A Haunting in Venice – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film A Haunting in Venice.

Story

I haven’t read Hallowe’en Party and can’t speak to how faithful this is to the original plot.

That being said, this is the most fast paced of the three Branagh Poirot movies and definitely the darkest. The story is a fascinating mystery with a lot of ghostly dressing. The pace is slowed and story hurt by the humdrum attempts at integrating horror clichés into it.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There is a massive disparity in quality in acting. Branagh and Yeoh are absolutely fabulous and the kid is amazing. The rest of the cast is passable.

The characters are believable and act accordingly.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There’s a near poetry to the banter and dialogue of the characters. Yeoh’s confrontation with Branagh is spectacular.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was filmed on location and it adds a level of authenticity. The sets are great. Despite the jump scares and a few odd angles, the cinematography is a wonderful mix of the mystery and horror styles.

Score: 1

Fun

I’m both proud and a little disappointed that I guessed the killer, method, and blackmailer way before I should have. It was, however, a fun movie to experience.

It being on the scarier side means I watched it on my own.

Score: 1

Overall

An excellent movie with a fun Halloween twist. The acting is a little uneven and the mystery watered down, but a worthy successor to the other two films and a fun watch. Branagh and Yeoh are fabulous as usual.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Under Wraps 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Under Wraps 2.

Story

They frame the story with a wedding and that structures it slightly differently than the first one. Makes it fresh and keeps the story going. The plot is good and flows really well. The parallels between the mummies and the kids is a little overdone and the messaging a little juvenile, even for a kids movie.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Often times a sequel will manufacture drama by changing a character. They skirted the line with this one, but made it believable. More importantly they solved their issues with good communication.

The kids were fun and the mummies did a great job.

I loved the dads; they were sweethearts.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Lots of clever pieces of dialogue and some really fun moments.

Often felt younger then it should, considering the age of the characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Typical Disney TV low budget effects, but the film makers leaned into the classic monster movie practical effects and that made it feel more grounded than bad CGI would have. The camera work was excellent.

The music was okay, if forgettable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a fun movie with lots of exciting moments. Even though it felt a little young, everyone loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun movie and a great sequel. It combines everything that was great about the first one and improves on it.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Dear Dragon and Pegasus – Sickness

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

The past few weeks you’ve both been disturbinglydown with the sickness“. Dragon brought home a cold and it wasn’t long before Pegasus caught it; he always wants to do what his big sister is doing.

Just when we thought the cold was under control, Dragon went to school… for a couple days before calling home with a sore tummy. She vomited twice on the way home.

So we went to CHEO (which Dragon kept calling CHEREO for some reason.) Mum was with her for the first part of the ten hour wait and I was for the rest. It was exhausting and because of her non-standard symptoms, they missed that she had an ear infection. Dragon, sadly, missed Halloween because of it.

Two days later, her ear hurt and we went to the after-hours clinic. (Mum adds: MUCH faster than the hospital, but we had thought she had broken a rib or something and would need x-rays!) They figured out the ear infection and sent her home. The antibiotics seem to be helping, but it’s slow and the upset stomach, dizziness, and nausea are still there.

As previously mentioned, Pegasus insists on doing everything his older sister does and got himself an ear infection too. So off to the clinic on Sunday for him. Antibiotics are started and hopefully he’ll feel better soon.

The two of you spent a long time not getting sick because of COVID isolation and I forgot how hard it is watching you be sick. I feel completely helpless and I hate it. I’m the parent, I should have all the answers right?

I hope you feel better soon.

So far, Mum and I are still okay. Tired and ragged, but okay.

I love you my little Dragon and Pegasus,

Papa

Under Wraps (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Under Wraps.

Story

This is a cute Halloween story. There are a lot of errors in Egyptian history and I’m not sure what the point of the 3-day pass for the movie was. It seemed odd and without any reason. That being said, I liked the jab at grave robbing.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Although the characters were awesome and I really appreciated the diversity, I found there was a lack of depth. They just felt very YA written by someone who’s only seen kids in movies.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There were a lot of great wisecracks and gags. I really liked the play on words with the word Mummy.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Excellent makeup and good acting combined with some genre savvy camera angles make this a fun movie to watch. It uses the practical effects well and limits the cheesy digital effects.

The music was okay, but I would have liked to hear more of Thriii’s “Calling all Monsters”.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a nice throwback to the kids monster movies of my youth. I liked the nod to Zombies (the Disney channel movie series) with the costumes in the background, and the awesome dancing. The whole family liked it and now the kids are pretending to be mummies and zombies, so yay?

If I have one gripe… Honey doesn’t work that way. Also it felt a little disjointed at times and I had a hard time not checking my phone,, which isn’t a good thing.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A fun if shallow Halloween movie. It has some great scenes and fun moments.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Hocus Pocus 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Hocus Pocus 2.

Story

It felt like the first closed the book on the Sanderson Sisters, but the sequel uses a clever linguistic loophole (the best kind) to bring them back. The structure of the movie is close enough to the original to have callbacks, but different to be unique.

I’m really impressed with the tighness of the story. There are elements that seem like they were meant as one of gags, but then come back later in a great way.

Score: 1

Characters

The sisters, and Billy, are 29 years older and it show in little things like the timbre of their voices and the way they move. That being said, they are completely beleivable.

The new characters are very much like the first set of kids, except instead of the awkward romance, we have the story of friends who’ve drifted apart. Much less secondhand awkward and more fun.

I also enjoyed the clueless boyfriend who didn’t realize he was a bully.

I liked the evolution of Book from a malevolent force to a loving friend.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was quipy and a lot of fun. I liked the self awareness of the film.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were beautiful. They were sparing with the CGI and what little they used was well done. (Looking at you Book)

The music was fantastic. I loved the musical numbers and the other music was great. I’m buying the soundtrack if I can.

Score: 1

Fun

This had all the fun of the first with no angst, awkwardness, or child death.

It was fun and spooky in all the right ways. The entire family loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

A new Halloween tradition is here! With all the charm and fun of the first with more songs, more magic, and less awkwardness. In most ways, it’s just as good if not better than the original.

Final Score: 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Halloweentown – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film Halloweentown.

Story

This is a timeless Halloween fable about a kid who loves spooky things and turns out it was because they were spooky too. Every kid who loves Halloween and all the stuff around it wishes they were Marnie.

The villain reveal surprised me the first time I saw it as an innocent twenty something and overall the movie flows really well. There is a little awkwardness in the love interest, but overall it’s a solid offering.

Score: 1

Characters

I love all the kids. They each work so well in their roles as underappreciated kid, sceptic, and spooky girl.

The grandmother is fantastic and pulls the film together extremely well.

The villain is hammy and over the top in the best way.

The mother, however, is quite possibly the most frustrating character possible. I can’t stand her.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

“Someone’s coming.” is up there with “They’re here.” for creepy lines and I love it. Overall, the dialogue is solid, if a little young. Not quite as memorable as other Disney TV movies.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects are cheap but endearing; the camera work is excellent though.

The music is okay, but could be better.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie is a family favourite. My son and daughter love it.

I didn’t see it until almost a decade after it came out and I’m sad I didn’t have the chance to experience it as a young teen. It’s an easy movie to watch and inspires wonder.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a fabulous movie for all those spooky kids that wish they were magical. The acting is solid and the story surprising. Definitely worthy of it’s place as a yearly family tradition. Kids will love it and parents will too, if they have any love of magic.

Final Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Special Edition of How I Taught my Dragon: Stop-Motion Movie 2021

We offered to let our Dragon (now 5 years old, in Sr Kindergarten) have a day off from virtual school this week if she wanted to create a stop-motion movie.

She, of course, jumped at the chance. I think it was her favourite activity from last year.

So we did the entire project on Monday (October 25, 2021), from writing the script, storyboarding, making the props, recording the dialogue, sound effects, and soundtrack, taking the pictures, and stitching everything together to make a complete stop-motion movie. (Thank you to Éric for all the technical help!)

I’m so very proud of her. She worked very hard.

Hocus Pocus – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.

Story

It’s harder for me to judge this movie’s story than normal because I’ve watched it yearly for 25+ years. There are a lot of witch clichés thrown around in this movie but it also works as a satire of the concept.

I was impressed that there were no offensive moments and it was as much fun as it always was.

Score: 1 (Admittedly not objective)

Character

The witches were wonderfully evil, narcissistic, and funny.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Dani (one of my first crushes). Max is an idiot who doesn’t think before he speaks or acts but has lots of heart. The brother-sister relationship makes him likeable beyond the typical white boy with a crush. Allison is a little bland but could have been worse.

The movie is greatly lacking in any sort of representation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I think I need a list of Bette Midler’s insults in this for my next internet argument. Maggoty Malfeasance and Thundering Oafs being some of my favourite. The dialogue is over the top and a little awkward but delivered perfectly. I’ve often danced around singing Amok! Amok! Amok!

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie more than anything defined what I thought of as what Halloween should look like. The beautiful leaves and lively decorations. Similar to home but we had more snow and less leaves by that point. I envied their lack of snowsuits.

The music is sometimes epic, sometimes silly, and always right on point.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie makes me nostalgic and makes me smile. Watching my daughter’s face as she whispered, “He’s going to light the candle.” and, “No don’t light the candle.” made my night. It was great to see how into it she was.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a classic and is both scary and funny. It’s not a perfect movie but it is a lot of fun. The sections with the kids would have made for a fun movie but the witches send it over the top in every way. I’ve watched this dozens of times and I’ll happily watch it every Halloween.

Final Score: 4.5

Hocus Pocus, Massachusetts!

We recently introduced the classic Disney movie Hocus Pocus to our 3yo Dragon. She loved it. Obviously.

But it got me thinking…why haven’t I written a post about visiting the sets of Hocus Pocus yet?

Most of the movie was set on a sound stage (kinda hard to rig a flying witch in the real world, I guess!) but the outdoor, daytime sets were in Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Image of Max’s house in Hocus Pocus. Image from boston.com

With the 25th Anniversary of Hocus Pocus last year, the cities saw an up-tick of Halloween tourists, happy to see the outsides (and some insides) of buildings that made up part of their favourite Halloween movie.

You can too!

References

boston.com
salem.org

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Uley Long Barrow

Happy Halloween!

In honour of this spooky holiday, I would like to introduce you to the Uley Long Barrow.

Barrow means a mound placed over a grave/tomb, in case you were wondering.

Image of the Uley Long Barrow in Uley, Gloucestershire, England. From www.altasobscura.com

Numerous skeletons have been discovered within it over the years, and there is evidence of disturbances over the centuries. But considering the barrow is thought to be at least five THOUSAND (not hundred) years old, I guess that makes sense.

Uley is located in England, near Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds, just north of Bristol and Bath and south-west of Stratford-on-Avon.

And guess what? You can go right inside it! (Be prepared to be squished and get very dirty!)

Read more here!


Are you interested in travelling to South-Western England? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca