Under The Autumn Moon [That’s A Christmas- Cole Reviews Festive Hallmark Movies]

One of my favourite Hallmark tropes is ‘big city businesswoman goes into the country and falls in love with both nature and some sort of country boy’. This is absolutely a film with that trope as its main plot.

A lot of the effectiveness- or lack thereof- of these films comes from the charm of the main characters (because, if we’re honest, there’s very little plot in one of these bad boys). Alex is our main character here, a pleasant businesswoman struggling to fit in at her job as part of a sportswear retail company. She’s fine, I guess. Good hair. Josh Ketchum is the romantic interest, and he is automatically more interesting than Alex because his name makes me think of Pokémon. He doesn’t want to sell the ranch he loves and runs with his sister, but they’re out of money, and Alex’s company wants to buy it. They have some nice chemistry in the bland, inoffensive way of these films.

The most interesting character by far is Alex’s utterly bizarre boss, a sort of fleece-wearing Steve Jobs type who insists on having meetings halfway up a climbing wall and rides a bicycle around the office. There’s also a fairly cute side romance between two other visitors at the ranch.

The mild drama in the film is in the form of Josh’s ex-girlfriend, a woman with excellent boss bitch sunglasses who also wants to buy the ranch. There is also a guy who works with Alex who she’s up against for a promotion. Both of these people want the ranch for nefarious purposes that I guess we’re meant to believe are less morally good than Alex’s reasons.

This Hallmark film is a bit on the weaker end of the scale, I think. It was fine, but didn’t hold up to some of their better (slash more cheesy) entries.

Pumpkin Pie Wars [That’s A Christmas- Cole Reviews Festive Hallmark Movies]

This series of posts is named after MBMBAM‘s segement That’s A Christmas To Me, which is a delight if you love dreadful festive movies.

I am a strong believer that ‘guilty pleasures’ is a dreadful phrase, and that you shouldn’t be ashamed of liking cheesy things. I write romance novels, so maybe I’m biased about this, I don’t know.

Hallmark festive movies are weirdly compelling to me. They’re not without their flaws- god knows they’re pretty much all white, cisgender, heteronormative nonsense. They all have basically the same plot and possess possibly the lowest stakes possible for a film to still claim it has a plot. That said, they’re like catnip to me, especially as we enter this cooler, Christmassy time of the year. I inevitably watch about a dozen each year, so I have decided to review them, because I can.

Pumpkin Pie Wars is a new one for me this year. The ‘plot’ basically involves the adult children of rival bakeries entering the pumpkin pie competition that their mothers first forged their intense hatred of each other in a decade ago. The issue is that Casey cannot cook, as she is a business graduate (top of her class, apparently, although for some reason works at her mum’s bakery) and Sam wants to be a proper chef, not a mere baker. They forge a plan to help each other in secret, and, well, it’s a Hallmark film, so there’s some PG-rated smooching and they fall in love.

This is a very short film, coming in at fewer than 90 minutes, and I am sort of loath to say this about a Hallmark movie, but it could have done with being longer. The ‘misunderstanding’ that one expects in a romance film came 15 minutes from the end, and then there was another key plot point thrown into the mix about five minutes later. Carnage, obviously, for the last ten minutes.

The main characters were about as bland and politely charming as you’d expect in this, but their mothers were amazing and vicious to each other. The whole thing plays like Romeo & Juliet but without all the stabbing.

It’s trash, and the pacing is off, but the delicious animosity between their mothers is delightful, so I’d say this is a good medium-bad Hallmark movie.

July 2020

This year is such a blur. I imagine everyone feels exactly the same way about it as I do. It’s almost time to get the Halloween decorations out! It’s almost… dare I say it… Christmas. With some restrictions easing up in my part of the world, I’ve had a slightly more interesting month than last month, but life is still far from back to normal. I don’t love having to plan ahead in such detail to go out.

Things I Watched

Spaced
I missed Spaced the first time around because I was, well, a tiny child. It isn’t perfect, but it is definitely hilarious and feels like a very specific moment in time captured.

Onward
I’m not as into Disney/Pixar films as a lot of people; I think I just didn’t watch enough as a child, so it isn’t a part of my life in the way it is for other folks. That said, Onward was adorable and very worth a watch.

Bad Times At The El Royale
This wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was awesome- really entertaining, very slick, very well-written. A great film.

Things I Read

Happy Fat- Sofie Hagen
I love Sofie, and this is such an affirming, amazing book. I mentioned it last month and just finished the audiobook this month.

The Last- Hanna Jameson
I’m planning on writing a proper book review of this one, but I adored it. One of my best reads of the year. If you’re into post-apocalyptic settings, this is definitely worth a read.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper- Hallie Rubenhold
A really interesting non-fiction book about the lives of the victims of Jack the Ripper. If you’re interested in this period of history, it’s a fascinating read. I loved how this book disproved the myths around these women.

Things I Played

I am still on my Animal Crossing binge. I have also been dipping my toes in the mobile otome game Obey Me but I’m not sold on it yet.

Other Stuff

I have been really getting into walking, and just generally being outside. I spent years of my life thinking that I hated being outdoors, but it seems I was wrong. I have even bought a bike.

Looking Forward

I’m off work until September, so August is going to be about relaxing, catching up with friends, working on some projects and generally having a nice time.

June 2020

I cannot believe we are halfway through this year. The whole Covid thing has meant that I (and, let’s be honest, millions of other people) have spent months inside. It is absolutely baffling to me how this year feels both extremely long and terrifyingly short.

Anyway! June! I turned 30, so that is the biggest thing really. I had a wonderful time actually, all things considered. I ate lots of good food and drank lots of alcohol.

Things I Watched

Bob’s Burgers
I’ve been watching Bob’s Burgers for months, and I’ve just finished Season 9. (Season 10 is on Prime but it’s not free, so I’m going to pay at some point to watch the rest.) It is up there with my favourite animated shows ever. It is so funny and sweet and well-written.

Look Who’s Back
A truly bizarre German film about what might happen if Hitler suddenly woke up in modern Berlin. I enjoyed this immensely, and it was surprisingly emotive.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
I love Eurovision. This comedy was okay! It was a bit long and silly, but worth a watch.

Things I Read

The Zombie War: Battle for Britain by Tom Holroyd
I listened to this on Audible and it was so good. If you enjoyed World War Z, you’ll love this. A really great read.

Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen
I’m still reading this at the minute but it is brilliant. Absolutely wonderful.

Things I Played

Grand Theft Auto V
In a classic Cole move, rather than playing one of my enormous backlog of games, I have decided to restart GTA V. I love the characters and think the story is surprisingly touching. The writing is hilarious and I just love it.

Other Stuff

For my birthday, I treated myself to a Razer keyboard, and it is honestly amazing. Possibly a fairly tragic thing to be excited about, but I love the way the keys clack.

I have been gardening! I’m fairly sure that my flowers are dying, but I’m crossing my fingers.

Looking Forward

July is CampNaNoWriMo, and I’m hoping to finish the novel I started (and failed to complete) in April. I’m also going to be starting my challenge of walking one million steps for Diabetes UK, so I’m looking forward to getting outside a bit more.

Cole Rewatches The MCU

We suddenly have a whole lot of time in the house, don’t we? I don’t mind being indoors, but the sudden lack of choice about the whole thing is a bit jarring. What better time to start a frankly ill-advised project? (Or seven, if you’re me.)

Disney+ is here, and with it, the ability to watch all of the MCU. I have seen almost all of the Marvel films already. I am going to rewatch them in chronological order, because that is the sort of thing that is absolutely not productive at all but still allows me to tick things off a list that I crave so badly.

MCU Chronological Watch List

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain Marvel (2019)
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Thor (2011)
The Avengers (2012)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014)
Ant-Man (2015)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Black Panther (2018)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
Black Widow (2020)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Spiderman: Far From Home (2 July 2019)
(Source)

Some things I expect will happen: I will get bored and not finish (ha!), I will hate Tony Stark so much, Thor: Ragnarok will be my favourite film and Steve Rogers will be my favourite character as always.

Hope you are keeping well in the strange times we live in.