Lisa’s Week In Review — 1/8/18 — 1/14/18

The second week of January, 2018, has come to a close and it’s time for me to again share my week in review!

This week was okay.  Or, at the very least, it was okay for me.  Everyone else in the country seems to miserable but I spent last week with a terrible cold so I’m just happy to be able to go outside again.  I’ve been told that there’s a fairly good chance that we’ll get some snow tomorrow night so I’m ending this week looking forward to the next!

Movies I Watched

  1. 10/31 (2017)
  2. American Made (2017)
  3. Cat People (1982)
  4. The Commuter (2018)
  5. Crimson Peak (2015)
  6. The Cutting Edge (1992)
  7. Degrassi Goes Hollywood (2009)
  8. Disturbing Behavior (1998)
  9. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  10. Moses (1976)
  11. Empire of the Sharks (2017)
  12. House of the Witch (2017)
  13. The Phenix City Story (1955)
  14. The Tower (1993)
  15. Wicked Moms Club (2017)
  16. Wild Things (1998)


TV Shows I Watched

(I watched way too much TV this week.  I probably need to cut back on the true crime.)

  1. The 1980s: The Deadliest Decade
  2. The 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards
  3. 48 Hours on ID
  4. 60 Days In
  5. The Amazing Race
  6. American Monster
  7. Ask the Undertaker — Is Ask The Undertaker strictly a Dallas show or do people watch it nation-wide?  I’ve recently become oddly addicted to this weekly talk show.  It’s sponsored by Golden Gates Funeral Home and I have to admit that one reason I watch this show is because I enjoy watching the professional Golden Gate pallbearers dance as they carry the coffin out to its final destination.
  8. The Bachelor 22
  9. Corrupt Crimes
  10. Deadly Women
  11. Evil Lives Here
  12. Forensic Files
  13. Ghost Whisperer
  14. Hell’s Kitchen 17
  15. Intervention
  16. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  17. Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery
  18. Killer Mysteries
  19. King of the Hill
  20. The Magicians
  21. Murder Among Friends
  22. People Magazine Investigates
  23. The Perfect Murder
  24. Project Runway All-Stars — This season was apparently shot before Ronan Farrow’s expose of Harvey Weinstein was published.  As Project Runway is a Weinstein Company production and Harvey’s wife, Georgina Chapman, is one of the judges, watching this season feels more than a little awkward.
  25. Saved By The Bell
  26. See No Evil
  27. South Park
  28. Twin Peaks: The Return
  29. Undercover High
  30. Village of the Damned
  31. Web Of Lies
  32. The X-Files — For some reason, at least one reader got really worked up over my review this week.

Books I Read

  1. The Legend of Pope Joan (1998) by Peter Stanford
  2. Night of the Ripper by Robert Bloch (1984)
  3. Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost (2017) — I’m glad I finally read this because it actually does answer a few of the questions left unanswered by the finale of Twin Peaks: The Return.  While it doesn’t shed much light on what was going on with Audrey, it does explain a bit more about what happened in New Mexico at the end of Part 8.
  4. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (1966)

Music I Listened To

  1. Alan Walker
  2. Andras Fox
  3. Arianna Grande
  4. Big Data
  5. Britney Spears
  6. Brooks
  7. The Chemical Brothers
  8. Crud
  9. Daft Punk
  10. Dream Wife
  11. Ed Sheeran
  12. Elle King
  13. Ellie Goulding
  14. Emanuele Braveri
  15. Fitz and the Tantrums
  16. Future
  17. Galantis
  18. Gwen Stefani
  19. Imhotep
  20. Jakalope
  21. Johnny Cash
  22. Joywave
  23. Kelly Clarkson
  24. Khrebto
  25. Kygo
  26. Leonard Cohen — Jeff has gotten me hooked on Leonard Cohen.
  27. Lindsey Stirling
  28. Lynn
  29. Martin Garrix
  30. Moby
  31. Mystery Skulls
  32. No Doubt
  33. P!nk
  34. Paul van Dyk
  35. R3HAB
  36. Raja Kumari
  37. Rebecca Louise Burch
  38. Selena Gomez
  39. Sleigh Bells
  40. Son Lux
  41. Siouxsie and the Banshees — It’s divoon, oh, it’s serene…
  42. Taylor Swift
  43. The Weeknd
  44. Whales

Links From Last Week

  1. Tuesday was National Take A Poem To Work Day so I shared one my poems over on SyFyDesigns.
  2. On The Film Experience, Nathaniel Rogers shares 50 movies that received no Oscar nominations but which are today better regarded than those that did.
  3. From Variety, it looks like a Black Widow stand-alone film is finally going to happen!
  4. My friend Trevor Wells also reviews Lifetime movies.  Here’s his review of Fatal Defense!
  5. On her photography site, my sister Erin shared several black-and-white pictures this week.  This one was my favorite.
  6. Eddie of Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys) shares his most anticipated films of 2018.
  7. That Darn Girl shared her thoughts on this weekend’s Lifetime films.
  8. Horrorpedia has become one of the best horror resources around.  They’re updated daily so be sure to check them up and see what’s new.

Links From The Site:

  1. Erin took a look at the Carter Brown covers of Robert McGinnis.
  2. Gary reviewed Unholy Rollers and Red Dust.
  3. Ryan shared his thoughts on Shit and Piss, Ruffians, and his weekly reading round-up.
  4. Patrick reviewed Bad Apples and Dance Baby Dance.
  5. I shared what I promised would be my last post about Twin Peaks: The Return.
  6. Starting my look back at 2017, I shared my picks for the 16 worst films of the year, the best in SyFy, my favorite songs of the year, my favorite novels of the year, and a few good things that I saw on television during the year.  My look back at 2017 concludes next week with the best nonfiction on Monday, the best in Lifetime on Wednesday, and my top 26 films of 2017 on Friday.

Have a good week, everyone!

(Want to see what I watched, read, and listened to last week?  Click here!)

Film Review: The Commuter (dir by Jaume Collet-Sera)

It’s January, which means that it’s time for another silly action movie starring Liam Neeson.  Ever since Taken was first released way back in 2008, Liam has been a regular fixture during the first few months of each new year, either killing terrorists or killing gangsters.  Regardless of the film, he’s always a world-weary guy who loves his family and who has a unique set of skills.  The specific skills may change from film to film but they all pretty much have to do with killing people.

For instance, in the latest Liam Neeson action film, The Commuter, Liam plays Michael MacCauley.  Michael may currently sell life insurance but he used to be a detective with the NYPD.  Judging by some of the things that Michael does over the course of this film, being a detective in New York City apparently requires you to have a set of skills that one would normally associate with James Bond or Jason Bourne.  However, Michael left all of that behind.  Sure, he might still get together with his former partner (Patrick Wilson) for a beer and he still complains about his former captain (Sam Neill).  But Michael’s in the insurance game now.  As he explains it, he’s nearly 60, he’s got a teenage son getting ready for college, and he has two mortgages to pay off.  Michael and his family still haven’t recovered from the recession.  Don’t get him started on Goldman Sachs…

It sure is a good thing that Michael has that good job!

Except, of course, he doesn’t.  One day, Michael arrives at the office, is given a rather weak severance package, and is told that his services will no longer be needed.  Wondering how he’s going to tell his wife and son that their lives are pretty much over, Michael wanders around New York, gets a little drunk, and then eventually boards the train that will take him back home.

Michael is a regular on the train.  As is quickly made clear, he knows all of the other regular commuters, like grizzled old Walt (Jonathan Banks) and neurotic Tony (Andy Nyman).  He’s also still enough of a cop that he notices people who are riding the train for the first time.  For instance, there’s Joanna (Vera Farmiga).  Joanna sits down in front of him and strikes up a conversation.  She asks him what he would do if she told him that there was a bag full of money in one of the air conditioning vents but that, if he takes the money, he’s agreeing to do something for her.  When Joanna gets off at the next stop, Michael checks the vent.  The money’s there and now, so is the task.  Michael has to find and identify one passenger on the train.  If he doesn’t, his family dies…

Even by the standards of a Liam Neeson action film, The Commuter is a deeply silly movie.  However, that very silliness is the key to the film’s appeal.  After getting off to a strong start with a witty montage of Michael repeatedly waking up and leaving for work day-after-day, The Commuter settles down and it seems as if it’s going to be a typical Liam Neeson action film.  However, as the film progresses, things get just more and more bizarre.  Suddenly, Michael is getting into brutal fist fights in empty train cars.  No one in the movie ever seems to care that, every time they see Michael, he’s a little bit more beaten up than he was the last time.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, trains are careening out of control, people are getting shoved in front of buses, and men with snakes tattooed on their neck are giving Michael the side eye.  At one point, Michael nearly gets crushed underneath the train and then has to run and leap to get back on.  You find yourself wondering how a 60 year-old insurance salesman is managing to do all of this.  (The answer, of course, is that he’s Liam Neeson and Liam Neeson can do anything…)

A little over an hour into the film, The Commuter hits an operatic level of silliness, one that will probably never be equaled by any other movie that Liam Neeson ever makes.  If you stop too long to think about any of it, the movie will fall apart.  To be honest, very little of what Michael does make sense but the conspiracy that’s taking advantage of him makes even less sense.  The bad guys are either incredibly stupid or incredibly brilliant, depending on what the story requires from scene to scene.

But no matter!  This is the fourth film that director Jaume Collet-Sera has made with Liam Neeson.  None of their collaborations make much sense but all of them are entertaining as long as you’re willing to sit back, relax, and don’t overthink the logic of what you’re watching.  Much as he did with The Shallows, Collet-Sera makes good use of the film’s limited setting and Neeson is his usual grizzled but charismatic self.  The Commuter is about as silly as can be but it’s an undeniably entertaining thrill ride.


Pre Code Confidential #16: Gable & Harlow in RED DUST (MGM 1932)

cracked rear viewer

(Hello, all! I haven’t been able to do much posting this week due to a severe bout of sciatica. I’m starting to feel better, and have watched tons of films while recuperating… stay tuned!)


Rising young MGM stars Clark Gable (31) and Jean Harlow (21) were red-hot in 1932, and the studio teamed them for the first time in the steamy romance RED DUST. Actually, Gable and Harlow had acted together in the previous year’s gangster epic THE SECRET SIX, but as part of the ensemble. RED DUST marked their first pairing as a screen team, and the duo make the film burn as hot as the sweltering jungle setting!

He-man Gable plays he-man Denny Carson, owner of a rubber plantation in French Indochina (now known as Vietnam). Denny’s a no-nonsense, tough taskmaster, as hard on his foremen as he is on the coolies. Into this manly milieu…

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Catching Up With The Films of 2017: American Made (dir by Doug Liman)

Oh, Tom Cruise.

You magnificent and problematic bastard.

Tom Cruise has become so associated with Scientology and all of its creepy excesses that it’s sometimes easy to forget that he’s always been a pretty good actor and he’s actually getting better with age.  In the Mission Impossible films, he’s proven that he can be a better James Bond than Daniel Craig.  In Edge of Tomorrow, he and Emily Blunt brought real depth to what could have just been another generic action film.  Even as bad as The Mummy may have been, the film failed because of a bad script and bad direction.  Tom Cruise’s performance was actually one of the few things in that movie that did work.

And then there’s American Made.

Directed by Edge of Tomorrow‘s Doug Liman, American Made is supposedly based on a true story.  At least as portrayed in this film, Barry Seal was an airline pilot who, in the late 70s, was recruited by the CIA to fly over Central America and take pictures of communist rebels.  An adrenaline junkie who had grown bored with his day job, Barry quickly agreed and even got a thrill out of the rebels shooting at him as he flew over.  Barry was then recruited by the Medellin Cartel and soon, he was flying drugs into the United States while still working for the CIA.  While the President was declaring war on drugs, Barry was attending secret meetings at the White House.  The CIA set Barry up with his own airport in Mena, Arkansas, where he both trained anti-communist guerillas and arranged for the importation of cocaine into the United States.  This went on until both the CIA and the Colombians decided that Barry knew too much and was expendable.

It’s a pretty wild story and, at the very least, some of it is true.  It is generally acknowledged that Barry Seal worked for both the CIA and the Medellin Cartel and that the little town of Mena, Arkansas was, briefly, the very unlikely center of America’s drug trade.  The film places most of the blame on Ronald Reagan and the Bushes.  Of course, if you ask any of the older folks in Arkansas, they’ll tell you that Bill Clinton not only knew about the cocaine coming in to Mena but that he also snorted at least half of it up his nose.  Director Doug Liman, himsef, has said that American Made was inspired by the life of Barry Seal but that its shouldn’t necessarily be considered a biopic.

Despite a few scenes where the film tries a bit too hard to duplicate the style of American Hustle, American Made is an entertaining film.  That’s largely due to Tom Cruise’s performance as Barry.  Cruise plays Barry Seal as man who, no matter what the situation, always managed to have a good time and, watching American Made, you can’t help but suspect that Tom Cruise was having an equally good time playing him.  Cruise is at his most relaxed and charismatic in American Made, even managing to deliver his lines in a passable Southern accent.  (The rest of the cast is less successful, too often sounding quasi-Texan even though they’re playing Arkansans.)  Even after his whole operation has fallen apart and Barry knows that his days are numbered, you get the feeling that he wouldn’t change a thing.  He just seems like he’s happy to have had the experience.

(For me, Cruise’s best moment comes after Barry crashes his airplane in a suburban neighborhood.  Stepping out the wreckage, covered in cocaine, Barry steals a kid’s bike and says, “You didn’t see me!” before triumphantly riding off.  It’s potentially cartoonish but Cruise sells the scene and makes it work.  I was sad to discover, while researching this review, that this apparently didn’t actually happen.)

I liked American Made.  It never quite becomes the savage critique of American foreign policy that it appears to want to be but it’s still an entertaining film and a reminder that, weird religious beliefs aside, Tom Cruise is actually a pretty good actor.

Weekly Reading Round-Up : 01/07/2018 – 01/13/2018, Special “Mini Kus!” Edition

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It’s just as well, I think, that pretty much nothing of any interest hit comic store shelves this week, because the other day I received a package from Latvian publisher Kus! (pronounced “Kush,” if you’re wondering) containing their latest “four-pack” of minis, and every single one of these deserves some attention. We’re gonna give them just that, but first, the particulars —

For those either not, or only vaguely, in the know, Kus! has been at it for just over ten years now, producing unique, top-quality, idiosyncratic comics from the best talent, both established and emerging, from around the globe, and their Mini Kus! line is no exception. Forget what you know, in fact, about the production values for standard mini-comics, as these are each 24 pages in length, printed in full and lavish color on superb paper between heavy-duty, cardstock covers. Production values simply don’t come any better than…

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Music Video of the Day: Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King (2015, dir by Michael Maxxis)

Since I shared the first video for Elle King’s Ex’s and Oh’s yesterday, I figured that I should probably share the second version today.

This is the official version and, while it’s nice to see men getting objectified for once, I have to admit that I still prefer the first version.  That version, after all, had zombies.

Still, enjoy!