Suicide Squad Drops By the MTV Movie Awards


Suicide Squad

Let’s get this out of the way and just say that Warner Bros. executives and major shareholders are none too pleased by the reception from both critics and the general audience when it comes to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not a very good start to their planned DC Extended Universe. While fanboys from both DC and Marvel have been going at it for weeks now, there’s at least some bright spot ahead for DC in their summer tentpole release Suicide Squad.

Even with rumors of extended reshoots to add more levity and fun to balance out public’s perception that the DC films are too dour and dark (grimdark even), Suicide Squad still remains one of the more anticipated films of the summer.

During this year’s MTV Movie Awards, DC and Warner Brothers released the newest trailer for what they’re hoping will sell the DCEU to the audience what Batman v. Superman could not and that’s a fun comic book film that understands dark and serious doesn’t have to mean not fun.

Suicide Squad is set for an August 5, 2016 release date.

“Providence” #8 : Life Is But A Dream —


Trash Film Guru

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Some years back, Dave Sim conducted (via correspondence, if memory serves me correctly) a lengthy and fascinating interview with Alan Moore that he ran over the space of several issues as a backup feature in Cerebus. Moore was, at the time, in the midst of writing From Hell, and one idea that he kept coming back to as he expounded upon his creative process was something that he called “high-altitude mapping,” which is sort of a convenient shorthand term for “when you stand back far enough from the situation, there is no distinct separation between dreams and reality.”

It’s a powerful notion, when you really stop to think about it — after all, isn’t the whole point of living to “chase our dreams”? And don’t the limits imposed on those dreams by daily life’s practicalities whittle down and otherwise confine the scope of them over time? When you’re…

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Hallmark Review: All Yours (2016, dir. Monika Mitchell)


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I’m really glad my cable box told me what movie I was watching cause that title card sure doesn’t do a good job of it. It would be perfectly natural for someone to look at that and think it says Aee Yours before they realized it said All Yours.

Have you ever wanted to see the TV Show Melissa & Joey condensed down to about 90 minutes without a good reason for the smart guy to become a nanny, not much humor, and not much chemistry between Mom and the nanny? Neither did I. To be fair, I’ve been a big fan of Melissa & Joey for years. When I saw that Hallmark had a movie called The Manny in production, I wasn’t too jazzed. They appeared to have changed the title at the last minute though. I mean you can still see in the credits that the movie was made by Manny Productions Inc.

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I think what happened was that at the last minute they got the rights to use I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. They probably figured the title All Yours not only fit with the song, but that it sounded more like the generic greeting card titles that Hallmark likes to use.

I mentioned that I’m a big fan of Melissa & Joey so I was constantly comparing it to that show while watching it. That’s only partly fair because that had many many many hours to develop all of the stuff I mentioned before, while this only had an hour and a half. I will try to be reasonable with the film.

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The movie begins and we are introduced to Cass McKay (Nicollette Sheridan). She’s a lawyer. The case she’s arguing doesn’t matter. All the case part does for her character is establish that she is a good and busy lawyer. What this film does here is interrupt her argument over and over to cut to her kids at home.

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The son’s sister runs up into his treehouse. You gotta put that No Girls Allowed sign where she can see it. She could argue that it wasn’t displayed properly at his establishment so she had every right to go up there. Believe it or not, these scenes are not just to establish that Cass needs a nanny. They are not just to establish that they need a nanny who can put up with the kids’ hijinks either. One of the excuses the daughter gives for getting up in the treehouse is because the son doesn’t use it anyways since he is afraid of heights. This getting over his fear of heights part of the story will be the equivalent to the bridge from Love, Again for example. Or, to use Melissa & Joey as an example, it’s the equivalent of when Joey finds and talks Lennox off the roof in the first episode of the show, thus proving his worth as a nanny. There will be a similar thing with the daughter playing the violin.

Now we get what I always show in these reviews.

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I think they did a good job here. They hid the Canadian cellphone provider by having her connected to the courthouse WiFi. It also looks like they modified the screen too. It’s probably a screenshot she is looking at rather than the real interface. Regardless, good work.

Now we cut to the house to chew out the kids and introduce us to Grandma played by Jayne Eastwood.

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I always like looking up these actors who I don’t immediately recognize such as Eastwood here. Wow! She seems to have been in everything under the sun. She’s been in what appears to be a sexploitation flick called My Pleasure Is My Business in the 70s, SCTV; Videodrome; and Care Bears in the 80s, the TV Show Goosebumps in the 90s, My Big Fat Greek Wedding; the remake of Dawn of the Dead; Degrassi: TNG; Chicago; and the musical remake of Hairspray in the 2000s, and in a variety of TV Shows and movies along with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 in the 2010s. At the time of writing this, she has 215 acting credits on IMDb since her first one in 1970. Amazing!

Now we get something pretty awesome. Yes, we get a brief shot of the future nanny named Matthew Walker played by Dan Payne, but who cares when we have this shot.

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Care to take a guess at where this shot was taken? It’s on the sign and attached to the flag pole. Times up! It’s Denmark. No joke. That restaurant is at Nordre Beddingsvej 17, 3390 Hundested, Denmark. I have no idea why they use this shot a couple of times, but they do. I’ve seen Hallmark movies shot in the Los Angeles area, all over Canada, and even a pseudo-Hallmark movie shot in Scotland. Denmark is a new one on me. The rest of the movie is shot in the Hallmark favorite of Langely, British Columbia. If anyone involved in the production of this movie knows why this shot ended up in the movie, then please leave a comment.

Now we go inside and meet Matthew’s father Charles played by Michael Kopsa.

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Michael Kopsa is another one of these actors that has had a long and eclectic career. He’s been in some major films such Watchmen (2009) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), but he goes back to the late 70s and early 80s where he got his start doing English dub work for the TV Show Mobile Suit Gundam as well as two of the movies. One of which he appears to have done the English voice of the main character: Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack (1988). Always worth taking advantage of IMDb while you watch movies.

He is here to talk to Grandma about his son. His son is the typical well educated guy who really found what he learned in college isn’t his thing so he’s been drifting around. A real world example of a guy like this is Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and the News. Lewis is a bit of a math genius and attended Cornell. However, he found out it wasn’t his thing and drifted around playing music before settling down and starting his music career. His father was a doctor. That’s kind of how Charles describes his son. Charles is a developer who wants to tear down and redevelop the marina. His son isn’t a fan of that idea. I’m not either considering the marina never really looks like it’s in need of that kind of work during the film. What happens here is that Charles, Grandma, and Matthew strike a deal. Matthew will take a job as a nanny to Cass’ kids, and his father will reconsidering the redeveloping the marina. They keep that a secret from Cass. There’s your setup.

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Oh, and they knew each other as kids so that they already come pre-packaged with some basis for their romance. Despite recognizing him, Grandma trying to make the hard sell, the kids obviously already liking him, and them already knowing each other, when Nicolette Sheridan gives you this look,…

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then you know she means business.

Next we get introduced to Henry played by Lochlyn Munro who is kind of the wrong guy, but won’t play that role to the degree that we usually see in other Hallmark movies. On the good wrong guy to the weirdo in Christmas Land wrong guy, I’d say he sits somewhere in the middle leaning towards the decent wrong guy.

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During the entire film I kept thinking that I had seen this guy before. After the film I checked the credits and realized it’s you cut to me before I had my wig on Burger King from In The Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011).

In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011, dir. Uwe Boll)

In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011, dir. Uwe Boll)

In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011, dir. Uwe Boll)

In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011, dir. Uwe Boll)

We meet him as Cass is introduced to a new court case. It is between two tech billionaires that have brought a case against each other so that their reconciliation as old friends can parallel the story between Cass and Matthew. It also adds a bit of a procedural element to the film that lets Matthew edge his way further into her life rather than having a separation of work and home since he went to law school too.

After suddenly needing to be called back to help the kids, Cass gives in and hires Matthew. That’s when she introduces him to the big calendar that will show us at what point Cass is in her character arc based on how much she breaks it and gets involved in the events listed on it. Then Matthew does something that pisses me off. He points out that Monday and Tuesday are reversed on the calendar.

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Dammit, Dan Payne! You’re taking away work from cynical Hallmark critics like myself who like to point out flaws in these movies.

Anyways, she then gives him a phone to remind future viewers that this movie was released near Easter.

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Also, it definitely doesn’t come in black. It’s not that kind of bunny, Matthew!

The next big thing is when he takes them to school. They actually don’t hide the name of the school at all in this movie. They say it’s Yorkson Elementary School, and it is. Well, sort of. It’s actually Yorkson Middle School, but close enough. It’s at 20686 84 Ave, Langley, BC V2Y 2B5, Canada. It’s new too because you can see it was in construction a few years ago on Google Maps.

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They also bring up again that the girl’s equivalent to her brother’s height issue is playing the violin during this scene.

He takes them rock climbing. This is where we really find out that the boy has issues with heights. So of course, Matthew does what anybody would do.

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He builds mini rock climbing walls in the backyard. Pretty cool actually.

This is the point in my reviews when I say you’ve got it now. The rest of the movie is kind of on autopilot. The stuff between Matthew and the kids is really the highlight of the movie. It’s not like Melissa & Joey where there’s more a balance in the quality of interaction between the nanny and Mom as well as the kids. He does have his moments with Cass, but the main focus is on his time with the kids. Cass kind of comes for free with Matthew helping the kids. That’s the way it felt to me while watching it.

The son gets over his fear.

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The daughter plays the electric violin in the talent show at the end of the film.

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There is of course a last minute speed bump. I think having that is in the Hallmark writing bible that they give anyone who is going to make films for them. However, it really does make sense here given how they set things up and all. Does she overreact? Yes, she does, but she comes around and they kiss at the end of the talent show.

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Do I recommend it? Maybe marginally. I liked October Kiss better as a Hallmark nanny love story. If you want the the nanny to be a guy, then I really do recommend Melissa & Joey. The best part of the movie I would say is with the kids played by Genea Charpentier and Kiefer O’Reilly.

Here are the songs:

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The Fabulous Forties #9: Jungle Book (dir by Zoltan Korda)


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The 9th film in Mill Creek’s Fabulous Forties DVD box set was 1942’s Jungle Book.  Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling (which was later made into an animated Disney film and of which a remake is scheduled to be released next week), Jungle Book was directed by Zoltan Korda and produced by Zoltan’s brother, Alexander.  Today, the Hungarian-born Korda Brothers are best remembered as being pioneers of the British film industry.  However, during World War II, they relocated their film making to the United States.  Jungle Book was one of the most critically and commercially successful of their American films.

Jungle Book opens in colonial India.  An elderly Indian storyteller is visited by a British woman (Faith Brook) who wants to hear a story from his youth.  The rest of the film plays out in flashback, a structure that allows Jungle Book to walk a thin line between reality and fantasy.  Is the storyteller telling the exact truth or is he exaggerating his tale?  That’s left up to the viewer to decide.  Personally, I chose to believe that he’s telling the exact truth.  It’s more magical that way.

The storyteller starts by telling the woman about the Indian jungle and the animals that live within it.  Some of the animals are kind and some of them are cruel but they all serve a purpose.  The most feared of the animals is a tiger named Shere Kahn.  When a baby disappears from a nearby village, the villagers assume that he, like his father, was killed by Shere Kahn.  What they do not know is that the baby actually wandered into the jungle and was raised by wolves.

The baby grows up to be Mowgli (Sabu), a feral young man who can talk to the animals.  When Mowgli is captured by the villagers, he is unknowing adopted by his real mother, Mesusa (Rosemary DeCamp).  At first, the wild Mowgli struggles to adapt to human ways and one of the villagers, Buldeo (Joseph Calleia), insists that Mowgli has “the evil eye.”

As Mowgli becomes a little more civilized (though he’s never exactly tamed), he starts to fall in love with a Mahala (Patricia O’Rourke).  Unfortunately, Mahala is the daughter of Buldeo and Buldeo is none to happy when Mowgli and Mahala start to spend all of their time exploring the jungle together.  However, that’s before Mowgli and Mahala come across a lost palace that is full of treasure.  When the greedy Buldeo finds out about the treasure, he demands that Mowgli tell him where the palace is.  Driven mad by Mowgli’s refusal to tell him, Buldeo goes to more and more extreme measures to find the treasure…

Jungle Book is a big epic film, one that proudly announces that it was shot in Technicolor.  The sets are big, the live animal footage (as opposed to the stock footage usually used in films like this) is impressive, and it’s just a fun movie to watch.  (Even though I was watching a typically cheap Mill Creek transfer, I was still impressed with the films visuals.)  Indian actor Sabu makes for a charismatic Sabu but the film’s best performance comes from Joseph Calleia, who brings unexpected depth to his villainous character.

(Movie lovers, like you and me, probably best know Joseph Calleia as Orson Welles’s tragic partner in Touch of Evil.)

You can watch the original Jungle Book below!

(Jungle Book is in the public domain so, if the video above gets taken down — as often seems to happen with embedded YouTube videos — I would suggest just going to YouTube and doing a search for Jungle Book 1942.  You’ll find hundreds of other uploads.  I picked the one above because it did not appear to have any commercials.)

The Fabulous Forties #8: The Lady Confesses (dir by Sam Newfield)


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After I watched The Red House, I watched the 8th film in Mill Creek’s Fabulous Forties box set, a 1945 film noir called The Lady Confesses.

Mary Beth Hughes plays Vicki McGuire, who is engaged to marry Larry Craig (Hugh Beaumont).  When we first meet Larry, he seems like a fairly normal guy.  He drinks too much but then again, this film was made in 1945 and it’s totally possible that Larry had yet to see The Lost Weekend.  Before getting engaged to Vicki, he was married to Norma Craig (Barbara Slater).  Norma disappeared seven years ago and has since been declared legally dead.  So, imagine everyone’s surprise when Norma suddenly turns up alive and knocking on Vicki’s front door!  Norma announces that there’s no way that she’s going to give up Larry.

Larry reacts to all this by going out and getting drunk.  He spends a while literally passed out at the bar and then, once he’s sobered up, he and Vicki go to visit Norma and try to talk some sense into her.  However, upon arriving at her apartment, they discover that Norma has been strangled!

The police automatically suspect Larry of being the murderer but he has an alibi.  He was drunk.  He was passed out at the bar.  And the only time he wasn’t at the bar, he was sleeping on a couch in the dressing room of singer Lucille Compton (Claudia Drake)…

Wait!  Larry was sleeping on another woman’s couch?  Well, Vicki isn’t necessarily happy to hear that but she still believes that her fiancée is innocent and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to clear his name, even if it means going undercover and working at a nightclub.  Vicki and Larry suspect that nightclub owner Lucky Brandon (Edmund MacDonald) is the murderer.  Can they prove it or, waiting around the next shadowy corner, is there another twist to the plot?

It’s not a spoiler to tell you that there’s another twist.  In fact, for a film that only runs for 64 minutes, there’s a lot of twists in The Lady Confesses.  The Lady Confesses is an entertaining film noir, one that gives B-movie mainstay Mary Beth Hughes a rare lead role.  As well, if you’ve ever seen an old episode of Leave It To Beaver, it’s quite interesting to see Hugh Beaumont playing a somewhat less than wholesome character.  Director Sam Newfield, who directed over 254 films during the course of his prolific career, keeps the action moving and provides a lot of menacing and shadowy images.

Though it may not be perfect (for one thing, we never learn why Norma disappeared in the first place), The Lady Confesses is a watchable and atmospheric film noir.  And you watch it below!

 

The Fabulous Forties #7: The Red House (dir by Delmer Daves)


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Last week, I started on my latest project — watching all 50 of the movies included in Mill Creek’s Fabulous Forties box set!  I started things off with Port of New York and then I was lucky enough to discover two excellent low-budget gems: The Black Book and Trapped.

And now, we come the 7th film in the Fabulous Forties box set: 1947’s The Red House.

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The Red House takes place is one of those small and seemingly idyllic country towns that always seem to harbor so many dark secrets and past crimes.  Everyone in town is friendly, cheerful, and quick to greet the world with a smile.

Well, almost everyone.

Pete Morgan (Edward G. Robinson) is the exception to the rule.  A farmer who moves with a pronounced limp, Pete lives on an isolated farm and refuses to have much to do with any of the other townspeople.  He lives with his wife, Ellen (Judith Anderson), and his niece, 17 year-old Meg (Allene Roberts).  Pete and Ellen are extremely overprotective of Meg.  Pete, especially, is always quick to tell her not to associate with any of boys in the town and not to enter the dark woods that sit next to the farm.  He tells her that there’s a red house hidden away in the woods and the house is haunted.  Going into the red house can only lead to death.

Despite Pete’s eccentricities, Meg is finally able to convince him to hire one of her classmates to help do chores around the farm.  Nath (Lon McAllister) is a good and hard worker and soon, even Pete starts to like him.  Meg, meanwhile, is falling in love with Nath.  However, Nath already has a girlfriend, the manipulative Tibby (Julie London), who cannot wait until they graduate high school so that she and Nath can leave town together.  When Nath starts to also develop feelings for Meg, Tibby responds by flirting with the local criminal, Teller (Rory Calhoun).

Though things seem to be getting better on the Morgan Farm, Nath eventually makes the mistake of admitting that, when he goes home, he takes a short cut through the old woods.  Pete angrily forbids Nath from entering the woods.  Of course, this has the opposite effect.  Soon, Nath and Meg are spending all day sneaking away into the woods so that they can look for the red house.

Once Pete learns of what they’re doing, he decides to hire Teller to keep them from even finding and entering the red house.  Needless to say, love, melodrama, murder, and tragedy all follow…

Despite the fact that the DVD suffered from a typically murky Mill Creek transfer, I enjoyed The Red House.  It’s one of those films that is just so over the top with all of the small town melodrama that you can’t help but enjoy it.  (If M. Night Shyamalan had been a 1940s filmmaker, he probably would have ended up directing The Red House.)  Nath and Meg were kind of boring but Julie London was a lot of fun as Tibby.  If I had ever starred in production of The Red House, I would want to play Tibby.

Plus, the film’s got Edward G. Robinson doing what he does best!  Robinson was an interesting actor, in that he could be both totally menacing and totally sympathetic at the same time.  He has some scary scenes as Pete but they’re also poignant because Robinson suggests that Pete hates his behavior just as much as Ellen and Meg.  Robimson was a powerhouse actor, the type who could elevate almost any film.

And that’s certainly what he does in The Red House!

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