Film Review: A Tale of Two Coreys (dir by Steven Huffacker)


I just finished watching Lifetime’s first “big” film of the year, A Tale of Two Coreys, and I am probably just as shocked as anyone to say, “It wasn’t bad.”

In fact, I would even say that it was pretty good.

Shocking, I know.

A Tale of Two Coreys, of course, is a film about the tumultuous friendship between actors Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.  They were stars in the 80s and outcasts by the 90s.  They were infamous for their struggles with drugs and all the other demons that come with being famous at a young age.  Eventually, Feldman ended up in the direct-to-video dungeon while Haim found himself essentially unemployable.  Somewhat inevitably, they eventually found themselves reunited via reality television.  Corey Haim died in 2010, at the age of 38.  After his death, Feldman announced that, at the height of their stardom, both he and Haim were victimized by Hollywood pedophiles.

Over the past few years, Lifetime has aired several celebrity biopics and a few “unauthorized” movies about the behind-the-scenes drama on TV shows like Saved By The Bell, Full House, and Beverly Hills 90210.  With the exception of the 90210 movie, none of them have been particularly memorable.  Too often, they promised the “true story,” just to deliver a watered down version of what everyone already knew.  Combine that with some questionable casting choices and you’ll understand why veteran Lifetime watches often roll their eyes when Lifetime announces another celebrity biopic.

Somehow, A Tale of Two Coreys manages to escape the Lifetime biopic curse.

Now, just to make clear,  A Tale Of Two Coreys does not name names.  There’s a scene in which a Hollywood executive leads Corey Haim (played, as a teenager, by Justin Ellings) into a trailer but the man is never identified by name and the scene is shot in such a way that we don’t even get a clear look at his face.  Later, both Feldman (played, as a teen, by Elijah Marcano) and Haim discuss some of the new “friends” that they’ve acquired since becoming stars.  Again, no names are dropped but it’s not hard to read between the lines.  It’s not until they’re adults and reality show co-stars that Feldman (now played by Scott Bosely) and Haim (Casey Leach) discuss what happened to them when they were younger.

Of course, famous people do pop up throughout the film.  Brandon Howard plays Michael Jackson in two scenes.  Jennifer Peo plays Carrie Fisher, who is seen telling Feldman to get off the drugs.  If you watch carefully, an actor playing Tom Hanks shows up in the background of one scene.  He doesn’t get any lines but he certainly does get annoyed with Feldman.

The film continually returns to the theme that both Feldman and Haim were, essentially, dropped into the middle of Hollywood without any supervision.  Feldman’s parents (Ashley Scott and Patrick Muldoon) are portrayed as being leeches, more concerned with the money that Feldman could bring than Feldman’s mental or emotional health.  On the other hand, Haim’s parents (Paula Lindberg and Brian Huskey) are portrayed as being loving but hopelessly naive about the world that their son has entered.  The end result is that neither set of parents were there to provide any sort of guidance to their children.

It’s a deeply melancholy portrait of fame with Haim and Feldman quickly going from being innocent children to jaded, coke-snorting adolescents to eventually becoming adults who still haven’t come to terms with past.  Admittedly, their stardom was a little before my time so I can’t really attest as to whether the film is a hundred percent accurate but director Steven Huffacker kept the story moving at a steady and tragically inevitable pace and all four of the actors who played Feldman and Haim did a good job of bringing their characters to life.

All in all, it was a surprisingly good film.

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Cleaning Out The DVR: Deadly Exchange (dir by Tom Shell)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 181 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 1st, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Deadly Exchange off of the Lifetime Movie Network on December 6th, 2017!)

 

Thinking about opening up your home to a foreign exchange student?

Personally, I think that’s a great idea.  During my junior year of high school, I took an English class with a South African exchange student named Sean.  He was a swimmer with a charming accent and a killer smile and needless to say, nearly everyone in the school was in love with him.  He once approached my at a party, looked down at the diamond heart pendant that fell right above my cleavage, and said, “I like those,” before winking and moving on.  With his accent, he could get away with it.  He left after a semester, leaving many a broken heart behind.

So, I say open up your home to those foreign exchange students.  However, Deadly Exchange says, “Not so fast!”

Deadly Exchange is an example of a “Be Careful Who You Let Into Your House” Lifetime film.  Samantha (Lindsay Hartley) thinks it’ll be good idea to serve as host to a foreign exchange student.  Both her husband and her oldest daughter have died and her other daughter, Blake (Victoria Konefal), is still struggling to deal with the loss.  When Chloe (Valentina Novakovic) arrives from the UK, she almost seems too go to be true.  She’s nice, polite, and, like me, she has red hair.  Chloe is soon encouraging Blake to break out of her shell and hang out with more people than just her geeky friend, Jack (Rhys Matthew Bond).  With the help of Chloe, Blake even becomes a cheerleader!

However, there are a few drawbacks to having Chloe in the house.  For instance, Chloe has a habit of stealing people’s phones, drugging their drinks, flirting with their boyfriends, and drowning their other friends.  Whenever Samantha starts to get too concerned about Chloe and her influence on her daughter, an email shows up from Chloe’s parents, suggesting that Samantha throw Chloe a birthday party or do something else that would generally cheer Chloe up.  Of course, what Samantha doesn’t realize is that those emails are being sent by Chloe herself…

I really liked Deadly Exchange, largely because it was a good, old-fashioned Lifetime melodrama, one that didn’t take itself too seriously and wasn’t worried about going totally over the top.  Chloe may have been a little bit disturbed and she did kill a few people but she did it with so much style that it was fun to watch.  When Chloe wasn’t busy with murder and email, she was subtly but cleverly driving a wedge between Samantha, Blake, and everyone they knew.  Any experienced Lifetime viewer knew exactly what Chloe was doing and what would probably happen as a result but, largely thanks to Valentina Novakovic’s cheerfully evil performance, it was still a lot of fun to watch.  Of course, with a film like this, the villain is always the most interesting character but, as her unwitting victims, Linday Hartley, Victoria Konefal, Jason-Shane Scott, and Rhys Matthew Bond were all sympathetic and made a good impression as well.

(That said, I was definitely Team Chloe for most of the film.)

Deadly Exchange premiered during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve so I imagine a lot of people missed it when it originally aired.  But, since Lifetime repeats all of their movies about a hundred times a month, it’ll probably air again soon.  Keep an eye out for it!

 

Recipe for Disaster: THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (20th Century-Fox 1972)


cracked rear viewer

Although 1970’s AIRPORT is generally credited as the first “disaster movie”, it was 1972’s THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE that made the biggest splash for the genre. Producer Irwin Allen loaded up his cast with five- count ’em!- Academy Award winners, including the previous year’s winner Gene Hackman (THE FRENCH CONNECTION ). The special effects laden extravaganza wound up nominated for 9 Oscars, winning 2, and was the second highest grossing film of the year, behind only THE GODFATHER!

And unlike many of the “disasters” that followed in its wake, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE holds up surprisingly well. The story serves as an instruction manual for all disaster movies to come. First, introduce your premise: The S.S. Poseidon is sailing on its final voyage, and Captain Leslie Nielsen is ordered by the new ownership to go full steam ahead, despite the ship no longer being in ship-shape. (You won’t be able to take…

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Cleaning Out The DVR: Tiny House of Terror (dir by Paul Shapiro)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 181 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 1st, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Tiny House of Terror off of Lifetime on June 29th, 2017!)

Before I start this review, I have to admit that, when it comes to the tiny house movement, I lost interest as soon as I saw the words “tiny” and “house.”  I mean, I understand that they’re supposed to be better for the environment and easier to take care of.  And I get that right now, a lot of people are pretending that they don’t care about material possessions and all that stuff.  But, honestly, the only reason I would want a tiny house would be so I could keep it in the backyard of a bigger house.

That said, despite my lack of interest in the tiny house movement, I was a bit intrigued by the idea of a Lifetime movie set in a tiny house.  After all, one of the great things about Lifetime films is that everyone, regardless of how poor or criminal they may be, usually lives in a large and tastefully furnished house.  How, I wondered, would Lifetime handle setting a film in the type of house that is largely favored by retirees, hippies, and displaced persons?

Well, I’m glad to say that Lifetime handled it pretty well.  Of course, they were clever enough not to set the entire film in a tiny house.  There are several scenes that take place in a technologically advanced mansion and there are also several scenes that take place in Gravity Hill, a lovely little town where a magnetic field regularly plays havoc with electricity, cars, and cell phone reception.  Tiny House of Terror was a surprisingly lovely film to look at.  The small town was lovely.  The scenes set in the big city were properly dark and menacing.  The finale made great use of creepy shadow and light.  Credited with cinematography is Jon Joffin and he certainly did a great job.

The film itself tells the story of Samantha (Francia Raisa), who was married to a tech billionaire named Kyle (Jesse Hutch).  When Kyle disappears while climbing a mountain, Samantha is left distraught.  Even worse, she finds herself a prisoner of her technologically advanced mansion, which was apparently designed to only recognize Kyle’s voice commands.  (Imagine if Alexa suddenly got a passive aggressive attitude and you’ll understand what Samantha is going through.)  It turns out that Kyle was planning on opening up a tiny house community in Gravity Hill.  He was going to allow Samantha to do the landscaping.  Only one tiny house has been built and Samantha decides to move out there, both for her own sanity and to complete Kyle’s final project.

Of course, things are never simple in Gravity Hill.  It turns out that some people in town don’t want a tiny house community.  No sooner has Samantha moved into her tiny house then strange things start to happen.  Is it the magnetic field that’s making things (like kitchen knives) fly at Samantha or is something more sinister happening?  Is Samantha being targeted and does it have anything to do with Kyle’s mysterious disappearance?

I liked Tiny House of Terror far more than I thought I would.  Because it’s structured as a whodunit and there are a few flashbacks and time jumps, the film require a bit more concentration than the typical Lifetime film but that’s okay.  It pays off in the end.  Francia Raisa did a good job in the lead role, as did Nanzeen Contractor in the role of her sister.  I may not care much about the tiny house movement but Tiny House of Terror not only held my interest but rewarded it as well.

 

Truly An Upper “Crust” Comic


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

There are those who think that autobiographical comics are essentially over and done with, and in darker moments of my past I confess to having perhaps felt that way myself, but in recent years cartoonists such as Noah Van Sciver, November Garcia, Mimi Pond, and Max Clotfelter — to name just a few — have done much to re-invigorate a genre that, for many years, Gabrielle Bell and John Porcellino were essentially carrying on their shoulders after the ’90s autobio boom went bust. Now, I would suggest, it’s time to add the name of Sarah Romano Diehl to the list of the new wave of illustrators who have found that the most fertile creative ground to exercise their considerable storytelling “chops” on is to be found within their own lives.

The Seattle-based Diehl has done some interesting travelogue minis in her time, but with Crust, her new self-published memoir…

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What Lisa Watched Last Night #173: Blood, Sweat, and Lies (dir by Lane Shefter Bishop)


On Friday night, I watched the first Lifetime film of 2018, Blood, Sweat, and Lies!

Why Was I Watching It?

I just told you.  It was the first Lifetime film of 2018.  There was no way I couldn’t watch it.

Of course, there was a slight conflict in that Blood, Sweat, and Lies premiered at the exact same time as the U.S. Figure Skating Championship.  So, while Blood, Sweat, and Lies was originally airing, I was busy yelling at the judges for the way they treated Ashley Wagner.  (Whatever controversy she may find herself in, I will always be on the side of Ashley Wagner.)  However, as soon as the I finished yelling, I switched over to the DVR and I watched Blood, Sweat, and Lies.

What Was It About?

Once upon a time, Mel (Hannah Barefoot) was a college track star.  In fact, she was such a committed athlete that she decided to major in something easy so she would have more time to run track.  Apparently, in the weird, alternative universe that this film takes place in, art history is an easy major.  However, Mel quickly fell in love with art and, when she graduated from college, she gave up athletics to become a curator.  (“That’s all you can do with an art history degree,” she said with a laugh while I, the proud recipient of a degree in art history, tried to resist the temptation to throw a show at the TV.)

So now, Mel is a successful curator but she misses being an athlete.  When she breaks up with her boyfriend, she decides to start a new chapter in her life.  She joins the local gym.  She gets a personal trainer named Trey (Adam Huber).  Since this is a Lifetime movie, it takes Trey about 60 minutes to go from being a supportive nice guy to a full-on psycho stalker.  When Mel starts dating a muscular art collector named Adam (Matt Cedeño), Trey is not happy…

What Worked?

I think the biggest mistake that anyone could make with Blood, Sweat, and Lie would be to take any of it too seriously.  If you take the movie seriously, then you’ll probably complain that it was predictable, the plot was full of holes, and Mel should have known better than to have trusted Trey in the first place.

However, if you’re like me, you’ll assume that this film was meant to be at least a little bit satirical and you’ll find a lot to be amused by.  For instance, consider the opening scene in which Mel is seen holding a knife and smearing what appears to be blood on her face.  At first, we assume that she’s just a typical Lifetime movie psycho but it’s soon revealed that she’s actually just trying to make a cake.

Or how about the scene where Trey and Adam meet at the gym and proceed to exchange passive aggressive insults.  That was like Overage Dudebros Gone Wild.

Or there’s Mel’s best friend, Leslie (Briana Lane), who is not only a brilliant hacker but who also apparently shares every single thought that pops into her head.  Often times, I got the feeling that Leslie understood that she was just a character in a movie and she was actually pretty okay with that.

And, of course, there’s the scene where, while Mel and Adam make love, Trey sits in his office and monitors Mel’s heart rate.  It was strange, wrong, weird, and hilarious all at the same time.  And really, that’s pretty much a perfect description of the entire film.  It was just so melodramatic and full of over the top emoting that it was hard not to find something about it to enjoy.

(Plus, while I was watching the movie, I came up with a drinking game where you take a drink every time Adam or Trey calls someone “bro.”)

What Did Not Work?

Art history is not an easy major!  (Admittedly, it was easy for me but I understand that there were others who definitely found it a little bit difficult.)

And you can do a lot of stuff with an art history degree … well, maybe not a lot of stuff but definitely some stuff…  Actually, I guess the film kind of has a point as far as that’s concerned.  But still…!

“OMG!  JUST LIKE ME!” Moments

Despite the fact that Mel and I were both art history majors, I actually found myself relating more to Leslie.  This was largely because both Leslie and I tend to say, “O. M. G” in politic conversation.

Lessons Learned

Art history majors never get the respect they deserve.