Sunset Over Hope Valley: Praying for a Solution

When Lee goes to the Infirmary after he injured his back, Joseph Canfield, a new character on When Calls the Heart, tells Rosemary he’ll pray for Lee. Not only was the gesture thoughtful, but it also highlights an important component of the show. Since the show’s beginning, faith has been interwoven throughout the overall story. Whether it was Elizabeth’s students putting on a Nativity play during Christmastime or the characters adding Biblical values to their lives, faith is one of the cornerstones of Hope Valley. It has been a while since services were shown in the church or since a pastor has stayed in the town for more than a few episodes. Adding a new pastor to When Calls the Heart’s growing cast of characters would continue to emphasize the importance of faith. It would provide the town with someone to turn to whenever someone is struggling. The pastor’s journey of faith could also be explored. In the meantime, let’s start this week’s re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

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

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

Season: 8

Episode: 2

Name: Honestly, Elizabeth

Major Stories:

Helen Bouchard spends her morning reading Elizabeth’s manuscript. When Lucas visits her at the Queens of Hearts Saloon, Helen expresses no interest in leaving her room. Later that day, as Elizabeth is on her way to the Infirmary to visit Lee, Lucas asks Elizabeth if she’ll visit Helen. After Lucas explains how Elizabeth is easier to talk to, Elizabeth agrees. At the Saloon, Elizabeth arrives at Helen’s room, bringing a basket of homemade muffins. Helen refuses the muffins and also frowns upon Elizabeth’s lateness when it came to handing in her manuscript. When Helen asks if Elizabeth can meet with her the next morning to look over Elizabeth’s manuscript, Elizabeth agrees. The following day, Elizabeth and Helen work on editing the manuscript. They have difficulty seeing eye-to-eye, as they only finish the first page. To resolve this issue, Elizabeth suggests they take a break by going for a walk. On this walk, Helen reveals that she likes Elizabeth’s honest writing. She also confides in Elizabeth how her husband left her. Helen says her husband was in London the last time he was located. She tells Elizabeth not to tell Lucas about this news. When Lucas arrives to invite Elizabeth to dinner, she turns down the invitation. Instead, she recruits Lucas to help plan a special night in for Lee and Rosemary. Throughout the episode, Helen takes notice of Lucas’ feelings for Elizabeth.

A box for the Coulters arrives at their house. Joseph Canfield comes to help Lee bring the package into the home. During this procedure, Lee hurts his break. He is taken to the Infirmary by Rosemary, Joseph, and Jesse. At the Infirmary, Carson discovers Lee has sprained his back. He tells Lee and Rosemary how Lee will have to rest at the Infirmary until the afternoon, when Lee will be able to go home. Back at home, Lee is still in pain. He plans to take it easy by sitting on the sofa. Later that evening, Elizabeth surprises Lee and Rosemary by planning a special night in. She gives them wine and a record that have something to do with Hawaii. As they dance to the music, Lee confesses to Rosemary how he has always wanted to visit Hawaii. The next day, they discover what the box contained. While the majority of the contents consist of coffee, they also give a sombrero and poncho to Elizabeth’s son, Jack.

Old-fashioned books image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/books-seamless-pattern_1539033.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

Nathan visits Bill with the intention of starting the process of Ally’s adoption. Even though Bill thinks it is a bad idea with Ally’s father in prison, Nathan explains how this is the perfect time to start the process. As Bill fills out the necessary paperwork, Nathan finds a map of Bill’s property. Bill explains how the land is for sale, as he doesn’t spend much time using it. Later in the episode, Nathan tells Elizabeth how he plans to visit Bill’s land. He also shares his desire to settle down. Before the episode ends, Nathan expresses his feelings about Bill’s property to Elizabeth, saying how it would the perfect place to build a house. Elizabeth tells him how she cares about him and is concerned about the future of their relationship. She doesn’t want to lose him like she lost her husband. Even when Nathan explains how he’d quit being a Mountie, that doesn’t dispel any of Elizabeth’s concerns. After Nathan tells her he loves her, Elizabeth rides away on her horse, Sergeant.

Toward the beginning of the episode, Fiona opens her barber shop, which is called Nichols and Dimes. She explains how she incorporated her former boss’ name into her business, as a symbolic gesture to show how she is more than just “a small spoke in a big wheel”. When she is seeking customers, Henry, Jesse, and Mike turn down the offer. As the episode progresses, Mike comes to the barber shop after he lost a bet with Jesse. As Fiona is giving Mike a haircut, she explains why she re-opened the barber shop. During this process, she accidently cuts Mike’s ear with the trimming scissors. Horrified by the ordeal, Mike rushes to the Infirmary. Later in the episode, Mike returns to the barber shop. He apologizes for abruptly leaving. Fiona tells him both of them are equally to blame. She then becomes surprised when Clara and Faith bring Jesse and Carson to get a trim.

While driving through the country roads, Joseph Canfield experiences car trouble as the car’s engine stops working. He goes to Hope Valley in search of help. When he enters town, Joseph finds Jesse and asks him for help, an offer Jesse accepts. When Jesse finishes fixing Joseph’s car, they witness Robert’s horse-riding adventure. As Robert loses control of the horse, Elizabeth chases after him while riding her own horse. When revisiting Hope Valley, Joseph expresses interest to Bill about purchasing the gas station. Joseph also shares how he’d like to call Hope Valley his home. Bill and Henry take Joseph to Henry’s house, which is currently for sale. Even though the house needs some repairs, Joseph purchases the house, claiming it will be the perfect place for his family to live. After this exchange, Henry visits the mercantile. When he discovers his letter has been returned and partially opened, Henry demands to know who is responsible. Carson, who just so happened to come to the Mercantile at that very moment, suggests Henry leave in order to prevent the conflict from escalating further. As Henry is leaving, he collapses on the stairs. While Carson reminds Henry of his troubling blood pressure, Henry tells Carson how nothing he does will ever be good enough. Carson takes Henry to the Infirmary in an attempt to resolve this issue.

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Some thoughts to consider:

  • This episode was much stronger than the season premiere! I liked how the overall story placed more emphasis on the plots and conflicts of the characters instead of the love triangle and relationships. Within the episode, interesting storylines were either revisited or introduced. Nathan’s plan to adopt Ally is one example. After Nathan explained why he wants to adopt Ally now, I have gained an understanding for the creative team’s decision to not use Ally’s father to serve a multi-episode storyline.
  • Why is Mollie suddenly interested in Bill romantically? For seven seasons, Mollie has never expressed any desire to be in a relationship with anyone. In this episode, she seemed jealous of Helen when Mollie spotted Helen and Bill at the Saloon. To me, this part of the story feels random.
  • Similar to the previous season, there is a lot of mystery surrounding Henry’s character. Not only do we not yet know the significance of the letter, but also why Henry is suddenly interested in getting back into the petroleum business with Lucas. I hope we start receiving answers as this season continues.
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 this episode? Which storyline interests you the most? Tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Scarlett Review

Originally, I was going to review a different movie for the 3rd Annual So Bad It’s Good Blogathon. But when I found a DVD copy of Scarlett at a local consignment store, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to review the film! Last year, I discovered Gone with the Wind received a sequel many years after its release. While I’m not a fan of the sequel’s predecessor, I thought the 1994 film would be perfect content for the aforementioned event. According to IMDB, Scarlett premiered as a TV mini-series. This gives the sequel a run-time of six hours, which is even longer than the first movie. I never thought Gone with the Wind needed another chapter, as everything ended on a definitive note. However, curiosity got the best of me, as I wanted to find out if this could finally be the “so bad it’s good” movie I’ve been looking for!

This is the DVD I purchased from a local consignment store. Even the packaging calls Scarlett a six hour film. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While I like the acting overall, there were three performances that were stand-outs. The first one came from Sean Bean. I haven’t seen much from his filmography, but I remember his portrayal of Ian Howe from National Treasure. Based on these two movies, it seems Sean is very talented when it comes to portraying on-screen villains!  Without spoiling the film, I will say Lord Richard Fenton is a despicable individual. However, it was interesting to see how Sean carried his character in each scene he appeared in. Whenever in public or around Scarlett, Richard comes across as a dashing gentleman. But behind closed doors, he reveals himself to be selfish and controlling, which makes Richard’s overall persona very ugly. In all my years of watching movies, I’ve seen few actors effectively portray characters that had likable and unlikable qualities. Within the film, Scarlett, Sean single-handedly accomplished this; making the audience despise Richard, but appreciate Sean’s acting abilities! The second stand-out performance was Annabeth Gish’s! In historical fiction/period stories, few female characters from a wealthier background contain a personality that is gentler in nature. With the way Annabeth approached her character, Anne, she brought something to the table that isn’t seen often. This not only provided a contrast to Scarlett, but allowed Anne to be her own character. Anne’s gentleness came across on screen very naturally as well! Tina Kellegher’s portrayal of Mary Boyle is the third stand-out performance! A strong sense of emotionality worked in Tina’s favor. This component to her performance presented her character as a believable individual, as if Mary had actually existed at some point in time. Miss Boyle experiences some difficult situations throughout the movie. However, Tina pulled off a performance that appeared flawless!

The costumes: In period films, one of the notable aspects is the costumes. They are one example of a physical representation of the story’s respective time period. The costumes in Scarlett not only looked historically accurate, but also impressive! It also helps how the costumes compliment the actors wearing them. Scarlett’s wardrobe was amazing! It featured a color palette that never appeared over-the-top. Each piece featured patterns and textures that felt fitting for the 1870s, with color combinations working well together. I honestly can’t choose a favorite outfit, as it was fun to discover what outfit Scarlet would wear next! While I realistically don’t have any place to wear one of Scarlett’s outfits, it’s nice to think about which piece I’d like to own in real-life.

The conflict between the British and Irish: Within the overall story, there was an ongoing conflict between the British and Irish. According to the Irish characters, this was due to the British wanting to take over Ireland. I’m not familiar with this particular period in world history. Despite that, I found this part of the story to be fascinating! Because of Scarlett’s Irish heritage and the fact she had family living in Ireland, it gave Scarlett a reason to be aware of the political and social environment around her. Her interactions with Richard also highlight the different sides of the conflict itself. There were other people in this story who were directly connected to this conflict as well. One of Scarlett’s cousin’s, Colum, is a priest. However, he is also a member of a group of Irish people fighting for freedom against the British. It was interesting to see how Colum navigated his own struggles of religious duty and standing up for his people.

The Third So Bad It’s Good Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Scarlett and Rhett’s on-again/off-again relationship: I am not a fan of Scarlett and Rhett’s relationship. Even when I try to give it a fair chance and watch it with an open mind, I still do not like their relationship in this movie. One of the reasons why is how it was continually on-again/off-again. This was so repetitive, it became tiresome. It was also difficult to determine if Joanne Whalley and Timothy Dalton, the actor and actress who portrayed Scarlett and Rhett, had any on-screen chemistry. Scarlett and Rhett’s relationship problems did not need to be explored, especially after Gone with the Wind’s ending. In fact, seeing Scarlett and Rhett’s on-again/off-again relationship diminishes one of the most famous scenes and quotes in cinematic history, where Rhett says “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. In my opinion, this situation took place simply to justify the sequel’s existence.

Unnecessary stories: As I already mentioned in my previous point, Scarlett and Rhett’s on-again/off-again relationship felt like it was taking place simply to justify the sequel’s existence. This wasn’t the only story within the film to make me feel this way. In the first half of Scarlett, Ashley is struggling to keep his business afloat. Scarlett recruits Sam, a former slave of the O’Hara household, to assist Ashley in building more homes, in order to save Ashley’s business. That storyline is one I found myself not caring about. It also didn’t lead anywhere, as it didn’t have a consistent presence in the overall film. Scarlett’s feud with her sister was another story I thought was unnecessary. Throughout the film, they refused to see eye-to-eye about the future of Tara. While Scarlett’s sister was still living in the house, Scarlett was considering selling it. I thought it was odd for Scarlett to think about selling Tara. In the first movie, she loved Tara so much, Scarlett slapped a woman in the face for expressing her opinion against the place. For Scarlett to completely change her mind without any explanation seemed random.

Choppy scene transitions: At some points in the movie, there were scene transitions that were so abrupt, it caused the film’s overall flow to feel choppy. When visiting a family member, Scarlett is about to share how she became so wealthy. Right as she was about to tell her story, the next scene started, showing another family member walking toward his house. It seemed like parts of the movie were missing. Some of these scene transitions were so jarring because the change of tone was so drastic. One scene showed Colum speaking with an Irish neighbor about their plans to fight the British. This dramatic and serious moment was met with a light-hearted scene where Scarlett goes to a horse fair. The journey from point A to point B needed a bridge.

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My overall impression:

I can’t call Scarlett “so bad it’s good”. In fact, I would never consider it a bad movie. Objectively, this is a competently made project, where the creative team behind it clearly knew what they were doing. Subjectively, Scarlett is a mixed bag. The conflict between the British and Irish was the best part of this story! It was fascinating to see it unfold and discover how the characters were involved. With the parts of the story directly referencing Gone with the Wind, I found those to exist simply to justify the sequel. Until Scarlett went to Ireland, I was questioning why the movie was made. Personally, I would rather watch a miniseries about the British and Irish conflict over the one I just did. As I wrap up this review, I realize I still haven’t found my “so bad it’s good” movie. Time to go back to square one.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Do you have a movie in your life that you’d consider “so bad it’s good”? If so, what is it? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Something’s Going On

After a year without a When Calls the Heart Christmas movie, it’s nice to see our favorite Canadian frontier show return! As I write and publish this re-cap post, it feels weird getting back to regularly talking about a television show, especially since I wrote about When Calls the Heart’s seventh season a year ago. But with the way 2020 turned out, it’s good to have something to look forward to. Based on advertisements I’ve seen, there are exciting additions to the show! One of them is the Canfield family. While they didn’t appear in the season premiere, it will be interesting to see how they get along with the other members of the town. For now, viewers can get reacquainted with returning faces and fan favorites.

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere 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: 1

Name: Open Season

Major stories:

After checking on Elizabeth and her son, Nathan discovers his brother-in-law, Dylan, has arrived in Hope Valley. When Nathan asks Dylan how he found him, Dylan shows Nathan a newspaper reporting on the Mountie who passed away at the end of season seven. All Dylan wants is a thousand dollars, threatening to make Nathan’s life miserable if he doesn’t get the money. After this confrontation, Dylan’s crosses paths with Elizabeth and Jack. Concerned for their safety, Nathan reminds Dylan to leave Hope Valley. Later in the episode, Nathan borrows the much-needed money from Lucas and plans to give it to Dylan that evening. When Bill finds out about Nathan’s plans, he insists on joining Nathan. However, Nathan feels that he must do this alone. Before he leaves Hope Valley, Nathan lets Elizabeth know he will be leaving town and that Ally is staying at Opal’s house. That night, as Nathan is riding on the trail, Dylan knocks Nathan off his horse. He steals Nathan’s rifle and the money, as well as causing Nathan’s horse to run away and beating Nathan up. The next morning, Nathan finds his horse and begins his search for Dylan. A few scenes later, Nathan finds Dylan in a nearby cabin. This was possible because Dylan left behind the newspaper he showed Nathan earlier in the episode, which listed the name of the town at the top of the front paper. Nathan also reveals he let Dylan attack him in order to provide a reason for arresting Dylan. After this explanation, some fellow Mounties appear out of nowhere to arrest Dylan and take him into custody. When Nathan returns to Hope Valley, he asks Elizabeth if she’d like to have dinner with him. As she tells him how Laura can’t take any time off to watch Jack, Nathan suggests to bring Jack with her and says he’ll bring Ally along. This dinner never happens because Elizabeth claims to not be feeling well as they are on their way to their destination.

At the beginning of the episode, Lucas visits Elizabeth and apologizes for abruptly leaving without an explanation. This event was explained in Elizabeth’s opening monologue which showed a flashback of Lucas leaving Hope Valley during Christmastime. Even though Elizabeth forgives him, Lucas tells her he’ll explain why he left when he is ready. Some time later, Lucas eventually tells Elizabeth what happened. At the end of season seven, he witnessed Elizabeth hugging Nathan. He admits he saw this embrace and became jealous. Lucas went to Louisiana to help rebuild a school that had been destroyed by a storm. He tells Elizabeth serving others allowed him to deal with his emotions. Later that day, Elizabeth tells Rosemary what Lucas told her. She also shares how she feels about Nathan and Lucas. When Rosemary asks Elizabeth if she has made a decision yet, Elizabeth quickly changes the subject. At the end of the episode, Lucas introduces Elizabeth to his mother, Helen Bouchard. This interaction makes Elizabeth feel intimidated.

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Minor stories:

One morning, Jesse and Clara have an argument over whether or not Clara woke Jesse up on time. This causes both of them to be in a bitter mood. Clara tells Fiona and Rosemary what happened, unsure of what to do. To take her mind off of her problems, Clara helps Fiona with a personal project. When Clara discovers Fiona purchased Hope Valley’s pre-existing barber shop, Fiona explains how this decision will help her in business. Since she is starting a barber shop with a predominantly male clientele, Fiona says most men want to talk about business. By eavesdropping on their conversations, she’ll gain some insight into the business world. Meanwhile, Jesse is dealing with his and Clara’s relationship issues by staying late at work and reading. Lee and Rosemary volunteer to help Jesse and Clara with their problem. Lee takes Jesse to the spot where Jesse and Clara shared their first kiss, with Lee reminding Jesse how love is a choice, not just a feeling. Lee also purchases a two-person bicycle, which Clara and Jesse seem to enjoy. Rosemary and Lee remind themselves how the bike will not fix all of Jesse and Clara’s problems, so they’ll be there for the younger couple if they ever need help.

Carson is concerned when he doesn’t hear anything from Faith. She hasn’t come home when she said she would, which causes Carson to worry about her. Faith does arrive in Home Valley, but she hasn’t come alone. After an unknown wagon driver gives her a lift, Faith explains to Carson how her buggy broke down along the way. The wagon driver makes Carson feel jealous. As they examine the new patient file organizational system, Faith asks Carson what the matter is. Carson tells her how he feels, saying that he was afraid they were growing apart due to her time studying medicine in Chicago. Faith tells him she only thought about him during her trip back to Hope Valley, which puts Carson at ease. Later in the episode, Carson and Faith spend some quality time together by the lake. They promise each other they’ll go to Orchestra Hall someday.

Illustrated image of bicycle created by Freepik at freepik.com. Background vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I found it interesting how Coronavirus was incorporated into the script in very subtle ways. In Elizabeth’s opening monologue, she writes how the winter has held its grip on Hope Valley. Carson tells Faith how the year had crawled by. Considering when the eighth season was filmed, it makes sense that the creative team behind the show would want to at least mention the pandemic. It was enough to address it, but not overpowering enough to turn people off from being reminded about it again.
  • Hearing about Nathan’s plans to officially adopt Ally was a pleasant surprise! I’m also happy to see Fiona start her own business! Seeing these subplots evolve over the course of this new season, as well as the conflicts that may appear, is something I’m looking forward to.
  • At best, this episode was fine. But at worst, it was a mixed bag. There were parts of the story that felt like a season premiere. Other parts seemed like they came directly from a “filler” episode. The plot involving Dylan could have easily been a multi-episode arc. Instead, the show has placed all their eggs in the love triangle/relationship basket. I hope the season gets better, but I’ll keep my expectations low.
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What are your thoughts on the season premiere? Are you excited for the Canfield family to arrive in Hope Valley? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated

When I published my review for Teenage Rebel last December, it became my 225th movie review! Since then, I’ve been thinking about what kind of article I should write in honor of this milestone. A few days ago, I saw a video on Youtube titled ‘Top 6 AG Trends that need to *GO* this Decade’. This video focused on how American Girl could correct their mistakes from the 2010s. Created by pinksmartiesag, it inspired me to think about the ways Hallmark can improve in the 2020s. Like any company, Hallmark is not perfect.  There are areas where they can grow and find success. During the first year of the 2020s, I have seen Hallmark’s mistakes from the past decade seep into 2020. In this list, I will talk about the missteps that Hallmark should leave behind in the 2010s to have a chance to make better choices in this new decade. Similar to the list-articles I’ve written in the past, everything I talk about is based on my opinion of the things I have noticed as a fan and consumer. The list is meant to be critical in a constructive way, not mean-spirited or negative. When I refer to Hallmark in this article, I am focusing on the entertainment division of Hallmark; which consists of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.

Image of 2010 and 2020 on chart created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Infographic vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com
1. Hallmark Channel’s Over-Reliance on the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) Genre

In the 2010s, when Rom-Coms made less appearances in the cinema than in previous decades, Hallmark made it their mission to save this genre from extinction. While Hallmark attempted to preserve Rom-Coms, they ended up putting almost all their eggs in one basket. Now, every movie on Hallmark Channel is a Rom-Com, telling the same types of stories over and over again. This decision has caused the films on this network to feel repetitive and predictable. When you look at a typical poster for a Hallmark Channel movie, you already know how the story will play out. Lately, I’ve been watching and reviewing past Hallmark films, which have much more interesting stories. It feels like those were the days when Hallmark would embrace originality and not shy away from taking creative risks. I would like to see Hallmark experiment with different genres and tell a variety of stories in the 2020s. Creativity and imagination should be the rule moving forward!

2. Continually Using the Same Tropes and Clichés

Because Hallmark Channel has focused on the Rom-Com genre, there are several genre related tropes and clichés that are continually used throughout Hallmark’s film library. In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talk about some clichés that have run their course. How many times can you tell a story where a woman from a big city goes back to her small hometown before you call it quits? The constant inclusion of these tropes and clichés cause a given film to be more predictable. Even though some creative teams have approached these story-telling concepts in new and interesting ways, it feels like that has been the exception to the rule. It’s time for Hallmark to either put a new twist on these clichés and tropes or abandon them altogether.

3. The Hypocrisy

Ever since 2019, I have noticed Hallmark’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to certain areas of their entertainment division. For this point, I’ll provide two examples. In my editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I wrote about how, in 2019, Hallmark advertised they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. However, that statement turned into a broken promise as there were some Saturdays when no new movies premiering. I also said in that editorial how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries kept their promises to air a Christmas movie every Thursday and Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. When it comes to subjects that Hallmark cares about, like Christmas, that becomes one of their top priorities. For everything else, it falls to the wayside.

While promoting Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups last year, Mike Perry, the CEO of Hallmark, claimed that “diversity and inclusion are a top priority for us”. But there are times when these words sound empty. The upcoming Hallmark Channel movie, Fit for a Prince, is a perfect example. Based on promotional material directly from the network’s website, we can see this is the same type of “royal” movie, starring the same types of actors in the same types of roles. Remind me how this is diverse? When it comes to story-telling, diversity is more than just a character’s appearance. It’s also about the perspectives, beliefs, and journeys those characters bring to the overall story. In my award post, The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award: Two Awards for the Price of One, I said that I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart as Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. One of the reasons why I want this is because it would be a beautiful opportunity for Hallmark to put their money where their mouth is. If diversity is that important to them, then they will take no issue in casting Bai on Hallmark Channel’s most popular scripted show.

4. Hallmark Making Promises They Know They Can’t Keep

As I just mentioned in point number three, Hallmark broke their promise to air a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. But that wasn’t the only promise the company broke in 2019. In my aforementioned editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I talk about several films that were mysteriously removed from Hallmark Channel’s and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ schedules after being promoted for weeks or months. If Hallmark had any thoughts about moving films out of their respective premiere dates, why would they spend so much time promoting them and setting dates? In the seventh season of When Calls the Heart, Clara and Jesse had entertained the idea of having an outdoor wedding. But when the wedding arrived, their ceremony ended up taking place indoors. According to Kami, from Hallmarkies Podcast, that episode was filmed in November. This begs the question; if the creative team behind the show knew it would be too cold to film any outdoor events, why would they mention the idea of an outdoor wedding in the first place? In the 2020s, it would be nice to see Hallmark stick to their word more often. Broken promises lead to broken trust with the viewers, which is not good for any business.

5. An Adoption Ever After Segment During the Seasonal Line-Up Preview Specials

When Larissa Wohl first joined Alison Sweeney in 2019’s “Valentine’s Day & Adoption Ever After Preview Special”, the program was used to not only promote Hallmark Channel’s Valentine themed movies, but also that year’s Cat Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and American Rescue Dog Show. At the time, the cross-promotion made sense. But as Larissa kept appearing in Hallmark’s other seasonal line-up preview specials, as well as the Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special, she ended up overstaying her welcome. Instead of promoting a worthy cause, it felt like she was interrupting the regularly scheduled program to host an infomercial about homeless pets. Most people can get behind the idea of raising awareness for shelter animals. However, using the same tactics over and over again gets repetitive and runs the risk of turning away potential supporters.  I don’t know if Hallmark has any plans to air preview specials for the various seasonal line-ups in the 2020s. If they do, I hope they think twice before adding the Adoption Ever After segments to the specials.

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6. Hallmark’s Excessive Obsession with Christmas

Hallmark loves Christmas; I get it. But is it really necessary for them to do the following?

  • Airing both Christmas line-ups for almost three months
  • Showing Christmas movies on three networks throughout the year
  • Creating over twenty movies between two channels
  • Devoting an entire month to Christmas in July

In my opinion, the answer is absolutely not, as there is a fine line between loving something and going overboard. Because of Hallmark’s excessive obsession with the holiday, they are actually doing more harm than good to their line-ups. In 2019 and 2020, the “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” line-ups received less viewership than in years prior. Hallmark’s decision to make more Christmas movies year after year prevents their films from becoming beloved classics. Movies like The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and The Nine Lives of Christmas were able to achieve long term success because they premiered in years where Christmas line-ups were smaller, allowing these projects to stand out. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, Hallmark needs to pull back the reigns on their approach to Christmas. Give Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries ten movies each, as it would challenge each creative team to create something new and unexpected. Save Christmas films for a week in July and for a month and a half toward the end of the year. Once upon a time, Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups were anticipated events. Now, it has become run of the mill and one of the only things Hallmark cares about.

7. Movie Premiere Twitter Parties

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Twitter parties take place for the premiere of new Hallmark programs and movies. Let’s use the upcoming movie Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con as an example. Before the film appears on television for the first time, someone directly connected with the project, either the director, producer, or stars, will encourage viewers to send tweets during the movie. There may even be pop up advertisements for the Twitter party while other films or shows are on T.V. When Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con airs on March 14th, viewers can tweet about their thoughts on the film, share their theories with other viewers, and have brief conversations with the stars. Personally, I never participated in these Twitter parties because I wanted to give my undivided attention to the film I was watching. The tweets from the Twitter parties are laced with spoilers, which means I have to avoid Twitter after a new movie or television show episode has premiered. From what I remember, Bill Abbott was a big advocate for this kind of interaction with the customers. But in 2020, Bill stepped down as President of Hallmark’s entertainment division. Also, Twitter isn’t as popular of a social media platform as it was five or ten years ago. With all these factors, it makes me wonder why Hallmark would still promote Twitter parties?

8. Giving Movies Unnecessary Hype

I haven’t seen this happen often on Hallmark networks. However, I have seen it happen enough to know that Hallmark needs to discontinue the practice. The two examples I’ll use for this point are 2014’s Northpole and 2019’s Bottled with Love. Before Northpole premiered, it seemed like news about the film was inescapable. Commercials would air constantly, reminding viewers of what they already knew. Even products directly associated with the film, like the North Pole Communicator, were sold at Hallmark stores. Even though the film received a large viewership number and a sequel, the movie has become forgotten. As the years go on, it is rarely featured in Hallmark’s Christmas schedules. As I mentioned in my review for Bottled with Love, Hallmark chose to overhype this film by proclaiming it was “the best movie you’ll see all year”. But when the movie premiered, it was only a “flash in the pan”. Its viewership numbers were fine, but nothing spectacular. I shared the same thoughts on the film itself. What Northpole and Bottled with Love have in common is how Hallmark overhyped these movies so much, they prevented them from being memorable in the long run. I’m hoping this was just a phase within Hallmark’s lifespan.

9. Launching Television Shows from Movies

Since Cedar Cove became Hallmark’s first scripted television show, Hallmark Channel has had three shows that originally started as a movie or a series of movies: When Calls the Heart, Good Witch, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But the only one that has found continued success is When Calls the Heart. While Good Witch has received more than five seasons, its overall quality has dropped since season three, as I’ve mentioned before on my blog. Meanwhile, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was converted into a movie series after the show’s first season and moved to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This isn’t a good track record for Hallmark. Instead, they should create shows based on new ideas or well-liked books that are overshadowed by more popular titles.

10. Hallmark’s Summer and Winter TCA Events

Twice a year, Hallmark partners with the Television Critics Association to host a special event where they announce upcoming media related projects. Back in 2018, I wrote a Word on the Street story about announcements made at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event. Recently, it seems like Hallmark makes their more interesting announcements before or after these events. At each TCA event, announcements consist of projects most fans already knew about. Because of this and the fact that fewer social gatherings are taking place because of the Coronavirus, I question why Hallmark still hosts these events? I wish Hallmark would use those finances, time, and resources toward something more productive.

Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event 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=2018+Summer+TCA. 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Love Letter Review

I’m not going to lie; I love a good blog party! So, when I discovered Heidi, from Along the Brandywine, was hosting the Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party, I couldn’t wait to sign up! Period dramas are not regularly covered on 18 Cinema Lane. While I do have a re-cap series for When Calls the Heart, I choose what films to watch based on how interesting their stories sound. There have been period dramas I loved, such as Swept from the Sea. But, for this blogathon, I wanted to review a film I hadn’t seen before. For about a year, I’ve had the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Love Letter, on my DVR. Because parts of the movie take place in the 19th century, I felt it fit Heidi’s time period requirement of the 1600’s to World War II. I try to watch as many Hallmark Hall of Fame titles as I realistically can. Prior to reviewing The Love Letter, the only Hallmark Hall of Fame movie from 1998 I’ve seen is Grace & Glorie, which was one of the best movies I saw last year! While not all movies from this collection are created equally, I do watch these movies with an open mind.

Since an image of The Love Letter‘s poster was featured on my television, I took a screenshot of it with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because The Love Letter heavily relies on the performances of its lead actor and actress, this part of the review will focus on Campbell Scott’s and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s portrayal of Scott Corrigan and Elizabeth Whitcomb. With Campbell’s performance, there was always a sense of focus in his character. This focus could be seen in Scott’s eyes. When he was inspecting the desk at the antique store or restoring that same desk, Scott’s focus showed how much he cared. This was a consistent part of the character and helped whenever he wrote to Elizabeth. In historical fiction/period films, it would be easy for the screenwriter to give their lead female character one distinct type of personality. Elizabeth Whitcomb, on the other hand, held a balance of two that brought something unique to the character. She had a youthful radiance about her, being a “romantic dreamer” at heart. However, Elizabeth carried herself with a graceful maturity that prevented her from becoming childish or immature. Jennifer brought both aspects to Elizabeth equally and beautifully, allowing her character to be multi-dimensional.

The historical accuracy: I am not an expert on the 1860s and its historical significance. But based on what I do know about this particular period in time, Elizabeth’s part of the story looked and felt historically accurate! The Whitcomb family home was furnished with pieces that appeared antique, from the couch in the sitting room to the desk Elizabeth and Scott share. Dark wood held these structures together, with green cushions and intricate carvings finishing the couch and desk. The costumes were very detailed and also reflective of the 1860s. Embroidery on Elizabeth’s jacket and the overall design of her lacy parasol serve as two examples. Even the dialogue spoken by the characters sounded like it came directly from an era gone by. Pieces of the story like the ones I mentioned tell me, as an audience member, the creative team behind this film cared about the presentation of this part of their project!

A fantastical element: Most of the stories from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection are grounded in reality, which means that fantastical elements are rarely found in these scripts. With The Love Letter, the story revolves around two people from different time periods who communicate to each other through letter writing. The idea of time manipulation is a concept that would likely be found in either a fantasy or science fiction film. While stories like Somewhere in Time and Portrait of Jennie have been dramas paired with this specific concept, I don’t recall Hallmark Hall of Fame creating their own film like that before or after 1998. Because The Love Letter’s creative team chose to include a fantastical element into their overall project, it gave the movie an opportunity to stand out from other titles. This was a creative risk that worked in the film’s favor!

The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Scott being engaged: A trope that has appeared in several Hallmark films is the male or female protagonist being engaged at the beginning of the story, only to fall in love with someone else by the end of that story. This trope has found its way into The Love Letter. For most of the movie, Scott is engaged to a woman named Debra. As he finds himself falling in love with Elizabeth, he strings Debra along and keeps the letter writing a secret. Scott does tell Debra the truth about his feelings, but this doesn’t happen until the movie is almost over. Personally, I think this trope is pointless, as the audience is spending time with a relationship that will end up leading nowhere. Scott should have remained single so the script could give its undivided attention to his and Elizabeth’s exchanges.

A rushed explanation: When fantastical or science fiction elements are included in a script, it helps to provide clear explanations to the audience so they can understand what is happening on screen. In The Love Letter, Scott’s mother tells Scott that an imbalance in the time-space continuum is the reason why he and Elizabeth are able to write to one another. However, this explanation was rushed, with Scott’s mother briefly bringing it up on only two occasions throughout the whole movie. She gives Scott stamps from the 1860s and had a special kind of writing ink made for him. Scott’s mother even found a post office that has existed since the Civil War era. These objects and the post office felt more like they conveniently benefited the plot instead of serving as ‘macguffins’ to move the story forward. As I already mentioned, this kind of story is rarely found in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. Despite this, a little more time should have been devoted to providing a clearer explanation.

Lack of physical interactions between Scott and Elizabeth: Because Scott and Elizabeth are from different time periods, it is not possible for them to physically interact with one another. Even though this is the nature of the story, it prevented the audience from seeing the on-screen chemistry between Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. One of the staples of a romance film is the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Since that element was missing from The Love Letter, I was only invested in Scott and Elizabeth’s relationship to a certain extent. While their words were romantic, verbal communication only plays a part among any given couple.

Hand-written letter image created by Veraholera at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Veraholera – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/love-letter-pattern_1292902.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As I said in my review, most Hallmark Hall of Fame stories are grounded in reality. These stories are also on the simple side, with messages and themes that audience members can relate to. Even though The Love Letter has a fantastical element that is rarely found in films from this collection, it has a simpler story that works! Romance through words and thoughts is what carries the overall story, with important advice woven into the script. Forming a relationship with someone you truly love and never giving up on yourself are nice sentiments that can make audience members feel good about what they are watching. The movie also has the ingredients of a good Hallmark Hall of Fame title, like the level of detail when it comes to the film’s historical accuracy. It is true the movie has its flaws. However, the execution of a creative risk like this makes up for The Love Letter’s weaknesses. Films such as this one make me wish Hallmark would be more creative with their stories and think outside the box more. With the ball in their court, I don’t know what their next creative step will be.

Overall score: 8 out of 10

Have you seen The Love Letter? What Hallmark Hall of Fame movies would you like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

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”)

Take 3: Accidental Friendship Review + 275, 280, and 285 Follower Thank You

Last November and December were, for me, the busiest months of 2020. As I was completing articles and reviews before the end of the year, 18 Cinema Lane received 275, 280, and 285 followers! Instead of writing three reviews to commemorate each accomplishment, I am writing one review to recognize all three accomplishments. Since I felt like watching the 2008 Hallmark movie, Accidental Friendship, that’s the film I choose for this blog follower dedication review. This is a title that I’ve never seen in its entirety. Because of that, I didn’t know the movie was based/inspired by a true story. The idea of Hallmark creating films out of true stories is nothing new. However, I don’t recall many Hallmark movies from the perspective of people in homelessness. When I watch more Hallmark projects released before 2010, I notice how this particular time period saw stories that were more unique from those in recent years. It is one of the reasons why I find myself seeking out Hallmark’s older films than their newer ones.

Accidental Friendship poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While I’m familiar with Chandra Wilson from seeing her on advertisements for Grey’s Anatomy, I have never seen any of her performances. Therefore, I didn’t know what to expect from her acting abilities. As I was watching Accidental Friendship, I saw how Chandra stole the show! From what I know about Grey’s Anatomy, it is dramatic and deals with a variety of circumstances. Because of her involvement on that show, Chandra was able to adapt to any situation her character, Yvonne, was facing. This made her performance emotional as well as believable! During the film, Yvonne experiences both heartbreak and joy, from losing a precious item to dancing to Christmas music with her dogs. In every situation, Chandra gave her performance her all to the point where you couldn’t help feeling bad and/or rooting for her character. When it comes to police officers in movies and television shows, they seem to share similar personality traits. This can range from being tough to “no nonsense”. With Kathleen Munroe’s portrayal of Tami, a newer type of personality is given to this kind of character. She was gentler than her fellow officers and also had an easy-going persona. This not only helped Tami form a friendship with Yvonne, but it helped Kathleen deliver a likable performance as well! I haven’t seen a lot of projects from Gabriel Hogan’s filmography. But some of the movies I have seen were those from the Murder, She Baked series. In that series, Gabriel portrayed a supporting character who was trying to win over Hannah’s heart. In Accidental Friendship, Gabriel was given more material to work with. This allowed him to show how he is capable of giving his character, Kevin, a charming personality! It also helped that he had good on-screen chemistry with Kathleen Munroe!

The lighting: Lighting can be an unsung hero when it comes to movie productions, as it can enhance a film’s tone and highlight the vision a creative team is striving towards. With Accidental Friendship, lighting was used to showcase the different lives of Yvonne and Tami. During Yvonne’s parts of the story, the scenes were cast with a grayish blue light. This represented the dire outcome Yvonne was facing on a day-to-day basis. Tami’s parts of the story were captured in a warm yellow light. It showcased how Tami’s life was desired and comfortable, complete with a successful career and a growing romance.

Yvonne’s dialogue: From time to time, Yvonne talks about her situation by referencing luxury items she doesn’t own. When she is making plans with Tami to meet up at a specific location, Yvonne says she’ll record the meeting in her Blackberry. Later in the film, when Yvonne is sharing a meal with a friend, she tells him she’ll have to get a new shopping cart. Yvonne says she’s getting an “upgrade”. The way she spoke about her circumstances was clever, especially from a screenwriting perspective. The references to luxury items provided a subtle contrast to Yvonne’s reality. This decision in writing was definitely “outside the box”, an idea I might not have thought of myself.

Dog collection image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/dog”>Dog vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A somewhat misleading title: This film is called Accidental Friendship, implying that the story will revolve around a friendship that originally wasn’t meant to be. However, the friendship of Yvonne and Tami does not officially begin until the movie’s halfway point, with the film’s first half focusing on the differences between Yvonne’s and Tami’s life. Even when the halfway point does arrive, they don’t refer to each other as friends until the end of the movie. In fact, Yvonne refuses Tami’s help for most of the story. All of these factors cause the film’s title to come across as somewhat misleading.

Tami and Kevin’s relationship: Throughout the story, Tami develops a relationship with a police officer named Kevin. While this relationship was fine and there was good on-screen chemistry between Kathleen and Gabriel, I didn’t like how this was Tami’s only personal conflict. It didn’t serve a lot of interest because it was more predictable than other areas of the story. The inclusion of Tami and Kevin’s relationship feels like a network decision, making part of the project seem like a typical Hallmark Channel picture. Because the story itself is sadder than most of the films from Hallmark’s main channel, the relationship kind of felt out of place within the overall tone.

Situations that don’t get resolved: In the story, there are some situations in Yvonne’s life that don’t receive a resolution. Since readers who might not have seen this film may read this review, I won’t spoil the movie. Hallmark films are known for showing their characters reaching a resolution that is satisfying for both the character and audience. Even if the character doesn’t get exactly what they want, they receive answers that are close enough to their original goals. Had at least one of Yvonne’s situations been resolved within the story, it would have given the audience one less thing to worry about.

Winner’s medal image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/golden-awards-set-with-colors-details_844356.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression, I want to thank all of my followers for their support and patience. 18 Cinema Lane has almost 300 followers, a stepping stone that would have never been reached without you. The blog does mean a lot to me, so I appreciate visitors taking the time to read my content. Now, on to my overall impression of Accidental Friendship! This is a fine, well-made film. In fact, the overall quality of the movie felt like a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. But I do wish the majority of the story had focused on Yvonne’s perspective, as I found it to be more interesting than Tami’s. I also thought the title was somewhat misleading, as the friendship doesn’t happen until the movie’s halfway point. As I said in my review, Accidental Friendship is sadder than the films that have recently been found on Hallmark Channel. Therefore, it doesn’t have the same amount of re-watchability like other Hallmark films. When I saw Accidental Friendship, I was surprised to see most of the story take place during the Christmas season. It makes me wonder why the movie isn’t included in Hallmark’s annual Christmas line-ups?

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

How many of Hallmark’s pre-2010s films have you seen? Do you enjoy Hallmark movies that feel more like Hallmark Hall of Fame productions? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2020

While I saw more good movies than bad this year, I wasn’t able to avoid some stinkers. Now that I’ve published my best movies of the year list, I can now discuss which movies were the worst ones I saw in 2020! I watch movies in the hopes of them being good. However, some stories turn out better than others. As I have stated before on my blog, my worst films of the year lists are not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are just ways for me express my opinion in an honest and informed way. Similar to my best movies of 2020 list, I will start this post with my dishonorable mentions and then move on to the official list!

Purple 2020 banner created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.
Dishonorable Mentions

Working Miracles, Her Deadly Reflections, The Cabin, Thicker Than Water, Touched by Romance, The Wrong Wedding Planner, Murder in the Vineyard, Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, Is There a Killer on my Street?, and Stolen in Plain Sight

10. Angel on My Shoulder

When choosing which movie would end up in the tenth spot, it was between The Cabin and Angel on My Shoulder. Because I had higher expectations for the 1946 movie, that’s the one that was placed on this list. The overall film is painfully average, as I said in my review. Even though there is a clear conflict, it takes quite some time for that to be resolved. The personal journey of the protagonist, Eddie, is stunted. This is due to the character spending most of the story as an unchanged man. After watching Angel on My Shoulder, it makes me thankful that a story about a dog going to heaven was executed so well.

Take 3: Angel on My Shoulder Review

9. Jane Doe: Vanishing Act

In 2020, I watched most of the movies from Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. Within the nine-film collection, the first chapter is certainly the worst. What makes a good mystery movie is a strong sense of excitement. This is a quality that Jane Doe: Vanishing Act was, sadly, devoid of. Everyone involved with this project looked like their hearts were not fully invested in what they doing. It was as if they wanted to get the film done and over with just to move on to something else. While I continued on with the series, it was in the hopes that the next film would be better than the introduction. If you plan on creating a series, this is not the way you get an audience invested in it.

8. My Husband’s Deadly Past

There are two kinds of Lifetime movies; those that are surprisingly good and those that are predictably unenjoyable. My Husband’s Deadly Past perfectly fits into the latter category. Even though I found the inclusion of psychology/hypnosis to be interesting, the story’s focus on ripping off the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, overshadows any of the film’s strengths. The protagonist in My Husband’s Deadly Past is the type of character that makes one poor decision after another. It also doesn’t help that the movie contains a few romantic moments that feel out of place within the overall tone. Two other films on this list make the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did. But, to avoid spoilers, I’ll talk about them more later.

7. Out of the Woods

I can honestly say Out of the Woods is one of the most meandering films I’ve ever seen. It takes so long for the story to get to its intended point, that story points are either completely ignored or are not fully developed. One example is how a white wolf continuously crosses paths with the protagonist. No explanation is given as to what the purpose of this wolf was or whether it was real. Another disappointment is how Native American culture is glossed over. Native American stories are rarely found in Hallmark’s library, so it is a letdown when a film containing Native American culture doesn’t work out. If you want to watch an Ed Asner led Hallmark movie with similar ideas and themes, I’d recommend the 2008 movie, Generation Gap. It does a better job at telling a story of two people trying to understand each other.

6. Mystery Woman: At First Sight

Before there was Hailey Dean, there was Samantha Kinsey from Hallmark’s Mystery Woman series. This early collection from the network is one where I’ve seen most of its installments. Out of the movies I have watched, Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the one I disliked the most. Both of the overarching mysteries in this story are poorly written. They are also overshadowed by the drama within the plot. Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the seventh movie in this series, which is a shame because its previous chapters created an enjoyable cinematic run. I’m not sure how much directorial experience Kellie Martin had prior to working on this project. Even though I think it would be interesting to see her direct a Hailey Dean Mysteries movie, her effort on Mystery Woman: At First Sight was not her strongest.

Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama poster created by Dune Films, Norwegian Pirates, Storm Films, Storm Productions, and Ketchup Entertainment. Image found at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/captain_sabertooth_and_the_treasure_of_lama_rama.
5. Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama

It breaks my heart how this movie disappointed me so much. In fact, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama is the most disappointing movie I saw in 2020. It copied Pirates of the Caribbean’s homework without trying to understand what made that trilogy of films work. Also, for a movie called Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Captain Sabertooth himself sat on the sidelines of his own story. Pinky was a likable character, but making him the protagonist made the title seem misleading. I just hope this film doesn’t dissuade other studios from creating their own pirate narratives.

Take 3: Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama Review

4. Anniversary Nightmare

Remember when I said there were two films that made the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did? Well, Anniversary Nightmare is one of them. Like My Husband’s Deadly Past, Anniversary Nightmare rips off The Fugitive. But this Lifetime title is so bad, it is, at times, laughable. Both the acting and writing are poor. All of the movie’s flashback scenes are terribly filmed, captured through heavy “shaky cam” and covered in a red film. These two factors made it difficult to see what was happening on screen when a flashback arrived. I haven’t seen a Lifetime movie this bad in quite some time. If you’re interested in participating in Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, Anniversary Nightmare might be an option.

3. I’m Not Ready for Christmas

I didn’t see as many Christmas movies this year as I did in 2019. But I can confidently say that 2015’s I’m Not Ready for Christmas is the worst Christmas film I saw in 2020. While it doesn’t rip off The Fugitive, the movie does place more emphasis on being a pointless, Christmas remake of Liar Liar, a well-known title from the ‘90s. Therefore, I’m Not Ready for Christmas also makes the same mistake A Cheerful Christmas did last year. There were parts of this story that didn’t make sense. Even the title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, had nothing to do with the events in the plot. When you look past the typical Christmas aesthetic Hallmark can’t get enough of, you realize the story itself isn’t Christmas-y. If the creative team behind this project knew their script wasn’t exclusive to the Christmas season, they should have focused on the messages and themes of the holiday, like If You Believe did sixteen years prior. For their New Year’s Resolution, maybe Hallmark and Lifetime should move away from famous ‘90s films as their source of inspiration.

Take 3: I’m Not Ready for Christmas Review

2. Marriage on the Rocks

This movie was so bad, it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. That was because the film’s overarching view on marriage and divorce was so one-sided and skewed. I’ve been told Marriage on the Rocks was originally intended to be a satire. Sadly, that’s not the movie I ended up seeing. What I got instead was a comedy that I didn’t find very funny. The “comedy of errors” direction the screenwriter took just made the character’s situations more complicated, as most of the errors do not receive a satisfying resolution. It’s also a film that feels longer than its designated run-time. If you have never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s, Dean Martin’s, or Deborah Kerr’s movies before, please don’t let Marriage on the Rocks be your starting point.

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

1. Twentieth Century

For most of 2020, I thought Marriage on the Rocks would be the worst movie I saw this year. That was until Twentieth Century came along and proved me wrong. Where Marriage on the Rocks made me uncomfortable, Twentieth Century made me appalled. The fact Lily and Oscar’s relationship was so abusive in a movie classified as a “romantic comedy” serves as one example. Last time I checked, unhealthy relationships were not funny or romantic. To Marriage on the Rocks’ credit, the story featured characters that didn’t support the film’s narrative. Even though, more often than not, they were looked down upon, they always stood up for what they believed in and tried to help the main characters see the fault in their ways. With Twentieth Century, however, there were no “voices of reason”. None of the characters faced accountability whenever they did something wrong or made any attempt to change their ways. When I reflect on this movie, I question what the creative team was trying to tell its audience. But based on my reaction to the final product, maybe I don’t want to know.

Take 3: Twentieth Century Review

Twentieth Century poster created by Columbia Pictures.

Have fun in 2021!

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

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2020

As Christmas is just around the corner, it’s time for me to publish my annual Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List! For those who are new to 18 Cinema Lane, I post a Christmas related article in honor of the holiday to sharing the things I, as a movie blogger, would like to receive as Christmas gifts. This is a tradition I started back in 2018. While I know I won’t get most of the items on my list, I try to choose those that seem realistic. Because my blog primarily revolves around movies, I pick “gifts” that have something to do with film. Unless I say otherwise, the screenshots were taken taken by me. If you’d like to read my previous Christmas wish-lists, I will provide the links here:

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2019

Holly berry Christmas wish-list image created by Freepik from freepik.com. Christmas vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Something You Want

In 2020, Hallmark didn’t release any new Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. The on-going Coronavirus is likely one of the reasons why this was the case. Due to the lack of Hallmark Hall of Fame films this year, I’d like to see Hallmark create four new HHoF presentations in 2021 to make up for this. I feel that Hallmark has what it takes to tell interesting stories through visually appealing and captivating projects, something I’ve mentioned at various moments on my blog. If they chose to make four new HHoF movies, each story could revolve around a different seasonal component. The first film could have something to do with either St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or Memorial Day, as those holidays are set around springtime. As the second film might be released during the summer, Fourth of July or Father’s Day could have a primary place in the plot. Because Halloween or Thanksgiving movies from Hallmark are far and few between, the third HHoF film might focus on those holidays. Since Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movies have a staple in the collection, the last film of the aforementioned four would revolve around Christmas. If Hallmark could create forty new Christmas movies among two networks during a pandemic, then they can find the time to release four new Hallmark Hall of Fame films in 2021.

Something You Need to See

Since I’ve talked about this subject at length before, I won’t repeat myself. All I’ll say is that I want the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels to see the light of day. For me, this is more than just re-releasing a decades old movie. It’s about consumer advocacy and respecting the cinematic creative process. As of mid-to-late December 2020, my editorial about this topic has received over 200 views! This means a lot to me because it shows that that many people care about this particular issue. Hopefully, Paramount (the studio who owns the distribution rights to The Crow: City of Angels) hears our voices and releases this version of the film. If you would like to read my aforementioned editorial, here’s the link:

Why Now is the Perfect Time to Release the Tim Pope Cut of ‘The Crow: City of Angels’

The Crow: City of Angels poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Crow_2.jpg.

A movie related piece of clothing or accessory I’d want to wear

Similar to last year’s Christmas Wish-List, I have two choices for this category. The first is the cargo slim jeans from Perry Mason Returns! This pair of pants was worn by a gas station employee Perry’s assistant, Paul, interacts with toward the end of the movie. What I like about this pair of pants is how they appear to be a different style of cargo pants that isn’t common. Also, I think it’s cool how the pockets are big enough to fit a rolled up readable magazine. The second is the silver pair of pants Barbara Niven’s character, Joan, wears in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Promise. That is one of the coolest pairs of pants I’ve ever seen! Whenever Joan moved from location to location, the pants always shined. It is definitely an ‘80s piece that I would love to have in my wardrobe.

A book I’ve read that I’d like to see adapted into a film

Instead of talking about one book like I have in the past, I will talk about two of them. Both Hallmark Hall of Fame and BYU-TV have done a good job creating historical/period films in years prior. Because of this, To Stand On My Own: The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson would make a good presentation from either network, as the story takes place in the 1930s! While reading this book back in May, I couldn’t help noticing several parallels between the polio epidemic described in the book and the Coronavirus pandemic the world experienced in 2020. Just to provide one example, Noreen, the narrator of the story, discusses how some businesses were closed to the public and how there were periods of quarantine. If Hallmark or BYU-TV wanted to create a film in response to the Coronavirus, this particular story would be an interesting way to discuss that without coming across as too on the nose.

Another book I read this year was Zlata’s Diary. As I was reading, I came across this quote:

“I think about all the films that could be made in Sarajevo. There are loads of subjects for films here”.

Now that I think about it, I can’t think of many films about the Bosnian War, especially from the perspective of a civilian from Sarajevo. When it comes to Zlata’s suggestion of films about and/or filmed in Sarajevo, maybe this is the decade where that dream comes true. As I said about BYU-TV, they have done a good job at creating historical/period films. What they have also done is effectively told stories involving conflict. A perfect example is the Christmas film, Instrument of War. This movie showed the horrors of World War II without being graphic when it came to violence. With everything I just said, I could see BYU-TV adapting Zlata’s Diary into a film.

What are your thoughts on this year’s Christmas Wish-List? Is there anything movie related you’d add to your list? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen