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Showing posts with the label 2015

Your Family or Mine: Christmas in July (2015)

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This is the kind of show that reminds me why I have never wanted cable. We watch a lot of repellent things in the name of Christmas, but this was a special level of awful. It’s a sitcom, distinguishable from other sitcoms only by its exceptionable levels of imbecility. Kate and Oliver are married. Apparently the ‘humor’ of this show comes from them dealing in succession with one or the other of their families. Like every other ‘family’ sitcom. This episode follows them and their extras, I mean daughters, on a visit to Oliver’s parents. Oliver’s mom insists on getting the family together in the summer to take the annual Christmas card photo, because “people are fat in the winter.” There’s some clever comedy coming here, folks. In the beginning of the episode (before I stopped thinking to prevent my neurons from shutting down in pain) I was confused. Is Kate not the mother of those two (seven-year-old-ish) girls? If she is, why does she seem flummoxed and confused by things tha

Mainlining Movie Discussion: Home (2015)

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Home is a CG science fiction comedy from last year that’s ambiguously a Christmas movie. It’s loosely based on the 2007 novel, The True Meaning of Smekday . It’s not a clear enough example to be covered in the normal season, but we felt it deserved a spot in our archives. We’re trying something a little different on this one: instead of posting a review written by one of us, we’re presenting this as a discussion. Let us know what you think of the format: we're thinking of adding it to our standard repertoire. Erin: Let’s start with the story. The movie is set immediately after the events of a disappointingly bloodless alien invasion where the human race is transported to Australia. A girl’s left behind, and she befriends an outcast alien who’s inadvertently endangered the planet by sending a party evite to another alien race. The girl’s trying to find her mom, and the alien’s trying to undo the damage he’s done. You get the idea. Unlike me, you actually read the book. How

Arrow: Year's End (2012), Three Ghosts (2013), The Climb (2014), and Dark Waters (2015)

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This is one of those times I stumbled across a few Christmas episodes while watching a series. I saw Arrow's pilot back when it originally aired. I actually liked it quite a bit on its own merits, but was underwhelmed by the move away from comic book tropes. It felt like a really good dark and gritty take on a superhero origin, but I'd kind of had my fill of those. I decided not to follow it but to pick it up later if I heard it was worth it. What actually got me back on board was The Flash, which was much more in line with what I wanted from the genre. A handful of crossovers convinced me Arrow would head in a more interesting direction given time. Besides, like I said before, the pilot was actually quite good for what it was. Years End (2012) The first Christmas episode occurs a little less than halfway through season one. The season started strong with a few missteps. But a few episodes before Christmas, it took a dive for the worst, and this one doesn't do muc

Music Review: Broadway’s Carols for a Cure 2015: Volume 17

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I bought the 2011 Carols for a Cure album in person in New York, and I’ve meant to pick up another one ever since. I love the combination of classic carols and new songs, all done by current Broadway singers. I was excited to find that they’re now all available in MP3 for those of us not able to pick them up on Broadway! The 2015 volume has a lot of gems. Here’s a quick run-down of what you’ll find this year: CHRISTMAS VACATION - The cast of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical Hey, this is a good reminder that I actually like this song when it’s divorced from the terrible movie. Fun! JOY TO THE WORLD - The cast of Hamilton  I'll admit it, this song is a big part of why I hunted down this album. Per the Mainlining Christmas rules, I can't go back to listening to Hamilton over and over until Dec 26, so this'll have to hold me over. This track opens with narration and segues into the song, done in a style of overlapping harmonies and echoing lines that heavily evoke

Difficult People: Difficult Christmas (2015)

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This episode might be a bit of a litmus test. Heck, this whole show might be a bit of a litmus test, but I haven’t seen the rest to be sure. If you communicate naturally in snark, if you sometimes hate people reflexively, if you have had an unhealthy, love-hate relationship with a job or a city or a family member, you might enjoy this show. I thought it was freaking hilarious. This is the first episode we've seen, so we had to figure out characters and their relationships from context. This wasn't a problem, and it even created a funny moment when one character was explaining her ‘suicide season’ surge pricing, and I said, “oh, she's a therapist?” right before the dialogue confirmed it. The story follows the two main characters, who are both friends and aspiring comedians, through their holiday stress. Billy has to help with his niece with his brother out of town, so he takes the opportunity to sign her up for dance classes at a specific studio in hopes of joining t

Krampus (2015)

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After some careful consideration, Lindsay and I agree that Krampus is our second favorite dark comedy/horror/fantasy movie released this year that features the famous Christmas demon. To be fair, there was some stiff competition . Honestly, Krampus is only nominally comedy or horror - I'd describe the film as a fairy tale before referring to either of those genres. And fairy tale is where Krampus's strength lies: it's a fantasy about Christmas magic and the darker implications of that concept. In realizing this side of the holidays, the movie employs some amazingly beautiful visuals. When we first set eyes on Krampus, we're too busy staring in awe to be afraid. Which doesn't mean there aren't some jump scares and the like. But there's less horror than wonder, even when the things on screen are anything but friendly. The movie opens somewhat gratuitously on dramatized imagery of shoppers battling each other for sales. It's here both to establish t

A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

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On the page for their new Christmas special, Netflix tags A Very Murray Christmas as "Witty, Quirky, Irreverent, Deadpan." This is probably as good a description as any I'm going to offer, but the internet isn't going to fill itself up with inane blather. If I weren't copying off of Netflix's test answers, the other way I'd describe it would be a traditional Christmas special from a post-modern perspective. It's almost a deconstruction of the classic formula that doesn't actually want to give up that formula. Sound weird? It is. I'm sorry. Not weird - quirky. The quirky  special opens with Bill Murray in his hotel room with Paul Shaffer, both playing themselves. After a quick blues tune, Amy Poehler and Julie White barge in, somewhat confusingly not playing themselves. They're producers, here to drag Bill downstairs to perform for a live TV special, despite the fact all their other guest stars canceled due to a storm. He's und

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

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A Christmas Horror Story 's title might undersell the content: this is at least four distinct stories, not one, each with a different tone. The stories are told in tandem, cutting back and forth over the film's hour and forty minute run time. All occur simultaneously on Christmas Eve. They're technically connected, but not significantly. Some of the characters know each other or have some background tying them to another story, but none of what happens to them in their own tales is impacted by what's going on elsewhere. Despite being distributed direct to video on demand, this anthology was impressively well shot, written, directed, and acted. It balances the horror and comedy well, juggling between a genuinely unsettling horror/fantasy, a creature feature, a ghost story, and a campy horror tale. None of these - not even the camp - fall into the pitfalls that usually trip up this genre. The movie never forgets it's horror first, and it has no interest in settlin