Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Media Update 12/31/20

December 31, 2020

Letters to Satan Claus

This movie is a parody of Hallmark Christmas movies in the best way. A reporter, Holly Frost, must return to her hometown of Ornaments to cover the annual Christmas hullabaloo. Holly is bitter about Christmas after her parents were murdered on Christmas morning when she was a kid. However, the town of Ornaments has plenty of sexy guys and booze to pass the time. However, her past is rising up to haunt her and a simple transposition of letters may spell doom for Holly and Ornaments. The movie touches on all of the annoying cliches by either playing them straight or turning them on their ear. Karen Knox is great as the embittered yet ambitious reporter. Joseph Cannata plays a somewhat oblivious ruggedly handsome attorney. His cute yet dumb daughter is played brilliantly by Jessica Clement. Jana Peck is delightfully dark as the title character, cracking one liners as she stalks her victims. The rest of the cast does great as too dumb to live small town denizens. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie.

Black Christmas

I remember liking the original Black Christmas but the 2006 version was not very exciting. I wanted to see this version because Blumhouse is really knocking it out the park with their remakes and reimaginings. This movie took the basic premise but fleshes the characters out more and adds more to the story. The sorority getting stalked is now a feminist sorority with a bone to pick with the biggest frat on campus. The movie has a great air of mystery as we watch the young ladies get stalked by unseen predators. Imogeen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady, and more are all great as very likable college students. Director and writer Sophia Takal does a really good job of staging the movie to make me feel anxious during every scene. The movie is beautifully shot and a lot is left up to the imagination to make you worry more for these girls. I defintiely recommend this movie.

Better Watch Out

I had heard a lot of good things about this movie so it was time to finally watch it. This movie is a babysitter home invasion story set during the holidays. However, there are some touches that really made this different from standard faire like When A Stranger Calls or The Strangers. The Christmas season does not have much impact on the story but it does make for some fun props and a pretty background. Olivia DeJonge plays the babysitter who is taking one last job before she goes off to college and is definitely a confident and cool young lady. Levi Miller plays her charge, a young boy almost too old to need a babysitter but his parents worry about him. Ed Oxenbould plays the stoner friend of Miller’s character who decides to visit and add more on DeJonge’s shoulders. The movie is very playful and had a lot of twists and turns that I did not expect. The acting was spot on and the action sequences really delighted me. There is also an undercurrent of dark humor and an actually interesting message. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Psychostick – Zombie Claus

New Years Day – Kill or Be Killed

Pop Smoke ft. Dread Woo – Woo Year

Scrawl – 11:59 It’s January

Run The Jewels – Out Of Sight

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Christmas Horror 2020”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I finished Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults
I finished EVIL Season 1

Media Update 12/24/20

December 24, 2020

The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again

Two years ago I was enchanted by a simple Christmas version of The Prince and Pauper starring Vanessa Hudgens. Hudgens was so good at playing two distinct characters, one who felt like they had emerged from The Crown and the other who felt at home in Riverdale. This movie revisits the characters from the first movie while upping the ante as all great sequels do. This time there are three identical people played by Vanessa Hudgens and the swapping leads to a very fun and interesting Christmas story. Hudgens uses about four or five accents in this movie and it is delightful. She is so good at it that I felt like I immediately knew who was in each scene without getting confused about which of the three was present. Sam Palladio and Mark Fleischmann return as the love interests and are given more to do to flesh out their characters. It also shows how happily ever after is not so simple as kissing just before the credits and that you really have to put in the work to make relationships that matter and last. I definitely recommend this movie.

The Shop Around the Corner

This is a Christmas classic that I had heard about before but it took my cousins for me to actually check it out. This movie was later remade as You’ve Got Mail but honestly the movies are fairly different. The movie is about two strong-willed workers at a department store who start a correspondence relationship. There is also an intrigue plot but it focuses mainly on the two. The guy is played by James Stewart and his earnest delivery really serves him well as the ultimate good guy with a playful streak. The gal is played by Margaret Sullavan, she plays the epitome of the fast-talking go-getter who is able to turn any situation in her favor. Frank Morgan plays their boss, a kindly old department store owner. The movie is very sweet and much of it falls on the shoulders of Stewart and Sullavan whose chemistry is electric. The main draw of the movie is watching a cat and mouse game with kind of an old sitcom comedy style. The movie does not go as heavy on the holiday stuff and instead focuses on the interactions between the characters with Christmas as more of a backdrop. I recommend this movie.

The Bishop’s Wife

This is an odd sort of movie that goes hard in the paint for the holidays. The basic premise is that a bishop asks for holy guidance for how to raise money to build a new cathedral. His prayers are answered with the appearance of an unassuming angel who does not directly answer the bishop’s question. Instead, he moves into the bishop’s house and cozies up to the bishop’s wife and daughter. As the bishop is busy with work, he is frustrated that this stranger is suddenly very chummy with his family. David Niven plays the bishop, a frustrated and somewhat uptight individual. The wife is played by Loretta Young who is good at being the dutiful yet neglected wife. Cary Grant plays the goofy yet debonair angel. This movie actually rubbed me the wrong way. Cary Grant’s character came off as kind of sadistic and I felt that the plot was made needlessly cruel for that reason. Your mileage may vary. At least Elsa Lanchester was in it. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Kurt Russell and Darlene Love – The Spirit of Christmas

Sarah Jeffery, Jadah Marie – Audrey’s Christmas Rewind

Sabrina Carpenter – It’s Finally Christmas

Panic! At The Disco – Feels Like Christmas

China Anne McClain – This Christmas

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Misrepresentation on the Holidays”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched more Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults
I watched more EVIL Season 1
I started watching Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I watched My Little Pony: The Best Gift Ever
I watched The Last Shark (Rifftrax Version)

Top 5 Christmas Movies

December 21, 2020

I tuned in last week to watch the above video from one of my favorite YouTube channels to hear the thoughts of two of my favorite perfomers (Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara) and their guest. As with most lists of this kind, I disagreed with some of their choices. Instead of tearing their lists down, I decided to make my own. I decided to exclude a lot of what I consider joke answers to this question such as Die Hard, Batman Begins, and Gremlins. I also put Christmas Horror in a completely different boat. Also, even though I love the movie dearly, I do not think of A Nightmare Before Christmas as a Christmas movie even though it uses a lot of the assets.

  1. White Christmas

To be fair, this is the Bing Crosby Christmas movie without the blackface. I watched this with my mother a couple of years ago and we both really enjoyed it. Bing and Danny Kaye are army men who finish their tour of duty and head back to the States. They become successful performers as a singing and dancing duo. They meet up with two performing sisters played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The four end up heading to the middle of nowhere Vermont to spend the holidays at an inn where the girls are booked to perform. However, the inn and the town are in trouble without any snow so the four of them decide to put on a show to save the day. It is an endearing story of four witty and artistic people who have such great chemistry with each other. The movie is full of great songs like “Sisters”, “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)”, and starts and ends with “White Christmas”. Bing Crosby became synonymous with Christmas and that is probably a big reason why this movie made this list.

  1. A Christmas Prince

This was the second movie that helped launch my getting back into watching Christmas movies. I chose this movie originally because it stars Rose McIver, an actress I loved so much in iZombie. In this, she stars as a reporter tasked with getting the scoop on a prince’s coronation in a foreign country obsessed with Christmas. She stumbles into a lie which gets her close to her subject but when feelings develop, she starts regretting everything. McIver really makes the movie as she is at times sarcastic, wide-eyed, clever, and just plain funny. She is paired with Ben Lamb who plays the titular role with such playful wholesomeness. His sister really steals a lot of scenes (played by Honor Kneafsey) walks the edge of what could have been an annoying character and makes it into a very smart and funny one instead. Theo Devaney is so great as the smarmy “villain”. However, the movie very well could have failed if they had not been given a really great supporting cast. The two sequels are even better though this is the one I kept coming back to.

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol means a lot to me. When I worked professionally in live theater, we did the same production five years in a row and the story never got old. This is a story that I have experienced starting at a very young age and this version may have been the very first. It came out when I was nine years old at a time when I had already experienced The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Seeing these familiar characters acting out this story was truly magical. Michael Caine as Scrooge is almost the only human character and that made it feel like an extended episode of The Muppet Show. Caine acts so earnestly in the movie and always reacts to the Muppets as if they were fellow performers which, in a sense, they were. The movie adheres to the original story very well but also adds in much needed laughs along with what is essentially a Christmas ghost story. The movie is also a musical which helps to keep the story bouncing along in what can be a very long-winded story. This was absolutely a marriage of three things I have loved since I was a kid: The Muppets, Horror, and Christmas.

  1. Klaus

I am a sucker for Santa Claus lore because I have been fascinated with (ahem) research about the man, the myth, the legend. This movie is a throwback to the more traditional two-dimensional animation comparable to the Disney Rennaisance period. It utilizes 2D drawings with a new 3D lighting software design which really produces a breathtakingly beautiful movie. The story follows a young mailman-in-training who is sent to an island town to reopen their post office. In order to do that, he befriends a hermit in the woods and basically invents the man we know and love. The movie is such a touching portrayal of a world similar to ours but with some invented politics and geography. It is also wildly funny at the same time. Jason Scwartzman plays the excitable Jesper, a young screw up who now has to make good. JK Simmons plays the titular character, an emotionally wounded man who just wants to make good. Rashida Jones plays the clever school teacher who gets sucked up into the madness. Joan Cusack and Will Sasso play the heads of two feuding families that has absolutely destroyed the town. Norm Macdonald basically plays his usual sarcastic self. The production also involved actual Sámi people with authentic Sámi language in a very touching manner.

  1. The Christmas Chronicles

This movie absolutely caught me off guard. It felt like an entirely different kind of Santa Claus tale which managed to shine a spotlight on Santa while making him a supporting character in his own movie. The movie follows two kids played by Darby Camp and Judah Lewis. They are a brother and sister who have grown apart due to the death of their father. Lewis plays a teenager who has grown cynical too early and is annoyed by Camp’s optimistic and sunny character. A chance run-in with Santa Claus sets the two on a whirlwind adventure that will teach them about themselves and realign both of them on the right path in life. Santa is played by Kurt Russell and it is the coolest portrayal that has ever appeared in a movie previously. This is a Rock and Roll Santa who absolutely loves his job. The lore building that they created in this was absolutely a draw for me. They explained a lot of the Santa stories without explaining too much or getting too detailed. The spotlight remains on the two kids as they learn together and separately the true meaning of Christmas. The movie is an exciting rollercoaster from start to finish while still allowing for a lot of heartwarming moments that directly confront the dysfunctionality and bonds of family.

Honorable Mentions:
The Year Without a Santa Claus
The Knight Before Christmas
Shop Around the Corner
Let It Snow

Media Update 12/17/20

December 17, 2020

Christmas Chronicles 2

I enjoyed last year’s Christmas Chronicles very much as a genuinely sweet Christmas movie that just happens to have good worldbuilding. In this movie, we get even more and it did not feel like they were just returning to the same well. Kurt Russell returns as one of the coolest Santa Clauses in film history. He is action hero with a lot of heart and ten tons of charisma. This movie adds in Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus, a whip smart and determined healer and magician. She is such a delight and really helps to drive the movie along. Darby Camp returns as Kate but is now an adolescent reeling from all of the changes in her life and wanting to go back. Jahzir Bruno is great as the new kid, a bit of an outsider who is anxious but with a lot of enthusiasm. Julian Dennison is new as the boyish yet bitter villain Belsnickel. The movie involves and reveals the inner workings of the North Pole. It allows Santa and Mrs. Claus and the elves to be more of a character instead of a supporting player. Still, there are very human stories about love, loss, and the courage to move on. I recommend this movie and you do not need to see the first one (but it helps).

Alien Xmas

When I learned that the Chiodo Brothers who are legendary animators were creating a Christmas special, I was excited. Among other things, the brothers were directly responsible for Killer Klowns From Outer Space. The special was also executive produced by Jon Favreau. The short film really felt like classic stop motion specials from my childhood like Rudolph, The Year Without Santa Claus, and many others. The animation looks so cute and smooth and I love that the Chiodos can do heartwarming and scary in different projects. The music by veteran composer Adam Schiff fit the piece perfectly. At only 42 minutes, the piece does not overstay its welcome and provides plenty of heartwarming moments while still having a bit of a modern tweak. I definitely recommend this short movie.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Sometimes you just want to watch a movie with a heartwarming yet exciting story with batshit insane visuals. I knew that this movie would have a lot of worldbuilding and interesting set and character design and I was not led astray. The movie is an interesting take on the traditional Nutcracker story as we are shown a young girl being flung into a fantasy world in order to process the death of her mother. Mackenzie Foy plays the young woman in question who is a brilliant inventor like her mother and her uncle. She was very good at playing somebody on the edge between child and adult who is struggling with her emotions. Her uncle is played by the always charismatic Morgan Freeman. The title character is played by Jayden Fowora-Knight, a military man who is impressed by this new face. Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren play denizens of this strange new world. Both were practically unrecognizable in the best way. Special shout out to Jack Whitehall who was creepy as hell. The movie has a lot of really cool effects and interesting design and everything is baked by the music of the ballet. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Big Freedia – Make It Jingle

DJ Cummerbund – All I Want For Christmas Is To Bury A Friend

No Doubt – Oi To The World

Ariana Grande – Santa Tell Me

Hava Nagila – Techno Remix

Weekly Update:

This Week’s Them is “The Young Finding Their Way at Christmas”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched No Retreat, No Surrender (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Girl from Rio (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Firehead (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Laser Mission (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Arachnia (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Planet of Dinosaurs (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Future Force (Rifftrax Version)
I started watching Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults

The Christmas Lottery (2020) – Low Spoiler Review

December 14, 2020

My friend Kay filmed this movie this year so I thought I would drop everything and write a full review. I am going to start writing full spoiler reviews when the spirit moves me so get ready for that.

The Davenport family has drifted apart but when their father wins the lottery, they all come running home to get a cut. The true intention of the parents is to reunite the three sisters before their mother is completely gone.

Our Cast of Characters:

Deirdre Davenport (Asia’h Epperson) stayed behind in Texas to help with her parents’ restaurant and to help out with her mother’s advancing dimentia. She rarely takes time for herself and it is often left to her wife, Belinda (Phylicia Morgan), to take care of Deirdre while she is taking care of others. Deirdre is dedicated to her life of service but resents her sisters for leaving town and not being able to chase her own dreams.

Tammy Davenport (Candiace Dillard) is an aspiring musician who is trying like hell to break into the music business. Her boyfriend, Spyder (Terayle Hill), is a yoga teacher who does not earn much and is kind of a mooch but sweet. The combination means that the two are almost always getting evicted and barely have money for food.

Nicole Davenport (Brave Williams) is a high-powered professional in New York. She has no time for things like Christmas, love, or family. Her life is perfect but she does not realize how empty her life really is. She also just lost her high profile job and needs seed money for a new venture. She also runs into an old high school fling, Tyson (Lorenzo Cromwell), who gives her pause.

Daddy Davenport (Reginald VelJohnson) is a restaurant owner who is proud of his wife and his three daughters. He is a very playful guy who was always the Good Cop when his daughters acted up. He criticizes through comedy and tries (and succeeds) to be everybody’s friend.

Mama Davenport (Kay Megan Washington) is a former music teacher who always dreamed of starting her own school. She had to quit her job when her dimentia started to impact her life. Her dimentia is worse than most of her family suspected. She is still a very cheerful yet firm mother who still remembers being the disciplinarian. She does not want her family to know how bad things are.

So How Was It?

The movie set up really feels like a traditional cable/Netflix Christmas movie. Three sisters return to be a family again just in time for Christmas. A lot of the movie is devoted to the sniping between the three sisters as they work out their deep-seated issues that they have developed over the years. Bit by bit, you get the pleasure of watching cold hearts melt and walls come tumbling down. There are also three different couples and we get to watch their dynamic as they work through their personal issues. The chemistry between all of the actors is really good and each scene is very charming and easy to watch. Even the arguing is fun.

The movie approaches dimentia in a pretty good way. This is something that I am always worried about when a movie chooses to portray it. There is dimentia in my family and I have several friends in the same situation. Sometimes it is played for laughs or played too maudlin. Here, it is played as I have experienced it. It is the person fading away slowly and it is sad but you cherish the moments you have as they slip away. People tend to write off people who have dimentia before they are gone and the movie makes a point not to do that.

Overall, I really liked the movie as it really did feel like a family Christmas. You fall back into a familiar rythym but also discovering the differences that have developed over the years. You can’t help but keep that family drama and trauma in your head and heart but you have to push past it or you will be sick with it forever.

Media Update 12/19/19

December 19, 2019


A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

I was not going to let the Holiday season go by without checking out what has been an annual tradition for three Christmases now. I fell in love with Rose McIver through her role on iZombie which definitely showed her range. I fell in love with her again in the role of Amber (now Queen Amber) in The Christmas Prince. She plays such a nuanced, intelligent, and likable character. Ben Lamb returns as King Richard, who is charming and intelligent himself. Alice Krige and Honor Kneafsey return as Queen Helena and Princess Emily and continue to be delightful. Theo Devaney returns as Simon and gets to continue a rather interesting character arc which I was pleased to see continue. Tahirah Sharif was not a new addition to the series but in the past two movies, she only got a few minutes of screentime so it was interesting to see more of her story. Newcomer Momo Yeung (as Queen Ming) really made the movie for me as she was a welcome addition and was such a breath of fresh air. Kevin Shen (as King Tai) and Crystal Yu (Lin) were also very welcome. Other returning characters were pushed to the background but they got their moments to shine. I really enjoyed the influx of people of color into the franchise which led to a richer experience overall. I definitely recommend this whole franchise.


Let It Snow

Frankly, I was not going to watch this movie and was instead going to watch a different, more cheesy Christmas movie (which I may watch next year). However, two things changed my mind. One, the cast included two genre actresses which reminded me of what got me back into Christmas movies a few years ago (Dear Santa). The other was that the movie ended up on a list of LGBT holiday movies to watch since we all decided to boycott Hallmark (I have a lifetime boycott). The two actresses that I mentioned are Kiernan Shipka (from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Liv Hewson (from Santa Clarita Diet). What I didn’t realize was that there would be other favorites of mine. Shameik Moore was Miles Morales in Into the Spidervers and was in The Get Down and here he was surely fantastic. The always funny Jacob Batalon (Ned in the MCU Spidermovies). I was also shocked and very pleased to see Joan Cusack as the only adult in the movie. The rest of the cast was so great. The movie is a great ensemble piece as if somebody had watched Love, Actually and had said to themselves “I can do that but better”. It was a wonderful collection of stories that really did not have a lot to do with Christmas but that was a breath of fresh air too. I recommend this as well.


The Knight Before Christmas

Back to the cheesy Netflix Christmas movies! Vanessa Hudgens was a welcome addition to the Netflix Christmas family last year and it was good to see her return. This time, we get a particularly innovative Christmas movie about time travel. Basically, a knight from England is transported to a modern-day city (probably Canada). Vanessa Hudgens really ties the movie together well as her snarkiness and sweetness really guide most of the scenes. She is joined by Josh Whitehouse who is great as the somewhat naive but fun knight out of time. Most of the scenes are between the two of them but the rest of the cast is delightful. The movie was just different enough that I found it harder to predict each story beat so I was pleased and engaged by it. This movie also established a shared universe with the Christmas Prince universe so all of those post-apocalyptic theories have been disproved. I am interested to see if this is a new franchise for Netflix or just another valuable addition to their Christmas stable. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Lizzo – Never Felt Like Christmas

Elton John – Step Into Christmas

My Chemical Romance – Every Snowflake is Different (just like you)

TLC – Sleigh Ride

Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Netflix Christmas 2019” #NotSponsored
– I watched Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 7
– I watched more The Crown Season 3
– I watched more The Gifted Season 1
– I watched more Runaways Season 1
– I watched more Elementary Season 1
– I watched more Prodigal Son Season 1
– I watched more Scream Season 1
– Merry Christmas! Next week is Christmas Horror.

Media Update 12/12/19

December 12, 2019


Klaus

When I saw the first stills from Klaus, I knew I was going to watch it. I am a huge animation fan and any studio that is going back to 2D art is going to raise my eyebrows. Sergio Pablos and Aniventure took traditional 2D animation and applied newer computer-generated lighting effects which make for an entirely new look. The animation is so pretty but that is also because the art design is so good. The movie is an account of the origin of Santa Claus. It takes place in a beautiful but remote island in Denmark. The key lesson of the movie is “A true selfless act always sparks another.” I felt whiffs of Disney, early Tim Burton, but also so much more. The movie stars JK Simmons as the title character. He is gruff but with plenty of good drama and a little bit of awkward comedy. The character the movie actually follows is Jason Schwartzman who does a great job at keeping the energy going by constantly talking but being endearing even when he is an asshole. Rashida Jones is really good as the local schoolteacher, gruff and smarter than anybody else in the film. They also went out of their way to cast real Saami people to be included in the movie and their culture was treated with respect. I definitely recommend the movie.


Noelle

When I saw Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader together on a poster for the movie, I was sold. Bill Hader has quickly become one of my favorite actors/comedians. Anna Kendrick is somebody who I like but I am not as familiar with her work but she always seems fun to me. Besides, I just got Disney+ and it seemed like the perfect first Christmas movie to watch this year. Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader play Santa Claus’ kids who must deal with responsibility after his death. Kendrick is so good at the realistically naive but jolly title character. Hader is delightfully neurotic as Nick. Kingsley Ben-Adir is so likable as the down to Earth but still slightly clueless private detective. Maceo Smedley plays his incredibly insightful son. I was also really glad to see great supporting roles from Shirley MacLaine, Julie Hagerty, and Billy Eichner. The show is really sweet and funny and definitely not too much in any direction. I really enjoyed it and, true to Disney form, I cried near the end. It is a great story about finding your place in the world and growing up and into who you want to be and who you need to be. I definitely recommend it a lot.


Santa Girl

This was an interesting movie to pair with Noelle. It is about Santa’s daughter feeling restless and rebellious about having to take over the family business and an arranged marriage. She decides to go to college to experience life before she has to settle down. It is a fun movie with a lower budget that does not get in the way. The movie basically boils down to scenes between four characters. Jennifer Stone plays Cassie Claus, a somewhat spoiled and naive girl who just wants more substance in her life. Devon Werkheiser and Joshua Cody play the two guys she meets and becomes friendly with at school. Werkheiser is casual and funny with a big heart. Cody is stern but with a good heart. McKayla Witt plays Cassie’s personal elf and she is so cute and fun and she steals a lot of the scenes she is in. The movie started off slow but, like many Netflix Christmas offerings, really hit its stride and felt really good. A big part of it is the chemistry between the characters. I definitely recommend it as it seems like it went under the radar because it was released during August of this year.

 

Music of the Week:
Set It Off – This Christmas (I’ll Burn It To The Ground)

Kessiah and Maya ft. Kai – Donde Esta Santa Claus

Akim and Teddy Vann – Santa Claus Is a Black Man

Run The Jewels – A Christmas F*cking Miracle

The Killers – Don’t Shoot Me Santa

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Santa Claus’ Family”
– I finished Charmed Season 1
– I watched more Brooklyn 99 Season 3
– I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 7
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 2
– I watched more The Crown Season 3
– I watched more The Gifted Season 1
– I watched more Runaways Season 1
– I watched more Justice League Action Season 1
– I watched more Penn and Teller’s Bullshit Season 3
– I watched more Scream Season 1

Media Update 12/20/18

December 20, 2018


Mercy Christmas

Most people who observe Christmas as a holiday want to spend it with people who at least tolerate them. I spend every Christmas with my mother and at least one of my brothers and some combination of other family members. The one year that I had to work in another state while other people were back home celebrating was painful. So, I can understand somebody wanting to be loved on Christmas and jumping at any chance to be together with anybody on Christmas. In this movie, that feeling leads to bad things for our loveable hero. While this was a simple horror movie, it actually had a lot of heart. It is about family dynamics, office politics, and Christmas. It is also about cannibalism. It is obviously cheaply made but I could not help but like the actors involved as they tried their best on a low budget. That low budget did not impede a fairly good story and an interesting concept. The movie has a momentum to it that made it hard not to love by the end of it. The ending is chaotic and fun and totally earned and strangely fitting for Christmas. Remember, Christmas is as much about the family you choose as the family you are born with or marry into. I recommend this movie.


Red Christmas

I was attracted to this movie because it stars Dee Wallace, a veteran of so many horror movies. She was in both The Hills Have Eyes and Critters, both of which I watched for the first time this year. When I found out she was in this new Christmas movie, I felt I had to check it out. Ultimately, I am glad that I did. However, I was about to shut it off at first. By ten minutes in I kind of hated the family together on Christmas who would not stop bickering. Also, it was inexplicably set in Australia even though half the cast was not Australian. I stuck with it and it got better. Once the actual horror elements started, I saw that the family stuck together when the chips were down. Also, there were so many low key good elements to the movie. For one, I loved how they depicted panic with the camera shaking and going out of focus. I also liked Dee Wallace who was the shining star of the film. I also liked the action that kept guessing what was going to happen next. I feel that it is rare when I am too surprised by horror films anymore. The movie felt kind of like The Hills Have Eyes in that a defenseless family is caught off guard and besieged by a superior killer. The cinematography very much reminded me of seventies classics like Hills or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie kept me guessing here and there and was utterly brutal but kind of fun. I definitely recommend it as well.


The Elf

I find the whole tradition of the “Elf on a Shelf” to be really, really creepy. The concept of Santa always watching you is unnerving enough but to have something in your house watching, judging, and reporting is crazy. I always thought it was a natural subject for a horror movie and finally, somebody tackled it. Of course, they had to use a different doll because the official one is trademarked. However, this movie is plagued with problems. The acting is so wooden that I wondered if I was not watching a bad dub of a foreign movie. The plot makes little sense mostly because almost nothing is explained. They drop the viewer into the middle of a weird story without really giving any lore or explanation. The characters come up with some of it but the viewer is not shown how they come to these conclusions. The camera work is very shoddy and uninteresting as well which is sad. The actors’ audio is not properly recorded so the dialogue is muddled. Although considering the acting, that might be doing them a favor. The only thing I found interesting was the brief bits of puppetry or animation done with the doll. Except that the doll’s kills are not shown and instead we see them through jumpy, confusing camera shots from the doll’s point of view. It was a bit of a letdown and it made me hope that somebody else tries this concept again. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:
Gwen Stefani – Cheer For The Elves

The Dollyrots – Because I’m Santa

Lindsey Stirling ft. Sabrina Carpenter – You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Aloe Blacc – Funky Ass Christmas

Fantasia – The Snow Is Falling

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Blood for Christmas”
– I finished Hilda Season 1
– I finished Happy! Season 1
– I watched more Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I started watching Designated Survivor Season 2
– Merry Christmas!
– RIP Joseph Van Tiem

Media Update 12/13/18

December 13, 2018


The Princess Switch

Netflix is experiencing a boom of Christmas movies this year based on reactions to last year and I am all in. This movie stars Vanessa Hudgens and … Vanessa Hudgens!? Yes, this is your classic Prince and the Pauper story but set at Christmas. Some have been critical of Hudgens but I feel like she did a great job playing twins. Each character felt distinct and she really made me believe it with her acting. Coupled with the fact that Vanessa Hudgens is a pretty charismatic young woman and this was just destined to be a pretty good movie. The love interests are played by Sam Palladio and Nick Sagar, two guys I have never seen before but I liked both of them. Palladio plays a foreign prince in yet another small fictional European nation a little stuffy but charming. Sagar plays a down to Earth American guy who always had a bit of a crush on his friend. The acting is pretty good, the script is cheesy, and the production budget is mostly non-existent. Still, there is something about the formula for these movies that is nostalgic and pleasant. Besides, there’s a shoutout to last year’s A Christmas Prince in the middle of the movie. I definitely recommend this for a good Christmas movie.


A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Speaking of the sensation that launched a new niche in Netflix, I knew I just had to watch the sequel this year when it was announced. I actually showed my mother the first movie over Thanksgiving and we were able to watch the sequel together. This made it infinitely more enjoyable as we both really got into it. These are the people who will probably own this sub-genre forever. Like the first one, this movie has just the right mix of Christmas and politics to satisfy me. Set one year after the first movie, the wedding is fast approaching but also the tiny country of Aldovia is having financial problems. Once again, Rose McIver (of iZombie fame) is just so likable as the American journalist who got swept up in a romance with a royal. Her performance and plot made me think of how they talked about Princess Diana when she first married Princess Charles like it was a fairytale. The rest of the cast all return (except Amber’s dad) and I think they turn in an even better performance than the original. I think they all realized how popular the first movie was and were excited to do a sequel. I think part of it is the script had more complexity and felt more relatable than the first one but both were really enjoyable to me. I definitely recommend both movies.


The Christmas Chronicles

Hollywood seems to love doing movies where kids meet Santa and they get swept up on an adventure with him. It happened in Ernest Saves Christmas with probably one of the best onscreen Santas. It happens in The Santa Clause where we learn how new Santas are made. It happens again here but I felt like they put a new twist on it while making it feel familiar. The movie stars Kurt Russel who has a pretty unique take on playing Santa Claus. I have seen Saintly Santa (Ernest Saves Christmas), Kind Santa (Miracle on 34th Street), Bad Santa (Bad Santa), Asshole Santa (A Christmas Story), and Sarcastic Santa (The Santa Clause). Kurt Russel actually pulls off Cool Santa. This Santa is just a cool dude who is so likable. He is the kind of Santa who tells it like it is and is just good friends with everybody he meets. The kids who accompany him are great too. Judah Lewis plays the older brother, deep in his teen years and really bucking against the system. Darby Camp plays the younger sister, a little lonely but still full of childlike wonder. The movie mostly depends on the interplay between those three characters and it makes the movie flow better. I also really liked the deep dive into their take on Santa Claus lore and trying to explain how certain things work. They do not get too caught up in it but they definitely intrigued me with their take on things. I recommend this one as well as it is exciting and surprising in places.

 

Music of the Week:
Kurt Russell – Santa Claus Is Back In Town

Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas

Sia – Santa’s Coming For Us

John Legend – Bring Me Love

Eric Clapton – For Love On Christmas Day

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “A Netflix Christmas”
– I watched more Happy! Season One
– I watched more Designated Survivor Season One
– I watched more Hilda Season One
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season One
– I watched more Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season One
– I started watching The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I finished She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1
– I finished Once Upon a Time Season 7 (and thus the series)
– I went all in on Christmas a little early and the joy continues next week
– Or does it? Muahaha!

Media Update 12/21/17

December 21, 2017


The Christmas Prince

The movie that caused a flurry of tweets after Netflix announced that several people were watching this movie daily. I had already wanted to check this movie out but that weird public shaming convinced me for sure. I wanted to see it anyway because it stars Rose McIver, the star of iZombie. This will apparently start a new tradition of me watching random Christmas movies starring genre television stars. (See last year’s Dear Santa viewing). Anyway, the movie follows a reporter who goes undercover to investigate the royal family of the fictional country of Aldovia. It’s basically England without all of the baggage. The movie is cheesy but also very sweet and it has a coherent and good story for the holidays. Since I have been watching Season 2 of The Crown this week, this movie definitely resonated with me. McIver is great as the young, hungry reporter who figures out there is more to the story and her story than she thought. The child actress, Honor Kneafsey, did a great job at playing a much more complex character than most of the cast. Ben Lamb, who played the titular prince, also did a good job of being an interesting person and not the usual cookie cutter prince we see in these movies. I am so glad that Netflix produced this instead of it ending up on Lifetime or Hallmark where it would have been both inane and forgotten. While it is not a perfect movie, I found myself laughing and smiling and even shouting at the screen (in a good way) all through the movie. I definitely recommend it for those looking for a holiday movie that is light on an actual holiday.


Psych: The Movie

This movie is a Christmas gift from the old gang to all the Psych fans. While the Christmas season does not really affect the plot at all, the movie soundtrack does include several Christmas songs. Really, this movie is the long-awaited closure that was not needed but I definitely welcomed. The end of the series was kind of playfully open-ended but you could kind of guess what happened next. However, when I heard about this movie I was all in. The character of Shawn Spencer was a guy who I loved from the beginning but at one point, I believe that the writers let him stagnate a bit and not grow up. This movie works to fix that a little bit. But more than that, it was absolutely a love letter to the loyal fans that have stuck with this show for so long. There were cameos from some of the greatest guest stars and the whole cast from the series returned. On top of that, one of the cameos was from WWE superstars John Cena and there was a bigger part for Charlotte Flair (Wooo!). They brought back a lot of the old running jokes but they definitely played with them, as the characters have always been pretty self-aware about those bits of comedy. This was a fun romp through the new setting of San Francisco and we got to see some growth from the beloved characters. I am happy to hear that creator Steve Franks has four other stand-alone movies planned as this movie felt kind of like a new beginning of sorts. I recommend it to fans of the original series and if you have not watched Psych go track it down.


A Christmas Together/Rocky Mountain Holiday

These are the two holiday specials that John Denver did with The Muppets at a time when I was not born/a baby and when the original cast was still alive. I am not knocking the new cast at all but it was the original cast that first captured my attention. John Denver also has a special place in my heart because of his relationship with the Baltimore Orioles when I was a little kid. I knew there was at least one John Denver album done with the muppets but I had never known there were actually two television specials. A Christmas Together is a show about John and the Muppets trying to put together a Christmas special and, like an episode of the Muppets, it has both backstage and performance pieces. The performance visuals can be a bit trippy which matches Denver’s warbling vocals. The special ends with the story of Jesus’ birth with puppetry cute enough for me not to complain.  The second special has a lot more lively music and there is more Muppets-style humor.  It also has way more Muppets puppetry (muppetry?).  I prefer the second one since I like upbeat music more but both are pleasant and nostalgic.  Of course, only the first is actually a Christmas special which I did not realize until I cued the second special. I guess it’s just a summer holiday special.  I recommend them both.

Music of the Week:
Dru Hill – This Christmas

Joyce Chu – Merry Cold Christmas

Billy Idol – Yellin’ At the Xmas Tree

Ariana Grande – Wit It This Christmas

Amon Amarth – Viking Christmas

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Fun Christmas”
– I started watching Longmire Season 3
– I started watching The Crown Season 2
– I kept watching Blue Exorcist
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha
– I watched a lot of GTLive and Game Grumps
– Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope that you find some peace this week


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