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(Yes, we need another) Holiday Movie Thread

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Good_Will_Harding
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#161

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

15. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - Showed this while at work. Nothing to add here. As lovely and simple as ever.

16. Happiest Season (2020) - Of the "streaming original" holiday offerings I've watched recently, this one was by far the best. Still tied down to a conventional holiday homecoming formula, but the angle in which they approach it - sort of a reworking of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with a lesbian couple - helps breathe new life into the otherwise familiar tropes, and also kept me invested in the whole outcome. There were a handful of times where they teased that it might be heading in a more fresh and surprising direction, but ultimately it wraps up pretty much how the average viewer would expect it to. Not a bad thing, but the potential for a more impactful conclusion seems unfulfilled. Conventions aside, this was still a really enjoyable watch and I could definitely see myself revisiting it during future holiday seasons.
Merry Chrysler
1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
2. Batman Returns (1992)
3. Scrooged (1988)
4. Die Hard (1988)
5. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
6. The Christmas Chronicles II (2020)
7. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
8. The Golem (1920)9. Bundle of Joy (1956)
10. See You Tomorrow (1940)
11. Community 1 x 12 "Comparative Religion"
12. Community 2 x 11 "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
13. Community 3 x 10 "Regional Holiday Music"
14. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
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#162

Post by OldAle1 »

Good_Will_Harding wrote: December 23rd, 2020, 8:14 pm

16. Happiest Season (2020) - Of the "streaming original" holiday offerings I've watched recently, this one was by far the best. Still tied down to a conventional holiday homecoming formula, but the angle in which they approach it - sort of a reworking of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with a lesbian couple - helps breathe new life into the otherwise familiar tropes, and also kept me invested in the whole outcome. There were a handful of times where they teased that it might be heading in a more fresh and surprising direction, but ultimately it wraps up pretty much how the average viewer would expect it to. Not a bad thing, but the potential for a more impactful conclusion seems unfulfilled. Conventions aside, this was still a really enjoyable watch and I could definitely see myself revisiting it during future holiday seasons.
Ha, I watched that last night myself. Basically agree though I think you probably liked it more than I did. It would be baaaarrreeelly a recommendation from me. I'll write up more about it in a little while or tomorrow.
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#163

Post by AdamH »

Combined 24 lists so far for They Wrap Presents: https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/they ... ess/adamh/

I've made an effort to find lists including older films. I've also purposely avoided any 'Best Christmas films to stream on Netflix' lists as they exclude so many films that aren't available on streaming platforms.

So far:

30s-2
40s-12
50s-5
60s-6 (including 4 animated shorts)
70s-3
80s-13
90s-18
00s-21
10s-16
2020-1

Still a clear bias towards the later decades which seems to be hard to avoid. I think it's also 7 animated shorts (also heavily biased towards a certain era - all from 1964-1983).

If anyone can suggest any decent lists then please let me know. I've listed most of the lists in the iCM link but still need to add four to the description. Would love some more older films in the list and also some foreign ones (very, very, very few so far). I included the iCM forum list but it was from 2014 with not too many voters unfortunately. I'm sure a new poll on here would have more participants.

Notable that Planes, Trains and Automobiles has made it into 5 Christmas lists so far despite very clearly being a Thanksgiving film...
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#164

Post by OldAle1 »

10. Blackadder's Christmas Carol (Richard Boden, 1988)

re-watch I think. Blackadder all sort of runs together for me - I saw a lot of it back in the 90s, probably saw some or most episodes from ever series except the WWI-set year, and while I enjoyed it, and have continued to like it on the rare occasions I've seen any of it since 2000, there is something that just keeps it from being a favorite. I think it's probably the particular kind repetitiveness of it - most sitcoms are repetitive of course and full of specific genre cliches, and we often like them because we are attracted to their particular tropes, and this is certainly true for me - and I like the kind of cynical, nasty humor on display here. But for some reason it gets tiresome a little too quickly. I think the canned laughter is part of the problem - it's just too interfering in the case of this show. I dunno. Anyway this is a reverse on the traditional Dickens story, with kindhearted Victorian-era Blackadder who gives away everything to the poor and loves everyone more than himself being shown the light, err, the dark by the spirit of Christmas (a wonderful Robbie Coltrane, born for this role) and becoming the Blackadder we all know and love/hate. For all of my caveats about the show as a whole, this is pretty amusing, though I'm glad it's less than an hour long.

11. Jingle All the Way (Brian Levant, 1996)

I don't know if this is a guilty pleasure, or I genuinely love it, but this is probably my third viewing and it holds up. I didn't see it new - had way more stuff to spend my time and money on in 1996, and I never really got behind Arnold's transition from action hero to comic actor, though he's better at it than some of his peers like Hulk Hogan or Stallone. I think I first watched this about a decade ago after learning that it was shot in the Twin Cities, a community I know somewhat and really like, and it's nice that the film makes good use of it's locations and never pretends it's taking place somewhere else. I've gotten rather obsessed with accents and location-proper casting, so it's a little disappointing that none of the main cast members have the correct Upper Midwest accent - though Ontarian Phil Hartman isn't too far off - but this isn't as big an issue for a broad comedy as it would be for some other kinds of films. It's your basic bad father (Arnold) - bad because he works too much of course - learning the lesson of Christmas, sort of, through a competitive bonding with someone else of a completely different class/race (Sinbad), a postman who he vies with to get the perfect last-minute toy, which of course is sold out everywhere. This is pretty silly stuff but the cast helps make it fairly enjoyable; in addition to The Governator, Sinbad and Hartman (probably the best part of it) we have Rita Wilson as Arnie's impatient wife, Martin Mull as a DJ and Robert Conrad as an irascible cop who Arnie keeps tangling with.

12.Happiest Season (Clea DuVall, 2020)

GWH's review above sums it up well, and I too was reminded of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner more than once; this is maybe a slightly better film despite not having Sidney Poitier (Kristen Stewart continues to impress me more all the time, but she's not in that league by any stretch of the imagination, not yet anyway), because it has some good comic moments - most courtesy of Dan Levy's as Stewart's flamboyant friend who thinks she's making a big mistake staying in a relationship with a woman who clearly isn't as comfortable with her sexuality, or at least being out about it. I have to say my favorite moment though was a slightly dark little joke about Santa involving the twin children of Mackenzie Davis's sister - had there been a little bit more satire or cynicism in the film as a whole it might have registered more than just as a lesbian version of a lame typical rom-com. And what's with Aubrey Plaza in a decidedly non-Aubrey Plaza role? Good for her to play a more "ordinary" part I suppose, but it didn't suit her and could've been played by anybody. Also the family political-social dynamics really weren't explored well and left the whole thing as rather unconvincing - it's never that believable that Davis's family wouldn't accept her, frankly, and while I can understand her being reluctant to come out anyway, it all feels like it plays out the way it does just to make for a big scene at the end, rather than to reflect any kind of reality. It's possible to do both and still be funny I think, but this fails on the whole.

13. On Moonlight Bay (Roy Del Ruth, 1951)

TCM. Watched this because I've gotten slowly a little more interested in Doris Day, and because I love musicals in general and hadn't seen it. And it turned out to have a little bit of a Christmas theme - in the sense that a chunk of it takes place during the holidays and there are two Christmas songs, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" (done by a chorus) and "Merry Christmas All" , a lovely little song that is mostly sung by Doris. I've always thought she was overrated as a singer, and there's always been something about her voice that bothered me, and I think I figured it out with this viewing - she has a voice that is simultaneously kind of husky and yet high-pitched, a weird combination. Perhaps there is a technical term for the particular kind of vocal timbre she has, but in any case listening more closely this time, I found that I liked her singing more, although it has to be said that the particular songs in this film aren't that memorable apart from the title tune, and even that isn't a favorite or anything. The story? It's very much a retread of Meet Me in St. Louis, with Leon Ames again playing the irritable father (more irritable here), and with a mischievous younger brother (Billy Gray) as the equivalent of Margaret O'Brien in the earlier film. It's lighter, has fewer characters (only the two siblings rather than five), and has less emotional heft - and Doris is no Judy Garland - but overall I was surprised how much I liked it. Pretty terrific Technicolor photography from one of the greats, Ernest Haller (Gone With the Wind, Mildred Pierce, Man of the West among others) and I guess the kind of nostalgia that is working for me at the moment. And Doris playing baseball with a bunch of boys, scoring a triple in her first at-bat and then stealing home in the first scene is definitely a good way to start out.

14. The Year Without a Santa Claus (Rankin/Bass, 1974)

I'm guessing I saw this when it first aired, or one of the first few times it was on... then it disappeared, or I forgot about it, for a long time. Back in the pre-IMDb years I used to wonder about Heat Miser and Freeze Miser (actually Snow Miser but my memory played tricks) and how to find out what show they belonged to. Eventually I figured it out and of course now all those specials from my childhood are readily available, though there is something to be said nostalgia-wise for waiting for these things to show up on TV, and planning the evening around them. Anyways this is 2nd-tier R/B for me, definitely a notch down from Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and their best, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, but it's still pretty fun, and it's the only one of their prime efforts where a female character (Shirley Booth as Mrs. Claus) is the principal protagonist. The songs aren't that great, but the animation is about as good as they ever got.
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#165

Post by OldAle1 »

AdamH wrote: December 24th, 2020, 6:36 pm Combined 24 lists so far for They Wrap Presents: https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/they ... ess/adamh/

I've made an effort to find lists including older films. I've also purposely avoided any 'Best Christmas films to stream on Netflix' lists as they exclude so many films that aren't available on streaming platforms.

So far:

30s-2
40s-12
50s-5
60s-6 (including 4 animated shorts)
70s-3
80s-13
90s-18
00s-21
10s-16
2020-1

Still a clear bias towards the later decades which seems to be hard to avoid. I think it's also 7 animated shorts (also heavily biased towards a certain era - all from 1964-1983).

If anyone can suggest any decent lists then please let me know. I've listed most of the lists in the iCM link but still need to add four to the description. Would love some more older films in the list and also some foreign ones (very, very, very few so far). I included the iCM forum list but it was from 2014 with not too many voters unfortunately. I'm sure a new poll on here would have more participants.

Notable that Planes, Trains and Automobiles has made it into 5 Christmas lists so far despite very clearly being a Thanksgiving film...
Is that in any kind of order? I find it hard to believe that Elf would be on more lists, or ranked more highly on most of them, than the next dozen or so films. Otherwise the top rankings aren't surprising I suppose.

L'assassinat du Père Noël (1941) is easily my favorite non-English-language Christmas film* but it's not on any Christmas lists on icm, nor really on very many lists at all, I guess it's still fairly obscure. It's at least as much a Christmas film as Die Hard. Rather surprised that Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is also not on any icm Xmas lists at all; it's certainly not that obscure, maybe it's just not that well liked. That's all I got off the top of my head in terms of films that seem obvious to me but aren't on the list.

*keeping in mind that I haven't seen Fanny och Alexander in a very long time
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#166

Post by GruesomeTwosome »

I just watched Satoshi Kon’s Tôkyô goddofâzâzu / Tokyo Godfathers (2003). Seemingly very loosely inspired by John Ford’s 3 Godfathers, we follow three homeless people in Tokyo - a middle-aged man whose gambling debts cost him his family, a runaway teen girl, and a trans woman/former drag queen - who find a newborn baby abandoned amongst a trash heap, and set out to find its mother and why the baby was abandoned. Beginning on Christmas Eve and ending at new year’s, the three outcasts come to terms with their past mistakes that led them to homelessness, as various “Christmas miracles” and coincidences - luck that’s seemingly tied to the baby - help guide their adventures and the answers they seek. It’s all a lot more straightforward than typical Kon fare, and much more of a comedy than his other work, with just a few fantastical touches and action/chase sequences that feel more like him. Definitely not as good as the other Kon films I’ve seen (Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress, and his TV series one-off Paranoia Agent - not seen Paprika yet), but it’s an entertaining film and it’s always nice to see more non-English language films with a Christmas season backdrop. And I always like these types of films that take you on a journey through a city over the course of a night (or in this case, a few nights).
I’m to remember every man I've seen fall into a plate of spaghetti???

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#167

Post by OldAle1 »

15. A Christmas Story (Bob Clark, 1983)

Umpteenth viewing. I don't need to say anything more about this; I've now watched it 3 out of the last 4 years, I guess I'm in perpetual nostalgia-land, but I think that's more OK this year than most, when I can't go anywhere or have a lot of new experiences or be around other people. The comfort of a retreat into the past seems more often to compensate better than taking chances with new viewings than it used to; hopefully next year that will change a bit. I did listen to some of the commentary (from director Clark and star Peter Billingsley) and it's a pretty good one. And I think I'm finally going to make an effort to read the Jean Shepherd book it's based on with the wonderful title of "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" before my next viewing.

16. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Chuck Jones, 1966)

Also don't need to say much more about this - it remains, after probably 50 viewings, my favorite Christmas short and one of my 5 favorites from my favorite animation director. One thing I did notice is this time is the subtle difference in Karloff's voice between the moments where he's narrating and playing the Grinch; I don't think he altered his voice much, I think it was recorded differently, with a different mike or in a room that had been dampened or something - it's a very subtle difference but not insignificant.

17. Tôkyô goddofâzâzu / Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon, 2003)

The last of Kon's four features for me, but I saw the other three each 8-12 years ago and my memories aren't that vivid, so it's hard to know where to place this one, except to say that I liked it a lot as I did all the others (now I need to make time for his Paranoia Agent - maybe next year will be an anime-focused year?), and it makes me want to see them all again. Maybe I liked it the most in some ways actually, because I like the working out of it's broad theme - taken from a hundred-year-old American novel Three Godfathers which had already been adapted into several westerns, notably the John Ford film with John Wayne from 1948 (and which I watched for Christmas a few years ago, upthread) - into a context that is both Japanese and more universal in some ways than the western films. And because it's one of those films set over the course of one night in a big city that becomes something of a magical adventure in the midst of squalor and hopelessness - a Dickensian variation on the urban adventure, too, as in addition to the squalid homelessness of the three main characters (a young teenage girl, a middle-aged alcoholic man, a drag-queen transvestite) there is also a series of wild coincidences that keep piling up until a rather delirious ending. All in all it's a melange of a lot of disparate elements (there are also gangsters, so the "godfathers" in the title has more than one meaning, and there are some Spanish-only-speaking characters that play into the story, and lots and lots and lots of cats) that somehow works for the most part.

18. Scrooge (George Wynn, 1922)

This short film is an extra on the VCI BD of the 1951 film - as a title before it indicates it's the American-release print which runs under 11 minutes; the British version ran a few minutes longer, but only this American copy survives. I'm not sure the extra 4-6 minutes would have mattered, as truncating this material so severely causes it to lose nearly all of it's meaning and gravity. It's not a badly-shot work for it's vintage, with some ghostly effects that are pretty good, but all in all it's really nothing more than a curiosity piece and as it's not even the earliest surviving film of this work, not all that important historically.

19. Scrooge (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951)

Probably 4th viewing or so, but first in at least a decade. I've long loved this as the best Christmas Carol, and my opinion still stands, though I can't help criticizing some elements - not entirely crazy about much of the secondary cast, including the Cratchit family; the Ghost of Christmas Past, an old man(Michael Dolan) here instead of the young lady it often is; and especially Scrooge's nephew and his wife, who just don't make much impression, though I think that may be in part the fault of a screenplay that keeps the focus more on the main character himself than most do. And really, for my small caveats, who could blame writer Noel Langley or director Hurst for giving ever possible moment over to Scrooge when he is embodied so dazzlingly by Alastair Sim in the role of a lifetime? I also give a shout-out to the excellent cinematography by C.M. Pennington-Richards, more noirish and heavily shadowed than any other version I've seen, which strikes me as appropriate. Richard Addinsell's music is also dark, gloomy and foreboding and all in all this comes at some points closer to horror than anything else - and what is more horrible than suddenly realizing you've wasted an entire long life, and have nothing but grief and misery to show for it? At least Scrooge gets a chance that his real-life counterparts mostly don't have through the wonders of art.
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#168

Post by kongs_speech »

I adore the Albert Finney Scrooge from the 70s. Saw it a few times back in 2018 when I was living with a friend who grew up with it. The music is so great, and it's incredibly dark for a family film.
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#169

Post by maxwelldeux »

Image
I have this book. We read it Christmas Eve, then watched both Die Hard and the sequel. It was awesome. Then we video chatted with my parents this morning, and I read it to them. Very fun.

It's a Wonderful Life
This is only the 2nd or 3rd viewing ever for me, oddly enough. The first was on a bus with my grandmother - we were on a bus trip to Leavenworth WA for their Christmas Tree Lighting Festival, and they played IaWL on the tiny screen. I was in high school and that was my first time watching it. Fine enough, but not my thing. I maybe watched it once in grad school, but I don't remember. So this was my first time approaching it as a) an adult, and b) a cinephile. And it's good. Like really good. I related to George Bailey WAY more than I thought I ever would. Damn.

Bad Santa
Nothing has ever cemented my crush on Lauren Graham quite like this movie. She's awesome in Gilmore Girls, and I liked her from there, but this was just a fun ridiculous character she plays. And BBT pulls off "piece of shit" better than most. Tons of fun to revisit.
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#170

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

TV re-watches at home...

17. A Christmas Story (1983)

18. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Re-watches at work...

19-20. Home Alone (1990) Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Merry Chrysler
1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
2. Batman Returns (1992)
3. Scrooged (1988)
4. Die Hard (1988)
5. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
6. The Christmas Chronicles II (2020)
7. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)
8. The Golem (1920)9. Bundle of Joy (1956)
10. See You Tomorrow (1940)
11. Community 1 x 12 "Comparative Religion"
12. Community 2 x 11 "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
13. Community 3 x 10 "Regional Holiday Music"
14. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
15. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
16. Happiest Season (2020)
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#171

Post by AdamH »

OldAle1 wrote: December 24th, 2020, 7:18 pm
AdamH wrote: December 24th, 2020, 6:36 pm Combined 24 lists so far for They Wrap Presents: https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/they ... ess/adamh/

I've made an effort to find lists including older films. I've also purposely avoided any 'Best Christmas films to stream on Netflix' lists as they exclude so many films that aren't available on streaming platforms.

So far:

30s-2
40s-12
50s-5
60s-6 (including 4 animated shorts)
70s-3
80s-13
90s-18
00s-21
10s-16
2020-1

Still a clear bias towards the later decades which seems to be hard to avoid. I think it's also 7 animated shorts (also heavily biased towards a certain era - all from 1964-1983).

If anyone can suggest any decent lists then please let me know. I've listed most of the lists in the iCM link but still need to add four to the description. Would love some more older films in the list and also some foreign ones (very, very, very few so far). I included the iCM forum list but it was from 2014 with not too many voters unfortunately. I'm sure a new poll on here would have more participants.

Notable that Planes, Trains and Automobiles has made it into 5 Christmas lists so far despite very clearly being a Thanksgiving film...
Is that in any kind of order? I find it hard to believe that Elf would be on more lists, or ranked more highly on most of them, than the next dozen or so films. Otherwise the top rankings aren't surprising I suppose.

L'assassinat du Père Noël (1941) is easily my favorite non-English-language Christmas film* but it's not on any Christmas lists on icm, nor really on very many lists at all, I guess it's still fairly obscure. It's at least as much a Christmas film as Die Hard. Rather surprised that Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is also not on any icm Xmas lists at all; it's certainly not that obscure, maybe it's just not that well liked. That's all I got off the top of my head in terms of films that seem obvious to me but aren't on the list.

*keeping in mind that I haven't seen Fanny och Alexander in a very long time
Yeah, it's ranked based on number of lists/ranking within each list. I've included 28 lists so far and Elf is in 25 of the lists (the highest behind It's a Wonderful Life). When there is a ranking, it tends to be ranked highly in lists as well.

I've only included films so far that are in 3+ lists but Bell Book and Candle is in 2 lists so far (Nerve & IndieWire).
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#172

Post by AdamH »

AdamH wrote: December 27th, 2020, 12:27 am
OldAle1 wrote: December 24th, 2020, 7:18 pm
AdamH wrote: December 24th, 2020, 6:36 pm Combined 24 lists so far for They Wrap Presents: https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/they ... ess/adamh/

I've made an effort to find lists including older films. I've also purposely avoided any 'Best Christmas films to stream on Netflix' lists as they exclude so many films that aren't available on streaming platforms.

So far:

30s-2
40s-12
50s-5
60s-6 (including 4 animated shorts)
70s-3
80s-13
90s-18
00s-21
10s-16
2020-1

Still a clear bias towards the later decades which seems to be hard to avoid. I think it's also 7 animated shorts (also heavily biased towards a certain era - all from 1964-1983).

If anyone can suggest any decent lists then please let me know. I've listed most of the lists in the iCM link but still need to add four to the description. Would love some more older films in the list and also some foreign ones (very, very, very few so far). I included the iCM forum list but it was from 2014 with not too many voters unfortunately. I'm sure a new poll on here would have more participants.

Notable that Planes, Trains and Automobiles has made it into 5 Christmas lists so far despite very clearly being a Thanksgiving film...
Is that in any kind of order? I find it hard to believe that Elf would be on more lists, or ranked more highly on most of them, than the next dozen or so films. Otherwise the top rankings aren't surprising I suppose.

L'assassinat du Père Noël (1941) is easily my favorite non-English-language Christmas film* but it's not on any Christmas lists on icm, nor really on very many lists at all, I guess it's still fairly obscure. It's at least as much a Christmas film as Die Hard. Rather surprised that Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is also not on any icm Xmas lists at all; it's certainly not that obscure, maybe it's just not that well liked. That's all I got off the top of my head in terms of films that seem obvious to me but aren't on the list.

*keeping in mind that I haven't seen Fanny och Alexander in a very long time
Yeah, it's ranked based on number of lists/ranking within each list. I've included 28 lists so far and Elf is in 25 of the lists (the highest behind It's a Wonderful Life). When there is a ranking, it tends to be ranked highly in lists as well.

I've only included films so far that are in 3+ lists but Bell Book and Candle is in 2 lists so far (Nerve & IndieWire).
Added some more lists and Bell Book and Candle now makes the list (currently at #106).
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#173

Post by OldAle1 »

AdamH wrote: December 27th, 2020, 9:48 pm
Added some more lists and Bell Book and Candle now makes the list (currently at #106).
Cool. Deserves to be there I think. Still blown away by Elf being at #2 - I mean, I liked it, and certainly liked it more than Home Alone for example, but I just can't imagine that it could be a top favorite for a large percentage of people or groups that would make these lists, I've never had the impression that it was regarded as a modern classic or anything let alone an all-time one. By anybody. Even if I thought your compilation method was to blame (I have no idea what methodology you're using so I really have no such thought) #2 indicates that it must be on a very significant portion of all the lists, and ranked highly on some of them, which just seems bizarre to me. Guess I'm missing out on some cultural gestalt around this film that's been developing.

Seen 2/3 of the list at this point; not a whole lot of gold left from what I can see but still a few that might get tapped for next year.
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#174

Post by OldAle1 »

My last Christmas film for the season, watched on Christmas Day.

20. Fanny och Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1983) (TV mini-series version)

First viewing of this version; I had seen the theatrical-release version though it's one of those films that I saw so long ago, and remembered so little, that I can't be sure whether I saw it in the cinema or on video or TV (I'm leaning towards VHS); it's possible I saw it as part of a near-complete director retrospective in the 90s but I don't think so, I believe I'd seen it already and skipped it. In any case I was beginning to doubt whether I'd ever seen it at all or was just dreaming memories, but this put that notion to rest - I remembered a great deal of the stepfather subplot, and I certainly remembered the wonderful mazelike home/shop of Isak and his nephews. I have the Criterion BD and frankly it doesn't look all that great - the colors over-saturated in the beginning Christmas scene, and a bit of softness throughout; this could in part be due to a lower bitrate than usual due to the desire to cram 320 minutes onto one disc (why?), but reading some reviews apparently it was upgraded for the big Berman box set and looks better there. SIgh. Do I want to shell out for that?

As to my feelings about the film as a whole, there's a lot of great stuft, but the beginning Christmas scene felt endless, and some of Bergman's habitual grousing about God felt rather stale and unconvincing here - I think he's at his best when he treads even more into the realm of the surreal and dream (like in Persona or The Silence). Overall it's compelling, just not absolutely top-drawer for me, and to me it really doesn't have that novelistic feel that some others have found. I can't fault the acting, particularly Erland Josephson as Izak, Allan Edwall as Oscar and Gunn Wållgren (who died at 69 the year this, her last work, first aired) as the family matriarch Helena. I do find the title curious, given that Fanny is very much a tertiary character, without even many lines, and never seen apart from Alexander, who himself is something of a cypher at times. Visually it's certainly well above-average by TV standards of the day but again it doesn't have the striking look that some of the director's best work has; my favorite motif is the way he shoots faces, with hands often touching, caressing, or grabbing them - but the film as a whole relies less on closeups than many of his earlier films, so perhaps these stand out more.
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#175

Post by kongs_speech »

OldAle1 wrote: December 29th, 2020, 4:06 pm
AdamH wrote: December 27th, 2020, 9:48 pm
Added some more lists and Bell Book and Candle now makes the list (currently at #106).
Cool. Deserves to be there I think. Still blown away by Elf being at #2 - I mean, I liked it, and certainly liked it more than Home Alone for example, but I just can't imagine that it could be a top favorite for a large percentage of people or groups that would make these lists, I've never had the impression that it was regarded as a modern classic or anything let alone an all-time one. By anybody. Even if I thought your compilation method was to blame (I have no idea what methodology you're using so I really have no such thought) #2 indicates that it must be on a very significant portion of all the lists, and ranked highly on some of them, which just seems bizarre to me. Guess I'm missing out on some cultural gestalt around this film that's been developing.

Seen 2/3 of the list at this point; not a whole lot of gold left from what I can see but still a few that might get tapped for next year.
As a millennial, I can confirm that Elf is a huge deal. Its placement doesn't surprise me at all. I'm not even that big a fan of it (good flick, I'm just tired of it), but I have a Buddy the Elf t-shirt. There's a musical, a ton of merchandise and dozens of airings on cable all year long.
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#176

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Time to update for that most secular time of year, Easter. But first a quick rundown of holiday viewings since Christmas -

NEW YEAR'S EVE :party:

My tradition in recent years has been something sci-fi/fantasy - an old favorite - and my current favorite film (which is a perfect New Year's choice, that is if you like it) - and perhaps another musical in between. This year I could only manage two -

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam, 1988)

Somewhere around 7th viewing, but first in at least 5-6 years. Very much holds up as one of the greatest fantasies - and commentaries on fantastical thinking - ever for me, though I think at the moment it falls to third place in the greatest triumvirate for any year, after Distant Voices Still Lives and The Last Temptation of Christ.

La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)

16th viewing. Nothing needs to be said that I haven't said already over the past few years.

GROUNDHOG DAY :banana: (ok there ain't know proper emoji)

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)

7th viewing or so but first in almost a decade. I think I wrote something about this recently but don't feel like finding it. Anyway, great as always and lots of personal connections for me.

VALENTINE'S DAY (l) or more accurately (u)

Kissing Jessica Stein (Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, 2001)
10 Things I Hate About You (Gil Junger, 1999)
Pretty in Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986)

Didn't write about these at the time, don't feel like it now and couldn't come up with much without looking at descriptions and thinking more than I want to. Liked the first two all right, pretty solid actually for American rom-coms of recent decades, though neither was good enough that I will probably think about them again unless by happenstance. Pretty in Pink kinda sucked though and reminded me why I continue to mostly dislike John Hughes, just the screenwriter and producer here but clearly as much the creative force here as Deutch, whose next two films were also made under Hughes' aegis. One of the worst endings in rom-com history if you ask me, though up to that point this was above average, at least for Hughes. Really, she goes off with the cute but dullrich guy rather than the weird best friend? That's what we want to see? Really? Fuck you John Hughes.
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#177

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And now on to the period where we celebrate the guy getting nailed to a couple of boards because that's the only way to save the world.

1. In Search of Noah's Ark (James L. Conway, 1976)
2. Noah's Ark (Michael Curtiz, 1928)

ISONA is a Sunn Classic Pictures production, and if you know that company that's about all you need to know. For those who don't - non-Americans and most people under 50 for sure - it was an independent US distrib in the 70s which made "family" films and Biblical (evangelical) stuff. I have very, very dim memories of either this or In Search of HIstoric Jesus playing here when I was a kid, and maybe wanting to see them (heck I didn't know any better and we never got to see much of anything). Also it all ties together in my mind with stuff like Atlantic, the Bermuda Trianle, and ancient astronauts - pseudo-science and the first stirrings of literalism in mainstream evangelical circles were big things at the time. Oh, and the forerunners of the "Left Behind" books and movies starting with A Thief in the Night, which came out between 1972-83. And I've always wanted to see more of this stuff (I've seen the first two in the Thief series and they're hilarious) so why not now? And it's on YouTube so easy-peasy.

And if everything I just wrote is familiar to you, if you're nodding your head, then you know what you're getting. A portentous narrator (Brad Crandall, who apparently had a long career as a sports announcer, but whose voice was extremely familiar to even this non-sports guy) goes into all the "proofs" of the existence of the Ark and it's resting place on Mt. Ararat in Turkey, and why (mysteriously) there aren't any decent photos, video, etc - he never says so but if you were a gullible believer you'd probably think there was a curse on the mountain, that God (or Satan!) didn't want proof to be found; lots of people who tried and seemed on the verge of getting the final part of the puzzle mysteriously died - or their photos or other evidence mysteriously vanished. The whole thing's a big pile of hooey and most of the "scientists" he talks to are Christian apologists - and the counter arguments are never mentioned at all - so I think the average 12-year could probably see through this, if not already blinded by superstition. One of his chief sources of recent (1970s) evidence turned out to be a charlatan years later but very little in this film stands up to any real scrutiny. Lots of fun though if you're in the right frame of mind.

Noah's Arka exists right at the moment between the end of the silent film and the coming of sound; I haven't read up on it but at a guess it was made with synched music and effects, but with some dialogue sequences added later - and some of them quite obviously so. It's a compare-contrast story much like DeMille's first version of The Ten Commandments which had come out 5 years earlier and been a big hit. Most of this is actually a tragic WWI story - which is quite conventional and seemed draggy even at under an hour - followed by a somewhat more lively (and impressive, effects- and production-wise) Noah story. The same main actors, including Dolores Costello and Noah Beery, play the major parts in each story of course. The flood effects were alas all too real and stuntmen were killed, which probably didn't matter much to tyrannical director Curtiz, who did not have one of the best reps on Hollywood, though his films tended to make money so... the suits didn't care. Just like today. Anyway all in all it's pretty humdrum apart from the spectacle.
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#178

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OldAle1 wrote: April 2nd, 2021, 9:15 pm
Spoiler
Really, she goes off with the cute but dullrich guy rather than the weird best friend? That's what we want to see? Really? Fuck you John Hughes.
That's kinda the point though, some girls will do just that. I know Rom-Coms are meant to be comfort food and cater to our tastes and views but somethings they don't and sometimes are better for it. I never liked the traditional "and they lived happily ever after" anyway.

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I've kinda been doing the same this year for some thematic days but with horror movies since they cover a lot of these. And as means to progress slowly in the zombies list.

14/2 (Valentine's Day) (u) - My Bloody Valentine (1981)

17/3 (St. Patrick's Day) Image - Leprechaun (1993)

01/4 (April Fool's Day) :tongue: - April Fool's Day (1986)
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#179

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OK I gotta finish up logging my Easter viewings finally, before another holiday is upon us :lol:

3. Sodom and Gomorrah (Robert Aldrich, 1962)

I think this is maybe the nadir of the Hollywood Biblical epic from it's second major phase (1949-66, roughly). Not as long (154 minutes) as many of the more famous examples, but much more turgid and with a story - Lot and his attempts to coexist, as the leader of the Israelites, with the evil people of Sodom - that should/could provide much more interest than it does, but has to be so watered-down in 1962 that it's never very clear just why the people of S&G deserve to be slaughtered in nuclear annihilation (and yes, the cloud over Sodom really does look suspiciously atomic) by that greatest of all genocidal maniacs, God. As usual there's an all-star or at least also-ran cast with Stewart Granger as Lot (dull and miscast), Stanley Baker as bad guy Astaroth (best acting in the film), Anouk Aimée as the evil queen, and Italian starlets in most of the major female roles, notably Pier Angeli and Rossana Podestà. A mostly Italian production, filmed in that country and Morocco; apparently Sergio Leone did some second unit work on this but was only on the shoot very briefly.

4. The Crusades (Cecil B. DeMille, 1935)
5. El Naser Salah el Dine / Saladin (Youssef Chahine, 1963)

A great example of unconscious synchronicity. I knew that the DeMille film involved the Crusades (duh) and I knew that Saladin was involved in at least one Crusade - but I had no idea that the two films actually recount much of the same history, namely the Third Crusade (1189-92) in which Richard I of England AKA Richard the Lionheart led a coalition of European forces from several countries to try to take back Jerusalem from Saladin, the Ayyubid Sultan, who had captured it in 1187. It made for a great double feature actually, and there are a couple of scenes in the Chahine film that are nearly identical to those in the De Mille; Chahine was a big fan of Hollywood and I suspect knew the earlier film, and may well have made his film as a conscious retort/criticism.

I am not the world's biggest DeMille fan, and likely never will be, but I have started to have just a little grudging respect for his abilities over the past few years, particularly his mise en scene, with a notable example in this film being a really stunning fairly lengthy crane shot involving a crowd with Richard striding through it to a raised step to receive his orders as a Christian knight. And the film is full of really lovely setpieces and shots, and thankfully this was a good copy visually, though unfortunately there were some sound issues in the final third which make it a challenge to go into depth (if I wanted to at this point, which I don't). This is as much a film about Richard's romance with Berengaria of Navarre (Loretta Young) as it is about the Crusade, and the romance scenes have more charm and a bit more naturalness than usual in DeMille, so that' helps. And while we have the usual view of Muslims as savages early in the film, by the end Richard shows real respect for Saladin - and vice versa - and the film comes off as actually slightly nuanced - maybe a first for a sound film from this director.

While The Crusades is a big-budget, largely studio-bound b/w epic very much of it's time, Chahine's film is... a big-budget, color, Cinemascope epic very much of it's time. Like the DeMille film there's a lot of time spent on a romance here, though in this case it doesn't involve the protagonist but his most loyal lieutenant, the Christian Arab Issa, who falls for a female crusader. This is a much longer film, at about 3 hours, and delves a bit more realistically into the political and moral questions of the time, i.e. can people of different religions coexist, and does a city like Jerusalem truly belong to one nation? It's got a lot of conventional military strategy scenes, battles scenes, etc, but towards the end it goes into an interesting, almost Brechtian avant-garde territory with a striking group of scenes, or maybe tableaus, showing Richard and Saladin side by side dealing with more or less the same issues (such as treachery in their own forces, doubts about God and their roles in the war, etc), and like DeMille's film - but more convincingly I think - it offers a resolution showing respect for Richard despite his being portrayed as rather barbaric at various earlier points in the film. All in all a pretty terrific film that I would put up as the equal of the best American religious-based epic of this period (Curtiz' The Egyptian from 1954). Chahine continues to impress me enormously as a filmmaker who could match Hollywood at it's own game in any genre he chose to work in.

6. Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979) (re-watch)

4th viewing or so. The scene where Brian becomes a Messianic figure by chance, all the while trying to deny it, by virtue of a dropped shoe among other trivialities, is one of the most concise depictions of mob mentality - and it's relationship with or domination of religious, cultish, or political "thinking" - that's ever been committed to film. That and a dozen other scenes and an overall cohesiveness mark this as - and Terry Gilliam admits as much during the commentary - the Python's best-realized film, even if I still think Holy Grail is funnier. But there are few scenes in that film that make me laugh any louder than this

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