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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Good Bye Cookie!

I haven't blogged in about week or so. As much as I enjoy writing about the dramatics on Lifetime and LMN, I had a bit of drama in my own life. No, I wasn't stalked by a woman I met on line ... or nearly murdered by a stepchild ... or kidnapped by an obsessed fan of this blog. Instead, me and Mrs. Lifetime Mike bid a sad farewell to our longtime movie watching buddy, Cookie.

Cookie was our very unique dog who may have been part Bassett, part Bull Terrier or even part Pit Bull. I was never quite sure during our 11 years with her, but I knew that she was a very special companion.

Cookie was a shelter dog. I located her in a Texas dog pound, scarred, with kind of a mange (actually fungal infection) on her nose. She looked like she has been in fights, but I learned otherwise when I met her through those cage bars. Cookie was kind of scary looking, but her personality was pure comedy. She was a very friendly girl who loved everyone and everything ... cats and squirrels included. She especially loved kids! And they loved her too. At the dog park, children would gravitate her and she'd let them pet her. When they'd stop, she'd follow them!

We adopted Cookie as a companion for our older (and also departed) companion Babs. They looked alike and were inseparable.

We lost Babs in 2012, and Cookie joined her in Doggy Heaven last week. She was (and still is) an important part of my life. We traveled together, went to parks, took long walks, rode in the car and of course, watched many movies on the couch! Of course, she would doze off and snore (LOUDLY) through each film.

In recent months, Cookie suffered a stroke and her beautiful personality began to fade. She showed signs of doggy dementia ... air biting, walking into walls. With meds, she showed signs of her former self. Of course, age caught up with her. At 13, she bid us farewell.

If you love your dog and cat companions, you understand how difficult these moments are. And I have no Lifetime Mike Jr., so Cookie and other companions are particularly special for myself and my wonderful wife. Still, I have many awesome memories of Cookie. Regardless of her absence, I'll always have Cookie crumbs to make me smile each day. These may be memories of her friendliness or even her flatulence!

It could have been easy to walk by that cage 11 years ago. Many people did. One couple pointed at her an laughed as she wagged her tail in her cage -- with only a pink bath mat to sleep on. She was in that animal shelter for a month before I met her. She may have looked rough around the edges but proved everyone (including myself) wrong.

So, this blog's for Cookie. Through her, I learned not to judge a book by its cover ... and that second chances are invaluable.

So long, Cook! I know we'll meet again.

Monday, May 23, 2016

REVIEW: 'Broken Promise'

High school sweethearts are never how you remember them. When you stumble upon your sophomore year ex, he/she isn't quite the same person you knew as a teenager. Imagine emerging from prison still in love with your teen angel. And imagine the pain when she doesn't return those feelings.

Lifetime Movie Network's premiere of "Broken Promise" (aka "Statute of Limitations," "Nightmare from the Past") explores this premise, but throws some gas on the emotional fires. When teens Mina and Reese sneak into an estate and share a tender moment, the property's owner shows up. After a confrontation, the old guy is killed and the cops arrive. Reese tells Mina to scram, and he'll take the blame for everything. He winds up in prison -- still in love with Mina. Years pass and Mina (Ashley Scott) has moved on. She's married to super sheriff Ben (Nick Baillie) and has a gorgeous daughter Hali (Lorynn York). When Reese (Louis Mandylor) emerges from the joint, he's expecting to pick up the pieces with Mina. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.

Reese then proceeds to stalk Mina and play mind games with her family. He antagonizes Ben and endears himself to Hali. And he drives around in the coolest yellow El Camino I've ever seen! He's kind of like Max Cady in "Cape Fear" using his charm to fool the right people ... except for Mina's BFF and wine drinking pal Amber (Kinga Phillips). All the while, Mina wrestles with the fact that she's responsible for the murder that sent Reese to jail.

Tensions simmer and ultimately boil into an crazy climax. No spoilers here though! "Broken Promise" will no doubt air again soon, so check it out. Mandylor is convincing as the Reese, a once sweet guy who has been transformed into a deranged, delusional thug. Scott also earns high marks as a woman trying to bury her past and protect her future. Good work from the rest of the cast too. York is perfect as the confused teen, who is willing to give Reese the benefit of the doubt. Baillie also delivers a solid performance as the protective patriarch who is taunted by his wife's former flame. Phillips rounds things out nicely as the Mina's sympathetic buddy.

Definitely watch this before your next class reunion ... although I doubt (hope) you're not in Mina's predicament. 

"Broken Promise": Directed by Nadeem Soumah; Starring Ashley Scott as Mina, Louis Mandylor as Reese, Nick Baillie as Ben, Lorynn York as Hali; Kinga Phillips as Amber 

Monday, May 16, 2016

REVIEW: 'I Am Watching You'

It's never a good idea to (ahem) date a neighbor ... but that's exactly what happens in "I Am Watching You," the latest erotic thriller to air on the Lifetime Movie Network. The movie premiered last night and is sure to find a permanent place in the network's rotation of sexy scary movies.

The story follows romance writer Nora (Madeline Zima, who has certainly grown up since "The Nanny"). She types away at her laptop, blogging sexy stories and aspiring to be become a famous author. When Nora has the opportunity to score a book deal (brokered by a publisher played by the still sexy Leslie Anne Downs), she is creatively blocked. Enter neighbor Lucas (Brian Ames), a mysterious photographer who spends a lot of time in his window. Nora and Lucas begin a flirtation through the blinds, and it's inevitable that they seal the deal. 

She's up front with him. This is a no strings attached relationship. He's cool with that, but deep down he's a Stage 5 clinger. He calls constantly and is frustrated each time Nora has work or social obligations. Tension builds as Lucas goes from a friend with benefits to a stalker without limits. Not even awesome sex can save this relationship, and the audience can predict what happens next. A spurned Lucas becomes unhinged and obsessive.

Director Maureen Bharoocha is no stranger to balancing suspense with a sexy vibe. She previously helmed another solid Lifetime thriller, "Fatal Flip," and knows how to engage audiences with slow, steamy build-ups and explosive resolutions. Of course, she is helped by her two enticing leads, who have plenty of chemistry. Ames is particularly effective as a guy who goes from cool to clingy. Kudos to supporting players Lilan Bowden and Marshall Porter. They anchor the story as Nora's supportive friends, who also find themselves as targets of Lucas' wrath.

Check out "I Am Watching You" again next weekend. It airs 9 p.m. (CST), May 21 and at 1 a.m., May 22. 

"I Am Watching You": Directed by Maureen Bharoocha, Starring Madeline Zima as Nora, Brian Ames as Lucas, Leslie Ann Downs as Margaret, Lilan Bowdwn as Karen, Marshall Porter as Scotty

Sunday, May 15, 2016

REVIEW: 'Social Nightmare'

Social media is a great way of connecting with friends, sharing snippets of your life, building a professional profile, etc. It also can wreck your reputation if you're not careful. Case in point ... "Social Nightmare," a cautionary tale on the dangers of social media gone wild. This gem airs at 7 a.m. (CST) on LMN, tomorrow, May 16.

The story follows super student Cat (Kirsten Prout). She has it all - a cool boyfriend, pending scholarships, acceptance into Brown University, and she was elected class president. And she is a devoted best friend to Emily (Chloe Bridges). Still, she has a few enemies including some bullies who are tormenting her boyfriend Daniel's (Brandon Smith) special needs sister.

Out of nowhere, social media posts pop up -- allegedly from Cat -- dissing Emily for not getting into Brown. That's bad enough, but then a website (possibly created by Cat) emerges that advertises her friends and foes as barely legal babes. From here, it's a tidal wave of bad news for the star student, who finds herself victimized online too when some risque pics find their way on the web. Thank goodness for doting mom (Daryl Hannah)! She is there to protect Cat and get her some therapy and antidepressants! Her teacher Mrs. Langran (Rachel True) knows something's not right here too. After all of this negative social media activity, Cat's life is a royal mess. She's hated, impeached from student government and is not en route to Brown!

I eventually predicted the movie's conclusion, but it does play well as a Lifetime "whodunnit." Could the hacker be best friend Emily who may be jealous of Cat's life, her arch rivals at school or even her boyfriend? Find out tomorrow morning ... or set the DVR to watch later.

Cat's predicament makes for a compelling story and a pretty good LMN movie. Good performances from Prout and Hannah, and good pacing from director Mark Quod. The movie rolls along nicely keeping the audience guessing who the culprit is. And this movie has the requisite "big reveal" and climactic brawl. Brought to you by the fine folks at The Asylum -- producers of other Lifetime epics including "Born Bad" and "Layover." You may want to tighten up your security on your social media channels after watching this one ... or offer your kids advice on what not to do on a cell phone video. 

"Social Nightmare": Directed by Mark Quod; Starring Kirsten Prout as Cat; Chloe Bridges as Emily, Darry Hannah as Susan; Brandon Smith at Daniel; Rachel True as Mrs. Langran

Friday, May 13, 2016

Not on Lifetime: 'The Roommate'

"The Roommate" has been making the rounds on non-Lifetime TV. It's been featured on Logo and tonight, the movie airs on VH-1 at 8:40 p.m. (CST). This is another classic that isn't on Lifetime or LMN ... but could be.

"The Roommate" tells a familiar story -- Girl goes to college. Girl moves into to a dorm with a nutcase roommate.

Stuff like this happens all the time on college campuses, but in this movie both coeds are incredibly gorgeous ... and so is everyone else in the movie. The plot follows college freshman Sara (Minka Kelly) who arrives bright-eyed and optimistic to a university campus. She instantly makes friends with fellow dorm residents. She also strikes up a romance with frat guy, indie rock drummer Stephen (Cam Gigandet) and charms her way into a design class taught by the charismatic Professor Roberts (Billy Zane at his best). Of course, she also is lucky enough to have a sweet, friendly roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester). Well, Rebecca is sweet at first ... but it's apparent (to everyone but Sara) that she has a few loose screws.

Rebecca showers Sara with affection, and the two are inseparable. She also happens to torment Sara's friends and pets and tries to throw a wrench into her relationship with Stephen. Sara is still trying to give Rebecca the benefit of the doubt. So, she accompanies Rebecca to the Thanksgiving dinner from Hell at her parents' house. During a very awkward visit, Sara discovers that even Rebecca's parents are scared of her. Even worse, she finds out that Rebecca has been off her meds.

You can guess that thngs get really bad when she decides to move out of her dorm. From here, the movie slides into slasher/stalker territory. That's not a bad things considering director Christian E. Christiansen (perhaps the coolest name in Hollywood) amps up the suspense and delivers a solid climax complete with catfights and literal cliffhangers.

I've seen variations of this story many times, but this movie still rocks! Kelly is excellent as the naive coed and Meester is creepy and credible as a co-dependent killer. Throw in Zane as a pompous professor, whose self-serving lectures leave students swooning, and "The Roommate" is awesome weekend viewing. The movie also features Cuddles, the cat ... adopted by Kelly's character.

I didn't like sharing a room in college, but I loved spending an evening with "The Roommate." Of course, there are many moments where the audience must suspend its disbelief ... including how any of these students get any studying or homework done. Still, this is a fun and creepy thriller that should scare anyone out of wanting to live in the dorm.

"The Roommate": Directed by Christian E. Christiansen; Starring Minka Kelly as Sara, Leighton Meester as Rebecca, Cam Gigandet as Stephen, and Billy Zane as Professor Roberts

Sunday, May 8, 2016

REVIEW: "A Mother's Revenge"

Happy Mother's Day! I hope all moms are being treated like queens this weekend. If you're not taking your mother out to lunch this weekend, you can at least share a pizza with her and tune in to Lifetime Movie Network's Don't Messy With Mommy Weekend (hosted by Wendy Williams).

Last night, LMN premiered "A Mother's Revenge." Admittedly, I didn't see the trailer leading up to last night's debut. But ... I knew Jamie Luner was in this movie, and she's a sure bet in any Lifetime movie. And both she and the movie did not disappoint.

Luner stars as Jennifer, a devoted mother ... but not without a few issues. Among these is a strained relationship with husband Jason-Shane Scott. They both travel (separately)  to their daughter's (Audrey Whitby) graduation. Jennifer learns the hard way not to check her luggage at the airport. She picks up the wrong bag. And it's not just any wrong bag. It belongs to deadly killer Conner (Steven Brand), who has something very important in his bag. He stalks Jennifer and when he doesn't find his suitcase, he steals something important from her ... daughter Katey.

This begins a battle of wits as Conner taunts Jennifer over the phone and sends her on a wild goose chase to return his suitcase. Hot on the trail are cops detectives Ford (Gerald Webb) and Jacobs (Richard Louenello).

This is a solid action thriller that moves along fairly briskly. Credit the solid cast and veteran director Fred Olen Ray (a legend!) for keeping things interesting. Luner and Brand are particularly effective as adversaries.

Luner is no stranger to playing the concerned mother, but takes things up a notch in this movie. Here, she's pushed to her physical limits. Have you ever tried running through an airport with a suitcase?? Well, Luner sprints through baseball fields, subway stations, aquariums and busy streets with luggage in tow.

Brand is creepy as heck, mentally torturing the film's heroines yet maintaining a cool presence. He plays Conner as a calculated, calm and cruel killer.

The supporting cast is equally solid - Webb and Louenllo as the confused cops; Scott as the not-so-helpful spouse and Whitby as the helpless daughter. Complementing everything are the beautiful settings of Buffalo, New York and Niagara Falls.

This movie was originally titled "Accidental Switch," which makes more sense than "A Mother's Revenge." With the latter title, I was expecting something a bit different ... like a mom going gonzo on the boyfriend from hell or something like that. Still, this is an effective thriller with enough twists and turns to keep longtime Lifetime fans entertained.

"A Mother's Revenge" airs next at 5 p.m. (CST), May 21 on LMN.

"A Mother's Revenge" - Directed by Fred Olen Ray; Starring Jamie Luner as Jennifer, Steven Brand as Conner, Audrey Whitby as Katey, Jason Shane-Scott as Richard, Gerald Webb as Detective Ford, Richard Louenello as Detective Jacobs

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Avengers of Lifetime!

It's Mother's Day weekend! Moms are likely being pampered by their kids and spouses ... OR they told their families to get lost, so they can have some primo mom-time by watching the Lifetime Movie Network's Don't Mess with Mommy Weekend.

Some moms may be swayed into heading to the theater to see super heroes throw tantrums and slap each other around in "Captain America: Civil War." But why venture out to see the Avengers on the big screen when Lifetime has its very own super team??

Just imagine these Lifetime regulars as Marvel's mightiest heroes:

Jamie Luner as The Black Widow: Who better to play the mysterious super spy than Luner? She's athletic, tough and sexy. Plus, she has awesome hair! We've seen Luner is a slew of Lifetime classics including this weekend's "A Mother's Revenge." If she can fend of stalkers and psychos, Luner can certainly go toe to toe with Ultron!

Eric Roberts as Iron Man: This guy can easily play bad boy inventor Tony Stark. Of course, we've seen him as scary villains in Lifetime epics like "Stalked By My Doctor." Still, Roberts is one suave dude and would be a perfect fit in the red and gold armor.

Lochlyn Munro as Captain America: Okay, I know what you're saying. He's a CANADIAN! How can this guy rep the U.S.? Well, he may hail from the Great White North, but he's a perfect fit for Cap. He's graced the big screen many times, but Lifetimers will remember him from "The Perfect Child" (as a Steve Jobs-ish character) and tomorrow's premiere of "Where's My Baby?" (aka "Cradle of Lies").

William Moses as Hawkeye: Moses often plays the unassuming guy that attracts psychos ("The Perfect Roommate," "While The Children Sleep"). This weekend, audiences can see his creepier side when he plays a murderous professor in "Like Mother, Like Daughter." He's pretty much the king of Lifetime movies and would make for an on-target super archer.