Take 3: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) Review (Clean Movie Month #3)

When I signed up for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Code Classics Blogathon in June, I hadn’t publicly submitted the film I wanted to review. That’s because I planned on reading the source material before watching the movie. Originally, I was going to read Black Beauty and then see the 1946 adaptation of this story. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to set aside time to read the book. Also, the 1946 version of Black Beauty was unavailable for rent. I then decided to watch a version of The Count of Monte Cristo that was released during the Breen Code Era. However, the only adaptations that were available for rent were the 2002 and the 1975 version. Then I remembered how I’ve always wanted to read Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was happy to discover I was able to rent the 1936 adaptation! In my life, I have read A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Having enjoyed both books, I was interested in hearing a similar story from a male perspective. How different would Ceddie be from Sara and Mary? Would his story contain any similarities with the two aforementioned novels? While I haven’t read Little Lord Fauntleroy yet, I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing this story come to life on screen!

Little Lord Fauntleroy poster created by Selznick International Pictures, United Artists, and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Little-Lord-Fauntleroy-Poster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane that performances from young actors and actresses can be hit or miss. However, Freddie Bartholomew’s portrayal of Ceddie was a hit! The way this character carried himself was mature for his age without being too precocious. At the same time, Ceddie had the type of kind-heartedness you’d expect from a young character. The mannerisms and facial expressions Freddie adopted reminded me of Sara from A Little Princess, making me believe that Ceddie and Sara probably would have been good friends! Even though her presence in the film was limited, Dolores Costello Barrymore gave a memorable performance as Ceddie’s mom, Dearest! Her emotions gave the audience a glimpse of how her heart is always in the right place when it comes to looking out for her son. In one scene, Dearest is telling Ceddie that he’ll have to stay with his grandfather. This moment showcases how she continually shields her child from the animosity between her and the grandfather. Also, this scene highlights her ability to put Ceddie’s needs before her own, telling him she’ll place a candle in the window so the light will always guide his path.

The music: While watching Little Lord Fauntleroy, I noticed how the background music always fit the tone of its respective scene. One great example is when Ceddie receives a bicycle for his birthday. A tune from a music box could be heard, indicating how this is a happy occasion. Whenever Ceddie’s grandfather is mentioned, the audience can hear orchestral music. The music itself sounded regal, highlighting how important this character is. Somber music was found in sadder scenes, like when Mr. Hobbs and Dick are missing their friend, Ceddie. This consistent detail shows how the film’s creative team cared about what their audience saw and heard.

The messages and themes: The famous works of Frances Hodgson Burnett are known for having good messages and themes that audiences of all ages can appreciate. Little Lord Fauntleroy is no different. Throughout the movie, Ceddie always put others before himself. When his grandfather’s lawyer asked him how he’d use his newfound wealth, Ceddie tells him that he would purchase gifts for his friends, as a way to improve their lives. At a party, when one of his grandfather’s friends offers Ceddie a puppy, Ceddie turns the offer down by saying that he doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of his new K-9 friend, Duke. These examples display the messages of selflessness and staying true to yourself in any circumstance. Prejudice is an overarching theme that is found in this story. Ceddie’s grandfather does not like Americans, which created animosity between him and Dearest. The more time the grandfather spends with Ceddie, his negative beliefs begin to change. The grandfather’s part of the story shows how prejudice can hurt people, especially families.

Code Classics Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/announcing-the-code-classics-blogathon/

What I didn’t like about the film:

A thirty-minute set up: Setting up a story is a crucial component to any film. However, when the set-up process takes too long, it may be difficult to get invested in the story. In Little Lord Fauntleroy, it took thirty minutes to set up the plot. While this part of the narrative was meant to showcase character development and motives for future events, I don’t think it needed to last this long. Because of this creative choice, it took a while for Ceddie and Dearest to get to England.

Giving Ceddie almost nothing to do: Before watching Little Lord Fauntleroy, I had expected Ceddie to learn the ropes of being an Earl from his grandfather. Sadly, that’s not what happened. I understand that Ceddie is a child. But despite this, he wasn’t given much to do as an Earl-in-training. Sure, Ceddie helped his grandfather write a letter to a struggling farmer. However, it made me wonder why Ceddie was given this Earl title so young if he couldn’t utilize it.

The conflict between Dearest and the Earl of Dorincourt: As I mentioned earlier in this review, Ceddie’s grandfather does not like Americans. Because Dearest is American, there is tension between her and the grandfather. While the conflict itself explored the subject of prejudice, I feel it was resolved too quickly. There is only so much story that can be told in an hour and forty-two minutes. But the way Dearest and the Earl of Dorincourt dealt with their conflict felt rushed, as years of animosity was taken care of after one event.

Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/cleanmoviemonth2020-is-here/.

My overall impression:

I have not read Little Lord Fauntleroy, as I mentioned in my introduction. Therefore, I don’t know what aspects of the book were translated to the screen. Despite this, I liked the 1936 adaptation of this story! It was a good and sweet picture that contained timeless messages and themes. The character of Ceddie reminded me a lot of Sara from A Little Princess. This didn’t surprise me, as both books were written by the same author. Yes, the movie did have flaws. However, I enjoyed the story and thought this was a well-made production. Because of how much I liked this film, it makes me want to read the book! Out of the three Breen Code Era films I’ve reviewed so far, Little Lord Fauntleroy is the most Code compliant! I didn’t find any offensive material in this project, which makes it a perfect movie for family viewing!

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

Are you enjoying Clean Movie Month? What is your favorite literary adaptation from the Breen Code Era? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Wife of Monte Cristo Review (Clean Movie Month #2)

Last November, in my Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List, I talked about how I wanted to see The Wife of Monte Cristo. My plan was to review the film for Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Clean Movie Month, as the movie was released in 1946. Based on the title of this post, it means my Christmas wish came true! Several months ago, I purchased a DVD copy of this film. I waited until July to watch it, so I could contribute to Clean Movie Month. Now that this blogathon has finally arrived, I can write about The Wife of Monte Cristo! In my aforementioned post, I shared how the movie’s story made me want to see it, as it seemed to focus on Monte and Haydée’s relationship, as well as allowing Haydée to become a more prominent character. Monte Cristo and Haydée are one of my favorite couples from pop culture. Unfortunately, their relationship is barely addressed in any film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. These film adaptations also give Haydée a small amount or no amount of screen time. The Wife of Monte Cristo allows these two voids to be filled.

Here is a picture of the DVD I purchased for this review. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: All of the acting performances in The Wife of Monte Cristo shared one common factor: they made every cast member appear natural in their role! Because of this and the believability that came from these performances, each interaction felt like it was taken directly from real-life. Haydée has a greater appearance in this film than Edmund/Count of Monte Cristo, so I’d like to mention Lenore Aubert’s portrayal of Haydée. Her on-screen personality was pleasant, making Haydée a character worth rooting for. Through body language and facial expressions, Lenore showed how Haydée can be intelligent, resourceful, and just a good person overall! I also liked watching John Loder’s performance! In The Wife of Monte Cristo, he portrayed De Villefort, the head of Paris’ police force. What impressed me was how he could adopt two different personas for the same character. Whenever he was socializing or interacting with Haydée, De Villefort was charismatic and had a certain amount of charm to him. But when he is with comrades, planning on catching “The Avenger”, De Villefort is cunning and sinister.

The historical accuracy: The Wife of Monte Cristo takes place in Paris of 1832. The story’s time period and the location within this time period can be seen in every aspect of the film. Characters’ wardrobes are a good example of this. Male characters wore solid colors, with wealthier men in society sporting some embellishment on their outfit. In one scene, De Villefort wore a dark jacket that featured white embroidery. The female characters, Haydée and Lucille, wore elegant dresses that boasted a simple pattern. During a meeting with one of De Villefort’s comrades, Haydée wore a black dress with consistent sparkly detailing. This outfit was eye-catching, but not over-the-top. Another indicator of this historical accuracy were the choices in the set design. In De Villefort’s office space, chandeliers with candles can be seen. Because light bulbs did not exist in 1832, this design choice fits the story’s time period.

The on-screen chemistry: As I already mentioned, Haydée has a greater presence in the film than Edmund/Count of Monte Cristo. This causes Haydée and Edmund to spend a limited amount of time together on screen. In the scenes where they are together, Lenore Aubert and Martin Kosleck displayed strong on-screen chemistry! The on-screen chemistry between Lenore and Martin allowed the audience to see how much Haydée and Edmond truly loved and cared about each other. Even when they were apart, the love between these two characters could still be felt. In one scene, Edmund visits the daughter of a supporter of “The Avenger”. During their conversation, Edmund explains how Haydée saved his life and helped him see the good in humanity after he escaped from prison. What Edmund tells this character is very telling of the love he feels for his wife.

Clean Movie Month banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/01/cleanmoviemonth2020-is-here/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The audio: In my review of The Boy Who Could Fly, I mentioned how the audio of the actors was on the quieter side. I noticed the same flaw when watching The Wife of Monte Cristo. The actors were so quiet, I had difficulty understanding what they were saying. I needed to turn up my television’s volume just to hear them. I’m not sure if this was an issue with the movie itself or with the audio on my entertainment system.

A somewhat misleading title: I said in the introduction that Haydée’s prominence in the story is what caused me to see the film. While she did have an important role in the overall narrative, she wasn’t the central focus. The majority of The Wife of Monte Cristo revolved around “The Avenger” and the villains’ attempts to foil his plans. Because of the title, I was led to believe the film would be a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, but from Haydée’s perspective. However, it was simply a sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo.

Edmond and Haydée’s limited interactions: Earlier in this review, I briefly mentioned how Edmond and Haydée spend a limited amount of time together on screen. This disappointed me, as I was hoping to witness the continual growth of their relationship. I was also hoping to see more adorable moments between them, especially since their relationship is barely shown in any film version of The Count of Monte Cristo. While I appreciate the times I did get to see these characters together, there was more to be desired in this department.

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

My overall impression:

Seeing and reviewing this movie is a Christmas wish come true! As someone who is a fan of Monte Cristo and Haydée’s relationship, I am thankful to have discovered this film! It was enjoyable and interesting, as it gives Haydée an opportunity to save the day. Through clever problem solving, teamwork, and wits, we see Haydée making a difference in her world and lending a hand when possible. Despite the film being titled The Wife of Monte Cristo, she is not the star of the film. She does serve an important role though, as she receives a bigger part in this story than she has in other versions of The Count of Monte Cristo. As a film released in the Breen Code Era, it is, for the most part, Breen Code friendly. However, there were two aspects of this movie that I was surprised to see in a Breen Code film. In some scenes, both Haydée and Lucille wear dresses with low necklines. While this style of dress was likely common in the 1830s, its presence would not be frequent in a Breen Code film. There is one scene where the deceased body of one of De Villefort’s comrades is briefly shown on screen. In Breen Code films, a death would usually be implied, not seen.

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

What are your thoughts on my Clean Movie Month reviews so far? Are you looking forward to my next review? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) Review

When I published my Hallmark Hall of Fame Reading Challenge last March, one of the literary works I listed was Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. While I’ve never read the play, I was interested in seeing how Hallmark Hall of Fame would adapt this particular story. Sadly, I couldn’t find this specific version on DVD, VHS, or digital, as a lot of the collection’s movies from the ‘50s to about the early ‘80s appear to be lost. When I discovered Vincent Perez starred in the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, I thought seeing this version would be the next best thing. It was also a perfect choice for The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon, as it was listed under the “Movies Made From Broadway Shows” section in the very first announcement for the event. This blogathon also happens to take place days before Vincent’s birthday, so this became another reason to review Cyrano de Bergerac! I was able to obtain a copy of this film, but I had to purchase two DVDs and a Blu-Ray just to find one that worked with my home entertainment system. Read my review to find out if this film was worth the search!

After weeks of searching, I finally found a DVD copy of Cyrano de Bergerac I could watch! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscren.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I chose this film because of Vincent’s involvement, I’ll talk about his performance first. One aspect that stood out to me was how his voice was always soft-spoken. This fit his character, Christian de Neuvillette, well because he wasn’t as confident with his words, like Cyrano. I also noticed how sincere Vincent’s performance came across. No matter what situation Christian is in, he always has his heart in the right place. The goodness of this character showed through in Vincent’s portrayal, which helped Christian be as likable as possible! Since I just mentioned Cyrano, I will now talk about Gérard Depardieu’s performance. The word I’d use to describe his portrayal of the titular character is expressive. Every feeling Cyrano was experiencing felt genuine, emotions appearing in his facial expressions, body language, and poetry. Toward the beginning of the film, Cyrano performs at a local theater and participates in a dual shortly after. Gérard was able to adapt to every situation given to his character. Besides Vincent and Gérard, the cast is filled with talented actors and actresses. Anne Brochet is one of those cast members, bringing a gentle nature to her character, Roxane. Through emotionality, Anne brings her character to life in a way that feels believable. One example is when Christian and Cyrano visit her at her balcony.

The historical accuracy: As I’ve said before on this blog, the quality of a film’s historical accuracy can show how much a creative team cares about their project. The historical accuracy of Cyrano de Bergerac is proof of this statement! The world in this movie felt immersive, presenting the locations with a sense of realism. The set designs reflected the financial situation/social status of the characters, with the local bakery and Roxane’s room being perfect examples. While the bakery featured a simpler interior design, Roxane’s room appeared elegant. Costumes looked appropriate for that specific time period, with the color palette for the cast’s wardrobe ranging from lighter shades of beige and blue to darker tones of gray and black. Tools and utensils from yesteryear were used by the characters, such as Cyrano and Christian applying a wax seal on letters to Roxane. This movie shows that no detail was ignored.

The humor: One of the strongest elements of this film was the humor! Not only was it well-written, but the humor itself seemed to fit that world. The funny moments within Cyrano de Bergerac were also given good executions by the actors. My favorite scene is when Christian continuously interrupts Cyrano’s story by making references to Cyrano’s nose. During this exchange, Christian would sometimes only say “nose” to get a reaction from Cyrano. While Christian appears unfazed by Cyrano’s reactions, Cyrano becomes more irritated as the scene continues. This scene made me repeatedly laugh, as I found it hilarious!

The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/announcing-the-third-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Vincent Perez: Vincent Perez is one of the reasons why I sought out the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, as I’ve enjoyed his acting performances so far. Before watching this movie, I knew his involvement in the project was a break-out role and likely the biggest role he received at that time. However, because Vincent is billed as the main supporting actor, I was disappointed to found out he was in the film for a limited amount of time. The majority of the story revolves around Cyrano, which means that Vincent was only given a reduced amount of material to work with. There were even large intervals when Vincent was not featured on screen. Usually, main supporting actors receive about half the screen-time the film’s protagonist does. In the case of Cyrano de Bergerac, however, the antagonist, Comte Antoine de Guiche, is given more prominence in the production than Vincent’s character.

The war storyline: Prior to seeing Cyrano de Bergerac, I had a general knowledge of what the story was about. The movie is even classified as a “comedy-drama”, with the assumption that the romantic aspects of the story would fall under the “drama” part. While the comedy and romance within Cyrano de Bergerac dominated the first half of the film, a storyline involving a war took over the film’s second half. The build-up toward the event and the reasoning behind it felt too “inside baseball”. It also caused the entire story to pull a “bait and switch” with its overall tone. Based on the knowledge I had about this film and even based on the DVD cover, I expected the light-hearted tone within the first half to have a consistent presence throughout the film. Even though there were romantic and light-hearted moments within the second half, some of them didn’t feel like they fit in the context of the war.

The poetic monologues: I’m aware that Cyrano is known for being “a man of many words”. I also know the original play was written only in verse. The poems themselves weren’t the issue, as the poetic monologues within this film were performed and written well. However, some of them lasted too long. Toward the end of the movie, Cyrano recited one of his signature monologues. Because it was long in time length, the monologue made the scene drawn out. I realize that the reason for the long monologues was to satisfy the film’s run-time. Personally, I think, at least, a few of the them should have been a bit shorter in length.

Birthday cake image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/chocolate-birthday-cakes-collection_765437.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/birthday”>Birthday vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’ve heard that the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergeracis “the definitive film version of the Edmond Rostand play from 1897.” This is the only film version of the story I have seen. As I also said in the introduction, I have never read the play. So, I can only judge this film simply as a film. Cyrano de Bergerac is a good, solid movie! I found myself invested as the story was unfolding and I can definitely see how this could be presented on Broadway. The poetic dialogue was an interesting choice that helped this project achieve a unique identity. However, there were aspects that prevented the production from being better than it was. Some of the poetic monologues were too long, causing scenes to feel drawn out. Despite flaws like that one, I’m glad I was given an opportunity to see this film! If you do choose to watch this version of Cyrano de Bergerac, keep in mind it is a rarer title to find on physical media. While this movie did receive a Blu-Ray release, prices can get expensive.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Do you enjoy movies based on Broadway shows? Are there any literary adaptations that you like? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on Broadway!

Sally Silverscreen

My Tier Rank List of Every Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie I’ve Seen!

Before I begin this article, I’d like to reminder everyone that the winners of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards have been announced! You can discover who won at this link:

 

The results of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards are finally here!

 

This year, I’ve seen several tier ranking videos on Youtube. While most of these videos have revolved around books, there have been a few that focus on films. As I watched these tier lists being created, I discovered how there was no list dedicated to Hallmark’s productions. So, I decided to fill that void by making a list of my own! Because Hallmark has created so many movies, my tier ranking list focuses on all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I have seen in my life. This article is based solely on my own opinion and is not meant to be mean-spirited in any way. I also created this list to bring unique content to my blog. I was trying to complete this post yesterday, but this project took longer than I expected, so I apologize for its late arrival. For this tier ranking list, there will be five categories; Bottom of the Barrel, Ok, Decent/Fine, Good, and Great. I will give each film a brief, but thorough explanation for why it has earned that placement.

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Because I don’t have a Twitter account, I wasn’t able to make my list on tiermaker.com. So, I created this list on Microsoft Powerpoint. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
 

Bottom of the Barrel

Back When We Were Grown-Ups

Anyone who has read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time would not be surprised to see this movie placed in the Bottom of the Barrel category. To me, this is not only the worst Hallmark Hall of Fame picture, but also the worst Hallmark project ever made. If you’d like to learn more about why I don’t like Back When We Were Grown-Ups, you can check out my list of the Worst Hallmark Movies at this link:

The Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time

 

Firelight

This is another movie I talked about in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list. I’ve only seen Firelight once, but I found it to be so forgettable. When I think about this movie, on rare occasions, I wonder what message it was trying to deliver to their audience? If I, as an audience member, can’t determine what the intended purpose of that specific film is, that likely means something went wrong during the creative process. The rest of my thoughts on Firelight are found in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list at this link:

The Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time

 

A Painted House

From what I remember, the overall plot was very lackluster. I also found the premise revolving around a child rarely lying to be unbelievable. A Painted House contains other flaws that prevented me from enjoying this picture. One of them was how a few characters were unlikable for no clear reason. For a stand-alone film, having it end on a cliff-hanger wasn’t a good idea. I haven’t read John Grisham’s novel, so I’m not sure if the film’s creative team adopted any liberties for this project.

 

Ok

Rose Hill

While I don’t think Rose Hill is a bad movie, I just wasn’t impressed with the final project. The story as a whole was not the most interesting and Rose herself seemed to sit on the sidelines of her own story. There was a mystery within this script, but that part of the story was poorly executed. This surprises me, as Hallmark Hall of Fame released a film in 1990 with a similar story concept titled Caroline?

 

My Sister’s Keeper

I liked the first half of this movie, where the audience witnesses the two sisters growing up alongside each other. It provided strong opportunities for each sister to receive character development and the film’s first half felt like it was building up to something bigger. When the second half of the movie arrives and both sisters become adults, the project hits a stand-still where nothing interesting happens. I will say the high-light of My Sister’s Keeper is seeing Kathy Bates riding on an elephant.

 

Loving Leah

I’ve only seen about 50% of this movie. However, based on what I saw, I found the project to be just ok. I didn’t find myself feeling emotionally invested in the story like I did with other Hall of Fame titles. I wouldn’t mind re-watching this one, and maybe even reviewing it, to see if I still hold the same opinion.

 

The Makeover

When I first saw this film, I thought it was decent/fine. But since its 2013 release, it has been relegated to ok status. The Makeover is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie, complete with the male and female protagonist falling in love with each other. In fact, Hallmark’s first network released a movie with a similar premise the year prior called Fixing Pete. Maybe the first Hallmark Hall of Fame project of 2013 should have been given a stronger story.

 

Blind Spot

Blind Spot was decent/fine upon initial viewing, but is now in the ok category. The film’s cautionary message was given more emphasis than the plot. This caused the movie to feel like it belonged on Lifetime when these kinds of films were in their hey-day. As I’ve said before, Karina Arroyave stars in this Hall of Fame presentation. However, her talents were under-utilized in this picture.

 

The Magic of Ordinary Days

This is one of the most beloved titles Hallmark has ever made. However, I don’t like or love this project as much as other people do. I found the main plot to be too unbelievable for my liking. Hallmark also glossed over the subject of Japanese internment camps when they could have provided some commentary on how prejudice can negatively affect someone’s perspective. There was one romantic relationship that I knew wasn’t going to lead anywhere, making me wonder why it was included in the first place. The Magic of Ordinary Days is another Hall of Fame movie based on a book, so I don’t know what elements from the novel where translated to the screen.

 

Promise

I reviewed this film for the James Garner Blogathon back in February. On the dvd cover, it is considered “the most-honored television movie of all time”. But, to me, the project is a bit on the over-rated side. I’m not a fan of “slice-of-life” stories, which is exactly what the plot of Promise is. The road to educating the audience about Mental Illness seems like it was paved with good intentions. As I say in my review, it could have been executed better though. You can read my review at the link below if you want to learn more about my thoughts on Promise.

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Promise Review

 

Decent/Fine

Just in Time for Christmas

Back in 2015, I felt Just in Time for Christmas was a good movie. After giving it some more thought, I’ve come to see the film as just fine. Like The Makeover, the project is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie. But, unlike the aforementioned 2013 release, Just in Time for Christmas tried to do something different with their creative material. Time travel is rarely incorporated in any of Hallmark’s projects. This release was, I believe, the first time it had been included in a Hallmark Hall of Fame title.

 

In Love and War

When The World War II Blogathon took place last September, In Love and War is the film I chose to review. As a movie, I liked it for it was. But, as a Hall of Fame picture, it didn’t leave as big of an emotional impact as other titles from this collection have. For a story taking place during World War II, there wasn’t a lot of action in it. There was also an imbalance between the ideas of “love” and “war”. If you want to read my review for In Love and War, you can click on the link below:

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

 

Beyond the Blackboard

I haven’t seen this movie since its 2011 release. From I remember, it was just fine. While I liked the acting, the story was straight-forward. I also found the part about the pregnant teacher working and, eventually, bringing her baby to a compromising environment to be unbelievable. Like I said about Loving Leah, I’m not opposed to re-watching this movie and reassessing my opinion on it.

 

Front of the Class

This is another picture I haven’t seen in years. However, I thought Front of the Class was a fine film. Similar to In Love and War, it didn’t leave a big, emotional impact on me. But, as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind watching this movie again and seeing if my thoughts on it have changed.

 

Good

The Secret Garden

In my Bonus Double Feature last September, I talked about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s version of The Secret Garden. I liked this adaptation, but I found it to be drawn-out. Looking back on this movie, it seems like the creative team placed so much emphasis on respecting the source material, they forgot to bring their own voice to the table. You can check out my thoughts on three different adaptations of The Secret Garden at these links:

An Introduction to My Bonus Double Feature

My Bonus Double Feature Has Arrived!

The Conclusion to My Bonus Double Feature

 

The Boys Next Door

I feel The Boys Next Door is one of the more under-rated titles from the Hall of Fame collection. The acting is solid and the perception of individuals with disabilities is mostly positive. My favorite character from this movie is Barry Klemper, but I felt he was under-utilized in the overall story. Also, some of the language toward the four men with disabilities reflects the time period the film was released in. I wonder how different the play this movie is based on is different from this adaptation?

 

The Valley of Light

Despite not having seen this movie since its 2007 release, I remember really liking this film! “She won’t give me my chocolate” is still one of my favorite quotes from a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. This film also contains one of the most shocking plot twists in the history of this collection. I definitely want to re-watch this film and possibly share my thoughts on this movie viewing experience!

 

Love Locks

As I have said before on this blog, Love Locks is the first newer Hall of Fame title that made me feel like this branch of Hallmark was going back to their roots! Yes, this is the type of story you’d likely find in Hallmark Channel movies. But the way Love Locks was presented made the overall project feel like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. I also like the movie’s original poster, as it is one of the most creative pieces of marketing in Hallmark history! Personally, I think this is a good picture if you want to introduce someone to the Hall of Fame collection!

 

Love Takes Flight

This is the most recent release from the Hall of Fame collection I’ve talked about, as I reviewed the film last April. Love Takes Flight is a better movie than its marketing campaign made it seem. However, as I’ve noticed with the newer Hall of Fame titles, it lacks emotional depth because it feels like it adopted Hallmark Channel’s “formula”. It also contains other flaws, like having too many plots. Here’s the link to my review of Love Takes Flight if you’re interested in reading it:

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

 

The Beach House

The Beach House is another Hallmark Hall of Fame film that was given less-than-stellar marketing. But this didn’t stop it from being better than I expected! As someone who has also read the book, I think the movie did a better job at telling the story than its source material did! I also believe the overall quality of this project is a good reminder of why the Hall of Fame branch exists. This is another title I reviewed, so I’ll provide the link to that post here:

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Beach House Review

 

Christmas Everlasting

I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Everlasting when it was released in 2018! In fact, the only aspect of the film I didn’t like was the limited on-screen presence Patti LaBelle received, as I expected her to have a larger role in the film. Similar to other Hall of Fame titles I’ll mention, this movie features a mystery within the overall plot. Mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects, so I like how Christmas Everlasting helped bring something different to the table. I reviewed this movie as well, so here is the link:

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas Everlasting Review

 

The Christmas Train

I liked this movie and the book it was based on! The overall execution of this project made it feel like a Hall of Fame production, making this the collection’s first newer Christmas film to make me feel this way. Similar to Christmas Everlasting, The Christmas Train incorporates a mystery into their story. While this element is also in the book, it brings a unique component to Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas line-up. It’s also special in how most of the film’s events take place on a train, which is rare for a Hall of Fame movie!

 

The Lost Valentine

This is a good, but sad film! While I appreciate the effort that has gone into Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas movies, it’s nice to see other holidays receive recognition within this branch of Hallmark. The use of flashbacks enhanced the overall story, giving context to the events being presented on screen. Because of how sad the film is, the re-watchability rate is on the lower side of the spectrum. But this is a project I would definitely recommend!

 

A Dog Named Christmas

A Dog Named Christmas is another Hall of Fame Christmas film I genuinely enjoyed! It does a good job at effectively showing how someone can make a difference in their community. Since this movie places a lot of attention on the titular dog, some story elements end up being over-looked. One of them is seeing how the main protagonist lives his life with a disability. I know there’s a prequel to this film called Christmas with Tucker. I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to see how it holds up to A Dog Named Christmas!

 

Sweet Nothing in My Ear

I saw this movie for the first time in 2020 and it made me miss the Hallmark Hall of Fame films of yester-year. Even though this story revolves around a debate, the overall project was interesting to watch. Both sides are treated equally and are given enough time to present their case. I don’t like the ending, but I can understand why the creative team made that specific choice. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a unique addition to the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection!

 

Pictures of Hollis Woods

I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I recall having a good experience watching it. However, this film has flown under the radar for far too long. The acting is good and the overarching message of family is incorporated into the story very well. I also remember one of the characters lives in and owns a movie theater. This was a highlight for me because that is a dream of mine.

 

Missing Pieces

As I’ve said before, mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. It is even rarer when the entire plot is a mystery story. The overall quality of the film’s writing is strong and I also liked the acting performances. However, like I said about Blind Spot, Karina Arroyave’s talents were under-utilized in this project. I’m surprised this movie has never been aired on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as this title fits the network’s brand.

 

Grace & Glorie

One of the plot points of this film is a woman from a big city moving to a small town. However, it never felt like the project was following a formula. Instead, the story focuses on the friendship between Grace and Gloria. This part of the movie provided interesting opportunities for character development and exploration of certain themes. The movie also showcased wonderful scenery.

 

Great

Christmas with Holly

In Christmas with Holly, the protagonist and his brothers take care of Holly after she loses her mother. This part of the movie reminded me of Three Men and a Baby. But what’s great about this 2012 release is how it takes a pre-existing story structure and creates a different narrative with it. While there was a romance in this film, it was never heavily emphasized like in other Hall of Fame titles. The overall story felt well-rounded.

 

A Smile as Big as the Moon

This is one of my favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame films! I was really impressed with the overall quality of the project when I first saw it in 2012. There is so much to like about this movie, from the acting performances to the messages and themes. To me, this is the perfect example of what a Hall of Fame should be.

 

November Christmas

I’m not going to lie; I thought the title sounded ridiculous when I first heard it. But the movie was better than I expected it to be! This film does a good job at exploring how childhood cancer can affect a child and the people around them. It also has a genuine sincerity that doesn’t feel too mushy or manipulative. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this is a good choice to watch around Christmas-time!

 

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are known for having larger budgets than a typical Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film. The creative team behind The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler used that budget to their advantage. The presentation of this film is so good, it feels like a theatrical release! Everything about the movie feels like it is of the highest quality. I honestly wish Hallmark created more Hall of Fame pictures like this one.

 

Follow the Stars Home

From the moment I first saw this movie, I knew it would be a winner! But it sometimes feels like this film doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The acting performances from the whole cast is one of the strongest components of this project. This movie also contains one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. Follow the Stars Home does a good job at balancing the lighted-hearted and serious moments of the story.

 

The Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy

This series introduced me to Hallmark Hall of Fame as well as Hallmark films in general. I’d say this is one of the strongest trilogies in film history! The overall quality is consistent and it feels like the creative team truly cared about the project they were making. I would like to see Hallmark attempt another series within their Hallmark Hall of Fame branch!

 

Ellen Foster

Ellen Foster is an excellent, but sad film! What makes this movie work is Jena Malone’s performance, as she carries the entire project! This movie features one of the few times where a young person is the film’s lead. The story as a whole is an emotional roller coaster ride that makes its audience experience a variety of feelings. I haven’t read the book this film is based on, but I’d be interested in reading how emotionally intense it is compared to the film.

 

What the Deaf Man Heard

I have fallen in love with this movie since I first saw it! It does a great job showing how far someone will go to show their love for another person. This film also shows how easy it is for people to take things at face value. There are other solid messages in this story, but I don’t want to spoil it. What the Deaf Man Heard is another Hall of Fame title I can’t recommend enough! It’s also based on a book, so I’d like to read it someday!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hanukkah mehorah image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mehorah-with-flaming-candles_3299423.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like the film:

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

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

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

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

My overall impression:

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

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

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

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019

Happy New Year’s Eve, everybody! Since I published my list of The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019 yesterday, it’s time for me to post my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019! Like I said before, I found 2019 has been a better year for movies. I saw a lot of good films, but only ten can be considered the best of the year. As I mentioned in my previous list, this article is based on my opinion and films that I personally watched. It’s also not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now that the introduction is over, let’s begin by bringing up the Honorable Mentions!

 

Christmas Bells are Ringing, Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas, Northern Lights of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Kim Possible (2019), Flip that Romance, Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind, Just Add Romance, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Last Bridesmaid, Toy Story 4, Return to Oz, I Remember Mama, Ruby Herring Mysteries: Her Last Breath, Merry and Bright, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love, Time for You to Come Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Club

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Gold glittery 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-party-flyer_3641545.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/banner”>Banner vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

10. The Nine Lives of Christmas

Who knew I would like this movie as much as I did? As part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, I watched and reviewed this movie in an attempt to figure out if it was worth the hype it has received. Like I said in that post, I can now understand why so many people like the film so much! The humor within this movie is one of its highlights. Because of the quality of the script and the acting performances, The Nine Lives of Christmas was genuinely hilarious. While watching this movie, I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Another part of this story that was well-written was the interactions among the characters. They were not only great to watch, but they also appeared natural on-screen. I’m glad I finally realize why this movie always makes an appearance in Hallmark’s yearly Christmas line-ups.

 

9. Holiday for Heroes

I will admit I had lower expectations for this film than I probably should have. But those lower expectations allowed the movie to surpass them and become the pleasant surprise it was. Holiday for Heroes was so good, that it reminded me of another movie I liked, Operation Christmas. With its genuine sincerity, the messages that were expressed in this story came across very well. I also liked how the formation of the protagonists’ relationship was more realistic than in something like The Christmas Card. Throughout this film, I could tell the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. It made it seem like they truly cared about the project they were working on.

 

8. Easter Under Wraps

In 2019, Hallmark finally created their first Easter themed movie! Even though it took so long to get to this point, I definitely think it was worth the wait. I really liked the writing within this film, as it created a story that was entertaining. Something I pointed out in my review is how conversations felt like they came from real-life. This helped me stay invested in what the characters were saying and doing throughout the film. Like in most movies from Hallmark Channel, Easter Under Wraps contained messages and themes that were relatable. Just one example is of personal growth. I’m not sure what Hallmark’s plans are for their “Spring Fever” line-up. I hope one of them includes a sequel to this film.

 

7. Ben-Hur (1959)

This is the first of two movies that I reviewed for a blog follower dedication review. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to share this movie with my readers and followers. That’s because I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Ben-Hur is a film that has acquired a lot of critical acclaim. As I said in my review, the hype surrounding it was well-earned. The script itself is one of the strongest elements of the project. Even though Ben-Hur is known as an “epic” picture, it is also a compelling story of faith and perseverance. From the acting performances to the cinematography, these things make this film the masterpiece it is. It’s no wonder Ben-Hur has been able to stand the test of time for so long.

 

6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

One of the newest mystery series that premiered in 2019, Mystery 101, has quickly become one of my favorites. I found the third movie in this series, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill, to be the strongest one. Unlike most of the films on Hallmark’s second network, this movie felt like it had higher stakes. This was caused by the female protagonist’s father being falsely accused on the crime and the male and female leads not being able to see eye-to-eye on the film’s main conflict. I also liked how the book festival was showcased in the movie for a satisfying amount of time. Like I’ll say about another movie on this list, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill shares some of the same positive qualities of its predecessors. It not only keeps up the series’ continuity, it makes me look forward to the future of Mystery 101.

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Jack Dawson from Titanic: “I’m the king of the world”!
Jake Sully from Avatar: “No, I’m the king of the world”.
Bucky Barnes from Avengers: Endgame: “Am I that much of a joke to you”?
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen
 

5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy was one of my most anticipated Christmas movies of 2019. After enjoying the second film in the series, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, I was looking forward to seeing what was in store for the next chapter. This film did not disappoint! It felt like receiving a hug from a friend one hasn’t seen in a while. The third entry is one of the few Christmas films from Hallmark that tried to do different things with their story. One example is how the script explores the aftermath of the mystery. This is something that is hardly shown in Hallmark’s films, especially in their Hallmark Movies & Mysteries productions. After hearing other people’s positive responses to this movie, I’m hoping that a fourth one is in the cards.

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

After becoming the king (or queen) of the world, Avengers: Endgame will still be a movie that is remembered for years. Whether debating over the film’s time travel or discussing the highlights and flaws of the project, people are going to find an opportunity to talk about this movie. For me, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to this particular series of the MCU. Sure, there are things about it that I don’t like. But there is no such thing as a perfect film. Without spoiling the movie, I will say that several interesting decisions were made within this script. These decisions allowed the film to be engaging and, at times, thought-provoking. What also worked in the project’s favor was how it shared some of the same strengths as its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. This actually helped it maintain a sense of continuity.

 

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

For my blog follower dedication reviews, I try my best to talk about films that I feel good about sharing with my readers and followers. When I think about Kubo and the Two Strings, it makes me thankful that I chose to watch this movie! This is the first time an animated film has appeared on my best of the year list. I’m glad this movie was the one to make 18 Cinema Lane history because, to me, it deserves it. The story is enriching and beautifully written. It takes elements that we’ve seen before and crafts them in a way that feel like a breath of fresh air. It also helps that the animation is visually appealing. Even though this is the only Laika film I’ve seen, so far, I’d be more than willing to check out what this studio has to offer.

 

2. Rome in Love

This movie premiered while I was on an out-of-town trip, so I wasn’t able to review it. But when I did watch this film, it ended up being the best Hallmark movie I saw this year! Rome in Love does so many things right when it comes to cinematic story-telling. It went out of its way to use as few Hallmark movie clichés as possible. But when the film did adopt a tried-and-true cliché, it improved upon that cliché, which enhanced the overall story. At times, this film felt like a theatrical production. This is because of how well done the cinematography is. If I were introducing someone to Hallmark’s library of films, this is one of the movies I would choose to show them.

 

1. Swept from the Sea

When I look back on 2019, Swept from the Sea is the one film I can’t stop thinking about! As the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, it is definitely deserving of the number one spot. There are no such thing as “perfect” films. However, this movie is the only one I saw this year that comes pretty close to it. There is so much to love about this film. But, for me, the best part of the movie was Vincent Perez’s performance! He single-handedly stole the show, which gave me an opportunity to appreciate his acting abilities more than I expected. From the cinematography to the on-screen chemistry, the other elements of this film certainly added to my enjoyment of it. As I think about Swept from the Sea, I feel that this is a movie I wish more people were aware of.

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

What do you think of my list? Which is your favorite movie of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

Take 3: The Littlest Horse Thieves Review

When it came to The Costume Drama Blogathon, I wanted to choose a movie that was already on my DVR. Out of the six movies that would have fit the requirements, I decided to review The Littlest Horse Thieves! This is a Disney film that I didn’t know existed until this year. Since I reviewed Swept from the Sea and Hallmark’s Hall of Fame’s In Love and War, I thought that I would change things up by selecting a children’s/family-friendly film. What made me want to watch the movie was the historical aspect of the story. Before even hearing about The Littlest Horse Thieves, I never knew that ponies were used in the mining industry. The only animal I knew that went into mines were small birds. I was looking forward to learning something new while being entertained.

The Littlest Horse Thieves poster
The Littlest Horse Thieves poster created by Walt Disney Productions and Buena Vista Distribution. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Image found at https://movies.disney.com/the-littlest-horse-thieves.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When it comes to casting young actors in lead roles, those performances can be hit or miss. In The Littlest Horse Thieves, the performances of all three leads were really good! Chloe Franks, Andrew Harrison, and Benjie Bolgar portray the titular horse thieves. Throughout the film, their characters were endearing and likable. The emotions these actors displayed appeared very genuine, as if their characters were real people. It was really sweet to watch the characters’ friendship evolve over the course of the film. Because of these factors, it made it easy for me to root of Alice, Dave, and Tommy.

 

Historical accuracy: The Littlest Horse Thieves takes place in, I believe, the early 1900s. Every aspect of this movie reflected that particular time-period really well! The sets looked like the audience could step back in time, that this point in history was not too far away. Things like wardrobe, dialect, and even the artwork on the walls brought the early 1900s to life again. Even the issues surrounding mining and employee well-being seemed to come directly from that decade. What made the historical accuracy work in this film was the creative team’s attention to detail. It shows how much care was put into this project.

 

Not so perfect plans: In a lot of children’s/family-friendly films, the young protagonists’ plans always work out in their favor. This is not exactly the case for The Littlest Horse Thieves. I’m not going to spoil the movie in case you want to see it. But the children sometimes overlook important details relating to their plan to save the ponies. I liked how the protagonists’ efforts didn’t go according to plan. This made the characters and their situation seem realistic and relatable.

Pony Face near the Tree
Close-up of pony image created by Flatart at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by flatart – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out story: The Littlest Horse Thieves had a drawn-out story that seemed to last too long. The first half of the movie focused on the children finding out about the conflict and figuring out how to solve it. The act of rescuing/stealing the ponies didn’t happen until the film’s halfway point. It also only lasted for a few minutes. The second half of the movie shifted the focus from the children to the adults. The overall narrative talked about everything but the most exciting part of the movie.

 

The editing: During the first half of the film, I noticed how less-than-stellar the editing was. It made conversations feel cut-off and transitions between scenes less smooth. These two aspects made the overall flow of the film seem choppy.

 

The conflict between Dave and his stepdad: Within The Littlest Horse Thieves, there was a conflict between Dave and his stepdad. It’s not the conflict itself I didn’t like. How little time was devoted to it is my biggest issue. In the first half of the film, Dave and his stepdad dislike each other. While the stepdad’s reason is never explained, Dave feels his reasons can be justified. His dislike toward his stepdad also affects his younger brother, Tommy. After the ponies are rescued/stolen, Dave and Tommy’s stepdad automatically becomes supportive of the children and their cause. The aforementioned conflict was not fully explored and felt it was there for the sake of being there.

The Costume Drama Blogathon banner
The Costume Drama Blogathon poster created by Debbie from Moon in Gemini. Image found at https://debravega.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/announcing-the-costume-drama-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Every studio has those films that don’t always get talked about. Disney is no exception to this. That’s why I try to go out of my way to address these films on my blog. Some of them are better than others. But you never knew what’s in store until you give the film a chance. For this particular blogathon, I chose to watch The Littlest Horse Thieves with an open mind. Now that I have seen it, I can honestly say that it was just ok. It’s not one of the worst things that the studio has ever made. But it’s not one of Disney’s strongest efforts. In fact, I could see children, especially younger ones, becoming bored by this movie. However, people who like British and/or historical fiction films will probably like it. Its historical accuracy is pretty satisfying and there are moments that I found educational. I could tell that the creative team behind this film tried their best to make something worthwhile. But it wasn’t as impressive as it could have been.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Have you seen The Littlest Horse Thieves? Which film from a major studio do think is underrated? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Swept from the Sea Review (A Month Without the Code — #8)

Out of all the movies that I’ve chosen for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon, this film is the one that I’m the most excited to talk about! I had never heard of Swept from the Sea until I discovered it on Pinterest this year (by the way, Pinterest is a great place to discover movies). When I first saw the film’s poster, I immediately noticed that Vincent Perez not only starred in the movie, but he also was the film’s top-billed actor. For those of you who are not familiar with this particular actor, Vincent portrayed Marius in Queen of the Damned, which I reviewed last Halloween. Since I enjoyed his performance in Queen of the Damned, I wanted to see what his acting talents had to offer in other films. When I was about to read the movie’s synopsis, I decided to watch the movie knowing as little about it as possible. I did this when I reviewed Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and I ended up having a really good movie-viewing experience. Will history repeat itself with Swept from the Sea? I’m glad you joined me for my last A Month Without the Code review because we’re about to find the answer to this question!

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Among all of the movies I’ve seen in my life and among all the movies I’ve reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane, Vincent Perez’s acting performance in Swept from the Sea is one of the best I’ve ever seen! Throughout the entire film, he gave a captivating performance that was both heart-warming and heart-breaking. There were even times where, through the use of emotion, he was able to say so much without saying anything at all. One example is when Amy, Rachel Weisz’s character, gives Yanko, Vincent’s character, some food after they officially meet for the first time. Even though Vincent was the one who stole the show, I enjoyed seeing the other acting performances in this film. Despite the fact that Kathy Bates appears in the movie for a limited amount of time, her portrayal of Miss Swaffer was excellent! Not only was her performance well-rounded, but she also did a really good job pulling off an English accent. Performances like these made the characters come across like they were real-life individuals!

 

The cinematography: Swept from the Sea had some interesting cinematography that I was not expecting to see. At one point in the movie, all of the dead bodies from a recent tragedy at sea are featured on screen. In this particular scene, the camera pans outward in order to show Dr. James Kennedy, Ian McKellen’s character, standing in the middle of the area where these dead bodies were placed. Because of the cinematography, this moment showed the magnitude of the tragedy. Another great use of cinematography was when Amy was running through a rain-storm. What I liked about this scene was how it was dark enough to create the feelings of fear and dread, but not dark enough where one could barely see what’s happening on screen. Swept from the Sea’s cinematography made the film visually engaging!

 

The scenery: The majority of this movie takes place in the English countryside. Everything about this location was beautiful to look at! From the never-ending fields to the titular sea, all of the countryside’s natural landscapes were captured very well on film. Even the snowy environment that is briefly shown during Yanko’s journey is visually appealing. Because of the care that was taken in recording these locations, especially the sea, it gave the impression that the scenery was its own character. It also helped to create a stunning picture!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Because this story puts a good amount of focus on a romance, it’s important for the actors portraying the characters in that relationship to have good on-screen chemistry. As I’ve already said in this review, Vincent Perez’s acting performance stole the show! I was also impressed with Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of Amy Foster. Not only were they talented individually, but they were also a very talented pair! Anytime Amy and Yanko interacted with one another, their relationship was brought to life in a very sweet and genuine way. Amy and Yanko were an adorable couple without trying too hard to be. While some of the credit goes to the screenwriter, the rest of it belongs to Vincent and Rachel. What helped them was how different their acting styles were. These differences ended up complimenting each other instead of competing against them.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The dialect: Swept from the Sea takes place in the late 1800s, so the dialect reflects that particular time-period. This aspect of the movie sounded authentic to that decade. However, because I’m not used to hearing it in films very often, I had difficulty, at times, understanding what the characters were saying. This is not the fault of the film, but the fault of me, as a viewer, for not being familiar with the dialect.

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My overall impression:

Have you ever seen a movie that was so great, that all you wanted to do was tell everyone you knew about it? Well, that is exactly how Swept from the Sea made me feel! So far, this is the best movie I’ve seen this year! It’s endearing and emotional, grabbing hold of my attention from start to finish. So many components came together to make this film as entertaining as it was. From the acting to the scenery, there were so many things I liked about this movie. It is truly a hidden gem that I’m thankful to have discovered. Like I said about The Nun’s Story, Swept from the Sea is one of the “cleaner” films out of the ones I’ve chosen for A Month Without the Code. I found this to be pretty surprising, considering the fact that this is the only PG-13 rated movie in this roster. Despite this, I think the movie could be “breenable” with a few changes. These are the following:

 

  • There were about three times when characters were heard swearing and one time where Christ’s name was used in vain. These words would need to be omitted from the script.

 

  • Toward the beginning of the film, Miss Swaffer has a bloody wound on her leg and is having it taken care of by Dr. James Kennedy. While the scene itself is fine, the wound would have to be hidden on screen.

 

  • In one scene, a man is making an unflattering joke about Amy. While Amy and Yanko express their disgust over this joke, the joke itself would have to meet the standards of the Breen Code.

 

  • On the ship, at the beginning of the storm, Yanko is seen throwing up. To fit within the qualifications of the Breen Code, this image would have to be removed.

 

  • Because there is a tragedy at sea, there are several dead bodies that are shown on screen. There is one other part of the film that features a dead body as well. These scenes would need to be revised to fit with the Breen Code.

 

  • Yanko and Amy’s kisses are more passionate and last longer than kisses from the Breen Code era’s films. These kisses would have to be shorter in time-length.

 

  • There are two scenes that heavily imply that Yanko and Amy are having sex. Even though these scenes take place after they become married, these scenes would need to rewritten to make the implication more subtle.

 

Overall score: 9.6 out of 10

 

How do you feel about A Month Without the Code? Which review from this blogathon has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen