Hallmark Review: On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (2015, dir. Harvey Crossland)


Well, I was gonna review a Late Night Cable movie next, but unfortunately I watched Serena The Sexplorer (2013). It was horrible! Same writer and director as the also terrible Monster Of The Nudist Colony. *Shudders*

So instead I watched the next Hallmark movie on my DVR. The movie opens and we meet our two leads in college. This is Mitch (Robin Dunne).


This is Maggie (Brooke Nevin).


This lady reminds me of a online friend I met about 6 years ago who also used to work as a small town reporter like this character will. By the way, she runs a great movie blog over at Comet Over Hollywood. One of the most wonderful people I know online and a far better writer than I will ever be. But back to the movie.

She needs to get home for Christmas and he agrees to give her a ride home so she doesn’t miss it despite the storm. They get stuck in a traffic jam along the way so they can spend some time together to setup the plot for later in the movie. One little problem here. They are clearly just sitting in a car that isn’t moving which isn’t uncommon in movies, but when they say they are going to get off the highway it immediately cuts to them getting out of a stationary car. The movie really could have benefitted by a shot of the car going onto an offramp before that shot. Well, they make snow angels, build a snowman, and ride a toboggan. Finally, he gets her home and before you can say When Harry Met Sally (1989), it cuts to 10 years later.

We are now in a small town called Harrison. And by Harrison they mean Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Also, they go a little northeast to Toronto.


By the way, it’s nice to know that Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery also took place in Harrison.


On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (2015)

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (2015)

Maggie is now a small town newspaper reporter and subscriptions are down so the head of the paper informs them the paper will be joining the Wrightsbridge family of publications. Those damn kids and their Internet that no newspaper makes heavy use of and never makes all their reporters have social media accounts. They now need to be at their best. Maggie turns on the radio…


and either she is thinking her life might turn into Ron Howard’s The Paper (1994) and she too will have to ask why the bullet came out of the wall or she recognizes the name Mitch O’Grady.


Mitch has moved to the small town of Harrison from L.A. to be a disc jockey. He is a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. He doesn’t want to play any Christmas music because he thinks it’s overplayed on the radio during the season. Tell me about it! And much to my surprise the film will treat him respectfully. We will kindly be taken through a series of events that culminate with us finding out why Christmas is a painful time for him now. Oh, and notice the sweet three monitor setup he has there complete with the monitor on the far right that I believe is using Audacity. Not sure what the other monitors are showing, but it doesn’t matter cause all you need to remember is there are three of them and the monitor on the right has nothing underneath it.

Oh, and kudos to the production crew for a well faked website.


Now Maggie is having lunch when of course Mitch comes in and joins her to catch up. Unfortunately, the local flirt shows up to hit on Mitch. You can tell how important she is because I am not even going to include a screenshot of her. Maggie goes home and gets a brilliant idea. The title of the movie mentions the 12 days of Christmas so she’s going to send 12 gifts to Mitch as a Secret Santa. They are inspired by the things they did together on their way to her home 10 years prior.

Back at work a guy from the parent company shows up and I thought he was going to be like the “evil” reporter from The Note, but nope. He’s barely in the movie and very reasonable. He’s just there to drop the line that people like personal interest stories so that she will let the Secret Santa thing go further than she probably should.

Meanwhile, back at Mitch’s office. Somebody has moved his far left monitor to the far right and put a book under it.


The first gift comes and it’s the eyes he and Maggie used 10 years prior to make a snowman. And this is Rita (Geri Hall).


She will be your Beth from NewsRadio for the movie, but more useful and less annoying. Oh, and his monitor’s are back the way he likes them.


Now Mitch decides to talk about the Secret Santa thing on the radio, turns out KCNQ is a “bronze-level” advertiser with the paper, and the presents are now on the radio’s website. There’s your setup. She keeps sending him stuff, there are red herrings about who could be the Secret Santa, and they spend time together because she needs to cover the story for the paper. One more thing, I forgot that each present comes with instructions of what he is to do with the present. For example, make a snowman to use the eyes on. Of course Maggie is more than willing to help out.

He eventually figures it out and does the third act misunderstanding bit before things turnaround for the best. While Maggie pouts, we get a cameo we all knew was coming.


That’s right! A cameo appearance by the can of Folgers coffee from The Nine Of Christmas.


The Nine Lives Of Christmas (2014)

Okay, nobody expected it, but there it is.

Seeing as I did like this one, I won’t spoil why he is a bit of Christmas grumpus. It’s a standard Hallmark cliche, but I won’t say. This was reasonably well acted, it didn’t have its characters act in weird unexplainable ways, none of that Christmas Land crap, and it knew it was a small scale story and made it fit that format.

However, there is one thing I want to know. I mean aside from why he suddenly only has two monitors near the end of the movie with the book back under the far right one. I thought people who break into places to rearrange furniture only existed in the movie A Chorus Line (1985). Must be the same person who did it in 12 Gifts Of Christmas.


What I want to know is where was actor Don Allison in this movie? He is credited as playing Mitch’s father, but I didn’t see him. Don Allison is the actor from Christmas Magic that in his few minutes of screen time gave a real heartfelt performance with barely two words. If anyone knows, then please tell me because I didn’t see him.

This isn’t an amazing Hallmark movie, but it’s a nice little story that one could certainly sit through the next time it comes around on Hallmark. I do recommend it.

Shakespeare in Space: FORBIDDEN PLANET (MGM 1956)

cracked rear viewer


Well, not quite. FORBIDDEN PLANET is very loosely based on The Bard’s THE TEMPEST, drawing on some of its themes and characters, and putting them in an outer space setting. But the film is much more than that. It’s full of screen firsts, and one of the most influential science fiction movies ever. While watching I was more than reminded of STAR TREK, and wasn’t surprised while doing research that Gene Roddenberry cited it as “one of his inspirations”.


Today no one thinks twice about movies being set completely in outer space, but FORBIDDEN PLANET did it first. The art and set direction by MGM vets Cedric Gibbons and Arthur Lonergan are wonders to behold, shot in beautiful CinemaScope and Eastmancolor by George J. Folsey. The cinematographer began in silent pictures, and carved a niche with big, splashy musicals like MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE ZIEGFELD FOLLIES, TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL…

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Playing Catch Up: Welcome to New York (dir by Abel Ferrara)


Gerard Depardieu is naked a lot in Welcome to New York and I know you’re probably being snarky and sarcastically thinking, “Well, then I’m definitely going to track down this film…” but actually, the frequent display of Depardieu’s body gets to the heart of what makes his performance so memorable.  Playing an extremely unsympathetic role, Depardieu doesn’t hide the character’s depravity from the audience.  He reveals every inch of the character, from his flabby body to his empty soul.  It takes courage to bring such an unsympathetic character to life and talent to keep the audience watching and fortunately, Depardieu has both of those.

Welcome to New York opens with Depardieu (as himself) talking to a group of reporters and explaining why he’s decided to play a character based on Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Abel Ferrara’s upcoming movie.  It’s an interesting way to start, both because it features Depardieu’s scornful opinion of politicians and because it leaves no doubt that, even if Depardieu’s character has been renamed Devereaux, Welcome to New York is directly based on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

(Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of course, was the wealthy French socialist who many thought was going to be the next President of France until he was arrested after raping a hotel maid in New York City.  As a wealthy and well-connected white man, he was acquitted of raping the maid, who neither wealthy, well-connected, or white.   Throughout the trial, the usual collection of elitists complained about how Americans just didn’t understand French culture but, ultimately, Strauss-Kahn’s political career was ended by the scandal.)

Welcome to New York closely follows the facts of the Strauss-Kahn case.  Wealthy banker and politician Devereaux is in New York on business.  When he meets his daughter and her boyfriend, he spends the entire lunch asking them about their sex life.  When he returns to his hotel, he and his business associates hire a group of prostitutes and have one of the most depressing orgies ever captured on film.

I have to admit that during these first part of the film, I was often tempted to turn off Welcome To New York.  No, it wasn’t that the film was too explicit.  Instead, my problem was that Devereaux was such a dull character.  Devereaux has a lot of sex during the first third of the film but, at no point, does he seem to enjoy it.  Instead, he is detached from everything happening around him and it doesn’t exactly make for compelling viewing.

But, as the film played out, I realized that we weren’t supposed to find Devereaux in any way compelling.  Instead, Devereaux is portrayed as a hollow and empty shell.  For him, sex is all about entitlement and power.  After his is arrested for raping the hotel maid, Devereaux appears to be more surprised than anything else.  Rather than feeling regret at being caught or even fear that he might be convicted, Devereaux seems to be shocked that a man of his wealth would be held responsible for his actions.

After Devereaux is arrested, the film’s pace picks up a bit.  Devereaux’s wife, Simone (Jacqueline Bisset), flies to New York and takes over her husband’s defense.  It’s not that Simone feels that Devereaux has been wrongly accused.  In fact, Simone really doesn’t seem to care much for her husband in general.  However, Simone is determined that Devereaux is going to be the next president of France and she certainly has no intention of allowing some American criminal case to stand in his way.  Bisset gives a chilling performance as the almost fanatically driven Simone.

Soon, Devereaux is under house arrest and staying at a rented house.  (For these scenes, Welcome to New York filmed in the same house that Strauss-Kahn stayed at during his trial.)  It’s while locked away in the house that Devereaux finally starts to realize that he has gone too far.  It’s in the house that Devereaux remembers the man he was once was and is forced to confront the man that he has become.

Welcome to New York is not always an easy film to watch but, thanks to Depardieu and Bisset’s ferocious performances, it’s a film that will reward patient viewers.