Monday, April 30, 2012

"HAYWIRE" (2012) Review

"HAYWIRE" (2012) Review

 Director Steven Soderbergh has directed his share of film genres, which range from the caper flick to a complex drama about the drug trade. The director finally set his sights on the action genre in a movie called "HAYWIRE".

Starring mixed martial arts fighter, Gina Carano, "HAYWIRE" is about a free-lance black operations agent who seeks revenge against her boss, after he sets her up to be framed for the death of a journalist and murdered. The story begins with Mallory Kane arriving at an upstate New York diner. After encounter with a fellow colleague named Aaron, in which a fight ensued, Mallory forces another diner to drive her to safety. During the drive, she recounts what led to her being hunted down by her employer. A week ago, Mallory and Aaron were tapped by their employer to rescue a Chinese journalist named Jiang in Barcelona. Following the success of the mission, Mallory is recruited by Kenneth to pose as the wife of a British agent named Paul in Dublin. Mallory agrees and accompanies Paul to a party at Russborough House, where they meet with his contact, Studer. When she sees Paul and Studer meet from afar and stumbles across Jiang's dead body, Mallory realizes that she had been set up by Kenneth. She has a fight with Paul in their hotel room before she shoots him dead. After evading Kenneth's agents and the Dublin police, Mallory leaves Ireland and makes it to the United States, and the roadhouse diner in New York. Mallory manages to evade the American police and more of Kenneth's agents before making plans to seek revenge against him and his co-conspirators. 

When I first saw the trailer for "HAYWIRE", I must admit that it caught my interest, especially since Steven Soderbergh was the movie's director. The positive reviews from film critics increased my anticipation to see the movie. But when I finally saw it in the theaters, my only reaction was SHEER DISAPPOINTMENT. I am sorry, but "HAYWIRE" proved to be a very disappointing movie for me. And for the likes of me, I cannot understand how it managed to earn so many rave reviews from critics.

I cannot deny that the movie had potential. Steven Soderbergh served as the film's director. "HAYWIRE" possessed a first-rate cast that included Ewan McGregor, Antonio Bandaras, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, Michael Fassbender, Mathieu Kassovitz (from 2005's "MUNICH"), Channing Tatum and Michael Angarano. And although the movie's lead, Gina Carano, is not an experienced actress; her experiences as a mixed martial arts fighter made her fight scenes look very realistic. Somewhat. So, what went wrong with this movie?

One, I had a big problem with Lem Dobbs' screenplay. I found it very unsatisfactory. Using flashbacks in the first half seemed unnecessary in a movie that allegedly possessed a pretty linear story. The reasoning behind Kenneth's conspiracy with Studer and his betrayal of Mallory seemed lacking in any substance or logic. What was the conspiracy? Kenneth discovered that Mallory planned to quit his firm. Fearing that her departure would mean a major loss of customers, he plotted with a Spanish middle-man named Rodrigo, who had a client - Studer - who wanted to stop the journalist Jiang from exposing his criminal activities. Their plan? Get Mallory and Aaron to snatch Jiang in Barcelona. Get Mallory to Ireland, where she gets framed for Jiang's death (he had been murdered by Paul) and killed by Paul. This plot seemed so fucking lame. Really. Why bother framing Mallory for Jiang's death? It was soooo unnecessary. What is even worse about this movie is that while the movie revealed Mallory's search for revenge against Kenneth and even Rodrigo, any attempt to go after Studer never materialized. I left the theater with one sentence ringing in my head - "Was that it?"

And I found the fight scenes seemed to lack even less logic - especially her fight with Paul in the Dublin hotel and Kenneth in Mexico. If Paul had been recruited to kill her, why do so in that ridiculous manner? As they were entering their hotel room, he was behind her. All the man had to do was shoot (with a muffler) or stab her in the back, as he was following her into the room. Instead, Paul behaved like a real amateur by striking from behind . . . and with his bare fist. 'Amateur Hour' continued with Mallory's fight with Kenneth. Like Paul, she was behind her prey - her former boss - on a Mexican beach. And like Paul, she attacked Kenneth from behind with bare fists. What ensued was the lamest fight scene I have ever seen on film. Poor Ewan McGregor. A man with his grace and physicality for on-screen fighting deserved better than this.

Oscar winner Michael Douglas portrayed a U.S. government agent in "HAYWIRE". But I never could understand the purpose of his role in the story. What was his purpose in this movie? Why was he needed? I could not tell whether he was part of Kenneth and Studer's plot or simply their patsy. And finally we come to Gina Carano. Look, I cannot deny that she is great as an on-screen fighter. Her experiences as a mixed martial arts fighter made this possible. But she is no actress. The odd thing is that her lack of acting experience is not a problem. There have been others with very little acting experience who have proven to be pretty good in front of the camera. She is simply not one of them.

What else can I say about "HAYWIRE"? If Lem Dobbs had written a better script and if Carano's fight sequences had been staged with a little more logic, it could have become a promising film. And while I admire Gina Carano's martial skills, the role of Mallory Kane should have gone to someone who could both act and convey solid on-screen fighting. I have not been this disappointed by Steven Soderbergh's work since 2004's "OCEAN'S TWELVE".

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" (2010) - Series One Retrospective

"UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" (2010) - Series One Retrospective

Not long after ITV aired its premiere of Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame's successful series, "DOWNTON ABBEY", the BBC announced its plans to air an updated version of the old 1970s television classic, "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS". The news took me by surprise. I had naturally assumed that the series' creators Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins decided to revive the series in response to the news about "DOWNTON ABBEY". Had I been wrong? I do not know. Did it really matter? I do not think so. 

The new "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" picked up six years following the old series' finale. The London townhouse at 165 Eaton Place in the Belgravia neighborhood is no longer occupied by any member of the Bellamy family. A Foreign Office diplomat and his wife - Sir Hallam Holland and Lady Agnes Holland - have returned to Britain and inherited the Eaton Place townhouse. The couple hired former parlourmaid Rose Buck, now running her own agency for domestic servants, to find them staff as they renovate the house to its former glory. The Hollands are forced to deal with the arrivals of Sir Hallam's mother, Maud, Dowager Lady Holland and her Sikh secretary Amanjt Singh; and Lady Agnes' sister, Lady Persephone Towyn - all of whom cause major stirs within the new household. The three-episode series spanned the year 1936 - covering the death of King George V, the Battle of Cable Street and King Edward VIII's abdication.

Because it came on the heels of the critical darling, "DOWNTON ABBEY""UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" received a good share of negative criticism from the media and television viewers. And if they were not comparing it to the series written by Julian Fellowes, they were comparing it to the old "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" from the 1970s. Among the negative press it received was a report of a brief clash between Marsh and Fellowes regarding the two series. If I must be honest, I was just as guilty as the others for I had believed the negative press without having seen the series. But my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to watch it.

I did have a few problems with "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS". It had its moments of over-the-top maudlin, courtesy of screenwriter Heidi Thomas. I suppose I should not have been surprised. Thomas had served as screenwriter for 2007's "CRANFORD" and its 2009 sequel. And she managed to inject plenty of wince-inducing sentiment into those productions, as well. I also found Rose Buck's hunt for the Hollands' new staff rather tiresome. It dominated the first half of Episode One, "The Fledgling" and I nearly gave up on the series. And I also found the cook Clarice Thackeray's encounter with society photographer Cecil Beaton disgustingly sentimental. But . . . the encounter led to one of the best cat fights I have seen on television, so I was able to tolerate it. I have one last problem - namely the series' three episode running time. Three episodes? Really? I would have given it at least five or six. Instead, the three episodes forced the first series to pace a lot faster than I would have liked.

For me, the virtues of "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" far outweighed the flaws. First of all, I was delighted that Marsh, Atkins and Thomas had decided to set the new series in the 1930s. I have been fascinated with that decade for a long time. It witnessed a great deal of potential change and conflict throughout Europe - including changes within Britain's Royal Family that had a major impact upon the nation.  "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" did an excellent job in conveying how these changes affected ordinary Britons and the Holland household in particular. Many had complained about the strong, political overtones that permeated "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS". I, on the other hand, loved it. The political overtones not only suited the series' 30s setting but also jibed with the fact that one of the major characters happened to be a diplomat from the Foreign Office, with friendly ties to a member of the Royal Family.

Production wise, "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" looked gorgeous. Designer Eve Stewart did a superb job in re-creating London in the mid-1930s for the series. Along with set decorator Julia Castle, she converted 165 Eaton Place into a wealth of Art Deco eye candy. Amy Roberts' costumes - especially for Keeley Hawes and Claire Foy - were outstanding and contributed to the series' 1930s look. My only complaint regarding the series' production is the series' theme and score. Quite frankly, the only memorable thing about Daniel Pemberton's work was that I found it too light for my tastes. It suited Heidi Thomas' occasional forays into sentimentality very well. Unfortunately.

Not being that familiar with the original "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" series from the 70s, I did not find myself comparing the old cast with the new one. First of all, I thought the new cast did just fine - including the recurring characters. Blake Ritson gave a subtle performance as Prince George, Duke of Kent and youngest living brother to King Edward VIII. I noticed that Thomas took great care to ensure that Ritson's Duke of Kent would be critical of Wallis Simpson's pro-Nazi sympathies. I found this interesting, considering of his past reputation as a Nazi sympathizer. Speaking of Mrs. Simpson, I was slightly disappointed by Emma Clifford's portrayal of the future Duchess of Windsor. The actress portrayed Mrs. Simpson as some kind of negative archetype of American women found in many British productions - gauche and verbose. This portrayal seemed completely opposite of how Mrs. Simpson had been described in the past - cool and tart. Edward Baker-Duly was given a more ambiguous character to portray - namely German ambassador Joachim von Ribbentrop - which allowed him to give a more subtle performance.

I found the casting for the Holland servants very satisfying. Many have complained that Jean Marsh's role as Rose Buck seemed woefully reduced in compared to the old production. If her role had been reduced, I did not mind. After all, Rose was a familiar figure and I believe it was time for the lesser-known characters to shine. As much as I had enjoyed Adrian Scarborough's solid yet nervous butler, Mr. Pritchard, and Anne Reid's tart-tongued cook Clarice Thackeray; I found myself impressed by Neil Jackson's cool portrayal of the ambiguous chauffeur Harry Spargo. I thought he did a great job in conveying the changing passions of Harry, without resorting to histronics. Ellie Kendrick did an excellent job in her portrayal of the young and very spirited housemaid, Ivy Morris. Although Art Malik seemed a bit noble as the Dowager Lady Holland's Sikh secretary, Mr. Amanjit, I believe that he managed to come into his own when his character befriended the German-Jewish refugee Rachel Perlmutter in Episode Two, "The Ladybird". Like Scarborough and Red, Helen Bradbury gave solid performance as Frau Perlmutter. However, there were a few moments when she managed to inject a great deal of pathos into her performance, making it a pity that she only appeared in one episode. Heidi Thomas' portrayal of the Hollands' servants really impressed me. She managed to portray them as multi-dimensional characters, instead of the one-dimensional portrayals that marred the characterizations of the servants featured in Series One of "DOWNTON ABBEY".

Heidi Thomas certainly did a marvelous job with her characterizations of the members of the Holland family.  I had noticed that most fans and critics were impressed by Eileen Atkins' portrayal of the Maud, Dowager Lady Holland. I cannot deny that she did a superb job. Atkins was overbearing, intelligent, wise and impetuous. But . . . the Lady Holland character also struck me as a remake of the Dowager Countess of Grantham character from "DOWNTON ABBEY" . . . who struck me as a remake of the Countess of Trentham character from "GOSFORD PARK". In other words, the Lady Holland character struck me as being a somewhat unoriginal character. One could almost say the same about the Sir Hallam Holland character, portrayed by Ed Stoppard. Many fans have complained about his "noble" personality and penchant for political correctness - especially in his handling of Lotte, the orphaned daughter of Holland maid, Rachel Perlmutter, and his distaste toward the British Fascist movement. However, Stoppard did an excellent job in making Sir Hallam a flesh-and-blood character. And this came about, due to Stoppard's opportunity to reveal Sir Hallam's reaction to the conflict between his mother and wife, making him seem like a bit of a pushover.

But for me, the two most interesting characters in the series proved to be Lady Agnes Holland and Lady Persephone Towyn, the two daughters of an impoverished Welsh peer. In their unique ways, the two sisters struck me as very complex and ambiguous. At first glance, Keeley Hawes' portrayal of Lady Agnes Holland seemed like a cheerful, slightly shallow woman bubbling with excitement over establishing a new home in London. Hawes' performance, along with Thomas' script, even managed to inject some pathos into the character after the revelations about Lady Agnes' past failures to maintain a successful pregnancy. But once her mother-in-law and rebellious sister became a permanent fixture in her house, the cracks in Lady Agnes' personality began to show. Thanks to Hawes' superb performance, audiences were allowed glimpses into the darker side of Lady Agnes' personality. After watching Series One of "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS", many would view Lady Agnes' younger sister - Lady Persephone - as the series' villain.  And she seemed so perfect for the role, thanks to Claire Foy's brilliant performance. Her Lady Persephone was a vain, arrogant and temperamental bitch, who treated the Hollands' staff like dirt - save for Harry Spago, with whom she conducted an affair. At first, it seemed that Harry managed to bring out Lady Persephone's softer side, especially in her ability to emphasize with his woes regarding the country's social system. Harry also introduced her to the British Fascist movement. But whereas he ended up finding it repellent, Lady Persephone became even more involved . . . to the point that she developed a relationship with the German ambassador, Joachim von Ribbentrop, before following him back to Germany.

I am not going to pretend that the new "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" is an exceptional series. Because I do not think that it is. Basically, it is simply a continuation of the old series from the 1970s. I thought that its running time was ridiculously short - three episodes. It could have benefited from at least two or three more episodes. And screenwriter Heidi Thomas marred it even further with a good deal of over-the-top sentimentality, especially in the first and third episodes. However, Thomas managed to tone down that same sentimentality in the characters. Nor she follow Julian Fellowes' mistake in "DOWNTON ABBEY" by portraying the servants as one-dimensional characters. And the cast, led by Ed Stoppard and Keeley Hawes, were first rate. But what really worked for me was the 1930s setting that allowed Thomas to inject the political turmoil that made that era so memorable. I only hope that Thomas will continue that setting in the second series. "UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS" may not have been perfect, but I believe it was a lot better than a good number of critics and fans have deemed it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"The Power of One" [PG-13] - 15/20



"What the hell is going on?" Leo demanded, the minute he had materialized in the middle of the room. Chris remained silent. 

Paige saw her oldest sister heave a weary sigh. "And good evening to you, Leo," the youngest Charmed One commented. The Elder rewarded her with a glare.

Piper asked, "What do you want, Leo?"

"There's been a disturbance. Detected by the Council," Leo continued anxiously. "Has something happened to Wyatt?"

It was Harry who answered, "He's lost his powers. Actually, they were stolen. By his nanny."

Horror filled both Leo and Chris' eyes. "Oh my God!" the former cried. He turned on his former wife. "Piper, how could you let something like that happen?"

Again, Piper sighed. "I didn't . . . let it happen . . . Leo!"

"You hired her! Couldn't you tell that she was a danger?" the Elder shouted back. "Couldn't any of you sense that?"

Piper retorted, "I'm not a psychic!"

"Well, Phoebe is!" Leo pointed at his former sister-in-law. "And she's empathic!"

The middle Charmed One opened her mouth in protest. "Wha . . .? I mean, I didn't sense anything from her! But I did become suspicious . . ." Everyone stared at her. "I mean . . . I saw her taking samples of Wyatt's hair from his brush."

"And you didn't say anything?"

Phoebe shot back, "Of course I did! But . . ." She broke off, and shot an embarrassed glance at her older sister.

Paige sighed. She would give anything not to be a witness to another Piper-Leo quarrel. Or an inquisition from Leo AND Chris. "Okay, so we weren't that suspicious of Don . . . I mean, Daley Bakker. What can we say, Leo? She was a good actress."

Leo's angry eyes swept over the three sisters. "You just dismissed Phoebe's suspicions?"

"Not completely," Harry replied. "Phoebe didn't have any evidence to back her up. And Olivia was also suspicious, so she checked this Donna or Daley's background." He shook his head with disbelief. "Man! If only you knew the truth about her!"

"What . . .?" Leo's face turned red. "I can't believe this! Phoebe AND Olivia become suspicious of this woman and you did NOTHING?"

Piper finally lost her temper. "For God's sake, Leo! The woman had helped me protect Wyatt from a demonic attack! What was I supposed to think?"

Chris asked, "Isn't this Miss Thompson . . .?"

"Bakker," Cecile immediately corrected. The two whitelighters stared at her, as she glanced away.

Chris continued, ". . . this Miss . . . Bakker a demon, as well?"

Cole replied, "No, she's human. I could tell. According to Andre, she's a bokor."

"A what?" Chris demanded.

Andre explained, "West African name for evil magic practitioners."

Leo cried, "Who cares what she is? Where is she? Isn't there some spell or potion that can be used to return Wyatt's powers to him?" He turned to Chris. "And why didn't you warn us about this Daley woman? You're from the future."

Chris shot back, "No one had ever told me about her! And I haven't been born, yet! Besides," he sneered at Leo, "you had met Wyatt's nanny, this evening. You mean to say that you couldn't tell that she was a phony?"

All eyes focused upon the young Elder. Whose face turned a deeper shade of red. For a moment, Paige wondered if Leo was about to suffer a heart attack. Her former brother-in-law immediately went into a defensive mode. "How am I supposed to know? I'm not a telepath or empathic!"

"It would be useless anyway," Cecile commented. "We think that she has an amulet that protected her from psychic powers or magic of any kind. Including Cole's powers. And we think that Ms. Bakker may have received said amulet from the daemon who had attacked Piper, a few days ago."

Phoebe added, "I think that Donna . . . I mean, Ms. Bakker had arranged that attack to convince Piper to hire her."

Leo's blue eyes went wide with disbelief. "Are you serious? You mean that not even the Power of Three . . . or Cole can overcome this amulet?"

A brief second followed before Cole heaved a sigh and said, "The amulet belongs to a dominion spirit named Caspiel . . ."

"OH GOD!" Despair flashed briefly in Leo's eyes. Apparently, he knew all about dominion spirits. "This . . . woman not only has Wyatt's powers, but the amulet of a dominion spirit, as well?"

Paige replied gingerly, "Well . . . yeah. But don't worry. Cecile and Andre will try to find out which spell or ritual that Donna woman had used."

Cole added, "And Andre and I will be looking into the daemon she may have hired. Perhaps someone can tell us where we might find Ms. Bakker."

Paige saw the disbelief in Leo and Chris' eyes. She understood how they felt. Even if they all found Daley Bakker, how on earth were they all going to deal with a powerful Vodoun bokor in possession of Wyatt's powers . . . and a dominion spirit's amulet? Not even Cole, with all of his powers would stand a chance.

The telephone rang. Paige answered the call. "Hello?" A familiar voice filled her ears. "Oh. Yeah." She handed the cordless phone over to the middle sister. "Uh, Pheebs? It's Jason. He wants to know when you plan to return to the party."


The two men teleported in front of a sprawling, one-story house made from adobe, within the Santa Fe city limits. "This is it," Andre commented. "Esmeralda Ross' home." They strode toward the entrance and Cole pressed the doorbell.

Seconds later, a voice cried out, "Yes? Who is it?"

Cole cleared his voice before he replied, "Santa Fe Police. There's been a disturbance down the road. We need you to answer a few questions."

"I don't know anything!"

Cole rolled his eyes as he continued, "Ma'am, we're questioning all of the neighbors along this road. Please cooperate."

Two or three minutes passed before a woman in her early forties opened the door. Her eyes swept over Cole and Andre with deep suspicion. "You're the police? Where's your ID?"

The half-daemon ruthlessly shoved the door wide open, forcing the woman against a wall. "Hey!" she cried. "Jake, Karl, Vernon . . . get rid of them!"

Three men converged upon the two friends. A tall, burly man with auburn hair thrust a knife at Andre. The latter immediately blocked the attack with a few martial arts moves, before forcing the knife into his attacker's gut. The man sank to the floor with a cry.

Cole found a gust of wind swirling toward his direction. He immediately beamed out of the whirlwind's path and reappeared by the aerokinetic. The gust of wind struck the third man, forcing him back against a wall . . . and what looked like an iron hook. The latter grunted as the hook sank into his back. The aerokinetic's eyes grew wide as he pointed a gun at Cole. He pulled the trigger. The half-daemon used his telekinesis to deflect the bullets . . . back into the man's chest. Like his companions, he also died.

Both Cole and Andre stared at the house's owner, who huddled against the wall with frightened eyes. "Are you Esmeralda Ross?" Cole demanded.

The witch murmured a Latin incantation and an energy ball formed in one hand. She hurled it at Cole, who swatted it away, with his telekinesis. "Oh shi . . . Who in the fuck are you?" she cried.

Using his telekinesis, Cole lifted the witch off the floor. "I'm going to ask you the last time. Are you Esmeralda Ross?"

"Fuck you!"

Andre picked up a pile of mail from the coffee table and examined it. "She's Esmeralda Ross, all right." He glanced around the living room. So did Cole. Half-opened boxes were scattered about. "Looks like someone is planning to move."

Cole returned the witch to the floor - butt first. A grunt escaped her mouth, as he continued, "Okay Miss Ross, you're going to answer a few questions for us."

Miss Ross struggled to her feet. Then she smoothed down her red hair that resembled a dye job. Cole noticed for the first time that Esmeralda Ross also possessed sharp features that nearly made her resemble a weasel. "What questions?" she coolly shot back.

"Like . . . who had hired your former client - a daemon named Nairn - to attack one of the Charmed Ones and her son, several days ago?"

Feign confusion filled Miss Ross' dark eyes. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Andre held out one hand, allowing a ball of fire to hover over his open palm. "This sure is a nice place you've got," he said, glancing around the room in an approving manner. Then his expression hardened. "Be a damn shame that the last thing you'll see is this place burning down . . . around you."

The witch's face paled. "I don't know . . . what . . ."

"Listen to me," Cole ordered in a cold and harsh voice, "we know that you have acted as Nairn's agent for his assassination jobs for the past fifteen years or so. And we know that it was you who had met and made arrangements with Nairn's last client. So, who had hired him to attack the Charmed One?"

Seconds passed before Miss Ross let out a gust of breath. "Okay. All right, I'll talk. It was . . ." A devious light flashed in her eyes. "A coven of daemons had hired me. The Crotona Coven had hired Nairn to attack Piper Halliwell."

For a brief moment, shock overcame Cole. Riggerio led the Crotona Coven. Why would the . . . Then he recalled the devious look in the witch's eyes. He realized that she had lied. Cole slowly walked toward her in a menacing manner, causing her to literally hug the wall. "What do you take us for?" he murmured. "Do you really think we're that stupid?"

Fear now glimmered in Miss Ross' eyes. "I . . ." she began. "I mean, I don't know . . ."

"One of my powers happened to be telepathic suggestion," Cole continued. He now stood inches away from the beleagured witch. "Tell us who had hired your boss . . . or I'll force you to tell me. After that, I'm sure that my friend would be more than happy to burn down this house . . . over your head."

Miss Ross glanced at Andre, who responded with a mirthless smile. "Okay," she squeaked. "I'll tell you the truth."

Cole nodded. "So, who had hired Nairn? Was it a female bokor? Or a male one?"

"Bokor?" Genuine confusion appeared on the witch's face. "You mean one of those Voodoo people? No. Of course not!"

"Don't lie to me!"

Miss Ross cried out in panic, "It's the truth! No bokor or mambo or priest had hired Nairn! It wasn't even a mortal!" She moved toward one of the open windows.

Cole and Andre exchanged confused looks. Then the latter asked, "Are you saying that another daemon had hired him?"

"No, not a daemon!" Miss Ross said with a shake of her head. "I mean . . . not the kind of daemon you're familiar with."

Frowning, Cole added, "But you said that the client wasn't a mortal."

"It wasn't that kind of daemon. The guy wasn't even evil. I swear! In fact, Nairn was instructed not to kill the witch. He only had to make sure that she didn't interfere with him killing the child."

"So, who hired him?"

With fear still flickering in her eyes, Miss Ross answered, "Look I realize that you might not believe this, but it was a . . ." It happened so fast that Cole had not time to react. Just as the witch was about to name Nairn's last client, an arrow zoomed through an open window and struck Miss Ross directly in the heart. She let out a gasp and sank upon the ground.

Andre knelt beside the witch's fallen body and checked her pulse. "Dead," he announced grimly. "Shot right through the heart."

Cole finally recovered from the shock of the witch's death and beamed outside. He stood in the dark, as he attempted to sense the assassin's presence. Whoever had killed Esmeralda Ross had disappeared quickly. The killer had been a teleporter. Cole heaved a frustrated sigh and returned inside the house.

"Did you find anyone?" Andre asked.

The half-daemon shook his head. "Not a soul. Whoever had killed her and hired Nairn definitely was not mortal."

"Which means that Daley Bakker didn't hire him," Andre added.

Cole heaved a sigh. "That's not all."


The half-daemon's mouth formed a grim line. "The killer was NOT a darklighter. Or like Miss Ross said . . . not the kind of daemon I'm familiar with."

Andre frowned. "Then who had killed her?"

With a shake of his head, Cole replied, "Who knows?" Then he sighed again. "Shit!"


Saturday, April 21, 2012

"EVIL UNDER THE SUN" (1982) Photo Gallery

Below are images from "EVIL UNDER THE SUN", the 1982 adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1941 novel.  Directed by Guy Hamilton, the movie starred Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot.  

"EVIL UNDER THE SUN" (1982) Photo Gallery

Friday, April 20, 2012

"MANSFIELD PARK" (2007) Photo Gallery


Below are images from "MANSFIELD PARK", the 2007 television adaptation of Jane Austen's 1814 novel. The movie starred Billie Piper and Blake Ritson: 

"MANSFIELD PARK" (2007) Photo Gallery



























Thursday, April 19, 2012


With Spring Break in full force, below are five movies that are (or might not be) set during that period:  


"Where the Boys Are" (1960) - Delores Hart, George Hamilton, Paula Prentiss, Jim Hutton and Connie Francis starred in this serio-comic tale about four Midwestern college girls spending their Spring Break at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Francis sang the title song.

"Palm Beach Weekend" (1963) - Produced as a West Coast version of the previous film, this 1963 movie is about a group of Southern California college students who spend Easter week at Palm Springs, California.  Troy Donohue, Stephanie Powers, Connie Stevens, Robert Conrad and Ty Hardin starred.

"Girl Happy" (1965) - Elvis Presley starred in this funny musical comedy about a rock-and-roll singer and his band coerced into keeping an eye on the daughter of a Chicago mobster/nightclub owner during her Spring Break in For Lauderdale.  Shelley Fabares, Gary Crosby and Mary Ann Mobley co-starred.

"The Sure Thing" (1985) - A college student is forced to travel cross-country with a female schoolmate he dislikes, in order to meet a young woman his best friend has set him up with.  Directed by Rob Reiner, the movie starred John Cusak and Daphne Zuniga.

"SHAG" (1989) - Phoebe Cates, Page Hannah, Bridget Fonda and Annabeth Gish starred in this lighthearted comedy about four teenage girlfriends of various who escape their parents for a few days in 1963 for an adventure to meet boys in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.