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ThisTV Movie Review: Star Trek II-Wrath of Khan

star-trek-ii-the-wrath-of-khan-poster-star-trek-movies-8475612-1707-2560“Jim Kirk was many things, but he was NEVER a boy scout.” Dr. Carol Marcus
“I don’t believe in a no-win scenario.” Admiral James T. Kirk

Once upon a time James T. Kirk was a captain. Then he was an admiral. Then he was a captain again. And then an admiral. And then he was dead, but not really. And how did all this ridiculous yo-yo-ing start?

Well …

Once upon a time there was a planet where a Big Bad with fabulous hair and a Latin accent was marooned by Captain Kirk and then forgotten. It left him feeling a bit … bitter.

Ok VERY bitter.

So when StarFleet returns to his crappy desert planet and starts poking around at things, this bitter Big Bad is quite ready to bring on an extreme level of vengeance to the universe.

And especially on James T. Kirk.

ST2_1The plot of Wrath of Khan basically breaks down like this: The Starship Reliant is tooling about the galaxy looking for a dead planet to do some science-y business on. Unfortunately the planet they come up with is less lifeless than it at first seems. Khan Noonien Singh, an old nemesis of Admiral Kirk’s from back in his original Captain-y run on television, has been living it up on this desolate wasteland and he’s ready to branch out and explore some new worlds. Within just a short period of time he’s taken control of the Reliant, stolen some swanky life-creating future-tech, and harassed the Enterprise and Kirk in an explosive and nearly life-taking way. Soon Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the jolly Enterprise crew must find a way to retake the future-tech, destroy Khan, and deal with some sudden and surprising family issues (surprise Kirk, it’s a boy!).

movies-star-trek-wrath-of-khanStar Trek 2: Wrath of Khan is not the first film in the Star Trek film series, but it is the first one many fans want to acknowledge exists. It’s the one with the great story, scene-chewing Big Bad, epically quotable dialogue, and wonderful, emotional, tragic ending. It’s the one that combines classic literature including Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, and King Lear with the powered-up version of a 60’s campy scifi show. It’s the one that leads into the next one, and the next one, and the next one, where Admiral Kirk will find himself demoted, promoted, imprisoned, and sucked into a time vortex-y thing.

It’s the one where for a moment, a brief little hiccup of time, James T. Kirk admits he’s old and tired and worn out around the edges and maybe ready for all of the space adventuring to be over.

It’s a tiny little moment, a bit of quiet after Khan has stolen the life-creating future-tech and (supposedly) stranded Kirk and company inside a dead planet and Kirk has screamed Khan’s name in an iconic fashion. Kirk and his lost love interest Dr. Carol Marcus are having a heart-to-heart about life, the universe, and every secret child-shaped thing, when for just a minute – just a tiny little minute – he gives up.

Khan!!!Admiral Kirk, once the most infamous captain of the most infamous ship in StarFleet, has had enough. His ship is a mess, his crew is injured or dead, he’s stranded in a planet with his ex and his surprise son, his enemy from 15 years ago is out to get him, and he’s just had a birthday reminding him that his time in this crazy galaxy is running out.

It is such a brief moment really, and within minutes he’s off and running on another hair-brained scheme to save the day. BUT. But. That doesn’t make it any less of a profound look into the heart of this great man.

James T. Kirk is a legend. A hero. A rebel and a scoundrel and a bit of a man whore.

He’s larger than life. He’s the only one to ever beat the Kobayashi Maru no-win-scenario – because he totally cheated. He’s an idea, a concept, an ascendant point to aspire to.

But he’s also a man. A man with deep weariness who has been around the universe and back and isn’t sure he has it in himself to do it all again.

– Mia V.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, PG, 1982
Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Ricardo Montalban
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Written by Gene Roddenberry, Harve Bennet

*Watch Wratch of Khan on ThisTV: Friday 9/19 11:30pm, Tuesday 9/23 at 9:30pm, and Thursday 9/25 at 10:30am!


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ThisTV Movie Review: She’s Having a Baby

she_s_having_baby“People don’t mature anymore. They stay jackasses all their lives.” Grandpa Briggs

Before Kevin Bacon obsessed over horrible serial killers. Before Elizabeth McGovern was a high lady in England. Before Alec Baldwin was funny. Before any of them were famous for being serious actors, they were just a bunch of 80’s kids starring in a John Hughes movie (because that’s what kids in the 80s did).

The plot of She’s Having a Baby basically breaks down like this: Jefferson Briggs (Kevin Bacon) is young and confused and in love and adorable. He marries his sweetheart Kristie (Elizabeth McGovern) even though his handsome but somewhat skeazy bestie (Alec Baldwin) tells him not to. Jefferson wants to write novels and be happy and spends a lot of time worrying that it isn’t happening for him the way he wants it to. He lies his way into an advertising job (makes sense), buys a house, mows his lawn, tells everyone he’ll be a novelist someday, and keeps waiting for happiness to smack him in the face. Of course that isn’t how happiness in life works, but it takes him pretty much the whole film to figure that out.

She_s_Having_A_Baby_231790sPersonally I love She’s Having a Baby. It’s a very sweet, rather witty, somewhat more grown-up version of a John Hughes story. Of course even with that slightly more grown-up vibe, it is still littered liberally with John Hughes’ film fixtures: someone drives a ridiculous sporty 80’s car, parents/grandparents are bossy and clueless, dialogue is quick and pithy and a little sarcastic, Paul Gleason makes an appearance, much of the story takes place in the middle of Everywhere, Illinois, the main character spends the majority of the time questioning everything around them, and the soundtrack is rockin’ (I dare anyone to not tear up during This Woman’s Work at the end).

It’s a solid, good-natured dramedy that proves a point without being so in-your-face about it that you want to scream and throw things at the TV. Which is good, cause my roommate would be pissed if I messed up her giant swanky LED TV. It’s not as silly as Weird Science, not as overly dramatic as Pretty in Pink, but that nice middle of the road between funny and serious (it actually swings between a fully choreographed singing dancing lawnmowing number to a very intense birthing scene) like Breakfast Club.

bacon-mcgovern-shes-havingThere are, of course, some flaws. Like the great 80’s scifi features of yesteryear such as Space Mutiny and (original) Battlestar Galactica, She’s Having a Baby is extremely dated. The hair and the shoulderpads are too poofy, the walls are too pastel-washed, and the idea that a woman can get married, give up her job, and stay home with the kids forever cause the husband is working is an idea of a bygone era. It’s a perfect little time capsule of suburban, middle class, 80’s life, wrapped up in a sentimental John Hughes-shaped bow. Even the silly end credit scene, with the characters trying to figure out a baby name and lineup of big name stars of the 1980s (Wil Wheaton! Bill Murray! Dan Ackroyd!) throwing in an idea, is so dated it hurts.

Does this detract from the overall enjoyment you can experience watching this film? I don’t particularly think so BUT I am a product of those wonderful 80s and I love watching those old movies and laughing about just how much has changed – and how much has stayed the same – since then. Sure we’ve replaced typewriters with tablet computers, sweaters and long skirts with skinny jeans and hipster vests, and lifelong careers for the jobs of the moment, but deep down we want the same things now that they wanted back then – family, friends, happiness, and a sense of our place in the grand scheme of things.

– Mia V.

She’s Having a Baby, Rated PG-13, 1988
Starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern, Alec Baldwin
Directed by John Hughes
Written by John Hughes

*Watch She’s Having a Baby on ThisTV: Thursday 9/11 at 3pm and Tuesday 9/30 at 9am!

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The (Semi)Ultimate Guide to Stargate SG-1 – Divide and Conquer

stargateseason4Today’s very special episode: 4.5 Divide and Conquer 

“ALRIGHT if we had known ANY of this we might’ve been able to take a few more precautions!” – Col. Jack ‘With Two Ls’ O’Neill

Plot? What plot? Oh THIS one:
Act One – The Tok’ra high mucky muck is set to have a meeting with the American president (but not Michael Douglas) and plans for his visit and safety have to be worked out. This means SG-1 has to play diplomats because they are apparently the only people in the world able to handle things like that (seriously it’s ALWAYS them). Negotiations turn extremely sour when one of the non-SG-1 SG guys suddenly goes postal and starts shooting up the place (I forgot to check for a red shirt but I’m pretty sure the dude was wearing one under his SGC jacket). Luckily none of the REALLY IMPORTANT CHARACTERS die but the stage has been set for the plot of the episode.

Act Two – Anise/Freya of the Tok’ra declares that the Goa’uld have come up with some new mind control technology that is making uber-kamikazes out of people. The rest of the Tok’ra aren’t quite sure they believe in this technology but for the sake of the storyline everyone goes along with it. Eventually O’Neill and Carter are tested for brain tampering and it is discovered that something has definitely been meddled with where their memories are concerned. The Colonel and Major are quarantined and plans continue for the big meet and greet between El Presidente and Tok’ra High Councillor (because now all of a sudden they don’t need SG-1 for this kind of stuff?).

Act Three – Jack tries to sacrifice himself for the good of everyone (but mainly Sam). Sam and Martouf have a sweet moment that should be accompanied by ominous music, Sam experiences an Ah-Ha moment in the nick of time, and Jack is saved having his brain fried but must admit to some things he doesn’t really want to admit to. He then manages to help save the President and the Tok’ra head honcho from Martouf (remember my comment about the ominous music?). All is well once again in the land of aliens and snarky jokes. Only Sam is sad because Martouf is dead, Jack is sad because he’s had to realize some things that just plain suck, and Teal’c is sad because he was almost completely left out of this episode.


Best moment(s) of this episode:
O’Neill making out with a Tok’ra. That was pretty funny. And then him explaining to Daniel Jackson later that the host body likes Jack while the ‘snake’ likes Daniel. That was funny too.

The loaded look that passed between Major Carter and Colonel O’Neill when she finds out he offered to be a guinea pig in case it might save her life later. Not nearly as funny as the kissing Tok’ra bit, but still a great moment.

And DEFINITELY the moment when Sam stops Jack from getting his brain lasered because neither one wants to admit they have THE FEELINGS for each other and the alien lie detector machine thinks that means they are hiding/lying/possessed by false thoughts.

Worst moment(s) of this episode:
Martouf’s death. I mean come on. Why kill off Sam’s potential handsome love interest if you aren’t going to let JAM (that’s my awesome new Jack/Sam ‘ship name) be a thing?


Not-so-important questions raised by this episode and never answered:
Why is Freya/Anise wearing a latex (or maybe pleather?) outfit with a bustier and some kind of weird belt/strap thing going on?

Does Daniel Jackson’s forehead ever get tired from all the brow furrowing he does?

Why did Teal’c go through a blonde goatee period?

Did Stargate have to pay The Simpsons for every use of “Doh!” that O’Neill used in the show?

What the heck is up with Major Carter’s hair?


“I didn’t leave, because I’d have rather died myself than lose Carter.” – Col. Jack ‘Never Jonathon’ O’Neill

– Mia V.

*Watch two episodes of Stargate SG-1 every Sunday from 7-9p on ThisTV! ‘Divide and Conquer’ airs Sunday 7/6 at 7pm!

ThisTV Movie Review: Short Circuit

41J58RCYG9L._SY300_I had a giant crush on Steve Guttenberg when I was younger.

Don’t judge me. He was the Man in the 80s.

Police Academy. Three Men and a Baby. Cocoon. That crazy Village People movie (watch paired with Xanadu as it was meant to be seen, and then ask yourself “why?” while curled up in the fetal position).

Steve Guttenberg was hilarious but nice and always getting one up on the buttholes of the world. He might not have been as handsome as Tom Selleck or famous as Ted Danson. But he was still adorable and I still kind of adored him.

At least until I fell madly in love with Kyle MacLachlan, but that is another story for another time.

Short Circuit is probably my favorite of the Steve Guttenberg oeuvre. Here he gets a chance to play the romantic leading man with only a robot that has achieved consciousness to rival him. It’s no wonder he ends up getting the girl in the end. How can a robot compete with all that ‘Gute’ charm, after all?

The plot basically breaks down like this: Because it’s the 80s and it is pretty much required by law, a robotics company has used a nerdy genius’s genius to create killer robots that can be shipped out to the front lines in battle scenarios. He isn’t terribly impressed by this but is going along with it anyway because plot development. A flashy twist of fate changes all that when robot Number 5 is struck by lightning and becomes self-aware. He escapes the clutches of his creators and goes on a journey of self-discovery that includes a fair amount of disco dancing, bug squashing, bad driving, Three Stooges hijinks, military shoot outs, and Ally Sheedy.

I must have seen this movie dozens of times while growing up, and I’ve seen it at least a half dozen times since reaching adulthood. It’s just so dang cute. Number Five is a messy, curious, dangerous but ultimately lovable character. Ally Sheedy is cute and maternal and willing to put up with Number Five and all the danger he brings with him. And, of course, Steve Guttenberg is adorable as an anti-social geek forced to head out into the big bad world and interact with not only a robot who is bucking his programming but a perky young lady he (almost immediately) has the hots for.

Short_Circuit_Still_08Of course as I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed the Important Messages scattered throughout this little family flick. The questions of what makes us human, where the line exists between ‘alive’ and ‘not alive,’ and how responsible we are for the beings we create that see themselves as individuals are very much apparent now that I’m focusing more on the story and less on the fact that a robot is driving a food truck (very badly).

But luckily with a great soundtrack, special effects that hold up surprisingly well, computer interfaces that are totally dated, and a healthy dose of Steve Guttenberg throughout, Short Circuit is just too dang cute to be dragged down by those Important Messages.

– Mia V.

Short Circuit, Rated PG, 1986
Starring Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Fisher Stevens, GW Bailey
Directed by John Badham
Written by SS Wilson, Brent Maddock

*Watch Short Circuit on ThisTV: Friday 6/20 at 7p, Sunday 6/22 at 11a


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ThisTV Movie Review: Flash Gordon

flashgordonWhat can I say about 1980’s Flash Gordon?

It is beautifully campy.

It is full of critically acclaimed actors taking on less than critically acclaimed roles (seriously Max Von Sydow, how do you go from The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist to Flash Gordon?).

It is covered in matte paintings and spandex and glitter and laser guns that make that fabulous ‘pew pew pew’ sound.

Queen did the soundtrack. QUEEN! And dang if the main theme song isn’t catchy as all get out.

It’s got fantasy. It’s got science fiction. It’s got a super hero with absolutely no super powers except fabulous hair and the ability to get himself in some really stupid situations.

Basically Flash Gordon is just a big ol’ beautiful mess and way more fun to watch than any movie this ridiculous should be.

still-of-sam-j-jones-in-flash-gordon-1980-flash-aaa-aahh-saviour-of-the-universe-againThe plot basically breaks down like this: Ming the Merciless is being his merciless best and attacking Earth for no other reason than he’s bored (dude, seriously, that just isn’t cool). Football star Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and plucky reporter Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), along with super scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol – because Fiddler on the Roof was a long time ago I guess), get sucked into Ming’s nefarious plot and the next thing you know sexy Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) is coming between the budding Flash/Dale relationship, Brian Blessed is running around in wings and leather underpants (as Prince Vultan) and Timothy Dalton is doing his best soundrel-y Robin Hood impression (as Prince Barin). Lots of yelling, running, shooting, flying, falling, fighting, and outfit changes ensue as our erstwhile heroes try to stop Ming and save the world.

Flash Gordon was released at a time when everyone seemed to be trying to get in on the Star Wars/Superman bandwagon. It was big and expensive and loud and explosive and had just about every element it could grab from the science fiction/fantasy/superhero genres stuffed inside it. The plot is all over the place as if it can’t decide where it’s going. The dialogue is awkward and clunky at best (though Max Von Sydow sure does try to make the most of his Evil Overlord speeches) and the chemistry between our titular hero and his lady love is pretty much non-existent.

Yet for all the (I’m sure unintended) silliness, this remains a film that is just so much fun to watch. Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton chew up their scenes like no one’s business. The bright colors and shiny bedazzled costumes are almost mesmerizing in their late 70’s, early 80’s splendor. Sam J. Jones is as earnest as earnest can be while playing the part of a dumb beefcake tasked with something way out of his league.

And that Queen soundtrack is just delightful as delightful can be.

– Mia V.

Flash Gordon, Rated PG, 1980
Starring Sam J Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol
Directed by Mike Hodges
Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr (screenplay), Michael Alin (adaptation)

*Watch Flash Gordon on ThisTV, Tuesday 6/10 at 3p, Thursday 6/26 at 8:30a


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Music, Murders and Moustache

Murders, feuding brothers, a rogue ex-cop, it all sounds like the plot to half a billion movies at least, but this particular post is all about The January Man, a comedy/thriller (what?) starring Kevin Kline and Susan Sarandon.

MV5BMTk3NzUwNTYzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDYxODg0NA@@._V1_SX214_AL_Nick Starkey (Kevin Kline) is an ex-cop who got booted from the NYC police force after getting mixed up in a scandal and wrongfully accused. Nick is understandably frustrated with the state of law enforcement and so takes himself and his rockin’ moustache and becomes a firefighter instead. One night while leaping through a ground floor window and saving a little girl, Nick encounters his brother (Harvey Keitel), who has come to the scene of the fire to ask him to rejoin the police force.

It seems there is a serial killer on the loose, killing single women by strangling them with a blue ribbon. Hardly the calling card most cinematic serial killers leave behind but everyone’s got to have a thing. Nick’s brother Frank is the police commissioner, and after speaking with the mayor, decides that Nick is the only one who can help them catch this killer. I must point out that Frank’s conversation with the mayor (Rod Steiger), like a lot of conversations in this film, contains a lot of unnecessary yelling. People just start raising their voices for no reason. It’s odd.

Nick is hesitant but decides it is his duty as an honorable, law-abiding man with a moustache to do anything he can to stop the murderer. His one stipulation is that his artist friend Ed (Alan Rickman) be added to the police payroll as his assistant. I can’t say I understand or agree with Nick’s reasoning here, except that his neighbor is Alan Rickman so hey, who am I to judge? His first move is to question the mayor’s daughter Bernadette (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), whose friend was the latest victim of the blue ribbon strangler. Now, maybe it was his confusing history with his brother’s wife (Susan Sarandon), maybe it was his moustache, but after meeting Bernadette, Nick decides to just lay all his cards on the table and tell her that he likes her and wants to take her to a hotel. Somehow his strategy works, and they run off to get intimate in a hotel after only knowing each other a few minutes, movie time.

Luckily, Nick is able to remain mostly focused on his whole mission to catch a murdererthe-january-man and starts to notice strange patterns in the killings. Amidst a much-higher-decibel-level-than-necessary conversation with his brother, Nick sees a truck drive by with the word ‘prime’ on it, and suddenly realizes all the murders that have occurred in the last year have happened on prime number days of the months. Of course this can’t be coincidence. After much head scratching and brainstorming, he figures out when the next murder will take place and prepares to catch the killer.

When a woman is strangled a day ahead of his timeline, Nick’s theory is shot. He inspects the murder scene and discovers that the supposed serial killer jumped out the window of the apartment building of the woman he killed. After examining all the evidence, Nick is convinced that this is merely a copycat killing and that the real serial killer is still at large. This being a movie, no one listens and Nick knows he must solve this case on his own.

I’m just not sure how Nick’s brain works, because this next part really seems to be a bit of a stretch. He lays the areas in the city where all the murders took place and realizes that all the positions connected forms the constellation of Virgo. Furthermore, he uses a computer to lay out the buildings where the murders took place side by side, and marks the exact locations in linear form on blank sheet music and realizes that it makes a song, Calendar Girls. The upcoming murder Nick is sure will take place will be the 12th month of the year in sequence. He figures out what building and floor the next killing will take place on and sets a trap.

To catch Mr. Blue Ribbon, Nick decides to use his new lady friend as bait. Bernadette willingly goes along with placing herself in complete danger with a strangling madman. This really speaks volumes about Bernadette, in my opinion. Nick has a collar for her to put on that will prevent her from actually being strangled. He then places her in the apartment of the next targeted woman and waits. The killer shows up right on time and immediately attacks Bernadette. Amidst the ensuing struggle, Bernadette cries out repeatedly for Nick to bust in and save her but Nick did not think his plan through well enough. His idea, which had been to bust the door down with a sledgehammer, wasn’t properly researched, as he can’t even make a dent in the door. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the toughest, sturdiest door in all of Hollywood.

Nick finally breaks in, ends up chasing the killer all through the building before finally tackling him and taking him into custody. A yearlong murder case all wrapped up. Apparently Bernadette has no hard feelings about Nick taking his sweet time rescuing her while she was murderer bait, and the two walk off into the sunrise together.

That’s pretty much all there is to it! I found this movie to be a bit hard to believe in several instances, and fairly mediocre acting from a cast I know can do better. I do wish Alan Rickman had had more screen time though, he’s awesome. Until next time.



The January Man, 1989, Rated R
Starring: Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Directed by: Pat O’Connor
Written by: John Patrick Shanley

Watch The January Man on ThisTV!
Thursday, June 5th at 11:30 p.m. and Monday, June 16th at 11:00 p.m.

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ThisTV Movie Review: Christine

JohnCarpenterCHRISTINE_1024_3If you look at John Carpenter’s Christine one way, you might see a haunted house/object story. If you look at it another way, you might see all the trappings of a creature feature – minus the creature and plus an evil car. If you squint at it really hard, you may just see a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t heed the warnings of family and friends. And if you just take a cynical glance at it, all you may see is a campy 80’s horror flick with comely young stars and a demonic old car out to murder people.

Christine is really all of those things (and maybe none of those things). The movie starts off on an assembly line where the titular vehicle tastes first blood. There is no ambiguity about this beautiful car’s demonic nature. And even when Arnie (Keith Gordon), one of our erstwhile teen protagonists, meets her for the first time he is told – very clearly to his face – that she was a car that was ‘born bad.’ He doesn’t listen, even when his best friend (John Stockwell) and parents make their objections to his purchase of her loudly and emphatically known. Angst of the bullying, dating, and family drama follow closely behind that purchase. As does dismemberment and death of course. Because Christine is a lady that doesn’t take an insult to herself or her new owner lying down (standing in park?).

The 80s were a prime period for Stephen King movie adaptations. Christine, along with Pet Semetary and Cujo, are some of the best of the films made from his books. The special effects are kept to a minimum (seriously all you need for a killer car is to black out the windshield so you can’t tell someone is driving her and BAM! – evil ghost car on the loose), the story follows the original text relatively closely, the soundtrack is stellar (in large part due to the integration of music in the novel) and the film takes itself only as seriously as it absolutely has to. It also takes the time to focus not just on the obvious Big Bad (that luscious red Plymouth Fury) but the deeper horror elements integral to the novel but easily overlooked on the big screen.

MMDCHRI EC002Killer cars are scary, sure, but what is scarier is the idea that you can know someone, like someone, LOVE someone, their whole life, and then turn around one day and realize they’ve become a total stranger to you. At the heart of Christine are two teenage boys who have been best friends forever, who have had each other’s backs over the years no matter what, and who find themselves torn apart the second that car comes into their lives. There are some metaphors for life here that we should all be aware of, but you can watch and figure them out for yourselves.

Is Christine the greatest horror film in the history of ever? Nope. Is it the greatest Stephen King adaptation in the history of adaptations? Not really. Is it still an excellent 80’s horror film with a sexy monster/haunted object/Big Bad and relatable characters and a brilliant soundtrack and some great moments of revenge? Totally. So is it worth your time to watch it? I’d say so.

– Mia V.

Christine, Rated R, 1983
Starring Keith Gordon, Dean Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Stephen King, Bill Phillips


*Watch Christine on ThisTV on Tuesday, June 3rd at 3pm!



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Apparently You Can Threaten Your History Teacher with a Crossbow with no Repercussions

Lately the films I’ve been reviewing have been of a rather serious/dramatic nature, so this week I thought I’d switch it up with a good ol’ fashioned 90’s teen movie. A slightly (or very) ridiculous plotline is the basis for this movie, but I should point out that the high school characters involved are very serious about the whole thing. Okay, let’s get started!

tingleKatie Holmes is Leigh Ann Watson, a bright high school senior with good grades who just wants to escape her small town and not end up a waitress like her mom. The poor girl has a nice modest home with her mother, clothes to wear, and food on the table. Life is clearly rough for her. Her best friend Jo Lynn (Marisa Coughlan) is also desperate to leave their small town, but only because she wants to run off to Hollywood and make it as an actress, because every movie in this era needed a character like that. Jo Lynn is the wild and crazy one always nagging at Leigh Ann to be more free and take crazy chances and such. She is also apparently in love with a fellow classmate named Luke (Barry Watson) who doesn’t seem to realize she’s alive. The character of Luke is perhaps the single least believable thing about this film—if there is a very tall handsome late-twenties-looking guy in your high school senior class, you should assume there must be something seriously wrong there. High school boys DO NOT look like this.

Leigh Ann’s only real problem in life is that her history teacher, Mrs. Tingle (Helen Mirren), seems to hate her and is determined to withhold an ‘A’ for a project, which will interfere with Leigh Ann getting the scholarship for college that she is after and becoming class valedictorian (because I guess there is no other way a super smart girl could get into college). When Luke finds Jo Lynn and Leigh Ann hanging out at the school after hours and hands them the answers to the history final, the three end up getting caught by Mrs. Tingle herself who pins the theft of the test on Leigh Ann and assures her that her graduation is now in jeopardy.

The two girls panic, sure that Mrs. Tingle won’t listen to reason, or believe that Luke was thetingle2 one who stole the test answers, even though he’s willing to take responsibility for what he has done. Eventually they decide to go to Mrs. Tingle’s house and try asking her nicely to not ruin their high school careers. Tingle is in no mood to hear their excuses though and somehow Luke comes to the conclusion that they have no choice but to threaten Mrs. Tingle with a homemade crossbow and tie her up in her bed while they figure out how to keep her out of school for the next week so they can graduate. Brilliant solution. The future of America right there.

Jo Lynn puts her mediocre acting talent to use and pretends to be Mrs. Tingle on the phone with the school and calls out sick. Leigh Ann and Luke go off to school so things don’t look amiss and leave Jo Lynn to watch their hostage, who uses this time to start turning the young girl against her accomplices. The other two take turns watching Mrs. Tingle as well and she keeps planting doubts with each of them about the others, until Jo Lynn is fed up with things and goes home. Leigh Ann and Luke remain and finally give in to the longing, affectionate 18-year-old looks they’ve been giving each other.  Jo Lynn of course finds out, as she suspected all along, and while she and Leigh Ann have it out over the handsome young robber of history test answers, Mrs. Tingle escapes and ties Luke up instead. She knows Leigh Ann will be back to the house to check on her and prepares a trap/arms the crossbow that’s still laying around.

In the final showdown Leigh Ann ends up running for her life through the house while Tingle chases after her with the crossbow. At the last minute, another disgruntled student charges through Mrs. Tingle’s front door and ends up taking the crossbow arrow meant for Leigh Ann. Though the girl ended up being stunned but unharmed, Mrs. Tingle believes her to be dead. The school principle shows up just in time to hear Mrs. Tingle confess that she had killed the student, trying instead to kill Leigh Ann.

And apparently that’s it. Really. Somehow the police never ask any questions, including why Tingle had been tied up in her house for several days or why the kids had a crossbow to begin with. Graduation is suddenly happening without a hitch, Leigh Ann is valedictorian like she always wanted, and her muddled friendship with Jo Lynn has been healed. All is well.

This film was meant to be somewhat of a thriller but I really only felt a few moments of thrill, those being when Helen Mirren is FIRING A CROSSBOW at some suck-up young student who’s furious because she got her first ‘B’. It wasn’t a bad film, but it isn’t a masterpiece by any means. Simply put, just another teen movie about how 18-year-olds are superior wise beings who always know better than adults. Until next time.


Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Rated PG-13, 1999
Starring Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, Jeffrey Tambor
Directed by Kevin Williamson
Written by Kevin Williamson

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Life-or-Death Experiments in a Poorly Lit Hospital

All right, Flatliners! A 1990s ‘thriller/horror’ about what lies beyond. I can’t keep you in such suspense (especially knowing that whatever suspense you’re feeling right now is guaranteed to be more than what I felt during this film), so let’s get started.

MV5BNzgxMzQ2NzQzMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzMyMjAzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_The film follows a group of medical students who have more than a passing interest in what happens after you die. I’d like to point out that this cast is pretty incredible, always fun to see some of today’s greatest talent back when they were young and not as picky about scripts (insert winking emoticon here). Kiefer Sutherland is Nelson, a young doctor who comes up with a crazy (I CANNOT stress this enough) plan to figure out what exactly happens to you when you die. Nelson doesn’t feel that potentially screwing up just his career and life is enough though and starts nagging his friends to join in. One by one he manages to convince them; Dr. Rachel Manus (Julia Roberts), David Labraccio (Kevin Bacon), Dr. Joe Hurley (William Baldwin, pre-gravelly Baldwin voice), and Dr. Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt).

Nelson’s idea isn’t just crazy…it’s insane. I seriously cannot stress how dumb this is going to sound: He wants his fellow students to put him under and induce a flatline situation where he is technically ‘dead’ for at least a minute before attempting to revive him with a crash cart and hope that he doesn’t actually die on their watch. It’s clear that his friends are skeptical; it is unclear how he ended up convincing them to do it. So, amidst a lot of complaining and mini-meltdowns, they sneak into their hospital at night to pull off the experiment.

Now this hospital seems…outdated. Creepy stone statues everywhere and extremely poor still-of-kevin-bacon,-julia-roberts,-william-baldwin,-kiefer-sutherland-and-oliver-platt-in-flatliners-(1990)-large-picturelighting. It’s like the real life version of the Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast; the forbidden ‘west wing’ that Belle is forbidden to visit so of course she does. Would you want to have a controlled yet hopefully temporary ‘death’ in a place like that? No, not even a tiny bit. But brave/stupid Nelson is pretty set on dying for a little bit, and so they pull it off. He experiences strange flashbacks to his childhood, focusing on a kid he had bullied. When he is brought back, Nelson can’t really explain what happened to him, only that there really is something out there in the moments after death. Intrigued, the other doctors want to try it as well. Except Randy. Randy has a pretty good head on his shoulders and decides he is just going to be an accomplice here.

When Joe experiences death he sees a series of women, most of them giving him googly eyes – it’s downright 90’s-erotic. David sees images of a young girl he also bullied during child. These boys were mean. Not cool. Especially since David and Nelson grew up to have ridiculous hair that is just asking for some mockery. Rachel is last and the men are very reluctant to let her try, especially David who seems to have a budding relationship with Ms. Rachel.  When at last she is in the temporarily dead state, Rachel sees images of her family, specifically events leading up to and immediately after her father’s suicide. While this is happening the power goes out (oh my goodness how is this place a hospital?), and she very nearly stays dead. The other doctors barely save her and everyone is pretty shaken up.

Now everyone who has flatlined has experienced hallucinations of events in their life that still haunt them. The group struggles to deal with these vivid memories, until David decides that he needs to confront the cause. He tracks down the girl he bullied as a kid and apologizes. He is a bit surprised to learn the bullying had a much more long term effect on him than her, but is relieved when the confrontation brings him peace. Joe is also struggling with his past and it is revealed that his dying visions are directly related to his secret tapings of trysts with many an unsuspecting woman. Joe is kind of a jerk. But when his fiancé suddenly dumps him after finding out about these ‘secret’ videotapes, Joe feels at peace as well. Nelson and Rachel are still having a hard time moving on from their hallucinations though. While David helps Rachel cope and start to move on, Nelson seems to lose it and finally confesses that the kid he used to bully ended up dying because of an accident Nelson caused.

Nelson decides the only way to move on from his guilt is to flatline again and apologize to the ghostly specter of the little boy he inadvertently killed. He gets a head start on his friends and races off to the poorly-lit hospital to flatline himself again, but they (like you and I) think this is really stupid and run off to stop him. However, Nelson is just too quick on his feet with these bad decisions and is flatlined by the time they arrive. His crazy plan works though; he confronts the young boy who died and apologizes and is finally at peace when his friends revive him.

So that’s pretty much it. A very quick resolution to a slightly drawn out plot. While I can appreciate this as a 90’s film and admit it might have even freaked a few people out when it was new, I wasn’t very impressed. I feel like the plot gets lost in all the sepia-toned film stock shots of creepy hospital statues. I will say that the eyewear worn by the characters was very ahead of its time; I see hipsters wearing those glasses every day. Until next time.




Flatliners, Rated R, 1990
Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Peter Filardi 

Watch Flatliners on ThisTV!
Friday May 16 at 7:00 p.m.

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18th Century Colin Firth is Nothing if not a Ladies Man (Bad Haircut Aside)

Lies, scandal, bad wigs and poofy skirts. I suppose I could be talking about a good many period piece films, but I am referring to one in particular. Being a moderate fan of the 1990s (sort of) cult classic Cruel Intentions, I was curious to see what an 18th century telling of the story would be like. Obviously if you’ve seen Cruel Intentions or Dangerous Liaisons you know the basic outline of this story, but let’s dive right into my review of Valmont, shall we?

Valmont (1)Colin Firth is Valmont, an arrogant yet charming young man whom all the ladies adore. Annette Bening is Merteuil, a rich and bored young widow who has a thing for elaborate schemes and taking baths with her clothes on (maybe that was a thing back then, I don’t know). One day while chatting with her cousin Madame de Volange (Siân Phillips), Merteuil learns that Volange’s 15-year-old daughter Cecile (Fairuza Balk) is betrothed to some middle-aged guy named Gercourt (Jeffrey Jones) who happens to be Merteuil’s secret on-call lover. It’s twisted already, right?

As you may have imagined, Merteuil is not ok with her little cousin marrying him, and she is pretty annoyed with Gercourt himself since apparently he told Madame de Volange his “former” mistress is a bit nuts. Though to be fair, she is. Wait for it…

It is around this time that Merteuil decides to drag Valmont into this developing fiasco. She asks him to seduce and sleep with her little cousin Cecile so that on their wedding night Gercourt will discover that someone else beat him to Cecile’s closely-guarded virginity. Valmont is about as repulsed by this idea as I was and declines, being far more interested in seducing a married young woman by the name of Madame de Tourvel (Meg Tilly) who is hanging out at the big family house while her husband is away on business. Being a devious human being, Merteuil thinks wooing the young Tourvel is a marvelous idea, and tells Valmont that if he succeeds, he can sleep with her (which would be a reunion since they also had an affair at one time). If Valmont does not win the bet, he has to join a monastery. Not wanting to appear less brave than the crazy woman, Valmont accepts.

As if all this wasn’t bizarre enough, we soon learn that young Cecile believes herself to be in love with her music teacher Danceny (Henry Thomas). She starts secretly exchanging notes with him with the help of Merteuil (who didn’t feel she was entangled enough in everyone’s personal affairs) while Valmont puts those suave 18th century moves on Tourvel. Basically everyone is hanging out at this big country mansion together, ruining marriages and such.

Merteuil keeps helping Cecile write letters to Danceny, pretending to be a sweet cousinvalmont and all while plainly displaying her ‘crazy eyes’. She decides Valmont should help Cecile write a letter, suggesting his male viewpoint would be helpful. The letter writing session soon devolves into Valmont taking (with permission) Cecile’s virtue. This leads to much crying from Cecile as she immediately confesses her indiscretion to Merteuil. Much crying. Cecile cries very loudly.

Meanwhile, Valmont is still in pursuit of young Tourvel , and despite her misgivings, she throws caution and her skirts to the wind and gives it up. He is just too charming to resist. The next morning he tells her he just can’t change his ways and their being together was a mistake. He skips back to Merteuil, barges in on her bath time, and lets her know that he won the bet. Eager to claim his ‘prize’, Valmont is dismayed to learn that Merteuil was not serious about honoring her end of the bargain. Worse yet, he really does love Madame de Tourvel.

As we approach the end of this two hour romp of debauchery, Danceny learns that Valmont slept with Cecile and challenges him to a duel. Foolishly, Valmont gets very drunk the night before the fight, and in his very hung-over state the next morning manages to let Danceny slay him (I really don’t think Cecile is worth all this fuss). The film comes to a rather anti-climactic ending. No public revealing of Merteuil’s scheming, no music by The Verve. Cecile simply marries Gercourt while secretly carrying Valmont’s baby, Merteuil ends up alone (because she is crazy) and Madame de Tourvel says a tearful farewell at Valmont’s graveside.

And there you have it. I actually kind of enjoyed this film, despite the ridiculousness. In my opinion, Colin Firth puts on a talented performance as the mostly good-at-heart bad boy, and Annette Bening is extremely believable as a crazy person. Plus, really bad wigs and poofy skirts! Check it out. Until next time.




Valmont, 1989. Rated PG
Starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening, Meg Tilly
Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Choderlos de Laclos, Jean-Claude Carrière, Milos Forman

Watch Valmont on ThisTV!
Wednesday May 21st at 8:00 a.m.

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