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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

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…

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…

Christmas (and Other Associated Holidays) Movie Month 2015

December 1, 2015 Leave a comment

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Christmas Tree

Good grief, it’s Christmastime again, isn’t it? Geez, the year flew by! Alrighty then…

So… I will keep this introductory post brief, as I have already done this sort of thing four times previously, and I feel like any further explanation will be extraneous, and… yeah, you get the concept of a theme month, right? Right!

If you don’t know, I love the Christmas season, and so every year, I dedicate a majority of the month of December to reviewing Christmas movies. By this point, as I’ve pointed out before, I’ve reviewed most of the ones I love the most, quite honestly, and so there is a slight possibility of me being a bit of a Scrooge — or a Grinch, if you will. Then again, I’ve also discovered some really enjoyable films in the past, too — Joyeux Noël and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale come to mind — so I’m not ruling anything out. I probably also maybe forgot a few more iconic films I’ve thought about in the past, even, so, yeah… Who knows?

I might also throw in a few other movies (and possibly even some non-movies) that are appropriate for this time of year, such as when I reviewed the only Hanukkah-appropriate movie almost anyone can ever think of, Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights or some New Year’s movies. As with this year’s Halloween Movie Month, I really have no firm plans this year, quite honestly, apart from one exception…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Millennium Falcon vs. Tie Fighters

Yeah, I’m pretty much guaranteeing that I will be reviewing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, regardless of whether it’s actually a Christmas movie itself. Hey, we can all pretend it’s a gift to the masses if that makes you feel better!

The Star Wars Holiday Special - Lumpy

So… yeah, it’s Christmastime, so get in the holiday spirit and, if you have trouble waiting for the next review, go ahead and peruse the films I’ve reviewed in the past below!

 

Bad SantaArthur Christmas

Bad Santa (Director’s Cut)

Batman Returns

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Part 1, Part 2)

A Christmas Story

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Die Hard

Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights

Elf

The Family Stone

Home AloneHappy Christmas

Home Alone

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Home Alone 3

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

It’s a Wonderful Life

Jingle All the Way

Joyeux Noël

Love Actually

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

Miracle on 34th StreetMeet Me in St. Louis

Miracle on 34th Street

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Part 1, Part 2)

The Nativity Story

New Year’s Eve

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Polar Express

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Rise of the Guardians

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Kirk Cameron's Saving ChristmasKirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas

Scrooged (Part 1, Part 2)

Tokyo Godfathers

White Christmas

 

Halloween Movie Month 2015

September 30, 2015 2 comments

The Babadook - Essie Davis

It’s that time of year again — October 2015 kicks off the fifth annual Halloween Movie Month (formerly known as “Scary Movie Month” but changed because I just didn’t want to review only scary movies)!

You might think that for such an auspicious occasion, I will have something special planned. Well… you’d be wrong. I don’t. I’m planning on winging it, quite honestly. Why? Because life. Lately, I’ve been pretty busy, and this has led to me being very tired, and so I basically have been writing reviews based on what I feel like, and I plan on continuing that for the month of October in regards to season-appropriate movie choices.

That being said, though, I am definitely looking forward to reviewing movies for this year, and I do at least have some things in mind that I want to get to. The first movie I plan on reviewing is a pretty big one, too, and is one that I’ve been meaning to watch for years but have, quite honestly, been a bit too intimidated by to really feel like I could give it its due. However, with the movie exiting Netflix streaming services at the beginning of the month, I felt like it was a sign for me to just do it before it’s too late. Which movie is it, you ask? Well, fine then, I’ll tell you: it’s The Exorcist!

The Exorcist - Father Merrin Arrives

So yeah, no formal plans for this milestone month, but, as with every subsequent year I do this, I increasingly look forward to expanding my exposure to the horror genre and other Halloween-related movies. Seriously, I’ve really grown in my appreciation for these things, and I always find myself holding back on reviewing certain movies until I can do it for this time of year. As always, though, I’m going to start the month off by leaving you with a convenient list of previous Halloween-appropriate reviews for you to peruse.

Happy Halloween!


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Aliens

Attack the Block

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Dawn of the Dead: Director’s Cut (2004)

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Grave Encounters

Halloween (1978)

The Thing (1982)Halloween (2007, Unrated Director’s Cut)

Hocus Pocus

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

The Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

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

PoltergeistParaNorman

Perfect Blue

Poltergeist (1982)

Psycho

The Purge

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither

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

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2014)

The Visit

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombeavers

Zombieland

REVIEW: Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Paul Blart: Mall CopDirected by: Steve Carr
Produced by: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Barry Bernardi
Written by: Kevin James, Nick Bakay
Edited by: Jeff Freeman
Cinematography by: Russ T. Alsobrook
Music by: Waddy Wachtel
Starring: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Keir O’Donnell, Bobby Cannavale, Adam Ferrara, Peter Gerety, Stephen Rannazzisi, Jamal Mixon, Adhir Kalyan, Erick Avari, Raini Rodriguez, Shirley Knight, Allen Covert, Jason Ellis, Natascha Hopkins, Mike Escamilla, Rick Thorne, Mike Vallely
Year: 2009

 

You know what the nice thing about Redbox is? They know that when a sequel to a film releases, a lot of people might want to see the original film, too. So they’ll distribute copies of the original film for rental again, no matter how old. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, as you may know, has been recently and inexplicably unleashed upon moviegoers this year after a six year gap since the last incident occurred, and Redbox was kind enough to still stock up on the original to remind us all why we should not feed into the box office of this completely unnecessary and, from all accounts I’ve heard, thoroughly putrid film. Thank you, Redbox. Surely those who gave the film the $88 million it’s accumulated so far at the box office were simply ignoring your warnings.

Read more…

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