Pick your movie of the week: My 2016! (Dec 30-Jan 5/17)

dec-30-jan-5-17Over the past year I have watched 21 movies that had release dates in 2016. And being my movie-geek self, I like to give each one of them my own personal rating on my Letterboxd account. Of those 12 movies there were 3 that I ranked the highest with a 4.5/5 stars. Seems that there were none that I liked enough to give a 5-star rating. Who’da thunk?

So I thought it would be cool to make them our nominees for movie of the week. If you haven’t seen them, click on the links and read the plot descriptions, or vote based on which you’d most look forward to seeing. Here they are:

10 Cloverfield Lane (IMDb rating: 7.3)

Sing Street (IMDb rating 8.0)

Zootopia (IMDb rating: 8.1)

 

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Who is more clueless? Cousin Eddie or Buddy the Elf?

elf-and-cousinTwo of the greatest and most loved (and quoted) characters of all Christmas movies, and both seem to be in a different world than the rest of us. Take their eating habits for example. Buddy puts syrup on spaghetti and believes that 3 of the 4 food groups are candy-based. Cousin Eddie eats squirrel meat, prefers the neck of a turkey, and seems to enjoy a jello mould made with cat food. And they both certainly look like they dress themselves according to what they like or how they feel with no thought whatsoever about whether or not they look ridiculous. In a clueless contest I’m thinking the two of them would be a close race. Let’s take a look at the specs. (And please be warned that this post may contain spoilers).

Buddy almost makes me think that he would have to run away with the prize since he grew up in a world so vastly different in not only culture, but in attitude, dress, values, maturity… everything. In his mind, to talk to a wild animal should and would result in one hearing a pleasant answer back. To him, a woman’s lingerie c3988351239_a038955ef0ould easily be for a great gift for dad because a sign in the mall said so. His foreign nature to anything that is simply routine to us makes a strong case for his championing the clueless comp.

But not so fast. Never underestimate the power of Cousin Eddie’s stupidity!

Buddy may have an unimaginable cultural divide, but Eddie has a plate in his head that makes him forget his name and piss his pants when the microwave is running. Plus, his actions clearly point to him being a bona fide sociopath. Break your friend’s wooden decoration? No biggie. Dog throws up under the dining room table, not to mention spilling the garbage all over the kitchen floor? No sweat. The aforementioned self-invite? The making of a gift list intended for someone else to buy? He has no sense of consideration, and at a staggering level.

buddyBut then Buddy… Buddy is so clueless he can walk into an occupied bathroom without the user’s knowledge and be shocked that they are frightened and angered. Oh, and she’s in the shower. Clearly he understands what a shower is because they show him in a small elf-sized one in another scene. But somehow he still didn’t realize that she would be naked.

But Eddie thinks that kidnapping a man is a good gift idea. Hearing Clark’s rant about his boss with phrases like four-flushing and snake-licking doesn’t seem to give him any indication that this was based on rage and frustrated sarcasm. Breaking into a home on Christmas day and dragging a man out forcibly while his wife screams in horror? Seems like a legit gift idea.

But Buddy finds gum stuck under a metal rail in New York City and decides to chew it. That’s pretty stupid already. But somehow he finds it tastes good—something that no sane human 5431298497_c6f1e1e699_zbeing would conclude. And he finds another and does the same. And another, and another. Makes me sick just typing about it.

But Eddie wears a speedo with a long shirt tucked in and sticking out the leg holes when swimming. And throws his towel in the pool. I mean, who throws a beach towel in the water??

But Buddy crammed 11 cookies into a VCR.

But Eddie tried to kiss his sister-in-law on the lips.

But Buddy uses the term “cotton-headed ninny muggins.”

But Eddie considers a charred living room chair a relatively decent find.

But Buddy sleeps in a store window.

But Eddie finds the threat of going to jail laughable.

As you can see, these two undoubtedly run neck-and-neck in this race. But the edge is going to to go to Cousin Eddie. Why? Well, he grew up in essentially the same reality as all of us. The one with public school, hospitals, malls, cable TV, libraries, and—most importantly—many many other human beings. Yet he rivals the cluelessness of a man raised by a quarantined community of arctic elves and talking animals. Cousin Eddie, you take the cake.

Congratulations National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

buddyBest Actress: Catherine O’Hara as Kate McCallister in Home Alone. That woman is hilarious. If you like her humour and if you like improv-like movies, be sure to check out Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.

Best Actor: Peter Billingsley as Ralphie in A Christmas Story. He represented kids and their experience of Christmas exceptionally well. And man, did I ever connect with him when he took on the bully!

Best Quote: “You serious Clark?” — Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I’ve shared this before, but this is an updated list of my top 10 favourite Christmas movies of all time:

10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

9. A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

8. Home Alone (1990)

7. Love Actually (2003)

6. A Christmas Story (1983)

5. Elf (2003)

4. Joyeux Noel (2005)

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

2. A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

1. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

 

Pick your movie of the week: Christmas Comedies! (Dec 23-29/16)

christmas-comediesChristmas comedies come out just about every year and most of the time they’re forgettable. I’ve heard good things about Christmas Office Party, and I’ll be seeing it tomorrow night at my wife’s work Christmas party. Yipee! But I think this week’s nominees are generally the best of the Christmas comedies. I can honestly say with each one that I literally laugh out loud. Which one would you pick for this week’s movie?

A Christmas Story (1983)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Home Alone (1990)

Elf (2003)

Who peed in my eggnog??

santa-with-musclesEvery year we talk about the things we love at Christmas time, and and sometimes about the things we don’t like (e.g. Elf on the Shelf, checkout lines, etc.). I’ll be sure to end on a positive note, but let me first give a list of things that are completely acceptable to smother in bitter, festering hatred during this special, festive season of love.

The Icy-Hot Torture Device. When I go to shop at a mall, the walk through the parking lot is usually met with sub-zero temperatures and me cursing out my coat for not being warm enough. Why didn’t I wear layers?? I chastise myself. Then I walk into the mall and instantly burst into flames. I see Satan himself at the customer care centre saying, “What’s wrong with you people? Turn the &@%$# heat down!” I curse my coat yet again, this time for being too bulky and thermal. We also have to go to Chapters, Walmart, and Old Navy. Oh please God, have mercy…Large

The words “hustle” and “bustle.” I never NEVER hear anyone say the word “bustle” outside of December. So they rhyme, big deal. Please find another way of saying this.

The bottom of the eggnog glass. It tastes soooooooo good. Getting to the bottom just sucks.

Bad weather and/or cars breaking down. When it happens throughout the year, it’s frustrating. It’s terrible. But when it happens within the last two weeks of December, it’s like all your worst nightmares just came true.

The Chronic 12 Days. Seems every year someone has some funny spoof of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Even commercials. In fact, I have one, but mine’s the only good one.

Boot Lagoon. It shows up at every gathering. It’s time to leave the party and before you head out the door you must navigate your way through a scattering of footwear and melted slush. Your sock feet haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of saying dry. You’re almost there when you discover that the pair you’ve finally picked up aren’t yours. Yours are buried under someone’s bulky, sweaty, military grade jungle boots. Heels down, right on top while yours collects the cold, dirty dripping. The trip home will be pleasant.

The Yankee Swap Hosing. Today the rules get jumbled and even completely forgotten
with Yankee swaps and White Elephant exchanges. You could end up with a golden chalice filled with chocolate and money, or someone’s sweaty wet sock that didn’t survive Boot Lagoon. Oh the feeling of Largedread when someone saunters over to you with the crappy dollar store gift they just unwrapped and makes you trade away your bottle of Bailey’s. And you have to comply, because that’s the rules.

Getting a gift for the un-gift-able. That one person who is so hard to buy for and are most of the time disappointed in their gift. Now, I’m not saying it’s ok to hate that person. Just hate them quietly in your heart. I think somewhere in Ecclesiastes it says this is ok.

The “You’re not festive enough” police. One complaint, one bad day, one false move and you’re a scrooge. The pressure to be happy and decked in green and red is strong, but not as strong as the inevitability of the grinch-shaming.

Now let me be positive…

I love decorations that come up from the basement once a year and brighten up the house. I love hot drinks and holiday movies. I love opening presents. I love watching others open presents. I love the music (I’d rather not every day for a month on continuous play, but I do love it.). I love the look of stores decorated. I love the feeling of a stuffed stocking. I love the increase in communication with friends and family. It’s my favourite time of the year.

But let’s be honest… Santa with Muscles sucks!

Congratulations Santa with Muscles. This is your week…..I suppose….if we have to….

And the Oscar goes to…

LargeWorst Actress: Mila Kunis in Santa with Muscles. Just for being a notable name and being in a movie like this.

Worst Actor: Tough choice between Kirk Cameron and the Hulkster. I’m not sure which one would be most cringe-worthy (like my mother I’ve been spared of actually seeing these abominations), but I’m going with Cameron. I’ve at least seen Hulk act well in one movie, Rocky III. Can’t say the same for Kirk.

Worst Quote: Worst? Looks like this calls for another top ten…

10. “You’ll never get away with this, you Martian!” (SCCTM)

9. “Santa, you sleigh me!” (SWM)

8. “Oh, everything in sight! They eat most of the animals, the plants, the flowers, the roots, birds, even smoke and alcohol!” (after Pedro asks Santa what they eat on earth—Santa Claus)

7. “Ho ho, we meet again, eh?” (SCCTM)

6. “This is a complete hijacking! This is a hijacking! Hi-handed, hijacking! Handedness-jacking! It’s like a car-jacking of our religion!” (Saving Christmas)

5. “Watch out, he’s got a candy cane!” (SWM)

4. “No siree! We’re going out the good ol’ fashioned way. Prancer and Dancer and Donder and Blitzen, and Vixen and Nixon… oh, consarnit I get those names mixed up, but the KIDS know their names.” (SCCTM)

3. “You certainly are a different person when you’re away from those homeless little losers.” (SWM)

2. “Oh! Darn that Devil Pitch! Why, if I were on Earth right now, I’d put him in his place! But even he knows I can only return to Earth one night a year.” (Santa Claus)

1. “Nicholas was ‘bad,’ in a good way” (Saving Christmas)

Pick your movie of the week: Worst Xmas Movie EVER! (Dec 16-23/16)

dec-16-23-16Similar to the Razzies, we’re looking for which movie you would pick as potentially the worst. According to IMDb’s user sores, these are at the very bottom of the barrel of Christmas movies. Their score is listed beside each title, but please base your decision as much as you can on the plot descriptions. That is, unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to have seen any of these and can vote according to first-hand experience.

Santa Claus (1959; 2.4 stars)
Santa works in outer space and does battle with a demon sent to Earth by Lucifer to ruin Christmas by killing Santa and making all the children of the Earth do evil.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964; 2.5 stars)
The Martians kidnap Santa Claus because there is nobody on Mars to give their children presents.

Santa with Muscles (1996; 2.6 stars)
An evil millionaire believes he is Santa Claus after an accident renders him amnesiac.

Saving Christmas (2014; 1.5 stars)
Kirk Cameron is enjoying an annual Christmas party thrown by his sister until he realizes he needs to help out Christian, his brother-in-law, who has a bad case of the bah-humbugs. Kirk’s fresh look at Christmas provides Christians the chance to see Christ at the center of Christmas. 

The Good the Bad and the Christmassy

cinema
Almost as much as I anticipate Christmas, I also wait like a hope-filled six-year-old for that beloved space in between the big day and New Year’s. For most of us it’s a time that’s more relaxed: You can start a book you’ve been putting off; build a gingerbread house; binge-watch shows on Netflix; catch up on doing nothing. The possibilities are endless! So if I could be so bold, I’d like to suggest an idea. Watch an old (20’s—50’s) movie.

Think of movies like they’re music. Sure you have your style and artists, but every once in awhile it’s cool to put on an old record, hear the pop and crackle, and let the crooning Nat King Cole charm you. And if you do take my suggestion, add popcorn. It makes it a golden experience. So here are some recommendations for you…

The 20’s

THE GOOD: The Gold Rush (Chaplin), The General (Buster Keaton)

THE (POTENTIALLY) BAD: Metropolis, The Jazz Singer

THE CHRISTMASSY: Actually… none. Can you believe that?

The 30’cinemas

THE GOOD: King Kong, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Duck Soup (comedy, Marx brothers)
THE (POTENTIALLY) BAD: Bringing Up Baby (Of all the bad actors in history, I think Cary Grant is the very best), Dracula
THE CHRISTMASSY: Babes in Toyland (1934, featuring Laurel and Hardy)

The 40’s

THE GOOD: Rebecca (early Hitchcock), The Great Dictator (Chaplin… talking!), Rope (Hitchcock), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Bogart)cinema
THE (POTENTIALLY) BAD: The Grapes of Wrath
THE CHRISTMASSY: Holiday Inn (Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire), The Bishop’s Wife, our 3 nominees this week

The 50’s

THE GOOD: Strangers on a Train, Anatomy of a Murder, Witness for the Prosecution
THE (POTENTIALLY) BAD: Sunset Blvd, On the Waterfront, Touch of Evil
THE CHRISTMASSY: The Holly and the Ivy, White Christmas

Again, don’t forget to make popcorn.

Congratulations The Shop Around the Corner. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis.

Best Actor: James Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner.

Best Quote: “Having babies to boost your circulation takes time.” — Reginald Gardiner as John Sloan in Christmas in Connecticut

Truth be told, I haven’t seen any of this week’s nominees. Turns out, however, they all have great quotable lines. Here are my favourites:

:Good morning; Merry Christmas. I hope I’m in time to watch you flip the flapjacks.” (CIC)

“Maybe scarlet fever. It’s a better colour for Christmas.” (CIC)

“Catastroph!” (CIC)

“Everything is hunky-dunky.” (CIC)

“John, when you’re kissing me, don’t talk about plumbing.” (CIC)

[Regarding “musical cigarette boxes”] “I think people who like to smoke candy and listen to cigarettes will love it.” (TSATC)

“Flora, take a letter. Ah… To whom it may concern. Mr. Vadas has been in the employ of Matuschek & Company for the last two years, during which he has been very efficient as a stool pigeon, a troublemaker, and a rat.” (TSATC)

“He picks on me, too. The other day he called me an idiot. What could I do? I said, “Yes, Mr. Matuschek. I’m an idiot.” I’m no fool!” (TSATC)

“It’ll take at least a week to dig up all my dolls in the cemetery.” (MMISL)

“Tootie, if you don’t hit Mr. Braukoff in the face with flour and say ‘I hate you’, the Banshee will haunt you forever!” (MMISL)

Though I think this one from MMISL may be my favourite:

ROSE: Agnes Smith, you’re nothing less than a murderer. You could have killed dozens of people!
AGNES: Oh, Rose, you’re so stuck up.

 

Pick your movie of the week: Christmas in the 40’s! (Dec 9-15/16)

dec-9-15-16Here are some lesser-known, but still popular, Christmas movies. I don’t know what it is about the 1940, but they cranked out a lot of Christmas flicks with some staying power. If you haven’t seen these, vote according to which plot description would appeal to you most.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal. (Starring Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
In the year leading up to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York. (Starring Judy Garland)

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas. (Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan)