Take 3: Luna: Spirit of the Whale Review + 245 Follower Thank You

Four days ago, my blog received 245 followers! To everyone who helped 18 Cinema Lane become this successful, thank you! None of this could have been a reality without you. BYU-TV recently aired Luna: Spirit of the Whale on their network. Because I don’t get many opportunities to talk about films that feature Native American stories, I felt this film would make a good selection for this blog follower dedication review! The movie is one I had never heard of prior to this year. So, this was also a great chance to expand my cinematic horizons! As I’ve said on multiple occasions, I try to give lesser-known films a “standing ovation”. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is one of those films, as I didn’t see any other blogger on WordPress talk about this movie. By choosing to review this project at all, it will hopefully give this movie a little more recognition than it might be currently receiving.

This is a screenshot of the poster for Luna: Spirit of the Whale that I took with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching Luna: Spirit of the Whale, I noticed strong performances within this cast! One of them came from Adam Beach, who portrayed the protagonist, Mike Maquinna! Throughout the film, Adam did a good job giving his character a wide range of emotions. In one scene, Mike is happy to take a youth named Adam on a short canoe trip. In another scene, Mike is tearfully reflecting on a regret from his past. These emotions helped make Adam’s character well-rounded! Speaking of the aforementioned youth, I also liked Aaron Miko’s portrayal of Adam! A sense of believability is what made this performance enjoyable to watch! With the emotions, facial expressions, and body language, Aaron was able to show the audience that his character had experienced so much in his young life. Prior to watching Luna: Spirit of the Whale, I have seen Erin Karpluk’s performances in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Fixer Upper Mystery series. While she’s in the film for a certain amount of time, the acting material Erin was given in this film was different from the aforementioned series. This is because her performance was allowed to be more dramatic. Erin was able to use that opportunity to her advantage by creating a portrayal that was interesting to watch!

The scenery: As someone who has seen many Hallmark movies, I know that Canada has a reputation for showcasing great scenery! Luna: Spirit of the Whale is no exception to this. Most of the scenery revolves around the water, as the story focuses on a whale. Anytime these scenes appeared in the film, they were appealing to look at! The green hues of the surrounding trees compliment the blues and grays of the water. More often than not, a clear sky enveloped the entire space. Some scenes took place on the shore, an area that was also photogenic! The rocky edge and calm waters set the stage for an inviting place! It really did look like a backdrop you’d see in a Hallmark movie!

The incorporation of Native American culture: Because some of the characters in Luna: Spirit of the Whale are from a Native American/First Nations community, elements of Native American culture are found in this story. The way they are incorporated into the movie is not only educational, but also insightful. These elements are showcased in a reverent and respectful way. During Chief Ambrose Maquinna’s funeral, two men were dressed in wolf fur and crawled on the ground in front of the procession. Before this shot was shown in the film, Mike explains that this particular community believes a deceased chief will have his spirit carried through a wolf (protector of the land) or a whale (protector of the sea). Before any of the canoes go out into the water, a blessing is placed on them, complete with a series of chants. Traditional chants also play a role during the story’s climax.

Canada postage stamp image created by Ibrandify at freepik.com <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/canadian-flag-stamp-template_836872.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/template”>Template vector created by Ibrandify – Freepik.com</a> Image found at freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

An unclear time period: According to IMDB, Luna: Spirit of the Whale was released in 2007. Erin Karpluk’s character, Jill, mentions that some people have discovered the story of Luna the whale through the internet. However, all of the televisions in this film look older than 2007. On a canoe trip, one of the youths pulls out a camcorder that appears to have been sold sometime in the 1990s. Everything I just said made it difficult to decipher when this story took place.

A somewhat meandering story: The movie’s main conflict is about a Native American/First Nations community’s attempt to protect a whale they believe physically embodies the spirit of their deceased chief. While this conflict was interesting to see unfold, it didn’t appear until about forty minutes into the film. Personally, I feel this conflict should have been introduced a lot sooner. This not only could have helped the narrative get straight-to-the-point, but it also could have shaved off some of the run-time.

Some scenes that lasted too long: There were some scenes in this film that felt longer than necessary. The scenes where the characters were in the canoes suffered the most from this flaw. Because these scenes emphasized the scenery surrounding the characters, it caused the plot to feel delayed. Scenes like these could have benefited by being shortened.

Orca Whale image created by Freepik at freepik.com. Label vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Native American stories are not often found in mainstream cinema. This fact can cause movie-goers to look beyond the surface and seek out titles located off the beaten path. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is a part of this discussion, as the film is not well-known. Despite this, I found it to be a fine, decent movie! The elements of Native American culture were incorporated in a reverent and respectful way, while also being educational and insightful. Watching the film’s main conflict unfold was interesting to see, even if it did start later than I would have liked. But if someone were looking for Native American stories told through a cinematic lens, I would recommend Luna: Spirit of the Whale! Finding likable films on BYU-TV is always a treat, so I do appreciate the network’s efforts to introduce their audience to various titles! If I hadn’t came across this film, I might never have discovered it.

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

Do you have a favorite Native American story told through film? Are there any you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘Words on Bathroom Walls’ Finally Getting a Release Date + Possible Hallmark Projects About to Film

In 2020, it seems like the world of film has been plagued with bad news because of the Coronavirus. Multiple movies saw their premiere dates pushed back as far as a year. Productions all across the world were temporarily placed on hold. Several events were cancelled or postponed, as well as businesses closing their doors for the time being. Recently, however, it seems like things are looking up. Film crews are slowly going back to work. Several occupational operations have picked up where they left off. Even some theaters have opened their doors again. In this Word on the Street story, I will be talking about films that are about to go into production, as of June 2020. Also, I have news about a film that I have mentioned on 18 Cinema Lane before. As I usually do, I will share my thoughts on these stories. Now, let’s talk about some good news in the world of cinema!

My copy of Julia Walton’s novel. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Last year, in my post called “A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2019”, I said I wanted to see Words on Bathroom Walls receive a distributor. I’m happy to report my Christmas wish came true! In an article from Deadline, Dino-Ray Ramos writes how Roadside Attractions agreed to be the film’s distributor. The article also states Words on Bathroom Walls “is set to debut nationwide August 7”. This movie “marks the first theatrical release for both companies [Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment] since the coronavirus pandemic”. Even though the film now has a release date, there remains the possibility for it to be pushed back. For months, Tenet was scheduled for a premiere in July. However, Pamela McClintock, from The Hollywood Reporter, shares that August 12th is the new date for the film’s release. I think this news about Words on Bathroom Walls is the best movie news I’ve talked about this year! I read the book and it’s become the best one I read in 2020! We don’t know how things will be in August, in relation to the Coronavirus. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls and review it or my blog.

Sources for this story:

Christmas card image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-card-with-watercolor-mistletoe-decoration_965555.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

As I said in the introduction, film crews are slowly going back to work. With some popular filming locations lifting lock-down regulations, studios and movie companies are either finishing or starting projects. One website, called Hollywood North Buzz, has recently listed several titles that are either currently in production or will soon be in production. These titles are the following:

  • For Better or Worse (Ended filming on June 23rd)
  • Christmas Forgiveness
  • Kite Festival of Love
  • Wedding Every Weekend
  • Beverly Hills Wedding
  • My One True Love
  • Destination Wedding

Another website called JC Films announced an upcoming Christmas film titled “Light Up Night”. The film will star Dean Cain and will begin filming this July. According to the article, the film “is about all the community Christmas events wrapped around a modern-day Biblical story of Ruth”. More movie titles are listed on the website Creative BC, with production dates coming in the near future. These films are:

  • Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly
  • Chateau Christmas
  • Deliver By Christmas

When reading these titles, one will note that they all sound like they belong to Hallmark. However, as of June 2020, the only films that are confirmed to be a Hallmark production are “Wedding Every Weekend”, which was confirmed by star Paul Campbell, according to the Twitter account Hotline to Hallmark, and ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly’. While looking at the list, I noticed how most of the titles reference Christmas or weddings. If these movies are Hallmark projects, my guess is the wedding themed movies are created in preparation for next year’s “June Weddings” line-up. As for the Christmas movies, it’ll be interesting to see how many of them will be included in the “Countdown to Christmas” or “Miracles of Christmas” line-up.

Sources for this story:

https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production

https://www.jcfilms.org/post/another-dean-cain-christmas-film-coming-to-the-area

http://www.yvrshoots.com/ (the article is called ‘REOPENING: Hallmark & Other TV Movies First To Resume Production in Hollywood North After 3-Month Shutdowm?’)

Hotline to Hallmark’s official Twitter account (@HotlineHallmark)

What are your thoughts on these movie news stories? Are there any films mentioned in this article you’re excited to see? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Movie production news for Hallmark and Disney Channel!

There have been a lot of news that has come out this week surrounding the production of two upcoming Hallmark movies and a future Disney Channel movie! I’ll break down each specific movie’s production news and share my thoughts on each. All of these stories are from What’s Filming and all of these movies are either currently in production or will be in production in the Vancouver and British Columbia area.

Flat-Cinema2
Movie items image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame vector created by Freepik</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/flat-several-audiovisual-elements_848747.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Back in March, I reported that the Summer of Dreams sequel was going into production. Because of that production date, it was believed that “Dream On” (the current title for the film) was going to be a part of Hallmark’s “June Weddings” line-up. However, “Dream On” was added again to the “Upcoming” page on What’s Filming, starting production on May 8th and finishing on May 25th this time. What this means is that “Dream On” will likely not make an appearance in Hallmark’s “June Weddings” line-up as we originally thought, but might instead be included in their “Summer Nights” line-up (just like Summer of Dreams). Hallmark recently released a trailer for the 2018 “June Weddings” line-up. It was mentioned in this trailer that there were going to be four new movies, however, only three were advertised: Marrying Mr. Darcy, The Perfect Bride 2, and Wedding March 4: Something Old, Something New. If “Dream On” is not that mystery fourth movie, then I wonder what it could be? Maybe it’s the project that’s also featured on What’s Filming titled “I Do”? We’ll have to wait for Hallmark’s official word for the time being.

Link to What’s Filming’s “Upcoming” page: http://www.whatsfilming.ca/upcoming/ (if you visit this page after May 8th, “Dream On” will move to the “In Production” page for the Vancouver and British Columbia area)

Link to the “June Weddings” trailer: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/june-weddings/videos/first-look-june-weddings-2018

8_Cupcakes1-01
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.

Another upcoming Hallmark movie that is listed on What’s Filming is Truly, Madly, Sweetly. Dylan Neal and Nikki DeLoach are both attached to the project, with What’s Filming providing an article about the movie. After I read the brief synopsis in this article, I became intrigued by this movie. While Hallmark has made movies about cupcake bakeries before (with The Sweetest Heart being the most recent entry), I can’t think of a Hallmark movie that has centered around a food truck before. This gets me excited about the possible creativity that this project has to offer! Within this article, an Instagram photo of both Dylan and Nikki was featured, having Dylan himself hinting at a fall release. If Truly, Madly, Sweetly is to be a “Fall Harvest” movie, Hallmark will probably not give any official announcements for a while.

Link to What’s Filming’s article about Truly, Madly, Sweetly: http://www.whatsfilming.ca/2018/04/09/unspeakable-miniseries-hallmark-truly-madly-sweetly/

Link to What’s Filming’s “In Production” page: http://www.whatsfilming.ca/inproduction/ (if you visit this page after April 27th, Truly, Madly, Sweetly will be taken off this page)

Kim Possible article picture
Kim Possible poster image created by The Walt Disney Company and Disney Channel © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Disney XD© Disney Enterprises, Inc. Poster image found at http://disneychannel.disney.com/kim-possible

My very first Word on the Street post was about the Kim Possible live-action Disney Channel movie. While casting still has not been announced, it has been mentioned on What’s Filming that the film will go into production from June 4th to July 23rd. In an article about the movie, it is warned that these dates might change. If the Kim Possible movie is filming this summer, it’s possible (no pun intended) that it might be released either later this year or sometime next year. So far, there have been no announcements about any premiere dates, so we’ll just have to wait for Disney’s official word. Two months ago, when I talked about this movie, I did share my concerns about the potential alienation of the fans of the original show. Because production hasn’t even started yet, I can’t form an honest opinion about the film’s quality, meaning that I’ll have to wait at least until a trailer is released for me to get a sense of the film’s tone and spirit.

Link to What’s Filming’s article about Kim Possible: http://www.whatsfilming.ca/2018/04/10/kim-possible-live-action-movie-based-on-disneys-popular-animated-series-filming-in-vancouver/

Link to What’s Filming’s “Upcoming” page: http://www.whatsfilming.ca/upcoming/ (while these dates may change, if you visit this page after June 4th, Kim Possible will be moved to the “In Production” page for the Vancouver and British Columbia area)

 

What are your thoughts on this movie news? Looking forward to any of these films? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen