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

Cleaning Out The DVR: Fatherly Obsession (dir by Daniel Ringey)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 166 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Fatherly Obsession off of the Lifetime Movie Network on December 26th, 2017!)

Alyssa Haroldosn (Molly McCook) is a stand-up comedian who has recently moved from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Los Angeles.

That makes sense, doesn’t it?  I mean, I’ve never been to Wyoming, though I did once live in Colorado and I imagine that’s kind of like being in Wyoming.  Still, I imagine that there’s probably more opportunities for a comedian in L.A. than in Jackson Hole.  Then again, it also seems like there would be considerably less competition in Wyoming than in California.  Actually, if Alyssa really wanted to go some place with no competition, she should have moved to Colorado.  Nobody’s funny in Colorado…

But, to get back to the movie, it turns out that Alyssa didn’t just move for her career.  She also moved because 1) her family was way too clingy and 2) she had a stalker.  When we first meet her, she’s living in a cheap motel room and calling 911 nearly every night.  But then she’s lucky enough to meet a handsome realtor named Oliver (Jack Turner).  Oliver not only appreciates a good fish taco but he also knows of a good, empty apartment!

There’s only three issues with the apartment:

  1. It’s in Oliver’s building and, if you live near Oliver, that means that you’re somehow obligated to share a fish taco with him.  Seriously, Oliver never shuts up about his love for fish tacos.
  2. The apartment is empty because the previous tenant — who looked just like Alyssa — was found dead in her bathtub.
  3. The landlord, Robert (Ted McGinley), is a mentally unbalanced stalker who is desperately looking for someone to take the place of his daughter!

You can probably already guess what happens but Fatherly Obsession does add a few new elements to the typical Lifetime stalking formula.  When Robert — like all Lifetime stalkers — spies on Alyssa’s apartment, he doesn’t just watch her on his computer.  No, Robert uses virtual reality glasses!  What that means is that, at random moments, Robert materializes in Alyssa’s apartment and watches her go about her day.  It’s a nicely creepy twist to the usual Lifetime formula.

The biggest problem with Fatherly Obsession is that Alyssa’s a comedian and, as a result, the dialogue is often excessively quippy.  I spent the first half of the movie worried that Alyssa was going to spend the whole movie almost exclusively speaking in one liners.  Then Oliver started talking about fish tacos and I was just like, “Oh my God!  MAKE IT STOP!”

But the film got better as it went along.  Though her character sometimes drove me crazy, Molly McCook did a good job of capturing both the pain of being a stalked and the difficult of recovery.  Ted McGinley was also incredibly creepy as Robert.  Fatherly Obsession was a typical Lifetime stalking film but it had enough interesting moments to make it worthwhile for fans of the genre.

Hallmark Review: Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge, Part 2 (2016, dir. Mike Rohl)


IMG_7698

I did say I would write this a few days after I watched part 1, but obviously that didn’t happen. My health problems hit me hard. That’s why I greatly appreciated the person who thanked me for providing instructions on how to find songs used in Hallmark movies in my review of Valentine Ever After. I also found it hilarious to receive a comment by someone who I believe thinks they know quite a bit about Hallmark movies seeing as they wanted to lecture me about them bundled together with personal attacks. They must have missed the recent Hallmark movie Hearts of Spring. It covered leaving nasty comments with personal attacks about how you know better than someone about something on that person’s blog when you disagree with their opinion and the damage it can cause. It was also about mint chocolate chip milkshakes.

But we aren’t here to discuss the wonderful world of writing movie reviews. We’re here to discuss this film, and hopefully have a little fun doing it. Especially with what happened today. Right, Ted?

Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge, Part 1 (2015, dir. Mike Rohl)

Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge, Part 1 (2015, dir. Mike Rohl)

The movie begins not quite where the first film left off. The first film had two kids named Ryan and Molly who go to college, meet, and fall in love before going their separate ways basically because there was a second part to the movie. The actual reasons are that there was an extra guy and girl along with Molly’s dad who came in between the two of them. It also had the story of Charlie and Donna who come together after a personal tragedy to create a bookstore whose main mission isn’t so much to sell books, but act as a place where people can bond over their love of reading. They called it The Bridge. The movie ended with Donna turning down Charlie to go back to church with him and standing at the checkout counter with “to be continued…” below her.

This film begins by treating us to that conversation between Molly (Katie Findlay) and Ryan (Wyatt Nash) from the end of the first film. That one where the phones were sometimes lit up near the character’s ear, and sometimes not.

IMG_7728

I’m still not sure why that was a thing. To my knowledge, all cellphones turn the screen black so that you don’t accidentally hit buttons with your face when you are talking on them next to your ear. I’ve seen other Hallmark movies do this right sometimes and other times incorrectly.

After that we cut to Seattle, Washington 7 years later. Seeing as the first film started in 2009 and took them to Christmas of that year, it would mean that this film takes place in 2016 during the holidays. I guess that’s why they originally planned to air this at that time. I can’t imagine what a disaster that would have been considering the plot of this film. Then they cut to this shot that immediately follows the title card, which told us when and where we are.

IMG_7775

I know A Christmas Detour had a litany of ridiculously photoshopped in Christmas stuff at the very beginning of the film. However, not only does director Ron Oliver have a sense of humor, but his movie was supposed to be a comedy. These two movies on the other hand are supposed to be rather serious. Plus, the movie then cuts inside to show us Molly and her dad (Steve Bacic) who-along with the sets-announce clearly that we are at his business. The establishing shot didn’t need to be there. Particularly if this was how it was going to look. While not needing to be there, I can’t say I’m shocked that it ended up there after seeing 170+ Hallmark films at the time of writing this review. Just like I’m not shocked that the dialog between Molly and her dad is there establish that she is on the brink of marrying the guy who wasn’t worth mentioning in my first review and becoming CEO of her dad’s company just before fate will intervene to bring her back to Ryan. That’s her Hallmark movie within this Hallmark movie.

Now we are reintroduced to Ryan who has just arrived home for the holidays. They decided to age Wyatt by having him grow a little facial hair.

IMG_8172

I’m sorry, but there’s just something about the pattern of his mustache hair that says Frollo Gaston from The Secret of the Hunchback (1996) to me.

The Secret of the Hunchback (1996, dir. Mike Joens & Ken C. Johnson)

The Secret of the Hunchback (1996, dir. Mike Joens & Ken C. Johnson)

While I really did think it was going to happen, Charlie does not sprout wings in this like Quasimodo does in that film to reveal he’s an angel.

If there’s anything they did to Molly to age her, then it’s so superficial that I didn’t even notice. Still, she does actually look like an adult instead of Emilia Clarke in Terminator Genisys (2015) who really looked like a teenager.

Then we are re-introduced to Charlie (Ted McGinley) as he goes around town saying the bookstore will be rebuilt and open for business soon. It’s at times like this in the film that I wonder if it was purely budget or if Hallmark trimmed a few scenes to make this fit the runtime they had for this early airing of the film. We never really see the storm except for a weird scene. Charlie enters The Bridge after talking to people on the street and then looks up at a hole in his ceiling when we get a flashback to the storm. It’s very short, but at first I honestly thought Donna (Faith Ford) had been struck by lightning.

IMG_8251

It’s a very short scene. I didn’t try to catch a screenshot like that. It’s how it came out. It’s also the only one I have that illustrates the lightning part of things.

In the first film, Charlie had a character who was thin as a playing card. In this second film, McGinley actually gets to do some acting as we see him trying to deal with the destruction of the bookstore. Of course good acting for Charlie is not meant to be here for some reason so he winds up getting attacked by a pole in his car and is out in a coma for the remainder of the film. That’s too bad cause for a brief period there, you really do get a glimpse of McGinley adding some depth to Charlie.

IMG_8294

Then Molly comes back to town and discovers this whole situation with The Bridge along with Ryan. By the way, that’s the whole movie. Charlie ends up in a coma because he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel in his state and hit a pole. Molly comes back to town and with Ryan’s help, rallies the community and leverages the Internet to rebuild The Bridge. Then we get Charlie waking up from his coma to find that all is well thanks to the bonds he formed with and between the people the bookstore touched. I would think Hallmark viewers would be expecting something more substantial seeing as they were being asked to wait a whole year for this second film.

There are a couple of little subplots if you can even call them that. It’s really just the film tying up a few loose ends/removing a few roadblocks concerning Molly and Ryan to make sure they can end the film on a kiss between them.

IMG_1307

There is one thing I found unintentionally funny about this movie.

IMG_8352

I get why there are no last names. I mean I have seen Hallmark movies populate lists of names like this with crew members, but I understand. What’s funny is the one on the bottom. I wouldn’t think it was worth mentioning the obvious thing people associate with the name Slim if not for something that happened while I was watching the film. I mean other than this obvious association with the name Slim.

 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

I’m going to mention it because there is an actor in this movie that I kept mistaking for Wyatt Nash.

IMG_0916

It really took till this scene for me to know for sure that I was seeing a different character when the guy in the blue shirt was onscreen. So, of course I’m thinking “will the real Wyatt Nash please stand up” when I see the name Slim.

My final thoughts on this one are that they basically took a single Hallmark film and divided it in two. If this had been condensed to a single film, then it still wouldn’t have been that good honestly, but it would have been an actual Hallmark movie. To give Karen Kingsbury the benefit of the doubt again, I have to imagine that her book didn’t divide the story with a seven year gap. I’m guessing there was more time to develop their relationship and flesh out Donna and Charlie that builds to all the connections that developed through the bookstore ultimately allowing them all to survive the literal and metaphorical storm. With obvious religious stuff that I’m sure is more pronounced in the book thrown in.

Long story short, don’t bother with either of these movies. There are far better films Hallmark has made. Even their usual average B-Movies are also often enjoyable on some level. Even if that is just the enjoyment of riffing on them and noticing goofs they make. Even the screenwriter of Hello, It’s Me told me on Twitter she was enjoying my reactions to the dialog she had written. People have a lot of fun doing live tweets of Hallmark movies and the cast and crew will sometimes hop onboard to have fun with the audience too. At the end of the day, these reviews are to give you my opinion on the film and to hopefully guide you to ones you’ll enjoy. Even if that’s just because I’ve talked about it enough that regardless of what I thought about it, you decide it sounds like something you might enjoy.

As always if they list them, here are the songs:

IMG_1333

It seems to be a regular thing for me when I write these reviews to listen to a single song on an endless repeat. Might as well mention it as a little footnote for people. The song for this review was Holding Back the Years by Simply Red.

In retrospect, I probably should have been listening to Culture Club’s Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.

Hallmark Review: Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge, Part 1 (2015, dir. Mike Rohl)


IMG_5644

I know I’m a little late to this one, but there’s a real benefit to that for me. I get to watch part two in a few days. Hallmark was originally going to wait a whole year to air the second part. However, after receiving a bunch of angry feedback, which must have been really bad, they aired the second part in March. Hallmark of course kept calling it “popular demand.” I doubt that. This is going to be a short review because there isn’t a movie here. I’m going to deflate it for you and me. If you’ve already seen The Notebook (2004), then just go watch that again. This could have easily been called Karen Kingsbury’s The Notebook. It’s also one of the most lazily produced Hallmark movies I’ve watched so far. How fast do we get to see that? Here is what it cuts to right after that shot above.

IMG_5646

I had no idea that North Carolina moved to the metric system back in the 1990s. I also didn’t know that North Carolina moved to British Columbia, which is the only place Murchie’s exists. That’s Ted McGinley down there as Charlie. He will be a slightly altered psychic version of himself from The Note movies. Inside we find Donna played by Faith Ford.

IMG_5659

It also looks like Karen Kingsbury can time travel back to 1997 to place her book released in 2015 on the shelves. It will pop up in other places too. There are of course other recent books back in 1997 as well.

They meet over a copy of Slow Road to Brownsville by David Reynolds, fall in love, get married, she gets pregnant, it’s stillborn, and suddenly they get the idea to create a bookstore in order to get over their loss by helping others via that bookstore. Bookstore made! Enter the kids of the film.

Now we meet every rich young girl heading off to college.

IMG_5884

I’m really glad this is a Hallmark movie and not a Lifetime movie, or that shot would probably mean something totally different. Her name is Molly (Katie Findlay) and she’s from a mansion with text floating below it that tells us we are now in “Seattle 2009”. The back of that head belongs to every father who wants their kid to go to college so they can come back and take over the family business. He is played by actor Steve Bacic. Another guy comes into the room here. That sentence alone is about as much acknowledgment of his character this movie gives him. We also find out that Molly and her best friend are actually 300 years old on top of her friend being cute and funny. Those lines and a few others are there because they didn’t have much faith in Katie Findlay and Steve Bacic to convey their relationship to us with their face and body language even though they both did that perfectly. Especially Steve Bacic who comes prepackaged with the face that instantly says that.

IMG_5893

Then this happens.

IMG_5925

Not sure what happened with the camera there, but moving on. We also find out that her mother is dead because Hallmark, and that Molly has no major. That doesn’t sound odd. She’s a freshman.

Anyways, we are now off to Nashville, Tennessee. Molly nearly walks into oncoming traffic so that her love interest for the movie can rescue her. His name is Ryan (Wyatt Nash) since going with Noah would be too obvious considering a storm is going to wipe out the bookstore in part two.

IMG_6015

That thing popping up behind him is a guitar because he’s a musician. They go to sign up for classes and keep finding that they are picking out the same ones. They say it’s to “step outside [their] comfort zone.” He immediately takes her to The Bridge, which is the name of the bookstore. We again find there are Karen Kingsbury books all over the place. Also, Karen has once again used her powers of time travel to make a cameo.

IMG_6115

If R.L. Stine can use his ability to slide into different dimensions in order to appear in Goosebumps (2015), then I’m fine with this.

Upon meeting Molly, Charlie immediately is able to tell that she has traveled out of the country, is a sport’s fan, and she loved The Little House Series as a kid. Ryan says Charlie is a magician, but I’m waiting for part two where I’m sure he’s going to turn out to be a Whitelighter. He’s as devoid of self as Brian Krause’s character was on that show. So is Ryan for that matter.

This all goes exactly where you think it does. They look around and he drops her out on a trail to walk home through the forest.

IMG_6263

I know that they later explain this as her trying to hide that her Dad has her setup in a great place and she is trying to hide that from him, but this still came across as weird.

Ryan decides to take Molly on a tour of Franklin, Tennessee. He says, “Most people head straight for Nashville, but Franklin is really hitting its stride.” I agree, it is well on its way to turning into Oak Bay, British Columbia as those street signs and banner behind them announce to the audience.

IMG_6364

They have some more back and forth, then it’s back to the forest for Molly.

There’s a lot of talking and it is a bit tough to tell how much time has past. It all amounts to them having something they want to do, but needing a kick in the butt in order to follow through with it. That, and even after she tells him about living in a great house, he still leaves her in the forest. She also gives him a copy of Jane Eyre. Never read it, but I have seen I Walked With A Zombie (1943), which probably is the weirdest film adaptation of that book.

Some blonde shows up now for the same reason as the guy from the beginning and is as worth mentioning as a single sentence affords. We need to keep moving cause we have plenty less of this movie to talk about.

Quick scene of Charlie harassing his wife to come to church with him.

IMG_6839

No, he doesn’t quote the title of his 2015 movie Do You Believe?, and he gives in to go see a cheesy action flick. Would have made my day if he said the local theater was doing a retrospective of 90s action films and they were going to show Blue Tornado (1991).

The main thing the movie revolves around is an assignment to make a video about where he is going to be in 10 years that Ryan has been given. On the Charlie and Donna side, it’s figuring out that bookstores aren’t just a checkout counter and never really were in order to keep afloat.

Then…well…things sure happen. Sort of. They just spend time together. She starts coming around to not taking over the family business. We find out he can’t sing, but the movie tells us he is amazing and he is offered a chance to drop out to go on tour with someone. You aren’t missing anything. Oh, we do find out that Charlie really likes Christmas!

IMG_7784

He also believes that dogs have every right to be chefs.

IMG_7791

More things happen. Blah. Then this occurs.

IMG_8009

IMG_8017

IMG_8026

Yes, those three things do happen in quick succession. We see Douglas Sirk snow outside, Ryan says “it’s snowing”, and then Ryan and Molly step outside to no snow falling. It doesn’t start up again either.

Stuff happens and Molly’s cellphone magically goes from being lit to dark a couple of times between camera cuts during a single conversation. That part was at least entertaining.

Ryan and Molly are apart. Charlie and Donna are still together. Donna still won’t go to church with him. And to be continued…

IMG_8630

I jumped over scenes, but you missed nothing. They are just people in front of a camera doing and saying nothing of consequence. In other words, it’s like watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014). The Bridge is the classic tale of a writer who took a bunch of romance cliches, arranged them into a religious allegory, Hallmark saw what they thought was a gold mine, threw as little money as possible at it, delivered a movie where nothing happens or is resolved, told people they’d have to wait a year for the conclusion, and then were told that was unacceptable by their audience so they aired part two a few a months later. I haven’t read the book, but to give Kingsbury the benefit of the doubt, I would be pissed to see my work turned into this if I were her.

I’ve only glanced at the plot summary for part two, but I’m guessing her stillborn pregnancy isn’t water under The Bridge. It will reappear as a literal storm that destroys the bookstore. Charlie will die in the comfort of his religion and with her side at his side. Donna will come to the Church. The movie will still think we actually care about the two young actor’s story who are there just to have a happy ending contrast to the patchwork life led by Donna and Charlie. Finally, Ryan and Molly will have a kid that will be the grandchild Donna never had after she and Charlie largely adopted Ryan and Molly in their own way. At least that’s what I am expecting.

I have to watch part two at this point, but you don’t have to watch either of them.

Hallmark Review: The Note (2007, dir. Douglas Barr)


IMG_1236

I finally worked my way backwards to the first in The Note trilogy, and I’m kind of disappointed in it.

The movie starts and we are introduced to a newspaper columnist named Peyton Macgruder (Genie Francis). She writes a newspaper column called The Heart Healer. We are then introduced to King (Ted McGinley) who plays her love interest and also writes for the paper.

IMG_1249

A small complaint I have is that he never really had the short moment of douchebaggery that he had in the other two Note films. I know it was a weird anomaly, but I had gotten used to it. Here we just get a couple of lines that he chocks up to old locker room talk. It’s just not the same.

During the introductions to the characters, including that her column is on the chopping block, we also are hearing about a plane that is going down. Macgruder goes out to a funeral being held for the family of someone who died in the crash. This is when we are introduced to the problem with this film.

IMG_1319

The allegedly evil TV news reporter. We know he’s supposed to be bad because how dare he ask this girl very politely a question after Macgruder also went over to her and introduced herself. She goes back to her office in disgust. She says, “How does a guy like Truman Harris sleep at night?” to which her friend responds, “Comfortably wrapped in the arms of any woman he wants.” All this because he went over, introduced himself, and politely asked her a question. This supposedly evil TV news reporter is a running thing in this story and it’s stupid.

IMG_1359

After we get a flashback to tell us her husband is dead, she is sitting next to the water and discovers something. It’s a note and a bag of cookie crumbs. She’s struck gold! Now she has a story to milk in order to keep her job. Even King says, “I think you may have struck gold here.” When she brings the idea to her boss, she’s hesitant, but then her bosses boss tells her it’s a good idea so the hunt for who the letter is meant for is on!

Phone call! It’s the evil TV news reporter. He has called her up to dare to offer her the opportunity to use TV coverage to help find the person the note belongs to faster. But she turns him down because it’s her story, and how could he possibly think that finding the person quicker is what she wants. She wants to “do the story as a continuing feature.” You know, drag it out as long as possible to keep her column going.

Now she visits the first person she thinks the letter might have been meant for. The two of them have a nice little conversation, but it isn’t his. The evil TV news reporter shows up as she’s leaving. The guy says he doesn’t want to speak with him and she says, “no comment”. Then she makes sure to remind him that it’s her story and that “without the note you’ve really got nothin'”. Did they even read the lines they have her saying? She comes across as a person who is holding this personal private note hostage and dragging it out for her personal gain while lashing out at someone who could help her find the person who should have the letter as soon as possible.

Now she writes about it, and it’s a hit! Look she’s got 200 emails!

IMG_1625

Of course this being a Hallmark movie, it cuts to her face and back to the screen to find it’s suddenly 1,991 messages.

IMG_1628

Now she’s asked to work with the evil TV news reporter by her boss because their companies are related, but she’s not having any of it. She goes on a bit of a rant here saying: “I think corporate should go to…Look, this is a story that either I can tell or Truman can tell! Oh, wait a minute, I forgot. Truman can’t tell it because he doesn’t have the note.”

And just in case we thought we were meant to read her as going overboard, she has a conversation with her boss a little while on where she is congratulated. Apparently, she protected her “readers’ interests” and her bosses boss liked that she stood up to those “new media types in New York.” He has been a print guy for 30 years! Wow! That’s like way before television was invented in the 1980s. By the way, she publishes her articles on the Internet as well as in newspaper form.

IMG_1723

Then she meets with another lady and this is when we finally get a real reason why she probably shouldn’t work with the TV guy. This lady shares quite a personal story with her. Of course that really doesn’t matter too much because she isn’t the one who the letter was for. Thus, making this exist only for her to have another article and pad the film out with more emotional material.

It basically carries on this way for the rest of the film. Ultimately, her hunt brings her back to herself. I feel bad spoiling it here for some reason even though you can figure it out if you’ve seen the other films in the series. She also gets closer to King in the process. It would all be a nice little emotional story of her going from person to person as this note touches lives ultimately coming around to touch hers in the most profound way. However, they had to throw in this evil TV news reporter. The only purpose he seems to serve is to pander to people who see someone like him as a threat to their traditional values as embodied by this somewhat religious newspaper reporter. It’s totally unnecessary to the story and damages the credibility of the main character needlessly. This isn’t a bad movie, but one with a stupid writing mistake that drags on it.

Val’s Movie Roundup #19: Hallmark Edition


Poster_of_the_movie_Safe_Harbor

Safe Harbor (2009) – As far as Hallmark movies go, this was one of the best I’ve seen. Although, it’s almost like it’s 20 years past when it should have been released. It’s about a retired couple played by Nancy Travis and Treat Williams. One day a judge shows up who knows Williams and just dumps a couple of toubled kids on them who need a place to stay. It’s a little of the blue, but okay cause Williams gives a bit of background later. Turns out Williams once punched a cop after that officer shot his dog. Apparently, Williams had been living under a bridge. It’s after that he joined the Merchant Marine. Quite a lot of important information that his wife apparently didn’t know after all those years. I almost expected him to say I also used to go by the name Arnold Friend and did something really bad once.

Of course the judge finds a way to dump a few more kids on them. The couple steps up and decides to take care of them. They meet a little resistance from a lady in Social Services, some of the locals, especially after a fire, and one of their mothers, but for the most part it’s just getting the kids over their issues. Doing that, the movie works. It just feels like something that should have been released in 1989 as it feels reminiscent of episodes of MacGyver.

Since Mystery Woman: Game Time felt the need to censor the word “butt” in the phrase “pain in the butt”, I was rather shocked that not once, but twice, Travis and Williams try to have sex before being interrupted by the kids.

This is one of the good ones.

MV5BMTUyNzI5ODg1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTI5MzI4Nw@@._V1_SX214_AL_

Notes from the Heart Healer (2012) – This has to be the most forgettable of the Hallmark movies I have watched so far. It’s a movie technically, but barely. It’s the third film in a trilogy and I’ve only seen this one. It’s about a writer who seems to be an advice columnist type. A lady turns up at one of her book signings. She has been fired, has no place to stay, and has a baby she can’t take care of. She tries to turn to the writer for help, but when the writer’s husband shows up, she runs away. Later on she drops the baby off at the writer’s doorstep.

What follows is a very forgettable story of the writer mulling over a child she had to give up for adoption and what to do with the baby she now has in her hands. There were only two parts that were memorable. First, during the film the writer jots down some diary entries and in one she mentions that cutting the baby in two story. Honestly, I’m not sure why, but what was memorable was that she felt the need to refer to it as a decision made by “Biblical” King Solomon. A war on Christmas type thing where we want to make sure you don’t divorce the widely known story from it being in the bible? I’m really just guessing. It just stuck with me like hearing someone say “up twice down twice” when saying the Konami code. Just not something I think I’ve ever heard someone feel the need to do when that story is referenced. The second thing is when the husband reacts to something about the baby in kind of an asshole manner, for lack of a better word. But it doesn’t really go anywhere.

There, that those are the things I strongly remember tells you how forgettable this one is. Maybe the first two were better. I’ll probably find out eventually.

url

Mystery Woman: Vision of a Murder (2005) – Once again, we join Kellie Martin and Clarence Williams III for another murder mystery. I haven’t mentioned her in my earlier reviews of these movies, but there is a character played by Nina Siemaszko who is basically Martin’s Beth Davenport from The Rockford Files. She’s an attorney who is frequently part of the case and definitely is in this one. In this one Martin joins Siemaszko to go to a spa and take photographs of the place. Siemaszko is going there for the spa. It’s not just a spa, but a place that does plastic surgery and other such beauty treatments.

It’s run by Charles Shaughnessy so you know something is up. But just in case you didn’t, Felicia Day is in this looking and acting like “the dog who gets beat” in that lyric from the Alice In Chains’ song Man In The Box. She might as well be wearing a sign around her neck that says “I’ve got secrets to tell.”

Describing much more is spoiling it. A dead body turns up at the spa and Day turns out to be psychic. There is a funny scene where Kellie Martin pretends to be a doctor. Funny, since she’s most famous for her role on ER. And finally, that when you get near the ending, no, it isn’t clever enough to end the way you hope.

Still, decent entry in the series and one of two of them that Kellie Martin directed herself.

SecondChances

Second Chances (2013) – Yet another Hallmark romance, right? Well, not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, there is a couple, but that’s not really where the story is. The story is with her kids. It’s also a Larry Levinson Production so apparently that means they must include goofs with technology. Not sure why that’s a thing, but it seems to be.

But let’s back up here. The story begins with a firefighter and a 911 dispatcher. They kind of know each other from going back and forth on the radio during calls, but they’re really still strangers. He gets injured and needs to spend some serious downtime according to his doctor played by James Eckhouse of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame. He’s quite good and makes the most of the few scenes he’s in. The dispatcher gets her hours cut back and decides to rent out a room at her house to make up the difference. The firefighter decides to move in. That’s this movie’s excuse for the boy and girl to spend time together.

However, this is when the kids kind of take over the movie. They know that their Mom needs money so they decide to start charging residents of a nursing home a dollar for reading to them. These parts are the best parts of the film. It’s actually a shame that there had to be other parts cause if they had made that the whole film and let it go deeper then it could have been even better. But they don’t, so we do get a little romance between the two as well as some backstory on them. It really isn’t worth going into because you’re watching this for the kids and the two tech goofs.

The first tech goof comes really early in the movie. They obviously thought no one would notice and I don’t blame them here, but considering what it would have taken to make it right, it’s pretty stupid. If you have a better version of this then the one I watched on TV and can prove me wrong, then I’m all ears, but the firefighter picks up a sealed copy of a game the kid is supposedly playing from their living room table and talks to the kid about it. The kid isn’t a collector or anything. That sealed copy of the game is what he is supposedly playing. It’s weird because the two games under it are open. Again, if you have a higher definition copy and see differently, then tell me. But here’s what I was able to capture.

Notice the top of the box that shouldn't be shining if it were really open.

Notice the top of the box that shouldn’t be shining if it were really open.

The second goof, there’s no mistake. Throughout the movie there is a fake 911 dispatch screen. Fake because it’s in a Hallmark movie, but not fake because it looks ridiculous. That is, until for reasons beyond me, they felt the need to give us a closeup of the terminal portion of it where we can see that it’s a DOS command line. It’s open to a directory called “C:\Users\Art Department\” and apparently someone has been typing random crap in and trying to execute it only to get error messages.

IMG_9717

Like I said though, this is one of the better Hallmark movies, and the credit goes to the story with the kids.

Shattered Politics #64: Dick (dir by Andrew Fleming)


Theatricalposterdick

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love Dick but I still think it’s a pretty good film.  (Ha ha, see what I did there?)  Of course, to really appreciate this 1999 comedy, it helps to know a little something about political history.  For instance, it helps to know that the Dick of the title is President Richard Nixon (played here by a hilariously paranoid Dan Hedaya).  In 1973, as the result of his attempt to cover up White House involvement of a burglary at the Watergate Hotel, Nixon became the first President to resign from office.

A lot of the credit for Nixon’s downfall was given to two reporters for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (played, in this film, by Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch).  While Woodward and Bernstein investigated the Watergate break-in, they were reportedly fed information by a highly placed informant who was referred to as being Deep Throat.  For years, the identity of Deep Throat was a closely held secret.  Countless books were written that speculated as to who Deep Throat may have been.  (In the film All The President’s Men, he was played by Hal Holbrook.)  Finally, in 2005, it was revealed that Deep Throat was a FBI agent named Mark W. Felt, who was upset because he was passed over for a promotion.

And, quite frankly, that’s kind of a disappointing solution.  When you think about someone who brought down the government, you hope that he or she will turn out to be something more than just a disgruntled employee whose previous work consisted on running counter intelligence operations against domestic political activists.

In fact, it’s hard not to wish that, perhaps, Deep Throat could have been two 15 year-old girls who just happened to stumble across one of the biggest political scandals in American history.

Well, fortunately, this is the theory proposed in Dick.  Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) are two friends who, one night in 1972, sneak out of Arlene’s apartment so that they can mail a fan letter to singer Bobby Sherman.  While doing so, they happen to stumble across the Watergate burglars and get a good look at White House aide G. Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer).

The next day, while on a field trip to the White House, the two girls are spotted by Liddy.  Liddy arranges for them to be pulled to the side and questioned by chief-of-staff H.R. Haldeman (Dave Foley), who determines that the girls barely know who Nixon is and that they don’t understand what they witnessed.  However, before Haldeman can send the girls on their way, Nixon himself enters the office and complains about how poorly planned the break-in was.

This leads to an unlikely relationship between Nixon and Betsy and Arlene.  Hoping to win their loyalty (and their silence), Nixon arranges for them to be his official dog walkers.  Betsy and Arlene, meanwhile, still don’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on.  They accidentally bring pot cookies to the White House (which Nixon particularly enjoys) and Arlene even develops a mad crush on Nixon.

But, of course, Nixon eventually shows his true colors and Betsy and Arlene take down the government….

In many ways Dick is a one-joke film, in which Betsy and Arlene regularly find themselves blissfully unaware while history literally unfolds around them.  But it’s actually a pretty clever joke and it’s also a very plausible one.  People are often unaware that anything important is happening when it’s actually happening.  Often times, it’s only in retrospect that historical moments are seen to be truly historical.  And, ultimately, Watergate itself is such a bizarre scandal that it’s the perfect moment in history to be reinterpreted as a comedy.

Dick is ridiculous enough to be funny but plausible enough to be memorable.