A Movie A Day #113: Mother Night (1996, directed by Keith Gordon)

Four years after she played the mysterious (and dead) Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee starred as another mysterious (and possibly dead) woman in Mother Night.

Lee is cast as Helga Noth, the German wife of American expatriate Harold W. Campbell (Nick Nolte).  Harold is a playwright, living in Berlin and doing propaganda broadcasts for the Nazis.  Working with Frank Wirtanen (John Goodman), a military intelligence officer, Campbell has developed a series of verbal tics that are meant to secretly deliver information to the Allied Forces.  It is never clear whether Harold’s information serves any real purpose just as it is left ambiguous as to whether Harold believes any of the anti-Semitic propaganda that he broadcasts over the airwaves.  Working as both a propagandist and a double agent, Harold serves both the Allies and the Axis.

In the final days of the war, Helga is reportedly killed on the Eastern Front and Harold is captured by the Americans.  Frank arranges for Harold to be quietly sent to New York City but tells him that the government will never admit that they used him as a double agent.

Harold spends the next fifteen years living an isolated life in New York.  His only friend is an elderly painter, Kraft (Alan Arkin), with whom he plays chess.  Eventually, Harold opens up to the painter and talks about his past.  Kraft, for his own shady reasons, reveals Harold’s identity to a group of neo-Nazis.  Though Harold initially wants nothing to do with them, this changes when they reveal that they have Helga.

Or do they?  Almost no one in Mother Night is who they claim or what they seem to be, especially not Harold.

Based on a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night suffers from the same uneven quality that seems to afflict most films based on Vonnegut’s work.  It is easy to go overboard when it comes to bringing Vonnegut’s unique mix of drama and satire to the screen and Mother Night does that in a few scenes, especially once Harold reaches New York.  It is still an intriguing and thought-provoking film, though.  Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances as Harold and Sheryl Lee does a good job in a difficult role.

The pinnacle of Vonnegut films remains George Roy Hill’s version of Slaughterhouse-Five but Mother Night is still superior to something like Alan Rudolph’s adaptation of Breakfast of Champions.

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter)

Twin Peaks

Here we go, with the second to last episode of the season.

“Miss Twin Peaks” starts with Leo (Eric Da Re), chained up as punishment for attacking Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh – The Day After Tomorrow). While chained, he unlocks the chains for Major Briggs (Don Davis), and sets him free.

“Save Shelly.” he whispers, as Major Briggs rises to his feet and wanders off. Some time later, Windom Earle returns, asking how Briggs escaped. He would normally use the taser user he has on Leo, but has come up with a better idea – a better game – one that involves a bag of something he shakes with a sinister smile. A bag, worse than electricity? Doesn’t seem so bad, so far.

We cut to the Double R Cafe, where Norma presents some pies to Annie (Heather Graham – Horns, The Hangover) and Shelly (Madchen Amick) for the Miss Twin Peaks event. She tells them that she expects to see them in the Winner’s Circle. The pagent would be good for the town, to heal over the loss of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). When asked if the town will honor her on the 20th Anniversary of her Miss Twin Peaks win, Norma laughs it off as bribery, as she’s a judge this year.


At the Great Northern, a barefoot Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is sitting by the fire and dressed in red, a very subtle suggestion to her being a new woman. Ben (Richard Beymer) steps into the room with a series of books in each hand. He tells her they are the collected religious works of the world – The Bible, The Koran, The Talmud, The Tao-Te-Ching, among others. He carries these in the hopes that he’ll find the good within himself on reading them, but in explaining this to Audrey, she appears distracted. He notes this to be because of Jack (Billy Zane), who’s flown off to Brazil. She still misses him fondly, and fears she’ll never see him again. Ben promises her she will, but Audrey waves it off.

Changing the subject, Audrey informs her father that there’s a connection between the bank and the Packards, which Ben will look into. Ben asks Audrey if she’s considered joining the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant. Although Audrey scoffs at the idea, Ben explains that they could use the Pageant to voice the town’s concerns over preserving the wildlife and the Horne family plans. She reluctantly agrees to do so.

Meanwhile, Andy (Harry Goaz) is in the precinct, staring at the drawing recreation from the Owl Cave. Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) explains to Truman (Michael Ontkean) that on the night of Josie’s (Joan Chen – Demolition Man) death, he saw BOB (Frank Silva) appear. He theorizes that perhaps Josie’s fear is what attracted BOB, and ultimately caused her death. Listening in via the hidden mic in the room, Windom Earle now has what he needs. If he can reach the Black Lodge and BOB, his vengeance against Dale Cooper will be complete. He celebrates this briefly, and we can see that the bag he had is now empty. As he approaches Leo, he bids him farewell, telling him he liked him, but that he has to pay for letting Briggs free.


We follow a line of string that appears to be tied to Leo’s teeth, going up and over him and leading to a box full of tarantulas! Nope! Nope, a million times, Nope. I would have rather Windom Earle just set the cabin on fire and leave Leo inside. Poor Leo. Yeah, he was a douche, but even he didn’t deserve all that, whatever his fate becomes.

A dance rehearsal for the Pageant. Donna and Shelly can’t help but laugh at all of the awkward positions that Tim Pinkle (David L. Lander) has the girls doing, while Nadine (Wendy Robie) and Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson) are upset at it all. Tim has a tiny loss of composure when questioned about his methods. Lana (Robyn Lively) appears to be really into it, however, probably under the impression she’s already won. She also happens to be the only dancer in heels, for some reason.


The judges – Norma, Mayor Dwayne Milford (John Boylan), and Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan) are looking on. Norma has to step away to handle some business, which leaves just the right opening for Lana to step in and improve her chances on becoming Miss Twin Peaks She mentions there’s something she’s looking for in the storage room, and asks Dick for some help. He joins her in the storage room with a flashlight. Lana’s communication style is through touch (because let’s face it, it’s easier to convince someone of something if there’s the slightest physical contact involved), and through this, she finds what she’s looking for. She doesn’t even need the flashlight to do so.

In Cooper’s room, Cooper records a message to Diane explaining that they’re working hard on the cave etching, and that Windom Earle is looking for the same source that they are. Should it fall into his hands, the ramifications could be disastrous. On a side note, Cooper praises Annie, who he’s very much warming up to.

Annie appears at Cooper’s door. He lets her in and she states she needs help with the Public Speaking part of the contest. Cooper explains that the Ghostwood Development could cause some problems for the town and the wildlife. In the midst of their conversation, Cooper makes a move.

“I don’t want to talk about trees anymore.” He simply says before kissing her. She leads him to his bed and they have a passionate moment together. I hope he remembered to pause his tape to Diane.

We’re watching a home movie, of Nadine and how she tackled Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) in wrestling class and fell in love. She and Nadine are in a room with Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), Ed (Everett McGill) and Norma. Ed reveals to Nadine that he’s going to get married to Norma. Nadine’s stare is intense, but she smiles through it, holding on to Mike’s hand a little too tightly.

“Really?! Well that’s wonderful Eddie, ‘cause me and Mike are getting married, too!”, she says. You can hear the bones in Mike’s hand crack, and he wails in pain.

Major Briggs stumbles through the forest, finally making it to a road. He arrives just in time for Hawk (Michael Horse) to almost hit him with his Patrol Truck. Hawk gets out and puts Briggs into the truck.

The next scene has Briggs shivering and drinking water. It’s almost the same kind of shiver that Pete had. Cooper inspects Briggs and notes that he’s been shot full of Haloperidol, the same drug that the One Armed Man used to keep MIKE at bay. They try to find out where Windom Earle took Briggs, but they can’t get much from him. Andy comes back into the room, checking on the pictograph. Cooper says that if they aren’t at the right place at the right time, they might be able to find their way into the Black Lodge.

Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie), Pete (Jack Nance), and Andrew (Dan O’Herlihy) are trying to open the little box that was inside of the original black box given to Catherine. After a bit of frustration, Andrew throws the tiny metal box to the ground and shoots it with his revolver. This breaks the mini box open and reveals a key. Catherine puts the key inside a glass cake container, in full sight so that no one will steal it.

Donna comes downstairs in the Hayward house, dressed for the Pageant. She confronts her parents, demanding to know what the deal is between her mom (Mary Jo Deschanel) and Ben Horne. The parents won’t tell her, so she decides to get her answers from Ben.

Back at the precinct, Cooper realizes that one element was misread. He’s able to deduce that the map refers to Jupiter and Saturn coming into conjunction. They also learn that entering the portal requires Fear and/or Love (“Fear and Love open the doors.”, Briggs mumbles). If Windom Earle takes the Queen – in this case, Miss Twin Peaks – to the doorway, he should be able to get it to open. At least, that’s what I made of it. As they discuss this, Andy has a relegation, but is unable to share it, as Andy knocks over the bonsai plant. The plant breaks, and reveals Windom Earle’s bug. Now aware that he’s been listening in the whole time, Cooper, Truman and Andy head over to Miss Twin Peaks Pageant.

Here we are at the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant. The ladies of Twin Peaks are having an opening dance number. The show is underway, and there are a number of things occurring. Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) notices the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) sitting by the bar, but then also notices her standing about 30 feet near him, by the restroom. When Bobby approaches the log lady by the door, we find it’s actually Window Earle, who bonks him on the head with his log, knocking him out.


Meanwhile, Lucy is dancing on stage. For someone due to have a baby in less than a year, she handles herself well on stage. Cooper and Truman arrive, and Truman notes that they have deputies surrounding the place. After her number is Lana’s, which is a bellydance that entrances the audience and the male judges. Lana’s gaze is focused primarily on Dick and Dwayne as she dances. Andy arrives on the scene, looking for Cooper to tell him what he was unable to say before.

Audrey gives a short speech on fighting for the environment, before leaving and seeing her dad before heading back out. Backstage, Donna confronts Ben, and asks him for the truth. We all learn that she is in fact Ben Horne’s daughter and Audrey’s half-sister. She runs off in tears before any major explanation can be given.

Annie gives a moving speech, one that catches Dick’s attention. Audrey also has a great speech. Lucy meets with Dick and Andy backstage to inform them that Andy will be the father of her child. Andy is surprised, and Dick is elated. Andy promises to be a great father, but he has to locate Cooper, and he leaves her standing there. It’s a humorous moment in the mix of everything.

The announcement is underway. The winner and the new Miss Twin Peaks is…..Annie Blackburn!! There’s applause from the crowd as Annie accepts her award. Lana peeks out from behind the crowd to stare at Dwayne as if to say “What happened?”.  Dwayne turns to Dick and asks him about the vote. Dick replies that Annie’s speech won him over.

The lights suddenly go out, and then flicker like a strobe. Very similar to Brian DePalma’s Carrie, we have pandemonium as everyone tries to evacuate. Nadine, standing under a ladder, is hit on the head with a sand bag, knocking her unconscious. Cooper catches sight of Windom Earle, but in trying to reach him, Earle sets of a flashbang that disorients Cooper. This gives Earle enough time to capture Annie with some chloroform and get out of the building. When Cooper comes to his senses, he tells Truman, who starts to get a perimeter setup. It’s here that Andy is finally able to reach Cooper and tell him what he found.


The puzzle they’ve been studying isn’t a puzzle at all, but a map!

So now, we come to the Season Finale (and ultimately the Series Finale) of Twin Peaks, which Lisa will close out tomorrow. Can Cooper save Annie? Can he catch Windom Earle? Is Nadine okay? What about Lucy and Andy? What about that blooming key? Will Donna confront all of her parents? Will Leo manage to escape the box of tarantulas? Hopefully, all of these will be answered.

This is my final piece on Twin Peaks. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about this show as we have writing about it. A lot of work went into this from different sides. This has been an awesome project to be a part of, and I’d like to give a quick thanks to both Lisa and Jeff for having me on board.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman

What Lisa Watched Last Night #162: Manny Dearest (dir by Chad Krowchuk)

Last night, as thunder rumbled outside and the skies were lit up by lighting, I curled up on the couch and I watched the latest Lifetime original film, Manny Dearest!

Why Was I Watching It?

A Canadian film called Manny Dearest?  As soon as I saw the title, I assumed that it had to be a sequel to Degrassi: The Next Generation, one that would follow Manny Santos as she searched for love and success in Hollywood.

(Before you say that was a silly assumption on my part, just consider the number of Degrassi actors who regularly appear on the Lifetime network.)

Anyway, it turned out that I was wrong but I was already live-tweeting the movie so I kept watching.

What Was It About?

Karen (Ashely Scott) needs someone to help watch her two sons.  Alex (Mitch Ryan) is a male nanny, otherwise known as a manny.  Now, if this was a Hallmark film, Karen and Alex would fall in love and Alex would end up dumping her fiancée, a recovering alcoholic named Greg (Woody Jeffreys).  But, since this is a Lifetime film, Alex turns out to be just a little crazy.  Not only does he become obsessed with Karen and plot to get Greg out of the picture but he also teaches Karen’s sons some questionable lessons about how to deal with bullies.

What Worked?

This was actually one of the better Lifetime films that I’ve seen this year.  Yes, it was obvious that Alex was going to turn out to be crazy but that’s Lifetime.  When you sit down to watch a Lifetime movie, you know that the nanny is always going to turn out to be crazy.  It would have been a betrayal of the audience to not have Alex turn out to be just a little insane.

Mitch Ryan did an excellent job playing Alex.  Even though he was crazy and a murderer and he regularly drugged other people, Alex was still strangely likable.  Last night, the majority of twitter was Team Alex.  We especially enjoyed it when he scared the Hell out of a bully who was giving Karen’s son a hard time.  Take that, bully!  Add to that, Alex cooked, he did the dishes, he cleaned the house, and, whenever he showed up at the house at 3 in the morning, he was very careful about not waking anyone up.

My favorite character was Cori (Jordan Largy), a single mother who took one look at Alex and decided that she liked what she saw.  The thing I liked about Cori is that she always said exactly what was on her mind and she didn’t let anything hold her back.  Cori was the type of person who, when she brought her daughters over to play with Karen’s sons, greeted Alex by saying, “We thought we’d come by for a quickie.”

At this point, it’s a bit of a cliché for me to praise a Lifetime film for taking place in a nice house but, seriously, Karen had a really nice house.

What Did Not Work?

I guess some people would say that it was a problem that the villain was a hundred times more likable than the people he was menacing but not me.  This is was a fun and entertaining Lifetime movie.  As far as I’m concerned, it all worked.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

At one point, when Alex tells Cori that he’s not interested, Cori responds with, “Your loss.”  I once said the same thing while breaking up with someone and I felt good about myself for a whole month afterward.

Lessons Learned

I like to think that, between watching Degrassi and Lifetime films like this one, I’ve learned a good deal about Canada.  For me, the most Canadian moment of Manny Dearest came when the police approached Alex and, despite having guns, did not open fire on him.  Restraint, it’s very Canadian.

Love you, Canada!

Song of the Day – “Go” by Moby

I wanted to throw this one in before we’re all done with the Twin Peaks marathon this month. From the very first episode of the show, there was something strangely familiar to me about Angelo Badalamenti’s theme for Laura Palmer. I found out that I already heard a version of it years ago, via Moby’s “I Love to Score” album. He had a song called “Go”, which uses the theme. Of course, after a month of everything Twin Peaks, it’s hard to get it out of your head.

Music Video of the Day: Honey Honey by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)

I messed up again, because cut back to 1974, and there appears to be a music video for their song Honey Honey.

Nothing especially notable about it other than that Frida appears to have been shot with a tranquilizer before filming. They also appear to be shooting on a set designed to see if the cinematographer can keep camera reflections from showing up.

Oh, and there’s this.

Why? Was it completely necessary to show the world Agnetha and Frida’s orgasm face just because there’s some heavy breathing in the song?

So yeah, a decade before Cyndi Lauper would do this same thing in a car for She Bop, Agnetha and Frida of ABBA did it too.

She Bop by Cyndi Lauper (1984)

At least the costumes are fine. Better than the unfortunate outfits Bucks Fizz had to wear in 1981. I also call Bucks Fizz, ABBA 2.0, which is why I am mentioning them here.

The Land Of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz (1981)


ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  3. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  10. Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  11. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  12. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  13. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  14. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  15. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  17. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  18. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  19. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  22. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  23. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  26. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  30. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  31. Fernando by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström) + Spanish Version
  32. Dancing Queen by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  33. That’s Me by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  34. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  35. The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  36. Thank You For The Music/Gracias Por La Música by ABBA (1977/1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  37. One Man, One Woman by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  38. Take A Chance On Me by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  39. Eagle by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  40. Summer Night City by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  41. Estoy Soñando by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  42. Chiquitia by ABBA (1979, dir. ???)
  43. Does Your Mother Know by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  44. Voulez-Vous by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)