Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Foxfire Review

Because yesterday was 4th of July, I wanted to review a movie that took place somewhere in the United States. While I wanted to publish this article on 4th of July, my day ended up being busier than expected. So, this review is published a day later than I had hoped. Recently, Hallmark Drama was airing several Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I had never seen before. One of these films was 1987’s Foxfire. Years ago, Hallmark’s stores sold select Hallmark Hall of Fame films on DVD for $20 apiece (yes, you read that price right), with Foxfire being one of the titles offered. Before recording it on my DVR, I didn’t know much about the movie. In fact, all I knew was that it was one of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s older titles. When I discovered the film took place in Appalachia, I thought it would be an interesting choice for this time of year. So, would I buy a DVD copy of Foxfire if I saw it at the store for $20? Before we head to the store’s checkout line, let’s start this review!

Like I’ve done in the past, I have taken a screenshot of Foxfire‘s poster that was featured on my TV. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’m not familiar with Jessica Tandy’s acting abilities. While I have seen The Birds, I don’t remember her performance in that movie. Despite this, I did like her portrayal of Annie Nations in Foxfire! It was very expressive, using a variety of expressions and emotions throughout the film. When Annie receives an art project from her grandchildren, she appears genuinely overjoyed to receive the gift. A big smile is on Annie’s face and her demeanor is pleasant. At her son’s, Dillard’s, concert, Annie looks truly concerned as he sings a song about a broken relationship. Worry is in her eyes and she never lets Dillard out of her sight. Another actor whose career I’m not familiar with is John Denver. I have heard of his songs, but I didn’t know who he was. In fact, I thought John portrayed one of the brothers on The Waltons. This is because of the mannerisms he carried in Foxfire. When his character, Dillard, was happy, there was a youthful spirit about him. It highlighted how you can take the Appalachian man out of the mountains, but you can’t take the Appalachian culture and heritage out of the man. One of John’s strongest scenes was when, in Annie’s home, Dillard is reminding his mother about her age and potential risks of living alone. As he is talking to her, his eyes look like they are desperately searching for answers to his problems. Even the tone of his voice sounds concerned. A character that is close to both Annie and Dillard is Holly. Portrayed by Harriet Hall, this character kind of reminded me of Baby from Dirty Dancing. This is because when Holly cares about someone, she cares about them with her whole heart. What makes Holly differ from Baby is how her personality was gentler. Because she is a teacher, she chooses to put her students first. When Holly is talking to Dillard about her students, her mannerisms and tone of voice seem motherly. This gives the audience the impression that she truly cares about them.

The scenery: I haven’t seen many films that take place in Appalachia. In fact, I didn’t know Foxfire took place in this location until I read the synopsis. To my pleasant surprise, the scenery was very nice to look at! The Nation family house was surrounded by forestry, with the tall trees providing cozy seclusion and privacy. When Dillard wakes up one morning, he is greeted by the sight of rolling hills on a bright sunny day. These rolling hills could also be seen on a car ride Annie took. When a real estate agent named Prince gives Annie a trip to the market, he takes a scenic route. The aforementioned rolling hills steal the show, but are accompanied by a lake at the bottom and surrounding colonial style vacation homes that can be seen from the road. The locations in Foxfire appeared quaint, similar to the small towns in most of Hallmark’s films.

John Denver’s music: Before watching Foxfire, I had heard a few of John Denver’s songs. Even though I don’t listen to country music much, the songs I have heard were nice to listen to. Within Foxfire, John performed four songs. Most of them were slower, more soulful pieces. This fit the overall tone of the film. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Dillard performs a song about a broken relationship. After his concert, he performs an acoustic version of the song. What I’ve gathered about some country music is how emotional it can be. In that acoustic version of Dillard’s song, his heart and spirit sounded wounded. This can be heard in his voice.

Children holding American flags during a sunset image created by rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People photo created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A televised play: Hallmark Hall of Fame has a history of adapting stage plays into movies. One of these titles I really like is the 1996 film, The Boys Next Door. However, what sets the 1996 production apart from Foxfire is how the overall project was executed. Because The Boys Next Door contains more key characters and locations within the story, the way this adaptation was delivered to the audience looked and felt like a movie. Foxfire, on the other hand, contained a smaller cast and had a condensed story, as most of the film takes places at Annie’s house. Even some of the scenes were drawn-out and isolated, like a stage production. While the project was shot like a movie, it felt more like a televised play.

Re-created moments from the past: Throughout Foxfire, Annie brings up several memories from her and her family’s past. Instead of providing flashbacks, four scenes were dedicated to showing the characters re-creating some of these moments. For example, a current day Annie and her late husband, Hector, are reenacting when he first proposed to her. Watching grown adults act like teenagers was a bit jarring, as this prevented me from getting fully investing in these scenes. If anything, the scenes made it look like the film’s creative team didn’t have enough room in their budget to hire additional actors.

Inconsistent elements: At the beginning of the movie, Hector provides a voice-over, explaining the significance of his family and their land. Thinking Foxfire would be from his perspective, I thought this was an interesting way to tell the story. But this was the only time any voice-overs were provided. The end of the film showed Hector breaking the fourth wall for one scene. Not only was the inclusion of this element random, but it made me wonder why it wasn’t consistently woven into the movie.

Oranges in tree image created by Jose Luis Navarro at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Jose Luis Navarro.”

My overall impression:

Whenever I watch and/or review a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, I always ask myself this: “if this movie were sold on DVD for $20, would it be worth my money”? When it comes to Foxfire, that answer would be no. At best, the movie was ok. I appreciate the film’s positive light that was shone on Appalachia. While I haven’t been there myself and while I personally don’t know anyone from there, I have heard of the hardships that the members of the community face. But despite the good will this film seemed to give, the biggest flaw was its overall execution. If I choose to watch a Hallmark Hall of Fame title, I expect to watch a movie. With Foxfire, it felt more like a televised play. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the re-created moments from the past. I couldn’t get past the adult characters acting younger than they were in the “current day”. Now that I’ve seen another Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, I can add it to my Tier Rank List! Last year, I created a tier rank list of every Hallmark Hall of Fame film I have seen so far. While I’d like to revisit this list, I will focus on adding more titles for now.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Foxfire? Are there any Hallmark Hall of Fame titles you’d like to see me review? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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.

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:

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

It’s time to vote for the Gold Sally Awards’ Best Story

The Gold Sally Awards recognizes the crucial role screenwriting plays in the filmmaking process. Among the best movies I saw in 2020, you can choose which film contained the best story! Even though you can only vote once per person, you are able to vote for more than one nominee. As I’ve said before, the link to the poll is featured under the list of nominees. This poll starts today, March 15th, and ends on March 21st.

In case you’re wondering, this is a screenshot from the Murder, She Wrote episode, ‘The Legacy of Borbey House’. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Which film from 2020 had the Best Story?

 

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
The Unfinished Dance
If You Believe
Sweet Nothing in my Ear
From Up on Poppy Hill
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Grace & Glorie
Matinee
The Boy Who Could Fly
Anchors Aweigh
 
 
 
 
 
 
Created with Poll Maker

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Willy Wonka to Receive a Prequel + Hallmark’s ‘One Winter Wedding’ will Finally Go into Production

As I said in a Word on the Street post last September, it hasn’t been easy finding movie news stories to write about these days. So, when I stumbled across this story on Twitter, I thought it would make a perfect topic for the first Word on the Street article of 2021! According to Aaron Couch from The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is creating a new film titled Wonka. The movie “hails from Paddington director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman”. Aaron also says of the script that “Simon Rich wrote the original draft, with Simon Farnaby and King penning the current draft”. As of January 2021, the film is scheduled for a March 17th, 2023 release. It is also about Willy Wonka’s life before his beloved candy factory came into the picture.

While everyone involved with this project is busy creating their next cinematic project, they are forgetting one major detail. Back in the 2005 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka’s backstory was revealed. Through a series of flashbacks, the audience learns that Willy created his candy factory in spite of his strict father, who forbade the chocolatier from eating sweets when he was younger. Because of this, it makes Wonka seem like it is using rehashed material and trying to pass it off as new. What would have been more interesting is a movie about Ronald Dahl and how he created one of his most iconic stories.

Bakery image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/pattern”>Pattern photo created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Back in 2019, I mentioned that Taylor Cole announced a third film in Hallmark’s One Winter series; One Winter Wedding. However, the reality of the project seemed distant at the time. This was because two of the series’ stars, Jack Turner and Taylor Cole, were working on separate film projects. Now, two years after Taylor made the aforementioned announcement, One Winter Wedding is finally going into production! On the website for UBCP/ACTRA (Union of British Columbia Performers/Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the movie will start filming on February 1st and end on February 20th. With this production schedule, I predict One Winter Wedding will either be a Christmas film or a 2022 ‘New Year New Movies’ presentation.

Ski lodge during winter-time image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/ski-station-background_3423830.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.

What are your thoughts on these movie news stories? Do you plan on seeing any of the films I mentioned? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links to the articles I referenced in my post:

https://www.ubcpactra.ca/whats-shooting/ (click on the words “Current Film and TV Production List”)

Word on the Street: Hallmark’s ‘Aurora Teagarden’ and ‘Mystery 101’ series will receive a new movie!

Originally, I was going to publish my 255 blog follower dedication review. While I still plan on posting this review, I decided to publish a Word on the Street story instead. In one of last month’s Word on the Street articles, I announced two Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series, Crossword Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries, were either filming a new chapter or were about to film a new chapter. It looks like these two series are not the only ones to receive a new movie. On Creative B.C., the filming schedule for an upcoming Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and Mystery 101 film were posted! ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How To Con A Con’ will start filming on November 6th and end on November 24th. Even though the movie’s synopsis is not known at this time, I hope it is about comic conventions, based on the listed title. Meanwhile, ‘Mystery 101: Movie 6 – Killer Timing’ just started filming on November 2nd and will conclude on November 20th. Like I said about Crossword Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries in October, these films in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and Mystery 101 series will likely premiere in 2021, based on their filming schedules.

Female detective image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/female-detective-with-magnifying-glass_1250814.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Are you looking forward to any of these films? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is the link to the TV Movie ‘In Production’ page on Creative B.C.’s website (after November 20th and 24th, ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How To Con A Con’ and ‘Mystery 101: Movie 6 – Killer Timing’ will be removed from the page): https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production

Word on the Street: Two New Chapters for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Series’ Are on the Way

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.

Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is the link to the TV Movie ‘In Production’ page on Creative B.C.’s website (after November 4th and 13th, ‘The Chronicle Mysteries 5 – Helped To Death’ and ‘Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent’ will be removed from the page): https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production

Take 3: Day for Night Review + 250 Follower Thank You

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!

Day for Night poster created by Les Films du Carrosse
PECF, Produzione Internazionale Cinematografica, and Warner Bros.

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.

The 4th Annual Great Breening Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

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.

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.

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!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star Review

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!

While searching the internet for this film’s poster, I took a screenshot of this one, as I love the overall design! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

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.

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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.

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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!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Story for Jen Lilley’s Hallmark Christmas Movie Revealed + News about Upcoming Christmas Hallmark Films

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.

Source for this movie news story: https://soaps.sheknows.com/days-of-our-lives/news/574825/days-of-our-lives-jen-lilley-hallmark-christmas-movie-2020/

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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!

Sources for these movie news story: https://deadline.com/2020/08/will-kemp-lacey-chabert-christmas-waltz-hallmark-channel-movie-1203012813/, @HotlineHallmark on Twitter

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What are your thoughts on these pieces of movie news? Is there a Hallmark Christmas film you’re looking forward to seeing? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Hallmark and Canada: The Start of an International Friendship

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.

O Canada Blogathon banner
The 2020 O Canada Blogathon banner created by Ruth from Silver Screenings and Kristina from Speakeasy. Image found at https://silverscreenings.org/2020/01/15/announcing-the-o-canada-blogathon-2020/.

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.

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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!

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Painted Cup of Coffee with Natural Coffee Beans on a Chalkboard.
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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.

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

Sources for this editorial:

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/12/9008033/hallmark-christmas-movie-filming-locations

https://www.bccpa.ca/news-views-kb/browse-news-views-knowledge-base/taxation/taxation/articles/an-overview-of-film-and-television-tax-incentives-in-british-columbia/

https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-average-production-budget-for-the-typical-Made-For-TV-Hallmark-channel-type-movies

https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-Lifetime-movie

https://www.heartiesfamilyreunion.com/

https://www.southernliving.com/news/hearties-family-reunion-2019

https://mydevotionalthoughts.net/2017/11/hearties-family-reunion-friday-interview-with-cast-members-of-when-calls-the-heart.html

https://www.michiganbusiness.org/industries/mfdmo/

https://www.superchannel.ca/HeartandHome

https://www.hallmarkdrama.com/about-hallmark-drama

https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/about-us

https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/about-us

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Channel_(Canadian_TV_channel)#List_of_channels

https://www.folgerscoffee.com/our-story/history

https://www.folgerscoffee.com/contact-us

https://www.folgers.ca/en/index#default

You can find Andrew’s, Pascale’s, Michael’s, and Ivan’s filmographies  by typing their names into IMDB’s search bar.