Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #20: I Didn’t Kill My Sister (dir by Jason Bourque)

(Lisa is currently in the process of trying to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing all 40 of the movies that she recorded from the start of March to the end of June.  She’s trying to get it all done by July 10th!  Will she make it!?  Keep visiting the site to find out!)


“And now, for tonight’s top story, we go to Lois Summer, on assignment in Richardson, Texas.”

“Thank you, Mason.  For the past week and a half, one red-haired film critic has been attempting what some people would call the impossible.  Lisa Marie Bowman is trying to clean out her DVR by watching the 40 movies that she recorded between March and June.  She just finished rewatching the 20th film on her DVR, I Didn’t Kill My Sister.”

“Now, Lois, for our viewers who may not know, what exactly is a DVR?”

“Get with the times, Mason.  According to Ms. Bowman, she watched I Didn’t Kill My Sister when it originally premiered on Lifetime.  The date was May 14th and she says that she specifically watched the film with her sister, Erin.  Ms. Bowman says that both she and her sister enjoyed the film the first that they watched it.”

“Did she say how she felt about the film the second time she saw it…?”

“Dammit, I’m getting there, Mason.  Ms. Bowman says that I Didn’t Kill My Sister was just as enjoyable the second time that she watched it.  In fact, she said that it is a very entertaining murder mystery, one that almost feels like an old-fashioned whodunit.  She described the film as being stylish without being gaudy and melodramatic in the best possible way.”

“Is there really a good way to be melodramatic?”

“According to Ms. Bowman, there is.  For the rest of her review, we now go directly to Lisa Marie Bowman…”

Hi, everyone!  Lisa here.  Anyway, as Lois was just saying, I enjoyed I Didn’t Kill My Sister both times that I watched it.  It’s a fun Lifetime murder mystery, one of those things that works best when you just relax, sit back, and let yourself be entertained.  If you like Lifetime movies, you’ll like this one!

The film tells the story of two sisters.  Carmen Pearson (Gina Holden) is a publicly beloved and privately loathed local celebrity.  She co-anchors City View with her husband, Mason (Chris William Martin).  She has a beautiful house, a nice pool, and great hair.  She also has a rebellious teenage daughter (Sarah Desjardins) and a sister named Heather (Nicholle Tom).  Heather would love to have Carmen’s life but, instead, she’s stuck working as her sister’s private assistant.

(One of the best things about the film is the way that it contrasts Carmen’s mansion — complete with luxurious pool — with Heather’s cluttered, one-story house.)

However, Carmen’s life is not perfect.  She’s in the middle of a nasty divorce and Mason even seems to be flirting with her sister.  When her daughter screams, “I HATE YOU!!!,” she sounds like she actually means it.  And, of course, there’s the ambitious reporter (Dominika Jullet) who wants her job and the lawyer (Ona Grauer) who may have an agenda of her own.  When Carmen is discovered floating face down in her pool, everyone’s a suspect!

Including Heather!

Heather knows she’s innocent but the detective (Sharon Taylor) in charge of the case seems to feel otherwise.  Can Heather solve her sister’s murder before she ends up getting arrested!?

I Didn’t Kill My Sister is a fun, little whodunit.  Gina Holden has a lot of fun being bitchy during the first 15 minutes of the film and Chris William Martin is brilliantly sleazy in the role of Mason.  Watch it the next time that it’s on and see if you can solve the mystery before Heather does!

Back to you, Lois.

“Back to you, Mason.”

“Thank you, Lois.  How much fun is a barrel of monkeys?  That’s what a truck driver discovered today while making a delivery to the San Diego Zoo.  That story and Newy Scruggs with sports, next…”


Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #19: Jack of the Red Hearts (dir by Janet Grillo)

(Lisa is currently in the process of trying to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing all 40 of the movies that she recorded from the start of March to the end of June.  She’s trying to get it all done by July 10th!  Will she make it!?  Keep visiting the site to find out!)


The 19th film on my DVR was Jack of The Red Hearts, which I recorded off of the Lifetime Movie Network on April 27th.

I have to admit that I was a little bit surprised as I watched Jack of the Red Hearts.  While it seemed to have a typical Lifetime premise — a runaway fakes her identity and moves in with a troubled family — it didn’t feel like a typical Lifetime film.  For one thing, the cast was made up of actors like Soul Surfer‘s AnnaSophia Robb, The Bling Ring‘s Israel Broussard, and the X-Men‘s Famke Janssen.  None of these people are exactly big stars but they’re still not Lifetime regulars.  While the premise may have been Lifetime-friendly, the portrayal of an 11 year-old autistic girl (played by Taylor Richardson) definitely seemed a bit more realistic than one would usually expect from a made-for-TV movie.  Finally, there were more than a few occasions when it was obvious that some of the dialogue had been overdubbed, in order to make the language more appropriate for television.

So, I did some research and I discovered that Jack of the Red Hearts was not originally made for Lifetime.  Instead, it’s an indie film that was directed by Janet Grillo and written by Jennifer Deaton, both of whom drew on their own experiences of raising an autistic child.  Jack of the Red Hearts did the festival circuit in 2015 and even got a very limited theatrical release back in February.

Jack of the Red Hearts tells the story of Jack (AnnaSophia Robb), an 18 year-old high school drop out who is on probation.  When we first meet Jack, she’s helping her younger sister, Coke (Sophia Anna Caruso), break out of foster care.  AnnaSophia and Sophia Anna are both totally believable as sisters and their scenes together are so believable that you even forgive the fact that they’re named Jack and Coke.  Jack wants to take care of her sister but she’s broke and she’s homeless.  In order to rescue Coke from the foster home, Jack has to get a job and enough money to rent an apartment.

And what better way to get a job than by stealing someone else’s identity!  After Jack sees some flyers asking “Are you good with children?,” she shows up at the home of Kay (Famke Janssen) and Mark (Scott Cohen).  Jack claims that her name is Donna and that she’s the nanny that Kay previously hired over the telephone.  Despite having neither training nor a high school degree, Jack is soon taking care of autistic Glory (Taylor Richardson).

Glory is nonverbal and sometimes violent and her family, while loving, struggles to adjust to not only her behavior but also their inability to understand what the world is like for her.  (The film occasionally tries to show us the world through Glory’s eyes and it works a lot better than you might expect.)  When Jack initially reacts to Glory’s behavior by snapping at her and occasionally getting rough (at one point, she slaps away Glory’s hand when Glory suddenly tries to grab food off her plate), you wince but at the same time, you understand Jack’s frustration.  Richardson, who is not autistic in real life, fully commits herself to the role and the film deserves a lot of credit for not sentimentalizing her condition or its effect on her family.  Unlike most Lifetime films, this one takes place in a frequently cluttered and chaotic house and Kay is portrayed as literally being on the verge of a neurotic meltdown.

Though it takes a while, Jack starts to care about Glory and finally, she even starts to make some progress with Glory.  And again, it should be pointed out that the film does not portray Jack as a miracle worker, though Jack does watch The Miracle Worker on television at one point.  The progress is slow but, the film says, it is progress and that’s the important thing.  Jack also develops an attraction to Glory’s brother, Robert (Israel Broussard).  Robert, however, is the only member of the family to suspect that Jack may not be telling the truth about who she is…

Because Jack of the Red Hearts was on the Lifetime Movie Network, I kept waiting for the scene in which Jack would either seduce Kay’s husband or try to kidnap Glory.  Thankfully, that scene never came, though the film still has its share of melodramatic moments.  Jack of the Red Hearts is, in many ways, a predictable film but it’s also an achingly sincere film and Robb, Broussard, Janssen, and especially Taylor Richardson all give excellent and empathetic performances.

This is a sweetly well-intentioned and bravely unsentimental film and definitely one to keep an eye out for.

Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #18: House of Darkness (dir by Patrick DeLuca)

(Lisa is currently in the process of trying to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing all 40 of the movies that she recorded from the start of March to the end of June.  She’s trying to get it all done by July 10th!  Will she make it!?  Keep visiting the site to find out!)


The 18th film on the DVR was the Lifetime original movie, House of Darkness.  

House of Darkness is a film that asks a question that I’m sure we have all asked ourselves at least once: “What if Lifetime made a horror film?  What would that be like?”

Well, apparently, it would be like every single horror film that you’ve ever seen.  There is not a single cliché that does not show up in House of Darkness.  It starts out with the promise that we are about see a true story and hey, maybe it was!  After all, the film reminded me of a lot of other horrors film — Amityville, Paranormal Activity, and others — that were supposedly based on true stories.

Kelly (Sara Fletcher) and Brian (Gunner Wright) are a married couple but they are also a Lifetime couple, which means that their marriage is in trouble!  Brian is a carpenter who has a difficult time opening up emotionally.  Kelly is a massage therapist, which Brian appears to think is the equivalent of working in a brothel.  How bad is their marriage?  When Brian sees Kelly wearing sexy lingerie in an effort to liven things up, he responds by going out to the garage.

Fortunately, Brian and Kelly have been seeing a marriage counselor.  The counselor suggests that they both start keeping a video diary, which allows the film to occasionally so some found footage shots.  (That’s the Paranormal Activity influence.)  If the video diaries don’t help, maybe moving to a new house in San Francisco will do the trick!

And you know what?  It’s a great house but the owners didn’t want much money for it.  It’s almost as if they were trying to get rid of the house.  I wonder what that could mean!

Anyway, Kelly and Brian’s daughter is soon wandering around, speaking in a demonic voice while giving everyone Hillary Clinton-style death glares, and encouraging her friends to wander into the basement.  Meanwhile, Brian is acting even weirder and suddenly, it’s like he can’t go anywhere without bringing an axe with him!

And then there’s the neighbors.  A sexy woman and a superhot man occasionally appear standing in front of the house across the road.  The woman smiles at Brian, tempting him to … to do what?  I guess that the idea here is to encourage Brian to start doing his Jack Nicholson impersonation but I wasn’t sure.  I suspect, to a certain extent, that the ghosts and the evil spirits and whatever the Hell is in the house don’t really have any goals beyond doing the usual horror stuff.  They probably said, “Look!  A stationary camera!  Let’s go knock shit around!”

Anyway, House of Darkness is pretty much just a festival of nonstop clichés and scenes lifted from other horror films.  It’s never really scary, largely because it’s a made-for-TV movie and, since it’s Lifetime, you know that it’s not going to be disturbing or graphic like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.  Without any intentional humor or unexpected scares, House of Darkness is largely forgettable.

Music Video of the Day: In Bloom by Nirvana (1992, dir. Kevin Kerslake)

Seeing as I did Weezer’s Buddy Holly yesterday, it seemed appropriate to do Nirvana’s In Bloom today. Instead of editing themselves into a retro TV Show, they set themselves into an actual 1960s style variety show as if they were The Beatles. Makes sense considering Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic would go on to work with Paul McCartney.

I really didn’t watch MTV in the early 1990s. I was certainly listening to Nirvana’s music on an endless repeat, but I wasn’t really familiar with any of their videos beyond Smells Like Teen Spirit and Heart Shaped Box. I like the parody on display of 1960s variety shows. I love the way the host appears oblivious at the end to what was going on onstage. As I recall, the song is about a drug dealer they knew who liked listening to their music, but really didn’t know what it meant. I’m guessing that’s who the host is supposed to represent.

The video would go on to win Best Alternative Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1993. That brings me to another argument I’ve had stated to me about why music videos don’t belong in movie databases. The whole thing about them not winning noteworthy awards. Obviously that’s not true, and MTV has as much vested interest in giving out such awards as the Oscars and the Grammys. They even accept music videos at film festivals. That being another argument brought up as reason for the exclusion of music videos. A simple Google search turns up such festivals.

I know I missed April already, but there’s always July 20th to do another Nirvana music video. That will also give me an excuse to link to one of Gary’s reviews as an apology for making him aware of the widely held theory that The Vapors’ Turning Japanese is about masturbation while he was just trying to help me pick out a video for the Japanese holiday Ocean Day.