Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #38: The Baby (dir by Ted Post)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Thursday, December 8th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


On October 30th, I recorded The Baby off of TCM.

First released back in 1973, The Baby is a seriously strange little movie.  It’s about a 21 year-old man named Baby (played by David Manzy).  Why is he called Baby?  Because he lives in a crib.  And he wears a diaper that occasionally needs changing.  And he sounds exactly like a baby.  (Whenever he opens his mouth, the sound of an actual baby is dubbed in.)  When he’s alone with his babysitter, he eagerly sucks on her breast, half-nursing and half-perving.

Baby is the only son of Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman, giving a chillingly evil performance).  Mrs. Wadsworth was abandoned by her husband shortly after Baby was born and the film implies that she’s taken a lot of her hatred towards her ex out on her son.  Despite not liking her son, Mrs. Wadsworth is determined to hold onto him.  She gets a weekly welfare check from the state.  The money is supposed to be used to take care of Baby but Mrs. Wadsworth uses it to take care of herself and her two daughters.

Who are her daughters?  Alba Wadsworth (Suzanne Zenor) is an implied nymphomaniac who has a way with a cattle prod.   Germaine Wadsworth (Marianna Hill) is an actress and model who, it’s suggested, has incestuous designs on her brother.

That’s right — they’re a messed up family!  However, they do throw great parties, the type that are full of all the typical characters who you would expect to appear in a low-budget film from 1973.  Hippies, hipsters, aspiring disco dancers, they all show up.  Michael Pataki shows up as well!  You my not know the name but if you’re a fan of 70s exploitation films like me, you’ll immediately recognize Michael Pataki.

In order to continue receiving money from the government, the Wadsworths have to impress their case worker.  They’ve moved through several social workers and, for the most part, they’ve survived by being so strange that no one wants to spend too much time dealing with them.  However, their case has just been assigned to Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) and she actually takes an interest in Baby and his life with the Wasdworths.

Ann says that she thinks Baby could benefit from going to a special school.  The Wadsworths suggest that she mind her own business.  Ann, however, has no intention of doing that.  Ann refuses the give up on giving Baby a chance at a better life.

Sounds heart-warming, right?

Well, no.

At first, Ann seems like just another concerned do-gooder.  But, at the film progresses, we start to suspect that Ann might have some secrets of her own.  We’re told that she lost her husband in a car accident but the details are left intentionally vague.  What we do know is that Ann lives in a huge house with her mother-in-law (Beatrice Manley Blau) and we find ourselves wondering why, if her husband is gone, are the two of them still living together.

We also fin ourselves wondering: Does Ann have Baby’s best interests in mind?  For that matter, does anyone?

Being a 70s movie, it all ends with a violent home invasion that’s followed by a surprise twist.  The twist caught me totally off-guard and forced me to reconsider everything that I had previously seen.  It was shocking, it was borderline offensive, it was just a little bit ludicrous, and it was rather brilliant in its odd way.

The same can be said for The Baby as a whole.  This is one weird movie and you’ll never see another like it.  For that reason alone, The Baby is worth seeing at least once.

People of Earth; Season 1 Episode 7, Last Day on Earth


People of Earth is usually 80/20- Comedy/Drama; however, this particular episode was full-on tug at your heartstrings 80/20 Drama/Comedy.  If not done well, this switch can undermine or derail a show, but Norm Hiscock  (writer) really delivered something unique and tenderhearted.  In fact, I’ve been thinking about his episode for most of the time since I watched it.  You begin thinking that the story will be all about Jerry saying goodbye; instead, Norm gives us an episode about love, family, and basic human… even tribal bonds.

When I first learned screenwriting, my teacher made me make list all of the things that would worry a caveman.

I responded: finding a mate, a bad king, predators, and natural disasters.

He responded: SEE!

Then, he wrote on the board “When Harry Met Sally”, “Nixon”, “Predator”, and “Day After Tomorrow”.  “We are moved by movies because they tap into our genetic fears and desires.”

This episode did that for me.

We open with Gerry telling Ozzie about a clear pattern of abductions that all occur at a specific area and he wants to be the next in the line.  This abduction will be permanent because no one ever returned when they were taken at this time.  Gerry states that he has quit his job and Ozzie shows concern for this, but Gerry is determined to be a full-fledged Starcrossed member, even though it means never returning to Earth.

Gerry cleans himself up and does A LOT of grooming, including an abundance of nail clipping.  Then, he packs a Go Bag and with his “Family Photo”- it’s a selfie-stick shot of him with the Starcrossed group.  This shows a clear, visual example of familial/tribal love.

Gerry’s determined to tell Yvonne his feelings, but chickens out.  This is the emotional and physical love.

Coffeehouse: Kelly visits LOTR-Guy at his coffeehouse.  Kelly tries to apologize and LOTR-Guy shuts her down with an apology on behalf of all men because he was a nosy-pants and male privilege something.  Kelly is now all over LOTR-Guy like a Today’s Man Suit.

Ozzie follows up on a lead about Senator Pelosi’s connection to Glint and how Jonathan suppressed stories at Glint.  My favorite: This Privileged American Life – Ira Glass.  If you’ve never heard This American Life, you should, BUT be prepared to become depressed.  “However, this shouldn’t matter because happiness is a lie we tell ourselves so we can wake up everyday.” Just kidding, Ira never said this because he’s much more upbeat than I am.  

Nancy overhears that Ozzie is getting close to uncovering the conspiracy.  Jonathan is ordered to get a donut.. again.  Jonathan tries to stall and arranges a lunch with Ozzie.

Gerry says goodbye to Richard and gives him all of his alien research.

The Lunch: Jonathan tries to bully Ozzie using the carrot and stick technique formerly used by Henry Kissinger.  The Stick: Jonathan threatens to expose/discredit Ozzie for being a member of “Space Losers”.  The Carrot: “Brews Skettah”.  It fails.  Jonathan shall eat his “Brews Skettah” all alone.   Michael Cassidy has some real drama chops.  He should consider some drama or Jason Bourne-ish action movie stuff.  What was great about this scene is that when Jonathan is saying “After all that I’ve done for you” He means it literally because he helped raise and protect Ozzie since he was a child, explaining why Jonathan has empathy unlike his purely Reptilian counterpart Nancy.  This hammers home the fatherly love that Jonathan has for Ozzie and this was shown in previous episodes wherein he gives Ozzie veggie drinks and mentoring.

Gerry goes to Yvonne’s house and he nearly chickens out, but Yvonne helps him along and they make sweet love.  However, he still wants to try to get abducted and say goodbye for good.

The Date:  LOTR-Guy is REALLY in touch with his feelings.  They try to dance and it’s awesome.  It reminded me so much of the dancing I saw at clubs in Europe … like seizures. Kelly shows a protective and physical love for LOTR-Guy by trying to get him to assert himself in many different ways.  At one point, a waiter spills a drink on him and he goes beyond Canadian levels of politeness, saying that “I was sitting way too close to the spill.” She pushes him to insist on getting the drinks for free and owning it! Boom! It’s awesome.

The Donut:  The Alien Overlord orders Jonathan to pick a weapon to use to kill Ozzie.  Jonathan doesn’t want to and he remembers being on the Ship with Young Ozzie.  He comforts Ozzie when he’s scared and promises him that he won’t hurt him.  Michael really delivers this scene well.  He knows how to play the silence without dragging it. Good beat.  Jonathan chooses the gun and it’s hard to watch.

Jonathan goes to Ozzie’s hovel.  I won’t lie – I gasped a little, when he reached in his coat pocket and was relieved when he pulled out a jumpdrive.  Jonathan gives Ozzie the proof he needs confessing how he suppressed stories.  This is an obvious act of fatherly love and has improved Ozzie’s life.  Jonathan, like all good Dads, with his mission of pushing his son forward complete, takes a step back and sets him free to succeed or fail without him.

Yvonne and Gerry are in bed and she gives him a lift to the abduction location, even though this may be their last time together; it’s very sweet.  H. Jon Benjamin provides some comic relief along the way.

Kelly forces LOTR-Guy to be empowered and self-confidant.  There’s just love burgeoning everywhere in this episode.

Donut Part 2:  The Overlord is furious and wants to kill Jonathan and Ozzie.  Jonathan thwarts this by revealing that there is a code he needs to enter every 12 hours or their lizard plan will be published worldwide.  Jonathan flashes to when he and Young Ozzie were on the ship and Ozzie made him a drawing of them holding hands like father and son. He puts on a brave front, but leaves the meeting with some fear and pain on his face because he has left his family to save his adoptive son Ozzie, but in doing so, he will be forever alone.

Gerry gets to the abduction site…..and they never come.

Once again, the near credits delivers an amazing song that presented what could’ve worked as the scenes for the series finale.  Not a bad song, not Kmala my Friend or the Ship song from earlier episodes, but a solid – not bad.

We see Ozzie’s article with a big picture of Jonathan as a story suppressor, ruining him forever. Jonathan packs up his things from his office and says goodbye to his moving desk.

The group stares at Gerry’s empty chair and is relieved when he returns, completing their tribe.  They console him for not getting abducted, but he states sheepishly and in love, “It wasn’t all bad.” *sniff*

LOTR-Guy returns to the ship all swagger.  It’s pretty badass.  Scroty shows him respect for the first time and informs him that the Main Ship is coming.  We also learn that Gerry would’ve been abducted if LOTR-Guy had been at his post.



Cleaning Out the DVR Yet Again #37: The Sound and the Fury (dir by James Franco)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Thursday, December 8th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


James Franco’s 2015 adaptation of William Faulkner’s classic novel, The Sound and The Fury, aired on Starz on November 2nd.

You know what?  Haters are going to hate but James Franco does more in an hour than most people do in a month.  Not only is James one of the most consistently interesting actors working today but he’s also a writer, a painter, a teacher, an activist, and a film director.

Indeed, it’s his work as a director that might be the most overlooked part of James’s prolific career.  Since making his directorial debut in 2006, with The Ape, James Franco has directed over 30 movies, television episodes, and short films.  As a director, James Franco has shown a talent for strong visuals and a willingness to take on difficult material.

For instance, can you imagine any other director who would have the guts to try to make a film out of The Sound and The Fury, the classic novel that may be the most unfilmable literary work this side of Finnegan’s Wake?

Told through the perspective of four related but very different characters, The Sound and The Fury details the fall of both the once mighty Compson family and the old South that the Compsons represent.  Benjy Compson is developmentally disabled and sees the world in a disjointed, nonlinear style.  Quinton Compson is fragile and sensitive and, while his section of the book starts in a fairly straight-forward enough manner, it quickly becomes nearly incoherent as Quinton’s mental state starts to deteriorate.  Jason Compson is cruel and evil but, because of his ruthless and self-centered personality, his section is the most straight-forward and the easiest to follow.  And finally, there’s Dilsey, the Compson family servant who is the only person to understand why the Compsons are in decline.  Faulkner utilized stream-of-consciousness throughout the entire novel, to such an extent that readers and critics are still debating just what exactly is happening and what Faulkner is actually saying.

In short, it takes courage to adapt a novel like The Sound and The Fury.  It takes even more courage when you’re an actor-turned-director who has his share of jealous haters.

Now, I should admit that James Franco was not the first director to attempt to make a film out of The Sound and The Fury.  In 1959, Martin Ritt made a version of the film, which reportedly did away with the nonlinear structure and centered the film around the straight-forward Jason.  (I haven’t seen the 1959 version.)  James Franco, on the other hand, not only adapts The Sound and The Fury but also adapts Faulkner’s style.

James Franco replicates the novel’s nonlinear structure and even takes on the role of Benjy himself.  It makes for a film that is occasionally frustrating and difficult to follow but which is also undeniably fascinating.  Filled with haunting images, James Franco’s The Sound and The Fury is a visual feast, one that perfectly captures the atmosphere of a decaying society.  The South, in this film, is trapped between the possibly imagined glories of the past and the harsh reality of the future.  There’s a dream-like intensity to the film.  It sticks with you.

As well, James Franco does an excellent job casting his film.  Tim Blake Nelson brings an enigmatic combination of grandeur and threat to the role of Mr. Compson and Jacob Loeb is haunting as the fragile Quentin.  Scott Haze dominates the film as the cruel Jason.  Though you never sympathize with Jason, you can understand how he became the man that he is.  Jason may not be a good man but, unlike the rest of the Compsons, you never doubt that he’s going to survive in one way or another.

James Franco took a big chance directing The Sound and The Fury and he succeeded.


Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #36: Term Life (dir by Peter Billingsley)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Thursday, December 8th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


I recorded Term Life off one of the Starz channels on November 13th.

Vince Vaughn co-starred in two movies in 2016 and both of them were a little bit different from the fratty comedies for which he is best known.  One of the movies was Hacksaw Ridge, in which Vaughn was cast against type as a tough drill sergeant.  Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best films of the year and it features Vaughn’s best work since he appeared in 2007’s Into The Wild.  The other film was Term Life, which had a very limited released in April and is now popping up on cable.

In Term Life, Vaughn plays Nick Barrow.  Nick is a thief but he doesn’t actually steal anything.  Instead, he plots heists and then sells his plans to the highest bidder.  However, Nick has somehow managed to get in trouble with the mob, with a corrupt cop (Bill Paxton), and with … well, with everyone.  I say somehow because it wasn’t always clear why everyone was so obsessed with killing Nick.  They just were.

Knowing that his days are probably numbered, Nick takes out a life insurance policy on himself.  He names, as the sole beneficiary, his estranged daughter, Cate (Hailee Steinfeld).  With his reluctant daughter accompanying him, he goes on the run.  While Nick and Cate finally start to bond and repair their damaged relationship, the very bad men searching for Nick kill a lot of people.

So, this is a weird one.  At times, this film is a typical generation gap comedy, with Vaughn playing the former-cool-guy-turned-befuddled-dad who freaks out when he sees Cate’s bra hanging from a shower rod.  This part of the film is actually kinda likable.  Vaughn and Steinfeld are believable as father-and-daughter and their scenes together are sweet if predictable.

But then you’ve got the rest of the film, which is basically Bill Paxton brutally murdering people.  The violence comes on so strong that it feels totally out-of-place when mixed in with scenes of Nick and Cate bonding.  It’s such an abrupt tonal shift that it makes it impossible to get into the film.

Term Life has a cobbled together feel to it and it doesn’t help that it features the type of heavy-handed narration that feels as if it was added at the last minute in a desperate attempt to bring some sort of coherent structure to a messy film.  On the plus side, both Vaughn and Steinfeld are believable and you occasionally care about their father-daughter relationship.  On the negative side, likable characters keep dying.

In other words, see Hacksaw Ridge.

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #35: 10 Year Reunion (dir by Jake Helgren)

(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Thursday, December 8th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)


10 Year Reunion premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network on October 23rd, 2016.

Recently, I’ve been re-reading some of the comments that have been left underneath some of my Lifetime reviews and it’s become very evident that not everyone seems to understand what makes a good Lifetime movie.  So often, I find people complaining that a Lifetime film was “implausible” or “melodramatic.”

Well, to quote my Aunt Kate, who has a way with words, “No shit, Sherlock.”

That’s exactly why people like me — i.e, intelligent, beautiful, happy people — love Lifetime films.  Lifetime films are supposed to be melodramatic.  They’re supposed to be implausible.  They’re supposed to be so frequently over the top that they verge on camp.  That’s the entire point!  The best Lifetime films are the ones that feature wild plot twists and which don’t always worry about things like logic.  Lifetime is all about having fun and that’s what their best films are all about.

Here’s what you need to ask yourself while watching a Lifetime film — am I having fun?  If you’re having fun, then it’s a good movie.  It’s not that complicated.

For instance, let’s consider 10 Year Reunion.  I fucking loved 10 Year Reunion!  Of all the pseudo-horror films that Lifetime showed in October, 10 Year Reunion was the best.

Does the film always make sense?

No, not really.

Does the film feature a lot of melodrama?

Hell yeah!

Does the film go totally over the top during the last 14 minutes?

You better believe it!

It’s great!

10 Year Reunion tells the story of five friends who, during their senior year of high school, wrote down all of their deepest and darkest secrets and put them in a box.  One girl wrote about sleeping with her friend’s boyfriend.  Another girl wrote about purposefully scoring badly on a test so that another girl could be the valedictorian and get a scholarship to college.  They entrusted the box to Abby and Abby buried it somewhere.

And then Abby died.  She was at a party and she apparently drank too much and died of alcohol poisoning.  Of course, since this is a Lifetime film, we know that there’s more to it than that.  One of the still-living girls poisoned Abby!

But who?

Ten years pass and everyone returns for their high school reunion.  Despite their best efforts to leave the past behind, everyone is still haunted by the death of Abby.  That’s especially true of Carly (Kacey Clarke).  It turns out that, before she died, Abby left clues that would lead her friends to the hiding place of the box.  Now, ten years later, Carly is determined to track down those clues, dig up the box, and learn those secrets!  Her friends tell her not to bring up the ghosts of the past.  A hooded figure keeps popping up and trying to kill Carly.  And, of course, Carly starts to fall for her old high school crush but he might have secrets of his own!

Or he might not.  He might be a red herring.

You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!

And I think you should watch the movie.  10 Year Reunion is an unbelievably fun and well-put together Lifetime film.  Yes, it’s totally melodramatic and often implausible and over the top.  Yes, it is the type of film where the passive-aggressive behavior starts with catty comments and then quickly escalates to a car blowing up.  And yes, this is the type of film that ends with two people dueling with a shovel and hedge clippers.

But, oh my God, it is so much fun!

Here’s the important thing: it’ll keep you guessing, it’ll make you roll your eyes in a good way, it’ll inspire you to shout at the screen, and it all takes place in a really nice house.  And, for the most part, the clothes are to die for.

What more could you ask for from a Lifetime film!?

10 Year Reunion is a freaking masterpiece.  Anyone who doesn’t get it is taking life too seriously.