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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Selling Innocence falls into a subgenre of Lifetime Movies I term “Internet Panic.” In these types of movies, an ingénue (either a young girl or lonely/naïve single woman) gets lured into the world of stalkers/pedophiles/prostitution by….using a computer.

Boo!

According to Internet Panic Movie logic, the Internet is, primarily, a direct pipeline to bad people just waiting to become obsessive stalkers. Relatedly, stalkers can only become obsessed with women when they look at them on a computer screen, not after meeting them at work, school, or any other in-person activity.

Selling Innocence was actually produced for CTV, making it even more Canadian than a typical Lifetime Movie. This explains why I initially pegged it as circa 1990. Even though it was made in 2005, the fashion/hairstyles are 10 years behind the times — a signature of Canadian-made movies. I couldn’t help but covet the lead actress’ awesome 90’s vintage chunky platforms…I miss those.

They were kind of like these:

Okay, onto the plot: Mia, a somewhat shy high school girl gets plucked out of a crowd at a mall by a model scout.

Mia gets one small job — modeling conservative teen clothes on a Sears-esque sales flyer — but the agency boss, Malcolm Lowe, sees real talent and starts helping her put together an online portfolio.

Mia’s pretty naive but she’s still a bit apprehensive — so Malcolm promises that the online portfolio is only for industry professionals and talent scouts. It will have a special password and everything.

“What could go wrong? Some strange dude I barely know promised.”

As time goes on Mia’s portfolio begins to include some lingerie and naughty schoolgirl shots… but it’s modeling, and only industry people will see it, right?

I’m going to spare you screenshots because that would be kind of gross.

Mia begins making big bucks but also starts receiving threatening emails from an obsessed fan. The other girls at the agency encourage her to just ignore it, but the incident makes her question her foray into the world of Internet “modeling.”

Mia turns to Webwatch, a nonprofit organization that is supposed to help girls exploited by the Internet. Eventually, in a series of contrived  and bizarre plot devices, Mia’s dangerous fan turns out to be the guy from Webwatch who who was supposed to be helping her.

But that’s really not the most disturbing part of the movie.

This is.

This is Mia’s boyfriend and no, there’s no explanation for why his hair is like that. It kind of makes you appreciate Adam Duritz, doesn’t it?  This still image is unable to fully capture the frozen awful stiffness of these fake dreds. Under that terrible ‘do is Mike Lobel, also known as Jay from Degrassi (another show I am ashamed to admit I watch). He’s Canadian, and when not being humiliated by a costume designer, looks like this:

Overall Verdict:

Pretty good, although some of the trashy lingerie shots made me feel kind of dirty.

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Who is Clark Rockefeller?, which premiered on Lifetime in 2010, is a movie ripped straight from the headlines…of 2008!

It was on TV again last night and even now it remains one of my absolute favorites.

If you’re not familiar with the case, here’s a rundown of the (real) story: back in 2008 some guy got busted after kidnapping his daughter during a custody battle. Everyone knew him as an eccentric member of the ultra-wealthy Rockefeller family, but it was all an elaborate con. His real name? Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter.

We all knew a kid in elementary school who told unbelievable tales — Mr. Max’s standard example is a boy who boasted to the schoolyard that his father was the King of Brazil. When other kids (predictably) noticed that his father was some white dude who ran a carpet store, he clarified that it was actually his uncle who was King of Brazil. When that lie was finally revealed, the kid claimed a mere passing acquaintanceship with the King of Brazil.

So this is basically like that, plus a bunch of money.

We live in Massachusetts, so the local media covered Clark’s arrest relentlessly. Mr. Max, who still speaks a bit of German, came running into the room the first time he talked on camera.

“Come on, a Rockefeller? The guy sounds like a villain from a James Bond movie!”

“Yah, I ist an American citizen.”

It’s still unbelievable to me that “Clark” managed to infiltrate the cliques of the Boston elite so easily, eventually gaining a directorship at the Algonquin Club. Didn’t these people take a foreign language class in prep school?

Ahem, onto the movie. The first great thing about Who is Clark Rockefeller? is that, like all the best lifetime movies, it was filmed in Canada. The characters make plenty of overt references to Boston and New Hampshire landmarks (Yale, Harvard, etc), but the visuals are North Country all the way.

The second great thing is Eric McCormack. Fresh from his long run as a down-to-earth sitcom character, he launches full-tilt into the title role with no restraint whatsoever. His Rockefeller is not just a personality-disordered compulsive liar, but a personality-disordered compulsive liar with flair. Clark strolls around his country estate in a stylish smoking jacket, flits in and out of society parties, rides around town on a Segway, and even relaxes post-sex by playing the… didgeridoo.

I bet you thought I was kidding about the Segway. Also, it looks like Canada.

Sherry Stringfield also puts in a noteworthy performance as Sandra Boss, Rockefeller’s blissfully unaware wife.  Even in the face of increasingly over-the-top warning signs, Stringfield maintains a (surprisingly!) believable naiveté.

And the warning signs were definitely there. Why, pray tell, did Clark bounce checks at the liquor store when he owned a collection of priceless modern art? What was his deal with not eating green foods? Why did he keep his social security number a secret? Why was he estranged from his famous family? Did he really speak five languages?

“Yah, I speak five languages: German, Austrian, English with German accent…”

Overall Verdict:

An excellent example of the genre. McCormack’s antics are pretty much laugh-a-minute, and a great drinking game could be devised around Sherry Stringfield’s deer-in-the-headlights reaction shots.

Boredom Rating:

0 hotels! How can you possibly be bored when there’s a didgeridoo involved?