12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Final Part)

It’s time, ladies and gentlemen. The final part in this year’s 12 Days of Christmas series. It’s been fun, but it’s time for it to come to an end. So let’s go out on a note.

I was considering going with “Jingle All the Way” for this last one, as it was on tv earlier. But then I decided against it because I’d prefer to not get annoyed by a movie on christmas fucking eve. So instead I went with a different thing that was on tv, something that airs every year, same Bat-time, same Bat-channe- damn it, wrong old thing. This is “From All of Us, to All of You”. In this interesting piece of Disney animation, Mickey Mouse and Jiminy Cricket host a sort of christmas show in which they give us some “christmas cards” from various characters. These “cards” are short films, some actually christmas related, and some just clips from movies like “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book”. And for some unknown reason, it has aired on Swedish television every year since 1960. So yeah, living here in Sweden all my life, I’m kind of familiar with this. I feel nostalgic about seeing it, but at the same time it almost gets a bit same-y, since nothing new is added. Okay, I lied, at the end they show clips from new/upcoming Disney movies, but other than that, it’s the same thing as always, with only minor edits throughout the years. That said, there’s something a bit nice and warm about it, and it brings a nice sense of joy every time I see it. “From All of Us, To All of You” is a charming little compilation with a fascinating legacy.

On the last of christmas’ days, Markus wishes your ass, happy holidays, and a merry fucking christmas.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 11)

Part 11. The penultimate part. Man, time sure has flown by. It feels like barely any time has gone by, yet we’re already right at the end of this. Anyway, less sentimentality, more profanity.

Can you really talk about christmas movies without ever mentioning Shane Black? He makes movies that aren’t strictly about the holiday, but are set around it. And “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is no different. Released in 2005, the movie follows Harry (Robert Downey Jr.), a no-good shyster pretending to be an actor to evade the law. As he does this he gets to work with a detective (Val Kilmer) to prepare for a role. But soon they find themselves having to solve the complicated murder of a young woman. So now we have our murder mystery that is also a satire of murder mysteries while also being a buddy cop movie of sorts… hmm. And I still think it’s one hell of a fun movie. I saw it for the first time a few years back and loved it… and I still do. The mystery (while a bit convoluted) is quite fascinating, and Downey and Kilmer make for one hell of a double act. They have an infectious chemistry that I loved following from start to finish. All the performances here are great, and Shane Black’s dialog is as razor sharp as ever. “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a total blast.

On the eleventh day of christmas, Markus he did laugh, at Val Kilmer asking “Who taught you math!?”.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 10)

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Why am I doing this to myself?

Sometimes you watch good movies. Sometimes you watch bad movies. And sometimes, you might find a “Holy Mess”. Released in 2015, this holiday dramedy is about a gay couple (Anastasios Soulis and Anton Lundqvist) who invite a bunch of their relatives over to celebrate christmas. Cue the dysfunctional family crap, involving homophobia, familial inadequacy, and poor writing. The ideas here aren’t inherently bad, I am 100% sure that they could be used to make a truly compelling piece of cinema. But the writing here isn’t exactly what you’d call… good. When it tries to be funny, it’s groan-worthy. Then when it switches to the drama side of things it expects one to care… but I really didn’t, because like I said… the writing is a holy mess (see what I did there?). But let’s be generous and look at some of the positives. Most of the performances here are good, with Robert Gustafsson (mostly known for comedy) being a real standout with a really good dramatic performance. And the cinematography here is pretty good too, there are some solid enough shots and camera movements throughout. But in the end it all comes down to the writing, and as we’ve discussed, it’s more lutfisk than christmas ham. As the title suggests, this film is indeed a “Holy Mess”.

On the tenth day of christmas, Markus must confess, that he’s not a fan of Holy Mess.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 9)

Holy shit, we are already three quarters through this dumb thing. Man, time flies like a hummingbird on cocaine. Anyway, let’s get into this thing.

So what’s the movie today? Is it another cute and family-friendly thing? More made-for-tv schlock? Nope. Today we’re going quite far from the glitzy shit of the Hallmawk channel or the kid-friendly stuff of the Muppets. Today we are talking about a foul-mouthed, violent, and foreign movie. This is “Jackpot”, a 2011 Norwegian crime-comedy-thriller written by famed author Jo Nesbø and follows Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) who wakes up, covered in blood and with a shotgun in his hand… in a strip club. And we follow him as he talks to a cop about everything that led up to this. So how’s this connected to christmas? It’s set around the holidays, that’s it. Anyway, do I think this is a good movie? Kind of. With this I really sense that Nesbø tried to emulate Quentin Tarantino a bit. And while I like Tarantino, I don’t think it was the right approach for this. Nesbø is a brilliant writer, but I think that’s more when he goes for his own style rather than trying to ape someone else. That’s not to say that this is bad, because it’s not. The actors are great, the directing is pretty solid, and there’s some genuinely funny and even kinda tense moments. It’s one of those that I kinda recommend you putting on during a rainy Sunday afternoon, when you got not much else to do. “Jackpot” is a decent crime caper.

On the ninth day of christmas, Markus gives to you, something with blood, booze, and some money too. 

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 8)

BAH, HUMBUG. There, I did the thing. Can we get on with the talks about the christmas-y thing now?

There are many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. There’s the Patrick Stewart one, there’s the Muppet one, there’s the Bill Murray one, there’s the creepy CGI Robert Zemeckis one… so picking one wasn’t easy. But I finally decided to settle on the first version I ever saw. This is “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”. You all know the story, cranky cheapskate Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck/Alan Young) is a dick (or duck, ba-dum-tss) to everyone around him. So when he goes to bed he is visited by the three ghosts of christmas, and they show him how he’s a giant fuck-up, and like I said, you know what happens. Everybody knows this story. The only real difference here is the use of beloved Disney characters instead of actor/humans. But I like it, adds quite a bit of charm. Plus, Scrooge as Scrooge is a match made in obvious. But the animation is good, the story is timeless, the voice cast is stellar… plus, it’s only like 25 minutes, so it won’t consume much of your day. “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” still holds up 35 years later.

On the eighth day of christmas, Markus gives y’all a hug, because he doesn’t wanna tell you “Bah, humbug!”.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 6)

Holy shit, we’re already halfway through this silly thing. Time sure flies.

So, today’s thing is technically a tv episode. But if you know anything about the show, you know the episodes all have a feature length runtime. Also, it’s a holiday special, so I can use it. That’s right ladies and gents, today we are talking about “Sherlock” and its holiday special, “The Abominable Bride”. So in this episode, the characters of Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) get sent back in time to the late 19th century… which is the century the characters originated in… even though this iteration of the characters is from the 2000s… but now they’re in the 1800s… which is where they started… this shit will loop on forever, so I better move on before my fucking brain melts. Anyway, it’s the “Sherlock” version of the characters solving a mystery in the 19th century… but it also tries to interweave aspects of the modern day. For the most part I enjoyed “The Abominable Bride”, the parts in which we see Cramplescrunch and Bilbo Baggins doing the 19th century crime solving, that is fun. But when it tries to involve the modern day stuff and try to have a sort of meta narrative, it doesn’t quite work, and just comes off as a bit smug. I love “Sherlock”… the first two seasons at least, haven’t really seen anything past that. But despite my love for the show, I have to look objectively at this and say that it’s just fine. Which makes me sad, because “Sherlock” at its best is some of the best tv ever made. But if you want a decent enough romp featuring some great actors in period garb, you could do far worse than “The Abominable Bride”.

On the sixth day of christmas, Markus he took on, a man saying “elementary, my dear Watson”. 

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 5)

Well hello there! Thanks for coming. Sit down and relax while I jabber on about today’s film.

Earlier today I was thinking, “What should I do today?”, as I wanted to be slightly more creative with today’s pick. Then I thought “I should do a Harry Potter movie!”, as most of those flicks have a part set around the holiday. Then it came down to which one I would do. And in the end I decided to pick my favorite out of the bunch, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”. It’s time for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to do his third year at Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry. But of course he can’t just have a “normal” school year for once, as he has to look out for Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), a killer who has escaped from Azkaban prison. And you know the usual shenanigans that happen, Harry questions things, Snape (Alan Rickman) looks angry, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is secretly a dick, and Harry and his friends end up in some dangerous situations. But they put some nice twists on these things here with the inclusion of certain revelations regarding the past of Harry’s parents, as well as the looming horror of the Dementors. It stands out thanks to one of the more engaging plots in the series, combined with the confident and stunning direction of Alfonso Cuarón. And while this movie doesn’t go “Happy Christmas” as blatantly as some of the other ones, it does have a bit set in a very snowy Hogsmeade, and it all just gives me a very christmas-y vibe. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” works both for christmas-y and casual viewing.

On the fifth day of christmas, Markus brings to you, an actual good film, woohoo!

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 4)

What? Did you think all these would be made-for-tv schlock? Wrong. Sometimes I do old stuff too.

As you could probably guess from the header image, today we are talking about Rankin/Bass’ beloved 1964 classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. And you guys already know the story. Even if you haven’t seen this thing, then you’ve absolutely heard that song. And if not, then I wonder what cave you’ve been living in for the past millennium. But to recap, there’s this reindeer, his name’s Rudolph, he has a red nose with the watt count of a fucking spotlight (and it apparently also has a dimming option). This little thing makes the other reindeer mock him, despite it doing no actual harm to anyone. So we follow him as he tries to fit in. That’s basically it. All I wonder is how in the shit they stretch this out to a 50-minute runtime. I mean, the inclusion of snow monsters, an elf that wants to become a dentist, and a prospector packing heat certainly might help in extending it a bit. But this is also the aspect that drags this special down a bit… that runtime feels dragged out. 25 – 30 minutes would have sufficed, but somehow it’s 51 minutes long. Yes, this special has a ton of charm and some really catchy tunes… but it all feels a bit dragged out. I mean, it’s good… I’m just not in love like those who grew up watching this.

On the fourth day of christmas, Markus decided to pick, a thing telling you not to be a dick.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 3)

Howdy, and welcome to part 3 in this year’s 12 Films of Christmas series. Let’s get into this thing.

That’s right, I’m doing another made-for-tv movie. This time it’s “Just in Time for Christmas”, a 2015 Hallmark channel original about a young woman (Lindsay Rogers) who has to ponder a difficult choice. Either she follows her ambitions to get her dream job, or she follows her heart and marries her long time boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David). As she ponders about this, a mysterious man on a carriage (William Shatner, yes really), who I’ve elected to call Shatner Claus (because that’s what he might as well be), takes her for a ride. And at some point during this ride she may or may not be transported into the future that shows her following her ambitions (anybody else getting “A Christmas Carol” vibes?), and what consequences that might have. Admittedly, this is a decent idea, I have a soft spot for alternate universes/timelines in storytelling, so this intrigued early on. But then I finished watching it. And guess what? It’s absolutely fucking… mediocre. Yeah, bet you didn’t see that one coming. There is some actual talent on display here, it’s not a full-on shitshow (unlike the “movie” we talked about yesterday *shudders*). I mean, it foregoes a lot of logic and realism, but it’s at least passable. The characters aren’t the worst, the story has a few decent ideas, and I got kind of a cozy vibe from this entire thing. Plus, having Christopher Lloyd in your movie doesn’t exactly hurt. The actors are pretty good, the cinematography is… fine, the storytelling isn’t bad. The movie’s biggest problem is that it’s just passable at best. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend going out of your way to watch it. But if I had to choose between rewatching this or yesterday’s “movie”, I’d happily pick this every time. “Just in Time for Christmas” isn’t a modern classic, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve watched.

On the third day of christmas, Markus brings to thee, Shatner Claus and some mediocrity.

12 Films of Christmas 2018 (Part 2)

I didn’t say that all the movies featured here would be unique and interesting… or even good for that matter. Yikes.

So the entry for the 12 Films of Christmas is a 2016 made for tv romantic comedy called “A Cinderella Christmas”. It’s basically “Cinderella”… but shit. An event-planner (Emma Rigby) sneaks into a christmas-themed masquerade in which she meets a wealthy dude (Peter Porte) and they fall in love. When she then runs out of the party he will do anything to find his mysterious princess charming. Some days I wonder why other people are so stupid. Some days I wonder why I am so stupid. While watching this movie I asked myself both those things. The characters in this are either dumber than a bag of bricks or duller than beach ball. I know that you are given some leeway when crafting characters, you are allowed to divert somewhat from realistic human behavior… but the writing here doesn’t so much bend their characteristics as much as break it in half and tell you “Merry fucking christmas, our reality is better than yours”. What else? The actors are passable at best, the cinematography is as “just turn on the camera” as it gets, the attempts at humor aren’t really that funny, and nothing in this is even remotely engaging. I don’t like talking smack about movies, I like liking movies… but sometimes that’s hard, as “A Cinderella Christmas” has proven today.

On the second day of christmas, Markus brings to you, a movie with characters dumber than poo.