Take 3: The Christmas Bow Review + 265 & 270 Follower Thank You

After a temporary break from blogging to work on a creative side project, I have returned to write a blog follower dedication review! 18 Cinema Lane received 265 followers right before my blogathon, A Blogathon to be Thankful For, started. Because I was reading participants’ articles, as well as writing my own editorial, I planned on publishing this review after the event. Shortly after the blogathon ended, 18 Cinema Lane received 270 followers. As the Christmas season is now upon us, I chose to talk about one of Hallmark’s newest seasonal titles. A film I had wanted to see was Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ The Christmas Bow. What intrigued me was the story’s use of music and the dramatic nature of the plot. Even though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is known for creating less light-hearted Christmas films than Hallmark Channel, the stories themselves do contain good messages and themes.

The Christmas Bow poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While I’m not familiar with the acting talents of Lucia Micarelli, I feel she did a great job with the material she was given! Lucia’s best scene was when, during a flashback, her character, Kate, is playing the violin for her grandmother. Throughout this scene, Lucia was able to convey so much emotion with her face alone; trying to hold back tears while staying passionate about the music her character loved. Prior to watching The Christmas Bow, I had seen some of Michael Rady’s performances from his Hallmark projects. A consistent part of Michael’s acting abilities is how he makes his portrayals appear so effortless. Whether his character was interacting with his cousin or having deep conversations with his mother, Michael gave a performance that felt natural. The supporting cast in this film was strong, with some stand-out performers among the cast. One of them was James Saito, who portrayed Kate’s relative, Grandpa Joe! Whenever James’ character came on screen, he brought joy with him. That’s because he had a great on-screen personality and his smile lit up the room!

The interior design: I really liked seeing the interior design inside Kate’s family’s home! It was not only creative, but also photogenic. In Kate’s room, the décor was primarily white with splashes of color. With the addition of Christmas lights, the room appeared brighter. This prevented the space from looking drab or unimpressive. The living room featured light and dark stone along one wall and the fireplace. Light wood cabinets from the nearby kitchen complement the stone work. Within this house, there were interesting design choices when it came to specific elements in certain rooms or areas. The upstairs hallway contains a tall white bookshelf. A dark wood ladder and desk pairs nicely with the shelving unit.

The music: When I first read the synopsis for this movie, I knew that music would play a significant role in the story. However, all of the music in The Christmas Bow was pleasant to listen to! Because Kate is a violinist, classical music has a primary place in this film’s soundtrack. As she performs, the songs themselves are really good. From ‘Carol of the Bells’ to ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, these were familiar tunes that were strengthened by the sound of the violin. I also liked the story angle the film’s creative team took in regards to the influence music has during the Christmas season. When Kate and Patrick’s cousin meet for the first time at a café, Kate teaches him that closing his eyes will help him see the music. Patrick’s cousin tries this technique as Christmas music plays throughout the café. This lesson also shows how music can play a role in people’s lives.

Adorable Christmas card image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-greeting-card-vector_2824854.htm’>Designed by Rawpixel.com</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A less dramatic injury: Based on The Christmas Bow’s synopsis, I expected the film’s protagonist to be involved in a car accident that causes her to be so traumatized, she decides to avoid the violin as much as possible. In the movie, Kate ends up hurting her hand due to getting it caught in a door. Hand injuries and broken bones are serious. However, compared to what I expected, it seemed like this part of Kate’s story wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been.

Obligatory Christmas activities: In my review of I’m Not Ready for Christmas, I mentioned how the Christmas activities featured in the film were obligatory for the sake of reminding the audience that they were watching a Christmas movie. The Christmas Bow has a similar flaw, as Patrick’s cousin continually presents a list of Christmas activities he wants to complete before December 25th. While these activities were woven into the overall story better than I’m Not Ready for Christmas, their presentation in The Christmas Bow felt like they had to be there. The activities themselves were those that have been featured in countless Christmas movies before, such as buying a Christmas tree and making gingerbread houses.

A party planning subplot: One of the subplots in The Christmas Bow revolved around Kate’s family planning a Christmas party at their music store. The subplot itself wasn’t bad and preparation for a party can work as a story concept. But an influx of this type of story during last year’s Christmas line-ups made me hope both networks would move away from showing party planning in their movies. Sadly, Hallmark isn’t aware of that detail as they continue to recycle this plot point.

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:

The Christmas Bow is the first 2020 released Christmas movie from Hallmark I’ve seen. Therefore, I can only compare it to the 2015 film, I’m Not Ready for Christmas. What I will say is The Christmas Bow is far better than I’m Not Ready for Christmas! Sure, there were flaws within the film. But the overall story was engaging with memorable strengths. Music was easily woven into the plot, feeling like it naturally fit in the movie. Character interactions and acting performances helped make the film worth watching. The story itself definitely belonged on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as the material was more emotional than projects found on Hallmark Channel. While it’s too early to say if The Christmas Bow will go on to become one of Hallmark’s “classics”, I can state here that I liked the film. Thank you to my followers who have supported 18 Cinema Lane! It truly is an accomplishment I appreciate!

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

Have you seen any of Hallmark’s 2020 Christmas films? If so, which one has been your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Over the Edge Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my Youth-Led Film Double Feature! This review will contain spoilers and here are the links to the double feature’s introduction and the first part:

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

Take 3: Rich Kids Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 1)

Over the Edge poster
Over the Edge poster created by Orion Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Over_the_Edge_(1979)_poster.jpg

1. In your double feature’s introduction, you mentioned the fact both Rich Kids and Over the Edge were released in 1979. Is there anything from this time period that could have influenced these films?

At the beginning of the movie, a series of text appeared on the screen. This text stated that Over the Edge was based on true events. According to this part of the film, 110,000 youth under the age of 18 were arrested for crimes of vandalism in 1978. Also, the text revealed that one growing suburban community had young people under the age of 15 represent about a third of its population. Because of this, neighborhood planners/developers were having difficulty finding a way to deal with the situation. These true events not only influenced the film’s creation, but also gave it a reason to exist.

 

2. In this introduction, you also said you “had never heard of Over the Edge before” you saw Siskel and Ebert’s review. Why do you think this film has gotten very little recognition compared to other films from the ‘70s?

From the way I see it, cinema in the 1970s was about telling stories and doing things on film that had never been done before. Take, for instance, Star Wars: A New Hope and Jaws. Both of those films tested the limits of technology, through the use of animatronics and special effects. The contributions to cinema that were made through these two films helped them become products to remember and stand the test of time. Over the Edge, on the other hand, doesn’t really seem to break any new ground. Movies about youth were not a newer concept at this time. Also, this film had a story that was more grounded in reality. This is different from the previous two films I mentioned, Star Wars: A New Hope and Jaws, that focused on spectacle and creating a sense of escapism for their audience.

 

3. Do the socio-economics of each film’s world affect the characters or the story?

When it comes to Over the Edge, no. It doesn’t. Honestly, money and economic status are barely brought up in this film. Similar to Rich Kids, the primary focus was placed on the characters and how they reacted to and dealt with their problems. Giving these characters a sense of realism was more important to this creative team than talking about dollars and cents.

 

4. Do you agree or disagree with Siskel and/or Ebert’s views on these films? Why?

There are a few points both Siskel and Ebert make in their review of Over the Edge that I disagree with. When talking about this film, Ebert shared his disappointment over the movie’s “Hollywood ending” which involves “a big, explosive climax” where the kids of the neighborhood lock the adults inside of their school while they cause a night of chaos. I disagree with Ebert’s view on this third act because, to me, it didn’t feel like an ending you’d find in most blockbusters. While explosions made those scenes look visually interesting, I believe the purpose of those scenes are meant to show how bad a situation can get when the discovery of a solution is prolonged.

 

Once again, Siskel calls the parents in Over the Edge “a bunch of boobs”. And, once again, I would go so far as to say that these parents are uninvolved in the lives of their children. Throughout the story, they are so wrapped up in their own issues, that they don’t take the time to listen to and understand their children. Sure, there’s one scene where Richie White has a conversation with his mom during a car ride home. But this scene is brief and the conversation is short. In this review, Siskel also makes the argument that the film’s central message is how the country needs more recreational facilities. My counter-argument is how the film’s message is almost the same as the one in Rich Kids: if young people don’t receive guidance from a parent, guardian, or mentor figure, they are going to find it elsewhere.

 

5. When it comes to both films, Siskel and Ebert agreed on their views of the adult characters in each story. Did these characters have any significance within their respective movie?

Like I said in my Rich Kids review, the lack of involvement from the parents shows just how much they’re needed in their children’s lives. During the film’s third act, at a meeting in the neighborhood’s school, the adults are trying to figure out the reason behind the recent crimes. Teachers, parents, and even the teen center counselor are blamed for Richie White’s death as well as the poor choices of the youth. What this scene does is highlight my point perfectly. It also shows how they all could have done more to help the youth in their community.

Mountain Road Colorado
Image of Colorado road created by welcomia at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mountain”>Mountain photo created by welcomia – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

6. Besides having young actors as the leads, do these films share any similarities?

One major aspect of this story was how the young characters stuck together and found more trust in each other than in the adults. In Rich Kids, Franny and Jamie were able to help each other deal with their parents’ divorce. For Over the Edge, these characters faced more than one issue, from the death of one of their peers to the changes in their neighborhood. Like Jamie and Franny, the young characters in Over the Edge try the best they can to figure everything out. They do this by talking to each other about their problems and creating their own ideas of “fun”.

 

7. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

While I came up with several thoughts and questions while watching Over the Edge, I’ll share just one question and one thought in this review. As I said in answer number four, the children lock the adults inside their school. The room where the adults are in, the auditorium, is located near the main entrance. This main entrance features double doors that have glass windows. Why didn’t anyone think of trying to break the windows in order to escape? To me, this decision not to was baffling, especially since there was a police officer among the group of adults.

 

Speaking of when the children lock the adults in the school, I saw something among those scenes that made me think about a potential plot twist. While the children are causing chaos, one boy is seen riding Richie’s bicycle. For a moment, I thought the script would pull off a plot twist where Richie ended up being alive and had just escaped police custody. However, that’s not the direction the story chose to take.

 

8. Is there anything about this movie that you liked or didn’t like?

Similar to Rich Kids, I thought the acting was one of the strongest parts of this film! Since the majority of this cast was made up of young actors and actresses, they proved they had what it took, talent wise, to carry a movie. One of the standout performances came from Michael Kramer, who portrayed Carl Willat. A memorable scene was when Carl was on the phone with one of his friends, curious about what happened to Richie. When he discovers that Richie died, Carl’s face quickly changes from genuine curiosity to being on the verge of tears.

 

Even though I liked the acting in this film, I think the character development could have been stronger. While I got to know the characters, I feel like I could’ve gotten to know them better. There was always this invisible distance between the characters and the audience. Things they said or did left me with unanswered questions. In the end, this aspect of the movie left more to be desired.

 

9. Is there any aspect of either film that could be seen as relevant today?

Throughout the film, the idea of actions leading to consequences was an overarching part of this story. One example is when Richie and Carl decide to run away. They steal Richie’s mom’s car and drive without a license or permit. They also carry a gun with them. As a result of these actions, Carl develops a juvenile record and Richie is killed in self-defense. The idea that I just mentioned reminds the audience of the importance of thinking before acting and accountability.

 

10. After watching Over the Edge, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

In my opinion, a documentary about the events that inspired this movie would have been more interesting than the movie ended up being. It would be fascinating to hear from multiple perspectives and discover how their lives have changed since then. As for Over the Edge, it seems like the creative team tried to make an elaborate speech out of a simple message. While it can be thought-provoking to a certain extent, it doesn’t really try to do anything new. Over the Edge had so much going on, but at the same time had nothing happening at all.

Sticker design for different generation kids
’70s kid image created by brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen