Lisa’s Week In Review: 5/27/19 — 6/2/19

How is it June already!?

2019 is flying by a lot faster than I thought it would. This month is going to be about playing catch-up. Interestingly, this month is also going to be about going on vacation before my summer job at the Big Brother Blog begins so we’ll see how those two goals mix.  (Fear not!  Even while I’m keeping the Big Brother Blog updated, I’ll also be posting film review here and over at Horror Critic!)

I have a feeling that a lot of the stuff that I had planned for 2019 is going to end up happening in 2020 but that’s okay. Numerically, 2020 is going to be an important year for obvious reasons.  Just remember that 2020 backwards is 0202.  Regardless, it all adds up to four.

Movies I Watched:

  1. Deadly Deception (1987)
  2. The House of Fear (1945)
  3. Mommy Group Murder (2019)
  4. Monster Island (2019)
  5. Nine (2009)
  6. Party Mom (2018)
  7. Popeye Doyle (1986)
  8. Praying Mantis (1993)
  9. Shattered Innocence (1988)
  10. SnakeEater III; His Law (1993)
  11. West Side Story (1961)
  12. Wonderland (2003)

Televisions Shows I Watched:

  1. The Amazing Race 31
  2. American Monster
  3. A.P. Bio
  4. Archer
  5. The Bachelorette
  6. Cheaters
  7. Chernobyl
  8. Degrassi
  9. DFW Golf Weekly
  10. The Face Of Evil
  11. Face the Truth
  12. Fear the Walking Dead
  13. Fosse/Verdon
  14. Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back
  15. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  16. The Judge
  17. King of the Hill
  18. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
  19. Open House NYC
  20. Paradise Hotel
  21. Seinfeld
  22. Shipping Wars
  23. The Spanish Princess
  24. Texas Bucket List
  25. True Crime Files
  26. Twin Peaks: The Return
  27. Vida
  28. Yolo, TX

Books I Read:

  1. The Awakening (1899) by Kate Chopin
  2. Doctor Sleep (2013) by Stephen King
  3. The Shining (1977) by Stephen King

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Armin van Buuren
  2. Banks
  3. Big Data
  4. Bikini Kill
  5. Billie Eilish
  6. Britney Spears
  7. The Chemical Brothers
  8. Gwen Stefani
  9. Hrdza
  10. Jakalope
  11. Katy Perry
  12. Moby
  13. Panic! At The Disco
  14. Patti Smith
  15. Siouxsie and the Banshees
  16. Sleater-Kinney
  17. Sleigh Bells
  18. The Slits
  19. Steve Aoki
  20. Taylor Swift
  21. Tiesto
  22. UPSAHL

Links From Last Week:

  1. On her photography site, Erin shared America, Empty Room, Majesty, Searching Bird, Garden Path, Patio in the Rain, and My Favorite Turtle!
  2. I reviewed the latest episode of the Amazing Race!
  3. On my music site, I shared songs from Letters From Home Singers, Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith, Bikini Kill, Redbone, BANKS, and Siouxsie and the Banshees!
  4. The end of Monty Python? Terry Jones’ dementia is so bad he can no longer speak
  5. MTV Removes Jason Mitchell’s Movie & TV Awards Nomination in Light of Alleged Misconduct
  6. ‘Godfather’ Actor Carmine Caridi Dies at 85
  7. Moby cancels book tour after Natalie Portman controversy
  8. Marc Webb Eyed to Direct Disney’s ‘Snow White’ Remake

 Links From The Site:

  1. Case reviewed Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
  2. Erin paid tribute to Memorial Day and shared the pin-up art of George Quintana, along with sharing the following art: Off Limits, Virgin Planet (my favorite!), Mammoth Detective, Charlie Sent Me, The Warped Ones, Special Detective, and The Vice Net!
  3. Gary reviewed Gung Ho!, Family Plot, and Slap Shot!
  4. Jeff reviewed The Winds of War and War Remembrance, Slow Boy, Popeye Doyle, American Me, and Saints and Sinners!  He also shared two music videos from Rick Springfield: Bop ‘Til Your Drop and Jessie’s Girl!
  5. I shared my May Oscar Predictions and a scene from Dirty Harry!  I also shared trailers for Last Blood, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and The Kitchen!  Finally, I reviewed Monster Island and Mommy Group Murder!
  6. Ryan shared his weekly reading round-up and reviewed Bezimena, Cannonball, and Motel Universe!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

Have a great week, everyone!

Godzilla, Rodan, Ghidorah, and Mothra. All panning on having a great week, by the way.

Lifetime Film Review: Mommy Group Murder (dir by Nick Everhart)

There are a few lessons that I’ve learned from Lifetime movies in general and the film Mommy Group Murder in specific.

First off, don’t live in the suburbs.  Like, seriously, don’t do it.  Yes, the houses are big and everyone’s got a nice lawn and there’s always some hot guy working shirtless across the street from you.  Yes, it may seem like a nice and fun place to live but don’t be fooled.  You want to know why all those pretty and handsome people are living in the suburbs?  Because they’ve all got something to hide!  The minute they see you and your sensitive husband and your baby moving into the big, white house next door, they’re going to start plotting against you.  Next thing you know, strangers will be putting cameras in your house and having sex on your kitchen counters and you’ll be hearing weird noises at all hours of the night.

(Of course, I already live in the suburbs so I’m learning this lesson a bit too late.  Admittedly, my suburban neighborhood seems to be a bit safer than the average Lifetime suburban neighbor.  I have yet to find any hidden cameras in the house and the kitchen counters are thoroughly cleaned every day.)

Lesson number two: no matter how appealing the mysterious mansion next door might look, resist the temptation to break in and look around.  In fact, for that matter, don’t even accept an invitation to visit.  Nothing good ever happens in those mansions.  There’s always either a dead body hidden in an ice chest or someone chained up in the basement.  Once you discover something like that, you’re pretty much required by law to get involved and go to the police.  So, seriously, think before you invade.

Lesson number three: You know that person who shows up out of nowhere and suddenly wants to be your new best friend?  DON’T TRUST THEM!  When all of your old friends or your husband says that they think there’s something strange about your new BFF, LISTEN!  And when you discover that your new best friend is using an alias, ask yourself why.  Don’t just shrug and say, “Well, she just changed her name.  Big deal.”

Finally, lesson number four — and this is one that was specifically driven home by this movie: Don’t join a mommy group!  Sure, it’s tempting.  I mean, you’re suffering from crippling depression.  You’re having nightmares about someone trying to kidnap your baby.  Your new best friend suggests that maybe you need to join a mommy group so that you can talk about all of this with people who actually understand what you’re going through.  It seems like a great idea but, if Lifetime has taught us anything, it’s that these mommy groups always lead to secrets, lies, and murder!

That’s what Natalie (Leah Pipes) discovers after she befriends the mysterious Grace (Helena Mattsson).  Natalie and Grace are the center of Mommy Group Murder, a film which aired on Lifetime back in March.

Plotwise, Mommy Group Murder may seem like a typical Lifetime film.  Suburbs, adultery, murder, and a best friend that no one listens to until it’s too late, it’s all here!  However, Mommy Group Murder also features a wonderfully nuanced performance from Leah Pipes and a few twists and turns that take the movie to a slightly darker place than the average Lifetime film.  Director Nick Everhart emphasizes the darkness at the heart of the film’s story, opening with a harrowing montage of Natalie struggling to bond with her daughter and ending with a shadowy sequence that has as much in common with a horror film as a Lifetime film.

Mommy Group Murder is a nicely done, melodramatic thriller.  Watch it and learn.

From the Golden Age of Cinemax: Saints and Sinners (1996, directed by Paul Mones)

From the golden age of late night, straight-to-video Cinemax comes Saints and Sinners!

After spending years away, Pooch (Damian Chapa) has finally returned to the old neighborhood.  As soon as he returns, he partners up with his childhood best friend, Big Boy (Scott Plank).  The violent and erratic Big Boy is a low-level gangster with big plans.  He wants to take over the neighborhood and he’s sure that, working with the level-headed Pooch, he’ll be unstoppable.  Complicating matters is that both Pooch and Big Boy have fallen for the same woman, the mysterious Eva (Jennifer Rubin) and, quicker than you can say Jules and Jim, all three of them are soon sharing a bed.  Complicating matters even further is the fact that Pooch is an undercover cop who has recently been caught up in a corruption sting.  His superiors have given him a choice.  He can either help them take down Big Boy or he can go to jail himself.

Though the plot of Saints and Sinners may seem familiar (think of it as being a low-budget version of the Sean Penn/Gary Oldman gangster flick ,State of Grace), it’s distinguished by gritty locations, energetic direction, and two good performances from Damian Chapa and Scott Plank.  But, to be honest, Jennifer Rubin was the main reason that 14 year-old me used to stay up to watch this movie on Cinemax.  In the role of Eva, she’s sexy, enigmatic, and potentially dangerous.  You’re never sure what her game is and, as a result, the movie is not as predictable as you might expect it to be.  Jennifer Rubin was one of the best of the femme fatales to appear in the straight-to-video neo-noirs of the 1990s and shes’ at her best and most uninhibited here.

Saints and Sinners may not have many saints but it has enough sin that it doesn’t matter.

Jennifer Rubin in Saints and Sinners

Let’s Talk About Monster Island (dir by Mark Atkins)

Oh hell yeah, the Asylum strikes again!  And this time, it’s all about Kaiju, helicopters, and Eric Roberts!

Listen, folks, if you don’t get automatically excited when you see the words “Kaiju,” “helicopters,” and “Eric Roberts” all in the same sentence, I don’t know what to tell.  Obviously, you’re not the audience that this film was made for.  This is a film for people who enjoy monster mayhem, things exploding, and helicopters.  Seriously, it’s not an Asylum film without a helicopter.

Admittedly, Eric Roberts’s role is actually pretty small.  He plays Admiral Butler and he’s got an entire fleet of warships at his disposal.  You’d think that would be just what you would want when dealing with a bunch of recently awakened ancient monsters but it turns out that  the Admiral is pretty stubborn.  He’s better at shouting into telephones than understanding the logic behind Kaiju.  And if you’re saying to yourself, “Would we really want Eric Roberts to be in charge of the U.S. Navy?,” you are again missing the point.  Asylum films, like this one, create their own parallel universe.  It’s a universe where monsters live, sea creatures can take down helicopters, and, of course, Eric Roberts is going to be in charge of a battleship.

The main character is Billy Ford (Adrian Bouchet, giving a cheerfully flamboyant performance), a billionaire who operates out of a beach house and whose underwater sea mining operation may be responsible for awakening the fearsome Tengu.  (Tengu looks kind of like a giant starfish and has molten magma for blood.)  Billy has two people working in the basement of his beach house.  Cherise (Donna Cormack Thompson) has been working with him forever.  Riley (Chris Fisher, giving a nicely neurotic performance) is such a recent hire that Billy still calls him “James.”  When it becomes apparent that something has awakened at the bottom of the ocean, Billy, Cherise, and Riley head underwater to investigate.

Coming along with them is Sarah Murray (Natalie Robbie), who works for the government and who is an expert in geomythology.  Geomythology is the study of alleged references to actual geological events in mythology.  Geomythology is a real thing and, after having watched this movie, I kind of wish that I had at least minored in it.  At one point, Sarah has to go to her former Geomythology professor (Margot Wood) for advice on how to stop Tengu from destroying the world and it turns out the professor lives in this huge cabin.  There’s money to made in keeping track of the world’s Kaiju.

Anyway, needless to say, once Tengu is awakened, it’s pretty much determined to end the world.  This movie, as you can probably guess from the title, pays homage to the Japanese monster movies of old.  When flying, fire-breathing monsters start hatching from eggs and attacking the world, their battle shrieks will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a movie featuring Godzilla, Mothra, or Rodan.  When the film reaches the point of two giant monsters fighting each other while a bunch of human beings watch on, it’s impossible not to be reminded of Godzilla fighting King Kong.  It’s all in good fun, a monster movie made by people who loves monster movies for people who love monster movies.

Monster Island is a film to watch and to enjoy for the mayhem and the destruction.  Watch it to enjoy Eric Roberts bragging about the Navy’s new “sonar weapon.”  Watch it for the scene where one person makes the mistake of taunting one of the monsters.  (Piece of advice: Don’t ever yell “Come on!” at a create that can breathe fire.)  Watch it for giant starfish rising out of the ocean and the crashing helicopters.  Get a group of your friends together and enjoy the movie because the Asylum is back and so are the monsters and the helicopters!

Monster Island aired on the SyFy Network last night and it’ll probably air again.  Keep an eye out!

Music Video of the Day: Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield (1981, directed by Rick Springfield)

Who was Jessie’s girl?

We’ll probably never know.  Not even Rick Springfield, the man who first sang of her existence, seems to be sure.  Here’s what he told Songfacts about the subject of his most enduring song:

I don’t know her name. It was a brief relationship I had when I was making stained glass for a while. I was going to a stained glass class in Pasadena, and I met this guy and his girlfriend. I was completely turned on to his girlfriend, but she was just not interested. So I had a lot of sexual angst, and I went home and wrote a song about it. Then about four months later I stopped going to the class and lost contact with them. The only thing I remember is his name was Gary, so I changed the name, because ‘Gary’ didn’t sing very well. But the whole thing is absolutely what I was feeling. He was getting it and I wasn’t, and it was really tearing me up. And sexual angst is an amazing motivator to write a song. Actually, Oprah’s people tried to find her, and they got as far back as finding the stained glass guy. I couldn’t remember his name, but I said it was late ’70s; they found him, and he had died two years earlier, and they’d thrown all his papers out a year after that. So we missed finding out who she was by a year.

As the old saying goes, “When not even Oprah can find you…”

Today, this song is probably best remembered for its prominent use in Boogie Nights and for one frequently misheard lyric.  Many people still continue to believe that Springfield sings, “I wish I was Jessie’s girl,” instead of “I wish I had Jessie’s girl.”

This simple video was directed by Rick Springfield himself.  The song was Springfield’s second top 20 hit, the first being the now-forgotten Speak To The Sky.  At the time that this song and video came out, Springfield was better known for appearing on General Hospital.  Though he had started out as a singer, when Springfield’s musical career temporarily stalled, he followed the advice of his then-girlfriend, Linda Blair (yes, that Linda Blair), and pursued an acting career.