A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Men In Black 3 (dir. by Barry Sonnenfeld)

Men In Black 3, which was released into theaters last month, is an unexpected surprise, a genuinely entertaining film that breathes some new life into an old franchise. 

If you’ve seen the trailer then you pretty much know the plot of Men In Black 3.  An alien war criminal named Boris (played, in wonderfully over-the-top fashion, by Jermaine Clement) escapes from imprisonment on the moon.  He goes back to the year 1969 and kills the man who originally imprisoned him, Agent K.  In the present day, Agent K (played, of course, by Tommy Lee Jones) vanishes from existence.  The only person who remembers him is his longtime partner, Agent J (Will Smith).  Agent J and Agent O (played by Emma Thompson) quickly figure out what has happened (one of the best things about Men In Black 3 is that everything happens quickly — there’s very little padding) and J is sent back to 1969 where he ends up teaming up with the young Agent K (now played by Josh Brolin).  Together, J and K attempt to prevent Boris from changing history.

As I hinted at earlier, I wasn’t really expecting much from Men In Black 3.  Yes, the trailer was cute and I was looking forward to seeing Josh Brolin’s impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones but otherwise, I had no reason to suspect that this film would be anything more than a somewhat disheartening collection of CGI and superstar egos.

But you know what?

Men In Black 3 isn’t half-bad. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Men In Black 3 doesn’t rewrite the rules of a familiar genre (like Cabin In The Woods).  And it’s certainly not an idiosyncratic expression of one man’s personal artistic vision (like Moonrise Kingdom).  No, Men In Black 3 is pure Hollywood entertainment but, at the very least, it’s a well-made example of pure Hollywood entertainment.  This is the type of film that could easily have been made (and watched) on autopilot but director Barry Sonnenfeld and his talented cast have actually made the effort to make an entertaining film and they’ve succeeded.

Both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have reached a point where they could play their roles in their sleep (and, in other movies, that’s what they both often seem to be doing) but both of them seem to be having fun in Men in Black 3 and they’ve got such a strong chemistry that they’re enjoyable to watch.  Jones even brings a sense of reality to his character’s world-weary resignation and, if Will Smith’s main talent seems to be the fact that he’s likable, he still does likeable pretty well.  The new additions to the cast — Emma Thompson, Jermaine Clement, Alice Eve, and especially Michael Stuhlbarg and Bill Hader — are all fun and interesting to watch.  The film, however, is truly stolen by Josh Brolin, who not only perfectly captures Tommy Lee Jones’ voice and mannerisms but also manages to hint at his sense of gravitas as well.  Sonnenfeld keeps the story moving quickly and, for once, the impressive CGI is used in the service of the story as opposed to just providing an excuse for that story to exist.

As usually seems to happen with franchise films, the whole thing ends on a sentimental note and, I have to admit, it actually brought tears to my eyes.

Then again, I’ve been told that I cry at anything.

Regardless of whether my tears were honestly earned or if they were just a Pavlovian response, Men In Black 3 is an entertaining film and I’m glad I saw it.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: The Craigslist Killer (dir. by Stephen Kay)

Last night, as I was searching through the list of movies saved onto my DVR, I discovered that I had apparently recorded 2011’s The Craigslist Killer off of the Lifetime Movie Network.  So, of course, I immediately curled up on the couch and started to watch it.  After a few minutes, I paused the movie so I could wake up my sister and track down our cat and force them to watch it with me.  Which they did because they love me.  Awwwwwwwww!

Why Was I Watching It?

Okay, I think The Craigslist Killer has been on TV like a gazillion times since 2011 and I’ve watched it almost every time.  It’s become a tradition.  Just like some people have to watch Avatar every time it pops up on Cinemax, I have to watch The Craigslist Killer every time it shows up on Lifetime.  And if I have to use my feminine wiles to force other people to watch with me — well, I’m willing to do that.

What’s It About?

 Philip Markoff (Jake McDorman) is this handsome, charming medical student who tells everyone that he’s rich and is just loved by everyone.  But even though he’s a total hottie, he’s got the confidence of nottie.  (Sorry, I came up with that line as a joke a few months ago and I’ve been looking for an excuse to use it ever since.)  So, he deals with his issues by looking at porn online and then eventually murdering a masseuse who he met through an ad that she placed on Craig’s List.  Anyway, he’s not really that good at being a killer so it’s kinda obvious that he’s the one who did it but nobody can believe it because he’s such a charming guy.

One person who definitely doesn’t think that he’s a killer is his fiancée, Megan (Agnes Bruckner).  Megan is busy planning their wedding while, unknown to her, Philip is attacking and killing other women.  Eventually, Megan is confronted by a suspicious homicide investigator (William Baldwin) but she still stubbornly defends Philip.

And, of course, it’s all based on a true story.

What Worked?

Seriously, this is the epitome of a Lifetime movie and it’s also a historically important one.  I can remember being on twitter the night that this movie premiered and literally everyone was planning on watching The Craigslist Killer, even people who normally would never watch Lifetime.  So, for many people, The Craigslist Killer is what they think of when they think of a Lifetime movie: it’s based on a true story, it’s about a beautiful woman who falls in love with a handsome man with a great future, and it’s about how that woman learns that men can’t be trusted.  There’s even a subtle hint, I think, of the possibility of future romance between Megan and the detective played by William Baldwin.  And good for her!  Seriously, after everything she  goes through in this film, she deserves it.

Agnes Bruckner and Jake McDorman both give pretty good performances.  McDorman is totally believable as both a charming med school student and a vicious killer and I liked the way that his performance subtly showed us that there wasn’t much going on behind the character’s perfect smile.

The final few minutes of the movie made me cry.

What Didn’t Work?

I’ve read quite a few comments online from people complaining about William Baldwin’s attempt to do a Boston accent.  Some say it was one of the worst Boston accents in television history.  I’m not sure if that’s true or not but I certainly know what it’s like to listen to a Yankee butcher your region’s accent.

Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, this was a Lifetime movie and it all worked.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

What girl hasn’t liked the perfect boy who, once he becomes her boyfriend, reveals himself to actually be far less than perfect?  Laugh if you will but the best Lifetime movie tap into universal truths that many people don’t like to admit exist.

Lessons Learned

Even the perfect wedding can be ruined when it turns out the groom is a serial killer.

Where has Lisa Marie Been? She’s Been Gathering 6 More Trailers!


I guess the first question I should ask is “Did anyone miss me?”

It’s been a week since I last posted anything and when’s the last time that happened?  Seriously, even when I went up to Baltimore last year, I still managed to put up three posts a day.  The only excuse I can give is that it’s just been a very busy week and I hope that y’all can forgive me and give me a second chance.  And hey — what about the great job that all of our contributors did keeping the site updated while I was on my unscheduled vacation for blogging last week?  That’s why I love this site.  Other sites gives you only one voice and only one view.  Through the Shattered Lens, however, celebrates the fact that everyone views things through his or her own individual lens.

Anyway, now that I’m back and running totally behind, I probably better get started on making up for missing last week.  So, let’s start with the latest edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers?

1) Dark Universe (1993)

From director Fred Olen Ray comes this film that was apparently the inspiration for Prometheus.  I love how low-budget movies about spaceships and airplanes always feature some heavy-set guy going, “You are coming in too fast!”

2) House of the Devil (2009)

I’m cheating a little because this film was released just a few years ago and therefore, it’s not technically a grindhouse film.  However, it’s a film that was definitely inspired by the great low-budget horror films of the past.  And, yes, that is Greta Gerwig, who is like in every other worthwhile film scheduled to be released this year and who will win an Oscar in the next five years.

3) House of Wax (1953)

My sister included this film’s poster in her last artist’s profile so it seems only appropriate that I include its trailer her.  I love how bombastic these old horror trailers used to get.  “YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT IT!”

4) A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)

This film is better known by the title Duck, You Sucker.  Though he’s not seen in the trailer, this film also features future Fulci leading man David Warbeck.

5) Twice Dead (1988)

“It’s a dream house … for nightmares!”

6) Amityville 2: The Possession (1982)

This film is part of a grand tradition of cheap Italian sequels to hit American films.  I actually own this one on DVD and I had to stop watching after about an 1 hour because it was just too disturbing.  Considering some of the films that I’ve sat all the way through (and if you think that I’m referring to Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, you might be right), that’s saying something.