The Note (2007)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Note (2007) from Faith & Values Media
Not Rated. Drama, Christmas, Romance
My rating: ★★★1/2

Description (from the film case): Following a tragic plane crash, Peyton MacGruder [Genie Francis], a newspaper columnist, discovers a note written by one of the passengers on board during their final moments. She sets on a quest to find the person the note was intended for. As she searches to heal the heart of a stranger, she discovers the life that’s changed most profoundly is her own. Based on a novel by best-selling author Angela Hunt…

My thoughts: Yes, I’ve enjoyed books by Angela Hunt. No, I’ve not read the novel this movie is based on. Yes, I enjoyed the movie anyway.

This is some heartwarming stuff. I guess in the few years between the time I first saw it on television and the time I got the DVD, I forgot this is a Christmas flick. So I unintentionally treated myself to a little extra Christmas the second time around.

I’ve said it before: as a writer, I dig stories about writers. Now, there is some slowness to the pacing and a kind of flatness to some aspects. But the movie surely gets better as it goes along.

This one has now been added to my annual holiday movie queue. And although the following two movies aren’t Christmas ones (The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love and The Note III: Notes from the Heart Healer), they’re both good as well and are now also in my queue.

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Marry Me for Christmas (2013)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Marry Me for Christmas (2013) from Swirl Films
Rated G. Comedy, Romance, Christmas, African American Actors

My thoughts: It’s time to go home for the holidays, and Marci’s (Malinda Williams) family will have all their usual, nosy questions about her love life. So what’s this successful–and single–businesswoman supposed to do? Well, there’s always the possibility of finally bringing a fiancé home! Even if he happens to be a fake one.

Now this was a fun one to watch. I liked the story better than I liked some of the acting, though even that acting isn’t too bad, and I came to appreciate Marci more as the movie went on.

I can do my share of good ol’ Christmas corny, though some parts here move a bit past corny into contrived. But what I enjoyed most was that, even if some of the story’s developments are too “all of a sudden” in an underdeveloped kind of way, the movie has twists I didn’t expect in what could have easily been a more predictable holiday flick.

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An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) from Automatic Pictures
Rated PG. Drama, Period Film, Family Film, Christmas

1/2

Description (from the film case): Based on a short story by the acclaimed author of Little Women comes a holiday story of family and forgiveness. Recently widowed Mary Bassett (Helene Joy) and her three children have hit difficult times on their farm. Things are so bad this year that they can’t even afford a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. Suddenly, Mary’s wealthy and estranged mother Isabella (Jacqueline Bisset) comes to visit. Although she finds a kindred spirit in Mary’s eldest daughter, Tilly (Tatiana Maslany), Mary resents her mother’s attempts to help them out of their financial difficulties…

My thoughts: Okay, so even though the description doesn’t make it clear, the story here is led by young Tilly, and I rather like this heroine. She’s got some fire but doesn’t wildly burn around, she longs for more but isn’t a total brat about it, and she has some growing up to do but isn’t immature. Plus, she’s a writer, which I always admire.

And, yes, I’m taking the liberty of tagging this as a Christmas film, since Thanksgiving is the lead-up to the holiday of all holidays. The movie originally aired on the Hallmark Channel, and it certainly has the quintessentially “Hallmark” kind of wholesomeness, warmth, and delightfulness wrapped up in an hour and a half.

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Bedford Falls: The Story Continues by Anne Morse

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Bedford Falls: The Story Continues by Anne Morse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Sixty-two years after the Christmas that forever changed George Bailey, George’s grandson, a wealthy real estate tycoon in New York, has veered far away from what his grandfather taught him. The town a number of the Baileys hail from, Bedford Falls, seems to have lost its way as well. It’s about time for another visit from Clarence, a guardian angel who now has his wings, in Bedford Falls: The Story Continues, a novel by author Anne Morse.

I’ll admit I don’t usually read classic work continuations written by people other than the original authors. It just doesn’t feel authoritative enough to me, like, “Who’s to say that’s what did or should have happened next? I could make up my own continuation too, and it may or may not match what was in the original author’s heart.”

However, the affirmation of an actual cast member from It’s a Wonderful Life is what moved me to step outside of my usual boundary and read this book. And, my goodness gracious—am I ever glad I did.

I think it can be easy to romanticize the 1946 film and to regard it as just some whimsical Christmas fairy tale with a happy ending while forgetting or missing the real breadth and depth of the story. One thing I most respect about this novel is that it isn’t a fairy tale, merely romanticizing the Baileys and Bedford Falls, lacking the film’s depth. Morse is clearly someone with a true grasp on the significance of the motion picture, and the complexity and spirit of the poignant continuation she’s woven together does the film justice.

Sure, the book has its minor weaknesses, sometimes in sentence structure, and while the typographical errors aren’t numerous, a few of them are a little jarring. There are also times when the characters’ reminiscing can feel somewhat unrealistic. (For instance, I don’t think a grown Zuzu Bailey would remember a long-ago speech of her father’s word for word, particularly when she wasn’t born at the time and only later heard the news secondhand from Uncle Billy, whom I wouldn’t trust to have relayed the speech verbatim. Dear Uncle Billy likely would have summarized or exaggerated, added his own embellishments for the parts he couldn’t remember, or what have you.)

Nevertheless, this is a moving and excellent piece of storytelling that packs in much for fans of Frank Capra’s masterpiece to appreciate. It hit me in so many places, and by the Epilogue, I was sobbing so hard I had to set the book aside for a good five or ten minutes before I could finish it. This novel is going right up on my list of all-time favorite books.