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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Devil's Playground

Devil's Playground in a provactive and eye opening documentary concerning the amish tradition of Rumspringa. Rumspringa happens when a Amish youth turns 16, they are permitted to experience the English world without restrictions. Over a span of a few months to a few years, the Amish youths must make the decision to either be baptized Amish or to leave the community.

I always though Amish teens were as straight-laced and godfearing as their parents. It's shocking to see these kids smoking, doing drugs, and essentially living a life that we often take for granted.

The film follows a handful of these teens, some choose to leave while others choose to become Amish. They even follow the lives of teens stuck in the middle including a girl who was baptised but left, therefore being shunned. To be shunned is to be turned away from your family.

Another kid, Faron Yoder is the center of the film. An Amish youth who has to fight his addiction to drugs and torn between the choice to join the church or live the English life. His is the most touching story as he appears lost and eager to find some sembelence of a happy life.

This film I reccomend to anyone unfamiliar with the Amish culture but eager to learn. Also of interest in the book Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish by Tom Schactman. It's definitely a great companion piece to this movie.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Madonna: Innocence Lost

More like the $1.50 lost renting this DVD. Heck in when this thing aired on Fox in 1994, I could have been pissed off for free. I didn't know there was a Madonna television movie, so being a Madonnaphile I was excited to see this.

First and foremost, it is asinine to try to do any kind of Madonna film in two hours or an hour and thirty minutes sans commercials. It comes off as rushed and doesn't really delve into Madonna's past. It leaps over some major key moments from that time period that could made the film more interesting.

Did we really need to know how close Madonna was with her first manager. Granted I loved seeing Wendy Malick in the film but her character seemed like emotionless filler. The grunty, sweaty, gratuitous sex scenes were also unnecessary. We get it Madonna had sex, she even wrote a book about it. And the title, Innocence Lost, what a joke. She is potrayed as cold and calculating, using sex to get her way. Where was this supposed innocence?

What about showing her auditioning for Fame? Maybe explain the story behind that wacky (and not suitable for work) student film she did? Maybe the story behind a Certain Sacrifice, a film that Madonna fought like hell to keep from being released.

The actress Terumi Matthews is apparently no stranger to playing Madonna. Her IMDB page lists her as playing Madonna in the Dennis Rodman television movie Bad As I Wanna Be. The problem though while she shares a certain resembelence to the singer, she simply can't pass as Madonna. She looks suprisingly like Gloria Estefan which made it harder for me to accept her as the singer.

This movie is to be avoided, especially if you are a hard core Madonna fan.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Odd Girl Out

This is a film that really hit home for me. Back in my middle school days I was bullied. I recieved the nasty notes, the prank calls, and blows to my self-esteem all of it. But I feel blessed that this was before the internet was a common thing. Because cloaked in the anonymity of the internet is the potential to destroy someone.

Alexa Vega plays Vanessa, a kind and smart 8th grader who also in is in with the main clique in school. However catches the attention of the queen bee's crush and suddenly finds herself public enemy number one. She is soon subjected to hate sites and harassment online and in real life. Her best friend Stacy joins in the teasing, being nice to Vanessa one second and turning against her the next.

At first her mother does not take her seriously and passes it off as harmless fighting. But soon the harassment causes Vanessa to do something drastic and her mother vows to find a way to protect her daughter.

Odd Girl Out is well acted and thought provoking. The teenage characters come off as realistic and the dialogue rings true. This film proves just how dangerous the girls will be girls mentality that a lot of parent take on. After all look what happened to Megan Meier who experienced this type of behavior in real life.

I recommend that teenagers or anyone with a teenager watch this. It exposes just how harsh and damaging this behavior can be to the victim.

The movie also stars Lisa Vidal who might be better known as playing Sandy Lopez in the NBC drama ER.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Poison Ivy 4: The Secret Society

How can one go wrong with a Poison Ivy movie. It's simple add one child actress attempting to abandon her good girl image. Mix with smutty love scenes and a paint by numbers plot and voila cheesy B Grade goodness.

Poison Ivy 4 does not even meet those decidedly slow standards. It is hindered with an unsteady plot and long drawn out scenes that do not enhance the film at all.

The movie stars Degrassi's own Miriam McDonald as Daisy, a small town girl from Iowa who transfers to a prestigious East Coast college. She soon garners the attention of the Ivys, a secret society that virtually owns the school. The head of the society Azalea quickly inducts Daisy into the world of the Ivys. However Daisy soon learns that there is a darker undercurrent to the society.

This movie could have been B movie goodness but it is simply dull. It finally starts to perk up 15 minutes before it ends but it all seems rushed and last minute. Even Poison Ivy 2 looks better in comparison to this mess.

Update: The DVD is due out January 20th and it appears that like Normal Adolescent Behavior the film will feature nudity and more graphic love scenes. Honestly I don't understand the concept of releasing a film on cable where it is heavily edited and then release a DVD afterwards. Being straight to video didn't harm Poison Ivy 3 any and face it no one watches the Poison Ivy movies for it's plot.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sweet Valley Reissues D.O.A

Yes, the rather questionable reissue of the Sweet Valley series has ceased publication. The series was supposed to span the first twelve books but have ceased after #6. Most likely due to lack of interest.

I have not read the books but have been following the changes via other people's blogs. I was disappointed. A lot of unnecessary changes in order to try to woo the younger readers in. Where does it say that a book series from the '80s cannot keep a newer generation from being interested without revamping it?

Imagine a reissue of Little Women where Jo gets mad at Amy for throwing her laptop in the fire. Makes you shudder, doesn't it?