Cleaning Out The DVR: Story of a Girl (dir by Kyra Sedgwick)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 163 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Story of a Girl off of Lifetime on July 23rd, 2017!)

Michael (Kevin Bacon) owns a pizza place in a small town.  He’s just hired 16 year-old Deanna Lambert (Ryann Shane) to work for him over summer.  Deanna shows up for her first day of work.  Deanna apologizes for being late.  Michael points out that he has no costumers so it doesn’t matter.  Michael then introduces Deanna to his other employee, Tommy (Tyler Johnston).  Deanna looks shocked.  Tommy looks shocked.

“You two know each other?” Michael asks.

“In the biblical sense,” Tommy replies.

And so it goes from there…

Seriously, what was I doing on July 23rd that kept me from watching Story of a Girl?  Was I watching a shark movie on SyFy?  I do remember that Story of a Girl was very aggressively advertised in the days leading up to its premiere and I did actually mean to watch it.  I’ve read the Sara Zarr penned book on which it was based and the commercials made it look fairly good.  Add to that, it was directed by Kyra Sedgwick and co-starred Kevin Bacon and they seem like such a nice couple that I was naturally hoping it would be a good movie.

Three years ago, a sex video featuring 13 year-old Deanna and 17 year-old Tommy went viral.  While Tommy (who, as Michael points out, was committing a felony) suffers not a single bit for taking advantage of his best friend’s younger sister, Deanna is branded a slut and sent into social exile.  Her father, Ray (Jon Tenney), refuses to forgive her.  Tensions at home are exasperated by the presence of Deanna’s brother, Darren (Iain Belcher), his girlfriend, Stacey (Sosie Bacon), and their baby.  Darren and Stacey are planning on moving into a place of their own and Deanna is planning on going with them.

Though it may not be obvious from that plot description, Story a Girl is not a typical Lifetime film.  It takes place in a thoroughly blue-collar milieu and the Lamberts live in perhaps the ugliest, most cluttered house that I’ve ever seen.  Between that house and Ray acting like an asshole 24/7, it’s easy to understand why Deanna wants to get away from these people.  The problem, however, is that, after only a few minutes, most viewers will be desperate to get out of there as well.  And, unlike Deanna, viewers actually have a way of doing that.  They can just change the channel.  The film does have a good and important message but the characters are all so off-putting that a good deal of the audience probably won’t stick around to hear it.

Story of a Girl is a disappointingly superficial film.  The Juno influence is obvious but Story of a Girl never comes to life in the same way that Juno did.  Kevin Bacon is solid as Michael and Ryann Shane does a passable Ellen Page impersonation but everyone else is trapped in a film that’s long on plot but short on depth.  I really wanted to like Story of a Girl but I just didn’t.

A Movie A Day #298: Watch It (1993, directed by Tom Flynn)


In Chicago, three men all live in the same house and try to avoid growing up.  Rick (John C. McGinley) and Mike (Jon C. Tenney) are old friends while Danny (Tom Sizemore) works on stolen cars.  When Mike’s estranged cousin, John (Peter Gallagher), moves in with them, John is drawn into a steadily escalating game of pranks.  The game is called “Watch It” and the rules are simple.  No one can take anything personally and each prank must be followed by another, bigger prank.  While the four men takes turns trying to one up each other, they also deal with women who wish that they would all just grow up.  When John starts to date Mike’s ex-girlfriend, Anne (Suzy Amis), the men are forced to come to terms with their extended adolescence.

Watch It is an awkward combination of two stories.  One half of the film deals with the pranks, which get so outlandish that it is impossible to believe that a group of blue collar roommates in Chicago could pull them off.  One of John’s pranks involves imitating a police detective on a local news broadcast and saying that Danny has had a warrant issues for his arrest.  Even if John could pull that off, it seems like he would get in so much trouble that it would not be worth the effort.  (Never mind that the city of Chicago now thinks that Danny is wanted by the police.)  At the same time, Watch It also wants to be a fairly realistic relationship dramedy, with Suzy Amis and Cynthia Stevenson trying to get Gallgher and McGinley to grow up.  Despite some very good performances, Watch It is too uneven to work.  The best thing about Watch It is that it offers a chance to see actors like McGinley, Tenney, Sizemore, and Gallagher all playing quasi-normal, relatable people for once.

Talking About Love: The Best of Me (dir by Michael Hoffman) and The One I Love (dir by Charlie McDowell)


The_Best_of_Me_poster

When I wrote my review of The Theory of Everything, I mentioned that Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time made a brief, if important, appearance in another film released earlier this year.  That film, of course, was the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Best Of Me.  

Now, I have to admit that The Best Of Me was one of those forgettable films that I kind of suspected most of our readers would not mind me never getting around to reviewing.  It came out two months ago, it got terrible reviews, and it didn’t do much business at the box office.  I didn’t even enjoy it and I’m the girl who always ends up defending the Twilight films whenever the boys here at the Shattered Lens start to make fun of them.  You can tell the impression that the Rest Of Me made on me by the fact that I just got the name wrong and I didn’t even bother to correct my mistake.

But here’s the thing.  January is rapidly approaching and, with January, comes my annual 16 worst films of the year list.  And chances are that The Best Of Me will appear on that list and I’d like to be able to link to a review.

It’s probably not a shock to hear that The Best Of Me is not a good film.  With the exception of The Notebook, the novels of Nicholas Sparks are not known for inspiring good films.  Instead, they are known for inspiring films about achingly pretty people who meet on the beach, have a melodramatic secret in the past, and ultimately end up falling in love.  And dying, of course.  Somebody always has to die.  The familiar Nicholas Sparks formula actually works pretty well when you’re the one reading his prose and visualizing the story in your head.  That’s largely because you can always imagine yourself as the heroine and maybe James Franco, Bradley Cooper, or Ryan Gosling as the hero.  But, when it comes to making movies out of his books, the end results are often so predictable and uninspired that the Nicholas Sparks drinking game had to be legally banned after scores of single women fell ill with alcohol poisoning.

(Yes, that actually did happen!  Google it! …. or don’t.  Actually, don’t.)

The Best Of Me is, without a doubt, the most Nicholas Sparksian Nicholas Sparks adaptation ever made.  Seriously, it has everything that you would expect from a Nicholas Sparks film and it presents it all so predictably that watching the movie is a bit like watching a checklist.  We’ve got two former high school lovers who are reunited 20 years later.  We’ve got melodrama that comes out of nowhere.  We’ve got multiple flashbacks.  We’ve got soft focus cinematography.  And, of course, we’ve got an ending that is meant to be both tragic and inspiring but it’s neither because, since this is a Nicholas Sparks movie, we already knew that the ending was going to try to be both tragic and inspiring.

What we don’t have is much chemistry between the two lead actors.  James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan are both pretty in the way that people in Nicholas Sparks films often are but you never get the feeling that they have much affection for each other.  Even worse, in the flashbacks, their characters are played by two actors (Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato) who look absolutely nothing like James Marsden or Michelle Monaghan.  In particular, it’s impossible to believe that Luke Bracey could ever grow up to look like James Marsden.  I found myself half-expecting a huge twist where Marsden would reveal that he was an intruder.

And you know what?

That would have been a lot more interesting than what we got!  Somebody help me get in touch with Nicholas Sparks!  I’ve got some ideas for his next book!

The One I Love

For a far more memorable look at love and relationships, allow me to suggest The One I Love, a film that was obviously made for a lot less money than The Best of Me but which is also a lot more thought-provoking.

In The One I Love, Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss play a couple whose marriage is on the verge of breaking up.  At the suggestion of their friendly-yet-creepy marriage counselor (Ted Danson), they agree to spend a weekend at a beautiful but remote house.  Danson assures them that they will be the only couple at the house. Duplass and Moss agree and, at first, the weekend seems to be working.  However, soon both of them start having conversations and encounters that the other claims to not remember.  Duplass and Moss discover that they are not alone at the house…

And to tell you anything else about the plot would be unfair.  The One I Love is one of those films that works best when the viewer discovers its mysteries at the same time as the characters.  To spoil the film would be a crime.  Let’s just say that there is a twist that will leave you reconsidering everything that you’ve previously seen in the movie.

Beyond that twist, however, The One I Love works for the exact reason that The Best of Me does not.  Moss and Duplass have the chemistry that the leads in The Best Of Me lack.  You believe them both as individuals and as a couple.

So, when it comes time to consider what we talk about when we talk about love, check out The One I Love and leave The Best Of Me behind.

Trailer: Green Lantern (2nd Official Trailer)


The WonderCon 2011 exclusive trailer and footage was a major step in creating major buzz and hype for Warner Brothers’ and DC Entertainment upcoming superhero film Green Lantern. With just a little over a month left before the film premieres the second (most likely the final trailer for the film) trailer has been released and whatever doubts early marketing and ads the film seemed to give rise to have gone away with this final release.

Green Lantern is sort of the Iron Man of the DC Comics pantheon in that he’s one of the more powerful characters in that universe, but he never got to the level of iconic status as Superman and Batman. There’s a reason why the only DC comic characters to have sustained any sort of film franchise have been Superman and Batman. The Green Lantern character was never about fighting evil on Earth. His fight was always on a much more cosmic-scale and this trailer shows that the danger in the Green Lantern is cosmic in scale even. The last superhero to attempt such a concept story-wise was the Fantastic Four sequel with Silver Surfer and Galactus. That didn’t turn out as well as many hoped it would. Here’s to hoping that Green Lantern will succeed where the Fantastic Four sequel failed.

Green Lantern is set for a June 17, 2011 release. It will come out in both 2D and 3D (RealD and IMAX 3D).

Green Lantern: WonderCon Exclusive Footage


I posted just recently that Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment had been dropping the ball when it came to promoting their upcoming superhero action-adventure film slated for this summer blockbuster season. Green Lantern had its first teaser released around November of 2010 and the reception to that trailer was lukewarm at best and dismissal of the film at it’s most vocal.

It’s been almost 4 months since that disastrous attempt at promoting what would be Warner Brothers’ biggest film of the 2011. It looks like Warner Brothers and those in charge of promoting their films may have just learned a valuable lesson in releasing promotion materials when footage needed to spice it up for the target audience is not ready.

WonderCon 2011 at San Francisco has become Green Lantern central as the studios in charge of the film have released not just a kickass official theatrical poster for the film, but a 9-minute sizzle reel for those lucky enough to get a seat in the film’s panel at the Esplanade Ballroom at Moscone Center South. For those who weren’t able to see that 9-min footage the people at Warner Brothers have been gracious enough to release an abridged 4min and 3 second version into the interwebs for everyone to witness.

Even just looking at this abridged version of the WonderCon-exclusive footage has helped in dispelling much of my apprehension towards the success and workability of this film as a live-action blockbuster. The footage goes a long way in setting the tone of the film. Green Lantern has always been part of the cosmic tapestry of the overall DC Universe and the filmmakers seem to have found a way to show that epic cosmic side of the character and do it without making it look cheesy (though some of the CGI effects on the non-human members of the Green Lantern Corps could still use much tuning up).

Except for the part where Jordan is trying to figure out the Green Lantern oath in his living room the footage seems very serious in tone with little comedic beats like the teaser. I would hope that the film does have some comedic beats to it since this is Ryan Reynolds and early Hal Jordan wasn’t always the serious, gloomy gus he turned out later on in his Green Lantern run.

Green Lantern is slated for a June 17, 2011 release.

Quickie Review: Legion (dir. by Scott Stewart)


Scott Stewart’s film about the Biblical Apocalypse was one film that I was very hyped to see in the first weeks of 2010. I had heard some very good buzz about it when a red band sizzle reel was shown in at 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. This was Stewart’s first major work (he had made a smaller film in 2000 called What We Talk About When We Talk About Love) and with his background in the special effects industry I thought that this film of his would at least be a feast for the eyes. I knew going in what to expect from something about God, Angels, the Apocalypse and uneding amounts of guns and ammo. So, it was with a profound disappointment when I finally saw Legion and, despite my low expectations, was roundly disappointed with everything about it.

Legion is about God deciding that he’s had enough of humanity’s bullshit and shenanigans (a term I would put on this film) and turned his angelic hosts loose upon the world to start things new. This was God’s version of shaking the Etch-a-Sketch that is the world. He has his two favorite Archangels in Michael and Gabriel leading the vanguard of this Apocalypse with Michael tasked with making sure a baby doesn’t get born before the divine enema has been completed. Well, Michael being the introspective sone decides that he still has faith in humanity and refuses to do God’s bidding. We see Michael go through removing his wings (which also unlocks the very BDSM God collar all the angels wear) then find a huge cache of weapons inside a toy company warehouse. Seems removing the wings makes him human and minus all the cool angelic powers. He says something about the Apocalypse having started then makes off towards Bethle…I mean the diner out in the Nevada desert to protect the prophesized baby who will save humanity.

Yeah, the premise for Legion sounds awesome on paper. Militant angels led by badass Archangels like Gabriel about to go “Terminator” on mankind. The story itself was like a mish-mash of some of the best cult fantasy/horror of the past. There’s some of the cool Christopher Walken film Prophecy in the plot and, of course, one cannot but see some parallels with Cameron’s Terminator. Plus, we have a humanized Archangel Michael with guns and guns and guns to battle his former brethren with his coterie of human sidekicks to help out. The trailer for this was very cool and full of action. A trailer which pretty much had all the cool parts in this film. One can watch the trailer and actually enjoy Legion more than when they watch the film itself.

For a filmmaker with a special effects background the film looked pretty lifeless with action sequences that lacked any sort of memorable action. The dialogue wasn’t awful, but everyone’s performance made it sound worse than it really was. Even Bettany in the lead role of Michael looked tired and bored with his role (a sign the film was going downhill and downhill fast). The possessed humans who made up the bulk of the opposing force against the good  guys were uninteresting with the exception of Doug Jones’ “Ice Cream Man” character shown in the trailer. A scene the trailer pretty much showed almost in its entirety. That character was on the screen for less than two minutes then gone.

I actually think that people should just watch the trailer for Legion then pop into their dvd player Prophecy and Terminator. Doing that will pretty much give them the whole story of Legion and have a kick-ass time doing so. This was a film that looked good to great on paper, but once they actually started writing the script and started filming went down the septic tank. It’s films like these that makes one shout “shenanigans” at all those involved in its making. I think Kyle Broflowski would agree with me.