Moving on with my films-seen-on-YouTube theme, it can be a great resource for television movies, given many of them never received “proper” releases. Two that I saw in close succession were fair-to-middling biopics about prominent Black women of the mid-20th century, albeit covering quite different stories in some ways. It may be telling that while one was itself directed by an African-American woman (Julie Dash! a great director at that), the other was directed by a white woman; however, the production history and writing credits suggest it’s not quite so straightforward. In any case, the film about Dandridge certainly dwells more on the more negative aspects of her life, although it’s covering a whole career rather than just a single defining time in civil rights history. It’s probably worth looking into the comparison between the two more closely, except that neither is a particularly memorable film in the end, though both are successful in their own ways.
It turns out I wasn’t done with the trashy post-Mean Girls teen films this weekend, because on Sunday I watched this effort showcasing Disney Channel stars the Duff sisters (Hilary and Haylie) with an obviously referential title (it even uses similar graphic design on the poster). It also gained some really very negative reviews but it’s not quite as bad as those suggest. Not that I’m trying to reclaim it as a misunderstood masterpiece: it’s pretty stupid. Basically our wealthy teen heroes, Tanzie and Ava, live as socialites on their late father’s cosmetics empire wealth, while occasionally stopping by the office to check in with managing director Tommy (Brent Spiner). Well, events transpire, their company is under threat, their wealth is taken from them, and in a moment of stupidity Tanzie burns down their mansion, leaving them to live with their housekeeper and do things like regular people. And so… look I can’t even be bothered continuing the plot summary. Who cares? There’s a surprising range of roles for proper actors (Anjelica Huston and Lukas Haas both pop up), called upon to prop up a ridiculous plot that barely makes sense at times, but I found the leads to be more charming than their Razzie Award nominations suggest, and it has a sort of easily digestible soap opera likeability.
Director Martha Coolidge; Writers John Quaintance, Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin; Cinematographer Johnny E. Jensen; Starring Hilary Duff, Haylie Duff, Brent Spiner, Anjelica Huston, Lukas Haas; Length 97 minutes.
Seen at home (Netflix streaming), London, Sunday 16 August 2015.