Word on the Street: ‘Bill & Ted Face The Music’ Receives a Trailer + More Movie News

Yesterday, on June 9th, Orion Pictures/MGM Studios released an official trailer of the upcoming film, Bill & Ted Face The Music! The studio also released an official poster for the movie! I haven’t seen any of the films in the Bill & Ted series, but I really like what I’ve seen and heard about this third film so far. The poster itself adopts elements that were found in film posters from the past; artistic visuals that come together to create a singular image conveying mystery and intrigue. As for the trailer, I found it hilarious, as it had the kind of random humor that I resonate towards. This marketing campaign makes me want to watch the previous two Bill & Ted films! As of June 2020, the film has an August 21st premiere date. Bill & Ted is not the only Hollywood IP that has received sequel related news. Two weeks ago, Chris Murphy from Vulture reports how Sonic the Hedgehog will get a sequel! According to the article, “Paramount Pictures and Sega Sammy have begun development on a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog”, which means the project is in the pre-production stage. The producers who have signed on to the film are Neal H. Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara, Hajime Satomi, Haruki Satomi, and Tim Miller. The first film’s director, Jeff Fowler, and screenwriters, Pat Casey and Josh Miller, are coming back for the second movie. While I haven’t seen Sonic the Hedgehog, I think this is great news for Sonic fans and for people who support studios that put their customers first. Even Chris, from Vulture, says “listening to feedback can be incredibly fruitful for everyone involved”. Hopefully, the sequel can be just as successful as its predecessor.

Article link for this news story:

https://www.vulture.com/2020/05/sonic-the-hedgehog-sequel-in-the-works-with-paramount.html

Bill & Ted Face The Music poster created by Orion Pictures, Hammerstone Studios, Dial 9, Dugan Entertainment, TinRes Entertainment, and United Artists Releasing. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bill_and_ted_face_the_music_poster.jpg

Months after Coronavirus forced businesses all over the world to pause their operations, steps are now being taken to reach a state of normalcy. In an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Etan Vlessing discusses how “the Quebec provincial government and health officials have given the green light for film and TV production to resume on June 8 amid the coronavirus pandemic”. Before this decision was made, Manitoba had resumed film and television production in their province of Canada. Toward the end of May, Vancouver Island said “the industry can resume shooting by June”. Robert Buffam, from CTV News, writes about the precautionary steps film and television teams will take to work as safely as possible. Ric Nesh, a television show producer, shares “We may reduce, revise, rewrite scenes without the larger crowds. No we may, we will revise scenes.” In the United States, film studios and movie theaters are making attempts to go back to work. A Hollywood Reporter article from June 8th states “anxious theater owners — and Hollywood studios — are being given the go ahead to flip on the lights later this week by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and the Department of Public Health.” June 12th is the selected date when California’s cinemas may start their operations again. Similar to the film and television industry in Canada, safety precautions will be put in place. One example is adopting a 25% capacity limit “or no more than 100 people per auditorium”.

Sources for this news story:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/quebec-restart-film-production-pandemic-era-safety-guidelines-1297049

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/california-allows-movie-theaters-reopen-june-12-restrictions-1297585

Movie night image created Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/cinema-festival-poster_2875637.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

I know this piece of news relates to television. But because it’s about Hallmark going out of their comfort zone, the story became an exception. Earlier last month, Emre Kaya from The Cinema Spot reported how Hallmark Channel is creating a new television show! The article shares that this is the network’s “first high-budget drama series”, which “is a science fiction soap drama series set on a space colony.” Emre’s post doesn’t reveal much information about the project. As of June 2020, Hallmark has not made an official statement about the show. When I first read this story, I was excited at the idea of Hallmark creating a project that is very different from their norm. On several occasions at 18 Cinema Lane, I have talked about how Hallmark should take creative risks and think outside the box. It looks like they’re starting to pay attention to these ideas. Maybe this show could be the beginning of a new era where creativity and originality reign.

Article link for this news story: https://www.thecinemaspot.com/2020/05/08/exclusive-hallmark-channel-set-to-develop-high-budget-sci-fi-series-first-entry-into-peak-tv/

Colorful galaxy image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/lovely-hand-drawn-galaxy-background_2943080.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Are you looking forward to any of these upcoming projects? What will be the first movie you see when theaters are open again? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Have at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Written from the Heart

In the season seven premiere of When Calls the Heart, Lucas says that stories should be written from the heart. As I contemplate those words, I wonder if that’s the reason why this show has lasted as long as it has? This is a program that takes place during a simpler time. Sure, there were difficulties back then. But because of that simplicity, people were given more opportunities to share what was in their heart. Through stories, letters, and face-to-face communication, people could use their words to solve problems or connect with other another. You might be thinking, “Can’t the internet do the same thing”? While this is true, the internet doesn’t always allow us to see someone’s reaction to a story or understand how someone is feeling about it. That is what When Calls the Heart strives to do: understanding the thoughts and feelings of the characters and the fans. The emphasis placed on those two things has helped this show become a place where people can connect with each other and even help one another in times of need. As season seven begins, it will be fascinating to see how the thoughts, words, and actions of Hope Valley’s citizens come from their hearts.

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart Season 7 poster
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%207&episodeIndex=7001.

Season: 7

Episode: 1

Name: A Moving Picture

 

Major Stories:

A journalist named Mary comes to Hope Valley to write a story about Henry Gowan. Henry believes that she’s interested in his business endeavors. However, Mary wants to know more about Henry’s past, including his convictions. Henry tells her that he tries not to dwell on the past. Not satisfied with Henry’s response, Mary turns to Bill for answers. On the subject of Henry’s past, all Bill will say is that Henry is “complicated”. Mary also approaches Lucas with questions about Henry, but Lucas refuses to speak about Henry’s life before he owned a petroleum business. Later, in the evening, Mary receives a phone call from her boss. She learns that her deadline is approaching sooner than she expected. Mary is stressed because she feels she hasn’t learned enough about Henry to write a compelling story. When she shares her dilemma with Fiona, Mary comes up with a brilliant idea. Toward the end of the episode, the citizens of Hope Valley discover that Mary decided to write a story about Fiona instead. Henry feels this decision was made because his story is not as reader-friendly as Fiona’s. Elizabeth confesses to him that every person who was questioned by Mary refused to talk about Henry’s past. Her confession effectively shows Henry that the town supports him.

 

While delivering books to the library, Lucas shares with Elizabeth that his mother was an editor. After she hears this, Elizabeth tells him of her unsuccessful attempts to get her book published. Lucas volunteers to proofread her book and offer her writing advice. She tells him that she’ll consider his help. A few days later, Elizabeth visits the saloon and gives Lucas her book. The next day, Lucas comes to the school after classes are over to share his thoughts on her writing. He tells Elizabeth that her stories are good, but that she should add depth to her characters. He also advises her to write from her heart. After receiving this advice, Elizabeth tries to rewrite her stories. However, she’s finding the experience more difficult than she expected. Because of this, she comes up with a new plan. At Rosemary and Lee’s anniversary party, Elizabeth thanks Lucas for his help and reveals to him that she is going to write a novel instead. At the end of the episode, Elizabeth begins writing her new book, this time titled “A Single Mother on the Frontier”.

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Hand-written letter image created by Veraholera at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Veraholera – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/love-letter-pattern_1292902.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor Stories:

Lee and Rosemary are preparing for a trip to Los Angeles in honor of their anniversary. The idea of traveling to the Golden State is especially exciting for Rosemary, as she makes her own preparations. These include designing swimsuits for her and Lee as well as purchasing a new pair of sunglasses. Meanwhile, Lee is looking forward to meeting with the owner of a paper plant. If all goes well, Lee feels they could be the lumber mill’s biggest client. One day, at work, Lee receives a phone call from the paper plant’s owner. They inform Lee that the only time they can meet with him is sometime the following week, the same week as Lee and Rosemary’s trip. When Lee tells Rosemary that their trip might have to be postponed, Rosemary agrees to push the trip to the week after the meeting. Feeling guilty about the situation, Lee decides to organize a surprise for his wife. On the night of their anniversary, Lee encourages Rosemary to wear the dress she had planned to wear in Los Angeles. After she agrees, Lee and Rosemary make a trip to the saloon. Rosemary is surprised to discover that Lee not only organized an anniversary party, but a movie screening as well. Rosemary is delighted by Lee’s attempt to make up for their changed plans.

 

Faith surprises Carson by returning home from Hamilton. She tells him that her father is in better health and has moved in with her brother. She also shares that a former colleague offered her the head nurse position at the local hospital in Hamilton. This news conflicts Carson. He missed Faith when she was away and enjoys her company in Hope Valley. But he doesn’t want to hold her back from a great occupational opportunity. At Rosemary and Lee’s party, Carson tells Faith that she should take the nursing job. When Faith feels that Carson is pushing her away so soon after returning home, she leaves the saloon. Carson follows her outside to tell her that he loves her and will support whatever decision she makes. Faith then tells Carson that she loves him.

Retro Device Poster
Image of vintage movie camera created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I really liked the movie/acting related “Easter Eggs” that were included in this script! While talking to Lee, Rosemary mentions Gloria Swanson. Rosemary also says that she would like to take a walk with Lee on Sunset Boulevard. In a conversation with Elizabeth, Rosemary shares that she helped a struggling British actor by advising him to focus on comedy. Through Rosemary’s dialogue, the audience learns that this “struggling actor” was Charlie Chaplin. The way these “Easter Eggs” were woven into the story was so clever! It was nice to see historically relevant references told in a way that today’s audience would recognize!

 

  • Due to the movie screening’s positive response, Lucas announces that the saloon will host a movie night once every month. Because of this, I’m hoping this is the first step toward Rosemary finally receiving her theater! Rosemary, as well the fans, have been waiting for this for a long time. As they say, anything is possible.

 

  • When Mary is struggling to find information about Henry, I honestly thought the writers of the show would pull the “it’s not what you think” cliché. I was expecting Mary to unintentionally write an article that contained embarrassing information about Henry, causing the citizens of Hope Valley to be upset. Seeing Mary write about Fiona instead was a good subversion of expectations. It allowed the writers to be creative in their story-telling and not rely on over-used clichés. This makes me look forward to seeing how the writers go against my expectations!

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on the season seven premiere? Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing this season? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Romeo Must Die Review

Before I begin this review, I want to apologize for not publishing this article sooner. I’ve been busy not only preparing for Christmas, but also working on projects that are blog and non-blog related. But I finally found the time to post my review for December’s Genre Grandeur! For this round of the blogathon, the theme is “Shakespeare on Film Movies”. At first, I thought this was going to be a challenge. When I searched for possible titles on the internet, however, I realized that there were plenty of films for me to choose from. Out of all those choices, I picked Romeo Must Die! Over the years, I have discovered that Romeo and Juliet retellings can be hit or miss. While I thought Gnomeo & Juliet was cute, I was not a fan of Romeo + Juliet. When I discovered that Romeo Must Die was a modern adaptation of the famous William Shakespeare story featuring martial arts, it raised my interest in this film. For last month’s Genre Grandeur, I reviewed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If you read that review, you would remember that I enjoyed the film. One of the reasons why was the martial arts choreography. But just because there are martial arts in Romeo Must Die, does that mean I’ll enjoy it as much as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Thanks for joining me for this review, as we’re now about to answer that question!

Romeo Must Die poster
Romeo Must Die poster created by Silver Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/romeo-must-die/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Last Halloween, I reviewed Queen of the Damned. Aaliyah’s portrayal of Queen Akasha is one of the things I liked about that film. I’m not sure how much acting experience she had prior to being cast in Romeo Must Die. But I was very impressed with her performance! The acting material Aaliyah was given allowed her portrayal of Trish to be versatile and well-rounded. In a scene where she shares a childhood memory involving her brother, I felt sympathy toward Trish and her situation. Before watching Romeo Must Die, I had never seen a movie starring Jet Li. However, I enjoyed seeing his performance in this film! One scene shows his character, Han, being informed of his brother’s death. In that scene, there was so much emotion in his facial expressions and body language, that those things were able to convey a message without the use of dialogue. This whole cast was very talented! Not only were they able to pull off a dramatic performance, some actors even delivered a comedic performance. A great example is Anthony Anderson’s portrayal of Maurice. While there were times when this character could be menacing, there were times when he was hilarious. One of the funniest scenes is when Maurice accidently destroys a CD display.

 

The martial arts choreography: The martial arts sequences in Romeo Must Die brought something special to the project! Because this is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it helps this version of the story stand out from other cinematic retellings. I wasn’t able to find out who choregraphed these sequences. But whoever they are, they deserve recognition for their hard work and effort! All of the martial arts sequences were choregraphed well. They were fast enough to keep up the film’s pace, but not fast enough to confuse audience members with what is happening on screen. Some of the martial arts were incorporated in very creative ways! One example was when it was used during a football game. Since I haven’t seen something like that before, I thought it was a new and exciting way to see martial arts in film!

 

The modernization of Romeo and Juliet: As I said in the introduction, I’ve seen other modern adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo Must Die’s take on this story was very interesting and made some improvements to the source material. In this movie, the division between the protagonists’ families is given a better and more clear explanation. Business and cultural/racial differences are what creates a separation for these characters. Also, the protagonists, Han and Trish, are aged up. Having them be of adult age actually helps them play a significant contribution to the narrative, allowing them to make an impact on their families and the conflict surrounding them. This is different from the titular characters in William Shakespeare’s story, where they aren’t given much to do because of their youth.

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Martial arts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/red”>Red vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

What I didn’t like about the film:

No romance for Trish and Han: Romance plays an important role in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In fact, the majority of that story revolves around the relationship of the titular characters. In Romeo Must Die, there was a relationship between the protagonists, Han and Trish. But this relationship was not romantic. This adaptation placed more focus on the division between the rivaling families. Han and Trish’s roles were to solve the mysteries between a series of murders. I understand that the creative team behind Romeo Must Die wanted to present the source material in a new way. But excluding romance takes away an essential part of Romeo and Juliet’s identity.

 

A limited use of martial arts: In my review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I shared that I didn’t like how the film’s martial arts sequences were featured for a limited amount of time on screen. Romeo Must Die has a similar flaw. The 2000 released project is classified as an action movie, so these sequences had a greater presence on film. But it felt like the martial arts were incorporated at select moments. Like I said in my Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon review, a 50/50 balance was not found. Because the story put more emphasis on the rivaling families’ division, there were more dialogue focused scenes.

 

The character of Roth and his business team: One of the story-points in Romeo Must Die involves the construction of a football stadium. This part of the story introduced the character of Vincent Roth and his business team. I think the actors who portrayed these characters did a good job with the acting material they were given. But the characters themselves were under-utilized. Compared to the other characters in the film, Roth and his team didn’t play as significant of a role as they could have. If anything, it felt like these characters were there for the sake of being there.

oakland-96413_1920
Photo of Oakland, California city created by David Mark at pixabay.com. Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/12019-12019/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>David Mark</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=96413″>Pixabay</a&gt;. Image found at pixabay.com.

My overall impression:

To review or not to review, that is the question (yes, that Shakespeare reference was intentional). Sure, I’m not going to be the first movie blogger to make that reference. But I probably won’t be the last! Adaptations of William Shakespeare’s works have been around since the beginning of cinema. Whether these adaptations are classical or modern, they prove there are various different ways to approach the source material. Romeo Must Die is a great example of this. Because of the creative team’s perspective on the story, they were able to create a project that had its own identity and added some unique elements to the narrative. Because of this, I found the movie to be one of the better cinematic versions of this story! By making this an action movie and featuring a mystery within the script, it created a sense of intrigue and suspense for the project. It also helped me stay invested in the film. While this movie does have its flaws, it also has strong components that I liked about it. When I learned that Romeo Must Die was a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet with martial arts, I was hoping to, at least, get some enjoyment out of it. After watching it, I can now say this idea was well executed!

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Romeo Must Die? Which adaptation of William Shakespeare’s stories do you like the most? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1995) Review

When Crystal, from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood, invited me to join her Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon, I was aware of who Lauren is as an actress. In fact, I reviewed The Big Sleep for a blog follower dedication review back in August. For this blogathon, I wanted to pick one of Lauren’s films from outside the Classic/Golden Era of Hollywood. After looking through her filmography, I decided to review From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! Before watching this movie, I knew that it was based on a book. However, I have never read the book or seen the film adaptation from 1973. I also heard that there was a mystery within this story. Because I like movies such as those from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I felt that this would be a film I might enjoy.

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Because I had difficulty uploading an image of this poster, I decided to take a picture of it on my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Films that feature young actors as the leads can be hit or miss. Because of their limited talents, it’s difficult for the audience to know what to expect from that actor or actress. In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the lead actors did a good job with the acting material they were given! Jean Marie Barnwell, who portrayed Claudia, and Jesse Lee Soffer, who portrayed Jamie, were both expressive and believable in their roles. They brought their characters to life with versatility, helping them present reactions that appeared realistic for children in that kind of situation. The supporting cast was also memorable in this film! Miriam Flynn, who portrayed Claudia and Jamie’s mom, mastered her role! She did this by bringing animation and emotion to her character. Miriam helped make her role distinct from the others in this film. She also had good on-screen chemistry with her fellow co-stars!

 

The cinematography: This film had better cinematography than I expected! The creative team behind the movie made some interesting choices when it came to how certain scenes were presented. One example is when Claudia and Jamie are hiding on the school bus. There was one scene where the camera was looking upward from the floor, focusing on the view from the window. This helped the audience picture the moment from the kids’ perspective. In the museum, there were close-ups of various artifacts. At opening or closing time, these close-ups emphasized the lights shining on these objects. Shots like these made the film visually appealing!

 

The locations of the museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house: Whenever I’ve talked about Murder, She Wrote, I almost always talk about how great the locations are. That series shares a similarity with this film. The museum and Mrs. Frankweiler’s house were the two best locations in the movie! Filmed in Los Angeles, both locations were captured very well on screen. They represent the impression that the creative team was going for: larger than life and exquisite. Not only were the exteriors impressive, but so were the interiors. From the domed ceiling of the museum to the grand staircase of Mrs. Frankweiler’s house, these facilities were some of the best parts of this project!

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Angelic statue image created by Marcelo Gerpe at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Marcelo Gerpe.”

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lauren Bacall’s brief appearance: In my review of One Christmas, I shared that Katharine Hepburn’s limited presence was something that I didn’t like about the film. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler had the same problem. Like One Christmas, Lauren was the top-billed actor for this movie. This had given me the impression that she would appear in the majority of the project. But, similar to Katharine, Lauren only showed up in five scenes. Like I said in my One Christmas review, giving an actress like Lauren Bacall few opportunities to showcase her acting abilities does her a disservice. It also makes the movie’s creative team look like they’re making a promise they know they can’t keep. This decision came across as frustrating and misleading.

 

Over-shadowing the mystery: This story features a mystery about the authenticity of an angelic statue. While this was an interesting part of the overall narrative, it wasn’t given as much attention as I expected. Most of the story focused on Claudia and Jamie running away from home. The mystery itself wasn’t presented until forty minutes into the movie. Even then, the mystery was only discussed in a few scenes. It took a lot of intrigue out of the film, causing the story not to be as engaging or interactive.

 

Too much suspension of disbelief: I’ve said before on my blog that movies with fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler asked me to suspend my belief more than I had planned to. One example is how the police don’t play a big role in trying to find Claudia and Jamie. I found that to be very unbelievable, considering the fact that these children have been missing for three days. The idea of people living in a museum is also not realistic, especially since most facilities have things like motion sensors and security cameras. Things like this partially took me out of the film.

Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner
The Third Annual Lauren Bacall Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/announcing-the-third-lauren-bacall-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

While I’m glad that I gave this film a chance, I can honestly say that it was just ok. Sure, there were things about the movie that I liked. But there were also aspects that could have made it stronger. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made the same mistake that One Christmas did: incorporating a legendary actress but not utilizing her talents to the fullest extent. After I watched Lauren’s film, I realized that her movie and Katharine’s movie were both released in the mid – ‘90s. I’m now starting to wonder if this was a trend from that decade? Until that question is answered, I just wanted to thank Crystal for inviting me to join her blogathon! I’ve participated in several of her movie related events and she is an excellent host! I can’t wait for the next blogathon!

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Lauren Bacall’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

31 Spooks of October Update: I Finished California Angel

I was going to publish my second review for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon today. But since I finished the first book for 31 Spooks of October/Spookathon and Sbooktober yesterday, I decided to post my movie review tomorrow. If you read my article called “I’m partaking in 31 Spooks of October!”, you would know that the first book I chose to read was California Angel. When I published this particular post, I was half-way through the book. Now that I’ve completed the novel, I not only met the four challenges that were associated with California Angel, but I will also share my thoughts on it.

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One book read, four more to go! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
When I read the acknowledgements section that was featured in my copy of the book, the way Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, California Angel’s author, talked about the story made it sound like Touched by an Angel meets a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie. Since those are programs that I like, I thought that I would thoroughly enjoy this book. Sadly, I was mistaken. California Angel ended up becoming the worst book I’ve ever read. Why, you ask? Well here are a list of reasons why I didn’t like this book:

 

  • I found the majority of the female characters to be unlikeable. For this post, I’m going to be talking about just two of them. Toy Johnson is one of the worst protagonists I’ve ever read about in literature. She was self-centered, entitled, hypocritical, judgmental, close-minded, and ungrateful. What makes things worse is she used the ideas for selflessness, charity, and even faith as an excuse for her behavior. Let me share a passage from this book to give you an example of how selfish Toy really is. Just to preface, Toy is talking to her husband, Stephen, about how one of her dreams connects to an event that happened within the world of the story.

 

“No, you’re wrong. It’s something spectacular, something magnificent. Something about me is different from everyone else. I’m being dispatched on missions, like missions of mercy. What else could it be? All these dreams I’ve had. In every one there are children in some kind of grave danger. And I make a difference,” she said proudly, a fanatical fire burning in her eyes. “I feel great. It’s like my whole existence on earth has finally been validated, like I’ve been searching for this all my life”.

 

You see how often she refers to herself? That’s just one passage, Toy acts like this throughout the entire story. As you read, she is so set in her ways, that she doesn’t allow herself to take other people’s beliefs, views, and perspectives into consideration. A good example of this is her conflict with Stephen. This part of the story felt so one-sided, with Toy making Stephen look like an antagonist just because his way of approaching situations is different from her own. She also has a negative effect on those around her. One of them is Sarah Mendleson, who is the female friend of Raymond, an artist with Autism. Shortly after Sarah meets Toy, she decides to take advantage of Raymond, who is facing one of the lowest points in his life, at that point in the book, by disguising herself as Toy, whose encounter with Raymond left a positive impact on him, even going so far as to dye her hair the same shade of red as Toy’s hair. Sarah does this to trick Raymond into thinking she’s Toy and to try to make him her future husband. The sad part is how Sarah’s plan seems to work, as she becomes his girlfriend by the end of the book. Speaking of Raymond, all of the male characters in California Angel are either villainized because of their profession or are used just to, simply, make the female characters look good. Raymond is just one example. He was my favorite character and I found his story to be interesting. However, Raymond’s story ended up getting taken over by Sarah. After a while, his purpose turns into becoming Sarah’s love interest and standing up for Toy.

 

  • About 90% of this story revolves around Toy. Because of how unlikeable she was, it was difficult for me to get through this book.

 

  • I found the chapters in this novel to be longer than they should have been. In a typical thriller/mystery book, the pace is faster. This is done in an attempt to keep the audience on the edge of the seat and engaged in the story. But because the chapters in California Angel were too long, this make it difficult to enjoy the book.

 

  • In the synopsis listed on the back of the book, it says that Toy, within the story, is accused being a kidnapper and murderer. However, this part of the novel doesn’t happen until the last five chapters. The book had suspenseful moments sprinkled throughout the story. However, it was not a thrilling narrative from start from finish like I had expected.

 

  • There are several inconsistencies and flaws in logic that can be found in California Angel. In this book, Toy believes that the only way she can help children is in her dreams, which happen to translate into actual events within her world. However, Toy is a teacher and has provided financial assistance to one of the families that belongs to her school community. Therefore, her actions and choices contradict her argument. When Toy receives letters from all over the world, her mother, Ethel, tells her that the letters were written by “little children” and “older people”. But two pages letters, she references the letters again, saying, “all of them from lovely little children”. So, were children the primary authors of these letters then?

 

  • The way that Autism is talked about in California Angel sometimes feels outdated. In at least two parts of the book, Raymond refers to his Autism as an “illness”. After Toy’s encounter with Raymond, that happens in a prologue, it says that “Raymond had simply snapped out of it” and he recovered from Autism. I’m not as educated on this particular subject as other people are. But, based on what I do know, I know that this is not how Autism works. Autism is a neurological disorder that one must live with. Sure, there are ways to manage and even overcome the symptoms associated with this medical condition. However, it’s not something that simply goes away.

 

  • While reading this book, it felt like Nancy used her story to try to capitalize on Touched by an Angel and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (which were both released in 1994, a year before California Angel was published) without showing a complete understanding or attempting to show a complete understanding of why people like those stories in the first place. In this novel, there was a courtroom scene that felt like a repeat of the aforementioned Christmas film. Even some of the events leading up to this scene felt reminiscent of that moment from the movie. But the difference between California Angel and Miracle on 34th Street is that Santa, for the entirety of the story, was portrayed as a likable character. This made it easy for the audience to root for him.

 

Overall score 0 out of 5

 

Have fun at the library!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World Review

If you’re wondering why I’m publishing this review for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon early, it’s because I will be attending an event during the weekend when the blogathon is taking place. Since I know I’ll have little to no time to complete this post over the weekend, I thought that publishing it early would be a smart idea. For this blogathon, I will be reviewing two films. As you can tell by the title, the first movie is It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World. I saw this movie for the first time several years ago. But I only watched a third of the film before I decided to stop watching it. When I was choosing what to write about for the aforementioned blogathon, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World came to mind. Had I judged this film too harshly? Now that I’m watching it years later, would I find more enjoyment out of the movie this time? In this review, I will be attempting to answer these questions, especially since the movie stars one of the actors that this blogathon is dedicated to; Spencer Tracy.

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

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This movie has one of the largest casts in cinematic history. But what worked in this cast’s favor was that every performer had television or movie experience prior to appearing in this film. This presented the team dynamic that comes from working with a group of people. What I noticed while watching this movie was how consistent each performance was. Some actors and actresses received more screen-time than others. However, the consistency of the characters was maintained from start to finish. Another aspect to this cast was their on-screen chemistry. All of these characters had a very interesting relationship with one another. Because of the performers’ experience with working on other movies and television shows, it helped the cast create a sense of acquaintanceship with each other.

 

The scenery: California is the primary filming location for this movie. It’s interesting how the various landscapes featured in the Golden State were present within the story. Most of the film takes place in the desert, but there were some unique ways that this location played into the narrative. One example is when Otto Meyer, portrayed by Phil Silvers, drives down a very steep hill. Other landscapes in this movie include the city and the seaside, which also serve an important role in this story. I think it’s great that the creative team behind this film chose to show a more well-rounded view of this state. It reminded me of the movie, Return from Witch Mountain.

 

The music: All of the music in this film was created by the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Despite this, it worked well with the events that took place on screen. Since this movie is a comedy, most of the music was up-beat in order to fit the overall tone. However, there were times when the music created a mood that felt different from the film’s norm. Going back to the example of Otto Meyer driving down the hill, the music that was incorporated into this scene created a moment that felt suspenseful. There was a song that was performed toward the beginning and end of the movie called “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”. This song’s score could be heard at various parts of the film.

Spencer and Katherine Blogathon
The Second Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn Blogathon poster created Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/announcing-the-second-spencer-tracy-and-katharine-hepburn-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The weak story: People from different walks of life trying to find a large sum of money is a story that sounds like it has potential. But, in reality, this idea works better on paper than it does on the screen. The majority of the movie relies on driving scenes and people yelling at one another. The jokes and gags seemed to last longer than necessary, potentially making up for the weak plot. Any time there was a moment for commentary, the screen-writers don’t take advantage of them. Instead, they focus on creating a series of subplots that feel repetitive.

 

The run-time: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World is approximately two and a half hours, while IMDB lists the movie at three hours and twenty-five minutes. As I’ve already said, this plot was pretty weak. However, the story itself was also straight-forward. This film’s run-time feels excessive, being drawn-out longer than it needed to be. A film’s run-time can be hit or miss. It all comes down to what the story calls for. Personally, I think It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World should have been about an hour and thirty to fifty minutes. That way, the story could have gotten straight-to-the-point a lot sooner.

 

The humor: Humor, like film, is subjective. What is funny for one person might not be hilarious for another. For me, there were very few jokes in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World that I found legitimately funny. One example was when, at the beginning of the film, the man who tells the other characters about the money literally kicks a bucket before he dies. But the majority of the jokes revolved around people getting hurt at the expense of others. Instead of finding the events on the screen hilarious, I kept wondering how the characters were able to survive their ordeals. Something that I’ve already talked about was how, most of the time, the characters end up yelling at one another for a host of reasons. This aspect of the film didn’t add humor to the story either. What it did, instead, was sound like a broken record.

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park in California image created by Welcomia at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/tree”>Tree photo created by welcomia – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

If there is ever a movie that I haven’t finished or I haven’t watched in several years, I am more than willing to give it a second chance. Since I have this blog, it provides a place where I can analyze and evaluate each title. Unfortunately, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World did not deserve that second chance. Like I said, humor and film are subjective. This means that this particular film was not for me. Yes, there were things about the movie that I liked. But the negatives ended up out-weighing the positives. The movie, to me, felt like a drawn-out joke that had trouble finding its punch-line. It also seemed like the creative team behind this film put more emphasis on recruiting as many actors and actresses as possible instead of focusing on telling a good story. Since this is a double feature, I’m hoping that the second movie I plan to watch is better than this one.

 

Overall score: 5 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Spencer Tracy’s films? Are you looking forward to the second part of this double feature? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: I Remember Mama Review

Earlier this month, MovieRob, from the blog, MovieRob, invited me to join the monthly blogathon called Genre Grandeur. This is a monthly blogathon where different themes are chosen by various bloggers. Since I’ve never participated in Genre Grandeur before, I decided to give it a try. September’s theme, as chosen by Carl, from Listening to Film, is Ensemble Movies. Like with any blogathon, I take the time to pick a film that is the right option for me and that could bring something unique to the table of the blogathon. While searching through lists of the “best” ensemble movies, I discovered that I Remember Mama would be classified as an “ensemble film”. Because I already had this movie on my DVR, I figured this would be the perfect movie for me to review for Genre Grandeur! The goal of this blogathon is to share your favorite film from the chosen genre. This was my first time watching the movie, so my review is meant to determine if I Remember Mama could be a favorite ensemble project.

I Remember Mama poster
I Remember Mama poster created by RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/2237/I-Remember-Mama/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In any ensemble film, every actor and actress is expected to bring the best of their acting talents to the screen. That’s exactly what happened in I Remember Mama! In this film, all the cast members pulled off an excellent performance! Irene Dunne may be the lead actress, but she never overshadows anyone. Instead, her performance compliments the other performers. Irene was very expressive, sometimes relying on expressions more than actual dialogue. However, this aspect helped make the performance appear more emotional and realistic. Fans of The Waltons would recognize Ellen Corby as Esther “Grandma” Walton. Her portrayal of Aunt Trina highlights how versatile her acting abilities are. She effectively brings a personality that stands out from the other aunts in this cinematic family. Ellen also did a good job at carrying a Norwegian accent. Her performance is an example of how great an ensemble film can be, as it celebrates the cast as a whole instead of a select few.

 

The cinematography: I Remember Mama is a film that I was not expecting to see interesting cinematography in. But, as I watched the film, I was pleasantly surprised by how creative and visually appealing it really was. One common trick was how mirrors were used in a given scene. A perfect example is when Katrin begins to narrate her story. As the story starts, the mirror that is in Katrin’s room turns into a window as the audience enters the first flashback. Close-ups of people’s faces were also commonly used throughout this film. In one scene, Uncle Chris’ face is presented as a close-up when he tells his nieces to move out of his way. Because of the use of this cinematography trick, it reinforces the idea that this character is “scary”, a description that other family members gave him.

 

The messages and themes: Throughout this story, I found several messages and themes that resonated beyond the screen. Selflessness is just one example of an overarching theme that is relatable for a variety of audience members. Whether it’s Mama/Marta putting the needs of her family before her own or Uncle Chris looking after his grand-nephew while he’s in the hospital, it goes to show just how far this on-screen family will go to provide happiness and well-being for each other. The effects of one’s actions is a very important message in I Remember Mama. An example that really highlights this point is when the family has to deal with an injured cat. I’m not going to spoil this point of the film, in case you haven’t seen this movie yet. But all I’ll say is that it has a profound effect on one of the characters.

Painted Cup of Coffee with Natural Coffee Beans on a Chalkboard.
Coffee cup drawing image created by Valeria_aksakova at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/painted-cup-of-coffee-with-natural-coffee-beans-on-a-chalkboard_1013935.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Some characters get under-utilized more than others: While having an ensemble cast does have its advantages, it also has its flaws. A flaw in I Remember Mama’s cast is how some characters are under-utilized more than others. Even though most of the story revolves around Mama and Aunt Trina gets her own subplot, Aunt Jenny and Aunt Sigrid aren’t given much to do within the story. Throughout the film, each daughter in the Hanson family shares a teachable moment with their mother. Nels, the only son in the family, is never shown sharing one of these moments. Arne, one of Uncle Chris’ grand-nephews, isn’t seen interacting with many of the characters. While he does spend time with this uncle, during a stay in the hospital, he doesn’t receive a subplot.

 

Having difficulty understanding the accents: In I Remember Mama, most of the older characters speak with a Norwegian accent. That’s because some of them immigrated to the United States prior to the events that take place in the movie. All of the actors did a great job at pulling off this accent! However, there were times when I found it difficult to understand what they were trying to say. This is because I’m not used to hearing Norwegian accents in film, so this flaw is my fault as a viewer.

Norway Map Touristic Symbols Isometric Poster
Norway’s past and present image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/poster”>Poster vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my final thoughts on I Remember Mama, I want to thank MovieRob for inviting me to join Genre Grandeur! When I first discovered genre grandeurs, I thought it was an overwhelmingly analytical process. But the more I learned about it, the more I realized how simple the process really was. I’m glad that I was able to provide my insight to the blogathon’s overarching topic. Speaking of this topic, I’m now going to talk about my thoughts on I Remember Mama! This film was better than I expected it to be! It’s a movie I’ve heard about before, but had never taken the time to see. Because of this Genre Grandeur, I was given a good excuse to finally watch it! I Remember Mama is a story that is engaging and relatable. What helps make this movie memorable is the cast and the cinematography. Since I found this movie to be so good, it definitely has become a favorite when it comes to “ensemble films”!

 

Overall score: 8 out of 10

 

Do you like genre guesstimations? Would you like me to participate in the next one? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen