Music Video of the Day: Take A Look At Me Now (Against All Odds) by Phil Collins (1984, dir by Taylor Hackford)


On the one hand, I know that the critics have never exactly embraced the songs of Phil Collins.  I mean, there’s a reason why it’s such a brilliant joke that, in American Psycho, the vacuous wannabe serial killer Patrick Bateman is a rabid Phil Collins fan.  On the one hand, Collins’s music is representative of an era.  On the other hand, it’s often used to illustrate everything that was supposedly wrong with that era.

But you know what?

Screw it.  I like this song.  It’s effective.  It works.  It’s fun to listen to and I’ll probably find myself singing it sometime tonight.  Earlier, I watched a 1984 film called Against All Odds and, when this song played over the final freeze frame, it was a perfect moment.

The video for Take A Look At Me Now was directed by the same guy who directed Against All Odds, Taylor Hackford.  Of course, the video itself is mostly made up of clips from the film.  In between Phil doing his thing, we get scenes of Jeff Bridges looking young and sexy, Rachel Ward looking sultry, and James Woods looking dangerous.

The song itself was nominated for an Oscar, though it lost to I Just Called To Say I Love You from The Woman In Red.

Enjoy!

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Deceiver (dir by Jonas Pate and Josh Pate)


I have long contended that the most annoying serial killer of all time was Paul Michael Stephani, a resident of Minneapolis who killed three women in 1980.

Stephani was known as The Weepy-Voiced Killer.  (Even his nickname was annoying.)  Whenever Stephani committed a murder, he would promptly call 911 and confess while sobbing.  As you might expect would happen to someone who was enough of a dumbass to call the police right after murdering someone, Stephani was eventually captured and convicted.  Sentenced to 40 years, Stephani died of cancer while in prison and nobody misses him.

Unfortunately, because all of Stephani’s 911 calls were recorded, he’s recently become a very popular subject for true crime shows.  It’s not there’s anything particularly interesting about Stephani’s crimes.  It’s just that it’s easy (and cheap) to build a show around the sound of him whining on the phone.  As someone who probably spends too much time watching true crime realty television, I’ve had to listen to Stephani’s voice more than anyone should ever have to.  Making it even worse, there’s currently a show called Evil Calls, which uses a recording of Stephani in its commercials.  I’ve actually stopped watching Investigation Discovery just because I’ve gotten so sick of hearing that loser whining, “Please don’t talk, just listen… I’m sorry I killed that girl. I stabbed her 40 times…”

However, the Stephani tapes do provide one valuable service.  The sound of Stephani’s pathetic voice reminds us that most serial killers are not the urbanely witty and intelligent figures that we’ve gotten used to seeing in the movies.  Most real-life killers are whiny losers who kill for very basic reasons and who are stupid enough to call 911 and confess.  Movie killers are a different breed all together.

Take the 1997 mystery Deceiver, for instance.

In Deceiver, Renee Zellweger plays a world weary prostitute.  We only see her in flashbacks, largely because she was murdered before the film’s opening scene.  Her name was Elizabeth, which brings to mind Elizabeth Short, the legendary Los Angeles murder victim who is better known as the Black Dahlia.  Much like the real-life Black Dahlia, Elizabeth’s body was cut into two pieces and left in a park.  (According to the film’s imdb trivia section, Elizabeth was also named after Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist who pioneered the study of false memories.)

Suspicion immediately falls on James Walter Wayland (Tim Roth).  The youngest son of a wealthy and powerful South Carolina family, Wayland is an infamous alcoholic.  Wayland admits that he knew Elizabeth.  He even took Elizabeth with him to a fancy party, all the better to offend his parents.  Wayland may be a black-out drunk with a history of erratic behavior but he also swears that he didn’t kill Elizabeth.

Two detectives are determined to trick Wayland into confessing.  Detective Edward Kennesaw (Michael Rooker) is a respected veteran, the type of detective who can get a confession out of almost anyone.  His partner is Detective Philip Braxton (Chris Penn), who is a bit less impressive.  As we’re informed early in the film, Braxton graduated at the bottom of his high school class and has been waiting for a promotion for quite some time.

From the minute that Kennesaw and Braxton start to interrogate Wayland, it becomes obvious that Wayland is hardly your typical murder suspect.  He’s certainly more impressive than the Weepy-Voiced Killer.  He’s witty.  He’s smart.  He’s cocky.  He admits to being an alcoholic and to suffering from black outs and seizures but he also claims that, unlike every other man who Elizabeth dealt with, he actually cared about her.  Wayland also reveals that he knows some details about Kennesaw and Braxton.  He knows about Kennesaw’s troubled marriage to a woman (Rosanna Arquette) who has a history of cheating on him.  He knows that Braxton is in debt to a local bookie (Ellen Burstyn).  And, as the interrogation continues, Wayland starts to suggest that one of the interrogators is hiding an even darker secret.

Deceiver‘s a frequently fascinating film to watch, even if it’s not always easy to follow.  If there’s any film that would seem to demand multiple viewings, it’s this one.  The majority of the movie takes place in one darkened room and directors Joan and Josh Pate do a wonderful job capturing the claustrophobia of that setting.  (Fortunately, there’s enough flashbacks to keep the film from getting too stagey.)  Roth, Rooker, and Penn all give intensely stylized performances.  They may not feel realistic but they fit in perfectly with the fever dream atmosphere of the film.  Roth, in particular, gives a performance that is both mannered and intriguing.  It even feel appropriate that his Southern accent is in no way convincing.  It just makes sense that Wayland wouldn’t sound like anyone else in the world.

It’s a heavily stylized film, full of odd dialogue and skewed camera angles.  It’s a film that often feels like a journey right to the center of an extremely twisted mind.  (Of course, the movie is designed so that you’re never quite sure whose mind you’ve entered.)  There’s nothing realistic about it but that’s okay.  It’s certainly preferable to watching a movie about The Weepy-Voiced Killer.

What The Hell Did Lisa Watched Last Night #182: The Proposal Episode 1


Though I’m really hesitant to admit it and I’ll probably deny it if anyone asks me in the future, last night I watched the first episode of the new ABC “reality dating” show, The Proposal.  How soul-searingly bad was The Proposal?  It was so bad that I am now convinced that not only is our current world about to end but also whatever world comes along to replace it is probably doomed as well.

 

Why Was I Watching It?

Because I’m an idiot.

What Was It About?

If you’ve ever watched The Bachelor, you know that it’s pretty much a tradition for the women (and the men, in the case of The Bachelorette) to announce that they can see themselves marrying the Bachelor after only knowing him for three days.  Of course, the audience at home always rolls their eyes when they say that.  We know they’ve probably been pressured to say that by the show’s producers, just like we know that there’s little chance that anyone on the show’s actually going to end up getting married to anyone else on the show.  It’s a fantasy and it’s kinda fun to get lost in it.

Well, The Proposal is basically The Bachelor on cheap steroids.  Now, instead of taking a whole three days to fall in love, The Proposal suggests that it can be done in an hour!  Woo hoo!

Here’s how last night’s show worked.  A man named Mike was sitting in a pod, hidden from the view of the audience.  Host Jesse Palmer assured us that Mike was a good guy and a police officer who deserved a good wife.  We were also told that, as the result of getting hit by a drunk driver, Mike lost part of his right leg but he was still an athlete who loved to go on hikes.  The message was clear: “If you think what’s happening is totally regressive and problematic, then you’re a terrible person who is saying that a one-legged first responder doesn’t deserve a chance at happiness.”

Ten heartbreakingly insecure women were brought out on stage.  While wearing swimsuits, each one made a pitch to Mike (who, keep in mind, was hidden from view the whole time).  Mike proceeded to cut five girls, all of whom were promptly ordered to get off the stage.  Mike then asked the five remaining girls a question.  Based on their answers, two girls were cut and three were left on stage.

From the beginning, it was obvious that the final three were going to be Jessica, Monica, and Kendal.  Jessica and Monica were the most attractive while Kendal was the only one who had a real job.  In fact, Kendal was a neuropsychologist who spoke movingly about how happy it made her to help stroke victims.  Given Mike’s own stated to desire to want to inspire people and create something good from his accident, Kendal seemed like the perfect choice…

Until, Mike’s best friend, Andrew, asked some questions!  Andrew wanted to know if the women were interested in having children. Kendal said that she didn’t want to have children.  The audience gasped in horror and Kendal got this panicked look on her face.  Oh my God, I’ve missed out on my chance to get proposed to by a man I’ve never seen before because I was honest about not wanting to have children!

Mike announced that the final two would be Monica and Jessica.  Sorry, Kendal!  I guess you should have lied until you got that ring!

Once Kendal was gone, the pod opened and Mike emerged.  Everyone breathed a sign of relief as Mike turned out to be a generically handsome guy who basically looked like a cop.  (He even sported the shaved head look that is oddly popular among police officers.)  At this point, I was sure that Monica and Jessica would get a chance to ask a question but no.  That’s not the way The Proposal works.  The fact that Mike looked like he might be distantly related to Wentworth Miller was good enough.  There was no need to know how he voted or if he was religious or if he drank or anything else.  Instead, Moncia and Jessica were sent backstage to work on their final plea and change into a nicer outfit.

After a commercial break, both Jessica and Monica returned and made their final pleas but it didn’t really matter what they had to say.  Mike was staring at Monica even while Jessica was talking.  Mike announced that he had been smitten with Monica from the first time he saw her an hour ago.  He got down on his one knee and proposed to her.  She said yes.  While Jessica silently headed backstage, Monica and Mike shared their first kiss.

“You’re a wonderful kisser,” she told her bald pod person, before adding, “Just wait until later!”

What Worked

Oh God.

Actually, let’s give credit where credit is due.  The off-stage announcer was properly snarky as each women was introduced.  The tone basically said, “Yeah, I can’t believe this is actually happening, either.”

Plus, I had a lot of fun live tweeting the event!  My anxiety was acting up something awful all day yesterday but making fun of The Proposal on twitter helped me calm down.

What Did Not Work

Every single moment of this show was icky and regressive.  Imagine The Bachelor without any of The Bachelor‘s goofy charm and you’ve got The Proposal.

“OH MY GOD!  Just like me!” Moments

None.  Absolutely none.  Well, okay — I did relate to the women’s obvious terror when, at the beginning of the show, they were forced to walk down a steep staircase in high heels.  I’m amazed that everyone made it down safely.

 Lessons Learned

The world is doomed.

Also, I’ll apparently watch anything.  What’s really sad is I know I’m probably going to watch next week’s episode, too.

Music Video of the Day: Trouble Town by Jake Bugg (2012, dir by Michael Holyk)


It’s become a bit of a cliché to compare Jake Bugg to Bob Dylan but then you hear a song like Trouble Town and you really don’t have any choice.  Fortunately, it’s a favorable comparison.  The Dylan influence is obvious but Jake Bugg still makes every song his own.

This video was shot in Bugg’s hometown of Clifton, Nottingham.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Born Slippy by Underworld (1996, dir by ?????)


Hi, everyone!

I don’t have much to say about this video, beyond the fact that I love the song.  Yesterday, I posted a video for this song that was released to go along with the 2015 re-release of Underworld’s Second Toughest In The Infants.  This, however, is the original video that was released for Born Slippy.

If the 2015 video celebrates Born Slippy as an athem, this video treats it as a very personal portrayal of emotion.

Enjoy!

Music Video of the Day: Born Slippy NUXX by Underworld (2015, dir by Michael McCool)


You’ll recognize this song from the closing credits of the 1996 film, Trainspotting.  This video was done for the 2015 re-release of Underworld’s 1996 album Second Toughest In The Infants.

Enjoy!