Evenings At The Shore: You Fit In Just Fine

Now we are coming to the end of another season of Chesapeake Shores. With this story complete, I can now give my honest opinion on the season as a whole. This has been one of the strongest seasons in the show’s history! That balance between character and plot driven stories has returned! One of the strengths was the addition of new cast members. Because Robert Buckley was promoted the most, I’ll talk about his character, Evan Kincaid. With new characters, it can be hit or miss. But with Evan, he fit in just fine. In fact, it felt like he was meant to be on Chesapeake Shores all along. Evan was a well written character, with each layer being pulled back as the story went on. Robert also presented a personality that hadn’t been seen on the show before. Despite joining Chesapeake Shores this season, I can’t imagine this story without him. As this chapter of the show comes to a close, let’s re-cap the season finale!

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season finale of Chesapeake Shores, there are spoilers within this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores Season 5 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel.

Season: 5

Episode: 10

Name: As Time Goes By

Abby’s story: Abby comes back home from her business trip in Cleveland. She is surprised to discover Evan waiting for her at the airport. Afterwards, they agree to have lunch at Sally’s Café. During their meal, Evan confesses how he might have romantic feelings for Abby. She turns down this possibility at first, as she and Evan are business partners. But Evan convinces her to, at least, think about the idea of them together. The next day, Evan visits the O’Brien family home to deliver some homemade brownies. Abby is not only amazed by how good the sweet treats are, but how Evan created the brownies so that Caitlyn, who is lactose intolerant, could eat them too. In the middle of this exchange, Evan shares with Abby how he learned to bake from a man who used to date Evan’s mother. When Abby asks Evan if she can meet this man, Evan says he’ll try to locate him, as he is a truck driver. Later in the episode, Jay reveals how every year, he takes a picture for his “Best Moment of the Year” collection. For the previous year, he shows Abby a picture of her, indicating how she was his “Best Moment of the Year”. Jay also confesses how he has romantic feelings for Abby. But he says he has romantic feelings for a female guidance counselor named Cam as well. The information Abby received from Evan and Jay puts her at a fork in the road. After consulting with Bree, Abby calls someone and tells them how she has feelings for them too. But the identity of the receiver is not known.

Mick and Megan’s story: One morning, Mick and Megan share the news that not only are they taking a trip around the world, but Mick is also taking a year off work in order to make this trip happen. While the family is shocked by this news, there are happy to see Megan and Mick move forward with their relationship. While she’s at the location where the art show took place, Carter tells Megan how she has received multiple job offers due to the art show’s success. Megan says she has given up that life, indicating her disinterest in these offers. Then, Carter reveals how a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles wants Megan to join their team. Because she has always dreamed of working with that particular gallery, she thinks twice about her future. Mick ends up finding out about this job offer from Carter, as Carter is on his way home to New York. When Mick addresses this piece of news with Megan, she says she hasn’t made a decision yet. But, by the end of the episode, she questions if she can have both the job and the trip. This makes Mick wonder if she’ll leave the family again.

Connor’s story: While Luke’s court hearing has received a different judge, the date is scheduled for the very next day. Even though this concerns Connor, he continues to look for a way to help Luke. Meanwhile, Margaret has her concerns about Connor’s well-being. Remembering what Connor said in the previous episode, Margaret brings s’more ingredients to the firm, in an attempt to help Connor relax. Connor likes Margaret’s gesture, which ends up with both of them kissing. But, the following day, Luke and Bree discover Connor slept at the firm. Because of this discovery, Luke reveals how he takes sleep medication. This information gives Connor an idea. He recruits his doctor as an expert witness, in an attempt to show how Luke’s sleep medication could be mistaken for amphetamines. The plan works and Luke doesn’t have to go back to prison. Toward the end of the episode, Margaret visits Connor at the O’Brien family home. While they are kissing, Connor collapses. The cause of his ailments is unknown.

Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Kevin and Sarah’s story: At the beginning of the episode, it is revealed Sarah had a miscarriage. Devastated by this latest heartbreak, Sarah tells Kevin to keep it between themselves. But, later in the episode, Kevin shares this information with Mick and Megan. They tell their son how they suffered a miscarriage years ago. Through the interaction, they show their support for Kevin and Sarah. When Kevin tells his wife what he told his parents, Sarah is upset. However, she comes to appreciate Mick and Megan’s support when Megan pays her a visit. Megan tells Sarah how her miscarriage happened after Jess was born. She also tells Sarah how, in time, she will get through this tragedy.

Jess and David’s story: Jess has a lot of thoughts about Mick and Megan getting back together. So, at three in the morning, she decides to write Megan an email, which contains her real thoughts. Later that day, Jess freaks out because she actually sent the email. When David reads it, he thinks it is brutally honest. So, Jess goes to the O’Brien family home to talk to Megan. She apologizes for the email, telling Megan how she’s actually happy for her and Mick. But Megan responds by saying she hadn’t checked her email yet, but appreciated Jess’s honesty. Meanwhile, David discovers his trust fund has been cleaned out. Only his father has access to this fund, but he is nowhere to be found. David goes to Boston to find out more information on his father’s whereabouts. When he returns, David tells Jess his father flew out of the country, with the FBI looking for him.

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Some thoughts to consider:

  • Looking back on the show as a whole, it seems like Kevin and Sarah can’t win. First, they don’t have the wedding of their dreams because season four only contained six episodes. Now, they are dealing with a miscarriage. I understand things do not always go according to plan, in real life and in fictional stories. However, I was hoping the writers would try to make it up to the fans after the omission of a wedding in the previous season. If Chesapeake Shores receives a sixth season, I hope Kevin and Sarah meet happier circumstances.
  • While talking to a family member about this season, I realized injuries and falls seemed to be a common theme. Sarah fell twice, Thomas fell while hiking, and Evan fell in Tae Kwon Do class. There was also Mick’s plane accident, Thomas’ sprained ankle, Evan’s hurt back, and Connor’s medical issues. I’m guessing this was all a coincidence. But, as a fan, I found it concerning how five of the show’s characters were in harm’s way, sometimes on more than one occasion.
  • While I know cliffhangers and season finales can sometimes go hand-in-hand, I thought it was risky for the season to end with four cliffhangers. As of October 2021, there has been no announcements about a sixth season. This means if the show were to be cancelled, several stories would receive no resolution. Personally, I think one or two cliffhangers would have been just fine. Some of these cliffhangers could have been introduced earlier in the season, such as the whereabouts of David’s dad. Had this been the case, David and Jess’s story could have contained more depth.
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.

What are your thoughts on the season finale? Would you like to see Chesapeake Shores receive a sixth season? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Evenings At The Shore: The First To Know

After watching this episode of Chesapeake Shores, one of my family members brought up how Mick has suddenly been playing a father figure to Evan. I then mentioned that Mick was the first character to receive the details of Evan’s accident, the same one that Mandrake brought up two episodes ago. He was also the first character to learn about Luke’s past. With all this said, it seems like Mick is, sometimes, the first to know if a character has something important to say. He not only provides a listening ear, but also a strong shoulder to lean on. Even though Nell seems like the glue that keeps the O’Brien family together, Mick is the heart of that family. So, let’s get to the heart of this episode by starting this re-cap of Chesapeake Shores!

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there are spoilers in this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores Season 5 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel.

Season: 5

Episode: 9

Name: What a Difference a Day Makes

Mick’s story: Hours after he crashed his plane due to a storm, Mick is found on a nearby island by the Coast Guard. He is taken to the hospital because he obtained injuries, including a broken arm. When he arrives home, his family is happy he is alive. But Megan is upset that Mick would leave without letting anyone know where he was going, as she feels he would have left behind a loving family if something had happened to him. The next day, Evan comes to visit Mick at the O’Brien family’s home to discuss details about the hotel project. Mick uses this time to tell Evan how he didn’t like Evan’s business offer to Abby, the one where Evan offered Abby a job at his business firm. This is because Abby is Mick’s business partner. But, as the episode goes on, Mick forgives Evan for Abby’s offer. While going through the hotel project details, Mick tells Evan he can visit the O’Brien family home for non-business-related reasons. He also invites Evan to check out the plane’s damages at the hangar. This is the start of Mick’s discoveries about Evan. While making omelets for Mick, Evan reveals how he never knew his father. So, his mother was the only parent in Evan’s life. At the hangar, Mick and Evan see the plane’s damages, which are worse than Mick realized. Evan offers to purchase a new plane for Mick, but Mick refuses the offer. Realizing how rude this could come across, Evan goes to Mick at his business firm and apologizes to him. When Mick shares his feelings about his injuries, this causes Evan to reveal how he injured his back. When he was 18, he was riding in the car with his mother. Evan wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and he isn’t sure whether his mother was drunk or tired. Evan survived the accident, but his mother passed away.

Megan’s story: Megan is making last minute preparations for the art show. She receives a lot of support, including from her family. When Kevin visits her at the art show venue, he says he wants to tell her something. But instead of telling her his and Sarah’s news, Kevin gives her encouraging words. The art show ends up being a success. During the event, Mick approaches Megan as he contemplates his future. He plans on traveling the world someday and would like Megan to join him. Megan agrees with Mick’s plan.

Connor’s story: Connor is looking for an assistant for his law firm. When Nell volunteers to be his assistant, Connor accepts her offer. But this arrangement is not as successful as Connor hoped. Because of Nell’s advice for clients to solve their problems on their own, Connor isn’t receiving any work. So, Connor searches for a new assistant. After multiple interviews, Margaret comes to the law firm. She tells Connor she quit her job shortly after Connor quit his, stating how he is a lawyer of integrity. Connor then gives her the assistant job. Shortly after this happens, Bree and Luke come to Connor. Luke explains how he failed a drug test, with him swearing he didn’t consume any drugs. The test in question claims Luke took amphetamines. Remembering Luke took allergy medication at The Bridge, Connor suggests how the allergy medication could have caused the drug test results. Unfortunately, the allergy medication contains a different set of ingredients. Connor also suggests Luke take another drug test, which he later passes. Three days later, Luke’s hearing is about to begin. But, all of a sudden, Connor passes out. This incident, as told by Connor, was triggered by stress. It also causes the hearing to be pushed back a week. Margaret encourages Connor to take the doctor’s advice, starting with a trip to a local yoga class. After the class, Margaret asks Connor what helps him relax. He tells her he feels relaxed when he spends time with his family around their outdoor firepit.

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Jess and David’s story: After leaving with his groceries, David receives a phone call from his father. Mr. Peck tells his son how he didn’t make smart choices when it comes to investments. He not only tells David he loves him, but to not listen to everything he hears. This phone call concerns David and makes him worried by his father. At the art show, David tells Jess about the phone call. Jess asks if he told his mother about what his father said to him. David says he doesn’t know if his mother knows about his father’s financial troubles. Jess then thanks David for keeping her in the loop.

Kevin and Sarah’s story: Sarah develops pregnancy related food cravings. First, she craves peanut butter and avocados. Then, she wants barbeque potato chips and cream soda. Despite these cravings, Kevin is more than willing to make Sarah happy. Before they leave the station for the art show, Sarah tells Kevin she doesn’t feel well. She then collapses onto the floor with no known reason why.

Nell and Arthur’s story: Arthur is amazed by how many people showed up to the art show. But he also doesn’t like being in large crowds. So, he and Nell go to a nearby outdoor patio where there are less people present. On the outdoor patio, Arthur tells Nell how he only cared about creating art. When it comes to fame, he claims his wife took care of that part of his career. Nell asks him what he would really like to do. He responds by saying dancing. Their story ends with the two of them dancing together on the patio.

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Some thoughts to consider:

  • I found the scene where Nell was Connor’s secretary hilarious! But I also liked how she tried to give the clients legitimate and meaningful advice. After watching that scene, I now want to see Nell become a radio host whose job is giving listeners advice. This would not only allow more appearances for Nell, but it would also create an interesting story for her.
  • While I’m glad the art show was a success, I’m surprised how well Arthur took it. As I’ve said in previous re-cap posts from this season, Megan did not tell him about her plans for the art show. Because of this, I was expecting Arthur to get upset at Megan. But, once again, I was proven wrong about this outcome.
  • I understand Megan was upset about Mick’s recent situation. But when she, basically, accused him of being selfish, I thought that was very hypocritical of her. In this re-cap, I said Megan was upset that Mick would leave without letting anyone know where he was going, as she felt he would have left behind a loving family if something had happened to him. But that’s exactly what she did when she left her family prior to the show’s events. I kind of wish one of the characters would have pointed this out to Megan.
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What are your thoughts on this episode? What do you think will happen in the season finale? Tell me what you think in the comment section!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Sally Watches…Touched by an Angel (Again)!

As I mentioned in my recent Word On The Street story, the newest Signed, Sealed, Delivered movie is on its way. Premiering on October 17th, this movie will bring their audience a new chapter to a story that started all the way back in 2013. The series is executive produced by Martha Williamson, who also executive produced Touched by an Angel. Similar to Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Touched by an Angel has seen many guest stars appear over the course of the show’s nine season life-span. One of them was Bai Ling, who guest starred on Touched by an Angel in 1998.

Even though I have seen many episodes of Touched by an Angel before, I don’t recall ever seeing the two-part episode, “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”, the episode I’ll be reviewing for this post. Prior to writing this article, I had heard it was “one of the most moving episodes from the television drama”. With curiosity getting the better of me and because Bai’s birthday is on October 10th, I decided to revisit this show and review this particular episode. Two years ago, I wrote about another Touched by an Angel episode, “The Sky Is Falling”. Like that post, what will be discussed is what I liked about this episode, what I didn’t like about this episode, the story itself, the other factors from this episode, and my overall thoughts.

This is a screenshot of one of the Touched by an Angel DVDs I own. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I liked about this episode:

Last November, I reviewed an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street titled “And The Rockets Dead Glare”. In that post, I talked about how, while portraying Teri Chow, Bai was forced to rely on emotion instead of actions. This was compared to her characters in The Crow and Lost; Myca and Achara. Because of how effectively she used emotion, Bai was the stand-out actor in “And The Rockets Dead Glare”! I’ve seen only a handful of projects from Bai’s filmography. Despite this, I have noticed that she has a strong sense of emotionality. She not only knows how to control that emotionality, but also how to use that control to her advantage. Portraying a character named Jean Chang, the emotions Bai brought to her role in “The Spirit of Liberty Moon” felt realistic and genuine. Earlier in the episode, Jean crosses paths with Monica and Edward, a toy company CEO, at a local Chinese restaurant. In an attempt to recruit her for an upcoming business trip, they ask Jean why she doesn’t want to go to China. This is where Jean explains her very heart-breaking life story. Throughout this explanation, Bai’s emotions flawlessly adapted with each part of Jean’s story, ranging from blissful reminiscing to tear-inducing sadness. This strength in Bai’s acting abilities allows her performance to contain depth. It also gave the audience a reason to feel empathy/sympathy for Jean.

What I didn’t like about this episode:

One of Edward’s co-workers is his friend, Alex Stella. Throughout “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”, Alex was rude and self-centered, especially toward Jean. It got to the point where his attitude became so annoying, it was tiresome to watch him in a static state. I understand Alex was meant to show the viewer that, sometimes, people won’t change, no matter how hard you try. I’ll also admit this is not a bad lesson to teach. But because of this episode’s story and because of the nature of Touched by an Angel, I wish the angels had paid Alex a visit and opened his eyes to selflessness.

The story itself:

Touched by an Angel is a show that was not afraid to take creative risks. “The Spirit of Liberty Moon” is a perfect example of that statement. I haven’t seen the movie, Red Corner, but I am familiar with its basic premise. The story of “The Spirit of Liberty Moon” is very reminiscent of the film due to topics discussed within the script. Criticism of China’s government and the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests are the two major subjects revolving around this episode. Because of the serious nature of these subjects, “The Spirit of Liberty Moon” was heart-breaking and gut-wrenching. Similar to the Touched by an Angel episode, “The Sky Is Falling”, the story of “The Spirit of Liberty Moon” is a fictional narrative wrapped up in a real-life historical event. During Jean’s recollection of her past, black-and-white flashbacks and video footage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests were shown on screen. The use of these visual techniques presented an interesting and creative way to discuss a piece of world history.

The other factors from this episode:

  • As I mentioned earlier, Alex is rude and self-centered, especially toward Jean. To further explain my point, I will bring up two examples from this episode. When Monica suggests a translator should join their business trip to China, Alex suggests speaking to Jean about the idea. While Edward assumes Jean’s ethnicity based on her appearance, Alex carries that assumption into his and Monica’s meeting with Jean. Even though Jean calls Alex out on his assumptions during this meeting about the aforementioned idea, Alex’s promotion of the idea itself should have been more professional. When Alex, Edward, and Monica have lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, Jean soon arrives. The three then discover Jean had lied about her ethnicity. Upset by this discovery, Alex approaches Jean and yells at her in public, accusing her of lying about other things. I understand Alex was disappointed by Jean’s decision. Even Jean admitted that her decision was wrong. But, like I said about the previous example, Alex could have handled this situation more professionally and in private.
  • Throughout the episode, Edward and Jean develop “romantic” feelings for one another. I’m using the word “romantic” loosely, as the only romantic gestures they perform are holding hands and Edward kissing Jean’s head. When a romantic relationship is introduced in a movie or television show, it is usually done with an endgame in mind. Without giving anything away, there wasn’t an endgame for Jean and Edward’s relationship. Their relationship also felt “insta-love”, as it progressed at a quick pace. With all that said, I don’t think a romantic relationship was necessary for this particular story.
  • Touched by an Angel shows the angels going undercover in different professions based on an episode’s mission. In “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”, Monica goes undercover as the Chinese consultant of Edward’s toy company. As Monica interacts with Edward and Alex, I was confused why Monica was the Chinese consultant instead of Jean. When Alex was explaining what Monica would do on their business trip, it made me wonder why Jean wasn’t originally recruited for the consultant position, especially since she knows more about China than Monica. But, without giving anything away, it makes sense why this choice was not made.

My overall thoughts:

“The Spirit of Liberty Moon” is a tough episode to write about. On the one hand, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from watching it. It contains one of the strongest stories in the show’s history and features strong acting performances, especially from Bai Ling. On the other hand, “The Spirit of Liberty Moon” is not for the faint of heart. This episode is so emotionally intense, I was left mentally drained after watching it. Because of that, the episode doesn’t have a high re-watchability rate. What I will say is this story is an important one. In fact, I would say this episode’s story is one of the most important Touched by an Angel has ever told. So, if you’re interested in watching “The Spirit of Liberty Moon”, my advice would be to watch it in the right headspace. Speaking of Bai Ling, I realized something while watching this episode. As I said earlier, I’ve seen only a handful of projects from Bai’s filmography. Based on her roles I have seen, I noticed how her characters are, more often than not, surrounded by unfortunate circumstances. Myca is one of the villains of The Crow, so her unfortunate circumstances don’t cause the audience to feel any empathy/sympathy for her. But for Teri, Achara, and now Jean, their unfortunate circumstances can, to varying degrees, cause feelings of empathy/sympathy from the audience. During my movie blogging journey, I hope to see Bai portraying a character whose circumstances are more fortunate and happier.

Rating: A solid 4 out of 5

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Have you watched Touched by an Angel? If so, which episode is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

Evenings At The Shore: Light a Candle

In this episode of Chesapeake Shores, Nell says she always lights a candle for Mick. Her reasons for letting a candle were never revealed. But it did make me think about something. Lighting a candle for someone is usually seen as a sign of remembrance or keeping them in your thoughts. The characters on this show are always in someone’s thoughts, whether its between each other, the fans, or the show’s creative team. A candle can also represent the characters’ vulnerability. Some of them are trying to prevent their candle from being blown out, in an attempt to simply survive. Other characters want to spread the light around by sharing that shine. Together, they are bright, illuminating among Chesapeake Shores. This helps bring out the best in each character.

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there are spoilers in this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores Season 5 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel.

Season: 5

Episode: 8

Name: Where or When

Abby’s story: Abby is scheduled to attend two business trips, one in Ohio and one with Evan in Pennsylvania. When she tells Bree and Jess about these trips, they think Evan is whisking Abby away in order to profess his feelings for her. At first, she laughs off the idea. But as the Pennsylvania trip approaches, Abby begins to wonder if her sisters are right. On the day of the trip, Evan takes Abby to his home in Pennsylvania. While there, he explains how they have made a connection, even though it has happened suddenly. As Evan is taking an emergency business call, Abby calls Bree and Jess. She tells them what Evan told her, with Jess and Bree thinking they were right. But when Evan comes back, he asks Abby if she’d like to join his business firm. Abby not only refuses Evan’s offer, but she also shares what her sisters thought he was going to ask. Evan considers buying the O’Brien business firm, but Abby tells him there are more important things in life than money.

Mick’s story: While looking through a stack of mail, Abby comes across a package for Mick. In this package is an urn and a letter explaining the ashes were to be spread all over Chesapeake Shores. The letter also stated how Mick was a good friend to the deceased. Because the letter or package were not addressed, Mick and Abby are desperate for answers. Abby finds out the ashes came from a nursing home in another state. She also discovers the ashes belonged to a man named Eugene. These clues still don’t give Mick any answers. Later in the episode, Abby presents Mick with Eugene’s obituary, revealing how Eugene’s nickname was Buzz. This causes Mick to remember his connection to Eugene. At a juice bar called “Juicy Juice”, Mick reveals to Abby how, many years ago, he would go to the bar and talk with Eugene. At that time, the bar was a completely different establishment. Shortly after Megan left the family, Mick relied on Eugene, recalling how he always listened to what Mick had to say. Now, many years later, Mick realizes just how much he meant to Eugene. Toward the end of the episode, Mick takes a plane ride with Eugene’s ashes in the passenger seat, likely fulfilling Eugene’s last wish.

Megan’s story: Megan hasn’t given up her plans to host an art show. She calls her friend, Carter, to help her pull some strings. He not only arrives in Chesapeake Shores to see Arthur’s art, but he shows up at the O’Brien family home as well. When Carter is introduced to Mick, he immediately labels Mick as the “ex-husband”. While Carter attempts to label Nell the “ex mother-in-law”, Nell replies how there’s no such thing as “ex mothers-in-law”.  For most of her story, Megan is seen making various phone calls, with Carter doing the same. Throughout the episode, Mick wonders if Megan and Carter had ever dated. Nell suggests that Mick just ask her. After many phone calls and negotiations, Megan and Carter uncover a loophole in Arthur’s contract with the art dealer from in the previous episode. While celebrating their victory over wine, Megan notices Mick’s sudden departure from the living room. Following him into the kitchen, Megan asks what is happening. This is when Mick asks his awaited question to Megan. She confesses how she used to date Carter, but that it happened many years ago. This conversation makes them realize they haven’t talked much about the past.

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Bree and Luke’s story: Luke is still planning on telling Bree about his past. He tells Connor at The Bridge how he is going to tell her that day. Connor also reveals news about Luke’s situation. He contacted a friend on the parole board who said how difficult it was to switch parole officers. However, Connor’s friend agreed to continue looking into the situation for Luke. When Luke tells Connor how he doesn’t have the money to pay him, Connor says that his case is pro bono. Meanwhile, at the University of Maryland, Jerome shares with Bree how Luke was arrested for assault and battery. He tells Bree how he found this information from a friend at the university’s law department, days after he saw Bree and Luke dancing at Jess and David’s wedding. Upset by this news, Bree goes straight to The Bridge. She demands to know if Jerome was telling the truth. When Luke admits he did get arrested, Bree asks him why he was hesitant to tell her. He says he didn’t want Bree to look at him the way she looking at him at that moment. Back at the University of Maryland, Bree calls Jerome out for his decision to search Luke’s information. While Jerome claims he did it to look out for her, Bree knows he did it to encourage her to date him. On Bree’s first day of class, Luke unexpectedly shows up. He conveniently arrives as the students are writing a two-hundred-word essay on who they currently are. After class, Bree talks to Luke about what he wrote. Even though she likes Luke’s essay, Luke says he put more emphasis on the content. Before he leaves for a meeting with his parole officer, Bree kisses Luke on the lips. This indicates she has chosen to fall in love with him.

Jess and David’s story: After dealing with a disgruntled guest, Jess discovers a negative review on the bed and breakfast’s Yelp page. It bothers her how she doesn’t know who posted the review, so she leaves a professional reply. While this review also bothers David, he tells Jess not to worry about it. Days later, Jess still hasn’t received any word from the anonymous reviewer. She wonders if it’s from the owner of a nearby hotel. But David encourages her to be the bigger person, stopping her from making any rash decisions. Toward the end of the episode, Jess jokes about suing the anonymous reviewer for libel, with David playfully disagreeing.

Kevin and Sarah’s story: Sarah and Kevin are excited about becoming new parents. However, they want to wait to share their news. Sarah uses this time to reveal how she accepted the Lieutenant position. This makes the couple even more happy. At the station, Kevin gives Sarah a pair of baby shoes. They also agree to share their news over the weekend. Toward the end of the episode, Kevin and Sarah attend a small family gathering at the O’Brien family home. During this gathering, Megan worries over Mick’s absence, as he still hasn’t returned from his plane trip. After making a phone call to the airport, she tells the family how Mick didn’t arrive from his trip.

Money plant image created by Dooder at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/infographic”>Infographic vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/watering-the-coin-plant_1076121.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • In my re-cap of this season’s fifth episode, I said how I was disappointed by the revealed summer date, as I thought this meant we weren’t going to see Bree interact with her students. So, I was happy to see Bree teaching her class in this episode, even if it was only in a short scene. Because we’re over half-way through the season, I doubt we’ll get to know any of these students. But, as I said in the aforementioned re-cap, it’s gives me something to look forward to if Chesapeake Shores gets a sixth season.
  • I didn’t like how Jess and David’s story was unresolved. In real life, I know a situation like theirs typically wouldn’t receive any answers. But because the majority of David and Jess’s stories are episodic, I was expecting this story to be similar. Maybe in a later episode, they’ll discover who wrote the review? Maybe the reviewer will be revealed in the season finale?
  • In my list of the top 10 things I wanted to see in Chesapeake Shores’ fifth season, I said I wanted to see more appearances for Nell. Even though this season isn’t over yet, Nell has had more appearances in this season than in the previous one! I also like how she is more involved in the overall story. Including Arthur in season five certainly helps, as they can possibly form a relationship.
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.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Who do you think wrote the bed and breakfast’s negative review? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Karate Kid Part II Review (Olympic Dreams Double Feature Part 2)

Now that I’ve seen 1984’s The Karate Kid, it’s time for me to review its respective sequel; The Karate Kid Part II! Long before I even thought about starting a movie blog, I had only seen a snippet of this film. Like I said before, I am willing to give a chance to movies I haven’t watched in their entirety. Because of that and because the majority of The Karate Kid Part II takes place in Japan, which has hosted the Olympics four times, my blogathon became a good excuse for checking this sequel out! Sequels, like any type of film, can be hit or miss. There are times when the next chapter can allow the overall story to “go the distance”; expanding the narrative and bringing something new to the table. Meanwhile, there are sequels that waste their potential by trying to recapture the magic of the previous installment. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the creative team and their intention for creating another film. If you want to know what type of sequel The Karate Kid Part II is, you’ll just have to keep reading this review!

Because I had The Karate Kid Part II on my DVR since last year, I decided to use a screenshot of the movie’s poster from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

More focus on Mr. Miyagi: The first film was about Daniel’s personal journey; hence the film being titled The Karate Kid. While the majority of the movie revolved around the protagonist, we get to learn about Mr. Miyagi through his interactions with Daniel. But only parts of Mr. Miyagi’s backstory are revealed in these interactions. The Karate Kid Part II places more emphasis on Mr. Miyagi’s story. As I mentioned in the introduction, the sequel takes place in Japan, where Mr. Miyagi is originally from. However, the audience also witnesses people from Mr. Miyagi’s past interacting with him. The reason for the sequel primarily taking place in Japan is because Mr. Miyagi receives a letter from his former love interest, Yukie, about his father’s ill-health. By crossing paths with Yukie again, Mr. Miyagi is given the opportunity to reflect on past life choices. He also has to deal with the ramifications those choices had created. This new direction in the overall story shows that even though Mr. Miyagi is a good teacher with plenty of wisdom to share, he is still a human who, like Daniel, is constantly learning.

Interactions among the characters:  In my review for The Karate Kid, I talked about how the interactions among the characters were one of the strongest parts of that film. The sequel has the same strength as its predecessor, which provides consistency to the overall story! Having Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita reprise their roles helps maintain this consistency, as both actors are now familiar with each other’s talents. One of the strongest scenes in the movie is when Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are watching the sunset on the beach. In this moment, we not only learn more about Daniel, but we get to see him support his mentor and friend. The Karate Kid Part II shows Daniel having grown up since the events of the first film. Even though Daniel is still a teenager with a teenage perspective, he is more willing to put others before himself, as well as open his mind to new opportunities and experiences. Right as Mr. Miyagi boards his plane, Daniel joins him in the plane terminal. The reason why he wants to join Mr. Miyagi on this trip is because he wants to be there for his friend and mentor, especially since that friend and mentor has been there for Daniel. Not only does Daniel purchase a book about the specific place in Japan where Mr. Miyagi is from, but Daniel also uses some of the money from his savings account to pay for his ticket. Like I said in my review for the first movie, interactions like Mr. Miyagi and Daniel’s were made possible by the quality of the acting performances and the screenwriting!

The scenery: Although most of The Karate Kid Part II takes place in Japan, the movie was actually filmed in Oahu, Hawaii. Despite this change in location, the scenery was simply beautiful! Because Okinawa is presented in the film as a seaside town, there are several shots of the water that are featured. As I previously mentioned, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel are watching the sunset on the beach. Parts of this scene are shown through long shots, capturing the sun’s soft orange glow against the gray of the sky and water. In my review of the first installment, I talked about how one scene transitioned from a medium to a long shot, in an effort to showcase a part of the Grand Canyon. A scene where Daniel is practicing a breathing technique on a dock uses a similar transition. However, instead of starting with a medium shot, it begins with a close-up of Daniel. It then evolves into a long shot of the ocean, with clear blue water surrounding the dock and green palm trees found in the background.

Created by me, Sally Silverscreen, on Adobe Spark.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited presence of Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship: Before watching The Karate Kid Part II, I was interested in seeing how Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship differed from his relationship with Ali. Even though I liked seeing Ali and Daniel together, I can see why their relationship didn’t survive past the first film. Daniel and Kumiko were a nice couple. It also helps that Ralph and Tamlyn Tomita had really good on-screen chemistry. But Daniel and Kumiko’s relationship was shown less than Ali and Daniel’s relationship. Because of this, it caused their relationship to feel rushed. In one scene, when Daniel is getting into Kumiko’s car, Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” is playing on the radio. This is not only the film’s official song, but the song’s official music video heavily emphasizes Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship. Anyone who has heard “Glory of Love” would agree that it is better suited as a “wedding song”. Having this piece of music surround a teenage couple that has known each other for about less than three months feels a bit misleading. Also, The Karate Kid is a trilogy, followed by the television show, Cobra Kai. If the third movie and/or TV show is anything like the beginning of the second film, “this could all end in tears” (Bartok’s (from 1997’s Anastasia) words, not mine).

Karate fight sequences being used sparingly: One of the flaws of the first movie was how the karate fight sequences had a limited presence in the overall story. In The Karate Kid Part II, there are even less karate fight sequences. With a movie called The Karate Kid, you expect a certain amount of karate to be featured in the film. While both movies are not action oriented, fight sequences can add excitement to the overall story. Fighting was primarily avoided in The Karate Kid Part II, as both Mr. Miyagi and Daniel try to find other ways to resolve their issues. This was one of the central themes of the narrative: exploring other problem-solving avenues before using fighting as a last resort. However, karate is the heart of this series. When you choose to show only a handful of fight sequences, you have little exciting material to work with.

No satisfying resolutions for parts of the story: In The Karate Kid Part II, there were a few parts of the story that were not consistently told within the overall film. Because of this, I feel their resolutions were not satisfying. While taking a trip through town, Kumiko reveals to Daniel that she dreams of becoming a dancer. However, the type of dancing she’s interested in is not taught in Okinawa. Toward the end of the film, Kumiko tells Daniel that she plans on going to the United States in order to pursue her dream. But this resolution feels kind of random. There is no lead up to the resolution itself. Daniel also doesn’t provide any advice to Kumiko in regards to her personal dilemma. For this part of the story, the journey from Point A to Point B was missing.

Okinawa, Japan image created by Charlie Balch at freeimages.com. “FreeImages.com/Charlie Balch.”

My overall impression:

 The Karate Kid Part II is a fine film. But I don’t think the script was as tight as it was the first time around. I like how the story focused on Mr. Miyagi, as it offered new story-telling opportunities. But, to a degree, it came at the expense of Kumiko and Daniel’s relationship, as it was shown for a limited amount of time. If Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” had revolved around Mr. Miyagi and Yukie’s relationship, it would have made more sense. Not only is The Karate Kid Part II primarily Mr. Miyagi’s story, but he and Yukie have history together. While the theme of using fighting as a last resort is important, it prevented the movie from featuring more karate fight sequences than the previous film. As I’ve stated before on my blog, a movie’s title partially serves as a promise to the audience. With The Karate Kid Part II, I can’t say this promise was completely broken. This is because, according to Mr. Miyagi, karate should be used in self-defense only, emphasizing how karate consists of more than just fight sequences. But when a movie features any form of marital art, people, more often than not, come for the cool-looking and exciting fight sequences. I appreciate how this film wasn’t just a carbon copy of its predecessor. It shows the creative team put legitimate thought and care into their project. If you enjoyed the first film, I’d say give its second chapter a chance. Even though there are stronger sequels out there, The Karate Kid Part II is certainly not one of the worst.

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

Have you seen The Karate Kid Part II? Are there any sequels you are a fan of? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: To Catch a Spy Review (Hallmark Mysteries Double Feature Part 2)

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for; the second part of my Hallmark Mysteries Double Feature! I recently saw the latest mystery film from the network: To Catch a Spy. This picture’s location made the film seem interesting. When I think of movies taking place outside of North America, I can’t think of many that feature Malta as a prominent backdrop. In fact, this is the first Hallmark project to take place and be filmed in Malta! But “destination” movies from Hallmark have been met with mixed results. One of the best films I saw in 2019 was Rome in Love. To me, it captured almost everything this location had to offer. However, not every “destination” film can be as good as Rome in Love. How will To Catch a Spy compare? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!

To Catch a Spy poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

Standout performances: Within the movie, I saw standout performances from some of the actors and actresses. One of the film’s leads, Colin Donnell, gave one of those performances! His portrayal of Agent Aaron Maxwell came across as natural and believable. It reminded me of Stephen Huszar’s performance in the Ruby Herring series. His interactions with Nathalie Kelley’s character, Chloe, showcase this realism well. In the supporting cast, Joe Azzopardi portrayed a hotel employee named Isaac. His best scene was when Isaac’s true identity was revealed. Joe carried his character with suave confidence. This made Isaac so captivating to watch. Another captivating performance came from Becky Camilleri, who portrayed a maid named Rianne. What made her character so memorable was how expressive she was throughout the film! When Chloe is trying to check out of her hotel room, she runs into the hotel’s manager. After their interaction, Rianne walks into the room, appearing genuinely confused. Becky’s expressions helped her stand out among the cast!

Interior design: There were two rooms in To Catch a Spy that boasted fantastic interior design! The first was a sitting room inside Malta’s U.S. Embassy building. Beige and white wallpaper surrounded the interior, with white marble covering the floor. Providing pops of color were a dark wood table and chair set and a green potted plant. These elements came together to create a space that was both classy and elegant. The second space was a local church. When the interior of this location was first introduced, a painted mural on the church’s curved ceiling greeted the audience. Along the walls and pillars, gold was abundantly featured. This large venue could easily rival the Sistine Chapel. Because of everything I just said, I wish this church was shown in more than one scene.

Footage of Malta: According to IMDB, To Catch a Spy not only takes place in Malta, but the movie was filmed there as well. The creative team behind the project definitely took advantage of the country’s picturesque scenery by including it in establishing shots and in the background of some scenes. When Chloe goes on her hotel room’s balcony for the first time, she meets a beautiful view of the clear blue ocean and a city skyline. Because of the buildings’ sandy hue, the skyline ended up complimenting the ocean! In one scene, Aaron and Chloe are walking through a park. This location shared the same sandy stone as the buildings from Malta’s city skyline. It also paired well with a green, grassy field. The peaceful nature of the park certainly made this space inviting to the viewer!

Travel suitcase image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/water-color-travel-bag-background_1177013.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A disjointed story: There are three plots within To Catch a Spy. They are the travel writing plot, the murder mystery plot, and the international FBI plot. While these plots are interesting on their own, they ended up having a very loose connection. This caused the story as a whole to feel disjointed. Chloe’s occupation and Aaron’s role in the FBI prevented them from interacting with each other like other mystery film protagonists. In fact, Chloe’s skills as a travel writer weren’t really utilized when it came to being an amateur detective. Personally, I think the movie’s creative team should have chosen one or two of these plots and stuck with them.

Things that don’t make sense: Certain things happened in To Catch a Spy that, to me, didn’t make sense. Both examples I will give involve Chloe. After having a scary experience in the city, Chloe tells Aaron she doesn’t want the FBI badge anymore, indicating she doesn’t want any involvement in the case. A scene later, she eagerly attempts to follow a lead related to that case. The fact Chloe changed her mind so quickly was both confusing and jarring. Earlier in the film, one of Chloe’s friends goes missing. She enters her friend’s hotel room in order to discover what happened. Chloe finds two potential clues on the floor and picks them up with her bare hands. This is the same character who not only reads mystery novels in her spare time, but can also guess the guilty culprit early on. Because of this, wouldn’t Chloe know not to leave fingerprints on potential evidence?

Wasted potential for an overarching series storyline: In more recent series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, a storyline that is carried from film to film is included in the script. A perfect example is in the Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series, where Jeff is trying to figure out who shot him prior to the events of the series. In To Catch a Spy, the FBI was attempting to catch a criminal named Zypher. While watching the movie, I thought this would be the perfect overarching storyline if this film became a series. However, due to what happens in the movie, this idea did not become a reality. I was disappointed because of how the creative team wasted a potential storyline in their first film. Not every movie is meant to start a series. But if To Catch a Spy leads to a series, it makes me wonder what overarching storyline they could create?

Evening view of Malta skyline image created by bearfotos at freepik.com. Travel photo created by bearfotos – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

Like any type of movie, Hallmark’s “destination” pictures are hit or miss. There have been some I liked, such as Rome in Love and Pearl in Paradise. But other titles featuring an exciting location have disappointed, like Christmas at Dollywood. With To Catch a Spy, it reminded me more of Christmas at Dollywood than Rome in Love. Sure, we got to see Malta in its picturesque beauty. However, as Dory said in an episode of the Hallmarkies Podcast, “The scenery can’t save you”. Unlike the protagonists in Rome in Love, we never get to see any of the characters experiencing the country’s culture or learning from the people of Malta. When Chloe’s co-worker, Sara, is asking Rianne about the history of Malta, the audience doesn’t get to hear what Rianne has to say. Plus, one of the film’s biggest flaws was its disjointed story. There is potential for this movie to start a new series. But if that is Hallmark’s plan, I don’t know how they’re going to, realistically, make it happen. As I said in my review, To Catch a Spy was filmed in Malta. Traveling to various countries in order to film on-location is going to get expensive. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you seen To Catch a Spy? Do you want to see this story become its own series? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The King and I (1956) Review

For the Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon, I chose to review the 1956 version of The King and I! Years ago, I had seen the 1999 animated adaptation of the musical. Since I vaguely remember it, I can’t provide an honest opinion of that movie. Because I had only seen pieces of the 1956 film and because it was recommended to me by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, I now found a good excuse to finally check the film out! While I knew the play itself was successful, I was surprised to discover it had won a Tony award. As this year’s blogathon focuses on Tony winners, it gave me an opportunity to learn something new. This is one of the reasons why I love participating in blogathons! Now, let’s start this review of 1956’s The King and I!

The King and I (1956) poster created by 20th Century-Fox.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Deborah Kerr is a dramatic actress, as her strengths can be seen in drama films. Because there were plenty of dramatic moments in The King and I, this allowed the best of Deborah’s acting abilities to be placed on display! In scenes that allowed Anna to stand up to King Mongkut, Deborah adopts a serious persona without any sarcasm. Her tone of voice is stern, while also standing up straight and looking directly at King Mongkut. Because there were light-hearted moments as well, it gave Deborah an opportunity to incorporate humor into her performance. This balance made the role suit Deborah well! This is the first time I had ever seen any of Yul Brynner’s performances. However, I was quite impressed by his portrayal of King Mongkut of Siam! Similar to Deborah Kerr’s role, there was a good balance of drama and comedy. In a scene where King Mongkut is talking to his son about what he learned in school, Yul speaks with a serious tone of voice. He also moved around the set with a posture that reflects his character’s royal power. However, when he introduced Anna to his children, King Mongkut would make silly faces in order to get them to smile. Before watching The King and I, the only film of Rita Moreno’s I had seen is West Side Story. Because of this, it was interesting to see Rita work with different material. While Anita, Rita’s character in West Side Story, is sassy and confident, Tuptim is more reserved and sensitive. When Rita didn’t have speaking lines, facial expressions and body language helped convey what Tuptim was thinking. As I liked her portrayal of Tuptim, it makes me wish Rita had appeared in more scenes.

The musical numbers: A musical is only as good as its musical numbers. With The King and I, I found the musical numbers to be entertaining! The most interesting one is the Siamese interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Because Tuptim is reading a copy Anna gave her, she decides to write a play based on her own version of the novel. This particular number features traditional dancing, stylized face masks, and practical effects, such as a white sheet representing ice. It served as a good example of how everyone can view a text differently. The rest of the musical numbers in The King and I ranged from dramatic to comedic. One of them is ‘Getting to Know You’. In this scene, Anna dances with one of King Mongkut’s wives. Some of the children circled around their mother in order to mimic Anna’s skirt. This was a simple way humor was incorporated into some of the musical numbers.

The costume design: The King and I is known for being an elaborate musical, with elegance being found within the costume design. Bright colors were worn by almost all the characters. In a scene where Anna is introduced to King Mongkut’s children, the children’s outfits featured hues of pink, red, and green. The members of the royal family sometimes wore plaid, which complimented the rich color palette of the movie. Metals like gold could also be seen in the royal family’s attire. Some of King Mongkut’s jackets featured gold embroidery, a reminder of his wealth and affluence. Bronze coated the children’s headpieces as well. With the costume design being so exquisite, I wonder how much of this movie’s budget was devoted to it?

The Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Rita Moreno: As I mentioned earlier, the only film of Rita’s I had seen is West Side Story. Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing her performance in The King and I. I was disappointed to see Rita’s talents under-utilized. In this two hour and thirteen-minute movie, Rita appeared in a handful of scenes. While she did participate in the story’s musical components, she was only given one duet and the narration during the Uncle Tom’s Cabin play. I understand The King and I was released five years before West Side Story. But if the 1961 film has taught me anything, it’s how Rita is, talent wise, capable of so much more.

Drawn out storylines: The storylines in The King and I were drawn out because of the film’s two hour and thirteen-minute run-time. King Mongkut’s story, where he attempts to save his reputation, is one example. For about half the movie, King Mongkut wants to prevent other world leaders from thinking he is “barbaric”. Since this particular storyline lasted for so long, the resolution/payoff was fine, but somewhat anti-climactic. Lun Tha and Tuptim’s storyline took place throughout the whole movie. However, by the end of the film, it was left unresolved. It makes me wonder if it would have been resolved if The King and I’s run-time had been shorter?

Songs interrupting the story: In a typical musical, the musical numbers help progress the story forward. But in The King and I, the musical numbers interrupt the over-arching story, causing the transition between story and song to feel less seamless. After an elegant party at the palace, King Mongkut discovers Tuptim is missing. King Mongkut’s search is disrupted by Anna singing ‘Shall We Dance?’. This then turns into a private dance between Anna and King Mongkut, which is interrupted by a guard. The guard informs King Mongkut that Tuptim has been found. Moments like this one cause the story to pause for the sake of a musical number.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

So far, I have seen four of Deborah Kerr’s movies. Out of those titles, I’d say The King and I is her best one! As I said in my review, the material complimented her acting abilities. There was enough drama to show off her strengths, while also having enough comedy to let Deborah have fun with the role. The film gave me a chance to see interesting performances and musical numbers, from Rita’s portrayal of Tuptim to a Siamese interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The exquisite costume design and sets are definitely photogenic, highlighting the wealth and power within the royal family. Even though the movie as a whole is good, there are musicals I would choose over it. The songs interrupting the story instead of progressing it forward is one reason why I feel this way. I’ve heard Anna and the King is a non-musical version of this particular story, so I’d be interested in seeing how lack of musical numbers affects the overall story-telling. I’d also be interested in watching Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner’s other film, The Journey.

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

What are your thoughts on The King and I? Which version is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun on Broadway!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Born Free Review + 340 and 345 Follower Thank You

Earlier this month, 18 Cinema Lane received 340 and 345 followers! Before I continue, I’d just like to say thank you to each and every person who has chosen to follow my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to read my articles and listen to what I have to say. Speaking of articles, let’s back to the review! For April’s Genre Grandeur, the theme is “travel films”. Because this topic is so broad, it took me a while to figure out which film I would write about. Then I remembered I had the 1966 movie, Born Free, on my DVR. While Joy and George Adamson, the story’s protagonists, do travel within the movie, it is not the central component of the story. I also have participated in Thoughts From The Music(al) Man’s Star/Genre Of The Month Blogathon, with my review of China Seas being my first contribution. April doesn’t have a theme, so I thought Born Free would be the perfect choice for the blogathon! Prior to writing this review, I had heard of, but not seen, the 1966 picture. This is because I was familiar with the movie’s theme when it was featured on the soundtrack for the film, Madagascar. Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for; the start of this review!

Because I recorded this movie on my DVR, I took a screenshot of the movie’s poster from my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

How the animals were showcased: While I liked the acting in Born Free, it’s the animals that steal the show! Animals were showcased in a natural way, allowing them to be shown in situations that are more realistic. None of the animals were given voice-overs, giving the audience a chance to witness their authentic expressions. A great example is when Elsa, the lion Joy and George take care of, interacts with a male lion. Throughout the scene, Elsa and the male lion take turns roaring. They also can be seen fighting over food. The way these lions were presented made it look like they were having a conversation. The human characters’ conversations about these animals also gave them a humanistic quality. After Joy and George leave Elsa alone with the aforementioned lion, Joy compares the experience to waiting for a daughter to come home from a date. The cinematography and script gave the animals just as much importance as the human characters!

The scenery: The majority of Born Free takes place outdoors, as the African landscapes serve as the principal scenery for the story. Toward the beginning of the movie, Joy is painting in her front yard. A clear blue sky enveloped a large space of plains. This specific location appeared peaceful as long shots were used to capture it on film. Another impressive location was the beach that Elsa, Joy, and George visit. Once again, a blue sky is visible, soaring over the blue of the ocean and bright beige of the sand. The beach was very photogenic, with long and medium shots helping to showcase that location!

The music: I liked the use of music in Born Free! The pieces of instrumental tunes provided the tone for each scene it was included in. When a suspenseful and tense moment took place, the sound of beating drums could be heard. This sound elaborated on the seriousness of what was happening in that particular scene. One example is when, toward the end of the film, Elsa is fighting with another female lion. For more light-hearted, joyful moments, the movie’s theme played in the background. Some scenes that featured this piece of music revolved around Elsa and her sisters as lion cubs.

Mother lion and her baby cubs image created by wirestock at freepik.com. Animals photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

An inconsistent narrative: When a close friend named John suggests Elsa should be placed in a zoo, Joy is completely against the idea. This decision has even resulted in a heated argument between Joy and George. Joy’s decision for wanting Elsa to remain wild is understandable. However, earlier in the film, she doesn’t object to sending Elsa’s two sisters to a zoo. Joy also takes in a baby elephant that Elsa happened to be chasing one day. This specific narrative was inconsistent, which prevented me from getting fully invested in Joy’s side of the story.

The run-time: According to IMDB, Born Free is an hour and thirty-five minutes. But because the story is a simpler one, I don’t think this movie needed that run-time. While watching the film, I noticed how some scenes contained montages. For example, when Joy, George, and Elsa go to the beach, a montage lasting several minutes featured these characters playing on the beach and in the ocean. I feel these montages were placed in the film to satisfy its run-time. Had these montages been shortened, the movie could have had a run-time of an hour or less.

Unnecessary voice-overs: Throughout the film, Joy provides voice-overs to explain what is happening in the story. These voice-overs were beneficial in understanding Elsa’s journey. But there were some scenes where Joy’s voice-overs were not necessary. At the beginning of a scene where Joy, George, and Elsa are at a camp, Joy explains how, one night, she heard the roar of a lion who was eating the livestock of a nearby African village. If the voice-over had not been included in this scene, the on-screen event could have spoken for itself. Having the voice-over only reminded the audience of what they already knew.

Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When you think of “travel films”, a movie where the protagonist takes an extravagant and adventurous trip will likely come to mind. However, traveling can mean different things for various people. In the case of Born Free, Joy and George Adamson travel from England to Africa. Throughout the film, they also travel to town and several African villages. As I mentioned in the introduction, Born Free does not focus on the travels of Joy and George. Instead, it prioritizes the relationship these characters share with Elsa. While I liked the natural portrayals of the animals, these depictions are more suited for an older audience. This is also a simpler story, calling for a shorter run-time than the one it received. Not only were some of Joy’s voice-overs unnecessary, but her stance on keeping Elsa out of a zoo was inconsistent. Despite these flaws, I thought Born Free was a fine film! If you are interested in the subject of animals, I feel this is the movie for you!

Overall score: 7.1-7.2 out of 10

Have you seen any “travel films” lately? Do you have any films to recommend for the next blog follower dedication review? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Chasing Leprechauns Review

Happy Patrick’s Day to all my readers and followers! For Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Luck O the Irish Blogathon, I wanted to choose a Hallmark movie that was either filmed in Ireland or that takes place in Ireland. Since I have seen most of the network’s films that fit this criteria, I selected the 2012 presentation, Chasing Leprechauns. Despite this being my first time seeing the movie, I am familiar with its basic premise. The inclusion of leprechauns helps the film stand out from the tried-and-true rom-coms that frequent Hallmark Channel. I also liked how a relationship wasn’t the central focus of the story. Instead, Chasing Leprechauns revolves around finding a resolution to a conflict. But will these factors equal an enjoyable movie viewing experience? Keep reading to find out if a pot of gold is waiting at the end of this review!

Chasing Leprechauns poster created by Crown Media Family Networks.

Things I liked the film:

The forestry: There are two scenes in Chasing Leprechauns where Ireland’s forestry was beautifully filmed! When Michael and Sarah, two of the story’s lead characters, go to the leprechaun’s forest for the first time, the grass and moss poke out through the snow. It presents an image of spring forcing itself past the wintery barrier. On the beaten path, green trees can be seen in the background, with an afternoon sunlight being cast over the forest. This particular location appears peaceful and serene. Several scenes later, Sarah and Michael spend some time at an abandoned building. While sitting around a fire, the taupe structure of the building is behind them. Green from a nearby tree peeks out of a window, with a foggy view of a field visible from these windows. The space looks haunting and secluded, which is a pleasant change in scenery for a Hallmark project!

The characters of Evelyn and Sheamus: When Michael goes to Ireland, he stays at a Bed and Breakfast run by a woman named Evelyn. Throughout the film, Evelyn has a cheerful personality. She also dreams of traveling to New York City. Hearing Evelyn share which places she’d like to visit was such a joy. I also liked seeing her positive persona! Sheamus is a frequent patron of the local pub. At first, it can be easy to write him off as a man who just likes his glass of alcohol. But when the audience learns more about him, they see Sheamus carries a lot of wisdom and helpful advice. Evelyn and Sheamus were my favorite characters in Chasing Leprechauns! Not only were they well written, but they were also well acted by their respective actor and actress, Marion O’Dwyer and Terry Byrne. I honestly wish this story had focused more on them!

The Luck O The Irish Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

What I didn’t like about the film:

No leprechauns: As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, a movie’s title partially serves as a promise to the audience. In the case of Chasing Leprechauns, that promise is featuring at least one leprechaun on screen. Despite what the title claims, there are no leprechauns in this film. Everyone in the small Irish town says there are leprechauns, even dedicating a museum to them. At various moments in the movie, squeaking noises can be heard, implying leprechauns are nearby. But never does a leprechaun show themselves to any of the characters in the story. How am I expected to care about the town’s “leprechaun problem” if the script doesn’t give me a reason to care? How am I to believe the town contains leprechauns when no evidence is provided? Chasing Leprechauns is a textbook example of why you shouldn’t just tell and not show when creating a story.

A drab looking film: Ireland is known for having beautiful landscapes that contain lush greenery and picturesque forestry. Too bad the creative team behind Chasing Leprechauns chose to film their movie in the middle of winter, when all that greenery is buried in snow. I know that snowy landscapes can be beautifully captured on film. However, the movie’s creative team appeared to not take any initiative to do so. This presents one reason why Chasing Leprechauns is such a drab looking film. The movie consistently carried dull shades of black, white, brown, and beige. Even when pops of colors did appear, such as on a scarf, those colors appeared muted. Even though I’ve never been to Ireland, I can honestly say this movie did not make the country look visually appealing.

No sense of urgency: Chasing Leprechauns is a movie where the protagonist says they are going to do something, but spends the majority of the film not doing what they said they were going to do. Though Hallmark doesn’t tell stories like this often, it is one I have grown to dislike. In this movie, Michael, our protagonist, is sent to Ireland in order to get approval for a future building project. Due to the town’s “leprechaun problem”, Michael faces an unexpected dilemma. Throughout the story, Michael spends more time experiencing Ireland than actually doing his job. It gets so bad that Michael’s boss shows up in Ireland to remind him how the trip was supposed to last two days, not two weeks.

A not so bright protagonist: Like I just mentioned, Michael spends two weeks in Ireland instead of the required two days. What is even worse is how it took Michael two weeks to solve his problems. I am aware of how some problems take longer to solve than others. But when Michael has a reputation of being his company’s “fixer”, then that should be embarrassing for him. Even though his job requires him to travel all over the world, he doesn’t take the time to learn about the countries he is visiting. As Michael and Sarah, the inspector, go to the forest where the leprechauns supposedly live, Michael suggests to call a priest and have him perform an exorcism. While Sarah calls him out for his lack of education, Michael reveals how foolish of a protagonist he is.

St. Patrick’s Day image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/st-patrick-s-day-background_1640464.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

Chasing Leprechauns wants to have its cake and eat it too. What I mean by this is the film takes itself so seriously, yet they expect their audience to suspend almost all their disbelief. When you have a story where leprechauns are involved, a sense of magic or whimsy is usually found. But Chasing Leprechauns is devoid of those things. One of the film’s biggest mistakes was not showing at least one leprechaun on screen. I haven’t seen Fairy Tale: A True Story in years. But from what I remember, there was enough whimsy and charm to make up for the lack of fairies. If the creative team behind Chasing Leprechauns knew they weren’t going to put any leprechauns in their project, this is the direction they should have chosen. The magic within that world should feel believable, helping to create a whimsical and delightful place. It could be similar to the Good Witch series, where the magic is more figurative than literal. If you’re looking for a Hallmark film set in Ireland, I’d recommend Forever in My Heart from 2019. The story is much stronger than Chasing Leprechauns’ and the film is more grounded in reality, which gives the audience a reason to take it seriously.

Overall score: 4.7 out of 10

Have you seen any Hallmark movies set in or filmed in Ireland? If so, which one did you like? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on St. Patrick’s Day!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: China Seas Review

Last month, I had planned on participating in the Star/Genre Of The Month Blogathon, with January’s star being Doris Day. However, multiple projects throughout the month had filled up my schedule, preventing me from joining the event. To make up for it, I decided to participate in the blogathon this month, where the featured star is Clark Gable! As the only film of Clark’s I’ve seen up until this point has been Gone with the Wind, I was excited to explore his filmography! When I was choosing which film to write about, I also signed up for the We Heart Pirates Week Blogathon. To meet the requirements for both events, I have selected the 1935 film China Seas! Since Gone with the Wind is considered a romantic drama, it will be interesting to see Clark in a movie from a different genre!

China Seas poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I said in the introduction, the only film of Clark Gable’s I’ve seen is Gone with the Wind. Therefore, I didn’t know what to expect from his performance in China Seas. Even though this film was released four years before Gone with the Wind, Clark’s portrayal of Captain Alan Gaskell didn’t feel like a copy of Rhett Butler. For this particular role, Clark adopted the qualities of a natural born leader. Two of them were the strength and perseverance during times of conflict. When Alan is being tortured by the pirates, he never succumbed to the pain or surrendered to the enemy. He stood his ground instead, protecting his ship, as well as the guests and crew aboard it. I was pleasantly surprised to see Jean Harlow and Rosalind Russell in this film! Since I’ve seen very few projects from both of their filmographies, I was excited to see what they had to offer, talent-wise, in China Seas. What I liked about Jean’s performance was how versatile it was. Throughout the film, she used many different expressions as her character, Dolly, is boarding Alan’s ship. A fancy dinner in the ship’s dining room is a good example. At the beginning of that dinner, Dolly is in a pleasant mood, smiling and laughing at a friend’s joke. As the event goes on, she becomes bitter by Sybil’s presence. Speaking of Sybil, Rosalind’s performance was much different from her portrayal of Mother Superior from The Trouble with Angels and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. In China Seas, Sybil was more reserved than the other female characters. However, she had a gentler persona, which also helped her stand out. It was nice to see one of Rosalind’s earlier films, as this movie was released three decades before The Trouble with Angels.

The costume design: Some of the costumes in this movie were simply gorgeous! The dresses from the female characters definitely stole the show! At the dinner I mentioned earlier in my review, Jean wore a simple white dress that was slightly off the shoulder. The only applique was a metal paisley brooch, which added an element of pop to the dress. Later in the movie, Jean wears a satin gown. Similar to the aforementioned white dress, the satin gown was also given an element of pop. This time, the straps on the dress were covered with jewels. My favorite costume in China Seas was the pirate captain’s, as his was one of the most beautiful costumes I’ve ever seen in a pirate film! While it is simple, like Jean’s fancy dresses, it is the fine details that help it stand out! Paired with a silk blouse, the jacket is coated with an intricate design. The sleeves and boarders of the jacket are covered in fancy ribbon.

The pirate subplot: When I found out there would be pirates in China Seas, I was excited to see Clark Gable fight against them. The subplot involving the pirates was the best part of the overall story! It contained a mystery that unfolded as the movie progressed, featuring surprises and twists I didn’t see coming. There was also exciting action, which keep me invested. I was actually surprised by the amount of violence in China Seas because it was released in the Breen Code Era, where violence in films were kept at a minimum. However, it wasn’t graphic and over the top. This particular subplot also brought out each character’s true colors. I won’t reveal the movie for anyone, but I will say it was an interesting approach to providing character development!

Star of the Month (Clark Gable) blogathon banner created by Neil from Thoughts From The Music(al) Man

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited presence of the pirates: While I did like the conflict involving the pirates, they weren’t in the story for a long period of time. This part of the film was introduced fifty-eight minutes into this hour and twenty-seven-minute movie, with it lasting for about thirty minutes. I was honestly disappointed by this because I expected the pirates’ conflict to be the main story of China Seas. The captain of the pirate crew was one of the more interesting characters the movie had to offer, as he chose to become a pirate despite coming from a wealthy, noble family. However, the limited presence of the pirates prevented this character from receiving a lot of character development or screen time. Everything I said makes China Seas light on “action” and “adventure”.

A dull first half: As I just mentioned, China Seas is light on “action” and “adventure”. Even though those two things can be found in this movie, the story as a whole leans more into the drama genre. In the first half of the film, the script focuses on Dolly’s jealously toward Sybil. While this encouraged Jean to use a variety of emotions in her performance, I wasn’t interested in this part of the story. Other conflicts taking place in the movie’s first half includes whether Sybil’s pearls are real and Dolly trying to win back Alan’s love. These kinds of conflicts made China Seas feel like it was “Rich People Problems: The Movie”, revolving around problems that seemed stereotypical of wealthier individuals. Throughout the film’s first half, I kept asking myself, “When are the pirates going to get here”?

Confusing areas of the story: There were some areas of China Seas’ story that I found confusing. I’ll provide two examples for this part of the review. When Sybil is outside on the ship’s deck one evening, she is joined by one of Alan’s colleagues. Shortly after, the two can be seen kissing one another. Several scenes later, Sybil is spending time with Alan and expressing romantic interest in him. If she was romantically interested in Alan, why was she kissing another man? My second example is about the ending. While I won’t spoil it for any of my readers, I felt it didn’t fit within the overall story. The ending tried to wrap everything up in a nice little package. But with the events that led up to that ending, that part of the story became more confusing than it should have been. I know this film was released during the Breen Code Era, where happy endings were usually favored. However, the ending of China Seas was, in my opinion, not earned.

We Heart Pirates Week blogathon banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy

My overall impression:

While it was interesting to see Clark Gable in a different role and genre from what I’ve seen before, I found China Seas to be just ok. Were there aspects of the film I liked? Sure. The pirate captain’s costume was beautiful and I did like the acting performances. But I was disappointed by the limited amount of screen-time the pirates received. Before watching China Seas, I had expected the main plot to revolve around Clark Gable’s character dealing with the pirates. However, the most exciting parts of the story took place toward the end of the film, making the movie’s second half stronger than the first. Having a major part of the story focus on Dolly’s jealousy toward Sybil and obsession with Alan didn’t work for me. It came across as petty and immature. I do plan on seeing more of Rosalind’s, Clark’s, and Jean’s films in the future. But I hope the next movie is stronger than this one.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen any of Clark Gable’s films? What is your favorite pirate movie? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen