Take 3: Sincerely, Yours, Truly Review + 295, 300, 305, 310, and 315 Follower Thank You

I know this review has been long overdue.  With several projects on my plate last month, I wasn’t able to get to my review as soon as I had wanted. Like I mentioned in my Peer Pressure Tag post, I am using March as the month where I catch up on important articles. This includes the newest blog follower dedication review. This time around, I wanted to choose a movie that was different from the film I wrote about for my last review; Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host. Even though there is a mystery in Sincerely, Yours, Truly, the overall story is more light-hearted in tone. It’s rare for an Up Network film to be covered on 18 Cinema Lane. This is because I just haven’t gotten around to watching many of them. Beginning at the start of 2021, Up Network has been releasing a new movie almost every Sunday night. Since Sincerely, Yours, Truly has been on my DVR for about a month, I finally had an excuse to watch it!

I took a screenshot of the film’s poster from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Even though Natalie Hall has starred in Hallmark Channel movies since 2011, the only film of Natalie’s I have seen is A Winter Princess. The reason I bring this up is because it shows how Natalie has experience when it comes to working on films of this nature. Throughout Sincerely, Yours, Truly, Natalie was very expressive, which is reflective of her time appearing in Hallmark’s rom-coms and one of the Love Saga (Love Comes Softly) films. Toward the beginning of the movie, Natalie’s character, Hayley, and her friend, Elisa, have received good news about a potential grant for their non-profit, Growing Out. They dance around Hayley’s kitchen and squeal in delight, as they can’t contain their excitement. While we’re on the subject of Elisa, I also liked Nicki Whitely’s performance in Sincerely, Yours, Truly! Like Natalie, Nicki was also expressive. She had a good on-screen personality as well. Anytime Elisa interacted with Hayley, their friendship came across as realistic. The moments when they read the love letters are a good example. This was my first time watching any of Marshall Williams’ projects, so I didn’t know what to expect from Marshall, talent-wise. I have to say that I was very impressed by his portrayal of Josh! In the movie, he was charming, with his reactions and expressions appearing natural. Having good on-screen chemistry with Natalie also helped Marshall. One of Marshall’s best scenes was when Josh discovers a letter about a lost item. Josh receives his mail when is on his way to work, not thinking twice about the task. As soon as he sees the letter, a look of curiosity immediately appears on his face.

The witty banter: In order to make any movie, let alone a rom-com, work, there needs to be good dialogue among the characters. Sincerely, Yours, Truly contained witty banter, which was one of the strongest parts of the film! Hayley and Josh meet when they argue over who should receive the last two jars of rhubarb jam. During this interaction, Josh lies about his reasons for wanting the jam. At first, he says he needs it for his sister because she’s having a bad day. Then he says he needs the jam because his sister is sick. Hayley comes back with witty remarks, calling out his falsehood in the process. After hearing both explanations of Josh’s, she asks him which one is true. This back-and-forth banter between these two characters was consistent, being both quick and sharp. Another example of this banter is when Josh is asking Hayley to put out her incense at their shared office facility. Because he’s entering her part of the office, Hayley responds by telling him not to spy, a reference from an earlier conversation. Not only do these interactions work because of the script, but also because of Natalie and Marshall’s talents!

The process of a grant proposal: A overarching narrative in Sincerely, Yours, Truly is Josh and Hayley attempting to win a financial grant for their respective non-profits. Throughout the film, the audience gets to see the entire process, from Josh and Hayley’s initial meeting to the final results. I found this part of the story interesting, as it allowed the characters to use problem solving skills and creativity. Even though Hayley’s non-profit was featured in the film more than Josh’s, I liked seeing her ideas come to life! This kind of insightful story-telling is what I’ve come to enjoy in stories like this.

Envelope with hearts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/hearts-and-pink-envelope-for-mothers-day_1950691.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/love”>Love image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Revealing the mystery too early: A mystery surrounding a collection of love letters was one of the major stories in Sincerely, Yours, Truly. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to watch this film. Within the first twenty minutes, a narration from a character the audience already met recites one of the love letters. The narration reveals the identity of the letters’ author. The mystery should have been drawn out for longer than twenty minutes, with the author’s identity remaining a secret for at least half the movie. This would give the audience more time to stay invested in the mystery.

No subplots for the supporting characters: While I liked the major stories in Sincerely, Yours, Truly, I didn’t find subplots for any of the supporting characters. What’s even more frustrating is how there were opportunities for subplots to take place. One example is Hayley’s mom, Camille. Over lunch between mother and daughter, it is revealed that Camille has a crush on a local butcher. However, this relationship is never explored and we only see Camille in two scenes. In the story, Elisa shares how she’s dating a dog-walker, whose profession is affecting her allergies. This conflict was not resolved anywhere in the movie.

Josh and Hayley never coming across as enemies: A classic rom-com trope that is found within the movie is “enemies to lovers”. Even though I enjoyed seeing Hayley and Josh’s interactions, I never felt like they were enemies. Sure, there were aspects of the other person they didn’t like. But their banter came across as playful than antagonistic. This made me question why the creative team behind Sincerely, Yours, Truly adopted this specific trope if they weren’t going to fully utilize it?

Fancy jewelry image created by Freepic.diller at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding photo created by freepic.diller – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m glad to see Up Network releasing newer films on their channel! It gives their audience something to look forward to and allows the network to compete alongside their competitors. With Sincerely, Yours, Truly, it was a film I ended up liking! While the movie does have its flaws, its sincerity and genuineness make up for that. I didn’t bring this up in my review, but Sincerely, Yours, Truly successfully avoided the “it’s not what you think” cliché. There were two instances where this cliché could have been used in the story. However, the film’s creative team subverted my expectations and chose not to use it, which made me enjoy the movie more! I want to take the time now to thank all of my followers. Reaching 300 followers is a big deal for me, so I appreciate all of the support!

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

Have you seen any of Up Network’s newer films? If so, which one has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: It’s the Little Things

Jesse’s new haircut. Henry presenting yellow roses to Florence. Clara and Rosemary opening a box of inventory from Dottie. What do these things have in common? They are all small details that make a big impact! When it comes to writing, it’s the little things that count. With Jesse’s haircut, it maintains the consistency within the show’s overarching story. Yellow roses symbolize friendship, which Henry was seeking after the accusations he made in the previous episode. Dottie is a character that hasn’t appeared on the show in several seasons, so hearing Clara and Rosemary say her name was a pleasant surprise. Throughout this season, I will be on the lookout for more small details that stand out in the script. In the meantime, let’s start this re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

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

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

Season: 8

Episode: 3

Name: From the Ashes

Major stories:

When attempting to remove more oil from the geyser, Mike suggests to Lucas that the crew should drill another 50 feet. Even though it is a risky move, Lucas agrees to the idea. As the crew continues to drill, they feel a rumbling beneath the ground. After the crew runs away from the geyser, oil begins to burst out of the hole. All of the sudden, the geyser explodes into flames. This was caused by a high-pressure blowout that took place during the initial drilling. Lucas and Jesse try to figure out what to do, while also trying to keep the other crew members safe. They are eventually joined by Bill, Henry, Ned, and Nathan. Henry suggests dynamite be used to distinguish the fire, an idea the rest of the men agree to. Right before this plan is put into place, Fiona shows up to lend a hand. The group gathers all the dynamite they can find and push them from a cart into the fire. Their plan works, causing no fatalities or major injuries. The fire also causes little to no damage.

While Rosemary and Elizabeth discuss Elizabeth’s potential relationship between Nathan or Lucas, Lucas crosses paths with them on his way to the library. After Elizabeth ends her conversation with Rosemary, Lucas tells Rosemary how he noticed his mother appeared different than usual. This causes him to want to call his father in an attempt to surprise his mother. At this point in the episode, Lucas still doesn’t know about his parents’ situation. While editing Elizabeth’s manuscript, Elizabeth shares how it’s difficult to keep Helen’s secret from Lucas. She suggests Helen tell her son what’s been going on. When Elizabeth looks out the window in Helen’s room, Helen addresses Elizabeth’s feelings for Nathan and Lucas. After the geyser explosion, Lucas meets Helen at the Café. When he asks her where his father is, she tells him she’ll find out where he is. Eventually, Lucas finds out the truth about his father. He approaches Elizabeth and asks her why she kept this secret from him. She says Helen told her not to say anything to him. A few scenes later, Helen visits Elizabeth at her home. She feels overwhelmed by her relationship issues. Elizabeth reminds Helen how she needs to show her husband her vulnerable side and fight for her marriage. Helen pauses the editing process on Elizabeth’s manuscript to go home and rekindle her relationship with her husband. Meanwhile, Lucas is still upset with Elizabeth. She tells him what she told his mother. Lucas feels Elizabeth doesn’t know what she is talking about because she is currently not in a relationship.

Oil rig image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/icon”>Icon vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

At the Mercantile, Lee receives a package. This package contains a chair he purchased on his and Rosemary’s South American vacation. Jesse, who also happens to be at the Mercantile, tries to sit in Lee’s chair. Lee discourages this, as he says it’s bad luck if he isn’t the first person to sit in the chair. To take Jesse’s mind off of the chair, Lee instructs Jesse to take Lee’s motorcycle to the lumberyard, as Lee plans on selling it. When Jesse goes to Lee and Rosemary’s house, he chooses to ride on the motorcycle, discovering how much he likes it. However, Clara disapproves of the motorcycle when Jesse pays his wife a visit at the dress shop. Jesse decides to buy the motorcycle from Lee. After Lee sells it for $20, Jesse takes a trip to a neighboring town on the motorcycle. During his journey, the motorcycle runs out of gas, causing Jesse to walk with the motorcycle to his destination. Meanwhile, in Hope Valley, Rosemary takes a seat in Lee’s chair while he is at work. Unfortunately, Lee’s chair breaks due to a cracked leg. When Lee comes home, Rosemary apologizes for breaking Lee’s chair. Lee then reveals how he and his grandfather built a chair like the one Lee bought when he was younger. He also shares how he misses building things. At the end of the episode, Rosemary creates a work station for Lee, so Lee can get back to building again.

Bill asks Nathan if he’s still interested in purchasing his land, as Bill says there is another buyer interested in the property. Nathan replies he has changed his mind. Andrew, a Mountie who mentored Nathan, informs him of an inquiry that is about to take place. Because a Mountie was killed in last season’s prisoner transfer, Andrew is investigating Nathan’s involvement in the Mountie’s death. Because Andrew was mentored by Bill, Bill notices the tension between Nathan and Andrew. At Nathan’s office, Bill asks Nathan why he doesn’t like Andrew. Nathan doesn’t provide any details. Andrew visits Bill, in order to inspect the potential courtroom for the inquiry. Bill asks Andrew the same question he asks Nathan. Just like Nathan, Andrew doesn’t provide any additional information.

The day after the geyser explosion, Florence notices how Ned appears in pain whenever he walks. Florence volunteers to take him to the Infirmary. While at the Infirmary, Faith discovers Ned has an internal ankle fracture due to Ned’s foot falling into a hole. However, Carson says Ned has an external ankle fracture. Frustrated by this experience, Faith shares her feelings with Clara and Fiona after Ned’s visit. Later in the episode, Faith shares with Carson how her recent experience is similar to what she went through in medical school, where she wasn’t taken seriously and no one seemed to listen to her. She tells Carson how she wants to be heard and seen as a doctor.

Heartbeat image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/medical-logo_763775.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/logo”>Logo vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Even though I liked the storyline involving the geyser, I wish it had lasted a little longer and raised the stakes a bit higher. This could have been one of the most suspenseful moments in the show’s history, with the audience questioning certain characters’ outcomes and wondering what the explosion’s aftermath will look like. I will say this particular storyline was more interesting than most of the subplots in the season premiere.
  • I heard a theory of Jack possibly returning to Hope Valley after his identity was mistaken and he experienced amnesia. Because Jack is brought up in the preview for next week’s episode and after Bill mentioned the other buyer interested in his property, maybe this theory could be true? It would provide a convenient way for Elizabeth not to choose Nathan or Lucas. However, nothing has been confirmed or denied by anyone associated from the show.
  • Now that Lee is going to start building again, I wonder if he’ll finally build Rosemary that theater she wanted since season two? It could provide the show’s creative team with a story to give Rosemary and Lee. The theater would also create growth in Hope Valley.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Are you looking forward to the Canfield family’s introduction in the next episode? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Praying for a Solution

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

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

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

Season: 8

Episode: 2

Name: Honestly, Elizabeth

Major Stories:

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

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

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Minor stories:

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

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

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

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Some thoughts to consider:

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

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Something’s Going On

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

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

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

Season: 8

Episode: 1

Name: Open Season

Major stories:

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

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

Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

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

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

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

Some thoughts to consider:

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

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The World of Suzie Wong Review

Sunset Blvd. is a “classic” that a majority of film fans have seen at least once in their lives. It is so iconic that the Brannan sisters, from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, have decided to dedicate a blogathon to it! Because I’ve already seen Sunset Blvd., I choose a film that was new to me. As it is a brand-new year, I wanted the first movie of 2021 to be a fresh step forward. After looking through William Holden’s filmography, I selected the 1960 picture, The World of Suzie Wong! Whenever I think of William, I always think of Joe Gillis from Sunset Blvd. But, as a movie fan, I know that William, acting wise, is more than this iconic role. Therefore, I am grateful to be given this opportunity to explore more of his film work!

The World of Suzie Wong poster created by World Enterprises, Inc.
Worldfilm, Ltd, Paramount British Pictures, Ltd, and Paramount Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I’ve only seen Sunset Blvd. and Stalag 17, there’s only so much I can say about William Holden’s acting abilities. What I will say is how William’s performance in The World of Suzie Wong was consistent! From what I remember, William’s characters in Stalag 17 and Sunset Blvd. were serious and had their guard up due to being suspicious of those around them. In The World of Suzie Wong, his character was similar to those from the two previously mentioned movies. However, a major difference was how those characteristics were softened a bit. This was because William’s character, Robert, had a love interest, which is different from his characters in Stalag 17 and Sunset Blvd. I am not familiar with Nancy Kwan as an actress. Despite this, I really liked seeing her performance in this film! It reminded me of the portrayals from actresses in the “Golden Age” of film, where leading ladies not only worked well with other cast members, but were able to, talent wise, stand on their own. While starring as Suzie, Nancy was able to pull off a performance that was captivating, emotional, and memorable! Another performance I enjoyed seeing was Jacqueline Chan’s! As Gwennie Lee, she was able to use her on-screen personality to her advantage. The other female characters in The World of Suzie Wong carried themselves with a sense of sophistication, making themselves seem more mature than they really were. With Gwennie, her personality was joyful, carrying a youthful heart wherever she went. This creative decision helped Jacqueline stand out among the cast!

An educated and aware protagonist: In a story where a protagonist travels to a different country or new place, it can be easy for the screenwriter(s) to create a character that romanticizes a location to the point of being arrogant or clueless about that specific place. With Robert from The World of Suzie Wong, that was certainly not the case! While in Hong Kong, Robert tries to educate himself about his surroundings. When trying to find a hotel, he speaks Chinese to a police officer. Even though he didn’t memorize the question, it shows Robert was willing to go out of his way to learn the language of his temporary home. Robert also seems aware of the people and the customs of Hong Kong. When talking to a business associate, Ben, Robert senses that Ben is attempting to pursue a romantic relationship with Suzie for the wrong reasons. He stands up to Ben and reminds him how Suzie is a person with feelings. Everything I just mentioned effectively drives home a point Suzie made about “a boy cloud with a good heart”.

The use of color: A film’s color palette can help make a scene visually appealing as well as present creative ways to showcase various hues. With that said, I found the use of color in The World of Suzie Wong to be very interesting! At the bar next to Robert’s hotel, all of the female characters wore bright colors. This nicely contrasted the location of the bar itself, a place that didn’t feature a lot of color within the interior design. Color was also used in other ways throughout the movie. One example was the O’Neill family’s home, where a set of red seat cushions provide the only splash of color in their primarily white dining room. Another example is present when Robert tries to find Suzie in the city. Though this scene is brief, the colorful neon lights within this space nicely stand out against the city’s darkness.

Traditional Chinese dragon image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The concept of “keeping face”: Throughout the film, Suzie and her friends talk about “keeping face”. One night, Gwennie asks Robert if he will enter the bar with her. She tells Robert that if she were to enter the bar by herself, she wouldn’t be able to “keep face”. Later in the film, after Suzie is physically injured by a drunken sailor, she tells Robert to say that he hurt her so she can “keep face”. Because there were no explanations for what “keeping face” was or why it was important, this concept ended up confusing me.

The run-time: The World of Suzie Wong is a little over two hours long. Personally, I don’t think this specific story needed its run-time. In fact, the film could have easily been set at an hour and thirty minutes. This might be achieved by shortening some of the movie’s longer scenes. One of them is when Suzie journeys to an undisclosed location for reasons unknown to Robert. In an attempt to find answers, Robert follows Suzie all the way to this undisclosed location in a scene that lasts about two minutes. When there are multiple scenes that are longer than necessary, they add up to a run-time that doesn’t feel justified.

An inconsistent relationship: While William Holden and Nancy Kwan had good on-screen chemistry, the on-screen relationship of their characters was inconsistent. Throughout the film, Robert and Suzie’s relationship was “on again/off again”. It also doesn’t help that Robert and Suzie don’t officially become a couple until about forty minutes into the movie. I understand that relationships take time to develop and that they contain good and bad moments. However, when a story includes a couple trying to pursue a romantic relationship, the relationship itself needs to be consistent enough for the audience to stay invested in.

The Sunset Blvd. Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

My overall impression:

The World of Suzie Wong is a film that gets hurt by its run-time. This two-hour story could have been an hour and thirty minutes, with longer scenes cut shorter to move the story along faster. This also would help Robert and Suzie’s relationship officially start a lot sooner. Without spoiling the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, I will say The World of Suzie Wong is much sadder than I expected. I am aware of everyone experiencing different situations in their lives. However, the sadness in this movie made the story feel like there was a gray cloud hanging over the characters’ heads. There are aspects of this film that I appreciate. One of them is the protagonists sharing an interracial relationship in a time when that idea wasn’t commonly shown in cinema. I also appreciate some of the film’s artistic merit, such as the acting performances and the use of color within various scenes. In the end, though, I found The World of Suzie Wong to be a just ok start to 2021.

Overall score: 6.4 out of 10

Have you seen The World of Suzie Wong? Has a movie ever enticed you to travel to its featured location? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Stalker in the Attic Review + 255 & 260 Follower Thank You

At the end of last month, 18 Cinema Lane received 255 followers! However, I wasn’t able to write a blog follower dedication review sooner because of several blog and non-blog related projects. Within that time, 18 Cinema Lane also received 260 followers! Because of everything I just said, I decided to combine these accomplishments into one review. I recently watched a Lifetime movie called Stalker in the Attic. This is the reason why I chose this film to write about for my most recent blog follower dedication review. When I first read the film’s synopsis, it kind of reminded me of the 2016 movie, Boy in the Attic. For those of you who are not familiar with that film, it is about a young man who lives in the protagonist’s attic. Since I like that movie, I was curious to see how Stalker in the Attic would execute a similar idea.

Stalker in the Attic poster created by Lifetime Entertainment Services. For some reason, this movie has two titles; Stalker in the Attic and Within These Walls.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’m not familiar with Jen Landon or her filmography. Despite this, I liked watching her performance in Stalker in the Attic! Whenever her character, Mel, suspected someone was in her house, she appeared on edge. Fear could be seen on her face and she carried herself with a sense of urgency. The quality of Jen’s performance helped make moments like these seem believable! Another believable performance came from Steve Lund, an actor I recognize because of the Hallmark film, Christmas Incorporated! In the scene where his character, Sam, and Mel are about to binge-watch a show, Steve’s reaction was genuine. His demeanor was easy-going and his on-screen personality was down-to-earth. Tara Redmond van Rees did a good job portraying Mel’s daughter, Brook! In her house, Brook and her boyfriend are interrupted by the sound of the security alarm. Tara truly looked freaked out in that scene, reflecting what her character was feeling.

The music: One element that can affect a film’s tone is the music, as it can make the audience feel the emotions that are expected for a particular part of the story. In Stalker in the Attic, suspenseful music was used for scarier/intense moments. One example is when Mel is breaking up with Ben. Even though the act itself is not a surprise, the music makes it feel more important because the audience has a heightened anticipation for what will happen next. The music placement in that scene also highlights the moment’s significance within the story’s chain of events.

The suspenseful moments: Most Lifetime movies feature several suspenseful moments within their respective stories. Stalker in the Attic is no different. However, these moments were effective in keeping the audience invested in the story! As Sam is sleeping over at Mel’s house, Ben appears out of nowhere, watching both of them as they sleep. Because of how unpredictable Ben is, the audience is left wondering what he will do next. A darker atmosphere with limited lighting also helps, as it emphasizes a fear of the unseen.

Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like the film:

Some scenes ending too abruptly: There were a few scenes in Stalker in the Attic that ended too abruptly. A perfect example is when Brook and her boyfriend dealt with the security alarm in Brook’s house. Shortly after this happened, Brook’s neighbor comes over to see what was going on. As Brook tells him that she and her boyfriend are fine, the next scene immediately starts. Transitions like this one were so abrupt, that it was jarring.

The lighting: Lighting in a movie can help the audience see what is happening on screen. It can also set the tone for a particular scene. In Stalker in the Attic, however, most of the lighting was dim. Even when a scene was well-lit, it didn’t appear as bright as it should have. Characters’ faces were difficult to see because of the poor lighting. I’m not sure if this was a creative choice selected on purpose or a budget related issue.

A not-so-bright intruder: Even though Ben carries his stalking plan throughout the film, he makes several mistakes that bring more suspicion to him. To fool his ex-girlfriend into thinking he moved to a new apartment, Ben breaks into an apartment owned by one of his clients. Instead of noting where he moves certain personal belongings by taking a picture of the rooms with his phone, Ben grabs several items and hurriedly throws them into another room. The reaction of the aforementioned client is never shown, which gives the script an excuse to keep telling Ben’s story. But if the client’s reaction had been shown, the police would likely have been called. Ben would also likely be contacted for questioning, which may have deteriorated his plan to keep Mel in his life. Meanwhile, Mel starts to question Ben’s need to keep in contact with her, as her visit to see Ben causes her to assume he has found a new significant other.

Crossword puzzle image created by jaylopez at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/JayLopez.”

My overall impression:

Most of the Lifetime movies I’ve seen this year have either been ok or decent. Stalker in the Attic is one of those films I thought was just ok. While the idea itself is not bad, it has been executed better by stories that came before it, like Boy in the Attic. Stalker in the Attic is a “waiting for the other shoe to drop” story, where the audience is waiting for the inevitable to happen. Suspenseful moments helped carry the film. However, the outcome was predictable, something that was kept at the back of the audience’s mind.  Another aspect of the story that allows the plot to move forward was the convenient ways Ben was able to get away with his stalking scheme. Throughout the film, Ben makes several mistakes that would bring him more suspicion. But the movie always finds a way to prevent his plans from completely falling apart. As I mentioned earlier, Boy in the Attic is a film about a man living in an attic that did a better job at expressing similar ideas to Stalker in the Attic. I’d recommend the 2016 film over the 2020 movie I just reviewed.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen Stalker in the Attic? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Top 10 Things I’d Like to See in Chesapeake Shores’ Fifth Season

When I submitted my review of The Great Mouse Detective last week, it became the 175th movie review I’ve ever published! In honor of this accomplishment, I decided to write a Top 10 list, especially since I haven’t written one in quite some time! Back in February, in a Word on the Street story, I reported how Chesapeake Shores was renewed for a fifth season. However, because of the Coronavirus, the show hasn’t gone into production. On 18 Cinema Lane, I recap two of Hallmark’s shows, with Chesapeake Shores being one of them. While some areas of the world are slowly going back to creating movies and television shows, the O’Brien family may not appear on screen this year. This means that my Top 10 list will probably be the only Chesapeake Shores related content I create in 2020. As “Chessies” (the show’s fandom) waits for any news of the show’s return, here are the top 10 things I’d like to see in the fifth season! Before I begin, I want to say that this list is solely based on my opinion. There will also be spoilers for the previous season.

  1. Tone down the relationship drama

As I’ve said before in my Evenings At The Shore series, the first and second seasons of Chesapeake Shores contained a healthy balance between their character and plot driven narratives. But since season three, the show’s overall quality has plateaued. That’s because the overall narrative has placed its primary focus on the relationship drama between the characters. This decision has caused the plots to be put on the back-burner. One example is the fourth season’s fifth episode, where the plot surrounding Jess’s story didn’t make any sense. In Chesapeake Shores’ next season, I hope the screenwriters bring the show back to that balance from the first two seasons. This show has come up with some interesting plot ideas, but haven’t utilized them to their fullest extent.

2. A wedding for Jess and David

Before Kevin and Sarah got engaged in the fourth season, fans had never seen a wedding within the O’Brien family. This next step in Kevin and Sarah’s relationship was history in the making for the show. Because of the fourth season’s six episode run, wedding plans were replaced with an elopement and a reception dinner. This decision was a “bait and switch”, leaving fans cheated out of a historical moment they were promised. Kevin and Sarah were not the only couple to get engaged, however, as Jess and David became engaged at the end of the season. I’d like to see Jess and David’s wedding in the fifth season. Because the filming locations of Chesapeake Shores are photogenic, maybe they could receive an outdoor ceremony.

3. Get rid of the love triangle

It’s bad enough When Calls the Heart features a love triangle that seems to have no end in sight. Like I said in one of my Sunset Over Hope Valley posts, love triangles are a waste of time and creative energy. In Chesapeake Shores’ fourth season, the narrative introduced a love triangle between Abby, Trace, and Jay. This not only enables the screenwriters to continue emphasizing the relationship drama, but it also takes screen-time away from more intriguing plots. Hopefully, this love triangle will get resolved sometime in the fifth season.

4. A subplot for Carrie and Caitlyn

Speaking of When Calls the Heart, what this show does well is provide subplots for the younger characters. It gives the audience a chance to get to know them and view the story from their perspective. When it comes to Chesapeake Shores, Carrie and Caitlyn, the youngest characters on the show, have never received a story of their own. In fact, it feels like they’ve become an afterthought within the overall narrative. I’ve been waiting for Carrie and Caitlyn to receive their own subplot for a while, so I hope this happens in season five. It would be interesting to see what the screenwriters come up with.

5. More episodes

Earlier in this list, when I talked about Kevin and Sarah’s lack of wedding plans, I stated how the fourth season of Chesapeake Shores was only given six episodes. While Hallmark shows have received seasons with less than ten episodes before, a fourth season receiving six episodes is a bit concerning. This creative decision prevented certain subplots from being fully explored and made the story feel like more was desired. Personally, I think the fifth season should be given at least nine to ten episodes. That way, Chesapeake Shores will have enough time to flesh stories out and focus on telling well-thought out narratives.

Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

6. The fruition of Trace’s recording studio

Chesapeake Shores excels at featuring locations that have been brought up in the story. One example is The Bridge, a musical restaurant that Trace had been dreaming about for several years. At the end of the fourth season, Trace had expressed interest in creating a recording studio. While recording studios have been presented in the story before, this particular business was never shown in Chesapeake Shores. Because this show has a good track record when it comes to locations, I’d like to think Trace’s recording studio will become a reality. However, I still want to see this location brought to life.

7. For Bree and Simon’s paths to cross again

When Simon was introduced on Chesapeake Shores, he met Bree in her home country. At the end of the fourth season, Bree’s literary agent, Brian, wanted to bring her play to London. If this happens, Bree would be in Simon’s home country. This dynamic would be very interesting to watch, especially if Bree and Simon plan on revisiting their relationship. Should Bree decide to find a different significant other, I’d be curious to see which new British actor joins the show.

8. More appearances for Nell

Over the course of the fourth season, I noticed that Nell had such a limited on-screen presence compared to previous seasons. I was told Diane Ladd, the actress who portrays Nell, was experiencing pneumonia when this particular season was in production. As I indicated in the introduction, we don’t know when Chesapeake Shores’ fifth season will be filmed. Whenever that happens, I hope Diane is in better health. Nell is the one who keeps the glue of the O’Brien family together. Without her, things just wouldn’t be the same.

9. A Chesapeake Shores Movie

I know a Chesapeake Shores movie is on the way. However, it never went into production, partly due to the Coronavirus. Even though the film was originally about Abby, Bree, and Jess, I still want to see a St. Patrick’s Day themed movie in Ireland. Another possible film idea is a Chesapeake Shores Thanksgiving themed movie! Hallmark hasn’t created a Thanksgiving movie in several years. Also, Good Witch has capitalized on Halloween, while When Calls the Heart creates annual Christmas films.

10. Megan becoming a successful businesswoman

You’re probably thinking, “Megan’s not a businesswoman, it isn’t her forte”. However, when we look at Abby, Bree, and Jess, there is one thing they have in common: they are all successful businesswomen. While each sister has forged their own path in the world of business, they have let their passions guide them through this specific journey. For at least one season, Megan has expressed her passion for art. Toward the end of the fourth season, she had shown an interest in creating her own studio. If the screenwriters wanted, they could allow Megan to use her art as the basis for a small business. This could make Megan an independent businesswoman like her three daughters.

Chesapeake Shores poster image created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=Chesapeake%20Shores%20Season%203&episodeIndex=3001

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Crow Review

Because this review is for the “Love Goes On” Blogathon, I decided to write an open letter to The Crow. I know this isn’t my usual style of writing reviews and I know I don’t usually post articles on a Saturday, but I thought of trying something new for this post. So, without further ado, let me start this letter to The Crow.

The Crow poster
The Crow poster created by Dimension Films and Miramax Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crow_ver2.jpg

An Open Letter to The Crow,

If you would have asked me years ago what The Crow was, I would have answered you back with this question; “You mean that animated show with the cavepeople”? Back then, all I knew was a cave boy named Cro ruling my television screen, wooly mammoths being saved from eternal freezing, and every episode receiving a ‘happily ever after’. While I knew you, this other Crow, existed, I didn’t know a lot about you. From a distance, you looked like you based your existence on seeking attention, shocking people, and causing controversary. I know it’s not right to judge a book by its cover, but I let myself judge a movie by its outward appearance. This is not something I’m proud of. However, I won’t be the first or last person to do this for a film. As time went on, I learned more about your truths and secrets that were hidden from me before. From Brandon’s untimely passing to the source material itself, this is information that came to me long after you had made your temporary, but successful, stay at the box office. During this 20+ year time period, I had heard people singing your praises. They said things like how you were their favorite movie to how you’ve earned your status as a “cult classic”. It wasn’t until I read the reviews about you from Pale Writer (from the blog, Pale Writer) and Terence (from the blog, A Shroud of Thoughts) that I finally decided to give you a chance. Originally, I had planned on watching you around Halloween. Because your story takes place around this holiday, I thought it would be an appropriate choice. Since you perfectly fit the criteria for the “Love Goes On” Blogathon, I chose to watch you sooner than I expected.

The Love Goes On Blogathon banner
The Love Goes On Blogathon banner created by Steve from Movie Movie Blog Blog II. Image found at https://moviemovieblogblogii.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/announcing-the-love-goes-on-blogathon/.

To show you how much I like you, I’ll talk about the things I liked about you as a film. I have to say the acting was one of the strongest parts of this project! A lot of people have said good things about Brandon’s performance. After seeing The Crow, I can wholeheartedly agree with them! Besides being able to pull off the action sequences, Brandon brought the emotional intensity required for a role like this. His performance was consistent and never faltered. To me, some of the film’s best moments were shared between Eric and Sarah. These moments almost made me cry as they felt so real, containing emotional depth and expressing the relatable ideas of grief and losing a loved one. Speaking of Sarah, I thought Rochelle Davis did a good job providing a balance between adorable innocence and cynical realism. In movies that deal with serious, real world issues, such as death, crime, and loss, it can be easy for a younger actor or actress to be told or directed to act so adorably innocent, that the performance comes off as too sicky sweet. These kinds of performances may be found in programs such as “after school specials” or a Hallmark commercial. The great thing about Rochelle’s portrayal of Sarah is how it felt authentic and genuine, like a young person in that particular environment would react. I was also impressed with Michael Wincott’s portrayal of Top Dollar! Michael not only brought a cool and nonchalant persona to his character, but he also showed how manipulative Top Dollar can be. One moment, he’s tearing up over a snow-globe his father gave him. Several moments later, he’s ignoring the warnings of his henchmen by belittling or killing them. Through Michael’s performance and the screen-writing, Top Dollar was presented as a chameleon with a sinister under-tone.

crow-1376188-640x480
Image of crow at sunset created by Rayudu NVS at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/rayudu238-57835″>rayudu NVS</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

Before watching you, I had done research as to what you were about and other aspects of your existence. But, when I watched you, I was surprised by the story’s presentation. It was presented as a mystery, with the pieces falling in place as the film went on. The details of the crime were incorporated in very subtle ways. One example is the portrait of Eric’s band hanging on a wall in Top Dollar’s club. This showed and told a connection between the victim and the perpetrator. As someone who enjoys mystery movies, this creative decision made me feel like my intelligence was respected. A concern I had before watching you was the setting being so dark, I wouldn’t be able to see what was happening on screen. I knew the darker setting was meant to match your tone. But my concerns come after watching The Dark Knight, where most of the action sequences took place at night and used very little lighting. I want to thank you for including an appropriate amount of light in your scenes! There was enough to see what was on screen, but also complement the overall tone and atmosphere. One really good example is after Eric had infiltrated Top Dollar’s lair. While looking for the last surviving gang member, the room is mostly dark except for a flashing light. The light itself helped me see the events unfolding, while the systematic pattern of the light’s inclusion added tension to that scene.

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Here is a screenshot of the Cro title card, the show I referenced in this review’s introduction. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Just because I like you, doesn’t mean I think you’re perfect. Throughout the story, questions emerged that I wish were answered or elaborated upon. How did Eric and Shelly come to know Sarah? Why was Top Dollar continually mentioning his father? How did Eric’s band-mates deal with the loss of Eric and Shelly? I understand there’s only so much story you can tell in 102 minutes. However, I felt myself wanting to know more when it came to these questions. When I was researching you, I learned the story took place in Detroit. Seeing Michigan/Detroit related “Easter Eggs” was something I was looking forward to. But, in this story, there were barely any references to this specific location. Sure, one of Funboy’s gang members mentioned “the Motor City”. However, this story could have taken place in any state’s major city and it honestly wouldn’t make a difference. I’ve also heard good things about Eric and Shelly’s relationship, from being labeled as “adorable” to being named the perfect definition of “relationship goals”. I think Eric and Shelly’s relationship is nice, but I didn’t really develop an emotional attachment with it. The majority of this relationship was shown through a series of short flashbacks. Because of this, I wasn’t able to witness Brandon and Sofia’s (the actress who portrayed Shelly) on-screen chemistry. The culmination of these two factors prevented me from becoming emotionally invested in their relationship.

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Cute Halloween border created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/halloween-background-with-fun-style_1310632.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.

So, now you’ve reached the end of this letter. I think you already know that I like you. When I look beyond your surface, the one that appears violent and darker in atmosphere, I realize you have something important to say. You used the themes of grief and loss during quieter, less action-packed moments. This gave me a break from the intensity of the action sequences. Even though I like you, I haven’t fallen head over heels for you or chosen you as one of my new favorite films. You have flaws that held you back from reaching more of your full potential. But, don’t beat yourself up over this, because every film can’t be a 10 out of 10. Now that I’ve given you a chance, I’ve developed a greater appreciation and understanding of you. I also get why so many people like you so much. You are one of those films that has the power to stick with people long after they’ve seen you. Maybe that’s what makes you so special.

 

Sincerely,

Sally Silverscreen

 

P.S. I’ll give you a score of 7.8 out of 10.

 

Here are the links to Pale Writer’s and Terence’s reviews if you want to check them out:

Rain and Revenge: The Crow (1994)

https://mercurie.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-crow-1994-putting-wrong-things-right.html

Take 3: Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance Review

As When Calls the Heart was walking away from its seventh chapter, the Matchmaker Mysteries series was embarking on their second installment! After its 2019 debut, this series has already found a place in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ collection of films. I have seen the first Matchmaker Mysteries installment, Matchmaker Mysteries: A Killer Engagement, and I thought it was a strong start to this series! It left me wondering where the story would go and how it would evolve over time. As I said in my review of Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, I have found Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ 2020 line-up to be strong. I’ve also enjoyed the majority of the films that have premiered so far. Since I liked the first Matchmaker Mysteries film, I felt there would be a chance I would like its successor!

Matchmaker Mysteries -- A Fatal Romance
Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance 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=Matchmaker+Mysteries+A+Fatal+Romance.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ve seen all of Danica McKellar’s Hallmark movies. The one consistent element I’ve noticed about Danica’s acting abilities while watching her films, including this one, is how her emotions seamlessly transition from one situation to the next. One great example is when Kyle shows up at Angie’s studio shortly after the murder victim is discovered. Danica, as Angie, goes from smiling and laughing at a friend’s joke to looking concerned when she notices Kyle’s presence. Lara Gilchrist also did a good job transitioning her emotions between scenes. This is because her acting abilities are versatile. A scene that effectively displays Lara’s talents is one where her character, Margaret, is sharing a personal secret to Angie. What helped this movie was how some of the cast members appeared in the first movie as well as the second movie. One of these members is Victor Webster. Throughout Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, he appeared at ease in his role as Kyle. This was caused by Victor being familiar with the material.

 

Angie’s relationship with Ethan: In Hallmark’s films, the female protagonist usually spends a lot of time with the male protagonist. This is done in the hopes of having these characters end up together in a relationship. In Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, Angie spends more time with her ex-boyfriend, Ethan, than with Kyle. By having the female protagonist associate herself with the male supporting character, this creates a unique dynamic from other Hallmark projects. It also helps that Danica and Dan Payne, the actor who portrays Ethan, had on-screen chemistry!

 

The locations/sets: Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance boasted some great locations, which lent themselves as sets for the project. At the beginning of the film, Angie attends a convention, where she is a co-host for a particular panel. This panel took place in a ballroom that has been featured in other Hallmark movies. The ballroom itself is spacious and grand. My favorite part of this place is the large windows, as they oversaw a golf course and let in a soft, natural light in one specific scene. I also loved the design of Beatrice’s house! The exterior had a cute Victorian look to it, from its pale-yellow hue to the wrap-around porch. The interior showcased impressive dark woodwork that complemented the space, especially on the fireplace! This was paired really well with the blue-green tiles found in this feature. Speaking of fireplaces, Angie’s father’s house also contained some eye-catching design features! One of them was a stone fireplace. Even thought this was never the focal point in the film, it was an interesting component of that space.

Happy Valentines day and heart. Card with Happy Valentines day a
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What I didn’t like about the film:

The matchmaking subplot: I know Angie’s matchmaking career plays a role in this series. In fact, placing this aspect within a subplot allows it to continue existing in the series’ identity. However, I didn’t find the matchmaking subplot in Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance interesting. If anything, it was predictable, coming off as a basic plot from an unaired Hallmark Channel movie. The story itself contains rehashed ideas that I’ve already seen from other Hallmark productions. This subplot, to me, didn’t add anything significant to the overall film.

 

Limited amount of suspense: In a typical mystery film, suspense is used to keep the audience invested in the story. While the first movie in the Matchmaker Mysteries series contained a good amount of suspense, the second film used suspense very sparingly. Moments of suspense were only found in a few scenes. While it was effective for those scenes, it also made the movie feel less thrilling.

 

A small amount of urgency: Having the protagonist talk to the suspects is an important part of any mystery. But in Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, this part of the mystery-solving process was the most prominent of the story. It got to the point where it seemed like all the characters were just sitting around and talking to one another. Because of this, it made the film as a whole feature a small amount of urgency.

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My overall impression:

Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance was a fine film. However, it took a few steps backwards from its predecessor. As I said in the introduction, I thought the first movie, Matchmaker Mysteries: A Killer Engagement was a strong start to the series. But this sequel didn’t leave as big of an impression on me as some of the other 2020 releases from Hallmark Movies and Mysteries have. The small amount of urgency and the limited amount of suspense has not helped this film’s case. While I appreciate this creative team’s decision to place the series’ defining element in a subplot, I was not a fan of the subplot itself. Even though this movie had its strengths, I think the overall project could have been stronger. It does take a while for each series to find its footing. But it also takes time for the next installment in each series to be announced. If there is a third movie in the Matchmaker Mysteries series, I hope it is better than the second movie was.

 

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

 

Do you watch the movies from the Matchmaker Mysteries series? Have you seen any of Danica’s Hallmark films? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Just for You

Before I start this When Calls the Heart re-cap, I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, April 9th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Supporting Actor of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The next poll will be posted on the April 10th! Here is the link to the poll:

 

Now it’s time to choose the Best Supporting Actor of 2020’s Gold Sally Awards!

 

As I’ve mentioned before, When Calls the Heart is about a cast of characters. Over the course of seven seasons, many characters have been featured on the show. This creates a variety of people for the fans to choose as their favorite. For me, Tom Thornton is my favorite character, despite his limited presence on the show. Tom’s introduction is one of the reasons why I like the second season out of all seven of them. The more I watch When Calls the Heart, the more I notice there is something for everyone. With so many characters and stories, there is bound to be something that one gravitates to. When that happens, one could feel like the show is telling them, “hey, I made this just for you”. I wonder if this is another reason why When Calls the Heart has acquired the number of fans it has?

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

When Calls the Heart Season 7 poster
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%207&episodeIndex=7001.

Season: 7

Episode: 7

Name: Heart of a Writer

 

Major Stories:

Before recess ends, Lucas asks Elizabeth if she’d like to go to a book reading for an up-and-coming author named Virginia Woolf. He has two tickets to the event, which takes place in Union City. As Opal interrupts their conversation, since recess is almost over, Elizabeth tells him she’ll think about his offer. After school, Elizabeth shares this news with Rosemary. When she explains her reservations about going with Lucas, Rosemary asks Elizabeth what she wants to do. With that, Elizabeth decides to go the book-reading. She then visits Lucas at the saloon, where she tells him that she’ll go to the event simply as a friend. After agreeing to this condition, he informs her that he’ll pick her up at seven the next morning and that they will be attending a fancy restaurant following the event. The next day, Lucas picks Elizabeth up at her house in Henry’s car. During their journey, they stop in a nearby field so they can have a picnic lunch. Over this meal, Elizabeth learns that Lucas got the event’s tickets from a mutual friend. When they arrive at their hotel, the concierge mistakes Elizabeth and Lucas for a married couple. After they clarify that error, they receive their room keys. In the evening, Lucas and Elizabeth attend the book-reading. Following the event, they have dinner at the aforementioned fancy restaurant. While waiting for their food, Elizabeth and Lucas learn more about one another. Elizabeth shares that she, sometimes, misses her life in Hamilton. Lucas confesses that he’d like to have a family one day. When they talk about the book-reading itself, Elizabeth learns the real reason for Lucas’ desire to attend the event. It was more about wanting to spend time with Elizabeth than experiencing Virginia’s work.

 

When Nathan visits Elizabeth during recess, he tells her that he’ll be in Cape Fullerton during the weekend because he’ll be a witness on an upcoming trial. He also says that Allie will be spending time with Opal’s family over the weekend. The next day, while at Opal’s house, Ally sees Elizabeth leaving Hope Valley with Lucas. Nathan also comes home earlier than expected. When she visits Nathan at his office, Ally tells him what she saw. For the rest of the episode, Nathan appears to be disappointed, but doesn’t let other people know how he’s feeling. He minds his own business by chopping wood and going fishing with Ally. When Elizabeth and Lucas do come home, both Ally and Nathan try their best not to make their interactions with Elizabeth seem awkward.

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Minor Stories:

Because of Elizabeth’s weekend plans, Lee and Rosemary volunteer to take care of Jack. Since this is the first time Elizabeth and Jack have been apart for more than a few hours, Jack is more fussy than usual. Over the weekend, Lee and Rosemary misplace Jack’s favorite toy: a small, stuffed dog. They search everywhere for the toy, but have difficulty finding it. Until they can locate the dog, Lee purchases a stuffed toy duck for Jack as a replacement. Unfortunately, Jack isn’t impressed with the new toy. Lee and Rosemary try their best to make Jack happy, but most of their efforts fail to work. One day, while in town, they decide to pay Carson a visit. When they arrive, Carson is typing a document on his typewriter. During this visit, Lee and Rosemary notice how much calmer Jack is. This leads them to discover that Jack likes the sound of the typewriter, as it reminds him of his mom. When Elizabeth returns home, Lee and Rosemary are happy that Jack is reunited with his mother. Toward the end of the episode, Lee and Rosemary finally find Jack’s missing toy: it was located under the pillows on their sofa.

 

After Jesse and Clara arrive from their honeymoon, they immediately move into their new home: the house that’s connected to the café. When they bring their belongings into the house, Clara discovers Jesse only has one small box containing his things. When she asks where his favorite armchair is, he tells her he had to discard it, as he says it was broken. The next day, Clara sees Jesse giving some of his belongings to Kevin. One of these items is the aforementioned armchair. After she tells Bill about what she saw, Bill tries to figure out why Jesse has so few possessions. When Bill talks to Jesse about it, he doesn’t get an answer. Later in the episode, Clara tries to talk with Jesse over dinner. Unfortunately, Jesse doesn’t want to talk about his small number of belongings. The next day, Jesse comes home to find his possessions throughout the house. Clara confesses that she asked the people who received Jesse’s things to give them back to Jesse. Clara tells him that she wants their home to be a place where they both feel they belong.

 

At the beginning of the episode, Lucas notices he didn’t receive his check at the end of the previous month. When he confronts Henry at his office, Henry tells him there’s nothing to worry about. At the saloon, he asks Mike about the late payment. Mike reveals how he’s not in charge of the plant’s finances anymore, as Henry has now taken over that responsibility. Meanwhile, Henry goes to the Infirmary, telling Carson he has indigestion. During an examination, Carson discovers Henry has higher blood pressure. He tells Henry he’ll give him some medicine and advice to take a break from work. The next day, Carson finds Henry working in his office. Even though Carson is concerned about Henry’s well-being, he simply tells Henry that he can come to him if he wants to talk about anything.

05
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Some thoughts to consider:

  • I was disappointed that the book-reading wasn’t shown on screen. When Lucas tells Elizabeth it will be held in a theater, I was hoping to see this location. Since this show takes place in the 1910s, the theater would likely have a grand style that is usually found in big cities. Hopefully, a theater like that could be featured on the show in the future.

 

  • Personally, I think Lucas over-showed his hand on his first date with Elizabeth. Talking about the future and sharing family history is not a bad thing. However, I don’t think Lucas should have brought these ideas up this soon in his relationship with Elizabeth. Despite the fact they are on a date, they are not officially dating. Lucas’ choice could scare Elizabeth away from building a romantic relationship with him.

 

  • During Lucas and Elizabeth’s conversation about the book-reading, Elizabeth mentions how her sister, Viola, gave her a copy of Virginia’s short stories. Even though we haven’t seen Viola since the second season, it was nice to see a former character being referenced on the show. Now, if only Elizabeth could reference her brother-in-law and her son’s uncle, Tom Thornton…

Red sunset clouds over trees.
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Do you like this episode? What has your favorite story-line? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen