Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (Review)

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Written by Stephen Kay
Directed by Nick Gomez

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Lifetime has been breaking out the event movies more and more, which has been leading to some ratings wins. So time to check out Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, the new take on America’s first legendary criminal starring Christina Ricci as the infamous Lizzie Borden. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax certainly shows its chops as a higher caliber Lifetime television movie, but it’s still a television movie and suffers from the limitations thereof. That being said, the majority of the film is well paced and gives us a good look at both Borden’s home life before the killings, and the drama surrounding the trial and aftermath. And some of it is pretty fun, too!

Christina Ricci’s attitude and attire as Lizzie Borden and the more historical setting just can’t keep one from thinking this could be a story of Wednesday Addams all grown up and killing on her own. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax does a bit to capitalize on this, with Ricci wandering around being creepy from time to time.
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Where Lizzie Borden Took an Ax gets weakest is that it’s not really a murder mystery, it’s a psychological look at Lizzie Borden. Except it isn’t, really, and might be a murder mystery after all. Or is it? The film’s lack of pure focus is annoying, and despite the script being more tooled for the drama of the trial and the “did she do it?” aspect, the editing has already made up its mind, and doesn’t hesitate to show you via insert after bloody insert. These rapid cuts (ha-ha!) are cool and all, I just wish they were more impactful (ha-ha!) with regard to Borden’s grip on reality. As the weight of the trial bears upon her, Borden becomes medicated and thus less lucid during testimonies. There should be some cool drama here contrasted to her upbringing, but it’s all disregardful for a more straight narrative.

Lack of focus aside, the parts of Lizzie Borden Took an Ax that are fun are very fun, and Borden is a bad girl having fun. Stephen Kay did some research on Lizzie Borden, and theories and conjecture are presented as facts, but also innuendo that might only be picked up if you are familiar with the case. Other parts are not so subtle, and things are fudged a bit for dramatic effect. Things are kept mostly contemporary, except occasional modern rock/rockabilly used for scene transitions setting up the next act.
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

Lizzie Borden (Christina Ricci) – A willful daughter sick of her controlling father and controlling 1890s lifestyle, so she goes out and parties, even if it means stealing and walking alone at night. Is a Sunday School teacher but “only on Sundays”. The film takes great joy in having Lizzie Borden act creepy, often popping into the scene to be disturbing and even creeping out her sister. I half expected her to be floating above the ground as a creepy ghost or something.
Andrew Borden (Stephen McHattie) – The Borden patriarch, a domineering man who never found a penny he couldn’t pinch. Is shown ripping off his workers and making enemies all over town. Has a rough relationship with his youngest daughter as she rebels against his controlling ways. But she also uses their connection to her advantage, trying to turn him against his new wife. He gets whacked.
Emma Borden (Clea DuVall) – Lizzie’s sister, she’s far more reserved that Lizzie. Away from town at the time of the murders, she returns to find her world in disarray, but stands by her sister through all the tragedy and trials. At least until a party happens.

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
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Lifetime takes a swing with Christina Ricci in Lizzie Borden Took an Ax!

It’s the part Christina Ricci was born to play ever since she was Wednesday Addams – an ax murderer! Lifetime brings us yet another amazing film as the channel becomes a big player with ridiculously awesome entertainment. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax will be a true crime take on the infamous murders, which became a media sensation in 1892 and eventually morphed into the nursery rhyme we’ve all vaguely heard of but never really chanted on the playground. Besides Ricci as Lizzie Borden, Clea DuVall will play her sister Emma Borden, and Billy Campbell will play Borden’s lawyer. As the case has never been officially solved, it will be interesting to see which direction Lifetime goes with this. I guess we’ll all find out January 25th, when the film premieres!

Poster via EW

Lizzie Bordon Took An Ax Lifetime



Written by Chris Terrio (screenplay) and Joshuah Bearman (article)
Directed by Ben Affleck

Worst. Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Ever.

The story of how the CIA created a fake science fiction movie as a cover in order to rescue Iranian hostages is a story that has become legend in the world of internet movie discussions. Over the years, the story became repeated and linked to again and again, building as articles and books sprang up to be linked to, blowing the minds of movie fans new to the tale each time it appeared. It’s one of those true life things that is impossible to make up, as it sounds too far fetched to be real. But it is real, and it’s so real it has passed on to legend. Like all good legends, someone made a movie about it!

Argo is both the name of the fake CIA movie and the name of this film. History comes alive as we enter the world of 1979-1980. From the old school three bar Warners production logo to the final scene of thousands of dollars of vintage toys, we are in the past. There is a very quick comic book history lesson of Iran’s history up to 1979, followed by vintage news reports of US/Iranian tensions that will be sprinkled throughout the film to show the building tension between both sides. It is interesting how the US/Iranian tensions are still relevant now over 30 years later, the same basic issues and anger are present.

Too busy being awesome to listen to the haters

Cast members become unrecognizable beneath their period haircuts and clothing, make up applied to best ape their real world counterparts. The fashions, the cars, Tom Brokaw with black hair, typewriters, everyone smoking everywhere, the Hollywood sign in ruins, it’s all there. Events I only have the faintest recall of due to my other priorities of being in the terrible twos.

But the film is more than a picture of the past. The cast is solid. Affleck put together a powerhouse ensemble of great actors. They blend into the roles.

We open just as the Shah has been overthrown, people are rioting in the streets as revolution runs rampant. The US embassy is besieged both inside from people wanting visas out, to the mob outside yelling at the gates. But they come over the top, storming the compound and capturing everyone. Six US employees manage to escape and hide out, eventually settling at the home of the Canadian ambassador. The Iranians don’t know anyone is missing, yet. But there is no easy way to get them out. So it’s time to come up with some plans.

Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) – CIA agent and expert in disguise. Comes up with the crazy plan that’s just so out there it might work. Sadly this is also a case of white-washing, as Tony Mendez is Latino.
Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) – Mendez’s boss and supporter, helps deal with the levels of bureaucracy in Washington. Can think fast on his feet while stuff is hitting the fan.
John Chambers (John Goodman) – Academy Award winner John Chambers is one of the best makeup artists in the world. He also does some jobs on the side for the CIA. Which is the connection they need to bring him on for the most important job of his life.
Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) – Hollywood producer brought in to help set up the fake movie and production company. I don’t think he is a real person, as Robert Sidell was the main person helping John Chambers, but Arkin is great as the washed up producer even if it is fantasy.
This is how Hollywood really works.

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