Film Review: Unforgettable (dir by John Dahl)


You have to give the makers of the 1996 film, Unforgettable, some credit.  It takes a certain amount of courage to give your movie a title like Unforgettable.  You’re practically asking some snarky critic to comment on the fact that she can’t remember your movie.

Well, I’ll resist the temptation because I can remember enough about this movie to review it.  I saw it a few days ago on This TV and, at first, I was excited because it was a Ray Liotta movie.  Ray Liotta is an entertaining and likable actor who, nowadays, only seems to get cast in small, tough guy roles.  Nowadays, a typical Liotta role seems to be something like the character he played in Killing Me Softly.  He showed up.  He was tough.  He got killed for no good reason.  So, whenever you come across a film in which Liotta gets to do something more than just get shot, you kind of have an obligation to watch.

In Unforgettable, Liotta plays Dr. David Krane, who is haunted by the unsolved murder of his wife.  Fortunately (or perhaps, unfortunately), Dr. Martha Briggs (Linda Fiorentino) has developed a formula that can be used to transfer memories from one person to another.  All you have to do is extract some spinal fluid!  Or something like that.  It doesn’t make any sense to me and I have to admit that I kinda suspect that the science might not actually check out.

Anyway, Dr. Krane is all like, “I want to inject myself with my dead wife’s spinal fluid so I can experience her final moments!”

And Dr. Briggs is all like, “But this could kill you because there’s all these vaguely defined side effects!”

But Dr. Krane does it anyway and he discovers that his wife was murdered by a lowlife criminal named Eddie Dutton (Kim Coates)!  So, Dr. Krane chases Eddie all ocer the city and it’s interesting to see that a doctor can apparently keep up with a career criminal.  I mean, you would think that Eddie’s experience with being chased and Krane’s inexperience with chasing would give Eddie an advantage.  Anyway, regardless, it doesn’t matter because Eddie is eventually gunned down by the police and Dr. Krane is fired from his job.

Hmmm … well, that was quick.  I guess the movie’s over…

No, not quite!  It turns out that someone hired Eddie to kill Dr. Krane’s wife!  And it turns out that person was a cop!  But which cop!?  Well, there’s only two cops in the film who actually have any lines so it has to be one of them.  And one of the cops is so unlikable that it’s obvious from the start that he’s a red herring.  So, I guess that means the actual murderer is the one that you’ll suspect from the first moment he shows up.

(For the record, the two cops are played by Christopher McDonald and Peter Coyote.  I won’t reveal which one is unlikable and which one is a murderer but seriously, you’ve already guessed, haven’t you?)

Anyway, it’s all pretty stupid and a waste of everyone involved.  Ray Liotta is likable and sympathetic but the film gets bogged down with trying to convince us that crimes can be solved through spinal fluid.  It’s a dumb premise that the movie takes way too seriously and it never quite works.

Still, I hope that someone will give Ray Liotta another good role at some point in the future.  He deserves better than supporting roles and Chantix commercials.

TV Review: The X-Files 11.1 “My Struggle III” (dir by Chris Carter)


Well, let’s get this over with…

(Seriously, if I ever get tired of “Stay supple!,” that’ll probably be my new catch phrase…)

As you my remember, way back in 2016, I reviewed the 10th season of The X-Files.  With the exception of the episode that featured Rhys Darby, I didn’t care much for it.   In fact, the episode that was set in Texas almost drove me to throw a shoe at the TV.  However, the 10th season did end with a big cliffhanger and, since I hate the idea of a story going unfinished, I knew I would have to watch the 11th season whenever it premiered.  And I also knew that I’d have to review it because that’s what I do.

Well, tonight, the 11th season premiered.  Armed with as much knowledge as one can hope to gain from scanning Wikipedia, I twice watched My Struggle III.

The episode began with a lengthy monologue from the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), in which he talked about how, if the American people knew about what was truly going on in the darkest corners of the government, there would be riots in the streets.  Personally, I love conspiracy theories and I’m generally opposed to all forms of controlling legal authority so I enjoyed that part of the show.   The episode managed to work footage of every U.S. President except for Obama into the opening conspiracy montage.  Personally, if I had edited the show, I would snuck Obama in there just to mess with people and their expectations.  But that’s just me!

Anyway, as much fun as that little conspiracy monologue may have been, I was more concerned with how the show was going to deal with the fact that the world literally ended at the end of season 10.  Well, it was quickly revealed that nothing that happened during My Struggle II actually happened.  Instead, it was all just a vision that Scully had.  Apparently, it’s a premonition of what will happen unless Mulder … does something.

Does what exactly?  I’m not sure and, to be honest, I’m not really sure that the show does either.  I understand that this episode is meant to be part of a bigger mythology and, as a result, it was supposed to be a bit open-ended.  However, as I watched My Struggle III, I got the feeling that the episode was mostly just something that was hastily whipped up so that the show could do away with season 10’s disastrous finale.  And it was hard not to feel that, narratively, the show took the easy way out.

The majority of the episode was made up of Mulder driving his car from location to location, searching for the Cigarette Smoking Man.  This led to Mulder breaking into a mansion and having a conversation with Mr. Y (Alexandre Campion) and Erika Price (Barbara Hershey) about aliens and the secret history of the world.  To be honest, it was kind of boring and it didn’t really hold my attention.

Meanwhile, the Cigarette Smoking Man and Agent Reyes (Annabeth Gish) were having a conversation with Skinner (Mitch Pileggi).  During the conversation, the Cigarette Smoking Man revealed that he, and not Mulder, is the true father of Scully’s son, William.

And twitter exploded in rage.

Don’t fear, twitter!  There’s always a good chance that next week’s episode will open with the Cigarette Smoking Man revealing that he actually isn’t the father or maybe it’ll just turn out that someone else was having a vision.  By dismissing season 10’s cliffhanger as just being a dream (or a vision or premonition or whatever), The X-Files has reminded us that nothing on the show actually means anything.  Who needs to maintain continuity or narrative integrity when you can just shrug and say, “Well, y’see, it’s all a part of the conspiracy…”

(As I watched tonight’s episode, I found myself thinking about Twin Peaks: The Return.  No matter how weird or convoluted Twin Peaks got, I still never doubted that David Lynch did have a definite destination in mind.  That’s not a feeling that I got from tonight’s episode of The X-Files.)

Now, here’s the good news!  I have heard, from people who I trust, that the upcoming episodes are nothing like the premiere.  Apparently, the premiere was one of those “we have to do it” things.  The upcoming episode will be stand-alone episodes, much like the one where Mulder met the Were-Monster.

So, with that in mind, I will tune in next week to see if episode 2 is any better than episode 1.

Will you?

A Few Thoughts On The X-Files 10.6 “My Struggle II”


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(WARNING: This review will contain spoilers.)

I have to admit that, after I finished watching the finale of The X-Files “revival,” I felt totally and completely confused.  I wasn’t really sure what I had just seen and I don’t mean that in a good way.  I wondered if maybe, as a relatively new viewer of The X-Files, I simply did not have the necessary background information to follow the episode’s plot.  And then I wondered if maybe I just had not been paying enough attention while I was watching.  Maybe I was too ADD to follow an episode of The X-Files…

So, I rewatched the episode.  I made sure to sit right in front of the TV and to turn on the closed captioning so that I would be able to understand what everyone was mumbling about.  During the second viewing, I came to understand just why exactly I had been so confused.  To say that the editing of My Struggle II was ragged would be an understatement.  It was often difficult to figure out how much time had passed between scenes or where the characters were in relation to one another.  The whole episode felt as if it had been haphazardly constructed, with scenes randomly tossed together.  But then again, that’s been true of the entire season.  Even the better episodes have shared that ragged quality.  The parts, as good as they have occasionally been, have rarely added up to a coherent whole.  I imagine that, if you were a fan of The X-Files before the revival, you might have enough of an emotional commitment, in Mulder and Scully as characters, that you can overlook the revival’s weaker moments.  But for a new viewer, like me, it can get frustrating.

This has been a very uneven season.  Season 10 was made up of 6 episodes, each of which seemed to have a totally different tone and outlook from the other.  There’s been one great episode (Mulder & Scully Meet The Weremonster), one terrible episode (My Struggle), one mediocre episode (Babylon), and two episodes that were above average but nothing special (Founder’s Mutation, Home Again).  For the first 40 minutes or so, I thought that My Struggle II would be another mediocre episode.  But, towards the very end, things started to get better.  After spending most of the episode separated from each other, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson finally got to share a scene.  (The only time that Duchovny and Anderson seem truly invested in their roles is when they’re playing off of each other.  Each brings out the best in the other.)  And the scene ended with a cliffhanger that was so batshit crazy that, almost despite my better instincts, I found myself saying, “Yes, give us a season 11 because I have to know what just happened!”

And really, thank God for that cliffhanger.  A good final scene can make up for so much.  My Struggle II opens with Mulder missing and, it’s a sign of that ragged editing that I mentioned earlier, that I wasn’t sure how long he had been missing or who exactly was aware that he was missing.  It turns out that Mulder’s missing because he’s busy driving to South Carolina so he can confront the Cigarette-Smoking Man (William B. Davis), the big villain from the show’s original run.  Apparently, the CSM is aware that humanity is about to be wiped out by an alien plague but he has a cure and he wants Mulder to join him and a few others that he has judged worthy of survival.

Meanwhile, Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) is back!  When we last heard, Tad had vanished and his web site had been shut down.  And yet, at the start of this episode, Tad has suddenly returned and his web site is once again active.  No mention is made of where O’Malley has been and nobody — not even Scully — seems to be curious about the details.  Maybe O’Malley was never really missing in the first place.  It’s hard to tell with this show.

Anyway, the main reason that Tad shows up is so that he can announce, during his podcast, that humanity’s DNA has been corrupted with alien DNA and, as a result, everyone is essentially a walking time bomb.  This, of course, leads to rioting in the streets which is … odd.  I mean, let’s be honest.  He may look like Joel McHale and his show may be surprisingly well-produced but, ultimately, Tad is just a guy with a podcast.  As I watched the original world react to Tad’s podcast, it occurred to me that Season 10 may be airing in 2016 but it still has a 2002 sensibility.

Working with Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), Scully is able to use her DNA to create a cure for the virus.  I’m not sure how that works but, in all fairness to The X-Files, this may be one of those plot points that would make more sense to me if I had watched more of the previous seasons of the show.  By this point, Mulder has returned from confronting the CSM and is on the verge of dying from the virus.  Scully announces that, in order to cure Mulder, they have to get DNA from their son William but she’s not sure where he is and…

AND THAT’S WHEN A BIG OLD FLYING SAUCER APPEARS IN THE SKY ABOVE!

And, as frustrated as I had been with My Struggle II, I cheered a little when that UFO showed up.  Ever since this revival started, I have been predicting that William would return.  Now, I don’t know for sure who is in that flying saucer but seriously, it has to be William, doesn’t it?  I mean, who else would it be?  As frustrated as I have often been with The X-Files, I ended My Struggle II wanting a season 11 because I want to know who is in that flying saucer.

And, ultimately, I guess that has to be counted as a point in the show’s favor.  When a show can be as flawed as The X-Files has been this season and still leave the viewer hoping for more, that has to be considered a success of some sort.

So, my final verdict on My Struggle II: Uneven but intriguing when it mattered.  I think the same can be said of Season 10 as a whole.

Will The X-Files return for an 11th season?  Well, if it doesn’t, there will be a lot of disappointed people on twitter.  Assuming the show does return and that William is on that flying saucer, can we all start calling him “Sculder?”

Seriously, I’ve been trying to make Sculder a thing for a while now…

A Few Thoughts On … The X-Files 1.1 (“My Struggle”)


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Tonight, after a football game that apparently everyone but me was super excited about, the first episode of The X-Files revival premiered on Fox.  The episode was called My Struggle, I watched it, and now I’m going to offer up just a few thoughts on it.

Why just a few?

Well, first off, it’s just the first of six episodes.  As I watched tonight, I had to keep reminding myself that My Struggle was just the first episode and you really can’t say much about a show based on just the first episode.  My Struggle felt rushed but then again, it had a lot to do.  It had to reintroduce Mulder and Scully, it had to lay the foundation for the rest of the series, it had to introduce a few new characters, and it had to leave the audience intrigued enough to actually watch the 2nd episode.  It was a balancing act that My Struggle often struggled to maintain but I’ve also been told, by people who have claimed to have seen it, that tomorrow’s episode is going to be a lot better.

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So, I am going to try to put off passing judgment on The X-Files until I at least see that second episode.  When you’re a critic, putting off judgment goes against your every natural instinct but that’s what I am going to try to do.

I should also admit that, unlike apparently everyone else in the world, I am hardly an expert on The X-Files.  I’ve seen reruns but I didn’t watch the show regularly when it originally aired.  When I think of The X-Files, my first thought will always be laughing at the opening of the first movie, which featured a kid falling into an underground cave in North Texas.  (As a resident of North Texas, I can assure you that we don’t have caves and the last thing you’re going to see in Dallas is a mountain on the horizon.)

My Struggle started out well.  I enjoyed the pre-credits scene, where David Duchovny explained everything that had happened in the past.  Along with telling us about the previous series, he also talked about the history of UFO sightings and Duchovny’s hypnotic delivery was perfect.

I was a bit less impressed with what immediately followed the credits.  The early scenes, of Mulder and Scully meeting talk show host Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), felt extremely forced.  I found myself wondering how long I was going to have to listen to Mulder and O’Malley debate gun control.  The attempt at political satire was predictable and tedious.  But I stuck with it because … well, it’s Joel McHale.  Who doesn’t love Joel McHale?

For the first half of the episode, I was bored out of my mind.  It was too talky and all the mumbling was getting on my nerves.  Gillian Anderson — who was so brilliant in The Fall — seemed totally bored and I was not feeling any of that famous chemistry between her and Duchovny.

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But then, things started to get better.  O’Malley showed Mulder a flying saucer that had been made from alien technology and not only did Mulder get excited but the previously stone-faced David Duchovny finally started to show some emotion.  He got excited and his excitement was fun to watch.

And then we got a lengthy monologue from Tad O’Malley, one that basically explained how the military-industrial complex uses alien technology to secretly (and not-so-secretly) rule America and being the lover of history and conspiracy theories that I am, I was absolutely enthralled.  (Though, if the show really had guts, it would have featured a clip of Barack Obama during the conspiracy montage, to go along with the clip of George W. Bush.)  That monologue really saved the episode for me.

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In fact, as I watched, I realized that I may by a skeptic about many things but I am definitely pro-paranoia.  Paranoia makes for a better and more thrilling story and, hopefully, that’s what this new version of The X-Files will continue to focus on.

So, overall, this was a very uneven hour of television.  But I’m still definitely going to set the DVR to record the next episode.

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Hallmark Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream (2015, dir. Kevin Fair)


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As always with the Signed, Sealed, Delivered movies, if you can, you should go back and start with the Christmas one, then work your way forward to this one. However, if that’s not possible, then you should at least see the one right before this entitled Truth Be Told. I say that because while the series very much builds on each and every episode, this and Truth Be Told are a two part episode. Not in the way you would see a two part episode of say Star Trek: The Next Generation, but more like a crossover between two different shows. Except it’s the same show. By that I mean Truth Be Told can be watched and viewed as a whole, but there is an unresolved element that is then picked up and finished by this film.

The episode opens in Afghanistan where we see Lieutenant Randilynn Amidon (Tammy Gillis) from Truth Be Told is alive. She is trying to help a woman who is in labor. After Amidon is told that she doesn’t have much time left, we see a letter go out. Cue the titular music!

Now we see The Postables going in to meet with a congressional committee. They’re there because they want to plead their case that a rescue mission be sent in to save Lieutenant Randilynn Amidon. She was thought to be missing or to have even gone over to the enemy side in Afghanistan. Of course the committee wants to hear why, so Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius) takes us back to tell the story.

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Turns out they came to Washington for, I kid you not, the Miss Special Delivery pageant that Rita Haywith (Crystal Lowe) is going to be in. As much as that is the lamest excuse for them to end up in Washington, it does serve a purpose beyond just putting them there for the main plot.

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While they are in Washington they also go to visit Shane McInerney’s (Kristin Booth) childhood home, but it’s no longer there. Meanwhile, Rita checks in at the pageant while Shane, Oliver, and Norman (Geoff Gustafson) run into Amidon’s daughter and who I assume is Amidon’s grandfather. They probably said it at some point in this or Truth Be Told, but I missed it. However, the grandfather is played by William B. Davis so it’s probably Amidon’s grandfather given his age. They find out they are trying to get someone in Washington to listen to them about Randilynn. And I have to say, it’s kind of humorous to see this scene because of the character William B. Davis is probably most famous to people for playing. That being the mysterious Smoking Man from The X-Files. It’s funny to see him having trouble getting someone in the government to listen to him.

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This is when the blast from the past shows up, and you know what? One of my wishes was fulfilled with this entry in the series. He’s not there to take up the majority of the film giving us backstory on one of the main characters. Nope. He’s an ex of Shane’s who works in the government. She called him thinking that he might be able to help in getting someone to listen to Amidon’s family. And that he does because he has the letter that we saw go out at the beginning of the film.

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They can’t take the letter with them, but luckily Rita got a quick look at it and has a very good memory so she is able to recall details about it.

What follows is largely the other wish I had about future episodes of Signed, Sealed, Delivered. The rest is mainly them working to decipher the letter and explain to the committee what that means, and where they need to go in order to rescue her in Afghanistan. So, yay for me, and I hope future episodes do this sort of thing more.

There are only two other things I think are worth mentioning.

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The pageant serves a purpose beyond just giving them an excuse to be in Washington. While this movie doesn’t have someone show up to give us a character backstory dump, the pageant and what happens with it does move the Rita and Norman love story forward. Also, we see Oliver inherit the money from his father that we found out about in Truth Be Told and he uses it to buy McInerney’s old lot to build a house for retired postal workers. The first acquisition he plans to use the money for in order to do good things.

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The second thing is that while I’m sure that shot and all the shots in Afghanistan are in California or Canada, they don’t screw it up. They often shoot at night or with dust in the air. They shoot in areas that aren’t obviously not where they claim to be. And most importantly, they don’t linger on anything long enough for you to call BS. Sadly, this is not a usual thing for Hallmark, so kudos to the production crew of this particular one.

I recommend it, but at least see Truth Be Told first. However, you won’t be lost with the short mention about Oliver’s wife and I think you can pick up Rita and Norman’s story anywhere a long the line without any issue.

2013 In Review: The Best of SyFy


It’s been quite a year for the SyFy network, even if the network’s most widely-seen original film, Sharknado, was actually one of their weaker offerings.  As a proud member of the Snarkalecs and a Snarkies voter, I’ve certainly enjoyed watching, reviewing, and live tweeting all of the films that SyFy and the Asylum have had to offer us this year.

Below, you’ll find my personal nominees for the best SyFy films and performances of 2013.  (Winners are listed in bold.)

End of the World

Best Film

Battledogs

Blast Vegas

*End of the World

Flying Monkeys

Ghost Shark

Zombie Night

Best Actor

Neil Grayston in End of the World

*Greg Grunberg in End of the World

Anthony Michael Hall in Zombie Night

Frankie Muniz in Blast Vegas

Corin Nemec in Robocroc

Tom Everett Scott in Independence Daysaster

Best Actress

Maggie Castle in Blast Vegas

Lacey Chabert in Scarecrow

Kaitlyn Leeb in Grave Halloween

*Maika Monroe in Flying Monkeys

Ariana Richards in Battledogs

Mackenzie Rosman in Ghost Shark

Best Supporting Actor

Barry Bostwick in Blast Vegas

William B. Davis in Stonados

Brad Dourif in End of the World

Dennis Haysbert in Battledogs

John Heard in Sharknado

*Richard Moll in Ghost Shark

Best Supporting Actress

*Shirley Jones in Zombie Night

Nicole Munoz in Scarecrow

Jill Teed in Independence Daysaster

Jackie Tuttle in Flying Monkeys

Dee Wallace in Robocroc

Kate Vernon in Battledogs

Best Director

Griff Furst for Ghost Shark

Robert Grasmere for Flying Monkeys

John Gulager for Zombie Night

W.D. Hogan for Independence Daysaster

*Steven R. Monroe for End of the World

Jack Perez for Blast Vegas

Best Screenplay

Shane Van Dyke for Battledogs

Joe D’Ambrosia for Blast Vegas

*Jason C. Bourque and David Ray for End of The World

Silvero Gouris for Flying Monkeys

Paul A. Birkett for Ghost Shark

Rick Suvalle for Scarecrow

Flying Monkeys

Best Monster

*Skippy from Flying Monkeys

The Shark from Ghost Shark

Robocroc from Robocroc

The Scarecrow from Scarecrow

The Tasmanian Devils from Tasmanian Devils

The Zombies from Zombie Night

Battledogs

Tomorrow, I will continue my look back at 2013 with my picks for the 16 worst films of 2013!