Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Obsession


It's long been a Lifetime movie tradition to have a seemingly normal person who is actually a psycho who is romantically obsessed with an acquaintance. This one, cleverly named "The Obsession," could have also been called "The Perfect Ballet Teacher." It stars the "handsome," strangely eyebrowed Sebastian Spence, who you see here you before you. I didn't know anything about Sebastian other than that he appears to have gotten a lot of botox, but when I saw that he had appeared on the supposedly awesome "Battlestar Galatica" I hesitated to make fun of him. I've never seen the show, but it's one of those things you're supposed to get on Netflix, like The Wire.

Luckily, every character from a sci-fi cult favorite has an extensive Wikipedia entry, and I found Sebastian on the "List of minor characters in Battlestar Galatic (2004 TV Series)" wikipedia page. Even luckier, he played a minor character called Lt. Noel "Narcho" Allison, who, as wikipedia tells us, "is stubborn and full of bravado, scoffing at plans to use the Blackbird and bragging about his Cylon kill count, (which at the time was 48)."

So I think it's safe to go ahead and tell you how bad he is in this movie, in which he plays a straight male ballet teacher named Reed Halton. Reed is obsessed with one of his students (Erika), and gives her lots of private lessons where he says stuff like "Dance to me!!!" with a heaving chest. It's full of pretty much everything you'd expect from one of these movies: he murders Erika's former ballet instructor, sleeps with her mom (played by Daphne Zuing from The Sure Thing, Spaceballs, and the Hallmark Channel's Mail Order Bride), and stabs her boyfriend Trevor with a knife. (I, nor this commenter on The Obsession's message board on imdb, can remember if Trevor is ever mentioned in the movie again.)

Sebastian may have simply been limited by the script given to him, however, as his inner demons come lurching the the surface--sort of--in a scene where Spence sweats on cue. Reed is sitting on his bed watching some videos of Erika doing basic ballet moves that the movie tells us are the stuff of prodigies. Reed is clearly turned on/passionately obsessed, but because LMN is for ladies, we don't see him jerking off...or is it because Erika's lure is so powerful, he doesn't even need to? After watching the video, he lays back and puts his hands behind head, showing off his sweaty armpits. What dirtiness this represents I'll let you decide, but it's clear that Spence has an amazing talent.

If that doesn't convince you, fast-forward to the 3:55 mark below, when Reed, pissed that Erika keeps calling him Mr. Halton, yells YOUKNOWWHATMYNAMEISMYNAMEISREED!!


The rest of the movie follows its predestined course, with the only delightful surprise being the fact that the guy who ultimately shoots Reed is named Detective Mackey. Yes, like on The Shield. This could get confusing when I write The Obsession's wikipedia page.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lies in Plain Sight

Though I had no idea what it was about, I was interested to see "Lies in Plain Sight Starring Rosie Perez." The shadowy, vague commercials that were hyped endlessly on the LMN contained the cryptic inquisition, "What happened to Eva? did she leave a note? did she say anything to you? did you have a fight? was she sick? why did you break up? was there someone else? what are you hiding? do you think this is a game? what happened to eva? what have you done?"



Unlike many Lifetime movies, the title was equally vague. And, I soon found, completely inaccurate. Because, see, the main character in this movie is BLIND. So NOTHING is in plain sight. And no one in her ambiguously Latino family is lying, they're just wondering why their daughter/sister/cousin/niece committed suicide (and maybe withholding some information).

I also discovered that almost all of the scenes in the trailer are from the last 30 minutes of the movie, and unfortunately, the first three-quarters of the film are pretty slow and almost boring. Sofia, the blind woman, tries to figure out why her cousin would commit suicide, and uncovers shocking secrets like she was about get an abortion, she wasn't impregnated by her ex-boyfriend (played by Chad Michael Murray of One Tree Hill fame), and didn't put out in high school. In the meantime, she's also busy being blind, whether her dead cousin's little sister is pointing out her eerily good sense of scent or she's falling down stairs. (Note to Lifetime: blind people can get down stairs pretty easily, and they DO point their faces toward you when you talk. They also probably don't need their canes to walk up the empty driveway of the house they grew up in.)

The ending of "Lies in Plain Sight" is pretty Lifetimealicious, though, and if you don't want me blowing the entire thing for you I suggest you stop reading now! (No, really, I'm about to tell you everything that happens.)

So...Sofia finally realizes that her uncle had been molesting her cousin, and he's no run-of-the-mill pedophile who stops molesting a child once she hits puberty. In spite of his diabetes, he went right on raping her well into her 20s while she continued to live at home and not say anything to her BFF cousin who she grew up with, like, hey, can I come live with you in Boston?

So anyway, Sofia decides she's going to confront her uncle, and luckily she thought to pack her bikini when she came for the funeral. She waits until it's dark and all spooky-looking, then goes over to her aunt and uncle's house and gets in their pool with her uncle while he's swimming laps. She tries to get him to make out with her, but he's not interested, because he only likes to molest his own offspring (even though he raised her!). Sofia then accosts him, saying, "I know what you did!" so he tries to drown her, but stops holding her under water when his other daughter comes out and asks what's going on. "Your cousin is crazy and tried to attack me for the second time today!" the dad says, and the girl is all, "leave our family alone!!"

Sofia could say, "But your dad is the one who was just holding me under water trying to drown me!" But instead she just coughs and never brings the incident up to anyone in the entire rest of the movie. Then she puts some clothes on and heads over to her dead cousin's ex-boyfriend's house, where she promptly sleeps with him. (In Lifetime movies it isn't considered creepy when you sleep with the boyfriend of your dead friend/relative. Don't ask me why, but it happens all the time.)

After sleeping with him, he mentions that the dead cousin told him, on the last day that her saw her, that Sofia would be showing up at his door one day. It's then that Sofia realizes...her cousin's suicide note must be under the ex-boyfriend's mattress! Because her cousin knew she would go looking there!

If you're saying, "uh, what?" right now, you are not alone. Why the cousin didn't just mail the suicide note to Sofia, or the boyfriend for that matter--or, I don't know, leave it out in the open where someone other than her parents would find it, is one of those Lifetime mysteries we're just going to have to live with. All I know is that if my dad were molesting me for over a decade, and threatened to molest my sister (so says the note), once I hit my 20s I'd call the cops and then move away from home and enroll in therapy, not not say anything to anyone, write it all down in a suicide note, then hide the suicide note under my ex-boyfriend's mattress because I figured my cousin would hook up with him after I was dead and find it. But moving on....

Sofia shows the note to her dad ("I already know what it says," she tells him when he asks her if she wants him to read it aloud--and I hope that's because she had the boyfriend read it to her, not because she just "knows" and isn't curious as to what it says), and they head over to the uncle's house to confront...the aunt. Luckily for us, Sofia's aunt is played by Rosie Perez, and she has a great freak-out moment where she slaps Sofia's dad (played by Benito Martinez from The Shield). But first, she burns the suicide note in the sink. Since Sofia is blind, and can't recognize the sound of a lighter or the smell of something burning, she doesn't react quickly enough to save the letter.

But it doesn't matter, because it turns out that Rosie Perez is out for revenge. She goes upstairs to give her husband his insulin shot, and immediately kills him with an overdose. Then she lays there with him, crying and telling him she loves him, and it's totally sad and creepy.

The next (and last) scene is, naturally, a graveside funeral where everyone's pretending that the guy wasn't a rapist who died mysteriously of an insulin overdose. It's kinda weird, but not as weird as the fact that the ex-boyfriend has brought along a bouquet of flowers that looks like he just bought them at a gas station. Still in the plastic, he lays them on the grave of the dead cousin, where they'll wilt in about 10 hours. I guess when you're dating a blind girl, it doesn't really matter. None of your lies are in plain sight.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Perfect Romance


The year was 2004. It was one year before Henry Ian Cusick would make his premiere as Desmond in Lost, and three years before the character name Pete(r) Campbell would already be taken. Having just sold their first online dating service to the Match.com people for $150 million, the founders of UDate.com launched PerfectMatch.com and were looking to blow some money. So they "partnered with" (press release speak for "gave money to") Lifetime to make a movie that centered around Peter Campbell (Cusick) finding love on through their site.


Though I was always a Sawyer girl and am still smarting from Lost's dumb ending, I watched this movie only because Desmond was in it, and then because of that strange hold that Lifetime movies have over me. I'm like a time traveler who knows what's going to happen and can't change it, but is forced to watch it all take place. I knew "Jenny" was going to end up with her old schoolmate who works at her mom's flower shop (and is not gay), because he spent half the movie babysitting her kid. And even if the info button hadn't told me, I would have known that Desmond was going to end up with Jenny's mom, because she placed a personal ad in her daughter's name, then corresponded with Desmond over email as Jenny before they met. But I just couldn't turn away--even when the bad-news, rocker ex-husband said, "Perfect Match, huh? I didn't know people met like that!"

I'm sorry to say that this movie is mostly like a really, really subpar "Steve Martin's Roxanne," and even includes a montage in which the daughter tries to pretend like she knows about poetry and cooking to keep Desmond's interest. At around the time that a book of Keats poems with a red rose in it is left on Desmond's bed by Jenny's mom, I began to really regret it wasn't like most Lifetime movies with "Perfect" in their title--full of murder, falling down stairs, and a tense final scene where the object of the crazy woman's obsession pretends to agree with her so she'll put the gun down.

Alas, this movie doesn't have a single murder--or even assault--and ends with Desmond kissing Jenny's mom, and Jenny's kid (who, thus far, has only been in the movie to make his mother seem sympathetic) asking, "Do I have to call you 'Gramps' now?" and everyone getting a hardy belly laugh at how incredibly old the 50-something-year-old grandmother is.

"Perfect Romance" really exemplifies the flip-side of the LME (Lifetime Movie Effect). The LME keeps otherwise unrelevant stars on our TVs--the Meredith Baxters, Kellie Martins, and Lacy Chabrets of the world--but it also keeps on the air relevant stars in horrible, painfully dumb movies.

And while Henry Ian Cusick went on to be the only consistently good character in one of the biggest cult shows of all time, and PerfectMatch.com went on to sponsor a Roger Lodge–hosted show on the Retirement Living channel, here I am, being practically forced to watch a movie so bad that I think it actually dulled the pain in my heart from Lost letting me down a million times before it left me. (But somebody's gotta do it.)
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