January 31, 2012

Weekend In Reviews

As I mentioned recently, I'm in the midst of rewatching One Tree Hill. Over the weekend my journey of rediscovery brought me to the emotionally eviscerating four episode arc in season seven where Lydia James comes back to town to see her daughters and die. I adore Bess Armstrong anyway but I love what she did with Lydia's demise so much that I get chocked up just typing her name now. I'm as guilty as anyone else of marginalizing One Tree Hill as a melodramatic, often ridiculous basket full of crazycakes, but when this show deals with death it never fails to be emotionally affecting and perfect. That was true when Jimmy killed himself; when Keith was shot; when Quentin was killed; and when Lydia died of pancreatic cancer.

But after sobbing my eyes out for 4 solid episodes, I had to lighten the mood on Saturday evening. So I watched two super cheesy movies.

Starstruck - This Disney Channel Original Movie is about teenage sisters from Michigan. One is obsessed with a Bieberific teen pop star and the other...isn't. When they visit their grandmother in Los Angeles, the obsessed one tries to stalk Faux-Biebs so she can meet him but instead the other sister meets him and the two fall madly in love. There was a thing with a pink car sinking into a giant mud puddle in Malibu, a situation with paparazzi, some stuff where he was mean and she cried, and a whole lot of bad singing. It all culminated at a school dance as teen-related movies are contractually obligated to do. It was exactly as saccharine as you'd expect from a Disney Channel movie which is reasonable for its target audience and the perfect antidote to all the sadness of the OTH death. That's all I have to say about that.

She Gets What She Wants - There is really no excuse for this movie. Piper Perabo plays a "French" foreign exchange student hosted by an expressionless Texas beauty queen (Jane McGregor). The plot is full of double crossing and extreme stupidity. The only redeemable things about this movie are Trent Ford (because he's cute), and Matt Czuchry playing a high school quarterback which is hilarious. Unless you are desperate for a dose of Czuchry (and I can't blame you if you are), don't watch this movie. It's 90ish minutes that feels like 3 days.

Evergreen - About 12 years ago my grandma caught an old miniseries airing on WE one afternoon. I'm not sure what made her stop to watch it, though I suspect it was Armand Assante's name in the credits that caught her eye. Whatever it was, she was glued to her TV for all 6 hours and since then, she's talked about it often.

With some help from one of my awesome Twitter friends, I found her a copy on DVD (dubbed from an old VHS, so the video quality is not great) for Christmas. She wanted me to watch it before she took it home to Kentucky and I finally got around to doing that this weekend.

Evergreen is the story of Anna (Lesley Ann Warren), a Polish Jew, who comes to America in 1909 to make a better life for herself. She becomes a maid for a wealthy family on the Upper East Side and promptly falls in love with their son, Paul (Ian McShane). When his parents arrange for Paul to marry a girl from a good family, a heartbroken Anna marries Joseph Friedman (Armand Assante). Joseph is a house painter with big dreams. He and Brian Dennehy go into business together as contractors and property managers and they ascend to the upper middle class. Anna and Joseph have a son, Maury, and then Anna has a brief affair with Paul which results in a daughter, Iris. Anna never tells anyone that Iris isn't Joseph's child. For the next several decades, everyone goes out of their way to tell Iris how much she doesn't look like either Anna or Joseph.

Maury marries a gentile whose father is antisemitic and because Joseph HATES to be outdone, he is so stridently anti-antisemitic that he disowns Maury for marrying outside his faith. It's all very dramatic and I loved the part when Brian Dennehy, Joseph's Catholic BFF, is all "Joe, you can go ahead and fuck off, you intolerant dick!" But, you know, in more of a 1985 made-for-TV way.

Lots more stuff happens but just in case your grandma makes you watch this some day, I'm not going to tell you how it ends. Oh wait, I totally am because I don't think the rest of you love your grandmas enough to watch this for SIX HOURS. So most everyone dies (Joseph, Maury, Gentile Wife, parentless Eric, poor Ron Rifkin, and Leo the Israeli super soldier) and mostly in tragic, horrible ways. No one ever finds out that Iris is really Paul's daughter and it never really matters anyway because that plot point, as well as the fact that Iris looks nothing like either Joseph or Anna, is a complete non-starter. The movie ends in the middle of a conversation between Anna and Paul about a house in Italy that Paul is thinking of buying. In the middle. It just...ends. After six hours. My grandma's love for this story is far greater than the plot, acting, or over-wrought music cues have any right to expect, but I did find Ian McShane pretty freaking charming as Paul, so there's that.

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