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(Yes, we need another) Holiday Movie Thread

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(Yes, we need another) Holiday Movie Thread

#41

Post by cinewest » December 25th, 2017, 6:01 am

Despite the corny story, White Christmas remains a Christmas favorite for me. There is very good chemistry among the principles, and some nice comic touches, but what really makes it work is the music by Irving Berlin: The film is chalk full of great song and dance numbers (some nice dance choreography by Bob Fosse and Nick Castle, as well), leading up to the titular song at the end.

As for Christmas Carols, the Alistair Sim version is a classic, but I also liked the musical version, Scrooge, with Albert Finney in the lead role. Love the backstory provided in Scrooge, and think that the Ghost sequences and atmosphere created in this one are second to none. The Bob Crotchet, Tiny Tim sequences are also very well done.

Would love to see the George C Scott version one day.
Last edited by cinewest on December 29th, 2017, 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#42

Post by jocularities » December 25th, 2017, 6:22 am

Rare Exports. Just read the plot summary!!

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#43

Post by Good_Will_Harding » December 25th, 2017, 6:31 am

Better Watch Out (2016 - Chris Peckover)

The latest semi-hyped (at least in the horror fan community) Holiday horror outing, which I thought I'd check out for myself after hearing a few positive responses. First thing I'll note is that while it's set in an American suburb and everyone has an American accent, this is a largely Australian production, featuring almost an entirely Aussie cast, and probably crew as well - it doesn't impact the film itself in any appreciable way, I just thought it was interesting. Also worth mentioning that both of the lead kids from M Night Syamalan's The Visit have prominent roles in this, albeit not playing siblings this time around; therefore I wasn't shocked to learn that both are Australians. Being such a big fan of Shyamalan (and The Visit as well), I basically felt obligated to check this out based on that front alone.

As for the film itself, I certainly enjoyed it, but it took me a little while to finally warm up to it. While the relative cheapness of the production is a bit of a hindrance at first (the fake looking snow on the ground and fact that it's set in literally the same one location the entire time being the chief indicators here), it's elevated by a decent setup and some clever writing, though the dialogue occasionally comes off as unnatural and overly scripted. But whereas it starts out as a typical enough home invasion thriller, the film really takes a surprising turn at a certain point which really grabbed my attention, and on the whole it definitely gets better and more interesting as it goes along. The central three performances all help maintain the tension and mood, and the actors all do a capable job of balancing the humor and fright of the whole thing. While mostly effective, I wouldn't exactly describe this as "scary" so much as tense and creepy.

7/10. Not something I'll go back to every single year, but I could picture myself popping it back in every once in a while, if I need a break from the more wholesome, warmhearted fare.

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#44

Post by xianjiro » December 25th, 2017, 11:06 am

So, settled on Jack Frost (1997) - blah, though with maybe a good death or two; followed by a Scrooged rewatch.

Nothing too serious.

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#45

Post by OldAle1 » December 25th, 2017, 7:11 pm

2017 holiday viewings 11-13: three features seen many times, but not-quite favorites

White Christmas (Michael Curtiz, 1954)

Probably somewhere around 10th viewing. When I lived in Chicago in the 90s, and a couple of times on visits in the early 00s, I would often go to the Music Box Theater's double feature of this and It's a Wonderful Life. Sometimes I'd sit through IAWL twice with this one in the middle. I didn't like it that much originally but it was fun to see it with friends, and it has grown on me over the years. Mostly it's Danny Kaye that makes it, and to a lesser extent Dean Jagger. Crosby's OK but I'm not generally a fan outside of the Road movies; Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen are adequate, with the former having one good song, the torchy "Love You Didn't Do Right By Me" and the latter having a good dance with Kaye. But Curtiz is not the guy for musicals and the whole thing feels even stagier than most stage musicals, with not a second shot outside of soundstages, a little odd for 1954. The title song and "Snow" are the two best numbers.

The Bishop's Wife (Henry Koster, 1947)

Cary Grant is an angel come down to help bishop (Episcopal, I suppose, but never stated) David Niven who is struggling to build a monumental cathedral. Pretty obvious where this story is going but the two male leads, and Monty Wooley as a professor friend of Niven's wife Loretta Young are all pretty great. The major problem is Young whose part is very underwritten and it's hard to believe her as this incredible object of obsession/affection for both man and angel. Still OK for the occasional watch; I hadn't seen this in 20 years probably and had almost completely forgotten it.

Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey, 1945)

Being a huge fan of Barbara Stanwyck and also liking Sidney Greenstreet plenty I've watched this one a few times, but it really isn't that good, descending into a manic c-grade screwball mode at the end and having a very forced feel to it's ending. I think this would be completely forgotten if it weren't for the Christmas theme.
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#46

Post by OldAle1 » December 26th, 2017, 12:47 am

2017 holiday viewings 14-16

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Rankin/Bass, 1970)

What can I say, I'm a 70s-80s kid, I grew up on these things. This is not my favorite - I like Rudolph and the very underseen/underappreciated Life and Adventures of Santa Claus more - but I still have to give it a spin every few years. The voice characterizations - Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn and Paul Frees are the famous names here - are good and I still get an emotional pull from "Put One Foot In Front of Another", but the story is more silly even than most if you think about it for more than 3 seconds.

Cricket on the Hearth (Rankin/Bass, 1967)

While I like all of the stop-motion stuff that R/B did, their standard animations are a little less reliable, and this one - which I'd never seen before - might be the nadir. The animation is just terrible, sub-Frosty, and the story (from one of Dickens' Christmas novellas) is veerrrrryyyy drawn-out by way too many awful songs. Nothing memorable here and too much of it.

Elves (Jeffrey Mandel, 1989)

Discovered through RedLetterMedia's Best of the Worst, and definitely worth it for bad movie connoisseurs. A department-store Santa who used to be a cop (Dan Haggerty, smoking more cigarettes in this film than any person has ever smoked in any film before or since) has to save the world from evil Nazis who are using magical elves to impregnate the perfect Aryan virgin and bring about a new master race. If that isn't enough to make you race out and see this, well, I don't know what you're good for.
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#47

Post by RBG » December 26th, 2017, 1:15 am

OldAle1 on Dec 25 2017, 12:11:57 PM wrote:
Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey, 1945)

Being a huge fan of Barbara Stanwyck and also liking Sidney Greenstreet plenty I've watched this one a few times, but it really isn't that good, descending into a manic c-grade screwball mode at the end and having a very forced feel to it's ending. I think this would be completely forgotten if it weren't for the Christmas theme.
YES. sick of people raving about this one. also i've never seen white christmas and have a crosby aversion. also WUT no MEET ME IN ST LOUIS

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#48

Post by OldAle1 » December 26th, 2017, 1:25 am

RBG on Dec 25 2017, 06:15:33 PM wrote:
OldAle1 on Dec 25 2017, 12:11:57 PM wrote:
Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey, 1945)

Being a huge fan of Barbara Stanwyck and also liking Sidney Greenstreet plenty I've watched this one a few times, but it really isn't that good, descending into a manic c-grade screwball mode at the end and having a very forced feel to it's ending. I think this would be completely forgotten if it weren't for the Christmas theme.
YES. sick of people raving about this one. also i've never seen white christmas and have a crosby aversion. also WUT no MEET ME IN ST LOUIS

Might watch that later actually. It's either that or IAWL tonight. Nobody should ever be allowed to sing that song again either. Or most songs that Judy made famous for that matter.
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#49

Post by Good_Will_Harding » December 26th, 2017, 5:15 am

'Community' 2 x 11: Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

True, an episode of a television show and not a film, but it's one of my favorite Christmas themed pieces of media from the last decade and something which definitely gets me in the right mood whenever I check it out. It also helps that it's featured in the best season of an otherwise inconsistent comedy series (first two years were great, but everything after... not so much). While there were a number of holiday themed episodes within this series' run (like basically every other modern sitcom), this one is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most apparent off the top, is the fact that it's stop motion animated the entire way through, and done in an intentionally crude looking style, obviously in homage to the old Rankin/Bass productions. But this one's also elevated not only by the writing of the series being at its absolute best (the midsection of the second season), but it also strikes that very hard to pull off middleground which accurately depicts both the warm, humble nature of the holiday season, while also acknowledging the more bittersweet, melancholic aspects as well. The first two seasons of Community really did well with striking a balance between offbeat, character based humor and a handful of somber dramatic stretches, and that balance it utilized to maybe its greatest extent in this episode, no doubt elevated by the holiday themed setting.

I'm probably blowing a lot of hot air about one random 22 minute long episode of a comedy series that's been off the air for years now, but as someone that's not as well-versed in the modern era of TV as most seem to be these days, I tend to really gravitate towards the stuff that clicks, and this one really does it for me.
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#50

Post by Good_Will_Harding » December 26th, 2017, 5:57 am

Me again. Same show, different episode:

'Community' 1 x 12: Comparative Religion

First of the series' Christmas episodes, and definitely leaning more towards the purely humorous than the one I watched earlier. Not that I'm complaining, because the writing here is pretty sharp and gleeful all the way through. After taking the first couple of episodes to really find its footing, this episode came around the time when Community really started to form into the best version of itself. The holiday elements themselves aren't as up front as in some later episodes so much as they're just another subject the show can derive humor from, and because of that it doesn't lend itself to repeated holiday viewings. But on its own, it's a hugely entertaining twenty-plus minutes of television, and a solid companion piece to the slightly heavier episode from before.
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#51

Post by weirdboy » December 26th, 2017, 6:23 pm

I watched Krampus last night with friends and family. Did they deliberately model the family in that after the Griswolds?

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#52

Post by xianjiro » December 28th, 2017, 4:07 am

So, on the 26th I watched something called Christmas Holiday (1944) and sure enough, no Christmas content. And foolish me, a movie headlined by Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly - I expected music and dancing and got just about as little of that as possible other than Deanna singing the same torch song a couple times.

Today I watch The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) and there's a beautiful Christmas tree, lots of prezzies, and people doing the old fashioned, Trump approved thing of wishing each other "Merry Christmas".

Think the first should be called "Went On Leave and Got Pulled Into a Murder Plot" and the second "The Man Who Came To Dinner and Stayed Through Christmas."

Dammit! Truth in titling! Frickin' Christmas movies misleading piles of ... :verymad:
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#53

Post by OldAle1 » December 28th, 2017, 4:24 am

I love Christmas Holiday, it's the best Christmas-noir out there. Some day I'm going to program a whole day of noirs-that-are-something else, with an SF-noir (many to choose from), wetern noir (ditto), musical noir (Blues in the Night), etc. Probably will rewatch the Christmas one too.

I like The Man Who Came to Dinner also, gave me an appreciation for Bette Davis' comic abilities that I usually don't see.

Just Korean movies for me for the next couple of days, but then I will do my usual all-time-favorite to ring in the new year; possibly the Back to the Future trilogy or if I don't feel like forging through all those just another fave or two from a list including La La Land, Take Care of My Cat, an Astaire/Rogers, a Marx Brothers, etc. New Year's is just a time for the best for me.

Then New Year's Day I watch bad movies, a tradition I started 3 or 4 years ago. This year's potential list includes Suicide Squad and the ouevre of Neil Breen.
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#54

Post by albajos » December 28th, 2017, 9:06 am

On New Years Eve I have seen these last five years:

Back to the Future (1985-90)
The Time Machine (2002)
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965)
Time After Time (1979)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
New Year's Eve (2011)

This year I probably should rewatch Groundhog Day which I haven't seen since it was in cinemas.

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#55

Post by xianjiro » December 28th, 2017, 9:42 am

Isn't one supposed to watch Groundhog Day over and over and over with only a short nap or a meal in between each viewing?

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#56

Post by Good_Will_Harding » December 29th, 2017, 2:06 pm

I don't have any specific film related New Year's traditions myself, other than going out with the family for dinner and a movie every New Year's Eve. Past films that I can remember offhand are ones like La La Land, Joy, Frozen, Silver Linings Playbook, etc. - mostly family friendly stuff but nothing too silly or childish either. As far as I can recall, we've avoided seeing anything truly awful, but our options this year are either The Greatest Showman or the Jumanji sequel, neither of which I frankly have very high hopes for.

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#57

Post by OldAle1 » December 29th, 2017, 3:18 pm

Good_Will_Harding on Dec 29 2017, 07:06:32 AM wrote:I don't have any specific film related New Year's traditions myself, other than going out with the family for dinner and a movie every New Year's Eve. Past films that I can remember offhand are ones like La La Land, Joy, Frozen, Silver Linings Playbook, etc. - mostly family friendly stuff but nothing too silly or childish either. As far as I can recall, we've avoided seeing anything truly awful, but our options this year are either The Greatest Showman or the Jumanji sequel, neither of which I frankly have very high hopes for.
I don't usually go to a movie on NY Eve but yeah those are my options as well. The Shape of Water still has not opened in local cinemas and I won't be driving an hour or more to see it on that day, and the other quality stuff I've either seen or also will have to wait for or drive a distance for. If I had anybody to go with I might feel differently but the only person I possibly could go out to film with is my mom and I don't think there's anything at all save possibly Lady Bird that she might enjoy. And I think that's already gone in the immediate area anyway.
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#58

Post by RBG » December 29th, 2017, 4:11 pm

new years day is my birthday and this year i will have a special precode madness marathon (thx cg) :happy:
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#59

Post by OldAle1 » December 29th, 2017, 4:16 pm

RBG on Dec 29 2017, 09:11:50 AM wrote:new years day is my birthday and this year i will have a special precode madness marathon (thx cg) :happy:
Wow, Happy Birthday!

:party:

My birthday coincides with Charles Bronson's but I've never done a Death Wish marathon - or as far as I can remember, any other movie marathon - on it. Usually I just try to pretend the day doesn't exist.
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#60

Post by xianjiro » December 29th, 2017, 9:56 pm

RBG on Dec 29 2017, 09:11:50 AM wrote:new years day is my birthday and this year i will have a special precode madness marathon (thx cg) :happy:
Don't forget to invite WalterNeff! ;)

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#61

Post by OldAle1 » March 27th, 2018, 4:41 pm

OK, it's holiday season again, Easter for all you pagans, fellow atheists, and people who just don't care. I always posted an Easter movie thread on the CFB back in the day, because I have fond memories of watching those huge 50s-60s Biblical epics as a kid, and watching them now is both nostalgic and somewhat enlightening (did people really BELIEVE this crap? Yes. Do they NOW? Yes, unfortunately). Anyway, I always try to watch 2-3 overtly religious-themed films over the week up to Easter, usually picking at least one I've never seen, and often re-watching The Last Temptation of Christ, my favorite film dealing overtly with anything Biblical.

First up this year was Solomon and Sheba, a 1959 film directed by King Vidor that strikes me as one of the least of the big epics, and which seems perhaps to know itself that it's a bit second-rate. For one thing, there's no intermission/entr'acte, and no overture; for another, the cast is somewhat less-populated by Big Names in Small Roles than most of these suckers. And though it had a fairly impressive (at the time) $5 million budget it just looks cheap much of the time - the lightning-storm scenes in particular. Basically you have a wholly made-up story here, with wise King Solomon (Yul Brynner, with hair) romancing the titular Queen (Gina Lollobrigida offering more proof that she was the weakest by far of the major Italian sex symbols of her time as an actress) and fending off challenges to his reign by his jealous older brother Adonijah (George Sanders). Typical mix of accents (we also have Scottish Finlay Currie as David, the father of our Russian and English brothers), corny dialogue, a bit of sex (Lollobrigida does have her, uh, assets), battles (not particularly well-staged) and hoky religiosity. This was the great Vidor's last feature, and it's easy to see exhaustion and indifference seeping through the screen. Probably not the worst of the genre but certainly on a lower tier.
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#62

Post by maxwelldeux » April 1st, 2018, 6:16 pm

Well, due to me messing up my scheduling, I missed out on counting Andrei Rublev for the Russian challenge, but I can count is for the TSPDT challenge this month, so it works. And this is about as religious as I'm going to get in my film watching this Easter weekend.

This was a rewatch for me, and after doing some reading on it (thanks, funkybusiness!) I think I have a greater appreciation for the film. I still didn't particularly like it, but I'm starting to see what makes this film so great. This time, I was watching it less for plot and more for the art and cinematography aspect. There are some amazingly beautiful scenes, ones that impressed me with their composition. I think it would be good to revisit this one again in a few years. Though I still didn't care for the story, my rating did go from a 4 to a 6 out of 10.

Side note: The DVD I got from the library was done for shit. It's a Criterion release, but it's encoded as a widescreen film within a full screen frame, so when you watch it on a widescreen TV, the film only appears in the center, with those "black bars" on all four sides. I ended up streaming it because it looked SOOO much better.

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#63

Post by RBG » April 1st, 2018, 6:26 pm

barrabas (1961) is a good one and it's on the DtC list :innocent: also TCM reblogged my screenshots! :circle:

Image

i watched oliveira's acto da primavera (1963) which was pretty fascinating. a small village in a remote region of portugal puts on a medieval passion play using locals as actors. the film zooms in (filmmakers, spectators, villagers) and then out (space flight, atomic testing, vietnam)

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#64

Post by OldAle1 » April 1st, 2018, 6:36 pm

maxwelldeux on Apr 1 2018, 12:16:18 PM wrote:Well, due to me messing up my scheduling, I missed out on counting Andrei Rublev for the Russian challenge, but I can count is for the TSPDT challenge this month, so it works. And this is about as religious as I'm going to get in my film watching this Easter weekend.

This was a rewatch for me, and after doing some reading on it (thanks, funkybusiness!) I think I have a greater appreciation for the film. I still didn't particularly like it, but I'm starting to see what makes this film so great. This time, I was watching it less for plot and more for the art and cinematography aspect. There are some amazingly beautiful scenes, ones that impressed me with their composition. I think it would be good to revisit this one again in a few years. Though I still didn't care for the story, my rating did go from a 4 to a 6 out of 10.

Side note: The DVD I got from the library was done for shit. It's a Criterion release, but it's encoded as a widescreen film within a full screen frame, so when you watch it on a widescreen TV, the film only appears in the center, with those "black bars" on all four sides. I ended up streaming it because it looked SOOO much better.
Yeah I've been waiting for a BD upgrade of that one. For me it's a sublime film and I've seen it probably 4 times, all but once in the cinema, and it's a film that just demands a big screen. I think a lot of my appreciation for Tarkovsky in general has to do with having been able to see everything in the cinema a few times, he's one of those filmmakers who re-worked the same themes over and over in new contexts, and seeing them with audiences I think really helps as well. I remember how utterly silent the audience was when I first saw Stalker for example, and how nobody said anything as we filed out, shaken.
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#65

Post by OldAle1 » April 1st, 2018, 6:59 pm

A couple of nights ago I watched The Egyptian (Michael Curtiz, 1954), one of the few really well-known big-budget spectacles from this era that I'd never seen, and it ended up being one of the most pleasant surprises I've had in a long time. I'd always heard that this was pretty cheesy and stupid, and I suspect that some of that has to do with the presences of Victor Mature as Horemheb, cheesemaker's son who rises to the heights of power in this 13th-millennium BC tale, and producer Darryl F. Zanuck's girlfriend Bella Darvi as the temptress Nefer who plays a large part in corrupting our hero Sinuhe (Edmond Purdom), a physician to the poor who has a character arc here that reminded me of something like The Razor's Edge. Admittedly Darvi is pretty bad, but Mature is as usual better than his reputation would have it, and this is largely a very dark and pessimistic story about man's corruption and greed, with most male and female characters (including Gene Tierney as the weak Pharaoh Akhnaten's scheming sister) either too timid or too venal to change their own lives or those around them for the better. Yes in the end there's a religious awakening of sorts and the film (and apparently the real-life Akhnaten) point in some ways towards Judaism and Christianity, but overall this is a rather bleak and uncommonly serious film for this genre. And Leon Shamroy's glorious photography (2.55 Cinemascope) also needs to be mentioned.

Image

All in all this might just be my favorite of the English-language 50s-60s historical epics - leaving aside Lawrence of Arabia which is really not in the same category. It's not perfect and perhaps a bit compromised in it's messaging at the end, but there's a lot of meat here to go along with the visual splendor.
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#66

Post by OldAle1 » November 22nd, 2018, 5:52 pm

Time to re-up for 2018, since it's Thanksgiving Day here in the USA and the holiday season is "officially" upon us. 2018 holiday watch #1:

Planes, Trains and Automombiles (John Hughes, 1987)

5th or 6th viewing probably. I definitely saw this fairly early on, but I don't remember now if I first saw it in the cinema - possible, I liked Steve Martin quite a bit, but not that likely as I rarely paid to see mainstream comedies. I suspect I saw it first on video in 88-89. And at that time I really disliked the ending, which I thought of as cop-out sentimentality, and I thought it was too vulgar and both main characters too irritating. Well time - and especially experience - do wonders and I've gotten to really like it after 30 years, though I still have some issues - I find the music from longtime Hughes collaborator Ira Newborn mostly irritating - and I'm still not certain that the ending is handled as well as it could be. But it's actually foreshadowed to some extent, and the behavior of both Martin, the uptight asshole, and Candy, the jovial blabbermouth, is unquestionably governed in large part by their difficult but completely different family/work relationships. And given that I had a long-time girlfriend who loved Candy, and that my next girlfriend Emma Stone (l) is also an enormous fan - particularly of this performance - I've paid more attention to him in this film over time, and at this point I have to agree with those that make claims for greatness here. It really is one of the all-time greatest pieces of acting in a comedy and the range of it is quite amazing. Martin's character is certainly necessary and it's the odd couple relationship between the two of them that makes for most of the humor, but Del Griffith is in the end one of the great beautifully realized "real" human, warm, and imperfect characters in cinema, and within the holiday film arena I think there are just a few other examples - James Stewart and Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life, Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story, Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation, Alastair Sim in Scrooge, Margaret Sullavan in Shop Around the Corner and Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Remember the Night come to mind - that can equal or surpass it.

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#67

Post by OldAle1 » December 8th, 2018, 10:41 pm

SpoilerShow
Man, you people have no holiday spirit. Making lists & doing challenges ain't holiday spirit, unless it's lists of things to put in punch or eggnog, and challenging your friends to drink great quantities while singing carols.
2018 holiday watches 2-4:

2. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) (re-watch)

I alternate between at least a dozen Christmas features every other year, and this was the year for this one, likely my favorite from Lubitsch, which I've now seen at least half a dozen times. Watched it on TCM because it just happened to be on though I own it on DVD as well. What to say about it at this point that hasn't been said already? I like that there are hints - just hints - in James Stewart's performance of the darker, more intense roles he would play over the next couple of decades; I love Margaret Sullavan's neurotic character though sadly it seems much of it came from a real, rather unhappy life; the secondary cast is of course amazing with Frank Morgan in one of his best roles, Joseph Schildkraut as the most obsequious character in film history, Felix Bressart as the best friend anybody would want to have, and William Tracy, sarcastic beyond his years. Pretty nearly perfect, if there's anything that could make it better it would be a bit more oomph to the female roles apart from Sullavan.

3. Holiday Affair (Don Hartman, 1949) (re-watch)

Also on TCM, just after the preceding. I learned something new that I hadn't remarked on the first time I saw this in 2011 - it was made to consciously imitate in setting and to some extent storyline, Miracle on 34th Street, a huge hit from a couple of years earlier. Robert Mitchum works in a big store at Christmastime, meets Janet Leigh who has a young son, romance blossoms despite her being almost engaged to (stable but boring) Wendell Corey. Mitchum isn't St. Nick and there's no parade or anything but the department store/toy theme and the lonely impulsive child - a bit of similarity. Just a bit. Alas it's not that great apart from the cast, and pretty damn predictable, but that is a great trio of leads - Corey is particularly good and he always seems to get the short end of the stick in films like this as I think he did in his career. The dialogue's a bit over-the-top and Mitchum explaining the world like a self-taught philosophy professor gets grating. This is maybe a 5-10 year rotation item at best.

4. Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) (re-watch)

I'm an 80s kid in a lot of ways, and I've grown to like a lot of the 80s Christmas movies more and more as time goes by and I'm more distanced from what I didn't like about the decade...but my heart still belongs to the 1940s when it comes to the holidays. Maybe it's the incessant playing of Gene Autry's original version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1949) during my childhood Christmas days that started it all? At any rate, though this is not my favorite holiday film from the decade - maybe not even top 5 - it's one I always look forward to getting back to and this was my first viewing in maybe five years. Of course like Holiday Inn it's only a Christmas movie by default because we don't really have a "Thanksgiving movie" or "Summer movie" tradition, and because the Christmas song here - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is so iconic being sung by Judy Garland. But that's enough I guess and the film certainly is Christmas cheery - in fact the cheer part might be it's major flaw, there's just no conflict here; it's not dramatic or intense enough that you ever really believe the family will move away or that there will be any separations or economic turmoil, and it's not really all that funny either although Margaret O'Brien certainly contributes in that area. But so what? The color is splendiferous and all the songs are good, with "The Trolly Song" being just about as good as the Christmas one, and "The Boy Next Door" also pretty memorable. All the women/girls in the cast are pretty terrific, and the two Smith men are fine, but I have to say the lackluster guys that Judy and older sis Lucille Bremer fall for are the essences of bland.

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#68

Post by maxwelldeux » December 9th, 2018, 7:01 am

You know, The Shop Around the Corner didn't do anything for me - I thought it was fine, but didn't really get me in any sort of meaningful way. Haven't seen the other two.

My contribution here:

Bad Santa 2 (2016):

The first in the sequence is a holiday favorite of my wife and I - with the casting of Lauren Graham (we both love Gilmore Girls) and the terrible-people humor, it was a fun and quotable movie to watch. The sequel here here was much of the same - Lauren Graham wasn't back (GG reunion series), and Christina Hendricks was a good-but-not-perfect replacement. It was a total retread of the first with a couple small twists to make it sellable. But when you're wanting a fun and familiar crass story, this is great.

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#69

Post by albajos » December 9th, 2018, 10:44 am

Green Book (2018) is actually a Christmas movie. I wont spoil it more than that.

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#70

Post by 3eyes » December 9th, 2018, 4:49 pm

Just found a curiosity on Fandor: Santa Claus (Mexico 59) - IMDb rating 2.6 but it seems to have a certain cachet in some quarters.
:run: STILL the Gaffer!

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#71

Post by Ivan0716 » December 9th, 2018, 7:18 pm

Fred Kelemen's Frost (1997) - delightful Christmas film, got me right into my holiday mood.

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#72

Post by RBG » December 18th, 2018, 9:43 pm

mmkay i watched 'it happened on fifth avenue' (roy del ruth 1947). it was cute if totally unbelievable

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#73

Post by OldAle1 » December 22nd, 2018, 11:25 pm

It Happened on Fifth Avenue was new for me a couple of years ago - not bad but nothing really special ether. Still I have it on a DVD so I'm sure I'll watch it again someday. Finding "new" XMas flicks that are actually good is getting more difficult.

On to more stuff in my annual parade...

5. Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984) (re-watch)

In some ways this would seem to fall into the same category as Die Hard, a film set at Christmas that really isn't a "Christmas movie" - it is primarily a horror-comedy of the (small) monster sub-variety. But on every new viewing (I think this was the 3rd, maybe the 4th), the richness of it's allusions - always a Dante specialty - and it's Christmas themes grows. The notion of the holiday as actually dreadful of course is zeroed-in on in Phoebe Cates' awful story about the most awful Christmas, and we see in the Miss Gulch-Wicked Witch of the West-Henry Potter-Scrooge amalgam that is Mrs. Deagle that Christmas consumerism has it's very negative analog in pure greed, avarice and power. And of course the town is a picture-perfect middle-American (upstate New York I think) village that fits neatly alongside Bedford Falls - and there's even a glimpse or two of It's a Wonderful Life on TV. Mostly though it's a typical product of the 1980s, with the teenaged hero (Cates' pseudo-boyfriend Zack Galligan) the first to discover that the cute little critter Gizmo that his dad Hoyt Axton (a total 1940s throwback in wardrobe and attitude - a comic "Death of a Salesman" figure) got him as a gift will spread mayhem and destruction if he just happens to break all the rules that came along with him. As I mentioned, this gets more fun every time I see it because my knowledge keeps increasing - I'm much more aware of Dick Miller's career now for example, and the wonderful little moment where we see Robby the Robot, the Time Machine and Steven Spielberg all in the same frame is now imprinted on my brain - but it still doesn't quite make it to "favorite" status, I think because in the end I get a little tired of the gremlin craziness, and perhaps it feels just a little TOO self-conscious, even though that awareness is also part of it's charm. Still a fun thing to re-visit every few years; wish I could remember for sure if I ever saw this in the cinema, when new; would have been with my brother over summer break probably but he couldn't remember either.

6. The Holiday (Nancy Meyers, 2006)

Thanks ICM forum. NOT!!!! OK, I might have watched this painful piece of dreck on my own at some point anyway for Eli Wallach and Kate Winslet, and I don't mind Jack Black either nor am I turned off particularly by the other two stars, Jude Law and Cameron Diaz. But it was it's appearance on the Christmas list as one of just three films I hadn't seen that got me to watch it at this moment. To be fair it starts out OK even if the seeds of it's utterly cliched plot are laid out right away - Winslet, an English book editor, and Diaz, an American film-trailer editor (strangely, little is made in the film of the similarity in their positions) are both emotional wrecks after bad break-ups and happen on the idea of house-switching for the holidays, Diaz to the cozy little village and house-out-of-Thomas-Kinkade-painting that Winslet lives in, Winslet to Diaz's modern and expansive L.A. mansion. Of course each falls in love and we have sweet lil' ol' Oscar-winning screenwriter Wallach as the L.A. next-door neighbor also as...shit, I dunno why he's there honestly. You'd think it might be to give Winslet a reason to care about her writing-oriented career or something but no, it honestly just seemed like a ploy to get more old people to go see this film. Up until about the 1/3 point in this 130+ minute piece I was willing to stay open-minded and accepting but it just got so utterly obvious and dull that I would have stopped it if I were the kind of person who stopped watching movies. And the soft glow and the beautiful everything --- it's all so Hallmark Channel, so Painter of Light, so middle-class liberals going to Monet exhibitions and congratulating themselves on how cultured they are, when mostly they're just braindead self-satisfied suburbanites who think The Holiday is a sophisticated and intelligent adult movie. Blleeeccccchhhh. I HATED HATED HATED THIS MOVIE.

Sum shorts...
7. Treevenge (Jason Eisener, 2008) - fun Canadian film about Christmas trees taking revenge on the horrible humans (all of them quite exaggeratedly monstrous) who cut them down every years. Very bloody and silly - you don't see a baby getting it's head mashed by an anamorphic tree every day.

8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (Bill Melendez, 1965) (re-watch) - at least the 20th viewing of this chestnut. While the animation is primitive, as it is in all the original Peanuts shorts, it doesn't much matter - the message is fine and Vince Guaraldi's music never gets old.

9. The Snowman (Dianne Jackson, 1982) (re-watch) - probably about the 10th viewing; this was the original release version with author Raymond Briggs doing the opening narration. Next to Chuck Jones' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! only among my favorite Christmas shorts, though I hadn't seen it in a few years for whatever reason. Like the preceding film, this has great music (Howard Blake) but unlike ACBC it also has wonderful animation and in particular a wonderful depth to the flying sequences. I wonder if Briggs got the idea for the original book (1978) after watching Frosty the Snowman and thinking "fuck this mushy American hogwash"?

10. The Holly and the Ivy (George More O'Ferrall, 1952)

This is listed in a new book by some TCM guy and he was plugging it so I had to look it up and check it out (though I didn't watch it on TCM). Hmm, guess I'm not going to put too much trust in this guy, for while this low-key British Christmas-set family drama isn't terrible or anything, it isn't particularly entrancing either. It's essentially about a widowed pastor (Ralph Richardson) in a small country town whose family comes to visit over the holidays and who war with each other over family memories and whose responsibility it is to help out aging dad. Celia Johnson, only really known to me and I suspect most Americans for Brief Encounter plays the older sister who has stayed at home but wants to get married; Denholm Elliott is the drunken soldier brother, and Margaret Leighton the younger sister trying to make it in the fashion biz in London. Good cast, but I found it all pretty tiresome and predictable, and the fact that the grown-up kids treat their father as if he was some moralistic tyrant when we see not the slightest evidence of such character is quite strange. Richardson, quite possibly my favorite British actor of his generation, is excellent as usual as the eccentric vicar, but even he can't keep this much above mediocrity.

11. Saving Christmas (Darren Doane, 2014)

This was #1 on the IMDb Bottom 100 for quite a while (it's now #9) so I had high expectations for something special. Sadly, it's merely incredibly incompetent, often quite dull, and laughable. I expected more because it''s fundamentalist Christian propaganda from the mind or at least the name-brad of Kirk Cameron, childstar-turned-evangelist, and I was envisioning something on the level of God's Not Dead. Well, turns out Cameron (who looks very, very much like my cousin who is also a fundamentalist) isn't up to the sort of nastiness or bigotry you find in the worst of these films, which makes this a lot easier to sit through but also less distinctive and mean - I wanted a lump of coal, all I got was this dull cracked glass. It's basically Cameron as a fictionalized version of himself lecturing his brother-in-law (played by the director) on how all the commercial, modern aspects of Christmas can be reconciled with True Christianity. Spending lots of money on gifts - Santa - Christmas Trees - yep, all Biblical according to Father Kurt. The reasoning is extremely poor (and that's being kind), the acting is atrocious, the filmmaking on the edge of competency for a school play, and there's a hilariously bad rap version of "Angels We Have Heard on High" that must be seen to be believed. Ultimately rather than being offensive like I expected, this turned out to be in the so-bad-it's-good camp; unremittingly awful if judged as a "film"" or conventional entertainment but hilarious if you're in the right mindset.

12. Trail of Robin Hood (William Witney, 1950)

I've seen several Gene Autry filmx and a few other scattered singing cowboy flicks, but I think this was my first Roy Rogers, one of his last as it turned out, and one of the few in color though it's in the second-rate TruColor process which is all orange and blue and rather ugly. Still it was a good print on TCM, and it's kind of an amusing tale of Rogers (without Dale Evans this time) calling on the help of a bunch of other b-western stars to get a bunch of Christmas trees to market when a rival outfit tries to stop them through violence. Yep, Christmas Tree wars on the range! I don't really know my b-western stars that well, particularly those whose careers were mostly pre-war, but I at least knew the names of the likes of Crash Corrigan, Jack Holt, Tom Tyler, etc. Fun little flick that I'll probably never watch again unless it's n TCM again sometime.

13. 3 Godfathers (John Ford, 1948) (re-watch)

I saw this probably a dozen years ago, remembered just vaguely the saving-the-baby plot and the parallels with Jesus; didn't remember that it was in color surprisingly, the usual rich sort of color you find in a Ford film of this vintage. It's a very good film overall, with John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry Carey Jr. as three bandits escaping across the desert from a posse led by Ward Bond after robbing a bank, and coming across a dying pregnant woman who they help to give birth to a son, and who extracts a promise to look out for him. You can maybe guess how things go from there. It's all superbly put together, with one of Wayne's better performances and a meatier role for Bond than usual, though the always wonderful Armendáriz leaves the biggest impression; but I have to say I found the typical Fordian humor a little tiring this time around and the ending's sentimentality is just on the verge of palatable for me.

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#74

Post by albajos » December 22nd, 2018, 11:39 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
December 22nd, 2018, 11:25 pm
isn't up to the sort of nastiness or bigotry you find in the worst of these films
No, but he do kidnap children, and tell them they have gone to heaven.

Thankfully not in Saving Christmas, but he did it in A Little Piece of Heaven (1991) so, yeah...

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#75

Post by maxwelldeux » December 23rd, 2018, 6:41 am

Wife and I got home from an outing today, and she said "You want to watch a terrible Christmas movie?" So I said sure, and we played 5-2-1 (she nominated 5, I narrowed it to 2, then she picked the final one; our standard "pick a movie" process). We ended up with...

The Christmas Switch

In this Christmas body-switch thriller, a dying man prays to god to escape the wrath of his daughter for the last three weeks of his life. His wish is granted, and he inhabits the body of a young man. He obsessively clings to children during the day, but disappears at night - where does he go? Why did he need to escape his daughter? Meanwhile the young man, now in the body of the dying man, desperately tries to figure out how to fuck the daughter without it seeing like incest.A dying man is granted his Christmas wish to be Santa one last time for the kids. He's switched to the body of a young gambler, who, in turn, discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

Not worth discussing. Wife nailed it - it was truly terrible. :circle:

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#76

Post by RBG » December 25th, 2018, 3:15 am

tangerine (2015) is a good christmas eve movie

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maybe don't watch it with your kids or your parents
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#77

Post by OldAle1 » April 21st, 2019, 1:18 am

EASTER JESUS CHRISTIAN BLAH BLAH BLAH TIME!

La religieuse / The Nun (Jacques Rivette, 1966) (re-watch)

Cinema, digital, Wisconsin International Film Festival. The new 4K restoration certainly captures the colors well - I had seen this three times before I think, twice in 35mm and once on VHS, all in the 1990s, and I don't recall the colors being so vibrant - and the sound is terrific, Jean-Claude Eloy's dissonant score mixing well with the enhanced natural sounds, birds and wind and dogs etc, that confront Suzanne incessantly as she tries to find ways to deal with her fate as a nun without a vocation, though not without a feeling for God; the only real issue I had is that the image seemed *just* a little softer than I remembered, softer than such a hard story calls for. Rivette is one of my favorite directors and I basically love just about all of his films, and this is certainly in the top half, but ranking becomes rather silly for me beyond that. Rivette, like Eric Rohmer, set nearly all of his features in the modern day, but the few exceptions that each made are striking, and this perhaps the most special in my mind. Anna Karina gives the best performance I've seen from her, indeed one of the best performances by anyone in the New Wave catalog, as Suzanne, forced to take orders because her parents have squandered their money and can't marry her off or do anything else with her, and she goes from one type of Hell to another under three different Mother Superiors, before finally attempting to escape and finding life just as problematic on the outside. Certainly a damnation of the Church as a hierarchical, autocratic institution, and no surprise that it took some time for the film to get cleared to be seen (for adults only) in France. Well at least it got a release there, here in the USA it only showed at retrospectives in big cities and undoubtedly it won't play even as widely now as it did in the 90s or earlier. Beyond the religious elements it's really as much an indictment of the behavior of the powerful of all kinds towards the powerless, and Rivette's somewhat distant, detached mise en scene, coupled with the eerie music and the constant sense of implacable fate make this the only film in his canon that might be compared in any meaningful way with Bresson.

Not exactly a "fun Easter" film but I happened to see it during the timeframe so what the h.

The Sign of the Cross (Cecil B. De Mille, 1932)

Absolutely stunning-looking production with some of the best b/w cinematography of the entire decade (the great DP Karl Struss got a well-deserved Oscar nomination) with some good over-the-top crazy performances from Claudette Colbert and Charles Laughton as the Empress Poppea and Emperor Nero, but this has all the defects I usually associate with the director, and then some, in particular his total inability (or lack of interest) to construct characters that talk or behave remotely like real people. This is essentially a man-finds-God-through-woman story - Frederick March as a Roman Prefect sees the Christian Elissa Landi one day while she's trying to protect a couple of old men and INSTANTLY falls in love with her and decides to have her no matter what it does to his career or life. Now, this kind of thing can work in a comedy or fantasy sometimes, but De Mille always seems to want us to really believe his stories, not necessarily that they actually happened exactly as shown, but that they could have, and this just comes off as laughable, and it doesn't help that March, usually a terrific actor, is just awful here, and Landi doesn't impress much either. Still for the visual beauty - and this actually has a couple of cool tracks or crane shots, something you don't see much in the rather static world of De Mille's sound work, and the campiness and sleaziness of the Laughton and Colbert scenes - it was worth seeing. Once.

The Robe (Henry Koster, 1953) (re-watch)

Second viewing - first watched this time of the year in 2011. This doesn't seem any great shakes as a demonstration of the brand-new Cinemascope process today - Koster was hardly a genius in his camera placements and he also had to contend with shooting the same thing in 1.33 for all those theaters that couldn't show the new format, which probably constrained what creativity he had - but it improved a bit for me on this second viewing. Victor Mature is still far and away the best thing about it - as limited an actor as he was, he excelled in this kind of costume fluff and he really doesn't seem to be acting as he witnesses the passage of Jesus; he's only the co-star alas and Richard Burton, still pretty new to film, is a bit stiff though of course that glorious voice is always welcome. The color is terrific and at 135 minutes it doesn't really go on too much. Not sure what I think of Jay Robinson's very fey Caligula, he certainly stands out and I guess there are some other big personalities here, but it does seem a bit much at times.

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#78

Post by OldAle1 » April 22nd, 2019, 3:58 am

More spiritual-ish stuff for Ham Day. And hammy stuff, for that matter...

The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. De Mille, 1956) (re-watch)

Likely my 4th or 5th viewing; first seen on commercial TV, over 2 days, when I was a kid. I thank this film, and a book of my mom's - I think published by Reader's Digest - dealing with the geography and history of the Biblical era, with my lifelong interest in religion, though I've never become religious and in fact feel my faiithlessness hardening all the time. But I''m fascinating with how and why people believe, and all those events in the Bible which have always made for good fantasy stories. I last watched this probably 10 years ago or so, and I think it might have been on VHS - in any case it was not nearly as good a copy in memory; the DVD that I watched the other night looks spectacular and I''m sure the BD is even better. This time around the spectacle won me over more than last time, and while I'm still not sure I really get "camp" most of the time, I do find parts of this pretty funny and kitschy for sure. But there are genuinely good things as well, like Yul Brynner's Pharaoh and many of the sets and matte paintings, and Elmer Bernstein's score though it sounds very little like his later more famous work such as The Magnificent Seven. And let's face it any movie with both Edward G. Robinson and Vincent Price can't be all that bad.

Easter Parade (Charles Walters, 1948) (re-watch)

TCM. Checked this in 2010 though I think I had seen it once in childhood or early adulthood. This also improved a little on this viewing; while the story remains extremely cliched, predictable and uninteresting, and the direction merely solid-to-good (had original director Vincente Minnelli stayed with it, I suspect this wouldn't have been the case), everything else is cake. I'm not sure Judy Garland ever sounded better overall - at 25 her voice had matured enough to sound strong and lustrous in all the songs she gets, and her interpretive intelligence had certainly reached a new peak - the brief torchy "Better Luck Next Time" might be the best example - Astaire's dancing is certainly up to snuff, Anne Miller and Peter Lawford are fine second bananas, and the color and production are MGM Grade A Standard solid. I don't really think any of the the songs are among the best ever, but none are weak either - it's one very good number after another served up with real emotional depth by Garland and flair from Astaire.

Golgotha (Julien Duvivier, 1935)

Fine death-of-Christ film that covers the last week, through the Resurrection. Future Nazi collaborator Robert Le Vigan makes a fairly commanding if ultra-serious Jesus, and future Nazi victim Harry Baur a canny Pilate, with Jean Gabin thrown in as Herod for good measure. It's a very loud and crowded film, with the first half or so being full of noise and confusion, the hustle and bustle of a big city even in Roman times, which I quite liked and don't think I've really seen before. Multitudes as the Bible would have it. Given that Duvivier couldn't fill his screen with blood and guts the way Mel Gibson could 70 years later when telling a similar version of the story, this focuses mostly on the political battles between the Sanhedrin, Herod and Pilate over what to do with this heretic, and it's fairly well told and makes everyone look bad, which I guess is what I'd expect. Lots of nice matte paintings of Jerusalem; really nice performance by Lucas Gridoux as Judas, and with a running time of just an hour and a half a refreshingly quick and fast-paced tour through this moment in history or myth that usually is told in multiple hours of screen time.

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#79

Post by maxwelldeux » April 22nd, 2019, 4:53 am

OldAle1 wrote:
April 22nd, 2019, 3:58 am
More spiritual-ish stuff for Ham Day. And hammy stuff, for that matter...
I tried to get my wife to watch a zombie movie, but she doesn't really like them, so that didn't work out. :shrug:

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