Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Girls Night Out (dir by Philippe Gagnon)

Last night, before I went to bed, I continued to clean out my DVR by watching a Lifetime film, Girls Night Out.  I recorded Girls Night Out off of the Lifetime Movie Network on January 22nd.  It was the earliest recording on my DVR.

Girls Night Out tells the story of McKenzie (MacKenzie Mauzy) and three of her closest friends.  They’ve been close since college.  They were all in the same sorority.  They have a long history laughs, pranks, fun, and barely concealed resentment.  Now, they have all graduated and they’ve all found individual success.  McKenzie is marrying Reese (Cody Ray Thompson), who is nice but kind of boring.

While her friends take McKenzie out to celebrate, Reese runs into a guy at a bar.  Brandon (Jacob Blair) seems nice but he’s not!  In college, Brandon used to date McKenzie.  But, one night, after getting her drunk, Brandon raped McKenzie.  When McKenzie reported him, Brandon was kicked out of school.  He lost all of his friends at his fraternity.  He lost his chance to play in the NFL.  Brandon wants revenge and that revenge starts with kidnapping Reese.

Brandon announces that, unless McKenzie and her friends follow his every order, he will kill Reese.  He divides the four of them into two teams and then has them recreate extreme versions of some of the pranks they played in college.  One team is sent searching for thrown-away food and used condoms.  One team is ordered to sneak into a morgue and kiss a corpse.  One friend has to strip down to her underwear while her teammate writes on her with a marker.  Meanwhile, the other two friends have to go buy crack.  And that’s only the beginning…

Girl’s Night Out is a film that asks, “How far would you go for your friends?”  That’s the question that I found myself wondering as I watched.  I never joined a sorority but, when I was in college, I had a group of friends who were like sisters to me.  I called us the SBS, which stands for Sexy Bitch Squad.  My friend Lea used to call us the BNC, which stood for Big Nose Crew, which I think was her sweet way of trying to make me feel better about my own nose.  But regardless of what we were called, we were and are extremely close.  So, I could definitely relate to the scenes involving the bachelorette party and the male strippers.

But, I asked myself, if someone’s fiancée was being held prisoner and being threatened with murder, would I go to the same lengths as the characters in Girls Night Out?

Probably not.

I mean, seriously — climbing into the dumpster and looking for a used condom?  Ewwww.  Kiss a corpse?  No way!  But, luckily, I know that none of the members of SBS (or the BNC) would ever ask me to.  They know me well enough to know better.  That’s the great thing about friendship.  You don’t have to pretend like you’d wear high heels in a crack house just to keep your friend’s boyfriend from being murdered.  You can be yourself, flaws and all.

As for the rest of Girls Night Out … well, it took it a while but it won me over.  At first, everyone in the film seemed so shallow that I had a hard time imagining how I could ever have any sympathy for them.  But then Brandon showed up and was such a hateful character (and Jacob Blair did such a good job of bringing this loathsome jerk to life) that I found myself really looking forward to seeing him get his comeuppance.  Let’s face it — we’ve all had a Brandon in our lives and our greatest regret is that we never go a chance to witness him getting repeatedly kicked in his genitals.  Knowing that Brandon would eventually get his ass kicked was more than enough to keep me watching the film.

It took a while but seeing Brandon get what he deserved made the film more than worth watchiing.

Here’s The Trailer for Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert!

Spider-Man was not the only trailer to drop today!

We’ve also got the new trailer for Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert!  Queen of the Desert has gotten mixed reviews from those who have seen it but you know what?  Werner Herzog can do no wrong.  Suck it, toadsuckers.

You can view this film for yourself on April 7th.  I will.

A Movie A Day #80: The Palermo Connection (1990, directed by Francesco Rosi)

Carmine Bonavia (James Belushi) is an idealistic New York City councilman who wants to be mayor.  Despite an easily understood slogan — “Make A Difference!” — his reform campaign is running behind in the polls.  Having nothing to lose, Carmine announces that he supports the legalization of drugs.  By taking out the profit motive, the Sicilian Mafia will no longer have any incentive to sell drugs in the inner city.  Carmine shoots to top of the polls.  Now leading by 11%, Carmine marries his campaign manager (Mimi Rogers) and returns to his ancestral home of Sicily for a combination honeymoon and fact-finding tour.  The Mafia, realizing that Carmine is serious about legalizing drugs, conspires to frame him for the murder of a flower boy.  If that doesn’t work, they are willing to resort to other, more permanent, methods to prevent Carmine from ever becoming mayor.

The Palermo Connection is an unfairly overlooked film from Francesco Rosi, an Italian director who specialized in political controversy.  Though The Palermo Connection was sold as a thriller, Rosi was more interested in showing how organized crime, big business, government corruption, the war on drugs, and the poverty of the inner cities are all intricately connected.  When Carmine arrives in Palermo, Rosi contrasts the outer beauty of Sicily with the desperate lives of the junkies living there.  The pace may be too slow for action movie fans but Rosi gives the audience much to think about.  This is probably the last film you would ever expect to star James Belushi but he gives a strong and committed performance as Carmine.

The Palermo Connection, which was co-written by Gore Vidal, is a good film that predates The Wire in its examination of how greed, drugs, poverty, and racism all come together to victimize the most marginalized members of society.

Rockin’ in the Film World #10: THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT (20th Century Fox 1956)

cracked rear viewer

Frank Tashlin  combines two of 50’s America’s favorite obsessions, sex & rock’n’roll, in THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT, Jayne Mansfield’s first headlight headlining role. When Jayne sashays across the screen, turning heads, melting ice, boiling milk, and cracking eyeglasses a star is born, in CinemaScope and gorgeous DeLuxe color. But the film is stacked with more than just Jayne’s Twin Peaks; it features performances from rock royalty like Little Richard, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, The Platters, and a host of others.

The plot is very simple (and very familiar): a goony gangster (broadly played by a hilarious Edmond O’Brien ) hires a down-on-his-luck agent (Tom Ewell of THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH) to make a singing star out of his honey (our girl Jayne). Only problem is, Jayne can’t carry a tune in a bucket, shattering lightbulbs whenever she starts to warble. Seems she doesn’t want to be a star…

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Trailer: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Marvel released the 2nd full trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is looking pretty good. It seems that having proved himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has received some cool upgrades to his Spider-Man suit. While Peter appears to want to join the Avengers, Stark would have him just keep an eye on New York City and some of the more low-level stuff. When The Vulture (Michael Keaton) threatens the city, Spider-Man may be the only one to stop him. Then again, it does look like there’s an Iron-Man team up here, which is sweet. This trailer is feeling like some of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man line.

The film comes out on July 7th. Enjoy.

Music Video of the Day: Balls To The Wall by Accept (1984, dir. Julien Temple)

It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this music video. The headbangers in front of the wall will always be funny to me.

According to Wikipedia, this was filmed in London during January of 1984. I’m not sure if that meant in a studio or not because if you look carefully at the left-hand side at the beginning, you’ll see what looks like car headlights going past. Maybe they did film this outside. That really is lead-singer Udo Dirkschneider riding the wrecking ball. Here’s a quote from him about it taken from Songfacts:

“It was very cold in London, near the airport,” Udo told us. “It was very cold, and especially when I had to step on this wrecking ball. That was something else. I said, ‘Please, no, I don’t want to do this!’ But in the end, I was young, so I said, ‘Okay, here we go.’ But it was freezing like hell.”

It would explain what looks like rain on the lens near the end of the video. There also appears to be wind since it does knock over something onstage and you can see their hair blowing to the right. It could be simulated, but given the quote from Dirkschneider, I’m not sure.

If you’re curious, and the video wasn’t clear about it, here is a quote from guitarist Wolf Hoffmann about the meaning of the song:

“We’ve always been interested in politics and in human rights and things like that, so a lot of the lyrics that we had in those days, and to the end actually, were dealing with human rights, for instance, and that’s really what ‘Balls To The Wall’ is all about. ‘One day the tortured will stand up and kick some ass!'”

In other words, it’s their version of We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister. Makes sense that Julien Temple directed this video seeing as he also did Breaking The Law for Judas Priest. It would be fun to go through a retrospective of Julien Temple’s music videos. You wanna see him do ABC? You can. How about some Stray Cats? Yep! Dexy’s Midnight Runners? Absolutely. Sade? No problem. Kenny Rogers? Of course. Janet Jackson? Sure! It goes on and on. In the meantime, enjoy this video.