A Movie A Day #108: Against The Wall (1994, directed by John Frankenheimer)


The year is 1971 and Malcolm Smith (Kyle MacLachlan) has just started working as a prison guard at Attica Correctional Facility.  Even though his father (Harry Dean Stanton) was a prison guard, Malcolm does not fit in with the other guards at Attica.  Malcolm is younger than them and is disgusted by the inhumane treatment of the prisoners.  If not for his wife (Anne Heche) and the child that they are expecting, Malcolm would just quit but he needs the money.  He fears that he is going to eventually turn into just another sadistic guard.

When a prison riot breaks out, Malcolm is one of the guards taken hostage.  While the psychotic Chaka (Clarence Williams III) wants to kill all of the guards, Jamaal X (Samuel L. Jackson) realizes that killing the hostages will sacrifice what little leverage that prisoners have.  If the guards are killed, Jamaal X reasons, the state police will have no reason not to storm the prison and violently restore order.  Over the course of the four-day riot, Jamaal and Malcolm become unlikely friends and allies but it turns out that, even with the guards being held hostage, the government has no interest in negotiating with the prisoners.

This moving, thought-provoking, and well-acted docudrama originally aired on HBO and it won John Frankenheimer a well-deserved Emmy.  Samuel L. Jackson is powerful as Jamaal X and this is one of the few times that Kyle MacLachlan got to play a thoroughly normal person with no dark secrets or weird quirks.  Malcolm Smith is just a regular everyman who finds himself in the middle of a history-making event.

For fans of Twin Peaks, Against the Wall features three alumni of the show.  Kyle MacLachlan, of course, starred as Dale Cooper while Clarence Williams III appeared in one episode as Roger Hardy.  Finally, Harry Dean Stanton, a longtime favorite of David Lynch, appeared in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham)


Twin Peaks

This is where Twin Peaks starts to go into uncharted territory.

“Masked Ball”, directed by Duwayne Dunham, marks the first full episode after the closure of the Palmer case. We begin in the best way possible – a long motorcycle ride out of Twin Peaks with James Hurley (James Marshall). He’s moving on, and the audience is brought along for the ride.

At the precinct, Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) and Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) speak with Betty Briggs (Charlotte Stewart) over the disappearance of Major Briggs (Don Davis). Apparently, Betty seems to be aware of the Major’s disappearances, and goes on to state that it happens from time to time. It’s a strange angle to this new story arc. When Betty leaves, Cooper whispers to Truman that the light he saw was a powerful force in the woods. Strange things are always at work at Twin Peaks, it seems.

Hawk (Michael Horse) and Andy (Harry Goaz) come in with a package with a gift from Dougie Milford (Tony Jay, Shere Khan from Disney’s Animated version of The Jungle Book). Dougie is getting married, something that happens as often as the return of the salmon, according to Hawk. A wedding seems an interesting change of pace, considering we’ve had two funerals over the course of the show so far.

A call comes in from Gordon Cole (David Lynch) to offer his support to Cooper. Due to his actions across the border at One Eyed Jacks, he’s now under investigation by the FBI. Gordon asks if everything Cooper is accused of is true, to which Cooper denies it. To help investigate the drug angle with the Renaults in Twin Peaks, Cole states they’re sending in Dennis Bryson (David Duchovny, just a few years before The X-Files).

Cooper meets with Roger Hardy (Clarence Williams III, The General’s Daughter). and two other personnel. Talk about time travel. On the table is one of the first Apple laptops ever made in 1989, weighing in at about 16 pounds. When asked about what he wants to bring to the defense, Cooper admits he has no defense. Yes, he did travel outside of his jurisdiction to One Eyed Jacks, but overall, he’s “innocent of any wrongdoings”. This statement causes Hardy to go “off the record” and have the computer shut down.

TP-Interrogation

“Dale, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.” Hardy starts, asserting that an individual of the Bureau should be able to stand up for themselves. Cooper speaks of the magic of Twin Peaks. The life in the trees and animals, and the elements that have amazed him so far. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really help his case. Hardy keeps the suspension in effect and it’ll be up to the D.E.A. And the Canadians to decide his fate. Cooper rises and takes one last look at his badge and pistol before leaving as Citizen Cooper. I liked that they ended with the badge and pistol. The audience has to wonder what he’s looking at for a moment before revealing it.

The next scene has us in High School, with Nadine (Wendy Robie) bounding down the stairs and running into Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle). On greeting Donna, Donna asks if she’s seen James. Nadine states she hasn’t. I suppose James didn’t tell anyone he was leaving. She asks Donna if she happens to still be going out with Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger). Nadine feels that she and Mike have some great chemistry going on, though Mike doesn’t seem quite in on this knowledge, given the cold shoulder he gives her in the hallway.

“What about Ed?”Donna asks. If she’s with Ed (Everett McGill), how should she be with Mike? Nadine has a plan. Ed’s at home, Mike’s at school, she’ll find a way to manage it, and Ed’s old enough to be her father, she adds. I enjoyed that scene. Any comedic scene with Wendy Robie in this show, I’m for it.

Twin-Peaks-Donna-Nadine.jpg

Meanwhile, James makes a pit stop at a local bar, where he finds a young blonde dressed in red. Over beers, she mentions she has a Jaguar that needs fixing. James has just the skill set for that sort of thing. She introduces herself as Evelyn Marsh, and he plays the jukebox, perhaps wondering what he’s getting himself into. First Laura, then Donna, then Maddy, then Donna, now this? Goodness.

Back at the precinct, Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan, Panic Room, One Life to Live) brings little Nicky by. Dick explains to Andy that they’re going out for a malted and wanted to bring Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) along. Since both men are vying for Lucy’s affections, treating Nicky well seemed like it would work out in either man’s favor. Andy states that Lucy is at the Great Northern, helping with the Milford wedding, which reminds Dick that Dougie’s getting married again. It’s like an annual event, this wedding. When Dick moves to change their plans, Nicky becomes upset. Andy chimes in, saying that he’d love to come along for the malted. Reluctantly, Dick has him come along.

Here comes one of my favorite scenes, back to back. In Truman’s office, Truman asks Cooper what they should do if they can’t clear him. Cooper’s answer to this is that the Giant told him that the path is formed by laying one stone at a time, meaning they’d have to cross that bridge when they get to it. Cooper asks both men of the White Lodge that Briggs spoke of. Hawk, who’s also in the room, states that the White Lodge is another world. The White Lodge is where the spirits reside, and that there’s also a Black Lodge. The Black Lodge carries the shadow selves of each person, and everyone has to pass through that at some point in their lives. They refer this as The Dweller on the Threshold, and if you fail to pass through, your soul will be annihilated. Sounds pleasant, no?

The intercom rings, letting everyone in the room know that Agent Dennis Bryson has arrived. As one of the finest minds in the D.E.A., he should be able to get right to the bottom of the drug issues in Twin Peaks.

So, in walks Dennis, who is a woman now. Duchovny, along with Wendy Robie later on, pretty much steal this episode from everyone else.

“It’s a long story…” she starts, “but I prefer Denise if you don’t mind.” The magic of this scene is that it takes just a finger snap for both Cooper and Truman to adjust to this. Hawk might need a little time, but after that heartbeat, everyone’s accepting and is down to business. Denise says she’ll look into things and will get back to everyone, since both she and Cooper are staying at the Great Northern.

TP-Denise

We’re at the High School weight room. It’s leg day, and Mike is on the leg press. Nadine sits at an adjacent leg press machine, but not before putting the pin in the maximum weight allowed. She holds his gaze as she pushes the set with ease. Mike asks her what she wants, but she suggests that he’s a little forward. The wrestling coach (Ron Taylor) catches sight of the weight and offers Nadine a position on the wrestling team, much to Mike’s surprise.

Truman is home, and Josie is in bed. It’s morning. Holding each other, Truman asks her to tell the truth about what she’s been keeping secret. She reveals that she worked for a man in Hong Kong named Thomas Eckhardt, who took her off the streets and taught her about business. After that, she met her husband Andrew. When Truman inquires about Mr. Lee, she explains that Lee worked for Eckhardt, who still feels he has a claim to Josie. Josie believes that Eckhardt is who killed her husband, but I’m wondering if she’s not being truthful. Wasn’t it brought to light that Hank Jennings (Chris Mulkey) was involved in Andrew’s murder. Truman accepts this and all is well, for now. I don’t normally enjoy the Josie / Truman scenes, but I’ll admit that this was nice.

At the RR diner, Roger Hardy is having some of the pie there, of which he’s heard great things. Hank and Ernie Niles (James Booth) steps into the room. With great pleasure, Norma (Peggy Lipton) informs Ernie that her mom has left him, which he doesn’t take too well. Hank reassures him that it will allow him to concentrate more on the work at hand.

Meanwhile, Nicky is given his malted, with Andy and Dick at his side. Nicky blows the whipped cream into Dick’s face, and spins Andy’s chair, causing him to fall to the floor. Neither man is faring well with Little Nicky, and by the end of the scene, I’m shocked they haven’t held him down and checked his scalp for triple 6’s.

At Evelyn Marsh’s garage, James is doing the repair work on the Jaguar. She states that her husband, Jeffrey, loves the car and that he’s currently away on business. Jeffrey has to have the most beautiful toys, according to Evelyn. This causes James to have a mini speech about his motorcycle and how it’s more important about where it can take him. As a rider, I can easily relate to nighttime rides to nowhere. It’s a great feeling. Evelyn offers a room for him while he’s fixing the car, leaving him to wonder where all of this is going.

I should also note that the actress who plays Evelyn, Annette McCarthy, bears a wild resemblance to Priscilla Barnes from Three’s Company (an old show from the late 70’s). It’s rather odd.

TP-James-Evelyn

Back at the Great Northern, Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) is watching old videos of the establishment when Hank walks in. Ben is haggard, scruffy looking and is upset that Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie) has gotten over on him. Ben talks about rearranging the furniture in such a way where it’s aesthetically pleasing to the owner – basically Feng Shui. Hank informs Ben that he’s no longer working for him and that ownership of One Eyed Jack’s has changed. Ben deduces that it’s now Jean Renault (Michael Parks) who owns the establishment. Ben goes back to watching his videos, making finger puppets for his amusement.

RIII--Twin Peaks

In his room, Cooper receives a tape from Windom Earle. On the tape, Windom goes on to say that he and Cooper will cross paths, and eventually, “the King must die.”

We’re at Dougie’s wedding. When the priest asks if there’s anyone who objects, Mayor Dwayne Milford (Dougie’s Brother) chimes in. “She after his money.” He barks, but Truman pulls him to the side. Dougie comforts his bride to be (Robyn Lively) and they continue on.

TP-Wedding

In his room, Cooper receives a call from Denise, who asks to meet him at the wedding. Cooper takes a brief moment to make a tape for Diane to tell her about what happened Denise.

Cooper finds Denise comfortably sitting at the bar, waving the bridal bouquet. “Unfair advantage”, she says, smiling. “How many of those girls were Varsity wide receivers.” Denise explains that cocaine was found in Cooper’s car, but it does appear to be a frame up. Dwayne watches on as the bride and groom share a piece of cake, and states that his brother’s pretty much a “trout on a hook” when it comes to women. Pete takes the comment in stride, which has me wondering if he was thinking of Catherine at that moment.

Denise-Bouquet

Cooper asks Denise what happened to her. Denise explains she was working on a bust where the drug dealer in question “would only sell to transvestites”, so she played the part, found it relaxing, and just kept with it. “It’s not something you exactly plan on.”, She adds.

Dale meets the bride and groom, and Truman chuckles over it. According to him, Dwayne and Dougie have had this wedding fight every year. More partying continues and Cooper shares a dance with Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn), while Andy & Denise are also enjoying themselves on the dance floor. Overall, it was a fun scene, peppering some comedy throughout.

Josie and Catherine come to an agreement that has Josie working for Catherine hand and foot. When Josie leaves the room, Andrew (Dan O’Herlihy, Halloween III: Season of the Witch) steps in and says that everything’s going according to plan. What’s he doing among the living?!

Overall, for a post Palmer Case episode, I thought it did well.  Both Duchovny, Robie and the wedding scenes were standouts here. Where it’s all going, I’m not sure I can say. I’m on deck for tomorrow’s episode. We’ll find out then.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone)


The 10th episode of the 2nd season of Twin Peaks opens with a shot of Laura and Leland Palmer’s pictures on the mantle and a title card telling us that it has been three days since Leland’s death.

At the Palmer house, Mrs. Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) is preparing to bury her husband.  Doctor Hayward (Warren Frost) tries to give her a shot, which she refuses.  Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) assures her that Leland did not actually kill her daughter.

(It’s interesting to note that this episode was directed by Tina Rathone, whose last episode also featured a funeral.)

At Leland’s wake, the entire cast has shown up and they’ve all brought food.  Nadine (Wendy Robie) is dressed like a 1950s teenager.  Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) wonders if people are invited to wakes or if they just show up.  Hank (Chris Mulkey) grabs all the food that he can.  Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) tells Ed (Everett McGill) that James is blaming himself for everything that happened.  Ed promises Donna that James will eventually come back.  Speaking of coming back, Doctor Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) has finally returned from Hawaii and arrived just in time for the wake.

Cooper tells Harry (Michael Ontkean) and Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) that he has some vacation time coming up so he will be sticking around town for at least a few more days.  The Major invites Cooper to go night fishing.

Twin Peaks’s elderly mayor, Dwayne Milford (John Boylan) throws a swing at his equally elderly brother, Dougie (Tony Jay), the owner of the town’s newspaper.  As Harry and Ed pull them apart, Pete (Jack Nance) tells Cooper that Dougie and Dwayne have had a running feud for over 50 years.  Cooper says he’s really going to miss Twin Peaks.

Fade to commercial.

When the show returns, Ed and Jacoby are at Twin Peaks High School and trying to talk the vice principal (Don Calfa) into admitting 35 year-old Nadine as a member of the senior class.  Nadine runs into the office and tells them to hurry up because class is about to start and she wants to try out for cheerleader.

Cooper is in his hotel room, packing.  Audrey comes in, says that she’s from customer relations, and asks if his stay has been satisfactory.  Audrey asks if Cooper’s just going to leave and break her heart.  Cooper explains that he can’t get involved with anyone who was involved in any of his cases.  Cooper explains that he once fell in love with a material witness.  He was supposed to protect her but, when the attempt was made on her life, he was not prepared and she died in his arms.

At the Johnson house, Bobby (Dana Ashbrook) is trying on Leo’s (Eric Da Re) suit.  Bobby is going to try to convince Ben into giving him a job.  Shelly (Madchen Amick) is already getting bored with her new life.

At the sheriff’s station, Harry walks into his office and finds Catherine (Piper Laurie) waiting for him.

“Hello, Harry,” Catherine says.

“Forgive me for saying so, Catherine,” Harry replies, “but aren’t you dead?”

Catherine shrugs.  She explains that, after the explosion at the mill, she woke up in the woods with no knowledge of how she got there.  She says that a guardian angel must have rescued her.  She spent a week living in the woods, eating only tuna fish.  Harry asks what made her come back.  Catherine says that she ran out of tuna fish.

In the lobby, Dick (Ian Buchanan) tells Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) that he wants to talk about their “bambino.”  Dick says he wants to be a father, he believes the child is his, and that he’s enrolled in parenting classes.  After hiding around the corner and listening to the conversation, Andy (Harry Goaz) walks into the lobby and says that, for the sake of the baby, they should all be friends.  As Andy later explains to Hawk (Michael Horse), the key to Lucy’s heart lies in “morals and manly behaviors.”

Cooper stops by Harry’s office to say goodbye.  Harry gives Cooper a parting gift of a special fishing lure and a Book House Boy patch.  Cooper then says goodbye to Hawk, Andy, and Lucy.  However, the goodbyes are interrupted by the arrival of FBI Agent Roger Hardy (Clarence Williams IIIand Preston King (Gavan O’Herlihy) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

(Long before they both appeared on Twin Peaks, Clarence Williams III and Peggy Lipton co-starred on The Mod Squad.  Gavan O’Herlihy is the son of Dan O’Herlihy.  Best known for playing Conal Cochran in Halloween III, Dan will join the cast of Twin Peaks in one more episode.  As for Gavan, he is probably best known for playing Chuck Cunningham during the first season of Happy Days and getting shot by Charles Bronson in Death Wish II.)

Roger tells Cooper that he has been suspended from the FBI.  Cooper’s raid on One-Eyed Jack’s was a violation of FBI policy because it involved crossing the border into Canada.  Roger says that there are other allegations as well but they’re waiting for the evidence to arrive.  Roger explains that King was involved in a sting operation to capture Jean Renault and that Cooper’s actions screwed it up.  Also, the cocaine that King was using as a part of the operation disappeared after Cooper’s raid.  Roger tells Cooper that he has 24 hours to assemble his defense.

At the Great Northern, Audrey helps Bobby get into Ben’s office but Ben (Richard Beymer) immediately has Bobby tossed out.  Audrey saves Bobby from Ben’s goons.  In order to thank her, Bobby buys Audrey an ice cream cone.  “I like to lick,” Audrey says.

At Twin Peaks High School, Nadine tries out for cheerleader.  Nadine now has Hulk-like super strength now, which she demonstrated by picking up a student and throwing him through the air.

Bobby calls Shelly to tell her about the meeting.  While Shelly talks on the phone about how they have to put Leo in a home, Leo moves forward in his wheel chair.  “He moved!” Shelly says, shocked.

At the diner, Norma (Peggy Lipton) takes the fancy table cloths off the tables and complains to Vera (Jane Greer) about a bad review that the Double R got from the mysterious travel writer, M.T. Wentz.  Vivian reveals that she’s M.T. Wentz and she gave her own daughter’s diner a negative review.  Vera says that she can’t violate her professional ethics.

At One-Eyed Jack’s, Hank and Ernie (James Booth) are chasing women and acting like fools.  Hank is pressuring Ernie to steal Vera’s money.  Ernie says he could never do that, he’s gone straight.  That’s when Hank introduces Ernie to his new employer, Jean Renault (Michael Parks).  Jean is looking for someone to serve as a money launderer and Ernie agrees, bragging that he has set up deals for everyone from the Colombians to the Bolivians.  Jean is pleased and introduces Ernie to his other partner, Preston King of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

That night, Harry is woken up by someone knocking on the door to his cabin.  When he opens the door, Josie (Joan Chen), who was supposed to be in Seattle, stumbles in and collapses.

In the woods, Cooper and Major Briggs are camping, roasting marshmallows, and discussing right and wrong.  Briggs says that it is some men’s fate to face great darkness.  Briggs asks if Cooper has ever heard of the White Lodge.  Cooper says he hasn’t but he looks forward to hearing more about it.  Cooper then goes off to relieve himself.  There is a flash of white light.  “Cooper!” Briggs shouts as a hooded man appears in the woods.  Cooper runs back to the camp, just to discover that Briggs has vanished.

This uneven episode finds Twin Peaks struggling to establish an identity after the conclusion of the Laura Palmer storyline.  For me, the highlight was Leland’s wake, which showed Twin Peaks as a community.  Nadine’s adventures in high school may be cartoonish but they hold up better than I thought they would.  Finally, this was the first episode to mention that all-important White Lodge.

Tomorrow, both David Duchovny and Dan O’Herlihy join the cast in Masked Ball.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman

Insomnia File No. 15: George Wallace (dir by John Frankenheimer)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

George Wallace

If, after watching Promise last night, you discovered that you were still suffering from insomnia, you could have watched the very next film that premiered on TCM.  That film was the 1997 biopic, George Wallace.

Like PromiseGeorge Wallace was originally made for television.  Also, much like Promise, George Wallace is a character study of a conflicted man who makes many people uncomfortable and it’s also well-acted by a cast of veteran performers.  That, however, is where the similarities end.  Whereas Promise was ultimately a rather low-key and human drama, George Wallace is an epic.  Clocking in at nearly 3 hours and telling a story that spans decades, George Wallace attempts to use one man’s life story as a way to tell the entire story of the civil rights movement.

That’s a tremendously ambitious undertaking, especially for a film that had to conform to the demands of 1990s television.  Therefore, it’s probably not surprising that the movie, as a whole, is uneven.  It’s not a bad movie but, at the same time, it doesn’t quite work.

First off, we need to talk about who the historical George Wallace was.

(Here’s where I get to show off my amazing history nerd powers.  Yay!)

George Wallace served a total of four terms as governor of Alabama.  A protegé of a populist known as “Big Jim” Folsom, Wallace first ran for governor in 1958.  He campaigned as a moderate who supported integration and, as a result, he was defeated by the KKK’s endorsed candidate, John Patterson.  (Oddly enough, a fictionalized version of Patterson was the hero of the classic and racially progressive 1955 film, The Phenix City Story.)  When Wallace ran again in 1962, he ran as an outspoken segregationist and defeated his former mentor, Jim Folsom.  Infamously, Wallace is the governor who stood in the schoolhouse door and announced that Alabama would never accept integration.  Unable to succeed himself, Wallace arranged for his wife, Lurleen, to be elected as governor.  Lurleen subsequently died in office, succumbing to cancer while Wallace was running for President as the candidate of the American Independent Party.  (As of this writing, Wallace is the last third party presidential candidate to carry any states.)  Reelected governor in 1970, Wallace married Folsom’s niece and made another presidential run.  However, after a string of primary victories, that campaign was cut short when Wallace was shot and crippled by Arthur Bremer.  (Bremer would serve as the inspiration for Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.)  Confined to a wheelchair, Wallace served as governor until 1978 and, in 1976, ran for President one final time.  After being out of office for four years, he was elected Governor for one final term in 1982.  Late in life (and, it should be pointed out, long after integration had been generally accepted as the law of the land), Wallace renounced his segregationist past and publicly apologized for standing in the schoolhouse door.  During his final campaign for governor, he won a majority of the black vote and he proceeded to appoint more blacks to state positions than any governor before him.

George Wallace lived a long, dramatic, and interesting life and he’s still a very controversial figure.  Who was the real George Wallace?  Was he a political opportunist who used racism to further his career?  Was he truly a racist who saw the error of his ways and repented or did he only pretend to renounce his former beliefs once they were no longer popular?  And, even if Wallace was sincere in his regret, did he deserve to be forgiven or should he always be remembered as the villainous caricature that Tim Roth portrayed in Selma?  If we forgive or make excuses for the actions of a George Wallace, do we run the risk of diminishing the success and importance of the civil rights movement?

And I, honestly, have no answers to those questions.  Unfortunately, neither does George Wallace.  But before we get into that, let’s consider what does work about this film.

George Wallace opens in 1972 with Wallace campaigning in Maryland.  Wallace is played by Gary Sinise and his second wife, Cornelia, is played by a very young Angelina Jolie.  Sinise and Jolie both give brilliant performances, perhaps the best of their respective careers.  Sinise plays Wallace as a calculating and charismatic politician who is also a very angry man.  Throughout every second of his performance, we are aware of Wallace’s resentment that his political success in Alabama has potentially made him unelectable in the rest of the country.  Watching Sinise as Wallace, you see a man who believes in himself but doesn’t necessarily like the person that he’s become.  Meanwhile, Jolie plays Cornelia like a Southern Lady MacBeth and watching her, I remembered how, at one time, Angelina Jolie really did seem like a force of nature.  The Angelina Jolie of George Wallace is the wild and uninhibited Jolie of the past (the one who once said, “You’re in bed, you’ve got a knife, shit happens.”), as opposed to the safe and conventional Jolie of the present, the one who is currently directing rather stodgy movies like Unbroken and By The Sea.

After Wallace is shot, the film goes into flashback mode.  We watch as Wallace goes from being a liberal judge to being the segregationist governor of Alabama.  Mare Winningham plays Lurleen Wallace while Joe Don Baker plays Big Jim Folsom.  They all do a pretty good job but the flashback structure is so conventional (and so typical of a made-for-tv biopic) that it makes the film a bit less interesting.

There’s also a character named Archie.  Played by Clarence Williams III, Archie is literally the only major black character in the entire film.  He is portrayed as being a former convict who has been hired to serve as Wallace’s valet.  While Wallace plots to thwart the civil rights movement, Archie stands in the background glowering.  At one point, he’s even tempted to kill Wallace.  However, after Wallace is shot, Archie helps to take care of him.  The film suggests that being shot and subsequently cared for by Archie is what led to Wallace renouncing his racist views.  (The film also suggests that Wallace was never that much of a racist to begin with and, instead, was just so seduced by power that he would say whatever he had to say to win an election in Alabama.)

At the end of the film, we’re informed that almost everyone in the film was real but that Archie was fictional.  The problem, of course, is that the film is suggesting that the fictional Archie is responsible for the real-life Wallace both rejecting racism and apologizing for the all-too real consequences of racism.  The film ends with the realization that the filmmakers were so convinced that audiences would not be able to accept an ambiguous portrait of a public figure that they created a fictional character so that Wallace could have a moment of redemption.

(It also doesn’t help that a film about civil rights only features one major black character and that character is a fictional valet who doesn’t get to say much.)

In the end, the film doesn’t seem to be certain what it’s trying to say about Wallace and the meaning of his dramatic life.  That said, I enjoyed watching George Wallace because of the acting and because, as a history nerd, I always enjoy seeing historical figures portrayed on-screen, even if the filmmakers don’t seem to be quite sure what they’re tying to say about them.

George Wallace was directed by John Frankenheimer, a good director who, it appears, was constrained by the demands of 1990s television.  If George Wallace were made today, it would probably air on HBO and would probably be allowed to take more of a firm stand one way or the other on Wallace’s character.  That said, it would probably also be directed by Jay Roach who, to put it lightly, is no John Frankenheimer.

Anyway, George Wallace doesn’t quite work but it’s definitely interesting.  Watch it for Gary and Angelina!

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers
  10. Eye For An Eye
  11. Summer Catch
  12. Beyond the Law
  13. Spring Broke
  14. Promise

Insomnia File No. 6: Frogs For Snakes (dir by Amos Poe)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

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If you were suffering from insomnia last night, at around two a.m., you could have turned over to Flix and watched the 1998 film Frogs For Snakes.

And if you were suffering from insomnia, watching Frogs For Snakes would probably have been a good idea because this film is amazingly dull.  In fact, I am not sure that I have the words to express to you just how tedious Frogs For Snakes truly was.  It may be necessary for me to go back to school and learn how to speak in a dead language in order for me to express the boredom that I felt while watching Frogs For Snakes.

And yes, I realize that I’m talking about an obscure film that was released nearly 20 years ago and it might seem kind of petty to, at this late date, make a big deal about how terrible this film was.

But seriously, Frogs For Snakes was really, really bad.  In fact, it was disturbing to think that a film this bad could have actually been made.  It was even more disturbing to consider that this film was apparently given a theatrical release and, all these years later, still pops up on cable so that it can proudly display its overwhelming mediocrity.

Now, I’m going to tell you what Frogs For Snakes is about and you’re going to think, “That actually sounds like it might be kind of interesting.”  Don’t be fooled!  The film may sound interesting but it’s not.

Frogs for Snakes takes place in a stylized, neo-noir version of New York City.  Eva Santana (Barbara Hershey) is an aging actress who claims to have quit the business, though it’s clear that it’s more a case of the business quitting her.  She talks about leaving New York and raising her son in a better environment.  However, until she gets around to leaving, she’s making ends meet by working as a waitress at a diner owned by the kind-hearted Quint (Ian Hart).  And, of course, when she’s not waitressing, she’s working as a debt collector for her ex-husband, a loan shark named Al Santana (Robbie Coltrane).

That’s right, this actress has a gun and she uses it frequently.  However, because Eva is good at heart, she rarely kills anyone.  Instead, she just shoots them in the foot and tells them to pay back their loans while they lay on the floor and scream in agony.  (All that agonized screaming got pretty old after a while.)

As for Al, he’s not just a loan shark.  He’s a theatrical impressario.  He’s planning on putting on a production of David Mamet’s American Buffalo.  He promises his driver a role in American Buffalo on the condition that the driver assassinate Eva’s new boyfriend (John Leguizamo, of course).

Soon, actors all over New York are literally killing to get a role in Al’s play.  Meanwhile, Eva just wants to retire and get out of New York but first, she has to do one last job for Al…

In between all the killing, the characters frequently launch into monologues that have been lifted from other films.  John Leguizamo does a Brando imitation.  Lisa Marie (Tim Burton’s ex, not yours truly) delivers the cuckoo clock speech from The Third Man.  A suggestion for aspiring filmmakers: if you’re going to make a bad film, don’t remind your audience that they could be watching The Third Man instead.

Anyway, the plot sounds interesting but none of the potentially intriguing ideas are explored.  I imagine that the film was meant to be a satire of Off-Broadway ruthlessness but ultimately, the film is just another tediously violent indie film from the 90s.  This is one of those movies where nobody can do anything without spending an excessive amount of time talking about it beforehand and, when things do turn violent, it’s the worst type of quirky, sadistic, drawn-out, “look how crazy we are” violence.

There’s a scene towards the end of the film where Al shoots a group of people in a bar.  This is intercut with clips from the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin.  As Al leave, he shoots the TV showing Battleship Potemkin and, I have to say, that really annoyed me.  Seriously, just as a bad filmmaker should not remind people that they could be watching The Third Man, he shouldn’t invite them to compare his film to Battleship Potemkin unless he’s willing to back up the comparison.  When Al shot the TV, I found myself hoping that Sergei Eisenstein would pop up and shoot him.

Frogs for Snakes is one of the worst films that I’ve ever seen.  It may, in fact, be the worst but I would need to rewatch Ted 2 before I said that for sure.  But, if you have insomnia, Frogs For Snakes will at least put you to sleep.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice

 

Val’s Movie Roundup #19: Hallmark Edition


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Safe Harbor (2009) – As far as Hallmark movies go, this was one of the best I’ve seen. Although, it’s almost like it’s 20 years past when it should have been released. It’s about a retired couple played by Nancy Travis and Treat Williams. One day a judge shows up who knows Williams and just dumps a couple of toubled kids on them who need a place to stay. It’s a little of the blue, but okay cause Williams gives a bit of background later. Turns out Williams once punched a cop after that officer shot his dog. Apparently, Williams had been living under a bridge. It’s after that he joined the Merchant Marine. Quite a lot of important information that his wife apparently didn’t know after all those years. I almost expected him to say I also used to go by the name Arnold Friend and did something really bad once.

Of course the judge finds a way to dump a few more kids on them. The couple steps up and decides to take care of them. They meet a little resistance from a lady in Social Services, some of the locals, especially after a fire, and one of their mothers, but for the most part it’s just getting the kids over their issues. Doing that, the movie works. It just feels like something that should have been released in 1989 as it feels reminiscent of episodes of MacGyver.

Since Mystery Woman: Game Time felt the need to censor the word “butt” in the phrase “pain in the butt”, I was rather shocked that not once, but twice, Travis and Williams try to have sex before being interrupted by the kids.

This is one of the good ones.

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Notes from the Heart Healer (2012) – This has to be the most forgettable of the Hallmark movies I have watched so far. It’s a movie technically, but barely. It’s the third film in a trilogy and I’ve only seen this one. It’s about a writer who seems to be an advice columnist type. A lady turns up at one of her book signings. She has been fired, has no place to stay, and has a baby she can’t take care of. She tries to turn to the writer for help, but when the writer’s husband shows up, she runs away. Later on she drops the baby off at the writer’s doorstep.

What follows is a very forgettable story of the writer mulling over a child she had to give up for adoption and what to do with the baby she now has in her hands. There were only two parts that were memorable. First, during the film the writer jots down some diary entries and in one she mentions that cutting the baby in two story. Honestly, I’m not sure why, but what was memorable was that she felt the need to refer to it as a decision made by “Biblical” King Solomon. A war on Christmas type thing where we want to make sure you don’t divorce the widely known story from it being in the bible? I’m really just guessing. It just stuck with me like hearing someone say “up twice down twice” when saying the Konami code. Just not something I think I’ve ever heard someone feel the need to do when that story is referenced. The second thing is when the husband reacts to something about the baby in kind of an asshole manner, for lack of a better word. But it doesn’t really go anywhere.

There, that those are the things I strongly remember tells you how forgettable this one is. Maybe the first two were better. I’ll probably find out eventually.

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Mystery Woman: Vision of a Murder (2005) – Once again, we join Kellie Martin and Clarence Williams III for another murder mystery. I haven’t mentioned her in my earlier reviews of these movies, but there is a character played by Nina Siemaszko who is basically Martin’s Beth Davenport from The Rockford Files. She’s an attorney who is frequently part of the case and definitely is in this one. In this one Martin joins Siemaszko to go to a spa and take photographs of the place. Siemaszko is going there for the spa. It’s not just a spa, but a place that does plastic surgery and other such beauty treatments.

It’s run by Charles Shaughnessy so you know something is up. But just in case you didn’t, Felicia Day is in this looking and acting like “the dog who gets beat” in that lyric from the Alice In Chains’ song Man In The Box. She might as well be wearing a sign around her neck that says “I’ve got secrets to tell.”

Describing much more is spoiling it. A dead body turns up at the spa and Day turns out to be psychic. There is a funny scene where Kellie Martin pretends to be a doctor. Funny, since she’s most famous for her role on ER. And finally, that when you get near the ending, no, it isn’t clever enough to end the way you hope.

Still, decent entry in the series and one of two of them that Kellie Martin directed herself.

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Second Chances (2013) – Yet another Hallmark romance, right? Well, not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, there is a couple, but that’s not really where the story is. The story is with her kids. It’s also a Larry Levinson Production so apparently that means they must include goofs with technology. Not sure why that’s a thing, but it seems to be.

But let’s back up here. The story begins with a firefighter and a 911 dispatcher. They kind of know each other from going back and forth on the radio during calls, but they’re really still strangers. He gets injured and needs to spend some serious downtime according to his doctor played by James Eckhouse of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame. He’s quite good and makes the most of the few scenes he’s in. The dispatcher gets her hours cut back and decides to rent out a room at her house to make up the difference. The firefighter decides to move in. That’s this movie’s excuse for the boy and girl to spend time together.

However, this is when the kids kind of take over the movie. They know that their Mom needs money so they decide to start charging residents of a nursing home a dollar for reading to them. These parts are the best parts of the film. It’s actually a shame that there had to be other parts cause if they had made that the whole film and let it go deeper then it could have been even better. But they don’t, so we do get a little romance between the two as well as some backstory on them. It really isn’t worth going into because you’re watching this for the kids and the two tech goofs.

The first tech goof comes really early in the movie. They obviously thought no one would notice and I don’t blame them here, but considering what it would have taken to make it right, it’s pretty stupid. If you have a better version of this then the one I watched on TV and can prove me wrong, then I’m all ears, but the firefighter picks up a sealed copy of a game the kid is supposedly playing from their living room table and talks to the kid about it. The kid isn’t a collector or anything. That sealed copy of the game is what he is supposedly playing. It’s weird because the two games under it are open. Again, if you have a higher definition copy and see differently, then tell me. But here’s what I was able to capture.

Notice the top of the box that shouldn't be shining if it were really open.

Notice the top of the box that shouldn’t be shining if it were really open.

The second goof, there’s no mistake. Throughout the movie there is a fake 911 dispatch screen. Fake because it’s in a Hallmark movie, but not fake because it looks ridiculous. That is, until for reasons beyond me, they felt the need to give us a closeup of the terminal portion of it where we can see that it’s a DOS command line. It’s open to a directory called “C:\Users\Art Department\” and apparently someone has been typing random crap in and trying to execute it only to get error messages.

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Like I said though, this is one of the better Hallmark movies, and the credit goes to the story with the kids.

Val’s Movie Roundup #17: Hallmark Edition


Usually these roundups are short, and I like it that way, but not this time. Not by choice either. These movies just happen to give me a lot to talk about. To borrow from one of my all time favorite TV Shows Quantum Leap: “Oh, boy!”

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Strawberry Summer (2012) – Man, was this a stinker! This is like a prototype version of Recipe For Love. You have a girl who comes into the life of a male star with problems. That star is pretending to be something they are not. They have talent, but it’s being hidden by their fake persona. The girl helps him to throw that facade aside and be himself. The two walk off in to the sunset together. Simple. Shouldn’t be hard to do, right? Here’s how you screw it up.

In Recipe For Love, she is assigned to ghostwrite a TV cook’s cookbook. She was in a job position she didn’t care for, so she has a strong motivation to make this work and push past his initial standoff nature. In Strawberry Summer, she’s basically a stalker. She lives in a small rural town in the California Salinas Valley where they are going to hold a strawberry festival. She’s the queen. She uses the fact that the country singer’s manager is an old college friend of her’s to get him to come and perform. Then she all but proceeds to jump him. But of course she can’t, so instead she looks up information about him online so she can get closer to him. This all plays out rather innocently, but that’s what she’s doing. They screwed this up by removing any good reason for her to be in his life. She’s just a really big fan who thinks she can fix a celebrity she likes a lot. In real life those people have restraining orders put on them. Have his aunt live in town and she invites him to the festival where the rest of the film can then proceed. There, I fixed this part of the movie. I said this part because there are other blunders like the computer screens.

I don’t think I have seen any other Hallmark movie show the screens of a computer more than this one does. The computer screens are hilariously fake. You can actually see that the URL is a local file. In one case she is supposed to be looking at a pseudo Wikipedia page for the singer, but it’s referred to as “Internet Web Search Online Encyclopedia”. When she typed in the search it was called “Internet Encyclopedia Search”. The URL is called “C:\Users\LLP\Desktop\Jason Wiki Page.htm”. They couldn’t call it Wikipedia, but it’s in the URL of the page. And LLP stands for Larry Levinson Productions who seems to make all of these Hallmark movies.

In general, they have the most generic titles for things: “Video Search” and “search engine”. That’s not too uncommon in movies. Remarkably generic, but I’ve seen some stupid ways of avoiding saying Google. However, while she uses “Video Search” at the beginning to show her Mom a video of the singer, later in the movie the singer is talking to his manager and the manager says he saw what he did because there’s this thing called YouTube. But that’s not all! While she is doing a search on “search engine” we can see the box in the upper right corner of Internet Explorer for doing searches that says Google. I can’t do these justice. I apologize for the quality of these screenshots, but I watched this on TV and this was the only way I could get these.

IMG_7265 IMG_7266 IMG_7267 IMG_7268 IMG_7270Along with everything else, notice that the “Community Theater” has an area code for Mexico. They couldn’t even be bothered to do a Google search to put the area code for where the movie takes place. I’m guessing they just made it up. You might say I’m nitpicking and that of course I noticed because I have a degree in Computer Science, but the reason I bring up all these errors is because these screens don’t need to be there. All she does is look at the screen and read it out loud anyways. Have her look at the screen, but don’t show it, then have her talk or make a phone call to her local Mexican Salinas Valley Community Theater. There! I fixed this part of the movie too. But there’s more.

She is the head of a glee club. The members of the glee club want to do R.E.M. or Journey for the singing contest at the festival. But no, that would mean LLP would have to spend money on this production so it’s suddenly important for the kids to do When The Saints Go Marching In. She also says she picked it because it’s one of the top marching band songs. Marching band? I thought they were a glee club? If they are a glee club, then do Shiny Happy People. If they are a marching band, then do Separate Ways (Worlds Apart). In fact, when I went to Cal their marching band did that song. And if you were confused about which they were before the ending, then the performance itself isn’t going to help.

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I can only guess that they were going to do a marching band, but then must have realized how ridiculous the kids would look or it would cost too much, but they already had the uniforms and they couldn’t change the script. I don’t know! I don’t know! And no, they can’t sing well either. No worries though, because apparently the 11 other acts, which we don’t see, must be abominable and these kids win. But this part is even worse. The rationale she gives the kids for going with When The Saints Go Marching In is that the important part is taking a song and making it yours. Fine, but then why is the rest of the film about how the singer needs to stop riding his one hit wonder song that he didn’t write to do his own material instead? Oh, and since I don’t know where else to stick it, when he announces he actually grew up in New York City, he then corrects himself to say “not those parts”, but “the good parts”. What parts exactly are “those parts”? Parts that are so well known and looked down on by rural folk that it’s really important for him to say “the good parts”. Oh, and he can’t sing either. He just does a generic Hank Williams impersonation.

Oh, then there’s the scene where he eats strawberries. Apparently, he’s never eaten them before. Fine. Then he has a major allergic reaction to them. Fine. But then he gets miraculously better. Really? Then of course Hallmark has to show commercials for EpiPen, which is a device you would use for just such a violent allergic reaction. And while I didn’t see it myself, according to other reviews, he later pops a strawberry in his mouth and nothing happens. Of course.

I guess the last thing worth mentioning is that this is my second Hallmark film that wastes Shelley Long. Why? Why get her and then completely waste her? I actually paused the movie, went to YouTube, and watched the morgue fight and desert jump scenes from Outrageous Fortune (1987) just to remind myself that she can be funny.

And there’s three more of these Hallmark movies to review still! At least the next one is decent.

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Mystery Woman: Wild West Mystery (2006) – I’ll keep this one short. It’s like every other Mystery Woman movie I’ve reviewed except this one does something I really liked. It has Bruce Boxleitner in it, and instead of like Falling In Love With The Girl Next Door, which wasted him and Shelley Long, he has some great moments in this one. I loved the parts where he acted like a total slime ball. It was great! The movie as a whole is average, but it was so refreshing to see them actually use one of the older well established actors’ talents instead of squandering them. The plot is just an old Western TV star, played by Boxleitner, who does wild west shows and someone apparently is accidentally shot. Kellie Martin and Clarence Williams III are on the case. I just wish they had done Mystery Woman as an actual TV show so they could have dialed back on the complexity of the cases and actually developed Williams’ character’s spy past more instead of just teasing it all the time.

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A Gift of Miracles (2015) – I don’t know how this time around I wound up with three Hallmark movies that were really bad. At least this one is better than Strawberry Summer.

The movie is about a girl who is a PhD candidate who doesn’t realize you have to write appropriately for your audience. Her advisor at the college tells her that, reminds her that she needs to make this pitch for her research work in order to get her PhD, and sends her to meet with a guy who apparently is good at writing. He tells her the same thing and agrees to help her. Then she storms off. Apparently, her mother died when she was one, a window breaks at night, and she finds a box with things in it that also contains a list of people.

Now she goes back to the guy and soon the two are off on an adventure to get these items to the people who are supposed to have them. Somehow this is going to help her writing. I don’t know how, but the film tells me so. Also, this guy apparently has quite the imagination because he has the worst looking poster for Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land I have ever seen on his wall.

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Good thing they picked that book instead of Time Enough For Love. That one has the main character go back in time and hook up with his Mom. Seriously. But then again, why go with the book that is about a Christ-like figure and a hard line agnostic either? I’m not entirely convinced these people have actually read Heinlein. Maybe there’s something I’ve forgotten. It has been a long time since I read it.

Anyways, the two start going around and magical coincidences happen. Some aren’t so magical like running into someone you were looking for in a parking lot after you have to pull over having had car trouble. A few years back I was doing research on a club that was at my old high school in the 1980’s. Sometime in the next year or so after I was actual hit by someone in the club while in my car stopped at a light right outside that school. Really weird stuff happens. It didn’t mean my dead grandmother made it happen. I love when they bump into the lady in the parking lot and Rachel Boston, who plays the girl, gets a look on her face like she just saw Chuck Norris eat a Cadillac.

But apparently if you string enough of these things together, then a very scientifically minded person will start believing her dead mother is making things happen from the afterlife. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: FINE! But tell me how this has anything to do with her inability to recognize that you need to write for the audience who will read it? How is a belief that her mother is watching over her from beyond going to fix that? Why is that in the movie at all? Why couldn’t she just find the box. Set off to return the items. Place the romantic interest at a central point thru which she has to travel in order to return them like they did in My Boyfriends’ Dogs. Then she learns about her mother and believes she is watching over her. There! Movie fixed!

Oh, and her pitch that she needs to write to get her PhD is plagiarized from an actual WWF report (pg. 15, http://www.wwf.se/source.php/1154907/ebm_report%202006.pdf). Here’s her pitch and here’s the part of the real world report where they just ripped it off for the movie.

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We actually see her type some of it at the end of the movie just in case we thought for a moment that maybe she was just reading this report earlier in the film.

The part about her inability to write for people who aren’t an expert in her field and her need to do so to get her degree had no reason to be part of this movie. All it does is send the message that when you are too scientific, believing in the afterlife will mean you can suddenly teach difficult things in easy to understand sentences and deliver them with passion. Couldn’t have any similarity to Jesus, right? Nah! Hallmark isn’t a religious station anymore. At least it is harmless rather than offensive like it was with Your Love Never Fails. At least I hope this was meant to be a religious reference and not just really bad writing like Strawberry Summer.

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For the Love of Grace (2008) – Yes! We’ve made it to the last movie here and it also isn’t good. I have watched numerous Hallmark TV Movies that are obviously failed pilots, but this one is new to me. I swear it must have either been a three hour movie that was then edited down or was a whole season of a TV show that was edited together into a single movie.

Okay, she’s engaged to the guy who played The Shep (Kevin Jubinville) on Degrassi: TNG so we know he’s a douchebag already. The fireman who couldn’t look any more different from our Barbie main character grabs a piece of pizza, looks like he had his nose shoved in poop, then we see a couple pictures of a girl. That’s how we know his wife is dead. Then a fire happens, and for reasons I still am not sure of, he is walking by her house and saves her.

The most frustrating thing is how the female lead’s friend keeps telling her how much she changed after the fire. It’s infuriating because we only got to see her for a few minutes before the fire so there is no change as far as we are concerned. It’s just the way we see her in the first place. So, she’s suddenly into photography? Really, you don’t say. How does that matter to us! Oh, I mean except to sell Nikon cameras. Yeah, they make sure you know that camera is a Nikon camera. But honestly, why the photography when what she does is make a cookbook?

The rest is a love story that revolves around her finding out these fireman also do a lot of cooking. She was going to do a different book, but decides to do a fireman cookbook instead. And no, no one makes the joke about whether they serve dinner with Molotov cocktails.

The main problem with this film is that it has swiss cheese character and plot development. This could have been decent even though I kept looking at the two of them and thinking this would be awesome if that was Britney Spears and Danny Trejo. Yes, she has more chemistry with her female friend, but this still could have been okay if it didn’t keep making these leaps, then saying things as if we were there the whole time. It’s very annoying. However, this is the least worst of the three bad ones here.

Plus, it also has Justin Kelly from Degrassi: TNG in it as well! Obviously, the upcoming Lifetime Unauthorized Degrassi movie will be that while it appeared they were in school the whole time, they were actually starring in lots of Lifetime and Hallmark movies.

I really recommend that if you need to watch a movie with “For the Love of” in the title, then watch For the Love of Rusty. And while you’re at it: Adventures of Rusty, The Return of Rusty, The Son of Rusty, My Dog Rusty, Rusty Leads the Way, Rusty Saves a Life, and Rusty’s Birthday too. Cause German Shepherds rule!

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For those who read the beginning and made it to the end. Here’s a compilation of Oh, Boys! And yes, I’m aware that the show is basically about God sending a man around in time along with a guardian angel to fix things done by Satan.