Least Favorite Movie Period Dramas

Below is a list of ten of my least favorite movie period dramas:

 

 

LEAST FAVORITE MOVIE PERIOD DRAMAS

1. “Legends of the Fall” (1992) – Edward Zwick directed this dull and overrated adaptaion of Jim Harrison’s 1979 novella about the lives of a Montana ranching family during the early 20th century. Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins starred.

2. “Barbary Coast” (1935) – Howard Hawks directed this turgid tale about an Eastern woman who arrives in San Francisco during the Gold Rush and comes between a corrupt gambler/saloon keeper and a miner. Miriam Hopkins, Edward G. Robinson and Joel McCrea starred.

3. “Mayerling” (1968) – Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve starred in this lavish, yet dull account of the tragic romance between Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his mistress, Baroness Maria Vetsera. Terence Young directed.

4. “Idlewild” (2006) – André 3000 and Big Boi starred in this confusing and badly written musical set during Depression Era Georgia. Bryan Barber directed.

5. “Becky Sharp” (1935) – Miriam Hopkins earned a surprising Best Actress nomination (surprising to me) in this unsatisfying adaptation of William Makepeace Thackery’s 1847-48 novel, “Vanity Fair”. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, the movie is known as being the first full-length production in Technicolor.

6. “Gods and Generals” (2003) – Stephen Lang, Jeff Daniels and Robert Duvall starred in this adaptation of Jeff Shaara’s 1996 Civil War novel and prequel to the much superior 1993 movie, “Gettysburg”. Ronald Maxwell directed.

7. “The Hindenburg” (1975) – Robert Wise directed this rather dull account of the Hindenburg air disaster. The movie starred George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft.

8. “Anna Karenna” (2012) – Joe Wright directed this stagey adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1877 novel. Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson starred.

9. “Glorious 39” (2009) – Stephen Poliakoff directed this slow and pretentious thriller about a young woman who discovers that her family are pro-appreasers who wish for Britain to seek peace with Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II. Romola Garai starred.

10. “Alice in Wonderland” (2010) – Tim Burton directed this dull and overrated adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and 1871 novel, “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There”. Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp starred.

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“Judging Elizabeth Poldark”

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“JUDGING ELIZABETH POLDARK”

To this day, I am amazed at the level of hostility directed at the Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark character in the two BBC series titled, “POLDARK”. Quite frankly, I find this hostility to be bordered on the level of a psychotic. 

Then it finally occurred to me.

Perhaps the real reason why so many fans dislike Elizabeth – and I am making a major assumption here – is that they see her as an obstacle in the road to Ross Poldark and Demelza Carne Poldark’s “twu luv” or “perfect” relationship. As far as these fans are concerned, Ross and Demelza should spend their entire marriage, projecting the image of perfect love, with nothing or no one – including themselves – posing a threat to their relationship. But there is a problem. Ross continued to harbor feelings for Elizabeth, his first love, even after his marriage to Demelza, his former kitchen maid. Even Elizabeth continued to have feelings for Ross, despite her marriage to his cousin, Francis Poldark.

However, Elizabeth has tried her best to keep her feelings toward Ross to herself. She has tried her best to work at making her marriage to Francis work – despite his insecurities and screw ups. Yet, since Francis’ loss of his fortune and mine at a card game, Elizabeth may have reached a breaking point in trying to maintain some semblance of affection toward her husband. Ross, on the other hand, seemed less disciplined in keeping his feelings for Elizabeth in check. He is in love with his wife, Demelza. There is no doubt. Unfortunately, Ross seemed incapable of moving past Elizabeth’s rejection of him. There have been moments when he has either expressed his feelings or come dangerously close to openly expressing his feelings for her. The 1975-1977 version of “POLDARK” featured one episode in which Ross managed to convince Elizabeth to leave Francis and run away with him. Even after he had sex with Demelza in the previous episode. One episode in the current adaptation made it clear that Ross was in love with both his wife and Elizabeth, when he had admitted it to his cousin Verity.

Many fans of the current series had reacted with disgust or dismay over the idea that Ross loved both Demelza and Elizabeth. In fact, many fans – either forty years ago or today – seemed incapable of understanding Ross’ ability to love two women. It sees as if they wanted Ross to move past his feelings for Elizabeth and focus his love on Demelza. I understand why they would feel this way. With Ross focusing his love solely on Demelza, the viewers would be presented with a simpler and cleaner romance with no pesky little issues to cloud their relationship. But thanks to Winston Graham, Ross refused to do so. And instead of blaming Ross, many want to blame Elizabeth, because it was and still is easier to do. Graham provided his readers with an emotionally complicated relationship between Ross, Demelza, Elizabeth, Francis and even local banker George Warleggan that proved to be emotionally complicated. But these fans do not want complicated relationships or stories. They want their characters and the latter’s relationships to be simple – at the level of a “romance novel for 16 year-olds”. However, that is NOT what Winston Graham had written in his novels.

I am also beginning to wonder if Graham’s portrayal of his protagonist as a man in love with two women had led many fans of the saga to harbor an unnatural and deep-seated hatred of Elizabeth. Not only do they seemed to be upset over Ross’ continuing love for her, these fans seem to regard her as unworthy of Ross’ affection, due to her rejection of him, following his return from the American Revolutionary War. For some reason, these fans seem incapable or unwilling to view Elizabeth as a complex woman with both virtues and flaws. And due to their excessive worship of Ross and Demelza’s relationship, they seem incapable of viewing those two as complex people with flaws … especially Demelza.

I never understood why so many have described Elizabeth as some fragile, delicate woman, who was too weak to be her own woman, let alone stand on her own two feet. Yes, Elizabeth could be rather conservative in the manner in which she had chosen to live her life. I believe that this conservative streak had developed from her penchant for practicality. In fact, I believe that at times, she was too practical for her own good. This practical streak led her to desire financial stability just a bit too much – to the point that led her to engage in two questionable marriages. Elizabeth has also been accused of being cold and emotionally closed off from others. Hmmm . . . sounds like the typical complaints many have made about reserved or introverted individuals. As an introverted person myself, I speak from personal experience. I suspect that many would have admired her if she had been more like her cousin-in-law, Demelza Carne. Fans seemed to have gone into a tizzy over the former kitchen maid with a fiery temper, sharp tongue and even sharper wit. Demelza seemed to be the epiphany of the ideal woman – openly emotional, beautiful, earthy, and witty. Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark may not have been some female walking ball of fire, but she was certainly not some refrigerated hothouse flower, frigid bitch or limpid Stepford Wife. She was a living, breathing woman with her own passions, virtues and flaws. The thing with Elizabeth is that she was a reserved and private woman who believed in keeping her emotions to herself, due to 18th century society’s demands for women and her own quiet nature.

I realize some might respond that Elizabeth should have been more open with her emotions . . . a trait that many seemed to regard as ideal for a woman. I would disagree. Elizabeth had to be her own woman. And if that meant being a reserved or private one, so be it. Besides, when did it become a crime for a woman – any woman – to be shy or reserved? Why is it so terrible to keep one’s feelings to oneself, especially if one is a woman? Why does a woman, especially a woman character, have to be outgoing, witty, sharp-tongued or “feisty” in order to be considered worthy of society? Am I supposed to regard myself as unworthy, because I am a reserved woman?

I do get tired of the public either idealizing female characters that they like/love and castigating other female characters who do not live up to their ideal of what a woman should be. Especially a woman character like Elizabeth Poldark who was created by a 20th century writer or early 21st century woman character … even if said character is from a story set in a different time period. Male characters are not subjected to such narrow-minded thinking. They are allowed to be complex. It is amazing that despite the fact that we are now in the second decade of the 21st century, this society is still held back by some rampant patriarchy that refuses to leave – even among many women of all ages. And that is pretty damn sad.

“SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” (1995) Review

 

”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” (1995) Review

The year 1995 saw the beginning of an onslaught of Britain and the United States’ love affair with British author, Jane Austen. A love affair that has not abated after fourteen (14) years. In 1995, the BBC aired Andrew Davies’ miniseries adaptation of Austen’s most famous novel, ”Pride and Prejudice”. And later that year, Hollywood released its adaptation of another Austen, ”Sense and Sensibility” – which I had just recently watched.

Directed by Ang Lee, ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”, starred Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay), Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. The story centered around Elinor (Thompson) and Marianne (Winslet), two daughters of Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) by his second wife (Gemma Jones). They have a younger sister, Margaret (Emilie François), and an older half-brother named John (James Fleet). When their father dies, the family estate passes to John, and the Dashwood women are left in reduced circumstances. The story follows the Dashwood sisters to their new home, a cottage on a distant relative’s property (Robert Hardy), where they experience both romance and heartbreak. The contrast between the quiet and sensible Elinor and the extroverted and occasionally impetuous Marianne is eventually resolved as each sister finds love and lasting happiness. This leads some to believe that the story’s title described how Elinor and Marianne find a balance between sense and sensibility in life and love.

Producer Lindsay Doran made an excellent choice in selecting Lee to direct the film. First of all, he drew some excellent performances from his cast – especially from Thompson, Winslet, and Rickman. Lee also effectively drew filmgoers back into Regency England without allowing the film to resemble some kind of stiff painting or a museum piece. Although he initially had trouble with dealing with Western-style of filmmaking – especially in dealing with British cast members who questioned his direction and made suggestions regarding shots. He could be rather authoritarian with the cast, especially with Hugh Grant. The actor ended up calling him ”the Brute” behind his back. But he and the cast eventually got used to each other. Lee was also responsible for insisting that Thompson play the oldest Dashwood sister. And he Lee ordered Winslet to read poetry and novels from the late 18th century and early 19th century in order to get her to connect to Marianne’s romantic nature. And to give the movie its emotional core, he asked both Thompson and Winslet to room together during production. The two actresses remain close friends to this day.

Not only was Lee ably assisted by his superb cast, but also by crew members such as costume designers Jenny Beavan and John Bright, production designer Luciana Arrighi, set decorator Ian Whittaker, art directors Philip Elton and Andrew Sanders; and cinematographer Michael Coulter, whose photography beautifully captured the English countryside in all of its glory. I especially have to give kudos to Coulter’s photography and Arrighi’s production design for a beautiful re-creation of Regency London. I also enjoyed composer Patrick Doyle’s score for the film. His use of John Dowland’s song, “Weep You No More Sad Fountains” as Marianne’s own theme song struck me as very impressive. But I have to especially give kudos to Emma Thompson for her marvelous adaptation of Austen’s novel. It may not have adhered exactly to the novel, but I found it well written, lively and paced just right.

With the exception of two performances, I felt more than impressed with the cast. When Ang Lee had signed on as the movie’s director, he immediately suggested that Emma Thompson portray the oldest Dashwood sister, Elinor. Thompson considered herself too old for the role, considering that Elinor was at least 19-20 years old in the novel. But Lee suggested that she increase Elinor’s age to 27 in the screenplay, which would also make her distress at being a spinster easier for contemporary audiences to understand. Frankly, I feel that Lee made a good choice. Emma Thompson gave a superb performance as Elinor Dashwood, whose practical mind led her to act as the family’s de facto leader, following her father’s death. She also brilliantly conveyed Elinor’s emotional nature behind a mask of reticence via her eyes and various expressions. Kate Winslet had no need to be subtle as the more openly emotional Marianne Dashwood. Winslet was at least 20 years old when she filmed ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY’. Yet, even at that tender age, Winslet proved that she had the talent and acting chops to portray the very complex Marianne. I found it ironic that although her character was not what I would describe as subtle. And yet, Winslet managed to convey all aspects of Marianne’s personality – romantic, willful, emotional and sometimes a bit self-involved.

I found Alan Rickman impressive as one of the Dashwoods’ new neighbors, the quiet and dependable Colonel Christopher Brandon. I enjoyed the subtle manner in which Rickman expressed Brandon’s reluctance in expressing his love for Marianne, due to her feelings for another man. That other man proved to Greg Wise, who gave a surprisingly effective performance as the dashing, yet rakish Edward Willoughby. Wise has never struck me as an exceptional actor, but I must admit that I consider Willoughby to be one of his two best performances. The movie’s supporting cast also included Robert Hardy and the late Elizabeth Spriggs, who gave amusing performances as Sir John Middleton, the Dashwoods’ cousin and benefactor; and Mrs. Jennings, Sir John’s mother-in-law. Gemma Jones was excellent as the emotional and sometimes girlish mother of the Dashwood sisters. I was also impressed by Harriet Walter, who portrayed the sisters’ shrewish sister-in-law, Fanny Dashwood. And Hugh Laurie gave a hilarious performance as the sardonic and long-suffering Mr. Palmer, Mrs. Jennings’ other son-in-law. And I must say that Imogen Stubbs also impressed me by her subtle performance as the cunning and manipulative Lucy Steele, who seemed to have a claim for the same man that Elinor Dashwood longs for.

Speaking of Elinor Dashwood’s love, I finally come to the two performances that had failed to impress me. One of them belonged to Hugh Grant. He portrayed Edward Ferrars, one of Fanny Dashwood’s brothers that happened to be in love with Elinor and is claimed by the manipulative Lucy Steele as her fiancé. Remember his charming, yet modest performance in the hit 1994 comedy, ”FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL”? Well, his Edward Ferrars turned out to be an early 19th century version of his ”FOUR WEDDINGS” role. Grant simply gave the same performance, but with more stuttering and less charm. What had been fresh and original in 1994, ended up as old news a year later in ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”. Fortunately, he managed to create some kind of chemistry with both Thompson and Emilie François, who portrayed the young Margaret Dashwood. Another performance that did nothing for me belonged to Imelda Staunton. She portrayed Charlotte Jennings Palmer, Mrs. Jennings’ daughter and Mr. Palmer’s wife. I realize that she was supposed to be an annoying character, but one could say the same about Sir John and Mrs. Middleton. But whereas I found Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs’ performances amusing, Staunton’s slightly over-the-top portrayal of Charlotte Palmer ended up irritating the hell out of me.

I understand that Andrew Davies had produced his own version of the Austen novel, last year. Since I have yet to see it, I cannot compare it to the 1995 version, directed by Ang Lee. I do know that I am more than impressed with this particular version. It came as no surprise to me that it earned seven (7) Academy Award nominations and won one (1) for Thompson’s Adapted Screenplay. ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” is one movie I could watch over again without ever getting tired of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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R.I.P.  Robert Hardy (1925-2017)

 

 

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 14/20

 

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART XIV

“Oh my God!” Piper wailed in despair. “Oh my God! I can’t believe this has happened!”

Phoebe retorted darkly, “I can. I told you there was something off about her.”

Paige added, “I thought that the bottle had contained a power stripping potion. But she already had Wyatt’s powers.” 

“The milk was probably poisoned,” Cecile explained. “Ms. Thompson needs to kill Wyatt in order to make the power transfer complete.”

The youngest Charmed One glanced at her former brother-in-law. “Like when Barbas had Cole’s powers?”

“Yeah.” Cecile glanced at the opened double doors that led to the backyard and headed in that direction.

Phoebe asked Cole, “Why did you wait so long to try to vanquish her?”

Piper rolled her eyes, as the half-demon gingerly handed over Wyatt to her. “Well that’s a good idea, Pheebs. Cole should have attacked her, while she was holding my son. Who no longer has his powers.”

“I doubt that I would have been able to kill her anyway,” Cole added. “I had noticed that she was wearing that amulet.”

A distressed Piper wailed, “Oh God! How in the hell are we going to get Wyatt’s powers back?” The infant in her arms began to cry. “Oh Wyatt, honey! I’m sorry. Mommy’s sorry.”

Olivia added, “If this Daley Bakker had waited this long to do the ritual, why did she pick tonight?” She stared at Andre. “And who exactly is she?”

Andre sighed. “Daley Bakker . . . happens to be a member of the Anansi Order.”

A low whistle escaped from Cole’s mouth. Olivia gasped aloud. The Charmed Ones stared at the couple. Frowning, Paige asked, “Who is this Anansi Order? And why have both Cole and Olivia heard about it?”

Before Andre could answer, Olivia said, “Victor Lacroix. He . . . uh, he was a drug dealer, who was a member of this criminal organization called the Anansi Order. I had to go to Louisiana over four years ago to extradite him. For murder. That’s how Cecile and I first met Andre.” She glanced at Andre. “You mean to say that Daley Bakker is . . .?”

Andre finished, “. . . one of the top drug lords on the West Coast. In this country. Her distribution area is from California to Texas. My old boss, Victor Lacroix, covered the entire Mississippi Valley – from Minnesota to Louisiana. And any area east of the Alleghenies. The Anansi Order is a group of criminals who are heavy into the West African supernatural. Many of them are familiar with Vodoun . . . which means that most of them are powerful bokors. Victor was among the few who had hired a bokor to work for him.” He paused. “Namely me. Back in ’97 or ’98, Victor was visiting San Francisco, when he had murdered some local drug dealer.”

“He had left the city before the police could arrest him,” Olivia finished. “Then around the spring of ’99, we had received a tip that he could be found in Morgan City, Louisiana. My captain contacted the law there. And I was ordered to bring him back.”

The houngan added, “I was the one who had tipped the police about Victor’s whereabouts.”

Paige gave him a thoughtful stare. “You snitched on him.”

Nodding, Andre replied, “Yeah. To get control of his operation. Only . . .” He shook his head in disbelief. “I didn’t count on meeting Cecile. And Olivia, of course.” He had the red-haired witch exchanged fond smiles.

“What about this Daley Bakker?” Phoebe asked. “If she was in control of the West Coast, how could she allow this Victor Whatshisname to commit a crime in her area?”

With a shrug, Andre replied, “I don’t know. I never met the woman. But I have heard of her. After Olivia had brought Victor back here, he was mysteriously killed, while in jail. It’s believed that Ms. Bakker had arranged the hit. The Cartel had tried to kill me, after I had turned my back on them. But they had apparently gave up . . .” Andre’s eyes grew hard. “. . . after I dealt with a few of their people.” He sighed. “Like I said, I’ve heard of Ms. Daley Bakker. She had started manufacturing cocaine in the small factory she used for her herbal products. And this was around the time she had reached her mid-twenties. A year or two later, she was manufacturing ‘Cat’ from a ranch outside . . .”

Piper cried out in dismay, “You mean to say that my son’s nanny is a drug lord?”

“What’s Cat?” Paige demanded.

“Methacathinone,” Olivia explained. “Powdered drug that’s inhaled.”

Andre added, “Victor had several labs, outside New Orleans. I don’t know where Ms. Bakker had her labs, but before Victor’s arrest, she had been a member of the cartel for at least three or four years.”

Phoebe asked, “Who’s the head of this order? A demon?”

“Who cares?” Piper retorted. “That bitch has my son’s powers! I’m more concerned about her.” She turned to Andre. “Where does she live?”

Olivia interrupted, “Piper? Before you go charging after this woman, may I remind you that she now has Wyatt’s powers? And we don’t even know if Cole will be able to deal with her.”

“You saw how he had blocked her energy balls!”

Cole added, “Yeah, but she can probably do the same to my powers. Like Dako. And she has that amulet.”

Piper demanded, “So, what do we do?”

Andre sighed, “Other than try to keep Wyatt safe, I don’t know. Like Olivia had said, Daley Bakker needs to kill him in order to keep his powers. Permanently. The only way out of this mess is to find out what kind of ritual she had used.”

“And how do we do that?” Phoebe asked.

“I . . .”

Cecile returned to the others. “Look what I found, outside.” She held up what looked like a strand of weed or some kind of plant. “Bloodroot. Daley Whatshername must have used it as a substitute for Wyatt’s blood.”

“Then why was she taking hair from Wyatt’s brush?” Phoebe asked.

“She probably combined the bloodroot with the hair.”

Paige’s face puckered in distate. “Eww!”

“It’s a hell of a lot better than using Wyatt’s blood,” Cecile argued. “Which she would have never been able to get, anyway.”

Andre added, “Which would explain why she had waited until tonight for the ritual.”

Cecile nodded. “The first quarter moon. Naturally, one would use a ritual for some kind of transfer, when the moon is in transition.” She broke away.

Andre continued, “Must have been a powerful ritual that she had used. Then again, we’re talking about Wyatt here. Such a ritual would have been needed for his powers. The best thing I can suggest is that you keep him under wraps.”

“Hey! Look at what I had found!” Cecile’s voice cried. The others followed her voice to the Solarium. She pointed at a blanket filled with a few objects, on the sofa. “Must be part of the altar that Ms. Bakker had . . .” The blanket, along with the items, disappeared. Cecile frowned. “What the hell?”

Olivia turned to Cole. “Can you get them back?” The half-demon waved his over the empty spot. The blanket and the items reappeared. But only briefly. They disappeared a second time, before he could react.

Paige cried out, “Altar!” After a few seconds, the space on the sofa remained empty.

“Oh great!” Piper exclaimed. “Now what?”

Andre replied, “Like I said, keep Wyatt under wraps. Cecile and I can find out what ritual the Bakker woman had used. Only I don’t know how long it would take us to find a way to reverse the spell.”

Piper sighed. “Oh God! I guess I better take him to the Whitelighter Realm.”

“He won’t be safe there,” Olivia said, taking the Charmed One by surprise.

“What?”

Olivia continued, “Piper, this Daley Bakker has Wyatt’s powers. She probably knows about Leo and has already met Chris. I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts searching for him . . . up there.”

Looking slightly exasperated, Piper began, “Then where do I . . .?”

“Keep him here,” Olivia suggested. She nodded at the half-demon. “And have Cole cast a protection spell over the house. I doubt that even Daley Bakker will be able to get inside.”

“Great.”

Shaking her head, Phoebe murmured, “Boy, she really played this beautifully.” Piper stared at her. “Daley Bakker, I mean. I wonder how long she had been planning this?”

“Who knows?” Cecile commented.

Phoebe added, “And hiring that demon to attack Piper and Wyatt. Very well planned.”

“Phoebe, do you mind NOT EXPRESSING your admiration for this woman?” an annoyed Piper grumbled. At that moment, blue orbs appeared before the group, eventually forming into both Leo and Chris.

The young Elder glanced around the room, his troubled eyes resting briefly upon Cole and Andre. “The Council had felt a disturbance, not long ago,” he commented. “From here. What just happened?”

Piper heaved a silent sigh. As if her night could not get any worse.

———–

The moment Daley had teleported into the warehouse, she marched straight toward her right hand man, Marc. The latter sat behind a small table that held a computer laptop. “Is everything ready?” she demanded.

“Yeah.” Marc stared at her. “How did it go? Did you . . .?”

Daley spotted a mouse scampering across the floor. She incinerated it with an electrical ball. “. . . perform the ritual? Yeah, I did.”

Marc’s eyes widened in shock. “Damn woman! That’s some firepower!” He stared at the last remains of the mouse – a scorch mark on the floor. “What happened to the mouse? It’s gone.”

“Precisely.” Daley bent over his left shoulder. “Let’s get this show going. Contact Ruben in L.A.”

Still looking slightly stumped, Marc mumbled, “All right.” He flipped open his cell phone and dialed a number. Then . . . “Yeah Ruben, it’s me. Marc. Time for the delivery.” He stared at Daley, who walked over to a stack of crates. She waved one hand over the stack and the crates immediately disappeared. She returned to Marc’s side and they both began to stare at the laptop’s screen. A few minutes passed before the computer indicated a deposit of 32 million dollars into the bank account of Daley’s organization. Marc grinned. “It worked.” He said to Ruben over the phone, “Transaction has completed, Ruben. See you in a few days.” Then he hung up. “Man, that was fast!”

Daley nodded sharply. “Of course. Now, contact Gloria in Denver.” Marc did as he was told. The sorceress teleported another stack of crates out of the warehouse. Minutes later, the pair learned that they had just earned a profit of eleven million dollars.

With a smile stamped on his face, Marc declared, “So far, we’ve earned 43 million dollars, tonight. Damn”
“And it’s not over,” Daley coolly added. “Call Tony.”

Marc contacted the sorceress’ agent in Houston. Daley teleported the remaining crates to the Texas metropolis. A few minutes passed before their account reflected a deposit of 20 million dollars. “That’s it,” Marc declared. “We’ve made 63 million dollars, tonight. That’s . . . shit! This is the biggest delivery we’ve ever made in one day. This is like . . . history! Any more nights like this . . . hell! We can control the entire order.” He paused. “So, I guess that everything went according to plan.”

Daley snapped, “Not quite!”

“What do you mean?”

With a sigh, Daley explained what had happened at the Halliwell home. “With Wyatt still alive, there’s a chance that the ritual can be reversed . . . or it will be reversed by the end of the moon’s next Last Quarter. I have to get rid of him. Fast!”

“Do you think that Andre Morrell might find out about the ritual?” Marc asked.

Again, Daley sighed. “I don’t know. Either he will or that girlfriend of his. The mambo I had met.” Recalling the good-looking attorney who had blocked her attacks, Daley demanded, “And who in the hell is this Cole Turner?”

Marc looked stupefied. “Who?”

“I had met a tall, good-looking man, yesterday. He was with Piper, the Dubois woman and that red-haired witch,” Daley explained. She then described how Cole Turner had easily deflected the electrokinetic power that she had stolen from Wyatt. “Either Wyatt isn’t as strong as we had believed . . . or there’s another player in this game.” She fixed Marc with a hard stare. “Find that warlock friend of yours. Get him to tell me everything he knows about this Turner guy. Meanwhile . . . I’ll have to find a way to get close to Wyatt, again. And kill him.”

END OF PART XIV

Ranking of Movies Seen During Summer 2017

Usually I would list my ten favorite summer movies of any particular year. However, since I had only watched ten new releases during the summer of 2017. Due to the limited number, I decided to rank the films that I saw:

 

RANKING OF MOVIES SEEN DURING SUMMER 2017

1.  “Dunkirk” – Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this acclaimed look at the British Expeditionary Force’s evacuation from Dunkirk, France in 1940.  Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance starred.

 

 

2.  “Wonder Woman” – Gal Gadot starred in this movie about the D.C. Comics’ heroine Wonder Woman and her experiences during World War I.  Patty Jenkins directed.

 

 

3.  “Detroit” – Kathryn Biegelow directed this harrowing look at the Algiers Motel incident during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot.  John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith and Anthony Mackie starred.

 

 

4.  “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” – Johnny Depp returned as Jack Sparrow in this fifth entry in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise.  Directed by Espen Sanberg and Joachim Rønning, the movie co-starred Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.

 

 

5.  “Baby Driver” – Edgar Wright wrote and directed this tale about a young Atlanta getaway driver and music lover who is forced to work for a kingpin in order to settle a debt.  Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Kevin Spacey starred.

 

 

6.  “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” – Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson starred in this comedy action-thriller about a bodyguard who hired to protect a hitman who has to testify at the International Criminal Court.  Patrick Hughes directed.

 

 

7.  “King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword” – Guy Ritchie directed this new spin on the King Arthur legend and the monarch’s conflict against his treasonous uncle.  Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law starred.

 

 

8.  “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” –   Luc Besson wrote and directed this adaptation of Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières’ science fiction comics series “Valérian and Laureline”.  The movie starred Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne.

 

 

9.  “Spider-Man:  Homecoming” – Tom Holland starred as Spider-Man aka Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)’s first solo film featuring the web slinger.   Jon Watts directed.

 

 

10. “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2″ – James Gunn wrote and directed this followup to the 2014 hit “Guardians of the Galaxy” for the MCU.  Chris Pratt, Zoë Saldana and Kurt Russell starred.

“THE PUBLIC EYE” (1992) Review

 

“THE PUBLIC EYE” (1992) Review

Over twenty years ago, I came across a small period drama, while perusing my local video rental store. I never had any intention of watching this movie. In fact, I had never heard of it before . . . despite being a fan of the two leading stars. 

I read somewhere that “THE PUBLIC EYE” was inspired by the career of New York Daily News photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig. In fact, some of the photographs featured in the film had been taken by Fellig, himself. But the movie is not a biopic. Instead, “THE PUBLIC EYE” told the story of one Leon “Bernzy” Bernstein, a freelance crime and street photographer for the New York City tabloids, whose work is known for its realistic depiction of the city and all of its citizens. Due to his realistic photography and willingness to resort to any means to snap graphic shots of crime scenes, he is known as “the Great Berzini”.

Sometime during 1942, America’s first year into World War II, Bernzy is summoned by a widowed Manhattan nightclub owner named Kay Levitz. One of local New York mobs is trying to muscle in on her business. Kay asks Bernzy to investigate an individual she considers troublesome. Generally unsuccessful with women, Bernzy agrees to help Kay, as he slowly begins to fall in love with her. Bernzy talks to a few of his contacts, including journalist Arthur Nabler, and tracks down Kay’s troublesome man. Only the latter had been murdered. Bernzy’s activities attract the attention of the New York police, the F.B.I. and two rival mob leaders. Through a connection to a local gangster named Sal, Bernzy discovers that Kay’s husband had got involved with a mob turf war over illegal gas rationing and the Federal government.

“THE PUBLIC EYE” did not make much of an impact on the U.S. movie box office, when it hit the theaters during the fall of 1992. In fact, I do not believe that the studio that released it – Universal Studios – made any effort to publicize it. Worse, the movie eventually garnered mixed reviews. However, I had no idea of all of this until I saw the movie, years later. My first reaction to this lack of attention by Universal and the mixed reviews was surprised. My second reaction was . . . disappointment. Well, I was not that disappointed with the movie’s mixed reviews. After all, I believe in the old adage “to each his own”. But even to this day, I feel slightly disappointed that Universal Studios did very little to publicize this movie. Why? I thought “THE PUBLIC EYE” was a lot better than many assumed it to be – including the studio suits.

Was there anything about “THE PUBLIC EYE” that I disliked? Or found hard to swallow? To be honest . . . no. Let me correct myself – very little. After all, the movie was perfect. A part of me wishes it could have been a little longer than its 99 minute running time. And if I must be honest again, the mystery surrounding the death of Kay Levitz’s tormentor did not last very long. Not much time had passed before the story had revealed the gas rationing scandal behind the tormentor’s murder . . . or the identity of the movie’s main antagonist. Personally, I saw no reason why screenwriter-director Howard Franklin tried to present this plot as some kind of mystery.

And yet . . . I really enjoyed “THE PUBLIC EYE”. In fact, it is a personal favorite of mine. There seemed to be so much that I found enjoyable in this movie. Although Franklin’s plot did not prove to be much of a mystery, I must admit that I enjoyed how the corruption tale provided a strong link to civilian life during America’s early period in World War II. The plot also seemed to provide a strong historical background of life during this time in New York City’s history. I enjoyed how Franklin’s screenplay made such strong connections between the city’s major criminals, the Federal government and the goods rationing that dominated the lives of American citizens during the war. But what I really enjoyed about this movie is its final action sequence that featured a gangland mass murder inside a local Italian restaurant photographed by the main protagonist. Franklin did a superb job in capturing this sequence on film that it still gives me goosebumps whenever I watch it.

Some film critic – I forgot his name – once complained that the “noir” atmosphere for “THE PUBLIC EYE” seemed superficial and not particularly engaging. Personally, I loved the movie’s atmosphere. Not because I believe that it permeated with a sense of a “noir” film. I loved it because I thought it permeated with a sense of what life was for the many citizens of New York City during those early years of the war. The movie portrayed how different social groups based on class and ethnic differences are forced to live together in one metropolis during a difficult time in American history. Bernzy’s own background as a Jewish immigrant from Russia and his profession were used against him on several occasions. This especially seemed to be the case with the elitist book publisher who seemed disturbed by the former’s name and the realistic images he took; and Danny, the Irish-born doorman and snob who not only worked at Kay’s nightclub, but also regarded Bernzy as beneath him. Even Kay’s own background as a showgirl led people to regard her as some gold digger who had achieved some social status via marriage to a nightclub owner. This explained how two such diverse people managed to click on an emotional level throughout most of the movie.

Visually, “THE PUBLIC EYE” seemed like a treat. Watching it made me feel as if I had landed right in the middle of Manhattan, circa 1942, thanks to art directors Bo Johnson and Dina Lipton, set decorator Jan K. Bergstrom, and costume designer Jane Robinson, who had created some very interesting costumes for Barbara Hershey. I was especially impressed by the work of production designer, Marcia Hinds, who I believe more than anyone, contributed to the movie’s early 1940s setting and atmosphere.

I had checked Howard Franklin’s filmography and discovered that he had only directed three movies so far. Considering the first-rate performances featured in this film, it seemed a miracle that Franklin’s lack of real experience did not hamper them. I do not know which role I would consider to be my favorite performed by Joe Pesci. But I do know that Leon “Bernzy” Bernstein is one of my top three favorite characters he has ever portrayed. I thought Pesci did a superb job in portraying a character who is not only driven by his ambition for his profession, but also racked with loneliness, due to how others tend to perceive him. Barbara Hershey gave a very subtle and skillfully ambiguous performance as the widowed nightclub owner, Kay Levitz. Hershey’s Kay came off as a warm and compassionate woman who understood Bernzy, due to her own struggles over how others perceive her and at the same time, a reluctantly pragmatic woman who is forced, at times, to sacrifice her self-esteem for the sake of survival.

The movie also benefited from a collection of first-rate performance from major supporting cast members. One of those performances came from Jared Harris, who did an excellent job in conveying the snobbish aspect of his character, the Irish-born Danny, who worked at Kay’s nightclub as a doorman. Stanley Tucci gave a terrific and subtle performance as a low-level mobster named Sal, who provides the final link to Bernzy’s investigation into the gas ration scandal. Jerry Adler, whom I recall from the CBS series, “THE GOOD WIFE”, gave an emotional and complex performance as one of Bernzy’s few friends, a journalist named Arthur Nabler. Both Dominic Chianese and Richard Foronjy were excellent as the two mob warring bosses, Spoleto and Frank Farinelli. The movie also featured solid performances from the likes of Richard Riehle, Bob Gunton, Tim Gamble, Patricia Healy and Del Close.

I realize that many critics do not have a high opinion of “THE PUBLIC EYE”. Why? Well, I never did bother to learn the reason behind their attitude. Perhaps I never really bothered is because I enjoyed the movie so much. In fact, I fell in love with it when I first saw it. And my feelings for “THE PUBLIC EYE” has not changed over the years, thanks to Howard Franklin’s direction and script, along with a first-rate cast led by Joe Pesci and Barbara Hershey.

 

 

 

“THE ACCOUNTANT” (2016) Review

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“THE ACCOUNTANT” (2016) Review

I have seen some unusual crime dramas in my life. Most of these films or television programs usually revolved around odd narrative structures, characters in unusual situations or characters with eccentric ticks. And I have also seen the occasional film about autistic characters. But for the likes of me, I cannot recall seeing a crime drama of any form in which the main character is autistic . . . until I saw the recent film, “THE ACCOUNTANT”

Written by Bill Dubuque and directed by Gavin O’Connor, “THE ACCOUNTANT” told the story of Christian Wolff, a mental calculator who works as a forensic accountant at ZZZ Accounting in Plainfield, Illinois. Christian also tracks insider financial deceptions for numerous criminal enterprises. His services are brokered to him by a “Voice on his phone”, from a restricted number. Christian had been diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism and offered an opportunity to live at Harbor Neuroscience Institute in New Hampshire. However, his Army officer father thought otherwise and decided Christian learn to overcome his autism via extensive training in martial arts and sharpshooting. This decision drove Christian’s mother to leave his family, which included a younger brother.

The story begins with “The Voice” giving Christian a new assignment – auditing state-of-the-art robotics corporation Living Robotics, whose in-house accountant, Dana Cummings, has found suspicious financial discrepancies. The company’s CEO and his sister, Lamar Blackburn, and his sister, associate Rita Blackburn, willingly cooperate with Christian’s investigation; but CFO Ed Chilton dismisses Dana’s findings as a mistake. When Christian – with minor help from Dana – eventually discover the embezzlement of $61 million dollars from the company, a hitman named Braxton forces the diabetic Chilton to self-administer a fatal insulin overdose by threatening to kill both him and his wife brutally in the manner of a home invasion. The Blackburns later surmises that Chilton was the embezzler and close the investigation, leaving Christian distraught as he has not completed his study. However, the embezzler decides that both Christian and Dana still poses a major threat and instructs Braxton and his men to kill the pair. At the same time, Christian’s past activities have attracted the attention of Raymond King, the director of FinCENin the Treasury Department, who recruits a young data analyst named Marybeth Medina into helping him identify and arrest Christian. He does this via blackmail by threatening to expose her undeclared criminal past if she refuses.

Judging from the above mentioned plot, one would surmise that “THE ACCOUNTANT” has a complicated plot. I would not say that. I would not label Dubuque’s screenplay as simplistic or unoriginal. But I must admit that the embezzlement plot was not exactly a brain teaser for me. It did not take me very long to figure out the identity of the embezzler and Braxton’s client. More importantly, Christian’s final encounter with the embezzler ended on a . . . well, anti-climatic note for me. Let me rephrase this. That final encounter started out rather exciting, due to Christian’s fights with Braxton and his men, who found themselves serving as the embezzler’s bodyguard. But the manner in which that entire action scene ended struck me as anti-climatic and rather disappointing.

Despite its ending, I must admit that I found most of “THE ACCOUNTANT” rather enjoyable. The creme of the movie proved to be its deep exploration of the Christian Wolff character struck me as very interesting – especially the flashbacks featuring his childhood and the tragic circumstances that led to his father’s death. The story delved into his problems with overcoming his autism, his father’s refusal to consent professional counseling for his, and his struggles to interact with others. The movie also explored Christian’s few successes in forming relationships with a small handful of people that include his younger brother; the mute daughter of the Harbor Neuroscience Institute’s director named Justine; an accountant he had met during a brief stint in prison named Francis Silverberg; an Illinois farm couple that allowed him to practice his sharpshooting on his property; and Dana Cummings. I was also taken by surprised by Christian’s connection to FinCEN Agent King and the latter’s reason for coercing Agent Medina to investigate the case. Perhaps this is why “THE ACCOUNTANT” worked better as a character study/crime drama . . . without the mystery of the embezzler’s identity attached to it.

“THE ACCOUNTANT” featured some solid performances from the supporting cast that included John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Jeffrey Tambor, Andy Umberger, Alison Wright, Robert C. Treveiler, Ron Prather and Susan Williams. But I especially enjoyed Jon Bernthal’s performance as the ruthless, yet sardonic hit man, Braxton. I also enjoyed Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s portrayal as the blackmailed Agent Marybeth Medina, whose fear of being exposed gradually crumbled away due to a desire to pursue justice. J.K. Simmons gave an interesting performance as Agent Ray King, whose ruthless pursuit of Christian proved to be unusually emotional. Anna Kendrick gave a rather charming performance as accountant Dana Cummings, whose original response to Christian seemed to be one of bewilderment. As the two become close, both Kendrick and Ben Affleck developed a charming, sibling-like chemistry on-screen.

Speaking of Affleck, I thought he gave one of the most interesting performances of his career, so far. I realize that many critics and moviegoers tend to overlook Affleck’s acting skills – something that I never understood – but I thought he really knocked it out of the ballpark portraying a character who was not only a highly skilled ex-military type, but also someone who is both a mental calculator and is autistic. Hollywood has featured a lead who is autistic (1988’s “RAIN MAN”) and even a young autistic boy who had witnessed a murder (1998’s “MERCURY RISING”). But a leading man in an action film? The character of Christian Wolff and Ben Affleck’s performance was something quite new to me.

Yes, I will admit that I was a little disappointed by the mystery surrounding the movie’s embezzling plot. I was also a bit disappointed by how the movie’s final action sequence ended. I found it a bit too anti-climatic. But I really enjoyed the rest of the movie, especially its portrayal of the main character, Christian Wolff. I thought director Gavin O’Connor handled both an interesting story created by screenwriter Bill Dubuque and an excellent cast, led by the talented Ben Affleck, in what I believe might be one of his most interesting roles.

“The Power of One” [PG-13] – 13/20

“THE POWER OF ONE”

PART XIII

“Sheila . . . Sheila hon . . . Yes. Yes, I know that it’s past eight o’clock. I’m sorry honey, but . . .” With the phone glued to his ear, Darryl waited patiently, as his wife demanded an explanation for his failure to leave the police station.

When she finally finished, Darryl found himself with the opportunity to continue. “Yes honey. I know that I’m supposed to be at the McNeills by now.” Since his wife happened to be a computer software consultant, the Morrises had managed to wangle an invitation to the McNeills’ cocktail party in honor of Cecile Dubois. “Look Sheila, I’ll try to get there as soon as possible. But I won’t be able to, unless I finish this report. The captain wants it ASAP.”

“All right,” Sheila conceded. “I’ll let you get back to your work. But hurry up and get here, Darryl. I’m getting tired of fending off horny business executives who want to know if I’m alone.”

A relieved Darryl parted with, “Okay sweetheart. Good-bye,” before he hung up the telephone. Then he leaned back into his chair and sighed.

Scott Yi, one of the detectives on his squad; appeared by his desk, holding a large yellow envelope. “Trouble in paradise?”

“No, it’s just . . .” Darryl let out a gust of breath. “I have a long and difficult report to finish on the Winston case. McPherson wants it tonight. And I was supposed to take Sheila to the McNeills’ party.” He sighed. “I guess it’s time to get back to the salt mine.” Then he noticed the younger man’s presence. “Why are you still here?”

Scott shrugged his shoulders. “I have a report to finish. The Jose Ortiz shooting.”

“Go home and finish it, tomorrow,” Darryl ordered. “Unlike the captain, I don’t need it right away.”

“Okay.” Scott paused, before tossing the envelope in his hand, on Darryl’s desk. “One last thing. It came in for Olivia. From Deborah Liu.”

Darryl grabbed the envelope. “Oh yeah. Must be the results on the prints from the Halliwells’ new nanny.” He opened the envelope and withdrew a few sheets. A gasp left his mouth, as he read the forensic results. “Holy shit!” he exclaimed.

Scott frowned. “What’s wrong?”

“Piper’s new nanny. She gave Piper a phony name, when she was hired.” Darryl reached for the telephone and dialed the number to the McNeill house. When he heard a busy signal, he hung up. Then he stood from his chair and snatched his jacket. “Look, could you do me a favor and finish my report on the Winston case for me?” he asked Scott. “The notes are on my desk.”

Nodding, the younger man replied, “Sure. Where are you going?”

To the McNeills’ house. Looks like I’m going to make that party, after all.” Darryl fished out his cell phone, as he made his way to the exit.

———-

With all of her items in place on the blanket outside, Daley returned inside to fetch Wyatt from the Solarium. She reached inside and lifted the infant from the crib. Then she carried him outside and placed him on the blanket.

After taking a deep breath, Daley squatted on the blanket, and began the ritual. She closed her eyes and commenced in the Fon language, “Oh Kalfu, I beseech you to open a path between the spirits of myself and this child before me.”

A bright light swirled around the two figures on the blanket, until it formed a straight line between Daley and Wyatt. Then Daley continued the ritual.

———–

The McNeills’ manservant quietly appeared by Olivia’s side and murmured to her, “Pardon me, Miss Olivia, but there is a telephone call for you. It’s Mr. Morris and he says it’s an emergency.”

The red-haired witch thanked Davies and excused herself from a group of guests. She headed toward the foyer and picked up the telephone receiver. “Hello? Darryl?”

“Yeah, Olivia. It’s me,” her partner’s voice announced.

Olivia continued, “Shouldn’t you be here by now? I think that Sheila is starting to get wor . . .”

“I’m already on my way,” Darryl said, interrupting. “Look, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. I’ve got the Forensics report on those prints.”

Mild disgust tinged Olivia’s voice. “It’s about time! Why does it take so long for them to . . .”

A frustrated sigh filled the redhead’s ear. “Olivia! Shut up and listen! Please! The prints on that glass belong to a thirty-eight year-old woman named Daley Bakker. With two Ks. She owns a herbal shop on Telegraph Road.”

“Daley Bakker?” The news astounded Olivia, despite her suspicions. “Not Donna Thompson?”

Darryl repeated, “No, her name is Daley Bakker. I thought you should know, since that’s not the name she had given Piper.”

“Thanks Darryl. I guess I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Olivia hung up and let out a gust of breath. Daley Bakker. Now, why on earth would Miss Bakker use an alias to get a job as Wyatt’s nanny?

Olivia rushed back to the large drawingroom. She scanned the crowd, until her eyes fell upon Phoebe standing near Jason. Looking bored. Olivia made her way to the Charmed One’s side and tugged the latter’s arm. “Hey! Phoebe? Mind if I speak to you for a minute?”

Phoebe shot the redhead a confused look. “Huh? Oh . . . sure.” She turned to her boyfriend. “Um, would you excuse me, Jason? I’ll be back.”

Ignoring the billionaire’s puzzled stare, Olivia led Phoebe to a quiet spot near the fireplace. “Where’s Paige?” she finally asked. “We need to find her right away, in order to get back to your house. Or maybe Cole.”

“What’s wrong?” Phoebe demanded.

Olivia told the Charmed One about the telephone call she had received from Darryl. “In other words, we were right about Ms. Thompson . . . or Ms. Bakker. She was using a phony name. Where’s Paige?”

Looking alarmed, Phoebe replied, “I saw her heading outside with Harry. Toward the garden.”

“Figures. Listen, could you try to get a hold of Piper?”

“Yeah . . . uh . . . I have a cell phone on me.” Phoebe reached inside her small purse for her cell phone. The two women passed through the French doors and headed outside. As they made their way toward the garden, Phoebe retrieved her cell phone. The moment she tried to activate her phone, she cried out, “Dammit! My batteries are dead!”

The pair continued their frantic search for the youngest Charmed One, until they came across two figures partially hidden by the darkness. “I think I see someone,” Olivia declared. “Come on.” She grabbed Phoebe’s arm and led the other woman toward the couple.

———–

They stood near one of the house’s thick adobe walls. “Okay Andre,” Cecile said. “You finally got me alone. Now, what do you want?”

Taken slightly aback by Cecile’s cool tone, Andre hesitated. “I . . . uh,” he began uneasily. “I understand that . . .” He broke off in a fit of frustration. “What the hell is wrong with me? Look, what I’m trying to say is that . . .”

Cecile regarded him warily. “Cole told you. Didn’t he? Or was it Olivia?”

In a sad voice, Andre said, “It was Cole. He told me the night we all had dinner at his place.”

“Yeah, I figured as much.”

Andre continued, “Why didn’t you tell me that you were planning to dump me? If I had known that you were dissatisfied . . .”

Cecile heaved a long sigh. “It’s not you, Andre. It’s me. I just . . . I don’t think our relationship is going anywhere. I mean . . . we’ve been seeing each other for over three years. Four, next spring. I don’t know. Maybe I want something more for us. You know – build some kind of life together.”

“What made you think that I didn’t want the same?” Andre demanded.

Looking slightly embarrassed, Cecile shot back, “I didn’t! Okay? I was afraid to bring up the subject. And you . . .” She hesitated, looking away. “You seemed pretty happy with the way things were.”

Andre shook his head in confusion. “What made you come to that conclusion? Did you ask me or something?”

“Listen, I didn’t just decide . . .” Cecile began to protest. “I mean, I was going to say something. Only . . .” She sighed. “I just couldn’t work up the nerve. I don’t want to lose you, Andre. But if we keep going as we are now, I don’t think we’re going to stay together very long. I’m just no longer happy with the way things are now. But I don’t want to force you to make a choice that you might not be ready for.”

Stuffing his hand into one pocket, Andre could feel the small velvet box that contained the engagement ring. “What makes you think I’m not ready?”

Her eyes wide with shock, Cecile stared at him. “What are you saying? That you are?”

At that moment, Andre allowed his fingers to clutch the ring’s case. Come hell or high water, he would propose to this woman. Tonight. And hopefully, wipe away any doubt or fear that she might harbor about his feelings. Andre opened his mouth. “Cecile, would . . .”

“Paige, Harry, we need to speak . . .” Olivia’s voice took Andre by surprise. The redhead and Phoebe emerged beside them. Olivia blinked a few times and stared at the couple. “Oh! Cecile, Andre. I thought . . .”

Annoyed by the interruption, Andre sharply demanded, “What is it?”

“We’re looking for Paige,” Phoebe replied. “There’s an emergency at home.”

Her attention now focused on the two witches, Cecile frowned. “Emergency?”

With a sigh, Olivia explained about the information that Darryl had conveyed to her. “Miss Donna Thompson is actually the owner of a herbal shop on Telegraph Road. Her name is Daley Bakker. With two Ks.”

“Daley Bakker?” The mention of the name sent Andre’s mind spiraling back into the past. Back to the days of his association with drug dealer Victor Lacroix, now deceased. He then snapped out of his reverie and frowned at Olivia. “Are you sure that’s the name Darryl gave you?”

This time, Olivia frowned. “You know her?”

“I don’t know her, personally,” Andre explained. “But I’ve heard of her.” He immediately forgot about the engagement ring and started toward the house. “Phoebe, you better find Paige, fast. And get Piper. We’ll get Cole. If that woman is Daley Bakker, Wyatt is in serious trouble.”

————

After delivering her offer to Kalfu, Daley continued with the ritual.

She grabbed the small plastic bag that held strands of Wyatt’s hair, removed the hair and wrapped strands of a blood root them around them. Then she placed it all inside a small metal bowl. The spell originally called for blood, but since Daley figured that Wyatt’s natural shield would prevent her from shedding his blood, his hair – along with the bloodroot – could serve as a substitute. Daley dropped a lit match into the bowl, producing a puff of smoke. The sorceress dropped a combination of her hair and bloodroot into another bowl and incinerated it with another lit match.

“Oh Kalfu, please lift the power of magic from this child and deliver it to my body, so I can serve you.”  She continued with a chant of devotion to the god Kalfu, while shaking a rattle. A bright light glowed around Wyatt. He began to squirm and cry, as the light shot above his body, formed an arc and settled upon Daley’s body. The sorceress inhaled deeply, as she felt his power settle within her. She then ended the ritual by offering her thanks to Kalfu.

Satisfied with the completion of her task, Daley decided to test her new powers. She eyed the rattle on blanket and within seconds, it teleported into her hand. The ritual had worked. She was now the most powerful sorceress in existence. And all she had to do was complete the ritual’s final task.

Daley picked up Wyatt, along with the blanket and its contents from the ground. “Hey there,” she said to the wailing infant. “No need to cry like that. Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything’s gonna be all right. Within a few minutes, all of your worries will be over.” A smile curved her lips. “Permanently.”

————-

The Charmed Ones and Harry orbed into the middle of the Solarium. They found Donna . . . or Daley about to feed a bottle of milk to Wyatt. Fearing that some kind of power stripping potion was in the bottle, Paige reacted immediately. She orbed the bottle out of the nanny’s hand and into hers.

“What the hell?” Donna/Daley angrily cried out. She waved her hand at the newcomers and sent them flying out of the room. The bottle dropped from Paige’s grasp.

“Wow!” Harry exclaimed, struggling to his feet. “Looks like she already has Wyatt’s powers.”

Phoebe suggested fearfully, as Harry helped her stand up. “Maybe that’s her own power.”

A grim Piper retorted, “Trust me, it’s not.”

“She’s telling the truth.” Daley emerged from the Solarium, holding Wyatt. “Now if you don’t mind, I would like that bottle back.” The object of desire orbed from the floor and back into her possession.

Four more people teleported into the middle of the living room. Paige sighed with relief at the sight of Olivia, Cole, Cecile and Andre. Annoyance flitted across the nanny’s face. “Oh, what the hell is this? A party?” Again, she flung out her hand, sending the newly arrived quartet flying across the room. It shocked Paige that even Cole seemed to be affected. Daley added, “I think it’s time to end this little party.” An energy ball formed in her hand before she flung it at Cole and the others. The half-demon quickly held out his hand and blocked the attack. Much to Paige’s relief. Don . . . Daley regarded him with dismay. “That’s not possible! Who are you?” She sent another energy ball toward his direction. And again, he blocked the attack.

Then to Paige’s dismay, the fake nanny focused her attention upon the Charmed Ones and Harry, and attacked them with an energy ball. As the ball of electricity zoomed toward them, Paige cried out, “Energy ball!” Unfortunately, it continued it path toward the sisters and Harry. Cole used his telekinesis to redirect the energy ball into another direction and it slammed against a wall.

The nanny growled in frustration and began to orb out of the room. Paige held her breath, as Cole beamed the infant out of Daley’s arms. He finally sent an energy ball at the Vodoun woman, but the latter could disappear for good before it could strike.

END OF PART XIII