Cleaning Out The DVR: Killer Body (dir by David I. Strasser)


(I recorded Killer Body off of Lifetime on December 30th.)

Oh my God, this was a great movie!

Okay, so check this out.  Once upon a time, there was a medical student named Elizabeth (Lindsay Maxwell) who felt like she was being shunned and ignored by her classmates.  She had a crush on a doctor named Chris (Peter Benson) but Chris was in love with Katie Jones (Sunny Mabrey),  Eventually, Elizabeth ended up having a total melt down and was forced to drop out of medical school.  Elizabeth become obsessed with plastic surgery, hoping to make herself look perfect (which, in this case, meant looking more and more like Katie).  Now going by the name Liz Oakley, she goes from doctor to doctor, getting work done and then suing them for malpractice.  And if she can’t get your medical license taken away, she’ll just spray you with poison perfume.  Seriously, this film features 4 separate attacks by toxic perfume.

One day, Liz shows up at Katie’s office and, until Liz introduced herself, Katie doesn’t even recognize her.  Liz wants some minor work done and she claims that she’s been referred by one of Katie’s colleagues.  Of course, Liz soon proves herself to be just as unstable as you might expect someone who regularly murders people to be.  Soon, all Katie’s like, “I don’t want you as my patient anymore,” and Liz is like, “Fine, I’ll just destroy your life.”

Soon, Liz is showing up on a college campus and making a seriously awkward attempt to befriend Liz’s daughter.  Katie and Chris (whose brilliant medical career has been brought to an end by a stroke) take out a restraining order but there’s nothing in that order that can stop Liz from going to another, less ethical plastic surgeon and having more work done in her quest to be perfect and to look more like Katie.  Of course, when the surgery results in Liz having a barely noticeable scar on her chin, it’s not a good thing…

Obviously, the success of a film like this pretty much hinges on the actress who is cast as the stalker/psycho character and fortunately, Liz is played by Lindsay Maxwell.  Maxwell turns Liz into a force of  uncontrollable, narcissistic nature and one of the more entertaining aspects of the film is watching as Liz goes from smiling to screaming in just a matter of seconds.  On the one hand, Liz is a complete psycho but, on the other hand, who hasn’t wanted to be perfect and who hasn’t, at least once, thought about they would do to achieve that perfection?  Maxwell wisely adds just a bit of vulnerability to the character, making Liz a psycho to whom you can relate.  Sunny Mabrey and Peter Benson also contribute good performance but ultimately, the film is dominated by Lindsay Maxwell and her bottle of killer perfume.

Killer Body was a killer melodrama, exactly the type of movie that we watch Lifetime to see.  Between the murders and the intrigue and the attempts to fool Chris into committing adultery, this was a wonderfully entertaining look at just how far people will go to achieve perfection.

Playing Catch-Up: The BFG (dir by Steven Spielberg)


the_bfg_poster

I heard so many negative things about Steven Spielberg’s latest film, The BFG, that I was really expecting it to be terrible.  When it came out this summer, a lot of critics seemed to take an almost perverse delight in talking about its flaws and some people actually seemed to be thrilled over the fact that it flopped at the box office.

And I have to admit that the commercials that I had seen didn’t really fill me with much desire to actually sit through the movie.  Mark Rylance looked vaguely grotesque as the giant.  Add to that, I spent several months convinced that BFG stood for “Big Fucking Giant.”  Once I was reminded that he was actually a Big Friendly Giant, I was kinda like, “But wouldn’t my way be more fun?”

But anyway, I finally watched The BFG last night and it’s actually not terrible.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not great.  In many ways, this movie is Spielberg at his most sentimental.  Imagine if every triumphant musical cue in Lincoln was stretched out for two hours and you might have an idea as to how he approaches The BFG.  At times, I had a hard time following the film’s storyline, largely because the pacing was totally off.  As a director, Spielberg never seems to be quite sure if he’s making a film exclusively for kids or if he’s trying to make a film that adults can appreciate with their children.  It’s a tonal mess.

And yet, for all those weaknesses, The BFG has enough sweet moments that it feels a little bit churlish to be too critical of it.  Spielberg’s heart seems to be in the right place, even if he is struggling to figure out how to express himself.  As I watched the film, I felt bad about being so dismissive of what I had seen of Rylance’s performance in the commercials leading up the actual film.  Rylance gives a heartfelt and warm performance, playing a giant who, because he is so nice, is bullied by even bigger giants.

As I said, I struggled to follow the film’s story.  I knew that BFG had been forced to abduct an orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) because she saw him and he couldn’t risk her accidentally revealing his existence to the rest of the world.  I also understood that BFG also had protect her from the other giants because the last child he befriended was eaten by those other giants.  But then there was all this stuff about dream time and eventually, Queen Elizabeth II showed up and declared war on the evil giants and I was just so confused.  For once, Spielberg’s skills as a story-teller fail him.  It’s hard to believe that they same director who did the simple and economical Duel also did The BFG.

To be honest, the folks at Pixar, with their trademark mix of sentiment and subversion, would have been the ideal team to take on The BFG.  Spielberg’s instincts are so resolutely mainstream that he doesn’t seem to understand how to best approach some of the story’s more “out there” elements.  But that said, The BFG isn’t terrible.  Mark Rylance does a really good job as the giant and, as you would expect from any Spielberg film, the film is undeniably visually impressive.

The BFG may not be great but it’s not awful.