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REVIEW: Four Christmases

December 25, 2015 3 comments
Four ChristmasesDirected by: Seth Gordon
Produced by: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman
Written by: Matt Allen, Caleb Wilson, Scott Moore, Jon Lucas
Edited by: Mark Helfrich, Melissa Kent
Cinematography by: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Music by: Alex Wurman
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Favreau, Tim McGraw, Kristin Chenoweth, Katy Mixon, Dwight Yoakam, Carol Kane, Patrick Van Horn
Year: 2008

 

Hey, have you run out of Christmas movie classics and now you’re in the mood to watch a movie with absolutely zero likeable characters in it? Then have I got a movie for you! Read more…

REVIEW: Joe Versus the Volcano

November 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Joe Versus the VolcanoDirected by: John Patrick Shanley
Produced by: Teri Schwartz
Written by: John Patrick Shanley
Edited by: Richard Halsey, Kenneth Wannberg
Cinematography by: Stephen Goldblatt
Music by: Georges Delerue
Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Ossie Davis, Abe Vigoda, Dan Hedaya, Barry McGovern, Amanda Plummer, Nathan Lane, Carol Kane
Year: 1990

 

I’d always been curious about Joe Versus the Volcano, mostly because it was the first pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – and you know from a past review that I actually quite like the pairing – but my mom basically shaped my understanding of the movie to the point of making me mostly be ambivalent about it by hammering it into my mind that the movie was stupid. That curiosity was obviously not enough to cause me to seek it out, as I had basically not seen it up until this past week, but, whenever I did remember it existed, there was a moment where I would think to myself, “Huh. I should see that someday,” before quickly forgetting about it. This time, though, I finally saw it, mostly because a friend/coworker/fellow cinephile recommended the movie as being his favorite bad movie. Me being who I am, I took it as a sign that, yes, I should finally see this movie, so it instantly went onto the top of my Netflix DVD queue.

So… yeah, I saw this movie. Finally. Was it worth it?… Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac

Oscar season! This is when the studios want to release the best films of the year (or so they say). Why? Because they want the films to be fresh in the voters’ minds. Prestige films and the like. Indie dramas, historical period films, war films, controversial films… If it can make you cry, your heartbreak, your spirit lift with joy, make you see things from a new light, this is the season.

It’s also a good time for seasonal holiday films. You’ve got your horror films to cover Halloween, your Christmas films for Christmas, and this year we even got an animated Thanksgiving film (though I’m not certain that all you people looking forward to a big piece of juicy turkey are going to love it). Meanwhile, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa get left out, once again. For some reason, this season was also rife with Christian films, from Kirk Cameron, to Miley Cyrus analogs, to Christmas miracles, the industry that claims to represent my faith has got you covered in that area. Woo.

It’s not all your typical films, though. More and more, Hollywood is figuring out that you should spread your action films and your romantic comedies throughout the year, rather than bunching them all into the middle. Consequently, we got a few Sylvester Stallone-involved flicks this season, a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, as well as the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

Nevertheless, as with the first and second entries, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon, since this is the last of the films that I haven’t seen from the year. Enjoy! Read more…

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Grudge Match Review: “Scrooged” vs. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” vs. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Rounds 6 – 10

December 29, 2011 5 comments

<< Part I
Round 6: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Robert Hammond (uncredited), Robert Tygner (performer), and, yes, Jim Carrey as The Ghost of Christmas Future

Easily the ghost most people remember, and also the one where almost nobody seems to deviate from the tradition — not even Scrooged. The cloaked figure known as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (alternately, of Christmas Future) is often seen as the most dramatic of the spirits, revealing to Scrooge how the future could turn out if he doesn’t change his ways. There are differences in how each movie portrays the spirit, of course, but ultimately, the horrific aspect is the same, and it’s only a matter of how horrific and in what way.

Scrooged, for instance, keeps with the thematics, with the ghost having a heavy, ghoulish cloak with blue streaks and a TV screen for a face that flashes static and images from Frank’s life. Inside his cloak are hellish ghouls, moaning in agony. The visions of the future he shows Frank are abstract and look completely unlike anything else in the film, showing a bleak and sterile future, free from passion and compassion.

The Muppets keep it grim and faithful, but they are sure to make sure that families who show this to their children will not have tears by the end of the film. And, ultimately, that’s okay. It doesn’t break out into song, it doesn’t speak, and it certainly isn’t the most joyful spirit in the world, but we do need a Christmas Carol adaptation that is faithful without being both syrupy sweet and cheaply made. This spirit didn’t make that much of an impact on me as a viewer, but I get that I’m not necessarily the intended audience here.

Of course, it’s remarkably clear that Disney and Zemeckis were aiming for a much older audience with their collaboration on A Christmas Carol, as the ghost maintains his scary nature, multiplied by ten, with only Jim Carrey’s performance to keep things a bit lighter. Not nearly concerned with being grim and more concentrated with being terrifying, this ghost is seemingly the byproduct of merging the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Headless Horseman, with a hint of shrink ray. It seems as though the filmmakers were concerned that they didn’t have a big finale for the talky climax, and so the final spirit, who first appears as a living shadow, gains a red-eyed horse and a chariot of nightmares, shrinking Scrooge and chasing him the horrors of Christmas Yet to Come — and also the horrors of sewers and being the size of a rat. I guess that’s symbolism? Read more…

Grudge Match Review: “Scrooged” vs. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” vs. “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” – Rounds 1 – 5

December 18, 2011 8 comments

There are so many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it would be impossible for me to review them all, not to mention the fact that I’m sure many of you who read this would be bored by the endless barrage of adaptations of the same tale. As luck would have it, though, I’ve already watched three drastically different adaptations of the story this month, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, and each very unique. Rather than split these up into three separate reviews, however, I decided to do something different for this review: a grudge match! After all, what is the Christmas season without a little conflict, right?

The three adaptations for this review are, as I said, drastically different in tone, style, medium, and even decade.

Scrooged is the least literal of the translations and also the earliest film in this grudge match. Starring Bill Murray, Karen Allen, Alfre Woodard, and several other big actors and celebrities from the 80s, it is also the most “adult” of the three adaptations.

Next is The Muppet Christmas Carol, which, as you may have guessed, is a Muppetized adaptation. What is surprising about this adaptation, the first Disney-produced Muppet production and the first film released son after Jim Henson’s death, is that it doesn’t strictly star any of the recently revived puppets in the lead role. Rather, Ebenezer Scrooge is instead portrayed by a rather famous human actor, Michael Caine, with the Muppets instead taking on roles as the supporting cast.

Finally, we have what is currently the most recent theatrical release version of the film and the only one to bear the original Dickens name, A Christmas Carol, another Disney production and their first to star Jim Carrey. Director Robert Zemeckis used the same motion capture techniques he used in his first Christmas adaptation/motion capture production, The Polar Express. The film also features the captured performances of Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, and Robin Wright Penn. Coincidentally, despite its high tech trappings, big Hollywood names, and Disney’s involvement, this is also the most serious and literal adaptation of the three films.

What I want to do here, though, is to breakdown the various aspects of the basic Christmas Carol story, from the roles and the actors, the presentation of the ghosts, the artistic styling, the music, the overall effect of each of the films’ presentation of the Christmas Carol message, that all time classic one about charity and compassion for others, and, of course, the overall quality of each film as a whole. Instead of addressing each film on its own, I will pit each of these films against each other in the various categories, and each category will have a definite winner. The final reviews, however, do not necessarily reflect an average of each category’s results, and are to be considered my final score for each film overall — effectively determining the winner, you might say!

I must add this disclaimer: I’ve committed the sacrilege of having never read the original story, so I apologize for my ignorance on this likely crucial bit of research on my part. Hehe… *ahem* Read more…

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