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REVIEW: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 4, 2013 5 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…

2012 IN REVIEW: The Best Films of the Year

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

At last, we come to the climax of my review of the films of 2012. To those of you who continue to keep up with me, I one again apologize for the slow updates — I saw so many movies this past year and have been doing so much this past month that it’s been hard to keep up with a regular update schedule!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

I’m currently in the process of moving, with my best friend / roommate moving back to his hometown to be closer to family, so it’s been tough keeping up with the blog, hanging out with him a few more times after seven awesome years of being roommates, while also just figuring stuff out for the next period of my life living as a single person for the first time. It’s tough, but thankfully he lives where my family lives, and it’s only 100 miles away. Lucky for any fans I may have (Hello!…?), it’ll likely result in me doing more reviews, though the higher amount of rent I’ll be paying will undoubtedly impact my ability to go to the theatre as often as I have been.

On that note, before I get to the meat of this final entry, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, regularly or even sporadically. I may not know you, but I appreciate you! This may be a hobby of mine, but it’s meaningful to me and keeps me sharp. I started The Viewer’s Commentary in September of 2011, after lots of personal setbacks and a good long while of feeling stupid and even being made to feel stupid for wanting to start a blog about movies, and by the time I finally decided to just go for it and not listen to the negativity, I still didn’t really know whether I was going to still be writing in even a few months’ time. So to already be in the middle of my second year and still be having a blast getting my thoughts and opinions out there about one of my favorite subjects has truly been a great experience. To those of you who have read, continue to read, and even to those of you I know personally who encouraged me and maybe don’t even share my passion and probably aren’t even reading this now but you supported me all the same, thank you again for being there! I’m definitely looking forward to what 2013 promises to bring! (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! FINALLY!)

The film's villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn't going to end well...

The film’s villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn’t going to end well…

Anyway, enough self-reflection! You’re here for the rundown of the best films of 2012, aren’t you? I assume so, since you are continuing to read this. I’ll let you get to that, but first, let me explain how this list is working, as I’ve changed it up a bit from last year and from most other “Best Of” lists.

First off, last year I did it in multiple parts (here, here, and, finally, here – in order). None of that this time. You’re getting this all in one big wave!

Secondly, and this is related to the third alteration, there are no longer just 10 films on this list, but rather a whopping 17. Why?

Well, that’s because the third alteration I made is that I’ve decided that a lot of the best films of the year weren’t necessarily my favorites, but I wanted to recognize their greatness by putting them on this list anyway, rather than lump them in with the films that were just average. (I did something similar with the “Films I Liked” this year after realizing I didn’t necessary love nor despise a lot of films enough to put them on the worst or best of lists.)

Honestly, what the hell?!

This did not make the list. This shouldn’t make any listsBECAUSE IT SHOULDN’T EXIST!

So, while the films below are all fantastic films and deserve to be considered among the best of the year, their order has everything to do with favoritism over quality. After all, lists like these are highly subjective, and while it’s certainly possible to objectively call a film “one of the best,” ultimately by ranking such diverse works against one another, you just have to acknowledge the fact that you’re playing favorites.

 

So, yeah, anyway to review and summarize: These are, in my opinion, THE BEST FILMS OF 2012, but they are ORDERED ACCORDING TO FAVORITISM. Make sense? I hope so! If not, then just keep reading on, ’cause I think you’ll get it, anyway! Read more…

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Review: Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

December 7, 2012 7 comments
The Nightmare Before ChriastmasDirected by: Henry Selick
Produced by: Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Michael McDowell (screenplay); Tim Burton (story)
Cinematography by: Pete Kozachik
Editing by: Stan Webb
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Ken Page
Year: 1993

 

Aren’t you glad that emo culture is on its way out? (Or is that fad already dead? I can’t really tell. Not in school any longer. I hope it is.) I remember this one emo kid in my high school, a couple grades below me, who went by the name of “Jack.” I put that in quotations because, as it turns out, his name wasn’t actually “Jack.” I honestly don’t remember what his name was, but I do remember how stupid I felt once I learned that his name actually wasn’t “Jack,” as I had come to believe, and that he had chosen this false name based on the lead character from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Frankenweenie”

October 22, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Tim Burton
Produced by: Tim Burton, Allison Abbate
Written by: John August
Cinematography by: Peter Sorg
Music by: Danny Elfman
Starring: Charlie Tahan, Frank Welker, Winona Ryder, Cathernie O’Hara, Martin Short, martin Landau, Robert Capron, Atticus Shaffer
Based on the short Frankenweenie by Tim Burton

 

I’m going to say it, something that everyone’s been thinking and even saying for a while, but it bears mentioning again: Tim Burton has really lost his touch since the late 90s. Though he’s still since released some decent-to-genuinely-good films since then, none of them have been entirely original. His take on Alice in Wonderland was a garish bore, and while I truly enjoyed both Sweeney Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they weren’t entirely his own material, now, were they? I think that the best thing that we can say about Frankenweenie at this point in Burton’s career is that it falls somewhere in this latter category of truly enjoyable though not entirely original material. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “ParaNorman”

August 26, 2012 6 comments
Directed by: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Produced by: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
Written by: Chris Butler (screenplay), Arianne Sutner, Stephen Stone (story)
Cinematography by: Tristan Oliver
Music by: Jon Brion
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Jodelle Ferland, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Hannah Noyes, Ariel Winter
Year: 2012

 

There are several things that I admire about this movie that I’m just going to highlight from the outset:

  1. The animation is impressive. I have no idea how they pulled off the visually (not to mention emotionally) charged ending effects, but I would really like to see the featurette on the home release on that.
  2. Getting back to the emotion, there are moments in the film that feel stunningly authentic, and that ending really does pay off.
  3. The filmmakers largely stayed away from obvious pop culture horror references that would be so prevalent in so many big studio film efforts. There are some, one of which is revealed in the trailers (“You want to play hockey?”) and another that is a lot more subtle than this (Norman’s ringtone is from The Exorcist), but, for the most part, the film is a much calmer, more self-contained experience than it could have been.

I lead into this review with those points because I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy this film, because that wouldn’t necessarily be true. The fact of the matter, however, is that for all the things this film excels at, there are several things that hold it back for me from being the apparent critical darling that Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that ParaNorman is.

Read more…

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