Take 3: Making of a Male Model Review

Any time I participate in a blogathon, I try to choose a film or topic that brings something different to the event. This allows my entry to stand out, as well as offer a sense of variety to the blogathon’s subject. When searching Joan Collins’ filmography, for Realweegiemedget Reviews’ Joan Collins Blogathon, I came across the 1983 television movie, Making of a Male Model. What intrigued me to the point of wanting to watch it was how it told a story from a completely different perspective. In films that revolve around modeling or the fashion industry, the story usually focuses on a female protagonist. With Making of a Male Model, a man is entering the modeling world. Out of the films I’ve seen involving modeling, the only one featuring a male model in the starring cast is the Disney movie, Model Behavior. Add the fact I’ve haven’t seen many of Joan’s projects, I am definitely eager to start this review!

Here is a screenshot I took with my phone of the movie’s opening title. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because Joan Collins’ involvement in this movie is one of the reasons why I chose to review this film, I’ll talk about her performance first. In stories where the head of a fashion or modeling firm is one of the main characters, they either have an obvious self-centered personality or they come across as emotionally distant. With Joan’s portrayal of Kay Dillon, she brought something different to a role like this. For most of the film, Kay appeared genuinely kind-hearted and nurturing. The only times Kay sounds self-centered is when she is upset. When Kay and Tyler discuss their plans over lunch is a perfect example, as she explains how she can’t spend much time with him because she had spent ten years building her career. Speaking of Tyler, I enjoyed watching Jon-Erik Hexum’s performance! He did a good job portraying a character in his specific situation. At the beginning of the movie, Tyler is a “fish out of water”, overwhelmed by the modeling world and taken aback by some of the things that take place in that world. As the film progresses, Tyler gains more confidence and his perspective begins to change. I also liked Jeff Conaway’s portrayal of Chuck Lanyard! It was dramatic and emotional without being over-the-top. One of Jeff’s best scenes is when his character is comparing the modeling world to a stage play. That scene proved to me Jeff has the talents for a Broadway show!

The costume design: In one scene, Tyler and Kay attend a costume party. The costumes were so elaborate and detailed, I honestly thought they were going to the Met Gala! One of the party goers wore a large hat in the shape of eyes. The piece around the blue eyes appeared periwinkle, with the hat portion blending into a pretty purple. Kay’s dress was absolutely gorgeous! It was covered in sparkles, allowing the dress to shine whenever Joan moved. The top of the dress was gold, with the skirt adopting an ombre design of blue and purple. A clear jeweled collar completed the look. During a photo shoot, one of the models was wearing a hat with a bird on it. The bird was covered in purple jewels, sparkling anytime the model moved her head. It was such a cool piece that I’d love to have in my wardrobe!

An insightful look into the world of modeling/advertising: Out of the episodes of Murder, She Wrote I’ve seen, my favorite one is ‘Film Flam’. One of the reasons is the behind the scenes look at how a movie premiere is organized. Throughout Making of a Male Model, the world of modeling and advertising is explored. When Tyler goes to apply for a catalogue modeling job, he is turned down due to his appearance and his lack of a portfolio. This instance shows how fast-paced this particular world can be and how one must always be prepared to bring a good first impression. At one point in Tyler’s journey, Tyler takes part in television commercials. Before a commercial for cologne was filmed, the director conducted a practice run in order to help Tyler remember what to do. It was interesting to see how the sets were constructed, how far the crew was willing to go to create an image or an idea. It was also interesting to see the prep work that goes into creating a commercial.

What I didn’t like the film:

Lack of on-screen chemistry: During the film, Tyler and Kay form a romantic relationship. However, I never sensed a spark between them. Jon-Erik and Joan worked well together from an acting perspective. But when it came time for their characters to become intimate, it felt like they were following story points within a script instead of allowing their characters to form a connection.  Tyler and Kay’s relationship comes to fruition after the costume party I mentioned earlier. But up until that moment, Tyler and Kay did not express any interest in falling in love each other. So, the formation of their relationship, from a story telling perspective, felt forced and random.

Following the same beats: As I said in the introduction, I wanted to watch Making of a Male Model because it told a model’s story from a man’s perspective, which is not often explored in the world of cinema. Because of this, I was expecting the movie to tell a different kind of story from others of this nature. Sadly, it was just more of the same. The story followed a lot of the same beats as other modeling/seeking fame films. Making of a Male Model featured tropes such as “the two-faced boss”, “a cautionary tale about fame and fortune”, and “a friend in crisis”. This movie had an opportunity to take different avenues of the modeling or advertising world that either haven’t been or are rarely discussed in film. But that opportunity was not taken advantage of.

Telling more than showing: There were some moments in Making of a Male Model where characters told more than showed what was happening. As I already mentioned, Chuck compares the modeling world to a stage play. I did like Chuck’s monologue and Jeff’s performance. However, because this monologue was given before Tyler’s modeling career began, it denied the audience a chance of seeing Tyler’s journey firsthand, without being spoiled. At the costume party, a man named Ward accuses Kay of breaking a contract. It gets to the point where Ward starts causing a scene. Since this accusation is presented as hearsay, it is never determined who was telling the truth.

I apologize for the poorer quality of this photo, but it was one of the few complete shot of the dress this movie presented. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

I know that stories are bound to get repeated overtime. But there is a fine line between telling similar stories and rehashing material. Making of a Male Model fits into the latter category, as the same tropes are adopted from other films of this nature. Honestly, this disappoints me because I was expecting more from this movie. Despite finding Making of a Male Model to be just ok, there are aspects of the film I liked. One of them is the insightful look at the modeling/advertising world. This part of the story held my interest, as I found it to be a fascinating exploration. With that in mind, I think the concept of this movie would have worked better as a television show or documentary.

Before I finish this review, I’d like to let my readers know I did choose another book from my TBR Tin. For those who don’t know, I announced in January how I would choose which book to read next from a hot chocolate tin I won last year. My second TBR Tin book of the year is

(insert drumroll here)

Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn!

Yes, this is a book I said I was going to read in 2019. But I’m glad to finally get around to reading it!

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen Making of a Male Model? Which projects of Joan Collins’ have you watched? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

I am so close to publishing 200 movie reviews! Because of this, I have devoted this week to publishing my 199th and 200th movie reviews. Next week, I will publish a celebratory post to commemorate this accomplishment. Yesterday, I watched Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. When I posted my review of Perry Mason Returns last month, it ended up becoming more popular than I expected, with the article receiving nine likes! These factors are the reason why I chose to review Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. For the most part, I have enjoyed this particular series. While some films have been better than others, I haven’t come across an installment that was bad. What works in Perry Mason’s favor is having consistent elements, such as the acting performances. Because these elements have been, more often than not, strong, it has helped the memorability of the series!

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

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Joe Penny is an actor I’m familiar with because of his performance in Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. What I liked about his portrayal of Robert McCay in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is how he was given more opportunities to use emotion! A great example is when Robert is being questioned by Perry Mason at the police station. For most of this scene, the sadness and concern of the situation can be seen on Joe’s face. As the scene progresses, Robert’s anger explodes. Another actor that uses facial expressions well is Jennifer O’Neill! Portraying the murder victim’s wife, Alison Carr, Jennifer used her eyes to enhance the emotions her character was feeling. Her best scene was when Alison and Perry are having a conversation at a law library event. During this conversation, Alison tries to convince Perry that despite everything she has experienced, she is fine. But because her eyes contain so much pain, it appears that Alison is falling apart at the seams. Something I enjoy about the Perry Mason TV movie series is how new, memorable characters have been introduced in each story. Michelle Benti, portrayed by Wendy Crewson, is one of these characters. A photo journalist from New York City, Michelle plays an integral part of the story. She also had a great on-screen personality! Because of these things, it makes me wish Michelle became one of the series’ regulars.

The cinematography: There are times when a mystery movie offers visually appealing cinematography to their audience. Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is one of these films, as I noticed some interesting cinematography while watching the movie! In the scene where Robert is being questioned by Perry, light is pouring into the room through the blinds of the windows. Both the light and shadows reflect off of Robert’s face, highlighting his facial expressions. Toward the beginning of the film, Robert is walking through the city at night. Smoke could be seen at various moments in that scene. This element helped add to the mysterious nature of the story!

Scenes that tricked the audience: Throughout Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, Robert McCay is filming a movie in New York City. This caused a few scenes to be presented in a way that tricked the audience. In the aforementioned beginning scene, Robert finds himself in the city at night. At one point, he is surrounded by two sets of gang members. As the scene goes on, it is revealed that Robert and the gang members are in the middle of shooting a film scene. Later in the film, Robert and one of his co-stars, Kate, are seen having a conversation with each other. At first, it seems like they are gaining a mutual understanding of the murder case. But, like the previously mentioned scene, this moment is also revealed to be a part of Robert’s movie.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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 I didn’t like about the film:

Characters with wasted potential: While each character in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star gets their moment to shine, there are a few characters that could have had a greater significance in the story. The gang members from the very first scene serve as a good example. I understand these characters were meant to be extras in Robert’s movie. However, I feel at least one of them could have been given more lines and screen time. Who knows? Maybe they would have become a series regular.

The funeral/memorial dinner: When I reviewed the Murder, She Wrote episode, ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, I mentioned how one funeral visitation felt more like a light-hearted dinner party. There was one scene in this movie that made me feel similar to the aforementioned episode. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, the funeral/memorial dinner for the murder victim felt more like an award ceremony. This is because of two things; the fact that some characters don’t wear black attire and how one of the murder victim’s closest friends incorporated jokes during his speech. As I said in my review of ‘Hannigan’s Wake’, funeral services are unique to the family hosting that gathering. However, the two factors I brought up prevented this scene from displaying strong feelings of sadness and grief.

An unbelievable stunt scene: I am aware how fictional stories make their audience suspend their disbelief to varying degrees. But in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, there was one scene involving a stunt that didn’t seem believable to me. The stunt itself is not what caused me to feel this way. This was brought on by the stunt coordinator’s decision to allow a civilian, Perry’s colleague Paul, to participate in a stunt without taking precautionary steps beforehand. I understand this particular scene was meant to serve as a comedic moment. But I just can’t believe any stunt coordinator would willingly overlook details like that, especially in a mystery movie that appears grounded in reality.

Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As the eighth movie I’ve seen in the Perry Mason TV movie series, I’d say Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star is the best one! Despite its flaws, this film did contain a mystery that was not only intriguing, but also captivating from start to finish! Almost every series features at least one chapter that revolves around show business. When this creative decision is chosen, Hollywood usually serves as that chapter’s backdrop. In Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, a movie was being filmed in New York City. This allows a nice change of scenery and a different perspective to this tried-and-true plot point. While watching the film, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Brandon Lee tragedy. It is due to the murder victim also being killed by a prop weapon in Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star. There’s no denying the major differences between the real-life and fictional situations. But after watching Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, it does make me wonder if there would have been a heightened sense of awareness had someone working on the film or a person who knew a cast or crew member had seen the 1986 movie prior to production on The Crow?

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

What are your thoughts on the Perry Mason TV movie series? Do you have a favorite mysteries series? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Alice in the Cities Review + 210 & 215 Follower Thank You

Three weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 210 followers! Because I was in the middle of coordinating my PB & J Double Feature and reviewing films for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month, I postponed my 210-follower dedication review. During that time, my blog also received 215 followers! This caused me to combine my 210 and 215 follower dedications into one review. Since last March, I’ve had a recording of Alice in the Cities on my DVR. As you can tell by the title of this post, this is the film I have chosen to write about. Every so often, I try to watch and/or review a movie that was created outside of North America. Most of these films have come from Europe. Prior to watching Alice in the Cities, the only German film I’ve written about on 18 Cinema Lane was Nosferatu. What’s interesting is how, like the 1922 movie, Alice in the Cities was restored as a result of two different versions of the project. According to a message at the beginning of the film, the movie was filmed in two separate millimeters.

This is a screenshot of the poster I took with my phone that happened to be featured on my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: According to an article from Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website, Wim Wenders, the director of Alice in the Cities, was inspired to create this film after watching Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer perform together in a previous project. Having these two actors reunite for Alice in the Cities was a smart decision! I liked Rüdiger’s portrayal of Philip because it was consistent. Not only that, but he had a coolness about him as his character moved from one scene to the next. No matter what scenario was thrown in his path, Philip was calm and collected. This made Rüdiger’s performance appear effortless! Something that I noticed while watching Yella’s performance was how believable it was. Whether she was questioning Philip’s “scribbles” or asking for food, Yella’s body language, facial expressions, and overall demeanor appeared as one would expect from a child in Alice’s particular situation. It also helps that Yella worked with Wim and Rüdiger prior to this movie. Because of this, Yella appeared comfortable in the role she was given!

The cinematography: Alice in the Cities is filmed in black-and-white. This was done not only because of a personal decision by the director, but also to avoid having Alice in the Cities be compared to Paper Moon, a movie that was released a year before Wim’s project. When film fans think about black-and-white movies, productions that were released before 1965 will likely come to mind. However, it’s important to remember those titles were presented in black-and-white because filming in color was rarely an option. With Alice in the Cities, its presentation was purposefully chosen, which proved to be more interesting than I would have expected. It caused the story to be frozen in time, allowing the narrative to serve as a time-capsule. Having a few characters appear on screen at a given moment makes each interaction feel intimate, like the audience is directly a part of these verbal exchanges. I also liked how some scenes looked like the view came straight from Philip’s perspective. One great example is when Philip is boarding a train in Amsterdam.

Philip and Alice’s interactions: The majority of this story revolves around Philip’s search for Alice’s grandmother, which results in Philip and Alice spending a significant amount of time together. As I mentioned before, Rüdiger and Yella had worked together in a previous film. This helped their interactions come across as realistic. In the aforementioned TCM article, one of Wim’s inspirations for Alice in the Cities was his friend, who happened to be a single parent. This explains why Philip and Alice’s interactions feel like they are between father and daughter. Because of the quality of their acting abilities, Rüdiger and Yella were able to bring this idea to life in their performance! They were also able to equally carry the film.

Map of Germany image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Background vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like the film:

Scenes feeling like padding: There were some scenes in Alice in the Cities that ended up feeling like padding. One example is when Philip and Alice go to an ice cream shop. Within this scene, a shorter scene of a child eating their ice cream next to a juke box is included. This scene didn’t serve the overall story and felt like it was there just to be there. Personally, I think scenes like the shorter one I mentioned should have been cut from the film.

The run-time: IMDB lists Alice in the Cities with a run-time of one hour and fifty minutes. To me, this caused the movie to feel a bit too long. Like I previously stated, there were scenes in this film that felt like padding. Their purpose seemed to be that of satisfying this run-time. The story itself was also straight-forward. These two factors made me believe that, at least, ten minutes of this movie could have been shaved off.

An inconsistent exploration of Philip’s beliefs: At certain points in Alice in the Cities, Philip expresses his beliefs about topics like his dislike toward television and why he takes photos. Philip presents an interesting way of looking at things that most people wouldn’t think twice about. Unfortunately, these beliefs were not explored to a satisfying extent. As the story places a primary emphasis on Philip’s search for Alice’s grandmother, this exploration gets lost in the shuffle. It also creates an inconsistent inclusion of this part of the story.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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.

My overall impression:

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) features an interesting article about Wim Wenders and the creation of Alice in the Cities. After reading about Wim’s personal struggles as a filmmaker and after learning about this film’s restoration efforts, it makes me glad that Alice in the Cities was able to see the light of day! Movies involving road trips usually don’t interest me. But because of Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer’s performance, I found myself invested in the journey of their characters! Creative cinematography and addressing Philip’s beliefs also help make this film likable and well-made. Even though Alice in the Cities is a fine film, there were things about it that prevented the overall project from being better. The main plot didn’t allow Philip’s beliefs to be explored to their fullest extent. It also doesn’t help that some scenes felt like padding. However, I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity to share this film with my followers! Thank you for helping 18 Cinema Lane reach these milestones! This blog would not be the same without you!

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

Have you seen any movies created outside your home country? If so, what was your movie-viewing experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here’s a link to the article from Turner Classic Movies that I mentioned in my review:

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/719889%7C0/Alice-in-the-Cities.html

Take 3: Never a Dull Moment Review

Like I said in my Follow Me, Boys! review, I have several movies on my DVR. Most of these films were recorded last year or over a year ago. Last night, I chose to watch one of these films, which I added to my DVR last June. This film is Never a Dull Moment! Sometime, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will host a marathon called “Treasures from the Disney Vault”. When this event takes place, the network will show a collection of smaller titles and lesser known films from Disney. In one of these marathons, Never a Dull Moment was included in the line-up. While I had never heard of this film prior to the marathon, I have seen two of Dick Van Dyke’s movies. Because one of those films was Mary Poppins, which I have enjoyed, I had a good indication that I might like Never a Dull Moment. Was this the case? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!

Never a Dull Moment poster created by Walt Disney Productions and Buena Vista Distribution. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NeverADullMoment1968.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Before watching Never a Dull Moment, I had seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. A consistent component of Dick Van Dyke’s acting abilities I have noticed is the strong adaptability. In one scene, his character, Jack, is acting drunk in an attempt to impersonate a gangster. Moments later, Jack is crying over the loss of a fictional Aunt Gladys. This is a great example of how Dick could effortlessly take on any situation through his performance! At limited moments in the film, a gangster named Florian would appear. This character was portrayed by Tony Bill. What I liked about his performance is how calm and collected his persona came across. Even though Florian was Leo Smooth’s henchman, he presented an idea of a gangster that people have come to recognize in film. While I liked Dorothy Provine’s portrayal of Sally, I want to talk about Joanna Cook Moore’s portrayal of Melanie, as her on-screen presence was shorter. Joanna’s personality was bubbly, which appeared natural for her character. During a scene where Melanie is showing Jack some of her figure skating photos, Joanna seemed to use her performance to light up the room. Her on-screen presence was memorable, despite being featured in only three scenes.

The set design: I was really impressed by the set design in Never a Dull Moment! Since the movie takes place in New York, tall skyscrapers and even the Brooklyn Bridge can be seen. This specific set looked impressive, making the location feel larger than life! Another great example of set design was Leo Smooth’s mansion. My favorite feature of this set was the consistency and fine detailing of the woodwork, especially on the staircase! A local art museum is where the film’s heist is featured. During the climax, various art exhibits are showcased. The Pop Art exhibit was the best one, as the art itself was colorful. It was also large in scale, creating a space that felt grand.

The music: If used well, music can help set a tone for either the whole movie or a particular scene. The music certainly did that for Never a Dull Moment! Whenever Jack was sneaking around Leo’s mansion, smooth jazz music could be heard. This fits the tone of those scenes because it emulates a feeling of curiosity that usually comes from film-noir and mysteries. In a scene involving a spinning piece of art, music from a merry-go-round was playing in the background. Since the art itself is colorful and the scene is meant to be humorous, this musical selection makes sense.

Art tools image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/flar-art-tools-pack_835368.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>.  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/paint”>Paint vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out story: One overarching narrative of Never a Dull Moment revolves around a group of gangsters planning to steal a valuable painting. While an important component of any heist is the preparation stage, this part of the process lasted longer than it should have. Only one scene is dedicated to highlighting the plans for the heist. But the rest of that time was spent focusing on things not related to the heist. One example is Melanie Smooth attempting to relive her glory days as a famous figure skater. Moments like this had nothing to do with the heist and caused the overall story to feel drawn out.

Little sense of urgency: Heist films are usually fast paced, as there is a sense of urgency to carry out the heist. But, in Never a Dull Moment, the amount of urgency within the story was small. For most of the film, Jack hangs out at Leo Smooth’s mansion. This part of the movie was mundane, as little to no excitement was taking place. Even the gangsters’ activities didn’t feel out of the ordinary. A good example is when Leo is painting in his office. While the overall level of excitement picked up when the heist started, the build-up itself was not exciting.

A dull first half: With a title like Never a Dull Moment, you’d think the movie as a whole would be intriguing and action-packed. However, that is not the case for this film. I found the first half of the movie to be dull. This is the result of the story being drawn out and a small amount of urgency. Even though a part of the overall narrative focuses on a heist, this aspect of the story seemed to be an afterthought within the film’s first half. The heist itself took place in the second half of the movie. But this doesn’t make up for the weak nature of the previous segment.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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.

My overall impression:

As of late June to early July 2020, I have reviewed four live-action Disney films from the ‘60s. Three out of four of these movies have been ok or “middle of the road”. Never a Dull Moment was one of them. I will say this is a better heist movie than Logan Lucky. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I had expected it to be. The film is titled Never a Dull Moment, but the first half of the story is just that: dull. It also doesn’t help that there was a small amount of urgency. But the movie did contain elements that I did like. Some of them includes the acting and the set design. As weird as it sounds, Never a Dull Moment doesn’t feel like a Disney movie. It’s understandable for a studio to try new things and think outside the box. Never a Dull Moment, however, seems like belongs to a different studio. Like my Follow Me, Boys! review, I can’t fully recommend this movie, but I’m not going to dissuade anyone from watching it either.

Overall score: 6.2 out of 10

Have you seen any of Dick Van Dyke’s films? Which live-action Disney film from the ‘60s do you like or dislike? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Audrey Rose Review

For June’s Genre Grandeur, the chosen theme is “New York Films of the 70’s”. After searching through a list on Wikipedia, I selected Audrey Rose as my submission! This is a film I have heard about in passing, but have never seen. What caught my attention is how the movie was classified as a horror film. I don’t always review movies in this genre, as a portion of them are too dark for my liking. However, I do try to go out of my comfort zone every so often. The synopsis also intrigued me, as I wondered where the story would go. Mysteries are a staple on this blog, so I was looking forward to helping the characters solve the case. Is Audrey Rose worthy of being included in Genre Grandeur? Keep reading my review so you can solve the mystery too!

Audrey Rose poster created by Sterobcar Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Audrey_Rose_movie_poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of Anthony Hopkins’ most iconic roles is Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. Through his performance, he brought to life a character that was eerie and unsettling. In Audrey Rose, Anthony’s portrayal of Elliot Hoover was also unsettling, but for different reasons. During the events of the film, Elliot seemed to have power over the situation. This is because he had the answers Ivy’s parents were desperately looking for. Unlike Hannibal, Elliot was never meant to come across as scary. Anthony’s facial expressions, body language, and the way his character interacted with others supports this claim. When it comes to stories focusing on young characters, it’s important for a creative team to cast a young actor or actress who can carry a character’s emotional weight. Despite appearing in the film for a limited amount of time, Susan Swift impressed me with her portrayal of Ivy Templeton! It was heartbreaking to watch Ivy experience one of her nightmarish episodes, as Susan’s performance was that believable. However, that level of emotionality added to the captivation of this character.

The Templeton family’s apartment: I’ve seen a variety of apartments in television and film. But the Templeton family’s apartment in Audrey Rose is one of the best! An aspect that immediately caught my eye was the grand, wood staircase. This design feature is usually found in on-screen homes from the suburbs or wealthier neighborhoods. So, seeing this staircase in an apartment was unique. Speaking of woodwork, the fireplace in the living room was adorned with fine detailing. It shows how the apartment’s woodwork can compliment the space’s interior design. The showstopper of this living environment was the paintings on the ceiling! Exquisite is the word I would use to describe the art itself. I would be willing to guess that pictures and videos would not do it justice. Whoever created the apartment’s interior design should be commended for their work!

Elemental consistency: Throughout this movie, there were two elements that had a consistent presence. When Elliot first enters the Templeton family’s lives, the weather is very rainy. This is also the case when Ivy is experiencing nightmarish episodes. The incorporation of rain reminded me of The Crow, as this element served as symbolism in Audrey Rose. Not only did rain highlight sadness, it also showed how some situations should run their course. Fire is the other element that was consistently featured in the story. This was present during a tragic event and it emphasized how ignoring some situations only allows them to manifest. These elements created visual interest as well provide depth to the narrative.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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 I didn’t like about the film:

Not a horror film: On Wikipedia and IMDB, Audrey Rose is classified as a “horror” film. Even the film’s poster gives the impression that someone is coming back from the dead, which is a classic horror movie concept. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Two traits that have defined the horror genre are stories where characters get away from or get rid of something bad. None of these traits are found in Audrey Rose. The primary focus of this movie surrounded the idea of reincarnation. This idea is presented in a positive way, as a course that needs to run on its own term. While horrifying things happen to Ivy, in the form of nightmarish episodes, it was caused by fearing the unknown. Even though this aspect can be found in horror films, it can also be found in other genres. Audrey Rose is a film that I, personally, did not find scary.

A drawn-out story: Like I already said, the story of Audrey Rose revolves around the idea of reincarnation. While this provides the overall narrative with an interesting debate, the majority of the story focuses on whether reincarnation is legitimate. A solution to the Templeton family’s problem wasn’t found until the last thirty minutes of the film. This drawn-out story was the result of an almost two-hour run-time. Had about twenty or thirty minutes been shaved off of this production, the story would have gotten straight to the point sooner.

Scenes that felt like padding: Because Audrey Rose has a run-time of an hour and fifty-three minutes, there were a few scenes that felt like padding. One example is when Ivy is trying to talk to Audrey Rose through a mirror. This scene didn’t have a strong need to exist within the story. It also didn’t fit the overall flow of the film. If anything, this particular scene felt like a weak attempt at making the movie feel like it belonged in the horror genre.

Rose illustration image 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.

My overall impression:

Horror movies are not often found on 18 Cinema Lane. This is the reason why I chose Audrey Rose for June’s Genre Grandeur, as I try to explore various genres. Unfortunately, this was not the horror film I expected it to be. The project itself was interesting, exploring a topic in the form of a debate. But classifying it in a genre where it doesn’t belong is misleading. I can describe Audrey Rose in two ways. The first is a medical/spiritual mystery, similar to Lorenzo’s Oil. The second is a debate presented in the form of a movie, like Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Sweet Nothing in My Ear. The idea behind this film makes it worth watching. However, don’t go into this movie expecting a story with spooky atmospheres and sinister tones.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen any ’70s films set in New York? Which movies do you think are incorrectly classified? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For Review

Since I happened to see Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For right after I saw the latest episode of When Calls the Heart, I felt that I needed to write a review for this movie. Also, it’s been two months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so it was time for me to get back to talking about mystery movies. I remember when this project was first announced at Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last year. At the time, I wondered how this series would be any different from the other mystery series that had already been established. In a Word on the Street story last August, I talked about how the movie was about to go into production. This led me to speculate whether the film would be released in Fall of 2018 or early 2019. It looks like I was right in one of those predictions, as this movie premiered in early March. Did this movie stand out from all the other mystery movies on the network? The only way to solve this mystery is to read my review of Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For!

Crossword Mysteries -- A Puzzle to Die For poster
Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Crossword+Mysteries+A+Puzzle+to+Die+For.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought the acting in Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was good! Ever since this project was first announced, I was excited to see Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott star in another movie together. This is because I’ve enjoyed their performances in other Hallmark projects. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, both Lacey and Brennan did a really good job portraying their characters! Their performances display a sense of believability and emotionality that is required in a mystery story. They also had a good amount of on-screen chemistry. I also think the supporting cast did a good job in their acting performances! I’ve always enjoyed watching Barbara Niven’s performances in other Hallmark productions. So, it’s no surprise that I found myself applauding Barbara’s portrayal of Tess’s aunt, Candace. Her versatility helped make her character seem as realistic as possible. Even though Candace was only on-screen for a limited amount of time, I’m hoping this character can play a bigger role in future movies.

 

  • The incorporation of crossword puzzles: Every mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has their own unique identity, even though almost all of them focus on solving murder mysteries. Having crossword puzzles associated with this story was a creative and unique way to set this series apart from the other stories on the network. Having the puzzles correlate with the mystery worked really well for this movie. I also liked the idea of the Crossword Puzzle Tournament that was featured in the film. With the way this type of competition was portrayed in the movie, it kind of reminded me of spelling bees or chess tournaments. However, the competition itself felt like its own unique event.

 

  • The big city landscape: In most of the mystery series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the primary location of the story is in a small, sometimes fictional, town. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the story took place in New York City. This was a nice change in scenery which worked well of this particular story. Seeing the different businesses and facilities within this film was very interesting! One of my favorite locations in this movie was the Ping-Pong Hall, where Tess was playing a game of Ping-Pong with a friend. Not only is Ping-Pong rarely seen in Hallmark movies, but I’ve never seen a facility like this in any other Hallmark production. I hope a mystery can place at this Ping-Pong Hall in another Crossword Mysteries film!

newyork4
New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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 I didn’t like about the film:

  • A slow pace: Throughout the film, the overall pace was slower than in most of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This caused the story to feel drawn out. It also made some scenes drag on longer than they might have been intended. The issues relating to the film’s pace definitely took away some of the film’s excitement.

 

  • A lack of suspense: In most mystery films, there is a good amount of suspense that helps the audience stay invested in the story. In Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For, the suspense was not as abundant as in other mystery movies. While there were suspenseful moments within this narrative, the film’s total amount of suspense was not fluid. This aspect did affect my overall enjoyment of the film.

 

  • A confusing story element: While watching this movie, there was one part of the story that really confused me. During this film, Pierre was the lead organizer of the annual Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He was planning on retiring and handing the title over to Tess. However, when the Tournament arrived, it looked like Pierre was competing in the competition. No one in the film seemed to notice that this could have been a conflict of interest. I don’t know if I just missed an important plot point or if the screenwriters forgot to include significant details into their script. But I found this part of the film to be very puzzling (no pun intended), even after I saw the film.

sunday-s-crossword-1238083-1279x852
Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”

My overall impression:

Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For was just ok. It didn’t impress me, but it didn’t make me feel like I wasted my time. However, I do think this movie has the potential to start a strong and entertaining series. This movie has the pieces to lay out the foundation for a series that can be intriguing and engaging. The cast did a good job with their performances, there were creative elements found within the narrative, and the mystery itself was well written. At Hallmark’s Winter TCA Event last month, it was announced that there would be three more Crossword Mysteries movies, which will premiere in October. It will be interesting to see how this series continues, especially since there’s only so much that can be done with crossword puzzles. When October finally comes around, I do want to see what these films have in store and if this series can stand on its own.

 

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

 

Have you seen Crossword Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For? Are you excited for the rest of the Crossword Mysteries films to premiere? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Oliver & Company Review + 30 Follower Thank You

I received 30 followers on 18 Cinema Lane two weeks ago! It’s time for me to review a film that was released 30 years ago (in 1988)! Because I’ve never reviewed a Disney animated film on my blog before and since the last time I reviewed an animated film was Rugrats Go Wild (for my 15 follower thank you review), I chose Oliver & Company for this milestone post. Oliver & Company is a film that I’ve only seen bits and pieces of, so I was looking forward to seeing this movie in its entirety. While choosing which movie I would talk about for this particular post, I realized that Oliver & Company was released the year before the start of the “Disney Renaissance”: when The Little Mermaid made its film debut. I came across a review of Oliver & Company from the blog, Reviewing All 56 Disney Animated Films And More!. In that review, Rachel, the creator and author of the blog, provided some insight into the importance of Oliver & Company. This insight made me interested to see the type of foundation that this film possibly put in place for the “Disney Renaissance” and beyond. Keep reading my review of Oliver & Company to see how I felt about the movie as a whole!

Oliver and Company poster
Oliver & Company poster image created by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and The Walt Disney Company. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/oliver-and-company

Things I liked about the film:

The characters: There were several likable characters in Oliver & Company! I liked how they each had their own unique personality and it was fun to see the various interactions between the characters. Some of the creative choices that were made in relation to the characters were interesting. For instance, there are times when a character who is a bulldog could be portrayed as a mean-spirited and tough individual. In Oliver & Company, however, Francis (who is a bulldog) is an aspiring actor who has a deep appreciation for the theater. This character stood out to me because I had never seen a bulldog, in television or film, portrayed this way before.

 

The animation: The animation style in Oliver & Company felt very reflective of the art styles and pop culture that could have been found around the film’s release (mid to late ‘80s). This reflection made the movie feel like an idea of what the ‘80s might have been like, shown to the audience as if they were looking at a snapshot. There were a lot of bright colors in this film that I felt complimented the movie overall. The use of light and dark colors was also well done. An example can be found toward the beginning of the film, when Oliver is left by himself in the middle of a rainstorm. In this scene, Oliver’s bright orange fur stood out against the dark blue background of the city. These choices relating to the use of specific colors added to the artistry of the animation!

 

The music: I really liked all of the music in Oliver & Company! While “Good Company” is a sweet and gentle song, the rest of the songs are upbeat and fun to listen to! To me, all of the music added to the entertainment value of this film. I can definitely see myself listening to Oliver & Company’s soundtrack long after the credits have rolled!

newyork4
New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.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 I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of character development for the human characters: In Oliver & Company, there are only four human characters within the story. As I was watching this movie, I found myself wanting to know more about these characters. How Jenny felt about her parents, apparently, putting more emphasis on their dog, Georgette, than her was something that I was curious about. I also wanted to know more about how Fagin ended up in his particular situation as well as see him move out of poverty in order to achieve a comfortable life for him and his dogs. I understand this story is primarily about the animal characters. But, when it comes to character development for the human characters, I felt there was more to be desired.

 

A limited presence of the villain: When it came to the villain in this movie, I thought that Sykes was unsettling. However, compared to other Disney villains (and even some non-Disney villains), he wasn’t as terrifying as he could have been. In fact, I found his Doberman side-kicks, Roscoe and DeSoto, to be scarier than Sykes himself. This is because Sykes has a very limited presence on-screen and doesn’t receive a lot of character development. For these reasons, Oliver & Company doesn’t seem to have a lot of high stakes.

 

The run-time: There were a few times in Oliver & Company where situations seemed to happen too quickly. An example of this is when Oliver learns, at a fast pace, how to steal hot-dogs alongside Dodger. This issue is a result of the film’s shorter run-time. The other aforementioned things that I didn’t like about this film are also the results of a shorter run-time. Oliver & Company is one hour and fourteen minutes, which, as I look back on the film, made me feel like the movie went by very quickly. If this movie would have been an hour and 30 or 35 minutes, the human characters could have received a little more character development and the villain could have been featured more in the film.

nature &amp; animals
Orange cat image created by Freestockcenter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/ginger-cat_883376.htm’>Designed by Freestockcenter</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/gold”>Gold image created by Freestockcenter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As a Disney animated film, Oliver & Company is fine. As a movie in general, it’s good for what it is. I know that there are other Disney animated films that are stronger than Oliver & Company, but I would never consider Oliver & Company to be the worst or weakest movie from the Disney animated catalog. I like to think of this film as the older sibling to The Little Mermaid. While Oliver & Company was the pioneer for what a Disney animated film could and should be (at that time), The Little Mermaid was able to enjoy the fruits of Oliver & Company’s labor because of those important building blocks that were set in place before the “Disney Renaissance” began. Oliver & Company’s efforts should be celebrated, which is why it’s receiving a “standing ovation” on 18 Cinema Lane! As always, thank you to each and every one of my 30 followers as well as my readers! 18 Cinema Lane and this review would not be the same without you!

 

Overall score: 7.4-7.5 out of 10

 

What is your favorite Disney animated film? Which movie from 1988 do you like the most? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

The link to Rachel’s review of Oliver & Company: https://54disneyreviews.com/2014/09/11/movie-27-oliver-and-company/