Showing posts with label Movie Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movie Reviews. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2020

Signed, Sealed, Delivered Hallmark Series Reviewed

Signed, Sealed, Delivered Hallmark Series Reviewed
Signed, Sealed, Delivered started as a tv series in 2013, but after the first complete season, Hallmark rebranded the series as television films.  Sadly, that meant there would no longer be a weekly show.  But, for those of us who love the series, we are always excited when a new film is released.

There are 11 episodes, including the pilot, in the one season tv series.  At the time of publishing this review, there are more than 10 films that have been released since the series ended. 


Alongside the wonderful main characters, the shows have featured some really fabulous special guests that include Carol Burnett, Della Reese, Valerie Bertinelli, and Valerie Harper.  These special guests have added lighthearted humor and fun that makes the shows even more entertaining.



Signed, Sealed, Delivered Plot


As you might expect from the name, the main characters are employees of the US post office.  They are the only 4 employees of the Denver dead letter office, where they strive to find the right recipients in order to deliver long lost letters.  They often end up on great adventures while solving intriguing mysteries.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Series 1
The dead letter department is headed by Oliver O'Toole who is described by his team as an old-fashioned gentleman, a man of faith, a rule-keeper, and a meticulous manager.  Oliver is married, but his wife left him so she could live in Paris.  He is always on the lookout for any correspondence from her, but she has clearly abandoned him and their marriage.

Shane McInerney is accidentally placed in the dead letter office.  Because of her computer expertise and hacking ability she ends up being an excellent addition to the team.  Plus, she likes the other employees there.  Shane decides to stay with them even when her transfer to her intended position is finally approved.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered Hallmark Series Reviewed Rita Haywith is a really sweet lady who happens to have a photographic memory.  She has an uncanny ability to "look up" facts, names, and information via her own mind.  There are times when she seems too naive to believe, but she is so adorable you can't help but love her.  Her crush on Norman is obvious to everyone but him.

Last but by no means least, Norman Dorman is the consummate librarian and scientist.  He seems to be able to find the right book for any needed reference or information.  Norman possesses the "absent minded professor" personally that doesn't understand the normal, everyday conversations, social cues or nuances. Personally, I find his straight forward purity of words and actions refreshing. 

This team of determined post office workers are later dubbed the Postables because of their commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the contents and sender, while playing detective in order to locate the proper recipient of a dead letter or package.

The Postables always go the extra mile to make sure a missive finally reaches it's destination, even when it is years after it was initially mailed.

The letters always provide something the recipient needs, like an explanation for past actions, a long awaited apology or resolution, a gift like a wedding gown, or they reunite friends and family who have lost touch.  Some of the stories are pretty sad because either the sender or the recipient have died.  But, they still serve a purpose for the remaining loved ones.

One particularly touching episode, "To Whom It May Concern", was about a young woman who wanted to find the soldier who not only taught her to read, but also saved her life by giving up his seat on the rescue helicopter.  The team had to go to great lengths to find the missing soldier.


Watch Signed, Sealed, Delivered in Chronological Order 


It isn't absolutely necessary to watch the episodes or films in the order of their release date, but it will make the basic storyline more cohesive.  Because the plot and couple relationships develop over time, just like real life relationships, some things will make more sense if you know what happened in the past.

This is one series that I would recommend watching in chronological order.

    Signed, Sealed, Delivered Hallmark Series Reviewed
  1. Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Pilot Movie  (2013)
  2. Signed, Sealed, Delivered - The Complete Season 1  (2013-2014) 
    Note: Series 1 DVD does not include the pilot. Must purchase it separately.
  3. Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas  (2014)
  4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love (2015) 
  5. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told  (2015)
  6. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream  (2015) 
  7. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From the Heart  (2016)
  8. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: One in a Million  (2016)
  9. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Lost Without You  (2016) 
  10. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground  (2017)
  11. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again  (2017)
  12. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Road Less Traveled  (2018)
  13. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To the Altar  (2018)
  14. Next Film to Be Released in 2020!          


 
As you can see above, the DVD's are available to purchase on Amazon.  Or, you can subscribe to the Hallmark Channel via Amazon to watch them all.


Subscribe to Hallmark Channel on Amazon






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Signed, Sealed, Delivered Hallmark Series Reviewed Written by:
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Sunday, January 5, 2020

How NOT to Binge Watch a Series - The Three Rules of Survival

How NOT to Binge Watch a Series!
Save Yourself Before It's too Late
Tongue in cheek. Well, sort of. I kind-of mean every single word.

In the scope of life problems, this doesn't even rate. But that's why I'm writing about it. Since there's too much going on in the world, mindless drivel is temporarily appealing, almost necessary.

So, you probably guessed by now that I'm the recent victim of binge-watching a series. I can feel the professional binge-watchers rolling their eyes. Still, the pros need to remember, they were newbie-bingers once.

Let's Review the Three Rules:

1. Don't Pick a Series With Only One Season

For gawd-sakes, before you even scroll through Amazon Prime or Netflix, decide that any series with only one season is off-limits.

Want to know why?

Because when you're finished watching Season 1, you'll be googling to find out when Season 2 is coming out.

Then you'll toss your perrier in the fireplace when you find out it hasn't been renewed for a second season. Or if it has been renewed, that filming doesn't start until March of 2020, which means the fall of 2020 before you get to watch it again - one darn episode at a time!

Yes, I binge-watched 'Another Life' on Netflix last night and yep, one season only, and season two doesn't start filming until March 2020. I have this uncontrollable urge to see if they'll hire me on the crew so I can get a heads-up on the story. I need help.

Since I mentioned the series 'Another Life,' are you wondering if I recommend it? Well, if you like Sci-Fi with a connection to Earth as we currently know it, then I hate to say this, but you're going to love it.

Warning, resist it because you'll only want more. Or go ahead and keep me company for a year until season two starts. I'm already looking forward to Fall 2020, how sick is that?

2. Don't Start Binge-Watching at Midnight

Yah. I did that too.

So there I was, scrolling Netflix for a movie. You know, one that's maybe ... like ... 2 hours at the most. I had noticed 'Another Life' before, and that it was a 'series,' and avoided it for that reason.

Last night, I was powerless. I gave in to my 'no series' rule and couldn't fight the urge to not click 'watch next episode' all.night.long.

I figure if you start watching around 7pm and decide to binge, then there's a good chance you'll be heading to bed before 4am. Plus, there's also the chance that life intrusions will prevent you from watching every episode at once! At midnight, there's no one awake to rag on you.

Ok. I did have some discipline, I only watched eight episodes and viewed the final two this afternoon. I can't get this show out of my head, can you tell? I'm so curious about the next season. Grrrr.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Use the Pause Button

It seems logical, right? When you need to take a break, hit the Pause button, and go do your thing. I mean, we're not Gremlins that can't be fed after midnight, are we? But come to think of it, I was more like Stripe last night.

Apparently, that's too much common sense for me, and I held it way too long. Sheesh, I wasn't even stuck in a vehicle.

So, pause your series for snack and pee breaks. When you're really into your show, you'll resist stepping away, and all I can say is resist the resistance -  'taint good for the bladder.

Here's the trailer for Another Life, to lead you into temptation :)



Is There a Series with More Than One Season that I Recommend?

Omg, that's a screaming YES!!

My all-time favorite program in the history of programs is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon! I know I'm screaming again. It's based on the books, and it.is.absolutely.fantastic. The fans, me included, are chomping at the bit to watch Season 5, which starts in February of 2020!

So guess what, if you binge-watch all 4 seasons of Outlander, you'll be able to start watching Season 5 right away with the rest of us crazies.

I'm so obsessed with this show that I follow it on Twitter and Instagram? I need an intervention.

Oh, here's a heads-up warning:

When you get to the episode called 'The Wedding,' umm, watch it without kids in the room. The wedding night is very, very very and very physical with a lot of nudity. If that's not your thing you can skip it, but I must say, it's pertinent to fully appreciate Jamie and Claire's connection.

I'm leading you into temptation one more time with the Trailer for Outlander Season 1, but this show has 4 seasons to consume your life - a much better way to get lost in space.




I'll close by saying that I don't watch a lot of TV. Don't laugh, it's true. However, when I do watch, I apparently go all in?

So let's summarize the three rules:

1. A show with more than one season
2. Don't start binge-watching at midnight
3. Take breaks

Or ignore them, and watch what you want, when you want :)


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Monday, December 30, 2019

Movie Review - The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts is a beautifully filmed movie that is both entertaining and educational. It gives the audience a glimpse into a pivotal event in the 1860s that impacted meteorology and scientists' ability to begin to understand and predict the weather. 


The Aeronauts an Amazon Original Movie

I use the word glimpse because this is a fictional version inspired by a true event. Some of the movie storyline strays far from the actual event. But overall, this is a beautiful movie depicting explorers who risked their lives to further our understanding of the weather that impacts our earth. 

My son recommended that I watch The Aeronauts via Amazon Prime. I am so glad he did. I enjoyed this movie immensely. I have always been in awe of explorers and inventors - not understanding how humans can be so inventive. I often say, "how in the world did they think of that?".  The Aeronauts kept me glued to the screen and made me realize that I've been completely unaware of an entire group of adventurers who fundamentally began space exploration from baskets lifted above the clouds by balloons.

James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is a scientist, a meteorologist, who is determined to gather data while in the sky. He appears in front of the Royal Society to plead his case of creating a science of the weather. He is convinced that the ability to predict the weather could come from studying the weather while in the sky.  He advocated, and finally received funding and support for an expedition in the skies. Mr. Glaisher, a meticulous and studious young man seems to be the polar opposite of young Ms. Wren.

Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) is the female aeronaut who reluctantly agrees to pilot Glaisher's trip. She is conflicted, not wanting to be his chauffer on one hand yet having a philosophy of "Look up. The sky lies open... ". Ms. Wren is as entertaining and dramatic as she is strong and athletic all while fighting the sad memories of the loss of her husband two years prior.

The balloon lifts the two explorers to heights that is currently the typical cruising altitude for commercial jets (37,000 feet). The views in the movie are breath-taking. The setting both beautiful and stressful; on the balloon, those in the balloon, and me while I was watching. The temperatures, oxygen issues, and atmospheric impact on the balloon are things that caused me to hold my breath and sit on the edge of my seat. 

I very much enjoyed Felicity Jones' portrayal of Ms. Wren. I don't think I have words that are sufficient to explain why I enjoyed her performance so much.  So I'll just leave it at that. 


The Aeronauts - Facts Versus Fiction


As it turns out, during the late 1700s to mid-1800s, women were passengers then pilots of balloons for entertainment purposes. These people who piloted the balloons were called aeronauts. Skilled as these women were, they were not a part of the scientific world. 

The Aeronauts that inspired this story were scientists James Glaisher and Henry Tracy Coxwell. These two men made significant discoveries related to weather during their record-breaking flights. And began the school of thought that weather can be predicted.

I found it a bit irritating that Coxwell was replaced with a woman. I'm not sure I like this sort of re-writing of historical events. It seems to take credit away from the very important life's work of another human being. 

However, if the director felt the need to put a female in place of one of the male scientists, I am grateful that he did so without a plot that included romance. 

In other parts of the internet, Director Tom Harper is quoted with an explanation that the worlds of science and Hollywood have had clear gender bias against women, and "we need to be active in our pursuit to redress that."  (Time, December 2019). I suppose that is why he replaced Mr. Coxwell with the fictional Ms. Wren. 

Even with my concern about erasing Coxwell from the movie, I highly recommend this movie. I enjoyed the themes of exploration, bravery, defying gravity, and a reminder of those who have been instrumental in society's progress over 100 years ago. Weather forecasts are something we seem to take for granted and it was very interesting to see a portrayal of someone so passionate in their career.




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For more information about Mr. Glaisher and Mr. Coxwell and their record-breaking flight, click here  (I recommend watching after you see the movie - to avoid small spoilers). You can be sure that I will be learning more about the early aeronauts, male and female, and their brave exploration. 


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Friday, December 20, 2019

A Gift Wrapped Christmas Movie Review

A Gift Wrapped Christmas Movie Review
Most people would say that a review of "A Gift Wrapped Christmas" could be summed up with one word.  I can hear the men in the house saying words like cheesy, sappy, predictable, mush, but the women would say, adorable, sweet, loving, and romantic.  While I doubt very many males would sit down and watch this movie, I do think women will enjoy it.  It provides a nice escape for 87 minutes.

Before I watched this movie, I was not familiar with any of the actors, but I thought I would give it a chance. I was seeking a Christmas movie that didn't require me to be heavily invested. Because I was physically tired and emotional exhausted, I simply wanted a reprieve from reality for just a bit.  That is exactly what I got with A Gift Wrapped Christmas!



A Gift Wrapped Christmas Movie Synopsis


 A GIFT WRAPPED CHRISTMASCheck PriceGwen is a personal shopper that has a unique talent.  She knows what style and colors would look best on her clients at first glance. Matching their personalities requires more individual interaction, but her vivacious personality endears her to them quickly.  

When she is assigned as Charlie Baker's personal shopper, he is not particularly happy with her clothing choices for him.  However, he learns to trust her opinions and gift selections for the people on his Christmas shopping list.  

Because Gwen researches the gift recipient, she is able to buy relevant gifts that are perfect for everyone.  When Charlie reaps the benefits from the gifts she has sent to others in his name, he begins to reconsider his initial opinion of Gwen and her advice. 

In addition to Gwen's ability to delight Charlie's associates with gifts, she also seems to have a knack for making his 8 year old son happy.  

Even though both Charlie and his son, Owen, enjoy having Gwen around, his girlfriend, Victoria, does not.  As a matter of fact, Victoria has her own plans for a special Christmas gift she expects Charlie to give to her.  She is happy to give Gwen a precise description of the engagement ring she should purchase for Charley to give to her.  However, Gwen is not too happy to take her instructions from Victoria.  

I'm sure you can imagine what happens next, but imagining is not as much fun as watching.  I recommend you find a hour this holiday season to gift yourself with the time to watch this delightful Christmas movie.  It will put a lovely smile back on your own face!  

A Gift Wrapped Christmas Movie Review



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A Gift Wrapped Christmas Movie Review by:
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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Christmas Jars - Movie Review

Watch Christmas Jars - Free Online Streaming
This time of year I am looking for inspirational movies in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas.  I love stories with heart, so when I came upon Christmas Jars, I knew I had found my kind of holiday movie.

Based on Jason F. Wright's New York Times bestselling novel, this film is for anyone who appreciates a focus on kindness, generosity, hope, forgiveness, compassion, and family.

As the movie begins, Hope Jensen, a 22-year-old aspiring writer is going through really hard times. Just when she is at her lowest, Hope discovers that someone has left a jar filled with coins on her doorstep.

The mystery of who committed this random act of kindness grips Hope.  She goes into full investigative journalist mode in her quest to uncover the perpetrator of this anonymous generosity.

Of course, there are twists and turns along the way, for that is the nature of life, and a good holiday movie.  Hope does find the beautiful individual who left her a gift much bigger than a sum of money.  Things become complicated, however, when she must choose between protecting the identity of her benefactor or achieving the long-awaited dream of publishing the feature that skyrockets her career.

This isn't a spoiler review, so I am being careful not to reveal too much.  Let's just say there will be elements of romance and finding what you have always needed.  In wrestling with her moral dilemma, and coming out on the other side, Hope experiences the power of compassion, forgiveness, and chosen family.

Though the movie is associated with a faith organization, there are no religious overtones.  It is simply a wholesome family film that can be enjoyed by all.  Originally released in November of 2019 as a special one-night theater event, Christmas Jars recently made its debut on television.  Both the original novel and the movie have spawned an ever-expanding kindness movement.  Millions of dollars in spare change has been collected and distributed to individuals in need.

In conjunction with seeing the movie (I've provided you with this link to watch it for free online), I encourage you to visit the Christmas Jars website to be moved by the personal stories of recipients of that kindness.  There is so much goodness that often goes unreported by the news networks.  I found that these true stories were a reminder that it is the small acts of love that change the world for the better—one person at a time.

As I was working on this review, and doing my own Hope-esque search for the backstory behind this movie, and the phenomenon of the Christmas Jars, I discovered something really wondrous.  The author of the book, Jason F. Wright, actually started the tradition of the Christmas jar with his wife and young children back in 2004.

When they were looking for a new family tradition that would make the holidays extra special, they decided to place all of their spare change in a jar throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Then, they would select someone—an individual or family—who needed some encouragement.  That first jar contained about $88.  On Christmas Eve, they crept up on the chosen family's porch, placed their jar of coins by the door, rang the doorbell, and then ran to hide behind some bushes.

Here's where it gets really good.  In 2005, when Wright's book was first released, and had not yet achieved NYT bestseller status, he found himself downsized at work and a bit financially strapped.  It was at that moment when someone anonymously left Wright and his family their very own Christmas jar.  The tradition had gone full circle.  How beautiful is that?

It may not seem like much, but as you will read from the testimonies, a Christmas jar can be miraculous to the one needing a miracle, or a reminder that they are seen and loved.  I am filling my own jar of coins even as we speak.  On Christmas Eve, I plan to leave someone a little bit of tender loving kindness.  For what are the holidays if not a time to be a messenger of hope and light?











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Monday, December 16, 2019

Movie Review: Charged - The Eduardo Garcia Story

"Being alive with a few handicaps is much better than being dead ... that's for damn sure" - Eduardo Garcia. 


A story of life and healing.


Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story is a movie that chronicles a man's recovery after an electrocution accident that should have left him dead in the back country of Montana. Not only did he survive, he thrives. 

As an adult, Eduardo returns to Montana. While on an outing in a glorious wilderness setting, he finds a bear carcass in a old steel tube. Curious, and with no warning that the old tube was an electrical station, he touched the bear and was electrocuted with 2,400 volts. When he regained consciousness, he somehow walked back down the trail and found help. He was life-flighted from Montana to Salt Lake City Burn Trauma ICU. 

It is mysterious to me that life is both fragile and strong beyond understanding. An accident can kill us in the blink of an eye. Or we can continue living through that which should have killed us. With no explanation to the how and why we survived. This is the case for Eduardo. It is beyond our ability to understand how he survived. 

The electrical shock blew off part of his side, head, and hand/fingers. It left him without a large portion of muscle. The film shows his treatment and wounds - including scenes that are not for the squeamish. I am not squeamish and I had to look away from the screen several times. The burnt skin and holes in his body looked like movie special effects but the damage filmed was real.

This documentary is not about a perfect hero. No. Eduardo has his flaws and difficulties in relationships. His ex/best friend/business partner, Jennifer, remains at his side during his recovery. Eduardo recognizes that caregivers are the forgotten victims of such trauma. He family members, including his previously absent father, are shown throughout the process of physical and emotional healing. 

Eduardo, a chef prior to the accident, resumes cooking when he returns home. He jokes that at least with the prosthetic arm he no longer has to worry about cutting his fingers while chopping. He resumes outdoor activities; running, hiking, surfing, and hunting. 

We all have pain and trauma - our individual crosses to bear. What makes us different is how we choose to live our lives while facing difficulties. Frankly, I'm not so good at it. I see others who seem to be optimistically facing much more hardship than I am, yet I continue to struggle to get out of bed many days. But I'm working at finding ways to stay upbeat and productive. Eduardo inspires me to keep working at it and to appreciate every single day. We are not promised tomorrow.

Eduardo Garcia reflects about his need to take a full appraisal of himself. His strength and tenacity is displayed from the moment he walks out of the wilderness to find help to the end of the movie while he's continuing to address relationships and living. But his realization of the need to take a good look at all aspects of himself I think is what requires the most bravery. No one wants to take an honest look at our own character flaws.

I saw this movie for free with my Amazon Prime account. It is also available on Blu-ray. If you are looking for a motivational movie to help you keep on, keeping on... this might be it. 

Related Link:

MontanaMex.com is Chef Garcia's website with original spice blends and sauces for sale. He also lists many recipes






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Friday, December 13, 2019

A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Review

A Charming Christmas Movie starring Melissa Joan Hart and Barry Watson

A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Review
Earlier this week, I found an absolutely adorable Christmas movie to watch that I had never seen before.  I selected it solely because Melissa Joan Hart was playing the main character, a baker in a small town.  I also have an affinity for Nutcrackers, so the movie seemed perfect for me.

I'll tell you in advance, the Amazon description of the movie is rather misleading.  It says she "awakes on Christmas day to find a handsome soldier who might be the Nutcracker Prince".  Not true!  She awakes to the Nutcracker Prince in her home several days before Christmas.  Getting the proper chronology of events is pretty important! After all, the Nutcracker Prince helps her rediscover the joy of Christmas  BEFORE Christmas day. 

Also, the word "nutty" in the title made me think the movie would be funny.  While there were definitely times of lighthearted laughter, I wouldn't call it funny. The "nutty" clearly refers to the Nutcracker and not humor.

Now that we have set the record straight, allow me to tell you about "A Very Nutty Christmas" and why I would recommend it for your holiday viewing.


A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Synopsis


 A Very Nutty ChristmasCheck PriceKate is overwhelmed by the work load and orders coming into her bakery during the Christmas season.  She needs the money, but she also requires help to complete her orders in time.  With thousands of cookies to bake in 6 days, Kate and her friends turned co-workers have their work cut out for them.

When Kate's boyfriend breaks up with her, her stress level intensifies.  Even though she truly needs a reprieve, cookies must be baked and delivered.  When Kate drops off multiple shipments of cookies at the post office, she accepts an invitation to walk home with her neighbor. Along the way, they chat, share Christmas woes, and stop off at several outdoor vendor tables set up in town. 

It is in one of those temporary Christmas booths that Kate meets Randolf Drosselmeyer who gifts Kate with a special Nutcracker.  The following morning Kate wakes to find a live Nutcracker laying on her living room floor.  She mistakenly believes he is a holiday "houseshare" guest who is renting her spare room for a few days and is in town for the "Nutcracker" ballet presentation.  Then the fun begins!

When he visits her bakery, she discovers his unusual talent for cracking walnuts.  An ability she can definitely use since her nut cracking machine chose this season to break.  She immediately puts him to work.  Over the next few days, they have a variety of activities they share that include caroling, ice skating, a Christmas ball, and the ballet.  Without realizing it, Kate is rediscovering the joy of Christmas while in the company of the real Nutcracker.  


Conclusion


This is truly an enchanting story, perhaps we would liken it to a fairy tale, that is a sheer delight to watch.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of the ending, but otherwise I found this to be a pretty good movie.
I recommend the movie for a reprieve from your own holiday workload and a reminder to stop and have fun this Christmas season.






If you are seeking a sweet, enjoyable movie this year for Christmas, be sure to watch A Very Nutty Christmas.


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A Very Nutty Christmas Movie Review by:
House of Sylvestermouse



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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Won't You Be My Neighbor - Movie Review

Watch on Amazon Prime Video
I might as well lead with my truth: I love people who dare to be way out there—the kind of out there that is called for when convention just doesn't cut it.  And if ever there was someone who defined outthereness, it was Mister Rogers.

Who else could have led the revolution of neighborliness that transformed the lives of millions of children?  It seems the least likely among us are always the ones who rise up to do the right thing that should have been obvious all along.  I thought I knew this unlikely rebel, but it turns out the man in the cardigan was so much more than any parody.

Watching Won't You Be My Neighbor, the top-grossing biographical documentary ever made, was more than enlightening.  Just as this biopic was one of the genuine surprises of 2018, one of Time Magazine's Top Ten Movies of the Year, the man, Fred Rogers, turned out to be the biggest surprise of all.

Yes, Mister Rogers was a puppeteer.  He loved children and treated them with great respect.  His manner was gentle and kind.  Empathy was one of his greatest gifts.  Young children adored him.  We knew all of that, right?  What more do we need to know?

Every television personality is born of context.  It is the context I wanted to know.  What made Mister Rogers the man that he became?  Who was Mister Rogers the child?  How is it that Fred Rogers was able to remember what it was like to be a child?  How did that knowledge—that essence—inform his interactions with both young children and the child in each of us grown-ups?

Learning that Mister Rogers had a rich solitary life as a child was one key piece of that context.  Hearing that he was bullied, called Fat Freddy by his peers, told me something vitally important about Mister Rogers' inner child.  Knowing he had been a sickly youth who dealt with frequent bouts of asthma added to the picture.

Then there were the epiphanies that resulted from the discovery that Rogers was an ordained minister.  Things were really beginning to make even more sense now.  And those 200+ songs he wrote for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood?  Surely his degree in Music Composition, and the fact that he began playing the piano at the age of five, had something to do with that.  Music was in his soul.

There is so much more, but I will leave it to you to engage with Won't You Be My Neighbor and to have your own epiphanies.  After all, isn't that what makes a movie memorable?

I very mindfully chose to spend time immersed in this documentary in preparation for going to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  They are two very different takes on Mister Rogers and the impacts of his humanity on others.  Both films spoke to me, but in entirely distinctive ways.

One sure common element of the two explorations into the persona of Mister Rogers is this:  You will feel Mister Rogers reach out to you.  He will meet you where you are.  He will appreciate the beauty of you.

Oh, how I wish Mister Rogers was my neighbor.  I wonder how I might become the kind of neighbor he would be to me.

It occurs to me that what we need most in the world right now is more of Mister Rogers' brand of neighborliness.  He, too, was living through tumultuous times when he created Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  The themes of his trailblazing show are more current than ever: embracing differences; treating others with kindness; loving others for exactly who they are; and not being afraid to talk about the things that matter.

I highly recommend both of these films and will be publishing a separate review for each.  Stay tuned for my upcoming reflections on A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  Coming soon to a blog near you.













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Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Art of Racing in the Rain - Movie Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain DVD
According to Enzo, lead philosopher in The Art of Racing in the Rain, some things are meant to be.  He just knew he was meant to be Denny's dog.  I now know I was meant to fall in love with this movie.  It is the best film I have seen in ages.

Just as there is a real art to racing in the rain (we'll get back to that in a moment), it takes a gifted touch to tell a story from a dog's point of view.  I have to admit I'd never before gotten into stories told by talking dogs.  It just wasn't my thing.

Why, then, was this movie different?  What made it so moving and beautiful?  Why was I crying from the opening scene on?

When it comes right down to it, I would have to say there was a true Zen quality to Enzo that spoke to my heart.  Though the film uses auto racing as a muse to supply life lessons, it is the dog who is in many ways, and at the same time, both the messenger and the message.  

As Denny and Enzo experience life's many joys and heartaches together, they are each what the other needs in the process of moving toward what they will become—who they will become.  In sharing their bond vicariously, I also found myself reflecting on where I am headed in my own life.

So, let's get back to the art of racing in the rain—the art of dealing with circumstances that others may find daunting.  Denny explains to Enzo that his secret to excelling in the racing conditions that cause others to crash is to anticipate and actually choose to force the skid that is necessary while traveling through dangerously wet curves.  By driving the skid, instead of letting it force his vehicle out of control, Denny is able to gain the edge he needs to achieve his dreams.

The movie is chock full of insights for living.  Somehow, when the wisdom is coming from a dog, it seems easier to receive.  Who could resist Enzo (and who would want to even if they could)?  You don't have to be a dog-lover to fall for this leading guy.  Though I cried plenty of tears for Enzo, I also felt an abundance of all of the good things dogs bring into our lives.  

Though movie critics seem to enjoy panning this film, it is clear that audiences love it.  I never go by what the critics think.  That is their job—to criticize.  

The actors, the messages, and especially the dogs... pure gold.  I highly recommend this film.  



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Friday, October 25, 2019

Love Surreal - Hallmark Movie Review

Love Surreal - Hallmark Channel Movie Review
Have you ever overlooked a great movie simply because the feature image does not appeal? That is exactly what happened to me with the Hallmark movie, "Love Surreal". I admit, the title didn't draw me in either! 

During a stressful day recently, I went in search of a nice movie to help calm my concerns for the day. After all, there was nothing I could do to change the outcome of the source of my stress. I simply had to wait. 

When I find myself having to "wait", I tend to imagine the worst. Therefore, it is best for me to refocus and stop the horrible images having a field day in my mind. I turned to the Hallmark channel to find my balance.  I needed a calm and peaceful movie, preferably with a happy ending.

Unfortunately, I had seen most to the movies currently available on the Hallmark channel.  I scanned the images several times and finally gave in to one that I intentionally dismissed previously.  I would watch "Love Surreal" and hope for the best.  

As it turns out, it was a pretty good movie.  A romantic story with a dose of comic relief.  I found myself laughing out loud several times during the movie and being equally delighted by the story line.  Love Surreal was exactly what I needed!


Love Surreal Movie Synopsis


Love Surreal Movie DVD
This is the featured image for the movie.
It didn't draw me in, which is a shame.  What do you think?
Being an only child, Abigale Morrison always felt alone when she was growing up.  Since her parents focused their attention on each other and traveling, instead of on Abby, she believed she was only an accessory in her parents marriage.  Not really a part of their lives.  Young Abby found company in her imaginary friend, Simon (Sy for short).  

Sy was understanding, compassionate and always available. When Abby loved drawing and when she drew pictures of herself, she included her friend, Sy as her companion.  She found contentment with her new ally. So much so, she maintained her friendship with her imaginary friend throughout her high school years and into her college life. Simon becomes a barrier between Abby and relationship pain.  It all works wonderfully well until Abby meets her roommates cousin, Quinn.

Quinn happens to be a fellow student in Abby's art appreciation class. He doesn't really appreciate art or the class, but he needs a good grade.  Which means, he needs help!

With a bit of coaxing by her roommate, Jessica, Abby becomes Quinn's tutor and subsequently his friend.  However, Abby makes it clear that she has a long time boyfriend, Simon.  But, that only works for so long.  


Conclusion


Yes, the basis of the story is rather unbelievable.  However if we suspend reality for a few hours, we can really enjoy this romantic comedy.  All of the actors are adorable and fun to watch as they fumble their way through life and make some difficult choices.

This truly is a delightful movie to watch! 

By the way, Love Surreal is also included in Amazon Prime Video.  I just happened to find it on my Hallmark Channel subscription.

   


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Love Surreal Hallmark Movie Reviewed by:
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Shadows in the Sun Movie Review

Finding Love And More In Italy

A friend of mine, Joan, recently suggested that I watch the movie Shadows in the Sun. I took her suggestion and would like to review it for you today. 

shadows in the sun
A street in Italy
image courtesy of pixabay.com
First of all, I'll share that I loved this movie! I have always wanted to go to Italy so the setting where the story takes place appealed to me a great deal. The countryside and the small village are charming and very much somewhere I would like to visit in real life someday.

There is a reason, Joan recommended that I watch this movie. The general theme in the plot involves a relationship that develops between two writers. One is famous while the other is aspiring to write his first book. Since I write novels, myself, of course it grabbed my attention.

Synopsis of the movie Shadows in the Sun

Jeremy Taylor is a successful agent in a London publishing firm. He is sent to Tuscany by his boss to do what others have failed to do; sign a reclusive author to a contract for a new book. Weldon Parish, the author, hasn't written a book in a few decades. His past work was a huge success but he gave up writing after his wife died. 

It is a struggle for Jeremy to even find Weldon in the beginning but he perseveres; eventually meeting the eccentric and crabby older man. Their first meeting doesn't go well as Weldon makes it known that he hates publishers, editors and agents. 

As the plot unfolds, Weldon and Jeremy become friends. Jeremy is a huge fan of the books that the former author wrote years ago and he is struggling with his own writing. Weldon wants no part of writing another book but he does start to teach Jeremy ways that he might improve his own style. 

Jeremy learns to let go of his rigid restraint as Weldon drags him into a few wild adventures in the small village and surrounding area. He is also falling head over heels in love with Weldon's daughter. The growing feelings between Jeremy and Isabella are sweet and touching while the antics by Weldon are humorous.

I'm really glad that Joan suggested this movie to me. It isn't a new movie, it was first released in theaters in 2005 and in DVD in 2006. Jeremy is played by the actor Joshua Jackson from Cursed and Dawson's Creek. The character of Weldon Parish is played by Harvey Keitel who has been in many movies and television shows. 

If you like a romantic comedy, I think you will enjoy this movie. It can be viewed for free if you are a Prime member. You can rent it to stream or you can buy the DVD. 


Shadows in the Sun
 (paid link)



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Monday, October 21, 2019

Reviewing Alaska Photoventures: Season 1

In Alaska Photoventures, Dan Redfield explores Alaska through photography. This is an unscripted photography series in which each episode takes place on a different location in breathtakingly beautiful Alaska via a different mode of transportation (i.e. kayaking, hiking, biking, etc). This series hits both my curiosity about Alaska and my enjoyment of beautiful photography.


Reviewing Alaska Photoventures

I initially clicked on Alaska Photoventures with the thought that it would be a tutorial on photography in Alaska. While there are some general tips, it truly was focused on Dan's adventuring in Alaska and displaying those interesting places via his drone videos and photography. 

The episodes of season one include:
  1. Knik Glacier ATV Adventure
  2. Jet Ski to Blackstone Glacier
  3. Downhill Mountain Biking in Hatcher Pass
  4. Exploring a WW2 Fort in Seward
  5. Fly Fishing on the Kenai River
  6. Super Cub to a Floating Ice Cave
  7. Nighttime Kayaking
  8. Snow Machine Jumping w/Arctic Cat Athletes

I enjoyed all of the episodes, especially the kayaking episodes but I think Downhill Mountain Biking in Hatcher Pass is my favorite. Perhaps because it also includes some photos of nearby Independence Mine. Perhaps because Hatcher Pass is amazingly beautiful. Perhaps because guest Matt Sanders has such a great attitude and big personality.  Probably a combination of all of the above.

When shooting the riders on the biking trail, Dan noted that the sky was very bright but the light was not getting to the trail in the pass. He described it as "super hot blown out sky and then a really dark foreground".  Dan notes that he had to adjust for this so that he could get both some details of the riders and in the sky. He shows a photo of the examples of the different settings. However, he does not give an actual ISO setting or any other numbers (sorry, I'm only a very amateur photographer so my vocabulary here is lacking). Some people who are looking at this series as a tutorial may be disappointed by the lack of the actual settings. 

There is a chance that I like this series more than other people might because Dan Redfield and friends put me in mind of my sons. Also, visiting Alaska is on my bucket list. But honestly, I think that a variety of people will enjoy this series; viewers who have been to Alaska and want to reminisce, viewers who have always wanted to visit this beautiful state but have not yet been able to, and photographers at many levels of ability. 

Related Links:

Amazon Prime. I watch this series on Amazon Prime. I LOVE Amazon Prime for many reasons. But one of those reasons is because I refuse to pay a cable bill. I want to invest my finances elsewhere. With my Roku television and with Amazon Prime, Youtube, and Sling, I have more things than I can watch on any given day. 




Dan Redfield's Official Page. Learn more about Dan Redfield here

The photographers of Review This! I am realizing how much the Review This Reviews writers are photo-adventurers. Mary Beth in particular takes us on her lighthouse photo-adventures and shares photography tips. 


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Monday, October 14, 2019

My Favorite Hallmark Couples Reviewed

Hallmark has become synonymous with the light romantic comedy with a family friendly happy ending - is that a bad thing?


Ah yes, I have seen quite a few Hallmark movies and through the years a few actors have hit upon a winning chemistry and their movies spurred sequels. Yes, Hallmark fans are aware the story lines are romantic, perhaps formulatic. Long lost loves reuniting is a frequent theme - and we are ok with that! Opposites attract and fall in love - and we are ok with that! The commoner and the royalty fall in love at the palace - and we are ok with that!

Enjoy a few of my favorite Hallmark couples and series; bookmark these movies for a nice two hours of happy entertainment.

Lacey Chabert And Brennan Elliott

The All My Heart series:

This duo have been dubbed the Hepburn And Tracy of The Hallmark Channel and their chemistry and comedic timing are evident. The All Of My Heart series began when both inherited a run down country inn; although neither knew each other prior to the inheritance.

Different worlds and different goals collide as they decide to renovate the home into a Bed And Breakfast.

Travel along their humorous journey of inn renovation when roommates turn into soulmates.

 All Of My Heart
All Of My Heart: Inn Love
All Of My Heart: The Wedding

and now teaming together on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel in Crossword Mysteries.

Jack Wagner And Josie Bissett


Seventeen years after Melrose Place and this duo has teamed up for The Wedding March Hallmark movies.

Mick (Jack Wagner) and Olivia (Josie Bissett) are college sweethearts who unexpectedly meet when Olivia's daughter books her wedding at Mick's charming country inn. Of course Olivia's daughter had no idea of their history and the inevitable sparks of unresolved sweethearts begin to fly.

Once again it is the chemistry that is difficult to ignore as the romance progresses. The quips and banter is witty and natural just as one would expect with long time friends and former co-workers.

The Wedding March Series
The Wedding March:
The Wedding March 2: Resorting To Love
The Wedding March 3: Here Comes The Bride
The Wedding March 4: Something Old, Something New

Rachael Leigh Cook And Brendan Penny

Enter the gorgeous scenery of wine country as this couple navigates competing family run wineries and learning to love their craft and each other along the way.

 The In the Vineyard series highlights the witty banter, competitive humor and likability of the couple.

Add to the mix the very different ways each approaches the business of the vineyard and each other which allows the chemistry to shine.

In The Vineyard Series
Autumn In The Vineyard
Valentine In The Vineyard
Summer In The Vineyard




There are of course more favorite Hallmark movies, click here to find my Top Ten Hallmark Christmas movies.




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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Shetland Series Reviewed

Shetland Islands Featured In Mystery Series

I recently began watching the Shetland Series through my Britbox subscription. If you aren't familiar with it; the television series is drama/mystery series of episodes taking place in the picturesque Shetland Islands in Scotland. 

shetland series
Mysteries taking place in the Shetland Islands of Scotland
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I'm coming in sort of late for watching this popular television series which first began filming in 2014. I'm not sure it was available to me until recently; if it was somehow I missed it. I'm enjoying it so much that I don't think it will take me long to catch up to Season 5.


What can you expect in the series?

The episodes revolve around a small police force with DI Jimmy Perez leading his fellow officers in their duties on the islands in Northern Scotland. Detective Inspector Perez is a single dad of a teenage step-daughter. Cassie's mother died several years ago and her step-dad has brought her back to the small village in the Scottish archipelago to expose her to her roots. Another interesting little twist to the overall plot is that Cassie's birth father also lives in the village; the two men have different views on how best to raise a teenage girl. Their attempt at co-parenting adds some depth to each episode in the crime drama.

Being able to solve the mystery of each story line while experiencing what life is like up in the sub-arctic environment of the Shetland Islands is extremely enjoyable. Each mystery spans two episodes. So far, the ones that I have watched are full of twists. About the time that I think I know who is responsible something comes up to dismiss that person as the culprit. 

Living in a land-locked area, I am fascinated with DI Perez having to take the ferry over to an area to investigate. The scenery is beautiful and the local people are interesting. I find myself daydreaming wishing that I could go there someday. Some of my ancestors lived in Scotland, although I don't think any lived quite that far north.


You will have to stream it


If you are in the US, your only option to watch Shetland is to stream it. I signed up for Britbox through my Amazon Prime membership. I used to be able to see a lot of the British television shows through another streaming service but they no longer carry them because the licensing changed. I finally justified signing up for another service because I truly enjoy the programs that are produced. 

Anyway, if you are looking for a good series to watch I highly recommend Shetland. You can get a trial period for the streaming service to try it out. If you don't care for it, you can always cancel.




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Friday, September 27, 2019

Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Reviewed

Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Reviewed
I recently discovered the awesome Hallmark movie series, Darrow & Darrow!  

It is a fabulous Hallmark series based on the legal cases handled by the law firm of Darrow & Darrow.  The investigations and clues in each of the cases are fun to watch while trying to guess the outcomes.  Add to that, the personal lives of each character, and you have a wonderfully captivating series. 

Adorable actors, a bit of romance, a touch of mystery surrounding the cases, a spattering of family conflicts, all combine to make a thoroughly enjoyable series of movies.

My tolerance for television is normally limited to a few hours a week. I don't like constant noise, although I do know a lot of people who enjoy the "company".  I'm not bashing watching TV.  Just explaining that it has to be something really good for me to leave it on long enough to see an entire movie.

When I find a series that is binge worthy, then it is definitely something to talk about, and review.


Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Synopsis


When you see the couple on the first DVD cover, you assume the title "Darrow & Darrow", is referring to a husband and wife team.  Or, perhaps, a brother and sister.  However, only one member of the couple shown on the first DVD cover, is a Darrow.  The man is Miles Strasberg, and the woman is Claire Darrow.  They are actually opposing attorneys.

 Darrow & DarrowCheck PriceDarrow  & Darrow is a law firm that was originally started by Claire's parents.  After her father died, Claire's mother, Joanna, took off to New York to make a name for herself with an influential and powerful law firm. Even though her mother was successful, Claire resents that decision. When her mother returns, requesting she be taken back into the family law firm, Claire is more than reluctant to embrace her again as a partner. They don't see eye to eye on most things, including the types of cases the law firm should be representing.

During the pilot movie, we get to know the main characters fairly well. Miles Strasberg is a mild-mannered widower and district attorney, who happens to be opposing council in the first case of the series.  Claire is an adorable widow that is raising her daughter alone.  As an attorney, she spends her days defending falsely accused individuals in court.  Well, at least people she believes are falsely accused. Claire's clear calling is to be a defense attorney for those who are less fortunate and can not afford a good lawyer, but deserve one.

In the first movie, Claire defends a doughnut maker who has been accused of robbing a jewelry store.  The masked intruder uses David Kellerin's bakery truck to smash the front window. Then jumps out to grab the jewelry in the display case.  When David is arrested, one of the stolen watches is found in his possession.  It seems like an open and shut case.  In spite of the evidence, David pleads innocent and Claire believes him. It requires a great deal of trust and detective work to defend Mr. Kellerin.

Her opposing counsel, Miles Strasberg, is attracted to Claire.  He respects her idealism and her ethics, as well as her desire to find the truth, not just represent someone wealthy who may be guilty.  Every month he asks her out to dinner.  Every month, he gets the same answer, until one day, to his great surprise, she says yes.  They do make a really cute couple!

Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie

My Conclusion


It is always exciting to find a new, enjoyable series to watch. When it is Hallmark movies, I know I am in for hours of excellent TV time. 

I really like Claire Darrow.  I enjoy watching her interactions with Miles, her co-workers, her daughter, and even her mother. The court cases, plots, and investigations are quite interesting too. It is fun to try to figure them out before they are revealed in the movies.  Therefore, I highly recommend this movie series to anyone who loves good, clean entertainment with a touch of mystery and romance!

 


Currently, "Darrow & Darrow" is available on Amazon with a subscription to the Hallmark Channel.  

Subscribe to the Hallmark Channel on Amazon.com
  


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Darrow & Darrow Hallmark Movie Series Reviewed by:
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