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REVIEW: Tokyo Godfathers

December 24, 2013 4 comments
Tokyo GodfathersDirected by: Satoshi Kon, Sh­­ogo Furuya
Produced by: Masao Maruyama, Masao Takiyama, Shinichi Kobayashi, Taro Maki
Written by: Satoshi Kon, Keiko Nobumoto (screenplay); Satoshi Kon (story)
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Katsutoshi Sugai
Music by: Keiichi Suzuki, Moonriders
Starring: Aya Okamoto, Toru Emori, Yoshiaki Umegaki, Satomi Korogi, Shozo Iizuka, Seizo Kato, Hiroyama Ishimaru, Ryuji Saikachi, Yusaku Yara, Kyoko Terase, Mamiko Noto, Rikiya Koyoama
Year: 2003

 

It’s funny how so many Christmas movies are about rich, good-looking people celebrating this time of giving together and learning life lessons and/or finding love together. You would think that more movies would focus on those who are most in need, right? I think the problem is that somewhere in the movie making system, someone thinks that nobody wants to watch a story that might potentially depress them during a time of year when a lot of people actually are struggling and suffering, and so instead we get tripe like The Family Stone, wherein a rich awful family emotionally tortures a rich career woman who is dating their golden boy son in the confines of their ideal home, and somehow we’re supposed to grow to like these snobs. (I thought of reviewing the film this year, but I gave out so many negative reviews, I couldn’t possibly bring myself to subject you and me to that, so let this be a little teaser, perhaps, for next year.) Read more…

REVIEW: The Nativity Story

December 23, 2013 3 comments
The Nativity StoryDirected by: Catherine Hardwicke
Produced by: Toby Emmerich, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Cale Boyter, Catherine Hardwicke, Mike Rich, Tim Van Rellim
Written by: Mike Rich
Edited by: Robert K. Lambert, Stuart Levy
Cinematography by: Elliot Davis
Music by: Mychael Danna
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar Isaac, Stanley Townsend, Clarán Hinds, Shaun Toub
Year: 2006

 

“Jesus is the reason for the season.” That’s what you always hear this time of year, isn’t it? And yet it seems like it’s pretty hard to find many movies exclusively based on the story of the birth of Christ, as opposed to His entire life or crucifixion. The Nativity Story is undoubtedly one of the few that does focus on this one aspect. I had actually meant to review this film long ago, when I first started this blog, but the movie’s always been checked out indefinitely this time of year on Netflix and Blockbuster (back when they, you know, actually did the whole physical movie renting). This was the first year I actually managed to be proactive and get a copy, and so I guess it’s only appropriate that I actually make good on that and finally review the film, right? Read more…

REVIEW: Bad Santa (Director’s Cut)

December 19, 2013 7 comments
Bad SantaDirected by: Terry Zwigoff
Produced by: John Cameron, Sarah Aubrey, Bob Weinstein; The Coen Brothers (executive producers)
Written by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Edited by: Robert Hoffman
Cinematography by: Jamie Anderson
Music by: David Kitay
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Bernie Mac, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, Cloris Leachman, John Ritter
Year: 2003

 

Perhaps the movie that was on my radar the longest, as far as holiday movies go, was Bad Santa, which was originally released all the way back when I was in high school, which also meant that I was absolutely unable to get a hold of a copy at the time, seeing as how I still lived at home, and I am not certain that the kind of comedy there within would have held up well should anyone even hear what was being uttered on screen, and it’s also not exactly the kind of film that, as I got older, would have been viewed in a family setting. It was in my queue for a while in all past Christmas Movie Months, never reaching me thanks to the stupid freaking “Long Wait” with Netflix and, may they rest in peace, Blockbuster. This year, however, I finally got my hands on a copy! Finally, I would gaze the apparent treasure that everyone else was raving about all that time ago (and even today)! I popped in the disc, and… there were two cuts: Bad(der) Santa, the unrated cut, and Bad Santa the director’s cut – but no theatrical cut. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

December 14, 2013 6 comments
Tyler Perry's A Madea ChristmasDirected by: Tyler Perry
Produced by: Tyler Perry, Ozzie Areu, Matt Moore
Written by: Tyler Perry
Edited by: Maysie Hoy
Cinematography by: Alexander Gruszynski
Music by: Christopher Young
Starring: Tyler Perry, Anna Maria Horsford, Larry the Cable Guy, Tika Sumpter, Kathy Najimy, Chad Michael Murray, Eric Lively, Alicia Witt, Lisa Whelchel, Noah Urrea, JR Lemon, Jonathan Chase
Adapted from the musical play by Tyler Perry
Year: 2013

 

I used to think that this would be a sign of the apocalypse – Tyler Perry teaming up with Larry the Cable Guy to make a movie together. When I joked about such a thing happening all the way back in January when I was reviewing the films of 2012, I mentioned that if such a thing were going to happen, I would be among the first to see such an event take place, and it would be my first Tyler Perry film that I would spend good money on to see in theatres. Then, a few days later, God showed that He had a smug sense of humor with me when He deemed that such a thing would happen. And that it would not be released during the apocalypse, but rather during the celebration of His Son’s birth, and yet also on the official release date of December 13, 2013 – which, if you’re reading this far from now, you may not immediately know is also Friday the 13th. Very funny. You win again, God. Also, would you look at that? We’re all still here. I guess I should’ve known that not even Satan himself wouldn’t want his big finale to be upstaged by such a massive bomb as this. Read more…

REVIEW: I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998)

December 10, 2013 3 comments
I'll Be Home for Christmas (1998)Directed by: Arlene Sanford
Produced by: Robin French, Justis Greene, David Hoberman, Tracey Trench
Written by: Michael Allin, Tom Nursall, Harris Goldberg
Edited by: Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
Cinematography by: Hiro Narita
Music by: John Debney
Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Adam LaVorgna, Gary Cole, Eve Gordon, Lauren Maltby, Andrew Lauer, Sean O’Bryan, Lesley Boone
Inspired by the song by Bing Crosby
Year: 1998

 

Remember how big Jonathan Taylor Thomas was? Thanks to his role in the TV show Home Improvement as the wisecracking middle child Randy, “JTT” as he was popularly known, even managed to snag himself a role in one of Disney’s most enduring and popular films from the 90s (and, indeed, probably of all time), The Lion King. Many of the girls I knew loved him, as did apparently all the rest of the world. Luckily, unlike a lot of the childstars we see, Thomas at least had knack for comedic timing and managed to actually earn his right to being the funny one on the TV series that made him popular. At the end of the 20th century, however (Doesn’t that sound so apocalyptic still?), JTT left Home Improvement and began his journey into not just academics, but also to that corner of fame where people suddenly remembered you existed and ask aloud, “Where is he now?” Read more…

REVIEW: Love Actually

December 7, 2013 4 comments
Love ActuallyDirected by: Richard Curtis
Produced by: Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Written by: Richard Curtis
Edited by: Nick Moore
Cinematography by: Michael Coulter
Music by: Craig Armstrong
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Colin Firth, Lúcia Moniz, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Heike Makatsch, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kris Marshall, Abdul Salis, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Olivia Olson, Claudia Schiffer, Rowan Atkinson
Year: 2003

 

It wasn’t too long ago that director Garry Marshall was trying to suffocate us with an onslaught of celebrity-packed rom-coms that crammed in as many storylines and cameos as possible. I managed to avoid these movies up until the lead up to New Year’s Eve 2012, when I promised my stepsister I would review Marshall’s film named after the holiday. It was as bad as I was expecting, but my expectations were even lower at that time because I had also realized that the movie was an unabashed knock off of Love Actually, a British film that pretty much follows the same concept as Marshall’s later films, including the concept of centering it around a major holiday (Christmas) – only, in this case, the movie actually does some justice to the fluffy, audience-ensnaring concept. Read more…

REVIEW: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 4, 2013 4 comments
Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerDirected by: Larry Roemer
Produced by: Arthur Rankin, Jr. (producer), Jules Bass (co-producer)
Written by: Romeo Muller, Robert L. May
Animation supervised by: Tadahito Mochinaga
Music by: Johnny Marks
Starring: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards, Paul Soles, Larry D. Mann, Stan Francis, Paul Kligman, Janis Orenstein, Alfie Scopp, Carl Banas, Corinne Conley, Peg Dixon
Based on the story and song written by Robert L. May
Year: 1964

 

I’m going to allow for my first 2013 Christmas movie review to make me out to be a Scrooge.

A 1964 TV special done in the medium of stop motion capture, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has become one of the most beloved and influential examples of the medium – if someone doesn’t know what the term “stop motion” means, you could undoubtedly point to Rudolph or one of its other Rankin/Bass Christmastime siblings as an example that nearly everyone will then immediately understand. It’s arguable that even the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas owes its aesthetic style to these holiday productions, albeit with the obligatory Tim Burton-esque macabre twist, not to mention the countless spoofs, knockoffs, and affectionate references that followed across TV and film. Beyond the aesthetics and styling, however, this short TV movie also stands as one of the longest running TV traditions, airing annually each Christmas season since it was first shown. Read more…

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