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REVIEW – Trading Places

January 1, 2017 Leave a 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 2 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 Leave a 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

 

 

Halloween Movie Month 2016

October 1, 2016 Leave a comment

 

 

Paranormal Activity - Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Six. This year marks the sixth time I have done a Halloween movie theme month. Not only that, it also signals that I have now been running this blog since I was 25. This year marks my 30th birthday, which also just so happens fall on Halloween. To say that Halloween 2016 is a scary one for me is an understatement. But, the reviews must go on! (Well, not really, but I enjoy writing them, even if I’m fairly certain not many people are actually reading these.) As a result, though, you would think that I might have big plans for this year. Well… I don’t. But one idea did just occur to me, and it’s actually something I intended on reviewing last year, but it completely escaped my mind: How about I review a film starring one of my former high school classmates that also just so happens to be on Netflix?

Darkroom - Kaylee DeFer

The film is called “Darkroom” and stars aforementioned classmate Kaylee DeFer, whom I went to school with until she moved. I’m not going to pretend I knew her well or anything – she was perfectly nice, but we just didn’t have the same social circles – but it’s still kinda surreal to have a former classmate who has now had roles in films shows like Gossip Girl and was even a crucial character in the string of events that led to Ted Mosby meeting his wife on How I Met Your Mother. I think the most interaction I ever had with her was our freshman year during our school’s Shakespeare week, and we were assigned to reenact the gravedigger scene from Romeo & Juliet. I sliced my hand open on the metal pole I was using as a prop and started bleeding, resulting in the scene – and my own burgeoning acting career – being cut considerably short. So… yeah, I’ll get around to doing that one, unless it’s no longer available on Netflix or some other service. (And, really, why wouldn’t it be? I only discovered it because I noticed her on the cover while browsing, and that’s probably the only way anyone has watched it.)

28 Weeks later - Infected

I do intend on reviewing some other horror classics I haven’t gotten around to, though, perhaps the original Amityville Horror, as well as perhaps some newer ones, like a certain computer-based film I actually put on my Favorite Films of 2015 list that I admittedly only saw once. (I’m curious whether it holds up, particularly by just watching it on a laptop this time.) I do think this year will be considerably more horror-heavy than previous years, if only because I’ve actually been really in the mood for them, rather than the more lighthearted stuff like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Ghostbusters (take your pick which, just don’t troll my site). Perhaps it’s just the bleak impending doom of turning 30, though? [shudder] I guess, if the mood strikes, I could end up doing something more cheerful.

Regardless of what goes on though, just know that I’ve been looking forward to this month and watching some suitable movies for it. Until then, consider reading some of my previous seasonally appropriate reviews, linked below.

Happy Halloween!


The Blair Witch Project10 Cloverfield Lane

28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Aliens

Attack the Block

The Babadook

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Dawn of the Dead (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2004)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don't BreatheThe Exorcist

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Grave Encounters

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

Hocus Pocus

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

Krampus

The ExorcistThe Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

The Mist

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Paranormal Activity

ParaNorman

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

Shaun of the DeadPoltergeist (1982)

Predator

Psycho (1960)

The Purge

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither (2006)

ZombeaversSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2013)

The Visit

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombeavers

Zombieland

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Independence Day: Resurgence

July 2, 2016 1 comment
Independence Day ResurgenceDirected by: Roland Emmerich
Produced by: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Screenplay by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt
Story by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods
Edited by: Adam Wolfe
Cinematography by: Markus Förderer
Music by: Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Brent Spiner, Bill Pullman, Deobia Oparei, Travis Tope, Angelababy, Nicolas Wright, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Joey King, Vivica A. Fox, Nicolas Wright
Year: 2016

 

I’ve long held that the first Independence Day was one of the best bad movies ever made. Of course, as a kid, I thought the movie was genuinely one of the best movies ever made, and it was the first movie I was able to convince my parents to let me see multiple times while it was still in theatres. As time went on, the flaws and eccentricities of Roland Emmerich’s ridiculous alien invasion movie became much more apparent, of course. However, what became even more apparent was that I still undoubtedly loved the movie, often more because of its quirks rather than in spite of them. The cast that was assembled for that movie was seriously stellar: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner… And that scene where the aliens finally unleash their ultimate weapon remains one of the standout special effects moments I’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s obviously an effect, but I recall watching the special effects feature on the DVD and being completely in awe of just how much care went into making those scenes. (Did you know they built model cities, tipped them on their side, and then launched the flames upward to get those destructive effects?) Read more…

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