Take 3: The Karate Kid Part II Review

Now that I’ve seen 1984’s The Karate Kid, it’s time for me to review its respective sequel; The Karate Kid Part II! Long before I even thought about starting a movie blog, I had only seen a snippet of this film. Like I said before, I am willing to give a chance to movies I haven’t watched in their entirety. Because of that and because the majority of The Karate Kid Part II takes place in Japan, which has hosted the Olympics four times, my blogathon became a good excuse for checking this sequel out! Sequels, like any type of film, can be hit or miss. There are times when the next chapter can allow the overall story to “go the distance”; expanding the narrative and bringing something new to the table. Meanwhile, there are sequels that waste their potential by trying to recapture the magic of the previous installment. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the creative team and their intention for creating another film. If you want to know what type of sequel The Karate Kid Part II is, you’ll just have to keep reading this review!

Because I had The Karate Kid Part II on my DVR since last year, I decided to use a screenshot of the movie’s poster from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

More focus on Mr. Miyagi: The first film was about Daniel’s personal journey; hence the film being titled The Karate Kid. While the majority of the movie revolved around the protagonist, we get to learn about Mr. Miyagi through his interactions with Daniel. But only parts of Mr. Miyagi’s backstory are revealed in these interactions. The Karate Kid Part II places more emphasis on Mr. Miyagi’s story. As I mentioned in the introduction, the sequel takes place in Japan, where Mr. Miyagi is originally from. However, the audience also witnesses people from Mr. Miyagi’s past interacting with him. The reason for the sequel primarily taking place in Japan is because Mr. Miyagi receives a letter from his former love interest, Yukie, about his father’s ill-health. By crossing paths with Yukie again, Mr. Miyagi is given the opportunity to reflect on past life choices. He also has to deal with the ramifications those choices had created. This new direction in the overall story shows that even though Mr. Miyagi is a good teacher with plenty of wisdom to share, he is still a human who, like Daniel, is constantly learning.

Interactions among the characters:  In my review for The Karate Kid, I talked about how the interactions among the characters were one of the strongest parts of that film. The sequel has the same strength as its predecessor, which provides consistency to the overall story! Having Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita reprise their roles helps maintain this consistency, as both actors are now familiar with each other’s talents. One of the strongest scenes in the movie is when Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are watching the sunset on the beach. In this moment, we not only learn more about Daniel, but we get to see him support his mentor and friend. The Karate Kid Part II shows Daniel having grown up since the events of the first film. Even though Daniel is still a teenager with a teenage perspective, he is more willing to put others before himself, as well as open his mind to new opportunities and experiences. Right as Mr. Miyagi boards his plane, Daniel joins him in the plane terminal. The reason why he wants to join Mr. Miyagi on this trip is because he wants to be there for his friend and mentor, especially since that friend and mentor has been there for Daniel. Not only does Daniel purchase a book about the specific place in Japan where Mr. Miyagi is from, but Daniel also uses some of the money from his savings account to pay for his ticket. Like I said in my review for the first movie, interactions like Mr. Miyagi and Daniel’s were made possible by the quality of the acting performances and the screenwriting!

The scenery: Although most of The Karate Kid Part II takes place in Japan, the movie was actually filmed in Oahu, Hawaii. Despite this change in location, the scenery was simply beautiful! Because Okinawa is presented in the film as a seaside town, there are several shots of the water that are featured. As I previously mentioned, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel are watching the sunset on the beach. Parts of this scene are shown through long shots, capturing the sun’s soft orange glow against the gray of the sky and water. In my review of the first installment, I talked about how one scene transitioned from a medium to a long shot, in an effort to showcase a part of the Grand Canyon. A scene where Daniel is practicing a breathing technique on a dock uses a similar transition. However, instead of starting with a medium shot, it begins with a close-up of Daniel. It then evolves into a long shot of the ocean, with clear blue water surrounding the dock and green palm trees found in the background.

Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited presence of Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship: Before watching The Karate Kid Part II, I was interested in seeing how Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship differed from his relationship with Ali. Even though I liked seeing Ali and Daniel together, I can see why their relationship didn’t survive past the first film. Daniel and Kumiko were a nice couple. It also helps that Ralph and Tamlyn Tomita had really good on-screen chemistry. But Daniel and Kumiko’s relationship was shown less than Ali and Daniel’s relationship. Because of this, it caused their relationship to feel rushed. In one scene, when Daniel is getting into Kumiko’s car, Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” is playing on the radio. This is not only the film’s official song, but the song’s official music video heavily emphasizes Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship. Anyone who has heard “Glory of Love” would agree that it is better suited as a “wedding song”. Having this piece of music surround a teenage couple that has known each other for about less than three months feels a bit misleading. Also, The Karate Kid is a trilogy, followed by the television show, Cobra Kai. If the third movie and/or TV show is anything like the beginning of the second film, “this could all end in tears” (Bartok’s (from 1997’s Anastasia) words, not mine).

Karate fight sequences being used sparingly: One of the flaws of the first movie was how the karate fight sequences had a limited presence in the overall story. In The Karate Kid Part II, there are even less karate fight sequences. With a movie called The Karate Kid, you expect a certain amount of karate to be featured in the film. While both movies are not action oriented, fight sequences can add excitement to the overall story. Fighting was primarily avoided in The Karate Kid Part II, as both Mr. Miyagi and Daniel try to find other ways to resolve their issues. This was one of the central themes of the narrative: exploring other problem-solving avenues before using fighting as a last resort. However, karate is the heart of this series. When you choose to show only a handful of fight sequences, you have little exciting material to work with.

No satisfying resolutions for parts of the story: In The Karate Kid Part II, there were a few parts of the story that were not consistently told within the overall film. Because of this, I feel their resolutions were not satisfying. While taking a trip through town, Kumiko reveals to Daniel that she dreams of becoming a dancer. However, the type of dancing she’s interested in is not taught in Okinawa. Toward the end of the film, Kumiko tells Daniel that she plans on going to the United States in order to pursue her dream. But this resolution feels kind of random. There is no lead up to the resolution itself. Daniel also doesn’t provide any advice to Kumiko in regards to her personal dilemma. For this part of the story, the journey from Point A to Point B was missing.

Okinawa, Japan image created by Charlie Balch at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Charlie Balch.”

My overall impression:

 The Karate Kid Part II is a fine film. But I don’t think the script was as tight as it was the first time around. I like how the story focused on Mr. Miyagi, as it offered new story-telling opportunities. But, to a degree, it came at the expense of Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship, as it was shown for a limited amount of time. If Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” had revolved around Mr. Miyagi and Yukie’s relationship, it would have made more sense. Not only is The Karate Kid Part II primarily Mr. Miyagi’s story, but he and Yukie have history together. While the theme of using fighting as a last resort is important, it prevented the movie from featuring more karate fight sequences than the previous film. As I’ve stated before on my blog, a movie’s title partially serves as a promise to the audience. With The Karate Kid Part II, I can’t say this promise was completely broken. This is because, according to Mr. Miyagi, karate should be used in self-defense only, emphasizing how karate consists of more than just fight sequences. But when a movie features any form of marital art, people, more often than not, come for the cool-looking and exciting fight sequences. I appreciate how this film wasn’t just a carbon copy of its predecessor. It shows the creative team put legitimate thought and care into their project. If you enjoyed the first film, I’d say give its second chapter a chance. Even though there are stronger sequels out there, The Karate Kid Part II is certainly not one of the worst.

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

Have you seen The Karate Kid Part II? Are there any sequels you are a fan of? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Karate Kid (1984) Review

For my first two blogathons, I wrote editorials as my contribution for the event. These articles were ‘Phantom of the Megaplex’ at 20: A Reflection on the Movie-Going Experience and Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbooks: How Relevant are They Anyway? This time around, I wanted to do something different. Therefore, I chose to write a double feature review! Because this year’s blogathon is Olympic themed, I selected The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II. In 1984, the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles. The Karate Kid not only takes place in California, but it was also released in 1984. Years ago, I had seen about half of this movie. As I said in my review for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, I am willing to give films a second chance if I haven’t finished them or haven’t watched them in several years. It’s been a long while since I have seen The Karate Kid, so I thought my blogathon would provide a good excuse to revisit it.

The Karate Kid (1984) poster created by Delphi II Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions, and Columbia Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

The interactions among the characters: In stories that heavily rely on the relationships between various characters, how well-acted those characters are and the quality of their interactions will make or break that story. With The Karate Kid, these interactions served as one of the strongest parts of the film! That is because all of them felt natural and believable. When Daniel and Ali go to Gold N’ Stuff for the first time, you can see these characters are genuinely having a good time. They acted the way you’d expect a typical teenager would; smiling while racing each other at the go-kart track, laughing as their bumper boat crashed into another boat, and critiquing their pictures from the photobooth. Because of Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue’s performance, as well as the script, their relationship came across as realistic. When it comes to Daniel’s relationship with Mr. Miyagi, we are given the opportunity to witness healthy mentor/student interactions. If one were given instructions, but not the reason behind those instructions, it can be easy to get frustrated. This happens after Daniel receives a series of instructions from Mr. Miyagi. But when Daniel discovers the reason why he has been following these instructions, you start to see him gain an understanding and appreciation for what Mr. Miyagi has taught him. Similar to what I said before about Daniel and Ali’s relationship, this period of learning and discovery contains a lot of realism. It shows that, with the right support and guidance, we can learn things such as how to think for ourselves.

The cinematography: The Karate Kid is a movie that has better cinematography than most of the film fan community gives it credit for. To prove my point, I will bring up one of the film’s earliest scenes as an example. At the beginning of the movie, Daniel and his mom are driving through Arizona. This particular scene starts with a medium shot, placing primary emphasis on Daniel’s mom’s car. As their journey down this road plays out, the camera pulls away from the car and delivers a long shot of a section of the Grand Canyon. Characters’ interactions are also captured well on film! At a Halloween party, Daniel is dressed up as a shower. When Ali wants to talk to Daniel, she goes behind the costume’s curtain. Their conversation is shown in a close-up shot, which allows the audience to feel like they are that small space with Ali and Daniel. I really liked how the karate tournament was filmed! It involved a combination of medium and close-up shots, allowing the audience to witness the action. The camera was also steady, which made the scenes appear clear.

The music: Music is an important component of any movie. A song or instrumental piece can elevate the mood within a scene or highlight a scene’s intended point. The scene where Daniel attends his first day of school serves as a great example. In the background, “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama can be heard. Having this song play during this scene makes sense for several reasons. Daniel’s story starts in September, which is technically summer until September 21st or as late as September 24th. Daniel is also having a difficult time adjusting to his new home, believing the move to be a “cruel” gesture on his mother’s part. The music itself is light with a higher tempo, as the sunny California environment pairs nicely with the tune. The struggles Daniel is experiencing are heavily emphasized, with the help of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer”.

Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The on again/off again nature of Daniel and Ali’s relationship: I liked seeing Daniel and Ali together and I thought Ralph and Elisabeth had good on-screen chemistry. However, I didn’t like the on again/off again nature of their relationship. I know that every relationship, whether platonic or romantic, has their issues to deal with. I also understand that a relationship where both parties are younger are going to handle those issues differently than a relationship where both parties are older. With Ali and Daniel, they became frustrated over their issues too easily. This causes them to enter and exit their relationship too quickly. While I was glad to see Daniel and Ali work things out, I wish they were less hasty about their relationship by talking things through.

A limited presence of karate fight sequences: The Karate Kid is not an action movie, but a coming-of-age story where one develops a better understanding of karate. Even though I knew that before watching this film, I feel the presence of karate fight sequences was limited. We see about three fight sequences toward the beginning of the film, with the majority of them taking place during the tournament. The rest of the story focuses on Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel the foundations of karate. In the middle of the movie, I think there should have been one or two fight sequences. For example, instead of simply showing Mr. Miyagi breaking the loiters’ glass bottles at the beach, a karate fight sequence had taken place. That way, the excitement that comes from these sequences would be consistent throughout the movie.

Small details that don’t make sense: While watching The Karate Kid, I noticed some small details that, to me, didn’t make sense. In one scene, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel that karate is about what is in your mind and heart, not about what belt you have. If that is the case, why do belt ranks exist in the first place? Why work toward earning another belt when what’s in your mind and heart are more important? At the tournament, the people running the event acted like they weren’t familiar with Mr. Miyagi’s “dojo”. Yet, on the scoreboard, there is a pre-made logo next to Daniel’s name. How was this logo able to be made if no one organizing the tournament had heard of Mr. Miyagi’s “dojo”?

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

My overall impression:

The Karate Kid is a film that is considered a “classic” for good reason. It not only features exciting karate fight sequences, but it also uses one-liners well and has a strong script. But, in my opinion, the reason why the 1984 picture has earned this title is because it’s the type of movie that sticks with you. “Wax on, Wax off” is one of the most quotable lines in film history. Whenever I hear that line, I think about how there’s a reason for everything. I also remember how Daniel had to learn the meaning of “Wax on, Wax off” for himself instead of Mr. Miyagi telling him what it means. The Karate Kid is also a movie that has the ability to make you think. Whether or not this was intentional, you can’t help but reflect on the things that Mr. Miyagi says. You also can’t help but think about how those things can apply to real life. It’s been amazing exploring the world of ‘80s cinema. I’ve found some hidden gems, revisited some classics, and stumbled upon some stinkers. With The Karate Kid, I’d say it is definitely a keeper! I hope you stick around, because I’ll be reviewing this story’s second chapter!

Overall score: 8.2 out of 10

Have you seen The Karate Kid? Are you looking forward to my review of The Karate Kid Part II? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: The Love Triangle is Finally Over

I have been very vocal about how I dislike When Calls the Heart’s love triangle. When several people from the show claimed it would end in season eight, I was hoping they were telling the truth. But as this chapter of the show is coming to an end, I can honestly say that the love triangle is officially over! Other good news comes from a commercial at the end of the episode announcing season nine! While I’m not surprised by this announcement, I am happy to see the show taking a new step forward. Overall, I’d say this season has been, for the most part, good. Yes, it did have its flaws. However, these can become areas of growth for the next season. It is amazing how far Hope Valley has come. From a town that was broken by sorrow and uncertainty to a place filled with hope and brighter days, Hope Valley has grown beyond expectations. Now, as the door of season eight comes to a close, let’s re-cap this episode of When Calls the Heart!

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season finale 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: 12

Name: The Kiss

Major stories:

Elizabeth feels guilty about the way she has treated Rosemary. She immediately apologizes to Rosemary, who ends up forgiving her. Elizabeth tells her friend all about her relationship troubles with Nathan and Lucas. Rosemary reminds Elizabeth how she needs to choose a man that she can see herself spending a lifetime with. These words are taken to heart as Elizabeth visits Nathan to tell him that she loves him, but she is not in love with him. She also tries to tell Lucas how she feels, but is interrupted by Wyman at the café. In this episode, Landis is still in Hope Valley. He continues to believe that Angela’s educational needs will interfere with the educational opportunities of Elizabeth’s other students. However, Elizabeth insists that she wants Angela to attend the Jack Thornton School. Minnie becomes doubtful due to Elizabeth’s job being in danger. But she still allows her daughter to make her own decision. Elizabeth tells Rosemary how Landis threatened to shut the school down if the students and their parents refused to attend because of Angela becoming a new student. Rosemary agrees to publish the story in Hope Valley’s newest version of their newspaper; The Valley Voice. This plan worked, as every student agrees to walk the Canfield family to the school building on the first day of a new school year. The act shows Landis how kind and supportive the Jack Thornton School is. He tells Elizabeth he will find a way to help her keep her job. On Robert’s first day as Jack Jr.’s new babysitter, Elizabeth gives him a note that needs to be given to Lucas. Later that day, however, Elizabeth notices the note in Robert’s hands. He says the saloon was closed and that Lucas was gone. When Elizabeth goes to the saloon, she sees Robert was telling the truth. She asks Rosemary and Lee where Lucas went, with Lee pointing toward the road leading out of town. Even though Elizabeth runs down that road, she knows she missed Lucas. Consoling a broken heart on a bridge, Lucas happens to show up. They share a passionate kiss, making their relationship official. Lucas also notices Elizabeth isn’t wearing her wedding ring anymore. Toward the end of the episode, Lucas and Elizabeth have a private date at the library. On this date, Elizabeth plans to read some of her final manuscript, which was sent to Elizabeth from Helen earlier in this episode.

Preparations are being made for Hope Valley’s race for mayor. Mike sits outside Ned’s Mercantile, collecting names of potential nominees. The only people who express interest in running are Bill, Mike, and Fiona. Mike shares with Fiona that he not only told Henry about his plans to connect a pipeline to the train depot, but Henry also agreed to make this plan a reality. To Mike’s surprise, Henry gives him complete leadership over the petroleum plant. Henry decides to leave Hope Valley in an effort to find what makes him happy in life. As Henry looks at the café’s sign, it is to be assumed Henry is trying to locate Abigail. As Rosemary is busy writing her first newspaper and organizing information, Lee has difficulty figuring out his purpose in life. While talking to Joseph about his worries, Joseph tells Lee two of life’s most important moments are when someone is born and when that person discovers why they were born. These words lead to Lee’s decision to run for mayor. After Lee shares this news, Rosemary says she would like to acquire a better printer press and an official staff if she is to take her new occupation seriously.

Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

Faith is sad to see Carson’s packed bags at the Infirmary. But she doesn’t stop him from leaving. Carson and Faith share one last moment together, where all they do is hold each other. When it’s time to leave, Carson is met with most of Hope Valley’s residents waiting by the stagecoach, as they wish to send him off. This causes Carson to be pleasantly surprised. As he boards the stagecoach, Clara and Lee find the engagement ring that was missing in the previous episode. However, Carson still chooses to leave Hope Valley. Faith is disappointed, as she hoped Carson would change his mind. While helping Nathan with a minor injury, Nathan tells her how she’ll make a good doctor. Faith says that, like an injury, it will take time to heal. During Carson’s send-off, Nathan brings Jesse back to Hope Valley. Clara and Jesse are excited to see one another again. Lee gives Jesse some time off of work, which Clara and Jesse use as a second honeymoon. Ned also returns to town, explaining to Florence what has been happening. He has been trying to acquire a patent for an adhesive bandage he created.

Adhesive bandage image created by aopsan at freepik.com. Background photo created by aopsan – www.freepik.com

Some thoughts to consider:

  • While the majority of this season has been good, the season premiere and finale were fine. They met their requirements instead of going above and beyond. I wish the Hope Valley mayor race was saved for season nine and not shoehorned into season eight’s last episode. This way, the dynamic between the candidates could be explored throughout the season.
  • The references to Abigail this season were not only random, but the amount of references made the creative team’s wishes a little too obvious. Even though some people from the show have expressed interest in working with Lori again, the network made the ultimate decision to distance themselves from her. In my opinion, I don’t think Abigail will ever be seen on the show again. When Calls the Heart is one of Hallmark’s most successful programs, so I doubt the network’s leaders would risk tarnishing their crown jewel in any way.
  • I really hope Henry returns to Hope Valley. His story has been one of the best from season eight, as he received more character development and growth. As I have stated in a Sunset Over Hope Valley re-cap post, I hope Bai Ling considers joining the main cast of the show. If she does, maybe her character could form a relationship with Henry. That way, he might find someone new to make him happy.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

What are your thoughts on When Calls the Heart‘s season finale? What would you like to see in season nine? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2020

2020 was a year that threw a huge wrench into a lot of movie-goers’ plans. As theaters shut their doors and new releases continuously changed dates, there were movie related content creators that had to either adapt as best they could or completely change their formula. Fortunately for 18 Cinema Lane, the impact of this year’s Coronavirus didn’t change the type of content published on the site. As with the previous two years, I saw more good movies than bad. This is honestly the first year where I had difficulty creating my top ten best movies list because of the quantity of enjoyable films that left a memorable impression on me. Since I published my worst movies of the year list first last year, I’ll post my best movies of the year list first this time around. As usual, I will begin the list with my honorable mentions and then move on to the official top ten list. Now let’s get this list started!

Sparkly and starry 2020 image created by Kjpargeter at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by kjpargeter – http://www.freepik.com</a&gt; Image found at freepik.com.
Honorable Mentions

Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver, Where There’s a Will, Generation Gap, A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Sweet Surrender, Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds, Riddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder, House of the Long Shadows, Up in the Air, The Crow, Mystery Woman: Game Time, Fashionably Yours, Finding Forrester, Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), Expecting a Miracle, Time Share, Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), The Wife of Monte Cristo, Cry Wolf, Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend, Perry Mason Returns, Perry Mason and the Notorious Nun, Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, The Terry Fox Story, Follow Your Heart, House of Wax, Funny Face, and The Christmas Bow

10. Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

Looking back on the four film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ work I’ve reviewed, I realize how lucky I am to come across those I enjoyed. Despite having never read Nicholas Nickleby, this production was both understandable and engaging! With the 2002 version of this story, its balance of joy and despair is a staple of the world-famous author’s I recognize from his other stories like Oliver Twist. As I said in my review of Nicholas Nickleby, it can be easy to forget the beauty this world can offer, especially during a year like 2020. I don’t often come across a movie that is so good, it makes me want to seek out its original source material. For this film, however, I just found an exception!

Take 3: Nicholas Nickleby (2002) Review

9. The Unfinished Dance

This is an interesting entry from the Breen Code era. It’s a darker musical that is dark in nature for the sake of providing thought-provoking commentary. Like I said in my review, The Unfinished Dance does a good job exploring what happens when truth disappears from the world. All of the musical numbers in this film have a strong reason for being in the story, as opposed to typical musicals where the numbers feel more spontaneous than planned. Even though dance is emphasized more than the story, the quality of the routines themselves make this film worth a watch! The movie is a hidden gem that I wish more people knew about.

Take 3: The Unfinished Dance Review + 190 Follower Thank You

8. If You Believe

I’m glad I was given an opportunity to re-watch this film, as it was just as enjoyable as when I first saw it! The story moves away from the aesthetic that most Christmas movies adopt. Instead, it relies on the messages and themes associated with the Christmas holiday. This creative decision is a breath of fresh air, bringing a different kind of narrative that isn’t often found during that time of year. If You Believe is a film that does what it sets out to do. It also helps that it has stood the test of time.

Take 3: If You Believe Review

7. Sweet Nothing in My Ear

This is the kind of Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I wish was made more often, one where unique concepts are explored and celebrated. Instead of following a plot, the story revolves around a debate. The subject matter was not only handled with reverence, but each perspective was shown in a respectful light. I’m not a fan of this film’s ending, but I respect Hallmark’s decision to include it in the script, as it respects the audience’s intelligence. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a title from this collection that can be used as an introduction to Hallmark Hall of Fame!

6. From Up on Poppy Hill

Studio Ghibli has a reputation for giving it their all when it comes to making movies. Besides their signature animation style, they also take the time to create fantastic worlds and memorable characters. While From Up on Poppy Hill doesn’t contain any of the magical elements that can sometimes be found in Studio Ghibli’s stories, the project doesn’t feel out of place in their collection. The plot is a simple one, but the inclusion of interesting characters and world-building is what makes it work. It also contains a great message about history that fits into the script very well.

Take 3: From Up on Poppy Hill Review + 200 Follower Thank You

Howl’s Moving Castle poster created by Studio Ghibli, Toho, and The Walt Disney Company. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798188/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.
5. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is more than just a story about Batman. It’s a chance for audience members to see a side of this superhero that doesn’t often get presented in the world of film. The movie is a good example of how impressive 2-D animation can be. Even though the world has moved on to the wonders of 3-D and computer graphics, there will always be a place for older styles of animation. Despite having seen only a handful of Batman films, I can honestly say Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the better options! The story itself is just as interesting as the world of Gotham City.

Take 3: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Review

4. Grace & Glorie

Grace & Glorie contains Hallmark’s favorite cliché of featuring a woman from a big city moving to a small town. But what sets this story apart is how that cliché is not the main focus of the film. Instead, the plot revolves around the friendship of Grace and Gloria. Because the titular characters were portrayed by two strong actresses, it made the dynamic between Grace and Gloria interesting to watch. Similar to From Up on Poppy Hill, this Hallmark Hall of Fame title has a simpler plot that works in its favor. Grace & Glorie is a type of story that is rarely seen on Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The movie is also an underrated gem that I wish more Hallmark fans were aware of.

3. Matinee

With the way the theatrical landscape was affected in 2020, it kind of feels weird that a film like Matinee would appear on a best movies of the year list for 2020. But instead of making me miss the cinema or feel jealous of the characters as they get to see a movie in a theater, this particular 1993 title reminded me of what I love about film. Because I have a special place in my heart for Phantom of the Megaplex, Matinee showed me that there is more than one story that could show people how movies can be fun. One of the messages of this narrative is that film can provide a much-needed break from the troubles of the real world. With the way 2020 turned out, Matinee seemed to come at the right place and time.

Take 3: Matinee Review + 220 Follower Thank You

2. The Boy Who Could Fly

Every year, there is that one movie that catches me by surprise because of how good it is. The Boy Who Could Fly was definitely that film in 2020! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the overall story has aged. Given the subject material and the time it was released in, I can certainly say that my expectations were subverted. While The Boy Who Could Fly would be considered a “teen movie”, it doesn’t follow a lot of the patterns that most of these types of stories would contain. The themes of showing compassion for others, dealing with grief, and understanding people’s differences are given center stage.

Take 3: The Boy Who Could Fly Review (PB & J Double Feature Part 2)

1. Anchors Aweigh

Who knew a Frank Sinatra movie would become the best one I saw in 2020? When I look back on this film, I remember how much fun I had watching it! As I said in my review, I spent most of my time smiling and laughing, which shows how the film’s joyful nature can certainly help anyone improve their mood. Anchors Aweigh is a strong movie on so many different levels. The acting, story, and musical numbers alone showcase how much thought and effort went into the overall production. If I were to introduce someone to the Breen Code era or musicals in general, this is the film I’d show them. Anchors Aweigh was certainly a bright spot in a year like 2020.

Take 3: Anchors Aweigh Review

Anchors Aweigh poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, M-G-M Cartoons, and Loew’s Inc. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anchors_aweigh.jpg

Have fun in 2021!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Not As it Seems

Before I start this When Calls the Heart re-cap, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, March 26th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Actress of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The next poll will be posted on the 27th! Here is the link to the poll:

 

RE-POST: Choosing the Best Actress of 2020’s Gold Sally Awards

 

Taking things at face value is something that we’ve all done at least once in our lives. We judge a book by its cover, believe something for what it is, or quickly take someone else’s word. However, not everything is what it seems. False information may be passed along, providing opportunities for research and facts to come into play. Gossip and rumors can spread from ear to ear, but, more often than not, truth will prevail. Upon a second glance, looks can be deceiving. This episode of When Calls the Heart perfectly exemplifies everything I’ve just said. Several situations occur in Hope Valley that are easy to observe at face value. However, as you’ll read in this re-cap, the situations are not as they seem.

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

Season: 7

Episode: 5

Name: An Unexpected Gift

 

Major Stories:

At the beginning of the episode, Elizabeth discovers that a lot of Jack’s clothing doesn’t fit him anymore. When Rosemary comes by to collect the clothes for a fellow neighbor, she sees how disappointed Elizabeth is. In an effort to cheer her up, Rosemary decides to give Elizabeth a bouquet of flowers. The next day, when Rosemary arrives to give Elizabeth the flowers, she discovers that Elizabeth is not home. So, Rosemary places the flowers on the doorstep with no attached card. Elizabeth is pleasantly surprised to find the flowers. When Bill pays her a visit and notices the flowers, he suspects that Nathan or Lucas is the culprit. Elizabeth, however, doesn’t make a big deal about the gesture. In his spare time, Bill tells Nathan and Lucas about the flowers, hoping one of them will reveal their secret. Both Nathan and Lucas are caught off guard, as none of them gave Elizabeth the flowers. In town, where Molly and Elizabeth have a conversation about the flowers, Ally overhears what they are saying. She also wonders if Nathan truly gave the gift. At Clara’s Bachelorette party, Elizabeth spends time with both Nathan and Lucas. She tries to figure out which man is responsible for the flowers. To Elizabeth’s disappointment, none of them seem to have given the bouquet. After the party, Rosemary reveals the she was the one who gave Elizabeth the flowers in an attempt to make her feel better about Jack growing up. Elizabeth is relived by this because she’s afraid of the idea of Nathan or Lucas falling in love with her being real. Rosemary tells her that it’s ok to open up her heart again. At the end of the episode, both Nathan and Lucas give Elizabeth a bouquet of flowers.

 

Throughout the episode, Rosemary is busy planning Clara’s Bachelorette party and creating Clara’s wedding dress. Her to-do list causes Lee to rethink his ideas for Jesse’s Bachelor party. Later that day, he meets with the guests to determine what will work. During the meeting, Lucas shares that he let the guests of the Bachelorette party reserve half the saloon. He also says the saloon’s chef will make the food for the aforementioned party. Because of this, Bill volunteers to make the food, with the help of Nathan. On the day of the Bachelor party, Jesse reveals that he’s nervous about getting married. He says that he’s afraid he won’t be a good enough husband to Clara. Lee comforts Jesse by sharing his past insecurities and reminding Jesse that his love for Clara is all that matters. At the party, the men discover that they’re not having as good of a time as they thought. Mike suggests that both parties should combine to become one big party. Every guest ends up taking this suggestion. As a result, everyone has a better experience because they’re spending time together. Lee also admits that Rosemary is more talented when it comes to planning events.

Lots of hydrangeas, roses and pinks make a colorful wall
Bunch of flowers image created by V.ivash at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/landscape-bow-bouquet-gift-outdoor_1150128.htm’>Designed by V.ivash</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flower”>Flower image created by V.ivash – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor Stories:

Before she left for medical school, Faith hired Molly as the Infirmary’s secretary. This decision was made in an effort to help Carson with day-to-day duties. While Faith had good intentions, they lead to undesirable results. Molly creates appointment schedules without informing Carson, she diagnoses patients with no medical context, and she assumes the worst with her own health. All of this becomes too overwhelming for Carson. One day, he tells Molly not to diagnose patients without his knowledge. At first, it seems like Molly understands what Carson is saying. But, at Jesse and Clara’s party, Carson realizes that Mollie’s feelings are hurt. Florence tells Carson that Molly’s secretary job is the first full-time job she’s had in a long time. This fact makes Carson see how important this job is to Molly. When talking with Carson, at the party, Molly shares her medical concerns. Carson tells her that, sometimes, people can get carried away with certain medical terms and conditions. He also admits that he should have taken a gentler approach to the situation. As Molly continues to work at the Infirmary, it seems like she and Carson have gained a better understanding of each other.

 

Because she misses her ride to the city, Fiona asks Henry if she can borrow his car. She tells him she needs to go to Benson Hills to pick up parts for Bill’s phone. After getting his permission, Fiona is on her way to the city. Just as she’s about to leave, Rosemary asks her if they can carpool to Benson Hills. Rosemary says that she also has to go to the city so she can pick up material for Clara’s dress. After agreeing to take her, Fiona and Rosemary start their journey to Benson Hills. Later in the episode, Fiona and Rosemary are on their way back home. However, their trip is interrupted when they experience car trouble. While figuring out what to do, Rosemary recruits the help of a nearby neighbor. When the neighbor arrives, he helps Fiona take the car to Kevin, while Rosemary takes the dress material and heads to the dress shop. Back in Hope Valley, Kevin tries to help Fiona fix Henry’s car. However, his vehicle knowledge is very limited. Later that night, they arrive at Jesse and Clara’s party. While there, Henry asks Fiona where his car is. She tells him that it got dirty on the way home, so she wanted to clean it before giving it back to him. Henry tells her that he needs the car tomorrow in order to go to a meeting. The next day, when returning the car to Henry, Kevin and Fiona confess that the car is broken due to yesterday’s events. After dealing with the brakes, Henry reveals that the car isn’t broken, but sometimes experiences brake related issues.

Sewing color background
Sewing pattern image created by Nenilkime at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Nenilkime – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/sewing-color-background_1380853.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • In this episode, Clara’s dress isn’t revealed to the audience. Even in the commercial for the next episode, only a part of her dress is shown. I like how the show’s creative team is intentionally waiting until the wedding to show Clara’s dress. It creates a shared experience for the audience and the characters, as most of the characters are going to see the dress for the first time at the wedding. It also reminds me of Marrying Father Christmas, when Miranda’s dress wasn’t revealed until the wedding ceremony.

 

  • Speaking of the commercial for the next episode, the footage made it look like Jesse and Clara’s wedding will take place indoors. If this is the case, I would be disappointed. Hearties have never seen an outdoor wedding on the show before, so this would be When Calls the Heart history in the making. If the wedding takes place indoors and if the writers knew that was going to happen that far in advance, then why didn’t Jesse and Clara receive a Christmas wedding in the first place?

 

  • I know that a lot of fans are invested in the love triangle that is taking place on the show. However, I’m personally not a fan of it. In stories, I find love triangles to be a waste of time and creative energy. Nathan and Lucas trying to win over Elizabeth’s heart has gone on for too long, lasting a season and a half. Honestly, I hope this gets resolved soon so the writers can move on to a different story.

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

 

What did you think of this of this episode? Can you believe we’re already halfway through season seven? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

Rich Kids poster
Rich Kids poster created by Lion’s Gate Films and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rich_Kids_(film).jpg

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

The film, Rich Kids, explores how wealth does not make an individual or a family invincible, as well as how money does not solve every problem. These morals can also be found within the Getty kidnapping case, which was showcased in the movie, All the Money in the World. Wealth could not prevent John Paul Getty III’s parents from divorcing or experiencing personal conflicts. Money doesn’t take away the trauma John Paul Getty III likely dealt with as a result of the kidnapping incident. Because this situation took place on July 10th, 1973, six years before the premiere of Rich Kids, I would guess the creative team behind Rich Kids absorbed these messages, contemplated on their importance, and wove a fictional, dramatic story around them.

 

2. In this introduction, you also mentioned how you originally thought Rich Kids “was a documentary style film about a group of rich kids growing up over a period of time”. Despite being different than what you expected, were you able to find some enjoyment in this film?

Rich Kids is a character-driven character study. When a film’s creative team decides to adopt this kind of story-telling, it’s important they create a cast of characters that the audience wants to spend their time with. Because these characters were well acted and written, it encouraged me to stay invested in their stories and journeys. In my opinion, I think it’s better that Rich Kids wasn’t the story I was expecting. Since this group of characters was smaller, it allowed the audience to not only become familiar with them, but to also truly know them. Had this film been about a group of children over the course of several years, it might have felt like they were competing against each other for attention.

 

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

While there was wealth being flaunted within this film, it didn’t happen as often as I thought it would. Rich Kids’ creative team places the wealth in the story to simply show it exists. But their primary focus is to present their characters as human, flawed, and inexperienced in life. When Franny visits Jamie at his father’s apartment for the first time, she is entranced by the magnificence of its existence. Even though she questions the cost of everything within that environment, her initial reaction is representative of how most people would react when entering a fantastical looking space. In reality, the characters influence the wealth, not the other way around.

 

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

In their review of Rich Kids, both Siskel and Ebert agree that the overall film should have kept its focus on the children. I second these opinions, as I found Franny and Jamie’s story to be more interesting than those of the adults. Because the divorce of Franny’s parents was inevitable and because Jamie’s parents were already divorced, there was no sense of intrigue from that part of the script. However, I do disagree with Siskel and Ebert on their views of the adults in this film. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “boobs” (Gene’s words, not mine), but I would say they are uninvolved in the lives of their children. They are so caught up in their own problems and stress, that they easily and quickly lose sight of what is really important.

 

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

As I said in answer number four, these adults were so caught up in their own issues, that they lost focus on their most important priorities. This part of the story highlighted the importance of young people having a parent, guardian, or mentor that maintains a healthy amount of involvement in their lives. Because these adults weren’t involved in the lives of their children, both Franny and Jamie lacked the guidance that they desperately needed. They ended up finding guidance and life lessons elsewhere.

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Money image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/bills-and-coins-in-isometric-design_1065328.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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

I haven’t seen Over the Edge yet, but based on Siskel and Ebert’s review of that movie, I can confidently say that one similarity between these films is the frustration the young protagonists feel about not being heard or understood by the adults. In one conversation, Franny tells Jamie how they have few rights because of their young ages. This statement makes them feel powerless and limited in their abilities and resources. Both Franny and Jamie are twelve years old, an age when most adolescents want to be seen less as children and hope to achieve a little more independence. Through their behavior and choices, these aspects of growing up are incorporated in Franny and Jamie’s story, as they are trying to form their own identities.

 

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

I don’t have any questions, but I did come up with two thoughts while watching Rich Kids. The first is how I loved the set design of Jamie’s dad’s apartment! From the tropical inspired oasis which is the first room characters encounter to the eccentric and eye-catching media room, these sets were both imaginative and impressively caught on film. My second thought revolves around the psychological well-being of the children. During one conversation, Franny confesses to Jamie that she named her dog after an imaginary world she created in her mind. The more she visits Jamie at his dad’s apartment, the more she uses that space to materialize her imaginary world. Later in the film, Franny shares with Jamie that prior to the start of their friendship, she lost her sister due to medical issues. I wish this script would have left some room to talk about how divorce and even a death in the family can affect a child’s psychological state, especially since Jamie’s stepdad was a psychologist. But I guess there’s only so much you can do in an hour and thirty-six minutes.

 

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

Like I said in answer number two, I thought the characters were well acted and written. Because of these components, it felt like the audience took a glimpse into the lives of real-life people. This script also gave these characters a chance to come across as relatable. As Ebert said in the Rich Kids review, the conversations of the children “have a ring of truth to them”. I feel this way not just with Franny and Jamie’s conversations, but with every person in this project. The characters and their journeys were one of the strongest parts of this film!

 

As for what I didn’t like about this movie, I was not a fan of how Franny’s parents didn’t explore other options before deciding to get a divorce. At one moment in the film, Franny’s father’s lawyer suggests that Franny’s parents attend marriage counseling. They don’t even bother thinking that idea over and choose to treat divorce as the “end all, be all” of their problems. Like I’ve said on more than one occasion, I feel that ending a romantic relationship is a decision that shouldn’t be chosen lightly, especially if children or those who are dependent on the couple are involved. While this story is about how children deal with divorce, I think Franny’s parents should have discussed other options first.

 

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

An overarching theme that I noticed in this movie was the idea of knowing you’re not alone when dealing with a serious issue. Throughout their relationship, Jamie helps Franny deal with her parents’ inevitable divorce. Because his parents divorced prior to the start of their friendship, Jamie is able to use his experiences to show Franny that she is not the only one who has traveled down that road. They both become a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear for each other. This idea is definitely just as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1979.

 

10. After watching Rich Kids, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

The biggest takeaway for me is how everyone experiences hardship, no matter who you are or what your economic status is. But as Rafiki from 1994’s The Lion King said, “you can either run from it, or learn from it”. In Rich Kids, Franny and Jamie try to handle their problems the best they realistically can. They do this by relying on one another and providing insight when necessary. Because of this, they are able to temporarily escape their issues and build a lasting friendship.

exploding heart 0912
Breaking heart image created by Kjpargeter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/broken-heart-valentine-background_1041991.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Au revoir les enfants Review + 165 & 170 Follower Thank You

At the beginning of the month, my blog received 165 followers! While I was figuring out which movie I would review, I was creating a new blogging schedule for myself. Several days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received its 170th follower! So, for this blog follower dedication review, I decided to write about one movie while acknowledging both milestones. I chose to talk about a French film called Au revoir les enfants! Foreign films are rarely talked about when it comes to these specific reviews. In fact, the first one I discussed was Vampyr last October. Au revoir les enfants has also been on my DVR since last February. So, I thought these reasons would be a good excuse to finally watch this film! While Vampyr is a French and German production, I have reviewed a French film on this blog before. For Clean Movie Month, I talked about the 1950 project, Les Enfants Terribles. Will my thoughts on Au revoir les enfants be similar to those on the aforementioned French film I reviewed last year? You’ll just have to read this post if you want to find the answer!

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I chose to use this poster for the review because it verifies that I, indeed, watched this film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Movies that have young actors make up the majority of the cast can be hit-or-miss. In the case of Au revoir les enfants, this aspect worked in the film’s favor! All of the young actors were not only allowed to act their age, but they were able to work alongside other actors within their age group. This made their performances feel genuine and realistic. Speaking of realism, I noticed that all of the character portrayals and the situations showcased in the movie appeared like it came directly from real-life. It gave these elements a sense of authenticity. Because this film is based on a true story, the creative team’s focus on making the characters and situations look and feel believable seemed to be taken very seriously.

The historical accuracy: This film takes place in early 1944. Because of this, all of the material elements of the project looked like it came directly from that period in time. The wardrobe of all the characters feature articles of clothing that one would likely find within the mid ‘40s. The architecture of the boarding school shows off the preserved interior and exterior style from an era gone by. Even the finer details of the picture, such as the books, feel like relics of that specific year. While watching this film, I noticed the way the characters spoke also reflected the time period. Whenever subjects related to World War II were brought up, it was done in a very subtle way. Even though this was a period film, I never felt like I was being talked down to or like the movie was treating itself like a history lesson. If anything, I felt like I was watching a moment in time.

The presentation of the subtitles: How the subtitles are presented in foreign films is very important. If they can be seen clearly, it allows the audience to better understand what the characters are saying. I liked how the subtitles were showcased in Au revoir les enfants! While all of the text was white, it was presented against backgrounds that were dark in hue. The very first scene in the movie is a great example of this. The station and train itself adopted colors of black and gray. None of the characters in this scene wore bright colors. Because of this creative decision, I never had a difficult time reading the subtitles.

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What I didn’t like the film:

A weak plot: The more movies I watch, the more I realize that “slice of life” stories aren’t my thing. That’s because I don’t find them to be as intriguing as other cinematic stories. That’s what the majority of Au revoir les enfants is: a “slice of life” story. To me, it didn’t contain as much interest as it could have. It felt like the screenwriter put so much emphasis on the premise of Julien and Jean’s relationship, that there was nothing else to offer in the narrative.

A somewhat mis-leading premise: In the synopsis I read for this movie, it said the film was about a Catholic boy and a Jewish boy becoming friends during World War II. However, the friendship aspect of their relationship isn’t portrayed until about the last twenty minutes of the film. Julien and Jean spend most of the movie apart than together. In fact, Julien starts off not liking Jean as a person. Julien does become nicer to Jean as the film progresses. When this does happen, it just makes them seem like acquaintances more than anything.

Situations being shown, but not explained: Throughout Au revoir les enfants, there are situations shown on screen that aren’t given explanations. One example is when Julien pokes his hand with a compass. As he is doing this, he tells the classmate sitting next to him how it doesn’t hurt. Not only was this action never explained, but it’s never referenced again in the movie. Julien’s action didn’t seem to serve a purpose for his character development or the overall narrative. Moments like this one happened at several times in the film and I found myself being frustrating by them.

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Illustration of Paris, France created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/travel”>Travel vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my final thoughts on this film, I want to thank each and every one of the followers! 18 Cinema Lane would not be the success it is today without you. Now, on to my overall impression of Au revoir les enfants! Personally, I thought it was just ok. The movie does have merits that are earned, as well as a plot twist that works. But the overall project could have been stronger. As I mentioned in my review, Au revoir les enfants is based on a true story. It felt like the creative team approached the narrative as respectfully as possible. Because the creation of the movie was handled with a sense of reverence, it allowed the film to have the emotional weight it contained. The realism of the acting and writing gave me a reason to stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing. I’m not often given opportunities to watch and review French films. However, I’m glad I chose this movie for my latest blog follower dedication review!

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

What are your thoughts on my review? Are there any French films you’d like to see me review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Dora and the Lost City of Gold Review

Originally, I was going to post my review for December’s Genre Grandeur. But, yesterday, I ended up watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold. So, I decided to review this movie instead. I’ll still publish my Genre Grander review, but it will appear on 18 Cinema Lane sometime this week. As I’ve said in two Word on the Street stories, Dora and the Lost City of Gold made Paramount, the film’s respective studio, lose money. One possible explanation lies in the movie’s less-than-stellar marketing campaign. Like a lot of people, I was not a fan of the film’s official trailer. To me, it felt like the studio didn’t understand the source material they were working with, similar to projects like Jem and the Holograms. This caused me not to see the movie in theaters. When I chose to rent it yesterday, I realized that the only theatrically released film from 2019 I reviewed was Avengers: Endgame. It became one of the reasons why I wanted to review Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Prior to watching this film, I have seen a few episodes of Dora the Explorer. But I don’t have fond memories of it like other people do. Let’s wrap this introduction up so we can go on a movie review adventure!

Dora and the Lost City of Gold poster
Dora and the Lost City of Gold poster created by Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Walden Media, Media Rights Capital, and Burr! Productions. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dora_and_the_Lost_City_of_Gold_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I was pleasantly surprised by the acting performances in this film! I was familiar with who Isabela Moner was, as an actress, prior to watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold. This is because I have heard she starred in the 2017 film, Transformers: The Last Knight. She did a fantastic job at bringing the iconic Nickelodeon character to life! With a cheerful personality and a sunny disposition, Isabela helped carry this film with a well-rounded performance. Another memorable performance came from Madeleine Madden! In this film, she portrayed Sammy, a fellow classmate of Dora’s. Madeleine brought versatility to her role, allowing her character’s transformation to feel believable. Madeleine’s on-screen interactions with her co-stars also helped this transformation, showing that those with leadership qualities can also be contributing team members. Speaking of team members, Eugenio Derbez gave a stand-out performance as Alejandro. While portraying this character, he provided a balance of comedic and dramatic acting. Incorporating these two different types of acting is not an easy thing to do. However, Eugenio flawlessly pulled this off in his performance!

 

The scenery: For most of the film, the jungle provided scenery for this project. It helped make scenes involving this location visually appealing. The natural beauty of the jungle is captured well on film, allowing for the foliage to stand out and even compliment the movie. Within the jungle, there were structures that represented long abandoned places. It’s likely that these were constructed sets for the movie, but they looked very authentic. One great example is when Dora and her group encounter an ancient aqueduct. Because this location was shown above water and was also immersed in it, it shows the audience the original purpose of this structure and its place in history. This shows that the film’s creative team tried to make their film showcase this location as more than just a pretty place.

 

The messages and themes: At the beginning of the film, Dora’s father tells her that she should strive to be an explorer, not a treasure hunter. This piece of advice is a new take on the saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination”. But it also opens the door to several important themes. The ideas of sharing a unique experience, friendship, and teamwork come directly from the aforementioned advice. These themes are shown through actions instead of just said through words. They also have a shareability among audience members of all ages. The film’s messages and themes were one of the strongest parts of the movie, as it was executed well throughout the script.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

Some of the CGI: For the most part, the CGI in Dora and the Lost City of Gold looked really good. However, there were some instances when the CGI looked poor. One example is when Dora is petting a baby alligator. If you look closely, you can tell where the animation was inserted into the scene. To me, this appeared off-putting, like the image of the alligator didn’t blend with the rest of the shot. While the encounters with poor CGI were few, I still was not a fan of that.

 

The jokes dragging on for a little too long: I found some of the jokes in this movie to be genuinely funny. But other jokes went on for a little too long. Just one example is when Dora’s father is imitating the sounds of techno music. This joke had the potential to be hilarious, but the length of the joke’s time ruined it for me. Had a few seconds of this joke been cut, it would have helped it reach the punch-line a lot sooner.

 

A somewhat confusing climax: I won’t spoil Dora and the Lost City of Gold if you haven’t seen it. But I will say that I found the climax to be somewhat confusing. This is because of two reasons. The first one is how some things are shown and talked about without being given an explanation. The second is how other things aren’t referenced before and/or after the climax. This made it difficult for me to remain fully invested in what was happening on screen.

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My overall impression:

In the introduction of this review, I speculated that Dora and the Lost City of Gold became a box office failure due to a less-than-stellar marketing campaign. I find this to be a shame because the movie is better than I expected. Unlike what the trailer made me believe, the studio not only cared about the source material, but it seems like they tried their best to elevate it as well. The movie also has more heart than any of the marketing let on, providing messages and themes that can be revisited long after the movie is over. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is not one of my favorite movies of the year, but it definitely is a memorable one. I kind of feel bad that I didn’t give this film a chance sooner. However, I’m glad that I gave it a chance at all.

 

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

 

Have you seen any theatrically released films from 2019? Has there ever a movie that you regretted not seeing in theaters? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Love Takes Flight Review

On the weekend of April 27th, Avengers: Endgame was not the only movie that premiered. While I did give a little more priority to Marvel’s latest film, I also wanted to see the new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Love Takes Flight. To give both films the attention they deserve, I decided to publish my spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame on the 27th and my review of Love Takes Flight today. When I found out about this Hallmark Hall of Fame movie last month, I knew that this was a movie that I had to review. Last year, I reviewed both of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s movies, with those reviews being well-received. However, when I learned more about this year’s film, I started to have doubts about it. It also didn’t help that Love Takes Flight was given one of the worst marketing campaigns in Hallmark movie history. In my opinion, the film’s poster looked worse than the one for The Beach House and Love Takes Flight’s trailer looked like a haphazard and rushed tv spot. However, I still wanted to give this film a chance. Last year, I wasn’t impressed with the marketing for The Beach House. But the movie itself ended up being better than its marketing campaign. Keep reading this review if you want to find out if Love Takes Flight had a similar fate.

Hallmark Hall of Fame's Love Takes Flight review
Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Love Takes Flight 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=&ShowTitle=Love+Takes+Flight.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: In Love Takes Flight, the acting was the driving force of this story! All of the acting performances felt so believable, that every character appeared as if they were real-life individuals experiencing realistic situations! Even though I had my doubts about Nikki’s incorporation in this cast, she proved me wrong by bringing the emotional versatility that is usually required for Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. In fact, she was one of the strongest actors in this film! Another actor that I was impressed with was Tom Thon. His portrayal of Walter Allen was emotionally effective, as his journey throughout this film seemed very believable. Tom’s acting talents brought some depth to his character’s narrative.

 

  • The scenery: Love Takes Flight was filmed in Savannah, Georgia, the third Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in a row to be filmed in the Peach State. The natural landscape of this location was showcased really well throughout the film. The foliage of the trees, flowers, and plants added a serene feeling to the overall atmosphere. This helped the story maintain its sincerity and thoughtfulness, as the natural surroundings brought a sense of peace when it seemed like the characters needed it the most. Walter’s property was absolutely gorgeous, its on-screen presence reminding me of architecture of past Hallmark Hall of Fame films! While the house itself was very cozy and elegant at the same time, the grounds surrounding the house are a scene stealer! The waterfront appeared so peaceful, complimenting some of the emotional moments that took place in that area. The creative team behind this movie made the right decision to choose Savannah as their filming location!

 

  • The exploration of grief: In some Hallmark movies, the protagonist or someone that the protagonist knows loses a loved one. However, because movies on Hallmark Channel are primarily light-hearted, the topic of grief is briefly touched upon. Since Hallmark Hall of Fame is historically known for addressing topics that are darker and more serious, the creative team behind this movie used this to their advantage to explore the concept of grief. In Love Takes Flight, Walter was dealing with the loss of his wife. The way this narrative was written made it feel like a story that would have been incorporated into Hallmark Hall of Fame movies from years past. The story of Walter and the protagonist’s daughter, Quinn, forming a friendship was a very thoughtful and interesting way to show how one moves forward from such a saddening situation.

Delivery Stickers Set
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What I didn’t like about the film:

  • The editing: While watching this movie, I noticed that some scenes felt shorter than others. When these scenes would play out, they ended a little too abruptly. As I wondered why this was happening, I realized that this had to do with the film’s editing. To solve this problem, each scene should have run their course and been at an equal length. That way, every part of the story could have had a chance to be developed.

 

  • A little too predictable: When it comes to Hallmark Channel movies, the story is inevitably going to be predictable. However, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are meant to be separate from the typical Hallmark Channel material. In Love Takes Flight, there were a few plot elements that were more predictable than I’d hoped. Because of this, it blurred that line between Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Hall of Fame. In some of these moments, it made the movie feel like a glorified Hallmark Channel film.

 

  • Too many plots: Love Takes Flight had seven plots that played out throughout the story. While some of these plots were well explored, other plots were undeveloped. As I watched this film, I felt that at least two or three of these plots could have cut from the overall narrative. I think that this movie should have had one main plot with two or three subplots. While this main plot is played out, the subplots could be equally developed.

PaperPlane-01
Paper airplane image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/paper-plane-in-cartoon-style_766478.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paper”>Paper vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Despite the poor marketing campaign that was given to this movie, Love Takes Flight was a good film! Yes, there were things about the project that could have been better. But, for what it was, I found the movie to be enjoyable. Once again, Hallmark Hall of Fame has had a consistent track record, since 2017, of creating films that are good. While I would like the films to become consistently great, I realize that it’ll take time for this to happen. I have a feeling that this can come to fruition one day. But the most important thing is that Hallmark is making the right steps for this to occur. Just like last year, the next movie for Hallmark Hall of Fame wasn’t advertised during the end credit commercial after the film. But whatever that film is going to be about, I just hope that it can take the Hallmark Hall of Fame to a whole new level.

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

Have you seen Love Takes Flight? What would you like the next Hallmark Hall of Fame movie to be about? Please let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen