Cinemax Friday: Boulevard (1994, directed by Penelope Buitenhuis)

Having been knocked up by her abusive boyfriend, Jennefer (Kari Wuhrer) gives up her baby for adoption and then promptly gets the Hell out of town.  She runs away to the hard streets of Toronto, where she meets and moves in with a prostitute, the worldly Ola (Rae Dawn Chong).  Ola shows Jennefer how to survive in the big city and the two of them bond over how terrible their circumstances are, eventually becoming lovers.  Eventually, in order to make ends meet, Jennefer becomes a prostitute herself.  However, this means dealing with Ola’s sadistic pimp, Hassan (Lou Diamond Phillips), who is the type of creep who likes to practice his golf swing in between beating people to death.  Detective McLaren (Lance Henriksen) wants to take Hassan down but Jennefer knows better than to work with the cops.  Meanwhile, Hassan is growing more unstable and dangerous and Jennefer’s ex-boyfriend, J-Rod (Joel Bissonette), has shown up in town.

Boulevard is an interesting film.  It’s undeniably sleazy and exploitative, with the camera lingering over every sex scene and act of violence.  At the same time, it’s also a film with a conscience.  It’s on the side of the girls on the boulevard and it makes clear that every man who claims to be on their side, with the exception of McLaren, is actually a dangerous pervert.  Jennefer and Ola can only depend on each other.  Kari Wuhrer was rarely cast for her acting ability but she gives a surprisingly good performance in Boulevard and she’s matched every step of the way by Rae Dawn Chong.  Lou Diamond Phillips appears to be having fun getting to play a villainous role.  In fact, he has too much fun and goes so overboard that he sometimes takes you out of the reality of the situation.  Far better is Lance Henriksen, whose seen-it-all persona is used to good effect in Boulevard.

Boulevard is a sleazy film with a heart.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #153: Newlywed and Dead (dir by Penelope Buitenhuis)

Last night, I watched the Lifetime premiere movie, Newlywed and Dead!


Why Was I Watching It?

There were a lot of reasons why I was watching Newlywed And Dead.  The main reason was that it was on Lifetime and watching, live tweeting, and reviewing Lifetime movies is one of the many things that I do!

Beyond that, I thought Newlywed and Dead was an absolutely brilliant title.  That title pretty much sums everything that we love about Lifetime movies, doesn’t it?

And finally, the movie starred Shenae Grimes-Beech!  Back when she was just Shenae Grimes (and before she showed up on 90210), she played Darcy Edwards on Degrassi!  Darcy was always one of my favorite characters on Degrassi.  Whether she was plotting to break Paige’s leg during a Spirit Squad routine, getting stalked as a result of the pictures she posted on MySpace (or MyRoom as Degrassi called it), leading prayers at Friendship Club, falsely accusing Mr. Simpson of sexual harassment, or encouraging Spinner to go to class stoned, Darcy was the best!

What Was It About?

Kristen Ward (Shenae Grimes-Beech) would appear to have the perfect life.  She not only lives in a beautiful valley but she works for handsome developer, Jay Morgan (Christopher Russell).  In fact, she not only works for him but she’s also married to him!  Of course, some people are concerned about Kristen marrying a man that she barely knows but Kristen knows that their love is true.  Even when she discovers that, 10 years earlier, Jay was arrested for assault, she doesn’t let that worry her.  Who doesn’t have a criminal record?

But then Jay’s aunt, Barbara (Venus Terzo), takes Kristen to the house where Jay grew up.  And Kristen sees a painting of Jay’s mother and notices that his mother looks just like her!  Considering that Jay’s mother died under mysterious circumstances, Kristen starts to get worried.

Then Aunt Barbara dies under equally mysterious circumstances…

And Kristen starts to get really worried…

What Worked?

Shamelessly melodramatic and just a little bit campy, Newlywed and Dead was everything that we love about Lifetime films.  I’ve often felt that the best thing about Lifetime films is knowing that people across the country are all saying, “Girl, don’t trust him!” at the same time that you are.  Watching a Lifetime movie is meant to be a communal experience, whether you’re forcing your sister or your BFF to watch with you or if you’re watching with a bunch of people on twitter.  Newlywed and Dead is definitely a film that should be watched with a group of your favorite people.

Beyond that, I liked the film’s look.  The mansions were opulent and the scenery was beautiful to look at.  There was one room that had way too much blue in it but otherwise, Newlywed and Dead was a feast for the eyes.

What Did Not Work?

As I watched the film, I kept waiting for that one unexpected twist that would transform it from being a very good Lifetime film to a great Lifetime film.  All great Lifetime films have that one moment where something totally insane happens.  While Newlywed and Dead features a lot of entertaining insanity, it never had the one moment.

(For example, I kept expecting Jay to reveal that he had an evil twin brother named Ray.  But it never happened.)

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I always relate to any character played by Shenae Grimes-Beech.

Lessons Learned

Never marry your boss.