When Evan talks about his family in this episode of Chesapeake Shores, Mandrake tells him how hope was found at the bottom of Pandora’s Box. The fact Mandrake would say something so profound is not surprising. But what he said was interesting. Pandora’s Box is, more often than not, associated with negativity. I remember hearing a saying about not being able to close Pandora’s Box once it’s opened. When you take “Pandora’s Box” out of the equation, though, you remember how there are such things as good boxes. Presents are a perfect example, as you anticipate what might be inside them. Sometimes, a person is gifted what they need instead of what they want. This is the case for Evan, as Mandrake likely knew hope is what Evan needed.
Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.
Name: I Get a Kick Out of You
Abby and Evan’s story: Evan finally receives his DNA results. Not only does he learn about several of his quirks, he also learns he has cousins in Florida. For the majority of the episode, though, Evan avoids exploring this part of his family’s history. He even takes up magic again, a hobby he had when he was a child. While performing a card trick for Caitlyn and Carrie, Abby talks to Mandrake about Evan’s hesitance. Mandrake explains how Evan has been on his own for so long, he’s afraid of letting others get close to him. Later in the episode, Evan confesses to Abby he’s wanted to know more about his father since he was a teenager. He then tells Mandrake to visit his cousins in Florida. Several days later, Mandrake returns to the O’Brien family home with Evan’s father in tow.
Bree and Luke’s story: Kevin and Sarah’s baby shower is just around the corner. This makes Bree realize she still doesn’t have a gift to give them. Meanwhile, Miranda Livingston arrives in Chesapeake Shores to discuss the movie deal of Bree’s book. Because Bree has never met Miranda before, she doesn’t know what to expect. Miranda’s down-to-earth personality catches Bree off-guard. When sitting in on one of Bree’s classes, Miranda gives Bree some public speaking related advice. Bree isn’t sure what to make of Miranda. At Kevin and Sarah’s baby shower, where Bree gives them a collection of children’s books, Bree turns to Evan about Miranda. Evan reassures her that Miranda is a genuinely good person, recalling their time together on Celebrity Jeopardy. While Luke attends Kevin and Sarah’s baby shower with Bree, he can only stay for a little while. This is because he wants to lay flowers on his parents’ graves. After visiting the cemetery, Luke goes to a convenience store. During this trip, a robber enters the store, demanding the cashier hand over the money from the register. Luke tries to deescalate the situation, even knocking the robber’s gun out of his hand. The scene ends with someone getting shot off-screen.
Jess and David’s story: Jess is hosting a War of 1812 reenactment weekend at The Inn at Eagle Point. While this event is taking place, she has doubts about the longevity of the bed and breakfast. She’s also frustrated she still hasn’t found an investor for her vineyard. She discusses these issues with Bree and David, who assure her she’ll find a way to make things work out. Meanwhile, David believes his father might be innocent. He presents the computer files to Conner and Margaret, who tell David to hand them over to the FBI. Several days later, FBI Agent Malik arrives at The Inn at Eagle Point. She appreciates David handing over the computer files. But she informs him there will still be a trial. David also turns to Mr. Peck’s business associate, Baron. Even though Baron doesn’t know who exactly is guilty, he believes Mr. Peck is innocent. When all of his options to hire a lawyer don’t work, David turns to Connor and Margaret for help.
Some thoughts to consider:
I know Mandrake meant well by bringing Evan’s father from Florida. But the fact he didn’t let Evan know ahead of time was out of character for him. Ever since he was introduced last season, Mandrake always looked out for Evan’s best interests. From what I recall, he never did anything without Evan’s permission. So, all of a sudden, Mandrake does something against Evan’s wishes? To me, that was a break in continuity.
The commercial for this episode was somewhat misleading. When Bree and Luke were featured in the commercial, Luke says something along the lines of how he needs to be on his own. Bree then appears concerned over what Luke told her. That scene’s presentation in the commercial gave the impression Luke and Bree were experiencing another relationship related issue. But in the episode, Luke was telling Bree he was going to visit his parents’ graves.
Toward the end of the episode, Kevin confesses to Sarah how he wants to go back to medical school to become a doctor. While this is a great chapter in Kevin’s story, we only have two episodes left until the show is over. According to the commercial for the next episode, it looks like Sarah might give birth. Maybe there will be another time-jump in the series finale?
What are your thoughts on this episode? What you you think happened to Luke? Let me know in the comment section!
Kyoko/Because of You is a movie I first planned to review back in May. But as I explained in my review of The Pit and the Pendulum, my DVD copy of Kyoko/Because of You didn’t arrive in time for the blogathon I was participating in. Thanks to this month’s Genre Grandeur, I now have an excuse to finally check this movie out! ‘New York Films That Take Place Prior to 9/11’ was selected for September’s Genre Grandeurtheme. Not only wasKyoko/Because of You released in 1996, the protagonist takes a trip to New York. When I first came across this movie on IMDB, the synopsis immediately caught my attention. It sounded heartfelt, almost like a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. Since this movie is a lesser-known title, it gave me a chance to try to find a hidden gem!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I’m not familiar with Saki Takaoka’s filmography. Despite this, I thought her portrayal of the titular character was pleasant to watch! From scene to scene, Saki displayed genuine emotion. One great example is when Jose is telling her about a lampshade his mom loved. When the scene begins, Kyoko has a smile on her face, happy to be spending time with her mentor. But as Jose is sharing his story, Kyoko’s face slowly falls, highlighting just how sad his story is. At the end of Jose’s story, Kyoko smiles again and tells him she’ll help find this lampshade, making her response bittersweet.
Kyoko’s mentor, Jose, is portrayed by Carlos Osorio. For the majority of the film, Jose is dealing with the effects of not only AIDS, but also Dementia. Despite these struggles, the humanity of this character shown through, thanks to Carlos’ acting talents. Before Kyoko leaves to purchase a souvenir, Jose asks to keep the van door open, as he wants to feel the breeze. Jose’s face has a wistful look about it, like he is reminiscing on simpler times. When Kyoko returns, Jose is angry at a young man named Angel. He not only yells at Angel, Jose also uses his cane to protect himself.
While in New York, Kyoko meets a limousine driver named Ralph. Portrayed by Scott Whitehurst, Ralph was one of the best characters in this movie! He was so charismatic and such a good friend to Kyoko. During their first interaction, Ralph encourages Kyoko to take a ride in his limousine. Using charm to his advantage, Ralph’s encouragement sounded more like a sales pitch. Despite this, the pleasant demeanor and friendliness of Scott’s body language and facial expressions indicated his good intentions.
Various sides of New York: In any movie taking place in a well-known, beloved location, there are two angles a creative team can take their project: glamourize and glorify it or show the not-so-pretty sides of that location. When it came to New York in Kyoko/Because of You, the presentation of New York seemed balanced. Yes, there is a shot of Radio City Music Hall. But well-known landmarks were not the only places featured in this part of the story. While looking for Jose, Kyoko visits a dance studio and a local bar. While the dance studio visit was brief, the local bar is where Kyoko shows off her dance skills. Since New York is such a large city, it hosts a landscape of multiple restaurants and cultural hubs. The film shows how various communities can make their home in the Big Apple.
The soundtrack: Throughout the film, Latin tunes can be heard in the background. While the tunes themselves were pleasant, I liked how they contained a strong connection to the story. Jose is from Cuba, sharing through a voice-over how dancing plays a huge role in his culture. Both Jose and Kyoko are Latin dancers, with the music emphasizing their shared interest. What’s also good about the music is its consistency, as Latin music was the principal sound for this movie.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Dancing has a limited presence: In the synopsis for Kyoko/Because of You, it states Jose taught Kyoko to dance when she was younger. With that in mind, I was expecting dance to be one of the film’s key themes. Sadly, there wasn’t much dancing within the story. In this hour and twenty-five-minute movie, there were two dance solos and three duets. Even though this film wasn’t a musical, I still found this disappointing.
The bait-and-switch: Because Kyoko travels to New York and because the New York City skyline is featured on the film’s poster, I assumed the majority of the story would take place in New York City. Even though the Big Apple is featured in the movie, only about a third of the film is set there. The rest of the movie becomes a road trip story, with some shots of a moving vehicle used as padding. Since I watched this film partly because of its New York City backdrop, this was somewhat misleading.
Drawn out scenes: As I just mentioned, some shots of a moving vehicle were used as padding. They were also used to satisfy the film’s run-time. One example is when Kyoko is driving out of New York. In this shot, she is driving her vehicle on a bridge, which lasts for about thirty seconds. Scenes like that one should have been cut shorter, giving more time to the plot.
My overall impression:
The story of someone reconnecting with their mentor could be heartwarming. While that potential was there for Kyoko/Because of You, it didn’t contain as much heart as I expected. The majority of this story focused on the road trip instead of the bond between Kyoko and Jose. Yes, I know Jose was experiencing Dementia. But it seems like the road trip, from a story-telling perspective, tried to make up for Jose’s disintegrating memory. The acting performances were nice to watch. I also enjoyed the dance routines. However, I wish dance had been a key theme in this movie. New York is such a diverse landscape, especially when it comes to dancing. Therefore, this felt, to me, like a missed opportunity. I’m glad I finally got a chance to review Kyoko/Because of You. But it’s not the hidden gem I thought it could be.
Overall score: 6.1 out of 10
Have you seen Kyoko/Because of You? Which ‘dance films’ do you like? Tell me in the comment section!
Bree reveals to Luke how she doesn’t like birthdays. As her birthday is approaching, all she wants is treat it like any other day. While I feel birthdays should be a day of celebration, Bree might have an interesting point. Over the years, I’ve heard quotes about how bigger moments are made up of smaller moments. I also remember a quote from the 1997 film, Titanic, about making every moment count. Based on this episode, my guess is Bree just wants every day to be equally celebrated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as that’s why the present is called “the present”: every day can be a gift.
Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.
Name: It’s Not For Me to Say
Abby and Evan’s story: During a visit to the O’Brien family home, Evan says he feels like he’s known Abby forever. Abby asks if he’s saying he loves her. Before Evan can answer, Mick walks into the kitchen. Because Evan didn’t answer Abby’s question, Abby wonders throughout the episode if Evan loves her. She asks Kevin for advice, but he, once again, is no help. Later, in the episode, Abby confronts Evan about the unanswered question. This makes Evan wonder if she loves him back. They agree to say their responses at the same time. While Evan says, “I love you”, Abby says “You love me”. However, she does tell Evan she loves him. Toward the end of the episode, at an O’Brien family dinner, Evan shares with Abby how he wants to take a DNA test. This is because he wants to learn more about his family.
Kevin and Sarah’s story: Six months after the events of the previous episode, Kevin and Sarah are at their ultrasound appointment. Despite not wanting to know the gender of their baby, Kevin catches a glimpse on the ultrasound screen. Unsure what to do about the situation, he turns to Bree for advice, with Bree telling her brother he needs to comes clean with Sarah. He also tells Mick about his dilemma, learning more about his father during their conversation. Kevin does eventually tell Sarah what he saw, his wife delighted by this latest discovery. At the O’Brien family dinner, Sarah and Kevin reveal there are having a baby boy.
Mick and Megan’s story: When Megan returns from Los Angeles, Mick decides to take her on a date to a local, fancy restaurant. On this date, Mick tells Megan he’d like her to move back into the O’Brien family home. She refuses this offer, as she doesn’t want to disrupt Mick’s recovery. Later in the episode, Mick reveals to Megan he built a pergola in the O’Brien’s backyard. Megan is impressed when she sees this structure in person, especially since she claims to have waited over twenty years for it. This is where Megan tells Mick she needs some more time to decide what to do next. Toward the end of the episode, at the O’Brien family dinner, Megan asks Mick to retrieve an item from his room. When he goes to his room, Mick finds Megan’s suitcases, indicating she decided to move into the O’Brien family home.
David and Jess’ story: Jess is finding it difficult to secure a business loan from the bank. Even when she tweaks her business plans, it isn’t enough to receive a loan. Meanwhile, David gets a call from his dad’s lawyer. Mr. Peck wants his son to visit him at the Washington D.C. prison he’s currently in. David reluctantly visits his dad, but only as a cathartic experience. When David goes to the prison, Mr. Peck still claims his innocence. He also tells David about a secret apartment he owns in D.C., along with a flash drive containing valuable information about his company. Mr. Peck even encourages his son to contact the only business associate who didn’t abandon him. When he arrives at The Inn at Eagle Point, David looks through the files on the flash drive. This makes him start to think his dad was really framed.
Bree and Luke’s story: While talking about their relationship, Bree and Luke discover their birthday is on the same day. They also discover they don’t like birthdays. Bree and Luke tell each other not to give presents. But throughout the episode, they second guess themselves. They even turn to Kevin for advice on this issue. On their birthday, Bree gives Luke a glass plant holder for his cactus. Meanwhile, Luke didn’t give Bree a present, as that was their original agreement. He also gets a cake that says “Happy Birthday Luke and not Bree”. At the O’Brien family dinner, the O’Brien family sings “Happy Ordinary Day” to Luke and Bree.
Some thoughts to consider:
Before this season premiered, I assumed there would be a time jump in the series finale, as a way to tie up the last remaining loose ends. But since this time jump happened at about the season’s half-way point, it only makes sense for Kevin and Sarah’s story. After that six-month time jump, it seems like not much has changed for the other characters. It also makes me wonder if Caitlyn will share what her “whatever” was she brought up in the previous episode? I’m starting to think this time jump was an unnecessary creative decision.
This episode was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I have been impressed with David and Jess’ story! It has been intriguing, keeping me on the edge of my seat. Jess has even come a long way since she was introduced back in 2016. On the other hand, though, Bree and Luke’s story was not only the weakest one in this episode, it’s, so far, the weakest one this season. Did we need an hour-long story about Bree and Luke struggling to not get a gift for one another? I’m hoping their next story is much stronger than this one was.
As I said in this re-cap, Mick built a pergola for Megan. Between his job and recovery process, how did he find the time to build it? With this six-month time jump, I’m guessing Mick built the pergola a little bit at a time. However, I wish the dialogue had provided a clearer explanation.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you like the six-month time jump? Let me know in the comment section!
I know what you’re thinking, “What does Anna and the King have to do with the number five”? Well, I’m glad you asked! As Rebecca has stated in the announcement post for the Fifth Broadway Bound Blogathon, all entries had to have something to do with the number five, to commemorate the event’s fifth anniversary. For my selection, Anna and the King, which stars Bai Ling, was released in 1999, five years after The Crow premiered. From what I’ve heard, The Crow was Bai Ling’s first American/English film. Last year, when I reviewed the 1956 adaptation of The King and I, I mentioned Anna and the King was a non-musical version of the story. As I write this review, I realize I haven’t seen many non-musical film adaptations of musicals. Sure, I’ve heard of these types of productions. But, off the top of my head, a non-musical adaptation doesn’t immediately come to mind. So, with this review, I will expand my cinematic horizons!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Anna and the King is a drama film with a more serious tone. Therefore, Jodie Foster’s portrayal of Anna is sterner in nature. However, Anna also comes across as being fair. A great example of this is when she is disciplining both her son and King Mongkut’s eldest son. In the evening, when the royal family is bringing Anna dinner, Jodie presents a mild-mannered sweetness that feels genuine. As she’s realizing the dinner is for her and not King Mongkut’s son, Anna never displays any meanness toward her student, as she truly wants to teach him a valuable lesson. King Mongkut himself is also a stern, yet fair character. Chow Yun-fat balances the seriousness and loving sides of his character consistently throughout the film. In one of their many conversations, King Mongkut is asked by Anna if his wives ever get jealous of one another. Even though this question is a personal one, King Mongkut never appears offended. Instead, his calm, collected, and approachable demeanor make the conversation less awkward than it could have gotten. One of these aforementioned wives is Tuptim. Portrayed by Bai Ling, Tuptim is an emotional character that expresses herself in subtle ways. It’s not until she faces a life-or-death moment where more of her emotions are drawn forward. While I won’t spoil Anna and the King for those of my readers who might be interested in seeing it, Bai delivers on the emotional intensity needed for a moment like the one I just mentioned. But even outside of that moment, Bai knows how to use emotion in her and her character’s favor.
The set design: Anna and the King is a beautiful looking film! One of the reasons why is its set design. Everywhere you look, exquisite detail and impressive structure helped elevate the world around Anna and King Mongkut. The royal family takes a trip in a massive river boat. This boat was a deep blue with gold etched artwork. At the head of the boat, a set of giant golden dragons adorn this beautiful mode of transportation. On the walls of King Mongkut’s palace, a full-length mural consistently coats the interior perimeter of rooms and even a hallway. The mural itself appears painted, depicting the natural landscape of Siam. Smaller elements like the ones I mentioned added to the overall beauty of the set design!
The costume design: Similar to the 1956 adaptation, the costume design in Anna and the King was simply elegant! One notable example was Anna’s reception gown. At this event, Anna wore a full length, white gown. The off the shoulder bodice and sparkly skirt was not only eye-catching, it also felt reminiscent of Belle’s gown from the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast. At this same reception, King Mongkut’s wives also wear beautiful gowns. Tuptim’s was especially pretty, a simple yet classy red dress. What also complimented Tuptim’s ensemble was a sparkly gold and bronze crown that adorned her dark hair. The exquisiteness of the costume design carried the spirit of The King and I story!
What I didn’t like about the film:
The war story-line: Because Anna and the King is a non-musical version of The King and I, there needs to be something to replace the musical numbers. In the 1999 adaptation, that replacement was a subplot about a war between the Siamese and the Burmese. While it was interesting to explore the tense side of ruling a country, I found this subplot to be the weakest one. That subplot was drawn-out, getting resolved at the very end of the movie. With the run-time being two hours and twenty-eight minutes, the war story-line felt longer than it really was.
Under-utilized characters: Anna and the King contains a larger cast of characters. Therefore, some of them are bound to receive less screen-time than others. Tuptim was, once again, one of those characters. After seeing how under-utilized Rita Moreno’s talents were in the 1956 adaptation, I was hoping Bai Ling would receive more screen time. Sadly, she only appeared in a handful of scenes. In the 1956 adaptation, Tuptim created a play based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, giving her a reason to stay on screen a little bit longer. Because there is noUncle Tom’s Cabin play in the 1999 adaptation and because only King Mongkut’s oldest son reads Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Tuptim, in Anna and the King, has less reasons to stay on screen.
No musical Easter eggs: Before I wrote this review, I was well aware Anna and the King was not a musical film. But because the film is an adaptation of a musical, it was a missed opportunity to not include musical related Easter eggs. In the 1956 adaptation, King Mongkut says “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera” on multiple occasions, whenever he had something important to say. In the 1999 adaptation, however, King Mongkut never says the aforementioned quote. One of the songs from the 1956 adaptation is ‘Shall We Dance?’. During both versions of this story, King Mongkut and Anna dance with one another. However, it would have been nice to hear one of them say “shall we dance.”
My overall impression:
Anna and the King is a fine, competently made film. The movie’s creative team clearly knew what they doing, displaying the clear direction they wanted to take their adaptation. But compared to the 1956 musical, I find myself liking the musical more. Without the musical numbers, it feels like the story is missing something. Even though the 1999 adaptation found a replacement for the lack of musical numbers, I was wishing they hadn’t been omitted. I would have even accepted Easter eggs related to the musical, such as quotes from the songs woven into the dialogue. But despite its shortcomings, Anna and the King does attempt to make meaningful changes that were not in the 1956 musical. One of these changes is giving Anna’s son, Louis, and some of King Mongkut’s children their own unique personalities and a little more involvement in the overall story. As for Bai Ling’s involvement in the film, I wish she was given more on-screen appearances. But because Anna and the King is based on The King and I, which also showed Tuptim in only a handful of scenes, maybe I was naïve to think more material was available?
Overall score: 7.2 out of 10
Have you seen Anna and the King or The King and I? Can you think of any musicals that received a non-musical adaptation? Let me know in the comment section!
The Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of Redwood Curtain is based on a Broadway play. It was also released in 1995. With these facts in mind, I found Redwood Curtain to be the perfect subject for the Fifth Broadway Bound Blogathon. Prior to this event, I saw the movie and read the play. This lent itself to an interesting idea. Discussions about film adaptations often feature films adapted from books, short stories, or poems. Movies born from plays aren’t often included in the conversation. So, I decided to write an editorial highlighting the similarities and differences between the Redwood Curtain play and film. This article contains spoilers for the story of Redwood Curtain.
On the stage, Redwood Curtain contains three characters: Lyman, Geri, and Geneva. While there are other characters in the story, they’re only mentioned within the dialogue. Geri’s father, Laird, is one of these characters. According to the script, Laird was a desk-jockey lieutenant in the Vietnam War. This means he “didn’t see a day’s fighting, to come completely unglued in the war.” Laird taught Geri how to play the piano simply to entertain dinner guests. He also developed a dependence on alcohol and died two years prior to the play’s events. Laird is even described as a “drunk.” Because Laird never physically appears in the play, all the information about him is hearsay.
John Lithgow portrays Laird in the film adaptation. The film version of Laird did fight in the Vietnam War, though his specific role was never mentioned. Like in the play, he develops a dependence on alcohol. However, this dependence was Laird’s attempt to cope with war-related trauma. Toward the end of the movie, Geneva shares with Geri how Laird wanted to be a pianist, but didn’t feel he was talented enough. So, he became invested in Geri’s piano career, appearing to live vicariously through his daughter. His presence in the movie shows the audience the strained, yet close relationship between Geri and Laird. Laird’s death within the film’s first half and Geri’s discovery that Laird is her biological father are presented as bittersweet moments.
Expanding the World
The majority of Redwood Curtain’s story in the play takes place in Arcata’s redwood forest. A few scenes happen in Geneva’s house, Geneva’s car, or a local coffee house. Geri’s first encounter with Lyman is when the play starts, with the lead-up to this moment woven into the dialogue. Events such as Laird’s death take place off stage, prior to the play’s story. The creative team behind a play is given a limited amount of space and time to work with. Therefore, designating a few key locations makes sense among these limitations. In the Redwood Curtain play, Geneva’s house is described as “a large and very fine Victorian house.” The script states her house contains a music room as well. When presenting this play at a theater, only the home’s sitting room and music room would be staged and the style of the house would be heavily implied through décor and set structure.
A plus side to film-making is the freedom to take the story wherever the film-maker chooses. If a movie’s creative team desires to adapt a stage play, that story has the opportunity to grow beyond the boundaries of a stage. In the case of the Redwood Curtain film, the events from the play are contained in the story’s second half. That means the movie’s first half takes place in and around the Riordan family home. This inclusion not only expands the world the characters exist in, but also gives the audience a glimpse into Geri’s world that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Filming on location provides benefits to visual storytelling. However, that creative decision has its own limitations. Using Geneva’s house in the movie as an example, a location scout might not be able to secure a location similar to one described in the source material. Even if they succeeded, there’s a process in order to film at a residential building, especially if it’s someone’s real-life home. That’s probably why Geneva’s house is presented as a smaller log cabin with a large deck, but no music room.
In both the play and movie, Geri attempts to search for her biological father. This attempt is the story’s main conflict. Geri’s reason for her search was different in each version of Redwood Curtain. In the play, Geri knew some information about her past. Prior to the start of the play, Geri discovered Lyman tried to help her and her biological mother get to the United States. The script mentions that Geri began her search when she was twelve. Her search turns into an obsession, to the point of abandoning her musical endeavors. In fact, the play’s synopsis states Redwood Curtain “is a story of obsession and discovery.” Though the information Geri received was partly true, she eventually learns more through her interactions with Lyman.
The movie version of Geri has three motives for her search. Wanting to receive answers about her past was the first motive. The film’s script heavily implies Geri did not know much about her past until the events of the movie. Yes, she was aware she was adopted. But Geri’s belief that Lyman was her biological father stemmed from a photo and a note bearing the name ‘Raymond Farrow’ that Laird gave his daughter after he died. At various moments in the movie, Geri expresses how she feels she doesn’t belong. She even shares these thoughts with the Riordan’s house-keeper, Matilda. These feelings fuel Geri’s journey of self-discovery and finding her biological family. Her third and final motive is her music, which plays a crucial role in Geri’s life. Geri’s believes if she finds her biological father, she will be able to incorporate more emotion into her musical pieces.
Significance of the Redwoods
As I’ve said before on my blog, a film’s title can serve as a promise to the audience. In the case of Redwood Curtain, the audience should expect not only to see redwoods, but also to receive an explanation of what the “redwood curtain” is. The “redwood curtain,” in both the play and movie, is the redwood forest itself, where Vietnam veterans choose to live their lives. This is one of the reasons Geri meets with Lyman in the forest. While Geri learns about the “redwood curtain” in each version of the story, the way she learns about it is different. An Arcata Union reporter provides the explanation for the “redwood curtain” to Geri in the play. In the movie, she is given this same explanation by a gentleman working at Arcata’s veterans’ office.
As I mentioned above, the majority of Redwood Curtain’s story in the play takes place in Arcata’s redwood forest. The redwood forest in the movie only appears in the story’s second half. Because of how often or little this location appears in the story, its association with the characters and the themes connected to it depend on these appearances. Topics relating to the environment are brought up throughout the play. When Lyman asks Geri why she’s visiting Arcata, she tells him she’s studying horticulture and botany at the local college. Geri also claims to have magical powers, which allow her to do things such as control the weather. Within the play, Geneva talks about how her family’s portion of the redwood forest is being bought out by investors. While this part of the story is also in the movie, it is discussed in more detail in the play, from Geneva bringing up the specifics of the sale itself to describing Arcata’s weather. The theme of family connects with the redwood forest in the movie. The Riordan family owns a portion of the redwood forest. While Geri stays at Geneva’s house, Geneva shows her niece a wall of family photos. These photos showcase various members of the Riordan family in the redwood forest. The number of photos and whether or not the photos are in black-and-white indicate how the forest has been in the family for generations.
Wellbeing of Veterans
When I brought up the movie version of Laird, I mentioned how he depended on alcohol to cope with war-related trauma. I also mentioned how Geri learns about the “redwood curtain” at Arcata’s veterans’ office. These are just two examples of how the movie includes the subject of veterans’ well-being. In the history of Hallmark films, veterans have been presented with a sense of reverence and respect. Veteran-related issues have also been included in Hallmark’s programming. An example is a veteran struggling with trauma in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Lost Without You. Even though the film adaptation of Redwood Curtain was released a decade before Hallmark debuted the Hallmark Channel, this tradition can be seen and felt in this Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. At Laird’s funeral, Geri shares with Geneva how she wished the family had addressed Laird’s alcohol dependency sooner. Geneva reminds her niece how Laird had a problem related to his experiences in the war. Geri says the family’s politeness and willingness to skirt the issue are what enabled Laird’s struggles. The points Geri makes to her aunt highlight how seriously these topics are taken in this adaptation.
While veteran-related issues are brought up in the play, it was never enough to be one of the story’s main topics. Compared to the movie, there isn’t the same amount of reverence for veterans. During her first interaction with Lyman, Geri’s personality is pessimistic and bitter. When Lyman asks Geri about the translation of her hometown’s name, Geri responds by saying, “Well, you’re not Spanish. You must belong to the other half of the country’s population.” After Geri learns Laird was her biological father, she says, “You’re right, Lyman, he was the saddest man I’ve ever known.” Geri also says, “And I thought I was joking when I said to follow in my father’s footsteps I had to mope and pine and drink myself to death. Not a very promising path he’s laid out for me to follow.” With the way veterans’ well-being wasn’t addressed, it made the play seem less hopeful. It also seemed like none of the characters were willing to find any solutions.
Lyman, Geri, and Geneva
As mentioned above, I said Lyman, Geri, and Geneva were the only three characters to physically appear in the play. These three characters also serve prominent roles in the movie. Geri’s personality in the play was pessimistic and bitter. She was also disrespectful when talking to Lyman or talking about Laird. In the movie, however, Geri was a more empathetic character. While interacting with Matilda in the Riordan family kitchen, Laird recalls a memory of Geri when she was younger. In this memory, Laird was tearing up as he was chopping onions. Upon seeing this, Geri asks if Laird is sad because the onions are hurt.
Lyman, in both the play and movie, shares parts of his life story with Geri. In the play, though, more of this information is given. Toward the end of the movie, Lyman tells Geri how, before the war, he would fix and race cars with his dad. He also talks about how he never dated a crush he had. Lyman in the play not only drag-raced vehicles, he also worked in his dad’s garage. He recalls owning a Mustang Boss 302 and never having a girlfriend. Geneva’s family’s portion of the redwood forest was being bought out by investors. As a result of this, Geneva, in the play, is planning on moving to Key Biscayne, Florida, with her husband, Barney. In the movie, however, Geneva expresses no interest in moving out of Arcata. In fact, after one of Geri’s piano performances, Geneva tells Laird how she plans on fighting to keep her land. She and Barney are also divorced.
After I watched and read Redwood Curtain, I ended up liking the movie adaptation over the source material. What worked in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation’s favor was how the story was expanded. Not only were more locations added to the characters’ world, more context was given than the play provided. Even though there were more characters added to the film, the cast as a whole was smaller. Through their interactions, the audience gets a more intimate look into the characters’ relationships. The changes to the characters from the play made them more likable, especially Geri. Both the screenwriting and acting allowed Geri to be one of the strongest protagonists in Hallmark movie history. Redwood Curtain reminded me of another Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on a play: The Boys Next Door. Similar to Redwood Curtain, The Boys Next Door contained multiple locations and provided context to each of the key characters. Since I have seen the 1996 adaptation, but have never read the play, perhaps another comparison and contrast editorial is in order.
Ever since she found out she was pregnant again, Sarah has been unsure how to feel. On the one hand, she wants to be excited about this new life chapter. But, she’s also afraid of losing the baby again. In an effort to give her sister-in-law some heartfelt advice, Abby tells Sarah “When in doubt, choose joy”. In my re-cap posts, I always try to incorporate some direct aspect of the show into the introduction. This could be one of the character’s quotes, a specific theme, or an event that occurred in the story. As soon as Abby told Sarah the aforementioned quote, I knew it was going to be the title of my re-cap post. Not just because I like her quote, it could also be said about a favorite television show. Why do people choose a given show as their favorite? Why do viewers keep coming back to a specific story? It’s likely that show gives them joy.
Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.
Name: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Bree and Luke’s story: Bree and Luke haven’t spoken to each other in a week, due to their last interaction at the Seaside Festival. While she misses Luke, Bree worries he has already moved on. But when she tells her dad how she feels, Mick suggests she should go to The Bridge and talk to Luke. Later, at The Bridge, Bree visits Luke and gives him a house-warming present, as he is moving into The Bridge temporarily. During this interaction, Bree apologizes for not believing Luke about the fortune cards. She also explains how she has, historically, been anxious about being in a serious relationship. Not only does Luke forgive Bree, they both agree to trust one another and let go of their insecurities. After receiving a tour of Luke’s new apartment, Bree receives a text from an actress named Miranda. Miranda wants to adapt her book into a movie, the same book that was based on the O’Brien family. Before she makes any decisions, Bree asks her family for their blessing. The family unanimously agree to the adaptation, discussing which actors and actresses should portray them as well.
Mick’s story: Mick continues to attend NA meetings. While things seem to be going well, he hasn’t found a sponsor yet. Meanwhile, Mick is planning a trip to Red Rock with Megan. But when Megan falls ill, the trip is postponed. Mick asks Luke if he’d like to be his sponsor. Luke turns down the offer, as he feels that would be a conflict of interest, since he and Mick are friends. At the most recent NA meeting, Mick confesses to encountering temptation, sharing how he found some leftover painkillers in Connor’s bathroom, during a visit to his son’s apartment. But in a one-on-one conversation with the leader of the NA meetings, Mick reveals he actually took one of his son’s painkillers. The meeting leader tells Mick he is already working on the first step; admitting you have a problem. The leader also agrees to be Mick’s sponsor.
David and Jess’ story: In an effort to take her mind off of David and his issues, Jess plans to purchase a vineyard. While practicing her business pitch with Abby, Jess reveals how she has done plenty of research and taken some business classes. Impressed by her sister’s efforts, Abby tells Jess she will share her idea with a business associate she knows. Later in the episode, Abby shares with Jess how the business associate loves Jess’ idea. This gives Jess the confidence to follow through on her plan. Meanwhile, David receives a phone call from his dad. Mr. Peck claims he is innocent and someone within his company framed him. David is unsure whether his dad is telling the truth. However, he and the FBI agent from the season premiere agree to wire tap his cell phone. The next time Mr. Peck calls, David confesses how his phone is tapped. Mr. Peck tells his son he is planning to come back to the States, in an effort to prove his innocence.
Margaret and Connor’s story: Margaret finally receives the results of her Bar Exam, which reveal she passed the Bar. Connor and Margaret are thrilled with these results. After posting them on social media, Margaret receives an offer from a large, well-known law firm in Washington D.C. Margaret was not planning on working at a large firm, especially since she enjoys working with Connor. But Connor feels she should, at least, see what their offer is, as he doesn’t want to hold Margaret back. Several days later, Margaret pays Connor a visit at his apartment. She tells him she met with the D.C. law firm, sharing how they wanted her to join their partner program and retreat in Belize. However, Margaret turned down this offer, stating how she wants to continue working with Connor as an official partner. Connor likes Margaret’s proposal and agrees to this business arrangement.
Sarah and Kevin’s story: Sarah accepts an invitation to the spa, as Bree has a gift certificate that is about to expire. Besides Sarah and Bree, Jess and Abby also attend the spa trip. At the spa, one of the employees offers all four women some complimentary wine. This puts Sarah between a rock and a hard place. Because she is pregnant, Sarah wants to refuse the alcoholic beverage. But since she never shared this news with anyone other than Kevin, she’s unsure what exactly to say. Fortunately, Abby saves the day by asking for a fruit smoothie for her and Sarah. In a private conversation, Abby reveals she knew about Sarah’s pregnancy, but only because she correctly guessed this information during her conversation with Kevin in the previous episode. She reassures Sarah she hasn’t shared this news with anyone. Toward the end of the episode, both Kevin and Sarah share their pregnancy with Bree and Jess.
Some thoughts to consider:
While at the spa, Abby receives a phone call from the school nurse. The phone call is about Caitlyn, as she’s been spending more time in the nurse’s office lately. But when questioned about this by Jess, Caitlyn says these trips are nothing serious, that it’s just “whatever”. This explanation is so vague, Caitlyn’s “whatever” could be anything. So, I’m curious to see what’s going on in this part of the story.
After reading this episode’s synopsis on Hallmark Media’s website, I had assumed Jess bought a vineyard in a spontaneous, leap-of-faith. So, I was pleasantly surprised to discover she put a lot of thought, time, and research into her decision. Jess has impressed me this season. In the previous episode, she was the “voice of reason”, giving Bree realistic dating advice. Now, she’s expanding her business ventures in a way that is practical and has potential for long-time success. Jess and her possible vineyard could lend themselves to a spin-off show!
During the scenes involving Mr. Peck and his son, Mr. Peck is talking on the phone in a phone booth. The phone booth itself looks like the red booths typically associated with London, England. However, the nearby tents, wardrobe of the background characters, and limited amount of lighting indicate an outdoor market in the evening. I know Mr. Peck’s specific whereabouts are supposed to be kept a secret. But I kind of wish the show’s creative team had told the audience where Mr. Peck was.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you Jess’ business plan is a good idea? Please tell me in the comment section!
For my third year participating in the Rule, Britannia Blogathon, I, at first, considered reviewing an adaptation based on a book I’ve read. This would be similar to when I wrote about the 2002 adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had a perfect opportunity on my hands. That opportunity was the chance to review the 1975 film, Tommy! Years ago, long before I became a movie blogger, I saw a trailer for Tommy on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). On the one hand, the story itself seemed interesting; a man with disabilities living his best life and making his dreams come true. But, on the other hand, the visuals within this trailer appeared “bonkers”, making the movie seem intimidating. After reading some reviews, I came to the conclusion Tommy is a polarizing film. This isn’t the first time I have written about a movie that received mixed reviews. Two years ago, for another blogathon, I reviewed the 2011 Hallmark film, The Cabin. Historically, this is considered one of the most polarizing titles the network has ever created. When I got around to seeing it, I found The Cabin so bad, it was disappointing.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Prior to watching Tommy, I had seen Bye Bye Birdie. In the 1963 film, Ann-Margret gave an expressive portrayal of Kim MacAfee. The 1975 movie shows Ann-Margret in a completely different role, which allowed her to expand her acting abilities. Portraying the titular character’s mother, Nora, Ann-Margret gave a well-rounded performance! Because this story incorporates heavier subjects, her portrayal contains the emotional intensity required for a story of this nature. While watching television, Nora sees her son on TV. As she’s watching, a sense of guilt grows within her. This guilt causes Nora to appear disgusted, a grimace slowly overcoming her face. She attempts to change the channel in order not to see Tommy, only for the TV to magically switch to Tommy’s image. Angry about her plan not working, Nora throws her champagne bottle at the television, which results in a flood of laundry detergent, beans, and chocolate. Relieved to instantly receive the items she just saw in television commercials, Nora suddenly is taken over by pleasure. A smile appears on her face as she rolls around on the floor in the commercial materials.
When discussing a movie heavily revolving around a titular character, it’s important to talk about the actor or actress portraying that character. In the case of Tommy, that role was given to Roger Daltrey. Based on some reviews I’ve read of Tommy, it seems like Roger had little to no acting experience prior to working on this movie. Despite this, his performance was such a strong addition to the story! Roger’s portrayal had the emotionality and versatility to make Tommy a character worth rooting for. These aspects also held my interest in Tommy’s journey. In one scene, Tommy stays over at Cousin Kevin’s house. During his stay, Kevin tries to burn Tommy with a cigarette. As Tommy is sitting tied up in a chair, his face instantly changes from exhaustion and writhing in pain. This change in facial expressions is seamless, Roger never missing an emotional beat.
While I have heard good things about Tina Turner’s acting performances, this was the first time I had seen any of them. Tommy shows Tina portraying The Acid Queen. Even though her performance was limited to one scene, she gave so much energy to her role. While her portrayal was over-the-top, it fit the tone and vibe the movie was going for. With all that said, I honestly wish Tina had received more appearances in this film.
Ann-Margret’s wardrobe: Even though I knew Ann-Margret would be starring in Tommy, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked her wardrobe! Each outfit she wore complimented her so well, while also looking great on-screen! Toward the beginning of the movie, as Nora and her husband, Captain Walker, are running through the war-torn streets of England, she wore an asymmetrical, sky-blue gown. The dress itself was simple, but it was elegant enough to not be plain. Ann-Margret’s strawberry blonde hair paired beautifully with the color of the dress. Later in the movie, Nora wears a silver, mesh pant suit. Accompanied by shiny, silver sandals and a white furry cape, this ensemble boasted a posh look. While the outfit felt very reflective of the 1970s, it was a divine version of that type of outfit. Ann-Margret definitely pulled off this film’s wardrobe in style!
The symbolism: In some reviews I read about Tommy, it was mentioned how there was symbolism found among the over-the-top, flashier imagery. Since I knew before watching the movie there was going to be this type of imagery, it allowed me to focus on what the film’s creative team was trying to say through their story. In a desperate attempt to cure her son, Nora takes Tommy to The Church of Marilyn Monroe. Other patrons with disabilities are also in attendance, from a woman with a guide dog to multiple people utilizing wheelchairs. Marilyn’s likeness can be seen throughout the facility, with the most notable being a giant statue of Marilyn in the iconic flown skirt pose. I interpreted the scene as a piece of commentary on how people who claim to be religious and/or contain the ability to cure everyone with anything can, sometimes, take advantage of those in vulnerable positions. Those people could be considered “false prophets”. So, choosing Marilyn as the film’s church icon is interesting, as Marilyn’s name and image were all a fabricated version of Norma Jean.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Some villains not receiving their comeuppance: There were several characters in Tommy’s life that failed him. While a few of these characters did receive their comeuppance, most of them did not. Whenever Tommy went to stay at Cousin Kevin’s house, Kevin would physically abuse and torment Tommy. Kevin only appeared in a sequence of scenes showing Tommy mistreated by him. Because of this, Kevin’s comeuppance was never shown. I’m not sure if this creative decision was made because there wasn’t enough time to show each character’s comeuppance or if it was meant to show how unfair life can be.
Some confusing parts of the story: At one point in Tommy’s story, his parents take him to see The Specialist, in an attempt to figure out why Tommy has several disabilities. During this appointment, Nora and The Specialist continuously flirt with each other. After this scene, this interaction and The Specialist himself are not brought up again. I was unsure if Nora planned on leaving Frank to start a relationship with The Specialist or if she was flirting with The Specialist simply to encourage him to lower her son’s medical bills. Either way, the movie does not provide a clear explanation.
An unclear time-line: This story starts during and shortly after World War II. The script heavily implies Tommy was born sometime in 1945. Most of this story takes place when Tommy is an adult. If Tommy were, say, twenty during the film’s events, that would mean the story takes place in 1965. With that said, why do the wardrobe, set design, and special effects look like they came straight out of the 1970s? I know this film was released in 1975. But because Tommy’s age is not specified, the movie’s time-line is unclear.
My overall impression:
The way I feel about Tommy is similar to how I feel about Queen of the Damned. Is this one of my favorite films? No. Is it one of the best movies I’ve seen this year? Also, no. But, for what it was, I enjoyed it. Yes, the visuals can be “bonkers”. When you look past all of that, though, you will see the film’s creative team had something interesting to say. The story itself was easier to follow. The symbolism and messages associated with it appeared to be given a lot of thought and effort. Therefore, artistic merit can be found in this movie. The story of Tommy is a heartbreaking one. However, it is also a somewhat uplifting story. I won’t spoil the film for those who may be interested in seeing it. I will say when a climatic event happens, the moment itself feels earned.
Overall score: 7.3 out of 10
Have you seen Tommy? Are there any musical films you’d like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section below!
Whenever I publish 100 posts, I coordinate a special double feature. Back in January, my 600th post was my Buzzwordathon review of How to Write Good by Ryan Higa. Since then, I’ve been waiting for the right time to talk about my next double feature. Now, I’m excited to finally publish these long over-due articles! With the changing of the seasons from summer to fall, there’s one place that has remained a constant staple: the mall. Back to school shopping may be in full swing, depending on when a given school distinct begins their year. Some people might consider starting their Christmas/holiday shopping, especially to avoid the crowds. Maybe a local mall has a reputation of gathering the community, from being a popular hangout spot to hosting community events. With that said, this double feature will revolve around the mall!
There are several movies from several decades where a mall is a story’s setting. For this double feature, though, both films were released in the ‘80s. Within that decade alone, there are several options I could have selected. But I ended up going with The Legend of Billie Jean and Night of the Comet! At first glance, pairing these films together seems like a no-brainer. However, I intentionally chose these titles because they were referenced on the Dead Mall Series, created by Youtuber, This is Dan Bell.
In my double features, I attempt to answer a question through both of my reviews. But this time, I will only make a prediction, as I haven’t made a prediction since my Halloween double feature back in 2018. For this double feature, my prediction is the mall in Night of the Comet will play a bigger role than the mall in The Legend of Billie Jean. I haven’t seen any of these films prior to these reviews. Based on the clips that were in the introduction of Dan’s video, ‘DEAD MALL SERIES : Tour of the SUNRISE MALL from THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985)’, my guess is the story of The Legend of Billie Jean will revolve around a conflict that is not confined to the mall. I once read a synopsis for Night of the Comet that stated the film contained a zombie apocalypse. If this is true, the script would present a logical explanation for the story remaining in one location.
In this episode, when Bree and Jess are discussing a fortune from an arcade machine, Jess wonders if the fortune is “a real, real fortune”. Jess’ quote in correlation with this episode’s story presented an excellent message. There are so many “fortunes” within the O’Brien family. Connor was able to recover from his heart attack. Megan received her dream job. Even Abby found love again after her heartbreak with Trace. In the short run, these things may feel like a little victory. But in the long run, it can affect the overall happiness and success of a given character. It’s nice to see when our favorite characters reach their goals and achieve their dreams. After investing in their journey, it can seem like the wait was worth it. When Chesapeake Shores’ six year run ends, the O’Brien family’s story will be set in stone. But until then, let’s re-cap this week’s episode!
Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.
Bree and Luke’s story: While cleaning out The Bridge’s attic, Luke finds a fortune telling arcade machine called Mr. Mystic. He loans the machine to the arcade booth of Chesapeake Shores’ Seaside Festival. In order to test if the machine works, Luke and Bree put a nickel in the machine. They both receive a fortune that states; “Your true love is right before your eyes”. Luke doesn’t think much of this coincidence. But Bree thinks it was intentional. She discusses this possibility with Jess, with Jess suggesting she should bring up her thoughts to Luke on their upcoming date. During this date, which is dinner at a local restaurant, Bree asks Luke if he intentionally gave himself and her the same fortune. Luke confesses that he did put the fortune cards in the machine, but didn’t read the cards ahead of time. Bree feels Luke may be keeping the truth from her. Luke confirms multiple times the card placements were not intentional. He becomes so uncomfortable by Bree’s constant prying, he leaves their date early. The next day, at the Seaside Festival, Bree discovers Kevin and Sarah received the same fortune she and Luke did. Realizing he was indeed telling the truth, Bree apologizes to Luke. She claims she has trust issues. Luke also claims to have trust issues, though his issues relate to those who don’t trust him.
Abby and Evan’s story: Abby and Evan attend the Seaside Festival. Evan becomes excited when he discovers the Mr. Mystic arcade machine. After Abby puts a nickel into the machine, their shared fortune states, “Your true love is right before your eyes”. At first, Evan and Abby think it’s a silly fortune. But as the episode goes on, they contemplate what the fortune could mean. Evan talks to Mandrake about what happened. Mandrake, however, answers his questions with questions. Meanwhile, Abby turns to Kevin for advice. Unfortunately, she feels his help was unsatisfying. Later in the episode, Evan and Abby go on a date. Prior to the date, Evan rented the entire restaurant and hired a string quartet. During the date, though, Abby and Evan reveal some truths about each other. Abby shares she’s been hesitant to start another relationship because she hasn’t been on her own in quite some time. Evan confesses he’s been on his own, more often than not. Therefore, starting a new relationship is fascinating to Evan. They agree to be just two adults spending time together. Abby and Evan also agree to go on less formal dates.
Mick and Megan’s story: Megan has begun her new job in Los Angeles. She seems to be enjoying this new chapter in her life, settling in just fine. Meanwhile, in Chesapeake Shores, Mick is working through his addiction. He recently began attending NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings. But he’s hesitant to admit he’s an addict. Mick and Megan are continuing their relationship by calling each other several times a day. One of these phone conversations is overheard by Carter. Out of everything he heard, Carter picks out Mick’s addiction. At first, Megan doesn’t have a problem talking about Mick’s recovery journey. As her conversation with Carter goes on, however, she becomes aware of his criticism toward Mick. Upset by this harsh criticism, Megan ends the conversation. In Chesapeake Shores, while fixing the bathroom sink, Mick finds a bottle of painkillers. Throughout the episode, he struggles with temptation. In a series of coincidences, including a Mr. Mystic fortune that reads, “Your true love is right before your eyes”, Mick is prevented from relapsing. Toward the end of the episode, he admits he’s an addict at an NA meeting.
Connor and Margaret’s story: Connor is looking forward to meeting Margaret’s family. Margaret, however, is nervous. This is because she doesn’t know if her father will like Connor. The next day, Connor and Margaret go to the Keller family home for an early evening dinner. Things seem to be going well, as Connor and the Keller family appear to get along. Then Connor decides to tell one of his “lawyer jokes”, even though Margaret warned him not to. After Connor shares one of these jokes, there’s an awkward silent. A few seconds later, the Keller family genuinely laughs at the aforementioned joke. That evening, Margaret reveals to Connor how her family adored him.
Some thoughts to consider:
While it was interesting to see how some of Chesapeake Shores’ couples interpreted the same fortune, I wish the fortunes had been a bit more personalized. For instance, Mick and Megan’s shared fortune could have read “The journey is tough. But you are tougher”. This would have correlated with Mick’s recovery as well as Megan’s desire to maintain a long-distance relationship. At first, Luke, Bree, Abby, and Evan receiving the same fortune seemed like a coincidence. But when Mick got the same one, the idea became repetitive.
Based on what the Mr. Mystic arcade machine looks like, I’m guessing it was built between the 1910s and 1920s. If this is true, how would Mick and Luke order replacement fortune cards? Sure, the cards themselves didn’t look that old. But, when it comes to arcades in the 21st century, fortune telling machines don’t seem to be in high demand. Because of everything I said, I wonder if this machine will make an appearance on When Calls the Heart?
On Hallmark’s television shows, it’s nice to see a familiar face every now and then. In this episode, Karen Holness made an appearance as Margaret’s mom. This was such a pleasant surprise, as I haven’t seen Karen in a Hallmark production in quite some time. It also makes me wonder who else could appear this season?
What are your thoughts on this episode? Are there any predictions you have for the rest of the season? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!
Do you like TV? Do you like talking about TV? Then consider joining my upcoming blogathon, The World Television Day Blogathon! Details at the link below:
For this Blog Follower Dedication Review, I was originally going to review some episodes of Murder, She Wrote. The two reasons for that decision were a) I haven’t reviewed Murder, She Wrote episodes since 2020 and b) I was going to offer something different for my readers and followers. But since I recently watched Woman in Gold, I chose to write about that movie instead. The 2015 film revolves around the subject of art restoration, specifically art stolen during World War II. When it comes to entertainment media, this subject seems to have received more awareness within the previous decade. Two years after the release of Woman in Gold, the Signed, Sealed, Delivered series tackled this subject in their movie; Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again. In 2014, Robert M. Edsel’s book, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, was adapted into a film. These are just three movies, with two of them based on a true story. Think of all the other stories like these that haven’t been covered in film yet?
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Helen Mirren is an actress who has a commanding presence. While I’ve only seen a handful of her movies, the ones I have watched feature her as a lead actress or in a prominent role within an ensemble. In Woman in Gold, Helen portrays Maria, a woman desiring to reunite with a painting of her aunt. Maria was eccentric in the film. But the way she was presented in the movie was pleasant and inviting! On a trip to the airport, Randol ‘Randy’ Schoenberg and his wife are giving Maria a lift. When Randy mentions how much luggage was packed, Maria replies, nonchalantly, how they should arrive in Austria in style. Before meeting with the art museum’s archivist, Maria excitedly tells Randy how their mission is like a James Bond film, with Randy as Sean Connery. This presentation, as well as the on-screen camaraderie, made Maria someone to root for!
In my years of watching and reviewing movies, I have noticed a more successful transition of comedic actors in dramatic roles. This was Ryan Reynolds’ case in Woman in Gold. When Randy first meets Maria, the subject of her recently deceased sister is brought up. After seeing how much stuff Maria inherited from her sister, Randy jokingly remarks how she will no longer have to argue with her roommate. Remembering why Maria has her sister’s belongings, he quickly apologizes for the ill-timed joke. Even when scenes are more light-hearted, Ryan utilized his comedic acting skills. However, it never overshadowed his dramatic efforts!
The more of Daniel Brühl’s movies I see, the more I appreciate his acting talents! So, when I discovered his involvement in Woman in Gold, it piqued my interest in watching the film. Daniel portrayed Hubertus Czernin, a reporter from Austria. Because he supports the art restoration movement, Hubertus uses his resources to help Maria and Randy. The scene where these three characters are interacting for the first time showcases Daniel’s acting skills! While Hubertus is speaking about who he is and why the aforementioned movement is so important to him, you can sense how at ease Daniel is in his role. His mannerisms come across so naturally, the interaction between these three characters felt realistic. With all that said, I wish Daniel had more appearances in this film, as he was only in a handful of scenes.
The historical accuracy: As I’ve said in past reviews, an indicator of a movie’s time period is the inclusion of technology. Some parts of Woman in Gold take place in the late ‘90s. Therefore, bigger, boxier computers are shown at Randy’s law firm. Randy’s cell phone looks like one sold from around that time period, even sporting an antenna. But technology is not the only indicator of when a story takes place. A series of flashbacks show pieces of Maria’s life, including moments from around World War II. In these flashbacks, wardrobe elaborates on that story’s respective time. The World War II segments show Maria wearing sensible blouses and skirts that reach the knees. These parts of the flashbacks even show characters in tailored coats.
The legal side of art restoration: When I think of art restoration, I reflect on the process of restoring a piece to its original form. But because Woman in Gold revolves around restoring art to its original origin, the legal component is explored. A lot of well-known pieces I’m familiar with were acquired by respected museums and institutions. Therefore, I, more often than not, assumed those museums and institutions legally owned those pieces. Even if a museum or institution acquires an art piece, Randy and Maria’s story shows how difficult it is to obtain ownership of such a priceless artifact. Woman in Gold not only highlights United States law, it also addresses Austrian law. This allows the audience to witness the similarities and differences between these two legal systems.
What I didn’t like about the film:
How Randy’s grandfather was an afterthought: Throughout the story, Randy’s grandfather, a renowned composer, is brought up by various characters. Maria even claims to have crossed paths with him. Since the film primarily focuses on Maria’s efforts to reunite with her aunt’s portrait, Randy’s grandfather seems like a footnote within the overall narrative. As a viewer, I get the impression Randy deeply cared about his grandfather. A shot of Randy tearing up at a concert celebrating his grandfather’s work serves as one example of this assumption. Unfortunately, I don’t feel I learned enough about Randy’s grandfather from this story.
Some rushed parts of the story: Another thing I’ve said in past reviews is how there’s only so much story you can tell within a given run-time. In the case of Woman in Gold, the movie is an hour and forty-nine minutes. Because of this and because of how long and complimented the legal process is, some parts of the story were rushed. One example was when Maria and Randy took the Austrian government to court in California. I know that any on-screen court case is going to be abbreviated for the sake of time. However, the aforementioned California case only presented the opening arguments and the end result. As someone who wanted to learn more about the legal side of art restoration, it felt like the script skipped some key elements just to get to the exciting parts of the case.
Weak segues between flashbacks and “present time”: I like how the story incorporated pieces of Maria’s life through flashbacks, giving depth to the overall narrative. Unfortunately, I found the segues between these flashbacks and “present time” weak. In one scene, Maria is looking out a window. All of a sudden, a flashback begins. Several moments later, the flashback ends abruptly. Weak segues like this one caused the flow of these scenes to feel a bit choppy.
My overall impression:
Before I share my overall impression, I’d like to thank every follower of 18 Cinema Lane! I appreciate the time you’ve given to reading and engaging with my content! Now, on to my overall impression of Woman in Gold! The subject of restoring art stolen during World War II has, in the past decade, received more awareness within entertainment media. In the case of the aforementioned film, it explores the legal side of that subject. I did learn how complicated the process of art ownership can be. The movie also had its strengths, such as the acting performances and the project’s historical accuracy. But due to the film’s heavier subject matter, the re-watchability rate isn’t as strong as other films I’ve reviewed. The movie had its flaws as well, with some rushed parts of the story as one example. With all that said, Woman in Gold is a film I would recommend, especially if you’re interested in the topics brought up in this review.
Overall score: 7.4 out of 10
Do you see Woman in Gold? Have you seen any films about restoring art stolen during World War II? Let me know in the comment section!