Film Review: Don’s Plum (dir by R.D. Robb)

Filmed in 1996 and given a very limited European release in 2001, Don’s Plum is a micro-budget indie film.  It’s about a group of young friends who meet up at a diner called Don’s Plum and spend the entire night talking to each other.  It’s filmed in grainy black-and-white and the majority of the dialogue is improvised.  The main characters continually let us know that they’re friends by referring to each other as “bro.”  There’s a lot of conversations but none of it adds up to much.  In many ways, it feels typical of the type of indie films that were inspired by the early work of Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith.  Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly good or interesting film.

That said, Don’s Plum has achieved a certainly level of infamy due to the fact that two of the talkative friends are played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.  DiCaprio plays Derek, an arrogant, abrasive, and manipulative womanizer.  Tobey Magurie plays Ian, a weirdo with a spacey smile.  DiCaprio and Maguire were both up-and-coming stars when they filmed Don’s Plum.  DiCaprio, who had already received his first Oscar nomination and who had just finished shooting William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was a year away from Titanic.  Maguire was also a year away from his breakthrough role in The Ice Storm.  DiCaprio and Maguire not only starred in Don’s Plum but they’re also responsible for the film having never been commercially released in North America.

There’s a lot of conflicting stories about why DiCaprio and Maguire have both attempted to keep the film from being released.  DiCaprio’s story is that neither he nor Maguire were aware that they were shooting a feature film.  Instead, they thought they were making a short film and the only reason that they even showed up during the two nights of filming was because they were friends with the director, R.D. Robb.  The film’s producers, on the other hand, claimed that DiCaprio and Maguire always knew that they were making a feature film and that the reason they objected to the film’s release was because they were embarrassed by how much personal information they revealed while improving.  The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Of course, it’s also possible that DiCaprio and Maguire didn’t want the film to be seen because the film kind of sucks.  The dialogue is tedious, the film’s pace is painfully slow, the grainy black-and-white cinematography is dull, and the film’s soundtrack is so muddy that it’s difficult to understand what the characters are actually talking about.  Playing a total douchebag, DiCaprio does get to show off his natural charisma but Tobey Maguire appears to be dazed and confused in the role of Ian.  To be honest, both DiCaprio and Magurie are outacted by Kevin Connolly, who plays one of their friends and who would later go on to play the only vaguely likable character on Entourage.  (Connolly also directed the Brechtian gangster movie, Gotti.)  Connolly may not be as showy as DiCaprio or Maguire but his steady presence provides a nice contrast to Maguire’s fidgety mannerisms and DiCaprio’s need to always be the center of attention.

DiCaprio, Maguire, and Connolly are joined by Scott Bloom, playing the boring friend who will sleep with anyone.  Jenny Lewis gives a good performance in the role of DiCaprio’s quasi-girlfriend.  Amber Benson plays a hitchhiker who is abruptly chased out of the diner (and the movie) by an incredibly obnoxious DiCaprio.  At one point, Ethan Suplee wanders through the diner, playing a character who is identified in the credits as being “Big Bum.”  Everyone gets their chance to improv a monologue, often while staring at the bathroom mirror.  Eventually, DiCaprio’s character reveals a tragic secret from his past and it would have been an effective scene if not for the fact that it comes out of nowhere.

Oh, improv.  Improv has led so many directors and performers down the wrong path.  It’s an attractive idea, I suppose.  Get a camera.  Get some of your best friends to visit for the weekend.  Shoot a movie!  Who needs a script when you can just make it up as you go along.  Unfortunately, what’s often forgotten is that improv only works if you have a solid story idea or theme that you can continually return to if and when the improv itself starts to lose focus.  Curb Your Enthusiasm is a famous for being improved but all of the improvisations are based on a plot that’s discussed and set in stone ahead of time.  Don’s Plum feels more like one of those weird shows that George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh came up with for HBO in the mid-aughts.  (Remember that one with the acting class?  Frank Langella played a pompous acting teacher named Goddard Fulton and one of his students got a role on One Tree Hill.)  Don’s Plum meanders without any real direction, with none of the actors really trying to challenge each other.  An improved film like this needs a force of chaos, like Rip Torn provided for Norman Mailer’s Maidstone.  Instead, this film can only offer DiCaprio caricaturing his pre-Aviator persona as a hard-partying and often abrasive movie star.  (If nothing else, this film shows just how much DiCaprio has benefitted, as both an actor and a public personality, from collaborating with Scorsese.)

Don’s Plum is one of those films that is only well-known because of how difficult it is to see it.  But now you can see it on YouTube!  You can watch it and then you can ask yourself what all the controversy was about.  At this point, I think both DiCaprio and Maguire have proven themselves as actors and allowing for Don’s Plum to get, at the very least, a proper video release wouldn’t hurt the reputation of either one of them.  If anything, the best way to get people to forget about Don’s Plum would be to give them to the chance to try to sit through it.  There’s nothing about this film that sticks with the viewer, beyond the fact that neither Leo nor Tobey want anyone to watch it.

2018 In Review: The Best of Lifetime

Today, I continue my look back at the previous year with my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2018!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2018!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

(As a guide, I used the credits for the imdb.  If anyone has been miscredited or left out, please feel free to let me know and I’ll fix the error both here and, if I can, on the imdb as well.)

(For my previous best of Lifetime picks, click on the links: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Best Picture

The Art of Murder, produced by Neil Elman, Bryce Fishman, James Lourie, Hannah Pillemer, Edgar Rosa, Fernando Szew

The Bad Seed, produced by Justis Greene, Harvey Kahn, Elizabeth Guber Stephen, Mark Wolper.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Produced by Mary Petryshyn, Charles Tremayne, Jeff Vanderwal

Cocaine Godmother, produced by Jamie Goehring, S. Lily Hui, Jonathan Koch, Stephen Michaels, Andrew Molina, Alisa Tager, Shawn Williamson.

Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, produced by David Manzaners and Judith Verno

*The Girl in the Bathtub, produced by Kevin Leeson, Emanuel Pereira, Diane Sokolow, Rachel Verno*

Girl in the Bunker, produced by Kim Bondi, Stephen Kemp, Thomas Vencelides

I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter.  Produced by Len Murach and Rick Van Meter.

No One Would Tell. Produced by Shawn Angeliski, Paddy Bickerton, Martin Fisher, Lisa Richardson, Danielle Von Zerneck

Terror in the Woods. Produced by David Eubanks, Les Franck, Adam Freeman, Leslie Greif, James Heerdegen, Ashley Hudson, Christina Ricci, Eric Tomonsanus, DJ Viola

Best Director

Jim Donovan for Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Gail Harvey for No One Would Tell

Seth Jarrett for I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Rob Lowe for The Bad Seed

*Karen Moncrieff for The Girl in the Bathtub*

Guillermo Navarro in Cocaine Godmother

Best Actor

Burgess Abernethy in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance

Kevin Fonteyne in Lover in the Attic

Rob Lowe in The Bad Seed

Austin P. McKenzie in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill

*Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge*

Henry Thomas in The Girl in the Bunker

Best Actress

Haylie Duff in Deadly Delusion

McKenna Grace in The Bad Seed

Caitlin Stasey in The Girl In The Bathtub

Bella Thorne in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill

Megan West in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

*Catherine Zeta-Jones in Cocaine Godmother*

Best Supporting Actor

Juan Pablo Espinosa in Cocaine Godmother

David Fierro in Lover in the Attic

Joel Gretsch in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Patrick Muldoon in A Tale of Two Coreys

*Jason Patric in The Girl in the Bathtub*

Rossif Sutherland in Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Best Supporting Actress

Krista Allen in Party Mom

Cara Buono in The Bad Seed

Angela Kinsey in Terror in the Woods

*Lydia Look in Mistress Hunter*

Jenny Pellicer in Cocaine Godmother

Katherine Reis in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Best Screenplay

The Bad Seed.  Barbara Marshall.

Believe Me: The Abudction of Lisa McVey. Christina Welsh.

Cocaine Godmother.  Molly McAlpine, David McKenna.

The Girl in the Bathtub. Karen Moncrieff.

*No One Would Tell. Caitlin D. Fryers*

Terror in the Woods. Amber Benson.

Best Cinematography

The Bad Seed. Peter Menzies, Jr.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Sasha Moric.

Cocaine Godmother. Guillermo Navarro.

Girl in the Bunker. Fraser Brown.

*I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter.  Brian J. Reynolds*

Terror in the Woods. David McGrory.

Best Costuming

*The Art of Murder. Steviee Hughes.*

Cocaine Godmother. Jori Woodman.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Claudia Da Ponte, Diah Wymont.

I Killed My BFF: The Peacher’s Daughter.  David Anthony Crowley.

Psycho Prom Queen.  Anie Fisette.

A Tale of Two Coreys.  Jennifer Garnet Filo.

Best Editing

The Bad Seed, Eric L. Beason.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Lisa Grootenboer.

Cocaine Godmother. Luis Carballar.

*Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill.  Henk van Eeghen*

The Girl in the Bathtub.

Girl in the Bunker.  Stephen Kemp.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Cocaine Godmother.  Laura Copó, Victoria Ferguson, Brittany Isaacs, Andrea Manchur, Joanna Mireau, Adam James Phillips, Trefor Proud, Juanita Santamaria, Ronnie Sidhu, Vicki Syskakis

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance.  Lorna Bravo, Helena Cepeda, Jenni Brown Greenberg, Shelly Jensen, Melissa Rankl, Cydney Sjostrom

I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter. Missy Scarbrough and Christina Kim.

*Lover in the Attic. Crystal Broedel, Brittanie Cruz, Robin Styles, Diana Valerie, Nataleigh Verrengia*

A Tale of Two Coreys. Katherine Chandler, Lynnae Duley, Monique Hyman, Katie Kilkenny, Kaity Licina, Megan Nicoll, Rebecca Violet Schroeder, Adina Sullivan

Zombie at 17.  Jessica Awad, Cinthia Burke, Christine Capustinsky, Shannon Doyle.

Best Score

Cocaine Godmother. Eduardo Aram.

The Girl in the Bathtub.  Adam Gorgoni.

Lover in the Attic. Ozzy Doniz.

No One Would Tell. Mark Lazeski.

A Tale of Two Coreys. Jim Dooley.

*Terror in the Woods. Ozzy Doniz.*

Best Production Design

*The Art of Murder. Yana Veselova.*

Cocaine Godmother.  Eric Fraser.

The Girl in the Bathtub. Laura Lola Maier.

Girl in the Bunker. Andrew Berry.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Mayne Berke, Ashley Swanson, Vincent Wright

Lover in the Attic. Lindsay Glick.

Best Sound

Cocaine Godmother

*Deadly Delusion*

House of Darkness: New Blood

Killer Under The Bed

Lover in the Attic.

Terror in the Woods

Best Visual Effects

The Bad Seed.

Cocaine Godmother

Deadly Delusion

House of Darkness: New Blood

*Killer Under The Bed*

Zombie at 17

And those are my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2018!  (Lifetime had a pretty good year.)  Now, I’m off to make my selections for the best of SyFy 2018!  I’ll be back …. well, maybe not soon.  It took me about three hours to do my Lifetime post.  So, I’ll be back eventually.

Lisa Marie’s 2018 In Review:

  1. The 10 Worst Films of 2018


What Horror Lisa And The Snarkalecs Watched Last Night #156: The Crooked Man (dir by Jesse Holland)

Last night, my friends, the Snarkalecs, and I watched the latest SyFy original film, The Crooked Man!


Why Were We Watching It?

Gawdamn, y’all (as we tend to say down here in Texas), do you remember how much fun it used to be when SyFy would premiere a different movie every Saturday night?  Back when I first started regularly watching SyFy and live tweeting with the Snarkalecs, SyFy was all about original movies.

Sadly, things have changed.  Now, we only get SyFy original movies twice during the year.  Once is during the week leading up to the latest Sharknado film.  The other time is October, when SyFy does its 31 Days of Horror.

Since the Snarkalecs are still trying to change SyFy’s policy towards original movies, we make it a point to watch every single one of them.  We also make it a point to tweet about the movies, the hope being that someone at SyFy will see that there is an audience for original movies.

That’s what we were doing last night as we watched The Crooked Man.

What Was It About?

Olivia (Angelique Rivera) gets all of her friends killed but isn’t ever really held responsible because she’s the main character in the film.

Okay, there’s actually a little more to it than that.  The Crooked Man is a hybrid of The Ring, It Follows, Candyman, Slenderman, The Nun, and … well, just about every other horror film made over the past 16 years.  It starts with a slumber party, where a group of 12 year-old girls make the mistake of listening to a song online.  The song, it’s said, will summon the Crooked Man.

Later, the slumber party is interrupted when all the lights go out.  Fortunately, there’s also a pizza delivery guy at the party and he knows how to turn the lights back on.  Well, that’s good.  However, there is yet another interruption when one of the girls, Jill, is found dead at the foot of the stairs.  Standing over her is Olivia.  Though Olivia has a knife in her hands, she swears that she didn’t kill Jill.  It was … THE CROOKED MAN!

Olivia is sent to a mental asylum for six years.  When she’s released, she returns home.  The problem is that nobody in the town wants her to come home.  And actually, they have a point because, as soon as Olivia returns, The Crooked Man starts killing everyone who was at that slumber party.


What Worked?

I will be the first to admit that most of my tweets were pretty critical last night but there were a few effectively creepy moments in The Crooked Man.  The Crooked Man himself was scary.

The Voice‘s Dia Frampton showed up to sing a song and then promptly got killed.  That definitely provided the film with a nice WTF moment.

What Did Not Work?

Okay — so the Crooked Man can only get you when you’re in the dark, right?  SO WHY DOES EVERYONE IN THE FILM KEEP TURNING OFF ALL THE LIGHTS!?  Seriously, nobody seemed to appreciate that there was a really easy solution to most of their problems…

(Actually, in all fairness, The Crooked Man had the power to kill all the electricity and plunge people into darkness.  But still, it did seem like the characters often never even considered trying to turn on all the lights.  I would have at least liked to have seen some sort of effort.)

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to the character of Violet.  Violet was at the slumber party and therefore, she was on Crooked Man’s kill list.  And Violet put the blame right where it belonged.  On Olivia!

Seriously, Olivia, way to get all your friends killed.

Lessons Learned

If a monster can only exist in the dark, turn on the damn lights!

Back to School Part II #37: Can’t Hardly Wait (dir by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont)


Oddly enough, the late 90s and early 2000s saw a lot of movies about teenagers that all had strangely generic names.  She’s All That, Down To You, Drive Me Crazy, Head Over Heels, Get Over It, Bring It On … the list is endless.

And then you have the 1998 graduation party-themed Can’t Hardly Wait.  Can’t Hardly Wait has such a generic name that, when you first hear it, you could be forgiven for naturally assuming that it stars Freddie Prinze, Jr.  Of course, if you’ve actually seen the film, you know that it features almost everyone but Freddie Prinze, Jr.  This is one of those films where even the smallest roles are played by a recognizable face.  In fact, there’s so many familiar actors in this film that a good deal of them go uncredited.  Jenna Elfman, Breckin Meyer, Melissa Joan Hart, Jerry O’Connell, and Amber Benson may not show up in the credits but they’re all in the film.  In fact, you could argue that Melissa John Hart, playing an impossibly excited girl who is obsessed with getting everyone to sign her yearbook, and Breckin Meyer, playing an overly sensitive lead singer, provide the film with some of its comedic highlights.

(That said, perhaps the most credible cameo comes from Jerry O’Connell.  He plays a former high school jock who ruefully talks about how he can’t get laid in high school.  He’s so convincingly sleazy and full of self-pity that you find yourself wondering if maybe O’Connell was just playing himself.  Maybe he just stumbled drunkenly onto the set one day and started talking to anyone who would listen…)

Can’t Hardly Wait takes place at one huge high school graduation party, which is actually a pretty smart idea.  The best part of every teen movie is the party scene so why not make just make the entire movie about the party?  Almost every member of the graduating class is at this party and we get to see all of the usual types.  There’s the stoners, the jocks, the nerds, and the sarcastic kids who go to parties specifically so they can tell everyone how much they hate going to parties.  Eric Balfour shows up as a hippie.  Jason Segel eats a watermelon in the corner.  Sara Rue’s in the kitchen, complaining about how everyone’s a sheep.  Jamie Pressly drinks and assures her best friend that she’s at least as pretty as Gwynneth Paltrow.  (“And you’ve got way bigger boobs!” she adds, encouragingly.)  Outside, Selma Blair frowns as someone hits on her with bad line.

Of course, Mike Dexter (Peter Facinelli) and Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are the main topic of conversation at the party.  For four years, Mike and Amanda were the school’s power couple but Mike decides to dump Amanda right before they graduate.  Mike feels that he’s going to have a great time in college and he doesn’t need any old high school commitments holding him down.  His best friends all agree to dump their girlfriends too.  Mike spends the party watching, in horror, as all of his friends go back on their promise.  Amanda, meanwhile, wanders around and wonders who she is now that she’s no longer Mike Dexter’s girlfriend.

Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) struggles to work up the courage to tell Amanda that he’s had a crush on her ever since the first day he saw her.  Meanwhile, Preston’s best friend — the reliably sarcastic Denise (Lauren Ambrose) — finds herself locked in an upstairs bathroom with Kenny “Special K” Fisher (Seth Green).  (Needless to say, Kenny is the only person who actually calls himself “Special K.”)  Kenny is obsessed with losing his virginity.  Denise, meanwhile, won’t stop talking about the sweet and dorky Kenny that she knew way back in elementary school.

And then there’s William Lichtner (Charlie Korsmo).  He’s spent his entire life being tormented by Mike and he specifically goes to the party looking for revenge.  However, he has a few beers and quickly becomes the most popular senior at the party.  He even gets a chance to bond with Mike…

Can’t Hardly Wait is a favorite of mine.  It’s one of those films that doesn’t add up too much but it’s so so damn likable that it doesn’t matter.  It’s full of smart and funny scenes and all the actors are incredibly likable.  If you’re not rooting for Preston and Amanda by the end of the movie then you have no heart.  In fact, Can’t Hardly Wait is a lot like Empire Records.  They may not be much depth to it but it’s so sincere and earnest that you can forgive it.

You can even forgive the generic name.

What Lisa and Erin Watched Last Night #85: Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal (dir by Tom McLaughlin)

Last night, my sister Erin and I watched the 2008 Lifetime Movie, Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal.

Why Were We Watching It?

This is my fourth favorite Lifetime movie, coming in right behind Confessions of a Go Go Girl, The Babysitter’s Seduction, and Mother, May I Sleep With Danger.  It comes on every few weeks and, if I’m at home, I’ll usually end up watching it.  I forced my sister Erin Nicole to watch it with me because she actually was a Texas cheerleader and I figured she would have some insight into the film that I might otherwise miss.  Plus, it’s just fun to watch movies with Erin!

What Was It About?

Emma Carr (Jenna Dewan, who would later become Jenna Dewan-Tatum) is the new cheerleading coach at a small Texas high school.  She views cheerleading as being the most important part of a young girl’s life and she quickly proves to be an inspirational and beloved teacher.  However, five mean girls — the Fab Five of the title — are determined to do what they want, regardless of whether it’s good for the cheerleading squad, the school, or Coach Carr’s marriage.  Making things especially difficult is the fact that the leader of the Fab Five (played by Amber Benson) is the daughter of the school principal (Tatum O’Neal).  While Coach Carr tries to instill a sense of teamwork and self-esteem into the rest of the squad, the Fab Five spend their time drinking, hanging out in sex shops, and posting racy videos on YouTube.

Needless to say, this film is credited as being “based on a true story.”

What Worked?

Though the film was undoubtedly exaggerated, it still did manage to capture just what it’s like to go to an athletics-obsessed school in small town and suburban Texas.  Seriously, it’s a world that only makes sense when you’re actually a part of it.  Once you leave and think back, it all looks like a silly Lifetime movie.

Everytime after I see this movie, I find myself occasionally clapping my hands while chanting, “Pump, pump, pump it up/Pump that spirit, keep it up!”  Seriously, it’s fun!

What Did Not Work?

Both Erin and I were occasionally amused and often annoyed by how seriously Coach Carr took cheerleading.  Every time that Jenna Dewan started to give a speech about the importance of cheerleading (“You represent your school!”), Erin and I started laughing.  She was just so serious about it that I found it hard to believe that her character wasn’t being played for laughs.  Imagine my shock as I realized that the film meant for us to take her seriously.

(However, Erin has assured me that there are coaches out there who really do view cheerleading as being a mission from God.)

“Oh my God!  Just like us!” Moments

As we watched the film, I continually asked my sister if this movie was an accurate portrayal of what it was like to be a scandalous high school cheerleader in Texas.  According to Erin, the film was accurate but exaggerated.  She said that she had known girls like the ones portrayed in this film but, even at their worst, they weren’t “as demonic” as the Fab Five.  Erin also asked me to make clear that she was certainly never one of those girls.  And I can vouch for that!  There’s a reason why Erin’s nickname is “the nice one.”

When I first started high school, quite a few people told me that I needed to follow my sister’s example and try out for cheerleader and I have to admit that I was occasionally tempted to do so.  However, I never did because I already had ballet and drama club, I wanted to establish my own identity, and Erin told me that being cheerleader meant that I had to be perky all the time and, quite frankly, I’ve always needed my time to sulk.  So, I’ve never regretted not following the cheerleader route but I still found it amusing that the evil redheaded cheerleader in Fab Five was named Lisa.

Lessons Learned

My home state is the best!  Seriously, would anyone ever want to watch a movie called The Vermont Cheerleader Scandal?  I think not.


“Seriously, what the Hell’s the point of Vermont?”

What Lisa Watched Tonight: The Killing Jar (directed by Mark Young)

Earlier tonight, I happened to catch, on Chiller, the 2011 film The Killing Jar.

Why Was I Watching It?

I was hoping that, at some point, the classic Siouxsie and the Banshees song would show up on the soundtrack.  It didn’t.

What’s It About?

I’m trying to work up the strength necessary to go into it all but basically, there’s this diner down south and one night, right around closing time, a news story comes over the radio about a brutal murder that was committed at a nearby farm.  There’s only a few people left in the diner — a depressed waitress (Tara from Buffy, a.k.a. Amber Benson), a tough trucker (Kevin Gage), a wimpy deputy (Lew Temple), a mysterious stranger (Harold Perrineau), two teenagers who don’t matter, and the Danny Trejo-look alike who apparently owns the place (Danny Trejo).  Anyway, all these people are so upset to hear about the murders that they blame them on the first surly stranger who happens to step into the diner.  Unfortunately, that stranger is played by Michael Madsen and he responds by shooting up the place (Danny Trejo’s head explodes in close-up) and holding the survivors hostage.  Things get a little bit more complicated when Mr. Greene (Jake Busey) shows up and reveals that someone at the diner happens to be a contract killer known as Mr. Smith.  Guess what?  It’s not Michael Madsen.

After typing all that, I feel I have a responsibility to add that this all sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is.

What Works

Well, the big “twist” is kinda obvious and you probably figured out just from reading the previous paragraph.  However, it’s still kinda fun, kinda being the word to remember.  Benson and Gage both give pretty good performances and Busey seems to be having a lot of fun.  Madsen, to be honest, seems to be on the verge of falling asleep in a few scenes but still, he can say more with an annoyed eye squint than most actors can with a 10-page monologue.  However, the film really belongs to the always underappreciated Harold Perrineau and his combative, confrontational scene with Madsen is one of the few instances when the film really comes to life.

Danny Trejo’s head explodes with style.

What Doesn’t Work

Oh.  My.  God.  Where to begin?

I can count the number of succesful “hostage” films on one hand and let’s just say that The Killing Jar is no Dog Day Afternoon.  Taking place entirely in one location and with a small cast mouthing melodramatic dialogue, The Killing Jar unfolds like one of those really bad plays that an ex-boyfriend of mine used to write in high school.  They always ended with everyone dead and always seemed to feature at least one evil redhead who ended up crying over the dead body of her ex-boyfriend.

Director Young does not help matters by confusing tension with meaningless pauses.  There’s a lot of scenes of people glaring at each other but since nobody really comes across like a human being, the glares don’t mean anything.

HOWEVER, what really didn’t work about this film was the fact that the first 20 minutes of the film was taken up with Amber Benson asking people if they wanted a slice of “Pecan Pie,” that she claimed was “the best this side of the Mason-Dixon.”  The problem here is that the film was clearly meant to be set in my part of the world.  And in my part of the world, we pronounce it “PEH-cahn.”  However, Benson repeatedly pronounced it “PEE-can.”  Seriously, this annoyed me more than words can express.  Listen up all you aspiring filmmakers — if you’re going to insist on setting your crappy films in my part of the world, at least try to get the pronunciation right.  Speaking for myself, I don’t have the slightest idea what a PEE-can is supposed to be but it sounds kinda nasty.  I’ll take a PEH-cahn over a PEE-can any day.

PEH-cahn Pie.  Good Lord, people, it’s not that difficult.

“Oh My God!  Just Like Me!” Moments:


Lessons Learned:

I have no desire to ever eat another pecan pie.