Take 3: A Matter of Time Review (A Month Without the Code #4)

Because I’m participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code and the 5th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon, I wanted to review one of Ingrid’s films from outside the Breen Code era. On her IMDB filmography, the 1976 movie, A Matter of Time caught my eye. After reading the synopsis, I chose this film as my submission for the blogathon! I was able to watch the movie through a series of videos from the Youtube channel, BroadwaytoRio. The film was broken down into ten parts, each video about ten minutes long. Prior to these blogathons, the only movies of Ingrid Bergman’s I have seen are Casablanca and Gaslight. Both of these films were not only released in the ‘40s, they were also released in the Breen Code era. As this is the first time I’m reviewing a post-1954 movie of Ingrid’s, it’ll be interesting to see how A Matter of Time differs from her two previously mentioned films!

A Mater of Time poster created by American International Pictures. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074878/mediaviewer/rm3625653248.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I chose to review this movie for the Ingrid Bergman Blogathon, I’m going to talk about her performance first. Ingrid’s role in A Matter of Time is different from her other roles I’ve seen so far. In this film, she carried herself with a sense of power and authority, demanding the audience to focus their attention on her. At the same time, she held mystery and sorrow close to her character’s heart. In the scene where Ingrid’s character, the Contessa, is talking to her ex-husband, she brings so much emotion during the conversation, that the scene itself feels earth-shaking. Even toward the end of her acting career, Ingrid still had what it took, acting wise, to carry a film! Last October, I reviewed the 1991 film, Stepping Out. While watching A Matter of Time, I immediately noticed how Liza’s character was different from the one she portrayed in the aforementioned ‘90s film. Nina, the protagonist of this story, grew as a person over time. She transformed from a timid young woman to someone who knew what she wanted in life. One scene shows Nina having a disagreement about the Contessa with a screenwriter. During this scene, she breaks out of her timid shell to defend her friend. It causes a fire to break forth from Nina, something the audience hadn’t seen up until that point. Similar to Ingrid’s performance, Liza’s portrayal of Nina in that scene was so powerful, it made this character a force to be reckoned with. The emotionality was very strong in Liza’s performance!

The scenery: Even though most of this movie takes place indoors, it did feature some nice scenery! A scene where Nina travels to the city showcases some of the sights of Rome and Venice, where A Matter of Time was filmed. Through her bus window, monuments and mammoth sized buildings are set against a clear, blue sky. Earth tone limestone covered some of the facilities, contrasting the black concrete roads leading to them. More sights from Rome and Venice could be seen in a montage where Nina goes sightseeing. Shots of the city’s landscape emphasis the large scope of this particular location. Statues served as everlasting art that patrons could enjoy in any season. Even some foliage was included in this montage, with red-ish trees located near a ledge and around a town center. These shots highlighted some of the most photogenic parts of these cities, potentially encouraging some viewers to plan their next vacation!

The messages and themes: While I wasn’t expecting A Matter of Time to contain relatable messages and themes, I appreciate their inclusion in this story. They were timeless and felt just as relevant now as they did in the mid to late ‘70s. One message revolved around being yourself. Even though this particular message has been shared on numerous occasions, it was nice to hear it coming from the Contessa. It was given as wisdom to Nina, in an effort to help her create her own path in life. An unexpected theme in A Matter of Time was mortality. Throughout the movie, the Contessa refuses to share her life story, saying, “My life belongs to me alone. I tell it only to myself”. She also says, “No one is dead. No one dies unless we wish them to”. These quotes speak volumes about the importance of a life story and the effort of keeping a person’s memory alive. It also reminds viewers how long life can feel, even when time seems so short.

The 5th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon banner created by Virginie from The Wonderful World of Cinema. Image found at https://thewonderfulworldofcinema.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/announcing-the-5th-wonderful-ingrid-bergman-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of magic: There was a crawling text at the beginning of the film. In this text, it says “What you are about to see may appear like a fairy tale…as we all know some fairy tales come true”. The text also says that Nina experienced a “magic moment”. This gave me the impression that A Matter of Time would be a modern fairy tale, similar to a film like the Hallmark production, Midnight Masquerade. If that was the creative team’s intention for the 1976 movie, they forgot one important ingredient: magic. In a modern fairy tale story, there needs to be a sense of whimsy or magic included in the narrative. The Halloween party in Midnight Masquerade showcases how a feeling of magic can be incorporated into a modern setting. A Matter of Time does not contain that feeling. If anything, it feels more like a drama than a fantasy. The movie makes it seem like Nina was conveniently at the right place and time instead of stumbling across a bit of magic.

The dream sequences:  Dream sequences appeared at certain points in the movie. These sequences were elaborate in nature, showing Nina living a life of glamour and luxury. While the dream sequences looked nice, I found them confusing. There was no distinction if they were dreams or future events from Nina’s life. Smooth transitions were not given to these scenes, making it feel like they were plunked into the story. I understand the dream sequences were meant to add some pizzazz to the overall picture. But their randomness prevented them from making a significant impression.

Grainy film quality: I know the quality of film from the 1970s is going to be different by today’s standards. Since that time period, technology and film-making have progressed tremendously. The presentation of A Matter of Time was grainy, making the production look like it hasn’t aged as well as other movies from the ‘70s. Because of the overall film quality, there were times when I had difficulty seeing characters’ facial expressions. I’m not sure if the videos I watched were recorded from a VHS tape or if that was the movie’s original presentation. But it’s not a good sign if I have trouble seeing what’s on screen.

A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode2020/.

My overall impression:

To me, A Matter of Time is an ok film. It has components of value; which are strong acting performances, nice scenery, and relatable messages and themes. However, the story is one that audiences have heard before and after the film’s 1976 release. Stories are inevitably going to get repeated over the course of time. When this happens, it’s important for a film’s creative team to find something that sets their project apart. With A Matter of Time, nothing new or unique is offered to the table. It feels like the overall production is ignoring their own message of being yourself. Even though this was a theatrically released project, it came across like a made-for-TV movie with a slightly higher budget. This statement is not made to disrespect television films, as there have been some good ones created over the years. What I mean is the presentation of this movie didn’t justify a theater release. Even though A Matter of Time has a PG rating, there are some pieces that would not appear in a Breen Code era film. These pieces are the following:

  • Some of the language in this script would be objectionable by Breen Code standards. There were times when the characters either swore or used God’s name in vain.
  • Some sexual references were made throughout the story, from Nina referring to a specific body part to a screenwriter wanting to create a violent scene for his upcoming movie.
  • A screenwriter named Mario attacks Nina while she is cleaning his room. Though he is acting out a scene from his script, the act itself would never appear in a Breen Code era movie.
  • Nina wears three dresses that have a low neckline. Even though one of these dresses is paired with a sweater, the sweater is never buttoned up.
  • There are two scenes where it is implied that Nina is not wearing any clothes. One of these scenes is briefly shown during a montage, showing a profile of Nina from her shoulders upward. The second scene shows Nina changing from one outfit to another. Only her back and her shoulders are visible.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen any movie from Ingrid Bergman’s filmography? Which actress would you like to see receive their own blogathon? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s In Love and War Review

For The World War II Blogathon, I wanted to talk about a film that no one else had chosen. With this idea in mind, I figured that if anyone was going to review a Hallmark movie, I knew it was, highly likely, going to be me. More often than not, Hallmark Hall of Fame films have told cinematic stories surrounding World War II. Out of all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies that would be eligible for this blogathon, In Love and War is one that I hadn’t seen. This particular film is based on a true story, using a memoir by Eric Newby as the basis for the cinematic narrative. Within the past five years, true stories are rarely found in Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations. Since this is the first Hallmark Hall of Fame movie I’ve reviewed that does feature a true story, I knew it would a treat for my readers and followers!

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Yes, I purchased a copy of this film so I could write an honest review about it. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: More often than not, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are known for having talented casts. In Love and War is no exception to this tradition! Callum Blue did a really good job portraying Eric Newby. With believability and versatility, his character was awestruck by the beauty within his surroundings, while not being fazed by reality. Callum effectively portrayed a soldier who hadn’t been too hardened by war and tragedy. I also enjoyed seeing Barbora Bobulova’s performance! She portrayed Wanda, the woman who stole Eric’s heart. Barbora had a very pleasant on-screen presence and flawlessly pulled off an Italian accent. She also used a wide range of emotions, making her character seem as realistic as possible. These are just some of the reasons why her performance was very memorable.

The scenery: The Italian countryside is the only location featured in this film. Despite that fact, the movie’s creative team used this environment to their advantage, especially when it came to story-telling. Even though war had cast a shadow on Wanda’s town, it never lost its quaint charm on screen. This picturesque setting showed that restoring peace in the world could be possible. Seeing the fields and farmlands in the film showed a different perspective of this particular country. When the Italian countryside is incorporated into cinematic stories, it seems like it is, more often than not, romanticized. It also makes it feel like this location can never be touched by the harshness of reality. In Love and War’s scenery was pretty to look at, but it also shows that no space is safe from such a catastrophic event.

The on-screen chemistry: Even though Callum and Barbora were not on screen together for very long, they did have good on-screen chemistry. Eric and Wanda’s relationship was very sweet, containing the amount of sentimentality that makes sense for a Hallmark production. Whenever they spent time together, these characters seemed to truly care about one another. Despite coming from two different backgrounds, their love for each other was able to help them find a common ground. Through communication and understanding, Eric and Wanda were able to learn about the other person as well as about themselves. Because Callum and Barbora’s acting performances were good, they were successfully able to bring these elements to their characters.

italian-villa-in-winter-1221097-1280x960
Italian countryside image created by Bill Silvermintz at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Bill Silvermintz.” Photo by <a href=”/photographer/edudflog-58908″>Bill Silvermintz</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;.

What I didn’t like about the film:
Low stakes: Throughout the film, Eric becomes  a Prisoner of War and tries to escape from the clutches of the Nazis. However, all of the stakes in this movie felt low. When Eric and his team become prisoners, their situation doesn’t appear or feel harsh. Even when Eric did experience a harsh condition, the effects were temporary. The clear and present danger, which were the Nazis, appeared in the film when it was convenient for the plot. It seemed like Eric wasn’t in as much danger as the movie wanted us, the audience, to think.

An imbalance between peace and conflict: Hallmark films are known for containing a good amount of positivity and making their audience feel good about the film they’re watching. But because In Love and War largely focused on the movie’s more peaceful moments, it made the moments involving conflict seem sparse. This flaw contributes to the previous problem that I just talked about: lower stakes. It also doesn’t create a healthy balance between the two ideas. The imbalance between peace and conflict made the “war” part of In Love and War seem like a distant aspect of the story.

No action: Everyone’s story from the time of  World War II is going to be different. Since the film’s story is about a member of the military who entered enemy territory, having no action in the film makes it feel like something is missing. Not only were there no battles, but there was no fighting in sight. The only scene that involved any amount of military action was when an enemy plane flew over Eric and his comrades. However, this scene ended up being very brief.

World War II on Film Blogathon
The World War II Blogathon banner created by Jay from Cinema Essentials & Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2019/04/29/announcing-the-ww2-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

The two most common cinematic stories surrounding World War II involve the American perspective and the Holocaust. While these stories are important, it can feel like other World War II related stories get overshadowed. In Love and War takes a unique approach to this subject, focusing on the British and Italian perspectives. Through these perspectives, interesting ideas get the chance to be expressed. Some examples are standing against group mentality, relying on the kindness of strangers, and changing a person’s way of thinking. As a film about this particular time-period, I liked In Love and War for what it was. At best, this is a decent movie that has its strengths. But, as a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, it didn’t leave as big of an emotional impact as other films from this collection have. I will say that this film is a good introduction to not only Hallmark Hall of Fame, but also to Hallmark movies in general. If someone likes a particular aspect of the movie, they will be able to find other Hallmark films that share similarities.

 

Overall score: 7 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on World War II in film? Which Hallmark Hall of Fame movie do you like? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen