My Mother’s Killer Boyfriend, Narcissism At It’s Best

courtesy of Lifetime Movie Network (A&E Networks)

Nicole Weston is a successful food blogger and contributes content to a well-known magazine Chef To Table. Jonathan is a literature instructor at a college. They meet at a bar-b-que hosted by one of Nicole’s friends named Carrie and her husband Jim. Their first date consists of Jonathan taking Nichole out on his boat. The name of the boat is Heart Throb. That name alone should have told Nicole who she’s dealing with. The next day, when Nicole return home, she finds a lot of daisies waiting for her. Why would Jonathan send Daisies and not roses? Because Nicole told him she likes Daisies. Jonathan is doing all the right things in the eyes of Nicole. Nicole’s son, Connor, could care less. But he is a 16-year-old boy, so there isn’t much they care about save for being left alone.

LET’S GET IN GOOD WITH THE SON

When Jonathan comes to the house to pick up Nicole, who isn’t ready, of course, he tries to engage in conversation with her son, Connor, which goes nowhere fast. The next time we see Jonathan he and Nicole are playing scrabble when Connor comes downstairs to get his backpack. It’s here that Jonathan presents Connor with tickets to a famous local band that Connor was unable to get tickets for. Jonathan has Nicole snowed and he thinks he has her son snowed, but time will only tell.

HAMBURGERS AND EARRINGS

Their first official date was supposed to be at a fancy restaurant, but it turned out to be booked for the night. They end at a pub which is fine with Nicole because she prefers burgers and fries. When they first arrive and find a table, Jonathan presents Nicole with a gift of a pair of earrings. He says he had them specially made for Nicole by a woman he met in the market. What’s interesting about this scene is the music that comes in when he tells her about the earrings. Music is already playing in the pub, so we can surmise these earrings are going to play a big part in Nicole and Jonathan’s relationship down the line. At the moment, because Jonathan his working his magic on Nicole, their relationship seems to be going great.

DINNER AND A FAMILY PHOTO

After a homemade meal dinner, Nicole and Jonathan are in the kitchen. Nicole is cleaning dishes at one end while Jonathan is looking at a family photo of Nicole, her son, and her ex-husband at the other end. Nicole asks Jonathan to take out the trash which he does, along with the family photo. It isn’t until later in the movie does Nicole notice the photo missing but doesn’t seem all that upset it, which I found very odd.

IT WON’T BE LONG NOW

Jonathan concocts a story about his house being flooded due to some kitchen appliance breaking and asks if he can store some of his belongings at Nicole’s house, to which she says yes. The conversation soon turns to her asking Jonathan to move in while his house is being cleaned up and he agrees. It’s during this time that Jonatha’s lies, rude comments to both Nicole and her son, Connor, start to come out and the earrings, that Jonathan said he had specially made for Nicole, come into play.

Nicole tells Carrie about an incident that happened the prior night but Carrie makes light of it and tells Nicole not to worry about. Later in the movie, Nicole tells Carrie of a few more things that have taken place and how Jonathan reacts to them that’s Carrie realizes that Jonathan might be narcissistic. Have given her something to think about Nicole begins reading about narcissists and attending a support group that deals with narcissisms, unaware that Jonathan has followed her.

There are a ton of other things that take place before Nicole wakes up to herself about Jonathan, and definitely after she wakes up, that I don’t want to give away. They are all subtle yet effective.

A GOOD START THAT KEEPS GETTING BETTER

The movie opens with a lady at home getting a drink. When she turns around she sees Jonathan and becomes scared. She drops her drink and runs for her car, trying to escape Jonathan. It’s during this escape she gets into a head-on crash with another car and dies.

The movie picks up one-year later when Jonathan and Nicole meet.

The introduction of Jonathan in that manner sets us up for a number of things. Who is the lady, why was she so scared of Jonathan? How will this come into play later down the line? We are also introduced to a student of his twice in the movie. The first is after class when thanks for helping her out during class and the second is when Jonathan and Nicole at the pub again and the student is their server. The student plays a vital role later in the movie. All our questions are answered throughout the movie for they did a great job of weaving his past into his current situation, giving us an insight into how deranged Jonathan is and lengths he would go to to protect his status, rather his dreams of grandeur.

ONE OF MY FAVORITES

This movie is definitely one of my favorites Lifetime Movie Network movie. Jonathan’s narcissism would seep out, just enough to give us a taste, but not too much where, as the movie progresses, we become overpowered by too much narcissism. If this were to happen we would wonder if the writer of the film, Vivian Rhodes, was narcassitic herself.

Damon Runyan (Gangland Undercover, Star Trek: Discovery) gives a very convincing performance as a narcissist. He’s already good looking, has the charm and knows exactly what to say and do to reel someone in, as he did with Nicole, her son Connor, to a certain degree, and definitely Nicole’s friends Carrie and Jim Knolls.

Amber Goldfarb (Bellevue TV series, Bad Blood TV series) as Nicole Weston, also gives a fine performance as someone who could be anyone’s friend, has a lot going for herself, which she does, and willing to give someone a benefit of the doubt, although she knows she shouldn’t.

The chemistry between Runyan and Goldfarb is definitely there. They played well off each other and brought out the other’s acting chops a bit more. And although Sam Ashe Arnold (Nicole’s son Connor Weston) scenes were plenty but short, they were memorable. I feel if this kid stays on the right track, doesn’t get caught up in the Hollywood scene, he will be around for a long while. I hope to see him in more LMN movies.

My Mother’s Killer Boyfriend 2019 (aka The Narcissist) is currently showing on Lifetime Movie Network.
Written by Max McGuire and Directed by Vivian Rhodes.
Production Company: Marvista Entertainment 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz: History Told Through Lies

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris was recommended to me by a friend. The reason being is I have been studying the Holocaust for many years. I purchased the book and began reading straight away. The read was easy, I’ll give it that. But the story was not interesting and soon it began to feel a bit contrived.

source: Goodreads

1942

In 1942 Ludwig “Lale” Eisenberg is a prisoner in Auschwitz. Soon Lale is selected to be an assistant to the current tattooist there. When that tattooist is no longer around, we can only assume he was killed for this is Auschwitz after all, Lale becomes the new tattooist. Lale is not sure he can do the job for he’s never tattooed anyone before, and these are fellow prisoners who are suffering like him, that he has to tattoo. The instrument to be used is dull and probably dirty since it’s never cleaned. The hand of Lale is not steady, understandably, and the prisoners are scared. Lale has to keep the prisoners from crying or screaming in pain for they will have sealed their fate and either shot there on the spot or sent to the gas chamber.

UNDERAGE GRITA

To show how memorable this book is, I don’t even remember how Lale met Grita. I think she was one of the people he had to tattoo. From the moment he laid his adult eyes, he was 26 at the time, on this sixteen-year-old, he was smitten. That’s if my math is right on the age of Grita when she arrived at Auschwitz. Soon Lale was on a mission to find this unnamed person again, and he did and her learned her name. It wasn’t long before those two were sneaking around to meet each other. A lot of meetings were arranged through Grita’s friends she met in the women’s barracks.

CHOCOLATES AND JEWELRY

In all the concentration camps there were Gapos. These were fellow prisoners the Commandant of the camps put in charge of other prisoners. The Gapos were just as brutal, if not more, than the Nazi guards themselves. The barrack Grita was assigned always had a Gapo guarding the place, which caused an issue for Lale when he wanted to spend time with Grita alone. But Lale was able to find a solution.

Lale learned the construction of additional buildings were being done by locals in town, non-prisoners. Through his meeting with one of the workers and the worker’s son, on the initiation of Lale, he was able to trade chocolate for jewelry. The chocolate came from the local workers he met. And the jewelry? Well, they came from Canada. Canada was a section of the camp where prisoner’s belonging were sent to be sorted in different piles. Jewelry in one pile, shoes in another, clothing in another and so forth. Grita had a job working in Canada and she was able to steal, yes, I said steal, jewelry, give it to Lale, who in turn gave it to the workers in exchange for chocolate. The chocolate was used to bribe the Gapo who guarded the women’s barrack that Grita stayed in.

BETTING LIVING CONDITIONS BUT AT WHAT COST

There were prisoners at Auschwitz who were able to acquire better living conditions and definitely, better food. The first being the Sonderkommandos.

Sonderkommandos (German: [ˈzɔndɐkɔˌmando], special unit) were work units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners. They were composed of prisoners, usually Jews, who were forced, on the threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust.

The others were the tattooists. They too, like the Sonderkommandos, had their own rooms, a better bed, and better food. Both groups needed to stay healthy and fit to complete their jobs from sunup to sundown, literally, and at times, way into the night. But sometimes you have to sacrifice others to save yourself because someone has to make it through this hell to bear witness.

SMUT AMIDST ANGUISH

I wasn’t believing much of what I read and was believing even less the more I read. But what turned me off more than feeling like someone was looking me square in my eyes and telling a bald-faced lie was these two passages.  Now, I’m not sure if this allowed, but they are screenshots and not me rewriting the words:

taken from chapter 15

taken from chapter 21

I, personally, found these two examples to dumb down the book a great deal, for two reasons. 1. these people have not bathed in months nor brushed their teeth. 2, the way it’s written makes me wonder what was going through the author’s mind. Was she trying to appeal to those that read books whose description of people having coitus (coitus – a nod to Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory) is written like this?

This would be fine if this was a romance novel. And although she wants to pawn the book off as a love story, she did a poor job of it.

I know prisoners in these camps snuck around a lot to have private meetings, but most of those meetings were used to formulate a plan to escape or share information heard throughout the camp. Of all the Holocaust books I’ve read, none incorporated such descriptions of their sexual encounters as she did in hers.  Being in a camp as brutal as Auschwitz the last thing I would be thinking about is sex. My first thought is surviving each and every day, followed by trying to escape. I personally don’t think what she wrote actually happened which leads me to the second reason I so disliked this book like no other: false information.

TELL ME LIES, TELL ME SWEET, ER, SOUR LITTLE LIES

The author claims (yeah, I can’t even write her name) the story is true. If I remember correctly she got the information from Lale himself.

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity. (source: amazon.com)

This is more of an illuminating tale of BS. As someone who never suffered through the Holocaust and no matter how many books I read, movies I watch or interview with survivors I do, I’ll never be able to image the suffering had by those who lived through it. But because of the books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen and interviews I’ve done, I had a feeling a lot of what I read was not the truth. Although this book is labeled as ‘historical fiction’, the author claims to have, as already mentioned, got the information from Lale himself. if I were to write a book based on an interview I did with someone, I would not pawn it off as the truth. I would do as Aviva Gat did with her novel My Family’s Survival, another Holocaust based book, by stating:

source: an expert from My Family’s Survival by Aviva Gat

Aviva makes it very clear that parts of the book are fictionalized because all the facts weren’t there. With this disclaimer being presented to us, we will go into the book not expecting complete truth to be told. I don’t remember reading the same disclaimer from the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING, I MEAN ARTICLES

Instead of breaking down everything that’s false I found an article that did that already, and better than I ever could. Therefore, I’m going to end this post with a few links about the validity of the story of Lale and events that took place in Auschwitz as the author tells it:

The Guardian

The Auschwitz Memorial

I have never read a book that pissed me off more than this one because it’s on a subject I hold near and dear to my heart. So much so, I got a tattoo honoring those who lived and died during the Holocaust, hence the red teardrop.

Zachar – Hebrew for Remembrance

Jacob Young and Christa B. Allen shine in Lifetime Movie Network When Vows Break

source: LMN

In 2019’s When Vows Break, Ella (Christa B. Allen – Revenge) is in an abusive relationship with Tolan (Jacob Young – Bold and the Beautiful), both physically and verbally. After about a year of being together, they decide to get married. Ella’s sister Lydia (Danielle C. Ryan – Stalked by My Mother, Criminal Minds) has reservations about the whole thing, especially about Tolan.

To help relieve her mind, she visits a fortune teller named Madame Diedra (Milena Phillips). During their session, Madame Diedra states that she sees dark waters. This statement becomes significant later in the movie, but I promise not to give anything away.

Ella asks her sister numerous time to be happy for her, paraphrasing of course, and to let her and Tolan be. Lydia complies, against her better judgment and just wanting to protect her sister.

Their honeymoon is spent in Barbados on a boat. A nice boat I might add. Oh, I should add that Tolan has money. Not only does he have money, but he’s also rich, for only rich people can have their own private jet always on stand by at the airport. While walking on the boat, Ella loses her balance and falls overboard. As corny as that sounds, and as familiar as that sounds, that’s exactly what happens.

Learning of her sister’s death, Lydia feels that it wasn’t an accident and that Tolan killed her sister and thus begins her quest to find out what really happened in Barbados upon the boat.

ALLEN (Ella) AND RYAN (Lydia)

I enjoyed Christa B. Allen when she played Charlotte Grayson on Revenge from 2011-2015. As for Danielle C. Ryan, I didn’t recognize anything she’s done, therefore, prior to this movie, I can’t comment on her work. As for When Vows Break I did enjoy her acting. Ryan and Sam Boxleitner (yes, the son of Bruce Boxleitner) who played her husband Harrison, had good chemistry together. As for Allen and Jacob Young (who played Tolan), I didn’t see much chemistry. They were an odd pair and that’s probably why they were together. Tolan seemed way above her pay grade. Perhaps he saw someone he could manipulate and push around, which he did.

Allen played the “I know he’s no good for me, but I love him” role really well. She made you feel sorry for her, while at the same time, you hoped she falls flat on her face.

JACOB YOUNG (Tolan)

Jacob Young brought the role of Rick Forrester to life on Bold and the Beautiful. Not only is he incredibly good looking, to me, but he’s a good actor, and this role will prove it. His acts of abuse (we saw mostly verbal than physical abuse) were scary to the point of you could almost dislike the actor and not the character. Very few actors have had this effect on me. The first being Judd Hirsh (Taxi) when he played a rapist in 1990’s She Said No and Ted Danson (Cheers, CSI) who played a child molester in 1984’s Something About Amelia.

Young has the type of face and acting chops to play both nice characters and bad characters and still come out unscathed. I look forward to more work by him

FINAL THOUGHTS

The movie as a whole was good, until the ending. There’s nothing like a horrible ending to make you curse the whole movie and time you feel you have wasted watching. Up until the end, the ride was a good one and so many twists were there.

Would I recommend this movie? I really can’t say. Only because I like endings with a bit more teeth in it. I want to leave a movie having deep thoughts about what took place or what didn’t take place. I don’t like endings wrapped in a bow. I like ending wrapped in meat and potatoes. If you happen to catch this one on, watch it and let me know your thoughts. If you’ve seen it, let me know your thoughts.

________________________________________________________

When Vows Break aka A Wedding to Die For
Release Date: 1 February 2019
Starring: Christa B. Allen, Danielle C. Ryan, Jacob Young, and Sam Boxleitner
Production Co.: Creative Arts Entertainment Group
Directed by: Tom Shell (Inconceivable, Girl Followed, Deadly Exchange)
Currently Playing: Lifetime Movie Network

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony – Resentments and Symbolisms

source: imdb

In Tyler Perry’s Acrimony (2013), Melinda Gayle causes havoc on her ex-husband Robert Gayle when, after 18 years of supporting his dream, she becomes resentful. But when he makes it big and she’s not part of his life anymore, Melinda feels that her past sacrifices should be rewarded.

The saying goes that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. We know this to be true and witnessed through the ages. The most famous being Betty Broderick. Betty put her husband through law school only to have him step out on her with another woman. Once the degree is obtained, he leaves Betty and marries the said woman.

If you’ve seen the movie A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992), you know what havoc Betty causes on Dan, her former husband, and his new wife, going so far as to shoot them while they sleep.

Melinda may not be scorned, in my opinion, but she is resentful. Very resentful. And her sharp and bitter hatred towards Robert is made apparent.

LET’S START AT THE END, SHALL WE

The movie opens with Melinda in court for stalking Robert and his current wife, Diana. She has been given a restraining order and required to get anger management counseling. Wait until you see the hate-filled side glance she’s giving Diana in court. Melinda’s hate It’s from the therapist office we see the animosity Melinda holds for her ex when the therapist asks, “What do you think he owes you?“, to which Melinda replies, “Every damn breath is his body.”

RAIN BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER – BY ACCIDENT

Melinda is in college (circa 2001) and working on a paper. She realizes she’s late for something and rushes out the library only to realize it’s raining. While using whatever she has for cover she runs into Robert, literally. Both parties drop their belongings. Melinda begins cursing Robert out. Once she gathers her stuff she leaves, leaving Robert to still get his things. A little while later, Robert shows up at Melinda’s dorm to apologize for what he did.

Shortly thereafter, Melinda’s mother dies and there’s a gathering at her mother’s house to which Robert shows up, unexpected. Melinda’s sisters are not impressed with Robert right off the bat, and neither is Melinda by how Robert showed up unannounced. But she’s not that concerned with it as her sisters are. Robert gets run out by her sisters. Melinda chases after him to learn that he’ll get back home by walking to the train station. Not wanting him to walk that far, Melinda offers him a ride home. It’s here she learns he lives in a small RV, however, it doesn’t bother her and she asks if she can go in. And the rest, as they say, is HERtory.

They begin seeing each other, sort of, until Melinda tries to get a hold of Robert unsuccessfully. Getting frustrated she goes to his RV to find him in there with another woman. Melinda takes her Jeep Wrangler and begins running into the RV until the RV tips over. This should have been a huge RED FLAG for Robert about Melinda, but it isn’t. The person he’s with is Diana. I’ll get to her significance in a bit.

ENDEAVORS, TWO JOBS, AND A CRIMINAL RECORD

Melinda and Robert get married and move into her mother’s house, the one Melinda grew up in. Robert has set up a room in the back of the house to work on his invention. His goal is to get Mr. Prescott, a billion dollar company that works with inventors and either buys the product or partners up with the inventors to get their product on the market.

Robert doesn’t work, while Melinda works two or three jobs supporting Robert’s dream. Robert ends up spending an enormous amount of money, Melinda’s money, towards his invention. So much so, they have now gone in debt. Not only does Melinda have to work the two or three jobs to help keep things afloat, but she ends up mortgaging the house, while Robert does nothing.

After some time, Robert finally lands three interviews at companies that pay over 100k a year, but he loses out on all three jobs due to the criminal record he had when he was 15. He thought the record would be expunged once he became an adult but it didn’t. Now his chances of getting a decent job will be even harder and Melinda is right back where she started; supporting someone who can’t, or won’t, get a job.

LONG STORY SHORT

After 18 years or so, Robert finally gets to see Mr. Prescott. Some on his own merit, but mostly because of Diana. If you remember Diana was the girl Robert was stepping out on Melida with when they were in college. Well, Diana is now Mr. Prescott’s right-hand woman bringing people’s inventions to Prescott.

I’m going to skip all the hoopla and get straight to the point; Melinda divorces Robert, and after she divorces him Robert makes it big with his invention.

I’m not going to go into what happened pre-divorce or after the divorce because it’s something you definitely have to witness for yourself.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

There are quite a few times in the movie Melinda’s mental state is brought to light, starting with her knocking Robert’s RV over with her Jeep back in college. How she’s staring at Diana when they are in court some years later. Her various facial expressions while in therapy. I’m just speaking about her facial expresses. Nevermind what comes out of her mouth. Taraji P. Henson is one of those actresses that doesn’t have to say anything for her facial expressions does all the talking. I think this is what makes her great in this movie. I don’t feel that another actress could pull off what she does to bring the anger, hostility, animosity, resentfulness, and bitterness as she did.

Henson has great body language to express what she’s feeling. The way she holds her cigarette and blows out the smoke is enough to send chills down your spine. And the first time she does I knew I was in for the ride of my life, and trust me, the ride is bumpy.

If you compound her facial expression, body language with the words coming out of her mouth, even you will be running for the hills. Henson portrays a bitter and resentful person like nobody’s business.

SYMBOLISMS

Smoking

“is an outward signal of inner turmoil or conflict and most smoking has less to do with nicotine addiction and more to do with the need for reassurance”. (Westside Toastmasters). This is very evident in the movie when it comes to Melinda. I don’t think we see young Melinda smoking, but we do see Henson’s Melinda smoking like a dang chimney. And when she’s smoking her legs are cross and she gives side glances.

Crossed Legs

According to Body Language Project, “legs can be a great indicator of true thoughts and feelings”. Compound this with her smoking says a lot about Melinda’s feelings. When we visit her in the therapist office, she’s sitting with legs crossed. It’s not until she has to express her anger towards Robert does she light up a cigarette. The cigarette represents her reassurance, mostly to herself, that she has a right to feel how she feels. Legs crossed is the same as arms crossed. It’s a sign of skepticism or defensiveness.

When Robert comes home from his meeting with Prescott, Melinda is seated with her legs crossed, while smoking a cigarette:

During a conversation, it can indicate a ‘withdrawn’ attitude and it has been observed that people who cross their legs in the seated position tend to talk in shorter sentences and reject more proposals and are more inattentive to what’s going on compared to those who sit in a more ‘open’ position. (https://www.psychmechanics.com)

Melinda spurts out short sentences to Robert while sitting back in the chair, legs crossed and a cigarette in hand. When she is sure about her self and her actions, especially what she feels and wants, she uncrosses her legs, scoots and leans forward toward Robert and speaks her thoughts. Again, short sentences, maybe three or four words.

Dressed in Black

When Melinda is in court she’s dressed in black. The therapy session she attends she’s in black. When she visits Robert later in the movie, she’s in black, albeit sexy lingerie. But let’s look at the color black and what it represents: it’s associated with power, fear, mystery, strength, authority, elegance, formality, death, evil, and aggression, rebellion, and sophistication. Note the words I have placed in bold.

Dressed in White

Then we have Melinda in white, and it’s during a poignant scene in the movie. White does the following for us:

  • Aids mental clarity
  • Encourages us to clear clutter or obstacles
  • Evokes purification of thoughts or actions
  • Enables fresh beginnings

And it does the same for Melinda. When you watch the scene in which she wears white and what her intentions are, the color she chooses to wear is clear in her defining moment in life.

Who is the therapist?

The absence of the therapist Melinda sees could represent Melinda’s thoughts, or her talking to herself. In a sense, her asking herself the questions being asked by the therapist, with her, herself, justifying her anger and bitterness by speaking out loud. We never do see the therapist, even when Melinda leaves the office. I see this as Melinda has talked herself into her justification of her feelings and thoughts and now she’s going to act upon them.

Opening Song

The biggest symbolism is the opening song. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood sung by Nina Simone. I love this song, even when The Animals covered it. Both songs were released in 1964. There’s a particular line in the song that says it all, “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

BUT WAS SHE REALLY SCORNED

This is the debate among people, was she really scorned? When she thought Robert was stepping out on her again with Diana he said no, and I believe him. But Melinda, it seems, has never gotten that night back in college, out of her head. This tells us she holds on to things for years and years. If it had been anyone else she thought Robert was stepping out on her with, would she have been as angry? Yes. But the fact it’s someone from her past, her anger went from the frying pan into the fire.

When Robert made his millions he wasn’t with Melinda but he made things right with her. Although I brought up Betty Broderick at the beginning of this post, Melinda’s ending with her husband was nothing like Broderick’s ending with her husband. Meaning, Robert wasn’t stepping out on Melinda while they were married. I feel since that night she caught them together, it has played over and over in head for all those years.

However the end result happened, whether he is with Melinda or not, Melinda will always have it in her head that he was seeing Diana on the side. As mentioned early, that scene will forever play and continues to play in Melinda’s head. I personally feel the night she caught Robert with Diana set her anger in motion.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed the movie as a whole. A reviewer said, if they had listened to the bad reviews they would have missed out on a good movie. I agree with the reviewer.

I think the final scene should have been done without any music, but that’s the Michael Haneke in me. Haneke didn’t use music/soundtracks in his films because he felt natural sound was the best music that can be used, and I agree. There is one part in which no music is used and the natural sounds of nature and people are heard which makes the scene that more disturbing. If Perry had continued that until the very end, the power of the final act would have been the defining moment in the movie, for me. However, in an earlier scene with her sitting in the chair, smoking a cigarette with legs crossed waiting for Robert to get home is the defining moment in my eyes.

Acrimony, a Lionsgate film, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. If you’re a non-Prime member and have to pay to watch the film, I feel it’s worth the money.

If you saw the movie, what are your thoughts? Was she scored or just resentful?

 

The Trials of Cate McCall; Kate Beckinsale’s Finest Performance

In The Trials of Cate McCall, Cat McCall (Kate Beckinsale –Underworld Franchise, Stonehearst Asylum, The Widow TV Series) was once a top-notch lawyer. But recently she has lost her status, her job, her daughter and has been disbarred. Now doing community service at legal aid, Cate must defend a young lady, Lacey (Anna Schafer but credited as Anna Anissimova – The Whistleblower) who is accused of killing another woman. McCall doesn’t want the case. But to get reinstated into the bar, her child back and her life on track again, she takes the case. While trying the case, along with other battles she’s facing, McCall has nothing before her but an uphill battle.

source: sundance now

BECKINSALE AWAY WITH ME

Kate Beckinsale is one of those actresses you can’t keep your eyes off of. I really enjoyed her in the Underworld franchise and Stonehearst Asylum (currently streaming on Netflix and I highly recommend this movie). She brings all her characters to life to where you forget it’s Beckinsale but rather whomever she’s portraying, and she gives no less in this 2014 movie.

TRUTH IS ON TRIAL

Directed by Karen Moncrieff, The Trials Of Cate McCall is just that, Cate McCalls’s trials. As the tagline goes, “Truth is on trial. Everyone is a witness“. That tagline could be applied to Cate, for she’s constantly being watched, by the courts, in the supervised visits with her daughter and her former law firm. She is being tried in the court of opinions. It could also be applied to the trial itself where McCall must defend someone who committed a heinous crime. And there’s Cate herself, judging herself, her decisions and her fight to win back her daughter.

Nick Nolte plays Bridges, another lawyer who helps McCall with the case and her life. And James Cromwell as Justice Sumpter, someone McCall knows from a seminar she attended that he was presenting. Both actors add to the story of McCall in different ways that’s beneficial and possibly, detrimental to McCall, personally and professionally.

FINAL THOUGHT

I read reviews in which people said the movie is predictable at times, yet, keeps your interest, and that it does. The flow is at a steady pass. You didn’t get a chance to think about what just took place before something else happens. Beckinsale gives another stellar performance, and as mentioned, you can’t keep your eyes off her. I think what does it for Beckinsale in this role is she has the look like she’s got everything under control but she doesn’t, and she states this in the movie. No matter how hard she tries and takes one step forward, she ends up taking two steps back.

The directing adds to the effect of the movie. Moncrieff has directed episodes of Thirteen Reasons Why (S1 and S2 are currently on Netflix), and an episode of Six Feet Under. Moncrieff is also an actress, so having an eye for what brings out a scene, she definitely has that. Directors have a way of telling a story that may not be present in the script and Moncrieff has that skill. I think this is what makes the movie even more enjoyable to watch. Moncrieff knows how to take what could possibly be boring scenes and make them intense.

I recommend The Trials of Cate McCall currently streaming on the Sundance Now app (available in the App store on iOS and Google Play for Andriod). I give the film 5 out of 5 stars

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The Trials of Cate McCall
Directed by: Karen Moncrieff
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Nick Nolte, James Cromwell
Released: 2014
IMDB score: 6.3/10
Streaming: Sundance Now app

A Daughter’s Deception (aka Ties That Bind): Lifetime Movie Network Movie Review

courtesy IMDB and LMN

Twenty years after her daughter is put up for adoption, Laura Parker is reunited with her. Welcomed into the family, Bree steps in as the older sister to Skyler who is being bullied at school. Her first mission is the take care of the bully and she does in grand fashion. It’s during this scene that we get a glimpse in Bree’s dark side. However, we are seeing it being used for good, right? Right! but it’s not long after that we see Bree’s dark side, but this time it’s used for bad. And the bad just keeps on coming.

THE PACE

The pace of A Daughter’s Deception was a steady one. It flows nicely and smoothly, which is one thing I enjoyed. Some movies on Lifetime can be clunky in the introduction or the build-up of something about to happen, but not this one. We are shown young Laura (Sydney Endicott) giving birth when she’s around 17 and the baby being taken away. Afterward, we are introduced to Laura (Jade Harlow), approximately 370years-old, since it’s 20 years later and her family, husband, Michael Parker (Rusty Joiner), and their daughter Skyler (Brianna Gage). To show how quickly, yet smoothly, this movie moved, we are soon introduced to Bree Hogan, Laura’s biological daughter. And soon things unfold in a realistic way. There was nothing contrived about any of the setups, and the executions of scenes.

KENNEDY TUCKER

Bree Hogan is played by Kennedy Tucker, and if she continues to play wicked roles, I will be a long time fan. Anyone that can pull off sinister looks like Tucker is number one in my book. Trust me, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you see the movie. I look forward to seeing Tucker in more Lifetime movies whether she’s playing the good person or the bad. I prefer bad.

FINAL THOUGHT

The movie is definitely worth watching, down to the very end. As mentioned, it moves at a steady pace. I liked that they introduced Laura’s biological daughter right away instead of spending one hour on Laura’s past, and the last hour on Bree causing havoc.

A Daughter’s Deception premiered Lifetime Movie Network Saturday, 23 March 2019. Check your local listings for date and time

Nightmare Tenant – Lifetime Movie Network Movie Review

L to R: Virginia Tucker, Lauralee Bell. (courtesy of Lifetime Movie Network)

Nikki Stone (Virginia Tucker, Wicked Mom’s Club) is a high school senior who is waiting for her acceptance letter from a prestigious college. She has been told by her one of her teachers she will be valedictorian of her class. Nikki is riding high until she gets home. There she finds her father sitting at the dining table who, in a roundabout way, tells Nikki she’s failed him. She’s not sure what he’s talking about until he shows the letter from the college turning down her application. The reason she was turned down is they have accepted someone else through the legacy program. The legacy program is where an applicant’s relative has gone to that college before and done well in life. Think of the recent college scandal minus the briberies.

The way Nikki’s father is talking to her we can surmise that he has been belittling Nikki her entire life. No matter what she does she’ll never be able to please him.

I’LL GET YOU MY PRETTY BUT YOUR MOTHER FIRST

After doing a little research, Nikki learns who was accepted and thus begins her journey to destroy mother and daughter, starting with the mother, Dr. Carol Allen played by Lauralee Bell (Christine ‘Cricket’ Romaloti on The Young and the Restless). Nikki’s first action is to meet Dr. Allen and she does this by smashing her lower arm with a hammer about three times. This action brings her to the ER where she only wants to see a female doctor, and in walks Dr. Allen. When asked her name, Nikki says Melissa Waters.  Yes, she changed her name, her looks, and her backstory. During the course of the conversation, and Melissa’s lying about her current circumstances, Dr. Allen invites Melissa, to be a guest in her home for as long as she wants. Upon Dr. Allen telling her boyfriend of what has transpired, he feels she’s being impulsive, and I agree with him. However, Dr. Allen has a good feeling about Melissa. OK, doc, it’s all smiles and giggles until someone tries to kill you.

THE PERFECT TENANT IS JUST A FAÇADE

Melissa starts out the perfect tenant by cooking breakfast the next morning (and the breakfast did look good), after having cleaned the kitchen and putting on the charm. Dr. Allen buys into this hook, line, and sinker. Dr. Allen’s boyfriend soon buys into the charm as well and can see what Dr. Allen sees in Melissa. There is none so blind as those who will not see.

The sweet and mild-mannered Nikki Stone we see at the beginning of the movie hides an exceptional talent for deceiving others, and it’s made very clear when she becomes Melissa Waters. I’m not sure how she came up with the name, but by her numerous actions, I have a feeling it’s one she’s used before. It’s evident Nikki has worked out the kinks in the past and might have a Ph.D. in deception.

Melissa/Nikki is the type of person that lies in wait for the right opportunity to make her move. And if the opportunity is not there, she will create one and leave no one in her wake, or die trying.

FINAL THOUGHT

I enjoyed the movie as I do just about all Lifetime Movie Network movies. It was a little predictable at times, but that didn’t bother me. The acting by Lauralee Bell is the same as when she plays Christine Romalotti on The Young and the Restless, or when she was in another Lifetime Movie Network movie Mistress Hunter, which I also enjoyed.

Nightmare Tenant premiers tonight Friday, 22 March 2019, at 8 pm on LMN. Check your local listing.

Abducted In Plain Sight: A Documentary Review

Gravatis Venture film

ABDUCTED NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE

In 1974 (age 12) and 1976 (age 14), Jan Broberg was abducted and molested by Robert ‘B’ Berchtold, and the worst part is, her parents let this happen.

B TAKES AN INTEREST IN JAN

Abducted In Plain Sight tell the story of Robert ‘B’ Berchtold, a neighbor of the Brobergs, who takes a special interest in the Broberg’s eldest daughter, Jan. Jan is approximately nine or ten years old at the time. Jan’s parents, Rob and Mary Ann noticed Robert, or B, as he was known, took an interest in Jan. An odd interest in Jan at that. On Thursday, 17 October 1974, B wants to take Jan horseback riding. Mary Ann says Jan has piano lessons and it’s a school night. B offers to pick Jan up after her piano lesson and take her horseback riding, in which Mary Ann agrees, after pleading from Jan. B agrees to have her back before her father comes home for dinner. But that doesn’t happen.

PIANO LESSONS, HORSEBACK RIDING, AND KIDNAPPING

Upon entering B’s car, he gives Jan, what’s supposed to be her allergy pill. But it’s not. It’s not long after taking the pill that Jan passes out. Mind you, this is Thursday and Jan was supposed to be home by dinner time, and B agreed to this with Jan’s mother, Mary Ann. 9 pm rolls around and Jan nor B has shown up. Mary Ann begins to worry. At approximately 9 pm, B’s wife, Gayle, comes over to console Mary Ann and tells her there’s no need to call the authorities, so Mary Ann doesn’t. Saturday comes, two days later and still no Jan or B. Finally, Rob, Jan’s father, says they need to get the authorities involved. Really? After two days of not hearing anything from your daughter or B, now he wants to get the authorities involved?

TWO DAYS AND NO WORD

After two days of not hearing from their daughter, now they want to call the cops? Mary Ann calls the FBI who states their office is closed and provides another number for Mary Ann to call, which she doesn’t. According to Mary Ann, she “didn’t want to get people worked up over nothing”. Her daughter has been missing for two days but she doesn’t want to get people in an “unnecessary” panic? The first person who should be panicking is Mary Ann and to hell with everyone else. And as a father, Rob should have been extra concern something might have happened to his daughter.

It’s almost five days later when the authorities are finally involved in the case. Mary Ann still believes that B wouldn’t kidnap her daughter. She believes he has taken her somewhere. Really, Mary Ann? How can she believe this when she had a strange feeling about the interest B took in Jan when Jan was nine or ten? I’m only on the first kidnapping and already I want to punch Mary Ann and Rob in their faces.

LET’S SEDUCE THE PARENTS FIRST, THEN WE’LL GET TO THE JAN

Robert Berchtold seduced Jan’s mother in 1972. Then he went to work on the father shortly thereafter.

Robert owned a business, and there were times he wasn’t able to leave for lunch. Instead of calling his wife to bring him lunch he called Jan’s mother Mary Ann. Soon she was bringing him sandwiches and it’s during these times he would pay her compliments how beautiful she was and how she looked good and so forth. During a church outing, Robert and Mary Ann snuck off and kissed and such, short of sex. Then Robert moves to the father, said he wanted to take a ride to talk.

During the car ride, Robert tells Rob (Jan’s father) that he can’t stand his wife and he needs to be relieved (B claims he and his wife don’t have sex) and wanted Rob to help relieve him. Rob wants to play it off like he’s not sure why he did it, but he reached over and — well you know the rest. I personally think Rob was attracted to Robert, but won’t admit it. Now Robert has something on both parents.

JUST BIZARRE

This whole story is just bizarre. The parents are idiots. Robert’s wife, Gayle, is either oblivious to things going on or just dumb. Or, she could be in an abusive relationship in which she’s too afraid to say anything. Robert’s brother was aware of his brother’s fascination with little girls and knew Rob, 12 at the time, was molesting their younger sister, who was six.

The FBI Agent assigned to the case, Pete Welsh, has never encountered a pedophile before in his six-year career, so he’s disturbed by all this.

And the story Robert told the Brobergs about how he was sexually abused by an aunt when he was four and that his psychologist told him he needs to lay down with Jan as part of his therapy. And the parents bought this! Come to find out the psychologist is not a licensed psychologist for his license was revoked.

WHAT’S THE POINT?

I’m not sure what the point of the documentary was. If it’s intent was to show Jan as a victim, it definitely did that. If it was to show how easy B could manipulate the situation, it did that. But B wouldn’t be able to manipulate and abduct Jan TWICE without the help of the parent. The parents are just as culpable as B in the abduction of their daughter. If their instinct, especially the mother’s instinct that B’s interest in their daughter Jan is a bit off, why did they let him take her the first go-round? Let me backtrack a bit. I can see that perhaps they might have thought they were overreacting. There’s that possibility, but the second go round? Really?

SECOND KIDNAPPING HASN’T EVEN TAKEN PLACE YET AND…

The second kidnapping hasn’t even taken place yet and already I could write a book based on the first half of this documentary. As mentioned, I’m not sure what the point of the telling of this story is. It’s definitely not making the parents of Jan sympathetic to the viewers, but rather, making the viewers angry and calling for the arrest of the parents for playing a hand in what happened to Jan. Berchtold’s wife, Gayle, is dumb as a doornail. FBI Agent Welsh is baffled by the whole thing.

SECOND ABDUCTION

After Jan returned home the first go-round, B was working on abducting her again. The first step was having the Brobergs to not file charges against him, which he successfully did through his wife Gayle. However, the state still went through with their charges. Because of Jan being brainwashed into believing there were aliens and she was on a mission to save the earth while she was with B, it was easy to get to her again. The father was a different story, but the mother, Mary Ann fell into his trap again and had an affair with him.

EYES WIDE SHUT

The physical evidence of Jan being raped by B was not visible. B was clever enough to not leave marks in any way. He convinced her they were supposed to do the sexual acts, therefore, that made her a willing participant who would not put up a fight.

Shortly after Jan’s return home from the first abduction the contact the parents had with B resumed. The contact between Jan and B never stopped. It wasn’t until Jan became older did B start to back off from having any interest in her. The reason being is she wasn’t a little girl anymore. B’s pension for little girls was very disturbing and the fact his brother knew and did nothing, is even more disturbing.

EYEWITNESSES

The documentary told through those involved, Jan’s parents, her sisters, FBI Agent Welch, and B’s brother, and Jan.

I enjoy documentaries that tell the story from the viewpoints of those who were there, rather than a narrator telling the story, because the emotions and actual accounts of what took place can only come through from the actual people.

FINAL THOUGHT

As disturbing this documentary was and how angry it will make you, mostly at Jan’s parents, I still find it worth watching, mostly because I’m a documentary buff. But also because it’s a story worth hearing about.

The blind eye the parents displayed really bothered me. Not once, but twice.

Abducted In Plain Sight, released in 2017, is currently streaming on Netflix.

Homecoming – Amazon Prime Series

courtesy Amazon Prime Vidoe

Homecoming stars Julia Roberts (Pelican Brief, Eric Brockovich) as Heidi Bergman, a counselor at Homecoming, a facility set up to help soldiers returning from war who either suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or have symptoms of such. But there’s a hidden agenda at Homecoming that neither Heidi nor the soldiers being treated know about. However, it’s only Heidi that finds out the truth and tries to make things right, the best she can.

2018 BUT FEELS LIKE 1950

The series is set in 2018 but the amber tint used (if I’m correct in the tint name) gives it a feel and look of 1950 or 1960, which I really liked. It could be the calm feeling you get when you look at amber.

  • Orange. Orange is a warm, inviting, and joyful color. …
  • Yellow. Yellow is the color of optimism, brightness, cheery attitude, and mental clarity. ..

I feel if the series was filmed in HD or with bright colors it wouldn’t have the effect it has or have on the viewers. We wouldn’t be able to sit through the mundaneness of the series. The tint keeps us there, the wondering keeps us glued physically and mentally and the oddness of Robert’s Heidi connects to all of us, for the most part.

I’M HERE TO HELP YOU, BUT I CAN’T HELP ME

Heidi Bergman has had a number of jobs over the past few years until she landed the role of counselor at Homecoming, and that job only lasts from January 2018 – May 2018, four months. She’s one of those people that will leave a job (some she was fired from) when she sees injustice, in whatever forms it comes in, taking place.

She has a boyfriend towards the beginning of the series but after about a year of being together, they part ways, mostly due to her job taking up her waking her life.

Heidi’s boss, Colin, is a micro-manager from hell. I’m not sure how she kept her sanity dealing with him, but she did until she learns the truth about Homecoming. It’s after this revelation that Heidi begins to rebel and does it in the most perfect way possible.

SYMBOLISMS

THE SPIRAL STAIRCASES

I love symbols in movies for it screams ‘here’s a conspiracy theory for ya’, and Homecoming doesn’t disappoint at all. The three main characters in the movie, Heidi, Colin and Thomas (the DOD agent sent to investigate Homecoming) all end up on the top of a spiral staircase in their respective buildings they work at. Each, at one point during the film walk down the stairs, which to me, symbolizes the spiral downfall that each will encounter. When all is revealed, the secret behind Homecoming, each character must account for their actions.

TWO LOST SOULS IN A FISH BOWL

Heidi has a fish tank in her office that was left over from the last person to occupy the area. Heidi isn’t into fish but felt they were comforting, so she kept them. Two incidents take place. The first is when Walter, one of her patients, is asking what’s wrong with the fish because they weren’t acting right. Heidi says she’s been feeding them up to three times a day. Walter returns with you only feed them once a day. The symbolism of the fish eating too much plays into the patients at Homecoming.

Then the fish are no longer there. Walter asks where are they to which Heidi replied “I had no use for them so I got rid of them” (paraphrasing, of course). This symbolism is quite glaring as it too relates to the patients at Homecoming, especially one particular patient named Shrier.

A BIRD IN HAND

There’s a bird outside Heidi’s window that she hears all the time but doesn’t see. It annoys the hell out of her but she does nothing about it. Then one day, as a prank on Walter’s part, the bird ends up in her office and it scares the hell out of her. This bird, as a symbol, is Colin, her micro-managing boss whom she’s seen only once but hears all the time due to incisive calls and it annoys the hell out of her.

PHONE BOOKS BUT NO PHONE

If I’m correct, there were phone books hanging from what is known as phone booths, only the booths didn’t have doors and weren’t encased in a glass house. I found this interesting because it signified a way out (phone book has people’s names in it) but no way to get out, lack of phones.

UNPAVED ROADS

The ending left a lot of questions and answers. The road trip Heidi takes puts everything into perspectives without giving too much away. She had someone else’s map, therefore, she was playing someone else’s rules, which she had done her whole life. The only thing she did that was her own was to go on this road trip. But not all roads lead to Rome. She gets the answer she was seeking which makes her happy and sad at the same time. She’s able to speak her heart to a familiar face without a familiar memory.

Stay past the credits on the last episode (10) for there’s an interesting scene. Than you Ruben Shaw of @TheRubyTuesday

SEASON 2, ANYBODY?

There will be a season 2. This is one of those shows that can carry on with the same premise with new players for each new person can bring their own self to the story, and perhaps, make us see things differently while keeping the end game the same.

Homecoming is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Homecoming / released 2 November 2018 / Production: Amazon Prime, Anonymous Content

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) – Movie Review

source: imdb

In Tay Garnett’s 1946 The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cora Smith (Lana Turner) is married to Nicholas Smith (Cecil Kellaway) who owns a side road petrol station/diner. Frank Chambers (John Garfield), a man “whose feet are always itching to hit the road”, stops at the diner for employment. His method of arriving is catching a ride by way of hitchhiking. The driver, Frank later learns, is District Attorney Sackett.

Frank and Cora start an affair and soon plot the death of her husband. The first attempt fails but the second attempt is a success. But the cunningness of Cora’s attorney Arthur Keats (Hume Cronyn), the relationship between Frank and Cora become strained until one of them end up dead and the other charged with murder.

SYMBOLISM

There might be more symbolism within the movie for film noirs are full of symbolism, in my opinion, but the one that stood out for me was Cora wardrobe. Throughout a good portion of the movie, Cora wore white, whether it was her waitress uniform, swimsuit or regular clothes. However, when Frank catches Cora in the kitchen holding a knife and the wheels turning in her head plotting the death of her husband, she’s wearing black. The second time we see Cora in black is when she returns from Ohio after her mother dies. The last time she is wearing back is when she’s about to leave Frank. Even when she’s in court on murder charges, early on in the film, she’s wearing white.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed the film. I’ve always liked old black and white movies. To me, a lot of attention was paid to the writing. The dialogue was the name of the game and the stories are well crafted. Directors kept things simple but with an even flow. The actors back then were theater trained and, for the most part, didn’t just show up out of the blue to become overnight successes.

There’s a 1981 version of The Postman Always Rings Twice starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. If you’re into smut, then watch the 1981 version. If like a well-done movie with plenty of dialogue, great writing and directing, then the 1946 version is for you.