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.

Movies Make Me Cry

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by Rachel

The Vow is coming out on Friday. Every time I see the trailer for it, I almost cry. It’s terrible. The instant I hear that the wife can no longer remember her husband and he’s going to work to bring those memories back to her and rebuild their relationship, my eyes well up uncontrollably. It’s happening right now. I can’t even stop it. And I want to see this movie so terribly. I’ve never requested a Valentine’s movie date before. Ever. But I can’t help myself.


Now let me just say that in general I am a cryer. Yes, this is my confession. I’m Rachel. I cry. Most people who have known me for a long time have seen me cry. But most people also would know that I don’t go out of my way to cry—it just happens, spontaneously (but still appropriately).


I have watched five movies this week… and four of the five made me cry. Perhaps these tears are because my movie selection this week has been a little different from the chainsaw/murder-fest I usually put on for background. Our HBO/Cinemax/Starz trial has brought me movies that wouldn’t normally show up in our DVD lineup. Maybe this is a seasonal problem/craving, brought on only by my mild obsession with The Vow. Still, not all of the movies that have made me cry have been tragic romances. I’ll stop blabbering now. Here are my little mini-reviews… Perhaps you want to cry too?


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Drive Angry

Saturday, February 4th, 2012 by Rachel

We traded in Bridesmaids last night for an in-store movie. We took our time in the store, which was a comfortable temperature and was pretty busy for a Friday night. Derrick was recognized twice by old high school friends (this IS a small town. That would never happen to me in Greensboro!) Trying to select a Blu-Ray instead of a DVD narrowed the field a little bit, and I chose Drive Angry early on as a possible contender. I carried it around the store with me, and Derrick thought I was crazy for thinking this could be our Friday night movie. I suggested several other movies (which I won’t name in case they end up being reviewed), but I was most excited about Drive Angry.


I remember seeing the title on our theatre’s marquee last year. I don’t remember ever seeing a trailer for it. But Nic Cage hasn’t steered us wrong lately (I take that back; a few months ago, I DID shut off Season of the Witch 10 minutes in). I didn’t want to pick out a comedy—or rather a comedy that was SUPPOSED to be a comedy. I wanted something fun that we didn’t have to think about too much. I like explosions. Derrick thought I was crazy, but he skeptically went along with me.


Drive Angry is probably one of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year…I know 2012 hasn’t been around very long, but still! I don’t want to go into any specifics about plot or characters because I think the surprise worked in the movie’s favor for us. Drive Angry is an over-the-top (purposefully, mind you!) hilarious action movie originally filmed in 3D (expect some of 3D’s cheesy antics, stuff flying at the screen, etc.) There are lots of explosions (YAY!) and goon killings. Nicholas Cage is believable, both tough and compassionate. Amber Heard was a likeable female lead. Derrick’s favorite character was The Accountant, played by William Fichtner (who we know best from Entourage, Go, The Dark Knight, but he’s in a ton of stuff—you’d recognize him if you saw him).


About forty minutes into the movie, Derrick looked over at me and asked, “Do you think this movie had the wrong title?” This is a legitimate question. I don’t know what Drive Angry sets you up for, but I imagine it turns some viewers off—Derrick, for example. But ultimately, this was a movie that we both enjoyed, and I’ll end up buying to watch again.


Friday, February 3rd, 2012 by Rachel

We signed up for Dish Network. The owners left their satellite, and the price just seemed too hard to beat. Plus, since we won’t have as much vacation money this year (between the move and me temporarily jobless), we figured that we’d be using our TV a lot more than Milledgeville and deserve the investment of some channels.


An extra incentive of Dish Network was it came (we signed up a day before this promotion ended) with a year of Blockbuster rentals. We get the mailed Blu-Rays and DVDs (one at a time), as well as Blockbuster streaming. We had this Blockbuster service when we lived in Asheville. I do think it trumps Netflix with its incentive of store trade-ins—it’s a built-in bonus movie. I spent an hour the day of enrollment working on creating our queue, and I’m really excited about the lineup.


The first Blu-Ray we received was Bridesmaids, and we watched it last night. Derrick and I were just talking about this movie the other day, and, since we are coming up on our anniversary, I thought a wedding movie would be fun. I’d heard mixed things about it, but mostly bought into the hype that this was a The Hangover for girls. I like The Hangover a lot, and I’m not opposed to bawdy humor (There’s Something About Mary IS one of my favorite movies, and it’s definitely gross), so I wasn’t worried about being offended.


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Nothing But Trouble: Movie Review

Sunday, September 11th, 2011 by Rachel

Last night, we watched Nothing But Trouble, a movie that I’d never heard of but Derrick remembered watching as a kid. In Dan Aykroyd’s directorial debut from 1991, Nothing But Trouble stars Chevy Chase, John Candy, Demi Moore, and (of course) Dan Aykroyd, so how could this movie do any wrong? The numbers give the majority’s opinion here. The movie, with an estimated $40 million dollar budget, was a mega-flop, with a gross of only $8 million.


Here is the premise: When city slickers Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, and two friends decide to drive to Atlantic City, one of their pushy tagalongs, played by Taylor Negron (by the way, have you checked out this list???), insists on taking the scenic route. Chevy Chase accidentally rolls through a stop sign, and that is enough of a reason for law enforcement to arrest (or kidnap, really) the group and take them to see the Judge, who imprisons them in his strange home. As the out-of-towners try to escape, they realize that they are caught in a very very twisted web.


Nothing But Trouble is my new favorite movie—seriously, it might even need to be purchased and added to our Halloween line-up this year. But I am the first to admit that this is a movie that didn’t know what it wanted to be. Is it comedy? Is it horror? I think it’s pretty obvious that Aykroyd was a fan of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, a legendary genre bender. For me, Chevy Chase and John Candy are enough to tip the scales over to comedy land, but there are some scenes—especially those with Demi Moore crying towards the end—which are pretty intense. This movie is lewd and crude in both its humor and murders. The chemistry between the actors is fantastic, and the delivery of lines always amuses and catches the viewer off guard.


In one of my favorite moments, Chase and Moore are running down a hallway, checking doors to see if they can find an escape route. Chase opens one to see a room crammed to the brim with creepy broken baby doll heads. He says, “This must be the nursery,” and immediately continues down the hall without skipping a beat. Of course, it’s the nursery. Awesome.

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.

Fright Night

Friday, August 26th, 2011 by Rachel

One week ago, Halloween season began when we drove to our favorite theatre in Greensboro, GA to watch Fright Night in 3D. My apologies for taking so long to write up a review. Honestly, I haven’t known what to write about, because I didn’t want to spoil a single thing about this movie. Fright Night is the best movie I’ve seen all year, including both theatre watches (Scream 4, Horrible Bosses) and movie rentals at home (Pirahna, The Social Network, and many many others—you know how many movies I watch). No sarcasm here. I am completely serious. Fright Night is a movie that I came out of surprised, excited, and elated. I could’ve gone back into the theatre and watched it again immediately.


Here is your brief summary of both the original and remake of Fright Night: A boy realizes that his next door neighbor is a vampire. Pretty basic premise, right? I watched the original Fright Night, starring Chris Sarandon (who many of you know as Prince Humperdink in The Princess Bride), one or two Halloweens ago. I’m not sure if I had seen it on TV sometime before then, but it does feel like one of those “familiar’ movies like I must’ve seen it before. This isn’t a horror classic that we own in our collection. Derrick isn’t too fond of it (or 80s vampire movies in general), and I thought that much of the movie was forgettable. Fright Night’s main redeeming quality is that is has one of the greatest final battle scenes out of any scary movie I’ve ever seen, when it breaks out of the scary movie genre and becomes an action movie.


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Man’s Best Friend: Movie Review

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 by Rachel

I was clicking through the scary movies category on Netflix, and I stumbled across this film. As you can see from the movie poster, it features Lance Henriksen prominently on the cover and it looks like a typical B-rated scary movie. I didn’t go into this movie watching experience expecting something amazing. I thought it would be a fun afternoon watch and a little cheesy, at the same caliber as if I’d clicked to a movie on Sci-Fi or Lifetime.


First, a brief summary: An ambitious reporter, Lori (played by Ally Sheedy), sneaks into a laboratory to get a good story on animal testing. She “accidentally” ends up bringing a test-dog, Max, home with her. Max is a trained guard dog and killer, and he requires frequent monitoring and injections to keep him from leaning towards that killer side. As new “pet” owner Lori bonds with Max, he is actually devolving to a killer state. The mad scientist (Lance Henriksen) who created him, as well as bumbling policemen and animal control officers, try to capture Max throughout the film.


Despite my low expectations, I was disappointed. This was a D movie that had all of the potential to become a B movie, but several things went horribly wrong. First, the movie’s genre is unclear. Is it horror? Is it sci-fi? Is it drama? Is it comedy? From the opening credits, which showed classic paintings of man and master, akin to what I’ve seen on the wall of a doctor’s office, to the strange music selection (especially the “And they call it puppy love” song), I was frequently thrown off as to how I should be feeling at any given moment. I did not jump once out of fright.


The other main problem of the film wasn’t its plot, but how the plot was executed, how scenes or information were organized. For example, Max kills a mailman and buries him under the house. When cops are crawling over the house a few hours later, do they find the body? Nope, though they should, since by this point they know that Max is on an attacking spree. The body isn’t discovered until a few hours after this by a cop who is alone. It took too long for this reveal, so it was ultimately anti-climactic.


The film’s only saving grace is Lance Henriksen. He plays the mad scientist role well, and I rooted for him much more than I ever rooted for stupid and naïve Lori. Sure I’m an animal rights advocate. BUT I’m not deluded enough to think that I could rescue a genetically engineered animal from a lab that I know nothing about and “save it” like Lori does. Even when her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t like the dog and that he thinks the dog is trying to kill him, she doesn’t care. Even after she knows that Max has attacked her boyfriend (maiming him and sending him to the hospital), attacked a child, and ripped out a policeman’s throat, she still only wants to protect the dog. Lance Henriksen’s Dr. Jarret is the true hero of this film, as he is the only one who understands Max’s true nature and that the only way to protect society is to keep him in a cage.

Personal Effects & Uncle Update (Or Lack Thereof)

Friday, December 17th, 2010 by Rachel

Nobody ever can explain to you what it’s like to lose a loved one. It’s unimaginable how something unexpected can ripple throughout your life. I’m not as much of a reader as I used to be, so I haven’t sought out books on grief, but I’ve watched my share of movies and TV. Hell, I’ve watched eleven seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit this semester. I thought that Pfeiffer’s character, Linda, in the movie Personal Effects really got it right when she said, “I’ve never even been to court before all this happened. It’s like a foreign country in there, the words they use and how things happen, it’s just… It’s like I got on a wrong plane and got off at some fucked up country I’m not supposed to be in.”


This movie hit closer to home than anything else I’ve come across. When I saw the movie poster on Netflix, I remembered the plot vaguely and thought “Oh yea, this seemed like a more serious I Could Never Be Your Woman.” This takes the concept of an unconventional relationship (not quite Harold & Maude) and puts it in the midst of tragedy. Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher play characters who meet in a “murder grief counseling” group. Not only do they eventually develop a romantic relationship, but Kutcher’s character works to help her deaf, bitter son deal with his father’s death. Even in darkness, there is some comic relief provided by Kutcher’s character who has taken the job of a chicken outside a restaurant. Pfeiffer identifies him as the sad chicken, which becomes a metaphor for his whole existence.


I would recommend this movie to anyone, whether you’ve experienced a recent loss or not. I thought the film was surprisingly well made, considering I haven’t really heard anything about it. I had no complaints about anyones’ performance. Pfeiffer’s always wonderful. I thought that this was Kutcher’s best role since The Butterfly Effect. Kathy Bates succeeds in a small part as Kutcher’s mother, focused on helping organized a charity rummage sale.


What really rang true to me in this film were moments like when the grief counselor says something about family of the deceased finding a crutch in the legal system, but the legal system can rarely ever succeed in providing the answers or solutions. For us, we have NO answers. I’ve been really depressed for the last few weeks. My emails to the media have fallen on deaf ears/eyes probably because the law enforcement is providing them with information that contradicts what the district attorney says.


It has been a year and one month since my uncle, Thomas A. Rice Jr., was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. His cause of death is listed as unknown on his death certificate. Nobody cares what happened to him. A complete investigation was never conducted by either local law enforcement or the ABI, which was brought in to investigate but subsequently denied being brought in. Sheriff Grover Smith of Atmore, AL hasn’t responded to my mom’s emails in nine months. Our world is corrupt and cruel.


But you know what? This movie made me feel a little bit better about it all. And I think that’s pretty awesome. Watch it.