Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Rosy the Reviewer Recommends: Some Oldies But Goodies You Might Not Know About

[I review "Sorry We Missed You," "Ali and Nino," "London Town," "How to Build a Girl," and "7500."]

Since many of us still can't go anywhere or have nowhere to go, if you are stuck at home, here are some movies you might not know about that are worth seeing.

Sorry We Missed You (2019)

A family struggles to makes ends meet as a U.K. delivery driver gets caught up in the exploitation of the gig economy.

Since the 2008 crash, Ricky (Kris Hitchen) and Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) have been fighting a losing battle. They lost their home and are drowning in debt and struggling to get by as they raise their two teens, Seb (Rhys Stone) and Liza (Katie Proctor).  When Ricky is offered a chance to start his own franchise as a delivery driver (think a contract driver making deliveries for Amazon), he jumps at the chance, but to afford his own delivery van, he talks Abbie into selling the family car which she needs to travel to her job as a home health care worker for older adults.But she is a supportive wife and takes the bus. Both parents work long, difficult hours, most days a week, and the family is suffering. Son Seb doesn't help with his skipping school and getting into trouble and young Liza is feeling the stress of the family strife, wetting the bed and having panic attacs. And when Ricky is assaulted while making one of his deliveries, the stress all proves to be too much. 

I love my British “working class” dramas and no one does them better than director Ken LoachLoach is probably not that well known in the U.S. but his film “Kes” was voted the seventh greatest film of the 20th century by the British Film Institute and is in the book “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (I loved that one too)!" His socialist ideals are reflected in his films as he deals with social issues like homelessness, poverty and the everyday worker. Here he takes on the gig economy.

So what's the "gig economy?"

Basically, companies hire people for short-term jobs or "gigs."  This is cheaper for the company because they don't pay benefits and it can be a boon for the worker to work at home or have flexible work hours. But it is all rife with exploitation - there are no aforementioned benefits, companies often pay less than a full-time employee would get and the worker has no rights and no job security.

That is what Ricky faces as he tries to make a go of his delivery franchise under the supervision of the ruthless Maloney (Ross Brewster), who isn't doing our Ricky any favors.

With a screenplay by Paul Laverty, the film is slow moving but mesmerizing, because Loach depicts real life like no other director, provides no easy answers and reminds us that no matter where we live, we are all struggling for the good life. This film will give you a whole new perspective on that white van that pulls up to your house to deliver your Amazon package or that note that is left on your door when someone tries to deliver a package - "Sorry we missed you." A whole lot of people are getting missed these days.

And you will be sorry if you miss this brilliant film.

Rosy the Reviewer says…this compelling, award-winning film is highly recommended but warning: those Northern England accents can be challenging to the American ear and there are no subtitles but you can do it! Paying attention and concentrating is good for the brain!

(Available On Demand and from Amazon Prime as well as on DVD from Netflix)

Ali and Nino (2016)

A classic love story about a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Azerbaijan from 1918-1920.

Bet you never wondered what was happening in Azerbaijan (do you even know where it is?) and Georgia (no, not that state in the U.S., the country in Asia) during W.W. I, right? Well, this film highlights that little known part of history while at the same time telling the love story of Ali (Adam Bakri) and Nino (Maria Valverde).

As teens, Ali and Nino fall in love. Based on the supposed true story of Ali Khan Shirvanshir, Ali is a rich Muslim boy living in Baku in Azerbaijan. Nino is a Georgian Orthodox Christian whose wealthy Kipiani family also lives in Baku. Despite their differences, Ali and Nino are going to wed but then World War I breaks out in Europe and there is that little matter of a kidnapping.

Malik (Riccardo Scamarcio), who is supposedly Ali's friend, has also fallen in love with Nino and kidnaps her, planning to force her to marry him, but Ali confronts and kills Malik, forcing Ali to flee the country.

Now Nino is damaged goods and her family wants to send her off to Moscow but she is determined to find Ali, which she does. Nino and Ali are reunited in the mountains, are married and live what looks to be a happy life in the country, despite their aristocratic upbringings.  But the Bolsheviks, who have amassed 30,000 troops on the Azerbaijan border have other ideas and, so does Ali, who decides he needs to fight to keep Azerbaijan free. If you watch enough historical romances, you know that romances like this are never allowed a happy ending. This film is no exception but though it's a heart-wrenching ending, it is also a stunning one. 

Written by Christopher Hampton (based on the book by Kurban Said) and directed by Asif Kapadia, this is a dramatic love story that is beautiful to look at with a mesmerizing score that will transport you to another world.

Rosy the Reviewer's a sort of Azerbaijani Dr. Zhivago that will remind you that things could be worse.
(In Azerbaijani, Russian and English with English subtitles. Available on DVD and to rent on Amazon Prime and Vudu)

London Town (2016)

A 14-year-old boy's life is changed forever when he discovers the music of The Clash.

With a screenplay by Matt Brown and directed by Derrick Borte, this is another one of those coming of age films the Brits do so well, where a young man’s life is transformed by music (Blinded by the Light;” “Yesterday). 

This time it’s The Clash that saves 14-year-old Shay (Daniel Huttlestone) from the sadness of his broken home (his mother, Sandrine (Natascha McElhone), left them to live a bohemian life in London) and the responsibility to take care of his younger sister, Alice (Anya McKenna-Bruce), and help his Dad (Dougray Scott) in his piano shop.  But when his Dad has an accident and can no longer work, Shay has even more to deal with when he tries to keep things together. 

It doesn't help that the late 1970's were turbulent bad times in the U.K. with the rise of the National Front and the tough economy for the working class under the Thatcher government, so no wonder the music was angry and skinheads and punks surfaced. People also said “piss off” a lot back then, too.

But then Shay meets Vivian (Nell Williams) on the train.  She is a punk girl and introduces Shay to the punk sceneVivian explains the politics of punk: that The Clash are punks and punks support racial cooperation and working-class empowerment and the skinheads are gits, that's Brit speak for the kinds of folks who advocate white supremacy and support the National Front. After meeting Vivian, Shay embraces punk - jeans, leather jacket and died black hair fashioned into a pompadour. But despite the joy of his punk life, Shay soon discovers that he isn't going to be able to keep things going on the homefront.  But then he meets his Clash idol, Joe Strummer(Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and things start looking up.

But despite the nod to history, this film is nostagia and all a bit of a fantasy. I mean, can this 14-year-old kid really get away with keeping the family going by dressing up as a woman (so he will look older) and driving his Dad’s cab? And when Shay meets Joe Strummer in the flesh, is Joe really likely to help this kid open up a new business? But that’s okay. Suspend your disbelief. We need nostalgia and fantasy today, and this all works because of the engaging young actors and the adorable Jonathon Rhys Meyers?

Rosy the Reviewer says…Clash fans will enjoy this, but so will those who enjoy well-made movies that celebrate the power of music to heal and those who can remember what it was like to be young. Let’s just say I do and I do and I chuckled at the end with tears in my eyes. It’s one of those kinds of movies.

How to Build a Girl (2019)

Who knew that young, shy Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein), growing up on a council estate in Wolverhampton, England would become an influential music critic?  Well, you heard it here first, folks!

It's the 1990's and 16-year-old Johanna Morrigan lives with her aspiring rock star father Pat played by Paddy Considine ("aspiring rock star" is a euphemism for unemployed), her depressed and overwhelmed mother Angie (Sarah Solemani), and brothers Krissi (Laurie Kynaston), Lupin (Stellan Powell) and two infant twins. But she yearns to escape and become a writer and she gets hope when she wins a poetry contest.  So when the family faces a financial crisis, Johanna vows to earn money to help her family.  Her brother, Krissi, tells her about a London music paper - D&ME - that is looking for a rock critic and she is able to convince them to give her a chance, even though it's a boy's club and she is taken on as a kind of joke.

But it's no joke to Johanna who takes this all very seriously, especially what a rock critic should look like.  Johanna decides she needs to build herself up as a proper rock critic with an edgier style, red hair, and a top hat and sets out to immerse herself in the rock and roll scene.  When she is sent to Dublin to interview musician, John Kite (Alfie Allen), he is instantly taken with her bubbly personality and the two have a bit of a fling.  

But then she is fired for writing a glowing review of Kite (deemed a schoolgirl crush by the male magazine editors), so she decides the road to success lies with edgier, cruel even, reviews.  She is rehired and, under the guise of "Dolly Wilde," writes scathing reviews and becomes a popular critic, so popular, in fact, that she receives the "Arsehole of the Year Award (in England, I guess that's a compliment)."  She also becomes sexually promiscuous and drinks a bit.  Alright, she drinks a lot, which doesn't help when she runs into John again and drunkenly confesses her feelings and tries to kiss him. But he rejects her because he doesn't approve of her mean reviews.  Things go from bad to worse for our girl until she realizes she needs to build herself back up yet again, this time for the better.

If you liked Beanie Feldstein in "Booksmart," - I did - you will like her even more in this film based on a (sort of) true story.  Though Beanie is not British (in fact, she is Jonah Hill's sister), she does a good job of making us believe she is. But you don't have to know who Beanie is or be young to enjoy this film about a young girl coming of age and finding herself. I may be old but I can still remember what that was like (and you "Game of Thrones" fans will enjoy seeing Alfie Allen doing something besides getting abused as Theon Greyjoy)!

Adapted for the screen by Caitlin Moran, from her own novel, and directed by Coky Giedroyc, this film is a refreshing story that is funny, heartwarming and, yes, sweet.

Rosy the Reviewer says...just the antidote you might need for a particularly bad day. I know it was for me. Loved it!

(Available on DVD from Netflix and to rent on Amazon Prime)

7500 (2019)

Hijackers try to take over a plane while a soft-spoken co-pilot tries to save the passengers and himself.

Who knew Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a believable action star? I still remember him as the wise-cracking kid from “3rd Rock from the Sun.” But this is no ordinary Bruce Willis type action film. This is a film about a real life man thrust into a very real life, believable and scary situation.

Here Gordon-Levitt plays Tobias Ellis, an American co-pilot on a German commercial flight on its way to Paris from Berlin. The film starts out showing the routine and tedium of loading a regular commercial flight, its very normalcy ominous because of what is to later transpire. We see the passengers sitting in the waiting area, and then, we can see from the camera on the flight deck, the attendants in the kitchen, greeting the passengers as they board and the pilot and co-pilot performing all the checks and cross-checks as they get ready for take-off. It’s all very ordinary and routine.

And then, as one of the flight attendants enters the flight deck to bring the pilot some water, a hijacker makes his way in and attacks the pilot and Tobias and kills the flight attendant. Tobias manages to knock out the hijacker with a fire extinguisher and get the flight deck door closed, but he and the pilot are both injured, stabbed by shards of broken glass fashioned by the hijackers.

As Tobias radios the control tower (“7500” is the air traffic control code for a hijacking), the hijackers are pounding on the flight door and we can hear screams and noises as the hijackers wreak havoc in the cabin, something made more frightening because we can’t see into the cabin, only what is happening right outside the flight deck door, so our imaginations run wild. Tobias ties up the hijacker in the cabin and tries to tend to the captain as well as fly the airplane back to Hanover, the nearest airport, in a very tense real time 20 minutes, with the hijackers standing in view of the flight deck, threatening to kill passengers if Tobias doesn’t open the door. It was the longest 20 minutes of my life! I found myself yelling at the TV – “Don’t open the door!” And yet we see the hijackers killing the passengers. What should Tobias do? White knuckle time on the plane (and in my living room)!

This is a tour de force for Gordon-Levitt. Most of the film takes place in a claustrophobic confined space as Tobias wrestles with life and death situations while dealing with the hijacker left in the cockpit and trying to get the plane to Hanover. Gordon-Levitt is believable as an unlikely hero, thrust into a situation he did not see coming.

I have always been fascinated by thrillers that take place on airplanes. Maybe it’s because I have never quite understood how planes fly and have a love-hate relationship with flying on planes. And the whole hijacker film trope has been in the American consciousness ever since the 60’s when it seemed like there was a hijacking every week (there actually was), and then that very, very terrible day, 9/11. I still haven’t gotten over the film “United 93,” a wonderful story of heroism but a brutally sad depiction of the 9/11 plane that is believed to have been headed to crash into the White House or the Capitol and the passengers that rose up against the hijackers, foiling their plan but, unable to save themselves, crashing into a Pennsylvania field.

Rosy the Reviewer says…written by Patrick Vollrath and Senad Halilbasic and directed by Vollrath, this is another inspiring portrait of heroism which is what we need right now. It’s also a tense and wonderful film that is not to be missed.
(Streaming now on Amazon Prime)

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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 

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.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Rosy the Reviewer Recommends: What I've Been Watching At Home

[I review "Antebellum," "You Should Have Left, "The Hunt," "The Rental" and "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga."]

Well, we can't exactly go to the movies anymore, not where I live anyway, and there are no drive-ins here, but, fortunately, there is a lot of content to be found at home, and more and more, production companies are releasing first-run films to television venues and on DVD. So we can still "go to the movies" in the comfort of our own homes!

So let's go to the movies!

Antebellum (2020)

What starts out as a story about slaves being abused on a plantation taken over by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War turns into something decidedly different.

This film has a big twist that unfortunately I saw coming from the very start.  It wasn't helped by the fact that before the pandemic, when I was a regular moviegoer (remember those days?), I had seen the trailer for this multiple times and the trailer gives it all away. So don't watch the trailer!  But even though I figured out what was going on early, I still found this film to be worthwhile.  And here's why.

"The past is never dead.  It's not even past." 

So said William Faulkner whose novels were chronicles of the South, and here, what starts as a Civil War horror story (the Civil War WAS a horror story all on its own) becomes a horror story for today, and as Faulkner said, the past is always with us.

The film begins with several unspoken minutes of the camera moving over a beautiful plantation with hoop skirts and greenery and cute children and then a horrific scene depicting what happens to slaves who try to escape a plantation' one that had been taken over by some Confederate soldiers.  And that's when we meet Eden (Janelle Monae).  She is new to the plantation and endures branding and other torture and indignities along with her fellow slaves while the white Confederate soldiers and plantation owner flaunt their white privilege until about 40 minutes into the film, fast forward to the 21st century, where another story unfolds, with Monae playing Veronica Henley, a successful author and sociologist, who despite her degrees and success also endures racism, though the modern kind, more subtle, but no less insidious. 

How are these two stories and these two women related? If you haven't already figured it out, you will (especially if you had seen the trailer).

Is the film uneven?  Yes.  Is the film over-the-top?  Yes.  Is the film heavy handed? Yes.

But that doesn't mean it was not a satisfying film experiece.  It was.

Despite some reservations, I liked it and it needs to be seen.

This film appears when we need to, not only be reminded of a time when African Americans were subjugated, tortured and treated like animals while the American economy prospered from their free, back-breaking labor, but to also be reminded that African Americans are still subjected to white supremacy and brutal racial injustice today with Confederate flags flying, the arguments over preserving monuments to the Confederacy and the current killing of black men by police. 

It's also a reminder to us white folks about our white privilege, which to me is never more evident than when a white person responds to "Black lives matter," with "All lives matter." I think to myself, "What aren't you getting?" Dont you read the news? So here is my response: All lives will matter when black lives matter.  So we white people don't need to weigh in. Let black people get on with what they need to do and what they need to call things, and we white people need to go sit quietly and contemplate our white privilege. I know I have.

Okay, so the Confederate flag. Let's talk about that.

I've never understood the whole Confederate flag thing.  Why are so many white people obsessed with the Civil War, the Old South, the Confederate flag and preserving the statues that honor Confederate generals who were fighting to keep slavery? Are these people lamenting how it all turned out and wishing to go back to the plantation days of white supremacy over people of color? Is that what "Make America Great Again" means?  Duh. To me, that's all a sign that racism may not be overt and in your face every day, but it's alive and well, and there are people walking amongst us who do wish the days of the Confederacy would return, who want to live their white privilege and keep people of color "in their place."  We are now over 150 years past the Civil War.  And you wonder why black people are mad?

In my own life, I must confess, I have a memory of my Dad coming into my bedroom in the morning when I was a little girl and waking me up by announcing, "Save your Confederate money!  The South will rise again!"  I have no idea where he got that from or what it meant to him. He was not from the South and had no reason, that I knew of, to want it to rise again, but he thought it was hilarious and, I am embarrassed to say that I thought it was funny too.  But in my defense, I was a little girl and didn't know any better and, it's not like we had a Confederate flag hanging in the house or that my parents disparaged black people.  But as I got older, as Maya Angelou so sagely said, "When you know better, you do better," so I have come to understand that even though there were no particularly obvious signs, there was white privilege and racism in my family, and I have had to come to grips with that.

Jonelle Monae is a wonderful actress, but she is also known for her social activism, and this film gives her a dramatic platform to explore the plight of, not just black Amercans, but black women. Gabourey Sadibe offers some humor as Veronica's friend with Jena Malone and Jack Huston providing the personifications of evil characters.

So it's all here.  Slavery, racial injustice, the Civil War, a plantation, white supremacy, the politicals of the here and now, some horror...and thank, god, a rising up. Yes, it's a bit overdone and heavy-handed, but written and directed by Christopher Renz and Gerard Bush, this is a morality play.  Those plays were overdone and heavy-handed, too, but necessary to get the point across.  And God knows, unbelievably there are still knuckleheads, er, people today, who don't get the point that racial injustice and white supremacy is alive and well, that maybe not that much has changed since slavery.  African Americans might not be technically enslaved anymore but the scars of the past run deep.  Racism is alive and well, social injustice is alive and well, and we all need to do something about it. It's important.  It matters. Our lives depend on it. All lives will matter when black lives matter.

Rosy the Reviewer says...available now On Demand, this is a modern day horror story of where we may be headed and a reminder that we still have a long way to go on the road to social justice and equality (and take my advice, don't see the trailer)!

You Should Have Left  (2020)

With their young daughter, a banker and his actress wife rent a house in Wales for a brief vacation before she takes on a new acting job in London but what was supposed to be a dream vacation turns into a nightmare.

Yet another horror film from Blumhouse Productions, which has practically cornered the market on horror films.  As I said in my review of "Hush" back in June, there is good Blumhouse and bad Blumhouse but now I need to add another moniker to that production company - Big Name Blumhouse.  

Kevin Bacon stars as Theo Conroy, an ex-banker with a much younger actress wife (Amanda Seyfried) and an overly precocious daughter, Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex). They have rented an Air B&B in Wales and like many of my experiences with Air B&B the house was not what was expected.  In fact, it's a very, very strange house that is bigger inside than outside, has doors leading nowhere and everywhere, lights that go on and off by themselves and  "You should leave" appears in his journal.  This is another one of those tales of an innocent family stuck in a house that has it out for them.  And maybe they aren't so innocent either.

Theo has a past.  His first wife drowned in a bathtub and he was accused of killing her.  Though he got off, he is haunted by the past - literally.  He has horrible nightmares and it doesn't help that he worries that his young wife is cheating on him. He worries so much that he checks her phone, Ipad and laptop when she is taking a bath. It also doesn't help that he discovers she has a second phone, one he didn't know about.  Uh-oh. When he realizes the house has it out for him, he tries to escape but ultimately learns the one thing he can't escape is himself.

Written and directed by David Koepp (and based on the novel by Daniel Kehlmann), the film is slow-moving but once you are halfway in, it will get you, you will want to know how it's going to end, though you will also probably figure that out.

Bacon has worked with Koepp before, 20 years ago in "Stir of Echoes."  Speaking of 20 years ago, I couldn't get over how old Bacon looks now.  He is no longer the young man of "Footloose."  In fact, he looks more like Clint Eastwood these days.  He even walks like him! I know. I should talk.  We all get old. But aging or not, Bacon is still a good actor and seeing him in this is reason enough to see the film.  Sadly, Seyfried doesn't have much to do and as for young Avery - well, you know how I feel about precocious child actors.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a fan of tales starring malevolent houses or you like psychological horror, you might enjoy this stylish film about guilt that reminded me of "The Shining."
(Available on DVD and VOD)

The Hunt (2020)

Blumhouse strikes again, but this time, along with some gore, there is political satire. We have liberals hunting down right wingers. Is there nothing Blumhouse won’t take on?

Originally slated to release last year, the film was pulled by Universal after the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings, because, well, this movie is about hunting people down for sport, in this case, liberals hunting down the so-called “deplorables,” and, even those mass shootings notwithstanding, social media and the President had already weighed in on how horrible this film was supposed to be before anyone had even seen it.

Poor conservatives are kidnapped and drugged and taken to a field where they must fend for themselves as they are hunted down by the liberal elite in a remake of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," a 1924 novela that is the basis for this and has been the basis for many other films from the 1932 film of the same name to "Open Season" to "The Hunger Games" to (my favorite) "Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity!"

Okay, liberals hunting down right wingers. I know. But hold on, don’t get your knickers in a twist. Like I said, this is a satire, a rather nasty one, yes, but there are no heroes here and no victims either. Everyone is really, really unlikable and the movie takes shots at both sides. The "deplorables," are, well, deplorable and the elites are the worst of that group. Everyone is a stereotype, but it's a lesson in what could happen when we all see each other as stereotypes and our political views take precedent over our humanity. And if you like gore, there is plenty of that as everyone gets killed off in unique and grisly ways.

Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof wrote this film directed by Craig Zobel and it's a timely foray into our current political divide -- except it's fun!

Hilary Swank and Ike Barinholtz star along with Betty Gilpin, who most recently starred in the TV series “Glow,” and who steals the show here as Crystal who turns the tables and reluctantly takes on everyone, and Gilpin is so good she just might emerge as a new action star.

Rosy the Reviewer says…no matter what your politics, there’s something here for everyone. It’s provocative, but also hilarious.

(Available on DVD from Netflix and for rent on Amazon Prime and On Demand $5.99)

The Rental (2020)

Two couples take a break from their California lifestyle to rent a fancy Air B & B on the Oregon Coast only to discover that instead of a fun vacation they have found themselves in a horror story.

What does it say about me that I am drawn to films about malevolent houses and landlords and evil psychopaths stalking innocent, unsuspecting victims? Maybe it means I’m depressed about having to stay home and watch movies to avoid the malevolent virus that seems to be stalking all of us.

Anyway, here we have two couples, Charlie (Dan Stevens), Michelle (Alison Brie), Mina (Sheila Vand) and Josh (Jeremy Allen White) renting a posh house. All is well for a time until they discover they are being filmed and then they realize they are being stalked, all while dealing with some romantic and emotional issues that crop up.  Charlie and Mina work together and have a close relationship which Charlie's wife, Michelle, and Charlie's brother, Josh, can't help but notice, so all of that doesn't help when the stalking begins. It's a horror film in an Air B & B but it's also an emotional and relationship horror story where the characters keep making cringe-worthy decisions and you want to yell at the screen "No!!!"  

Written by Dave Franco (yes, James' little brother) and Joe Swanberg and directed by Franco, this is a tight little horror romp and it will keep you guessing. It was also supposedly written because of Franco's dislike of staying in Air B & B's.  Well, let me tell you, don't get me started.  I have some Air B & B horror stories of my own.

Going into this, I was certain that Dan Stevens was going to be the bad guy since that has been his m.o. in several films since leaving his role as Matthew Crawley in “Downton Abbey.” But I was wrong, though his character does cheat on his wife in this, so I guess that could be construed as being a bad guy, right?

Rosy the Reviewer says…this is an atmospheric little thriller about a rental that is also a rental. It’s a first-run movie available to rent on Amazon Prime.

A spoof of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Will Farrell and Rachel McAdams play Lars and Sigrit, a singing duo from Iceland called Fire Saga, and they want to win the Eurovision Song Contest. Lars has been obsessed with winning the contest ever since he saw ABBA win the contest singing “Waterloo.” However, there is a problem. Fire Saga isn’t very good. But a strange set of circumstances that can only happen in a crazy comedy lead them to the contest in Scotland.

Written by Will and Andrew Steele and directed by David Dobkin, this is a fairly predictable and really silly film that reminded me a bit of "This is Spinal Tap (though not as good)", but there is a sweetness to this film that is rather endearing, though, I couldn't help but wonder what my friends in Iceland would think about this depiction. Farrell hasn't had a hit film in a long time but he is actually funny here as he brings back his manchild schtick. The elaborate production numbers (a real thing in the contest), some of which, in the film, include actual winners and participants of the real contest, are great; Rachel McAdams is surprisingly funny, underrated as a comic actress; and, coincidentally, here is Dan Stevens again, playing against type as the macho Russian frontrunner.  He is neither the romantic lead nor the bad guy.  I will watch anything starring Dan Stevens and miss him so much when I watch "Downton Abbey." Pierce Brosnan plays Will's Dad and I will watch him in anything, too!

Rosy the Reviewer says…some of the film works, some of it doesn’t, and it’s silly, yes, but If you like Will Ferrell you might enjoy this send-up of the Eurovision Song Contest.  The film is now streaming on Netflix. (And if you don't know what the Eurovision Song Contest is, Google it.  It defies a short description).

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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 

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.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project - THE END!

For good or ill, six years ago I came across a book called "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" and, for some reason, decided that as a devoted movie lover, if I wanted to die happy, I had to see all of those movies.

When I started, I had already seen 685 of the films listed so it was a mere (I am being sarcastic here) 315 I had to make my way through.  Who knew what a task that would be?

I wrote about some of the difficulties back when I started... and then documented my progress on my Friday movie review blog posts every week for the last six years.  Every week I would make sure I watched one of the "1001 Movies," and then I would review it along with a new feature film and some DVDs I had seen that week.  All progressed nicely, but, wouldn't you know,  "they" kept coming out with new editions of the book with even more movies I needed to see,

but I weathered that storm and then, along came this year's sheltering in place order. 

So six years later, with just 30 to go, I decided I had better hurry up with this project before yet another edition came out.  What better time than when we are all doing our couch potato thing?

Now the project is over.  I have come to the end.

With that said, here are the last of the films I am supposed to see before I die (you are supposed to see these too!), and if you want to go back to my original post and track my reviews from there, be my guest. It's been a mostly fun project, but I'm glad it's over because it had it's ups and downs.

As I made my way toward the end of the project, movies became harder and harder to find.  Some were on YouTube, but often, not with English subtitles and some of the films I had to buy.  I have ventured as far afield as Greece to get a film from someone on EBay and been ripped off by some (avoid "The DVD Lady").  But despite my efforts, of the 30 I had left during this last leg, there were 12 that I was not able to see, because, wouldn't you know...some of those movies just aren't out there. Why would those so-called critics put together a book with films we are supposed to see that WE CAN'T GET?

There were some that were on YouTube but not with English subtitles; there were some that were not playable on American DVD players (read about region codes for DVDs); there were some I could buy but the prices were exorbitant; and, then, there were some I just could not find anywhere, no matter how hard I tried, zilch, nada, couldn't find 'em...

But, my peeps, I can now die happy because I saw all of the (available) 1001 movies that I needed to see before I died.  I think that counts, don't you?

So let the countdown begin!

30. Dr. Mabuse, Parts 1 and 2 
(1922 and 1933)

Dr. Mabuse is a bad guy who wants to take over Berlin.

You know when there is a Part 1 and a Part 2 that the movie is going to be LONG.  And this one was.  Can you imagine a five hour SILENT film?  I can't either so I didn't watch the whole thing. I kind of sped through it.  Let's say, thank the lord for the remote and the ability to fast forward.  But I got the gist.

Basically, Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is a bad guy who makes his money by scamming people and making counterfeit money.  He takes on disguises depending on what his next scam will be, one of which is to scam a young millionaire out of his money, but prosecutor von Wenck (Bernhard Goetzke) gets wise to him and gets in his way.

Fritz Lang directed and he was certainly a director ahead of his time. His "Metropolis" was groundbreaking and "M" started the whole film noir movement, both made before he became a famous director in the U.S.  Dubbed the "Master of Darkness," he came out of the German Expressionism movement and went on to make some classic film noir films here in America.

I can appreciate the filmmaking, but this film is an early example of a director so in love with his own work that he can't cut anything.  No film needs to be five hours long to tell a story. I can only think that in 1922 movies were still so new and television hadn't been invented yet that the movie going public had more tolerance than we do today.

Like most films of this era, the acting is overly dramatic with big eyes, women fainting and being carried off and bad guys going mad.

Why it's a Must See: "...[this film] was intended not merely as flamboyant thriller but as pointed editorial, using the figure of the master-of-disguise supercriminal to embody the real evils of its era."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...did I need to see this before I died?  No. But now I can say I did...sort of...
(In German with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)

29 and 28.  Ivan the Terrible, Parts I and II 
(1944 and 1958)

Ivan (Nikolay Cherkasov) becomes Tsar, Ivan gets married, Ivan loses his friends, Ivan gets betrayed, but despite all of the palace intrigue, Ivan just wants everyone to get along as he tries to unite his people. More of the same in Part II, except Ivan's enemies try to dethrone him which doesn't make Ivan very happy. In fact, he kills them. They didn't call him "the Terrible" for nothing.

Sergei Eisenstein directed this film commissioned by Joseph Stalin. It was supposed to be a trilogy, but Eisenstein only made it through the first two before his death.  Stalin was a big fan of Ivan, but when Part II came along, Stalin wasn't so happy with how Ivan was depicted, seeing the film as a critique of his rule, so Part II was banned, which might explain why I had such a hard time finding Part II.  Part II was finally released in 1958 after both Eisenstein's and Stalin's deaths and I had to buy that one from Ebay and it turned out that it wouldn't play on my DVD player (it was from a non-U.S. region) but it worked on my computer (note: VLC Player will play any DVD on your computer no matter where it's from).

Most famous for his silent films, especially "Battleship Potemkin," which Sight and Sound Magazine pronounced the 11th greatest film ever made, Eisenstein was a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage and this film, along with "Alexander Nevsky," were his only non-silent films. In these two films, the black and white cinematography was beautiful, but for films made in 1945 the acting was incredibly overdramatic and staged with the big eyes and extreme close-ups we have come to associate with silent films of the 20's, almost laughable, the acting was so extreme.

Why it's a Must See: "In Part II, a curiosity can be found in the use of two color scenes in a movie that is mostly black and white."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...if that is the best the "1001 Movies" critics can say about these films, then faint praise.  I think the only reason these films were included was because they were directed by Eisenstein. For me, the best thing about the films was the score by Prokofiev.  Otherwise, no, I didn't need to to see these films before I died.  If you want to see Eisenstein, see "Battleship Potemkin!"

(In Russian with English subtitles. Part 1 Available on YouTube, Part II I had to purchase from Ebay and turned out it was a foreign version that I could only play on my computer, so if you buy DVDS online, be sure they are for Region 1, playable on North American DVD players or that you have VLC Media Player installed on your computer.  It will play anything)

27.  City of Sadness (1989)

The film follows four brothers from 1945 to 1949, the period after the end of 50 years of Japanese colonial rule and before the establishment of a government-in-exile in Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek.

This was the first motion picture to deal openly with the “White Terror” in Taiwan, the suppression of political dissidents after Taiwan was turned over to China from Japan. From 1949 to 1987, Taiwan was under martial law. After their arrival from Mainland China, the Kuomintang government (under Chiang Kai-shek) rounded up, imprisoned, and/or shot thousands of Taiwanese people. 

The story focuses on four brothers who are members of the Lin family who live in a coastal town near Taipai, Taiwan. Wen-heung (Sung Young Chen), the oldest of four Lin brother, is trying to keep the family together by turning his Japanese bar into a family restaurant called “Little Shanghai,” but he is being undermined by gangsters. The second brother, Wen-sun, has disappeared and is assumed dead. Brother, Wen-leung (Jack Kao) in in the hospital with PTSD and Wen-ching (Tony Leung) is a deaf-mute. He runs a photography studio and has collaborated with anti-government forces.

Tony Leung made a big splash in the wonderful "In the Mood for Love," one of my favorite films and is the best thing about this movie,which is slow-moving and, considering the subject matter, not much happens.

Why it's a Must See: [This film] is not only a masterpiece, it is a model for all those films that intend to show the major events of a country, most of the time becoming boring monuments instead."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...sorry, I thought it was kind of a "boring momument."
(In Taiwanese, Japanese, Cantonese, Shangheinese and Mandarin. Available on YouTube)

A political activist is exiled to a remote Italian village.

Carlo Levi (Gian Maria Volonte) is an artist/writer who also has a medical degree.  He has been exiled to a remote village because of his political views against Mussolini's Fascist government. Lucania (now called Basilicata) is so godforsaken that Christ wouldn't even go there.  He would stop short of it and stop only as far as the nearby town of Eboli. Hence the title. Get it? Likewise the people in the village are remote and forsaken, mostly peasants, who are looked down upon. Doctors won't even treat them so Levi is called upon, though he has never practiced medicine.

Based on a true story and Levi's memoir, actor Gian Maria Volonte acts as a sort of observer of village life rather than a participant, though he eventually endears himself to the villagers.  There is the alcoholic priest, the pompous cop, the nutty grave digger, the debt collector who soothes his guilt by playing the clarinet, and then there is Guilia, the woman hired to look after Volonte played by Irene Pappas.  She doesn't appear until halfway through this long film (two and a half hours), but when she does, it picks up. You just have to get through the first hour. Her fiery character, something she perfected as an actress, perks things up but not enough to save Volonte's one-note performance with consists of much looking off into space and the proverbial navel gazing.

Why it's a Must See: "...a stately, picturesque drama that captures the cadence of pastoral life in a small, rural village in southern Italy during the 1930's...[Director Franceso] Rosi's film underpins the political, cultural and economic rift between the country's wealthy north and its struggling south."

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

Rosy the Reviewer was too long and a bit of a political diatribe which doesn't make for great movie watching.

(In Italian with English subtitles. Had to get this from Greece via Ebay)

25. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

One of those surreal plots that defies description.  It's a sort of modern day version (c. 1970's) of "Through the Looking Glass" starring a couple of nutty women.

Celine (Juliet Berto) comes stumbling past librarian Julie (Dominique Labourier), dropping her belongings as Julie sits reading in a park.  Intrigued, Julie follows her for a long 14 minute intro where no dialogue is spoken.  The two eventually meet, and in short order, inextricably move in together and embark on a series of adventures that involve taking on each others' personas and being transported to a mysterious mansion via eating some magic candy.  The mansion is inhabited (or haunted?) by some mysterious people, two beautiful women, a man, a nurse and a child who is mysteriously murdered. Celine and Julie have basically fallen down a rabbit hole. Is any of it real or is it all a dream?

The film becomes a movie within a movie as Celine and Julie transport themselves to the mansion via their magic candies and watch the action in the mansion over and over until they figure out how to create their own narrative and become part of the story. They try on each other's lives, too - the more staid Julie takes on Celine's magic act and the adventurous Julie has a rendezvous with Julie's proper childhood sweetheart. In the end, it looks like they even exchanged their lives for good.  Or that's what it looked like.  Who knows?  The whole thing was nutty. I kept waiting for them to go boating, which they eventually did at the end of over three hours but I guess "boating" was a metaphor for the film.  Metaphor or not, the film could have been called "Celine and Julie go nutty."

And speaking of nutty. Both Celine and Julie were nutty, and there was a lot of extraneous improvisation that went on and on.  Director Jacques Rivette, one of the founders of the French New Wave, was one of those directors who didn't seem to know how to or cared not to edit himself.  The movie is over three hours long and, worse, made little sense.  It's one of those films that makes you wonder if the director is messing with you, as in you torture yourself trying to figure out what it all means, the symbolism, only to discover it has no meaning at all. But then there is that French thing. Maybe the jokes were lost in translation. 

However, on the plus side, the film is original, beautiful to look at and captures the ethos of the 1970's, and if I had seen this film back then when I was in my 20's, I probably would have loved it.  But I am no longer in my 20's.

Why it's a Must See: "This is a film by one of the most demanding and delicate of film critics, Jacques Rivette, who became a remarkable explorer of the nature of cinema through the questioning of its relations with the real world and with other forms of art. Rivette's magnificant work has always been made with a joyful taste for telling tales...magic."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...too long and nutty for me.

(In French with English subtitles.  Had to purchase this on Ebay and I couldn't play it on my DVD player but thanks to VLC Media Player, watched it on my computer.  But watching a three hour movie on the computer is a slog)

24. Three Lives and Only One Death (1996)
(Orig. title: "Trois Vies et Une Seule Mort")

Marcello Mastroianni plays four different roles in this strange and surreal film by experimental filmmaker Raoul Ruiz.

Another film that defies explanation, because it's all very strange, but generally speaking, the film begins with Pierre Bellemare, a French radio personality, who appears to be telling four different stories, all of which star Marcello Mastrianni (in his penultimate role before his death) playing four different characters - a man who believes in fairies; a professor at the Sorbonne who becomes a beggar overnight; a butler who only responds to the sound of a bell; and a businessman who is surprised by the arrival of his wife, daughter and sister - surprised because they don't exist. See what I mean? Strange. As these kinds of films do, the characters and stories all converge at the end but it's getting to the end that's the problem.  

Whenever I see that a director is considered "experimental," I know I'm not going to like it.  And I didn't, much as I usually love French films and the handsome and charming Marcello, who at 58 was still handsome and charming, but who, sadly, died soon after this film was released.

Chilean director Raoul Ruiz was an experimental filmmaker who directed over 100 films and worked mostly in France.  He is probably one of the most famous film directors you have never heard of.

Why it's a Must See: "Perhaps the most accessible movie of the Chilean-born Raul Ruiz...[this film] provides a sunny showcase for the charismatic talents of the late Marcello Mastroianni."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...even Marcello couldn't save this film for me.

(In French with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)

23.  The Horse Thief  (1986)
(Orig. title: "Dao Ma Zei")

It ain't easy making a living in Tibet.

Basically as per the title, Norbu (Rigzin Tseshang) is a horse thief, the seemingly only way for him to provide for his family and...that's it.  He's a horse thief and it doesn't end well for him. They don't like horse thieves in Tibet!

Derek Adams from the magazine Time Out gave the film a good review, stating: "It offers the most awesomely plausible account of Tibetan life and culture ever seen in the west. It's one of the few films whose images show you things you've never seen before."

Why it's a Must See: "...a breathtaking spectacle in scope and color..."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, co-directed  by Zhuangzhuang Tian and Peicheng Pan, the film was beautiful to look at and a glimpse into a little known culture but it was still boring. There was little plot and little dialogue.  Not a big fan of that.

(In Mandarin and Tibetan with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)

22. The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short (1966)

A teacher in a girls' school falls in love with a student.  It doesn't end well for him.

The film begins with a close-up of Govert Miereveld (Senne Rouffaer) as he gets a haircut, complete with head massage.  He is a middle-class schoolteacher/lawyer with a wife and children, but he has his issues, one of which is an obsession with going to the barber and appearing to be "clean." In addition to that obsession, he also has the unfortunate obsession with Fran (Beata Tyszkiewicz), one of his students, and that fact is taking a toll on him. However, he keeps it to himself, and when Fran graduates, he decides to leave teaching and work as a lawyer instead, but over time he is unsuccessful and is forced to take on a lesser job as a court clerk.  Meanwhile, Fran has become a famous singer. Then the film takes a turn and we find Govert attending an autopsy, which starts to unhinge him and when he crosses paths with Fran again and finally tells her he loves her, she shares some things with him that he didn't want to hear and that really unhinges him.

Directed by Andre Delvaux, this is a sort of Lolita story based on the book by Johan Daisne.  The black and white cinematography and the haunting soundtrack create a noir feel, but I can't really fathom why this was an important film to see before I died.  It was slow moving and dark and took place mostly in Govert's mind which doesn't necessarily make for a satisfying movie experience.  The message of the film was also a downer.  It seemed to be saying "Don't try to reach too high for happiness. You will just get slapped down."  Not the message I need to hear right now.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film] marks the arrival of Belgium's own national cinematic style, magic realism -- a unique blend of reality and eerie fantasy, addressing the surreal melancholy of everyday life."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...the best thing about this film was the haircut!

(In Dutch with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)

21. Red Psalm (1972)
(Orig. title: "Meg Ker a Nep")

In the late 19th century, a bunch of Hungarian farmers go on strike and demand rights from a landowner.

A sort of costume reenactment, this is part musical and part mess. Soldiers show up to try to get the striking farmers back in line, women take off their clothes and a troubadour wanders around singing folk songs.  The best part of this film was when that damn troubadour gets killed.  

Why it's a Must See: "The picture may well be the greatest Hungarian film of its time, summing up an entire strain in [director Miklos Jancso's] work that lamentably has been forgotten in the United States."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...there is a reason why it's "been forgotten in the United States."  It's awful!
(In Hungarian with English subtitles.  Had to buy this on Ebay)

20. The Mother and the Whore (1973)
(Orig. title: "La Maman et La Putain")

It's all about a menage a trois! Hey, it was the 70's!

Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud), a rather disaffected twenty-something, who is unemployed and spends his days hanging out in cafes, drinking and playing pinball, lives with Marie (Bernadette Lafont) but falls in love with Veronika (Francoise Lebrun), and the three find themselves in a menage a trois. Well, two and a half hours into the movie they do. You might think that Alexandre has died and gone to heaven. I mean, two women at once? Think again.  

This is your classic French New Wave film about the disillusionment of French youth post 1968, and sadly, a rather chauvinistic film. Marie is the "mother," as in Alexandre lives with her and she pays the bills. She works.  He doesn't.  Veronika is the "whore," but only because she is sexually promiscuous and she hates herself for it.  She really wants to get married and have a baby, to be a mother. Ugh. But that was the times - the sexual revolution was relatively new and we women weren't completely liberated yet (and still aren't). There was even a scene where Alexandre talked about "women's lib" and Veronika didn't know what that was! However, Alexandre was happy to tell her, because even way back in the 1970s' "mansplaining" was already a thing.  Alexandre just never stops talking!

It's all very 70's French - Gauloises, wine, Edith Piaf and Sartre.  Lots of hanging out in cafes (Cafe de Flore, Les Deux Magots, both of which I have been to, by the way), talking about nothing (in one scene Alexandre riffs on the fact that no one uses the word "lemonade" anymore!) and everyone seems to be waiting for something to happen. I sure was.  Absolutely nothing happened for over two hours and then finally there was at least some sex!

But the film, written and directed by Jean Eustache, has that something, that je ne sais quoi.  After three and a half hours of watching and listening to people talking to each other (Alexandre doing most of it), you feel like you know these people. And you do. And you don't just see them in Paris. You see them everywhere. This is how twenty-somethings act. 

Speaking of which, this film brought back many memories of my youth. Loved all of that navel-gazing talk back then.  Not so much now. However, the film was over three hours long, and you know how I hate overly long films, so you would think I would not have been able to tolerate this, but I just had to know if Alexandre was ever going to shut up (he didn't)! He was fascinating in his narcissism. 

Why it's a Must See: "...deeply of it's time... Renowned French Magazine Cahiers du Cinema declared the movie to be the best film of the 1970s."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, truly a French film of it's time. 
I can't tell you how many of those I saw back in the day. Yack, yack, yack, but all in that beautiful French (with subtitles, of course)!  
(Note: if you are like me and have a hard time with really long films, take it in parts.  I watched this a half hour at a time.  That's about as long as I could take Alexandre)!
(In French with English subtitles.  Available on YouTube)

19.  Yol (1982)

When five Kurdish prisoners are granted one week's leave, it's hardly a vacation from prison, it's more hardship, disappointment and oppression when they get back home.

And writer/director Yilmaz Guney wrote this film and based it on the men he met when he himself was in prison. In fact, it was his assistant Serif Goren who worked from Guney's notes to direct the film, but Guney was able to escape from prison to participate in the editing and postproduction.  The film went on to win the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival and called attention to Turkey's right-wing dictatorship and prisoners' human rights in Turkey.

When the five men are released, one has to go back because of a petty, bureaucratic rule; another is called upon by his family to perform an honor killing on his unfaithful wife; a third convict comes home to his fiance only to discover his family has chosen him a different wife; a fourth discovers his entire village wiped out; and the fifth prisoner has similar hardships but some hope exists in his life.

Sheesh.  It was grim, and the direction had an almost soap opera feel with dramatic extreme close-ups of concerned and anguished faces. It was slow-moving, one of those films with long segments where we watch someone walk up a mountain in real time, and I've decided I'm not a fan of movies that are mostly about men, especially when the women are oppressed and face honor-killings if they mess up. To make matters worse, the subtitles on the copy that I watched seemed like literal translations and had all kinds of misspellings and gramatical errors. I had to buy it on Ebay and it was cheap which made me think that perhaps I had a bootleg copy. Maybe that's why it was so cheap! 

Why it's a Must See: "Few better examples of engaged political filmmaking exist."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...Zzzz.  I think I would have been more engaged if the film had been about why [director] Guney himself was in prison and how he happened to escape and then finish this film.
(In Turkish with really bad English subtitles.  Had to buy this one on Ebay)

18.   Mediterranee (1963)

A 45 minutes French film documenting the Mediterranean Sea.

There is no plot, just images of the Mediterranean Sea and the countries it impacts interspersed with pictures of an unconscious girl preparing to undergo an operation, a bullfight, a fisherman going out to sea, a women getting dressed and more incongruous stuff all narrated by an irritatingly unctuous voice.

Why it's a Must See: "...the most influential of [director Jean-Daniel Pollet's) experimental films...[and] inspired one of [film director Jean-Luc] Godard's most poetic critical texts..."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...all I have to hear or see is "experimental" and I will know I won't like it.  I didn't.

(In French with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)

17.  Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)

It's the 1970's and an innocent young man from the "provinces" of the Philippines arrives in Manila, the Big City, to find his girlfriend.

Julio (a young Bembol Roco), a poor fisherman from the a small village in the country, has lost touch with his girlfriend, Ligaya (Hilda Koronel), who went off to the Big City lured by the promise of a job.  Well, you can imagine what that "job" turned out to be.  And poor Julio...he has no money, no education, no skills but when he arrives in Manila is able to find a construction job.  However, it's a job where unfair labor practices abound so he is eventually lured into a male prostitution ring for a time. He eventually finds Ligaya only to discover that she was being kept by a man who won't let her leave and when Julio tries to rescue her, it doesn't end well for Ligaya.  Likewise, it doesn't end well for Julio, either.  The ending is something out of "The Day of the Locusts."

The story, written by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. and based on a novel by Edgardo Reyes, was filmed during the Marcos era, and director Lino Brocka captures the struggles and exploitation that the poor faced in the Philippines during that time. But it's also an "everyman" story that is easily extrapolated to today. Brocka, who was briefly imprisoned by Marcos, died young in a car accident at the age of 52 but managed to make 60 films in his 20 year career, though few are available today outside of the Philippines.

Roco carries the film and has one of those poignant faces where you can read everything.

Why it's a Must See: " still often regarded as the best Filipino film of all time."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer engrossing but grim melodrama that highlights the anguish of poverty.

16.  Man of Marble (1977)
(Orig. title: "Czlowiek z Marmuru")

A young Polish filmmaker sets out to find out what happened to Mateusz Birkut, a 1950's bricklayer - a 'worker-hero of the state' - who mysteriously disappeared - in life and in the history books.

This is a film within a film as Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda), a young student filmmaker in 1970's Poland, tries to track down Mateusz Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), a bricklayer who in the 1950's less-free Poland, had led a team of other bricklayers to lay 30,000 bricks in one day, thus proving himself to be a steadfast hero of the communist state and a proponent of free housing for all. She wants to make a film about Birkut as her university thesis. However, as Agnieszka does her research into Birkut, she discovers that in turbulent, repressed times, it's easy to be a hero one day and an enemy of the state the next. 

Agnieszka is a plucky heroine (which I always like), who won't take no for an answer in her quest to discover the enigma that is Mateusz Birkut, and I have to say that Radziwilowicz was certainly a handsome hero.

Director Andrzej Wajda was a prominent member of the Polish Film School, filmmakers and screenwriters during the fifties and early sixties who were greatly influenced by the Italian Neorealists (Visconti, Rossellina, DeSica) and were the first to openly oppose the propaganda of Socialist realism. Wajda has been awarded the Palme d'Or, four of his films have been nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and he was given an Honorary Oscar in 2000.

Why it's a Must See: "One of the best movies ever made in Poland...[and] an important testimony to the power of cinema...An absolute must..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...okay, I liked this one, much more than Wadja's other film included in the "1001 Movies," "Man of Iron," even if this one was three hours long. 

(In Polish with English subtitles. Purchased on Ebay) 

15.  The Spider's Stratagem (1970)
(Orig. title: "La Strategia del Ragno")

A man journey's to his father's hometown to find out how and why his father was murdered.

Thirty years ago, Athos Magnani was a popular hero and the leading anti-fascist in his town, but then he was killed and things were never the same in his town again. Now his son (Giulio Brogi), who looks just like him (probably because the same actor plays both father and son), has returned to the town to find his father's killer and seek closure, but instead finds himself in danger.

So sounds like a straightforward plot, right?  Wrong!  This thing was all over the place and difficult to follow. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, who gave us "Last Tango in Paris" (now that one I understood), it was very slow-moving and I just couldn't get into it. 

Why it's a Must See: "...for many, the definitive European art film...a baffling film...but we are being manipulated by the hands of a master."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...don't like baffling and don't like being manipulated, even if it is Bertolucci.

(In Italian with English subtitles. Available on YouTube)

14.  The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)

What do you do when you are a wife with no options?  You dream of killing your husband.

Maybe hard for us to believe that even in the 20's - the 1920's, that is - there was some feminist consciousness not associated with getting the vote and also a female movie director. Hence this film.

This story is about Madame Beudet, played by the quite lovely Germaine Dermoz, a bored housewife, who fantasizes about getting rid of her husband (Alexandre Arquilliere).  In those days, divorce wasn't usually an option because women had nowhere to go, no career, no money. The production values are strong in this 38 minute silent film and it doesn't sport the usual big eyes and over-acting that we have to associate with silent films of that era.

Hubby has this suicide joke he does, a sort of Russian Roulette with an empty pistol.  He thinks it's hilarious.  Thirteen minutes into this film I had it figured out how Madame was going to get her freedom, but it didn't quite end as I had thought.  In fact, it ended much worse.  Let's just say Madame Beudet is not smiling.

Why it's a Must See: " of the earliest examples of both feminist and experimental cinema...Using radical special effects and editing techniques, [director Germaine] Dulac incorporates early avant-garde aesthetics...Dulac not only addressed the oppressive alientation of women within patriarchy but more importantly, uses the medium of film to offer views a radical and subjective female perspective."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer of the few silent films in this project I liked.  And it was mercifully short.
(English subtitles.  Available on YouTube)

13.  A Question of Silence (1982)

Three women, who are strangers, come together in a clothing boutique and, for no apparent reason, kill the male owner.  A female psychiatrist (Cox Habbema) assigned to the case sets out to find out why.

Andrea (Henriette Tol), Christine (Edda Barends) and Annie (Nelly Frijda) encounter each other in a clothing boutique.  Christine is accused of shop-lifting by the male owner.  She has put some items in her purse.  But instead of being sorry when confronted, Christine boldly places another item in her purse.  Annie and Andrea observe what is happening and also put some items in their purses in solidarity, all while being observed by a few other women in the shop.

Through a series of flashbacks, we see the evolution of the crime but no real reason is given except to say, hey, it's 1982, the height of the feminist movement and these women are oppressed and depressed. 

Andrea is a secretary enduring sexual harassment at work; Annie is a seemingly jovial waitress but lives alone after her husband and daughter left her; and Christine is a housewife with three children and a husband who can't understand why she can't keep the kids quiet since "she has nothing to do all day."  Christine has thus allotted to stop talking because, why bother?  No one is listening to her. A seemingly happily married and successful female psychiatrist is assigned to the case to see if these women are sane.  Oh, they are sane, alright.  They are just full of rage.

At the end of the film, there is a courtroom scene where all of the male judges confront the psychiatrist and question her assessment - that these women are sane.  I guess men can't fathom that women would kill a man for all of the crap they have had to put up with unless they were insane.  Hilarity ensues.

Written and directed by Marleen Gorris, the movie has a documentary feel, almost like a Dutch version of "Dateline (and you know how much I love "Dateline") as well as some black comedy and, for sure, political allegory.

Why it's a Must See: "A key moment in women's filmmaking..."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer you're talkin'.  An awesome and compelling example of early feminist filmmaking and a reminder that not that much has changed since 1982.  My kind of film!  Right on! A must see, especially for you women out there!
(In Dutch with English subtitles. Availabe on YouTube)

Sadly, I am going to have to end this project with 12 films I did not see. 

I just could not find the following films, or if I did find them, they were going to cost me an amount of money I wasn't willing to pay, so I say to these films what I hope will be said to me when I die, "Rest in Peace." 

But I will leave you with why the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book thinks you need to see the ones I didn't see in case you have better luck finding them.

12.  The Great White Silence (1924)

A silent documentary about the 1910 British Antarctic Expedition led by Capt. Robert F. Scott who sought to become the first to reach the South Pole.

Rosy the Reviewer says...wasn't willing to spend $20+ for a 1924 silent film about making it to the South Pole.

 11.  Lucia (1968)

The stories of three Cuban women all named Lucia, one during the Cuban War of Independence, one in the 1930's and one in the 1960's.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film] is undoubtedly one of the landmark works of modern, postrevolutionary Cuban cinema...[It] explores the consciousness-raising possibilities of film as well as the link between postrevolutionary Cuban cinema and the new waves of Europe and South America."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...only parts 2 and 3 were available on YouTube but no English subtitles so sorry...didn't see it.

10.  Black God White Devil (1964)
(Orig. title:  ("Deus e o Diabo na Terra do So")

Wanted for killing his boss, Manuel flees with his wife Rosa to the sertão, the barren landscape of Northern Brazil. 

Thrust into a primordial violent region, Manuel and Rosa come under the influence and control of a series of frightening figures. Sebastiao, a fanatic preacher who promises utopia but practices massacre and a band of bandits called Cangaceiros led by Corisco. Shuttled between the “Black God” and “White Devil”, Manuel and Rosa’s struggle for survival escalates when Church authorities hire a hitman named Antonio das Mortes to hunt down every combatant in the region. 

Why it's a Must See: "After attending an early screening of [this film], one Brazilian critic was overheard marveling, 'Oh my God, Eisenstein's been reborn...and he's Brazilian!"

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...nothing with English subtitles on YouTube and could not find a Region 1 DVD version that would play on American DVD players and wasn't willing to buy a DVD to watch on my computer. After watching three hours of "Celine and Julie Go Boating" on my computer (see above) decided I didn't want to do that again.

 9.  Vinyl (1965)

Andy Warhol's version of "A Clockwork Orange."

Why it's a Must See: "[This film's} brilliance is largely due to Warhol's framing of the action...most striking of all, a silent Edie Sedgwick sparkling at the right corner of the screen."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...I really, really wanted to see this one but not willing to pay the $40+ price to purchase it.

 8.  Through the Olive Trees (1994)
(Orig. title: "Zire darakhatan zeyton")

A comedy about the making of a movie and the efforts of a young actor trying to woo an actress who won't even speak to him.

Why it's a Must See: ...[director Abbas] Kiarostami -- one of the greatest filmmakers alive and certainly the greatest in Iran [and] this is an excellent introduction."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...sounds good but too bad I couldn't find it anywhere!

  7.  The Mad Masters (1957)
(Orig. title: "Les Maitres Fous")

A short documentary depicting a group of West African Hauka participating in their yearly ritual, one where the participants go into a trance-like state, becoming possessed by the spirits of Western colonials.

Why it's a Must See: "One of the masterpieces of ethnographic cinema."

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

Rosy the Reviewer French but could not find this with English subtitles and just as well.  It might be a "masterpiece" but sounds awful.

  6.  Napoleon (1927)

A silent film depicting Napoleon Bonaparte's early life and career.

Why it's a Must See: "'s a measure of [director Abel Gance's] brilliance that [the film] still brims with energy and invention today."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...two reasons I didn't see this one.  First, I couldn't find a Region 1 version for less than $168 and two, it's 333 minutes long.  No way!

  5.  No Fear No Die (1990)
(Orig. title: "S'en Fout La Mort")

Two men from Africa living in France training roosters for illegal cockfights.

Why it's a Must See: " intense intimate experience of a facet of human behavior triggered by circumstances in which all men, whatever their race, color or origins, are capable of anything and everything."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...strange that I couldn't find this anywhere but just as well, because not into cockfighting.

  4.  Passenger (1963)
(Orig. title: "Pasazerka")

While aboard an ocean liner, Liza recounts two versions of her past as an SS officer at Auschwitz, one sanitized and hopeful, the other tangled, obscure and obsessive.

Why it's a Must See: "[Polish Director] Andrzej Munk's most famous film..."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...not available anywhere, but okay, sounds depressing anyway.

  3. Dear Diary (1994)
(Orig. title: "Caro Diario")

Director Nanni Moretti plays himself as he travels around some Italian island on his motor scooter, seeking peace to finish his new film but also consulting doctor after doctor to cure his annoying rash. 

Why it's a Must See: "[Director]...Moretti has attracted the label of the 'Italian Woody Allen' but this description is woefully inadequate...[This] is a glorious movie about everyday experience...Few films give such a grounded and joyous sense of what it is to live in the material world."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...I would like to have seen this one, and I could have gotten it for a minimal price from Korea via Ebay but it wouldn't arrive until November.  Rumor has it that it will be released on DVD and available from Amazon in September.  I just might purchase it!

  2. Flaming Creatures (1963)

An experimental film that features graphic sexual imagery, an earthquake and a lipstick commercial.

Why it's a Must See: "...a gorgeous flickering series of cloudy images, featuring [director Jack] Smith's friends in various forms of exotic, low-budget drag. Eschewing narrative continuity the film instead presents a number of sequences and disconnected tableaux..."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...all I have to see is "experimental" and I am not motivated. I could have purchased this from Amazon for $22.40 but it sounds dreadful so not going to.  I have seen enough "experimental" films doing this project to last me what's left of my life!

 And finally this one -

  1.  Satantango (1994)

An award-winning film about a failed farm collective.

Why it's a Must See: "...among the most impressive films of the 1990's."

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

Rosy the Reviewer says...I actually could have watched this one, because I think it's on YouTube, but no way in hell am I watching a SEVEN HOUR MOVIE! Seven hours about a farm collective?  Zzzz.  But I don't care what it's about or how "impressive" it is or who says I can't die happy if I don't see it, not going to.

So was this six year project worth my time?

The answer is yes and no.

Like I said, I had already seen 685 of the films I was supposed to see, many of which had affected me greatly for good or ill - life-changing movie experiences: "Gone With the Wind (I know there are issues surrounding this film, but at the time, it had a huge impact on my young, uneducated self)," "Citizen Kane," "All About Eve," "The Deer Hunter," "West Side Story" and "In The Mood For Love," to name just a few.  I could go on and on. 

On the plus side, during this project, I saw some brilliant films that I might never have seen on my own, such as "Ikiru" or the "Apu" trilogy.  But on the negative side, I also saw some films that were either egregiously disgusting and/or disturbing ("Salo, or 100 Days or Sodom" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") or dumb ("Blonde Cobra," "Heaven and Earth Magic"...I could go on and on so let's put most of the experimental films in this category) or left me saying "Huh? ("Wavelength" or "Hold Me While I'm Naked" - yes, that is a real title and a real movie), and I say huh? as in why in hell did I need to see this film before I died?  And let's just say that there were several films that even the critics in the "1001" book didn't really have any good arguments for why the film was so important.

But all in all, it's been an interesting journey where I had to be disciplined and open-minded. And that's a good thing.

After all, film is an art form and art is subjective, but the bottom line is that movies matter.  For good or ill, they explore the human condition; they are cathartic; they inspire us; and they tap into the collective consciousness. 

Movies matter.
(See one of my earliest posts: "Why Movies Matter.")

So yes, this project was worth it.

But even though I have experienced some great movie moments, I'm glad this long project is over.  Much as I love movies, the project just started to feel too much like a job...and, hey, I'm retired!

And so my movie-going friends, as they say in French films, as far as "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" is concerned: 

"C'est Fini!"

But perhaps Porky Pig said it best...

But it's not "that's all" for this blog, so stay tuned for more of my movie and book reviews and my reviews of life itself! 

Thanks for reading!

Hope to see you soon!

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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.