My First Buzzwordathon Fail

Earlier this year, when I announced I would be participating in the Buzzwordathon readathon, I joined the event with the intent of finishing each book in their respective, allotted time-frame. From January to April, I was successful in my attempts, providing a review for each book before the end of the month. When May rolled around, the theme was ‘Directions’. Since ‘between’ is a prepositional, directional word, I planned to read The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading it in May. That’s because the book put me in a “reading slump”. For those who don’t know, a “reading slump” happens when you lose motivation to read and/or finish a book. In my case, I saw The Light Between Oceans movie before I read the source material. I haven’t seen the film in years. But, based on what I remember, the movie was faithful enough to the book to satisfy the reader. At times, this made me wonder, “Why am still reading the book”?

Here is a photo of my copy of The Light Between Oceans. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Because I try to be a blogger of my word, I will still publish a review of The Light Between Oceans. Even though this book put me in a “reading slump”, there are aspects of it I liked. One was how honest the writing felt. Various moments of the story provided thought-provoking statements due to the text’s honesty. Isabel, the book’s female protagonist, points out how her brothers didn’t receive a funeral. Violet, Isabel’s mother, reflects on why she made that decision. The text reveals the lack of funeral for Isabel’s brothers is because Violet didn’t want to admit her sons were never returning home. Until I read The Light Between Oceans, I had never thought about funerals in that sense. Another strength in M. L. Stedman’s writing was the use of descriptive imagery. The way people, places, and objects were described gave the reader a chance to picture them in their mind. When Tom, Isabel’s husband, visits Janus’ lighthouse for the first time, M. L. Stedman writes about each layer of the structure. As Tom reaches the top of the lighthouse, the different components of the light itself, such as the lenses used to position the light, allow readers who may have never visited a lighthouse before to get up-close to the lighthouse’s mechanics. Because of how strong M. L. Stedman’s descriptive imagery was, it brought the text to life!

Good sailing day image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/summer-landscape-with-a-houselight-and-a-boat_866882.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The Light Between Oceans starts with Tom and Isabel’s discovery of Lucy and her biological father. The book is also divided into three parts. I found these creative decisions unnecessary as 1) Lucy’s discovery is an event included in the book’s synopsis, so the reader already knows what to expect and 2) the story itself is straight forward. I also didn’t think it was necessary for the book to be over three hundred pages. After a certain event in the story takes place, the text becomes drawn out and repetitive. Each chapter feels like M. L. Stedman tried to put as much content as possible into each chapter. As I’ve already mentioned, The Light Between Oceans put me in a “reading slump”. But, as I’ve also said, this is because I was familiar with the story prior to reading the book. If I had known how similar the film adaptation and its source material were to each other, I would have stuck with my memories of the movie. With that said, if you’ve read the book, you’ve already seen the film, and vice versa.

Overall score: 3 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: The Light Between Oceans is a dramatic book that contains overarching, heavier topics. These topics are miscarriage, the aftermath of war, and grief associated with death. The book also discusses the subject of prejudice. There are some swear words in the text and the mention of someone vomiting.

Take 3: The Sundowners (1960) Review

Here at 18 Cinema Lane, I try to go out of my way to watch, and review, as many film recommendations as possible. In fact, I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to these recommendations. Two years ago, when I reviewed Marriage on the Rocks, Maddy, from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, suggested I check out the 1960 picture, The Sundowners. Shortly after Debbie, from Moon in Gemini, invited me to her Foreign Western Blogathon, I finally found an opportunity to write about the movie! The Sundowners fits two of the four blogathon categories: ‘directed by foreign directors’ and ‘shot in a foreign country’. According to IMDB, the film’s director, Fred Zinnemann, is from Austria-Hungary. The movie was also filmed in Australia, where the story takes place. Foreign westerns are not a new concept on 18 Cinema Lane. Neither are Australian films. Within the four years of my movie blogging journey, I reviewed Another Man, Another Chance, Interrupted Melody, and Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Durango. If you’re interested, I’ll provide the links to these reviews toward the beginning of this article.

Take 3: Another Man, Another Chance Review

Take 3: Interrupted Melody Review

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Durango Review

The Sundowners (1960) poster created by Warner Bros.

Things I liked about the film:

The cinematography: Like I said in the introduction, The Sundowners was filmed in Australia. The movie’s creative team took advantage of the country’s natural surroundings through cinematography! One long shot showcased Australia’s farmlands. What made this shot beautiful were the rays of sunlight showering over the green landscape, offering a light only nature could provide. The cinematography also did a good job putting things into perspective. During a forest fire, Ida is driving her family’s wagon away from the forest. While this maneuver is taking place, the camera is situated inside the back of the wagon. It looks out toward the road, giving the audience the illusion they are riding in the wagon with Ida.

Higher stakes: When I reviewed Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Durango last year, I talked about low stakes being one of the film’s biggest flaws. In The Sundowners, higher stakes were featured in a few scenes! A notable example is the forest fire I previously mentioned. While the Carmody family is herding sheep, a nearby forest fire breaks out. This leads all the characters to be in danger. The scene chronicled the entire process of the fire, starting from the detection of smoke and ending in the fire’s aftermath. Cut-away shots of scared wildlife are spliced into the story, emphasizing the other lives in harm’s way. Dramatic music can be heard in the background, elevating the sense of urgency. With all these elements combined, this scene was the perfect example of the higher stakes I expect from a western film!

The historical accuracy: With any “period film”, the historical accuracy can make or break that production. In the case of The Sundowners, the story takes place in the 1920s. From the looks of it, the 1960 project appears historical accurate! The forms of transportation are one indicator. While the Carmody family is working on the sheep farm, the employees sometimes rode in antique trucks with open beds. At least one motorcycle is featured in the story, revealing exposed gears and a model very different from the motorcycles of today. A covered wagon is the preferred vehicle of the Carmody family, with Paddy and Sean riding horses on a few occasions. This aspect of the film’s historical accuracy reminded me of a production like The Grapes of Wrath.

The Foreign Western Blogathon banner created by Debbie from Moon in Gemini

What I didn’t like about the film:

A “slice of life” story: Westerns, like any genre, contain a wide range of narratives. If given the choice, I’d rather watch a western with, at least, one conflict instead of a story that’s more “slice of life”. Unfortunately, the majority of The Sundowners is a “slice of life” story. The script primarily focuses on the daily operations of sheep farming. At first, this topic was interesting. But as the film carried on, the elements of sheep farming became repetitive. Had this movie contained one or two major conflicts, I might have found this story more intriguing.

Lack of Irish accents: According to Wikipedia, the Carmody family is Irish, a fact Sean tells Rupert early in the film. Michael Anderson Jr., Robert Mitchum, and Deborah Kerr must have missed that detail in the script, as none of them could successfully carry an Irish accent. Throughout The Sundowners, Deborah sounded like she was speaking in a British accent. Meanwhile, Robert and Michael sounded Australian. I don’t think Robert, Deborah, and Michael are bad actors. In fact, pulling off any accent can be a difficult skill to master. However, their lack of Irish accents was, for me, jarring.

The run-time: The Sundowners contains a straight-forward story about a family searching for employment in order to afford a place of their own. With that said, I found it unnecessary for the film’s run-time to be two hours and thirteen minutes. Some scenes felt drawn out in an attempt to satisfy this run-time, the shearing contest Paddy enters being one example. That scene lasts about five minutes, even though it could have only featured the most exciting parts of the contest. If scenes like that one had been cut shorter, the movie could have had a run-time of about an hour and thirty minutes.

A “bait and twitch” ending: In my review of 1961’s The Pit and the Pendulum, I incorporated spoilers to explain my thoughts on a specific portion of the movie. Similarly, I will be including spoilers in this part of my review. If you haven’t seen The Sundowners, please skip this part and continue reading where it states “My overall impression”.

As I stated earlier in this review, The Sundowners contains a straight-forward story. I also stated how the movie is two hours and thirteen minutes. Within that run-time, the Carmody family receives the funds to afford a farm that was featured toward the beginning of the film. All seems to be going well until the last ten minutes in the story. While in a drunken state, Paddy makes several I-O-Us, losing the family’s finances in the process. In an attempt to earn back some of those funds, the family enters their race-horse, Sundowner, in an upcoming horse race. Not only does Sundowner and Sean win the race, Paddy also wins a bet. Even though they have enough money to make a down payment on the aforementioned farm, Ida changes her mind, saying Paddy can keep the race horse instead. This statement contradicts Ida’s goal throughout the movie; getting a place to put down roots. Moments later, an announcement declares Sundowner is disqualified from the race due to a pass interference. This means the Carmody family lost all the money they just won. The movie ends exactly how it begins; with the family on the road looking for employment and a place to stay. If I had known the story would end this way, I wouldn’t have become invested in the Carmody family’s ordeal.

Horse with saddle photo created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stallion-black-equine-race-sky_1104246.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When it comes to film-making, one of the worst things you can do is waste the audience’s time. The way I feel about The Sundowners is similar to how I felt about The Birds; like I truly wasted two hours and thirteen minutes. I understand circumstances in western films aren’t always fair. Heck, life itself is sometimes unfair. But what is also not fair is giving your characters and audience hope for two hours, then taking that hope away in the film’s last ten minutes. With the way The Sundowners turned out for me, it almost seemed like history repeated itself. As I mentioned in this review, I wrote about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Durango last year. That 1999 presentation was a foreign western I didn’t like. Both Durango and The Sundowners have one thing in common. Even though there were things about each film I liked, they contained a weak script. A script is the foundation of any cinematic production. If it isn’t strong, there’s only so much you can do to remedy the issue. Before I end this review, I want to make it clear that I have nothing against foreign westerns or Australian cinema. I’m confident there are stellar Australian and foreign western pictures I haven’t seen yet. Unfortunately, The Sundowners isn’t one of them.

Overall score: 4.7 out of 10

Have you watched any foreign westerns? If so, which ones would you recommend? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Interrupted Melody Review

Prior to signing up for Maddy Loves Her Classic Films’ Eleanor Parker Blogathon, I had seen two of Eleanor’s films; The Sound of Music and Return to Peyton Place. However, both titles are ensemble films, leaving Eleanor to act in someone else’s shadow. My entry for the blogathon is a review of Interrupted Melody, a film that allows Eleanor’s acting talents to be the center of attention! The 1955 film is one I had never heard of until this year. Before 2020, I didn’t know who Marjorie Lawrence, the Australian opera singer, was. When I learned Marjorie was diagnosed with polio and overcame her illness, I was interested in seeing this part of Marjorie’s life depicted on film. This is because I, personally, haven’t seen many cinematic stories from the perspective of polio patients. I also don’t talk about Australians in cinema, as I don’t often receive an opportunity to do so. This is another reason why I chose to review Interrupted Melody.

Interrupted Melody poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This is the first movie I’ve seen where Eleanor Parker was the star of the show. I was not disappointed, as Eleanor gave a very strong performance! While Eileen Farrell served as the vocals for the role of Marjorie Lawrence, Eleanor provided the power, passion, and showmanship one can expect from an opera performance. Outside of the opera world, Marjorie experienced several heartbreaks and joys in her life. Through all of this, Eleanor brought forth a portrayal that was emotional, allowing her character to appear and feel realistic. A good example of this is when Marjorie is crawling toward the record player in an attempt to turn it off. One of the key players in Marjorie’s life is her husband, Dr. Thomas King. Portrayed by Glenn Ford, Thomas was her biggest supporter. With a variety of emotions, Glenn also gave a realistic performance! He was able to show the audience how much Thomas cared about Marjorie. Even the supporting actors in Interrupted Melody were strong, which provided strength to the overall cast! Cyril, portrayed by Roger Moore, is Marjorie’s brother and manager. The conversations between him and Marjorie were well performed by both actors, coming across as two siblings having different perspectives on a central topic. This allowed both on-screen personalities to shine as well as showcasing their distinct personas!

The set design: Because Marjorie is an opera star, several opera performances are shown in the film. The movie’s creative team didn’t skimp on the set design within these scenes, as they all felt so immersive. When Marjorie is performing in Madame Butterfly, the stage’s setting is a room from Japan. The window in the background features a large tree, appearing more like a realistic landscape than a painted image. Fine details helped make these spaces appealing to look at. In Marjorie’s first opera, the characters were placed on a Parisian street, with a set of string lights shown over their heads. A detail like this added a three-dimension aspect to the set. Even scenes that didn’t involve the opera looked really good! In one scene, Marjorie and Thomas are on a beach in Florida. While this movie was filmed in Culver City, California, according to IMDB, this was still a photogenic location!

The costumes: In Interrupted Melody, Eleanor Parker wore costumes that were absolutely gorgeous! It also helps that these costumes complimented her so well! In the aforementioned opera, Madame Butterfly, Eleanor’s kimono was light-pink with beautiful embroidery on the collar and sleeves. The embroidery featured flowers, which represented the tree that was featured in the scene’s background. While Marjorie is performing as Carmen in the opera of the same name, her outfit featured a color combination of blue and orange. This was paired nicely with Marjorie’s brown hair. Eleanor even wore some impressive costumes that were not worn during opera performances. Within the film’s second half, she wore a sparkly white gown that was one of my favorites! Eleanor looked beautiful in that dress and I wished she had worn it for a longer period of time.

The Eleanor Parker Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Missing context: There were areas of the story where I wish context was provided. For starters, how did Marjorie become a singer in the first place? Was this a dream she had since she was a child or a passion she discovered shortly before the events of the film? These questions certainly could have been answered within the script. For a portion of the movie, Cyril disappears from the story. While he eventually appears toward the end of the movie, it isn’t really explained where he went or why he was suddenly absent from the plot. This is something that could’ve been brought up in passing.

More emphasis on the opera world: Since opera played such a huge role in Marjorie’s life, it is going to have a place in the overall story. However, the film put so much emphasis on the glitz and glamour of the opera world, that it caused Marjorie’s polio diagnosis to, kind of, sit on the backburner. This part of Marjorie’s life didn’t come until an hour into the movie. From that point on, it felt like I was watching a highlight reel of Marjorie’s attempts to overcome her illness. I found this disappointing, as I was expecting that part of Marjorie’s story to have a larger presence in the film.

No Australian accents: Before watching Interrupted Melody, I was curious to see if Eleanor could carry an Australian accent. This was, sadly, not the case. In fact, an Australian accent was not consistently used by any of the actors who portrayed members of Marjorie’s family. Toward the beginning of the film, Roger Moore could be heard with an Australian accent. But as the movie goes on, his voice morphs into a British accent. This specific accent was also adopted by the other actors portraying Australians, including Eleanor. While I got used to the lack of Australian accents over time, it is still a flaw I noticed.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like I said in my Follow Your Heart review, Interrupted Melody is not the “end all, be all” of Marjorie Lawrence’s story, as one should learn more about her in their own time. However, I do think this movie serves as a good introduction to this particular individual as well as to opera! Through music, set design, and costumes, Interrupted Melody effectively shows the heart and soul that go into this specific form of entertainment. Within Eleanor Parker’s performance, the audience can see just how resilient Marjorie Lawrence was. Speaking of Eleanor Parker, this movie made me appreciate her more! Strong acting talents and a beautiful presence help create a captivating portrayal that was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. An overarching flaw of Interrupted Melody is how the film becomes so caught up in the glitz and glamour of the opera world, it, at times, forgets its original purpose. In the end, though, the movie was a fine picture that I would recommend.

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

Have you seen Interrupted Melody? Is there a film about a musician you like to watch? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Female detective with magnifying glass
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What are thoughts on these upcoming films? Which one sounds the most interesting to you? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen