4 Shots From 4 Films: James Earl Jones Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Happy Birthday to the man with the imposing presence: James Earl Jones


The Hunt for Red October (dir. by John McTiernan)

The Hunt for Red October (dir. by John McTiernan)

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (dir. by John Badham)

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (dir. by John Badham)

Let’s Play With The Do-It-Yourself Giallo Kit!

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy playing with the Random Giallo Generator over at Braineater.com?  It’s a lot of fun — you just click on one link and you’re automatically given a randomly generated giallo film, complete with a properly evocative title and an intriguing plot description!  For lovers of Italian film, it’s a lot of fun.  And for writers, it can actually serve as a great way to come up with plots of your own.

I just spent a few minutes playing with the generator and here’s six of the results that I got!

Evidence of a Violent Struggle on a Frozen Landscape
Directed by
Alfredo Toretelloni

A surgeon who has been accused of a crime vanishes and is presumed dead for twenty years. A girl seems to know a little too much about the the disappearance; and after discovering an old painting, she kills the maniac in self-defense, but is mistakenly identified as the culprit and killed by a relative of the victim seeking revenge.

Three Dead on the Velvet Tapestry
Directed by
Stefano Stefani

A young nurse is found dead (presumably a suicide) in a train station. An English actor accidentally steps into the middle of the police investigation of the the murder. Despite several false leads, he must use supernatural assistance to determine the identity of the perpetrator.

Death is a Dark Figure with Teeth of Glass
Directed by
Umberto Umberti

A playwright who has been accused of a crime vanishes. A girl overhears a conversation about the disappearance. She kills the maniac in self-defense, but is mistakenly identified as the culprit and killed by a relative of the victim seeking revenge.

The Secret Lies Hidden in a Woman’s Hands
Directed by
Ruggero Ruggeri

A corrupt priest is butchered in the style of a killer who has been dead for many years. A young child believes he may have seen something that would explain the the crime. When another person is found murdered, he finds himself implicated deeper and deeper in the crime, with no apparent way out.

The Madman Screams Helplessly in a Silver Casket
Directed by
Stefano Giocomonte

An aging policewoman has her throat cut in the style of a killer who terrorized the neighborhood many years ago. Her best friend overhears a conversation about the crime; and despite several false leads, he is killed before he can solve the mystery; his mother then steps in to try to finish the investigation, only to find that the killer is in fact the policewoman, who wasn’t the real victim after all.

Your Heart is a Sphinx with One Red Eye
Directed by
Nanni Nonni

An American girl finds a human torso which has been hacked up in a church. Her father is accused of the crime. After several bloody murders, he is on the verge of solving the mystery when he is killed by the real culprits: a secret society made up of the people he most trusted.

Why not give the Do-It-Yourself Giallo Kit a try for yourself?

Face-Down In The “Gutter Magic”

Trash Film Guru


Any long-time comic book reader knows the feeling — “I’m probably not gonna like this, but I’m buying it anyway.” And by all accounts I really probably shouldn’t like Gutter Magic, the brainchild of creator/writer Rich Douek, who hails from an advertising background, artist Brett Barkley, and colorist Jules Rivera. For one thing, it’s an “urban fantasy,” a YA-ish subgenre of sword-and-sorcery that I like even less than sword-and-sorcery. For another, the title character has the fingernails-on-a-blackboard name of, I shit you not, Cinder Byrnes. And finally, Byrnes is —yawn! stretch! — a “lovable rouge,” and if there’s one thing I’m bored to the fucking eyeteeth with, in both fiction and reality, it’s “lovable rouges.”

Still, this whole Comics Experience/IDW co-publishing venture is something I really do want to support with my dollars. Comics Experience is doing great work helping aspiring creators “workshop” their ideas into shape and then…

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Hallmark Review: June in January (2014, dir. Mark Griffiths)


I doubt that people who read my Late Night Cable reviews are the same people who read my Hallmark reviews, but there’s a connection here. There’s an actor named Frankie Cullen who is in a bunch of the movies that wind up on late night cable. The thing is he’s too good for those movies. He really isn’t a bad actor at all and usually raises the quality of the movie by being in them. June in January is the second Hallmark movie i’ve seen with actor Wes Brown and he also raises the quality of the movie just by being in it. I also saw him in Love Under The Stars where he always conveyed a deep sadness and concern for his daughter simply without saying a word. In fact, his words were usually upbeat, but he always made sure we knew what was going on underneath without spelling it out for us. He does that kind of thing in this movie too. Just like Frankie Cullen, Wes Brown is too good for these movies in my opinion.

This is also the second film i’ve seen with actress Brooke D’Orsay and she is pretty good here too just like she was in How To Fall In Love. She is possibly one of the few actors i’ve seen on Hallmark that can play against type. She naturally fits the irresponsible ditz, but is good enough to convincingly play other characters despite what her appearance tells us she should be. How To Fall In Love was also directed by Mark Griffiths.

With that out of the way, we start off the movie with D’Orsay and Brown getting ready to go somewhere seeing as they are dressing up. They are doing it in two different places. And as usual the woman in the movie tries on several dresses and always goes with a dress I don’t like.


Oh, and that’s her mom who was frozen in the picture by evil witches and can only be released when her daughter has the perfect wedding. Just kidding, it’s her dead mom who will be a guiding spirit for D’Orsay through voiceover and flashbacks. Now D’Orsay and Brown go to a party and D’Orsay feels out of place because these are upper-crust people and she’s just a lowly nurse practitioner. Those non practitioner nurses are even worse. They just always sat around doing nothing on ER all the time. Someone actually left a review on IMDb complaining how this film bashes nurse practitioners and more specifically regular nurses even though the villains of the movie say it, but she stands up for herself and we see her helping people in her job.

This is when a Hallmark banner popped up to tell me they have a cannibalism related Valentine’s Day movie coming in February.


Should be more interesting than The Cabin (2011) which I did watch, but since it didn’t have the Hallmark seal on it before the title card, among other things, I don’t think it is a real Hallmark movie and won’t be reviewing it. Also, it was pretty lousy and felt edited.

Anyways, we now meet Brown’s parents.


That’s Marilu Henner who will be our Jaclyn Smith from Bridal Wave for this film. D’Orsay is always nervous around her because she feels like she’s always “auditioning for her.”

Meanwhile, this guy is eating a pizza in a bedroom.


Back at the party, we meet the bitch played by Chelsea Hobbs.


She just by coincidence also played the bitch in The Nine Lives Of Christmas. Yes, that is the best word to use. Even my Mom who has become rather conservative about cursing as of late started referring to her as such near the end of the film.


The Nine Lives Of Christmas (2014, dir. Mark Jean)

Also by coincidence, this movie was shot in Fort Langley, British Columbia, Canada just like The Nine Lives Of Christmas. I know that because of this shot.


What’s hilarious is that if you go to Google Maps Street View right now that building has a big Canadian flag hanging from it.

Anyways, after D’Orsay squats…


she pulls out a book complete with her dream wedding flowers in it and a flashback to her talking with her mother. Then D’Orsay comes out to show her father herself wearing her mother’s wedding dress. This is probably as good a time as any to tell you that the father’s are both really decent guys in this movie.

Then we cut to D’Orsay at work to see just how damn incompetent nurse practitioners are when she is able to help a man who turns out to have Seasonal Affective Disorder without having to consult a doctor. Totally useless I tell you.

After a few things that are just there to remind us of the importance of their wedding, Brown drops a bomb on D’Orsay. He tells her that he’s actually named Luke McDonald and is a member of an anti-vampire church.


Actually he’s there to tell her that since her character’s name is June and the film is called June in January, they are going to have to move to Cleveland for a new job he just received and have the wedding now in January. Why they couldn’t move to Cleveland and still have the wedding in June, I have no idea. Luckily, this is not a Hallmark movie that sends the message that her having her dream wedding is more important than marrying someone she loves. That’s extremely refreshing.

Meanwhile, the bitch has been assigned by Marilu Henner to do something about the upcoming wedding. Got to admit, I really thought she was Brown’s sister until late in the movie where she states she is just a friend of the family and works for Henner at her “design” business. Then Brown and D’Orsay check out some of the worst places possible to hold a reception…


before settling on having the ceremony at Marilu Henner’s place. I say both reception and ceremony in there because while we do see the ceremony at the house in the end, but the places they visit look like where you would hold a reception so I’m not really sure.

Now it’s time to go back to find out that D’Orsay somehow, i’m sure by complete luck, cured the poor guy who was suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Believe it or not, that is one of those things that is terrible to have, but is surprisingly easy to fix. Simply having a special light bulb shine on you for a certain amount of time each day stops it. Rather remarkable. He will actually repay her by saving the day at the end of the film.

Oh, and it’s discovering I have taken screenshots like this that make writing these reviews for you worth it.


No idea what was going on here.

At this point, the film kind of goes on autopilot. You have D’Orsay starting to panic, but quickly realizing that it’s marrying someone she loves that makes the wedding special. Her mother even left a note after her death for D’Orsay to make sure she remembers that. The fathers do there part to comfort D’Orsay and bring Henner down to Earth. Oh, and this happens.



During this scene the bitch tries one last attempt to ruin the marriage by telling Brown that she has a crush on him. Look at Brown’s face. Without saying a word he could have simply gotten up and left and we would have completely understood his feelings on what she was saying. Surprise followed by disgust followed by sheer amazement that she would actually stoop this low. I’m surprised they actually had him say anything. Brown is good enough with his acting to convey everything with his face and body language. And a prenup gets thrown in at the last minute, but that goes nowhere just like any of the normal Hallmark speed bumps which just lead the characters to a better understanding of their love for each other rather than stupid panic.

But the bitch has one last trick up her sleeve after being fired by Henner. She tells the revered that the wedding is off so he won’t show up for the ceremony. However…


that guy who D’Orsay cured by pure chance has a friend who can marry them and they live happily ever after.


My summary thoughts on the movie are as these: It’s one of the best Hallmark movies i’ve watched especially considering it’s just about a rushed wedding, Wes Brown is a good actor, D’Orsay is no slouch herself, nurse practitioners and regular nurses deserve a lot of respect, and I carried that one joke on way too long.

Note: I’m aware that the IMDb reviewer’s main point was that the film can appear like it’s saying you have to be a nurse practitioner instead of a regular nurse in order to be taken seriously. I get the same impression from people when I tell them i’m transgender, but not on hormones so I can understand why it bothered her. My jokes still stand though because my point is that it’s ridiculous to look down on nurses as if they aren’t to be taken seriously and the film never really does that.

In Praise of Alan Rickman: The January Man (1989, directed by Pat O’Connor)

JanuarymanposterLast week, when the world first learned of the death of the actor Alan Rickman, it was shocking to realize just how many great roles he had played.  He made his feature film debut as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.  He played Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Hilly Kristal in CGBG and Marvin the Paranoid Android in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  He even played Leonard Nimoy Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest.  But the first time I ever saw Alan Rickman, he was playing Ed the Painter in The January Man.

As The January Man begins, the new year is barely a day old and already Manhattan is in a panic.  Over the past 11 months, a serial killer has terrorized the city, killing one woman per month.  His latest victim, Allison Hawkins (Faye Grant) was murdered on New Year’s Eve.  Now, it’s January and everyone in New York City is waiting for the killer to strike again.

Mayor Flynn (Rod Steiger, bellowing his lines as only an Oscar-winning “great” actor can) is upset because Allison was a friend of his daughter, Bernadette (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).  Flynn orders the police commissioner, Frank Starkey (Harvey Keitel), to put his brother on the case.  Nick Starky (Kevin Kline) was the best detective in New York but Frank framed him on corruption charges.  Now, Nick is working as a fireman and does not want to return to police work.  However, Nick tells Frank that he will investigate the murders on one condition: Nick wants to make dinner for Frank’s wife (and Nick’s former lover), Christine (Susan Sarandon).

After cooking an octopus for Christine, Nick works the case.  His unorthodox methods get on the nerves of Capt. Alcoa (Danny Aiello, bellowing almost as much as Rod Steiger) but also wins him the heart of Bernadette.  Helping him investigate the case (and repainting his office) is his neighbor, Ed (Alan Rickman).  Ed is not only a painter but he’s also a computer expert who figures out exactly where the killer is going to strike next.

The January Man was Alan Rickman’s second film and followed his debut in Die Hard.  Other than sharing a similarly sarcastic sense of humor, Ed the Painter is the exact opposite of Hans Gruber.  Gruber was a murderer who would do anything for money.  Ed is an artist who wants only to paint and hang out with Nick Starkey.

When I first saw The January Man, I was seven years old and I was on an airplane flying to London.  I was too young to really understand what was happening in the movie but I knew that Ed was my favorite character because he was the one who got all the funny lines and he spoke with a British accent.  When he told one of his models “Don’t molest anything,” I thought it was hilarious even though I did not really understand what he was talking about.  (Years later, I would watch The January Man on HBO and I would discover that Ed made his living painting nudes and that Bernadette and Nick were having sex, all information that was edited out of the airplane version.)

After I heard that Rickman had died, I rewatched The January Man for the first time in years.  I discovered that The January Man is a terrible movie that tries to unsuccessfully to mix slapstick comedy with brutal serial killer action but Alan Rickman still gives a really good performance, the best in the film.  (A close second would be Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, whose smile lights up every scene in which she appears.  She married the movie’s director so at least she got something good out of appearing in The January Man.)  That Alan Rickman is one of the film’s few bright spots is a testament to his talent as an actor.  Alan Rickman was such a great actor that he even made The January Man watchable.

Alan Rickman

RIP, Alan Rickman.