Even though Hallmark’s Christmas season has arrived, there are two mystery movies listed on Creative B.C. that are either currently in production or will soon be in production! The first one is ‘The Chronicle Mysteries 5 – Helped To Death’, which is filming until November 4th. This is exciting news, especially since all of the movies in this series, led by Alison Sweeney, aired in 2019! The second film is ‘Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent’. It will start filming on October 26th and end on November 13th. I’m happy to see Crossword Mysteries receive another chapter, as I enjoyed the previous film, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver! Based on their production schedules, both movies will likely premiere sometime in 2021.
Have you seen any movie from these series? If so, are you looking forward to the films I mentioned in this article? Let me know in the comment section!
October’s theme for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur is French New Wave Films. Because I’m not as familiar with this particular genre as I am with others, I had to look up potential titles for this review. One of the films that appeared in my internet search was the 1973 French film, Day for Night. When I read the movie’s tagline, “A movie for people who love movies”, I felt it was the perfect choice for the movie blogger I am! MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur is not the only reason why I’m reviewing this film. Day for Night is also my choice for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s 4th Annual Great Breening Blogathon! When I participated in this specific blogathon last year, I reviewed Vampyr, a movie released before the Breen Code was created. As I already said, Day for Night was released in 1973, two decades after the Breen Code era. Like my Vampyr review, this current article is going to be a blog follower dedication review. Last week, 18 Cinema Lane received 250 followers!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I’ve said before one of my favorite Hallmark films is An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving. The acting performances are a great part of it, especially Jacqueline Bisset’s portrayal of Isabella. In Day for Night, Jacqueline portrayed American actress, Julie Baker. Her on-screen persona was a pleasant surprise, as it was down-to-earth and kind. This was very different from the “diva” attitude that some lead actress characters are given in stories of this nature. Valentina Cortese is another actress that gave a memorable performance in Day for Night! She portrays Severine, an older actress looking for a come-back. One scene shows Severine turning to drinking as a way to get through the scene and cope with personal issues. Valentina effectively showed the emotional transition her character was experiencing; starting out confident but slowly turning to sadness as the scene continues. Jean-Pierre Léaud portrays Alphonse, a fellow actor who works alongside Julie and Severine. His performance came across very natural on screen, making it look effortless. A scene that shows Alphonse having a bad evening is a good example of this, the look on his face appearing defeated and his body language showing the audience how he was walking aimlessly in a hotel hallway.
The film-making process: The story of Day for Night revolves around a director making a movie alongside his cast and crew. A behind the scenes lens is how the film is presented, with the production process being the primary focus. As someone who loves movies, I found this part of Day for Night fascinating! Seeing the different ways film-making related problems were solved was interesting to watch! The director of the film’s movie, Ferrand, is looking for a car for an upcoming scene. Because of the movie’s budget, he ends up using a car from one of the crew members. Later in the production of “Meet Pamela” (the movie being filmed in Day for Night), the cast and crew are struck with a tragedy. Ferrand decides to cut some scenes from the movie as a result of this event. He discusses these decisions with a script writer named Joëlle, as well as talking with investors.
The cat scene: While filming “Meet Pamela”, the cast and crew want to include a cat drinking milk from a food tray. At first, a kitten is placed in the scene. However, the kitten doesn’t take direction very well. After several failed attempts, the director decides to use a “studio cat” instead. To me, this scene was hilarious because it was a good use of the “comedy of errors” style of humor. It also highlights the idea of animals being difficult to work with in film.
What I didn’t about the film:
Thinly written characters: Day for Night features an ensemble cast, showing their audience how multiple people are responsible for the creation of a single movie. However, all of these characters are thinly written, as they were defined by the main issue they were dealing with in the film’s story. For example, Julie experienced a breakdown prior to the events of Day for Night. Because of this, Julie is known as “the woman who experienced a breakdown”. Throughout the movie, she does talk about her marriage to her doctor and her working hours as an actress. But her personal situation is highlighted the most.
Too much going on: As I just mentioned, this movie has an ensemble cast. This means there are a lot of characters involved in the overall story. It also means Day for Night contains several subplots. Personally, I found it difficult to keep up with the characters, as I thought there were too many to focus on. Even though this happened briefly, there were moments when I forgot who was who. The subplots were not interesting to me, as they revolved around situations I just didn’t care about. It felt more like a bland soap opera than a compelling part of the behind the scenes of “Meet Pamela”. Honestly, I wish this movie had put more emphasis on the film-making aspect of the narrative.
The director’s dreams: On three separate occasions, the dreams of the director, Ferrand, are shown. These scenes are filmed in black-and-white and contain no dialogue. I thought the inclusion of the dreams were random, as they didn’t seem to have anything to do with the overarching story. It also doesn’t help that no explanations are provided for what these dreams could mean. If anything, they were simply there to satisfy the run-time.
My overall impression:
Like I said in the introduction, the tagline of Day for Night is “A movie for people who love movies”. While I do love movies, I did not love this film. Sure, there were things about it I liked, such as the acting and the film-making process shown. But if you’re going to make a movie, you need to provide your audience with interesting characters worth watching. The characters in Day for Night were thinly written, defined by their personal situations. Even though it can be intriguing to see how characters overcome their obstacles, they have to have other qualities about them. Because of the poor writing for the characters, their subplots were not interesting. Issues among them were basically at a stand-still, not really getting resolved to a satisfying degree. What would have helped this story is if were presented in a mockumentary format, giving more emphasis to the behind the scenes aspect of film-making. Before I end this review, I want to thank all 250 of 18 Cinema Lane’s followers! The success this blog has received would never have happened without you!
Overall score: 6.2 out of 10
Have you seen Day for Night? Are there any movies about film-making you’ve seen? Please tell me in the comment section!
I am so close to publishing 200 movie reviews! Because of this, I have devoted this week to publishing my 199th and 200th movie reviews. Next week, I will publish a celebratory post to commemorate this accomplishment. Yesterday, I watched Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. When I posted my review of Perry Mason Returns last month, it ended up becoming more popular than I expected, with the article receiving nine likes! These factors are the reason why I chose to review Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. For the most part, I have enjoyed this particular series. While some films have been better than others, I haven’t come across an installment that was bad. What works in Perry Mason’s favor is having consistent elements, such as the acting performances. Because these elements have been, more often than not, strong, it has helped the memorability of the series!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Joe Penny is an actor I’m familiar with because of his performance in Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. What I liked about his portrayal of Robert McCay in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is how he was given more opportunities to use emotion! A great example is when Robert is being questioned by Perry Mason at the police station. For most of this scene, the sadness and concern of the situation can be seen on Joe’s face. As the scene progresses, Robert’s anger explodes. Another actor that uses facial expressions well is Jennifer O’Neill! Portraying the murder victim’s wife, Alison Carr, Jennifer used her eyes to enhance the emotions her character was feeling. Her best scene was when Alison and Perry are having a conversation at a law library event. During this conversation, Alison tries to convince Perry that despite everything she has experienced, she is fine. But because her eyes contain so much pain, it appears that Alison is falling apart at the seams. Something I enjoy about the Perry Mason TV movie series is how new, memorable characters have been introduced in each story. Michelle Benti, portrayed by Wendy Crewson, is one of these characters. A photo journalist from New York City, Michelle plays an integral part of the story. She also had a great on-screen personality! Because of these things, it makes me wish Michelle became one of the series’ regulars.
The cinematography: There are times when a mystery movie offers visually appealing cinematography to their audience. Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is one of these films, as I noticed some interesting cinematography while watching the movie! In the scene where Robert is being questioned by Perry, light is pouring into the room through the blinds of the windows. Both the light and shadows reflect off of Robert’s face, highlighting his facial expressions. Toward the beginning of the film, Robert is walking through the city at night. Smoke could be seen at various moments in that scene. This element helped add to the mysterious nature of the story!
Scenes that tricked the audience: Throughout Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, Robert McCay is filming a movie in New York City. This caused a few scenes to be presented in a way that tricked the audience. In the aforementioned beginning scene, Robert finds himself in the city at night. At one point, he is surrounded by two sets of gang members. As the scene goes on, it is revealed that Robert and the gang members are in the middle of shooting a film scene. Later in the film, Robert and one of his co-stars, Kate, are seen having a conversation with each other. At first, it seems like they are gaining a mutual understanding of the murder case. But, like the previously mentioned scene, this moment is also revealed to be a part of Robert’s movie.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Characters with wasted potential: While each character in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star gets their moment to shine, there are a few characters that could have had a greater significance in the story. The gang members from the very first scene serve as a good example. I understand these characters were meant to be extras in Robert’s movie. However, I feel at least one of them could have been given more lines and screen time. Who knows? Maybe they would have become a series regular.
The funeral/memorial dinner: When I reviewed the Murder, She Wrote episode, ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, I mentioned how one funeral visitation felt more like a light-hearted dinner party. There was one scene in this movie that made me feel similar to the aforementioned episode. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, the funeral/memorial dinner for the murder victim felt more like an award ceremony. This is because of two things; the fact that some characters don’t wear black attire and how one of the murder victim’s closest friends incorporated jokes during his speech. As I said in my review of ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, funeral services are unique to the family hosting that gathering. However, the two factors I brought up prevented this scene from displaying strong feelings of sadness and grief.
An unbelievable stunt scene: I am aware how fictional stories make their audience suspend their disbelief to varying degrees. But in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, there was one scene involving a stunt that didn’t seem believable to me. The stunt itself is not what caused me to feel this way. This was brought on by the stunt coordinator’s decision to allow a civilian, Perry’s colleague Paul, to participate in a stunt without taking precautionary steps beforehand. I understand this particular scene was meant to serve as a comedic moment. But I just can’t believe any stunt coordinator would willingly overlook details like that, especially in a mystery movie that appears grounded in reality.
My overall impression:
As the eighth movie I’ve seen in the Perry Mason TV movie series, I’d say Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is the best one! Despite its flaws, this film did contain a mystery that was not only intriguing, but also captivating from start to finish! Almost every series features at least one chapter that revolves around show business. When this creative decision is chosen, Hollywood usually serves as that chapter’s backdrop. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, a movie was being filmed in New York City. This allows a nice change of scenery and a different perspective to this tried-and-true plot point. While watching the film, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Brandon Lee tragedy. It is due to the murder victim also being killed by a prop weapon in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. There’s no denying the major differences between the real-life and fictional situations. But after watching Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, it does make me wonder if there would have been a heightened sense of awareness had someone working on the film or a person who knew a cast or crew member had seen the 1986 movie prior to production on The Crow?
Overall score: 7.8 out of 10
What are your thoughts on the Perry Mason TV movie series? Do you have a favorite mysteries series? Let me know in the comment section!
Yes, I know I haven’t written a Word on the Street story since June. This is because I either wasn’t able to find a movie news story that interested me or I didn’t get around to discussing movie news. However, I did find some Hallmark related news that I had to write about. The first story features Hallmark favorite, Jen Lilley. In an article from soaps.com, Amy Mistretta reports how Jen revealed the plot of her new movie, which will likely air during the Christmas season. The article states that the film will revolve around a reporter who goes on a Tiger Cruise with members of the United States Navy. Amy explains that “the Navy puts on the special event once a year where their families can come on the ship for Christmas”. From what I can recall, the only film about Tiger Cruises that is known is the 2004 Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise. However, that film revolved around the events of 9/11. This news about Jen’s movie is interesting because it fills a creative void that hasn’t been revisited in sixteen years. Also, Hallmark can make a good military related film when they put their mind to it.
These next two stories come from the Twitter account, Hotline to Hallmark! In a tweet that was retweeted by Hotline to Hallmark, Rochelle S. Aytes, the star of the upcoming film, A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn, announced that her movie has wrapped production! While the film’s synopsis is not known at this time, the movie will apparently feature horses, as Rochelle mentions petting a horse in her tweet. Another retweeted tweet from Hotline to Hallmark reveals that Will Kemp will co-star alongside Lacey Chabert in the Hallmark Christmas movie, Christmas Waltz! Denise Petski, from Deadline, shares that “Christmas Waltz reunites Kemp and Chabert, who starred in last year’s Valentine-themed Hallmark Channel movie Love, Romance & Chocolate.” As someone who liked the aforementioned Valentine’s film, it’s nice to see actors who had good on-screen chemistry work together again! I’m hoping Will and Lacey’s Christmas project is just as enjoyable to watch as their previous creative endeavor!
On WordPress, I’ve gained a reputation among fellow bloggers as being the “Hallmark expert”. While I personally don’t see myself as an expert in this blogging space, I do appreciate people’s high regard toward my knowledge of Hallmark productions. During my years of watching Hallmark films, I’ve learned that a good number of movies are filmed in Canada. Also, every scripted television show from the network either currently films in Canada or has filmed in Canada before. Production websites like What’s Filming and Creative B.C. continually feature Hallmark titles on their websites, with productions for movies usually taking place within a month’s time. Others have taken notice of this particular creative choice, with publications like Refinery29 bringing it up in one of their Hallmark related articles. But what causes the company to choose Canada as a prime filming destination over other locations? How beneficial is it anyway? This editorial will explore some reasons why Hallmark has chosen Canada as their best friend when it comes to movie and television production. Negative results that could be caused by Hallmark’s choice will also be discussed. Hallmark has filmed their movies in a variety of locations, but Canada seems to be their favorite.
Saving Money in Order to Spend It
Every movie or television show has a budget that a creative team is required to work within. If there is an opportunity to save money, any creative team is likely to take advantage of it. With the creation of tax incentives, certain states or countries can appear more viable to companies and studios than other locations. Canada first introduced their tax incentives for the television and film industry in 1995, with more tax incentives coming into existence two years later. While it’s unclear when Hallmark started to film their programs in Canada, recent trends would indicate the company first made this decision sometime around 2010. In the past few years, Hallmark has created more than fifty movies a year. These projects, according to Shane Snoke and Kays Alatrakchi from quora.com, can carry a price tag between $300,000 to $2 million. To figure out how much Hallmark would likely pay annually for their films, let’s look at the amount of films the company created for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries last year. On the first network, Hallmark released 64 films. The second network aired 41 films. Let’s say that each movie cost $1 million to make. In total, Hallmark would end up spending $105,000,000 each year among both channels. With this big of a price tag, it makes sense for the company to look for ways to save any amount of money they can.
Because every province of Canada has their own tax incentives for the film and television industry, it’s difficult to determine the exact amount of money Hallmark saves on each Canadian filmed production. But there is no denying that wherever a movie or television show is created, Hallmark ends up saving a significant amount of money. The company can apply those savings toward other programs. One example of how this money could have been used is for the creation of Hallmark Drama. Coordinating a television channel is a time-consuming and costly endeavor. Because Hallmark’s third channel first aired in late 2017, it’s likely that Hallmark collected these funds over time in order to fund that project. Another time-consuming and costly endeavor are television shows. A deciding factor for a show’s renewal is whether its respective network can afford to keep it going. With three continuing series on Hallmark Channel, Hallmark needs all the money they can get to keep these shows running. All three series have chosen Canada for their filming needs. This makes Hallmark’s financial goals more attainable.
Creating a Unique Experience
The longest running and one of the most popular television shows in Hallmark history is When Calls the Heart. Ever since the show about the Canadian Frontier first premiered in 2014, it has cultivated a loyal and devoted fanbase famously known as the “Hearties”. The success of the series has inspired fans to create a special event called “Hearties Family Reunion”. Started in 2016, this event gives “hearties” an opportunity to celebrate their favorite show. It has also given them a chance to travel to the show’s Canadian roots. Some of the activities that took place at last year’s event include a Q&A segment with the cast, a tour of the Hope Valley set, and even a special movie night. While “Hallmark isn’t officially involved” with the formation of the “Hearties Family Reunion”, according to Meghan Overdeep from Southern Living, Crown Media was one of the sponsors for the 2019 event.
One of the reasons why When Calls the Heart has lasted as long as it has is because of the community that formed among the fans. The “Hearties Family Reunion” official website acknowledges this by stating, “Hearties are a community”. To recognize this sentiment, regional mini-parties were a part of the schedule at last year’s event. These parties were intended to help fans connect with other fans from their geographical location. One example is a regional party dedicated to the fans who live in the Southern and/or Midwest regions of the United States. Based on the website’s photos and the continuation of the event, it seems like it has been met with positive responses. One testimonial comes from Ruth, who is the creator of the blog, My Devotional Thoughts. She attended the event in 2017 and even wrote an article about her experience. The focus of that blog post was to highlight her interviews during the event. By reading Ruth’s article, you can hear the enthusiasm in her writing. In fact, when recounting her time at the “Hearties Family Reunion”, she says, “I am forever grateful to everyone who worked to make this a weekend I shall never forget”. With responses like Ruth’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if this event returned in 2020!
Making Careers for Canadian Stars
Actors and actresses come from various locations of the world. When a state or country has tax incentives that benefit the film and television industry, performers from those locations can sometimes find success with the companies that film there. Hallmark’s decision to film in Canada has helped several actors and actresses grow their careers through their involvement in Hallmark’s productions. Andrew Francis is an actor from Vancouver, British Columbia. He made his Hallmark debut in the 2011 movie, Trading Christmas. In that nine-year time frame, Andrew starred in twelve Hallmark movies, had a recurring role on Cedar Cove, and is a regular cast member on Chesapeake Shores. Another British Columbia native, Pascale Hutton, has also achieved success through Hallmark. After her first Hallmark movie, A Family Thanksgiving from 2010, she has gone on to star in a total of twelve Hallmark films. Similar to Andrew, Pascale became a regular cast member on the aforementioned show, When Calls the Heart. She also made a guest appearance on Hallmark’s first spin-off, When Hope Calls.
Canadian actors are not the only talents that have developed on-going careers through Hallmark. Crew members who work behind the camera have also benefited from Hallmark’s partnership with Canada. Michael Robison is a director from Toronto, Ontario. According to his filmography on IMDB, he has been directing since the late ‘80s. Despite working with Hallmark for only three years, Michael has directed thirteen movies, including the upcoming Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film, Mystery 101: An Education in Murder. These opportunities have allowed him to grow his career as a director. Another Ontario talent whose career has excelled with Hallmark is Ivan Hayden, who is from the London area. A multi-talented individual, Ivan currently has twenty-six producing credits on IMDB. Fifteen of these credits are for Hallmark films, including the 2020 “Spring Fever” film, Just My Type. Like Michael Robison, Ivan has been working on Hallmark projects since 2017. Also, like Michael, Ivan accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.
Missed Opportunities for Other States and Countries
As I have been mentioning in this editorial, states and countries besides Canada may have tax incentives. This factor can encourage companies and studios to work in those locations. By Hallmark continually choosing to work with Canada, it means that other states and countries with tax incentives miss out on beautiful business partnerships. Michigan is just one example. On Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s official website, an entire division of the state’s economy is shown to be dedicated to the film industry. Hallmark rarely creates their programs in the Great Lakes state. Because of this, the state isn’t able to work with a well-known client like Hallmark. Hallmark’s decision also denies the company the chance to take advantage of Michigan’s tax incentives. This situation causes both parties to lose out on great business opportunities.
Hallmark’s Channels aren’t Available in Canada
Even though Hallmark films a lot of their programs in Canada, there are few opportunities for Canadians to see these programs. That’s because all three of Hallmark’s channels are shown exclusively in the United States. Despite Canadian fans asking Hallmark’s business leaders on social media for access to their networks, nothing has been done about this specific situation as of March 2020. There have been some solutions made to alleviate this problem. Released in 2007, the Super Channel is a Canadian network that has given its viewers an opportunity to watch some of Hallmark’s programs. This is made possible through one of their divisions; Super Channel Heart & Home. Another current solution has been the invention of the streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now. This service can be accessed on various devices and through different media outlets.
Limited Recognition Toward Canadian Businesses
As I just mentioned, Hallmark’s channels are shown exclusively in the United States. This means that businesses based in the United States have an advantage when it comes to product placement and sponsorships. One of Hallmark’s sponsors has been the coffee company, Folgers. Even though this particular product is available in both the United States and Canada, the company is headquartered in Ohio and was founded in California. This makes Folgers a United States based business. It also provides more opportunities for Folgers to advertise with Hallmark. Canadian stores like Chapters/Indigo and services like Pizza Pizza haven’t had commercials featured on any of Hallmark’s channels or their products showcased in any of Hallmark’s programs, as of March 2020. Hallmark’s partnership with Canada seems to have overlooked Canadian businesses.
There is no such thing as a perfect business. The decisions that any business makes are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Even when a business does make a good choice, it can sometimes lead to undesirable results. This is the case with Hallmark and their partnership with Canada. There have been positives that have come from this choice where both parties have benefited. Canada’s tax incentives have the power to fund the country’s economy and help Hallmark save money. But, after evaluating the pros and cons of Hallmark’s business decision, it appears somewhat one sided. So many of Hallmark’s programs are filmed in a variety of Canadian locations. Yet, Canadians are not able to watch most of the programs that are created in their home country. As I mentioned in this editorial, there are ways for Canadians to watch Hallmark’s movies and shows. However, they aren’t able to watch the newer productions from Hallmark, especially the mystery films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Hopefully, as time goes on, Hallmark will recognize Canada as more than just a pretty filming location.