The subtle trick Showtime's "Penny Dreadful is that it is far less about the blood, gore and the specter of gruesome death than the sharp pain and exhilarating pleasure of living, and the terror of feeling alone even in close company. Read our review in the May Picks section.
On the day of his college graduation, Preston Plummer cannot think of a single thing he really loves. Adrift, Preston follows a beautiful but troubled young woman to a small island town ... See full summary »
Helena de Crespo
A Harvard University student finds a strange letter that seems to be signed by George Washington. When trying to contact an expert (Prof. Chandler) to authenticate it, he is murdered but ... See full summary »
An ancient Aztec cloth with a curse accidentally finds its way into the possession of a young woman. She decides to make a dress from the cloth. Whoever wears this cloth/dress comes under ... See full summary »
A former Britpop rocker who now works on a farm gets caught driving drunk and faces deportation after living in Los Angeles for many years. His efforts to stay in the U.S. force him to confront the past and current demons in his life.
Somewhat Unoriginal Melodrama Boosted By Strong Performances.
This sentimentally romantic melodrama produced for television possesses many of the tiresome earmarks of films that are made for that medium, as evidenced throughout the film, but additionally offers more substance than one may expect from its largely hackneyed script. The opening is unpromising, at a "singles bar" where Franny (Kate Jackson) and Josh (Tim Matheson), accompanied by their respective closest friends who have persuaded them to be there, naturally meet and find each other irresistible despite their inner calls of caution. Frannie carries emotional wounds following a recently ended six-year love affair with her former employer, whereas Josh has become bored with short-term liaisons as this one with Frannie appears to be after a single night's non-carnal visit by her to his apartment. Frannie begins work for a new company immediately after the one-evening tentative fling, as art director for a book publishing firm, where she discovers that Josh also works there, as an editor, thereby leading into a chain of troublous situations for each since they also have begun an amourous relationship. Despite patchy moments within the storyline, Don Taylor, frequently a director of films targeted for television audiences, moves the action along smartly, clearly emphasizing the relationship between the new lovers, serving thus to consistently reinforce narrative flow. Taylor additionally helps the film here by permitting the talented feature players to create their roles and to ad lib when appropriate. Although there can be no mystery to viewers regarding the eventual fate of the lovers' union, both actors inject increased interest into their roles by their convincing turns, Jackson gaining the acting laurels through her fine technique, therewith mining rather predictable lines for their emotional substance. An ancillary character in the film, and never looking better, is the City of Chicago, playing as itself and shot with interesting detail, it being the setting for the scenario and linked to the plot line through referential dialogue, in addition to frequent visual citations. The only major drawback to the film is its trite scoring, schematically contrived for its television pedigree, including planned interims to allow advertising, but notwithstanding this tiresome obviousness, it does not seriously damage the picture's rhythm. Editing for both sound and visuals is ably accomplished and benefits Taylor's pacing at the helm of a small budgeted film that yet enjoys generally solid production values. The principal theme for the piece is, on the surface, the hoary problem of romantic involvement between co-workers, but character development generated by the leads adds trim to that particular motif. There is no lack of clever gambits to be found within the plotting and a defined conclusion for the Josh/Franny liaison hinges upon his distrust of close involvement in competition with her need for just exactly that, with these emotional states as depicted by Jackson and Matheson eventually being responsible for lifting the film above a state at which it would normally be expected to settle.
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