Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host Review + 290 Follower Thank You

In February, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will be airing two new mystery films! These movies are Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent and Chronicle Mysteries: Helped to Death. While I do plan on reviewing both films, they aren’t scheduled to premiere for another week or two, as their release dates are February 14th and February 21st. Until then, I’ll be talking about Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host! I enjoy watching films from this particular series. In fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed a Perry Mason movie. Last year, I wrote about Perry Mason Returns and Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, with both films receiving honorable mentions on my list of the best films I saw in 2020. Because I recently saw Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host and because I needed to publish my blog follower dedication review, in honor of my blog gaining 290 followers, this was the perfect opportunity to talk about another mystery film!

I wasn’t able to find a picture of this film’s poster, so I took a screenshot of this image from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As of February 2021, I have seen some of the movies from the Perry Mason series. Based on those films, I’ve noticed how the acting performances have always been a consistent strength. Speaking of consistent, Raymond Burr does a good job bringing his character, Perry Mason, to life! The dry sense of humor and serious demeanor Perry is known for has had a constant presence in every film he has appeared in, including Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host. Toward the beginning of the film, Perry is talking on the phone with a colleague. When the conversation was almost finished, Perry responds that he is going to meet the colleague in two hours, when he was planning to wake up. Because the audience only sees Perry’s side of the conversation, they see that he was spending the night working on paperwork instead of sleeping. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host features some real-life talk show hosts in the cast. Two of them are Regis Philbin and Montel Williams, as I’ve seen episodes of their respective shows before. In this film, Regis and Montel portrayed characters that were different from the personalities they have presented on their shows. Regis’ character, Winslow, was an antagonist who was self-centered and mean to those around him. Meanwhile, Montel’s character, Boomer, was only looking out for himself and avoided talking about issues from his past. These characters not only gave Regis and Montel interesting material to work with, but it also gave the audience something new to see. Like any mystery film, Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host provided an opportunity to introduce new characters. Cathy Paxton was one of them. Portrayed by Alex Datcher, Cathy had a spunky personality and the street smarts to help her with undercover police cases! She and Perry’s assistant, Ken Malansky, also worked well together. Out of the movies I’ve seen from the Perry Mason series, it doesn’t seem like Cathy made any appearances outside of this film. It makes me wish she would have joined the main cast of characters, as she fit in with the members of Perry Mason’s law firm so perfectly!

The inclusion of talk shows and their hosts: Like I just mentioned, Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host features some real-life talk show hosts in the cast. As their names were presented in the opening credits and based on the title itself, I was expecting the movie to focus on talk shows from television. But as I watched the film, I discovered it was about talk shows on the radio. To me, this was a pleasant surprise! It allowed the audience to see these hosts, like Regis and Montel, in a different media format. I also liked seeing the diverse personalities and shows within one radio station. When the story progresses and as each character is questioned by Perry, the audience can witness how they all bring something different to the table. A unique dynamic was formed because of this creative decision!

The mystery: On 18 Cinema Lane, I’ve mentioned there are mystery movies that adopt a type of story where the audience solves the case alongside the protagonist. The mystery in Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host is that kind of story. This case unfolds as the movie progresses, with Perry and his team making discoveries along the way. In that time, the audience learns more about the characters within the overall story. When Perry questions the talk show hosts from the radio station, we learn about their possible motives and even their backstories. It was a good way to incorporate character development. This kind of story worked for Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host because it maintained a steady amount of intrigue. My interest in this story also remained from the start to finish.

Recording studio image created by Senivpetro at freepik.com. Music photo created by senivpetro – www.freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

An overlooked murder: At the beginning of the movie, Sheila, Perry’s newest client, discovers a dead body in her house. She then calls the police and the body is removed from her home at a later time. After this happens, that murder is not referenced again. In fact, it has nothing to do with the main mystery. From a story-telling perspective, these two cases should had been related in some way. It would have prevented that early part of the script from being overlooked.

A glossed over tragedy: In a few moments of the film, Sheila mentions that her daughter died of a drug overdose. Outside of those moments, this detail is never explored to a fuller extent. Similar to the overlooked murder I previously mentioned, the tragedy doesn’t really have anything to do with the main mystery. It would have made more sense if the movie had included a subplot where Sheila helps someone who is struggling with a drug addiction. This would have allowed her to work through her grief and make peace with what happened to her daughter.

The reveal of the guilty party: Whenever I review a mystery movie, I try not to spoil it for anyone, as there could be readers who haven’t seen the film yet. That is the case for Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host, as I won’t be revealing the mystery’s outcome. However, I’m going to say that I didn’t like the how the guilty party was discovered. This is because it felt out of character for a series like Perry Mason. The best way I can describe it is it’s more like Murder, She Wrote; presenting an outcome that most of the audience would not easily guess. I know that Perry is known for creating theories and connections off-screen. But in the movies I’ve seen so far, the outcome could be figured out by the viewer.

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My overall impression:

The Perry Mason series is a collection of films I enjoy talking about. Even though I don’t always get the opportunity to bring it up on my blog, I feel it is a series worth seeing. Based on the films I have seen from this collection, Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host is one of the stronger films! There are areas of the overall story that could have been elaborated upon or explained better. The murder that takes place at the beginning of the film and the tragedy in Sheila’s life are two examples. However, the movie as a whole was a solid production! It incorporated creative elements that made the story stand out from the other chapters in the series. The film also selected choices that I, personally, haven’t seen in any film before. Having real-life talk show hosts from television portraying talk show hosts on the radio is a perfect example of this. Before I end this review, I want to thank all of my 290 followers! I know this post is published later than expected, as the blog received 290 followers in January. However, I do appreciate your support.

Overall score: 8 out of 10

Do you watch the Perry Mason movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Review

January’s theme for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur is ‘Unreliable Narrator Movies’. I will admit this round of the blogathon wasn’t easy to find movies for, as most of the films that were continuously recommended were those I’d already seen. However, I discovered a movie that I had never even heard of on a list from IMDB. That film is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a title from 1920! Silent movies and those from the ‘20s are not often covered on 18 Cinema Lane. This is due to the availability of the films themselves. Fortunately, I was able to rent The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, as that is one of the reasons why I selected it for this blogathon. I was also curious to see who the unreliable narrator was. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari sounded like an intriguing start to Genre Grandeur!

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari poster created by Decla-Bioscop.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I have said before, acting performances in silent films rely on facial expressions and body language. The actors in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari utilize these acting techniques, as they represent one way to help the audience understand what is happening in the story. Lil Dagover gave a very expressive performance as a character named Jane! When one of her friends, Francis, tells her his friend, Alan, has died, horror and surprise wash over her face. In another scene, when Francis and Jane’s father are talking about a man named Cesare, fear can be seen in Jane’s eyes. This specific behavior tells the audience Jane is afraid of Cesare. The lead actor, Friedrich Fehér, gave an expressive performance as well! While portraying his character, Francis, Friedrich displayed a variety of emotions. A scene where Francis visits a police station serves as a perfect example, as he fearfully informs the police who is likely causing the murders throughout his neighborhood. For an earlier scene, his overall demeanor was much different, as Francis introduces his story as a joyful man with a positive outlook on life. As the titular character, Dr. Caligari, Werner Krauss gave a performance that comes across as unsettling. With wide eyes and exaggerated expressions, Werner appears excited whenever he’s presenting his sideshow act to his audience. Dr. Caligari’s animated demeanor truly makes up for the lack of dialogue!

The title cards: A common staple in silent films is the use of title cards. This concept is incorporated into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to help the audience understand what the characters are trying to say. Not only is this effectively shown, but we can also see other articles that the characters are given. Toward the beginning of the film, Francis and his friend, Alan, receive a flyer for an upcoming fair. In one shot, the text on this flyer is enlarged, revealing an advertisement for the fair itself. When Francis is figuring out Dr. Caligari’s true identity, he looks through books found in the doctor’s office. As he finds more clues, the audience is shown journal entries from Dr. Caligari himself. The inclusion of these articles makes the overall viewing experience more engaging!

The mystery: Throughout the film, Francis is attempting to solve the mystery surrounding a collection of murders in his neighborhood. In his efforts, he recruits the help of the local police and gathers clues. Out of all the silent films I’ve seen before, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has a pretty unique concept, as it is a mystery. This stands out from movies of this nature I have previously seen and/or reviewed, as those stories were either comedies, dramas, or horror. I also like how the audience gets to experience the story’s events alongside Francis. Even though pieces of the mystery are revealed as the film goes on, it allows the audience a chance to share an experience with the protagonist.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a little over an hour. Because of this, there were scenes throughout the movie that feel like “filler”. When the fair comes to town, scenes where people are walking around the fairgrounds for about a minute to two minutes each are shown. These scenes add up to a collection of moments that are there to satisfy the film’s run-time. In my opinion, this movie did not need to be over an hour. If the “filler” scenes had been shortened or removed, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari could have been a forty- or fifty-minute short film.

An inconsistent use of title cards: While I appreciate the use of title cards in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, I feel its inclusion should have been more consistent. There were stretches of time where title cards were not used, watching as characters spoke with no form of dialogue. This caused confusion when certain scenarios happened on-screen. One of them was a flashback involving Dr. Caligari. Since there were no title cards indicating this was a flashback, it was a confusing transition from one scene to the next. Even the plot twist was confusing, as there was no clear indication, through title cards, that it was a separate component to Francis’ story. This made the overall movie less entertaining.

Some of the musical choices: Music plays a significant role in silent films, as it sets the stage for a particular scene’s tone. In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, however, there were a few scenes where the musical choices did not fit within a scene. When Francis is first introduced in the movie, as he is talking to a man sitting next to him, it sounded like there were two pieces of music playing at once. It made the scene itself feel jarring. Later in the film, when Francis goes to visit Dr. Caligari at his office, music that sounded more joyful than that scene called for could be heard. The piece of music itself felt out of place in that specific scene.

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My overall impression:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a good example of how far cinema has come. Silent films show us how this particular entertainment medium has evolved over time. Even though I respect the movie for what it brought to the table, the overall project was weaker than it should have been. I found The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to be more confusing than entertaining. This was caused by some of the musical choices and the inconsistent use of title cards. The limited amount of title cards prevented the reveal of the unreliable narrator from being surprising. Because of the film’s run-time, I felt tired by the length of the story. In fact, there were times where I felt taking a nap. Despite these flaws, I am glad I chose this movie for the blogathon! As I said in the introduction, silent films and those from the ‘20s are not often written about on my blog. Therefore, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari joins 18 Cinema Lane’s growing list of movie reviews!

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you ever a silent film? If so, what was your viewing experience? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Review

Because my Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related content has been well-received, I try to make an effort to write about Hallmark’s mystery films whenever I can. Since the only new mystery movie to premiere this month is Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, I wanted to review it. So far, I have been impressed with this particular series. The first two films, A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery and Riddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery were in my Honorable Mentions on my list of the best movies I saw last year! They were such a strong start to a new series, that I couldn’t wait to see the rest of the story unfold! Jeff and Zee, the lead characters of Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries, make a good mystery solving team. It also helps that the scenery is nice to look at. Now, let’s set sail through this review of Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery!

Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery is the third film in the Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series. Because of this, the main cast from the previous films also star in the newest installment. It works in the cast’s favor, as it allows each actor and actress to become familiar with their characters. While watching this movie, I could tell the members of the main cast were comfortable in their roles. This included Jesse Metcalfe and Sarah Lind! They both adopted an on-screen personality that complimented their characters. Jesse and Sarah had good on-screen chemistry as well. With each new film in a mystery series comes new supporting actors. One of them was Garfield Wilson. Portraying a local artist named Carl, Garfield gave a performance that was memorable! When Jeff and Zee inform Carl that Bernie, an art studio manager, has passed away, Carl becomes distraught. With a strong sense of emotionality, Garfield was effectively able to show how much Bernie meant to his character.

Including an overarching story: An overarching story within the Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series is the mystery of who shot Jeff in the back prior to his retirement from the Boston Police. The inclusion of this story gives the series a sense of continuity. What also helps is allowing pieces of the mystery to be discovered as the series progresses. In Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Jeff comes across a breakthrough as he reflects on the past with Zee. While I won’t spoil this part of the story, it does give the audience something to look forward to for the next film!

Creative set design choices: While watching Hallmark films, I always enjoy seeing the interesting set design choices from the various sets of a given movie. With Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, there were some interior and exterior design choices that I found visually appealing! In one scene, Jeff visits a restaurant in the hopes of meeting Zee there for dinner. Even though the main entrance features a plain glass door, its black frame pairs nicely with the gray stone exterior wall. This wall can also be seen inside the restaurant, complimenting the warm wood counter located nearby. In another scene, Jeff is using a punching bag on his porch. I have rarely seen punching bags found in outside spaces when it comes to cinema. So, this design choice was definitely creative! Plus, the view of the seaside makes the scene more photogenic!

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What I didn’t like about the film:

An overshadowed mystery: At the beginning at the movie, Zee’s doctor friend, Eli, is murdered. However, this character is barely referenced throughout the film. Zee and Jeff don’t discover the murder until the last thirty minutes of the movie. This is because the majority of their time is spent solving the murder of an art gallery manager named Bernie. It is possible to make a good mystery movie featuring more than one mystery. But for Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, there either should have been an equal emphasis on both mysteries or have the main murder mystery be the only one in the story.

A glossed over event: Toward the start of the story, the characters are preparing for an upcoming regatta benefit gala. But similar to what I said about Eli, this event is barely referenced in the film. In fact, the event itself is not shown on screen. I found this disappointing because I like when events like this are featured in mystery stories, as it is interesting to see the ideas the movie’s creative team can come up with. Now that I think about it, I think this is one of the few times where an anticipated event in a mystery film doesn’t play a significant role in the overall story.

The mystery’s start time: Most mystery stories start their respective mysteries within a short amount of time. It is done to help the story move along at a steady pace. With Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, the main mystery didn’t officially begin until a little over twenty-five minutes into the film. This time was used to set up the mystery and re-establish the significance of the series’ main characters. But, personally, I don’t think that needed to be done in almost thirty minutes. Ten to fifteen minutes is, in my opinion, more than enough time to address those two aforementioned aspects of the story.

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My overall impression:

At best, Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery is a fine movie. But, at worst, it is a step backward from the first two films. What I like about this series is how it has created an identity that sets itself apart from the other series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. One way it has accomplished this is by including an overarching story that can be found throughout each movie. I know every project isn’t created equally, as some stories are better than others. However, the third chapter made the overall quality of the series stumble a little bit. The first mystery movie of the year should put their best foot forward. For Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, it could have been a stronger first impression. With a glossed over event and an overshadowed mystery, there are areas of the story that might have added more interest to the overall plot. Starting the main mystery almost thirty minutes into the movie also hurts its case. According to a production sheet I found on UBCP/ACTRA’s (Union of British Columbia Performers/Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) website, a fourth Martha’s Vineyard Mystery movie will go into production next month! Hopefully, that film will be better than this one was.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Did you watch the films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries? If so, which series is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is the link to the production sheet I mentioned in this review:

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

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!

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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

Take 3: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove Review

While hosting A Blogathon to be Thankful For, I was invited by Crystal to join her Agnes Moorehead blogathon. After accepting the invitation and making a quick search through Agnes’ IMDB filmography, I chose the 1971 Disney film, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove! According to the synopsis, this is about a small group of children who make a monster so their teacher wouldn’t be ridiculed by others in their town. Recently, Crystal’s brother, Jarrahn, shared the news that Crystal was in a coma. This meant that Jarrahn and Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, would be co-hosting the event. Hearing the news about Crystal was saddening. However, I was glad to see Jarrahn and Gill step up to the plate to help a fellow blogger and sister in need.

The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove created by The Walt Disney Company. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. 

Things I liked about the film:

Genuine portrayals: Since I chose to review this movie because of Agnes Moorehead’s involvement, I’ll talk about her performance first. She portrays Mrs. Pringle, a local bird watcher who is also a well-known gossip. Throughout the film, this character took everything she did seriously. It got to the point where she seemed to care too much. However, Agnes’ portrayal was so genuine, I actually liked seeing Mrs. Pringle show up. Other genuine portrayals came from Annie McEveety, Jimmy Bracken, and Patrick Creamer. As Tippy, Scott, and Catfish, these actors appeared to work well together. The friendship between the children felt realistic and it was nice to see their camaraderie over the course of the film!

The messages and themes: Within the story of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, messages related to standing up for those you care about, teamwork, and listening to what someone has to say are found. A good example is when Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish work together to build the monster for their teacher. Because Henry Meade, the teacher, is important to the children, they stand up for him and help in any way they realistically can. Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish spend days building the monster by gathering material and putting the pieces together on their own. This part of the story also emphasizes putting others before yourself.

The mystery of the smugglers’ “boss”: A group of smugglers inhabit a run-down house near the protagonist’s small town. Throughout the film, these criminals briefly talk about their “boss”. However, this particular character isn’t revealed until about the last twenty minutes of the movie. The mystery of the “boss’s” identity kept me invested in the film, giving me an opportunity to figure out who this person was. Even though I had an idea of who the “boss” could be, I was surprised by the final outcome.

The Second Agnes Moorehead Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is an hour and thirty-minute film. While this is the typical length of time for a made-for-tv presentation, it was too long for this particular title. That’s because the story was simple and straight forward, needing only about thirty minutes to be told. The run-time of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove made the overall project too drawn out.

The smuggling subplot: In The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, there was a subplot involving smugglers importing valuables into the protagonist’s small town. The subplot itself wasn’t bad, but it felt like it was included in the film just to satisfy the run-time and push the plot forward. As I previously stated, the story is simple and straight forward. The inclusion of the smuggling subplot unnecessarily complicated a narrative that was easier to understand.

The main plot being overshadowed: As I mentioned in the introduction, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is about a small group of children who create a monster in order to defend their teacher from being ridiculed. However, when the smuggling subplot is introduced, the children change their focus to finding the smugglers’ hidden treasure. This causes the main plot to be pushed to the side for the sake of highlighting the subplot. With a movie titled The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, a viewer would expect the film to primarily revolve around the monster the children create. Unfortunately, it doesn’t receive as much attention as the title suggests.

<a href="http://<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type="URL" data-id="<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background'>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.comStrawberry background image created by Bluelela from freepik.com.

My overall impression:

To me, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove was ok. However, I feel this specific story would have been better served as an episode from a children’s/family-friendly show. The straight-forward plot could be resolved in a short amount of time. In the movie, it was drawn out to over an hour. It also doesn’t help that the smuggling subplot pushed the main plot out of the way. The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is not the worst film I’ve seen this year. In fact, I could tell the creative team behind this movie had their hearts in the right place. But when it comes to films of this nature, I have seen better. Younger children might enjoy this title, as it features young characters saving the day. But older audience members might find themselves more bored than entertained.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove? Which made-for-tv movie would you like to see me review next? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sally Watches…Homicide: Life on the Street

Recently, I purchased The Crow: The Movie, a book that explores the production of the 1994 film. While reading that book, I learned that Bai Ling, who portrayed Myca in the movie, guest-starred on an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. The Crow: The Movie also revealed that Jon Polito, who portrayed Gideon, was a regular on the aforementioned television show. As of November 2020, I haven’t seen much from either actor’s filmography. Until a few days ago, I didn’t even know this show existed. Fortunately, I was able to find Bai and Jon’s episode online, which is one of the reasons why I’m reviewing it. Like my other television episode reviews, I will write about what I liked about the episode, what I didn’t like about the episode, the story itself, the other factors from the episode, and my overall thoughts. But similar to my episode review of Touched by an Angel, I won’t be sharing my thoughts on Homicide: Life on the Street as a series, as I’m only focusing on one episode.

Screenshot of Homicide: Life on the Street‘s title card taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Episode Name: And The Rockets Dead Glare

Season 1, Episode 7

Premiere Date: March 17th, 1993

What I liked about this episode:

As I mentioned in the introduction, I have not seen much from Bai’s or Jon’s filmography. In fact, the only projects of Bai’s I’ve seen is The Crow and the Lost episode, “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Her roles on those programs, Myca and Achara, are presented as mysterious individuals who convey a sense of mysticism. This is portrayed through the characters’ actions and choices. Because Bai’s character on Homicide: Life on the Street, Teri Chow, is not mysterious in the same way as Myca or Achara, this forces her to rely on emotion instead of actions. “And The Rockets Dead Glare” shows Bai effectively using emotion when interacting with Jon Polito’s character, Steve Crosetti, and Meldrick Lewis, Steve’s detective partner. In the beginning of the episode, Teri tearfully reveals the identity of the murder victim and the likely cause of his death. Bai’s performance not only shows how murder can affect those surrounding the victim, but the battles some people may face as well. I also found her to be the stand-out actor in this episode!

What I didn’t like about this episode:

Just like The Crow, Jon and Bai share only one scene on their episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. However, a major difference is the aforementioned scene was Bai’s only scene in the entire fifty-four-minute episode. Teri is referenced by Steve and Meldrick long after her initial introduction. But aside from that first scene, she doesn’t make any further appearances. While Bai receives more lines in “And The Rockets Dead Glare” than she did in her and Jon’s scene from The Crow, her character is not as significant in the overall story as I hoped and expected. It also doesn’t help that the mystery in this specific storyline is overshadowed by Steve and Meldrick’s sightseeing adventure in Washington D.C. Because of this, the mystery remained unsolved. For almost an hour, a guilty party was not revealed, no clues were found, and there were no suspects being questioned.

The story itself:

When I first read the synopsis for “And The Rockets Dead Glare”, I felt there was too much going on in the episode’s overall story. After watching the episode, I still stand by that belief. “And The Rockets Dead Glare” features four storylines; Steve and Meldrick’s murder mystery/Washington D.C. trip, another murder mystery involving drugs, a court case featuring two of the series regulars (Beau Felton and Kay Howard), and a member of Baltimore’s police unit, Frank Pembleton, receiving a promotion. With four plots competing for screen-time, all of them ended up underwhelming. Even the one story I was the most invested in, Steve and Meldrick’s murder mystery, was not fully engaging because of the story’s misfocus. The plot that received the most attention, Beau and Kay’s court case, revolved around events from the show’s previous episode. Because of this and because “And The Rockets Dead Glare” is the only episode of Homicide: Life on the Street I’ve seen, I found the story to be uninteresting. Had this storyline been the main focus of a two-part episode, it might have worked better from a story-telling perspective. Every plot in “And The Rockets Dead Glare” lacked a sense of urgency. It seemed like the characters spent more time having casual conversations with one another than actually doing their jobs. This screenwriting decision takes away the suspense and intrigue that is usually found on mystery/crime shows.

The other factors from this episode:

  • Pieces of media from the past can be viewed one of two ways: as products of their time or standing the test of time. Parts of “And The Rockets Dead Glare” were reflections of the ‘90s that felt exclusive to that time period, with no room to expand beyond the decade. While waiting in the hallway at the court house, Beau asks Kay if she’d like to watch Oprah, referring to Oprah’s day-time talk show. Because that show has been off the air for almost a decade, as of November 2020, it doesn’t hold the same amount of relevance it did when “And The Rockets Dead Glare” first premiered. Another example is a conversation Steve has with a government official that has aged poorly, where Steve compliments the official for his use of English.
  • I really liked Homicide: Life on the Street’s introduction! All of the shots were filmed in black-and-white, with hints of red appearing on the screen. This reminded me of The Crow, where the film’s color palette shared similar hues throughout the story. In the introduction, mysterious music could be heard in the background. This sets a tone that indicates a suspenseful outcome of what will unfold.
  • As I said in the introduction, I had never heard of Homicide: Life on the Street before reading The Crow: The Movie. Therefore, I did not see “And The Rockets Dead Glare” when it originally aired. When I watched this episode for this review, I noticed how all of the on-screen text was backwards. I doubt this happened in March of 1993 when the episode first premiered on television. However, I’m wondering if the person who uploaded this episode online made this decision for copyright related reasons?

My overall thoughts:

Now that I have seen Homicide: Life on the Street, I understand why it isn’t well remembered. The episode I watched, “And The Rockets Dead Glare”, was one of the most mundane programs I’ve ever seen. While it had a strong start and promising potential, the stories themselves were not as interesting as they could have been. Despite having seen only one episode of this show, it felt like Homicide: Life on the Street was desperately trying to ride the coat-tails of a show like Law and Order without fully grasping what made a program like that work. Going against Homicide: Life on the Street’s favor is featuring four main storylines in the overall episode instead of one mystery case. The focus on characters having casual-style conversations with each other negatively impacted key areas of these plots. As stated in this review is how Steve and Meldrick’s trip to Washington D.C. overshadowed the murder mystery they were required to solve. If you are a fan of The Crow and are interested in seeing “And The Rockets Dead Glare”, I’d recommend watching the scenes involving Steve and Meldrick’s murder mystery for Bai’s and Jon’s performance alone. Everything else can be skipped, as it’ll just lead you to disappointment.

Rating: A very low 3 out of 5

This is a screenshot I took of my copy of The Crow: The Movie. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
This is a screenshot I took from The Crow: The Movie‘s page about Bai Ling. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
This is a screenshot I took from The Crow: The Movie‘s page about Jon Polito. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have you watched The Crow? If so, what TV show episode featuring a star of this movie would you like to see me review? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

Even though Hallmark’s Christmas season has arrived, there are two mystery movies listed on Creative B.C. that are either currently in production or will soon be in production! The first one is ‘The Chronicle Mysteries 5 – Helped To Death’, which is filming until November 4th. This is exciting news, especially since all of the movies in this series, led by Alison Sweeney, aired in 2019! The second film is ‘Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent’. It will start filming on October 26th and end on November 13th. I’m happy to see Crossword Mysteries receive another chapter, as I enjoyed the previous film, Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver! Based on their production schedules, both movies will likely premiere sometime in 2021.

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Have you seen any movie from these series? If so, are you looking forward to the films I mentioned in this article? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly Review

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Miracles of Christmas” line-up is just around the corner! But before that television event can begin, there is one more mystery film I need to talk about. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly is the last new mystery movie to premiere until next year. Despite this, I was planning on reviewing the movie anyways, as I’ve seen this series since the very beginning. In the fourteenth film, a high school reunion is where the mystery takes place. While I did find this idea interesting, I said in a Word on the Street story that I was disappointed the story had nothing to do with Aurora’s ex, Martin. However, I didn’t let this affect my viewing experience!

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of the strengths of the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries series has always been the acting performances, with the actors’ and actresses’ expressive natures making these performances enjoyable to watch! Candace Cameron Bure’s portrayal of the titular character was definitely a highlight for this movie! A scene that was one of Candace’s best was when Aurora discovered the murder victim. The shocked expression on her face was very convincing and added suspense to that scene. Another actress that used facial expressions well was Tegan Moss. Portraying the wife of the murder victim, Tegan put a lot of emotion into her performance. This is especially the case in the scene where she is first questioned by the police, as she can be seen crying. Speaking of the murder victim, I was glad to see Toby Levins cast in this film as Jack Larsen! Even though he was in the movie for a short amount of time, Toby brought charisma to his role. This made his performance memorable, as well as make me wish he had stayed in the story a little bit longer.

The design of the high school reunion: This isn’t the first time Hallmark has included a high school reunion into one of their stories. However, the event in the latest Aurora Teagarden movie was the most memorable one I’ve seen! This is because some of the design choices were very creative! In several areas of the hotel’s banquet space, there were displays that represented different extracurricular activities. For example, a display titled “Memories of Cheerleading” featured pom-poms, a megaphone, and pictures of cheerleaders from the reunion’s graduating class. When attendees arrived at the reunion, they were given name tags that looked like school ID cards. The name tags even featured the attendees’ senior high school photos. These design decisions showed how the film’s creative team thought outside the box when it came to this specific story concept!

Aida stands up for Aurora: For most of the series, Aurora’s mother, Aida, has discouraged Aurora from solving mysteries and participating in the Real Murders Club. In Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly, however, Aida seems to have changed her tune a little bit. When visiting the mother of the murder victim, the mother shares her doubts about her son’s murder being solved. Aida takes the opportunity to stand up for her daughter. She tells Jack’s mother that even though she doesn’t approve of Aurora’s decisions, she knows that Aurora is the best at what she does. This was so refreshing to see after the “don’t-get-involved” cliché was placed in the series for so long!

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What I didn’t like about the film:

Details that don’t make sense: In this movie, Aurora and her friends attend their 20-year high school reunion. If this story takes place in 2020, it means that they graduated in 2000. Before the event, Aurora and Sally are looking through a memory box that Aurora put together after her graduation. When reflecting on music from their high school years, they bring up Britney Spears and Pink as their favorite artists, which makes sense from a chronological perspective. Shortly after this statement is made, Aurora takes out a Rubik’s Cube and a Walkman from the box, items that are typically associated with the ‘80s. Several scenes later, when the murder victim is discovered at the reunion, the police immediately come to the scene of the crime. During the initial investigation, the attendees of the reunion are not informed of the situation as they curiously wonder what happened to their missing friends. If a situation like this happened in real life, every attendee would be immediately notified of the crime.

No humor: Mystery films from Hallmark’s second network usually incorporate enough humor to prevent the story from becoming too dark. It also allows the actors to explore their dramatic and comedic talents. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly did not contain this component. Lack of humorous or light-hearted moments caused the movie to adopt a more serious tone than previous entries. Audience members were also not given a break from the murder mystery.

Weaker audio: In my review of JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, I mentioned how some of Hallmark’s recent films have experienced bad audio. While the audio in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly was better than the audio in the aforementioned sequel, it did have its issues. Whenever a character talked loudly, my speakers produced a cracking sound. I’m not sure if this is a movie related or entertainment system related issue. But it is something I felt needed to be addressed.

Photo by Dave Di Biase from FreeImages.

My overall impression:

This chapter in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries series made me feel similar to Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death. At best, it is a fine mystery movie with strong elements. But, at worst, it seems like it just met a requirement. I did like the design of the film’s high school reunion, as well as the discussion on how people can change. However, this discussion could have served a greater importance within the overall story. One thing I didn’t like about the movie was how there was no humor to be found. Comedy is something that the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have in common, as this component helps the stories avoid being too dark. However, the overall tone in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly was more serious because of the lack of humor. While I haven’t heard of any upcoming Aurora Teagarden Mysteries films, there was one commercial for a new Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries movie that will premiere in 2021! But if there are any new Aurora Teagarden Mysteries stories on the horizon, I hope they are stronger than Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly was.

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

Did you see any of this year’s mystery films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries? If so, which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death Review

Even though I’ve been reviewing films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries lately, I haven’t reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark’s second network since May. Because of this, I decided to review the newest movie in the Picture Perfect Mysteries series, especially since I have seen the first two installments. Like the other series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Picture Perfect Mysteries has been an enjoyable collection of films. The series also has a distinct identity that sets it apart from the various current offerings on this particular channel. A mystery story featuring a murder mystery stage play is not new, as the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries series had a similar concept in the 2019 movie, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play. In fact, there was a play poster in the background of Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death that was titled “A Very Foul Play”. However, I was curious to see how a detective and photographer duo would approach this specific type of mystery.

Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Thing I liked about the film:

The acting: In Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death, the acting ranged from fine to good. However, there were some stand-out performances I’d like to bring up. One came from series regular, Trezzo Mahoro, who portrayed Allie’s friend Noah. What I liked about his performance was how lively and expressive it was. A good example is when Noah discovers Maya has figured out the password on his laptop. The look of shock on his face truly appeared genuine. Another note-worthy performance was Willie Aames’! As one of the characters said in this movie, Neil Kahn was “mild-mannered”. While this is true, Willie made this part of his character consistent. Because Neil is a director of mystery stories, this is a different yet interesting creative choice when it comes to acting. Speaking of Neil, I also enjoyed seeing April Telek’s performance! Throughout the film, her portrayal of Neil’s wife was very natural. This is evident in the scene where she and Neil are having an argument about their personal lives.

The interior and exterior design: In some scenes, Neil Kahn’s house was featured on screen. This is certainly one of the most photogenic houses shown in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film! The exterior was pale yellow Victorian, complete with a wrap around porch. Impressive interior designs added to the grand scale that is also shown on the house’s exterior. Dark wood was a consistent component of each room shown in the movie. The living room boasted a large wood fireplace paired beautifully with green marble. Neil’s library also featured wood, as seen in bookshelves covering the walls. An eye-catching design choice was how arches outlined the shelves, an element that isn’t often found. In one scene, the living room in Allie’s house can be seen in the background. A stone fireplace was illuminated with soft lights, with a complimentary bookshelf next to it. This shows how good interior and/or exterior design came from multiple locations!

The cinematography: There was some cinematography in Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death that really surprised me in a good way! One notable example is when a suspect is being questioned at the police station. As the scene plays out, emphasis is placed on the clock and the suspect’s face. They were both zoomed in at various points in the scene, highlighting the suspense and fear a person might face in that situation. Another interesting use of cinematography is when Allie and Sam were having a conversation after the murder victim was discovered. When each character was speaking, they were given close-ups to help the audience focus on Sam’s or Allie’s part of the conversation. This specific area of film-making, cinematography, added intrigue to the overall project!

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What I didn’t like about the film:

Story points that didn’t lead anywhere: Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death contained story points that ended up not leading anywhere. One of them was the robberies that were taking place in Willow Brook, the small town featured in this series. During the movie, Sam was in charge of solving the film’s murder and a string of robberies. Unfortunately, this part of the film became an afterthought, as it had little to no connection to the main plot. Another story point involved a local loan shark. While he was shown and mentioned on a few occasions, the loan shark didn’t have a consistent enough presence to be a meaningful part of the story. If this character would have been given more importance, maybe he could have been a red herring.

Allie’s relationship with Daniel: Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series usually show the male and female protagonist forming a romantic relationship over time. Even though this is only the third Picture Perfect Mysteries movie, I feel Allie and Sam will likely become a couple. Because of this, I found Allie’s relationship with Daniel, a newspaper reporter, to be pointless. When Allie’s friend, Maya, suggests that Allie go on a date with Daniel, it felt like the screenwriter was trying to force a love triangle into the story. Allie and Daniel’s departure from their date came across as awkward, like they knew their relationship wasn’t going to last. To me, it seemed like this aspect of the movie was unnecessarily shoved into the narrative.

A choppy pace: I found the overall pace in Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death to be choppy. This is because there wasn’t a good flow in-between scenes. In one scene, Allie and Sam are discussing color paint samples for Sam’s house. Shortly after, one of the murder suspects is giving Allie clues. Mysteries series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries space out scenes that are not mystery related, as to not make the movie feel too dark. However, this installment in the Picture Perfect Mysteries series seemed to fill their script with as much content as possible with the intent to worrying about the overall flow later.

Tools of a writer image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/camera-and-coffee-near-notebook-and-accessories_2399437.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At best, Picture Perfect Mysteries: Exit, Stage Death was a fine film. It definitely had its strengths, such as some stand-out acting performances and interesting cinematography. But, in my opinion, the movie felt like it just met a requirement. As I mentioned in this review, this is the third chapter in the Picture Perfect Mysteries series. By this point, the question of how the overarching story arc can move forward should be answered. This film, however, does not answer that question. What it does instead is almost put the series in a stand-still, forcing it to stay in one place. Having story points that don’t lead anywhere is just one example of how this happened. Yes, the mystery was intriguing. But this is only a part of a mystery film. If there are other parts of the story that don’t work, the movie is going to have shortcomings. While it is unknown at this time whether the Picture Perfect Mysteries series will receive a fourth film, I just hope it’s stronger than this movie was.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen the Picture Perfect Mysteries series? Would you like to see this series get a fourth film? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen