Take 3: The King and I (1956) Review

For the Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon, I chose to review the 1956 version of The King and I! Years ago, I had seen the 1999 animated adaptation of the musical. Since I vaguely remember it, I can’t provide an honest opinion of that movie. Because I had only seen pieces of the 1956 film and because it was recommended to me by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, I now found a good excuse to finally check the film out! While I knew the play itself was successful, I was surprised to discover it had won a Tony award. As this year’s blogathon focuses on Tony winners, it gave me an opportunity to learn something new. This is one of the reasons why I love participating in blogathons! Now, let’s start this review of 1956’s The King and I!

The King and I (1956) poster created by 20th Century-Fox.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Deborah Kerr is a dramatic actress, as her strengths can be seen in drama films. Because there were plenty of dramatic moments in The King and I, this allowed the best of Deborah’s acting abilities to be placed on display! In scenes that allowed Anna to stand up to King Mongkut, Deborah adopts a serious persona without any sarcasm. Her tone of voice is stern, while also standing up straight and looking directly at King Mongkut. Because there were light-hearted moments as well, it gave Deborah an opportunity to incorporate humor into her performance. This balance made the role suit Deborah well! This is the first time I had ever seen any of Yul Brynner’s performances. However, I was quite impressed by his portrayal of King Mongkut of Siam! Similar to Deborah Kerr’s role, there was a good balance of drama and comedy. In a scene where King Mongkut is talking to his son about what he learned in school, Yul speaks with a serious tone of voice. He also moved around the set with a posture that reflects his character’s royal power. However, when he introduced Anna to his children, King Mongkut would make silly faces in order to get them to smile. Before watching The King and I, the only film of Rita Moreno’s I had seen is West Side Story. Because of this, it was interesting to see Rita work with different material. While Anita, Rita’s character in West Side Story, is sassy and confident, Tuptim is more reserved and sensitive. When Rita didn’t have speaking lines, facial expressions and body language helped convey what Tuptim was thinking. As I liked her portrayal of Tuptim, it makes me wish Rita had appeared in more scenes.

The musical numbers: A musical is only as good as its musical numbers. With The King and I, I found the musical numbers to be entertaining! The most interesting one is the Siamese interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Because Tuptim is reading a copy Anna gave her, she decides to write a play based on her own version of the novel. This particular number features traditional dancing, stylized face masks, and practical effects, such as a white sheet representing ice. It served as a good example of how everyone can view a text differently. The rest of the musical numbers in The King and I ranged from dramatic to comedic. One of them is ‘Getting to Know You’. In this scene, Anna dances with one of King Mongkut’s wives. Some of the children circled around their mother in order to mimic Anna’s skirt. This was a simple way humor was incorporated into some of the musical numbers.

The costume design: The King and I is known for being an elaborate musical, with elegance being found within the costume design. Bright colors were worn by almost all the characters. In a scene where Anna is introduced to King Mongkut’s children, the children’s outfits featured hues of pink, red, and green. The members of the royal family sometimes wore plaid, which complimented the rich color palette of the movie. Metals like gold could also be seen in the royal family’s attire. Some of King Mongkut’s jackets featured gold embroidery, a reminder of his wealth and affluence. Bronze coated the children’s headpieces as well. With the costume design being so exquisite, I wonder how much of this movie’s budget was devoted to it?

The Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Rita Moreno: As I mentioned earlier, the only film of Rita’s I had seen is West Side Story. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing her performance in The King and I. I was disappointed to see Rita’s talents under-utilized. In this two hour and thirteen-minute movie, Rita appeared in a handful of scenes. While she did participate in the story’s musical components, she was only given one duet and the narration during the Uncle Tom’s Cabin play. I understand The King and I was released five years before West Side Story. But if the 1961 film has taught me anything, it’s how Rita is, talent wise, capable of so much more.

Drawn out storylines: The storylines in The King and I were drawn out because of the film’s two hour and thirteen-minute run-time. King Mongkut’s story, where he attempts to save his reputation, is one example. For about half the movie, King Mongkut wants to prevent other world leaders from thinking he is “barbaric”. Since this particular storyline lasted for so long, the resolution/payoff was fine, but somewhat anti-climactic. Lun Tha and Tuptim’s storyline took place throughout the whole movie. However, by the end of the film, it was left unresolved. It makes me wonder if it would have been resolved if The King and I’s run-time had been shorter?

Songs interrupting the story: In a typical musical, the musical numbers help progress the story forward. But in The King and I, the musical numbers interrupt the over-arching story, causing the transition between story and song to feel less seamless. After an elegant party at the palace, King Mongkut discovers Tuptim is missing. King Mongkut’s search is disrupted by Anna singing ‘Shall We Dance?’. This then turns into a private dance between Anna and King Mongkut, which is interrupted by a guard. The guard informs King Mongkut that Tuptim has been found. Moments like this one cause the story to pause for the sake of a musical number.

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My overall impression:

So far, I have seen four of Deborah Kerr’s movies. Out of those titles, I’d say The King and I is her best one! As I said in my review, the material complimented her acting abilities. There was enough drama to show off her strengths, while also having enough comedy to let Deborah have fun with the role. The film gave me a chance to see interesting performances and musical numbers, from Rita’s portrayal of Tuptim to a Siamese interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The exquisite costume design and sets are definitely photogenic, highlighting the wealth and power within the royal family. Even though the movie as a whole is good, there are musicals I would choose over it. The songs interrupting the story instead of progressing it forward is one reason why I feel this way. I’ve heard Anna and the King is a non-musical version of this particular story, so I’d be interested in seeing how lack of musical numbers affects the overall story-telling. I’d also be interested in watching Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner’s other film, The Journey.

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

What are your thoughts on The King and I? Which version is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun on Broadway!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Changes Are Coming

Change is evitable. There have been so many changes on When Calls the Heart, it would make this re-cap longer than necessary. But this has made the show interesting. If the show had stayed the same, we would have never gotten to see things like Rosemary’s transformation as a character or the multiple weddings Hope Valley has hosted. Each season has offered something different, whether it has been new characters or stories. Hope Valley itself has evolved. Remember when the town was called Coal Valley? How about when the Jack Thornton School was first built? These changes have led to the creation of memories. Each memory has become a stepping stone as the show progresses. While the show is approaching its last episode of the season, let’s start re-capping this episode of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel.

Season: 8

Episode: 11

Name: Changing Times

Major stories:

As Elizabeth is preparing for the start of a new school year, Minnie tells her that Landis, the school inspector who came to town earlier this season, has come back to Hope Valley. This puts Elizabeth on edge, concerned about what Landis has to say. When Landis pays Elizabeth a visit at the Jack Thornton School, he shares his desire for the school to join the Valley School District. Landis also hands Elizabeth a packet of papers from the school board. In this packet, it states that if Elizabeth doesn’t receive special training in order to teach students who are disabled, then she will be forced to step down from her teaching position. She visits Bill in the hopes he will be able to help her. After reading over the packet, Bill tells her there is not much that can be done about the situation. However, he tells Elizabeth he will support whatever decision she makes. Elizabeth meets with Landis one morning, hoping to work with him on these new changes. Landis brings up his concern about Angela potentially holding the class back due to needing extra educational attention. Elizabeth promises to receive the appropriate training as soon as possible. Later in the episode, Elizabeth tells Landis that she won’t allow the Jack Thornton School to join the Valley School District. Landis warns her of her likely job loss. Meanwhile, Elizabeth seems to be spending more time with Nathan. When he pays her a visit at her house to give her Florence’s wedding bouquet, Elizabeth volunteers to place his jacket by the fire, sharing that she used to do that for Jack. She also offers Jack’s gloves to Nathan when Nathan reveals he misplaced his gloves. At school, she lets Lucas know about her conversation with Nathan at the wedding reception. Even though that interaction was not romantic, Lucas feels that Elizabeth is moving away from him. Toward the end of the episode, Lucas ends his relationship with Elizabeth, telling her he needs to “set her free”.

 One morning, Rosemary studies a map of Hope Valley at Lee’s office. She wants to know who has purchased the Canfield’s cabin and what their intention is for the town. Since Jesse borrowed Lee’s car, Rosemary decides to go to the cabin to see what’s going on. When she arrives on the Canfield’s former land, Rosemary hears a gunshot. This sound causes Rosemary to fall off her horse, as the horse got spooked. As a Pinkerton officer helps Rosemary to her feet, he informs her that the land is now private property. When Rosemary goes to the Infirmary due to a minor back injury, she tells Nathan what happened, as he also happens to be at the Infirmary. He was also informed by Fiona that Wyman Williams, the businessman who appeared in the previous episode, has returned to Hope Valley. Just like before, he came to the barber shop with an offer to purchase it. During a business-owner’s meeting, Nathan arrests Wyman. At the jail, Wyman reveals that he made an investment with Jesse’s money. Later in the episode, when Clara goes to the jail in an effort to discover Jesse’s whereabouts, she gives Wyman a piece of her mind. Eventually, Wyman refunds all of Jesse and Clara’s money he invested. Wyman reveals to Bill that he has been purchasing multiple businesses in order to invest in them. His excuse is that the town is growing and so are businesses. Before he leaves Hope Valley, Bill sees Wyman talking with the Pinkerton officers that have been guarding the Canfield’s former land. Because Jesse hasn’t returned home, some of the residents of Hope Valley look for him. They find Lee’s car by a mountain, but Jesse has still not been found. Toward the end of the episode, Lee surprises Rosemary by giving her half of his office. She also reveals she will restart Hope Valley’s newspaper.

Chalkboard image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mathematical-operation-written-on-blackboard_1357576.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

Carson has made up his mind to become a surgeon. He also plans to propose to Faith. Before he and Faith go to the café for breakfast, Carson gives Minnie the ring. Unfortunately, Minnie and Clara end up misplacing it. When Carson goes to the kitchen to help them find the ring, Clara suggests it could be in the pudding. However, Carson has no luck finding the ring. Meanwhile, Faith suspects that Carson is planning on proposing to her. But she still wants to stay in Hope Valley. At the saloon, Carson shares with Lucas how losing the ring is probably a sign that he and Faith were not meant to be.

Henry receives a letter from his son, Christopher. In this letter, Christopher shares that he not only found Rachel, but also plans on staying in the city. He tells his father he got a job at the furniture store Rachel’s father owns. The letter comes with a photo of Christopher and Rachel as well. This makes Henry reflect on the photo of him and Christopher that is located on his desk.

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Some thoughts to consider:

  • I, personally, don’t think it was fair for Elizabeth to receive Florence’s wedding bouquet, as this is the third time it has happened to Elizabeth. The bouquet should have been given to either Mollie, Faith, or Fiona. If Rachel had attended the wedding, the bouquet could have even gone to her.
  • Speaking of Rachel, I’m disappointed she and Christopher won’t become recurring characters on the show. Besides the schoolchildren, Laura, and Jack Jr., there aren’t many young people in Hope Valley. With the arrival of Christopher and Rachel, I was hoping they would bring something different to the town. While they did accomplish this, the results were short-term.
  • Even though I’m glad Hope Valley’s newspaper is going to continue again, I’m kind of disappointed Rosemary won’t be getting her theater. This is something the fans (and Rosemary) have been waiting for since season two. But because building a new piece of the set costs money, I wonder if the show’s creative team has been avoiding giving Rosemary her theater due to how expensive it could be?
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Are you looking forward to the season finale? What do you think will happen? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Hope Valley, We Have a Problem

Over the course of seven and a half seasons, the residents of Hope Valley have experienced a plethora of problems. Some of these problems have been dire, like Henry’s blood pressure or troubles at the bank. Others might be minor and require less than a day to solve. This season of When Calls the Heart has seen all sorts of problems. However, what matters most is how those problems are solved. There have been times when the whole town had to pitch in and help, like when there was a fire at the church shortly before Jack and Elizabeth’s wedding. But sometimes it takes only one person to find a solution to a conflict. Not matter what the residents of Hope Valley face, they always find the answers they are looking for. Let’s see if they solve their problems in this re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. 

Season: 8

Episode: 5

Name: What the Heart Wants

Major stories:

As the school year comes to a close, Elizabeth and her students prepare for the upcoming graduation and moving up ceremony. Elizabeth is also preparing for the Parent Teacher Conferences. Later that day, Elizabeth meets with Joseph and Minnie during the Conference. Despite spending a short amount of time at the Jack Thornton School, Cooper has been earning good grades and doing well among his peers. After their meeting, Elizabeth invites Minnie and Joseph to the graduation and moving up ceremony. Even though they agree to go, Minnie seems hesitant to attend. When the conferences are over, Elizabeth realizes Nathan hasn’t shown up. So, she sends him a note telling him to come to her house. That night, Nathan arrives at Elizabeth’s house, saying his and Ally’s fishing trip is the reason why he didn’t come to the Parent Teacher Conferences. Elizabeth tells him Ally received straight As on her final report card, but her math grades are the most impressive. Because of this, Elizabeth recommends placing Ally in an accelerated math program. She also points out how the inquiry caused Ally to lose concentration on her studies. Nathan apologizes for the effects of the inquiry and for not attending the Parent Teacher Conferences. He tells Elizabeth he’ll think about the accelerated math program. Later in the episode, Elizabeth goes to Dottie’s Dress Shop for a fitting. While there, she shows Rosemary the dress she plans on wearing for her date with Lucas. Rosemary is impressed with the dress and agrees with Elizabeth’s choice.

The next day, before the graduation and moving up ceremony, Lucas takes Elizabeth horse riding. However, this ride is short due to Elizabeth needing to prepare for her event. When they visit a bridge in the forest, Elizabeth invites Lucas to the ceremony. Lucas declines, as he doesn’t want to make things awkward for Nathan and Ally. At the ceremony, Elizabeth is surprised by a song the students performed in her honor. She’s also surprised by the arrival of a Valley school board member. He wants the Jack Thornton School to join the district and reminds her how she’s not certified to teach disabled students. Elizabeth stands up for herself by telling him the Jack Thornton School is independent and how she will try her best to teach all her students, no matter their abilities. Because she was impressed with the ceremony, Minnie agrees to work with Elizabeth, as she plans on sending Angela to school with her brother. Nathan and Ally also agree to the accelerated math program, even though Ally doesn’t seem too happy about it. The episode ends with Elizabeth having dinner at home with Lucas, due to her desire to stay close to her son. They agree to slowly start a relationship and proceed to hold hands.

After Rachel’s first successful sale at the dress shop, Rosemary is impressed with how well Rachel is adapting to her new life in Hope Valley. But after receiving a letter that says Dottie might sell the dress shop, that happiness is shattered. The news causes Rachel to take a walk and Rosemary to contemplate her future. When Lee visits the dress shop, Rosemary tells him the news. Lee isn’t too worried, as he thinks everything will work out for the better. This troubles Rosemary, with her believing Lee doesn’t understand what she’s going through. Rosemary and Rachel are not the only ones troubled by the news. Clara is concerned about her future income. She’s not only stressed about her temporary position at Nichols and Dime, but she also accepts more hours at Abigail’s Café. At the café, Bill brings up the idea of buying out Abigail to gain more ownership of the café. He asks Clara and Jesse if they would also like to buy out Abigail, but they decline the offer. That night, Clara makes the discovery that all the money in their bank account is missing. When she addresses this to Jesse, he reveals how he gave all their money to an investment that didn’t work out. In anger and frustration, Clara kicks Jesse out of their house. Meanwhile, Rosemary and Lee realize Rachel hasn’t returned from her walk. So, they take a drive in order to look for her. When they arrive at the forest, they find Rachel wandering through the woods. Before they go home, Rachel says she lost her way.

Chalkboard image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mathematical-operation-written-on-blackboard_1357576.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

When Lucas crosses paths with Henry, Henry expresses interest in wanting to work with Lucas at the petroleum oil plant again. Because of this, Lucas gives Henry his old office key. Later in the episode, Henry discovers his office is dusty, as it hasn’t been utilized in a long time. Henry is not the only Hope Valley resident to experience good occupational news. Early in the episode, Carson receives a letter from a surgeon he worked alongside in Union City. Though he doesn’t say what’s in the letter at first, Faith eventually puts the pieces together. Carson is invited to become a resident surgeon at John Hopkins. Despite Carson’s concerns about the future of their relationship, Faith encourages him to consider the invitation. Meanwhile, Ned experiences stomach troubles. Even though Florence and Carson insist that Ned accept medical treatment, Ned refuses. Florence expresses her concerns for Ned, which cause her to place her hand over Ned’s hand. Because Carson and Faith walked into the Mercantile at that moment, Ned suggests putting a bell on the door to let Ned and Florence know if customers are coming in.

Colorful image of key created by orchidart at freepik.com. Flower vector created by orchidart – www.freepik.com

Some thoughts to consider:

  • During Elizabeth’s fitting at the dress shop, Rosemary thinks about her future employment options. She tells Elizabeth she wants to do something she loves while also making a difference. This makes me wonder if Rosemary will finally get her long-awaited theater? She could lead acting classes as well as directing plays. The theater could also be a place where families can spend some quality time together.
  • Ever since When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas, I have felt there are too many continuous storylines on the show. This episode serves as a perfect example, as new pieces of different stories were introduced. None of these stories were resolved at the end of the episode, with the conflict of Angela’s education being resolved way too quickly. Having so many storylines make the overall show feel bloated. The creative team needs to have a better handle on which storylines can be covered over several episodes and which ones should be resolved in one episode.
  • As I mentioned in my re-cap, Lee doesn’t seem too worried about the future of Dottie’s Dress Shop. Because of his demeanor, I wonder if Lee is planning on purchasing the dress shop for Rosemary? That could mean the dress shop would be Rosemary’s, with the name of the business making a change to Rosemary’s Dress Shop. It would also mean Rosemary would become the next small business owner of Hope Valley!
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What are your thoughts on this episode? How do you think the characters will solve their problems? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Mystery 101: An Education in Murder Review

In 2020, I haven’t reviewed Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films as often as I had wanted to. This is because of two reasons. The first is how I’m not always able to watch a film as soon as it is released. The second is how I’ve devoted my time to re-capping When Calls the Heart. But since I just watched the newest film in the Mystery 101 series and because some of my most popular content is Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related, I decided to review Mystery 101: An Education in Murder! I’ve watched all of Hallmark’s mystery movies that have premiered this year, so far. In my opinion, I think these projects are stronger than the newer Hallmark Channel movies I’ve seen. While there are patterns that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films follow, each series tries to tell a different kind of story. The series themselves have a distinct identity, preventing these films from blending into one another. The Mystery 101 series is just one example. Taking an academic approach to the mystery genre, this collection of films has quickly become a fan favorite. I still can’t believe that after this story started a year ago, it’s already on the fifth chapter!

Mystery 101 -- An Education in Murder poster
Mystery 101: An Education in Murder poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Mystery+101+An+Education+in+Murder.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: What I liked about the performances in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder is how every actor and actress presented their character as if they were individuals from real-life. While the film’s writing makes this aspect a possibility, the quality of the actors’ talents also helps. All of the interactions between the characters felt realistic and their conversations came across as natural. Even though there were actors and actresses that were new to the series, there were others that have either regularly appeared in the Mystery 101 series or another mystery series. Steve Bacic was one of the main cast members in the Garage Sale Mystery series. Because of his work in those movies, it gave him an understanding on how a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries project works. Despite Steve being in the film for a short amount of time, his performance benefitted from his experiences working with Hallmark’s second network.

 

Travis and Amy’s interactions: Seeing Travis and Amy’s relationship grow over the course of the series is one of the best parts of these films! As I said in my Mystery 101 review, the on-screen chemistry between Jill and Kristoffer helps. In Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, these moments featuring Amy and Travis were more light-hearted and humorous. This was meant to provide the audience with periodical breaks from the darkness within the story. One of these moments was when Travis and Amy are waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Even though this was meant to be a romantic date, Amy’s dad showed up and the dinner became an unintentional group event. This scene was hilarious and provided light-hearted interactions between these characters!

 

The mystery: Cold cases are not often featured in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This kind of mystery in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder gave the audience a different story from what is usually shown on Hallmark’s second network. It encourages the creative team behind this series or any mystery series to think outside the box when it comes to story-telling. Instead of relying on physical objects as clues, the clues themselves were found in the dialogue spoken by the suspects. This provided an interesting approach to the mystery itself and how it was solved. Using language as a tool for solving a mystery is a concept that I’ve rarely seen in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film!

21-150-01
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What I didn’t like about the film:

The “don’t-get-involved” cliché: In my Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver review, I talked about how the incorporation of the “don’t-get-involved” cliché was one of the flaws of that film. This is because I feel this cliché doesn’t work outside of the series’ first or second movie. Mystery 101: An Education in Murder is another film that adopts this cliché. Within the first twenty minutes of the film, Travis tells Amy not to get involved with the case. I know that he told her this with the intention of keeping her best interests in mind. I am also aware that the mystery itself was a cold case. However, Travis told Amy this after she had helped him successfully solve more than one mystery and after he called her a “consultant” while talking with a former colleague. If Travis had expressed his concern about Amy getting involved in the first or second movie, it would feel justified. But in the series’ fifth film, this cliché seems unnecessary.

 

A limited presence for some characters: Some of the characters in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder are featured less than others. As I already mentioned, Steve Bacic was in the film for a limited amount of time. When I first saw this film’s trailer, I had assumed Steve’s character, Mac, would play a bigger role within the story. However, he was only presented in a handful of scenes. I’ve enjoyed watching Preston Vanderslice’s performances in the Mystery 101 series! It makes me happy whenever Bud shows up in any movie. However, it feels like this character is stuck in the same place. I’m not an expert on the subject of the teaching profession. But, by the fifth movie, I feel like Bud should be further along in his educational journey. If this series receives a sixth movie, I hope we can see Bud passing his final exams or watch him graduating.

 

A few overlooked story-points: There were a few story-points in this movie that were not fully explored. A series of Mark Twain’s transcripts were incorporated in the overall story. They were shown at the beginning of the film as the cause for the mystery taking place. I’m not going to spoil the film if you haven’t seen it yet. However, I think these transcripts should have had a stronger connection to the overarching mystery. There was one suspect who was directly connected to the case. Again, I will not spoil the movie. But I think this character’s part of the story was, to a certain extent, overlooked.

Books Seamless Pattern
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My overall impression:

The Mystery 101 series is, in my opinion, one of the stronger of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ series. Its quality has been consistent and I’ve enjoyed watching each chapter. In fact, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill was one of the best movies I saw in 2019! Similar to that film, I did like Mystery 101: An Education in Murder! While it did have some flaws that prevented the project from being better than it was, I had a good time solving the mystery alongside Travis and Amy. Having the mystery be a cold case provided an interesting change to the series. The way the mystery itself was approached was also unique. Language has always played a role in any mystery. But in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, dialogue from the suspects was used as clues for solving the case. Because of everything that’s been happening in the world at this time, it’ll be a while before we see another Mystery 101 movie. However, I hope we can receive another chapter in this series soon!

 

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

 

Have you been watching Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ newest films? If so, which one has been your favorite so far? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Finding Forrester Review

One of the available categories for the Leap Year Blogathon was to talk about “any movie or TV show you’ve always wanted to review but never had the chance to”. This is the approach I’ve chosen to take with Rebecca’s event. As I was scrolling through my DVR, I came across a movie called Finding Forrester. Ever since I read the film’s synopsis on BYUtv’s website several years ago, I have wanted to see this movie because the story sounded interesting. I even recorded it on my DVR in the hopes of watching it someday. Well, it looks like 2020 is the time when I’m finally getting around to talking about this film! I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen a lot of Sean Connery’s movies. The Russia House and The Great Train Robbery are the only films I’ve seen with Sean as one of the leads. While I thought the former was ok, I enjoyed the latter more than I thought I would. Now that this is the third picture of Sean’s I’ve watched, it’ll be interesting to see where Finding Forrester ranks among the other two films.

Finding Forrester poster
Finding Forrester poster created by Sony Pictures Releasing and Columbia Pictures. Image found at https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/findingforrester.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Finding Forrester is a story that grounds itself in reality. Because of this, the acting performances in this film come across as realistic portrayals. What this means is all the characters feel like real people. The genuine expressions and behaviors of each character shine through because of the quality of the actors’ talents. How the characters interact with each other is evident of this, especially within the friendship of Jamal and William. Depth was added to the characters because of the interactions they share. The dialogue was well-executed by the actors, causing the conversations to sound authentic. What works in this cast’s favor are the various personalities presented and the character development that takes place. A sense of intrigue is brought forth as a result of all of these elements.

 

The cinematography: Whenever this film’s creative team wanted the audience to focus on a particular person or object, they would adopt medium shots or close-ups to place a greater emphasis on that subject. During basketball tryouts, Jamal was playing against a senior team member from the private school. The rivalry between these two characters is the highlight of this scene, so medium shots are used to present them to the audience. When Jamal is removing his notebooks from his backpack, after the bag was retrieved from William’s apartment, close-ups implemented the importance of writing that serves as a consistent idea throughout the film. In two scenes, the reflection of Jamal can be seen from William’s binoculars. This is meant to foreshadow the connection these characters will share through their friendship. These cinematic techniques helped make the cinematography stand out in this project!

 

The incorporation of knowledge: Like writing, the idea of knowledge is consistent in Finding Forrester. The way it was incorporated into this story was seamless and showed how important it can be to any individual. One example is when Jamal is explaining a brief history of the BMW to William’s acquaintance. This information not only helped Jamal stand up for himself, but it also educated the audience about one of the world’s most iconic car companies. The knowledge that William and Jamal share about writing is another great example. During a debate about the rules of writing, they are able to express their ideas and view the perspective of the other person. This scene shows that, with knowledge, one can be a part of something greater than themselves. It also shows that knowledge can create a connection between people.

Leap Year Blogathon banner
The Leap Year Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/announcing-the-leap-year-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The lighting: Most of the lighting in Finding Forrester is dim. This allows the overall color palette to appear darker on screen. However, it also makes it difficult to see what is happening in the film. The scenes taking place in William’s apartment experienced this issue. Because of the dimmed lighting, it was sometimes difficult to see Jamal’s and William’s face in these scenes. Half of this movie is centered around Jamal and William’s friendship, which means that half of the overall picture features the dim surroundings of William’s apartment.

 

Scenes that become padding: There are several scenes in Finding Forrester that become padding. One example is when Jamal’s friends are shown spending time together at a restaurant. This moment had no bearing on the story and didn’t progress the plot forward. It also doesn’t have a strong need to exist in the narrative. Scenes like these felt like they were placed in the movie for the sake of satisfying the run-time. If some of these scenes were cut, the film would have been shorter and the script could have been a bit tighter.

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Typewriter image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/typewriter-and-paper-sheet_713020.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Someone I know once told me that knowledge is one of the most valuable possessions a person can own. When it’s earned, it can never be taken away from you. This is expressed very well in Finding Forrester, a solid and satisfying picture! While this movie is more of a character study, this concept works in the film’s favor. The delivery of the script and acting performances gave me an opportunity to stay invested in the characters and their interactions. The messages of integrity, self-worth, and knowledge have the potential to be relatable among audience members. They can also inspire people to pursue their talents and believe in their strengths. Finding Forrester is a movie that I’m glad I made the time to see. I’d like to thank Rebecca for giving me this opportunity through her Leap Year Blogathon!

 

Overall score: 8.2 out of 10

 

Is there a movie you’ve always to see, but never made time for? What are your plans for Leap Year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen