Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver Review

Last October, I had planned on reviewing Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. But, as I talked about in an editorial, Hallmark decided to postpone the movie until January 2020. Now that the beginning of the year has come, it means the film has finally arrived! The most exciting part of this movie appeared to be the use of magic. Also, the idea of a facility that specializes in magic is something that has never been featured in a Hallmark film before. These are the things that made me look forward to this installment! This is now the third movie in the Crossword Mysteries series that I’ve not only watched, but also reviewed. As I said in my reviews for the first two movies, I thought they were ok. But I was always interested in seeing how this series progressed. With a combination of magic and crossword puzzles, I wondered how it could raise the bar for the series. Well, since I recently saw the film, we can finally receive an answer to that question!

By the way, I have a new posting schedule where I will regularly publish articles on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays!

Crossword Mysteries Abracadaver poster
Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword+Mysteries+Abracadaver.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because most of the main cast in this movie has also appeared in the first two entries, it helps maintain the consistency of the acting performances. Another factor that added to these performances was the quality of the cast’s acting talents. Once again, Lacey and Brennan did a really good job with the material they were given. It allowed the versatility of their acting abilities to shine through. They also had good on-screen chemistry with each other and with their co-stars. Speaking of co-stars, I liked watching the performances of the supporting cast! One supporting actor that caught my attention was Steve Belford. In this movie, Steve portrays Reed, a new employee at the New York Sentinel. Despite the fact he’s in the film for a limited amount of time, Steve did a great job at bringing charisma to his role. This helped him create a character that was more memorable than I expected!

 

The Magic Manor: Half of this movie took place at the Magic Manor, a facility that hosts magic classes and magic shows. The most impressive aspect of this location was the architecture and design. The overall structure appeared to be Victorian, featuring impressive woodwork and beautiful stained-glass windows. What also made this location so memorable was the various rooms and hallways featured within the manor’s walls. It elevated the mystery aspect of the story, adding to the suspense and intrigue a plot like this calls for. I always looked forward to seeing this place on screen because of its photogenic qualities. I’m not sure what this facility is in real life, but I’d love to see it appear in another Hallmark production!

 

The editing: For the most part, films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have pretty good editing. But Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver had editing that was very well-done. One example was scene transitions. When Tess is on the phone with Logan, there were two scenes featured: Tess and Logan talking on the phone in their separate office spaces. The way these scenes were edited gave them a smooth transition. It also appeared flawless, like the movie itself did not miss a beat. The editing definitely helped make this project visually appealing!

Magician icons set
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What I didn’t like about the film:

The absence of crossword puzzles: In my review of Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder, I talked about how the insignificance of the crossword puzzles was one of the film’s biggest flaws. In Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, crossword puzzles barely make an appearance. This took away a large portion of the series’ identity. Also, there were missed opportunities to use these puzzles as clues for the mystery. Like I said in my review of the previous film, the lack of crossword puzzles makes the film’s creative team see their idea as too niche for sustainability. It is also starting to make me wonder why this series is called “Crossword Mysteries”?

 

Some scenes being drawn-out: About half of the scenes in this film are dialogue heavy. While the dialogue itself was necessary for the story, it made these scenes feel drawn-out. Because of this, it also made the film’s overall pace seem slower than most Hallmark mystery movies. Personally, I think there should have been a balance between action and dialogue heavy scenes. That way, the film’s sense of intrigue would never be in danger of faltering.

 

The “don’t-get-involved” cliché: While this cliché is not always featured in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films, I find that it doesn’t work outside of the first or second movie in a series. This is the case for Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver. Tess’s aunt and Logan constantly tell her not to bother trying to solve the mystery. I understand that they had Tess’s best interests in mind. But these warnings were being spoken after she successfully solved two mysteries. If this series does receive a fourth movie, I hope this cliché is dropped from the story.

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My overall impression:

Like I said in the introduction, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver is the third film in this series that I’ve watched and reviewed. In my opinion, this movie is the strongest of the three! While it does have flaws, the film also has elements that elevate the material. There were even aspects of the story that could help maintain the series’ consistency. In recent years, I’ve noticed that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has taken their films more seriously. They also are more likely to try new things when it comes to story-telling. Things like this make me prefer movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries over those from Hallmark Channel. Even though Hallmark’s main network has made some good films, it seems like they are comfortable telling the kinds of stories that are more “tried-and-true”. Since Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver is the first movie I’m reviewing in 2020, it looks like my year is off to a good start!

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

Do you like the Crossword Mysteries series? Are there any series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that you’re looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Collider Movie Talk Closes Its Doors, Upcoming February Films for Hallmark Revealed

Who knew I’d be publishing a Word on the Street post this soon into the New Year? In this story, I’ll be talking about two pieces of movie news. The first is about the end of a long-running movie related show. The second story will discuss the new Hallmark films that will likely premiere in February. As I sometimes do, I’ll be sharing my opinion as well as report each piece of news. So, let the first Word on the Street story of 2020 begin!

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“Sorry We’re Closed” image created by gstudioimagen at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame vector created by gstudioimagen – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Two days ago, on January 2nd, the entertainment news company, Collider, made an announcement where they indicated big changes for their collection of content. One particular change that caught my attention was the discontinuation of the Youtube show, Collider Movie Talk. The company stated this decision was made to put more emphasis “towards expanding high-quality, scripted, unscripted, and celebrity-driven content”. Other Youtube shows that are also ending are Heroes, Jedi Council, and Collider Live. Personally, I’m not sad to see Collider Movie Talk go. I started watching the show in 2013, when it was known as AMC Movie Talk. For years, I appreciated the existence of a place where news related to movies was the number one priority. But, over time, I found other movie related Youtube channels that I ended up watching more than Collider Movie Talk. I also talk about movie news on 18 Cinema Lane. Some of these stories feature topics that would probably never get covered by Collider. It seems like competition is one of the reasons why Collider Movie Talk is closing their doors.

Sale, Happy Valentine Day lettering with bunch of balloons
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On the twitter amount, Hotline to Hallmark, the February line-up for both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries were revealed. In two separate tweets, movies from both networks were listed with potential release dates. On the official websites for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, synopses and lead actors were featured on their own pages. Here is a list of these films and their premises.

 

February 1stA Valentine’s Match, starring Luke Macfarlane and Bethany Joy Lenz (“Fired from her job as a reality TV host, Natalie returns home for Valentine’s Day, only to find herself running the town festival’s auction with her ex-fiancé thanks to two scheming mothers”.)

 

February 8thMatching Hearts, starring Ryan Paevey and Taylor Cole (“As Valentine’s Day nears, a matchmaker is tasked by her mentor to find a match for an entrepreneur who believes staying single is the key to success”).

 

February 15thThe Secret Ingredient, starring Brendan Penny and Erin Cahill (“Small-town baker, Kelly, gets a big surprise when she is invited to compete on a Valentine’s Day baking show in New York City – and an even bigger surprise when she runs into her ex-fiance”).

 

February 16thDead Over Diamonds: Picture Perfect Mysteries, starring Carlos and Alexa PenaVega (“Photographer Allie and Detective Sam’s investigation into a priceless stolen necklace leads to danger and an unexpected death”).

 

February 22ndLove in Store, starring Jackee Harry, Robert Buckley and Alexandra Breckenridge (“Two rival home shopping hosts are forced together while competing for a promotion. Along the way they find their on-air chemistry kindles an off-air spark”).

 

February 23rdRiddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, starring Jesse Metcalfe and Sarah Lind (“Former detective Jeff Jackson teams up with Dr. Zee Madeiras to track down their friend’s missing emerald brooch, a thief, and also… a murderer”).

 

February 29thBad Date Chronicles, a PixL production from 2017, starring Justin Kelly and Merritt Patterson (“Leigh runs the website “Bad Date Chronicles,” which allows people to anonymously post horrible date experiences”).

 

Out of all the movies to premiere on Hallmark Channel, the two I find the most interesting are The Secret Ingredient and Love in Store. With the first movie, it’s the opposite of the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché. This could lend itself to a more creative story. For the second film, I’m wondering what exactly the movie is about. Is it about two real estate agents who have their own reality shows or about people who sell products on QVC or HSN style programs? I’ve noticed with the films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that both stories feature fine jewelry. I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or intentional. What disappoints me about this collection of films is that Hallmark doesn’t seem to be creating a Leap Year themed movie. From what I can recall, a movie from this network has never made a film featuring this once every four years celebration. Also, if Hallmark can make Christmas movies almost a year in advance, then why wouldn’t they plan ahead with a Leap Year movie?

 

How do you feel about these pieces of movie news? Are you sad to see Collider Movie Talk end? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

Sources for this article are the following:

  • https://collider.com/collider-video-changes/
  • The official websites of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (type the title into the search bar)
  • Hotline to Hallmark’s twitter account (type @HotlineHallmark into the search bar)

 

 

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody! Since I published my list of The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019 yesterday, it’s time for me to post my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019! Like I said before, I found 2019 has been a better year for movies. I saw a lot of good films, but only ten can be considered the best of the year. As I mentioned in my previous list, this article is based on my opinion and films that I personally watched. It’s also not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now that the introduction is over, let’s begin by bringing up the Honorable Mentions!

 

Christmas Bells are Ringing, Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, Northern Lights of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Kim Possible (2019), Flip that Romance, Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind, Just Add Romance, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Last Bridesmaid, Toy Story 4, Return to Oz, I Remember Mama, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, Merry and Bright, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love, Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Club

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Gold glittery 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-party-flyer_3641545.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

10. The Nine Lives of Christmas

Who knew I would like this movie as much as I did? As part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, I watched and reviewed this movie in an attempt to figure out if it was worth the hype it has received. Like I said in that post, I can now understand why so many people like the film so much! The humor within this movie is one of its highlights. Because of the quality of the script and the acting performances, The Nine Lives of Christmas was genuinely hilarious. While watching this movie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Another part of this story that was well-written was the interactions among the characters. They were not only great to watch, but they also appeared natural on-screen. I’m glad I finally realize why this movie always makes an appearance in Hallmark’s yearly Christmas line-ups.

 

9. Holiday for Heroes

I will admit I had lower expectations for this film than I probably should have. But those lower expectations allowed the movie to surpass them and become the pleasant surprise it was. Holiday for Heroes was so good, that it reminded me of another movie I liked, Operation Christmas. With its genuine sincerity, the messages that were expressed in this story came across very well. I also liked how the formation of the protagonists’ relationship was more realistic than in something like The Christmas Card. Throughout this film, I could tell the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. It made it seem like they truly cared about the project they were working on.

 

8. Easter Under Wraps

In 2019, Hallmark finally created their first Easter themed movie! Even though it took so long to get to this point, I definitely think it was worth the wait. I really liked the writing within this film, as it created a story that was entertaining. Something I pointed out in my review is how conversations felt like they came from real-life. This helped me stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing throughout the film. Like in most movies from Hallmark Channel, Easter Under Wraps contained messages and themes that were relatable. Just one example is of personal growth. I’m not sure what Hallmark’s plans are for their “Spring Fever” line-up. I hope one of them includes a sequel to this film.

 

7. Ben-Hur (1959)

This is the first of two movies that I reviewed for a blog follower dedication review. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to share this movie with my readers and followers. That’s because I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Ben-Hur is a film that has acquired a lot of critical acclaim. As I said in my review, the hype surrounding it was well-earned. The script itself is one of the strongest elements of the project. Even though Ben-Hur is known as an “epic” picture, it is also a compelling story of faith and perseverance. From the acting performances to the cinematography, these things make this film the masterpiece it is. It’s no wonder Ben-Hur has been able to stand the test of time for so long.

 

6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

One of the newest mystery series that premiered in 2019, Mystery 101, has quickly become one of my favorites. I found the third movie in this series, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill, to be the strongest one. Unlike most of the films on Hallmark’s second network, this movie felt like it had higher stakes. This was caused by the female protagonist’s father being falsely accused on the crime and the male and female leads not being able to see eye-to-eye on the film’s main conflict. I also liked how the book festival was showcased in the movie for a satisfying amount of time. Like I’ll say about another movie on this list, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill shares some of the same positive qualities of its predecessors. It not only keeps up the series’ continuity, it makes me look forward to the future of Mystery 101.

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Jack Dawson from Titanic: “I’m the king of the world”!
Jake Sully from Avatar: “No, I’m the king of the world”.
Bucky Barnes from Avengers: Endgame: “Am I that much of a joke to you”?
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen

5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy was one of my most anticipated Christmas movies of 2019. After enjoying the second film in the series, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store for the next chapter. This film did not disappoint! It felt like receiving a hug from a friend one hasn’t seen in a while. The third entry is one of the few Christmas films from Hallmark that tried to do different things with their story. One example is how the script explores the aftermath of the mystery. This is something that is hardly shown in Hallmark’s films, especially in their Hallmark Movies & Mysteries productions. After hearing other people’s positive responses to this movie, I’m hoping that a fourth one is in the cards.

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

After becoming the king (or queen) of the world, Avengers: Endgame will still be a movie that is remembered for years. Whether debating over the film’s time travel or discussing the highlights and flaws of the project, people are going to find an opportunity to talk about this movie. For me, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to this particular series of the MCU. Sure, there are things about it that I don’t like. But there is no such thing as a perfect film. Without spoiling the movie, I will say that several interesting decisions were made within this script. These decisions allowed the film to be engaging and, at times, thought-provoking. What also worked in the project’s favor was how it shared some of the same strengths as its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This actually helped it maintain a sense of continuity.

 

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

For my blog follower dedication reviews, I try my best to talk about films that I feel good about sharing with my readers and followers. When I think about Kubo and the Two Strings, it makes me thankful that I chose to watch this movie! This is the first time an animated film has appeared on my best of the year list. I’m glad this movie was the one to make 18 Cinema Lane history because, to me, it deserves it. The story is enriching and beautifully written. It takes elements that we’ve seen before and crafts them in a way that feel like a breath of fresh air. It also helps that the animation is visually appealing. Even though this is the only Laika film I’ve seen, so far, I’d be more than willing to check out what this studio has to offer.

 

2. Rome in Love

This movie premiered while I was on an out-of-town trip, so I wasn’t able to review it. But when I did watch this film, it ended up being the best Hallmark movie I saw this year! Rome in Love does so many things right when it comes to cinematic story-telling. It went out of its way to use as few Hallmark movie clichés as possible. But when the film did adopt a tried-and-true cliché, it improved upon that cliché, which enhanced the overall story. At times, this film felt like a theatrical production. This is because of how well done the cinematography is. If I were introducing someone to Hallmark’s library of films, this is one of the movies I would choose to show them.

 

1. Swept from the Sea

When I look back on 2019, Swept from the Sea is the one film I can’t stop thinking about! As the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, it is definitely deserving of the number one spot. There are no such thing as “perfect” films. However, this movie is the only one I saw this year that comes pretty close to it. There is so much to love about this film. But, for me, the best part of the movie was Vincent Perez’s performance! He single-handedly stole the show, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate his acting abilities more than I expected. From the cinematography to the on-screen chemistry, the other elements of this film certainly added to my enjoyment of it. As I think about Swept from the Sea, I feel that this is a movie I wish more people were aware of.

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

What do you think of my list? Which is your favorite movie of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019

Another year, another annual Top 10 article! In 2018, I published my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2018 first. This time around, I’ll be publishing my worst of the year list instead! For me, 2019 has been a better year for movies, as I saw far more good films than bad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any movies I wasn’t a fan of. Similar to last year’s post, this list will be based on movies that I personally saw, as well as my own opinion. Also, this list is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now, let’s begin by bringing up the Dishonorable Mentions!

Our Christmas Love Song, My One and Only, Over the Moon in Love, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Heart, A Very Country Wedding, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, Nightmare Best Friend, Last Vermont Christmas, Always and Forever Christmas (I only watched half of it before turning it off), and Christmas in Louisiana (I ended up watching less than half of it before changing the channel)

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Setting up 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-background_3590600.htm’>Designed by Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik. Image found at freepik.com.

10. After the Storm

Sadly, we start this list with an UP Network release. I was hoping any movie from this network didn’t have to end up on my list. But this movie is placed lower on the list than last year’s entry, Christmas on Holly Lane. So, I guess that’s a step in the right direction! Now, back to talking about After the Storm. What made me want to watch this movie is the discussion of natural disasters and their aftermath. In family-friendly, made-for-TV movies, this specific topic is rarely featured in the story. Unfortunately, this film’s narrative placed more emphasis on the romance than the titular storm and its aftermath. Another major issue I had with this movie was the questionable decisions the male and female protagonist make within the film. While these decisions were not necessarily bad, they were also given questionable explanations. I wasn’t able to stay invested in the protagonists and their relationship because of this creative decision.

9. A Feeling of Home

Texas is one of the states that isn’t always featured in a Hallmark movie. This part of the film made me want to give this project a chance. But, similar to After the Storm, the story placed more focus on the romance than in the conflict. There were some editing errors within this film that were painfully obvious. It also doesn’t help that the weakest acting performance came from the lead actress. Watching the female protagonist desperately trying to win over her father’s attention was, actually, quite sad. This made her appear weaker than the majority of female protagonists from Hallmark Channel. I have to ask: who greenlit this script when they knew it was this weak?

8. Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays

In 2018, I saw and really liked Christmas at Graceland. While I thought Wedding at Graceland was ok, it’s the third film in this trilogy that I find to be the worst out of the three. There were a number of plot points in this movie that didn’t make any sense. Why would the female protagonist give her nieces only one small snowglobe but the male protagonist’s children an elaborate and large advent calendar? Also, for a movie set in Graceland, the famous location ends up being a glorified extra by having less than three appearances on screen. Because of this, it makes the story feel like it didn’t need to take place in Graceland. The movie made me wish Christmas at Graceland had never received any sequels.

7. Christmas Scavenger Hunt

The idea of a Christmas themed scavenger hunt is something that had never been shown in a Hallmark production prior to 2019. So, I was somewhat optimistic about this particular movie. Sadly, the potential this film had was wasted on a poorly written script. All of the scavenger hunt clues were way too easy to solve. There was no sense of urgency throughout the film, as well as two separate moments where the male and female protagonist came across as selfish. Not only was the lead actress’s performance weak, but so was the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Like other films on this list, questions arose within the story that distracted me from enjoying the movie. One of these questions was why the female protagonist didn’t make her boyfriend take off his expensive tie before baking. All of these missteps added up to a movie that was less entertaining that it could have been.

6. Christmas Camp

When I first heard of this movie, I was excited to see a Christmas themed camp brought to life for the first time in a Hallmark film. I had reviewed this movie for Drew’s Movie Review’s Christmas in July Blogathon. Upon my first and only viewing of the film, I learned that the camp itself was nothing more than an afterthought. What this movie excels at is having a pointless plot and tradition shaming characters whose Christmas doesn’t look or sound “traditional”. Despite the fact this a Hallmark film, these things don’t make it feel like a Hallmark film. If anything, it makes me wonder why the network would greenlight this movie at all? Hallmark has been known for creating a variety of Christmas products to celebrate a multitude of Christmas traditions. With Christmas Camp, it makes the network seem inconsistent with their message.

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5. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Back in October, I gave this film a second chance for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Looking back on it, I realize that was probably a mistake. Unfunny humor is the movie’s biggest flaw. Yes, I know that comedy is a very subjective thing. But if a comedic film barely makes me laugh, then it hasn’t done its job well. Other problems in this movie include the run-time and a weak story. There were elements that could have enhanced the project, such as commentary about greed and the power of money. But these things were swept under the rug for the sake of hosting a popularity contest instead of a movie production.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This was the first movie I saw in 2019 and boy was it a disappointment. All of the humor was so forced, that I found myself not laughing at any of the jokes. The film’s plot was tedious, which made the movie itself feel longer than its run-time. I also found a few plot-holes within this film. One of them was so large and obvious, that it made me question the existence of the movie’s narrative. While I liked the acting performances and the special effects (both practical and CGI), there were more negatives to the film than positives. This could have been something quirky and fun. Unfortunately, the movie was missing those two important ingredients.

3. A Cheerful Christmas

This is not only the worst Christmas movie I saw in 2019, it’s also the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2019. It doesn’t help when the lead actress ends up over-acting or when at least one of the actors clearly can’t carry a British accent. But it also doesn’t help when the story is poorly written. This movie made me ask more questions than I had planned to. One question was about the female protagonist’s ability to keep her job after all the business-related blunders she makes. I know that fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But this movie tried to make me suspend all my disbelief, making me feel uncheerful. While I appreciate the movie’s attempt to avoid a large number of “royal movie” clichés, it wasn’t enough to save the project. In my opinion, it felt like the film’s creative team put so much emphasis on making a pointless, family-friendly, Christmas remake of Pretty Woman, that they forgot how to make a good movie.

2. Ace of Hearts

I’m all for helping smaller, family-friendly films get the “standing ovation” they might deserve. However, for a movie to achieve a “standing ovation”, it needs to be good. Ace of Hearts, unfortunately, fails to meet that criteria. The majority of the acting performances are poor and the pacing is very slow. But the worst offense this movie commits is bad writing. This story had so many plot-holes and inconsistencies, that it was exhausting instead of enjoyable. When the protagonist’s daughter convinces her friend that the reason why her family’s dog is trying to get home is to get back at the film’s villain because it’s his “unfinished business” (she comes to this conclusion after seeing the title of a video game), that’s when you know you’ve come across a bad script. As if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is, apparently, based on a true story. If my true story were handled this poorly, I would be offended and embarrassed.

1. A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness is a silent film from Japan, for those of you who are not familiar with this title. I appreciate the director’s efforts to preserve this movie, especially since, according to Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies, the majority of Japanese films created before 1945 are either partially or completely lost. I also understand what the director was trying to do with the project. But just because I’m a grateful and understanding movie blogger, that doesn’t mean I liked the final product. This movie has a plethora of problems that would make this list longer than it already is. So, I’ll share two reasons why A Page of Madness is the worst film I saw in 2019. The first is how it has no plot, narrative, or story. It just contains a premise that goes nowhere. The second is how, in reality, this movie is an artistic experiment masquerading as a film. Personally, I found this to be dishonest and manipulative. At two separate moments, I wanted to fall asleep and turn the movie off. This is one of those times where I wish I would have listened to my instincts.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster created by Casey Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_(1963)_theatrical_poster.jpg

What are your thoughts on my list? Which is your worst film of 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

Word on the Street: News about Upcoming and Potential Hallmark movies!

I am back with my first Word on the Street story for December! While Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups are winding down and the “Winterfest” line-up is on its way, I found several Hallmark related movie news stories that I had to share with my readers and followers. Some of these projects are currently in production, but others haven’t even started filming yet. Most of these stories come from the Twitter account, Hotline to Hallmark. Two of these movies can be found on the website, Creative B.C. For this post, I will be reporting on these pieces of movie news and share my sources within this article. Since there’s so many films to talk about and since most of the information is on the basic side, I won’t be sharing my insight this time.

Vector set of isometric illustrations making movies and watching a movie in the cinema.
Movie process chart created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/vector-set-of-isometric-illustrations-making-movies-and-watching-a-movie-in-the-cinema_1215936.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by Vectorpocket – Freepik.com</a> Image found at freepik.com

On December 10th, the Twitter account, Hotline to Hallmark, released a tweet about a potential Hallmark project. In this post, it was announced that Hallmark actor, Clayton Chitty, will be starring in a film called “Blueprint to the Heart”. Also, the tweet mentioned that the movie’s network was unknown, as of December 2019. On the website, Creative B.C., this movie is listed on the “In Production” page. Apparently, this project will finish filming on December 13th. Six days prior, on December 4th, Cindy Busby, who is a regular star of Hallmark, tweeted that she was working on a movie in Australia. This tweet, that was re-tweeted by Hotline to Hallmark, shares a link to an article about the film. The article, found on if.com.au, revealed that the project is currently titled “Romance on the Menu”. Based on the synopsis, it sounds like a Hallmark movie. But, as of December 2019, it’s unknown where this film will premiere.

You can visit the Twitter account of Hotline to Hallmark by typing @HotlineHallmark into Twitter’s search bar.

The article about “Romance on the Menu”: https://www.if.com.au/first-time-feature-director-rosie-lourde-finds-romance-on-the-menu/

The link to Creative B.C.’s “In Production” page: https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production/films.php?type=tv_movie (after December 13th, “Blueprint to the Heart” will be removed from the page)

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While the two aforementioned projects have no known fate, there are a few upcoming films that have been confirmed as Hallmark movies. Some of these confirmations have been announced from the stars of those films. One of them is a movie that will premiere in the 2020 Christmas season! In a tweet that was included in Hotline to Hallmark’s tweet, Brennan Elliott, a familiar face on both of Hallmark’s networks, revealed that he was working on a movie called “Christmas in Vienna”. In this same tweet, he also shared that the project would be filmed in Vienna, Austria and that the movie’s female lead will be Sarah Drew. Also, on Hotline to Hallmark, news about Taylor Cole’s Valentine’s Day movie was announced! In a Word on the Street story last month, I talked about how Taylor would be starring in a Hallmark Valentine’s Day movie alongside Ryan Paevey. This was one of the reasons why I speculated that One Winter Wedding could either be a “June Weddings” or Christmas movie. In Hotline to Hallmark’s tweet, it mentioned that Taylor herself confirmed that the third One Winter movie was still happening! This tweet says “that the script for Hallmark’s “One Winter Wedding” is being worked on”. As for the Valentine’s Day movie, it now has a working title called “Matching Hearts”. Two other cast members have been announced as well. They are Antonio Cayonne and Latonya Williams.

You can visit the Twitter account of Hotline to Hallmark and Brennan Elliott by typing @HotlineHallmark and @brennan_elliott into Twitter’s search bar.

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Cupcake with hearts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/delicious-cupcakes-illustrations_779154.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Two other Hallmark movies have been announced outside of the Hotline to Hallmark twitter account. In an article from International Business Times, several Hallmark stars were interviewed during Christmas Con, a Christmas themed convention that took place in early November. The majority of questions that were asked were about future movie projects. While the answers consisted of wishful thinking and vagueness, only one was definitive. When asked about Hallmark’s Wedding March series, Jack Wagner, one of the stars of that series, said “We will be doing “Wedding March 6” in the spring”. This means that another Wedding March chapter will likely be seen in 2020’s “June Weddings” line-up! On the website, Creative B.C. another movie from the Mystery 101 series has been listed on the “In Production” page. Currently, the film is called Mystery 101: Educated Murders. The “In Production” page reveals that the movie will go into production from January 6th to the 31st. Based on this fact, I’m guessing that the film will premiere in either spring or summer of 2020.

The article from International Business Times: https://www.ibtimes.com/christmas-con-2019-recap-biggest-news-hallmark-lifetime-stars-revealed-during-panels-2879266

The link to Creative B.C.’s “In Production” page: https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production/films.php?type=tv_movie (after January 31st, Mystery 101: Educated Murders will be removed from the page)

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Female detective image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/female-detective-with-magnifying-glass_1250814.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are thoughts on these upcoming films? Which one sounds the most interesting to you? Tell me 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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Group of Christmas figures image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-cute-christmas-character_3188970.htm’>Designed by Pikisuperstar</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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

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