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Deadly Daughters (2016)
One Redeeming Quality
Yet another typical Lifetime movie. Nothing really to see here, except Yvonne Zima's performance. She isn't an Oscar-caliber actor, but she did do a decent job of playing two different characters with entirely different personalities. Other than that , this is standard Lifetime fare. But everyone should expect that by now of these movies.
I do have to say, though, that I find it hard to believe that one reviewer here thought there was a "shocking twist" at the end. It was telegraphed immediately fairly early on. I can't believe anyone didn't see it coming, considering how obvious it was. Especially in first scene where....well, I don't like doing reviews with spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.
Anyway, my six stars may be generous, but it is only because of Yvonne Zima.
The Neighbor in the Window (2020)
Only One Thing Made This Watchable
That was the brief description from experts at the end of the movie about the different kinds of stalkers and how they behave. That was somewhat interesting. Other than that, it was just another typical Lifetime movie with a typical (meaning, predictable) plot.
Oh, and just to nitpick another review here - "lady's" is possessive, not plural.
Little Women (2019)
Ronan Deserves Her Award Nominations
This is the best adaptation of the book I have yet seen. Well worth watching.
I have to question some of the negative reviews here, though. Many complain that it isn't as good as the 1994 version. Usually people like the first version of a movie they see, and cannot be objective when they see a subsequent version. I've been guilty of the same thing. But in this case, watching the two versions with an open mind, this is far better. It seems some of the people who prefer the 1994 version are doing so out of some misguided generational loyalty, which makes no sense. Movies should be judged as they are, not in comparison to any others that came before. Keep an open mind, and leave the preconceptions and generational biases at home.
The worst reviews here are from people who don't know much about films. One reviewer complained that this wasn't as good as the "original". Movies and mini-series have been made from the book going back to 1917. So what is the "original" to him? The 1994 version, which is one of 20 or more adaptations of the book? Seriously?
Please, if you are going to leave reviews, at least know what you are talking about.
Interesting Range of Opinions
Judging by the number of "Trivia" and "Goof" entries here, a lot of people paid a lot of attention to this movie, which would indicate that they liked it. But the overall score and the majority of the reviews have it right - this just wasn't that good. I don't care how a movie is made, even if it is done so in a somewhat unique way; what counts is the end result. And long before the end, I got bored. The film is only 83 minutes long, and in under an hour, I was tired of the same thing happening over and over again. And then over again. Right through the end.
Originality required more than technique. It requires an engaging story that evolves and keeps one's attention. Here, we just had a single idea beat to death for that 83 minutes.
I guess the people involved in this movie are laughing all the way to the bank at the negative reviews, considering the budget and the gross earnings. Fine. Good for them. But regardless, it's just a one-trick script with a one-trick means of execution, all adding up to nothing. The only bright spot is its brevity. So, if you have just over an hour to kill, and are a fan of mediocre to bad horror movies (which most are these days), sure, watch it. Just keep your expectations low.
The Christmas Heart (2012)
Gee, I Wonder How This Will Turn Out
...said no one ever, while watching this movie.
But I guess if you need something this obvious to warm your heart and give you faith, this is the kind of movie you will enjoy. But hey, that's why they make these movies, isn't it?
Finally, an Original Horror Movie
I watch a lot of horror movies, and there is a certain kind of sameness to them all. They seem to be copies of each other (or copies of Asian horror, but that's another topic). Sure, there may be a twist thrown in here and there in some of them, but overall, there is no originality shown in any of them. Basically jump scares, gore, leading music that tells you when to be scared, but no originality in theme, production, or plot. I could go on and on about the themes that have been beaten to death (no pun intended) in most modern horror movies, but I don't want to make this particular review longer than necessary. None of them leave an impression on you that lasts longer than it takes to get to the parking lot of the theater or to turn off the disk or TV.
Here, we have something that is completely different. Finally, some original writing, some original production values, some original direction, some original ideas. A film that holds together right through the end, in spite of the many reviews here from people that obviously didn't see the obvious continuity that held the film together throughout.
I have to question the motives of the people here who have written so many negative reviews. Are they so locked in to the standard horror movie technique that they can't step out of it long enough to recognize something different? It makes me wonder what today's audience would think of "The Shining" or "Rosemary's Baby".
And no, I won't even get into the significance of 11:11. That seems to be too much for most reviewers here to deal with. They just want your typical horror movie plot style and ending so they don't have to think about what they've seen.
Many of the reviews here nit-pick about plot holes. Sure, they are here, but are you kidding me? Most modern horror movies rely on plot holes from the beginning. Without them, they wouldn't be able to exist at all. So why focus on the relatively minor ones here, while ignoring the fact that other horror movies consist of nothing but one big plot hole right off the bat?
Anyway, if anyone reads this, don't let the reviews here deter you. Watch this movie. You will see a horror movie unlike any you've seen before.
Kindred Spirits (2019)
Better Than Most Lifetime Movies
MarVista Entertainment makes a lot of the movies shown on Lifetime. They tend to be very formulaic, all following certain thematic elements. It's almost like there is a checklist the movies follow, making them very predictable. This movie is no different, having a character with an obsession that the main characters don't see until the end, as is common in most of these movies. And then of course the movie ends quickly, with a resolution that leaves many plot points unresolved. Again, typical for these movies; after the last commercial, you get a quick ending that is often illogical in the way it comes about.
I gave this movie 7 stars only because of the performance of Caitlin Stasey as the sister, Sadie. She is excellent in her role. So much so that I am going to seek out other work she has done to see if she is as good in them, too. This movie, while so very stereotypical, is worth seeing just for her performance.
As an aside, MarVista also makes many of the movies shown on the Hallmark Channel. They, too, follow a certain formula, one that is entirely different from the one used for Lifetime movies. Anyone who has seen any Hallmark movies knows what I mean. Each channel has its own audience, I guess, and the movies are made to satisfy the types of audiences drawn to either Hallmark or Lifetime. Or both; I don't doubt there are people that enjoy both channels and the types of movies each channel features.
The Other Woman (2008)
Too Much and Not Enough
The version of this movie I saw on LMN was titled "Joy Fielding's The Other Woman". While I understand the movie was taken from Fielding's novel, I'm surprised she allowed her name to be attached to it.
There was just too much going on in the movie, with subplots left unresolved in the end, resulting in an unsatisfying mess of a movie. We have a murder, and we know who did it. But what happens to the murderer? We never find out. There is a missing son, who is found, in somewhat surprising circumstances. So how did he end up the way he did, and what happens with him next? No idea.
Then there is the main plot, which ends abruptly, leaving the viewer clueless as to what the full resolution, the complete end result of what happened, is. Part of that lack of resolution is not knowing what happens with the stepdaughter, since circumstances around her change drastically.
Adapting novels for movies is always tricky, since books can delve deeper into characters and subplots than movies have time to do. Better movies carefully choose what elements of a book to include, and what to leave out. While I haven't read the novel this movie is based on, it seems the screenwriters tried to stuff everything from the book into the movie. Then, given the limited run time they were allowed to give the movie, they just gave up, and ended it abruptly.
I never expect much from these kinds of movies, but this one was worse than most.
I Believe in Unicorns (2014)
Too Many Glowing Reviews
While most of the reviews here give this movie high scores, the overall score of 6.1, as shown on the main page, as I write this, is far more accurate. The scores of "10" that some people gave here is an insult to the great films of Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, and many others. A "10" means a film is perfect; this doesn't even come close to meeting that standard.
I suspect this movie is more than a bit autobiographical, since Leah Meyerhoff cast her own mother as the mother in the film. I'll give Toni and Leah Meyerhoff credit for that; it must be hard for a person with a disability to appear in a film playing themselves. I would have given the film 5 stars if not for that.
But beyond that, the film is too artsy, and far too pretentious. The stop-action animation didn't add anything to the film, in my opinion. In fact, I saw it as a way to cover up the thin writing in the script. The thin writing was further shown by the run time of the movie: 1 hour and 18 minutes. Mercifully short.
Hopefully teen girls watching this might learn a lesson about falling in love with a boy simply because he is cute. But probably not; if anything, they will emulate the lead girl in the film because they think this film is showing them a step they need to go through as part of the maturing process. I hope that isn't true.
Anyway, the movie is a quick little diversion, but nothing with any deep significance or value. I see it as a vanity project on the part of the writer/director, nothing more.
Great Performance By Kidman, But a Flawed Movie
I think some beautiful actresses don't get enough credit for their acting abilities because their beauty is what people see first. Nicole Kidman is one of those actresses; I think she is better than she gets credit for. In this movie she was nearly unrecognizable, so her acting stood out. That was a good thing.
At the same time, the trend where pretty actresses choose roles where they are made to look less attractive is getting a bit repetitious and old and tired. In this case it worked, but I have mixed feelings about the trend. It's a shame some actresses have to tone down their looks for their acting ability to become more obvious.
As for the movie itself, the basic plot was not very original. A lot of what happened was telegraphed, mostly because we've seen it before. I did like the twist in the plot; that was very well done. But getting there was a bit tedious, due to the stereotypical plot. I almost gave the movie 8 stars because of Kidman's performance. But the plot dragged my score down. Maybe it would have been more effective if it had been 10 or 15 minutes shorter.
Should people watch this movie? Sure; it has its positive elements. Just don't expect greatness.
Dark Matter (2015)
Which is typical of the stuff the SyFy channel puts out.
Not worth the time, despite the positive reviews here. Watch Babylon 5 or the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. Which apparently the people who like this show never did.
"And Salt the Earth Behind You" Blew It - In a Way You Won't Expect
First off let me admit I'm an old guy, which will explain the somewhat minor thing that bothered me about this episode. Overall I have to say I like the show, though I'm almost certainly not the target audience for it. I do have some of the usual complaints about it - actors that don't look remotely as young as they are supposed to be (watching them ride bicycles as their normal mode of transportation makes me cringe), and a story line that portrays high school kids in a unrealistic way. Sure, there are kids like this, but not nearly as many as this show would have you believe. Still, I do like it overall, mostly because the direction is somewhat unique. As in how the directors format the show, not the way it progresses. The writing is good, too, as is some (not all) of the acting.
So what bothered me about this episode in particular? Again, probably a minor thing to most people. But not me. In 1970 Leon Russell released a song he wrote named "A Song For You". It was covered in this episode by Donny Hathaway. He did a terrible job with the song. The original had much more emotion to it, with lyrics punctuated at just the right time. Hathaway's version is bland, missing the emotion of the song, and missing the emphasis at the right time with the lyrics.
I don't know if the producers couldn't get the rights to the original, if they wanted a more "modern" version of the song, if it was made to fit the narrative on the screen at the time, or there was some other reason for it. But I found it distracting, because Hathaway just doesn't do the song justice. Leon Russell's version is moving, Hathaway's is dull. Sorry, Donny.
Speaking of "target audience", I wonder how many viewers even know that song is nearly 50 years old?
"Sharknado" Comes To Lifetime
Not literally, of course. But c'mon, these "Stalked by My Doctor" movies are pretty much the same as the "Sharknado" movies. By which I mean over-the-top acting, with absurd plots (even by Lifetime standards), to be taken tongue-in-cheek, not seriously.
Eric Roberts seems to enjoy himself as he chews the scenery as the evil doctor with the split personality. Everyone else tries to keep a straight face as they play their ridiculous and stereotypical roles. I doubt if the girl who played "Katie" will be using this in her portfolio to try to get other jobs, just as one example.
These movies are kind of fun, not to be taken seriously. Not that many Lifetime movies should be, but these least of all.
So, why 7 stars? Just because you can put your brain on hold for 2 hours and let the silliness distract you for a while.
The Glass Castle (2017)
I Guess I'm Hard-Hearted
This movie didn't move me much at all. I'm not sure what I was supposed to feel after the movie was over. Was I supposed to feel sympathetic toward the father? No, I didn't. Since he was the main focus of the film, it lost me right there.
Sure, it's great that the kids survived their childhood without major psychological damage (that we know of), and that one of them became a fairly well-known author. Still not enough to make me care much. I could have done without the oversentimental last part of the movie, too. I might have liked it better if it were, say an hour and forty minutes long instead of over two hours. The last half hour was painful for me to sit through.
I can understand why Jeanette Walls, as a writer, would have written a memoir about her childhood. It might have been a bit cathartic for her to do so, too. But I would bet there are a thousand other similar stories out there, not all with such happy endings. Did it need to be made into a movie? In my opinion, no.
A similar true-life movie that I liked better was "The Poker House", even though it has a lower rating on IMDB. It wasn't really all that good, either, but it had better overall performances in it, including one by a then-unknown Jennifer Lawrence. The performances in "The Glass House" seemed wooden to me; none of the acting stood out, none of the characters really grabbed me or made me care about them. With one huge exception: I thought Woody Harrelson was excellent. He's an underrated actor, in my opinion. He was able to inject nuance and believability into his character. His was an award-worthy performance in an otherwise mediocre movie.
Hush Little Baby (2007)
Disappointing in the End
This movie started off with a lot of promise, which continued right up until the end. Was what the mother was experiencing real, or part of a mental illness? Was there a secret she was hiding all along? Was there an evil entity involved?
But then, in the last 10 minutes or so, it completely fell apart. Totally. The worst ending of any movie I've ever seen. And that's saying a lot, because a lot of psychological/horror/thrillers have disappointing endings.
I know made-for-TV movies have limited budgets and time to film, but still, the writer had no idea how to coherently end this movie. No director or producer helped create one, either. It just ended without resolving any of the questions I raised above. It tried to, sort of, with the very ending, but it made no sense. That was just tacked on to give the illusion of a conclusion.
Such a letdown. More so because of the intriguing main part of the film. When it was over, I felt I had wasted my time watching it.
A Strange Movie That Will Require a Second Viewing
This is why I like foreign films - they tackle subjects in ways that Hollywood wouldn't dare. This is a movie that leaves one guessing. Aside from the coming-of-age aspect and the disturbing parts about the weird behavior by the mother's boyfriend is the issue of what is real and what is not. What parts are real, and what are products of an unusual young girl's retreat into fantasy to escape her atypical living situation? That is the key question raised in the film.
Is Alan real? Certainly not. Even the logo for the film implies they are not two separate people. The same is true throughout the movie; it is obvious Alan is a fantasy created by Adar. Would a parent allow a homeless boy they just met to sleep in the same bedroom with their young daughter? Not likely. Would Michael, the mother's boyfriend, show an attraction to both the boy and the girl? Probably not. I feel Adar created Alan to absorb some of the abuse she is subjected to by Michael. Alan's final scene toward the end of the movie further implies that he was a creation of Adar's mind. She no longer needs him at that point, so he disappears. She has reconciled her issues, both internal and with her mother and Michael. That is also indicated by the fact that she returns to school. Also, note the knife Alan uses as he leaves the house for good, and confronts Michael with. Adar pointedly uses the same knife in a later scene.
There are other scenes that I wonder about, too, as to whether they are real or not. I don't want to delve into them here; it would take too long, and people need to watch the film and decide for themselves.
So what is real, and what did Adar create in her mind to cope with her unusual living situation? I'm still not sure, so I will have to watch the movie again. I suspect even then I will probably still have similar questions. But that's what makes this film so intriguing.
I highly recommend this movie to people who aren't afraid of being challenged by a film, and aren't afraid of subject matter that Hollywood wouldn't touch.
On the technical side, the only DVD I found is in Hebrew, with embedded English subtitles. The only worthwhile extra is a 13 minute "Behind the Scenes" narrated by the female director that is in Hebrew only, with no subtitles.
This is a film that deserves to be re-released on DVD and/or Blu-ray, with normal subtitles for the movie and the "Behind the Scenes" extra, and maybe a director's commentary in English or with English subtitles. Are you listening, Criterion?
Good Behavior (2016)
Hard To Believe the Good Reviews
Here we had a show that was a mish-mash of all the stereotypes one can think of from various spy/thriller/thief/crime genres. There was nothing remotely original about any of it; every theme, every plot, was taken from some other, better, source. Yet all I see here are glowing reviews. Why? Hasn't anyone seen any other movies or TV shows? I could list all the influences here, but it would be too long of a list, and frankly I don't have the time or inclination.
I did give the show one season to try to win me over. It didn't. I can only hope the books are better than this adaptation was. But seeing the show did not want me to read any of the books. Often I will do so, if a show taken from a book or book grabs me. This did not.
Note that I am using the past tense in describing the show. TNT at least had the sense to cancel this show. It was going nowhere anyway.
It might have worked as a mini-series, with a beginning, middle, and end. As it was, it would have gone on forever with no resolution to any of the derivative plot points. 4 stars is generous.
Blood & Treasure (2019)
We've Seen It All Before
There is nothing remotely original about this show. Improbable secret doings between art thieves and terrorists, improbable escapes, jumps between scenes that make no contextual sense, and a teasing romance between the main characters that were forced to work together even though they don't get along. The time-jumping that is supposed to tie the plot (and I use the term loosely) together is old by now, too. Ooh, and they filter the light in the past scenes to make them stand out, too! Gee, we've never seen any of that before, have we?
This would have been so derivative 10 years ago it would have been boring. Now it is excruciatingly boring. Avoid at all costs. Soon to be cancelled anyway, I would expect. Unless CBS keeps it on just as a summer filler. At least the writers don't have to work hard to write the episodes. Just take a list of cliches and stereotypes, mash them together, and you have a script!
Mr. Church (2016)
I'm Getting Jaded
I must be getting jaded, because I didn't find this film as inspiring or heartwarming or great as many other people did. It's the story of people living their lives. We all have our stories. We all have tragedy and death in our lives, we all have joy. I learned nothing from the movie, I felt nothing I haven't felt in my own life. But I guess people looking for a good cry would enjoy it.
I did really, really like one thing about the film, though; Eddie Murphy's performance. It was nice to see him tone it down for once. Plus he showed some acting chops too, able to express emotion with no or few words. I'd like to see more of the same from him.
9 stars for him, 5 stars for a stereotypical script = 7 stars overall.
The Favourite Game (2003)
I've always admired Leonard Cohen's songs and lyrics. I did not know he also wrote novels and books of poetry until I saw this movie. His novel "The Favourite Game" is supposedly autobiographical. If so, my opinion of him has been lowered. The main character in this movie is a pretentious jerk, selfish and self-absorbed. He cares nothing about the feelings of others, and just does what he pleases. He feels justified in doing so, convincing himself that he is not hurting others as he lets people, women especially, in and out of his life. He's responsible for a tragedy, and never seems to fully accept that fact.
The actor playing the main character does a good job of making you dislike him. I'll give him credit for that. But who wants to see a movie filled with pompous musings by an unlikable character? Not me.
I Don't Get It
I mean, really, who is giving this movie 8, 9, and even 10 stars? Relatives of the movie makers? People who haven't seen many horror films? I gave it 3 stars, and that might be generous.
There was absolutely nothing original here. Scary-looking isolated house? Check. Scary-looking dolls? Check. Generic villains who look there their makeup and costumes came out of any Halloween store? Check. Abused girls screaming, running, and hiding? Check. A twist that was telegraphed a mile away? Check. A false ending? Check. Ooh, we haven't seen all that before, have we?
Again, some 10 star reviews? So, this was as good as stuff from George Romero, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and a bunch of other horror directors I could name? No, not even close. They would be insulted to be named in the same breath as this film.
But the biggest insult would be to H.P. Lovecraft. He's rolling in his grave, having been referenced in this boring, paint-by-numbers horror film. I don't know who I feel sorrier for; me, for sitting through this entire movie, or Lovecraft, whose very legacy is tarnished simply by being a part (sort of) the movie.
Please, there are so many good horror movies out there. Don't waste your time on this one.
Reservation Road (2007)
This is a well-written, well-directed, and well-acted film, giving an emotional and realistic feeling of the reactions of two families on the opposite sides of a tragedy. I'll give it major points for that. But the story is just too depressing. I go to movies, or watch them at home, to escape from reality a bit, to be entertained and taken somewhere I haven't been before. This movie didn't do any of that for me. I'm sure many people will, or did, enjoy this, but it just wasn't for me.
It's not a bad movie - no one should think that. But if you are going to see it, be prepared to feel down when it is over.
I never saw it in theaters, but I can imagine the audiences as they left; near total silence, some tears. I doubt if audiences left much buzz to encourage others to go see it.
Bottom line - would I watch the movie a second time? Would I even watch it the first time if I knew how I would feel afterward? In spite of the acting, direction, and writing, I would have to say - no. There are too many equally well-made films out there that I can watch instead.
The Nun (2018)
Here's an idea for a film: let's set it in a scary old isolated castle turned in to a convent. For good measure, we'll set it in Romania! Then we'll throw in a lot of religious mumbo-jumbo about a demon trying to enter the world and wreak destruction! Yeah, that's original, isn't it?
Of course it isn't. There isn't an original moment in the film. Just a mash-up of stereotypes used in more films than I can count. Not only isn't there anything original in the movie, there isn't a single scare in it, either. But how could there be, when we've seen this all before?
I've never given a movie a one-star rating before. Even some really bad ones got 2 stars from me. But this was the worse of the worse.
I'm at a loss to say more about how bad this movie is, except to add that I'm not Catholic, but if I were, I think I'd be insulted by the use of the Catholic faith in the film.
Silent Hill (2006)
What Are People Thinking?
I can't believe the number of positive reviews for this disaster of a film. There are quite a few 10 and 9 star ratings here. This is on par with films by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, and many, many other notable directors? Uh, no. It's not even comparable to horror movies by directors famous for the genre.
I know it's based on a series of games, and I guess maybe people who like the games thought the movie made sense? It didn't. A movie has to stand on its own, and this doesn't.
It's a horror movie without a single scare in it. Just a bunch of random, supposedly "scary", creatures popping up for no discernible reason, and townspeople giving the stereotypical vague non-answers about why the town was to be avoided. "Stereotypical" describes the movie pretty well, too, since there wasn't a single original idea in it. Just the usual religious mumbo-jumbo, the random "scary" creatures I mentioned before, people following people that you catch a glimpse of before they disappear (I'm so tired of that), and a revenge theme. Mix it all together, and there you have it - a movie with no flow, no scares, and no compelling reason to watch.
I was bored stiff less than halfway through the film, but I stuck it out to the bitter end. And I do mean bitter end. Over 2 hours for this mess? Do people even know what a good movie is, or a good horror movie? I guess not.
Jenny Loves Satan (2017)
I thought this was a clever little film. It caught the essence of a young girl feeling alienated from her peers and looking to find her own identity. It did so with humor and a lighthearted air. The ending is especially funny and appropriate for the mood of the film.