Following The Amazon Prime Recommendation Worm #5: Shadows in the Distance (2015), Love Affair (2014), Virgin Theory: 7 Steps to Get on the Top (2014), 9 1/2 Dates (2008)

I finally got out of South Korea for at least two of these movies. That’s something. Too bad none of them were very good. Let’s begin.

Shadows in the Distance (2015, dir. Orlando Bosch)

I wrote a longer review here if you want to read it.

Oh, “Lust At First Glance”. That sounds interesting. Let’s look at the trailer.

At least the trailer is honest. Somewhat. What it doesn’t tell you is that the movie is really director Orlando Bosch throwing every art film cliche he can think of at the screen. It really doesn’t work. The movie even shows a clip of Breathless (1960) in it. The film is supposed to be about a couple who notice each other in a movie theater then pursue each other, kind of, sort of, not really. That shot at the end of the trailer that looks like a ridiculous art exhibit scene is an example of the kind of art house cliches I’m referring to.


Look familiar? Sure reminded me of something.


Yep, the “documentary” on black people having sex called Black Love (1971).

I particularly love the scene where they both go into a telephone booth to get out of the rain. Who does that? The rain could go on all night. Are you going to sleep there? You are better off making your way home and taking a shower.

I hope director Orlando Bosch really tries to forget this movie and move on from that third stage of cinephilia where you become obsessed with the world canon. Please drop the art film cliches. I was sick of these a long time ago. It was already really old when Leos Carax broke them out and filtered them through the MTV version of the French New Wave to make the lousy The Lovers on the Bridge (1991). But I remember Carax using them sparingly and knowing when to use them even if I didn’t like the movie. It really feels like Bosch just tried everything he had ever seen show up in a foreign film.

Spare yourself this movie. The least I can say is that it should be labeled as a comedy on IMDb. I kept laughing throughout the film every time something I had seen in another foreign film showed up for no apparent reason.


Love Affair (2014, dir. Jung Hwan Kim) – Yes, South Korea again. At least that poster is close to being accurate. This was an un-IMDbed movie that I had to add. It actually took two attempts and a lengthy explanation to prove to them this actually exists. It doesn’t help that on Amazon Prime it’s listed with the title Intimacy and uses the poster from the 1966 movie with that title. I think what sealed the deal was that Intimacy is in English, but their link to it on Amazon Prime clearly shows that it has English subtitles. I would love to show you the trailer, but I can’t find it.

I get two strong impressions about this movie. First, I really think the version on Amazon Prime is dubbed into Mandarin. The reason is that I lived with a guy from China for 2 years in college and they sure sounded just like when he would be talking on the phone. Oddly, this film has another tie to that roommate from college. The second thing is that I think this was a film adaptation of a Korean drama. I even get the feeling that it was just the original drama edited down to about a 90 minute film. I know that at least Korea adapting their Dramas into regular films is a thing. I did watch My Sassy Girl (2001) back in college at the encouragement of my roommate.

The movie is the title. An older married guy who runs a bookstore has an affair with another married woman. There really isn’t anything else plot wise. The only thing in that area is that there are two friends of the bookstore owner. I think they are his brothers. Either that or they really like the whole “Hey, Bro” thing. His Bro that fancies himself a bit of a ladies man really reminded me of my college roommate Rocky. Rocky could have played this guy even though he wasn’t a ladies man type.

It’s reasonably good. It certainly is the best of the three films here. I liked the leads. I especially like the actor they chose for the bookstore owner. He has a great older, but still very handsome, kind, and beautiful face. I think he was perfectly cast in the role. It has some problems and some weird editing at times, but this is the one to check out of the films here. If it’s still up when you get here, then there it is. Otherwise, it should be easy to find.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 9.21.39 PM

Virgin Theory: 7 Steps to Get on the Top (2014, dir. Ahn Cheol-ho) – That is the poster they show on Amazon Prime. Any reasonable person would look at that poster and think they are going to watch erotica. It’s like the trailer for My Baby Is Black! (1961) that was made to look like an exploitation film for the American market.

Here is a realistic poster for this movie.


Oh, and you’re probably wondering what exactly has the girl on the left who is shocked and the girl on the right who is bored. They are looking at porn. No joke. They are looking at porn. That’s the movie in a gist. The girl on the left is a virgin and wants to get laid. The girl on right is certainly not a virgin and wants to be taken seriously by people. They end up together because the girl on right was sleeping with the girl on the left’s father who left the house to her when he died during sex. They make sure you know that even by showing a condom with sperm in the tip picked up off the floor.

The virgin wants to go out with a ballet dancer and even envisions him in his tights, but untucked. The girl on the right does art, wants to be taken seriously, but doesn’t seem to realize that maybe dialing back on the sleeping around thing might help a little. I mean she was sleeping with the virgin’s father who apparently is so important that a call to the president of South Korea can be made. Her sex life is a tad high profile. She winds up trying to give the virgin instructions on how to get a guy. By and large, they are the kind of instructions someone who has watched too many movies like Hooked Up (2009) would give. That’s the movie with Corey Feldman, who never appears to have aged after all these years, which is obsessed with blow jobs.

That’s the movie. I don’t even remember how it ends. That’s how little of an imprint this sex comedy left on me.

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9 1/2 Dates (2008, dir. Tamás Sas) – Oh, yeah! That looks like a lesbian love story poster to me. I mean look at the one for Fingersmith (2005) which is a lesbian movie.


Or the poster for The Guest House (2012) which is also a lesbian love story.


This isn’t a lesbian story. Let’s take another look at the poster. It says the cast that get top billing are Ferenc Elek, Patricia Kovács, and Gábor Hevér. That’s two actors and an actress. So of course 80-90 percent of the movie is actually with actor Iván Fenyö. Here is the realistic poster for this movie.


Just wow! You probably want to know what the plot of this movie is now. Sorry, I nearly forgot with these misleading posters.

The movie is about a guy named Dávid who wrote a book that did well, but hasn’t really published anything recently. However, he is now under pressure to put something out and is told to date 10 women, then turn around to write about what he learned from the experience. Sounds like a simple enough concept. Shouldn’t be too hard to do. Well, they screwed it up.

First, the directing is sloppy. A quick example is when a musical audio lead-in starts so soon during the current scene that we aren’t sure if it’s coming from the radio or not. This kind of bad directing plagues the film.

Second, you’d think the movie would focus on the women he dates while having the lead be low-key and mainly listen to the ladies he is dating so he has material for his book. Yeah, you’d think that, but it’s not. The dates are pushed so far onto the back burner of this film that you could forget they exist. You could even forget that the women he dates paint a bit of sad portrait of modern Hungarian women. Seriously, they are so glossed over that you can totally miss that. They are really subplots in this movie. The main plot is him trying to get back in with his ex who has been assigned to work with him on the book.

Thirdly, while this is a problem with Amazon Prime and not the movie, the subtitles are fast as lightning. If you are going to subject yourself to this movie, then make sure you can read fast. You’d think they would be onscreen longer when there are a bunch of words on the screen. Nope! Sometimes that happens, but often it disappears so fast that you are missing half of what is being said. Also, I think these subtitles weren’t done by someone who has a good grasp on the English language. It’s not awful, but there are enough moments where the subtitles really don’t read right.

So, it’s sloppy, glosses over it’s plot, and has subtitles you have to be very quick to read. Avoid it.

Go with Love Affair if you want to see any of these movies.

Film Review: The Wrong Roommate (dir by David DeCoteau)

The Wrong Roommate

It’s always interesting to me when my favorite exploitation and grindhouse filmmakers end up making a movie for Lifetime.  It happens a lot more that you might expect and it’s always undeniably fun to see how they adapt their own sensibilities to the requirements of the network.  For instance, last year, Fred Olen Ray gave Lifetime both River Raft Nightmare and The Christmas Gift.

And then, in January of this year, David DeCoteau gave us The Wrong Roommate.  As far as Lifetime films are concerned, The Wrong Roommate is pure perfection.  It gives the viewer everything that she could possibly want from a Lifetime film.  There’s melodrama.  There’s romance.  There’s an untrustworthy ex-fiance.  There’s a mysterious artist who is both hot and dangerous and who has got like the most incredible abs.  There’s a big fancy house and lots of pretty clothes and there’s even a sex-positive best friend who is eager to help her BFF rebuild her life.  I enjoyed The Wrong Roommate when I first watched it and I enjoyed it when I rewatched it earlier today.  But as I watched The Wrong Roommate, I wondered how members of the typical Lifetime viewing audience would have reacted to seeing some of DeCoteau’s other 122 films, like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama or Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper.  

It’s DeCoteau’s background in B-movies that made him the perfect director for The Wrong Roommate.  Like many filmmakers, DeCoteau began his career working with Roger Corman and then later worked with Charles Band.  These are filmmakers who understood how to tell a story.  Above all else, Roger Corman and his best students all understood the importance of storytelling.  They understood the importance of keeping the audience entertained.

And, whatever else one may say about it, The Wrong Roommate is a terrifically entertaining film.

The film opens with a man getting run over by a car.  That man is Prof. Floyd and he’s played by Eric Roberts.  From the minute that I saw that Eric Roberts was going to be in The Wrong Roommate, I assumed that he would be playing another one of his trademark crazy stalker roles but instead, Roberts is one of the good guys here.  He’s actually playing a sympathetic character.  It’s clever casting because, even once it starts to become clear that he’s not going to kill anyone, you’re still uncertain about him because he’s played by Eric Roberts.  Eric Roberts as a good guy keeps the audience off-balance and tells them not to take anything for granted.

That said, Roberts only has a supporting role here.  The film is about Laurie Valentine (Jessica Morris).  Laurie has just broken up with her controlling jerk of a fiancee, Mark (William McNamara).  And now, she’s rebuilding her life.  Her best friend (Dominique Swain) has gotten her a job teaching at the local college.  And her older sister has invited Laurie to spend the summer at her mansion.  The only catch is that Laurie has to look after her rebellious 17 year-old niece, Ricki (Brianna Joy Chomer).

After moving in, Laurie discovers that there’s someone else living on the estate.  Alan (Jason-Shane Scott) is staying in the guest house.  Ricki has a huge crush on him and soon, so does Laurie.  And why not?  Alan has amazing abs, spends all of his time shirtless, and he’s an artist!  He specializes in wood work and there’s nothing sexier than a man who is good with his hands and his wood…

But, wait a minute!

If Alan’s so great, why does he stage a break-in at the house?

Why doesn’t he ever seem to be surprised when Mark drops by the mansion?

And, of course, we have to consider the fact that Alan has installed a secret webcam in Laurie’s bedroom so that he can watch her undress on his laptop.

Hmmmm…something might not be quite right….

You’ll probably be able to guess what’s going on within the first 30 minutes of the film but who cares?  This is a fun movie and David DeCoteau’s direction strikes a perfect balance between melodrama and parody.  The film looks great, the cast looks great, and I was jealous of that big house.  The Wrong Roommate is wonderful entertainment, in the best tradition of Corman, Band, and DeCoteau.


Hallmark Review: Appetite For Love (2016, dir. David Mackay)


It doesn’t happen every time, but this time they did it. If you came here just with the hopes that I might know some of the songs that were used in the movie, then you can scroll to the end of this review. Hallmark actually included the songs in the credits this time. I’ve added the screenshot that shows them there.

Unfortunately, they also come right out and tell you in the credits the exact cities where they filmed the movie. Darn it, Hallmark! That takes out all the fun of trying to figure it out.


Note: Notice the Asian and black lady. I think this is the first Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen with so many people who aren’t white.

We open up with shots of a city which is supposed to be Chatham, Georgia. Seems like a nice place to live. The coffee truck comes right out and tells us that there are “No Bad Days”. Oh, and that’s Mina played by Taylor Cole who’s about it to have a bad day.

That’s when text boxes appear onscreen to tell us what text messages are going on between Mina and her boyfriend Reed played by Marcus Rosner. I’m sorry but these text boxes…


are no replacement for the computer and text overlays you get in Hallmark movies directed by Kristoffer Tabori. These look like they belong in a cartoon or something.

Mina works at a place called ICB, which stands for International Corporate Brands. Mina goes into the office building and has a short talk with Zoe played by Morgan Taylor Campbell…


who looks like she’s on her way to a Laura San Giacomo lookalike contest.

Before we setup the plot of the film we take a short trip to the boardroom.


This scene actually exists to super early tell us that Mina’s boyfriend is a jerk.


Now her boss (Michael Kospa) who sits at a desk in front of a poster with a butcher’s knife on it tells her she needs to go to Sycamore Springs, Tennessee. The reason she has to go there is when the plot confusion starts. Her boss named Larry actually says that “ICB recently purchased a small regional chain [restaurants] that corporate wants to re-brand and expand.” Apparently, all the stores except the flagship one have made the appropriate changes. She has to go there and make them fall in line. They aren’t responding to calls or emails. Oh, and she’s from that town because Hallmark. What’s confusing here is that later Mina will tell us that ICB is a brand management company. That would mean they don’t actually own anything. They are a go between for other firms who actually own this “small regional chain” of restaurants. Believe me, that may seem like it’s a small thing, but it does make the plot seem a little weird at times as things don’t quite add up.

Moving on, we have a short conversation with her friend Zoe to make sure we know that Mina left Sycamore Springs over a dude. Then it’s off so that Marcus Rosner can be just as much of a jerk boyfriend without having to stoop to alluding to bestiality like the guy in Christmas Land. Kudos to the cinematographer Eric Goldstein for this shot.


He made sure to keep the top part of the phone enough out of focus so that we can’t read the Canadian cellphone providers name. They will screw it up later, but credit where credit is due.

The way this boyfriend talks about a five-year plan and only having one baby it made me think of China or something. Just kind of weird, but we don’t have time to discuss that because now Mina is off to Tennessee. We know she’s getting close because the radio is playing nothing but country music.


Must be a bit of a Twilight Zone too seeing as 97.7 out of Jackson, Tennessee plays R&B and Old Skool according to their website. Apparently, also 95.3 has magically stopped playing rock and pop from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Weird. Anyways, I’m going ahead and turning on country/rock/pop mixture artist Ryan Adams.

I would give you A Kiss Before I Go by Ryan Adams and The Cardinals instead, but some of the videos I embed have a magical tendency to disappear on reviews of Hallmark movies when I don’t like the film. It’s magic, I tell you!

Now Mina nearly runs into some cows before getting out of the car and stepping in poop. Could be worse, Mina. You could be threatened with two years in jail for dancing to country music, being from the city, and getting a drink thrown at you like in Valentine Ever After.


Of course she immediately runs into her childhood friend that she left town to get away from. That’s Clay played by Andrew W. Walker. After Bridal Wave, I guess he became a cowboy. He deals with the cows, and drops the info that she was known as Willy in town. I love how everyone will keep calling her by that name and won’t stop no matter how many times she tells them too. It’s like they don’t actually care at all what she thinks or wants to do with her life.

Now she pulls into town and goes to the Sycamore Springs Inn. I love that the lady (Fiona Vroom) seems to be disappointed that Mina doesn’t recognize her. Of course we get the popularity line, but we also find out she was a year behind her in school. I grew up in a small town. A year ahead or behind in school usually means you basically exist in a separate universe. Don’t really know what her problem is here. She also tells us of the upcoming Sweetheart Festival. She now checks her PDF file…


and finds that they are booked solid. That means it’s off to her Aunt’s (Alley Mills) place. It was either that or a roll-away at the Squirrel’s Nest Inn.


Hey, it’s Norma Arnold from The Wonder Years! That’s all to that really. She’s just there to remind Mina that none of them are going to call her by the name she wants to be called. Off to the restaurant called Hart’s Country!


It’s at 23904 Fraser Highway in Langley, British Columbia, Tennessee. She’s showed up during United States appreciation month so the Canadian flag that is usually up was taken down. Inside, it looks like a nice diner.


I think my favorite sign there is “Soup & Sarcasm: Now Served All Day”. That could almost be the tagline for all of my reviews. Of course Clay runs the restaurant. We find out that Clay’s Dad died three months ago. That’s sad, and they will never explain why he sold the restaurant so if you were hoping for some logic there, then you’re out of luck. She informs him that Hart’s was bought by ICB even though they can’t buy anything being a brand management company.

As I seem to do a lot with my reviews, this is as good a time as any to mention something about this movie I don’t know where else to include.


I really did like the character of Lucien played by Antonio Cayonne who works at the restaurant. He always seemed to be nice and had a kind face throughout while never seeming wasted or a complete cutout of a character. Just wanted to point him out cause he’s a bright point in the film.

Let’s speed things up here since there really isn’t much to this story and you’ve got the setup now. She’s there to make sure they fall in line. It’s how she’s gonna spend time with Clay. Nobody is going to show a shred of dignity by simply calling her by the name she prefers without her reminding them to do it. But most importantly, the restaurant will sort of fight the changes. They kind of compromise, but still prefer to get their ingredients from local sources. It’s like they gave Damon Hill and Howard Chesley some sort of Hallmark movie writing bible and they wrote something quite generic and lazy. Let’s try to hit the main points.


While I had to use the crib notes credits about the locations, this scene does reveal that this part of the movie was shot in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Also, this scene is one of the very very few times you’ll see Mina check-in with headquarters. It winds up making the final boardroom presentation she gives seem a little weird since you’d think they would have already known this stuff was in the works. That is unless they really trust her that much, which would contradict her boss telling her he thinks “it’s time you took the lead on your own project.” Just another hole in the script. None of these holes ruin the romance part really, but they do make the film needlessly confusing.

We get a conversation now that makes it clear Clay’s Dad did make a deal to sell his place and it included all the changes she is asking of him. That would mean it wasn’t like Hart’s was a public company that was bought out. Yet someone will tell Clay that his Dad would be spinning in his grave if he knew what was going on.

Now we get yet another scene to confuse matters more. Clay goes to the local bar to vent to his friend. We will ultimately find out that Clay took a big loan out to help his friend who runs the bar and Mina will tell him that’s a reason he has violated the agreement, but then that plot point seems to magically disappear from the story and return in a weird way near the end of the movie.


The next notable scene is one where Mina says that Hart’s will serve Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, and Chicken among other things. One of the people says “it’s not actual food.” Another line that really doesn’t quite make sense at the time it’s uttered. Later we will find out that “actual food” according to her is homegrown which is really the restaurant’s main point of contention with being bought. The rest is small stuff that they can realistically all work out, but using only homegrown ingredients is expensive. This is also the part where we actually find out ICB only manages brands. They don’t actually own the brands in question. And scene! Seriously, as soon as she drops that bit of information so that future parts sort of make sense, it just cuts to Clay fishing.

This is now when Clay suddenly pulls a will out that says his father left the title to the restaurant to him. He says that means ICB owns the brand, which they don’t since they are just a management firm, but that he owns the restaurant itself. What? That just sounds like someone had an afterthought when writing this script. Also, this will not lead the movie to a conclusion of them giving up the Hart’s brand name and keeping the restaurant. That would end the film too soon and make too much sense.

Now we have a brief scene where they complain about uniforms and name tags. Why? The point of a uniform and/or a name tag is so you know who works there when you eat at a restaurant and so you can be polite by calling them by their name rather than “waiter” or “hey you”. It just makes the restaurant sound like they deliberately don’t want anyone from outside their small town coming to this restaurant. It’s weird and out of place.

Then we get the Sweetheart Festival scenes. It’s like they finally decided to stop heavily focusing on this re-branding stuff and give us some fun back and forth between the two leads. People still keep calling her Willy though. Yes, I know that it’s mentioned over and over because it’s supposed to represent that she has been re-branded herself with the new name, but it just makes the locals seem mean. This is especially noticeable with her Aunt.

My favorite part of this festival is when they have a race where they have to stop at stations and eat food from the restaurant. Sounds like a recipe for a lot of people throwing up to me. However, I love when they come to the station that has The Pecan Tsunami on the table.


The looks they get on their faces when they realize they have to eat that much desert this far into the race are pretty funny.

After the race, both of them start to loosen up and the movie winds down pretty quickly. The two spend some more time together. We find out more about how Clay is going to use local resources even more in the restaurant. The ex-boyfriend shows up and disappears pretty fast. But he doesn’t leave us before giving us two cellphone screen screw ups and a little more plot confusion. He’s not totally selfish.


You can see the Canadian cellphone provider Bell at the top. The rest of the screen looking weird may be just because I caught the screenshot while the screen itself was changing, but probably not because this likely is just a screenshot given the next thing we see.


Anyone who has ever used a cellphone knows that thankfully they turn off the screen when you put it to your ear so you don’t accidentally hit buttons. It wouldn’t do that, like it doesn’t here, unless he is simply talking to a cellphone with a screenshot displaying on it.

Now Reed tells Clay at the festival that the agreement Clay’s Dad made prohibits transferring of the property meaning Clay doesn’t own anything. He also says that the $100,000 loan he took out against his business to help his friend’s bar means that “the mortgage and entire property being turned over to ICB.” Wait…what? So first the will is invalid meaning Clay doesn’t own anything, but the loan he took out to help his friend is going to cause the property to be turned over to ICB that owned it in the first place. Did he mean that the bar was going to be turned over to ICB who again doesn’t own anything themselves? I don’t know. It ultimately doesn’t matter, but just adds needless confusion to the story which should be simple.

Now Mina goes back to ICB to tell them they shouldn’t turn Hart’s into “just another cookie-cutter chain”. She shows some photos that she has been taking with her iPad during the movie to show them what she is talking about. But then she starts to talk down to these people. She starts off with some reasonable things about having a place where they serve fresh food and everything. That sounds nice. I mean they have made it clear up to now that the business has close ties to the local farmers that supply them with the ingredients for the food, which the farmers in turn come to eat. They even can get the water locally. Sounds like that could bring down costs a bit and it seems like a neat idea to have a flagship store that is unique in a chain of stores. To my knowledge, this is something businesses do in real life. But of course there’s also the bit about “relentless advertising”, “60-inch TVs”, and “pictures of little league teams”. She also says, “We don’t need to re-brand Hart’s, sir. We should be using Hart’s to re-brand ICB.” Then this happens.


She says that it would be nice for restaurants to go back to being a place where people “actually talked while they ate”. Not a bad point were it not for the fact that we saw her talking to her friend in a coffee shop just fine at the beginning. We also saw her and many other people talking in a restaurant at the beginning of the movie too.


Aside from being insulting even though some of her points make sense, again, ICB DOESN’T OWN ANYTHING. At the end of the day, it’s not their decision to make.

Well, of course after Jimmy Mina Stewart gets done with her speech we found out that it works, and in short order she winds up back with Clay. Cut to One Year Later and the business seems to be doing better than before. Must have been the relentless advertising and selling their own bottled water.


Then they do something I never thought I would see in a Hallmark movie.


They break the fourth wall for the final shot. Oh, and she’s pregnant.

My final thoughts on this one. The pros are the more ethnically diverse cast, the beautiful outdoor areas in Canada, and definitely actor Antonio Cayonne. The cons are the incessant it’s Mina not Willy thing, the confusing plot with ICB that didn’t really need to be that way, and the usual small towns are the bastions of the real America nonsense. The cons were too much for me this time around. I can’t recommend this one. Out of the recent crop of Valentine’s Day Hallmark movies, I would say it goes like this:

1. Anything For Love
2. Dater’s Handbook
3. Appetite For Love
4. All Things Valentine
5. Valentine Ever After

Here are the songs:


Film Review: Flashback (dir by Claude Desrosiers)


No, that image above is not my sister‘s latest discovery for artwork of the day.  Instead, it’s the only promo image that I’ve been able to find for a film called Flashback.  Flashback premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network on January 31st.  Because I was on a road trip when it originally aired, I had to set the DVR to record it.  I watched the film earlier today and I jotted down a few notes for my review.  Then, because I desperately needed the space on my DVR, I erased the recording.  I assumed that I would be able to get any other details I needed from the film’s imdb page.

Big mistake.

Unlike some obscure films, Flashback actually does have a page on the imdb.  But there’s next to no information about the movie!  There’s a brief (but surprisingly accurate) plot description.  Three members of the cast are listed.  Jeffrey Roy is listed as being the adr mixer.  But otherwise, no director is listed.  No producer.  No writers.  It’s very odd.

So, after discovering that the imdb was going to be little to no help, I decided to go to and look up the film.  And guess what?  The MyLifetime page does not list a director either!

After doing a few more fruitless Google searches, I quickly looked through my notes.  Maybe I had jotted down the director’s name.  Of course, I did not.

The lesson here is not to take the imdb for granted as a resource.  Especially when it comes to fairly obscure Lifetime films.

I would especially like to be able to name the director and writer responsible for Flashback because it actually tells a very heartfelt story and attempts to deal with a serious issue.  The films tell the story of Samantha (Roxanne McKee), a soldier with the National Guard who has just returned from Iraq.  While Samantha struggles to maintain an outward normalcy, she is actually suffering from severe PTSD.  (When we first see her, she’s holding a gun and hiding in a bathroom stall while her friends throw her a welcome home party.)  In Iraq, Samantha was involved in a friendly fire incident that led to the death of two soldiers.  Back home, she finds herself being stalked by another soldier (Tim Rozon), who blames her for the incident.  What gives this story a twist is that Samantha herself is unsure about what actually happened.  Whenever she tries to remember, she just has hazy flashbacks to a battle in Iraq.

(And, let it be said, the battle scenes were surprisingly well-done for what appeared to be a rather low-budget film.  The director did a good job of creating and capturing the feel of total chaos and confusion.)

And, in many ways, Flashback is a standard Lifetime film.  Even while Samantha is being stalked, she enters into a relationship with yet another soldier (Steve Lund), who is politically ambitious and has secrets of his own.  The whole thing even includes, as almost every Lifetime film does, a chase and confrontation at an isolated cabin.   But then the film ends with some statistics about PTSD and suicide and with two final words on the screen: “For Cathy.”  It’s a powerful moment and I’d like to give the director proper credit.  So, if you are the director or you know the director, leave a comment and let us know so that we can give credit where credit is due.

(UPDATE: Val has just informed me that this film was directed by Claude Desrosiers.  — LMB)

The other great thing about Flashback is that it featured Stacey Farber in the role of Samantha’s best friend!  If you’re a fan of Degrassi, like me and Valerie Troutman, then you will immediately recognize Stacey from her role as Ellie Nash!  Ellie was always my favorite character on Degrassi, largely because, as a redheaded film lover who used to dress exclusively in black and who has had some experience with rubber band therapy, I related to her in so many ways.  And while I remain a fan of the show, it definitely lost something when Stacey Farber left the show.  (That said, at least Ellie finally ended up with the totally hot Craig Manning!  Go, Ellie!)

Anyway, it’s interesting seeing Stacey Farber play a character who suggests that the best way for Samantha to deal with wartime trauma is to go on a shopping spree.  (That said, I probably would have made the same suggestion.  Shopping is always a good fallback remedy.)  But she does a good job in her role (as does the entire cast) and it was nice to see that, for her, there is life after Degrassi.

In fact, I’m going to end this review with three of my favorite Ellie gifs.

The Heroes For Hire Are Back On The Job In “Power Man And Iron Fist” #1

Trash Film Guru


As we’ve already established around these parts in earlier reviews for his Shaft and Shaft : Imitation Of Life series, David F. Walker is the man. I don’t think it’s an act, either — this guy just plain knows the streets. He understands the vibe, tempo, rhythm, and flavor of an urban setting in a way that no one else working in comics right now does, and so when I heard that Marvel had chosen him (minus usually-present the “F” in his name, for some strange reason) to spearhead their umpteenth relaunch of Power Man And Iron Fist, I knew they had hired the right guy for the one-time Heroes For Hire. Now all I have to do is sit back and say “I told you so” for a few paragraphs.


Simple, straight-forward, and to the point — that’s Walker’s M.O. across the board, and here he uses…

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Film Review: Wrong Swipe (dir by Matthew Leutwyler)


The image above is a still from a film called Wrong Swipe.  The women are sisters.  Anna (Anna Hutchison, who may be best known for playing doomed Jules in The Cabin In The Woods) is an uptight law school student who spends way too much time studying.  Her sister, Sasha (Karissa Lee Staples), decides that Anna desperately needs to get laid so she goads her into downloading the Swipe app.

What’s Swipe?

Well, for one thing, it’s an app with a really bad name.  But, beyond that, it’s kinda like for people who specifically want to run the risk of being stalked by a psycho.  If a user finds a profile that she likes, she “swipes” the profile.  The app uses the phone’s GPS to send you an alert whenever someone who you’ve swiped is nearby.

“Your crush is 100 feet away…”

So, Anna joins Swipe.  In order to make sure that her sister understand how it all works, Sasha decides to swipe some random guy’s profile.  That random guy just happens to be Todd (Blake Berris), the creepy guy who sits behind Anna in her criminal justice class.  Now, Todd thinks that Anna has a crush on him.

“You swiped me!” Todd says, at one point.

Anna goes on a few other Swipe dates.  She reconnects with a guy she vaguely knew in high school, Nate (Kevin Joy) but it turns out that Nate is kind of a jerk and plus, he attempts to drug her drink during their date.  Uh-oh, Nate’s not a good guy!

Then Anna meets Pete (Philipp Karner).  Pete is sweet and sensitive and handsome.  Anna and he have an immediate connection and, as you watch them together, you just know that they’re eventually going to end up in a commercial for  Anna and Pete will be sitting in front of a fireplace.  Anna will say, “I joined and two days later, look what I found.”  And then Pete will say…

Well, actually, Pete won’t say anything.  Pete ends up getting murdered.  Sorry, Anna.  Could Pete’s murder be somehow connected to the anonymous threatening messages that Anna has been getting ever since she joined Swipe?

In case you hadn’t already guessed, Wrong Swipe is a Lifetime film.  It aired on February 13th, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  There are a few things that you can always be sure about when it comes to Lifetime films.  You can always be sure that men will be untrustworthy, mom will always be right, and the bonds of sisterhood will never be broken.  You can also always be sure that using any sort of technology will lead to grave misfortune.  I’ve lost track of how many Lifetime films I’ve seen about terrible things happening as a result of someone spending too much time online.

(It’s kinda like that film Disconnect, except more fun and less preachy.)

With Wrong Swipe, Lifetime exposes the dangers of online dating for the hundredth time.  At this point, Lifetime has gone from being Television For Women to being the “You Kids And Your Goddamn Gadgets!” Network.  That said, there’s a certain charm to how predictable it all is.  Lifetime is all about the melodrama and Wrong Swipe has plenty of that.  It may be familiar but it’s comfortable at the same time.

Wrong Swipe was probably at its best when it dealt with the bond between Anna and Sasha.  Their relationship reminded me of my relationship with my sisters.  At the same time, it was hard not to wonder how Anna could possibly have randomly met so many weird men in such a short amount of time.  One of them, of course, had to be weird because he was the psycho who was stalking her.  But the others were just red herrings who all happened to act like psychos even if they weren’t the psycho.  In fact, all of the men were so over-the-top in their suspicious behavior that it actually made it easy to figure out who the stalker was because he was the only suspect who wasn’t totally and completely obvious.

One final note: Wrong Swipe is unique for actually showing Anna doing a Google search.  Usually, Lifetime films will come up with a fake search engine for its characters to use but Wrong Swipe went ahead and just used google.  That said, Anna was not using quotation marks when she typed in her search terms so it probably took her far longer than necessary to find what she was looking for.

As for whether or not you should make it a point to see Wrong Swipe the next time it comes on TV … eh.  It’s nothing special but if you enjoy Lifetime films, it’s okay.