Here’s The Life-Affirming Trailer for Fortress!

I’m still struggling to get back into my non-Halloween routine of regular posting.  If I remember correctly, I think I’ve had to deal with post-Horrorthon exhaustion every year since we first started the Shattered Lens.  It’s worth it, though!

Fortunately, a trailer a film like Fortress can only encourage me to get back in the swing of things!  Bruce Willis, Shannen Doherty, and Chad Michael Murray!?  Hell yeah!

Anyway, here’s the trailer:

Cinemax Friday: Striking Poses (1999, directed by Gail Harvey)

Gage Sullivan (Shannen Doherty) is a freelance photographer who makes most of her money as a member of the paparazzi and who hates what her life has become.  When she realizes that she and her assistant, Casey (Tamara Gorski), are being stalked by someone whose trademark is leaving behind wads of chewed bubble gum (?), she calls in a security professional named Nick Angel (Joseph Griffin).  When it appears that not even Nick can protect her from the stalker, Gage turns to a former associate of Nick’s, a hitman named Gadger (Aidan Devne).

This direct-to-video film is pretty dumb,  Once Gage meets up with Gadger, the film goes off the rails as everyone reveals that they’re not who they say they are and multiple double crosses are revealed, each leaving behind plot holes so big that a convoy of trucks could probably roar through them without even having to slow down.  I don’t have much experience with professional con artists but it seems like the really successful ones would know better than to come up with a con that’s as pointlessly complicated as the one in this movie.  Even the fake gambling parlor in The Sting wasn’t as needlessly complex as what happens in Striking Poses.

Striking Poses is a let-down and, for an R-rated direct-to-video film, it’s also extremely tame.  I’m not really sure where that R rating comes from because there’s no nudity, very little violence, and I don’t think I even heard much profanity.  Maybe someone slipped the ratings board some money to avoid getting slapped with a dreaded PG.  This is a movie about a con that feels like a big con itself.

What If Lisa Had All The Power: 2019 Emmy Nominations Edition

In a few hours, the 2019 Emmy nominations will be announced!

Since I love awards and I love making lists, it’s an annual tradition that I list who and what would be nominated if I had all the power.  Keep in mind that what you’re seeing below are not necessarily my predictions of what or who will actually be nominated.  Many of the shows listed below will probably be ignored tomorrow morning.  Instead, this is a list of the nominees and winners if I was the one who was solely responsible for picking them.

Because I got off to a late start this year, I’m only listing the major categories below.  I may go back and do a full, 100-category list sometime tomorrow.  Who knows?  I do love making lists.

Anyway, here’s what would be nominated and what would win if I had all the power!  (Winners are listed in bold.)

(Want to see who and what was nominated for Emmy consideration this year?  Click here!)

(Want to see my picks for last year?  Click here!)

(Want to see my picks for 2012?  I know, that’s kinda random.  Anyway, click here!)


Outstanding Comedy Series


Brooklyn Nine-Nine


It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

One Day At A Time



Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul



Game of Thrones

The Magicians

My Brilliant Friend



Outstanding Limited Series



The Haunting of Hill House

I Am The Night


Sharp Objects

True Detective

A Very English Scandal

Outstanding Television Movie

The Bad Seed

Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)



King Lear

Native Son

No One Would Tell



Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Iain Armitage in Young Sheldon

Ted Danson in The Good Place

Bill Hader in Barry

Pete Holmes in Crashing

Glenn Howerton in A.P. Bio

Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Penn Badgley in You

Jason Bateman in Ozark

James Franco in The Deuce

John Krasinski in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul

Dominic West in The Affair

Outstanding Lead Actor In a Limited Series

Hugh Grant in A Very English Scandal

Jared Harris in Chernobyl

Jonah Hill in Maniac

Chris Pine in I Am The Night

Sam Rockwell in Fosse/Verdon

Henry Thomas in The Haunting of Hill House

Outstanding Lead Actor In An Original Movie

Benedict Cumberbatch in Brexit

Anthony Hopkins in King Lear

Rob Lowe in The Bad Seed

Ian McShane in Deadwood

Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood

Jeffrey Wright in O.G.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Melissa Barrera in Vida

Kristen Bell in The Good Place

Alison Brie in GLOW

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep

Zoe Perry in Young Sheldon

Outstanding Lead Actress in A Drama Series

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

Gaia Girace in My Brilliant Friend

Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Deuce

Laura Linney in Ozark

Margherita Mazzucco in My Brilliant Friend

Anna Paquin in Flack

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects

India Eisley in I Am The Night

Carla Gugino in The Haunting of Hill House

Charlotte Hope in The Spanish Princess

Emma Stone in Maniac

Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Lead Actress in an Original Movie

Shannen Doherty in No One Would Tell

Chelsea Frei in Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter

McKenna Grace in The Bad Seed

Paula Malcolmson in Deadwood

Molly Parker in Deadwood

Christina Ricci in Escaping The Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Fred Armisen in Documentary Now!

Andre Braugher in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Anthony Carrigan in Barry

Tony Hale in Veep

Sam Richardson in Veep

Stephen Root in Barry

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

Jonathan Banks in Better Call Saul

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Game of Thrones

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

Giancarlo Esposito in Better Call Saul

Peter Mullan in Ozark

Luca Padovan in You

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series

Stephen Dorff in True Detective

Timothy Hutton in The Haunting of Hill House

Chris Messina in Sharp Objects

Stellan Skarsgard in Chernobyl

Justin Thereoux in Maniac

Ben Whishaw in A Very English Scandal

Outstanding Supporting Actor In An Original Movie

Jim Broadbent in King Lear

Bill Camp in Native Son

Theothus Carter in O.G.

Rory Kinnear in Brexit

Gerald McRaney in Deadwood

Will Poulter in Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series

Caroline Aaron in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Alex Borstein in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Anna Chlumsky in Veep

Sarah Goldberg in Barry

Rita Moreno in One Day At A Time

Sarah Sutherland in Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

Summer Bishil in The Magicians

Elisa Del Genio in My Brilliant Friend

Julia Garner in Ozark

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones

Elizabeth Lail in You

Shay Mitchell in You

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series

Jessie Buckley in Chernobyl

Patricia Clarkson in Sharp Objects

Sally Field in Maniac

Patricia Hodge in A Very English Scandal

Connie Nielsen in I Am The Night

Emily Watson in Chernobyl

Outstanding Supporting Actress In An Original Movie

Kim Dickens in Deadwood

Florence Pugh in King Lear

Margaret Qualley in Favorite Son

Emma Thompson in King Lear

Emily Watson in King Lear

Robin Weigert in Deadwood


Back to School Part II #19: Girls Just Want To Have Fun (dir by Alan Metter)


For our next film in this series of Back to School reviews, we take a look at 1985’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun!

And you know what?

It’s true — we do just want to have fun!

The fun in Girls Just Want To Have Fun is pretty much defined by dancing, which is okay with me because I love to dance.  However, Girls Just Want To Have Fun had the misfortune to be made in the mid-80s.  I have lost track of many 80s films that I’ve watched but I’m still always shocked at how undanceable most 80s music truly was.  This film, of course, does contain a cover version of the famous song by Cyndi Lauper and that’s actually a pretty good 80s song.  However, the rest of the music (and, by that, I mean the music that everyone in the movie is actually dancing to) is incredibly bland in the way that only music from the decade of We Built This City could be.

As for the film itself, it takes place in Chicago.  Janey Glenn (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the newest student at the local Catholic girls school.  Janey’s overprotective father (Ed Lauter) is in the army and Janey has lived all over the world.  Despite that, Janey is not at all worldly.  In fact, when she tries to introduce herself to her classmates, all she can get out is that she’s a gymnast and she loves to dance. (When we actually see Janey dancing or doing any sort of gymnastics, Sarah Jessica Parker’s hair always seems to fall in her face, which is certainly one way to hide a stunt double.)

Janey makes one friend at the school.  Lynn (Helen Hunt, looking like a teenager but already sounding like a hung over 40 year-old) is about as wild as a girl can be in 1980s PG-rated film.  That’s to say, she wears a leather skirt when she’s not in school and, when she babysits, she orders pizza and then allows the baby to sit on it.  (Ewwwwwww!  There’s a reason why babies wear diapers….)  Lynne and Janey are automatically BFFs because they both love Dance TV!

That’s right — it’s DTV!  I wonder what that’s supposed to be based on…

It turns out that DTV is having a contest to pick two new dancers!  Disobeying her strict father, Janey sneaks out of the house and joins Lynn in auditioning!  Lynn’s partner turns out to be so spastic that Lynn doesn’t make the semi-finals.  Later, Lynn discovers that her partner was bribed by rich bitch Natalie Sands (Holly Gagnier).  I’m not sure why Natalie felt the need to do that since Lynn wasn’t that impressive to begin with.  She’s about as good a dancer as you would expect Helen Hunt to be.

However, Janey does make it to the semi-finals, where she’s partnered with Jeff.  Jeff is tough and blue-collar and, at first, it doesn’t seem like he and Janey will get along.  So, of course, they end up falling in love and, of course, Natalie’s father tries to force Jeff out of the contest by threatening to put his father out of work.  Jeff, incidentally, is played by Lee Montgomery.  Years before appearing in Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Montgomery played the little kid who gets crushed by a chimney at the end of Burnt Offerings.  Burnt Offerings is a really crappy film but I watch it every time that it comes on TCM just so I can see that chimney crush Lee Montgomery.  That said, Montgomery actually does a pretty good job of Jeff.  You never quite buy him as a rebel without a cause but he still seems like an authentic and likable teenager.  Jeff and Janey are a cute couple and that’s all that really matters.

Just as Janey has a best friend, Jeff also has a best friend.  Drew Boreman (Jonathan Silverman) talks too much, tries to sell t-shirts from the trunk of his car, and there’s also a scene were he grabs a random girl’s breasts and makes a comment about using her nipples to tune a radio.  Drew is annoying and, once you get over the fact that she’s being played by a young Helen Hunt, so is Lynn.  Watching the movie, you kind of want to tell both of them to just calm down for a few minutes.

But you know who is not annoying?  Jeff’s younger sister, Maggie, who is played by none other than a very young Shannen Doherty.  Maggie was my favorite character because she alone seemed to understand how stupid everyone else in the film was.  And she was willing to call them out on it.

ANYWAY — Girls Just Want To Have Fun is one of those movies where next to nothing actually happens.  There is an extended sequence where our heroes destroy Natalie’s snooty party with the help of a bunch of punks and female body builders but otherwise, it’s remarkable how little actually happens.  That said, some of the dancing is good (even if most of the music is totally bland in the way that only 80s music can be) and it’s interesting to see Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt when they were young.  Sarah Jessica Parker actually gives a surprisingly likable performance here, even if it is often way too obvious that a body double is doing the majority of her dancing.  That said, you really can’t get any further away from Carrie Bradshaw than Janey Glenn.

Girls Just Want To Have Fun is a time capsule of the decade in which it was made and that is definitely the main reason to watch it.  Until time machines are a reality and we can experience the past firsthand, we’ll just have to keep getting our information from movies like this one.

Val’s Movie Roundup #23: Hallmark Edition


Just Desserts (2004) – It’s not every day that I get four decent Hallmark movies. This one I actually enjoyed quite a bit. It’s about a baker whose family bakery is falling on hard financial times. There is a cooking contest going on and he decides to enter. Apparently, his family has some baking secrets. Our main character Marco Poloni (Costas Mandylor) knows his stuff and even some of the bigwigs in the industry, but got slighted along the way and decided to kind of remain in obscurity. However, with the bakery in trouble and a contest that could help draw crowds, he decides to step out of the shadows. Problem is he needs a partner. That’s not an issue though. During a conversation at a fancy restaurant where he is having a discussion on the bakery being bought out, he tries a dessert and it’s almost right according to him. He has a partner! It’s pretty funny, because he comes back to the restaurant and just barges right into her kitchen to ask her to help him with the contest.

The rest is exactly what you expect. What makes it work is largely Costas Mandylor’s performance. Lauren Holly does a good job too. Amazingly, this movie was directed by Kevin Connor who brought us the epic disaster Strawberry Summer. The only problem I can think of here is that I was disappointed that they didn’t have Poloni make a reference Nicolas Cage’s character in Moonstruck (1987). Seriously, you see him walk in front of ovens in a white undershirt and you want him to yell, “I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride!”


IMG_9174 (1)

I definitely recommend this one.


Before You Say ‘I Do’ (2009) – This one you really have to judge in two separate parts. This movie is about a guy (David Sutcliffe) who proposes to a girl (Jennifer Westfeldt), only to have her change her mind because she was burned by a bad marriage 10 years prior. So while going through a yellow light, he makes a wish that something could be done about what happened to her 10 years before. He is then hit by a car and now he’s in 1999.

The first part of this movie works. The two actors and Lauren Holly do a good job. He immediately goes to where she was working in 1999 believing that they will fall in love at first sight, but it doesn’t happen. So, he warms up to her friend played by Lauren Holly and works to make his way into her life while also trying to talk her out of the upcoming disastrous marriage. This stuff works well enough to enjoy the film. I liked David Sutcliffe and Lauren Holly. Jennifer Westfeldt is good enough. Kind of looks like Phoebe from Friends though. This part really is okay.

But there’s the second part. That’s the time travel. It’s not broken per se, but it’s like they didn’t even try. Really, the only honest attempt I saw to make it look like 1999 was that they had all the computer screens be CRTs. Jennifer Westfeldt looks exactly the same as she did in 2009. They didn’t even bother to change her hair. They also leave it up to you to figure out that he hasn’t gone back in time Back To The Future style, but Quantum Leap style. That is, instead of physically traveling there and thus, there being two of him, he has become unstuck in time and slipped back into his 1999 self. Also, if you went back in time to 1999, we all know it would come up at least once. But nope, he never mentions 9/11. They could have fixed that issue completely by just having him go back 7 years instead. It’s a stupid mistake that is just one more thing that should have been fixed if they were going to put in any effort to the time travel part of the story.

Still, throwing aside that the time travel stuff is a bit of a mess, the romantic comedy works well enough. Not a seek out, but you’ll be okay if this happens to be on.


Taking A Chance On Love (2009) – It’s weird, but unintentionally I am working backwards through The Note trilogy. This one is definitely better than the third one. It’s still forgettable, but better. This time Peyton McGruder (Genie Francis), the advice columnist, has a woman come up to her and say I love your column, but your advice on taking a chance on love is idiotic. Then she just walks away. It’s rather humorous.

In this one McGruder is not married to Kingston Danville (Ted McGinley). Also, we get to meet the girl that McGruder gave up for adoption many years prior. I think near the end of the film we find out McGruder tried to kill herself while she was pregnant with her. Since that didn’t pan out, she gave birth and put her up for adoption. It seems the girl’s parents went out of the picture and McGruder came back into her life. I’m sure all this information is in the first film. Unfortunately, this movie kind of leaves you in the dark for about 30 minutes. You will think that it’s impossible to watch this one without having seen that one. But that’s not true. You reach 30 minutes and there’s enough exposition that you can follow the movie. Till then it’s a little rough.

Basically, there are four things going on here. The lady who came up to McGruder and insults her needs help resolving a very old incident involving two guys and baby that happened many years ago. McGruder needs to get over her hesitancy and just marry King. McGruder’s daughter needs to stop drinking and not feel she’s in any danger if McGruder gets married. Finally, King and his son need to both get on the same page about the son wanting to be a photographer. That’s it. Just like Signed, Sealed, Delivered, it’s very character driven, not plot driven. It’s not as good as Signed, Sealed, Delivered though.

For those of you who remember when I reviewed the third one, yes, McGinley does have an assholery moment that happens for a minute without really any lead up or anything to follow it. I really want to see the first one just to see if that one has a similar scene. I’m not sure why that’s a thing with these movies, but it seems to be true.

Also, because this is Hallmark, it should be no surprise that two actors from Degrassi: TNG make an appearance. John Bregar who played Dylan is King’s son and Raymond Ablack makes a brief appearance.

Married With Children meets Degrassi: TNG

Married With Children meets Degrassi: TNG

Oh, and unless I missed something or the plot summary on IMDb is wrong, that’s not a California license plate.


This one is fine, but I get the feeling that The Note trilogy is like the first five Friday the 13th movies. Individually, there not so good, but taken together, then you have something. I’ll find out eventually. Just as all streams lead to the toilet in computer science, it seems that all Hallmark movies eventually come to me. I swear that’s a saying I read in a computer science textbook many years ago.


Growing The Big One (2010) – Nope, you’d think there was, but according to IMDb there’s only a serious of porn films called Chasing The Big Ones. Not sure how Hallmark lucked out on this title, but good for them.

Now let’s talk about the movie. This is probably my favorite of the four films here. I like Shannen Doherty. She’s never going to win any major awards for acting, but I always seem to enjoy her performances. Kavan Smith is good too. I enjoyed him on Eureka. He is actually pretty interesting because of the way he looks. He can easily come across as a really kind and nice man, but all he has to do is make the most subtle adjustment to his facial expression, and it’s oh my God, he’s a psychopath. For some reason I really like that about him.

Doherty plays a radio show host from Seattle whose grandfather dies so she goes to the country to see this pumpkin farm she has inherited. Suddenly, her job back home disappears when she hears someone else on the radio in her slot. Well, not disappear, she’s reassigned. They want her on this plant show because everyone is going green these days. It’s stupid and Doherty calls them on it, but once her boss hears she now has a farm in the country, her fate is sealed. Thus, Doherty now lives in the country where she broadcasts and livestreams via webcams about a subject she is totally ignorant about.

Enter Kavan Smith! If he was in the film before this, I don’t care, nor do I remember because I want to believe this was the first time we see him. In the middle of the night he tries to break into her house and Doherty nearly maces him. He claims he was fixing the lock because he was friends with her grandfather, but we know he was there to steal the pumpkin seeds. Her grandfather was well known for growing the biggest pumpkins because of his secret method and special seeds. Is there a contest for growing the biggest pumpkin that will make the show a hit, carry the rest of the film, and bring Smith and Doherty together? Of course there is!

This is a movie that works because the two actors are just so enjoyable to watch. I didn’t really think they had any chemistry together, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it.

One other thing to mention. There is a guy in town who sells manure. His mascot is a superhero character. He even dresses as this superhero at one point. They never say it, but that means his mascot is Shitman.

Back to School #46: Heathers (dir by Michael Lehman)


Well, it had to happen.  We have finally reached the end of the 80s with this Back to School series of reviews.  The 80s are often considered to be the “Golden Age of Teen Films,” largely due to the efforts of director-writer-producer John Hughes.  In films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Hughes skillfully mixed teen comedy with teen drama and the end results were some of the best-remembered and most influential films ever made.  At the same time, it’s also can’t be denied that, even as he was dealing with real issues of class differences and sexuality, Hughes also tended to idealize his teenage protagonists.  They were often cast as noble savages, struggling to survive in a world that was exclusively run by cynical and judgmental adults.  In The Breakfast Club, Ally Sheedy says that when you grow up, your heart dies.  That, more than anything, defines the way that most of the great teen films of the 80s tended to view the world.

By the end of the 80s, John Hughes had stopped making films about high school and teenagers and so, it is perhaps appropriate that the final Back to School review of the 80s should be for a 1989 film that often time seems to be taking place on a totally different plant from the films of John Hughes.  If Hughes told us that your heart dies when you grow up, Heathers would seem to suggest that most people’s hearts were never alive to begin with.

Heathers takes place at Westerburg High, a school full of student so rich that their mascot is a Rottweiler.  Westerburg is run by a clique of three mean girls, all of whom are named Heather.  Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) is their leader.  Cheerleader Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) is weak-willed and insecure.  And finally, Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) is the smartest of the Heathers.  She’s also bulimic.  Now, there is a fourth member of the ruling clique but she’s a bit of an anomaly because she’s neither mean nor named Heather.  Instead, her name is Veronica (Winona Ryder) and she is valued for her ability to forge signatures.


Since joining the Heathers, Veronica has drifted away from old friends like Betty Finn (Renee Estevez).  And though Veronica quickly realizes that she doesn’t really belong with the Heathers, she doesn’t know how she can break free without also destroying her reputation of Westerburg.  Then, she meets J.D. (Christian Slater), a prototypical rebel with a cause.  J.D. is not only an outsider at Westerburg but he’s proud of it.  Soon, he and Veronica are a couple and J.D. is pulling Veronica into his plans to destroy the social hierarchy of Westerburg High.

When a practical joke arranged by J.D. and Veronica leads to the accidental death of Heather Chandler, J.D. convinces Veronica to forge a suicide note.  As a result, Heather Chandler is canonized by the same students that she previously terrorized.  However, J.D. is not done killing.  With each new death (and with each forged suicide note), a new social hierarchy starts to form at Westerburg until, eventually, J.D. comes up with a plan that owes a bit to the end of Massacre at Central High


Heathers is a darker than dark comedy and one that I imagine probably could not be made today.  (To be honest, I’m a little bit surprised that it could be made in 1989.)  Seriously, a comedy where one of the main plot points is that students become more popular after everyone has been fooled into thinking they committed suicide?  (Not to mention a scene where a grieving father shouts, “I love my dead gay son!”)  People would get so offended if this film was made today but you know what?  They would be totally missing the point.  The film isn’t making fun of suicide as much as it’s exposing the hypocrisy of a society that only seems to care about people after they die. To me, the most important scenes aren’t the ones where people react to the fake suicides.  Instead, the heart of Heathers‘s dark vision is to be found in the scene where a true outcast like Martha Dunnstock (Carrie Lynn) fails in her attempt to commit suicide and is ridiculed by the same students and teachers who were previously patting themselves on the back at Heather Chandler’s funeral.

Heathers is dark but it’s also a genuinely funny film, filled with great lines and performances.  (“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw,” is my personal favorite.)  It’s a film that still carries quite a satiric bite and a perfect film with which to end the 80s.