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(Yes, we need another) Holiday Movie Thread

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OldAle1
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#121

Post by OldAle1 »

New Year's Eve Favorites...

1. Superman (Richard Donner, 1978)

Somewhere around 8th-10th viewing. First saw this new in the cinema, maybe twice; I'm sure I saw it at least once during college as well. For a long while I preferred the second film, don't think I do anymore though I haven't seen that one for quite a few years. This is a problematic film for sure, with a fairly silly plot and unfortunately silly and never-threatening villains, and an idiotic ending conceit which nearly kill it. BUT...the opening Krypton sequence retains it's grandeur for me, the FX are good enough for a guy who has no problem putting himself back in the era it was made, the music is likely John Williams' best, and one of the best scores of the 70s, and most of all, Christopher Reeve, in what is still for me the best performance in a superhero film, and one of the better same-actor-two-roles performances as well, because Clark Kent is every bit as impressive a creation as the man in tights. TSPDT? I dunno...I'm OK about that.

2. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)

15th viewing. I don't need to say anything more about this one do I.
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#122

Post by OldAle1 »

A celebration of Valentine's Day in film, to make myself miserable...maybe.

1. She's All That (Robert Iscove, 1999)

I'm not entirely sure why this has been on my rom-com to-see list for years (I'm not entirely sure why I have such a list but that's another story). The director was a non-name; I haven't seen anything else with female star Rachael Leigh Cook and only one film with co-star Freddie Prinze Jr, I Know What You Did Last Summer which is awfully mediocre. That's where he met his wife-to-be, Buffy the Vampire Slayer lead Sarah Michelle Gellar, so perhaps there was something unconscious in the mix here, as it turns out that this film was shot partly at the same high school that was used for Buffy - the courtyard and front of the building in particular will be obvious to fans of the show, and Gellar makes a very brief appearance sitting in the lunch room, and Carlos Jacott, the main bad guy in the season 2 opener Anne appears in a bit as an exasperated photographer. This digression brought to you because for me it's only as a hard-core Buffy fan that I found any enjoyment at all in this atrocious adaptation #345974 of "Pygmalion", with Prinze as hot jock AND scholar (ok there's a *tiny* bit of originality) who bets his douchier friend that he can take nerdy art girl Cook and turn her into a prom queen princess. Uggh. Nothing good here at all though I'd tend to blame the screenplay for most of if - there are some decent-to-excellent actors here like Kevin Pollak and Anna Paquin (who looks a lot like Cook actually but does't play her sister) but the dialogue mostly feels forced and the scenes play out the same way they would in your head, only less interestingly. Below average even in the world of the American rom-com over the past 30+ years.

2. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989) (re-watch)

I saw this when it originally came out, and not since then. It's one of those films where I can't remember if I saw it in the cinema or on video but I do remember that I saw it with my first girlfriend who was much less conventionally romantic than I was, and pretty staunchly feminist in a way that really didn't respond to Nora Ephron's screenplay in particular - and neither did I. Ephron's assertions that men and women can never be friends and are really, totally, fundamentally different animals - which is belied at the end of this to be fair but which recurs in the other films she wrote and/or directed - still bugs the shit out of me and I still find myself hating that element of the film. In 1989 that was enough for me to hate the whole film though and it didn't help that I didn't much like Billy Crystal; pretty sure the only thing with Meg Ryan I had seen was D.O.A but I wasn't keeping track of actors at the time in any way, and her subsequent roles didn't help my opinion of her and in memory the film has languished as an offensive screenplay acted out by a guy I've grudgingly come to tolerate, and my least-favorite actress ever. So I guess it was time for a re-visit, eh?

Well color me surprised and surprisingly pleased. As I said, I still don't much like Ephron's writing - don't find a lot of Crystal's jokes that funny, don't like her view of men in general (and more importantly don't find it all that accurate) - but everything else improved dramatically, in particular Meg Ryan who while at times irritating (deliberately so - as a self-portrait of the writer it's clear that Ephron for all her faults could be as hard on women, and herself, as on men) is also just a joy to watch here, vivacious and self-assured and neurotic in almost equal measures. The fact that I hadn't really known anybody like her - and that I was soon to enter into a relationship with someone much more like her than my then-girlfriend, and have since met a much wider variety of women, probably helps in my changed feelings here. Reiner shoots New York in a loving manner and it works as a fantasy-view of the big city when two people are in love, certainly very much influenced by Woody Allen and in a long line that goes back to the musicals of the 50s. Crystal bugs me a little less - though again, he doesn't seem that real to me, and certainly Ephron's notion that all men love sports and don't cry in movies is utterly false as far as I'm concerned - and the supporting duo of Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby help immeasurably - if I'd remembered that they were in this I probably would have gone back to it sooner.

In short, dramatically improved - though still flawed enough that it's not really close to a "favorite"; and I still blame this film, and Ephron's simple-minded attitudes about the roles of men and women in particular for the wretched state the genre has been mired in for 30 years - though now it's clear that this film isn't quite as generically derivative or generally stupid as many of it's progeny. Makes me look forward more to a re-visit of Joe Versus the Volcano though, and now I think I have to replace Ms. Ryan for the title of all-time least-favorite actress.
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#123

Post by OldAle1 »

OK, time for all of you fellow atheists, pagans and yes, even those rare religious folks among us snotty cineastes to do like I'm doing, and celebrate the birth, and pre-birth, of the ideology that gave us Mike Pence. Easter Week Biblically-correct viewings thus far -

1. Salome (William Dieterle, 1953)

Every year I think, I must be getting to the very bottom of the barrel of the BIblical epic craze that afflicted American cinema from roughly 1949 (DeMille's Samson and Delilah) through 1966 (John Huston's The Bible). There weren't THAT many of them, particularly not that many of the really expensive deluxe all-star ones, but I always seem to find another stone to move and another not-so-great flick lying underneath it. Here we have Rita Hayworth as the titular character, and as usual the screenplay here is a mixture of different Biblical elements, with this Salome both the daughter of Herodias (Judith Anderson) and step-daughter of Herod (Charles Laughton, as obvious a bit of casting as you can even imagine), and also the eventual disciple of Jesus - so a Salome largely blameless for the death of John the Baptist (Alan Badel, giving probably the best performance here - this is often the case with these things, the guy playing the Baptist is usually pretty solid even when the rest of it is horseshit). Oh and we have Stewart Granger as Claudius, a totally made-up character, assistant to Pilate (Basil Sydney), on board basically as a love interest for Hayworth. Charles Lang's cinematography is quite luscious and bright as usual but the film looks rather flat and everything is a bit TOO colorful and brilliant if you ask me, perhaps as a way to mask the pretty dull screenplay and mostly bored acting on display. Mediocre all around.

2. The Prodigal (Richard Thorpe, 1955)

This is a bit better, a slightly more engaging Cinemascope production that could have benefited from a more exciting lead than Edward Purdom, who plays Micah, the "prodigal" from the parable in the Gospel of Luke, the younger son of a wealthy Jew in Judea (I guess, not sure it's mentioned), who becomes transfixed by Samarra (Lana Turner) the travelling priestess of Astarte, and asks for his share in gold to follow her to Damascus and woo her, forsaking his family and his intended bride. Once there he finds out that being a Jew and trying to wed (or at least bed - this is actually a bit more risque than most films, Biblical or not, at the time) the high priestess is going to be complicated, not the least by the fact that in the first scene of the film he had saved a slave from his would-be killer/master, and said master turns out to be Nahreeb (Louis Calhern), high priest of Baal and co-equal ruler with Samarra. So Nahreeb wants revenge, and these heathen worshipers of a pantheon of gods of course hate the Jehovah believers (and are hated in return but that's OK of course in this telling). Somehow things will work out and Micah's faith will be unshaken, you can be sure, and a joyful reunion will occur, and we'll get a couple of lines from the good book, even if the story we've seen has little or nothing to do with the original parable apart from names and the basic conceit. What makes this more watchable than some is Turner's star power - even if she does seem a little uncomfortable in this silly story at times, this was I think the only such film she ever did - and Calhern's lovely brash villainy. And some pretty nice Eastmancolor photography by Joseph Ruttenberg, and some OK action, though hack director Thorpe was never one to move the camera much or do anything terribly inventive in his mise en scene. Anyway, not bad, maybe average for this genre in this period.
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#124

Post by OldAle1 »

Finished up my Easter weekend with a couple of rewatches...

3. The Man From Earth (Richard Schenkman, 2007)

6th viewing - last watched around this time two years ago, and here's my review from that viewing; my opinion hasn't really changed - it's heavily flawed and at times irritating and exasperating, but I love it anyway. One of the key films for me that shows the inefficacy of numerical ratings systems or for that matter even simple adjectives like "like", "dislike", "great", etc.

I totally get all the criticisms of this micro-budget, people in a room talking film. Cheap lo-fi video look, so-so and inconsisent sound, mediocre acting all around including - especially including - the one person close to a "name" in the film, William Katt, and a blunt, heavyhanded and fairly silly screenplay. I don't care. I love it. It reminds me of the best D&D, Call of Cthulhu and Champions games I ever played or ran when I was really into RPGs in the 90s, stories that were told, usually leading up to some big climactic revelation (or battle, gotta have a battle sometime). It reminds me of a lot of my favorite 30s sci-fi stories from Asimov's Before the Golden Age anthology - stuff by Edmond Hamilton in particular. Tall tales. And for all the problems that the film has as a film, to me this is just a great tall tale, and as the particular kind of atheist I am, I love the central "revelation" most of all. So sue me.

4. Il vangelo secondo Matteo / The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)

Only 2nd viewing I think - my only memory of this is seeing it once on VHS, sometime between 1995 and 2005 I think. Another film of contradictions - as any film about Christ or religion in general must be if it is honest, in my opinion. In this case a lot of the contradictions and challenges are in the character of the director, who more than once called himself an atheist but clearly had a feeling for Catholicism, and as a gay Marxist no doubt understood that faith, politics, economics, and sex all helped to make his own life more complex and challenging - and his approach to this work. And yet, it's a very simple film on it's surface, a straightforward depiction of what is found in the gospel that gives it's title. It's been too long since I read the gospels and one of the difficulties that the film does have is in it's lack of narrative cohesiveness - that is, while it proceeds directly from Christ's birth to the cross, it doesn't feel like a "story" but more a series of discrete events, with little sense of time passing and not even much sense of cause and effect. And while the rocky, broken landscapes of the ares in Italy where it was shot give it a sense of timelessness and antiquity, they also lack specificity. I'm sure this is in some sense purposeful, as the use of several kinds of music - all of it anachronistic, like the music in most Biblical films - serves to keep the film from seeming "merely" an Italian work of the 60s, or a work about an era 2000 years gone; and I think the use of an all amateur cast also works to this purpose. So it's a New Testament film like no other and it's certainly impressive for all of these elements. Ultimately I felt much the same as I did when I first saw it - a great film, maybe, but not one that I *quite* can love wholeheartedly. For whatever reason my own atheism still responds more strongly to Martin Scorsese's vision, and perhaps to Terry Jones' as well.
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#125

Post by xianjiro »

Daddy's Home 2 - while I don't have much to say about the movie (predictable, occasionally funny, a bit sappy), it was pretty Christmasy alright.

But the real amazing thing is, while no effort put to this end, it's a John Lithgow trifecta - my last three checks were Bombshell, Pitch Perfect 3, and Daddy's Home 2. I'm so glad that Lithgow can actually act and even though his Aussie accent was a bit cringeworthy and of course how could Roger Ailes sexually harassing female employees NOT over-stimulate bile production, he crated three very distinct, believable characters (given the premises of the sequels), and continues to show his chops. Wonder how much they paid him to have him in those two sequels? One mediocre, the other - well let's just say, watching Ailes get a hummer would be less painful.

Roll on Hollywood sequel machine! You never disappoint in your ability to make money off dross and tripe stew.
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#126

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Mercy Christmas (2017)

This lonely guy meets the girl of his dreams at work, and after they hang out, she invites him to her family's place for Christmas Dinner. Just a bit later, however, he realizes he is Christmas Dinner...

[I know this doesn't make me "woke", but if you look like this guy (and I kinda do... on a good day... if you squint... and are blackout-drunk) and a woman who looks like this flirts with you and invites you back to her family's place on Christmas, you should 100% expect to be eaten. I would.]

This is my first foray into Christmas films this season. I'm normally not one who is filled with the Christmas Spirit, but it's 2020 and I need some god damned joy in my god damned life and Christmas movies might help, god damn it! Of course, I can't just jump into the deep end of Christmas Spirit - I need to easy my way in with some transitional films. Like a Christmas Horror film.

So yeah - there were some absurd elements, there were some fun elements. Did OK on the SBIG meter - laughed out loud a few times, but rolled my eyes several other times.
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#127

Post by albajos »

LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

The fun part is the references to the original Holiday Special with Life Day and such. But other than that this is just a clip show of scenes from the 3 trilogies. As there is time travel in the plot.
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#128

Post by kongs_speech »

I've got a list of 56 Christmas-related films (plus a few shorts) that I intend to watch next month. Almost all of them are official checks. Only two are rewatches, one of which I don't have checked because I haven't seen it since I was a kid. Should be a fun little project.
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#129

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The best part of this movie is the title, so I'll just leave it there. But the cover art is solid.
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#130

Post by Nathan Treadway »

kongs_speech wrote: November 21st, 2020, 3:52 pm I've got a list of 56 Christmas-related films (plus a few shorts) that I intend to watch next month. Almost all of them are official checks. Only two are rewatches, one of which I don't have checked because I haven't seen it since I was a kid. Should be a fun little project.
You have a list somewhere? I'd be curious to see it, if you do.

I'm an outlier on here of sorts, I guess, as I generally seek out Christmas movies, and running out of interesting ones to watch that I've not seen yet.
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#131

Post by maxwelldeux »

Happiest Season (2020)

Kristen Stewart travels home with her girlfriend for Christmas only to discover that her girlfriend has not come out to her conservative family. Actually, a pretty solid Christmas film - a good cast helps to elevate this, and the lesbian angle helps provide a bit of a twist on an all-to-heteronormative holiday season. Fun sweet and definitely funny in moments, this strikes a nice balance of traditional Christmas cheer with modern humor. Liked this more than I thought I would.
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#132

Post by kongs_speech »

Nathan Treadway wrote: November 22nd, 2020, 6:50 am
kongs_speech wrote: November 21st, 2020, 3:52 pm I've got a list of 56 Christmas-related films (plus a few shorts) that I intend to watch next month. Almost all of them are official checks. Only two are rewatches, one of which I don't have checked because I haven't seen it since I was a kid. Should be a fun little project.
You have a list somewhere? I'd be curious to see it, if you do.

I'm an outlier on here of sorts, I guess, as I generally seek out Christmas movies, and running out of interesting ones to watch that I've not seen yet.
Unfortunately, due to being overwhelmed with a ton of films that are expiring from streaming, as well as the ICM Fest, I've decided to not go through with the project this year. Perhaps the ones I don't catch within the next year will be watched in December 2021. I appreciate the interest. :cheers:
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#133

Post by Nathan Treadway »

kongs_speech wrote: November 30th, 2020, 12:48 am
Nathan Treadway wrote: November 22nd, 2020, 6:50 am
kongs_speech wrote: November 21st, 2020, 3:52 pm I've got a list of 56 Christmas-related films (plus a few shorts) that I intend to watch next month. Almost all of them are official checks. Only two are rewatches, one of which I don't have checked because I haven't seen it since I was a kid. Should be a fun little project.
You have a list somewhere? I'd be curious to see it, if you do.

I'm an outlier on here of sorts, I guess, as I generally seek out Christmas movies, and running out of interesting ones to watch that I've not seen yet.
Unfortunately, due to being overwhelmed with a ton of films that are expiring from streaming, as well as the ICM Fest, I've decided to not go through with the project this year. Perhaps the ones I don't catch within the next year will be watched in December 2021. I appreciate the interest. :cheers:
I'm still curious as to what movies are on said list. :whistling:
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#134

Post by kongs_speech »

Nathan Treadway wrote: November 30th, 2020, 5:03 am
kongs_speech wrote: November 30th, 2020, 12:48 am
Nathan Treadway wrote: November 22nd, 2020, 6:50 am

You have a list somewhere? I'd be curious to see it, if you do.

I'm an outlier on here of sorts, I guess, as I generally seek out Christmas movies, and running out of interesting ones to watch that I've not seen yet.
Unfortunately, due to being overwhelmed with a ton of films that are expiring from streaming, as well as the ICM Fest, I've decided to not go through with the project this year. Perhaps the ones I don't catch within the next year will be watched in December 2021. I appreciate the interest. :cheers:
I'm still curious as to what movies are on said list. :whistling:
Messaged it to ya! B)
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#135

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

Yeah, why not? I've got a week off work and might try my hand at cramming in some festive stuff! :party:

1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - Something that was a semi-regular holiday viewing in my household growing up (must've been a favorite of my dad or possibly one of my older brothers), I haven't actually watched it the entire way through in, oh, let's say fifteen years? Anyhow, revisiting it now after all these years did indeed provide some nostalgic warmth on a certain level, but I can't honestly say it's held up especially well for me. Nothing terrible or unwatchable, but I found much of the humor to be a bit too broad and obvious to make an especially strong impression on me now. And unlike the first Vacation film, which has a more steady and noticeable wearing down of Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold over the course of the entire film, this one has Clark portrayed as a nut right from the opening scene, which makes his eventual mental breakdown less surprising or earned. But putting all my gripes aside, it does still have some sort of blue collar, relatable charm to it, which is what I suppose has made this and the first one survive so long in our current pop cultural machine.
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#136

Post by kongs_speech »

Good_Will_Harding wrote: December 2nd, 2020, 4:29 am Yeah, why not? I've got a week off work and might try my hand at cramming in some festive stuff! :party:

1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - Something that was a semi-regular holiday viewing in my household growing up (must've been a favorite of my dad or possibly one of my older brothers), I haven't actually watched it the entire way through in, oh, let's say fifteen years? Anyhow, revisiting it now after all these years did indeed provide some nostalgic warmth on a certain level, but I can't honestly say it's held up especially well for me. Nothing terrible or unwatchable, but I found much of the humor to be a bit too broad and obvious to make an especially strong impression on me now. And unlike the first Vacation film, which has a more steady and noticeable wearing down of Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold over the course of the entire film, this one has Clark portrayed as a nut right from the opening scene, which makes his eventual mental breakdown less surprising or earned. But putting all my gripes aside, it does still have some sort of blue collar, relatable charm to it, which is what I suppose has made this and the first one survive so long in our current pop cultural machine.
Yeah, maybe it's because I've seen it upwards of 30 times, but I just don't care about Christmas Vacation anymore. It's a good flick, but I agree that it's too broad and lacks the bite of the first film in the franchise. Aside from the unfortunately racist St. Louis scene, Vacation is one of the funniest films ever made. I'd be much more inclined to watch it or even the 2015 sequel than Christmas Vacation. I can't imagine ever choosing to watch Vegas or European again. Vegas was fine for once. I didn't even like European as a kid. Tried it again about a decade ago, still sucks.
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#137

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Yeah, the Vacation series is pretty hit or miss I think for a lot of people. I still enjoyed the first a decent amount after revisiting it a few years ago, but I can't remember a single thing from the European one, though that's probably for the best. I honestly don't know if I've even seen Vegas yet, though I'm also in no hurry to fix that. My sister put on the '15 reboot while I was over to visit around the time it came out, but we didn't really pay close attention to it and I'm not even sure we watched the entire thing.
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#138

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

2. Batman Returns (1992 - Tim Burton)

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I actually re-watched most of the other live action Batman films during the earlier parts of the year, and I wasn't even planning to ahead of time (I saw the '89 film at a drive-in during the summer / revisited the Joel Schumacher films after he passed away / the LORD Nolan trilogy has been on and off Netflix quite a lot recently / I even watched the '66 Adam West version right around the time the shutdown began in March, but you couldn't pay me to revisit those Zack Snyder abortions). After realizing what I was doing, I decided to save my re-watch of this puppy until the holidays, given the setting and tone of the whole thing. And that turned out to be a good choice, since so much of the look and atmosphere of this one is just oozing with with a gothic, wintery feel - and it's all portrayed in an expectedly more downbeat, bittersweet manner than most of the otherwise wholesome holiday fare that gets a lot of replay value around this time of year.

After thinking back on my contributions to the October challenge, re-watching some of Tim Burton's more widely acclaimed efforts (specifically Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd) helped jog my memory as to what made his work so noteworthy when he first broke onto the scene and what I personally saw in his filmography during my formative years as a film fan. And with this one, I can comfortably say I had a very similar experience. I honestly wasn't expecting to get much out of this one, especially with the '89 film so fresh in my memory (a film that I enjoyed but feel is weighed down by a fairly conventional mob/crime narrative, and is only really elevated by Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson's leading turns, Danny Elfman's great score, and of course Tim Burton's singular aesthetic). But it feels like Burton had much greater creative freedom with this one, so a lot more of his narrative and stylistic sensibilities are radiating through this, and much of it fits squarely into his more tragic comfort zone - hence the major "blue Christmas" vibes throughout the majority of the proceedings.

Sure I could complain about the specifics of the plot and admittedly flimsy narrative, and how this isn't technically that much of a "Batman" movie until the latter half. But it's all wrapped up in such a cheerfully odd and idiosyncratic package, that I have no choice but to be forgiving of its shortcomings. And the fact that a comic book tent-pole this bizarre, thoughtful, and gorgeously made was the big blockbuster of 1992 still astounds me. Tim Burton created a fantasy kink opera out of a beloved superhero property and families went to see it in droves. Respect.
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1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
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#139

Post by kongs_speech »

Nolan's second and third films in his series are the best Batman films to me, but I can't imagine a better embodiment of the character than Michael Keaton. It's really such a shame that he and Burton weren't allowed to continue the franchise. Michelle Pfeiffer is amazing in Returns.
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#140

Post by kongs_speech »

The Grinch (2018, Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney) - 3/5

I expected The Grinch to be an excruciating viewing, so the fact that I found it harmlessly cute qualifies as a pleasant surprise. The animation is actually lovely, far beyond the usual unappealing Illumination style that lacks detail. The music that Tyler, the Creator made for the film is fun and bouncy. I'll admit that when I heard the line "rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends we had a threesome" nine years ago on his Goblin album, I never expected that guy to become a universally beloved, wholesome LGBTQ+ figure, but here we are and I believe his personal growth is worth celebrating.

Benedict Cumberbatch's American accent has caught some flack, but he sounds fine to my ears. This incarnation of the infamous Christmas thief isn't very evil at all, which robs the Grinch's misdeeds of a certain perverse glee yet also makes his inevitable redemption go down more smoothly. For the most part, the good-hearted film is pleasantly devoid of the incessant pop culture references that plague today's animated children's films -- something for which Illumination themselves are largely to blame. No one will ever confuse The Grinch for Chuck Jones' classic holiday short, but it beats the pants off Ron Howard's wretched, joyless live-action misfire. Aside from Seuss' own The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, it is the first feature-length Dr. Seuss film that doesn't suck. That in itself earns it a slice of roast beast.
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#141

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

3. Scrooged (1988 - Richard Donner)

I honestly don't think I'd ever seen this in full before tonight, though I was familiar with the general concept - but it all seemed very new to me, at least as new as a "modern" update of the Scrooge story could be. Anyhow, like the previous 80's holiday romp I watched, this was fine for a single viewing but didn't do much for me on the whole. Bill Murray is working squarely in his comfort zone playing the slimy, unlikable lead here, but he's so thinly written to be as comically detestable as the humor would allow, that it makes his inevitable redemption ring false and feel unearned. It's not all bad, though - the designs and makeup effects on the ghosts here are pretty impressive, and Bobcat Goldthwait steals the show in his fairly limited role. Plus, it's always nice to see Robert Mitchum in anything. So while not a total loss, I doubt I'll revisit this one all that often during future holiday seasons.
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1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
2. Batman Returns (1992)
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#142

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

re Batflicks: I'll grant that The Dark Knight still holds up surrisignly well all these years later, but the third film has aged poorly. As with all Nolan films, it's an impressive technical achievement, but it has one of the most bewilderingly awful storylines of any major blockbuster from the past decade - and the gravely self-serious tone of the entire thing (the first two Nolan Batman films at least had a fairly appreciable sense of humor) only serves to highlight how moronic the plot is. Though Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway were very fun to watch in their respective roles.

re Grinch 18: I actually saw this in theaters, with a couple coworkers after what must've been a particularly long morning shift, because I fell asleep not once but **twice** during it :lol: Guess it didn't make a very big impression, though I'm open to revisiting it at some point.
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#143

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

4. Die Hard (1988 - John McTiernan)

Honestly can't add anything to this, except that I felt that it was **maybe** a tad too long? Still a ton of fun, but there's a bit of filler in the midsection - minor complaint, though. Probably the first time I've watched this in full during the Christmas season.
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1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
2. Batman Returns (1992)
3. Scrooged (1988)
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#144

Post by maxwelldeux »

Good_Will_Harding wrote: December 6th, 2020, 2:56 am 4. Die Hard (1988 - John McTiernan)

Honestly can't add anything to this, except that I felt that it was **maybe** a tad too long? Still a ton of fun, but there's a bit of filler in the midsection - minor complaint, though. Probably the first time I've watched this in full during the Christmas season.
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1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
2. Batman Returns (1992)
3. Scrooged (1988)
Not only is that my Christmas tradition with the wife, we bought a Die Hard Christmas book written in the style of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with the plot of Die Hard. :cheers:
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#145

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

5 & 6.The Christmas Chronicles I & II (2018 - 2020) - Pair of Netflix original family Christmas offerings. I'd actually "seen" the first one around the time it came out, but by that I just mean I played it at work on Christmas and only managed to catch bits and pieces while I was running around doing other things. Having seen it in full now, I can safely say that it's...fine. I generally feel the same about both flicks - cute, brisk, and reasonably well done, but nothing altogether noteworthy or memorable. The biggest hook for both films is the casting of Kurt Russell as Santa Claus and Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus (who really only gets a major role in the second one), both of whom do a very fine job in their respective roles and add a ton of credibility to the proceedings. Apart from those two, not much else to write home about here.
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1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
2. Batman Returns (1992)
3. Scrooged (1988)
4. Die Hard (1988)
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#146

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

7. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020 - David E Talbert)

Yet another Netflix original piece of family holiday fare, though I enjoyed this one a fair bit more than the previous two I mentioned, even if none of them reach the heights of "potential future classic" territory imo. But the higher production values on display here really help to elevate it and make it not feel nearly as cheap as some other Netflix originals. The production design and visual effects are more or less on the level of the average Hollywood theatrical release, and the musical numbers were generally pleasant, with as the cast all doing fine as well. Nothing groundbreaking, but worthy of at least a single viewing this holiday season.
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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)
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#147

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

8. The Golem (1920) - Not Christmas, but Hanukkah (though this has practically nothing to do with the Jewish holiday - just wanted to watch something not relating to the big Christian holiday du jour). Anyhow, 100 years later, this still has a lot to offer in terms of visual splendor and tension building.

9. Bundle of Joy (1956) - Cute, fuzzy classic era holiday set musical. Nothing sensational, but worth watching, and definitely appropriate for the time of year.

10. Beyond Tomorrow (1940) - Repeat my comments from the previous entry - minus the musical element. Apparently I had already seen this and rated it on IMDB, but I had absolutely no memory of watching it before revisiting it today.
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)
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#148

Post by AdamH »

I started working on a combined Christmas list: https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/they ... ess/adamh/

Watched four so far:

1) Home Alone (1990) (re-watch)
2) Miracle on 34th Street (1947) (re-watch)
3) White Christmas (1954)
4) Elf (2003)

I can't believe I'm about to say this but I actually liked Elf. Had expected to hate it because Will Ferrell is in it but I couldn't help but like it. I also liked Stranger Than Fiction so I suppose there are some of his films I'll like.
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#149

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Really glad to see this thread bumped in my absence - looks like COVID has prompted more holiday cheer, movie-wise, than usual this season? Anyway I've been largely off movies for the last 6-7 weeks I guess and not feeling particularly XMas-cheery, but I dunno, something seems to be breaking in the last couple of days, so what the hell I'll get some of the stuff down that I have watched, and maybe I'll burn through a few more over the next few days...

On Thanksgiving Day - the traditional beginning of "the holidays" as far as I'm concerned, fuck this Christmas displays before Halloween crap - I (re) watched

1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987)

6th or 7th viewing; I commented on this on page 2, from the 2018 season. I continue to enjoy this much more than I did on original release, though I think it's probably topped out now, ratings-wise, and the law of diminishing returns is coming into play at least a little bit. Surprised I didn't comment before on yet another Hughes geographical error-or-fantasy (like those in Christmas Vacation, notably): it sure as hell takes Martin & Candy a LOOOONNNGGG time to get from St. Louis to Chicago on clear roads.

2. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986)

I'm going to say 4th or 5th viewing here. Saw this in the cinema new and liked it a lot, but it's definitely in the category of films that grew on re-watches - though now I'm thinking it's in much the same category as Planes, Trains in hitting it's cap. Well in this case that cap is "masterpiece" and it remains the only WA film that I am completely taken with. It does have problems - most notably the fact that Michael Caine never has to pay for his indiscretion with his wife's sister - but I can kind of get over that in seeing this as just a slice of life - and feeling that, given that we're talking Woody Allen characters, the happy state we experience at the end may be only temporary. One of the best elements here actually is Allen himself; sure he's playing his typical character, but he's sidelined to ensemble-level and that keeps him from grating or dominating the action. And I really like the way the character arcs for both he and DIanne Wiest play out. Great music as usual in an Allen film, and this is among the most magical city films ever for me - I moved to Chicago in 1987 to go to school, and visited NYC for the first time in 1988 I think, and I really get taken back to that period.

I've mostly watched TV stuff over the past few weeks, but that included a few Christmas-oriented shows, notably

3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Season 1 Episode 7 (1984) "The Blue Carbuncle"

3rd viewing at least. Holmes and Watson are tasked with finding the titular stone - a very rare and valuable jewel - and get involved in the crime in a peculiar way, finding that it leads them to a Christmas goose, and a wronged ex-con. The very last episode in the series, "The Cardboard Box" is also Christmas-themed, and both that and this one are among the best, both focusing more than most on Holmes' notions of morality and justice, which don't always coincide with British law.

4. Cheers - Season 6 Episode 12 (1987) "Christmas Cheer"

One of those "I have to get a last-minute gift for someone because everybody else did and I can't look bad" stories, reasonably well done but not one of the best of this season.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 3 Episode 10 (1998) "Amends"

4th or 5th viewing I suppose. Despite generally liking the later seasons more, I've seen the earlier episodes more times, mostly because whenever I want to go through this series I want to go straight through, and sometimes I've ended up getting bogged down in some of the more mediocre stretches of the early years. Hopefully not this time; the show is as great as ever overall and I'm really enjoying this run-through. This episode like many of the best is written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, and it's one of the many episodes about redemption, in this case Angel's - after an almost 250-year life in which the first 3/4 were devoted to death and hurt, how does he return from hell and make any kind of penance for what he's done? It's got the kind of mystical-fantasy ending that doesn't work for most stories (but definitely does in Buffy quite often), and it's got Willy the Snitch who should have had a whole show for himself, or at the least should've been moved to LA to be on Angel.
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#150

Post by OldAle1 »

as to some of y'all's viewings...

Totally forgot that Batman Returns had any seasonal elements, but then I haven't seen it since it came out, and all I really do remember about it is how hot Michelle Pfeiffer was in it. Not a real fan of any Batman film though I'll probably re-watch all of them someday - I like the character more than just about any mainstream comic book character and he *should* be able to be adapted into a great film. Especially given that you don't really have to have a $200 m budget to do Batman. But I digress...

Like Adam I was surprised by how much I liked Elf because I'm also not really a Will Ferrell fan - it's actually my first review in this thread, from 2017.

Beyond Tomorrow was on this morning on TCM so I watched it and...will probably have forgotten it by next year. I'll write a little more about it later but, very meh, though given my rather fragile emotions I did tear up at the sappy ending.

I've also reviewed both Christmas Vacation and Die Hard upthread. The former is probably my second-favorite film that John Hughes was involved with after Planes, Trains, and Clark Griswold is the role Chevy was born to play; I don't like him much overall but he's perfect for these films and there's something about his mania in this one that works for me. Die Hard I probably don't need to see again for another year or two though who knows, if the mood strikes me it could sneak into this year's pile.
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#151

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

:cheers: Glad we could keep the thread alive in your absence!

Anyhow, it's less than a week until the big day, so it's time to cram in as much as possible at the last minute...

Episodes of Community:

11. 1 x 12 "Comparative Religion"
12. 2 x 11 "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
12. 3 x 10 "Regional Holiday Music"
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)
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#152

Post by kongs_speech »

Good_Will_Harding wrote: December 21st, 2020, 4:02 am 12. 2 x 11 "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
Before I soured on the show, I used to really like that episode. I gave a girl I used to be friends with a little Britta Bot figurine one year for Christmas.
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#153

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I think I'm down to the really mediocre, best-forgotten stuff from the classic era - at least as regards Hollywood. Any undiscovered Christmas-y gems that anybody knows about from Europe ca 1930-1960 would be appreciated...

6. The Miracle of the Bells (Irving Pichel, 1948)

Director Pichel remains an obscure, relatively unrecognized name, but he made a number of interesting - if not great, from what I've seen - films in quite a variety of genres, mostly fairly male-oriented action/adventure/noir, a few of which - The Most Dangerous Game (1932), She (1935), They Won't Believe Me (1948) and Destination Moon (1950) are probably the standouts - have at least attained minor classic status. One of the screenwriters is the great Ben Hecht; no name is bigger in this era. And the stars here - Fred MacMurray, Frank Sinatra, Alida Valli and Lee J. Cobb - don't need any introductions. So why is this so bland, hokey, and mawkish in it's growing sentimentality as it heads towards it's silly ending? I suspect it's the source novel that's to blame - and I probably won't be checking that out anytime soon. MacMurray is a movie publicist, rather down on his luck, who is carting the body of a friend back from Hollywood to her hometown in coal country (the town is actually named "Coal Town", come on) where she's to be buried according to her wishes, and it flashes back to the brief moments of happiness they shared as he tried to build her career playing Joan of Arc (weirdly enough Victor Fleming's big production of the story, with another European import, Ingrid Bergman, was also released in 1948). Mixed with the flashbacks is the story of his trouble trying to set up the funeral, his interactions with a sympathetic priest (Sinatra, bland and miscast here), and his struggle to get help from a studio chief (Cobb), climaxing in the sort of public relations - media "miracle" that you see in a lot of 30s and 40s Hollywood films - often from Preston Sturges or Frank Capra - where one man or woman gets the whole town and then the whole country to "believe" in whatever it is that's needed for the film to come to a corny but satisfying ending. I often like such things but usually there's some sly humor or acknowledgement that it's all fantasy with this plot device - this just felt so unbelievable and silly, and I just didn't care, because Valli's character isn't really developed much and the film has too many long and dull stretches. Very, very blah.

7. Beyond Tomorrow (A. Edward Sutherland, 1940)

TCM. The poor, dark print TCM showed didn't do this any favors, but I don't think it would have been that great even in a new shining 35mm copy. One of those ghosts-help-the-living flicks, with a trio of codgers (Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Winninger), all rich capitalists, befriending a couple of young people (Richard Carlson & Jean Parker) and helping them towards the destiny they deserve, after the three men die in a plane crash (oops, spoilers, but I don't think it matters here). This is VERRRY predictable - Carlson is a would-be singer and develops a career, but a wicked woman (Helen Vinson) tries to take him away, and then there's another tragedy, but our spirits are going to make sure... well, I won't go any further, but really anybody who is surprised at any of this doesn't belong on this forum. I did get a little emotional myself at the ending, probably more prone to that over the past year or so, and on the whole I liked it just a smidgeon more than the previous film but, eh, wouldn't really recommend this to anyone, even fans of the elderly trio (and I am definitely one of them myself, especially Smith who has one of the dullest roles of his career here unfortunately).

8. The Honeymooners Season 1, Episode 13 (1955) "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

More sentimental than I like my Ralph and Alice and Ed and Trixie, but certainly solid enough. I think I must have seen this decades ago, it seemed familiar, but this show kind of runs together for me - having the same single set is certainly a part of it, though they do wonders on such a limited production. Ralph's Christmas present for Alice turns out to be a bad choice, and he has to make a sacrifice to get the right thing - but hey, that's part of the spirit of the holiday, isn't it?

9. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Chris Columbus, 1992)

I swore I would never watch this because of the presence of a certain famous wild-haired spray-tanned dimwitted pussy-grabber, even if it was just a bit part, but then I realized that hey, he's going to be gone soon. Or he's not, and will require all Americans to become familiar with his cinematic oeuvre, such as it is. I do think that his one scene here - telling Kevin where the bathroom is - is sort of emblematic of the effort he put into his career as a whole though, and his intellectual abilities at their limits.

But I digress. I re-watched the first film last year, first time since it came out, and didn't hate it quite as much as I did originally, so... why not? And this is really just more of same in the end, despite the new location - sort of; while there are some location shots done in New York, I think the bulk of the important and longer scenes were done in studio, like the whole way-too-long climactic battle with the burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, again, somehow) in the huge half-demolished brownstone at the end. Also the Central Park nighttime scenes - which were definitely the coolest visually in the film - looked like studio stuff to me. Story? Kevin somehow ends up in NYC while his family goes to Florida, has adventures, outwits adults, does enough damage to Pesci and Stern to kill them 10x over. Comparing it the the first film -

I liked the beginning of this a little bit more than the first one - really up until about the halfway point; Catherine O'Hara wasn't as obnoxious and overtly superior and haughty; Mac got a little better as an actor but didn't really lose any of his particular childish energy.

Unfortunately all of that is balanced out by even thicker ladles of sentimentality - and I like sentimentality more than most, but not the John Hughes/Chris Columbus brand - the wholly useless and again, sentimental subplot with Brenda Fricker, and most of all, the extreme cruelty of the violence in the last act. Yeah, it's cartoonish - but so much of the film is supposed to feel real (like the whole ideal suburban family - really a very wealthy and overtly WASPish version of reality)that it's hard for me to take it as Bugs and Daffy. Also the ethnic stereotyping is not much more advanced than it would have been in the 1950s.

In a nutshell, about the same as the first film - bad, verging on horrible, but with it's moments.
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#155

Post by Pretentious Hipster »

I legit wanna see A Christmas Princess because I've been told that is Birdemic level bad
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#156

Post by kongs_speech »

Yeah, those Home Alone movies are crap. I like John Hughes a lot, but not when he's writing for kids.
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#157

Post by OldAle1 »

kongs_speech wrote: December 21st, 2020, 11:02 pm Yeah, those Home Alone movies are crap. I like John Hughes a lot, but not when he's writing for kids.
Wasn't he always writing for kids though? I mean, if you include teenagers as kids, then there aren't many of his films that aren't focused on them - the Vacation films and Planes Trains, that's about it. And it's no coincidence that those are most of the films that I can tolerate from him. I suppose I should see Breakfast Club again, I didn't hate that, and it seems like something that I might like more now. But I'll always have a bad taste in my mouth about the guy.
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#158

Post by kongs_speech »

OldAle1 wrote: December 21st, 2020, 11:26 pm
kongs_speech wrote: December 21st, 2020, 11:02 pm Yeah, those Home Alone movies are crap. I like John Hughes a lot, but not when he's writing for kids.
Wasn't he always writing for kids though? I mean, if you include teenagers as kids, then there aren't many of his films that aren't focused on them - the Vacation films and Planes Trains, that's about it. And it's no coincidence that those are most of the films that I can tolerate from him. I suppose I should see Breakfast Club again, I didn't hate that, and it seems like something that I might like more now. But I'll always have a bad taste in my mouth about the guy.
I enjoy his teen movies that I've seen, with Ferris Bueller being among my favorite films. Stuff like the Home Alone movies, Mr. Mom and Baby's Day Out doesn't work for me. I also can't stand European Vacation, though that's not quite a kiddie film. It's funny, I do specifically remember you hating Hughes on FG, all these years later.
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#159

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

kongs_speech wrote: December 21st, 2020, 4:16 am
Good_Will_Harding wrote: December 21st, 2020, 4:02 am 12. 2 x 11 "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
Before I soured on the show, I used to really like that episode. I gave a girl I used to be friends with a little Britta Bot figurine one year for Christmas.
Aww well I haven't really "soured" on the show just yet. I actually watched the entire series when the show was put on Netflix back in April (including the sixth season, which I'd never seen before). It still holds up pretty well for me - I even enjoyed the much maligned fourth season. But hey, as I said in regards to The Prom during the "last movie seen" thread, I'll take any amount of positivity I can this year!

14. Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Moving ahead with my revisiting of Tim Burton's back catalogue is arguably his most beloved work, apart from perhaps Ed Wood. I last saw this in full about a decade ago, during my college years, so I was excited to see how it fared now, since so much of Burton's other stuff held onto a lot of their appeal for me. Well, I can't honestly say this one held up quite as well as some of the other Burton joints I've re-watched recently. Oh I still like it quite a bit - the overall look and design is extremely well done, Johnny Depp gives one of his more restrained and sympathetic turns in the titular role, and Danny Elfman provides one of the truly great musical scores of the last thirty years or so - but the very limited narrative just runs out of steam after a while, and the attempts to add conflict or stakes to the story just come across as forced or contrived. A lot of this has to do with the love triangle subplot involving Winona Ryder and her one-dimensional jock boyfriend, which all culminates in a predictable final confrontation. Gripes aside, this puppy still looks and sounds great the entire way through, and it contains enough sensitivity and pathos throughout to help carry it through some of the sections that I personally found less interesting.
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"
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#160

Post by hurluberlu »

Santa & Cie (Alain Chabat, 2017) 7+
Santa Claus confronted to his idealistic view of the world (and kids): fun and has all the Christmas magic you need.

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#JeSuisCharlie Liberté, Liberté chérie !

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