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Showing posts with the label Highly Recommended

And So They Were Married (1936)

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Is there a romantic comedy history expert out there who can help me with context here? And So They Were Married is an early example (or perhaps the originator) of the "kids manipulating parents" sub-genre that would eventually turn into things like The Parent Trap and its ilk. I'd be curious to know whether it actually is the first, or if it was following on the heels of similar productions. Mainly, I'm curious because... well... This movie rules. I'll get to a few of the usual "well, that aged poorly" caveats in a moment, but strictly as a comedy, this is easily the funniest movie of the '30s we've done to date and possibly one of the funniest Christmas movies of all time. The jokes hold up more than eighty years later, which is incredible in and of itself. I should note I'm bucketing this as a "romantic comedy" with trepidation. It's really more of an over-the-top farce about kids acting recklessly with the adults' relatio

Hell's Heroes (1929)

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As far as I can tell, this is the earliest feature-length Christmas talkie that still exists. There's a movie released earlier in 1929 called "Auld Lang Syne" which I'm assuming was holiday themed, but no copies are believed to have survived, and I can't find so much as a synopsis online. If anyone knows anything about that movie or any other Christmas movies from the 1920s with sound, please   reach out . But as far as extant Christmas movies featuring synchronized sound with talking, this appears to be the first. I know that sounds like a lot of qualifiers, but I think the addition of synchronized sound - particularly sound with dialogue - is functionally the boundary between an earlier art form and modern movies. I don't want to disparage silent pictures in any way: they are a fascinating medium in their own right, and I have every intention of tracking down more silent Christmas films. But watching them is a very different experience than watching a film w

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) [Revisited]

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Yes, we discussed this back in 2010, but at the time we weren't really even doing reviews, let alone any kind of serious reflection or analysis. I'm working my way through the canon of Christmas Carol adaptations, and I felt I needed to give this a re-watch, anyway, so let's take another look at Mickey's Christmas Carol , the version I once considered the best adaptation out there. A little background. This is directed by Burny Mattinson, who'd go on to make The Great Mouse Detective. Those are his only directing credits, but he's worked on numerous other Disney projects dating back to 1953. And, incredibly, he's still with the company - he worked on Ralph Breaks the Internet. Guess he likes it there. It's based on a 1974 album,  An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol , featuring much of the same dialogue (though with a few substantial changes). Mickey's Christmas Carol was released theatrically with reissued Disney films (The Jungle Book in E

A Christmas Carol (1971)

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This 1971 British TV special was subsequently given a brief theatrical showing, making it eligible for the Academy Award for an Animated Short, which it rightly won. It's easy to see why - with all due respect to Mickey's Christmas Carol, I've got a new favorite animated adaptation. It's directed by Richard Williams, the genius who handled the animation side of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and spent decades working on The Thief and the Cobbler, a legendary animated production that was never properly finished. Ken Harris and Chuck Jones worked on this as well, in case being directed by one of the greatest animators in history wasn't enough. Stylistically, this is based on illustrations accompanying classic versions of Dickens's book. To put it another way, you will recognize these characters. In a similar vein, they got Alistair Sim to reprise his role as Scrooge from the 1951 production. This is, without a doubt, the most impressive half-hour version of A Christmas C

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

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As a fan of the Guardians movies and (as you may have noticed) of Christmas media, I've been waiting for this. And, at risk of spoiling the end of the review, I was not disappointed. There are a few details I have issues with, but on the whole, I absolutely love this thing. The special opens with an animated bit establishing that Peter Quill's childhood Christmases with the Ravagers were traumatic (or at least that's Kraglin's impression). Mantis, who we learn is secretly Peter's half-sister, wants to give him a proper Christmas, so she and Drax head to Earth to get him the perfect present: legendary Earth hero, Kevin Bacon. They arrive in Hollywood and, after some of the standard shenanigans you'd expect, the two Guardians are given a map to the stars, which they use to track down Bacon. They break into his house, chase him down the street, fight off police, then Mantis uses her powers to manipulate Bacon's mood so he's eager to follow them anywhere. Th

Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale (2007)

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I jokingly apologized to Lindsay while starting this. After all, it's a direct-to-video Tom and Jerry movie from 2007 based on The Nutcracker clocking in at just under an hour: every one of those details is a red flag that this will be awful. Seriously, by all rights this should be borderline unwatchable. Really, no logical way this could in any way be redeemable. Right? RIGHT? Well, apparently my understanding of the metaphysical laws governing our reality is less foolproof than I imagined, because this thing was kind of great. More than that, it was great for what would have been the last reasons I'd have expected, if the possibility had even crossed my mind (which, again, it hadn't). The Tom and Jerry stuff is fine but ultimately unremarkable, save for the fact it's barely an afterthought. Sure, there are sequences of zany, cartoon violence, but it's a fairly small part of the film. The bulk of this, and the reason it's good is.... Actually, it's kind of

Spencer (2021)

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All right, cards on the table: despite being plenty old enough to remember the marriage, divorce, and death of Diana, I didn't really pay much attention when it was going on. Or after, for that matter: I never found the news specials, documentaries, or movies/shows appealing. To put it another way, I know very little about the life and death of Princess Diana. I went into Spencer with virtually no context about her or the royal family. That might be an issue here, because I get the feeling you're supposed to have a little background before seeing this movie. It seems to be challenging the viewers' understanding of Diana, which presupposes you actually have one. I don't think this invalidates my opinion on the movie, but I want to be upfront about where I'm coming from and what my limitations are. If you're someone who's been fascinated by this person and the tragedy around her death, you're likely going to view Spencer through a very different lens and w

Scrooge (1935)

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For those of you trying to keep track, this British production is the first feature-length adaptation of A Christmas Carol with sound. It stars Seymore Hicks as Scrooge, and despite leaving an imprint on subsequent versions, it seems to be widely dismissed as inferior to the 1951 movie of the same name . I don't at all agree with that - I prefer this one, and not just because it's shorter (though that doesn't hurt: I'm a believer most modern adaptations of A Christmas Carol are too long). I think Hicks is fantastic as Scrooge. He looks and acts very different than the version that's become the norm. Hicks is quite a bit stockier than most versions of Scrooge, and he's a little wilder in appearance and in his mannerisms. To me, this makes his eccentricities a little more believable. At the beginning, he feels like a curmudgeonly old man who's not quite right in the head. Frankly, he's an angry conservative, rather than a cliché villain. Then, after his tr

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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I think I've watched this movie at least three times since the creation of this blog simply to reconsider whether or not it qualified as a Christmas movie (this is, of course, in addition to countless viewings growing up - this is one of my mother's favorite movies, so it was on a lot). Because this is more a New Year's movie than a Christmas one, it never quite passed our litmus test, which I always regretted, since this movie - in my humble opinion - absolutely rules. Well, now we consider New Year's an extension of Christmas (since, you know, it is), so the question's moot, and we can talk about one of the most iconic romantic comedies made in the last four decades. The story, of course, centers around Billy Crystal's Harry and Meg Ryan's Sally, both of whom are awkward and somewhat off-putting. They come across to the audience as eccentric and likeable for the duration of the film, but the movie succeeds in making you doubt you'd enjoy hanging out w

Strange Days (1995)

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Before I even get into the spoiler warning, I want to open this with a content warning. The movie I'll be talking about includes a sexual assault, and while I won't go into much depth in the review, I found it disturbing even relative to other films that touch on that subject matter. [Editor's note: I found this scene incredibly upsetting to watch. I was glad I sought out spoilers ahead of time so I knew what I was in for - Lindsay] If that's not something you're willing to sit through, you'll want to steer clear of this one... ...And I needed to open with that, because this is one of those movies where plot spoilers could impact your experience quite a bit. And also, yes, this is a pretty great sci-fi noir flick directed by Kathryn Bigelow, so it's probably worth your attention, assuming the last paragraph isn't a deal-breaker. The film definitely has some issues aside from that, so it's not like this is required viewing or anything, but it's g

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas (2021)

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TWO Aardman holiday specials this year? Woo! While Robin Robin featured a slightly different look and style for the studio, Shaun the Sheep is right in their comfort zone: hilarious comedy done with extremely professional stop-motion animation. If you've never seen any Shaun the Sheep, you can jump in at any time. There's a television series, two films, and multiple specials. All of them feature roughly the same premise: Shaun and his sheep pals live on a farm. Shaun is much more intelligent than the farmer knows (as are the other sheep, if less so), and comedy ensues. The farmer (who is an idiot) and the farmer's loyal dog often come up with plans to improve the farm, which often come into conflict with capers run by the sheep and other animals.  And it's all wordless. There's no dialogue in Shaun the Sheep, only mumbles and expressive animal noises. The simplicity lends itself to brilliantly outlandish physical comedy.  This special might be the funniest entry I&#

Hawkeye: Season 1 (2021)

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So far, the Disney+ MCU shows have been something of a mixed bag. I don't think any have been awful, but the level of quality has fluctuated wildly from series to series, with WandaVision being by far the best and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier being the most disappointing. Good or bad, they've all boasted impressive production values and have all delivered some of the quippy dialogue that's become a hallmark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hawkeye joins Iron Man 3 in sporting a Christmas setting. Between the two, I think Hawkeye makes better use of the holidays -  in Iron Man 3, it mainly just felt like a callback to the director's filmography. Here, it serves to heighten the tension, tie in to themes of family, build up a sense of the surreal, and... well... okay, it's also kind of making a bunch of allusions to Shane Black movies, but it's not like I mind. Of course, the Christmas setting also means it's fair game here, so let's dig into the sec

Angela's Christmas Wish [Angela's Christmas 2] (2020)

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A few years ago, we were surprised and delighted by Angela's Christmas , which was a joy in basically every way. I actually remember seeing that this sequel existed last year, but I was hesitant about it. No more source material plus a lot of good press for the first one could easily lead to something rushed and poorly written. And even in the best-case scenario, what could possibly live up to the first special?  Well, not this, but it's still very good. Funny, charming, adorable, uplifting, and really grounded in ways that animation often isn't. It's just not, you know, transformative children's media. If you liked the first one, I recommend you check this out. If you didn't see the first one, go watch that! Angela's Christmas Wish (also marketed as Angela's Chrismas 2) starts with an introduction that takes place before the events of the first movie, in which we see Angela's dad get on a boat for a job in Australia. (Reminder that this all takes pl

Metropolitan (1990)

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I'd never watched (or as far as I can recall even heard of) this movie prior to seeing someone on Twitter assert it was a Christmas movie, a claim I initially doubted skimming the synopsis. I became more optimistic watching the trailer, as holiday decorations can be seen in every other shot, give or take. So I decided to give this a chance. First, I can confirm this is absolutely a Christmas movie, at least according to the definitions and litmus tests employed at this site. Granted, all such definitions are inherently subjective, but I think it's worth pointing out that our subjective definition is objectively superior to any other found on the internet. If you disagree, I don't know what to tell you: that's just science. More importantly, this movie is goddamn hilarious, or at least that was my take. Lindsay found moments funny but overall was kind of bored. I suspect that's a common reaction to this film - the humor is an unusual combination of over-the-top and d