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blanche-2

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nice series, maybe the nicest of all the Mystery shows, 26 June 2016
6/10

"Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery" is part of a series of movies starring Allison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison. If you're a soap fan you're very familiar with both of them.

People tend to look down on soap actors. They forget that as actors, they have to be able to cry on cue and express real emotion, memorize as many as 60 pages of dialogue in a day, and one other thing as well -- they have to make their unbelievable story lines believable. And they succeed.

In Eden Lake, Minnesota, it's a week before Christmas, and Hannah Swensen (Sweeney) who owns Hannah's Cookie Jar is very busy indeed filling orders. At this point she has two men after her, Mike (Mathison) a police officer, and Norman, a dentist. Her mother Delores (Barbara Niven) likes Norman. Her sister Andrea (Lisa Durupt) likes Mike.

That's one feature of Hannah's life; the other is that she keeps finding dead bodies. This time it's one of her own customers, Larry Jaeger, who co-owned the Crazy Elf Christmas tree lot with Courtney Miller (Farah Fath, another soap actress), his fiancée.

Mike hates that Hannah becomes involved in these cases; she gets in the way of his own investigation.

The major suspect is a friend of Hannah's mother, Nancy Schmidt (Ona Grauer), better known as "Dr. Love" on the radio. She is still married to Larry, but she hasn't seen him in years, since he stole all her money and disappeared. Larry was collecting money from the Christmas tree store but his fiancé was doing all the work.

It turns out that Larry has a few enemies, so Dr. Love is just one. And Hannah may be in danger as she gets too close to the truth.

I guessed I missed something during this - I mean, how big is this town that Dr. Love never ran into Larry? He's obviously in town because he was killed there.

Plot hole or no plot hole, this episode has a nice atmosphere, and the acting is fine. Kristoffer Tabori does a good job of directing as he keeps the action moving. The romance is nice, too, with Sweeney and Mathison having good chemistry.

As an aside, Cameron Mathison is one of the sweetest people in the world. If you tell him your friend so and so met him in Chicago, he'll say, right - she came with her mother, right? He's amazing that way. It's always nice to see him.

Hallmark mystery featuring two soap stars, 25 June 2016
6/10

Allison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison star in "Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe" on Hallmark channel. In this mystery series, Sweeney plays Hannah Swenson, who owns a bakery, The Cookie Jar, in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and she has a penchant for solving mysteries.

This time, it's the town sheriff who has been murdered, and his deputy, Hannah's brother-in-law, is a suspect.

Hannah gets to work trying to clear her brother-in-law, but as she does so, she finds herself in danger.

All My Children's Cameron Mathison plays Mike, a police officer, who is crazy about Hannah. He has some competition, but it looks like he's winning.

This was slow, but okay, with decent acting. The leads are pleasant. One thing I noticed was that not everyone had a Hollywood figure - I guess it was the bakery influence. It's a good influence.

For trivia buffs, the director is Kristoffer Tabori, a former actor who is the son of Viveca Lindfors and Don Siegel. Viveca had a stage and film career, and Don Siegel? He directed the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

a slightly calmer Aurora, 24 June 2016
6/10

I must say I enjoyed this Aurora Teagarden mystery better than what I had seen previously, I think because the star, Candace Cameron Bure was a tiny bit more subdued. Also, I liked this mystery.

While showing a house for her real estate mother Aida (Marilu Henner), Aurora finds the body of an agent that worked for her mother. Aurora knows this particular house well, from her childhood, and thinks something is off about its look. After comparing it with photos, she realizes a painting has been replaced by another one. Is this about art theft?

There are any number of suspects: an agent who majored in art in college, the agent's husband, the man looking at the house - the list seems endless.

Then the body of another agent shows up in a second house.

Pretty good and entertaining. These mystery movies are made in Canada and use predominantly Canadian actors, and the budget isn't very big. This one moved quickly and had a nice plot.

lovely film, 23 June 2016
8/10

Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams as father and daughter attempt to connect in "Trouble with the Curve" from 2012.

For those who criticized the baseball part of the film, asking if the production had a consultant, etc., I will say that the baseball was what Hitchcock called "The McGuffin" - an excuse for the real story.

Eastwood plays Gus, an Atlanta Braves scout who has been in the business for perhaps too long - he has macular degeneration and glaucoma - maybe - but he won't see a specialist. His daughter, Mickey, is a lawyer heading for partner in a high-powered Atlanta firm. It's scouting time again, and Gus' boss and friend Pete (John Goodman) is afraid he isn't up to it. There is a newcomer to the team administration who uses computers to choose players, and his eye is on a kid named Gentry.

Nervous, Pete calls Mickey and asks her to go with her father to North Carolina and help him. Mickey is in the middle of the case that will make her partner, but she goes out of a sense of duty. Also, she wants her father to talk to her and explain why he abandoned her for much of her childhood. As a result, she pushes everyone away, including a scout they meet in North Carolina (Justin Timberlake) who is interested in her.

This is a beautifully acted if predictable story about healing wounds and communicating, something that is difficult for an old- fashioned father to do. Clint Eastwood is an irascible character similar to his role in Gran Torino - he brings a lot of humor to the part as well as some powerful dramatic moments.

Amy Adams looks for all the world like she's 28 - she was 38 when she made this, playing a 33-year-old. She brings a poignancy to her performance as a workaholic and vulnerable young woman.

Very enjoyable, and I shed a few tears besides. Highly recommended.

a little on the boring side, 23 June 2016
6/10

Despite discussing a fascinating theory, that of quantum physics, and large questions about spirituality and man's role on earth, "The Psychic Matrix" managed to be on the boring side.

The reason for that is that it was a series of brilliant men talking, one after the other, about a particular theory or idea. Some of it was very interesting and inspiring, for instance, Paul Pearsall, who died in 2007.

The theories presented are interesting, thought-provoking, and complex, about time, the reason man is on earth, and precognition.

Despite that it's not the most visually stimulating thing you'll ever see, I recommend it. It's 52 minutes long and, if you're interested in quantum physics, just the ticket for you.

two different worlds, 22 June 2016
7/10

An aspiring politician (Billy Crudup) falls in love with an activist (Jennifer Connelly) in "Waking the Dead" from 2001, directed by Keith Gordon and adapted from the eponymous novel by Robert Dillon.

When Fielding Pierce meets his brother's assistant Sarah in 1972, the two fall in love with one another. It's a deep, emotional love. But they have different ideologies. Fielding has political ambitions; Sarah is idealist who spends her time helping others. She is killed in an explosion while helping members of the Chilean resistance.

Nine years later, a Fielding is running for the Senate, he starts seeing Sarah everywhere and can't get her out of his mind. It affects his campaign work, to the consternation of those trying to get him elected.

This is a movie that's almost painful to watch, because Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly pour such passion and emotion into their love affair, that you feel his pain when she's gone. They're both excellent -- and very young here.

There are some old-timers in the cast as well - Hal Holbrook and Bernard Behrens, to name two, but also the excellent stage actors Janet McTeer and Larry Marshall. Ed Harris has a small role as someone on television. "House of Cards" actress Molly Parker plays Crudup's current girlfriend, though he doesn't really love her.

I think the love story was the most compelling element of this film - though these two people want to do good in the world, they approach it in different ways, and that separates them.

One of the last scenes is deliberately ambiguous when it really shouldn't be -- if you look at the message board you will see a description of a deleted scene and what is in the book.

It's a lovely story.

One other thing - a lot of people did not like Sarah. I find that so interesting - every time I watch a film featuring a female activist, everybody hates her. I watched "The Constant Gardener" and had to listen to everyone hating on Rachel Weisz. Ditto "The Whistleblower." Go figure. Too left-wing? Too goody two-shoes? I don't know. But people sure have a strong reaction.

Sworn to Vengeance (1993) (TV)
nice to see some old faces, 22 June 2016
5/10

"Sworn to Vengeance" is an adequate TV movie from 1993 based on a real incident in Texas, which was the subject of a book. It stars Robert Conrad, William McNamara, Peter Breck, and Sharon Farrell.

When three teens are brutally murdered, Sergeant Stewart (Conrad) is so shaken that he goes to each body and promises to find their killer or killers. A woman (Farrell) had a vision of the murders as they were happening and is able to give clues to the killers' identity; this is dismissed by the detectives in charge, but not by Stewart.

Stewart has trouble staying on the case, thanks to problems with the other jurisdiction that felt he had stolen another case from them. Though his boss (Breck) assigns the case to him, he is later removed. He resigns and starts to work at the jail where one of the suspects (McNamara) is imprisoned for another offense. Stewart knows right away that he is one of the killers and attempts to get him to confess.

I've been told the book is amazing; this is less than amazing, but it was great to see Sharon Farrell and Peter Breck -- I hadn't seen either one of them in years. Robert Conrad is fine as the determined Sgt. Stewart.

The story, which is an interesting one, could have been more compelling, but it's a TV film after all. A very tragic case about needless killings and the monsters who did it.

Tony in Texas, 20 June 2016
7/10

Dr. Tony Hill travels to Texas to be an expert witness in "Prayer of the Bone," a special episode of "Wire in the Blood."

Tony is there to assist the local district attorney in the case of Darius Grady, who has confessed to murdering his wife and two young children. Tony knows Grady from a time when Grady was stationed at a U.S. military base near Bradfield and was charged with the rape of a 15-year-old. The military spirited him out of the U.S. before he could be prosecuted. However, Grady's defense is the same one he used in England: he has PTSD from his service in Iraq.

Tony does not think Grady suffers from PTSD. He's also not sure Grady is guilty.

Tony wanted to stay in a place like Linda Hamilton did in "Terminator," so he's at some awful motel. And it's hot.

This is a strange episode with too many characters who came and went before we got to know them, and people acting strangely for no reason. Tony is much funnier in this episode than he usually is, and the atmosphere certainly is Texan. One feels the heat. (It was filmed in Austin.)

I think I prefer the handsome Tony at home among his people, but this was a nice change. I especially liked the female judge (Jennifer Griffin) - she was excellent.

Jesse Stone is "Stone Cold", 20 June 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of the Jesse Stone films I've seen, I have to say I liked this one the best. Even though it had sad moments, Selleck was able to show his humorous side a bit, thanks to the script, and he even smiled once.

Jesse is trying to find a killer - the body that's found is of a man, and his dog is sitting with the body. The killer is unable to kill a dog and admits it. Just people. Jesse takes the dog home. This is how we are introduced to Reggie.

When another body is discovered with the same MO, Jesse realizes he's dealing with a serial killer. He figures out the identity of the killers with little problem, but tragedy awaits him when he becomes the killers' focus.

In a subplot, a young girl (Alexis Dziena) is raped by three guys at her school. They have photos and use them to threaten her. Her mother doesn't want a scandal so after telling Jesse the girl's story, she declines to go further with an investigation. Jesse sends Molly (Viola Davis) to the high school to hang around and investigate.

Good script with very satisfying resolutions. The exquisite Abby Taylor is on hand at Jesse's "pal" and Mimi Rogers, who goes way back with Selleck, shows up as the attorney of one of the high schoolers. Alexis Dziena, who played the girl who was raped, has matured into a knockout.

I really enjoyed this one.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
PBS, get a life, 19 June 2016
8/10

"Endeavor" is back for season 3 after a long hiatus - so long, in fact, that we sat there for the part of the episode "Ride" trying to remember why Endeavor had been in prison, and what had happened the last time we saw him, which seemed like 25 years ago. Would it have killed PBS to take one or two minutes of its non-advertising ads to recap the end of Season 2?

Season 3 finds Endeavor out of prison after being set up by corrupt colleagues, living in a shack in the woods, and having some sort of involvement with a rich crowd nearby.

When a young woman is found dead, Morse, not back at work, becomes peripherally involved. He is humiliated about being imprisoned and states that he is through with actual police work. He also blames himself for DI Thursday (Roger Allam) being shot. But DI Thursday points out that the shooting wasn't his fault. That, and an apology from Chief Superintendent Bright (Anton Lesser) gets him back to his desk to work on a complex case that involves another murder.

Season 3's first story is a cross between "The Great Gatsby" and "Prestige," as others have pointed out.

I can't correlate the young Morse with the older one, so I watch this series as if it is a separate entity.

Shaun Evans is wonderful in the lead. I really don't see this person developing into the character played by John Thaw, but he's very effective and attractive. I enjoyed hearing a bit of "Rigoletto" as well while he was enjoying a drink. He and Roger Allam work well together, and Allam's character is a strong one. Here's hoping that nasty Bright is a little nicer to our Morse this season.

Very good, and I'm really glad this series is back.


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