Take 3: Au revoir les enfants Review + 165 & 170 Follower Thank You

At the beginning of the month, my blog received 165 followers! While I was figuring out which movie I would review, I was creating a new blogging schedule for myself. Several days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 170th follower! So, for this blog follower dedication review, I decided to write about one movie while acknowledging both milestones. I chose to talk about a French film called Au revoir les enfants! Foreign films are rarely talked about when it comes to these specific reviews. In fact, the first one I discussed was Vampyr last October. Au revoir les enfants has also been on my DVR since last February. So, I thought these reasons would be a good excuse to finally watch this film! While Vampyr is a French and German production, I have reviewed a French film on this blog before. For Clean Movie Month, I talked about the 1950 project, Les Enfants Terribles. Will my thoughts on Au revoir les enfants be similar to those on the aforementioned French film I reviewed last year? You’ll just have to read this post if you want to find the answer!

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I chose to use this poster for the review because it verifies that I, indeed, watched this film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Movies that have young actors make up the majority of the cast can be hit-or-miss. In the case of Au revoir les enfants, this aspect worked in the film’s favor! All of the young actors were not only allowed to act their age, but they were able to work alongside other actors within their age group. This made their performances feel genuine and realistic. Speaking of realism, I noticed that all of the character portrayals and the situations showcased in the movie appeared like it came directly from real-life. It gave these elements a sense of authenticity. Because this film is based on a true story, the creative team’s focus on making the characters and situations look and feel believable seemed to be taken very seriously.

 

The historical accuracy: This film takes place in early 1944. Because of this, all of the material elements of the project looked like it came directly from that period in time. The wardrobe of all the characters feature articles of clothing that one would likely find within the mid ‘40s. The architecture of the boarding school shows off the preserved interior and exterior style from an era gone by. Even the finer details of the picture, such as the books, feel like relics of that specific year. While watching this film, I noticed the way the characters spoke also reflected the time period. Whenever subjects related to World War II were brought up, it was done in a very subtle way. Even though this was a period film, I never felt like I was being talked down to or like the movie was treating itself like a history lesson. If anything, I felt like I was watching a moment in time.

 

The presentation of the subtitles: How the subtitles are presented in foreign films is very important. If they can be seen clearly, it allows the audience to better understand what the characters are saying. I liked how the subtitles were showcased in Au revoir les enfants! While all of the text was white, it was presented against backgrounds that were dark in hue. The very first scene in the movie is a great example of this. The station and train itself adopted colors of black and gray. None of the characters in this scene wore bright colors. Because of this creative decision, I never had a difficult time reading the subtitles.

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Hanukkah mehorah image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mehorah-with-flaming-candles_3299423.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like the film:

A weak plot: The more movies I watch, the more I realize that “slice of life” stories aren’t my thing. That’s because I don’t find them to be as intriguing as other cinematic stories. That’s what the majority of Au revoir les enfants is: a “slice of life” story. To me, it didn’t contain as much interest as it could have. It felt like the screenwriter put so much emphasis on the premise of Julien and Jean’s relationship, that there was nothing else to offer in the narrative.

 

A somewhat mis-leading premise: In the synopsis I read for this movie, it said the film was about a Catholic boy and a Jewish boy becoming friends during World War II. However, the friendship aspect of their relationship isn’t portrayed until about the last twenty minutes of the film. Julien and Jean spend most of the movie apart than together. In fact, Julien starts off not liking Jean as a person. Julien does become nicer to Jean as the film progresses. When this does happen, it just makes them seem like acquaintances more than anything.

 

Situations being shown, but not explained: Throughout Au revoir les enfants, there are situations shown on screen that aren’t given explanations. One example is when Julien pokes his hand with a compass. As he is doing this, he tells the classmate sitting next to him how it doesn’t hurt. Not only was this action never explained, but it’s never referenced again in the movie. Julien’s action didn’t seem to serve a purpose for his character development or the overall narrative. Moments like this one happened at several moments in the film and I found myself being frustrating by them.

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Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my final thoughts on this film, I want to thank each and every one of the followers! 18 Cinema Lane would not be the success it is today without you. Now, on to my overall impression of Au revoir les enfants! Personally, I thought it was just ok. The movie does have merits that are earned, as well as a plot twist that works. But the overall project could have been stronger. As I mentioned in my review, Au revoir les enfants is based on a true story. It felt like the creative team approached the narrative as respectfully as possible. Because the creation of the movie was handled with a sense of reverence, it allowed the film to have the emotional weight it contained. The realism of the acting and writing gave me a reason to stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing. I’m not often given opportunities to watch and review French films. However, I’m glad I chosen this movie for my latest blog follower dedication review!

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on my review? Are there any French films you’d like to see me review? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

 

 

Take 3: The Littlest Horse Thieves Review

When it came to The Costume Drama Blogathon, I wanted to choose a movie that was already on my DVR. Out of the six movies that would have fit the requirements, I decided to review The Littlest Horse Thieves! This is a Disney film that I didn’t know existed until this year. Since I reviewed Swept from the Sea and Hallmark’s Hall of Fame’s In Love and War, I thought that I would change things up by selecting a children’s/family-friendly film. What made me want to watch the movie was the historical aspect of the story. Before even hearing about The Littlest Horse Thieves, I never knew that ponies were used in the mining industry. The only animal I knew that went into mines were small birds. I was looking forward to learning something new while being entertained.

The Littlest Horse Thieves poster
The Littlest Horse Thieves poster created by Walt Disney Productions and Buena Vista Distribution. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/the-littlest-horse-thieves.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When it comes to casting young actors in lead roles, those performances can be hit or miss. In The Littlest Horse Thieves, the performances of all three leads were really good! Chloe Franks, Andrew Harrison, and Benjie Bolgar portray the titular horse thieves. Throughout the film, their characters were endearing and likable. The emotions these actors displayed appeared very genuine, as if their characters were real people. It was really sweet to watch the characters’ friendship evolve over the course of the film. Because of these factors, it made it easy for me to root of Alice, Dave, and Tommy.

 

Historical accuracy: The Littlest Horse Thieves takes place in, I believe, the early 1900s. Every aspect of this movie reflected that particular time-period really well! The sets looked like the audience could step back in time, that this point in history was not too far away. Things like wardrobe, dialect, and even the artwork on the walls brought the early 1900s to life again. Even the issues surrounding mining and employee well-being seemed to come directly from that decade. What made the historical accuracy work in this film was the creative team’s attention to detail. It shows how much care was put into this project.

 

Not so perfect plans: In a lot of children’s/family-friendly films, the young protagonists’ plans always work out in their favor. This is not exactly the case for The Littlest Horse Thieves. I’m not going to spoil the movie in case you want to see it. But the children sometimes overlook important details relating to their plan to save the ponies. I liked how the protagonists’ efforts didn’t go according to plan. This made the characters and their situation seem realistic and relatable.

Pony Face near the Tree
Close-up of pony image created by Flatart at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by flatart – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out story: The Littlest Horse Thieves had a drawn-out story that seemed to last too long. The first half of the movie focused on the children finding out about the conflict and figuring out how to solve it. The act of rescuing/stealing the ponies didn’t happen until the film’s halfway point. It also only lasted for a few minutes. The second half of the movie shifted the focus from the children to the adults. The overall narrative talked about everything but the most exciting part of the movie.

 

The editing: During the first half of the film, I noticed how less-than-stellar the editing was. It made conversations feel cut-off and transitions between scenes less smooth. These two aspects made the overall flow of the film seem choppy.

 

The conflict between Dave and his stepdad: Within The Littlest Horse Thieves, there was a conflict between Dave and his stepdad. It’s not the conflict itself I didn’t like. How little time was devoted to it is my biggest issue. In the first half of the film, Dave and his stepdad dislike each other. While the stepdad’s reason is never explained, Dave feels his reasons can be justified. His dislike toward his stepdad also affects his younger brother, Tommy. After the ponies are rescued/stolen, Dave and Tommy’s stepdad automatically becomes supportive of the children and their cause. The aforementioned conflict was not fully explored and felt it was there for the sake of being there.

The Costume Drama Blogathon banner
The Costume Drama Blogathon poster created by Debbie from Moon in Gemini. Image found at https://debravega.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/announcing-the-costume-drama-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Every studio has those films that don’t always get talked about. Disney is no exception to this. That’s why I try to go out of my way to address these films on my blog. Some of them are better than others. But you never knew what’s in store until you give the film a chance. For this particular blogathon, I chose to watch The Littlest Horse Thieves with an open mind. Now that I have seen it, I can honestly say that it was just ok. It’s not one of the worst things that the studio has ever made. But it’s not one of Disney’s strongest efforts. In fact, I could see children, especially younger ones, becoming bored by this movie. However, people who like British and/or historical fiction films will probably like it. Its historical accuracy is pretty satisfying and there are moments that I found educational. I could tell that the creative team behind this film tried their best to make something worthwhile. But it wasn’t as impressive as it could have been.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen The Littlest Horse Thieves? Which film from a major studio do think is underrated? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Swept from the Sea Review (A Month Without the Code — #8)

Out of all the movies that I’ve chosen for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon, this film is the one that I’m the most excited to talk about! I had never heard of Swept from the Sea until I discovered it on Pinterest this year (by the way, Pinterest is a great place to discover movies). When I first saw the film’s poster, I immediately noticed that Vincent Perez not only starred in the movie, but he also was the film’s top-billed actor. For those of you who are not familiar with this particular actor, Vincent portrayed Marius in Queen of the Damned, which I reviewed last Halloween. Since I enjoyed his performance in Queen of the Damned, I wanted to see what his acting talents had to offer in other films. When I was about to read the movie’s synopsis, I decided to watch the movie knowing as little about it as possible. I did this when I reviewed Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and I ended up having a really good movie-viewing experience. Will history repeat itself with Swept from the Sea? I’m glad you joined me for my last A Month Without the Code review because we’re about to find the answer to this question!

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

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Among all of the movies I’ve seen in my life and among all the movies I’ve reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane, Vincent Perez’s acting performance in Swept from the Sea is one of the best I’ve ever seen! Throughout the entire film, he gave a captivating performance that was both heart-warming and heart-breaking. There were even times where, through the use of emotion, he was able to say so much without saying anything at all. One example is when Amy, Rachel Weisz’s character, gives Yanko, Vincent’s character, some food after they officially meet for the first time. Even though Vincent was the one who stole the show, I enjoyed seeing the other acting performances in this film. Despite the fact that Kathy Bates appears in the movie for a limited amount of time, her portrayal of Miss Swaffer was excellent! Not only was her performance well-rounded, but she also did a really good job pulling off an English accent. Performances like these made the characters come across like they were real-life individuals!

 

The cinematography: Swept from the Sea had some interesting cinematography that I was not expecting to see. At one point in the movie, all of the dead bodies from a recent tragedy at sea are featured on screen. In this particular scene, the camera pans outward in order to show Dr. James Kennedy, Ian McKellen’s character, standing in the middle of the area where these dead bodies were placed. Because of the cinematography, this moment showed the magnitude of the tragedy. Another great use of cinematography was when Amy was running through a rain-storm. What I liked about this scene was how it was dark enough to create the feelings of fear and dread, but not dark enough where one could barely see what’s happening on screen. Swept from the Sea’s cinematography made the film visually engaging!

 

The scenery: The majority of this movie takes place in the English countryside. Everything about this location was beautiful to look at! From the never-ending fields to the titular sea, all of the countryside’s natural landscapes were captured very well on film. Even the snowy environment that is briefly shown during Yanko’s journey is visually appealing. Because of the care that was taken in recording these locations, especially the sea, it gave the impression that the scenery was its own character. It also helped to create a stunning picture!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Because this story puts a good amount of focus on a romance, it’s important for the actors portraying the characters in that relationship to have good on-screen chemistry. As I’ve already said in this review, Vincent Perez’s acting performance stole the show! I was also impressed with Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of Amy Foster. Not only were they talented individually, but they were also a very talented pair! Anytime Amy and Yanko interacted with one another, their relationship was brought to life in a very sweet and genuine way. Amy and Yanko were an adorable couple without trying too hard to be. While some of the credit goes to the screenwriter, the rest of it belongs to Vincent and Rachel. What helped them was how different their acting styles were. These differences ended up complimenting each other instead of competing against them.

Board Games Composition
Chess game strategy image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The dialect: Swept from the Sea takes place in the late 1800s, so the dialect reflects that particular time-period. This aspect of the movie sounded authentic to that decade. However, because I’m not used to hearing it in films very often, I had difficulty, at times, understanding what the characters were saying. This is not the fault of the film, but the fault of me, as a viewer, for not being familiar with the dialect.

A Month Without the Code banner
A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode65/.

My overall impression:

Have you ever seen a movie that was so great, that all you wanted to do was tell everyone you knew about it? Well, that is exactly how Swept from the Sea made me feel! So far, this is the best movie I’ve seen this year! It’s endearing and emotional, grabbing hold of my attention from start to finish. So many components came together to make this film as entertaining as it was. From the acting to the scenery, there were so many things I liked about this movie. It is truly a hidden gem that I’m thankful to have discovered. Like I said about The Nun’s Story, Swept from the Sea is one of the “cleaner” films out of the ones I’ve chosen for A Month Without the Code. I found this to be pretty surprising, considering the fact that this is the only PG-13 rated movie in this roster. Despite this, I think the movie could be “breenable” with a few changes. These are the following:

 

  • There were about three times when characters were heard swearing and one time where Christ’s name was used in vain. These words would need to be omitted from the script.

 

  • Toward the beginning of the film, Miss Swaffer has a bloody wound on her leg and is having it taken care of by Dr. James Kennedy. While the scene itself is fine, the wound would have to be hidden on screen.

 

  • In one scene, a man is making an unflattering joke about Amy. While Amy and Yanko express their disgust over this joke, the joke itself would have to meet the standards of the Breen Code.

 

  • On the ship, at the beginning of the storm, Yanko is seen throwing up. To fit within the qualifications of the Breen Code, this image would have to be removed.

 

  • Because there is a tragedy at sea, there are several dead bodies that are shown on screen. There is one other part of the film that features a dead body as well. These scenes would need to be revised to fit with the Breen Code.

 

  • Yanko and Amy’s kisses are more passionate and last longer than kisses from the Breen Code era’s films. These kisses would have to be shorter in time-length.

 

  • There are two scenes that heavily imply that Yanko and Amy are having sex. Even though these scenes take place after they become married, these scenes would need to rewritten to make the implication more subtle.

 

Overall score: 9.6 out of 10

 

How do you feel about A Month Without the Code? Which review from this blogathon has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen