Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.





By Gerald Wright

Director: Jonas Elmer
Running time: 96 minutes
Release date: January 30, 2009
Genre: Comedy, Romance and Drama
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I heard that romantic comedies are a staple for many women. When there is an underlying plot of a failing economy in the U.S. involved, it brings a political characteristic to the many characters in this romcom (romantic comedy).

Lucy Hill (Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger) is a Miami, Florida "power businesswoman" in the world of male power brokers. She comes from humble beginnings, however she has tasted the good-life and loves it. In order to compete with the "big-boys" and climb the corporate success ladder, she has become extremely aggressive in taking on projects. She takes on an assignment to downsize a plant in rural Minnesota and finds it difficult to make crucial decisions. This is the underlying plot of the U.S. failing economy, where the corporate worlds' greed is ignoring the everyday working public. Renee's real life background is of humble beginnings. Before she got her big break in the film industry, she once worked as a waitress in a strip-club. So, I would assume she got in character by recalling the big shots that snubbed her.

Once she arrives in frigid cold Minnesota from sunny Florida, absurdly dressed in summer attire, she gets a rude awaking to what cold weather feels like. At this part of the film, which is barely the opening scenes, I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride. Why would an intelligent woman who has overcome the sexual harassment which is so relevant in the business world, not know how to dress in freezing weather - or even change clothing aboard the plane for freezing weather? Is this a bad script? The premise of the story is that she falls in love with the town and its people, which stars Frances Conroy and Siobhan Fallon Hogan as the very funny Trudy Van Uuden and Blanche Gunderson. Their mid-western traditions of sewing, gossiping and cooking kept this film amusing. J.K. Simmons (Juno and The Closer t.v. series) as a veteran union man of the plant gives a good solid lift in his performance to this mediocre film.

However, in every romantic comedy there is always an involvement of deception. In this movie Lucy meets Ted (Harry Connick, Jr.), the man of her dreams. Ted is a union man a.k.a shop steward and single dad of a early teen daughter. Is this the perfect singles match-up? Perhaps not. The new found awareness of Lucy's feelings about shutting down a complete town that depends on a manufacturing plant (which she is directed to dismantle) and the romantic entanglements that she has with Ted, comes a continual battle between comfort and longing.

Harry Connick, Jr. has the ability to pull off a role, but in this case his portrayal of a easy going widower and father of a teenage girl just doesn't fit. His performance is too relaxed and mild mannered for his love interest Lucy who is quite feisty. Renee gave a solid performance, however that isn't enough to carry this film as a lead actress.

I found it difficult to enjoy this film. I realize that the audience is suppose to fall in love with the romance of the character, however there wasn't any genuine chemistry between Renee and Harry. The plot is set up for these two lovers to come together, even against all odds. Renees' character Lucy is to be the spark interest in Harrys' character Ted in order to help create comedic situations as the two desires create humorous confrontations and conflicts. But that spark doesn't ignite a fire between these two actors.

The driving motivations in this genre actually are to grow out of immense pain and loss. The only pain I received was watching this film and the loss was of my time.


By Prairie Miller

City versus country, red state/blue state faceoffs, a borderline dragon lady in distress, and class struggle at the dinner table. And the first movie this year to go toe to toe with the looming financial crisis, and those who suffer its effects most. Norma Rae In Stilettos...


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