“Bullseye” #1 — Hit Or Miss?


Trash Film Guru

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I really don’t know how well Daredevil is selling these days, but it must be doing alright since Marvel is launching no fewer than three spin-off titles under their new “Running With The Devil” umbrella label this month. Kingpin hits next week with Elektra following the week after, but first out of the gate is Bullseye #1, the opening salvo of a five-part miniseries from writer Ed Brisson, artist Guillermo Sanna, and colorist Miroslav Mrva. The premise of sending the world’s deadliest assassin into the middle of the Colombian drug war in order to rescue a dying mob boss’s kid sounded reasonably interesting, and Brisson impressed the heck out of me with his gritty, “street-level” Image series The Violent, so I figured what the heck? Nothing to lose — except five bucks, I suppose — in giving this debut installment a go.

Allow me to bitch for just a…

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Film Review: High School Lover (dir by Jerell Rosales)


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So, this is an odd one.

Tonight, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere.  The film was called High School Lover and, in many ways, it was a typical Lifetime film.  As you might guess from the title, it’s tells the story of a teenage girl who defies her overly protective father and enters into a relationship with an older man.  Since it’s never a good idea to defy your parents in a Lifetime film, the older man turns out to be an obsessive psycho, the type who shows up at his ex-girlfriend’s house with a crowbar and demands that she love him.

As I said, typical Lifetime film.  Plotwise, this was almost identical to almost every thriller that Lifetime has premiered on Saturday night.

However, there were a few things that set High School Lover apart from something like Killer Coach.

Number one, the obsessive psycho was a movie star.  That’s right — Christian Booth (Francois Arnaud) is a celebrity.  He’s such a celebrity that, at one point, his teenage girlfriend is upset when she reads an article in US Weekly that claims that Christian is getting back together with his ex.  And yet, for a celebrity who is well-known enough to appear on the cover of US Weekly, it was remarkable just how much Christian was able to do without anyone noticing.  For instance, if Justin Bieber showed up at someone’s house with a crowbar and started breaking all the windows, you can be sure that the paparazzi would be right behind him, taking pictures and shouting out questions.  If Ryan Gosling picked up a teenager in a limo and then flew her around in his own private helicopter, you imagine that it would at least be mentioned on TMZ.  Yet, somehow, superfamous Christian Booth is able to do all of this without anyone noticing.

This leads me to suspect that Christian may not have been human.  Though it’s never specifically stated, I suspect that Christian may have been a vampire, an alien, or a time traveler.  He had to have some sort of mystical power to get away with everything that he did.

Secondly, this film was not only executive produced by James Franco but it also starred Franco as well!  What’s strange is that this wasn’t a parody like A Deadly Adoption or Franco’s previous Lifetime film, the remake of Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?  Instead, this was a totally typical Lifetime movie with James Franco in the role that would usually be played by a former cast member of One Tree Hill.  

And yet, James Franco fit right in.  He gets to flash his winning smile and there’s a scene where he shows off some dance moves that deserves to be put in the Hall of Fame of Fearless Franco Moments.  Watching the film, one gets the feeling that James Franco woke up one day and said to himself, “I want to make some movies for Lifetime just because.”  And that’s what he proceeded to do!  And let’s give some credit where credit is due.  Instead of slumming his way through the film, James Franco gave a good and sincere performance, as did Paulina Singer in the role of his daughter.

Anyway, if it sounds like I’m struggling to be objective when it comes to reviewing this film, you’re right.  I love Lifetime melodrama and, though Arleigh likes to make fun of me for this, I love James Franco too.  And really, that’s the best review that I can give you.  If you like Lifetime movies and/or James Franco, you’ll like High School Lover.

It’s just an odd little movie.  When I get around to writing my study of the career and accomplishments of Mr. James Franco, High School Lover will, at the very least, get a chapter or two.

A Movie A Day #35: This Was The XFL (2017, directed by Charlie Ebersol)


hhmRemember the XFL?

Though it may be regarded as a joke today, the XFL was a big deal for a few months in 2001.  The brainchild of the WWF’s Vince McMahon, the XFL was a football league that, like the USFL before it, would play during the NFL’s off-season.  McMahon promised that, if the NFL was now the “No Fun League,” the XFL would be the “Extra Fun League.”  McMahon’s longtime friend and the President of NBC sports, Dick Ebersol, purchased the rights to broadcast the XFL’s first two seasons.

Ebersol and McMahon put together the XFL (8 teams and 2 divisions) in just a year’s time.  They recruited players who hadn’t been able to find a place in NFL.  Using many of the same techniques that he perfected in the world of professional wrestling, McMahon encouraged the players to be big personalities and allowed them to pick their own nicknames.  Rod Smart would briefly become a star as He Hate Me while another player requested to be known as Teabagger.  McMahon tweaked the rules, encouraging faster and more aggressive play.  Instead of a coin flip, each game would start with two opposing players scrambling for the ball.  The XFL was not only more violent than the NFL but it also had sexier cheerleaders.

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In 2001, I was really excited for the XFL.  It was everything that an 18 year-old male football fan could hope for.  I was one of the 14 million people who watched the very first broadcast.  I watched half of the second broadcast and that was it.  I lost interest and I was not alone.  The XFL started with higher ratings than expected but the final games of that inaugural season set records for being the lowest-rated prime time sports telecasts in history.

What went wrong?  That’s what ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 documentary, This Was The XFL, explains.  Directed by Dick Ebersol’s son, Charlie, This Was The XFL features interviews with McMahon, the senior Ebersol, players like Rod Smart and Tommy Maddox, and sports journalists like Bob Costas.  The XFL’s rise and demise is presented as being a comedy of errors.  Already viewed with skepticism because of McMahon’s unsavory reputation, the XFL was doomed by a combination of terrible luck and bad gameplay that confirmed why many XFL players couldn’t find a place in the NFL.  During the first week, several players were injured during the opening scramble.  In the 2nd week, a power outage interrupted the broadcast of a game in Los Angeles.  With ratings in freefall, McMahon resorted to playing up the cheerleaders and sending Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura onto the field so that he could harass the coaches during the game.  Trying to do damage control, McMahon appeared on The Bob Costas Show and their hostile interview is one of the highlights of the documentary.  Even if the league ultimately failed, it is impossible not to admire McMahon’s determination to shake things up.

The XFL’s first season was also its last but, as This Was The XFL makes clear, its legacy is still evident today.  Miked-up players, the skycam, sideline interviews, all of these are the legacy of the XFL.  Even Jerry Jones, when interviewed, says that the XFL changed the way that NFL football is broadcast.

With this being Super Bowl weekend, take a moment to raise a toast to the memory of the XFL.

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Cleaning Out the DVR Pt 11: Five from the Fifties


crackedrearviewer

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The 1950’s were a time of change in movies. Television was providing stiff competition, and studios were willing to do anything to fend it off. The bigger budgeted movies tried 3D, Cinerama, wide-screen, and other optical tricks, while smaller films chose to cover unusual subject matter. The following five films represent a cross-section of nifty 50’s cinema:

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BORDERLINE (Universal-International 1950; D: William A. Seiter)

BORDERLINE is a strange film, straddling the borderline (sorry) between romantic comedy and crime drama, resulting in a rather mediocre movie. Claire Trevor plays an LAPD cop assigned to Customs who’s sent to Mexico to get the goods on drug smuggler Pete Ritchey (Raymond Burr , being his usual malevolent self). She’s tripped up by Ritchey’s rival Johnny Macklin (Fred MacMurray , channeling his inner Walter Neff), and taken along as he tries to get the dope over the border. What she doesn’t know is he’s also…

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Late To The Party : “The Purge : Election Year”


Trash Film Guru

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Regular readers around these parts probably figured it was only a matter of time before I got around to casting my supposedly critical eye on writer/director James DeMonaco’s summer 2016 release The Purge : Election Year given that I had generally good things to say about the first two films in this so-called “evolving franchise,” but seeing as how I never got around to catching it while it was playing in theaters, you fine folks are stuck with a “better late than never” appraisal since I just got it on DVD (a “bare-bones” rental DVD, I hasten to add, so I’m afraid I can’t discuss whatever extras the “real” disc might offer) from Netflix the other day and gave it a watch last night. There’s a better than good chance that many of you reading this have probably already seen it, I suppose, but what the heck — I’ve got…

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Dazzling “Moonlight”


Trash Film Guru

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I missed writer/director Barry Jenkins’ much-hyped Moonlight on its first pass through theaters, but now that it’s back for a return engagement thanks to a wheelbarrow-full of Oscar nominations, I found myself without a valid excuse for missing out a second time. Sure, sometimes the PR machine that kicks into high gear during awards season puts its muscle behind a lackluster effort that leaves you scratching your head and wondering what all the fuss was about, but everything I’d read made it seem like this flick was the real deal — it sounded timely, topical, authentic, and exceedingly well-made, and on the whole, bets don’t come much surer than that.

For those unfamiliar with the particulars, Moonlight follows the story of a bright, sensitive, and quiet African-American kid growing up in and on some of the meaner streets of Miami, and wears its conventional three-act structure on its sleeve by…

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Music Video of the Day: Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)


Enjoy!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  3. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  10. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  11. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  12. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  13. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  14. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  15. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  17. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  18. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  19. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  20. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  22. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)