Winter of Frozen Dreams

2009

Winter of Frozen Dreams

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The true story of the first televised murder trial in U.S. history, Winter of Frozen Dreams reveals the bizarre tale of a brilliant biochemistry student who lead a shocking double life. Barbara Hoffman (Thora Birch) was a top student at the University of Wisconsin, and one of Madison's most notorious prostitutes. But how could a girl known for her remarkable mind be drawn into such a lurid plot of passion and murder? When Barbara's fiancé Jerry Davies (Brenden Sexton III) reported the discovery of a corpse one frigid Christmas morning, he never thought police would suspect him of being the killer. Just hours before, Jerry had buried the body in a snow bank, and now Detective Lulling (Keith Carradine) smells foul play. Insisting that he and Hoffman didn't kill the deceased but merely buried the man's corpse, Davies and his bride-to-be quickly establish themselves as the prime suspects in a perplexing murder case. Later, as Hoffman languishes in prison, she becomes an object of curiosity in the media for her refusal to give interviews or even go before the parole board.

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  • Mar 06, 2010
    <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/winter-of-frozen-dreams-12867036"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/86/70/12867036_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/winter-of-frozen-dreams-12867046"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/86/70/12867046_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/winter-of-frozen-dreams-12867040"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/86/70/12867040_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/winter-of-frozen-dreams-12867049"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/86/70/12867049_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"><I>WINTER OF FROZEN DREAMS</I></a> </div></div> <I>WINTER OF FROZEN DREAMS</I> (2009) DIRECTED BY: Eric Mandelbaum WRITTEN BY: Michael Graf, and Michael Caughill based on the book by Karl Harter FEATURING: Thora Birch, Keith Carradine, Brendan Sexton III, Leo Fitzpatrick, and Dean Winters GENRE: MYSTERY, CRIME DRAMA TAGS: WEIRD PLOT: An unambitious young man balances uneasy alliances with the authorities and his psychopathic girlfriend when she involves him in a meretricious murder case. Some movies don't have to be garishly bizarre to be weird. <I>Winter of Frozen Dreams</I> employs a soft, almost poetic production style to tell a tawdry tale of twisted topics set down as causally as if the story were an episode of the <I>Donna Reed Show</I>. The nonlinear plot is partially presented through the flashbacks and subjective impressions of a cast of oddball, unsavory characters whose disorganized, irrational lives inexplicably intersect in a convoluted morass of lies, depravity, deceit and murder. Set in 1977 Madison, Wisconsin, <I>Winter of Frozen Dreams</I> relates the events of the notorious Hoffman murder case. On Christmas day, Gerald Davies walked into the police department and announced that he had helped his girlfriend dispose of a bloodied, battered corpse at the Blackhawk Ski jump park near Middleton. Police accompanied him to retrieve the body of Harry Berge and a series of perplexing events began to unfold that led to the arrest of Barbara Hoffman. The case drew a great deal of attention because it was the first televised murder trial in the state. Of even greater interest to the public was the fact that the accused was a beautiful girl with an IQ over 140 who led a triple life. In addition to being a straight 'A' biochemistry student at the University of Wisconsin, Barbara Hoffman was a psychopathic whore and dominatrix. It was alleged that she dated clients outside of her capacity as a hooker, convincing them to become engaged to her and to make her the sole beneficiary of their hefty life insurance policies. Her trial ended unexpectedly when prosecutor Jim Doyle, later to become governor, dropped the charges. As Hoffman was leaving the courthouse, the police halted her and slapped the cuffs on her again. This time she was charged with two murders, that of Harry Berge and Gerald Davies. The actual events easily lend themselves to the contemporary film noir atmosphere of <I>Winter of Frozen Dreams</I>. In the film, the actions of the quirky characters are as puzzling as the murders are mysterious. Hoffman (Birch) keeps a chemistry set under her kitchen sink that would make 1950's children's' science show host Mr. Wizard pop his stopcock with envy. There is evidence to suggest that she uses it to make the poison of the week, depending upon her passing whim, anything from cyanide compounds to botulism. She inexplicably brags to some miscreants at the whorehouse of her plans to murder her fiancé and collect the insurance money. Then she roughs up a fellow employee when the girl takes exception to her announcement. Having spilled the Castor beans and incurred ill will, she intends to proceed ahead with the plan unperturbed. Her boyfriend, Davies (Sexton), who is another "fiancé," believing that Babs was set up to find the body of the trick in her home, goes to the police and spills his guts about helping her dump the deceased. Yet he comes home to Barbara like nothing happened, announces that the police intend to charge her and that he will be their star witness. Barbara is remarkably nonplussed and unemotional at receiving this news, even when she learns that their conversations are being monitored and that he is under 24 hour surveillance ishould she decide to kill him. Despite the fact that he is now a pawn in the police strategy to convict Hoffman, Davies professes his love for her and is unconcerned at the prospect of eating food and taking drugs that she prepares for him in her little kitchen of toxic tinkering. <I>Winter of Frozen Dreams</I> spends scant time exploring rationales for the bizarre actions of its characters. The film declines to provide background explanations, cutting right to the viscera so that the viewer can discern for himself what is on the serving platter and why. For example, the audience never finds out why an intelligent, straight 'A' biochemistry student decides to sell her body as a low level hooker. Nor is the onlooker enlightened as to why her clients accept her professions of love so unquestioningly, or why she would publicly announce her illegal plans, keep poisons and damning lab equipment in her home where they are easily found once she becomes a murder suspect, or why Barbara's boyfriend is still her boyfriend when he is being used by the authorities to send her to prison, There is an interesting scene which provides some glimpse into Davies's motivations, but it is so odd that it simply amplifies the enigmatic nature of the story. Believing that Hoffman is innocent, Davies explains to her that going to the police to report the body is the right and proper thing for law abiding people like him and Hoffman to do. He delivers this little monologue while manicuring a large quantity of cocaine on her kitchen counter. <I>Winter of Frozen Dreams</I> is a peculiar sort of film noir mystery. It is never made certain whether Hoffman committed the murders or not. As with <I>Roshomon</I> the audience must piece the facts together from a collage of differing versions of the transpired events as presented by a sleazy selection of illogical participants, each harboring ulterior motives, dirty dealings, questionable backgrounds and all having plenty to hide. This combination of atypical story telling technique, unsettling occurrences, oddball people and their unfathomably perplexing actions makes for one of the weirder cinematic experiences to be found in a serous motion picture since <I>The Reflecting Skin</I>. <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/winter-of-frozen-dreams-12867072"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/86/70/12867072_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:300px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/winter-of-frozen-dreams-12867043"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/12/86/70/12867043_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:120px;font-size:10px;text-align:center;"></div><a href="http://www.flixster.com/videos?videoId=11086999"><img src="http://i.ytimg.com/vi/vnQwS5LhHiw/2.jpg" border="0" /></a><div style="font-size:10px;width:120px;text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"><I>WINTER OF FROZEN DREAMS</a> - Trailer</div>
    Pamela D Super Reviewer
  • May 04, 2009
    this is on dvd so decided to watch. it's really slow & boring at parts but i sat it through and glad i did. the movie is pretty good..made me think who really is behind the 2 killings... love movies that make me think.
    Deb J Super Reviewer

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