I’m never going to get through all the movies, so today I’m going to review two of them. These movies are polar opposite. While one is heart-wrenching, the other light-hearted.
The first movie, “A Christmas Visitor” involves a family who lost their son in the first Gulf War. For the following ten years they (mainly the mother, played by Meridith Baxter) refuse to celebrate Christmas.
When the movie starts, the family finds out their twenty-two year old daughter has a lump in her breast and may have breast cancer. This adds further depression to the holiday season.
The father (William Devane) decides it’s time to put Christmas back into their home. As he is driving his truck down the road, he picks up a soldier down-on-his-luck soldier. He invites him into their home for the holiday.
The small town residents rally around Devane as he buys Christmas decorations, amazing him with their generosity of heart and pocket.
During the movie, several veterans from the town reflect on their time in the military. The young man restores the family’s faith in themselves and the holiday.
I found this movie heavy-hearted, yet uplifting as the family is restored. Of course, I cried a few tears at the end.
Alice Chapman’s fiancé, Will Mitchum, asks her to meet his parents over the holidays. Due to his overloaded schedule as a realtor in New York, she goes without him. (Remember the typical boyfriend I talked about in an earlier post? Well, here he was.) Alice owns an antique shop in a building Will wants to sell. While she is gone, he even goes as far as finding a buyer. She has no intention of selling.
At her destination, she finds her luggage was lost by the airlines, and her cell phone doesn’t work, causing problems as Will tries to reach her telling her he will be delayed. At the airport, however, she has a chance encounter with her future brother-in-law, Matt Mitchum. She hitches a ride to the family home with him.
During the course of the next few days, she falls in love with the family. The members obviously love each other and the home is filled with warmth. She has some trouble connecting the family with her staid, rich fiancé. She is also confused as her feelings for Matt rise to the surface.
This movie has an unexpected twist and a satisfying ending.
Matchmaker Santa – Rank: 4 out of 5
When I finally started watching Hallmark’s Christmas movies, I expected the typical “I need someone to act as my girlfriend/boyfriend for the holidays” type movies. You know, where they have to pretend they are a couple to ward off family pressure to find that special someone. The couple then miraculously falls in love. I was pleasantly surprised how few of the movies I watched followed this trend.
What I did find, and I can’t believe people really do this, is how many of the movies had huge Christmas Eve parties at their homes. Not for family, but for employees, business contacts, friends, etc. What happened to families spending that special night together?
Another thing I noticed in these movies is the person the man character is with at the beginning is usually rich, overworked, overbearing, or doesn’t realize what the main character wants. It takes someone else to make him/her realize who they really need.
Even though I enjoyed “Matchmaker Santa,” the first one I watched, it used several of the above tactics.
The movies starts out with a little girl watching her very-much-in-love parents kissing. She writes a letter to Santa asking that someday she meet her special someone and fall in love like her parents.
Flash forward many years. Melanie owns a bakery. Her boyfriend, Dean, is moving up in the business world and is often too busy for Melanie. He consistently sends his employee/friend, Justin, to fill in for him. Dean finally asks Melanie to meet his mother. She thinks he’s going to propose, but he really is going to throw a huge Christmas Eve party at the family lake house to drum up business.
On her flight to Dean’s hometown, she meets “Santa” on the plane. Dean, of course, was too busy to go with her and Justin, who was sent ahead to help organize the party, has to pick her up at the airport. Now this part is rather typical of Christmas movies – Santa knows, of course, who Melanie should really be with and sets up obstacles for Dean, Melanie, Justin and Dean’s old high school sweetheart who shows up at the lake house.
I enjoyed this movie and it made me hopeful for the other movies I recorded. I won’t give away the ending, just in case it shows up on Hallmark again.
I chose Sommersby because it was a period romance I’d watched years and years ago and has haunted me ever since. The romance, scenery,and plot line drew me in. Filmed in 1993 it is well worth watching and as the blurb on the back of the DVD case says: “…and the outcome makes one thing sure: you’ll remember Sommersby.”
Jack Sommersby (played by Richard Grere) has returned from the Civil War after being gone from his plantation for six years. Before he left, he was a gambler, drinker and abuser to his wife, Laurel (Jodie Foster). Upon his return he is caring and concerned for his neighbors, hard-working and, most of all, a loving husband and father. As the movie progresses, the question of whether he is truly Jack Sommersby arises by a jealous man who wanted to marry Laurel before Jack returned. Jack is also vilified because he is supportive of blacks owning what they pay for and is visited by sheet-wearing, torch-bearing, cross-burning men who have beat one of Jack’s black friends.
Laurel has begun to believe her husband is not who he says he is. When he is accused of murder, to keep him from being hung, Laurel tries to convince people he is not Jack Sommersby. In order to keep everything he worked for his family and neighbors, Jack must convince the judge and jury he is truly who he says he is – even though it means a noose around his neck. During the trial Jack takes over as his own lawyer and questions Laurel about why she believes he is someone else. She finally yells, “Because I never loved him the way I love you!” (My tears start about this time.)
When I watched this movie the first time, the ending came as a complete shock to me. This time, even though I knew what was going to happen, I still couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. The powerful emotions of these two characters would make even the most hardened person weep.
I would want to watch this one again and simply pay more attention to the rich scenery, costumes and props, but I’m afraid I’d be drawn into the plot and characters and would need to watch it again – which may not be a bad thing.
I had two movies in mind to preview for my first blogs. Since both filmed a while ago, I had trouble locating them. Finally a friend, who happens to be a librarian, suggested I try the library system. Success. The first one, “Somewhere in Time,” arrived before the weekend. The other one, “Somersby,” has yet to show up.
Within the first few minutes of “Somewhere in Time,” I realized I’d already watched it. Filmed in 1978, the movie is derived from the book, “Bid Time Return” by Richard Matheson. He also wrote the screenplay. I haven’t read the book, so can only guess at how close the movie remains true to the written word, but since both were done by the same author, one would think it would be close. I’m tempted to find the book and read it.
It was easy to be drawn into the movie, which starts with a party, where an elderly woman approaches a young man, places a pocketwatch in his hand and says “Come back to me.” Sucked me in. As the movie progresses, Richard Collier (played by Christopher Reeve) finds himself at the Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island) where he sees a picture of an actress (played by Jane Seymour). He is so drawn to her, he does research and learns she is the woman who gave him the watch. He is compelled to go back to 1912 to find her. Through Reeves acting, you feel his pain and desire to meet her.
Both Seymour and Reeve, along with Christopher Plummer, give exquisite portrayals of the main characters, allowing the viewer to buy into time travel and true love. I don’t want to give away the ending. The scenery and clothing were excellent. The costume designer was nominated for an Oscar.
After the movie was over, I did something I don’t usually do I played the Bonus Materials watching Feature Commentary. Done in 2000 when Reeve was still alive, the section talked about the filming of the movie with comments from Matheson, Reeve, Seymour, director Jeannot Szwarc. Production crew and actors playing minor roles also participated. Especially interesting were explanations on how certain scenes were created.
All-in-all, I would recommend this movie – even if the ending, if written in a romance novel, would not qualify it as a romance.