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Posts Tagged ‘Christmastime’

REVIEW – Trading Places

January 1, 2017 1 comment
Trading PlacesDirected by: John Landis
Produced by: Aaron Russo
Written by: Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Edited by: Malcolm Campbell
Cinematography by: Robert Paynter
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Paul Gleason, Kristin Holby, James Belushi, Tom Davis, Al Franken
Year: 1983

 

I’d always managed to forget this movie for the Christmas/New Year’s season in years past – it takes place predominately over the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Not this year, though, thanks to a friendly reminder to not do that. My family was pretty big on this movie when I was growing up. Sure, I had to cover my eyes quite a few times (it’s an R-rated ‘80s comedy, after all), but apart from that, even I found it pretty enjoyable as a kid. But I haven’t seen it in a few years, as evidenced by my constant forgetfulness of its existence, and as the years went on, and the cycle of trying to remember this film at an appropriate time, forgetting, and then holding off until an appropriate time continued, I began to wonder to myself – was it actually Coming to America that I liked better than the other? Well, I don’t really know the answer to that one, as I also have to watch Coming to America again for the first time in years. However, the time has at least finally come for me to get around to reviewing Trading Places at what is ostensibly an “appropriate time” of year. So… Read more…

REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

December 22, 2016 4 comments
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasDirected by: Andy Knight
Produced by: Lori Forte, John C. Donkin
Written by: Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus, Bill Motz, Bob Roth
Edited by: Daniel Lee
Art Direction by: Julie Eberley, Clive Powsey
Music by: Rachel Portman, Michael Starobin
Songs by: Rachel Portman, Don Black
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Paul Reubens, Haley Joel Osment, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Year: 1997

 

Disney may not have invented the concept of the midquel (a follow-up that takes place between the timeframe of the original work, rather than before or after), but with their direct-to-video series, I swear that they’re probably the one studio to make unusually extensive use of the concept. There’s Tarzan 2, Bambi II, The Lion King 1 ½, The Fox and the Hound II, and, as a follow-up to a film that celebrated its 25th anniversary just this year, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. (This would itself followed up by Belle’s Enchanted World, which was actually a compilation of episodes meant for a TV spinoff set within the timeline of the original movie that never came to be.) Along with the Aladdin movies and the first Lion King sequel, this was one of the few direct-to-video follow-ups my family actually had sitting around while growing up, and I recall that my sister and I would proudly claim that we were the owners of “the only good Disney sequels,” which… yeah, I don’t know about that, considering there weren’t that many at the time to begin with, and they all were pretty awful to meh in terms of quality. The Enchanted Christmas, in particular, is probably the worst of the four that we owned (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the others, granted), particularly considering the quality of the film that bore it. Read more…

REVIEW – The Ref

December 14, 2016 2 comments
The RefDirected by: Ted Demme
Produced by: Ron Bozman, Richard LaGravenese, Jeffrey Weiss
Written by: Richard LaGravenese, Marie Weiss
Edited by: Jeffrey Wolf
Cinematography by: Adam Kimmel
Music by: David A. Stewart
Starring: Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Glynis Johns, Robert J. Steinmiller, Jr., Raymond J. Barry, Adam LeFevre, Christine Baranski, J.K. Simmons, Richard Bright
Year: 1994

 

Bad Santa 2 not doing it for your angry Christmas comedy hankering this year? Yeah, I don’t blame you. That movie looked freaking horrible. And apparently is. I’m not spending money on it. Good riddance. Thank goodness a friend recommended a movie to me that fit the bill for such a bad craving. I mean, I could have seen the first again, too, but I’ve seen that before! And The Ref was right there on Netflix streaming, so… Read more…

REVIEW – This Christmas

December 7, 2016 1 comment
This ChristmasDirected by: Preston A. Whitmore II
Produced by: Preston A. Whitmore II, Will Packer
Written by: Preston A. Whitmore II
Edited by: Paul Seydor
Cinematography by: Alexander Gruszynski
Music by: Marcus Miller
Starring: Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Regina King, Sharon Leal, Columbus Short, Lauren London, Chris Brown, Laz Alonso, Ricky Harris, Keith Robinson, Jessica Stroup, Lupe Ontiveros, David Banner, Ronnie Warner, Mekhi Phifer
Year: 2007

 

Holiday drama. For many, if not most families, it’s intrinsic to the time of year. Usually, or at least hopefully, families usually get through it all, however, come together, and celebrate in unison, as it should be, and forget all the troubles, at least for now. Of course, such an idyllic situation would not necessarily make for good storytelling, and so we have a whole swath of Christmas films centered around seasonal drama, regardless of whether or not the films themselves categorically fall into that genre, and that is how we get films like Four Christmases, The Family Stone, Christmas Vacation, Happy Christmas, The Santa Clause, A Madea Christmas, Krampus… And those are just the Christmas movies I’ve reviewed that are centered on the drama of family during the Christmas season. This year also sees the release of Almost Christmas, a film centered on yet another family coming together and enduring their wacky antics while learning to accept each other’s faults and “act like a family.” Well, I’m not paying money for that, namely because the movie got mediocre reviews, and I have things to afford. I will, however, watch producer Will Packer’s previous Christmas family dramedy This Christmas. Read more…

Christmastime 2016 on The Viewer’s Commentary

December 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Christmas Vacation - The Griswolds

Well, 2016 certainly was… a year. And now it’s almost over! And so is November, a month in which I totally intended to do far more here, but which ultimately ended up being mostly a month for taking a break.

No worries, however. Before the assured nightmare that will likely be 2017 begins, we have just a bit more time left on our hand to be festive and merry and all that junk, ’cause it’s Christmastime, and that means it’s time to get watching Christmas movies!

As with many of the big holidays this year, I have no real big plans for this month, ’cause it’s 2016 and… whatever, right? Heck, I’m writing this after imbibing a fair bit of wine after having made some delicious, spontaneously made spaghetti with shrimp and chardonnay sauce as a sort of break from the still considerable amount of Thanksgiving leftovers I still have, so it’s not like I’m caring too much about planning and such.

Joyeux Noel - Christmas Carol

I really don’t have much else to say on the matter, as a result. I solicited a few film suggestions from friends this year, and so I’m likely to touch upon some familiar stuff I have yet to cover in the last six Christmas seasons I’ve been writing. Geez… next thing you know, I’ll be doing my 2016 in review, huh? Man, this year has gone by quickly. I can’t tell if that’s God being merciful or just the sad reality of having now turned 30.

Never mind, though, right? It’s Christmas, and it’s time to be merry, dammit! And so, what follows will be a series of season appropriate reviews, with the likely exception of one film: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which may not be Christmas-themed, but is pretty much unavoidable, given Disney’s calendar and my fandom. (I’ve already pre-ordered 2 sets of tickets: one for IMAX 3D and another to get the Alamo Drafthouse-exclusive pint glass.) But, before I write my first review of the season, let’s look back on the movies I reviewed from Christmas seasons past and reflect upon how innocent a time it was, back before we knew what was lying ahead for us?

Arthur ChristmasYeah, let’s just be happy for a time…


 

Arthur Christmas

Bad Santa (Director’s Cut)

Batman Returns

The Bishop’s Wife

A Christmas Carol (Disney, 2009) Part 1, Part 2

A Christmas Story

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Die Hard

Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights

Happy ChristmasElf

The Family Stone

Four Christmases

Happy Christmas

Home Alone

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Home Alone 3

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998)

It’s a Wonderful Life

Jingle All the Way

It's a Wonderful LifeJoyeux Noël

Krampus

Love Actually

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

Meet Me in St. Louis

The Muppet Christmas Carol Part 1, Part 2

The Nativity Story

New Year’s Eve

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Polar Express

Polar ExpressRare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Santa Clause

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas

Scrooged * Part 1, Part 2

Tokyo Godfathers

White Christmas

 

 

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: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

December 17, 2015 2 comments
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)Directed by: Ron Howard
Produced by: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Edited by: Dan Hanley, Mike Hill
Cinematography by: Donald Peterman
Music by: James Horner
Original song by: Mariah Carey, James Horner, Will Jennings, performed by Faith Hill
Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Josh Ryan Evans, Clint Howard, Anthony Hopkins (voice)
Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Year: 2000

 

I’m not really certain what makes studios think that live action adaptations of things that belong in animation are good ideas, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s because they make money. Obviously, that trumps artistic expression, more often than not. And that’s how you end up with things like The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. These movies are at least technical marvels, when sufficient effort is put into them, and the environments in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are really quite incredible and well realized. The makeup effects are also mostly impressive, too. That being said, I’ve only once ever seen a live action adaptation or extension of a property that I ended up liking more than the original, and that was this year’s live action Cinderella. Still, that’s one exception, and none of this can overshadow the fact that Dr. Seuss’ book was already perfectly adapted decades ago by Chuck Jones in the 26-minute-long, 1967 animated TV special, complete with the perfect look and tone, and, best of all, with absolutely zero filler to pad out the original book. The same cannot be said about Ron Howard’s admirable but misguided adaptation. Read more…

REVIEW: The Bishop’s Wife

December 11, 2015 4 comments
The Bishop's WifeDirected by: Henry Koster
Produced by: Samuel Goldwyn
Written by: Leonardo Bercovici, Robert E. Sherwood, Billy Wilder (uncredited), Charles Brackett (uncredited)
Edited by: Monica Collingwood
Cinematography by: Gregg Toland
Music by: Hugo Freidhofer
Starring: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Haden, Karolyn Grimes
Based on the novel by Robert Nathan
Year: 1947

 

[Some spoilers ahead!]

 

Cary Grant really could sell movies. Want proof? This film did not live up to expectations when it was first released in the U.S. under its normal title, as it was presumed to be too religious (Go figure, America – we weren’t all enamored with religious movies, even back then!), but when the studio had posters’ reflected title changed to Cary and the Bishop’s Wife, ticket sales reportedly jumped by 25%. The film would go on to be nominated for a few Oscars, including Best Sound, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Picture. It only won in the Best Sound category, but the nominations are still quite impressive. And, when I did a Google search for “Best Christmas Films” this year and pretty much every year past, The Bishop’s Wife was always up there alongside some of the greatest and even some of my favorites. Having reviewed most of those, however, this year, I figured, was The Bishop’s Wife’s year, particularly since I’ve been meaning to review some older films, anyway. Into the Netflix DVD queue it went! Would it be worth it? Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Krampus

December 8, 2015 6 comments
KrampusDirected by: Michael Dougherty
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Michael Dougherty, Thomas Tull
Written by: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Edited by: John Axelrad
Cinematography by: Jules O’Loughlin
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, Maverick Flack, Luke Hawker, Gideon Emery
Year: 2015

 

Put this on my list of one of the more surprising films of 2015. I wasn’t even aware of the film’s existence until I saw the trailer play before M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit just a couple months ago. That film surprised me in not being as especially terrible as I had expected. However, while the prospect of a found footage horror film starring children and directed by M. Night Shyamalan sounded like the worst possible thing you would ever see, Krampus had a known cast of talented and even funny actors contrasting with the gruesome visuals and suggesting that this film had its pointed tongue was planted firmly in cheek. It actually looked like it had the potential to be an actually great movie. Could it possibly turn into a new alternative holiday classic? Read more…

REVIEW: The Santa Clause

December 4, 2015 3 comments
The Santa ClauseDirected by: John Pasquin
Produced by: Robert Newmyer, Brian Reilly, Jeffrey Silver
Written by: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Karey Kirkpatrick
Edited by: Larry Bock
Cinematography by: Walt Lloyd
Music by: Michael Convertino
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Paige Tamada, Peter Boyle, Kenny Vadas, Chris Benson
Year: 1994

 

It occurred to me while watching The Santa Clause that the film, thematically, has a surprising amount in common with another holiday classic (albeit a film dealing with a far more tedious holiday than Christmas) that was released just the year prior: Groundhog Day. No, really, think about it. Both films center upon a self-centered jerk who alienates those he would otherwise get along with and even grow to love if only he would give into the spirit of the holiday. Both films also feature comedians who were incredibly popular at the time the movies were made. And both films feature some kind of inexplicable supernatural/magical device which is foisted upon them, to their comedic chagrin, throughout their daily lives until they get the lessons right and embrace it. Both films obviously differ quite a bit in terms of their respective target audiences (though there is a surprising amount of adult humor in Disney’s film that will supposedly go over the kids’ heads), but, as with most holiday films, both are also about the importance of not becoming jaded with life and use their holidays as metaphors. Read more…

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