Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: Seeds of Yesterday (dir by Shawn Ku)


For this past week, I’ve both been dealing with a sprained foot (and it’s doing much better, thank you very much) and I’ve been cleaning out my DVR.  As I woke up this morning, I realized that I only had four more movies left in the DVR that I needed to watch and review.  So, I decided to jump right into things and I finally watch Seeds of Yesterday.

Seeds of Yesterday serves as a sequel to Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind, and If There Be Thorns.  Like those three previous films, Seeds of Yesterday is based on a novel by V.C. Andrews and premiered on the Lifetime network.  Seeds of Yesterday was originally broadcast on April 12th and, considering how much I enjoyed Flowers and Thorns, I’m not sure why I missed Seeds.  Maybe drugs were involved, who knows?

Anyway, Seeds of the Yesterday continues the story of the Dollangangers, the family that simply cannot stop literally and figuratively fucking each other.  As the film opens, 13 years have passed since the end of If There Be Thorns.  Bart (James Maslow) is now a 25 year-old religious fanatic.  Since learning, in Thorns, that his parents were actually brother-and-sister, Bart wants nothing to do with them.  He has even changed his last name to Foxworth, in honor of his evil great-grandfather, Malcolm.  Bart has rebuilt Foxworth Hall and, on the occasion of his birthday, he invites his estranged family to come visit him.

Jory (Anthony Konechy) is now a ballet star and is married to an emotionally fragile dancer named Melodie (Leah Gibson).  The parents, Chris (Jason Lewis) and Cathy (Rachel Carpani), have finally come to peace with the fact that they are also brother and sister.  And then there’s adopted daughter Cindy (Sammi Hanratty), who Bart considers to be sinful even while he lusts after her.  When all of these people arrive at Foxworth Hall, they are excited to learn that Melodie is pregnant.

Well, everyone’s excited except for Bart.  Bart not only lusts after his stepsister but also after his sister-in-law.  Bart does a lot of lusting in general.

For some reason, Bart has demanded that Jory and Melodie perform a dance from Samson and Delilah at his birthday party.  However, since Melodie is pregnant, she can’t dance.  (“You’re not even showing!” Bart snaps, angrily.)  Instead, Cindy says that she’ll be Bart’s dance partner and, on the night of the performance, a huge piece of scenery falls on Bart and severs his spine.  Bart will never dance, walk, or make love again…

So now, Melodie is depressed and can’t bring herself to even visit Jory in the hospital.  She discovers that Jory will never be able to have sex again so, instead, she and Bart start fucking.  Bart, however, is still lusting after Cindy and complaining that everyone around him is a sinner…

And it goes on like that for about 90 minutes and then the movie’s over.

On a strictly personal level, I enjoyed Seeds of Yesterday because it had a lot of sex, a lot of overacting, a lot of gorgeous clothes, some dancing, and a big mansion.  But, for the most part, Seeds of Yesterday is a total mess that never really makes much sense.  I have not read the original novel but just taking a quick look at its Wikipedia page reveals that a lot of plot and quite a few characters were left out of the adaptation.  Obviously, there’s only so much you can put into an 88 minute movie but, in the end, Seeds of Yesterday still fills rushed and overly busy.  All the characters are so busy scheming schemes and having melodramatic confrontations that you never really get any sort of emotional insight into them.  All in all, Seeds of Yesterday is a disappointing end to fairly entertaining series of films.

That said, we should give praise to James Maslow.  From the minute that Bart shows up, it’s obvious that he’s batshit insane and, for lack of a better term, Maslow “goes there.”  His performance is so enjoyably melodramatic (and, just so there’s no understanding, perfectly appropriate for the material that he’s been given to work with) that he elevates the entire film.

6 Quickies With Lisa Marie: Atlas Shrugged, Beautiful Boy, Crazy Stupid Love, The Devil’s Double, Sarah’s Key, and Water For Elephants

For my first post-birthday review post, I want to take a look at 6 films that I saw earlier this year but, for whatever reason, I haven’t gotten a chance to review yet.  My goal has been to review every single 2011 release that I’ve seen this year.  So far, I’ve only seen 106 2011 films and I still need to review 21 of them.  So, without further ado, let’s “gang bang this baby out” as a former employer of mine used to say. (*Shudder*  Seriously, what a creepy thing to say…)

1) Atlas Shrugged, Part One (dir. by Paul Johansson)

What to say about Atlas Shrugged, Part One?  When I recently rewatched it OnDemand with a friend of mine who had just gotten back from Occupying somewhere, he threw a fit as soon as he heard wealthy 1 percenter Graham Beckel declaring, “I am on strike!”  When I first saw it earlier in the year, in a theater full of strangers, they broke out into applause when they heard the same line.  Atlas Shrugged is a wonderfully divisive film.   If you’re a political person, your enjoyment of this film will probably come down to which news network  you watch. If you enjoy those MSNBC spots where Rachel Maddow won’t shut up about the freakin’ Hoover Dam, you’ll probably hate Atlas Shrugged.  If you truly believe that Fox News is “fair and balanced,” chances are you’ll enjoy it.  But what if you’re like me and the only politics you follow are the politics of film and you only bow at the altar of cinema?  Well, I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged because the film really is a grindhouse film at heart.  It’s an uneven, low-budget film that has a few good performances (Beckel and Taylor Schilling), several bad performances, and ultimately, it goes totally against what establishment films have conditioned us to expect when we go to the movies.  Ultimately, the film is a big middle finger extended at both the film and the political establishments and who can’t get behind that?  Add to that, Roger Ebert hated it and when was the last time he was right about anything?

2) Beautiful Boy (dir. by Shawn Ku)

I’ve read a lot of rapturous reviews of this film online and my aunt Kate loved it when she saw it at the Dallas Angelika earlier this year.  So, admittedly, when I watched this film via OnDemand, I had pretty high hopes and expectations but, unfortunately, none of those expectations came anywhere close to being met.  In the film, two of my favorite performers — Michael Sheen and Maria Bello — play the middle-class parents who have to deal with the consequences (both emotional and physical) of a terrible crime perpetrated by their son.  The film is based on the Virginia Tech massacre and both Sheen and Bello give excellent performances but overall, the film feels like a thoroughly shallow exploration of some various serious issues.  Ultimately, the film’s refusal to provide an explanation for the crime feels less like a brave, artistic choice and more like a cop-out.  The film is less abstract than Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and Denis Villeneuve’s Polytechnique but it’s also a lot less effective.

3)Crazy, Stupid Love (dir. by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra)

I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive Steve Carell for abandoning The Office and forcing upon me the current, almost painful season of the show.  Still, I can’t totally blame him because the guy is totally a film star and he proves it in Crazy, Stupid Love by holding his own with other certifiable film stars like Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone.  In the film, Julianne Moore plays Carell’s wife who leaves him for a coworker (played by Kevin Bacon, doing his charming jerk routine).  The depressed Carell is taken under the wing of womanizer Gosling who teaches Carell how to be more confident and appealing.  Things seem to be working out well until Gosling starts going out with Carell’s daughter (played by Emma Stone).  The movie, itself, isn’t anything special and it’s really kind of a mess but it’s saved by a massively appealing cast.  And, by the way, Ryan Gosling —très beau!  Seriously.

4) The Devil’s Double (dir. by Lee Tamahori)

Taking place in pre-Desert Storm Iraq, The Devil’s Double claims to tell the true story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi who was forced to serve as the double for the sociopathic young dictator-in-training Uday Hussien.  I’ve read that there’s some debate as to how faithful The Devil’s Double is to the facts of the story and it is true that Latif is portrayed as being almost too good to be true but no matter.  The Devil’s Double is a compelling and oddly fascinating little gangster film, one that manages to show the dangerous appeal of the excessive lifestyle of a man like Uday Hussien without ever actually being seduced by it.   The film is dominated by Dominic Cooper, who gives a great performance playing both the tortured Latif and the cheerfully insane Uday. 

5) Sarah’s Key (dir by Gilles Paquet-Brenner)

Sarah’s Key tells two stories at once and, the result, is a film that feels very schizophrenic in quality.  The better part of the film deals with Sarah, a 10 year-old Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied France.  When Sarah and her parents are sent to a concentration camp, her younger brother is left behind in Paris.  Sarah eventually manages to escape and desperately tries to get back to Paris to rescue her brother.  Meanwhile, in the modern-day, a journalist (Kristen Scott Thomas) researches Sarah’s story and discovers that her French husband’s family has a connection of their own with Sarah’s story.  The film is compelling and heart-breaking as long as it concentrates on Sarah but, unfortunately, the modern-day scenes feel forced and predictable and the end result is a film that’s never quite as good as it obviously could have been.

6) Water For Elephants (dir. by Francis Lawrence)

Look, I make no apologies — I freaking loved this movie.  Yes, plotwise, this film feels almost like a parody and yes, so much of this film was over-the-top and kinda silly but I don’t care.  I loved this film for the old-fashioned, melodramatic, and rather campy spectacle that it is.  Robert Pattinson plays a Depression-era Ivy League college student-turned-hobo who ends up joining the circus and falling in love with Reese Whitherspoon, the wife of insane circus owner, Christoph Waltz.  Pattinson isn’t much of an actor but he’s easy on the eyes and he and Whitherspoon have just enough chemistry to remain watchable.  The film, however, is totally dominated by Waltz who is both charming and scary.  The next time your man makes you sit through anything starring Jason Statham, you make him watch Water for Elephants.