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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekend movies

Watched 2 Hallmark movies on video from the library this weekend, both quite unsatisfying. Both sounded good, but neither lived up to my expectations.

Fallen Angel. Seemed solid, with Gary Sinese as a man who returns to his hometown after many years away and reconnects with a woman (Joely Richardson) from a local family with a dark secret. Very Harlequin romance, but it ended up being so syrupy sweet (with a long lost father and a blind adopted daughter), it was too much for me. Solid performances, pretty scenery (snow that was probably fake) and good kissing could not redeem this.

A Painted House. Even worse. Based on a book by John Grisham, with a great cast including Scott Glenn, Robert Sean Leonard and Melinda Dillon. Some good moments, but mostly a dull and sentimentalized remembrance of a childhood in rural Arkansas (based on Grisham's actual childhood of course, and quite obviously, with lots of shots of the wide-eyed boy experiencing life). The family picks cotton, goes into town on Saturday night, and sits on the porch making pithy observations about the stereo-typically portrayed hillbillies and Mexicans that work their farm. A migrant worker staying on their land kills a man in a fight and the boy lies about it to his parents and the local sheriff. Later, another migrant kills the first migrant, which the boy again happens to witness. He eventually tells his grandfather about this second murder, who encourages him to keep it a secret between the two of them, as no good could come from telling. While all this is going on, the mentally deficit brother of yet another migrant worker paints the family's house for no discernible reason. And the family discovers that the (inexplicably gorgeous) daughter of the poor sharechoppers down the road has had a baby secretly fathered by their beloved older son who is off in Korea. Oh yeah, and Our Hero sneaks a peek at a grown woman bathing in the creek; later she tells him she knows he was watching, but she doesn't mind, that's just what boys do. At the end, the cotton crop is destroyed by a flood and the family moves to Chicago so the father can get a job in the Buick plant (secured by a cousin whose "Yankee" wife they intentionally humiliate when they visit from "up north"). Not sure what the moral of this story was supposed to be, but I was pretty disgusted by the end of it. The consistently bad behavior of the Chandler family is portrayed with a rosy hue that makes it seem all very salt-of-the-earth and downhome. It certainly wasn't condemned in any way. I found it repulsive and not at all entertaining. I understand that it's supposed to be a coming-of-age story, where "reality" intrudes on the child's idyllic life, but the way it was presented was quite off-putting to me.

I'm certainly done with Hallmark movies. I have fond memories of them from my chidlhood, but they've either gotten much worse or I've completely outgrown them.



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