Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: Christmas Lost and Found (dir by Michael Scott)

It’s become a bit of a cliché that all Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies take place in a small town and feature someone returning to visit relatives for the holidays.  Christmas Lost and Found, however, breaks with tradition.  While it is true that film begins with Whitney Kennison (Tiya Sircar) returning to her former hometown so she can spend the Christmas with her grandmother (Diane Ladd), the hometown in this case is Chicago.

(Of course, in all fairness, I guess we should keep in mind that Whitney left Chicago for New York City, where she found employment as an event planner.  And, from what I’ve seen, it does appear that a lot of people in New York consider almost every other city in America to be a small town by comparison.  That being said, I live in Dallas and I spend my holidays in Fort Worth so, to me, both New York and Chicago are huge metropolises.

Anyway, where was I?)

Whitney is an extremely successful in event planner in New York City but her success has come at a cost  Whitney is so driven to succeed and such a workaholic that she’s running the risk of forgetting about the things that make life worthwhile, things like love and family.

Fortunately, Grandma’s here with her box of ornaments!

The ornaments are several years old, each one representing a different Christmas that Whitney spent with her grandmother.  (For instance, a snow flake ornament represents that Christmas when they got snowed in.)  Grandma gives Whitney the box of ornaments and tells her to keep them safe until it’s time to decorate the tree.  However, the very next morning, Whitney is cleaning the house and the ornaments accidentally get thrown out!

Terrified that she’s lost the ornaments and ruined Christmas foever, Whitney puts off telling Grandma what happened.  However, then the notes start to show up, rhyming riddles that inform Whitney that she’s going to have to go on a scavenger hunt across Chicago to get the ornaments back.  Now, this may sound like the set up for a holiday-themed horror movie but have no fear!  The first riddle says that it might sound like a stunt but promises that it will be fun.

Working with the neighbor, Brian (Edward Ruttle), Whitney goes searching for both the ornaments and, in a larger sense, Christmas itself.  With each ornament that she finds, she’s reminded of yet another Christmas.  The unseen letter writer continues to give Whitney tasks, making her write a letter to Santa Claus at one point.  While Whitney searches for the ornaments, she also tries to figure out the identity of the letter writer.  And, of course, she also has to finish designing a department store display window because …. well, why not?

How you react to this movie will probably depend on how much tolerance you have for Lifetime holiday movies in general.  This is an unabashedly sentimental film and it takes place in a world that’s almost devoid of cynicism.  You have to be willing to accept that someone was somehow able to put together an extremely elaborate scavenger hunt and have it play out without a hitch.  Is the film implausible?  Kinda.  And if that matters to you, you’re probably not into Lifetime Christmas movies.

As for me, I always get sentimental around this time of year so I enjoyed Christmas Lost and Found.  Edward Ruttle was likable as the neighbor and he and Tiya Sircar had enough chemistry to make them pleasant to watch on screen.  And, of course, you’ve got the great Diane Ladd playing Whitney’s grandmother.  It’s hard to think of anyone who could have done a better job with the role.

If you’re not naturally inclined to like these type of movies, Christmas Lost and Found probably won’t convert you.  But if you enjoy sentimental holiday entertainment, Christmas Lost and Found delivers exactly what it promises.

Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: Hometown Christmas (dir by Emily Moss Wilson)

If there’s any lesson to be learned from Lifetime (and, for that matter, Hallmark) Christmas movies, it’s that no one should leave their hometown.

Seriously, everything’s always better in your hometown.  You might find success in the big city.  You might own a nice car.  You might find a huge apartment.  You might even have a well-paying job.  But you’ll never have what you had when you’re living in a small town with good, honest people, some of whom were related to you.

Admittedly, it’s easy for snarky critics like me to poke fun at this idea and the way that it shows up in every single Lifetime Christmas film.  But you know what?  These films have a point.  Every Christmas, my sisters and I get together and we pretty much stay together until the new year.  That’s our Christmas tradition and it’s one that I look forward to every year.  I always know that no matter what’s going on in our own individual lives, we’re all going to be together with the holidays and everything is going to be right with the world.

That’s certainly what I was thinking about as I watched Hometown Christmas, a Lifetime film in which Noelle (Beverly Mitchell) returns to her hometown in Louisiana for the holidays.  There’s not a lot of conflict to be found in Hometown Christmas, but that’s okay.  This is a film in which the nicest people in the world gather in the nicest town in the world and proceed to have the nicest holiday in the world and that’s why the film works.  Save the horror for Halloween.  Save the conflict for …. well, whenever the next election is.  This is a Christmas movie and Christmas movies should make you feel good and happy.

When your name is Noelle, it’s perhaps to be expected that your life is going to revolve around Christmas.  That certainly seems to be the case with the character that Beverly Mitchell plays in this film. One of the nice things about Hometown Christmas is that it never suggests that Noelle had to return to her hometown because she was miserable outside of it.  Instead, Noelle returns because she wants to return.  To be specific, Noelle has returned to stage the live Nativity, a town tradition that was started by her late mother.  Of course, as soon as Noelle returns home, she runs into her old high school boyfriend, Nick (Stephen Colletti).  Nick was going to be a star baseball player but injuries put an end to that.  Things are a little bit awkward between Nick and Noelle at first but it’s not long before they’re working on the Nativity and Nick is proving that he’s grown up a lot since he and Noelle last saw each other.  It’s a sweet relationship.

(Actually, there’s more than just one love story that unfolds over the course of Hometown Christmas.  While Nick and Noelle are getting reacquainted, Noelle’s father (Brian McNamara) is falling for Nick’s mother (Melissa Gilbert).  Meanwhile, Noelle’s brother is newly engaged.)

It was a pleasant Christmas love story and I enjoyed it.  Hometown Christmas is full of the holiday spirit, as any hometown Christmas should be.

Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: Christmas Around The Corner (dir by Megan Follows)

Claire (Alexandra Breckenridge) is a venture capitalist who lives in the big city but dreams of visiting the same small Vermont town that her mother once loved.

Andrew (Jamie Spilchuk) is the latest in a long line of blacksmiths and he also owns an independent bookstore in the same small Vermont town where all of his ancestors have lived.



Okay, not really.  Christmas Around The Corner is a Lifetime Christmas movie, which means that there’s not a single crime to be committed.  For that matter, there’s none of the other things that we typically expect from a Lifetime movie.  There’s no seductive nannies.  There’s no duplicitous best friends.  No adultery.  No scheming.  No runaways.  Nope, that doesn’t happen on Lifetime around Christmas time.

Instead, the movie opens with Claire having some sort of major career setback.  I’m not really sure what the exact details were but it had something to do with the stock market and a downward pointing arrow and a party that none of her investors came to.  It was financial stuff, which I’ve never really been able to follow.  What’s important is that Claire decided to get out of New York and spend the holidays in that small town in Vermont.

(Yes, yes, I know.  Vermont.  I hate Vermont but I won’t go into that right now.)

Anyway, Andrew runs a bookstore that also rents out rooms or something like that.  Apparently, when you’re staying at the bookstore, you’re also expected to work in the bookstore.  I have such mixed feelings about that.  On the one hand, I would love to live over a bookstore.  And I probably wouldn’t mind working in a bookstore, as long as I was the owner and could basically spend all day bossing people around and having them rearrange the books.  I mean, that seems like it would be a lot of fun.  However, I just can’t imagine going on a vacation so I could work.

When Claire arrives in the town, she’s really looking forward to the annual Christmas festival but …. uh oh!  The festival has been cancelled!  In fact, due to tough times and bad weather, it would appear that no one in town has the Christmas spirit!  No one but Claire!

So, can Claire get the town to rediscover its love of Christmas?

Even more importantly, can she use her marketing background to show Andrew a better way to run his bookstore?  Of course, she can!  Unfortunately, it may all be for naught because Andrew is thinking about selling the bookstore!

Along the way, Andrew and Claire fall in love.  Can you blame them?  I mean, Andrews’s a blacksmith!  Soot is sexy.

As you might expect from a Lifetime Christmas film, Christmas Around The Corner is more than a little predictable but, at the same time, it’s a sweet movie.  The town looks beautiful and Alexandra Breckenridge and Jamie Spilchuk have a likable chemistry as the two leads.  As anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime Christmas movie knows, these films always have an older voice of wisdom who helps to bring everyone together.  This time, that voice of wisdom was provided by the veteran actress Jane Alexander and she did a good job with her role.  It’s a likable movie, which is really the main thing that can ever be asked of a movie like this.  It’ll make you feel happy and Christmas-y.

Because, after all, Christmas is right around the corner!

Christmas-tery: Deanna Durbin in LADY ON A TRAIN (Universal 1945)

cracked rear viewer

Deanna Durbin was the best Christmas present Universal Studios ever received. The 15-year-old singing sensation made her feature debut in 1936’s THREE SMART GIRLS, released five days before Christmas. The smash hit helped save cash-strapped Universal from bankruptcy, and Miss Durbin signed a long-term contract, appearing in a string of musical successes: ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL, THAT CERTAIN AGE, SPRING PARADE, NICE GIRL?, IT STARTED WITH EVE. One of her best is the Christmas themed comedy/murder mystery LADY ON A TRAIN, one of only two films directed by  Charles David, who married the star in 1950, the couple then retiring to his native France.

Our story begins with young Nikki Collins travelling by train from San Francisco to New York City to visit her Aunt Martha, reading a murder mystery to pass the time. Nikki witnesses a real-life murder committed through a window, and after ditching her wealthy…

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“Fashion Forecasts” Is Forward Thinking Writ — And Drawn — Large

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

What will the future hold? What changes, subtle or otherwise, will it usher in? How will it alter the essential character of our lives? And, perhaps most importantly — what will it look like?

Yumi Sakugawa has thought about these questions thoroughly, deeply. She’s considered how the past, how one’s heritage and cultural traditions, will not only survive into, but actively inform, both the aesthetics and the thinking of the world that’s coming (gratuitous OMAC reference there), and she’s laid out her vision in the pages of Fashion Forecasts, a kind of visual treatise recently released as part of Retrofit/Big Planet’s consistently-fascinating joint publication venture. It may not fit the traditional definition of what a “comic book,” or even a “graphic novel” actually is, but expanding conventional thinking about what comics can do or be has always been part and parcel of the Retrofit/Big Planet ethos, and…

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Music Video of the Day: Celtic Carol by Lindsey Stirling (2011, dir by ????)

Let’s start this holiday weekend off with another music video from Lindsey Stirling!

In Celtic Carol, Lindsey is an elf who has been locked into Santa’s workshop.  Apparently, Santa is a really demanding boss, which I always kind of suspected.  I mean, if you’ve ever seen Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, you now what I’m talking about.

Anyway, Elf Lindsey manages to get in the Christmas spirit despite having to work.