Friday, September 20, 2019

"The Goldfinch" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "The Goldfinch" as well as the DVD "Transit" and the documentary "Woodstock - Three Days That Defined a Generation," now streaming on Netflix.  The Book of the Week is "I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution" by Emily Nussbaum.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Cloud Capped Star."]

The Goldfinch

After a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, thirteen-year-old Theo Decker helps himself to a painting, an act that will affect his life for the next 20 years.

It's not easy bringing a much-revered 700+ page Pulitzer Prize winning novel to the screen and, though the film is getting mixed reviews, I found it a satisfying film experience.  For one thing, I don't feel that a film version of a book needs to replicate the book completely.  I am not one to say, "The book was better." Literature and films are two different art forms, and should be judged as such. In this case, the film concentrates more on the plot, which is an interesting one, rather than spending much time on the underlying themes of the book: grief and how a life can be determined by trauma, guilt and the consequences of our actions. But that doesn't mean that the film isn't a good one. However, I know there are haters out there who miss the underlying themes.  I am just not one of them, but talk among yourselves.

The plot centers around thirteen-year-old Theo Decker (Oakes Fegley), who with his mother, is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when a terrorist bomb goes off killing his mother and others.  Before being rescued, Theo encounters a man who gives him a ring and tells him to go find his partner, Hobie (Jeffrey Wright), at their antique shop.  Oh, and one more thing.  Theo helps himself to a small painting called "The Goldfinch."

Theo miraculously survives the bombing, but is now practically an orphan, because his father, who was separated from Theo's mother, is nowhere to be found. So Theo goes to live with his friend, Andy (Ryan Foust) and his family, the Barbours, a rich family overseen by a kind but reserved matriarch (Nicole Kidman). Theo also manages to find the antique store where he meets Hobie and Pippa, a young girl (Aimee Laurence) he remembers seeing at the museum right before the bomb went off.  It was her uncle who gave Theo the ring.

So Theo settles into his life with the Barbours, spending his time with them and at Hobie's antique shop and is happy until his ne'er do well father, Larry (Luke Wilson) and his skanky girlfriend, Xandra (Sarah Paulson), show up and hustle him off to a ghost town of a housing development outside of Las Vegas, where Theo meets Boris (Finn Wolfhard), a young Russian kid, with an abusive dad. Boris introduces Theo to drugs and a rather dark version of life.  All the while, the painting is wrapped in newspaper and hidden under Theo's bed.  He is not sure why he has kept it, but it reminds him of his mother.  He blames himself for her death because they were on their way to his school to talk to the principal about Theo getting caught smoking. If she hadn't had to go to his school, she would still be alive.

Years pass and adult Theo (Ansel Elgort) meets up again with Boris (Aneurin Barnard), and he and the painting lead Theo into a murky world of drugs and art theft.

So that's the gist of the story, but the film actually starts at the end with the adult Theo in a room in Amsterdam, a little worse for wear, and then the film flashes back to young Theo.  Flashbacks are fine, but in addition to the flashbacks, there is all kinds of jumping around, past, present and future, and I found that choppiness to be distracting.  I think writer Peter Straughan was trying to create some drama and mystery with that approach, but I think just telling the story in a linear fashion would have been more enjoyable and less confusing.

As I said, it's not an easy task to shrink 700+ pages into a two and a half hour film so some of the story and depth of the book was bound to be lost.  Theo has always loved Pippa and that storyline was given short shrift as well as Theo's father's storyline but that's what happens when it's a big, complicated book like this one.

Oakes Fegley as the young Theo really carries most of the film and is an awesome young actor.  Elgort, though usually a very good actor, seems stiff here and doesn't make much of the role.  Nicole Kidman is always good and adds class to a film and Jeffrey Wright exuded a believable warmth as Hobie. But Sarah Paulson as a gum-chewing floozy?  That was a stretch. 

But whatever anyone thinks of this film directed by John Crowley, most must agree it's beautiful to look at thanks to Academy Award winner Roger Deakins' cinematography.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am sure those who loved the book will have much to say about what is wrong with this film, but I enjoyed it as a film experience, and that's all I really require of a film.

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


Transit (2018)

As fascism spreads in France, Georg, a German refugee, assumes the identity of a dead writer in order to escape the country.

Georg (Franz Rogowski) as been given some transit papers to take to Weidel, a writer, but when he arrives to deliver the papers he discovers that Weidel has killed himself. So he takes Weidel's personal effects and assumes Weidel's identity.  He reads the letters from Weidel's wife, Marie, who was urging her husband to come to Marseilles so they could get back together. He decides to go to Marseilles and use the transit papers to get on a boat to Mexico, but when he meets the writer's wife (Paula Beer), who doesn't know her husband is dead, things get complicated.

Adapted and directed by Christian Petzold, there are several side stories as Georg interacts with others who are either oppressed or stuck, trying to get out of the country. He becomes a father figure to a boy who has a deaf mother; he befriends a doctor; and then of course, he meets Marie, the dead writer's wife.

Though based on a 1942 novel by Anna Seghers about life in Nazi Germany, here the film doesn't go into detail about what has happened in France, who the Fascists are and why it's being occupied.  It's a dystopian tale that reminded me of where we could be headed today. It's a bit of film noir, a bit of existentialism and also wonderful, which is why it was on many Best Films of 2018 lists.

Rogowski looks like a young Joaquin Phoenix and his is a tour de force performance as he is in every scene. The film revolves around Georg as he experiences a world where he never quite belongs.

Rosy the Reviewer says...riveting and timely.
(In German with English subtitles)

Woodstock (2019)
("Three Days That Defined a Generation")

With never-before-seen footage, a different perspective on that iconic music festival.

Not to be confused with THAT Woodstock movie, the iconic concert film made in 1970, this one is not really a concert film.  It goes into more depth about how and why the concert happened, what went into putting the concert together, and how it affected those who attended.  It also addresses the issues of the day - Vietnam, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the sexual revolution, drugs. The time was right for a revolution and we all took solace in the music. The time was right for Woodstock.

Why and how did a concert like Woodstock come about?  How could half a million young people come together on a farm in upstate New York and create all of that peace and love despite torrential rain, no food and lots and lots of drugs?

Directed by Barak Goodman and Jamila Ephron and written by Goodman and Don Kleszy, this film brings a new perspective to the event.

It's a misconception that hippies put the Woodstock festival together.  The promoters may have had long hair and wore fringed jackets but Michael Lang and his cohorts were young entrpreneurs who wanted to make money.  And that iconic performance of "Freedom" by Richie Havens?  He made that song up on the spot because none of the other artists had arrived yet and he needed to fill up the time!  One of the kids in the crowd interviewed as an adult said that song influenced and was the basis for the whole rest of her life. 

And that's what makes this film a nice addition to the Woodstock oeuvre of films.  It has some new information and new insight from a 49 years on perspective since that first film. It also brings a really personal feel to the event as some of the now grown members of the audience relate how the festival affected their lives.

I watched this film at night on my own and the memories of those times came flooding back.  I didn't go to Woodstock and didn't even know about it until it was over (I was kind of a sheltered midwestern girl), but I was definitely a child of those times. I was fully immersed in the bell bottoms, the granny dresses, the long hair, the music, the politics and experimentation of all kinds.  

I also had a personal perspective on the issues of the day. I got married in 1967 while I was in college (not recommended) and six months later my husband was drafted and sent to Vietnam.  I didn't see him again for two years. Needless to say, that marriage didn't make it.

But Hubby, who I didn't yet know, was at Woodstock, but even though he can say he was there, he never got down close enough to the stage to really hear any of the music.  But he experienced the crowd and all of the "activities," if you know what I mean.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a wonderful remembrance of times long gone that Baby Boomers and their children will enjoy.

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

61 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Cloud-Capped Star (1960)
("Meghe Dhaka Tara")

A young woman sacrifices her own life for her family.

A family, uprooted from East Pakistan by the Partition of India, are now refugees living on the outskirts of Calcutta.  Nita (Supriya Choudhury), a beautiful young girl, has taken on the responsibility for the family as her older brother, Shankar (Anil Chatterjee) has abandoned the family for the life of a singer. He spends his days singing rather than working. The father is a teacher, but makes only a pittance. Nita is trying to go to school while also teaching local children, but when her father is injured she becomes the sole support of the family.  She faithfully works and slaves for her unappreciative family and never complains.  

I wanted to scream at the screen and tell Nita to stand up to her family and seek some happiness for herself.  But that's what women did and do, sacrificed themselves, especially in patriarchal societies. Nita also has a fiance, Sanat (Niranjan Ray), but when Nita's mother (Gita Dey) fears Nita will marry Sanat and they will no longer have her as a meal ticket, she plots to get Sanat and Nita's sister, Gita (Gita Ghatak), together instead.  So finally, Neeta, alone and ill, laments her life. A life unfulfilled.

It's a sad tale of a young, selfless woman taking on the responsibility of a family that doesn't appreciate her.  The film also shows traditional Indian and Bengali life and is director Ritwik Ghatak's response to the despair and psychological damage caused by the Partition. Nita's family had been happily middle class when they lived in Pakistan and now had fallen into poverty as refugees, and while they were moaning about their lot in life, Nita was sacrificing herself for them.

Actress Supriya Choudhury is gorgeous and wonderful in this.  However, though this film is a powerful melodrama, the other characters almost seemed like cartoon figures compared to her so, for me, that was a bit of a disconnect.

Ghatak was considered one of India's greatest and most influential directors, though he made only eight films, but almost all of his films illustrate the upheaval caused by the Partition, something that caused him great despair and which probably led to his dying an alcoholic.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film] is a searing piece of work, resonant and beautifully composed -- and it proved a rare commercial success for its director in India...See it for the grace of Ghatak's mise-en-scene, his Expressionist sound design, and the enormous sense of loss."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...see it also for the beautiful and talented Supriya Choudhury and the gorgeous black and white cinematography.
(In Bengali with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum (2019)

An argument for television.

I am a child of television.  

We got our first TV when I was five, but before that, I remember standing on a neighbor's porch watching their TV through their front window.  I was already hooked and we didn't even have a TV yet!  My Dad loved TV too, especially watching the old movies that would come on late at night. He and I bonded over those.

I wrote about my love of TV back in 2013 - "Confessions of a TV Addict." In that, I talk about how in the old days people used to bond over their favorite TV shows. We liked to watch and were not afraid to admit it.

So when did we become such snobs about TV?  When did we start calling it the idiot box and shaming our friends for watching?

I don't have much patience for people who look down their noses at those of us who like to watch a bit of TV.  OK, a lot of TV, but for one thing, saying snarky things to those of us who watch is not very nice. I hear people say in a demeaning way, "I don't watch TV."  Mmmm.  Well, don't think I haven't noticed that many of you who say that know way more about what's on TV than you should if you don't watch.  Give me a break.  And what do you care what people do? If we want to watch "The Bachelor," it's none of your beeswax.

So thank you, Emily Nussbaum, for being a very smart Pulitzer Prize winning author who unashamedly watches TV. She started out as one of those TV snobs, but it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer who got her hooked. She only watched it on a whim when one of her friends recommended it.

"...what really got me was the show's peculiar originality, the ways in which it felt stealthily experimental beneath its conventional surfaces, which were low-budget and, aesthetically, nothing special.  As he would often explain in interviews, [writer Joss] Whedon had taken the bimbo victim of every exploitation film...and let her spin around and become the avenger. Thrillingly, Buffy treated this one girl's story not as something trivial, but as a grand, oceanic metaphor."

As I said, Nussbaum is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and was a TV critic and editor for New York Magazine.  In this series of essays, she smartly comments on "Sex and the City," "House of Cards," "Scandal," "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Lost" and other popular shows, as well as reality TV, the legacies of Joan Rivers and Norman Lear, and how Ryan Murphy became the most powerful man on TV.  And don't think that "Game of Thrones" doesn't show up here and there.  It does.

"This book is an account of the two-decade-long argument about television, in the form of the reviews and profiles I've written...[and] what unites these essays and profiles is my struggle -- and over time, my growing frustration -- with that hidden ladder of status, the unspoken, invisible biases that hobbled TV even as it became culturally dominant."  

But more importantly, Nussbaum
beats down the whole idea that one kind of culture is better than another.  She makes it OK to confess to liking to watch, because there are a lot of reasons to watch. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...My name is Rosy and I like to watch.  There I said it.  Now mind your own business!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"Downton Abbey"


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" 

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at 

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, September 13, 2019

"It Chapter Two" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "It Chapter Two" as well as DVDs "Under the Silver Lake" and "Climax."  The Book of the Week is "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover.  I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Wavelength."]

It Chapter Two

Twenty-seven years after their encounter with the menacing clown, Pennywise, the now grown-up members of the Losers Club return to Derry, Maine.

I was going to rant about how much I hate sequels when I discovered this wasn't really a sequel.

I have enjoyed the movies based on the Stephen King novels, but I must confess I have never read one, so at first I didn't realize that what looks like a sequel is just the second half of the book.  So I can't really blame the fact that I didn't like this film on its being a sequel. 

As you may or may not know, in the first film "stuttering Bill (Jaeden Martell)," overweight Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), hypochondriac Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), smart ass Richie (Finn Wolfhard), OCD Stan (Wyatt Oleff), bullied Mike (Chosen Jacobs) and abused Beverly (Sophia Lillis) had joined together as middle schoolers and formed The Losers Club.  Together they fought off the evil clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), who was killing children, one of whom was Bill's younger brother, and that crazy clown was terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine.  The kids vowed that if Pennywise ever came back they all would return to Derry.  

Now, in "Chapter Two," it's 27 years later and it's happening again.  Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who is now the town librarian, notices incidents that remind him of when Pennywise was running rampant and calls everyone back to Derry.

Bill (James McAvoy) is now a successful novelist; Ben (Jay Ryan) has lost weight and is a handsome and successful architect; Eddie (James Ransone) is a risk assessor; Richie (Bill Hader) is a stand-up comedian; and Beverly (Jessica Chastain), who had endured an abusive relationship with her father, is married and in an abusive relationship with her husband.  All except Stan (Andy Bean) return to Derry, but no one can really remember what happened 27 years ago. 

OK, right there, I went "Huh?"  You don't remember fighting off a murderous clown and all kinds of other monsters when you were in middle school?  I mean, I don't remember things that happened to me when I was three, so if those kids had been under five, I would understand that.  But those kids were twelve or thirteen.  I remember most of my life during that time, which centered around going to Walgreens for a cherry coke and wondering when a boy was going to kiss me.  I certainly think if I was spending my down time fighting off a murderous clown, I would remember that!

Anyway, don't mind me.

Mike reminds them that Pennywise has returned, but he has discovered the way to rid the town of Pennywise for good, a native American ritual called The Ritual of Chud (see you can count on librarians)!  Okay, I have to stop and rant again.  What is it with Native American rituals and burial grounds being such an overused horror trope? King used it in "Pet Sematary" and it was also used in "The Amityville Horror" and other horror films. Haven't Native Americans been through enough?  Do we really have to add horror films to their lives?

But moving on. Pennywise preyed upon the kids by haunting them with their greatest fears.

So Mike tells them that for the ritual to work they must find an artifact from the past to burn.  Beverly goes back to her old house and finds a love letter that Ben had written to her, though she had always thought it was from Bill.  Bill goes to the storm drain where his little brother, Georgie, had been killed by Pennywise and finds the paper boat he had made Georgie; Ben travels to the high school and finds his yearbook page where only Beverly had signed it; Eddie goes to the pharmacy and gets an inhaler; and Richie finds a game token at an arcade.  Each also encounters ghouls and goblins and there is lots of back and forth between past and present, the adults as kids and the kids as adults, as the grown up kids start to remember what happened 27 years ago.

Many psychological and emotional issues are brought to light but are frustratingly unresolved which is one of the main problems with this film. 

And though all of that back and forth from past to present is a bit helpful in reminding us of the first film, it's not really enough, so if you haven't seen the first film or read the book, this film will be confusing.  There is also a side story, a bit of a red herring, really, concerning Henry Bowers (Teach Grant), who as a teen (Nicholas Hamilton) was the town bully.  He also killed his father and was blamed for the child killings thus ending up in a mental hospital.  In this second installment, he escapes the mental hospital and is also back in Derry muddying what is already an overwrought and over long story.  Yeah, don't get me started on how long this thing is. 

In the film, much is made of Bill's writing and how bad the endings of his books are.  Not sure if King was poking fun at himself with that (and he makes an appearance in the film, which seems to say he approves - and, if you go, see if you recognize director Peter Bogdanovich in a short cameo), but I have to say the ending of this film was the final straw for me. All we have to do is think positively? C'mon. After sitting there for nearly three hours, I wanted a bit more than that.

Directed by Andy Muschietti (who also directed the first installment) and written by Gary Dauberman (based on the Stephen King novel), the mystery centers around whether or not the adults can rid the town of Pennywise once and for all, but the real mystery for me was why Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, two award-winning actors who can each carry a film on his and her own, are in this film with not very much to do except look nervous, concerned and scared.

"It" was the highest grossing horror film of all time, making over $123 million in its opening weekend.  "It: Chapter Two," didn't do quite as well, but still made over $91 million to become the second highest opening for a horror film.  But that also illustrates how I feel about this film versus the first one.  I liked the first one but this one, not so much.

I think the first film worked so well because the kids were so engaging and Pennywise menacing them was really scary. Who didn't think there was a monster in the closet or something scary under the bed?  However, it's not so scary for adults to be fighting off ghosts and goblins. We do that every day. Seriously, though, after awhile, all of those monsters that kept showing up with eyeballs popping and breasts hanging out just got to be overkill, pardon the expression. And the ending was silly. After sitting through this three hour movie, I was shaking my head and muttering, "Enough, already." 

Rosy the Reviewer your money.  Read the book.

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


Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Sam, an unemployed loser, meets a young woman swimming in the pool at his apartment complex, and when she disappears, he goes on a mission to find her.

This is one of those - "Did I really meet that girl who has now disappeared without a trace? Or was it a dream?" - kind of movie.

Sam (Andrew Garfield) is kind of a loser. No, not kind of a loser.  A real loser.  He has lost his job, is about to be evicted and spends his time on his balcony smoking weed and spying on his topless neighbor across the way while she waters her plants.  He doesn't seem to have much of a life, but one night he meets Sarah (Riley Keough, Lisa Marie Presley's daughter), a lovely young girl swimming in the pool at his apartment complex.  He spends the evening hanging out with her in her apartment, but the next morning, when he goes back to her apartment, not only has she disappeared but all of her stuff is gone too.

So Sam sets out on a mission to find her only to be drawn into a really crazy scenario driven by a graphic novel he finds called "Under the Silver Lake," one that highlights a very weird side of L.A.

There are also stories in the background about billionaire Jefferson Sevence (Chris Gann) being missing and a dog killer on the loose.  The missing billionaire actually plays a role in the story, but I never did figure out what the dog killer was all about.  Then there is the "Owl's Kiss" and the "Hobo Code."  Don't ask.  Let's just say the film likes conspiracy theories, codes, pacts and subliminal messages.

The film brought back a childhood memory when one of my middle school friends asked, "What if we are all just living inside a corpuscle in a giant's blood?"  I fancied myself a bit of an existentialist at 13 but that was just too much to take in.  Never forgotten it and it has always haunted me.  What if we are?

Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, this movie has that kind of feel - with a little "Mulholland Drive" and "L.A Confidential" thrown in.  There is all kinds of ominous music and foreshadowning to remind us that some strange stuff is going to happen, which it does. What Sam discovers defies reality and shows what can happen when you are unemployed and have too much time on your hands. The whole thing is dark comedy, a comment on pop culture and commercialism and just nutty enough to be fun but not so nutty you don't know what is going on.

Never much of an Andrew Garfield fan but I enjoyed him in this.  He goes against type here as the stoner, loser Sam, but is completely believable.  Andrew Garfield as you have never seen him!

Rosy the Reviewer says...nutty but strangely watchable and engrossing.

Climax (2018)

What starts out as a rehearsal for a 1990's dance troupe turns into an orgy of drugs and sex.

Well, what can I say?  It's a French film.

The film starts out with a half-naked girl wandering in the snow and then falling down in a sort of final deathly snow angel and then the credits roll.  Huh?

Time for a flashback!

We first meet the dancers through audition tapes for a dance troupe that is being put together to tour France and maybe even the U.S.  They are asked questions about what dance means to them as well as personal questions.  They talk about drugs, their worst nightmares, what they think of the other dancers...

Then they all meet in a big hall on a wintry night to rehearse and it all starts falling apart.

Though we see some interesting dancing - popping, locking, breaking and flexing, and the film plays a bit like a dance documentary - this is no "So You Think You Can Dance."  Well, maybe an X-rated version. The dancing and the loud house music is enjoyable, but then someone spikes the sangria with LSD and what started out as good natured comradery turns dark and XXX and a mob mentality takes over.

Written and directed by Gaspar Noe and starring Sofia Boutella, this is an arty dance horror film, a crazy nightmare. The film wasn't bad per se, I just couldn't quite grasp the point, and it had an ick factor that reminded me of my all-time most hated sex, torture and humiliation movie - "Salo." The main plot point here was "Who spiked the punch?" But by the time I sat through all of the debauchery, I didn't care anymore.

Rosy the Reviewer says...disturbing, to say the least.
(In French and English)

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

62 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Wavelength (1967)

Considered one of the most unconventional and experimental films ever made, this is a 45 minute shot of a wall of windows in a city apartment accompanied by the most annoying sound you will ever hear!

Other than a couple of people wandering in and out at the beginning of this film, the camera is focused on four windows on what appears to be a loft apartment in a big city.  Three pictures hang in the middle of the windows.  Traffic and other noises are heard outside and then a recording of "Strawberry Fields Forever" plays.  But then about ten minutes into the film, there is the most annoying "wavelength" hum (I think it's called a sine-wave) that starts deep and low and then gets increasingly shrill as the camera slowly zooms closer and closer to the windows.  This sound inhabits the rest of this 45 minute film and was so annoying that I thought I was about to lose my mind.  Was that the point?  Or was the point to create the most boring movie ever? Whatever the point, I don't care.  

Written and directed by Michael Snow, a member of the American avante-garde, I think the film is meant to challenge filmmaking techniques and our perceptions about film, but I think there could have been a more interesting way to go about this than creating a boring and annoying film. I can't believe anyone gives this thing praise. My ears still haven't stopped ringing!

Why it's a Must See: "Like much underground and experimental cinema, [this film] is easy to parody as pretentious, but it is still a vital, important, and necessary work."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Oh yeah?  It's pretentious as hell that anyone would expect you to sit through this thing!

Rosy the Reviewer says...this will challenge even the most devoted cinephiles. Avoid, avoid avoid.
(But if you like torture, you can find it on YouTube)

***The Book of the Week***

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (2018)

A girl who was raised off the grid by a fundamentalist Mormon family and who never went to school eventually ends up with a Ph.d from Cambridge University.

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover and her parents lived their own version of Mormonism and believed the end of the world was nigh.  She and her mother and other siblings spent many hours canning food and preparing for the end days.  Tara's father also didn't believe in registering the births of his children or their going to school.  But when one of her brothers got into college, Tara decided to change her life. It wasn't until she was 17 that Westover stepped into a classroom, but through all kinds of sturm und drang, Westover eventually went to Harvard and then to Cambridge University.

How was she able to do that? It's a riveting story with an ending that made me cry.

"I am not the child my father raised, but he is the father who raised her...No matter how much I appeared to have changed -- how illustrious my education, how altered my appearance-- I was still HER.  At best, I was two people, a fractured mind.  SHE was inside, and emerged whenever I crossed the threshold of my father's house.  [But] She left me...The decisions I made after that...were not the ones she would have made.  They were the choices of a changed person, a new self.  You could call this selfhood many things.  Transformation.  Metamorphosis.  Falsity.  Betrayal.  I call it an education."

This book was a #1 Best Seller on the New York Times Best Seller List as well as being named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post and other prominent critics.  It was also one of President Barack Obama's favorite books.  One of mine too!

Rosy the Reviewer of the most powerful cases for the importance of  education and it's also a good read!

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday


"The Goldfinch"


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" 

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at 

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.