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.

Old-fashioned books image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/books-seamless-pattern_1539033.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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.

Barber Shop image created by dgim-studio at freepik.com Ribbon vector created by dgim-studio – www.freepik.com

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.
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? Which storyline interests you the most? Tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Love Letter Review

I’m not going to lie; I love a good blog party! So, when I discovered Heidi, from Along the Brandywine, was hosting the Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party, I couldn’t wait to sign up! Period dramas are not regularly covered on 18 Cinema Lane. While I do have a re-cap series for When Calls the Heart, I choose what films to watch based on how interesting their stories sound. There have been period dramas I loved, such as Swept from the Sea. But, for this blogathon, I wanted to review a film I hadn’t seen before. For about a year, I’ve had the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Love Letter, on my DVR. Because parts of the movie take place in the 19th century, I felt it fit Heidi’s time period requirement of the 1600’s to World War II. I try to watch as many Hallmark Hall of Fame titles as I realistically can. Prior to reviewing The Love Letter, the only Hallmark Hall of Fame movie from 1998 I’ve seen is Grace & Glorie, which was one of the best movies I saw last year! While not all movies from this collection are created equally, I do watch these movies with an open mind.

Since an image of The Love Letter‘s poster was featured on my television, I took a screenshot of it with my phone. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Because The Love Letter heavily relies on the performances of its lead actor and actress, this part of the review will focus on Campbell Scott’s and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s portrayal of Scott Corrigan and Elizabeth Whitcomb. With Campbell’s performance, there was always a sense of focus in his character. This focus could be seen in Scott’s eyes. When he was inspecting the desk at the antique store or restoring that same desk, Scott’s focus showed how much he cared. This was a consistent part of the character and helped whenever he wrote to Elizabeth. In historical fiction/period films, it would be easy for the screenwriter to give their lead female character one distinct type of personality. Elizabeth Whitcomb, on the other hand, held a balance of two that brought something unique to the character. She had a youthful radiance about her, being a “romantic dreamer” at heart. However, Elizabeth carried herself with a graceful maturity that prevented her from becoming childish or immature. Jennifer brought both aspects to Elizabeth equally and beautifully, allowing her character to be multi-dimensional.

The historical accuracy: I am not an expert on the 1860s and its historical significance. But based on what I do know about this particular period in time, Elizabeth’s part of the story looked and felt historically accurate! The Whitcomb family home was furnished with pieces that appeared antique, from the couch in the sitting room to the desk Elizabeth and Scott share. Dark wood held these structures together, with green cushions and intricate carvings finishing the couch and desk. The costumes were very detailed and also reflective of the 1860s. Embroidery on Elizabeth’s jacket and the overall design of her lacy parasol serve as two examples. Even the dialogue spoken by the characters sounded like it came directly from an era gone by. Pieces of the story like the ones I mentioned tell me, as an audience member, the creative team behind this film cared about the presentation of this part of their project!

A fantastical element: Most of the stories from the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection are grounded in reality, which means that fantastical elements are rarely found in these scripts. With The Love Letter, the story revolves around two people from different time periods who communicate to each other through letter writing. The idea of time manipulation is a concept that would likely be found in either a fantasy or science fiction film. While stories like Somewhere in Time and Portrait of Jennie have been dramas paired with this specific concept, I don’t recall Hallmark Hall of Fame creating their own film like that before or after 1998. Because The Love Letter’s creative team chose to include a fantastical element into their overall project, it gave the movie an opportunity to stand out from other titles. This was a creative risk that worked in the film’s favor!

The Valentine’s Day Period Drama Blog Party banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Scott being engaged: A trope that has appeared in several Hallmark films is the male or female protagonist being engaged at the beginning of the story, only to fall in love with someone else by the end of that story. This trope has found its way into The Love Letter. For most of the movie, Scott is engaged to a woman named Debra. As he finds himself falling in love with Elizabeth, he strings Debra along and keeps the letter writing a secret. Scott does tell Debra the truth about his feelings, but this doesn’t happen until the movie is almost over. Personally, I think this trope is pointless, as the audience is spending time with a relationship that will end up leading nowhere. Scott should have remained single so the script could give its undivided attention to his and Elizabeth’s exchanges.

A rushed explanation: When fantastical or science fiction elements are included in a script, it helps to provide clear explanations to the audience so they can understand what is happening on screen. In The Love Letter, Scott’s mother tells Scott that an imbalance in the time-space continuum is the reason why he and Elizabeth are able to write to one another. However, this explanation was rushed, with Scott’s mother briefly bringing it up on only two occasions throughout the whole movie. She gives Scott stamps from the 1860s and had a special kind of writing ink made for him. Scott’s mother even found a post office that has existed since the Civil War era. These objects and the post office felt more like they conveniently benefited the plot instead of serving as ‘macguffins’ to move the story forward. As I already mentioned, this kind of story is rarely found in the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection. Despite this, a little more time should have been devoted to providing a clearer explanation.

Lack of physical interactions between Scott and Elizabeth: Because Scott and Elizabeth are from different time periods, it is not possible for them to physically interact with one another. Even though this is the nature of the story, it prevented the audience from seeing the on-screen chemistry between Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. One of the staples of a romance film is the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Since that element was missing from The Love Letter, I was only invested in Scott and Elizabeth’s relationship to a certain extent. While their words were romantic, verbal communication only plays a part among any given couple.

Hand-written letter image created by Veraholera at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Veraholera – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/love-letter-pattern_1292902.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As I said in my review, most Hallmark Hall of Fame stories are grounded in reality. These stories are also on the simple side, with messages and themes that audience members can relate to. Even though The Love Letter has a fantastical element that is rarely found in films from this collection, it has a simpler story that works! Romance through words and thoughts is what carries the overall story, with important advice woven into the script. Forming a relationship with someone you truly love and never giving up on yourself are nice sentiments that can make audience members feel good about what they are watching. The movie also has the ingredients of a good Hallmark Hall of Fame title, like the level of detail when it comes to the film’s historical accuracy. It is true the movie has its flaws. However, the execution of a creative risk like this makes up for The Love Letter’s weaknesses. Films such as this one make me wish Hallmark would be more creative with their stories and think outside the box more. With the ball in their court, I don’t know what their next creative step will be.

Overall score: 8 out of 10

Have you seen The Love Letter? What Hallmark Hall of Fame movies would you like to see me review? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: If You Believe Review

For last year’s Happy Holidays Blogathon, I reviewed the 2014 Hallmark Channel movie, The Nine Lives of Christmas. Even though it was my first time seeing the film, I found myself understanding why it has become so popular among Hallmark fans! Originally, I wanted to write about the 1999 film, If You Believe, and the 2020 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film, Holly and Ivy. But because I wasn’t able to watch Holly and Ivy this week, due to a schedule that was busier than usual, I decided to stick with the one review of If You Believe. This is a film I have seen before, one I remember enjoying. However, it has been over twenty years since I last saw it. As Up Network was airing If You Believe one day, it was a perfect opportunity to take a trip down memory lane! From what I remember, this movie had a pretty unique concept for a Christmas story. In this film, the protagonist’s inner child comes into her present world to help her grow during the Christmas season.

Screenshot of If You Believe‘s poster taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When you have a story that revolves around a young character, that specific role needs to be given to a young actor or actress who has the right amount of talent to carry that film. Even though Hayden Panettiere is the main supporting actress, she single-handedly steals the show! While portraying a younger version of the protagonist, she had so much charisma for an actress so young. The versatility found in Hayden’s performance also added enjoyment to her portrayal of Suzie. Some of the best scenes in If You Believe show Suzie interacting with the film’s protagonist, Susan. This is because both Hayden and Ally Walker had good on-screen chemistry and worked well together. Speaking of Ally Walker, I liked seeing her performance as the protagonist! She brought a wide range of emotions to her role, allowing her character to feel like a realistic individual. This was shown in a scene where Susan and her brother are having a disagreement. Throughout the conversation, frustration and anger could be seen on her face. When her brother says he doesn’t want to see her anymore, Susan immediately starts tearing up.

The cinematography: I was pleasantly surprised to find some creative cinematography in If You Believe! A perfect example is when Susan and a writer named Tom have lunch at a local restaurant. As they discuss Tom’s book, the camera zooms in on Susan’s and Tom’s meal at various moments. This was meant to show how much time was passing during their interaction. Another good use of cinematography can be seen toward the beginning of the film. When Susan is leaving her office for the day, there is a shot of her walking in the hallway. This location is lit with a row of fluorescent lights from the ceiling. As this scene plays out, these lights provide a good contrast to Susan’s dark colored outfit.

The messages and themes: If You Believe is a movie that relies more on the messages and themes of Christmas than the aesthetics of the holiday. Even though these messages and themes could be found in films outside of the Christmas season, the script provides a solid argument for why they should be included in a Christmas movie. One of the biggest themes of If You Believe is believing in yourself. What starts Susan’s journey of personal growth is when she tries to dissuade her niece, Alice, from believing in Santa. This is because she stopped believing in things such as dreams and the magic of the season because of those around her putting her down. As the story continues, the audience see Susan regain her confidence and start believing in herself again, with some encouragement from Suzie. A perfect example is when Suzie coaxes Susan to read a manuscript called “Phooey” in order to find the next bestselling novel for her publishing firm, instead of avoiding another new author to help.

The 2nd Happy Holidays Blogathon banner created by the Brannan sisters from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn out first half: I found the first half of If You Believe to be drawn out. A few scenes lasted longer than they needed to, which caused this problem to occur. Suzie wants to go out on the town, as a way to help Susan move out of her comfort zone. Susan objects this idea, arguing with Suzie during their entire conversation. While this is an important moment in Susan’s journey, I feel the scene could have been shortened by a few seconds. This way, the point could have been reached sooner.

Telling instead of showing: At several moments in the film, Suzie recalls memories from Susan’s past where she was confident and stood up for herself. She shares these memories in various conversations with Susan, but the audience never gets to see them. I know there’s only so much content that can be shared in two hours. However, there should have been at least one or two flashbacks scenes. That decision would have helped illustrate the points Suzie was trying to make.

Glossing over mental illness: In If You Believe, Susan has a writer friend who happens to have a mental illness. When she suggested her friend take medication, he said his medicine ruined his creativity. This friend doesn’t receive much screen-time and his issues are resolved rather quickly. While I’m glad to see Susan’s friend receive the care and attention he needed, the subject of mental illness was glossed over in this story. Even though this was not one of the main topics of the film, it would have been nice if mental illness were given a little more focus in the script.

Group of Christmas figures image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-cute-christmas-character_3188970.htm’>Designed by Pikisuperstar</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As I mentioned in the introduction, If You Believe is a film that was released in 1999. Despite this, the film still holds up! Even though there are some flaws in this production, the creative team behind the film did a good job at expressing their intended point to the audience. Like I said in my review, one of the messages of this story is believing in yourself. What Susan’s journey tells us is if we believe in ourselves, then we’ll have enough confidence to believe in others. If we believe in others, we are able to believe in the magic of the season. While If You Believe is a more unconventional Christmas project, it’s one that is definitely worth the two hours! If you are able to find this film, please take the time to watch it.

Overall score: 8.3 out of 10

Have you seen If You Believe? Which ‘90s Christmas movie do you like watching? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: House of the Long Shadows Review

Vincent Price is an actor who has become as much of a household name as the Michael Jackson song he provided the voice-over for, Thriller. Prior to my involvement in the Vincent Price Blogathon, the only film of Vincent’s I have seen is one that is very different from what he is known for: The Whales of August. Last August (me reviewing The Whales of August in August was not intentional), I reviewed that film for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon. Even though I liked Vincent’s performance in that movie, I found the movie itself to be mundane. So, for this current blogathon, I wanted to watch one of Vincent’s films that contained more horror. When I discovered House of the Long Shadows, I was intrigued by the movie’s synopsis. For those of you who have visited my blog before, you would know I enjoy a good mystery from time to time. Because of this film’s mysterious nature, I had hopes to get, at least, some enjoyment out of this project!

House of the Long Shadows poster
House of the Long Shadows poster created by London-Cannon Films and Cannon. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LongShadows.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Prior to watching House of the Long Shadows, I haven’t seen many of the projects from Desi Arnaz Jr.’s filmography. In fact, I’ve only watched his guest appearances on I Love Lucy and his special appearance on The Brady Bunch. Despite this, I was impressed with his lead performance in the film! His casual yet effortless acting style worked with how the character was written. Desi’s acting abilities fit the role of the protagonist, Kenneth Magee! I also liked Julie Peasgood’s portrayal of Mary Norton! Her expressions and emotions really highlighted the sense of urgency her character was experiencing. A scene where Julie sold me on what Mary was going through is when Mary first comes to the Manor to warn Kenneth of the unseen dangers he will face. Because this blogathon is dedicated to Vincent Price, his performance should not be overlooked. As I said in the introduction, the only other film of his that I’ve seen is The Whales of August. The great thing about House of the Long Shadows is how Vincent is given more material to work with as an actor. This allowed him and his character to have a more commanding presence!

 

The use of music: The music that can be heard in the film’s background does a really good job at keeping the movie’s tone consistent. Throughout Kenneth’s stay at the Manor, scores that sound mysterious, sinister, and even sad are played at various moments of the movie. At times when the tone changes, the music never skips a beat and adapts with the events of the story. A great example is when Kenneth is driving to the train station. When the weather is fair and the sky is sunny, light-hearted music can be heard during Kenneth’s drive. As soon as the skies turn dark and stormy, ominous music takes the place of the previous tune.

 

The element of mystery: For those who haven’t yet seen House of the Long Shadows, I won’t spoil the story. What I will say is the mystery element of the film was well-written! The narrative is presented in a way that allows the audience to solve the mystery alongside Kenneth and Mary. This creates an interactive and shared experience between the characters and the viewers. It also maintains a sense of intrigue throughout the movie. As the story unfolds, it makes the audience wonder what will happen next.

Terrified friends watching horror movie in cinema
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 about the film:

A limited use of horror: Vincent Price is an actor who is known for starring in horror-esque films. This detail made me believe House of the Long Shadows would be a horror movie. While there are elements of horror to be found, they primarily existed in the film’s second half. The story as a whole placed more emphasis on the element of mystery. This made the movie not as scary as I expected.

 

Diane and Andrew’s subplot: In House of the Long Shadows, there is a subplot involving a young couple named Diane and Andrew. They are in the area of the Manor due to a vacation gone wrong. While watching this movie, I found their subplot to not be integrated in the overall story as well as the other characters’ stories. If anything, it felt like it was there for the sake of being there.

 

The limited use of lighting: I understand the limited use of lighting was adopted to emphasis the atmosphere of the Manor. Where this succeeds on that regard, it also hides the beauty of the Manor itself. One of the most striking features of this location is the grand staircase. It had visually appealing details, such as the gold ornamentations along the iron bars of the stairs. Unfortunately, it was difficult to see this part of the Manor clearly because there was little to no lighting in this space.

Vincent Price Blogathon banner
The Vincent Price Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Barry from Cinematic Catharsis. Image found at https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/2020/02/20/vincent-price-blogathon/

My overall impression:

Vincent Price: a name that is, more often than not, associated with projects featuring ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. While this has become a part of Vincent’s legacy, it’s important to remember what he offered to the horror genre, as well as the world of film, as an actor. When I watched his performance in House of the Long Shadows, Vincent’s performance reminded me of Bela Lugosi’s performance in the 1931 film, Dracula! Even though both actors are on screen for a certain amount of time, they use their acting abilities to control the camera’s focus and command its undivided attention. As for the film itself, House of the Long Shadows is truly a hidden gem! Despite being different from what I expected, it’s a movie I think fans of mystery, horror and Vincent himself will enjoy! Maybe the final words of this review are nowhere near as memorable as Vincent’s closing monologue in Thriller. But they do have a special place in this post.

 

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Vincent Price’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Mystery 101: An Education in Murder Review

In 2020, I haven’t reviewed Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films as often as I had wanted to. This is because of two reasons. The first is how I’m not always able to watch a film as soon as it is released. The second is how I’ve devoted my time to re-capping When Calls the Heart. But since I just watched the newest film in the Mystery 101 series and because some of my most popular content is Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related, I decided to review Mystery 101: An Education in Murder! I’ve watched all of Hallmark’s mystery movies that have premiered this year, so far. In my opinion, I think these projects are stronger than the newer Hallmark Channel movies I’ve seen. While there are patterns that Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films follow, each series tries to tell a different kind of story. The series themselves have a distinct identity, preventing these films from blending into one another. The Mystery 101 series is just one example. Taking an academic approach to the mystery genre, this collection of films has quickly become a fan favorite. I still can’t believe that after this story started a year ago, it’s already on the fifth chapter!

Mystery 101 -- An Education in Murder poster
Mystery 101: An Education in Murder 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=Mystery+101+An+Education+in+Murder.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: What I liked about the performances in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder is how every actor and actress presented their character as if they were individuals from real-life. While the film’s writing makes this aspect a possibility, the quality of the actors’ talents also helps. All of the interactions between the characters felt realistic and their conversations came across as natural. Even though there were actors and actresses that were new to the series, there were others that have either regularly appeared in the Mystery 101 series or another mystery series. Steve Bacic was one of the main cast members in the Garage Sale Mystery series. Because of his work in those movies, it gave him an understanding on how a typical Hallmark Movies & Mysteries project works. Despite Steve being in the film for a short amount of time, his performance benefitted from his experiences working with Hallmark’s second network.

 

Travis and Amy’s interactions: Seeing Travis and Amy’s relationship grow over the course of the series is one of the best parts of these films! As I said in my Mystery 101 review, the on-screen chemistry between Jill and Kristoffer helps. In Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, these moments featuring Amy and Travis were more light-hearted and humorous. This was meant to provide the audience with periodical breaks from the darkness within the story. One of these moments was when Travis and Amy are waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Even though this was meant to be a romantic date, Amy’s dad showed up and the dinner became an unintentional group event. This scene was hilarious and provided light-hearted interactions between these characters!

 

The mystery: Cold cases are not often featured in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ films. This kind of mystery in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder gave the audience a different story from what is usually shown on Hallmark’s second network. It encourages the creative team behind this series or any mystery series to think outside the box when it comes to story-telling. Instead of relying on physical objects as clues, the clues themselves were found in the dialogue spoken by the suspects. This provided an interesting approach to the mystery itself and how it was solved. Using language as a tool for solving a mystery is a concept that I’ve rarely seen in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film!

21-150-01
Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The “don’t-get-involved” cliché: In my Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver review, I talked about how the incorporation of the “don’t-get-involved” cliché was one of the flaws of that film. This is because I feel this cliché doesn’t work outside of the series’ first or second movie. Mystery 101: An Education in Murder is another film that adopts this cliché. Within the first twenty minutes of the film, Travis tells Amy not to get involved with the case. I know that he told her this with the intention of keeping her best interests in mind. I am also aware that the mystery itself was a cold case. However, Travis told Amy this after she had helped him successfully solve more than one mystery and after he called her a “consultant” while talking with a former colleague. If Travis had expressed his concern about Amy getting involved in the first or second movie, it would feel justified. But in the series’ fifth film, this cliché seems unnecessary.

 

A limited presence for some characters: Some of the characters in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder are featured less than others. As I already mentioned, Steve Bacic was in the film for a limited amount of time. When I first saw this film’s trailer, I had assumed Steve’s character, Mac, would play a bigger role within the story. However, he was only presented in a handful of scenes. I’ve enjoyed watching Preston Vanderslice’s performances in the Mystery 101 series! It makes me happy whenever Bud shows up in any movie. However, it feels like this character is stuck in the same place. I’m not an expert on the subject of the teaching profession. But, by the fifth movie, I feel like Bud should be further along in his educational journey. If this series receives a sixth movie, I hope we can see Bud passing his final exams or watch him graduating.

 

A few overlooked story-points: There were a few story-points in this movie that were not fully explored. A series of Mark Twain’s transcripts were incorporated in the overall story. They were shown at the beginning of the film as the cause for the mystery taking place. I’m not going to spoil the film if you haven’t seen it yet. However, I think these transcripts should have had a stronger connection to the overarching mystery. There was one suspect who was directly connected to the case. Again, I will not spoil the movie. But I think this character’s part of the story was, to a certain extent, overlooked.

Books Seamless Pattern
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My overall impression:

The Mystery 101 series is, in my opinion, one of the stronger of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ series. Its quality has been consistent and I’ve enjoyed watching each chapter. In fact, Mystery 101: Words Can Kill was one of the best movies I saw in 2019! Similar to that film, I did like Mystery 101: An Education in Murder! While it did have some flaws that prevented the project from being better than it was, I had a good time solving the mystery alongside Travis and Amy. Having the mystery be a cold case provided an interesting change to the series. The way the mystery itself was approached was also unique. Language has always played a role in any mystery. But in Mystery 101: An Education in Murder, dialogue from the suspects was used as clues for solving the case. Because of everything that’s been happening in the world at this time, it’ll be a while before we see another Mystery 101 movie. However, I hope we can receive another chapter in this series soon!

 

Overall score: 7.9 out of 10

 

Have you been watching Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ newest films? If so, which one has been your favorite so far? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: The Company We Keep

Before I start this When Calls the Heart re-cap, I’d like remind everyone that Thursday, March 12th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Actress of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The Best Actor poll will be posted on the 13th! Here is the link to the poll:

 

Let’s Choose the Best Actress of the 2020 Gold Sally Awards!

 

In her opening monologue, Elizabeth says that in life’s journey, the most important aspect is the company we, the travelers, keep. Similar to season seven’s first episode, I thought about how Elizabeth’s words connect with the show. What I love about When Calls the Heart is how the overall story doesn’t focus on just one character. Since 2014, the audience has been introduced to a variety of characters, each of them serving a specific purpose. Some of these characters have remained on the show, while others have left after a short period of time. But no matter what their status is, each character has held a great importance to someone. As I write this re-cap, I wonder if this is one of the reasons why When Calls the Heart has lasted this long on television?

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: 3

Name: Family Matters

 

Major Stories:

At the beginning of the episode, Archie is still in jail and under suspicion of theft. One Sunday, after Mass, Nathan asks Bill if he’ll question Archie. He says that questioning his own father would be too difficult for him. After hearing this, Bill agrees. When he questions Archie, Bill learns that a debt was owed to Archie by a man named Donnie. Archie reveals that this debt was paid after he had gotten out of prison. After the interview, Bill tells Nathan what Archie told him. Not satisfied with what he heard, Nathan travels to Benson Hill to learn what his fellow Mounties had discovered. At a local hotel, a Mountie tells Nathan that a witness claims to have seen Archie leaving the room that contained the stolen necklace. But, when Nathan asks the concierge if Archie had checked in, the concierge tells him that his father was given a room on the second floor. The fellow Mountie shares that the robbery took place on the third floor. Remembering what Bill had told him, Nathan asks to look at Donnie’s file. As he’s reading it, he notices that Donny has a known alias. When Nathan questions the concierge if anyone with the alias’ name had checked into the hotel, the concierge reveals that a person with that name was given a room on the third floor. After this discovery, Nathan tries to track down Donnie’s whereabouts. He eventually finds Donnie in a nearby forest. As Nathan is searching his bag, he finds the stolen necklace. This information is able to put Donnie back in jail and clear Archie’s name.

 

Ally is upset about Archie’s recent arrest. Because of this, she decides to run away to Elizabeth’s house. While Ally leaves for Mass with the Coulters, Elizabeth visits Nathan at the Mountie office. She tells him that Ally has run away to her house. When Nathan says that Ally might be overreacting, Elizabeth reveals that Ally’s suitcase contained all her belongings, indicating that Ally’s decision was legitimate. After Mass, Nathan tells Ally that running away from home was a bad idea. Ally says that she’ll come back home when she’s allowed to see her grandfather. Nathan refuses, so Ally continues to stay with Elizabeth. In the evening, as Ally is drawing a picture of her former house, she tells Elizabeth that the reason why she wants to see her grandfather is to learn more about her mother. Elizabeth reminds her that Nathan does have her best interests in mind. The next day, at school, Elizabeth discovers that Ally has gone missing. When Opal refuses to share Ally’s whereabouts with Elizabeth, Elizabeth realizes where her student went. A trip to the Mountie office later, Elizabeth finds Ally having a conversation with her grandfather. Upset with Ally’s defiance, Elizabeth reminds her of the aforementioned rule that she and Nathan had put in place. Ally then shares her concerns about her small family, saying that her grandfather is one of the only family members she has left. Toward the end of the episode, after Archie is found innocent, Archie leaves Hope Valley to take advantage of a new job opportunity. Before he leaves, Archie gives Ally a letter containing stories about her mother. Archie promises to share more stories through a series of letters.

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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.

Minor Stories:

Jesse and Clara continue to plan their wedding. Before Mass, Jesse asks his friend, Kevin, if he’d like to be a groomsman. Because he has never stood up in a wedding before, Kevin agrees. After learning this news, Clara is disappointed that the wedding party will not be an even number. So, the next day, she and Rosemary ask Elizabeth if she’ll be a bridesmaid. After Elizabeth accepts the position, Clara feels that the wedding party is now an even number. Over the course of the episode, Clara and Jesse ask some of Hope Valley’s residents if they’d like to play a role in their wedding. In an effort to help, Fiona shares some bridal magazines with Clara and offers to give wedding advice. Fiona says that she has stood up in several weddings, so she feels that her knowledge could be of use to Clara. This causes Clara to ask Fiona if she’d like to be a bridesmaid. After Fiona accepts this role, Jesse and Clara talk about how the number of people that attend the wedding doesn’t matter, it’s the people themselves that matter. At the end of the episode, Clara tells Bill that he’ll be walking her down the aisle. This is a relief to Bill, especially since he was worried about being left out of the wedding ceremony.

 

Faith is still contemplating the idea of medical school. One day, she receives a phone call from the president of the medical school in Union City. He tells Faith that, because of her academic record, she only has to take two classes in order to be eligible for medical training. However, in those classes, there won’t be an opening until next year. Feeling defeated, Faith thinks that it might be a better idea to wait a year. Later in the episode, Faith receives another phone call from the medical school president. He reveals that an opening for the two aforementioned classes is available at a medical school in Chicago. These classes will begin the following week. As Faith is still figuring out what to do, Carson gives her the medical book he used in school. After he claims the book brought him luck, Faith decides to attend the school in Chicago.

 

Elizabeth has finished some chapters of her novel. She gives them to Lucas so he can provide feedback. After he reads these chapters, Lucas tells Elizabeth that he enjoyed her work. According to him, the characters are strong, yet vulnerable. One character in particular has caught Lucas’ curiosity. He believes that this character, Luther Brant, could be based on him. When Lucas questions Elizabeth about her inspiration, she claims she made the character up. Several days later, Lucas meets up with Elizabeth at the Mercantile. He tells her that while he was reading her literary work, he learned that Luther was a widower with a daughter. Elizabeth tells him that he shouldn’t focus so much on who the characters are based on, especially since her story is a work of fiction.

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Wedding schedule image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/infographic”>Infographic vector created by Freepik</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/welcome-to-the-wedding_831989.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found on freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • While some of Hope Valley’s residents were given roles in Jesse and Clara’s wedding, I honestly thought that Bill would end up officiating the ceremony. I was expecting a conflict where the pastor couldn’t come to the wedding, so Bill would have to take his place. But the idea of Bill walking Clara down the aisle came as a pleasant surprise. When Clara told Bill he was the closest person to a father she’s ever had, I found myself getting teary-eyed. Once again, the writers of When Calls the Heart are doing a good job at subverting my expectations!

 

  • During the episode, Fiona approaches Kevin and asks him to fix her telephone station. Throughout this part of the story, they end up helping one another. When Kevin delivers the tools for the telephone station, Fiona provides Kevin with an explanation of what’s expected of a groomsman. Their interactions make me wonder if they’ll start dating by the end of this season?

 

  • In a Word on the Street story from last November, when I talked about the synopsis for When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas, I said that Elizabeth has seemed more self-centered and entitled than in previous seasons. I also said that the show was slowly becoming “The Elizabeth Thornton Show”. So far, Elizabeth seems less entitled than she did in season six! What helps is how she’s put her time and energy into writing a book. Providing the other characters with equally interesting stories also solves this problem. I really hope this change can continue in season seven!

Red sunset clouds over trees.
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 Jesse and Clara’s wedding? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Finding Forrester Review

One of the available categories for the Leap Year Blogathon was to talk about “any movie or TV show you’ve always wanted to review but never had the chance to”. This is the approach I’ve chosen to take with Rebecca’s event. As I was scrolling through my DVR, I came across a movie called Finding Forrester. Ever since I read the film’s synopsis on BYUtv’s website several years ago, I have wanted to see this movie because the story sounded interesting. I even recorded it on my DVR in the hopes of watching it someday. Well, it looks like 2020 is the time when I’m finally getting around to talking about this film! I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen a lot of Sean Connery’s movies. The Russia House and The Great Train Robbery are the only films I’ve seen with Sean as one of the leads. While I thought the former was ok, I enjoyed the latter more than I thought I would. Now that this is the third picture of Sean’s I’ve watched, it’ll be interesting to see where Finding Forrester ranks among the other two films.

Finding Forrester poster
Finding Forrester poster created by Sony Pictures Releasing and Columbia Pictures. Image found at https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/findingforrester.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Finding Forrester is a story that grounds itself in reality. Because of this, the acting performances in this film come across as realistic portrayals. What this means is all the characters feel like real people. The genuine expressions and behaviors of each character shine through because of the quality of the actors’ talents. How the characters interact with each other is evident of this, especially within the friendship of Jamal and William. Depth was added to the characters because of the interactions they share. The dialogue was well-executed by the actors, causing the conversations to sound authentic. What works in this cast’s favor are the various personalities presented and the character development that takes place. A sense of intrigue is brought forth as a result of all of these elements.

 

The cinematography: Whenever this film’s creative team wanted the audience to focus on a particular person or object, they would adopt medium shots or close-ups to place a greater emphasis on that subject. During basketball tryouts, Jamal was playing against a senior team member from the private school. The rivalry between these two characters is the highlight of this scene, so medium shots are used to present them to the audience. When Jamal is removing his notebooks from his backpack, after the bag was retrieved from William’s apartment, close-ups implemented the importance of writing that serves as a consistent idea throughout the film. In two scenes, the reflection of Jamal can be seen from William’s binoculars. This is meant to foreshadow the connection these characters will share through their friendship. These cinematic techniques helped make the cinematography stand out in this project!

 

The incorporation of knowledge: Like writing, the idea of knowledge is consistent in Finding Forrester. The way it was incorporated into this story was seamless and showed how important it can be to any individual. One example is when Jamal is explaining a brief history of the BMW to William’s acquaintance. This information not only helped Jamal stand up for himself, but it also educated the audience about one of the world’s most iconic car companies. The knowledge that William and Jamal share about writing is another great example. During a debate about the rules of writing, they are able to express their ideas and view the perspective of the other person. This scene shows that, with knowledge, one can be a part of something greater than themselves. It also shows that knowledge can create a connection between people.

Leap Year Blogathon banner
The Leap Year Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/announcing-the-leap-year-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The lighting: Most of the lighting in Finding Forrester is dim. This allows the overall color palette to appear darker on screen. However, it also makes it difficult to see what is happening in the film. The scenes taking place in William’s apartment experienced this issue. Because of the dimmed lighting, it was sometimes difficult to see Jamal’s and William’s face in these scenes. Half of this movie is centered around Jamal and William’s friendship, which means that half of the overall picture features the dim surroundings of William’s apartment.

 

Scenes that become padding: There are several scenes in Finding Forrester that become padding. One example is when Jamal’s friends are shown spending time together at a restaurant. This moment had no bearing on the story and didn’t progress the plot forward. It also doesn’t have a strong need to exist in the narrative. Scenes like these felt like they were placed in the movie for the sake of satisfying the run-time. If some of these scenes were cut, the film would have been shorter and the script could have been a bit tighter.

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My overall impression:

Someone I know once told me that knowledge is one of the most valuable possessions a person can own. When it’s earned, it can never be taken away from you. This is expressed very well in Finding Forrester, a solid and satisfying picture! While this movie is more of a character study, this concept works in the film’s favor. The delivery of the script and acting performances gave me an opportunity to stay invested in the characters and their interactions. The messages of integrity, self-worth, and knowledge have the potential to be relatable among audience members. They can also inspire people to pursue their talents and believe in their strengths. Finding Forrester is a movie that I’m glad I made the time to see. I’d like to thank Rebecca for giving me this opportunity through her Leap Year Blogathon!

 

Overall score: 8.2 out of 10

 

Is there a movie you’ve always to see, but never made time for? What are your plans for Leap Year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Written from the Heart

In the season seven premiere of When Calls the Heart, Lucas says that stories should be written from the heart. As I contemplate those words, I wonder if that’s the reason why this show has lasted as long as it has? This is a program that takes place during a simpler time. Sure, there were difficulties back then. But because of that simplicity, people were given more opportunities to share what was in their heart. Through stories, letters, and face-to-face communication, people could use their words to solve problems or connect with other another. You might be thinking, “Can’t the internet do the same thing”? While this is true, the internet doesn’t always allow us to see someone’s reaction to a story or understand how someone is feeling about it. That is what When Calls the Heart strives to do: understanding the thoughts and feelings of the characters and the fans. The emphasis placed on those two things has helped this show become a place where people can connect with each other and even help one another in times of need. As season seven begins, it will be fascinating to see how the thoughts, words, and actions of Hope Valley’s citizens come from their hearts.

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 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: 1

Name: A Moving Picture

 

Major Stories:

A journalist named Mary comes to Hope Valley to write a story about Henry Gowan. Henry believes that she’s interested in his business endeavors. However, Mary wants to know more about Henry’s past, including his convictions. Henry tells her that he tries not to dwell on the past. Not satisfied with Henry’s response, Mary turns to Bill for answers. On the subject of Henry’s past, all Bill will say is that Henry is “complicated”. Mary also approaches Lucas with questions about Henry, but Lucas refuses to speak about Henry’s life before he owned a petroleum business. Later, in the evening, Mary receives a phone call from her boss. She learns that her deadline is approaching sooner than she expected. Mary is stressed because she feels she hasn’t learned enough about Henry to write a compelling story. When she shares her dilemma with Fiona, Mary comes up with a brilliant idea. Toward the end of the episode, the citizens of Hope Valley discover that Mary decided to write a story about Fiona instead. Henry feels this decision was made because his story is not as reader-friendly as Fiona’s. Elizabeth confesses to him that every person who was questioned by Mary refused to talk about Henry’s past. Her confession effectively shows Henry that the town supports him.

 

While delivering books to the library, Lucas shares with Elizabeth that his mother was an editor. After she hears this, Elizabeth tells him of her unsuccessful attempts to get her book published. Lucas volunteers to proofread her book and offer her writing advice. She tells him that she’ll consider his help. A few days later, Elizabeth visits the saloon and gives Lucas her book. The next day, Lucas comes to the school after classes are over to share his thoughts on her writing. He tells Elizabeth that her stories are good, but that she should add depth to her characters. He also advises her to write from her heart. After receiving this advice, Elizabeth tries to rewrite her stories. However, she’s finding the experience more difficult than she expected. Because of this, she comes up with a new plan. At Rosemary and Lee’s anniversary party, Elizabeth thanks Lucas for his help and reveals to him that she is going to write a novel instead. At the end of the episode, Elizabeth begins writing her new book, this time titled “A Single Mother on the Frontier”.

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Minor Stories:

Lee and Rosemary are preparing for a trip to Los Angeles in honor of their anniversary. The idea of traveling to the Golden State is especially exciting for Rosemary, as she makes her own preparations. These include designing swimsuits for her and Lee as well as purchasing a new pair of sunglasses. Meanwhile, Lee is looking forward to meeting with the owner of a paper plant. If all goes well, Lee feels they could be the lumber mill’s biggest client. One day, at work, Lee receives a phone call from the paper plant’s owner. They inform Lee that the only time they can meet with him is sometime the following week, the same week as Lee and Rosemary’s trip. When Lee tells Rosemary that their trip might have to be postponed, Rosemary agrees to push the trip to the week after the meeting. Feeling guilty about the situation, Lee decides to organize a surprise for his wife. On the night of their anniversary, Lee encourages Rosemary to wear the dress she had planned to wear in Los Angeles. After she agrees, Lee and Rosemary make a trip to the saloon. Rosemary is surprised to discover that Lee not only organized an anniversary party, but a movie screening as well. Rosemary is delighted by Lee’s attempt to make up for their changed plans.

 

Faith surprises Carson by returning home from Hamilton. She tells him that her father is in better health and has moved in with her brother. She also shares that a former colleague offered her the head nurse position at the local hospital in Hamilton. This news conflicts Carson. He missed Faith when she was away and enjoys her company in Hope Valley. But he doesn’t want to hold her back from a great occupational opportunity. At Rosemary and Lee’s party, Carson tells Faith that she should take the nursing job. When Faith feels that Carson is pushing her away so soon after returning home, she leaves the saloon. Carson follows her outside to tell her that he loves her and will support whatever decision she makes. Faith then tells Carson that she loves him.

Retro Device Poster
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Some thoughts to consider:

  • I really liked the movie/acting related “Easter Eggs” that were included in this script! While talking to Lee, Rosemary mentions Gloria Swanson. Rosemary also says that she would like to take a walk with Lee on Sunset Boulevard. In a conversation with Elizabeth, Rosemary shares that she helped a struggling British actor by advising him to focus on comedy. Through Rosemary’s dialogue, the audience learns that this “struggling actor” was Charlie Chaplin. The way these “Easter Eggs” were woven into the story was so clever! It was nice to see historically relevant references told in a way that today’s audience would recognize!

 

  • Due to the movie screening’s positive response, Lucas announces that the saloon will host a movie night once every month. Because of this, I’m hoping this is the first step toward Rosemary finally receiving her theater! Rosemary, as well the fans, have been waiting for this for a long time. As they say, anything is possible.

 

  • When Mary is struggling to find information about Henry, I honestly thought the writers of the show would pull the “it’s not what you think” cliché. I was expecting Mary to unintentionally write an article that contained embarrassing information about Henry, causing the citizens of Hope Valley to be upset. Seeing Mary write about Fiona instead was a good subversion of expectations. It allowed the writers to be creative in their story-telling and not rely on over-used clichés. This makes me look forward to seeing how the writers go against my expectations!

Red sunset clouds over trees.
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 the season seven premiere? Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing this season? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2019

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

 

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

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10. The Nine Lives of Christmas

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

 

9. Holiday for Heroes

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

 

8. Easter Under Wraps

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

 

7. Ben-Hur (1959)

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

 

6. Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

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

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

5. Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

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

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

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

 

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

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

 

2. Rome in Love

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

 

1. Swept from the Sea

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

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

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

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

 

The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2019

Another year, another annual Top 10 article! In 2018, I published my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2018 first. This time around, I’ll be publishing my worst of the year list instead! For me, 2019 has been a better year for movies, as I saw far more good films than bad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any movies I wasn’t a fan of. Similar to last year’s post, this list will be based on movies that I personally saw, as well as my own opinion. Also, this list is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now, let’s begin by bringing up the Dishonorable Mentions!

Our Christmas Love Song, My One and Only, Over the Moon in Love, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Heart, A Very Country Wedding, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, Nightmare Best Friend, Last Vermont Christmas, Always and Forever Christmas (I only watched half of it before turning it off), and Christmas in Louisiana (I ended up watching less than half of it before changing the channel)

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Setting up 2019 image created by Freepik at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2019-background_3590600.htm’>Designed by Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik. Image found at freepik.com.

10. After the Storm

Sadly, we start this list with an UP Network release. I was hoping any movie from this network didn’t have to end up on my list. But this movie is placed lower on the list than last year’s entry, Christmas on Holly Lane. So, I guess that’s a step in the right direction! Now, back to talking about After the Storm. What made me want to watch this movie is the discussion of natural disasters and their aftermath. In family-friendly, made-for-TV movies, this specific topic is rarely featured in the story. Unfortunately, this film’s narrative placed more emphasis on the romance than the titular storm and its aftermath. Another major issue I had with this movie was the questionable decisions the male and female protagonist make within the film. While these decisions were not necessarily bad, they were also given questionable explanations. I wasn’t able to stay invested in the protagonists and their relationship because of this creative decision.

9. A Feeling of Home

Texas is one of the states that isn’t always featured in a Hallmark movie. This part of the film made me want to give this project a chance. But, similar to After the Storm, the story placed more focus on the romance than in the conflict. There were some editing errors within this film that were painfully obvious. It also doesn’t help that the weakest acting performance came from the lead actress. Watching the female protagonist desperately trying to win over her father’s attention was, actually, quite sad. This made her appear weaker than the majority of female protagonists from Hallmark Channel. I have to ask: who greenlit this script when they knew it was this weak?

8. Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays

In 2018, I saw and really liked Christmas at Graceland. While I thought Wedding at Graceland was ok, it’s the third film in this trilogy that I find to be the worst out of the three. There were a number of plot points in this movie that didn’t make any sense. Why would the female protagonist give her nieces only one small snowglobe but the male protagonist’s children an elaborate and large advent calendar? Also, for a movie set in Graceland, the famous location ends up being a glorified extra by having less than three appearances on screen. Because of this, it makes the story feel like it didn’t need to take place in Graceland. The movie made me wish Christmas at Graceland had never received any sequels.

7. Christmas Scavenger Hunt

The idea of a Christmas themed scavenger hunt is something that had never been shown in a Hallmark production prior to 2019. So, I was somewhat optimistic about this particular movie. Sadly, the potential this film had was wasted on a poorly written script. All of the scavenger hunt clues were way too easy to solve. There was no sense of urgency throughout the film, as well as two separate moments where the male and female protagonist came across as selfish. Not only was the lead actress’s performance weak, but so was the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Like other films on this list, questions arose within the story that distracted me from enjoying the movie. One of these questions was why the female protagonist didn’t make her boyfriend take off his expensive tie before baking. All of these missteps added up to a movie that was less entertaining that it could have been.

6. Christmas Camp

When I first heard of this movie, I was excited to see a Christmas themed camp brought to life for the first time in a Hallmark film. I had reviewed this movie for Drew’s Movie Review’s Christmas in July Blogathon. Upon my first and only viewing of the film, I learned that the camp itself was nothing more than an afterthought. What this movie excels at is having a pointless plot and tradition shaming characters whose Christmas doesn’t look or sound “traditional”. Despite the fact this is a Hallmark film, these things don’t make it feel like a Hallmark film. If anything, it makes me wonder why the network would greenlight this movie at all? Hallmark has been known for creating a variety of Christmas products to celebrate a multitude of Christmas traditions. With Christmas Camp, it makes the network seem inconsistent with their message.

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Group of unhappy image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by rawpixel.com – http://www.freepik.com. Image found at freepik.com.

5. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Back in October, I gave this film a second chance for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Looking back on it, I realize that was probably a mistake. Unfunny humor is the movie’s biggest flaw. Yes, I know that comedy is a very subjective thing. But if a comedic film barely makes me laugh, then it hasn’t done its job well. Other problems in this movie include the run-time and a weak story. There were elements that could have enhanced the project, such as commentary about greed and the power of money. But these things were swept under the rug for the sake of hosting a popularity contest instead of a movie production.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This was the first movie I saw in 2019 and boy was it a disappointment. All of the humor was so forced, that I found myself not laughing at any of the jokes. The film’s plot was tedious, which made the movie itself feel longer than its run-time. I also found a few plot-holes within this film. One of them was so large and obvious, that it made me question the existence of the movie’s narrative. While I liked the acting performances and the special effects (both practical and CGI), there were more negatives to the film than positives. This could have been something quirky and fun. Unfortunately, the movie was missing those two important ingredients.

3. A Cheerful Christmas

This is not only the worst Christmas movie I saw in 2019, it’s also the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2019. It doesn’t help when the lead actress ends up over-acting or when at least one of the actors clearly can’t carry a British accent. But it also doesn’t help when the story is poorly written. This movie made me ask more questions than I had planned to. One question was about the female protagonist’s ability to keep her job after all the business-related blunders she makes. I know that fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But this movie tried to make me suspend all my disbelief, making me feel uncheerful. While I appreciate the movie’s attempt to avoid a large number of “royal movie” clichés, it wasn’t enough to save the project. In my opinion, it felt like the film’s creative team put so much emphasis on making a pointless, family-friendly, Christmas remake of Pretty Woman, that they forgot how to make a good movie.

2. Ace of Hearts

I’m all for helping smaller, family-friendly films get the “standing ovation” they might deserve. However, for a movie to achieve a “standing ovation”, it needs to be good. Ace of Hearts, unfortunately, fails to meet that criteria. The majority of the acting performances are poor and the pacing is very slow. But the worst offense this movie commits is bad writing. This story had so many plot-holes and inconsistencies, that it was exhausting instead of enjoyable. When the protagonist’s daughter convinces her friend that the reason why her family’s dog is trying to get home is to get back at the film’s villain because it’s his “unfinished business” (she comes to this conclusion after seeing the title of a video game), that’s when you know you’ve come across a bad script. As if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is, apparently, based on a true story. If my true story were handled this poorly, I would be offended and embarrassed.

1. A Page of Madness

A Page of Madness is a silent film from Japan, for those of you who are not familiar with this title. I appreciate the director’s efforts to preserve this movie, especially since, according to Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies, the majority of Japanese films created before 1945 are either partially or completely lost. I also understand what the director was trying to do with the project. But just because I’m a grateful and understanding movie blogger, that doesn’t mean I liked the final product. This movie has a plethora of problems that would make this list longer than it already is. So, I’ll share two reasons why A Page of Madness is the worst film I saw in 2019. The first is how it has no plot, narrative, or story. It just contains a premise that goes nowhere. The second is how, in reality, this movie is an artistic experiment masquerading as a film. Personally, I found this to be dishonest and manipulative. At two separate moments, I wanted to fall asleep and turn the movie off. This is one of those times where I wish I would have listened to my instincts.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World poster created by Casey Productions and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:It%27s_a_Mad,_Mad,_Mad,_Mad_World_(1963)_theatrical_poster.jpg

What are your thoughts on my list? Which is your worst film of 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen