Tuesday, December 15, 2015

SAG Awards - Nominations - Christina Ricci

Congratulations to Christina Ricci on her SAG Awards nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries for her portrayal of Lizzie in "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles". Others in her category are Nicole Kidman for "Grace of Monaco", Queen Latifah for "Bessie", Susan Sarandon for "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe", and Kristen Wiig for "The Spoils Before Dying". Best of luck to Christina!

The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at 8 p.m. (ET) / 5 p.m. (PT).

Friday, November 27, 2015

DVD release of "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles"

Yes, you, too, can have the 8-episode mini series of "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" that aired on Lifetime last spring. Sony Entertainment will release the DVD on February 2, 2016. It will contain deleted scenes and a gag reel. The release coinciding with Groundhog Day either means that if the ground hog sees its shadow, we'll have 6 more weeks of delicious bleakness. If it doesn't, spring is on the way and your blood will begin to warm any remaining frostbitten appendages. Check out this scene from the third episode starring Jonathan Banks (spoilers ahead!):

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episode 1.8 - Review

Apologies for the lateness in getting this review up. I hope everyone has had the chance to catch the last episode.

We last left off with Emma Borden at Willowdale Asylum in Maine. The episode begins with her missing from the asylum after a doctor was attacked. In the closing scene of the previous episode, Emma lost her cool and started to find it in her to fight back. Lizzie is on the case to try to find Emma. Keys are missing. Money has disappeared. Lizzie finds a letter in a photo frame belonging to Emma from Officer Trotwood (now deceased). Cut to Emma at the door of Mrs. Trotwood's house in Boston. Emma had always wanted to meet them. Mrs. Trotwood insists that she stays with her and her grown children. They're mooching off of her, so why not one more?

Lizzie, of course, finds Emma in Boston and Emma wants Lizzie out of her life. Mrs. Trotwood sits with Lizzie back at her hotel and Lizzie threatens her when she learns that she's not to come near Emma. Mrs. Trotwood and one of her sons tells Lizzie to stay away from them and stay away from Boston.

Back at the Trotwoods, there's a formal engagement party for one of the sons. It's a bit drawn out so I'll just cut to the priceless moment that Emma sees the meat carver hacking into a slab of ham. We haven't had a flashback in about three episodes, so of course, she has a flashback of her attack on the doctor back at the asylum. Lizzie sneaks in, finds Emma, and tells her that she's running for her life from Charlie's old friends. Emma tells her to keep running. If the men catch up to her, tell them the truth and where they can find her. Lizzie exits, skulking through the crowded party; one of Charlie's friends finds her. Clearly, the person checking names at the door must have left their post. Mrs. Trotwood interrupts the confrontation. Lizzie conveniently pops a balloon with a gigantic dagger, which of course, the "pow" of the balloon is mistaken for a gunshot and a shootout begins. The shooters escape as does Lizzie. Mrs. Trotwood wants them caught, "Nobody sleeps, tonight!" Damn, my eyes barely can stay open.

Video clip

Emma finds the shooters who were after her and Lizzie and confesses to them that she killed Charlie. They want to kill her and decide to take her back to Fall River to face trial. She says, "It's time a Borden pays for her crimes."

Lizzie makes a deal with Mrs. Trotwood. She tells Mrs. Trotwood how to find the men and how she can get Emma back. They go to Fall River to get them and the Trotwood brothers head up to the hotel room where Charlie's friends and Emma are supposedly hiding. Another slow motion shootout with big shiny revolvers occurs and lots of walls are spattered in stage blood. It continues after a commercial break. Emma has a gun and Lizzie has a dagger. Lizzie and Emma face off while two remaining men lay bleeding. Emma says she will go with Lizzie if she can show an ounce of human decency. Lizzie says she's been trying to protect Emma this whole time, but Emma insists that she let them live. Lizzie agrees reluctantly and drops the dagger so it stands straight up into the wooden floor while the men, still bleeding, look on in dying boredom.

Emma and Lizzie depart the scene and board a sea vessel with tacky room decor that is bound for Paris. Lizzie decides she has to take a nap as all that stabbing and chasing after Emma for a day and night was so exhausting. A few seconds later, the ship's horn blows and Lizzie wakes up. She is alone in the cabin and wonders where is Big Sis. She walks to the deck to look for her. People are waving to those on the dock and there is Emma looking up at Lizzie with a tiny tear in her eye. Emma turns and disappears from the dock as Lizzie is weeping a single tear, left alone with strangers to hack up on her cruise to Europe.


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episodes 1.5, 1.6 & 1.7 - Review

There's such a gap between the post today and the post before because I can only stand to watch "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" in On Demand mode so I can fast forward through the commercials.

Last we saw Lizzie, she had begun to buy up land around her house. She killed some more people and got away with it. Pretty much this goes on a lot in episode five in addition to finding a way to get Charlie framed for murders. The courtroom scenes are hilarious with the moment Lizzie takes the stand as a witness in how she been defending herself when Nance O'Keefe met her fateful end. This is for Charlie's trial in the death of Isabel Danforth (another of Lizzie's new victims).

We left Emma being courted by Officer Trotwood when Lizzie reminded Emma of her dark past. Emma tries to cool off Trotwood in the fifth episode, but Trotwood is too eager. He proposes and she accepts. Lizzie gets jealous, doesn't want to lose her one and only familial advocate. She even tries to discuss the concept of love, but is too keen with the killing to have a deep conversation. There's the tiresome story of Spencer having gone missing and she deduces that the town photographer/pornographer, Chester Phipps (Rhys Coiro aka Billy Walsh of "Entourage") photographed the dead Spencer. She forces Phipps to take her to the body, but he doesn't last much longer.

Lizzie doesn't like the competition for Emma's affection and maneuvers Trotwood into finding out about the baby skeleton that was hidden back at the old Maplecroft house. He's too keen on Lizzie's manipulative methods and confronts her. The wedding is still on. Or is it?

Lizzie is getting deeper into debt as Skipjack has blackmailed her into 50% of everything she owns to cover up the death of Spencer Cavanaugh. The Skipjack story lasts into the sixth episode until Lizzie no longer can use him, plus he bungled a death that causes grief for Emma. I'm sure you can guess, but I won't spoil it. Emma, in fact, leaves but has second thoughts and returns to Lizzie.

Episode seven brings to the cast the talented Chris Bauer ("True Blood"). He's looking into Charlie's sudden demise. Also, Lizzie takes a job, relocating to Maine, teaching school children under a pseudonym, Annabelle Grimke, and with blonde hair. Emma is in a sorry state, under the name Lenore Grimke. She's sorry she ever thought Lizzie was innocent, but soon she realizes that she, too, is done with her own innocence. There's no irony like the irony of using references to Edgar Allan Poe. Lizzie's old habits die hard... bloody hard.

One episode left! Anyone want to guess how this series ends?

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episodes 1.3 & 1.4 - Review

Many probably didn't catch "Today" on NBC at the end of March and possibly missed this interview with Christina Ricci on launching the mini series about Lizzie Borden.

Nearly half way through the first season, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles starts to reveal more tormented twists and disagreeable turns. The third episode opens with the burial of the Borden's half brother segueing to the deceased Spencer Cavanaugh about to be disposed of by Mr. Flowers, sponsored hidden burial by Lizzie Borden. Charlie, when not investigating Lizzie's latest murder, enjoys tea with Isabel Danforth as he learns that Spencer, the playwright, never returned from a night of drinking. Hmm, anytime someone in town dies, Lizzie is the first one on someone's mind.

Last time I left off, local girl Adele went missing. Lizzie hid her away when Spencer disappeared and uses Adele's temporary departure to convince Spencer's sister, Nance O'Keefe, that she should go looking for her brother in Boston. Cut to Lizzie unsealing the coffin lid and Adele being a bit hysterical back at the old Borden barn. She asks Adele to promise that she never misbehaves and, sobbingly, Adele agrees with Miss Lizzie. Back at the new home with Adele, Lizzie has her well-rehearsed when Emma inquires as to where she thinks Spencer could be. Matters as to their house-warming party RSVPs show how unwelcome the Bordens are to the new neighborhood.

Mr. Flowers (Jonathan Banks) arrives to convince Lizzie to retain his services behind Emma's back. "Fifteen percent of the family business, monthly." He threatens the life of Adele and Emma if she doesn't comply. What is the Borden's family business? Probably won't matter. Banks is not listed as a character beyond this episode.

Charlie runs into Adele at the florist and her rehearsed speech about Spencer going missing makes him more suspicious. Adele departs without the flowers for the party. Lizzie ends up at the florist learning about what caused Adele to flee without the flowers. Party and murder is all Lizzie can think of. Cut to Charlie getting an eyeful at the old barn of bloody dirt that makes a strawberry Kool-Aid type drink when he puts a scoop into a pale of water.

We quickly discover that Emma was the one who hired Charlie as the private investigator and he calls into question how Lizzie was raised when she asks him to vindicate her sister. Charlie is ready to check-out of the B&B when Nance runs into him to inquire about Spencer. Isabel is relieved that she doesn't have to say goodbye to Charlie or clean his room. Nance reveals that Spencer uses morphine and that he would never have left for Boston (people could probably find more morphine than they need while in Boston during this time, though). Charlie warns her that she should not go to Lizzie with this knowledge or she'll end up being Lizzie's next "project".

Lizzie watches a poor little dog being berated by Mrs. Kenney, another non-attendee of the house-warming party. She even confirms that everyone invited from the neighborhood despises Lizzie.  We previously learned Lizzie is sympathetic to dogs when she had a conversation with Charlie about a murder investigation.

Party preparations underway, Lizzie tends to Adele's anxiety after Charlie's pervasive questioning. The two leave and head to Mr. Flowers' headquarters. Charlie follows (or was led there by Lizzie on purpose). A fight randomly breaks out in an alley between Charlie and Flowers' people. They take Charlie to some railroad tracks. We are led to believe he's dead, but as you may recall, I've said that Charlie is a man of many talents.

Emma and Trotwood, the police officer, have a conversation about how much the party is going to suck without guests. Emma is completely smitten with him. When we return later to the Borden home, Emma is sitting alone; no one showed up.

Flowers, Lizzie and Adele are about to discuss the future. Lizzie assures Adele that she can relax. Flowers asks "Who's next?" She pulls out her daddy's old straight razor and distracts him so she can shoot him dead and turn and slashes Adele's throat. Plants the weapons in one hand of each victim.

Quietly, Lizzie leaves the scene and discovers Nance O'Keefe outside her home. She invites her into the party, but Nance is remembering that Charlie cautioned her. Lizzie tries to convince Nance she can trust her no matter what anyone else has told her, "I'm not a monster." They go inside to party.

Next episode, in under three minutes we learn: 1) Charlie cannot be killed by a train, 2) Lizzie talks to Emma at breakfast about how terrible Mrs. Kenney is to her dog, 3) Nance is freaked out by the site of Charlie's battered face when he sneaks into her room, still pretending to have checked out. 4) Lizzie visits Mrs. Kenney about the animal abuse. You have the set up for what is about to go down in about 49 minutes.

Mr. Flowers' team is back drinking and reflecting on the crime scene of their former boss and formerly alive Adele. Who? "The one with the bad hand." Oh, well, let's drink some more.

Charlie hides out in Nance's room drinking and sewing his face. Isabel orders him back in bed and he's on his way to kill the ones who wronged him. Nance and Isabel giving orders that he stay. Discussion about the party and how Nance spent the night and lived. Charlie gives Nance a full list of what not to do in the presence of Lizzie Borden. Don't eat, drink or go to her old barn.

Lizzie wants to buy more lots including the one lot in which Mrs. Kenney's home is on. She makes an offer on it at asking price plus half. She also finds Skipjack at the county office and he tells her he is her new business partner. He pins a photo of Spencer on the bulletin board as his insurance. He demands $1000/week starting that Friday. She proposes $1000/month and then $3000 a year. She has to come up with the first $250 this Friday.

Officer Trotwood appears to finally be courting Emma Borden. Clea DuVall is such an expert of looking like she's trying to hold her composure but is really ecstatic when Trotwood asks Emma if he could call on her sometime.

Nance and Lizzie have dinner together and when they finish, Nance asks Lizzie to drop Spencer's play off at her hotel's front desk. She reports back to Charlie that she thinks Lizzie is a sweet woman without any experience with men. Charlie and Nance have a flirtation while discussing him taking down the people who cut him. Somehow she drugged him and he collapses. She tells Charlie she's going to find out what happened to Spencer herself. This sort of thing happens at about the 25 minute mark.

Lizzie takes Mrs. Kenney's dog in to care for him. Mrs. Kenney accuses Lizzie of theft. Lizzie informs Mrs. Kenney that she's expanding her property with the lot behind her house. Emma observes this interaction and asks about this expansion, "Planning to build a moat?" Emma wants to discuss Trotwood's plans to call on her. Lizzie is happy for Emma, that she "found another suitor, that someone's come along at a better time. Will you tell him about Benjamin, that you gave birth out of wedlock? I just think you should get your past out in the open. If he truly loves you, then none of this will matter." And then Lizzie is off to deliver the script to Nance. Emma is just floored.

Nance tarts herself up to meet Skipjack and he shows off a knife trick, something he calls art. She pretends to be elated. He makes some lewd suggestion about seeing the back of a door up close and she acts all hot for it. Out in the alley, Nance jabs a knife into Skipjack and he confesses that Lizzie Borden killed Spencer.

Isabel goes searching for Charlie in Nance's room when Lizzie inquires about him. Her husband, owner of the B&B, finds her and speaks in misogynistic tones about how Charlie is not looking at her like she's looking at him. How has Isabel not sent Lizzie after this terrible husband she's stuck with yet?

Charlie gets over being drugged, another talent. Goes after the men at the bar to kill them for trying to kill him and tries to find Skipjack. Is it too late? Did Nance take care of him? He's barely alive, but cannot answer Charlie as to where Nance is, but clearly an investigator should be able to figure out she's long gone.

Trotwood retrieves the little dog from the Borden residence with a promise to return to Emma to take her on a walk. They're on their walk when Lizzie returns to find the dog gone, but Nance holding a gun in the shadows pointed at Lizzie. She has terrible aim. She knows everything about Flowers, Adele, nevermind that Lizzie offed Spencer. She should know better than to follow Lizzie through dark hallways. Trotwood and Emma hear a commotion and enter just in time to see Nance pull a knife on Lizzie, stab her as Lizzie is struggling on the staircase for Nance's gun, but then Nance falls down the stairs onto something that stabs her in the head. Charlie bursts in just as the cops arrive and they arrest him and cart him off. Lizzie gets away with a self-defense defense.

One of the more creative endings to a person's life is to blame a dog's piddling and a fallen lamp as the reason for a person's accidental electrocution. Mrs. Kenney has met her end in just standing in the wrong puddle at the wrong time. That Lizzie is oh, so crazy about little dogs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episode 1.2 - Review

Remember when Christina Ricci played Wednesday in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values and she beamed with delight at the sight of electrocuting people with her electric chair? There's quite a look of delight in her eyes again when she portrays Lizzie Borden taking in a burlesque homage to her alleged hacking to death her daddy. Except there's no blood on stage; rose petals flutter through the air when the knife is slashed. In case you were not paying attention, the show reminds you of the ax incident with flashbacks... again, and again, and so on.

Following last week's "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" debut, Lizzie signs the papers on a new house, not having to owe any debts of their father. The debts were wiped away when William Almy suddenly was murdered by, guess who? And who got blamed? William Borden, of course, but he's suddenly suicidal if you believe the inept Fall River Marshal's office.

Cut to Lizzie making friends with a woman named Adele (Kimberly-Sue Murray) who was injured in a factory. She turned to hooking when she couldn't get work with a right hand that just has a bit of scar make-up on it. Lizzie saves her from being assaulted in an alley after taking in an aftershow party with Emma Borden (Clea DuVall) in tow. She daringly clobbers the unsavory man called Skipjack and takes home, much to Emma's admonishment, Adele to take care of her. Lizzie shows her just how much she cares when she kisses Adele affectionately in a dress shop changing area the next day. In comparison to the graphic murder scenes, this scene with fully buttoned-up ladies kissing is quite tame.

Over the course of the episode, Lizzie enjoys tea with the person who pimped out Adele, Mr. Flowers (Jonathan Banks). Lizzie pays him off so she can keep Adele to herself. During her visit, Flowers teaches a lesson to a misogynist low-life while Lizzie agreeably waits patiently for the head bashing to end. Banks is basically "Breaking Bad's" Mike in the late 19th century.

Adele and Emma bond over soup, discussing as you may have guessed, aspirations for a husband and perhaps a family. Adele could be Emma's confidant as she makes the insightful recognition of Emma's having to practically raise Lizzie when their birth mother died. Emma clearly needs someone other than Lizzie to hang out with because the husband topic surfaces a second time and we're only halfway through the second episode. This is Lifetime, so settling down and having a family is the only way Emma's story remains within "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles."

The dashing superhero investigator, Charlie (Cole Hauser), continues privately investigating the blood trail Lizzie leaves everywhere she goes. He's had her followed.  Lizzie actually confronts him, introducing herself while he's dining alone. A few minutes of dialog lets us know Lizzie is not phased by Charlie's presence. It seems he's a man of many talents yet to be revealed. We've only just found out that his magic fingers can untwist Isabel Danforth's twisted ankle back at the B&B. [Danforth is portrayed by Olivia Llewellyn and appeared in Season One of "Penny Dreadful" (Showtime). We don't know yet if she's returning as Mina Harker in Season Two.]

Everything was going swellingly until Spencer (Frank Chiesurin), a playwright/con artist, convinces Lizzie to be a patron of the arts and, ironically, to fund his schlocky play. Planted in this scene is Adele and a coffin that just happens to be in the old barn at the old house. Coffins just are things people keep in barns back in the late 1800s. That Lizzie can sure pick them because he soon ties one on and, when he finds Adele alone, blowing out the candles in nearly every room, he decides to presume Adele will wax his own candle. Instead she nearly snuffs him out. Lizzie finds him outside, injured with a pitchfork and finishes forking him.

This is where I can spoil the rest, but I'll leave it up to you readers to catch up by next Sunday. I must advise you to always keep strike-anywhere matches in your pocket.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles - Episode 1.1 - Review

"The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" debuted on Sunday, April 5. Lifetime Network is likely stepping up its "darker" programming on Sunday nights to win over some fans of horror who are missing "The Walking Dead." WGN premiered season two of "Salem" the same night. It seems smart that the networks waited until after season five of "The Walking Dead" ended.

This is the fictionalized telling of the story four months following Lizzie Borden's trial in which she was accused of killing her parents and acquitted. I tried to re-watch the re-airing of the movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax the night before. It's still difficult for me to like the sickening charm Lizzie (Christina Ricci) lathers on her father or her sister Emma (Clea DuVall). I also couldn't enjoy the modern rock music juxtaposed in the 19th century setting. Some think it's cool, but I think it is obvious that the creators are trying to be obviously different because the movie and, now, the TV series lack a few things. Character development being one of those things.

One of my favorite lines in the first episode subtly alludes to Lizzie being a lesbian when she's answering her sister Emma's question about what she has imagined her husband to be: "I never imagined a husband." If you didn't recall that Lizzie Borden had a half-brother in Ax, don't worry because he wasn't actually in it. He shows up suddenly in the TV series, stirring up trouble, of course, with flaunting a secret held by the sisters. Emma seems to be up for a back story in one of the seven more episodes in this eight-episode series.

There's a B-story involving an investigator named Charlie (Cole Hauser), who starts to look into the murders. Also, William Almy (John Heard) is suing the Borden estate for the debt owed by their late father. Other interesting characters include Lizzie's former elementary school teacher. She offers little insight into Lizzie's wrath on people. The series spends a lot of time repeating flash backs to scenes from Ax, and has lesser horrific moments of dead things in the dark.

Episode one wasn't terrible, but it makes me wary of the next seven. Little things stand out such as the noticeable historic inaccuracy: how is a character able to use a flashlight in 1893? I haven't spent loads of time searching, but what I've seen so far on the internet is that flashlights didn't become available until as early as 1896. Infrequent clever moments, as in Lizzie's reference to the Dickens story Bleak House. However, the charm act is old. I will still continue on in case Jonathan Banks saves a scene or two from being intolerably a drag.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Begins April 5

"The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" is going to be a short TV series drama fictionalizing the life of Lizzie Borden and the people around her. Her story continues from where the movie left off.

Stay tuned for a review of this episode in the following week.