Elvis and Anabelle

Friday, March 9th, 2012 by Rachel

I like Lifetime movies. I have no shame in my love of Lifetime movies. But today I watched a movie on Lifetime Movie Network that was sooo much better than a Lifetime movie. This movie is proof that you should not turn your nose up at something just because of the channel it is on. Yeah, I’m saying it. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that jazz.


Elvis and Anabelle is one of the best romance movies I’ve seen in a while. I was a little turned off by the opening scene of embalming, simply because the last undertaker movie I watched (After Life) really rubbed me the wrong way. I actually paused it and told myself, “Power through; maybe this character will make it worthwhile.” He did. I had no problems once I got past the opening scene.


This is a movie that brings two misfits together when an undertaker’s son (Max Minghella) saves a beauty queen (Blake Lively). I’m hesitant to bring specifics into this for fear of spoiling things, but this romance is really a modern day fairy tale. Though the problem that eventually brings a rift between them seems a little contrived, the chemistry is there, the love is there, and the kindred spirits are believable, despite their very different attitudes and backgrounds.


I don’t know much about Blake Lively, as I’ve never gotten into Gossip Girl, but we saw her last weekend in a very different role as a Boston drug addict and tramp in The Town. She is definitely a talented actress with a lot of potential in terms of her range. I also want to make sure to point out amazing side characters—Elvis’s dad (played by Joe Mantegna in the best role I’ve EVER seen him in) and Anabelle’s mom (played by Mary Steenburgen, who I mostly know as Ted Danson’s wife, but she is fantastic in every project she takes on).


I’m no expert in terms of cinematography, but I know when I like how something looks. And this movie has some really beautiful scenes in it. The movie becomes progressively lighter (visually and thematically) as it works from beginning to end, and it’s interesting how/when more and more color is introduced. The shots of Elvis’s house and the surrounding area are awesome. This movie makes me want to pack up and go buy a farmhouse in Texas…or maybe just visit sometime.


Two thumbs up for Elvis and Anabelle. Keep an eye out for it if you are wanting a nice, relaxing, surprising movie that covers a lot of thematic ground, from suicide to disability to near death experiences to what happens when a Harold meets a Maude.

And Soon the Darkness

Thursday, March 8th, 2012 by Rachel

Let’s be honest here. I watched this movie for the title. Darkness is one of my favorite words. I saw this movie on Starz the other day when I was clicking through channels, and I DVRed it, knowing it would be right up my alley. I watched it today because I wanted a break from Lifetime and Melrose Place, and it was the first movie at the top of my DVR list that fit the bill.


And Soon the Darkness is a remake of a 1970s British thriller of the same name, which I have not seen and may or may not add to my list. Two women are cycling through Argentina. When one of them goes missing, the other one is left to find her. It’s pretty obvious early on that it’s 1) dangerous for women to be in a foreign country, 2) dangerous for women to be alone in a foreign country, 3) strange foreign men are dangerous. We’re just waiting for one woman to be alone so a man can abduct her. It’s REALLY obvious.


Because it’s so in your face from the beginning of this movie that things in Argentina are dangerous, this movie is definitely lacking in the thrills area. I watched a Lifetime movie yesterday called A Deadly Encounter, and this movie (even with its horrible and unintriguing title!) was more suspenseful. I’m not sure where And Soon the Darkness went wrong. The abduction scene wasn’t scary. The rescue scene wasn’t scary. When characters get killed, I’m not scared. I’m just like… well, that’s what happens when you’re in Argentina. Shouldn’t have gone to Argentina. You should’ve gone to Las Vegas. Nothing bad happens in Las Vegas.


It’s so unfortunate that this movie falls flat, because the two main lead actresses are actually pretty good. Amber Heard plays the “good girl”, and I saw her (and enjoyed her performance, if you remember) recently in Drive Angry. Odette Yustman (who is now…Odette Annable? Seriously, actresses should only keep their maiden names or hyphenate married names, because it’s confusing) plays the “bad girl”, and I really liked her in The Unborn, which I saw a few years ago and thought was pretty underrated as a horror film. Both Heard and Yustman/Annable played their roles well separately and together, and they are really believable as best friends. I wanted more of them. I empathized with them. But I still wasn’t scared when bad stuff happened to them.


So, today brought you a lukewarm review. I don’t want my 90 minutes back, but I’m not sure if I’d recommend it. Lesson learned: Titles can be more interesting than movies.

Sicko Movies

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 by Rachel

I’m sick and haven’t done much the last few days except for watch movies. Here are the movies and my little mini-reviews.


Super High Me – A documentary about a comedian who stops smoking marijuana for a month and then smokes nonstop for a month. I was much more interested in the comedian stuff (I love comedian-related documentaries like Heckler) than the marijuana stuff, but I’d definitely recommend this for those who are interested in both.


Pitch Black – Radha Mitchell (from The Crazies) and Vin Diesel rock this weird sci-fi movie where the movie is ½ bright and ½ darkness. Fun for a one time watch. I didn’t love the monster look.


Fall Down Dead – Udo Kier is the Picasso Killer. Do not watch this movie unless you are Udo Kier’s number one fan, because the movie has a lot of things wrong with it in terms of script, pacing, performance, etc. Oh, and David Carradine is in it, in quite possibly the worst acting job of his career. You’d think it was his first movie and not his hundredth.


Body of Evidence – An erotic thriller starring Willem Dafoe and Madonna. So so . Too much focus on the erotica and not enough on the courtroom scenes.


Foxy Brown – One of my new favorite movies. I seriously need to get into watching a lot of blaxploitation movies. I think I enjoyed Foxy Brown more than Shaft. Awesome.


Kalifornia – Brad Pitt is a serial killer. He and his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) decide to go on a ride-along across the country with David Duchovny, who is writing a book on serial killers. Brad Pitt is disgusting and horrible. Don’t watch this movie if you want him to be a good guy. He’ll only get worse.


Married to the Mob – A movie from my childhood. Fun, cheesy, and campy. Two thumbs up.


Her Alibi – Tom Selleck begins this movie with a beard. Thankfully, he shaves it within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Also, Tom Selleck is the worst clown I’ve ever seen.


Dragnet – Pretty funny stuff. I could’ve used more celebrity cameos though, and I wish that Hugh Hefner had played the magazine tycoon.


Earth Girls Are Easy – Very strange. Is it a musical or not? Is it a comedy, or is it a romance? Will the aliens ever return to their muppet looks? I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answers, but everyone should see this at least once.


Extreme Measures – An okay medical drama. It’s been done before (I’ve seen this same plot in a Millenium episode and I think I’ve read a book with this premise) , but Hugh Grant’s performance was believable and memorable.

Playboy Horror

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 by Rachel

Since tonight Lifetime will be airing the “Hef’s Runaway Bride” special, I decided it would be the perfect day to watch The Telling for the first time. Though The Telling isn’t officially Playboy-endorsed, it stars many recognizable Playmates and features Hugh Hefner’s mansion as a sorority house. I’d seen The Telling referenced in several Girls Next Door episodes, as Bridget Marquardt produced the movie. This was a movie that I never had high expectations for, but I figured would be a fun, silly, straight-to-video watching experience.


The Telling is filmed in the anthology tradition of movies like Creepshow and The Twilight Zone. The movie is framed by the story that, in the final round of recruitment, a sorority accepts new pledges based on how scary their scary stories are. The pledges tell three stories. In the first, a woman struggles when her boyfriend moves his ex-girlfriend into their home. But she soon realizes that her competition isn’t with the ex-girlfriend, but with a doll. In the second, a washed-up/too-old actress accepts a horror role, unaware that this role will be her last. In the third, three friends stuck at home make prank calls. When the prank caller strikes back, they don’t know who they can trust.


My favorite of the three sections was the second, starring Bridget. Bridget has always been my favorite of the Girls Next Door, and, though her acting isn’t anywhere near Oscar-quality, she does a good job in this “dialogue-light” role. But the reason why I like this section the best is because it is where the movie tries to experiment, with lighting, with filming, with a psychedelic absinthe scene, with a dinner table seated with masked guests. This is where the movie really tries to make itself special, and I wonder if this section alone could’ve been expanded and made for an exciting 90 minute movie.


Though The Telling isn’t necessarily successful as a horror film, it is obvious that the people who made it knew a lot about horror films, with the frequent references to its predecessors. The Telling isn’t supposed to be scary (though I did jump once), and it was exactly what I thought it would be. If you’re going to be nitpicky about the film’s quality, actors, dialogue, and predictable plot, sit this one out. If you like Playboy-related stuff, like horror and you have a sense of humor, watch it. This movie kept me entertained.

October’s Halloween Movie List

Monday, November 2nd, 2009 by Rachel

I watch scary movies all year long, but October gives me a real excuse to watch these movies with somewhat less picking from others. I think scary movies have a lot more depth than they’re given credit for, and I enjoy them more than any other movie genre, generally speaking.


Since Friday the 13th is coming up in a few weeks, I’m sure this isn’t the end of movie season for me, but I wanted to go ahead and keep you posted on the movies that I have been able to watch in the past month. Note too, that we also started watching The Addams Family and Nightmares & Dreamscapes, so I’ll probably write up something on those when I finish them. I’ve still been watching Seinfeld on a nightly basis, and, as promised in the second entry on this site, a list of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is coming soon.


Most of these are not “new” movies, but movies in my collection that I just happened to pull out and watch this month. Most of the time I am working on other projects (like student grading or poem writing) during my movie watching, unless it’s a movie I haven’t seen before.
Read the rest of this entry »

Mini Movie Reviews

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 by Rachel

Generally, I watch at least one movie a day. This will probably go up since now I’ve got a batch of personal narrative papers to grade. Movies in the background help me survive grading. Especially scary movies do wonders for reducing my stress. We have a fantastic movie collection, and I could go a year without repeating a movie. Maybe even two years.


We don’t really rent movies. We don’t do the Netflix thing. Generally speaking, if we want something and know we’ll watch it more than once, we just buy it. Since we didn’t have a good cable setup in Flagstaff, we did decide to splurge the extra 7 bucks or so a month for the HBO/Cinemax package, which I think has been really worth our while. Not only do we watch Hung, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm (starting next Sunday), but I get to watch new movies all the time. I just wanted to give you some quick mini-reviews of the movies I’ve watched in the past week.


Charlie Wilson’s War: A movie that starts with a Vegas hottub nails it. I’ve had Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the brain, as I saw it for the first time over 4th of July weekend. So since I’d watched that relatively recently, it was fun to compare the ideal politician to one who’s a little rougher around the edges. Charlie Wilson loves his booze and women, and you can’t help but love him for his good intentions. Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman were wonderful. Julia Roberts..meh, kind of disgusting as a blonde Texan.


Unknown: I seriously thought the cable guide was screwed up when I saw this title, like it hadn’t loaded the information for this movie properly. The synopsis said Reservoir Dogs meets Memento. I’d even throw Saw into the mix there. Five guys wake up in a room with amnesia. Who are the kidnappers? Who are the victims? Wonderful cast includes James Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Jeremy Sisto, Peter Stormare (i.e. Pancake’s House from Fargo), and Chris Mulkey (from Twin Peaks). Probably not the most sophisticated or original movie, but I liked it.


The Secret Life of Bees: It’s been probably eight years since I read the book, but it’s one of my favorites. Watching this movie made me want to reread it, which I think a good adaptation should do. I was particularly impressed by Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson. This isn’t the kind of movie where you think CGI would matter, but I’d like to say that the bees looked really real. This one made me cry. Wonderful characters/acting all around. Oooh, and the photography/colors. This is a movie that makes me love being in the South and want to paint my house pink. I think Dakota Fanning redeemed herself for War of the Worlds with this one. I think she’s going to be beautiful when she’s 30.


Marathon Man: Just finished watching it 15 minutes ago. I came in 15 minutes late, but I think I caught up okay. Roy Scheider was a nice surprise, since the only people I cared about coming in were Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier. Honestly, I watched this movie only out of curiosity and wanting to see the dental torture scene. The whole movie is worth that torture scene and Dustin Hoffman’s running. Fabulous!


If you have any specific questions about these movies, I’m happy to answer them! Minireviews don’t leave much room for spoilers.

Changeling (A Movie Review)

Sunday, September 6th, 2009 by Rachel

You know when you’re walking in a crowded hallway or on a sidewalk and a woman walks past you. And she has that certain nostalgic déjà vu kind of smell. Maybe it’s baby powder. Maybe it’s her shampoo or too much perfume. I’m not sure. But it brings a strange sensation to your nose. Today I put on my pumpkin lotion. This makes me feel Halloweeny. I wonder what I smell like when I walk by people.


I watched Changeling for the first time on Cinemax last night. This is a movie that I planned to see since I saw trailers for it. I love Angelina Jolie, and her Oscar nod wasn’t a bad endorsement either. When Dad gave me his review, saying that it was a too long movie in which Jolie says “I want my son” over and over, I believed him. (Though I was reminded of the SERIOUSLY disappointing movie The Forgotten ::shudders:: ) I came into this movie with really no expectations. I wanted to be entertained for a couple hours and I was. It was okay. I probably won’t watch it again.
And since Halloween’s on the brain, one of the most exciting performances in the film was the character of Detective Lester Ybarra by Michael Kelly. I remember him as C.J. in the Dawn of the Dead remake. Phenomenal actor on all fronts. I would cast him in anything.


But back to the movie. Ultimately, it was the title that disappointed me and gave me a false impression. This is a movie about a mother’s struggle with the corrupt and incompetent LAPD in the 1920s. There is no magic in this world. This is a world of random acts of violence and violation upon those who live in it. There are no changelings, only victims and liars.


Read the rest of this entry »

H2: BLAHHHHH (A Movie Review)

Saturday, August 29th, 2009 by Rachel



We had the worst possible Halloween II seeking experience ever. I taught from 9-10:45, raced home to eat lunch and figure out what earliest possible showing we could attend. We decided that since the local Milledgeville theatre doesn’t play matinees during the week, it would be worth the 35-40 minute drive to Greensboro, GA’s new fancy theatre to see Halloween II at 2 (how perfect!). We left the house around 12:30 because of rainy weather. Arrived at Spotlight Theatre around 1:05, but drove around for the next 10 minutes or so just in case we’d arrived too early. At 1:15, we entered the theatre and bought our movie tickets. We explored/wandered/thought for a little bit, then at 1:20, got some popcorn and one bottle of Dasani water. At 1:25, we went to the ticket guy (a senile old man), who tore our tickets and mumbled that we were in theatre #2.


We went to theatre #2 as instructed. We sat there and watched the lamo pre-movie trivia that always plays before movies. 2:00PM comes around. Nothing. But there were only a few other people in the theatre; they were probably just waiting for it to fill up a little more before starting the movie. We waited, and around 2:07, they started playing commercials and then trailers. These scary movie trailers (including The Stepfather and Zombieland) continued until 2:25, when I saw those fateful words: Peter Jackson Presents.


WHAT? This is a Rob Zombie flick!!! Peter Jackson would not be involved in any way! No way! No how! We grabbed our popcorn, umbrella, hoodie, purse and thingies and ran out of the theatre immediately. Now, before you think complete asses of us, remember that this is a new theatre. There were no neon signs displaying the movie above the door entering our theatre. We had only to go on the word of the ticket tearer alone and the info on our tickets…which unfortunately we never thought to check. When we arrived at the ticket counter, Derrick explained that we had been directed to the wrong theatre. When one lady said “but it’s only 15 minutes into the movie,” I almost freaked out…. “15 minutes?!? Lady, do you know how many people have died already?” I didn’t say that, of course, but that’s what I thought. Thankfully the manager refunded our money, and we drove home in the rain, knowing that we would have to watch a 7:00 showing of Halloween II.


WARNING: Before you continue, be aware that there are SERIOUS spoilers concerning the movie and its predecessor Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween. I don’t want to ruin a movie for anyone, but most of my criticisms about the movie do concern Rob Zombie’s motive for making the film, the way the plot was handled, and the ending of the film.


Read the rest of this entry »