with that, science also shows that it's very difficult to tell when someone is lying.  Lie detectors are not even 100%. So the bottom line is, you may be smart, you may be aware, but you can still be gaslit.

So next time you watch Dr. Phil (I already confessed to watching the occasional Dr. Phil so stop your tut-tutting) where some poor old lady has given all of her money to a Nigerian scammer because she thought he was the hot military guy who approached her on Facebook or "Catfish (one of my favorite shows), where a young girl living on a farm near Dubuque thinks the model in NYC who she had never met was going to marry her, have a little compassion. Instead of thinking what losers these people are and laughing at them, just remember it could happen to you.

"No one really gets it unless they've been duped themselves.  They don't understand what it's like to believe in someone and be utterly, completely mistaken.  To discover that the person closest to you is actively working against you.  One of the main reasons to be in a relationship is to have someone who's got your back...There's scant support for people who've been hoodwinked, little to reassure them -- us -- that they're not the only fool walking the earth."

Rosy the Reviewer says...So bottom line, be skeptical and watch your own back!

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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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, May 31, 2019

"Hail Satan?" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the documentary "Hail Satan?" as well as DVDs "Glass" and "Replicas."  The Book of the Week is "What My Mother and I Don't Talk About."   I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" with "Storm Over Asia."]

Hail Satan?

Who knew I had so much in common with Satanists?

Growing up, I had an unconventional religious education.  No, my parents weren't Satanists.  Far from it.  My mother was a Lutheran and my Dad was a Christian Scientist.  I was baptised a Lutheran but when I was five, I started Sunday School at the Christian Science church because my Dad was a reader there and my mother thought it looked bad if our Dad was a reader at the church and we didn't go there.  What the "neighbors" thought was very important in the 1950's.  However, I moved back to the Lutheran Church for awhile when I wanted to sing in the choir and heard that the Sunday school was more fun there. The Christian Science sunday school was basically discussing the "lesson," stuff you were supposed to read before coming to church.  It really was like school whereas the Lutheran Church Sunday school had coloring books and quizzes, dramatic reenactments and all kinds of fun stuff. So it was a back-and-forth kind of thing. My Dad and Mom actually took turns each Sunday going to each other's churches - and though the teachings were quite different (the Christian Scientists don't believe in the devil or hell, by the way), I was basically taught Christian principles.

My Dad had TB before I was born.  In those days, when you got TB you were sent to a sanitarium.  He was gone for a long time leaving my mother to raise my older sister alone, and I think my brother was born during that time.  Somehow, Christian Science came his way and he converted and attributed his early cure to that religion so that was it.  He was in.  But whatever you have heard about Christian Scientists, they DO believe in doctors.  They just don't believe they need them!  And to my Dad's credit, he never forced his conversion on my mother.  We all had our shots and went to the doctor if needed but I have to say, not needed much.

One more thing and it's a happy memory.  I didn't really know this growing up and perhaps it was something he did after we all left home, but turns out when my Dad attended the Lutheran church he would take notes during the sermon and then "share" them with the minister after church when everyone was leaving.  He would waylay the minister and share his "notes" with him, basically the wrong road the minister was taking.  How do I know this?  At my Dad's funeral, there was a Christian Scientist and that very Lutheran minister talking about my Dad and I could tell that the Lutheran minister got a kick out of my Dad's earnestness to try to get him to see his way.  And let me say, my Dad was a gentleman.  He would have been very polite about it but he was certain in his beliefs.

So my family was very entrenched in religion and church-going. However, going to church was never my thing, mostly because I had to get up early on a Sunday (I am NOT a morning person).  But my Dad made it clear that since I wasn't in a position to do much to pay him back for everything he had done for me, the one thing I needed to do for him was to go to church every Sunday, which I did until I turned 18 and then I got the hell (pardon the expression) out of there, off to college. It didn't help when I took Philosophy 101 where much of it debated the existence of God. Let's just say that I never attended church again.

But that doesn't mean I don't have an interest in religion.  I do.  I am interested in what makes people tick regarding their beliefs, especially when those beliefs are outside the usual conformity of conventional religions. And certainly Satanism fits that bill.

That finally brings me to talk about this film. I know, FINALLY, right?  But if you read my posts, you know I review but I also talk about myself too.  That's what makes this blog special, right?

OK, back to this film.

Anyway, let's just say this film is more "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" than "Rosemary's Baby."  Yes, there is information on the infamous Anton LeVey and his group from the 1960's, but this film is mostly about The Satanic Temple, which was founded in 2013, and has no relationship to Le Vey, unless you count Satan. The film and the Satanic Temple are both all about the separation of Church and State and religious freedom, and though there is some humor and absurdist stuff, it's an eye-opening look at a group exercising their right to free speech and to practice their beliefs. And despite the fact that the followers like to wear devil horns (the movie has a sense of humor and so do these folks), Satan is not worshiped as a supreme being but rather is held as a symbol of freedom.

Much of the movie dwells on the rise of the Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, the co-founder, and his and the Temple's efforts to prevent government entities from placing Ten Commandments monuments on government property.  And when Greaves and his cohorts can't get the Ten Commandments monuments removed, they work to get a statue of Baphomet, a goat deity often used to depict Satan, erected alongside the one listing the Ten Commandments. That's only fair, right?  

Directed by Penny Lane, the film is sometimes very tongue-in-cheek, funny actually, as it makes fun of right wing Christian groups like the awful Westboro Baptists and others who think their way is the only way.  But it's also serious as we learn that this group of Satanists actually has a very noble side, especially when you read their Seven Tenets

In addition to the issue of separation of church and state and personal freedom, the film balks at the notion that the United States is a Christian nation. Those Ten Commandments scrolls that started appearing in government buildings?  You can thank Cecil B. DeMille's publicity machine for that.  He thought of a great way to publicize his upcoming movie,  "The Ten Commandments." 

So back to my realization that I may be more Satanist than Christian.  

The Satanic Temple's tenets include acting with compassion and empathy toward all creatures, social justice, power over one's own body, not encroaching on the freedom of others, believing in science, and being forgiving when we fallible humans make mistakes. Those are all good things, right? Christian values embrace a lot of "shall nots" that we must follow if we want to get into heaven and the fear of going to hell if we don't. Ironically, the members of the Satanic Temple are trying to create a heaven on earth rather than waiting for their reward in the afterlife. That sounds good to me!

Rosy the Reviewer says...I just might join.

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


Glass (2019)

The third installment of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" series.

Here is another one of those movies where if you haven't seen all of the films referenced you are kind of lost.  I was anyway.  I saw "Split," which pretty much stood on its own, but I never saw "Unbreakable." Since this film features two people from "Unbreakable" and only one from "Split (unless you count all of Kevin's personalities)," I hardly knew what was going on.  Turns out that might have been the case anyway, even if I had seen "Unbreakable," because this film doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.

As in "Unbreakable," Shyamalan is continuing to ask the question: "What if superheroes were real and lived among us as seemingly ordinary people?"

So for this film, coming in, you need to know that David Dunn (Bruce Willis) was the sole survivor of a train accident.  He then discovered he had supernatural powers and that he could tell the crimes someone had committed by touching them so then he became a sort of vigilante.  Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) was born with a rare brittle bone disease.  He ran a comic book store and was obsessed with super heroes.  When he heard about David, he contacted him and David fell under Elijah's influence until he discovered that Elijah was a sort of mental superhero and, not good, a terrorist.  It was he who masterminded the train wreck that David was in. (I learned all of this by reading up on the "Unbreakable" movies). Kevin (James McAvoy) in "Split" had many personalities and kidnapped cheerleaders to feed to his bad "superhero" personality, "The Beast." Bruce Willis actually showed up at the end of "Split," and it made no sense to me then.  Now that I have learned that "Unbreakable" was the first film in what Shyamalan had intended as a trilogy, it makes more sense.  

Interestingly, Shyamalan abandoned the idea of a trilogy after "Unbreakable" didn't do as well at the box office as "The Sixth Sense," despite the urgings of Willis and Jackson, who wanted him to continue the trilogy.  But then he made "Split," linking it to "Unbreakable" with that weird cameo from Willis, and "Split" was one of the highest grossing films of 2017.  So voila!  If there is some money to be made, let's go for it! Shyamalan completed the trilogy with "Glass (Here is what I said about "Split" when I reviewed it)."

I started out a huge fan of writer/director Shyamalan. I loved "The Sixth Sense," though I completely didn't get the ending at first.  I remember sitting in the theatre and giving my daughter a quizzical look at the end and she mouthed (OK - HUGE SPOILER ALERT - DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN "THE SIXTH SENSE!") and she mouthed "He's dead, Mom." Oh. Sometimes I'm not very smart.  But despite that little blip, I loved his movies.  They were always stylish and riveting if not completely understandable.  "The Sixth Sense" was followed by "Signs," "The Village," "Lady in the Water," all of which were fine but didn't quite have the impact of "The Sixth Sense."  But then "Split" came along and James McAvoy just blew me away.

But how did I miss "Unbreakable?"  That totally screwed me up for this one.

Anyway, our three "superheroes" are now all locked up in a psychiatric hospital and are being treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who is a psychiatrist specializing in people who think they are superheroes (I wonder how many colleges have that specialization).  She has Kevin with 20 million personalities who has been nicknamed "The Horde;" David, who can divine the evil deeds of people by touching them; and Glass, who is really Elijah and who is an evil mastermind. She has three days to convince the three that they are not superhumans but merely men with delusions of grandeur or they will be confined for life. But we will see about that. The three escape, wreak havoc and the film comes to a tidy conclusion. Too tidy.

Willis is Willis which may or may not be satisfying to you.  I have come to accept him for what he is and find his smirking persona rather enjoyable.  Jackson always brings it, but it's McAvoy who is just amazing as Kevin and all of his personalities.  I was amazed by him in "Split" and I am amazed by him here.

But it's all kind of a haphazard mess meant to capitalize on the success of "Split." Shyamalan had abandoned the idea of a trilogy after "Unbreakable" didn't break any box office records.  He should have left that idea abandoned. And you know how much I hate sequels?  I hate trilogies even more!  And I just thought of another reason why I don't like sequels and trilogies and on and on.  When too much times passes, you can't remember the first one!

Rosy the Reviewer says...Shyamalan makes some fascinating, enigmatic films but this isn't one of them. Even if you have seen the first two, I think you will still be confused. 

Replicas (2018)

When his family dies in a car accident (he was driving), William Foster (Keanu Reeves) a scientist, brings them back to life.

Well, it doesn't hurt that he is a scientist already working on cloning.  Now he gets to have his real chance to show what he can do!

The premise is that William works for an organ donor lab where when the body arrives, they harvest the body.  BUT THEN they turn the dead bodies into synthetic bodies - as in robots.  Kind of a cliche with scientists trying to create alternative forms of life or super life. Haven't we seen that before - like many times?  His wife (Alice Eve) isn't so sure about his work saying to him "Maybe there is more that makes us human like a soul?"  Duh.

Keanu is under the hammer to justify his work so how CONVENIENT is it that his wife and three children are killed.  Cue the thunderstorm car ride (another cliche)?  I see an accident in their future. Right. So now Keanu has to "replicate" his family.  Get it?  Bingo!  Except there is a sort of "Sophie's Choice" component.  There are only three cloning pods available so he has to sacrifice one of the children and erase her memory from the other family members.

Sheesh.  Are there no original plots left?

The first hour is boring as hell as the film tries to justify Keanu as a scientist (hard to grasp), and William/Keanu tries to hide the fact that his family is dead and he is replicating them.  And bringing them back to life TAKES FOREVER.  Yawn.  All kinds of scientific gobbledegook that when it comes out of Keanu's mouth sounds like Ted trying to explain algebra. Remember the "Bill and Ted" movies?

But then once brought back to life...guess what?  Oh, I forgot to mention there was one little glitch in William's work.  Yes, they can create clones but there are all kinds of problems with them. And to make things worse, turns out that Jones (John Ortiz), the owner of the lab, is a bad guy and the company isn't what it seems. The clones were actually being made as military weapons and when Jones finds out about the clones that Williams has made of his family, Jones decides he needs to eliminate them.

Written by Chad St. John and directed by Jeffrey Nachmannoff, the whole thing is a snooze fest and it doesn't help that Reeves seems like a sleepwalker in it.

I just don't know what to make of the rise and fame of Keanu Reeves.  I find him totally believable as the clueless Ted in the "Bill & Ted" movies, but every time I see him in a drama I just don't get it.  Maybe it's the hair.  He needs to get a grown up haircut.  And his acting reminds me of a high school student trying to do Shakespeare. But, OK, he can do action stuff like "The Matrix," but being an action hero doesn't require "ACTING!" And that hair.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I usually like scifi/thrillers, but this one is kind of a mess.  Keanu, at least get a big boy haircut!

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

93 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Storm over Asia (1928)
("Potomok Chingis-Khana")

An epic fable about a herdsman who becomes a great Mongolian leader.

In 1918, Bair, a poor Mongol, is cheated out of a rare silver fox pelt by a Western fur trader and comes to distrust capitalists.  He joins Socialist partisans who are fighting against the British occupying army.  Bair is captured and ordered to be shot until he is saved by a document that is found on him declaring him a direct descendant of Genghis Khan.  He is installed as a puppet king by the British but escapes to lead his people to freedom.

Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin, the film is full of action as well as socialist propaganda but I am just not that attuned to silent films, especially ones about the ancient world.  However, I might have enjoyed it more if it had sound.  I know, I know, it's a silent film, but it was supposed to have a soundtrack.  A silent film is much less enjoyable when it's really, really silent.  And it was long especially for a very, very silent film!

Why it's a Must See: "...never less than entertaining."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...I beg to differ.  I wasn't entertained. Maybe some music would have helped!
(Silent, in b & w)

***The Book of the Week***

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: 15 Writers Break Their Silence edited Michele Filgate (2019)

We all have things we wished we had asked our mothers, right?  Or things we wish we had told them?  Fifteen writers share their stories.

The idea for this book came from an essay that editor Michele Filgate wrote and that went viral.  The essay was about the abuse she took at the hands of her stepfather, how it affected her later life and her sadness that her mother didn't protect her.  The response to her essay gave Filgate the idea for this book where she invited 14 other writers to share their stories.  And don't think that it's only women affected by their mothers.  Men share their experiences too.

The stories range from wondering who one's mother was before she became a mother to a mother with a domineering husband to what it was like to have a deaf mother.  Some of the writers are still close to their mothers, some estranged. But the fact remains that our mothers have a major impact on us growing up and in our later lives, for better or worse, and that relationship affects our relationships with others.

I have written my own stories about my mother. 

Thinking about my mother and writing about her has helped me understand her better and myself too. Many of you have probably already read those posts but if not...

My Mother's Diary

A Mother's Love

What My Mother Told Me

"Our mothers are our first homes, and that's why we're always trying to return to them."

Filgate has put together a series of emotional, difficult and sometimes funny, essays that illustrate how important our mothers were, one way or another.  And what an almost impossible task it is to be mother.  Now that am one, I know. But the bottom line is - talk to your mothers now, leave nothing left unsaid, no questions unanswered. Breaking the silence helps to heal the relationship, not only with our mothers, but others and ourselves. Despite all of the turmoil between my mother and myself over the years, I wish I had her here now

Rosy the Reviewer says...a poignant and important book.

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.