Review: The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom

The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is such a catchy title, I couldn’t resist giving the film a try. It was charming and touching and quite satisfying.

The 2012 Canadian film was written and directed by Tara Johns, who said that the idea for the story came from her mother’s relationship with Joni Mitchell. When her mother told her Joni Mitchell had given up a child for adoption, the wheels began to turn. The film is set in 1976. Continue reading “Review: The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom”

Review: Ascension

Ascension, a three night event on SyFy was emphatically uneven. It was utterly boring at times, and edge-of-the-seat exciting at others. It was predictable while being unpredictable. It was disgustingly sexist but a paean to women by the end.

Major spoilers ahead!

Tricia Helfer as Viondra Denniger, the captain's wife
Tricia Helfer as Viondra Denniger, the captain’s wife

The situation was a set-up. The previews showed a space ship launched from Earth in the 1960s, with some tracking still going on back on earth.

The people on the space ship were actually lab rats in a lengthy and elaborate high tech experiment right here on earth. They thought they were in space to save the human race but they were not. Their every fight, sexual act, library check out and weight gain were monitored from mere feet outside their metal cocoon.

This Petri dish with 600 lives on board was headed by Captain Denninger (Brian Van Holt) who ran the ship, and his wife Viondra (Tricia Helfer) who ran the social life of the ship with the help of a crew of prostitutes. Everyone was striving to improve their lot in the world on board the ship, from the workers on the lower decks to the elites at the top.

Al Sapienza as Counsilman Rose
Al Sapienza as Counsilman Rose

The Captain’s opposition came from Councilman Rose (Al Sapienza) who was the smarmiest lech from the 1960s you’ve ever seen. Lord, did he need a dose of women’s liberation enlightenment.

Tricia Helfer and Jessica Sipos as Jackie
Tricia Helfer and Jessica Sipos as Jackie

Speaking of women’s liberation, the women spent most of their time nearly naked or completely naked, as you see in this photo of a massage from a semi-dressed woman. The men weren’t the only ones in sexist parts.

Okay, enough complaining about the state of women’s lib in the 1960s. There were some good parts to Ascension.

The action scenes were exciting, the special effects looked great, the ship itself was fabulous. Great sets. There was attention grabbing excitement at moments.

The characters and parts that Gil Bellows and Lauren Lee Smith played were my favorites. However, if this show makes it to series, which seems to have been the aim of this 3 part opening, these two may not even be there. Sigh.

Cliffhangers Everywhere You Look

Might as well talk about the possibility of going to series. There were many so cliffhangers at the end of the 6 hours, that SyFy must be thinking of keeping on with the show as a series. Teenager Crista (Ellie O’Brien) has some sort of powers that can transport people to other places with mental effort only. The man in charge of the experiment on Earth, Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows), keeps saying Crista is the purpose of the whole social experiment. There is one small issue – her mental powers put everyone in danger because her brain blows up just about everything on the ship.

Samantha (the Lauren Lee Smith character) gets one of the men from the ship, Stokes (Brad Carter) off the ship and out into the wilds of 21st Century America with its seedy motels, quick stop liquor stores, and a full moon. We don’t know how he’s going to fare.

By the end of various disasters on the ship, Viondra is in charge, not her husband. If the show does become an ongoing series, I could certainly applaud the idea of a female captain.

Brandon P Bell as Aaron Gault
Brandon P Bell as Aaron Gault

A security officer who is smarter than your average cop, Aaron Gault (Brandon P Bell), is somewhere undisclosed – sent there by Crista and her superbrain.

We don’t know if Harris will still be in charge, if Crista will fly them all to Alpha Centauri on brain waves, or if Stokes will spill the story of this elaborate experiment to the world.

In short, the six hours we saw in 3 nights on SyFy were basically season 1.

Although I was a bit put off by some of the early parts of Ascension, I liked it better and better as it went along. If it does become a series, I’ll watch. Bring on season 2.

Watch This: Ascension Trailers and Features

Ascension is a 3 night special playing on SyFy starting December 15. There are previews and promos available for this interesting new science fiction tale. I thought I’d let you look at several of them.

I remember the 60s and the early space program, so the series is especially interesting to me. Talking about how to send people into space for extended periods of time and for extended travel out of the solar system was a topic of national discussion back then. Everyone was very excited by the space program, glued to the TV for the launch of every rocket. The moon landing was something the whole country watched together.

It makes total sense to me that they begin this story in the 1960s with a secret mission to send people into space.

It’s a very big cast. A few names I recognize include Andrea Roth, Gil Bellows, Lauren Lee Smith, Tricia Helfer, Brad Carter, and Tiffany Lonsdale.

The embed code from SyFy to bring you these videos is a bit of a problem. They are not a good size to view in context. I urge you to expand each one to full screen to watch it.

This one is some background on what the story is about and the themes involved.

The official trailer was available on YouTube, so should be a better viewing size for you.

If you are interested in this series and watch it, I’d love to hear your reactions to it.

Watch This: Trailer for The Calling

In The Calling Detective Inspector Hazel Miscallef (Susan Sarandon) realizes there’s a serial killer loose in her area of Ontario, Canada. Generally all I need to know about a film is that Susan Sarandon is in it to be interested.

Susan Sarandon in The Calling
Susan Sarandon in The Calling

From the trailer the film looks grim and a bit gruesome.

However, the thriller does have a great cast. In addition to Sarandon, there’s also Gil Bellows, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, and Donald Sutherland.

Here’s the plot description:

Detective Hazel Micallef hasn’t had much to worry about in the sleepy town of Fort Dundas until a string of gruesome murders in the surrounding countryside brings her face to face with a serial killer driven by a higher calling.

The film opens August 29 but it’s a limited release, so you may have to watch for it to make it to most locations.