Lifetime Film Review: Fatal Fiancé (dir by Ben Meyerson)

It should be the perfect wedding.

The location is beautiful.  The weather is nice.  The romance is in the air.  The bridesmaids dresses aren’t hideous. The groom, Mark (Greg Perrow), is handsome and charming and no one seems to be too concerned with his mysterious past.  In fact, Mark is such a romantic that he even insisted on not seeing Leah (Brittany Underwood) the night before the wedding.  He is that dedicated to making sure that they have both the perfect wedding and the perfect honeymoon!  Even his future mother-in-law likes him, though that seems to have more to do with his abs than his romantic nature.

Again, it should be the perfect wedding.  There’s only one problem.  No one can find the bride!  Leah has yet to arrive for her own wedding.  Is it possible that she got cold feet and hopped on a plane for tropical island?  (That’s what her father suspects, as Leah apparently has a history of doing impulsive stuff like that.)  Or could it be something more serious?  Leah’s friends are concerned enough to call the police.

And, indeed, Leah has no absconded to the tropics.  Instead, she’s being held prisoner by Faith (Camila Banus), a mentally unstable woman who insists that Leah is making a mistake by marrying “Brian.”  But wait a minute …. Leah is marrying Mark!  Who is this Brian that Faith keeping going on about?  Has Leah mistaken Mark for another ex-boyfriend or is there something more sinister going on?

Well, you can probably guess the answer to all of those questions.  Apparently, this film was originally entitled A Deadly Bridenapping, which is a bit of unwieldy title but which, at the same time, doesn’t reveal as much about the plot as a title like Fatal Fiancé does.  As you can guess from the new title, Mark does have some secrets of his own and there’s a bit more to the kidnapping than just Faith being hung up on an ex-boyfriend.  You’ll figure all of that out long before Leah does but that’s okay.  That’s one of the pleasures of watching a Lifetime film, after all.  We always want to be a step or two ahead of the leading character, the better for us to our shake our heads whenever they make a big and obvious mistake.  Leah makes quite a few of them over the course of Fatal Fiancé.

Fatal Fiancé was a fun movie to watch.  If the best Lifetime films can be described as being about beautiful people finding themselves in ugly situations, Fatal Fiancé delivered.  Leah’s wedding dress was to die for and so were all the houses.  There was plenty of melodrama and plenty of eye candy and really, what else do you need?  Brittany Underwood was a sympathetic main character and Camilia Banus did a good job as the unstable Faith.  Greg Perrow was both charming and menacing as Mark and he got to deliver a rant about pine nut allergies that really had to be seen to be believed.  All in all, this was an entertaining movie about a wedding gone wrong.

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Honor Nomadland

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists have announced that their pick for the best of 2020 is Nomadland.  Just as the AWFJ did with their nominations, they announced the winners in an exclusive for Variety.  Fear not, though — my picks for the best of 2020 will be released exclusively to this site.  Two can play at this game.

(I joke, of course.  Ever since Clayton Davis took over, Variety’s Oscar coverage has been wonderful and the AWFJ deserves a lot of credit for having categories that are a bit more interesting than the usual stuff.)

Anyway, here’s the winners!


(These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration)

Best Film

  • “Minari” (A24)
  • “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)
  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – WINNER
  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  • “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

Best Director 

  • Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  • Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  • Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow” (A24)
  • Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  • Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – WINNER

Best Actor

  • Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Studios)
  • Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix) – WINNER
  • Delroy Lindo, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)

Best Actress 

  • Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  • Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
  • Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – WINNER
  • Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role 

  • Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  • Bill Murray, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple TV Plus)
  • Leslie Odom Jr, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – WINNER

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)
  • Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
  • Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (Netflix)
  • Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari” (A24) – WINNER

Best Screenplay, Original 

  • “Mank” (Netflix) – Jack Fincher
  • “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features) – Emerald Fennell – WINNER
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Aaron Sorkin

Best Screenplay, Adapted

  • “First Cow” (A24) – Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond
  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao – WINNER
  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Kemp Powers

Best Animated Film

  • “Over the Moon” (Netflix)
  • “Soul” (Pixar) – WINNER
  • “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS)

Best Cinematography 

  • “Mank” (Netflix) – Erik Messerschmidt
  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Joshua James Richards – WINNER
  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Tami Reiker

Best Editing 

  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Tariq Anwar
  • “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao – WINNER
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Alan Baumgarten

Best Documentary 

  • “All In: The Fight for Democracy” (Amazon Studios) – WINNER (tie)
  • “Athlete A” (Netflix)
  • “Crip Camp” (Netflix)
  • “The Painter and the Thief” (Neon) – WINNER (tie)
  • “Time” (Amazon Studios)

Best Non-English-Language Film

  • “Another Round” – Denmark – WINNER
  • “Beanpole” – Russia
  • “The Mole Agent” – Chile
  • “The Painted Bird” – Czech Republic

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director

  • “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) – Kim Coleman
  • “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Kimberly Hardin – WINNER (tie)
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Francine Maisler – WINNER (tie)


(These awards honor WOMEN only, excluding women who’ve won the category in the Best Of Awards.

Best Woman Director 

  • Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features) – WINNER
  • Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)
  • Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)
  • Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth” (Vertical Entertainment)
  • Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow” (A24)
  • Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

Best Woman Screenwriter 

  • Radha Blank, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix) – WINNER
  • Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)
  • Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)
  • Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

Best Animated Female 

  • “22” in “Soul” (Pixar) – portrayed by Tina Fey – WINNER
  • “Mebh Óg MacTíre” in “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS) – portrayed by Eva Whittaker
  • “Robyn Goodfellowe” in “Wolfwalkers” (Apple TV Plus/GKIDS) – portrayed by Honor Kneafsey

Best Woman’s Breakthrough Performance 

  • Radha Blank, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (Netflix)
  • Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features) – WINNER
  • Helena Zengel, “News of the World” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry 

  • All female heads of film festivals who successfully transitioned from live to online events to sustain festival culture through the pandemic.
  • All indie female writers and directors who normalized abortion as a vital element in the cultural conversation in films such as “Saint Frances,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Sister of the Groom,” “Once Upon a River,” The Glorias” and others. – WINNER
  • Emerald Fennell for creating a film that forces empathy to put an end to the toxic sexist rape culture pervasive through modern history.
  • Sophia Loren for a brilliant comeback at age 86 in “The Life Ahead,” the latest in her record-setting career. Loren won a Best Actress Oscar in 1962 for “Two Women” and was the first actor to win for a foreign language movie. She was also nominated in 1965 for “Marriage Italian Style.” If she’s nominated in 2021, it will be a 56-year span between her two most recent nominations – the current record is held by Henry Fonda, who had a 41-year gap between nominations.


Grand Dame Award for defying ageism.

  • Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
  • Tsai Chin, “Lucky Grandma” (Good Deed Entertainment)
  • Sophia Loren, “The Life Ahead” (Netflix) – WINNER
  • Frances McDormand, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

Most Egregious Lovers’ Age Difference Award 

  • “The Burnt Orange Heresy” (Sony Pictures Classics) – Elizabeth Debicki and Claes Bang (23 years)
  • “Devil All the Time” (Netflix) – Riley Keough and Jason Clarke (20 years)
  • “Mank” – Amanda Seyfried and Charles Dance (39 years), Gary Oldman (27 years)
  • “Tenet” – Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh (30 years) – WINNER

She Deserves A New Agent Award 

  • Rose Byrne, “Like a Boss” (Paramount Pictures)
  • Tiffany Haddish, “Like a Boss” (Paramount Pictures)
  • Katie Holmes, “Dare to Dream” (Gravitas Ventures)
  • Uma Thurman, “The War with Grandpa” (101 Studios) – WINNER

Most Daring Performance Award 

  • Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ (Amazon Studios) – WINNER
  • Haley Bennett, “Swallow” (IFC Films)
  • Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix)
  • Elisabeth Moss, “The Invisible Man” (Universal Pictures)
  • Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

Time Waster Remake or Sequel Award 

  • “The Croods: A New Age” (DreamWorks Animation)
  • “Doolittle” (Universal Pictures) – WINNER
  • “Rebecca” (Netflix)

Four Color Apocalypse 2020 Year In Review : Top 10 Contemporary Collections

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Moving right along with our next-to-last “best of” list, we come to the Top 10 Contemporary Collections of 2020. Simply put, this category is devoted to collected editions of work originally published, either physically or digitally, since the year 2000, including Manga, webcomics, and Eurocomics. In practice, though, I’ll be honest and admit it’s all fairly recent stuff. Read on and you’ll see what I mean —

10. Inappropriate By Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized) – How the hell spoiled are we these days, anyway? The modern master of disarmingly frank autobio released one of her strongest collections to date and it seemed as though it hardly got a mention in critical circles. Like the Hernandez brothers, Bell’s work is so consistently good that I fear we as readers take it for granted. We shouldn’t — this is a book to be downright thankful for.

9. Snake Creek By Drew Lerman (Self-Published)…

View original post 788 more words

The North Carolina Film Critics Honor Minari!

The North Carolina Film Critics Association has announced their picks for the best of 2020 and, in something of a shock for anyone who has following the awards season up to this point, they did not give the best picture award to Nomadland.

Instead, they honored Minari!

And, to be honest, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I have anything against Nomadland or that I think Minari is the best picture of the year.  I haven’t seen either film (though I hope to correct that soon) so I really don’t have an opinion on what deserves what.  Instead, I’m just happy that the precursor love is getting spread around a little.  Nomadland winning every single precursor contest was getting boring.

It’s a bit like the 2010 awards season, when The Social Network just kept winning over and over again.  When one of the precursor groups gave their price to The Kids Are All Right instead, I was like, “Finally!  Something different!”  It didn’t matter what I personally didn’t care much for The Kids Are All Right.  What was important was that we had at least gotten some variety.

You can see North Carolina’s nominees by clicking here.  And you can find the winners below!

Best Narrative Film — Minari

Best Documentary Film — Dick Johnson is Dead

Best Animated Film — Soul

Best Foreign Language Film — Another Round

Best Director — Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Cinematography — Joshua James Richards for Nomadland

Best Actor — Delroy Lindo in Da 5 Bloods

Best Actress — Frances McDormand in Nomadland

Best Supporting Actor — Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Supporting Actress — Youn Yuh-jung in Minari

Best Original Screenplay — Lee Isaac Chung for Minari

Best Adapted Screenplay — Chloe Zhao for Nomadland

Best Special Effects — Tenet

Best Music — Soul

Ken Hanke Memorial Tar Heel Award — Will Patton (actor, Minari)

Best Restoration — The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Warner Bros.)

Hooper (1978, directed by Hal Needham)

Reuniting the Smokey and the Bandit team of director Hal Needham and stars Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, Hooper is a film that pays tribute to stuntmen.

Hooper (Burt Reynolds) is a respected but aging stunt coordinator who is currently working on an overblown action film called The Spy Who Laughed At Danger.  (The spy is played by Adam West, who appears as himself.)  Hooper knows that he’s getting too old to keep putting his life at risk but he’s addicted to thrill of doing what he calls “gags.”  Every morning, Hooper wakes up, pops pills, has a beer, and then falls off a building or crashes a car.  When he’s not doing movies, he’s getting into bar brawls.  As demonstrated during a visit to Dodge City, Hooper and his friends are modern day cowboys  but time is catching up to them.  Hooper’s girlfriend, Gwen (Sally Field), wants Hooper to settle down and retire from the business before he ends up a physical wreck like her father (Brian Keith).  Hooper feels that he has to do one last, record-setting stunt before he passes the torch over to younger stuntmen like Ski Shidski (Jan-Michael Vincent).

Hooper is a classic Burt Reynolds film, with everything that you expect from late 70s Burt.  As always, Burt is deceptively laid back.  Sally Field is cute as a button.  Old hands like Brian Keith and James Best provide strong support while Robert Klein plays the type of pompous Hollywood director who is just begging to get slugged at the end of the movie.  (He does.)  The plot of Hooper is even simpler than the plot of Smokey and the Bandit but Hooper is a more heartfelt film.  Hal Needham was a stuntman before he became a director and this film was his tribute to the underappreciated people who risked their physical well-being to make movie magic.  Needham knew men like Hooper and his friends.  They were his people.  Needham’s love for the stunt players comes through in every scene.

As for the stunts, they’re real and they’re spectacular.


Hal Needham, of course, will always be associated with Burt Reynolds.  Before moving into directing, Needham frequently served as Reynolds’s stunt double and the two were such close friends that Needham spent 12 years living in Reynolds’s guest house.  Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was partially inspired by the friendship of Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham, with Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt playing characters who were based on the two men.  (Reynolds was even originally cast in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as George Spahn but he died before he could shoot his scenes. The role was taken over by Bruce Dern.)  Needham was responsible for directing some of Burt’s best films (Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit and this one) and some of his worst (Stroker Ace and Cannonball Run II).  Needham also directed Megaforce, which didn’t feature Burt but which is still, in its own way, unforgettable.

Hal Needham (1931 — 2013)

The critics may not have loved the movies that Hal and Burt made together but audiences did.  Needham’s best films are just as entertaining today as they were when they were originally released.  They don’t demand much but they deliver everything you could possibly want.  Whenever the real world is getting to be overwhelming, I’m thankful that I can turn on a Hal Needham film and return to a world where the only thing that matters is driving fast, loving hard, and having a good laugh while you’re doing it.  Today, more than ever, the legacy of Hal Needham is just what we need.

Four Color Apocalypse 2020 Year In Review : Top 10 Vintage Collections

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

A new year may be upon us, but we’re not quite done talking about last year here at Four Color Apocalypse. My next “best of” list takes a look at my picks for the Top 10 Vintage Collections of 2020, which is to say : books that collect material originally published prior to the year 2000, including Manga and Eurocomics. Let’s dive right in —

10. Atom Bomb And Other Stories By Wallace Wood (Fantagraphics) – One of the best volumes yet in the long-running EC Artists’ Library series collects the very best of the Wally Wood/Harvey Kurtzman collaborations from Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, and as a special added bonus Wood’s strips with Archie Goodwin from Blazing Combat are included, as well. I love Marie Severin’s colors, to be sure, but this stuff has never looked better than it does here, in pristine black and white.

9. The…

View original post 950 more words

Artwork of the Day: Lover Boy (Artist Unknown)

Artist Unknown

This book was first published in 1959 but the cover is from a 1961 reprinting.  The cover artist is unknown.  Like many pulp covers of the era, it equates bare shoulders with sex.  I like the contrast between the mansion and the sailboat in the background and the woman and the man in the foreground.  The cover blurb may read “The unashamed story of lonely women in a New England town … and the man who wove a net of passion around them all,” but unashamed is not the feeling that I’m picking up from the facial expressions on this cover.  Getting down that hill barefoot is not going to practical so I hope she remembers what she did with her shoes.

Music Video of the Day: Spider-Man by the Ramones (1995, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris)

In 1995, producer Ralph Sall and MCA released an album called Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits.  The album was made up of covers of the theme songs of various Saturday morning carton shows.  For instance, Matthew Sweet covered Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  Sponge covered Go Speed Racer Go.  Liz Phair did a version of the Banana Splits theme song.  In order to promote the album, MCA released a music video compilation on VHS tape.  It was hosted by a young Drew Barrymore.  You can still order a copy of it off of Amazon.  It’ll only cost you around twenty dollars.

The Ramones were brought in to cover the theme song for the first Spiderman-Man cartoon show.  The video, which was directed by Johnathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, features animated Ramones performing while an animated Spider-Man swings around the city.  (If Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris sound familiar, that’s because they went on to direct feature films.  They’re best-known film is probably still Little Miss Sunshine.)  The Spider-Man theme song proves to be the perfect song to be covered by the Ramones, as they give an energetic performance that feels like it could have been written for any of the current MCU productions.

Interestingly enough, both Spider-Man and the Ramones were from the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens.  There’s no evidence that any of them met Uncle Ben before this unfortunate demise.  If they had met, Ben probably would have told them that with great audio equipment comes great responsibility.  Ben then would have kicked everyone off of his lawn and gone inside to take a boomer nap.

The theme song for Spider-Man was written, in 1967, by Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris.  Before he wrote the Spider-Man theme, Webster won three Oscars for Best Original Song.  Over the course of his career, he would be nominated a total of 16 times.  Of his Oscar-nominated sons, I guess Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing is the best known but its popularity pales in comparison to the song he wrote for Spider-Man.  Who doesn’t know that Spider-Man can do everything that a spider can?