REVIEW: DIVORCE (1998)

CAST

Elias Koteas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Christopher McDonald (Stargate Universe)
Terry Kiser (Lois & Clark)
Wendie Malick (Waiting…)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Prscilla Barnes (Jane The Virgin)
Ray Laska (Lost Voyage)
Talia Shire (Rocky)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)

“Divorce: A Contemporary Western” is a 1998 ensemble drama starring a number of talented character actors: Elias Koteas, Christopher McDonald, Wendie Malick , Denise Crosby  and Terry Kiser. Written and directed by Eb Lottimer (an actor who mostly appeared in schlocky 1980s and ’90s movies like “Stripped to Kill II: Live Girls” and “Bloodfist VII: Manhunt”), the movie turns out to be an intriguing breed of failure; it’s an exercise that doesn’t work, ultimately, but it’s certainly more compelling than its awful, misleading title implies.

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Based on Lottimer’s nasty split with TV star Mary Crosby (she shot J.R. on “Dallas”), “Divorce” is by no means a western (though it is set at a Californian ranch), nor is it particularly contemporary (though there is some discussion of modern horrors like sexually transmitted diseases). You keep waiting for it to explode, but–aside from a scene in which Crosby and Koteas vent about their domestic problems and then, for therapeutic purposes, start screaming like banshees–the movie remains frustratingly sleepy and restrained. The key problem might be the setting itself: the main character is a horse trainer, so the majority of scenes are set in dimly lit stables or along horse paths overlooking sweeping vistas, about as peaceful and secluded and as far from the world of divorce court as you can get. The worst the characters ever seem is slightly lonely.

Furthermore, the casting of Koteas in the lead role is disastrous. What makes Koteas so fun to watch (even in junk like “Look Who’s Talking Too”) is his knack for conveying the surprisingly humane side of short-fuse creeps. He’s usually introduced in films as a menace, then slowly revealed to be a laid-back guy  (in “Some Kind of Wonderful,” for example, he’s an intimidating skinhead, a knife-carrying punk, that winds up befriending and defending the film’s nerdy hero). It’s the wounded anger in his simmering eyes and twitching eyebrows, the DeNiro-esque pout and scowl, that make him compelling. But Koteas is incapable of conveying lighthearted bliss, and so in the opening scene of “Divorce,” which is meant to set up the cozy domesticity of his marriage to Malick, he already seems ill-at-ease and tormented. He gives his wife a horse, and she’s delighted, but the scene, intended to be romantic, is darkly lit and ominous; the horse appears frighteningly larger-than-life, a bull-in-the-china-shop figure of doom. You keep expecting Koteas to pull out a knife and kill Malick, or kill the horse.

In the next scene, we’re in the ugly present, with Malick and Koteas squabbling and cursing at each other, and you start seeing the slow-burn anger of Koteas’ character. But this, too, is never fleshed out. For the rest of the film, Koteas is a near-silent mope, and he becomes a sort-of sounding board for his equally miserable friends’ marital traumas. It’s commendable that Lottimer saw a range in Koteas that he wanted to capitalize on, and that Koteas tried out a new style, but it’s not one that fits. It isn’t particularly interesting to watch Koteas play a doormat, especially in a film this listlessly shot and produced.

So the pleasures of “Divorce” turn out to be subsidiary. The screaming scene with Crosby (whose husband, McDonald, has succumbed to heroin abuse and affairs with porn stars) is a campy, irrelevant, drama-class exercise, but amusing nonetheless. McDonald, a bulky, jocular presence, looks fundamentally ridiculous playing a slobbering, bed-ridden junkie (sadly, his trysts with the porn stars are kept entirely off-camera). Funniest of all is Kiser, who plays a high-powered corporate lawyer (the only urban scene is shot at his office) and a secret gun nut. He scares his wife (Talia Shire, playing yet another scared woman) half to death with his outbursts, yet inconceivably, she keeps deciding to stay with him; you’d think, from the half-hearted way she complains about Kiser to Koteas, that her only issue with him is that he forgets to take out the trash. Kiser provides a long-overdue jolt of energy in the film’s second half. And Beverly D’Angelo (who chose to remain uncredited) is sexy as a fellow rancher that Koteas shacks up with.maxresdefaultCertainly Lottimer assembled enough talent–and must have been feeling enough pain, himself–to make a powerhouse film, but “Divorce” isn’t that film. It’s certainly a bizarre kind of failure, though, and better than plenty of other straight-to-video fodder you see on Netflix. (The film’s only theatrical release, as far as I can tell, was at the Temecula Film Festival in 1998). Since then, Lottimer has directed a TV series (“Good Time Golf”) and settled in New Mexico, where (according to an on-line bulletin I stumbled upon) he’s attempting to put on his play, “Your Aura is Throbbing.” He runs a film company called Ebaline Films, which is in the process of producing several films, including one about Tupac Shakur. He’s also an acting teacher.

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REVIEW: THE WATCHER (2016)

CAST

Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Riley Baron (Prosperity Lane)
Kevin Daniels (Sirens)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Obba Babatundé (The Notebook)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Takayo Fischer (Moneyball)

Emma and Noah have been on a search to locate the perfect home in a neighborhood that will not only fit their financial ability but also is big and spacious enough with room to grow. Finally, they believe they’ve found it and are ready to sign on the dotted line. What more could they want? Not only is the house beautiful, but it is also in an area that is peaceful and scenic. Plus, the neighbors seem friendly enough.
firestarterHowever, their dream of living in the serene community is shattered after they are told by their real estate agent that some deaths have occurred there. Just after they make the deal, a local boy tells them that a large black raven is appearing around their house. Soon, they receive ominous letters from “The Watcher,” who tells them that he is watching their every move.111Usually, I’m a bit skeptical of Lifetime horror films. The Lifetime format doesn’t always lend itself to horror.  But The Watcher actually works surprisingly well.  As directed by Ryan Rothmaier, The Watcher is an atmospheric and well-acted portrait of housebound horror.  The film ends with a twist that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and yet it works because it is just so odd and totally out there.  The implausibility of the twist actually adds to The Watcher‘s dream-like atmosphere.

REVIEW: DOLLY DEAREST

CAST

Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Sam Bottoms (The Unsaid)
Rip Torn (Men In Black)
Lupe Ontiveros (Real Women Have Curves)
Candace Hutson(The Maddening)
Chris Demetral (Lois & Clark)

deep_freeze_6American father, Elliot Wade, obtains ownership of the Dolly Dearest factory in Mexico. Not far from the factory lies the underground, Mayan tomb of Sanzia, or Satan on Earth. An archaeologist breaks into the sarcophagus but is crushed by the stone slab that covers the entrance and the malevolent spirit of Sanzia that has been trapped inside for hundreds of years is released. Upon its escape Sanzia takes refuge in the porcelain moppets of Dolly Dearest. Despite the demise of the archaeologist, the sale is finalized and the unsuspecting Wade family travels from Los Angeles to Mexico to see their new home. Upon arrival, the family meets their realtor, Mr. Estrella and housekeeper, Camilla (Lupe Ontiveros) After having the luggage unloaded, Estrella decides to take Elliot to see the factory, and seven-year-old daughter Jessica asks to go with to no objection of her father. Jimmy decides to tag along as well. The building, long abandoned, is covered in dust and spiderwebs and structurally unstable to the consternation of Elliot, but Estrella hurriedly brushes his worries aside and discusses the history of the factory.

dolly_dearest2During the conversation, Jessica goes exploring. On a high shelf she discovers many well-preserved dolls covered by a sheet. She asks her father if she may have one and he acquiesces. Outside, Jimmy finds the entrance to the cave which is blocked by a wire fence. Unaware of recent events, Jimmy inquires about that area, but his father warns him to never go back there again. However, he does not listen. That night, Marilyn tucks Jessica in bed and wishes her good night. As she falls asleep, Dolly slowly turns her head to stare at the sleeping child. The next day, when Jessica goes outside to play with Dolly, Marilyn finds a disturbing drawing that she believes Jessica drew. Although curious, Marilyn does not confront her. As the day progresses, Marilyn begins to experience unusual activities. In the beginning, she hears phantom footsteps (known to the viewer as those of Dolly). As time progresses Camilla sends a priest to bless the house. During the session, the Wade family is driving back to their house, and Jessica throws a tantrum in the car. Upon reaching their home, the Priest is seen walking away and Marilyn successfully calms her daughter. Jessica demands that she be given her Dolly immediately, and as the family walks into the house, she looks back and glares at Camilla.

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That night, Marilyn recounts the day’s events to Elliot, but he seems unworried. However, Jessica becomes progressively more violent and obsessive with Dolly. To not arouse her father’s suspicion, Jessica acts normal when he is around, but resumes her evil and threatening behavior around her mother. Camilla believes the doll is controlling Jessica. When the daughter speaks harshly in Sanzian tongue, Camilla’s suspicions are proven correct and she tries to warn Marilyn of the evil but is killed by the spirit. The mayhem continues as Jimmy sneaks out the house one night and breaks into the factory from an unlocked window. He finds the night watchman Luis, dead on the floor and flees. It appears as if Luis died from a heart attack but in truth, the dolls had come to life and toyed with him for a while. Struggling to escape, his hand got caught in an active sewing machine. He was able to break free but the sight and shock of the wound was too much. As he was dying, the dolls made haughty giggles nearby.685f9b84b272a61a6924032c3b4d8c19While Marilyn listens to Jimmy pontificate upon his newly acquired knowledge of the Sanzian civilization she comes to the realization that Jessica may truly be possessed and tries to take the doll from her daughter. Jessica warns her mother not to touch the doll, but when Marilyn persists, Sanzia momentarily possesses Jessica and shouts, “I WILL KILL YOU!” before adding “The kid’s mine.” The next day, Marilyn visits the dig for the first time and talks with the archaeologist, Resnick (Rip Torn) about the purpose of their dig. Resnick tells Marilyn that they are searching for the remains of the Sanzia devil child inside the tomb, which hasn’t been opened yet. Resnick continues to explain that the devil child, a true force of evil, fed on the warm blood of children. The tribe eventually killed the creature because its dietary needs almost wiped out the population of the tribe. Marilyn then explains that Jessica is being controlled by her doll and visits Camilla’s sister, a nun at a convent. The nun already knows about her plight but informs her it’s too late. Not giving up, Marilyn decides to take matters into her own hands.dolly_dearest02At home, Marilyn looks for Jessica. Moving stealthily around the house she is frightened by a creaking door behind her. She turns to see Jimmy hiding of the floor of the hallway closet. Jimmy tells her that he’s hiding and that Jessica and Dolly are in Jessica’s room. He also reveals that he’s seen Dolly talk and move. When he mother begins to wonder aloud where the key to Jessica’s room is, Jimmy hands it to her and she heads to Jessica’s room. In the room Dolly reveals its true self to Marilyn. They exchange words, and the battle begins. The mother goes back downstairs, loads ammo into the shotgun and tells Jimmy to call his father. At the factory, the dolls take the phones off the hook. Back at the house Jimmy informs his mother that the line is busy but she tells him to keep trying. Marilyn returns to Jessica’s room to find the doll gone. It becomes a game of cat and mouse.

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While the mother is battling, Jimmy continues to try to contact his father. When he cannot get through, he decides to call the operator. Unfortunately, he is unable to communicate because he doesn’t speak Spanish, so he hangs up and aides his mom. When Jessica becomes separated, the mother snatches her up and the family runs for the front door, only blocked by Dolly, who is holding the car key. Marilyn warns Dolly to move, but Dolly calls to Jessica and says, “Jessica, let’s play with Mommy.” Jessica attacks their mother. The shotgun slides on the floor toward Jimmy, who stands there, stunned. As the mother and daughter struggle, Dolly starts advancing towards them with a kitchen knife. Jimmy clutches the shotgun, and after figuring out how it works, aims it at Dolly. Before pulling the trigger, he says, “Play with this, bitch!” The impact of the bullets sends Dolly crashing through the door, and Jessica becomes herself again. Marilyn, Jessica and Jimmy get in the car and drive to the factory were Elliot is being attacked by the dolls. Meanwhile, the professor enters the tomb and sees the remains of the devil child which has the body of an infant and the head of a goat. Realizing the myth was true, the professor runs to the factory where he saves Elliot from the dolls. They run outside and reunite with Elliot’s family but the professor comes back with dynamite to destroy the factory, and they plant it around the factory. The dolls try to stop them, but fail, and the factory starts to explode, killing the dolls. As the explosions continue, an agonizing demonic scream is heard implying the evil Sanzia spirit is destroyed. The film ends as the family watches the factory burn.bonecos-macabros-parte-21A cheesy horror film but even by todays standards you still jump. Music excellent really builds up the suspence great film all round

REVIEW: TREKKIES 2

CAST

Denise Crosby (The Walking Dead)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Robert Meyer Burnett (Superman Returns)
Casey Biggs (Dragonfly)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)
Michael Forest (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Richard Herd (V)
Dominic Keatin (The One Warrior)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Nana Vistor (Dark Angel)

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Trekkies 2, like the first movie, is an endearing portrayal of the Star Trek fanbase. This time the producers go on the road and travel around the world to meet Star Trek fans from Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany and even Serbia, documenting their experiences with Star Trek and going into the lives of several fans. In between each segment of the travelogue are pieces that can be described simply as an open forum for fans to discuss issues relating to fandom, such as what makes a Normal Fan, should you wear your uniform in public, etc. This helps give the fans more a of voice, which many found lacking in the first film.
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One thing to note about the DVD is that it in fact features 2 documentaries, as the deleted scenes are cut together in a coherent way to complement the main film, raising issues that may not have fit well with the main film. Of course, the film also features ‘characters’ from the first movie, like Gabe Koerner, Brian Dellis, Barbara Adams and Daryl Frazetti, making the movie feel like one of several other documentaries that have followed its subjects over the years, like 7-up.
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Moments that stood out for me were the interview with Robert Burnett and the Sacramento segment that feature five Star Trek tribute bands. The Serbia segment was also quite effective because it felt more ‘important’, going a bit into the recent war and how some fans looked to Star Trek as a way of coping with the war. In fact, the film documents the first ever convention held in Serbia. The film not only works because of its content, but also because of its style – irregardless of it’s content, the film is just a great documentary. Given this, and the fact that you actually get two films on the DVD, I think everyone should pick this up.

REVIEW: TREKKIES

CAST

Denise Crosby (The Walking Dead)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
DeForest Kelley (Night of The Lepus)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Nichelle Nichols (Heroes)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
William Shatner (Boston Legal)
George Takei (Space Milkshake)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s batman)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Chase Masterson (The Flash)
Kate Mulgrew (Ryan’s Hope)
Robert O’ Reilly (The Mask)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Gary Lockwood (2001)
Robert Beltran (Lois & Clark)
Roxann Dawson (Darkman 3)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Tim Russ (Smantha Who?)
John de Lancie (The Hand that Rocks The Cradle)

Image result for trekkies 1997When I first watched Trekkies, I expected mostly to laugh at the weird and wild extremes to which Star Trek fans will go. (I myself a Trek fan, so I was also prepared to do a bit of laughing at myself as well!) But  Trekkies also surprised me with its warm-hearted, caring look at Trek’s most ardent devotees. It managed to tell both a funny story about Trek fans and pay gleeful tribute to their obsession of choice.
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Humor-wise, Trekkies scores big. The Klingons eating Big Macs, the Borg from New Jersey, and the Voyager sex scripts received by the Trek producers were all riotously funny. The Trek cast members all had funny stories to tell as well, from DeForest Kelley’s ardent female fan to Kate Mulgrew’s marriage proposal. But there were also some genuinely touching moments in Trekkies as well. James  Doohan’s story about the suicidal fan brought tears to my eyes. I know people who are fortunate enough to have met Mr. Doohan, and from all accounts he is a truly kind, compassionate individual. That really shows through in all of his comments about the Trek fandom. LeVar Burton tells how Gene Roddenberry named his character, Geordi LaForge, after a terminally ill Star Trek fan who passed away; John de Lancie speaks of another paralyzed patient who finds solace in Star Trek.
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The spirit of the film shares the same love for Star Trek that motivates the fans. It pays tribute to the groundbreaking nature of the original Trek, and praises the spirit of progressiveness and harmony of the Star Trek universe as a whole.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Joanthan Frakes (Roswell)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Denise Corsby (Dolly Dearest)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Franklin & Bash)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Diana Muldaur (Born Free)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
John De Lancie (The Secret Circle)
Michael Bell (Tangled)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
Brooke Bundy (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 & 4)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Carolyn McCormick (Enemy Mine)
Katy Boyer (The Island)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Judson Scott (Blade)
Merritt Butrick (Fright Night: Part 2)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th – Part 8)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Whoppi Godlberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Chris Latta (G.I.Joe)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Clyde Kusatsu (Doctor Strange 70s)
Paddi Edwards (Halloween III)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)
Simon Templeton (James Bond Jr.)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Corbin Bernsen (The Tomorrow Man)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Tricia O’ Neil (Titanic)
Hallie Todd (Sabrina: TTW)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Elizabeth Dennehy (Gattaca)
George Murodck (Battlestar Galactica)
Jeremy Kemp (Conan)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
BethToussaint (Fortress 2)
April Grace (Lost)
Patti Yasutake (The Closer)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
David Ogden Stiers (Tweo Guys and a Girl)
Gwyneth walsh (Taken)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Malachi Thorne (Batman 60s)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Shay Astar (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Alexander Enberg (Junior)
Lanei Chapman (Rat Race)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Stephanie Beacham (The Colbys)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Richard Herd (V)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Salome Jens (Superboy)
Andrew Prine (V)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Robin Curtis (General Hospital)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Lee Arenberg (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Fionnula Flanagan (Lost)
Mark Bramhall (Alias)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Bones)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)

When the TNG series premiered in 1987, it wasn’t greeted well by many of the old-time Trek fans, including myself. It didn’t help matters that one of the earliest episodes, “The Naked Now” was a superficial retread of the classic “The Naked Time” from ’66. The new episode should have served as a way of spotlighting several of the new crew, but all it did was show them all in heat. I wasn’t too impressed. What did work was keeping the central theme of exploration (something lost in the offshoots, DS9 & Voyager). The new Enterprise was twice as large as the original, with about a thousand personnel aboard. Capt. Picard (Stewart) was a more cerebral, diplomatic version of the ultimate explorer we had known as Capt. Kirk. Again, Picard wasn’t too impressive in the first two awkward seasons, as some may mistake his caution for weakness. The Kirk-like first officer Riker (Frakes) was controlled by Picard, so the entire crew of Enterprise-D came across as a bit too civilized, too complacent for their own good. It’s interesting that this complacency was fractured by the most memorable episode of the first two years, “Q Who?” which introduced The Borg. All of a sudden, exploration was not a routine venture.

Other memorable episodes of the first 2 years: the double-length pilot, introducing Q; “Conspiracy”-an early invasion thriller; “Where No One Has Gone Before”-an ultimate attempt to define the exploring theme; “The Big Goodbye”-the first lengthy exploration of the new holodeck concept; “Datalore”-intro of Data’s evil twin; “Skin of Evil”-death of Tasha Yar; “11001001”-perhaps the best holodeck story; and “The Measure of a Man”-placing an android on trial. Except for “Q Who” the 2nd year was even more of a letdown from the first. Space started to percolate in the 3rd season. I liked “The Survivors”-introducing an entity resembling Q in a depressed mood, and “Deja Q” with both Q & Guinan squaring off, as well as other alien beings. A remaining drawback was the ‘techno-babble’ hindering many scripts, an aspect which made them less exciting than the stories of the original series. As Roddenberry himself believed, when characters spoke this way, it did not come across as naturalistic, except maybe when it was Data (Spiner), the android. The engineer La Forge (Burton), for example, was usually saddled with long, dull explanatory dialog for the audience.

In the 3rd year, truly innovative concepts such as the far-out parallel-universe adventure “Yesterday’s Enterprise” began to take hold, topped by the season-ender “The Best of Both Worlds,part 1” in which The Borg returned in their first try at assimilating Earth. After this and the 2nd part, the TNG show was off and running, at full warp speed. There are too many great episodes from the next 4 seasons to list here, but I tended to appreciate the wild, cosmic concept stories best: “Parallels”(s7); “Cause and Effect”(s5); “Timescape”(s6); “Tapestry”(s6); and the scary “Frame of Mind”, “Schisms” and “Genesis.” There’s also the mind-blowing “Inner Light”(s5), “Conundrum” and “Ship in a Bottle”(s6), “Second Chances.” The intense 2-parter “Chain of Command” was almost like a film, and the great return of Scotty in “Relics” was very entertaining, though it showed you can’t go home again. The show also continued to tackle uneasy social issues, as in “The Host”, “The Outcast”, “First Contact” and “The Drumhead” as well as political:”Darmok”, “Rightful Heir”, “Face of the Enemy” and “The Pegasus.” The series ended on a strong note, “All Good Things…” a double-length spectacular with nearly the budget of a feature film. But it wasn’t really the end. A few months later, an actual feature film was released “Star Trek Generations”(94). It’s rather ironic that the TNG films couldn’t match the innovation and creativity of the last 4 seasons of the series. “Star Trek Insurrection”(98) for example, is a lesser effort than any of the episodes mentioned above.

REVIEW: JACKIE BROWN

CAST

Pam Grier (Mars Attacks)
Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Bridget Fonda (Easy Rider)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Michael Bowen (Django Unchained)
Lisa Hay Hamilton (Drunks)
Tom Lister Jr. (The Dark Knight)
Hattie Winston (The Electric Company)
Sid Haig (Hatchet 3)
Aimee Graham (100 Girls)
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Cosby)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Quentin Tarantino (From Dusk Till Dawn)

Jackie Brown is a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline. To make ends meet, she smuggles money from Mexico into the United States for Ordell Robbie, a black-market gun runner living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area under the ATF’s close watch, forcing him to use couriers. Ordell learns that another of his couriers, Beaumont Livingston, has been arrested. Assuming that Livingston will become an informant in order to avoid jail time, Ordell arranges for bail with bondsman Max Cherry, then coaxes Livingston into a car trunk and murders him.

Acting on information Beaumont had already shared, ATF agent Ray Nicolette and LAPD detective Mark Dargus intercept Jackie as she returns to the United States with Ordell’s cash and some cocaine that Brown was unaware was stashed in her bag. Initially refusing to cut a deal, she is sent to jail which alerts Ordell that she might also be a threat to inform. Having received payment from Ordell, Max picks up Jackie from the jail and begins to develop an attraction to her. Ordell arrives at Jackie’s house intending to murder her but she surprises him by pulling a gun surreptitiously taken from Max’s glove compartment. Jackie negotiates a deal with Ordell to pretend to help the authorities while smuggling in $550,000 of Ordell’s money, enough to allow him to retire.

To carry out this plan, Ordell is counting on Melanie Ralston, an unambitious, stoned surfer girl with whom he lives, and Louis Gara, a friend and former cellmate. Unaware of Jackie and Ordell’s plan to smuggle in $550,000, Nicolette and Dargus devise a sting to catch Ordell during a transfer of $50,000. Unbeknownst to all, Jackie plans to double-cross everyone and keep $500,000 for herself. She recruits Max to assist with her plan and offers him a cut.

In the Del Amo Mall on the day of the transfer, Jackie enters a dressing room to try on a new suit. She has told Ordell that she will swap bags there with Melanie, supposedly passing off the $550,000 under the nose of Nicolette, who has been told that the exchange is to take place in the food court. Instead, the bag she gives Melanie contains only $50,000 and the rest is left behind in the dressing room for Max to pick up. Jackie then feigns despair as she calls Nicolette and Dargus out from hiding, claiming Melanie took all the money and ran.

In the parking lot, Melanie mocks Louis until he loses his temper and shoots her. Louis confesses this to Ordell. Ordell is livid when he discovers that most of the money is gone, and he realizes that Jackie is to blame. When Louis mentions that during the hand-off he saw Max Cherry in the store’s dress department and thought nothing of it, Ordell kills him and leaves with the bag. Ordell turns his anger toward Max, who informs him that Jackie is frightened for her life and is waiting in Max’s office to hand over the money. A menacing Ordell holds Max at gunpoint as they enter the darkened office. Jackie suddenly yells that Ordell has a gun, and Nicolette jumps from a hiding place and shoots him dead.

Having had her charges dropped for cooperating with the ATF, and now in possession of the money as well as Ordell’s car, Jackie decides to leave the country and travel to Madrid, Spain. She invites Max to go along with her, but he declines. Jackie shares a meaningful moment with Max, kisses him goodbye, and leaves as Max takes a phone call. Moments later, Max cuts the call short and seems to contemplate his decision to stay behind as Jackie drives away.Tarantino has a flair for raw energy in all of his films, and “Jackie Brown” is no exception. The movie is bursting at its edges, packed with wild antics and the occasional fierce brutality. The movie was criticized by Tarantino’s die-hard fans for being too different from his other films. However, the mistake of many directors is to repeat the same formulas over and over again. One must at least give Tarantino credit for trying new things in each of his films. An excellent film.