The Eric Roberts Collection: Road to the Open (dir by Cole Claassen)

In 2014’s Road to the Open, Eric Roberts and John Schneider play, respectively, Tim and Rob Gollant.

The Gollant brothers are wealthy, smug, and athletic.  At the local country club, they’re not only the best golf players but also the best tennis players.  They’re the type who taunt their opponents while they’re losing.  No one really likes the Gollant brothers but people put up with them because the Gollant brothers are extremely rich.  When they tell you to get off of their bench at the club, it’s because it really is their bench.  Their names are literally on the bench.

The Gollant Brothers aren’t exactly likeable but they are fun to watch, specifically because they’re played by John Schneider and Eric Roberts.  Roberts and Schneider give perfect performances as two men who have never actually had to grow up.  They’re the type of overage high school bullies who wouldn’t stand a chance in the real world but who, fortunately, can spend all of their time hiding out at their country club.

Of course, the Gollants are not the heroes of Road to the Open.  Instead, they’re the obstacle standing in the way of Jerry McDonald (Troy McKay) and Miles Worth (Philip DeVova).  Jerry and Miles are lifelong friends who enjoy playing tennis together.  Overweight, balding, and mild-mannered, Jerry is not a typical athlete and he knows it.  Haunted by the death of his wife and raising his daughter on his own, Jerry doesn’t so much fear losing as much as he fears letting everyone down.  Miles, meanwhile, is a typical athlete, right down to the anger management issues.  Fortunately, Miles has been seeing a somewhat eccentric therapist (Judd Nelson) and he may have finally learned how to control his temper.

There’s a lot of tennis in Road to the Open but, ultimately, it’s about Jerry and Miles’s friendship and Jerry trying to find the strength to move on with his life.  Even though he meets and falls in love with Sam (Michelle Gunn), Jerry still feels as if he’s betraying the memory of his wife and, at times, he feels guilty for feeling any sort of happiness.  There’s a lot of comedy to be found in Road to the Open but, ultimately, this film is a heartfelt and rather sweet testament to friendship and love.  It’s also a well-acted film, with McKay, DeVova, and Gunn bringing a lot of likable energy to their roles.

I watched Road to the Open on Tubi.  It turned out to be a nice surprise.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Deadline (2012)
  17. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  18. Lovelace (2013)
  19. Self-Storage (2013)
  20. Inherent Vice (2014)
  21. Rumors of War (2014)
  22. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  23. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  24. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  25. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  26. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  27. Monster Island (2019)
  28. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  29. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  30. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  31. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  32. Top Gunner (2020)
  33. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  34. Killer Advice (2021)
  35. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  36. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

Lifetime Film Review: Girl In The Basement (dir by Elisabeth Rohm)

When Sara (Stefanie Scott) disappears shortly before her 18th birthday, her mother (Joely Fisher) and her older sister (Emily Topper) are naturally concerned. Significantly less concerned is her creepy father, Don (Judd Nelson). Don says that Sara has always been irresponsible and has always placed her own wants and desires above what’s best for her family. Don goes on to say that Sara had long been threatening to go on a road trip and that her plan was to see all 50 states before returning home.

The years pass and Sara never returns home. Don says that it’s obvious that Sara has decided never to return and that it’s best not to even worry about her. When Sara’s mother suggests maybe hiring a private detective, Don angrily says that he doesn’t want to hear another word about it. Sara has made her decision and he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

And the years continue to pass.

Of course, Don knows exactly where Sara is. He knows that, years ago, he tricked her into the going into the basement and that he then locked her in a secret room. Everyday, he takes her some food. He rewards her if he feels that she’s being good. He punishes her if he feels that she’s still being rebellious. As the years pass, Sara has several children, all fathered by Don. They live in the basement with Sara.

It’s a disturbing story, made all the more disturbing by the fact that it’s based on actual events. For 24 years, Elizabeth Fritzl was trapped, by her father, in a basement. Girl In The Basement is Lifetime’s take on the story. It was directed by Elisabeth Rohm, who has starred in several Lifetime films herself. Girl In The Basement is relentlessly grim, as it should be. It’s not particularly a fun film to watch but it’s impossible not to be inspired by the fact that the Sara, the film’s stand-in for Elizabeth Fritzl, managed to survive, no matter how terrible the situation became. She never gave up. Rohm does a good job of capturing the oppressive claustrophobia of Sara’s existence and Joely Fisher, Emily Tapper, and Stefanie Scott all did good job of showing how the victims of abuse often make excuses for their abusers. Even before he locks Sara in the basement, everyone in the family knows that Don is a monster but they’ve all come to accept it. They’ve all come to feel as if “That’s just Don.” Like most abusers, Don knows how to manipulate and how to gaslight his victims into accepting almost anything.

Judd Nelson does a good job in the role of Don. Unfortunately, we’re so used to seeing Judd Nelson play creeps that it was impossible to be surprised when he turned out to be one in this movie. The casting was a bit too on-the-nose and, whenever Nelson was onscreen, I found myself thinking about all over the other films that I’ve seen that featured Judd Nelson as a villain. That said, Nelson brought enough authenticity to Don’s sudden mood swings that he was convincingly menacing. It’s not just that Don locks his daughter in the basement and abuses her for 24 years while insisting that the family should just forget that she ever existed. It’s that he’s so damn proud of himself after he does it.

Girl in the Basement is well-done Lifetime true crime film, albeit not a particularly pleasant one to watch.

Relentless (1989, directed by William Lustig)

Buck Taylor (Judd Nelson) is the son of an LAPD cop who has never gotten over the bitterness he feels over being rejected by the force himself.  Determined to get revenge on a world that refuses to look beyond the dark circles under his eyes, Buck becomes a serial killer.  He picks his victims at random from the phone book.  Because his father was a cop and he studied to join the force, Buck knows all the tricks of the trade.

Pursuing Buck are two cops.  Bill Malloy (Robert Loggia) is a veteran detective who is supposed to be laid back though Robert Loggia was one of those actors who never seemed like he had been laid back a day in his life.  Malloy’s new partner is Sam Dietz (Leo Rossi).  Dietz has just transferred to Los Angeles from New York and he’s having a hard time adjusting.  Everyone is just too laid back.

When Buck starts to target the two cops who are investigating him, the case gets personal and relentless.

Relentless is a movie that I’ve been meaning to review for five years now.  In the past, I’ve always been deterred by the fact that reviewing Relentless would mean rewatching Relentless.  But, having just spent two weeks watching all of the Witchcraft films, I now feel like I can handle anything.  Relentless is a movie that I always remember as being better than it actually is.  The murders are creepy but Judd Nelson gives such a one-note performance as the killer that it’s impossible to believe that he could have gotten away with them.  As played by Nelson, Buck Taylor is such an obvious serial killer that I’m surprised that he wasn’t already in jail, having been accused of every single unsolved murder on the books.  There’s nothing compelling about this killer and films like this pretty much live and … ahem … die based on the quality of their villain.

Why do I always remember Relentless as being better than it is?  Most of the credit for that probably goes to Leo Rossi, an underappreciated character actor who gives such a good performance as Sam Dietz that he makes the entire movie better.  Rossi even got a brief franchise out of his performance in Relentless, as Dietz returned for three sequels.  Robert Loggia is also good as Malloy and it’s unfortunate that the movie doesn’t do as much with the character as it could have.

Rossi and Loggia aside, Relentless doesn’t live up to its potential.  But it was still popular enough to launch a direct-to-video franchise.  Tomorrow: Relentless 2.

White Rush (2003, directed by Mark L. Lester)

Five friends, while on their annual camping trip outside of Salt Lake City, stumble across a cocaine deal gone bad.  They think that all of the drug dealers have been killed and Chick (Louis Mandylor), who happens to be a police detective, suggests that they should take the cocaine for themselves and sell it to the local drug lord.  Everyone agree but Eva (Tricia Helfer), a former addict who is so disgusted by Chick’s plans that she runs away from the group.

While she’s stumbling through the wilderness, Eva runs into Brian Nathanson (Judd Nelson), the sole survivor of the drug deal.  Determined to get his cocaine back, Brian convinces Eva to help him out by explaining to her that there’s an even worse drug dealer than him who also wants the cocaine.  In fact, that even worse drug dealer has already sent a sexy assassin named Solange (Sandra Vidal) to kill everyone involved in the botched drug deal.  The obvious solution would be to just return the drugs to Brian and let him take the fall but Chick and his friends aren’t that smart.

A film starring Judd Nelson and directed by Mark L. Lester, the man behind such classics as Class of 1984 and Commando?  Sounds pretty good, right?  Actually, the film isn’t bad.  Or, at least, it’s better than you’d expect from a low budget, direct-to-video Judd Nelson movie.  Even though the plot may be full of holes that you could drive a semi-trailer truck through, Mark L. Lester doesn’t waste any time getting the story rolling and he keeps the action moving.  Lester knows better than to pretend that this movie is anything more than just a B-action movie.  Judd Nelson gives one of his better performances as Brian, playing him as if John Bender grew up and became a drug dealer.  (We all knew that was going to happen, no matter what happened at the end of The Breakfast Club.)  Finally, Sandra Vidal is sexy and convincingly lethal as Solange.

White Rush is currently available on Tubi and Prime.

Film Review: Billionaire Boys Club (dir by James Cox)

Have patience.  This is kind of a long story.

Billionaire Boys Club, a fact-based film about two murders that occurred back in the greed and cocaine-filled 80s, was first announced in 2010.  After five years of pre-production, the film started shooting in 2015.  It featured up-and-coming stars Ansel Elgort and Taron Egerton in the lead roles and Emma Roberts in a key supporting role.  It also featured a certain two-time Oscar-winning actor, who we will talk about shortly.  There was speculation that Billionaire Boys Club could be an Oscar contender.  At the very least, that two-time Oscar-winning actor might pick up another supporting nomination.  Shooting started in December of 2015 and wrapped in January of 2016.

And then …. nothing.

What happened?

Kevin Spacey happened.  On October 29th, 2017, Anthony Rapp told how, when he was 14, an intoxicated Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance towards him.  Subsequently, 15 other people came forward with stories about Spacey making similar advances towards them.  At the time, the Oscar-wining actor had key supporting roles in two upcoming films: All The Money In The World and Billionaire Boys Club.  The producers of All The Money In The World replaced Spacey with Christopher Plummer and hastily refilmed all of his scenes.

Unfortunately, that really wasn’t an option for the producers of Billionaire Boys Club.  Whereas Spacey’s role in All The Money In The World was basically an extended cameo, he was a key part of Billionare Boys Club.  Spacey had been cast as Ron Levin, a flamboyant con man whose murder led to the collapse of an 80s investment firm.  There was really no feasible way to replace Spacey without reshooting the majority of the film.  As a result, Billionaire Boys Club sat a while in limbo before finally getting an extremely limited release back in July.  On opening day, the film made a total of $126.  (The final weekend gross was $618.)

As for the film itself, the behind the scenes drama is far more interesting than anything that actually happens on screen.  Elgort and Egerton play Joe Hunt and Dean Karny, two middle-class guys who want to be rich in the 80s.  They do this by starting an investment firm called Billionaire Boys Club and, for a few months, everything seems to be perfect.  They appear to be making money.  They drive nice cars and live in big mansions and throw big parties.  There’s all the usual stuff that you expect to see in films about rich twentysomethings: cocaine, swimming pools, black lingerie, and fast cars.  In fact, that’s kind of the problem with the film.  There’s nothing surprising about what happens to Joe and Dean.  If you’ve seen Wolf of Wall Street, you’ve seen it all before.  In fact, if anything, the film’s recreation of greed-fueled decadence is almost too tame.  I mean, sure — we get the shot of the lines of cocaine getting snorted off a counter top but it’s hardly the mountain of coke that usually shows up in a movie like this.  If anything, this movie needed more cocaine.

Of course, everything eventually falls apart.  It turns out that Ron Levin, their main financial backer, was actually a con man who had managed to trick everyone into thinking that he was a millionaire.  In the end, it all leads to two murders, one prison sentence, and one new life in the witness protection program.

The film tries to critique the culture of greed but it fails because it never seems to understand why that culture would be so attractive to two guys like Joe and Dean in the first place.  Despite the efforts of Elgort and Egerton, Joe and Dean just come across as being two ciphers who maybe watched Wall Street one too many times.  It’s never clear what made these two click or why they were able to trick so many people into believing in them.  Unlike something like The Wolf of Wall Street, Billionaire Boys Club is so busy scolding everyone for being greedy that it never acknowledges that being rich can also be a lot of fun.  (It doesn’t help that Billionaire Boys Club features first person narration, which often leads to the film telling us what it should be showing us.)

As for Kevin Spacey, he gave the same performance that he gave in any number of similar films.  He’s arch and sarcastic and sometimes ambiguously flamboyant.  He gets upset whenever anyone says anything against his dog.  When he announces that he’s a “hustler” and brags about how he can get away with anything because he’s convinced people that he’s something that he’s not, it’s hard not to cringe.  It’s not really a bad performance, as much as it just kind of a predictable one.  It feels destined to be remembered only for being Spacey’s final appearance in a feature film.

Billionaire Boys Club will be making its Showtime premiere later tonight.  It’s not a terrible film but it’s not a particularly memorable one either.

2017 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 2017!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2017!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

(As a guide, I used the credits for the imdb.  If anyone has been miscredited or let 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.)

Best Picture

Drink Slay Love, produced by Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Sheri Singer, Bella Thorne

From Straight A’s to XXX, produced by Austin Andrews, John Bolton, Anne-Marie Hess, Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Sheri Singer

Four Christmases and a Wedding

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell, produced by Deen Dioria, David Manzanares, Ron Schmidt, Judith Verno, Frank von Zerneck.

The Rachels, produced by Paige Lauren Billot, Margaret H. Huddleston, Maggie McFarren, Hannah Pillemer, Rebecca G. Stone.

Running Away, produced by Dureyshevar, Jeff Faehnle, Jack Nasser, Jacob Nasser, Joseph Nasser, Bri Noble.

Sea Change. Produced by Sharon Bordas, Alec Chorches, Adam Fratto, Steven Gilder, David MacLeod, A.J. Mendez, Shawn Piller, Lloyd Segan, Stephanie Slack, Fernando Szew

Secrets in Suburbia, produced by Kristopher McNeeley, Jacobo Rispa, Damian Romay, Stephanie Slack, Fernando Szew.

The Watcher in the Woods, produced by Simon Barnes, Alexandra Bentley, Andrew Gernhard, Jennifer Handorf, Paula Hart.

* Web Cam Girls, produced by Tom Berry, Pierre David, Hank Grover, Sheri Reeves, Ken Sanders, Noel Zanitsch* 

Best Director

* Doug Campbell for Web Cam Girls

Michael Civille for The Rachels

Vanessa Parise for From Straight A’s to XXX

Damian Romay for Secrets in Suburbia

Brian Skiba for Running Away

Stephen Tolkin for New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Best Actor

James Franco in High School Lover

Zack Gold in Psycho Brother-in-Law

Stephen Graybill in Web Cam Girls

Timothy Granderos in The Twin

Ted McGinley in Fatherly Obsession

* Ryan Patrick Shanahan in Sinister Minister

Best Actress

Barbie Castro in Boyfriend Killer

Holly Deveaux in Running Away

Sedonna Legge in Web Cam Girls

* Penelope Ann Miller in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Heather Morris in Psycho Wedding Crasher

Haley Pullos in From Straight A’s to XXX

Best Supporting Actor

Francois Arnaud in High School Lover

Joe Hackett in Web Cam Girls

William McNamara in Running Away

Patrick Muldoon in Boyfriend Killer

Judd Nelson in From Straight A’s to XXX

* Daniel Roebuck in New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell

Best Supporting Actress

Madison Iseman in The Rachels

Anjelica Huston in The Watcher in the Woods

* Tonya Kay in Web Cam Girls

Paula Trickey in Running Away

Ashley Wood in Wicked Mom’s Club

Lorynn York in Web Cam Girs

Best Screenplay

From Straight A’s to XXX. Anne-Marie Hess.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Stephen Tolkin.

The Rachels. Ellen Huggins.

* Running Away. Sheri McGuinn.

Secrets in Suburbia. Damian Romay.

Web Cam Girls. Stephen Romano.

Best Cinematography

Drink Slay Love. Vic Sarin.

Four Christmases and a Wedding. Mike Kam.

Off the Rails. Denis Maloney.

Running Away. Patrice Lucien Cochet.

* Sea Change. Jackson Parrell.

Ten: Murder Island. Richard Clabaugh.

Best Costuming

* Drink Slay Love. Liene Dobraja.

From Straight A’s to XXX. Liene Dobraja.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst. Tina Fiorda.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Maria Bentfield.

The Rachels. Courtney Stern.

Stage Fright. Monique Hyman.

Best Editing

* From Straight A’s to XXX. Rob Grant.

Four Christmases and a Wedding. Paul Ziller.

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Mark Stevens.

The Rachels. Brett Solem.

Sea Change. Matthew Anas.

Web Cam Girls. Jordan Jensen.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Drink Slay Love. Jessica Green, Catherine Long, Alysha McLoughlin, Sahar Sharelo.

The Lost Wife of Robert Durst. Lorna Bravo, Kelly Grange, Shelly Jensen, Mary Renvall, Melissa Sahlstrom.

* New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Claudia Breckenridge, Daniel Casillas, Nicole Gabaldon, Pepper J. Gallegos, Madeline McCue, L. Taylor Roberts

The Rachels. Taylor Bennett, Austin Cuccia.

Secrets in Suburbia. Andrea Ahl, Trevor Thompson

The Watcher in the Woods. Chloe Edwards.

Best Score

Drink Slay Love. Justin R. Durban

Fatherly Obsession. Aiko Fukushima.

Sea Change. Shawn Pierce.

* Story of a Girl. Travis Bacon.

Ten: Murder Island. Ceiri Torjussen.

The Watcher in the Woods. Felix Bird.

Best Production Design

New York Prison Break: The Seduction of Joyce Mitchell. Will Albarz, Anthony Medina.

Running Away.   Vincent Albo, Rose Beltran

Secrets in Suburbia. Brendan Turrill.

Ten: Murder Island. Eric Whitney, Caley Bisson.

Tiny House of Terror

* Web Cam Girls. Catch Henson, James W. Thompson Jr., Katherine Bulovic, Valerie Munguia

Best Sound

Britney Ever After

Drink Slay Love

From Straight A’s to XXX

Sea Change.

Under the Bed

* The Watcher in the Woods

Best Visual Effects

* Drink Slay Love

Fatherly Obsession

Sea Change

Stalker’s Prey

Ten: Murder Island

The Watcher in the Woods

And there you have it!  Those are my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2017!  Thank you for your indulgence!  On Friday, I’ll be concluding my look back at 2017 with my picks for the 26 best films of the year!

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017
  11. 2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy by Lisa Marie Bowman
  12. 2017 in Review: 10 Good Things that Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2017
  13. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2017
  14. 2017 in Review: Lia Marie’s 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2017

A Movie A Day #248: Flinch (1994, directed by George Erschbamer)

Harry (Judd Nelson) is a law student who has failed the bar exam three times.  Daphne (Gina Gershon) is an aspiring actress who has an unfaithful boyfriend.  With neither of them making much headway in their chosen careers, they end up working as living mannequins in a department store display window.  If they flinch even the least little bit, they will lose their jobs.  At first, it does not seem that there is much of a romantic future for Harry and Daphne.  But when Daphne breaks up with her boyfriend, Harry invites her to join him in breaking into the store after hours and partying.  But while Harry and Daphne are celebrating, they witness a crazed artist (Nick Mancuso) strangling one of his models.

If the name of the director, George Erschbamer, seems familiar, you may be familiar with the Snake Eater films that he made with Lorenzo Lamas.  Fortunately, Flinch is far superior to Snake Eater III.  Starting out like a romantic comedy before turning into a thriller, Flinch is actually one of the better direct-to-video Judd Nelson films to come out in the 90s.  Of course, considering that the competition comes from Entangled and Conflict of Interest, Flinch doesn’t have that high of a bar to clear.  Though the thriller aspect is predictable, The first half of the movie, which is almost entirely Gershon and Nelson trying to talk to each other without anyone noticing their lips moving, is actually enjoyable.  Gina Gershon is as sexy as ever and she brings out the best in Judd Nelson, who is almost likable in this movie.

Still, there is one thing that could have improved Flinch.  Like almost any other Judd Nelson film, it really could have used a Burt Reynolds cameo.

Right, Burt?

A Movie A Day #220: Entangled (1993, directed by Max Fischer)

There has been a car crash in Paris and now, David (Judd Nelson) is in the hospital, slowly recovering.  In flashbacks, it is revealed that David is an American writer who came to France after his first novel flopped.  He came to see his best friend, a womanizing photographer (Roy Dupuis), and ended up meeting and falling in love with the beautiful model, Annabelle (Laurence Treil).  Even as he worked on his second novel, he was consumed with jealousy over Annabelle.  Why was she sneaking off to a château owned by a mysterious and decadent businessman named Garavan (Piece Brosnan)?  Any why, while he is in the hospital, is his second novel published and credited to someone else?

Entangled is yet another 90s neo-noir starring Judd Nelson.  Laurence Treil was beautiful and often naked, which made it perfect for showings on Skinemax but the movie fails because, like so many others, it requires the audience to believe that Judd Nelson could not only write a book but get a model girlfriend as well.  That takes much more work than is portrayed in Entangled.  Early on in Entangled, Judd Nelson gropes a cardboard cut-out of George H.W. Bush and it is pretty much all downhill from there.  Not even Brosnan doing a good job as a sinister character can do much to save Entangled.

What could have saved Entangled?  Like so many of Judd Nelson’s direct-to-video movies, Entangled needed the calming hand of Judd’s co-star from Shattered If Your Kid’s On Drugs, Burt Reynolds!

Am I saying that Entangled would have been a better movie if Burt Reynolds had been given a role?

It couldn’t have hurt.

A Movie A Day #207: Every Breath (1994, directed by Steve Bing)

Jimmy (Judd Nelson) is an actor, best known for yelling in a toothpaste commercial.  However, Jimmy is a serious actor and his perfectionist attitude makes it difficult for him to even find work in commercials.  When a wealthy but impotent arms dealer named Richard (Patrick Bachau) offers to pay to watch Jimmy have sex with Richard’s wife, Lauren (Joanna Pacula), Jimmy agrees.  When Jimmy meets Lauren at a party, he introduces himself.  She walks away.  He introduces himself again.  She slaps him.  He follows her to a lesbian bar and ends up getting beaten up outside.  After all of that, he finally gets invited to accompany Lauren back to her mansion.  Suddenly, Richard emerges from the shadows, holding a gun.  He fires at Jimmy.  Jimmy screams but then discovers that the gun was full of blanks.  He has been the victim of an elaborate game, one that Richard and Lauren play every night with a constantly changing cast of victims.

At first, Jimmy is upset and humiliated.  He returns home to his clueless girlfriend (Camille Cooper) and tries to sleep it off.  But he can’t stop thinking about Lauren.  The next day, he returns to Richard and Lauren’s mansion and soon finds himself being dragged back into their games.  What Jimmy does not know is that Richard doesn’t just enjoy humiliating people.  He also likes to kill them.

Every Breath was the first and only movie to be directed by Hollywood real estate mogul, film producer, and political donor Steve Bing.  There are enough weird camera angles, dream sequences, and monologues about love and morality that it is obvious that Bing was going for something more artistic than the typical Judd Nelson direct-to-video production.  For a first time director, Bing’s direction is slick but not slick enough to make up for large plot holes and a lot of half-baked philosophical dialogue.  For all of its pretensions towards being something more, Every Breath is a typical 90s neo-noir with little to distinguish it from something like In The Cold of the Night or Body Chemistry.  As Lauren, Joanna Pacula is sultry and sexy while Patrick Bachau does a good job playing a junior grade Marquis de Sade.  As for Judd, he’s Judd Nelson, which means scenes like this:

Whenever I watch a Judd Nelson movie, I wonder what Burt Reynolds, Judd’s co-star from Shattered If Your Kid’s On Drugs, would think.

On the one hand, Every Breath is a pretentious movie about three unlikable people.

On the other hand, Joanna Pacula.


A Movie A Day #206: Conflict of Interest (1993, directed by Gary Davis)

Conflict of Interest is a by-the-numbers direct-to-video movie about a tough cop named Mickey who is obsessed with taking down a drug dealer and club owner named Gideon.  Mickey is a widower.  Years ago, his wife was gunned down in front of him and his son.  His son is now a teenager with a motorcycle and a mullet.  Gideon hires Mickey’s son to work at one of his clubs and then frames him for murder.  Even though his superiors order him to back off, Mickey is determined to clear his son’s name.

Why should you watch Conflict of Interest?  How about this:

That’s Judd Nelson, going heavy on the sideburns and eyeliner in the role of Gideon.  I am not sure if this movie was filmed before or after the famous “puffy shirt” episode of Seinfeld.

Judd chews up and spits out every piece of scenery that he can get his hands on.  Matching Judd step-for-step is Alyssa Milano, who plays Eve.  She falls in love with Mickey’s son, even though she is already a member of Gideon’s harem.

Mickey is played by Christopher McDonald, who gets a rare lead role in Conflict of Interest.  McDonald may not be a household name but he is one of the great Hey, It’s That Guy actors.  Usually, he plays smarmy businessmen and game show hosts.  He’s a surprisingly good action hero in Conflict of Interest, though his mustache cannot begin to compete with Judd’s sideburns.

About as dumb as dumb can be, Conflict of Interest is enjoyably ridiculous.  Conflict of Interest may have been made in 1993 but it is an 80s film all the way through, the type of movie where almost every chase ends with someone’s car exploding.  Even Gideon’s nightclubs are “heavy metal clubs,” which are populated by people who would not have been out of place in Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

And then there’s the Judd power stare:

As we saw in Shattered If Your Kid’s On Drugs, the Judd power stare has the Burt Reynolds seal of approval: