Lifetime Film Review: The Secret Life of a Celebrity Surrogate (dir by Mark Gantt)


So, put yourself in this situation.

You’re an aspiring writer, which is a really nice way of saying that you don’t have much money.  Because you haven’t paid your rent in four months, you’ve just gotten kicked out of your apartment.  As bad as that is, you can take some comfort from the fact that your incredibly hot boyfriend owns a really nice and really big apartment and he probably won’t have any issue with letting you live there.  I mean, he’s always eager for you to sleep over so why not just move in?  So, you head over to his place to give him the news and….

….some blonde that you’ve never seen before opens the door and asks you who you are!

Okay, now you’re in trouble.  Not only do you not have an apartment but you also don’t have a boyfriend.  You have no money and you have no family to fall back on.  While many writers wrote some of their best work while living in boxcars and drifting across the country, you’re not sure that’s what you want to do with the next few years of your life.  So, you get on social media and you let the world know that you need a job.  ANY JOB!

That’s what happens to Olivia (Carrie Wampler), the character at the center of The Secret Life of a Celebrity Surrogate.  It all happens during the first 10 minutes or so of this movie and it does make Olivia into an instantly likable character.  There’s no way that you can’t sympathize with her because everything that could go wrong in her life has gone wrong in just the course of a few hours.  When Olivia is contacted by Cassidy (Jordyn Aurora Aquino) and told that there is a job opportunity for her but that it requires Olivia to be discreet, you can’t blame Olivia for jumping at the opportunity.  What else is Olivia going to do?  Starve?

It turns out that Cassidy works for Ava (Brianne Davis) and Hayden (Carl Beukes) von Richter, a celebrity couple who, after Ava’s last few films flopped at the box office, are now mostly famous for being famous.  Ava and Hayden hire Olivia to act as a surrogate to carry their child.  Olivia will get $150,000 once the baby is born and she’ll get to stay at Ava and Hayden’s fabulous mansion.  The main conditions seem reasonable: Olivia will have to be discreet and she’ll also have to stay healthy and be regularly checked out by Ava’s army of doctors.  Olivia agrees.

And, at first, everything seems okay.  Ava and Hayden are charming, even if Ava is a bit high-strung and Hayden often seems like he’s lost in thought.  Olivia bonds with Cassidy and chef Peter (Kenneth Miller).  Ava can be demanding but that makes sense and …. wait, a minute, did Ava just do cocaine in a public restaurant?   And what exactly is Hayden doing with that hypodermic needle?

Needless to say, Ava and Hayden are not as perfect as they initially seem and Olivia soon starts to have doubts about whether or not they should even be parents.  Hayden, especially, seems to get creepier (and more and more gropey) with each passing day.  Soon, that fabulous mansion starts to feel like a prison and Olivia comes to realize that her employers are even more dangerous than she originally suspected….

The Secret Life of a Celebrity Surrogate is a film that’s very much of the moment.  We live in a society that is obsessed with celebrities, even faded ones like Ava and Hayden.  We also live in a world where ordinary people — like Olivia — can actually connect with celebrities via social media.  At the same time, though people may not always be quick to admit it, we all secretly suspect that most celebrities are actually crazy and probably have a dungeon underneath their mansion.  Even our favorites are often suspected of harboring dark secrets, as seen by the eagerness of the twitter mob to cancel their former heroes.  As such, we can all relate to Olivia’s willingness to be a part of Ava and Hayden’s seemingly glamorous life while, at the time, Ava and Hayden’s “quirks” serve to confirm what we’ve always suspected about what goes on behind closed doors in Beverly Hills and on Park Avenue.

The Secret Life of a Celebrity Surrogate strikes a good balance between thriller and satire.  It embraces the melodrama while also retaining enough self-awarness to be fun.  Brianne Davis and Carl Beukes are both entertainingly sleazy as the celebrity couple from Hell while Carrie Wampler is sympathetic and likable in the role of Olivia.  This is an entertaining Lifetime movie that will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever looked at a celebrity tweet and thought to themselves, “What a weirdo.”

Music Video of the Day: The Drugs Don’t Work, covered by Boh Doran (2020, dir by Jesse Hines)


Today’s music video of the day is for a cover of The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work.

I like the video.  It has definite drowning feel to it, which is appropriate for the song.

Enjoy!

Lisa Reviews The Premiere Episode Of Filthy Rich


I have to admit that I have a sneaky admiration for network television.

I mean, on the one hand, the networks are dying.  After decades of dominating America’s free time, network television was pushed aside first by cable and now by streaming services.  It’s been a long time since anyone looked to the big four networks in search of ground-breaking entertainment.  (Don’t even get me started on the CW.)  In many ways, the networks feel like relics of a bygone era.  Why structure your life around staying at home on a certain night so that you can catch whatever’s on NBC, ABC, CBS, or Fox when you can just DVR it or watch it online at your own convenience?

And yet, the networks carry on.  In the middle of the Streaming Revolution, the networks continue to insist that they’re at the forefront of American culture.  “Look,” they say, “We have football!  We have the awards shows!  We have game shows hosted by formerly funny comedians!  We have the smarmiest late night talk shows host around!  We have the nightly news!”  There’s something oddly touching about the refusal of the networks to admit that they’re no longer particularly relevant.  They’re like Charles Foster Kane, isolated away in Xanadu and insisting that he’s still as powerful and important as he’s always been.

I guess that’s why I’m always fascinated by the start of a new television season.  That never-say-die spirit just appeals to me and I always imagine a bunch of network executives saying, at the start of each season, “This time, we’re going to show Netflix and HBO how it’s done!”  With the Emmys now over and done with, the 2020-2021 network television season has begun.  For me, It’s always interesting to see which shows become a surprise hit and which shows end up getting cancelled after just three weeks.  Oddly enough, the previous television season brought us no real hits and only a few dramatic cancellations.  That’s the first time I can remember anything like that happening.  It was strange.

This new season is also going to be strange because, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, production on a lot of shows were halted.  Of the few new dramas and sitcoms that are scheduled for this season, the majority of them are starting in October.  Even once the season does get started in earnest, most nights are going to be dominated by celebrity-themed games shows and reality competition programming.  That said, I remain an optimist.  Surely, there will be at least one good new drama or sitcom on network television this season, right?

Well, it probably won’t be Filthy Rich.

Filthy Rich, which premiered on Fox on Monday night, is the latest primetime soap opera.  It’s a show about a wealthy Southern family that owns a Christian television network.  When the patriarch of the family is killed in a plane crash, it leads to all of his bastard children coming out of the woodwork so that they can get their inheritance and blah blah blah.  It’s meant to be campy and over-the-top and satirical but, judging from the pilot, it just tries too hard.  Kim Cattrall plays the scheming matriarch and her erratic southern accent serves to remind that us that Kim Cattrall doesn’t exactly have the greatest range as an actress.  Meanwhile, none of the children are really that interesting and even the big, ornately decorated mansion seems rather dull.  It’s all a bit too calculated to be genuinely subversive.

With its portrait of scheming rich people and Christian hypocrites, Filthy Rich feels like the edgiest show of 1999.  Unfortunately, it’s airing in 2020 and, at this point, we’ve all seen enough Ryan Murphy productions to be able to guess every single thing happens in the pilot for Filthy Rich.  (Admittedly, Filthy Rich is not actually a Ryan Murphy production.  Instead, it was developed by the director of The Help, Tate Taylor.)  There’s not a single surprise to be found.  The show seems to think that it’s blowing our minds but, at this point, it takes more than a supporting character smoking weed to be shocking.  What would have made Filthy Rich better?  It probably would have helped if it had aired on HBO or maybe even FX.  Instead, it’s a primetime network show that tries hard to convince us that it’s edgy when it’s actually totally mundane.

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine Filthy Rich surviving against Dancing With The Stars and The Voice so hopefully, everyone involved will move on to better things.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Bill Murray Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we wish a happy 70th birthday to everyone’s favorite actor, Bill Murray!

That means, of course, that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Ghostbusters (1984, dir by Ivan Reitman)

Rushmore (1998, dir by Wes Anderson)

Lost In Translation (2003, dir by Sofia Coppola)

The Dead Don’t Die (2019, dir by Jim Jarmusch)

Lisa’s Week In Review: 9/14/20 — 9/20/20


I spent most of this week making plans for October!  It’s almost time for the Shattered Lens’s annual Horrorthon and this year, we’re going to try to make it the best one ever!

Films I Watched:

  1. The Car (1977)
  2. Confessions of a Time Traveler: The Man From 3036 (2020)
  3. Deranged Granny (2020)
  4. An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe (1970)
  5. Kung Fu Zombie (1981)
  6. The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)
  7. The Secret Life of a Celebrity Surrogate (2020)
  8. Sinfidelity (2020)
  9. Sleeping With Danger (2020)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. Bar Rescue
  2. Big Brother 22
  3. Dancing With The Stars
  4. Doctor Phil
  5. Dragnet
  6. The Drew Barrymore Show
  7. Friends
  8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  9. King of the Hill
  10. Love Island
  11. Mom
  12. The Office
  13. The Powers of Matthew Star
  14. Ratched
  15. Saved By The Bell
  16. Seinfeld
  17. The Vow

Books I Read:

  1. The Game (2020) by Linsey Miller

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. A.G. Cook
  2. Armin van Buuren
  3. Big Data
  4. Beabadoobee
  5. Bloc Party
  6. Britney Spears
  7. The Chemical Brother
  8. The Crystal Method
  9. Damn The Witch Siren
  10. Dillon Francis
  11. Future Islands
  12. Garbage
  13. Ghost
  14. Jakalope
  15. Jessie Frye
  16. Katy Perry
  17. Kennyhoopla
  18. Kygo
  19. Matt Ryder
  20. Muse
  21. Nine Inch Nails
  22. Phantogram
  23. Public Service Broadcasting
  24. Radiohead
  25. Saint Motel
  26. Suzanne Vega
  27. Tessa Violet

News From Last Week:

  1. ‘South Park’ to air pandemic-themed special episode
  2. Judd Apatow Calls Out ‘Chilling’ Hollywood Censorship: ‘China Has Bought Our Silence’
  3. Van Morrison criticises ‘fascist bullies’ in anti-lockdown Covid songs
  4. Tom Hardy ‘cast as next James Bond after No Time To Die’

Links From The Site:

  1. Jeff shared music videos from Suzanne Vega and Tom Waits and reviewed Gun Street, Gun Belt, Five Guns To Tombstone, Terror At Black Falls, Wild Orchid, At Gunpoint, and I Shot Billy The Kid!
  2. Erin took a look at the covers of Flirt and shared: Death is a Ruby Light, Hard-Core Murder, Operation Doomsday, Sonic Slave, Flicker of Doom, Black Gold, and The Silken Baroness!
  3. Ryan reviewed One & Three, Trance ‘n Dance, Island of Elin, and Forget-Me-Not!
  4. I shared music videos from Matt Ryder, Beabadoobee, Public Service Broadcasting, Tessa Violet, and Jessie Frye!  I paid tribute to Guy Hamilton and Jean Renoir!  I shared trailers for The Trial of Chicago 7, The Mandalorian, and Love and Monsters!  I reviewed Horse Girl, Confessions of a Time Traveler, The Most Dangerous Game, A Murder to Remember, Abducted on Air, A Predator’s Obsession, Deranged Granny, Poolboy Nightmare, Sinfidelity, She’s Out of Control, The Vast of Night, Athlete A, All The Bright Places, The Binge, The Lost Husband, 7500, Standing Up Falling Down, The Way Back, Villain, Have A Good Trip, Extraction, The Night Clerk, John Was Trying To Contact Aliens, and A Fall From Grace!  I also shared the Emmy winners!

More From Us:

  1. Consider subscribing to Ryan’s patreon!
  2. I wrote about Big Brother over at the Big Brother Blog!
  3. On my music site, I shared songs from Big Data, Muse, Damn The Witch Siren, Kennyhoopla, A.G. Cook, Future Island, and Kygo!
  4. On her photography site, Erin shared Hole, Leaves Above, Leaves, Yellow Leaves, Roof, Reunion Tower, and another picture of Reunion Tower!

Check out what I did last week by clicking here!

Here Are The Emmy Winners!


I skipped watching the Emmys this year because …. well, do I need a reason?  When it comes to award shows, my heart has always belonged to the Oscars.  The Emmys have never done much for me.

That said, I do want to say Congrats! to all the winners.  Bad Education won and I am excited about that, though it still bugs me that if only the film had been purchased by Netflix rather than HBO, it would be Oscar eligible as opposed to having to settle for an Emmy.  I’m also happy to see that Zendaya won for Euphoria and …. well, to be honest, there’s not a single winner that I really disagree with.  I don’t watch Succession but I know a lot of people love it.  Schitt’s Creek doesn’t do much for me but it’s nice that Pop! got some recognition.

I mean, at this point, I’m just happy that the Emmys — which were done with an audience and featured all of the winners accepting either from their home or a hotel room — were even held.  If they can do the Emmy, there’s no reason why they can’t do the Oscars, right?

Here are the winners!

Winners

Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul
The Crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
Killing Eve
The Mandalorian
Ozark
Stranger Things
Succession — winner

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Julia Garner, Ozark — winner
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
Sarah Snook, Succession
Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nicholas Braun, Succession
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show — winner
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Mark Duplass, The Morning Show
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

Andrij Parekh, Succession — winner

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Jesse Armstrong, Succession — winner

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
Olivia Colman, The Crown
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Laura Linney, Ozark
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Zendaya, Euphoria — winner

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Steve Carell, The Morning Show
Brian Cox, Succession
Billy Porter, Pose
Jeremy Strong, Succession — winner

Outstanding Competition Program

The Masked Singer
Nailed It!
RuPaul’s Drag Race — winner
Top Chef
The Voice

Outstanding Limited Series

Little Fires Everywhere
Mrs. America
Unbelievable
Unorthodox
Watchmen — winner

Outstanding Film — Bad Education (winner!)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Uzo Aduba, Mrs. America — winner
Toni Collette, Unbelievable
Margo Martindale, Mrs. America
Jean Smart, Watchmen
Holland Taylor, Hollywood
Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen — winner
Jovan Adepo, Watchmen
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend
Louis Gossett Jr., Watchmen
Dylan McDermott, Hollywood
Jim Parsons, Hollywood

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series or Movie

Maria Schrader, Unorthodox — winner

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or Movie

Damon Lindelof, Cord Jefferson, Watchmen — winner

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeremy Irons, Watchmen
Hugh Jackman, Bad Education
Paul Mescal, Normal People
Jeremy Pope, Hollywood
Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True — winner

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America
Shira Haas, Unorthodox
Regina King, Watchmen — winner
Octavia Spencer, Self Made
Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver — winner
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Outstanding Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dead to Me
The Good Place
Insecure
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Schitt’s Creek — winner
What We Do In the Shadows

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek — winner
Yvonne Orji, Insecure
Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Mahershala Ali, Ramy
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
William Jackson Harper, The Good Place
Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek — winner
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

Daniel Levy and Andrew Cividino, Schitt’s Creek — winner

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek — winner

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek — winner
Ramy Youssef, Ramy

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek — winner
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Music Video of the Day: Worth It by Beabadoobee (2020, dir by Bedroom)


I like this video, largely because — as our longtime readers should know by now — I have a thing for motels.  I find them to be fascinating.  Whenever I see a motel, I wonder what drama is going on in each and every room.  Seriously, the roadside motel is one of the greatest things that America has given the world.

This is a gorgeous, well-directed video, full of atmosphere.  It’s like Wes Anderson’s Psycho.

Enjoy!