Rip in Time

Hall of Fame Worthy-It’s About Time!

I had very high hopes for this one, and I was not disappointed. It debuted on Hallmark Murders and Mysteries which serves as the home of more serious movies that don’t fit the usual Hallmark Romance mold. It was written by C. J. Cox who penned one of the best Hallmarks in recent years, Love Strikes Twice, as well as the Reese Witherspoon favorite Sweet Home Alabama and Rene Zellweger’s New in Town. It starred Niall Matter as Rip Van Winkle’s estranged son who travels from his time to ours and meets single mother Torrey DeVitto, and her son and father, the current owners of the old Van Winkle property.  Time Travel stories are always a safe bet and Niall Matter is a favorite of mine. Torrey DeVitto, not so much, but she was fine in this. Niall seems to have an air of melancholy behind his eyes, which was perfect for this role.

The fish out of water aspect was well done with enough shock and awe at the modern conveniences to make it believable and entertaining, but not so much as to distract from the story and relationship building.

When Torrey, armed with a rifle, and her son first discover Rip cowering in the barn, they flip on the light:

“Are You a Witch?!”

“She was, last Halloween.”

“Please do not shoot me, Witch!”

“Keep Calling me that. Give me a reason.”

“Oh. You are a spinster forced to wear pants to protect your family. I did not mean to offend you.”

“I am not a spinster, and I am offended.”

There really wasn’t much of a plot, other than the family not believing his story, trying to figure out who he is really, hiring him as a temporary farmhand rather than having him locked up, and their adventures in New York City to a hypnotist. It is there that he is taken to a doctor which results in a musket ball being removed from his leg. A musket ball that has not been manufactured since 1830 from an old (Revolutionary) war wound. Explain that one, doubters! Because of that musket ball, their last stop is with a quantum physicist (Ben Wilkinson) who posits that time travel is possible and Rip’s story might be true.

Most of the movie is relationship building with Rip helping Torrey’s bullied son, dealing with the jealous suspicions of his rival for Torrey’s affection, a police deputy, and of course the slow burn romance. Also, a festival. Of course.

The writing was full of authentic details, including bringing in Washington Irving’s classic tale and a lecture on farm machinery of the era. Glad to learn about flax breaks.  Not to mention Ben Wilkinson attempting to explain the science behind time travel to a stunned Torrey and a bewildered Rip.

The romantic conclusion was a little too pat, with many future challenges remaining unaddressed.  But the reach across time, by means of a backpack, provided a reconciliation between Rip and his misunderstood father that was touching and satisfying.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

May 24, 2022

Falling for a Dancer

Far from the Madding Crowd Meets Maeve Binchy. With a Hint of Pride and Prejudice.

I had never even heard of this almost 25-year-old British historical drama, one of my favorite genres. Someone, to whom I am most grateful, mentioned it in one of the Facebook Groups I belong to. I believe it was the British Period Drama group. Well, I looked into it, read the reviews, decided it was right up my alley, and bought it on DVD on impulse. I forgot to see if it was available on YouTube. (It is.)

Innocent, pretty Elizabeth is seduced by a traveling actor who leaves her pregnant in the Ireland of the 1930s. Since her socially respectable and well-off parents refuse to let her stay at home to have her baby (Oh the scandal), she is presented with two options. Either go to a Magdalene asylum or marry a 40-year-old farmer with 4 young daughters whose wife just died. She decides to go to the asylum but when she walks in and takes a look at the horrors she walks out. She has no other choice but to agree to the arranged marriage with a man old enough to be her father. At least she can keep her baby. It’s quite the culture shock.

What follows is Elizabeth’s life in the country with her new family. Her husband drinks and keeps her on a tight leash but was probably no better or worse than many men those days. Also, we are introduced to her husband’s cousin and neighbor, Mossy, whom he hates.  Mossy, a decent, respected, (and very attractive) man falls in love with Elizabeth at first sight. Elizabeth is not similarly affected.

 Elizabeth has her baby and we pick up the story 6 years hence and we see that Elizabeth has had a child with her husband. She has become a hardworking and loving and loved mother to the girls, except one, who is hostile and never accepts her. We also see that she is enduring a life of boring drudgery but seems to have largely come to terms with it. And always we have attractive Mossy lurking in the background.

One day, she and her wise older friend Tilly go to Dublin with a group for a treat. There she coincidentally meets the cad who is the father of her 6-year-old child and has words with him. She is spotted by one of the party who tells her husband what they think they saw. He is a jealous drunk, and in his rage, he rapes her almost in front of the children. And things continue to disintegrate. (spoilers)

The Drama comes thick and fast with bad behavior on the part of our heroine, more abuse, a scary accident, a tragic accident, homicide, and lots of remorse on the part of several people, a courtroom trial, and another young teen in terrible trouble. And  Mossy is always there in the background ready to help and support. In addition to the bad stuff, we also have a joyful recovery, reconciliation, and hope for change and growth. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when(and this is a big spoiler)

Elizabeth goes to the local priest about her pregnant daughter.

“ … If she’s in trouble, I…”

“No, she’s not in trouble. She’s pregnant.”

“Well if you’re looking for my help…”

“ No, I’m not, Canon. I knew you would want to help, and I just want to reassure you that we can manage by ourselves. I just wanted to be the first to let you know.”

The almost 3 1/2 hour 4 part series ends most satisfyingly and happily. Though we know Elizabeth will not have an easy life, it is a life she freely chooses. There will be struggles but there will be happiness and fulfillment as well. For me, it measured up to the glowing reviews.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

May 13, 2022

Rose Hill

Good Concept but no Depth-should Have been a Two or Three Parter.

I tried to read the book years ago, but I just couldn’t get into it. Probably because I was too used to reading her medieval romances. My point is that my rating has nothing to do with what a disappointment the movie was compared to the book. The bottom line is that they tried to do too much in two hours. The story was just too big. It needed four hours minimum. Too many characters, too many plot points, too much time elapsing, etc. It ended up being too choppy and just skimmed the surface leaving the viewer uninvested in the characters or the happenings. At least 4 or 5 of the short scenes could have been made into movies by themselves. this was a hallmark hall of Fame production as opposed to just a Hallmark movie of recent years. Fun Fact: this was Vera Farmiga’s first role.

One thing for sure: I might give Julie Garwoods original novel, For the Roses, another try!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

March 11, 2021

Hamilton

Grateful for the Captions, the Pause Button, and Wikipedia

I started watching this out of curiosity and to say I have seen it, being the cultural touchstone that it is. At first, I was a little detached, not liking the songs too much, and thinking I would probably just skip through to end in a minute. I couldn’t stop watching and it really sucked me in. I have to say, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it at all, live in the theater. I benefited greatly from the captions and the ability to put it on pause to consult Wikipedia from time to time. The lyrics were so clever and really told the story. I ended up very moved and almost cheering at the end. Of course, now that I am familiar with the story, I would love to see it live and would enjoy it immensely. But I would strongly recommend this for a first time viewing. I will definitely re-watch. And probably again and again.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 4, 2020

Echoes

Weird Ending

Based on a Maeve Binchy novel and set in 1950s Ireland, I enjoyed this miniseries very much until the ending. The actors were great and I liked the story and the romance. But the ending was strange. They kind of didn’t give us closure. It was not a sad or tragic end, it just left us hanging a bit. We are pretty sure our heroine will make the good decision eventually, but the writers didn’t see fit to show us that. And there didn’t seem to be a good reason for it. Without the weird ending, I would have given this a 7.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

April 20, 2020

The Scapegoat

Much Better than the Depressing Book

Excellent story using Daphne Du Maurier’s novel as inspiration. Brilliantly re-formulated to use QEII’s coronation as a metaphor for how we are at the mercy of fate and chance. And how we should make the best of it. Although the initial idea of doppelgangers changing places was Du Maurier’s, this adaptation makes a more satisfying and intriguing plot. Loved it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

April 13, 2020

A Tale of Two Cities

Not Perfect, but Very Good and Enjoyable

Marvelous adaptation of the Dickens adventure, which I discovered quite by accident. This was a Hallmark Hall of Fame production and was produced in Great Britain. Alice Krige is perfect as the angelic Lucy Manette, filmed one year before her breakthrough role in Chariots of Fire. She somehow manages to make the young Lucy sweet and innocent without making her insipid. I felt Chris Sarandon was rather mis-cast. His features are too strong, dark and heavy for the role of a French Aristocrat masquerading as an gentlemanly but lowly English tutor. He fares a little better as Sidney Carton, but conversely he seems too “strong” for the role of dissolute but weak Sidney. He just does not convey that he could be so chastely yet so completely infatuated with the fainting prone Lucy. He rather muffs one of the greatest last words/hurrahs ever in English literature. Miss Pross, Lucy’s loyal nursemaid who proves her mettle at the last is played by the great Flora Robeson and it is her next to last role. The rest of the cast does well, particularly Peter Cushing as Dr. Manette and Pre-Hercule Poirot David Suchet. Well scripted and adequately directed except for Sidney’s last final scene.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

April 4, 2020

The Littlest Horse Thieves

A Heartbreaker!

Although the movie’s conclusion is upbeat and and hopeful regarding the miners and the main families and all but one of the horses, the fate of that most beloved horse (who is blind) is heartbreaking and poignant. When one of the boys father comments about the sadness, the boy reminds him that up above in the fields he knew he was blind, but in the lightless mine pit he was a hero who knew the way. OMG OMG OMG. The performance of Chloe Franks was a standout, the most affecting of a strong cast. Alistair Sims performance made the character of the Lord who owned the mine profoundly creepy with his giggling. What was he thinking? All in all a top notch Disney drama with more darkness than expected, but which made it even more memorable. But I could never watch it a second time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

June 26, 2019

The Count of Monte Cristo

Beaucoups de Libertes!

I enjoyed this version of one of my most favorite books, hence my rating. I loved Bertuccio, who even added some unexpected humor to the proceedings. Another character that was given way more screen time than in the book was Camille who was gorgeous and had a quirky personality. Actually this character was not even in the book. Odd that they shortchanged one of the most important and exciting characters, the Abbe Faria, but had the time to insert a character that was non-existent in the classic novel. Same with Haydee, who was the Count’s fascinating mistress. At least she was included, although her most powerful scene in the courtroom was cut out.

Unfortunately, film makers are incapable of ending this story without Edmund Dantes getting back with Mercedes, instead of using the poignant yet fairly happy ending that Alexandre Dumas wrote. Also, the actor playing Ferdnand Montego was horribly miscast, looking like a clown instead of the proud hateful husband of Mercedes. Thus his downfall is not as effective as it should have been.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

June 18, 2019

Swashbuckler

Pederast!

One of the most unintentionally funny lines ever! It’s never good to hurl an insult that the intended target might need to look up in the dictionary. This is a fun pirate movie with a stellar cast. Critics hate it and it goes on my list as one of my guilty pleasures. It is a very long list, I admit. Major crush developed on Robert Shaw, even when I was a college student when I first saw this movie almost 40 years ago. I remember I bought another ticket the next day to see it again. It’s a shame he died so young. At the time, A pirate movie was way off the zeitgeist of the time, and as a girl who was raised on swashbucklers on film and on the page, I was totally hooked.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

March 27, 2019