Take 3: The Nine Lives of Christmas Review

For Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Happy Holidays Blogathon, I had planned on reviewing more than one film. However, after reflecting on how many movies I reviewed in November, I decided to talk about only one instead. When I signed up for this blogathon last month, I knew that I wanted to review The Nine Lives of Christmas, a Hallmark Channel movie that was released in 2014. Among fans of the network, this movie has caused the same reaction that 2006’s The Christmas Card has. From making repeat appearances in Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up to fans of the film asking for a sequel, The Nine Lives of Christmas has gained a following of devoted audience members. Every Christmas season on 18 Cinema Lane, I try to review at least one past Hallmark Christmas film. This is to determine if my thoughts on the movie are similar to the general consensus. Last year, I talked about the aforementioned film, The Christmas Card. As I mentioned in that review, a lot of Hallmark fans love this movie. However, I found it to be just ok. So, it’ll be interesting to see how I feel about The Nine Lives of Christmas.

The Nine Lives of Christmas poster
The Nine Lives of Christmas poster image created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel Poster image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=The%20Nine%20Lives%20of%20Christmas&IsSeries=False

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In most of Hallmark’s films, the acting from the entire cast appears natural and believable. That’s no different for The Nine Lives of Christmas! As I’ve said in my review of Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen, it’s always nice to see Kimberley Sustad appear in a Hallmark movie. Even though seeing her in a lead role is rare, I know that Kimberley will bring her A game to every role she is given. In The Nine Lives of Christmas, Kimberley’s portrayal of Marilee was delightful! Through her performance, she was able to create a character that was relatable. This was done by bringing various emotions and behaviors to her role. I also liked Brandon Routh’s portrayal of Zachary! He effectively gave me the impression that his character was a tough man with a kind heart. This fit the idea that I, personally, have of firefighters; strong and selfless individuals who are ready to save the day. Watching his interactions with Ambrose, the cat, were very sweet. It allowed the character to make a transformation in his perspectives, which Brandon naturally portrayed through his expressions and on-screen personality. The supporting cast was very memorable! They were able to elevate the material and help make it memorable. This is what made the overall cast a solid group of actors and actresses!

 

The interactions between the characters: A great component of this film was the various interactions that took place among the characters! What made them work was how natural they came across on screen. Whenever Zachary was sharing a scene with his fellow firefighters, I could sense the camaraderie between these characters. It was nice to see them share funny moments as well as look out for each other’s best interests. Another character interaction that I liked seeing was between Marilee and her sister, Jaclyn. Even though their personalities were different, their relationship felt genuine. I was always led to believe that Jaclyn had her sister’s best interests in mind and that Marilee truly cared about her sibling. Because this group of actors was talented, this added to the enjoyment of these interactions!

 

The humor: For some reason, it seems like most of Hallmark’s Christmas films have been light on humor this year. So, I found the light-hearted and humorous nature of The Nine Lives of Christmas to be refreshing! There were several moments that made me burst out laughing. One example is the very first scene, when Zachary was having his picture taken for a charity calendar. What made the moment work was the dialogue among the characters. It was well-written and good-natured, which helped make it feel genuine. Even the moments with Ambrose were funny! A perfect example is when the cat sits on Zachary’s chair, even after Zachary told him not to. The overall humor of this film made my viewing experience very memorable!

Happy Holidays Blogathon banner
The Happy Holidays Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/announcing-the-happy-holidays-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The villain: Within the first half of this movie, Zachary dates an unlikable woman named Blair. While the actress who portrayed this character, Chelsea Hobbs, did a really good job at bringing Blair to life and while it is rare to find an over-the-top villain in a Hallmark production, I found this particular character to be one-dimensional. I realize that the fault lies in the screen-writing, as that is where the structure of any character is built. In The Nine Lives of Christmas, Blair was a terrible person because she was a terrible person. I did not find this to be very interesting. Let me give you an example of when a villain/antagonist works within the story: in A Christmas Miracle, Emma’s boss, Valerie, is so desperate to impress her boss, that she steals Emma’s idea and tries to pass it off as her own. This leads her to make more choices that give the audience a reason to find her villainous. So, in that movie, Valerie is a terrible person because of her unlikable decisions.

 

An uneven build-up to Zachary and Marilee’s relationship: While Brandon and Kimberley had good on-screen chemistry and while Zachary and Marilee’s relationship was very sweet, I found the build-up of the relationship to be uneven. In the first half of the movie, Zachary and Marilee barely spent any time together. This caused the initial union of these characters to feel drawn-out. In the second half of the film, Zachary and Marilee spend almost every day together, which caused the relationship to feel rushed. The build-up didn’t have a sense of consistency and the transition was too abrupt.

 

Not a Christmas story: When I think of a Christmas movie, I think of a story that can only survive during the Christmas season. With The Nine Lives of Christmas, the plot felt like it didn’t need to belong within the Christmas holiday. Yes, there were Christmas decorations and festivities to be found. But no Christmas specific messages and themes were presented in the narrative. I felt like this exact same story could have been placed in any time of the year and it wouldn’t make a huge difference.

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Orange cat image created by Freestockcenter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/ginger-cat_883376.htm’>Designed by Freestockcenter</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold image created by Freestockcenter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I said in this review’s introduction that a lot of Hallmark fans love The Nine Lives of Christmas. After finally seeing this movie for the first time, I can understand why people like it so much! Sure, this film has flaws. But I still found it to be enjoyable. What I like about this movie is how different it felt from Hallmark projects that were released within the past two years. While The Nine Lives of Christmas had story-telling elements that are familiar to consistent movie-watchers of the network, it felt like the film’s creative team made an effort to try something new. This makes me wish that Hallmark could go back to that mindset, where they weren’t afraid to do different things even though they were starting to create their brand’s image. The Nine Lives of Christmas is not my favorite Hallmark Christmas film, as there are other movies that I like more than this one. But I do think it is an overall solid production!

 

Overall score: 8.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen The Nine Lives of Christmas? Which past Hallmark Christmas movie would you like to see me review? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen Review

So, I was originally going to publish my blog follower dedication review, in honor of receiving 160 followers, today. But, yesterday, I ended up watching the most recent film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen. Because of this unexpected change of plans, I will publish my blog follower dedication review on December 8th and my review of Christmas at Dollywood on December 10th. I’m still planning on posting my review for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Happy Holidays Blogathon this weekend. Now that I am talking about Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen, this means that I have now reviewed all of Hallmark’s Christmas movies that were inspired by the works of Jane Austen. Two of the films I reviewed in 2018 were Christmas at Pemberley Manor and Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe. While I enjoyed the first movie, I was not a fan of the second one. Since Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen premiered on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and was based on a different Jane Austen story, I was curious to see if this film differed from the previous two entries from Hallmark Channel. I also wanted to see if this movie did a better job at adapting the source material than the other films.

Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen poster
Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=986&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Sense,%20Sensibility%20and%20Snowmen&IsSeries=False.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: For the most part, I thought the acting was good! I have enjoyed watching Erin Krakow’s acting performances through her various Hallmark projects. In Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen, she gave one of the best performances I’ve seen from her collection of Hallmark films! She was very expressive in her role of Ella, displaying various emotions throughout the movie. Erin also brought a likeable personality to her character, allowing me to stay invested in her part of the story. I also enjoyed seeing Luke Macfarlane’s performance in this movie! He did a really good job at portraying the serious and charming nature of his character, Edward. Because of this, it made the character’s transformation during the movie feel believable. It’s always nice to see Kimberley Sustad appear in a Hallmark movie! Her portrayal of Marianne was a delight, providing a different personality to counteract the personality of Erin’s character. This allowed Kimberley’s performance to be memorable and entertaining!

 

The on-screen chemistry: This was the first time that Erin and Luke starred in a Hallmark movie together. Despite this, I thought they had pretty good on-screen chemistry! The interactions between Ella and Edward were very sweet. Because of the acting abilities of Erin and Luke, the development of their on-screen relationship came across as convincing. While watching this film, it felt like these characters and these actors enjoyed each other’s company. This definitely added to their on-screen chemistry! I also thought that Kimberley and Jason McKinnon, who portrayed Edward’s cousin, Brandon, had good on-screen chemistry! Even though their on-screen relationship wasn’t featured in the movie for long, it was nice to see it unfold on-screen.

 

The dynamic between the Dashwood sisters: In Hallmark films, the dynamic between the protagonist and their sibling is not often showcased as an essential part of the story. It is usually featured as part of a subplot or barely explored. For Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen, this dynamic between Ella and Marianne Dashwood played a huge role within the overall narrative. Because the personality of these characters was different, it made their interactions very interesting to watch. They were able to use their individual perspectives and experiences to help one another when it came to solving their problems. It was a joy to watch these characters bond, as they created moments that were funny and sweet! This dynamic provided an interesting component to the overall film!

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Christmas snowman image created by Freepik at freepik.com  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas-tree”>Christmas tree vector created by Freepik</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/set-of-pretty-christmas-tags_1337932.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image created by freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of urgency: Throughout the movie, Ella and her event planning firm were tasked with planning a party in less than two weeks. However, Ella is seen doing everything but plan the party. Sure, we do see her talk to Edward about picking a theme and seating arrangements. But Ella acts like she has a lot of free time on her hands, engaging in activities such as decorating Edward’s home and making gingerbread houses. Because of this lack of urgency, I wasn’t able to take the overarching conflict seriously.

 

No subplots: In any movie, subplots can help a main story move forward and add a sense of intrigue. In Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen, the primary plot was the only one that was featured in the movie. While Ella’s sister, Marianne, forms a romantic relationship with Edward’s cousin, she wasn’t given her own story. Meanwhile, the main plot was too simple and straight-forward, leaving little to no room for intrigue. Having one or two subplots would have helped this film gain some interesting story-telling elements.

 

Little resemblance to the Sense and Sensibility story: Last year, when I reviewed Christmas at Pemberley Manor and Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe, I said that the little resemblance to the Pride and Prejudice story was the biggest flaw of both films. Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen also makes this mistake with its weak attempt at bringing the Sense and Sensibility story to life. I’ve never read Sense and Sensibility, so I had to look up the synopsis on the internet. Based on what I read, it seems like the only resemblance to the story that was found in this movie was the names of the protagonist and her sister. Just by watching Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen, it felt less like a Jane Austen adaptation and more like a run-on-the-mill, typical Hallmark film.

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My overall impression:

While this movie was better than Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe, I don’t think Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen was better than Christmas at Pemberley Manor. At best, I found it to be just ok. Even though this story was character-driven, that shouldn’t be an excuse to not provide an interesting narrative. I did like the acting and relationships these characters shared. But, at the end of the day, what makes or breaks a movie is how good the story is. In the introduction of my Christmas Under the Stars review, I mentioned that most of Hallmark’s Christmas movies this year are ok or decent. Now, I’ve seen 21 of their films and I still feel the same way. For me, part of the issue is how Hallmark reuses the exact same plots with slight variations. I understand that the network has an image and a reputation to uphold. However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try to tell new kinds of stories. Since both networks’ ratings are lower this Christmas season than last year, it looks like Hallmark needs to keep that idea in mind.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

Do you agree with my thoughts on both of Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups? Are there any Christmas films that have been your favorite this year? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Christmas Town Review

Yes, I know it has been two weeks since I last reviewed a Hallmark movie. I’m also aware that I haven’t been reviewing as many Hallmark Christmas films as I did last year. But, don’t worry, I’ve been trying to watch as many of the 2019 releases from both networks as possible. At the same time, I have been searching for nominees for 2020’s Gold Sally Awards. For now, though, I’m here to present a review for the most recent film I saw from Hallmark Channel, Christmas Town! When I think about this movie, I realize that I didn’t review Candace Cameron Bure’s Christmas project from last year. That’s because I just never got around to writing a review for it. To me, A Shoe Addict’s Christmas was just ok. While it wasn’t one of her worst movies, I didn’t find it to be one of Candace’s best movies either. How did Christmas Town compare to last year’s film! Keep reading if you want to find out!

Christmas Town poster
Christmas Town poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Christmas+Town.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: What I like about Candace Cameron Bure as an actress is how expressive she is. No matter what role she is given or what happens in the story, Candace always brings a wide range of emotions to her characters. This helped her character, Lauren, appear believable in the film. Candace always has good on-screen chemistry with her co-stars. It is especially the case in Christmas Town! Even though this is Tim Rozon’s first Hallmark movie, he also gave a good acting performance. Throughout the movie, Tim appeared at ease in his role of Travis, giving the impression that he enjoyed what he was doing. His performance seemed natural and believable, allowing his character to be just as expressive as Candace’s character. I also enjoyed the performances of the supporting actors and actresses! Their talents complimented one another and their on-screen interactions were a joy to watch!

 

A new take on a familiar cliché: I’ve said in my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies that my least favorite cliché is the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché. This cliché causes the story to feel more predictable than it needs to be. With Christmas Town, however, this cliché was given a new take. Instead of the protagonist being guilted or forced to stay in the small town, Lauren actually wanted to stay in that town on her own free will. In the movie, she voluntarily takes a teaching job in a small town, which allows her to move out of the city. Because of her love for the small town, she finds a way to make a meaningful difference in the community. Her actions feel genuine, which makes it easy to root for this character. Because of these things, it makes the execution of this cliché feel like a breath of fresh air.

 

The discussion of foster children: In my review of Christmas Under the Stars, I mentioned how I liked the discussion of foster parenting that was included in the story. While foster parenting is brought up in Christmas Town, the primary focus is on the discussion of foster children. Not only is a foster child featured in the story, but the protagonist is a former foster child herself. These two characters were able to use their experiences to form a solid friendship. This discussion of foster children was not only a well-written component of the overall story, but it was also handled with a sense of reverence and respect. Outside of this Christmas season, the discussion of foster children is rarely brought up in Hallmark films. I’m glad this movie’s creative team chose to fill a creative void by incorporating this topic into their script.

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Merry Christmas banner created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/merry-christmas-decorative-vintage-background_1359013.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The weaker conflicts: In Christmas Town, there were several conflicts that I enjoyed seeing in the story. They were interesting and felt like they flawlessly fit in that world. But these conflicts were weaker than they should have been. This is because they appear to be too easy to solve. The conflicts are also taken care of too quickly. These aspects cause them to take away a sense of intrigue from the movie’s plot. It forces the audience to sit and watch everything unfold on screen instead of letting them try to figure out what will happen next.

 

The “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché: Because of the weaker conflicts, it made the film’s creative team adopt the “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché. In Christmas Town’s case, this cliché did not need to exist in the narrative. It didn’t add anything to the story and appeared to be a time waster. Even the character of the protagonist’s ex does not play a significant role in the film’s events. If anything, this creative decision made him look insecure about the future of that relationship. After all is said and done, it just felt like the cliché was placed in the story just because it had to be there.

 

The under-utilization of the letters: Within Christmas Town’s story, the protagonist owns a series of letters written by her late father. The letters themselves were fine, but they should have had a stronger importance in the story. Similar to what I said about the “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché, these letters felt like they were included in the movie just for the sake of being there. They didn’t contribute anything to the plot or propel it forward. The letters also did not play a huge role in the protagonist’s decision-making process. If these articles were written out of the story, I don’t think it would make much of a difference.

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My overall impression:

Even though there are Christmas movies from 2019 that I like more than this one, I do think that Christmas Town is a stronger film than A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. What I like about this film is how the creative team purposefully incorporated story elements that are not always found in Hallmark movies. This allowed the story to be memorable and stand out from other titles in this year’s Christmas line-ups. I also liked the acting, as it helped me stay invested in what was happening with the characters. But despite the fact that I did enjoy this film, there were some things that I did not like about it. For me, the weaker conflicts were the biggest flaw of this movie. However, Christmas Town is a sweet film that is perfect for the Christmas season! Before I finish this review, I wanted to let all my readers and followers know that this is my 300th post! Every time I publish 100 posts, I coordinate a special double feature in honor of the accomplishment. That will take place in January of 2020, so stay tuned for that event to occur!

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on this year’s Christmas line-ups from Hallmark? Do you have a favorite Christmas film that has been released in 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2019

Now that the Christmas/holiday shopping season has begun, it feels like the perfect time to bring back a tradition that I started last year. Returning to 18 Cinema Lane is my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List, where I share the movie related things I’d like to receive as gifts! Just like the first one, there will be four categories that each item will be listed under. If you need more of an explanation, you can check out my first Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List at the featured link. Also, like last year, each item is something that I think could be realistic. Before I start this list, I just want to say that the only image in this post that is not one of my screenshots is the Three Wise Men themed wish list image.

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List

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Three Wise Men themed wish list paper image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Something You Want

  • In last year’s Christmas Wish-List, I shared that I would like to see Stuart Townsend and Marguerite Moreau star in a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie together. While I still want this, I’d also like to see other actors and actresses from the Queen of the Damned film appear in a Hallmark Hall of Fame project. If you read my review of Swept from the Sea, you would remember that I enjoyed Vincent Perez’s performance in that film! Even though I’ve only seen two of his movies, I believe that Vincent would be able to use his acting talents to bring a Hallmark Hall of Fame story to life. I also wouldn’t be opposed to seeing these actors or actresses working behind the camera, such as directing or producing the film. According to his IMDB filmography, Matthew Newton, who portrayed Armand in Queen of the Damned, has written, directed, and produced a few films. Maybe, one day, he could help create a Hallmark project. Like I said in last year’s Christmas Wish-List, I’m not sure if there’s anything preventing these actors or actresses from appearing in a Hallmark film or if they’ve ever gotten along well enough where they would want to work together again. But if Hallmark wants to coordinate a mini Queen of the Damned reunion, I would be on board for that decision!

 

  • On Wikipedia, when I was deciding which film to choose for a blog follower dedication review, I came across a movie titled The Wife of Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo and Haydee are one of my favorite couples from pop culture. However, in different adaptations of The Count of Monte Cristo, Haydee is either not featured in the film or she appears in the film for a brief period of time. Haydee and Monte’s relationship is also barely talked about. What makes me want to see this film is how it not only focuses on Monte and Haydee’s relationship, but also allows Haydee to become a more prominent character. Currently, the film is not airing on Turner Classic Movies. But I would love to review it for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month!

 

  • In the movie, Easter Under Wraps, the protagonist, Erin, brings the most adorable suitcase on her trip to Washington. While I’m not shopping for luggage anytime soon, I would love to own a suitcase that looks like Erin’s! Based on the photo, it appears to be perfect for a weekend trip. I also really like its color. I don’t know what the suitcase’s inner material looks like, but I would want it to have my blog’s logo printed on it.

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Something You Need to See

I’ve said on 18 Cinema Lane before that I would really like to see the movie, Words on Bathroom Walls. But, as of late November to early December 2019, it seems that this film still does not have a distributor. If you are not aware, a distributor is a studio that releases a film. Because Words on Bathroom Walls doesn’t have a distributor yet, it means the film hasn’t been given a premiere date. I hope that this movie finds a distributor sooner rather than later so people can finally see it!

 

Even though When Calls the Heart is a television show, there are still movies that bridge the seasons together. So, this Wish-List request counts for this section. Ever since the show’s season five finale, I have noticed that Tom Thornton has received very little acknowledgement. It’s gotten to the point where it seems like Elizabeth is ignoring Jack’s side of the family. I realize that the issue lies in the screenwriting. Because the screenwriters don’t make an effort to include Tom in the story, they don’t bother to recognize his existence in that world. As a fan of both Tom Thornton and When Calls the Heart, all I ask is for the screenwriters to make more references to Jack’s brother. If Max Lloyd-Jones cannot make an appearance on the show, that’s understandable. But the most important thing is for Tom’s importance to get recognized more often.

 

This Wish-List request is similar to the previous one. In my spoiler-zone review of Avengers: Endgame, I talked about how Bucky was, to a certain extent, treated like an afterthought in that film. Ever since then, not only do I feel like Bucky is still being seen as an afterthought, but it seems like the fans of the character are being treated like an afterthought as well. In this case, the problem lies with Disney and Marvel, as they have made very few efforts to acknowledge these fans and get them excited for The Falcon & the Winter Soldier. It also doesn’t help that they are doing this to a co-lead character of an upcoming TV show. For this request, the only thing I ask is for Disney and Marvel to stop treating Bucky and his fans like afterthoughts. No matter what you’re a fan of, no person should ever feel this way. Besides, fans are the ones who can make or break the popularity of a piece of entertainment.

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A movie related piece of clothing or accessory I’d want to wear

For this category, I have two choices. The first is Rachel’s pill-box hat from The Trouble with Angels! In my review of the movie, I featured three pictures of this hat. It is the coolest pill-box hat that I’ve ever come across and I’d love to own one that looks like it. The second is Paula’s choker necklace from Gaslight! I also featured a picture of it in my review of the film and this piece of jewelry is just adorable. Because Gaslight was filmed in black-and-white, it’s difficult to determine what color the necklace was meant to be. But, if I owned a necklace like this, I would like to be able to interchange the ribbon to coordinate with any outfit.

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Gaslight choker necklace picture

A book I’ve read that I’d like to see adapted into a film

When it comes to books I’ve read in 2019, most of them were either already turned into adaptations or I felt they didn’t need to become adaptations. However, there was one book where the more I read it, the more I could see it as a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series. This book is Murder on Ice by Alina Adams! When it comes to mystery series on Hallmark’s second network, there have not been any collection of films revolving around athletics. In Hallmark’s library of films, there are only three movies I’m aware of that prominently feature figure skating. If the Figure Skating Mystery books were adapted into a movie series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, it would fill those two voids that I just mentioned. I even pictured which actors and actresses could portray some of the characters. Despite the fact that Hallmark’s second network is saturated with mystery series at the moment, I think that an adaptation of Murder on Ice could bring something new to the table.

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What are your thoughts on this year’s Christmas Wish-List? Are there any movie-related things you’d like to receive as a gift? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

Take 3: Gaslight Review + 155 Follower Thank You

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d use this review to express my gratitude toward my readers and followers by taking a suggestion from one of my readers. Back in July, when I reviewed Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Emily, from The Flapper Dame, recommended a film called Gaslight. As I told her, I had heard of the film, but had never seen it. Fortunately, I had this movie on my DVR for several months. This means that I now had an excuse to finally watch this film! I don’t often receive film recommendations on 18 Cinema Lane. But, when I do, I try my best to review each film and acknowledge the person who told me about it. This happened when I reviewed The Santa Incident last December. Since I have acquired several suggestions within my year of blogging, I have created a list to keep track of the films. This is so I know which ones I’m able to rent or record on my DVR. Maybe I can find a way to create a tradition around these suggestions!

Gaslight poster
Gaslight poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/166/Gaslight/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Prior to watching Gaslight, I had seen a few of Ingrid Bergman’s films. But, to me, her portrayal of Paula is one the best I’ve seen from her filmography! What makes this performance so good is how expressive Ingrid is. She’s able to change her expressions at a moment’s notice, causing Ingrid’s portrayal to appear fluid and natural. I was pleasantly surprised to see Angela Lansbury star in this film! I’ve never seen any of Angela’s live-action films, as the only live-action project of hers that I’ve seen is Murder, She Wrote. However, it was nice to see her portray a character that is different from what I’m used to. Angela brought a sense of sass to her character, Nancy. Her interactions with the other characters was interesting because of how different her personality was from the other members of that household. Though her on-screen presence was limited, Angela found a way to shine with the material she was given!

 

The lighting: I wasn’t expecting anything special from the film’s lighting. But, when I watched Gaslight, I found the lighting to be one of the most memorable parts! In the London scenes, when it was night-time, the lighting reminded me of a noir film. What I mean by this is how the light is primarily dim and obstructed by another source. In the case of Gaslight, this source was fog. A common practice in this film was the use of shadows. This helped add a sense of mysteriousness to the story, as there was an uncertainty about the people who caused those shadows. One scene that used lighting in a creative way was when Paula and Gregory entered the drawing room of their London home for the first time. In this scene, the only light came from the outside. This means the shadow of the window’s blinds reflected off of these two characters.

 

The set design: Gaslight takes place during the Victorian era. As I’ve said in reviews for other period films, the sets in this movie appeared authentic to that specific time period. It shows that the creative team truly cared about the film they were making. It also shows that thorough research had been done during the pre-production stage of the project. The sets were very massive in scale, presenting the grandeur that would have been found within the world of these characters. It also helps that the architecture made these structures feel life-like. My favorite of this collection is the hotel where Paula and Gregory spent their honeymoon. While the exterior was the primary focus of this scene, it was still impressive to look at. The location itself seemed inviting and charming, like it would be a prime destination for anyone’s vacation.

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Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Some of the accents: Like I’ve said in other reviews, accents in films can be hit or miss. In Gaslight, the accents sounded authentic and believable. But there were times when it was difficult to understand what some of the characters were saying. This was the case for Gregory Anton. At several moments, I found myself rewinding the movie in an attempt to hear what he was saying. This definitely took away some enjoyment from the film.

 

Some under-utilized characters: In this movie, I found some of the characters to be under-utilized more than they should have been. One example is the neighbor of Paula and Gregory, who Paula met on a train prior to the couple moving to London. Based on her first encounter with the protagonist, I thought she was going to play a larger role in the overall narrative. Sadly, it just felt like she was there for the sake of being there. Had this character been removed from the story, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference.

 

The mystery’s resolution: When a movie features a mystery, its resolution usually takes place during the film’s climax. This decision is made to not only make the moment feel big and action-packed, but it’s also made to get a reaction from the audience. I will not spoil Gaslight for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie. But I found this mystery’s resolution to be anti-climactic. The scenes involving the resolution were well-written and interesting. However, they failed to feel big or action-packed. Something that hurt them was how one particular confrontation was not shown on screen. I understand that this film was released during the Breen Code era. However, the confrontation’s absence took away from some of the climax’s excitement.

Gaslight choker necklace picture
Is it just me or is Paula’s choker necklace just the cutest piece of jewelry? Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

Gaslight is the third mystery movie I have reviewed this November. Maybe it’s to make up for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries taking a break from making mystery films due to the Christmas/holiday season. In all seriousness, I think the mystery aspect of Gaslight was the best out of those three films! While it had its issues, it was still the most compelling. I can now agree with Emily, from The Flapper Dame, that this is a good movie! Even though it is a “slow burn” story, it works for the overall picture. This allows for the events to happen at their own pace, which made elements of the story grow organically. If you have the patience, this is a movie you might enjoy. As this review is meant to celebrate receiving 155 followers on 18 Cinema Lane, I’d like to thank each of my followers for choosing to support my blog. When I first started my blogging journey, I never imagined achieving such a large number of followers this quickly. However, I’m very thankful for the success I have earned. I’d also like to thank Emily for recommending Gaslight to me. I appreciate when readers leave comments on my blog, so I was more than happy to choose this movie for this review!

 

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Gaslight? Are there any movies you’d like to recommend to me? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Review

Yes, I’m at it again. I’m participating in another Genre Grandeur! After a brief hiatus in October, I was ready to take on whatever challenge came my way. For November, the theme was chosen by David from Blueprint Review. In this Genre Grandeur, they wanted participants to talk about Hong Kong Martial Arts Movies. Whatever movie I picked, I knew this would be a special review. That’s because this is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a martial arts film! To figure out which movies qualified of this event, I searched for possible titles on the internet. One of the most well-known films that I saw on one list was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Over the years, I have heard of this movie. But I had never gotten around to watching it. Now, because of MovieRob and David, I finally have an excuse to check it out!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon poster
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon poster created by Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Good Machine International, Edko Films, Zoom Hunt Productions, China Film Co-Production Corp., and Asian Union Film & Entertainment Ltd. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190332/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.

Things I liked about the film:

The character interactions: Throughout the film, there were several character interactions that took place. This aspect of the overall project was very enjoyable for me to see. One reason was because these interactions shared key components of the story, allowing important details to be expressed and character development to take place. The second reason is how these interactions appeared on screen. Because this cast is talented, it gives the actors and actresses the opportunity to present these interactions in a way that feels believable and sincere. Whether it was the camaraderie between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien or the heart-felt encounters between Jen Yu and Lo, each interaction enhanced the material for both the characters and the overall story.

 

The martial arts choreography: The martial arts sequences that are featured in this movie were one of the strongest elements of the project! That’s because of how well choreographed each sequence was. Created by Yuen Wo-Ping, each martial arts movement appeared fast, yet smooth. It seemed like every opponent was engaging in a dance, with each one taking turns in the situation. There were times when some the characters looked like they were flying. This made them appear powerful, like their training had helped them gain a super power. The overall technique was precise and well-thought out. This shows how great of a job Yuen Wo-Ping did when it came to planning these sequences!

 

The scenery: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon excels when it comes to the scenery! There were several natural landscapes featured in this film that were simply breath-taking! What helps was how well they were captured on film. Long and establishing shots showed the audience the true magnificence of these locations. The set designs also played a role in making the scenery memorable. Every set appears authentic for the film’s specific time period. They are also well staged, setting up the scene in a visually appealing way. These key ingredients created a cinematic world that felt immersive.

Tiger in Thailand zoo
Tiger image created by Chevanon at freepik.com.  <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/tiger-looking-straight-ahead_999674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/pattern”>Pattern image created by Chevanon – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The presentation of the subtitles: This is not the first time I’ve reviewed a film that chose to use subtitles. In fact, I have found myself enjoying these movies, such as Les Enfants Terribles and Vampyr. But it’s not the subtitles that were the issue. The color of the subtitles was the flaw, as they were presented in yellow. While it made them easier to see against darker backgrounds, it was difficult to see them against light backgrounds. This was especially the case whenever someone wore a white outfit. To me, I feel that the subtitles should have been presented in the color red. That way, it could have been seen with almost any background.

 

Limited use of martial arts sequences: As I said earlier, I really liked the martial art sequences in this film. However, in the overall project, these sequences were very limited. When I think of a typical martial arts film, I think of it as a part of the action genre, where at least fifty percent of the movie is action-packed. With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the majority of the film focused on the character and story development. This choice causes the movie to not have that 50/50 balance that I was expecting. I found there to be more dialogue-focused scenes than action-focused scenes.

 

A mystery that was too easy to solve: In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there was a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a legendary, priceless sword. Through dialogue and martial arts sequences, it becomes more obvious who the thief is. I’m not going to spoil the reveal if you haven’t the seen the movie. But, shortly after this particular character was introduced, I knew that they were the guilty culprit. Instead of attempting to solve the mystery alongside the characters, I ended up just waiting for the reveal to take place. It made this part of the story less intriguing.

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Traditional Chinese dragon image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m always grateful whenever MovieRob invites me to join Genre Grandeur. This event, like almost any blogathon, gives me a good excuse to watch films that I might have never seen otherwise. Like I said in the introduction, I had not seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before. But I’m glad that I finally gave it a chance! This is not just a good martial arts film or a good foreign film. It’s a good film in general! Yes, there were things about it that I wasn’t a fan of, including the ending. But there are components that make me like and appreciate the movie for what it is. I want to thank MovieRob for, once again, inviting me to Genre Grandeur. I also want to thank David, from Blueprint Review, for choosing November’s theme. It gave me a reason to, finally, review a martial arts film for 18 Cinema Lane!

 

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

 

Do you have a favorite martial arts film? What is your favorite part about these types of films? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1995) Review

When Crystal, from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood, invited me to join her Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon, I was aware of who Lauren is as an actress. In fact, I reviewed The Big Sleep for a blog follower dedication review back in August. For this blogathon, I wanted to pick one of Lauren’s films from outside the Classic/Golden Era of Hollywood. After looking through her filmography, I decided to review From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Before watching this movie, I knew that it was based on a book. However, I have never read the book or seen the film adaptation from 1973. I also heard that there was a mystery within this story. Because I like movies such as those from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I felt that this would be a film I might enjoy.

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Because I had difficulty uploading an image of this poster, I decided to take a picture of it on my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Films that feature young actors as the leads can be hit or miss. Because of their limited talents, it’s difficult for the audience to know what to expect from that actor or actress. In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the lead actors did a good job with the acting material they were given! Jean Marie Barnwell, who portrayed Claudia, and Jesse Lee Soffer, who portrayed Jamie, were both expressive and believable in their roles. They brought their characters to life with versatility, helping them present reactions that appeared realistic for children in that kind of situation. The supporting cast was also memorable in this film! Miriam Flynn, who portrayed Claudia and Jamie’s mom, mastered her role! She did this by bringing animation and emotion to her character. Miriam helped make her role distinct from the others in this film. She also had good on-screen chemistry with her fellow co-stars!

 

The cinematography: This film had better cinematography than I expected! The creative team behind the movie made some interesting choices when it came to how certain scenes were presented. One example is when Claudia and Jamie are hiding on the school bus. There was one scene where the camera was looking upward from the floor, focusing on the view from the window. This helped the audience picture the moment from the kids’ perspective. In the museum, there were close-ups of various artifacts. At opening or closing time, these close-ups emphasized the lights shining on these objects. Shots like these made the film visually appealing!

 

The locations of the museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house: Whenever I’ve talked about Murder, She Wrote, I almost always talk about how great the locations are. That series shares a similarity with this film. The museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house were the two best locations in the movie! Filmed in Los Angeles, both locations were captured very well on screen. They represent the impression that the creative team was going for: larger than life and exquisite. Not only were the exteriors impressive, but so were the interiors. From the domed ceiling of the museum to the grand staircase of Mrs. Frankweiler’s house, these facilities were some of the best parts of this project!

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Angelic statue image created by Marcelo Gerpe at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Marcelo Gerpe.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lauren Bacall’s brief appearance: In my review of One Christmas, I shared that Katharine Hepburn’s limited presence was something that I didn’t like about the film. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler had the same problem. Like One Christmas, Lauren was the top-billed actor for this movie. This had given me the impression that she would appear in the majority of the project. But, similar to Katharine, Lauren only showed up in five scenes. Like I said in my One Christmas review, giving an actress like Lauren Bacall few opportunities to showcase her acting abilities does her a disservice. It also makes the movie’s creative team look like they’re making a promise they know they can’t keep. This decision came across as frustrating and misleading.

 

Over-shadowing the mystery: This story features a mystery about the authenticity of an angelic statue. While this was an interesting part of the overall narrative, it wasn’t given as much attention as I expected. Most of the story focused on Claudia and Jamie running away from home. The mystery itself wasn’t presented until forty minutes into the movie. Even then, the mystery was only discussed in a few scenes. It took a lot of intrigue out of the film, causing the story not to be as engaging or interactive.

 

Too much suspension of disbelief: I’ve said before on my blog that movies with fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler asked me to suspend my belief more than I had planned to. One example is how the police don’t play a big role in trying to find Claudia and Jamie. I found that to be very unbelievable, considering the fact that these children have been missing for three days. The idea of people living in a museum is also not realistic, especially since most facilities have things like motion sensors and security cameras. Things like this partially took me out of the film.

Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner
The Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/announcing-the-third-lauren-bacall-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

While I’m glad that I gave this film a chance, I can honestly say that it was just ok. Sure, there were things about the movie that I liked. But there were also aspects that could have made it stronger. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made the same mistake that One Christmas did: incorporating a legendary actress but not utilizing her talents to the fullest extent. After I watched Lauren’s film, I realized that her movie and Katharine’s movie were both released in the mid – ‘90s. I’m now starting to wonder if this was a trend from that decade? Until that question is answered, I just wanted to thank Crystal for inviting me to join her blogathon! I’ve participated in several of her movie related events and she is an excellent host! I can’t wait for the next blogathon!

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Lauren Bacall’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen