The Art of Us

Van Gogh to Hell in a Handbasket

The Art of Us had some “odd for Hallmark” elements in it. Some of which were not unwelcome.

First off, yes, Taylor Cole as Dr. Harper Higgins lies about her Dog Walker/Talented Artist love interest being Vincent Van Gogh’s great-grandson in order to advance her career. So that genuinely crossed the line as far as morals and ethics are concerned. It put other people’s careers and reputations on the line. Hallmark heroines usually do have some foibles and faults to grow past, but being unethical and dishonest for monetary gain is usually not one of them. Especially to people she counts as her colleagues and friends. Secondly, she and her artist actually suffer consequences for their bad behavior. She loses her own career and reputation and he has his show canceled and dismantled. The third aspect that was unusual was that the ex-boyfriend is actually a good honest (and very attractive) guy and the only one smart and educated enough to show any skepticism regarding Tom Becker’s pedigree. Taylor broke up with him because, as an art critic, he told the truth about her art (too technical, no heart or passion) in his review. He was saddened when that truth-telling caused her to quit painting instead of learning and trying again. So yes, Taylor is weak character-wise. the fourth thing is that we forego the 15-20 minutes-to-go in the movie conflict that busts the couple up temporarily. There is a crisis but they face it together.

There were also some big questions to get past in order to buy into the main plot. It is not credible at all that a University art department and respected art dealer would buy into Taylor’s lie about Van Gogh. It is well known that Van Gogh had no children. That such a blockbuster revelation would just be accepted at face value with no investigation is simply ridiculous. That a talented artist would be revealed to be Van Gogh’s great-grandson would be headline news worldwide in the arts community.

I had thought I saw this years ago but I hadn’t. When I saw that it starred Steve Lund, I had to check it out because he is a favorite of mine. He is very engaging, you (I, anyway) really buy into whatever emotion he is trying to convey. There is genuine feeling beyond his words. And when the script calls for it, he can be very funny. He elevates whatever he is in. Taylor Cole? Meh. I can take or leave her. Sometimes she’s pretty good, but in this one she is just average. Maybe her character was to blame though. Everything ends on an upbeat note. It is shown that Tom is on the way to becoming a successful artist, and Harper is happily going back to her own painting with a whole new attitude now that her university career is in shambles.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

February 12, 2022

Making Spirits Bright

Nicely Done

This was a very sweet story with a lot of charm. Even though this was pretty low-key, it kept my interest throughout. Taylor Cole and Carlo Marks were excellent together. I’ve not always liked Taylor Cole, but she really came through as a small-town family-oriented girl, which is not a part one would usually associate with her. I don’t think I’ve seen a Christmas movie based on the business of decorating houses for Christmas. So although the Romeo and Juliet outline was pretty standard stuff, the background it is set against is unusual.

Grace and Tony are the offspring of two fathers who have been feuding for years. They were once close friends and partners in a Christmas decorating business but their differing work styles drove them apart. Tony’s father is a perfectionist which has caused him to miss deadlines and not get the job done. He puts art above money. Grace’s father is into efficiency and making a profit. They both enter the town’s Christmas decorating contest as competitors. However, in an effort to defeat a mutual enemy who emphasizes technology over heart and tradition,  they end up trying to work together.

There are some genuinely touching moments in this and romance is sweet, thanks to the chemistry between the two leads. The Romeo and Juliet romance is appealing as they go from uncertainty to friendship and then love. I loved the relationship of the two mothers, who have remained secret friends throughout their husbands’ feud. Also adding an interesting dynamic was the fraught relationship between Grace and her partner in their home-staging business.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 1, 2021

Falling for You

Taylor is Actually Quite Likable in This

I was never a fan of Taylor Cole, but in this one, playing against type, I quite liked her. For one thing, and I realize this sounds very shallow, her hair has gone out and got itself a makeover. It used to be thin and lank to the point it was quite distracting. At least the style she chose made it seem that way. In this one, it has some body and natural flow and her beauty is undiminished by her “crowning glory.” Tyler Hynes has always been a favorite and the two have quite a bit of chemistry.

Unfortunately the bake sale plot is a bore. An extra star for having the heroine move out of the small town she loves to pursue her career dream. What a concept usually foreign to the usual Hallmark ethos!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

September 21, 2020

One Winter Proposal

As Cute as a Button!

I don’t remember too much about the first one in this little (eventually, I’m sure) trilogy, but I see I gave it a 5 out of a 10. So this one must be a lot better. I am not usually a Taylor Cole fan, but she was perfectly pleasant in this one. Her relationship with her boyfriend was free of stupid misunderstandings and silly juvenile behavior. I liked their sub-plots of her new mystery book and his fledgling snowboard company.

But, hold the phone, the star of this show was Rukiya Bernard as Megan, her best friend! What a cutie! She was so charming and charismatic I couldn’t take my eyes off her! Not a false note in her acting. And Dewshane Williams as her love interest was a worthy match. I liked the chemistry between the 2 couples with each other and the other two in the foursome. I will certainly tune in to the inevitable One Winter Wedding.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

February 5, 2019

Christmas in Homestead

Dull.

As in no spark or bright spots. This one is an amalgam of Hallmark’s Fish out of Water, and Country good, city bad. It had nothing to lift it up above the plethora of Christmas movies out there and make it worth your time to watch it. Sometimes you find little pearls to give a Hallmark movie watch-ability, or, very very rarely, re-watch-ability. An appealing hero or heroine, or actor or actress with a way with a line or comic timing; Good dialogue, some chemistry between the principals, an evil villain, a truly hard conflict to overcome, A plot that engages and keeps you watching in even a tiny bit of suspense (You know what’s going to happen, but how will they get there?), A heart-tugging moment or some funny situations.

Taylor Cole is undeniably beautiful, but I didn’t fine her appealing. I guess I like the girl next door type that one can relate to. Even beautiful actresses can achieve that quality with good writing or good acting. The character was just boring. The hero was played by an actor that might have some potential* (Michael Rady), but he was also just commonplace, and at times acted very churlish and stupid. The daughter is a talent. She was good.

The premise wasn’t bad: A movie star coming to a small town to play a movie star coming to a small town. But it just collapsed from lazy writing. They did themselves no favors by riffing on one of the most stellar romantic comedies ever made: Notting Hill. Inviting comparison (by the hero coming out the door to a storm of paparazzi and the daughter posing and mugging for the cameras)was not wise. **3 stars out of 10**

December 18, 2016

*Michael Rady has since become a favorite