12 Films of Christmas (Part 10)

Part ten. The tenth part. We’ve seriously already gone through ten parts in this series. I’ve said it before, but time sure flies. Wow. Anyway, let’s get into it.

Family. Facing your fears. Deadly traps. These are the central themes of christmas classic “Home Alone”. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) lives in a troubled home. And when he’s supposed to go on vacation to France with his family, his family forgets him and he gets left alone at home. And he soon have to defend his home from a pair of bumbling thieves (Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern). And yeah, “Home Alone” is great. It’s a good movie for teaching lessons about family and how you should learn to confront your fears and to be a good person and blah blah blah, we all know why we’re watching “Home Alone” every year, and it’s to see two thieves get knocked around by some really clever and fun traps set out by a little kid. Yes, the lessons in this are heartfelt and good, but they’re not what people watch this for. We’re here for slapstick, and then we get some heartfelt lessons in the meantime. This movie could’ve probably gotten away with just being a silly holiday comedy featuring traps and slapstick and stuff, but the filmmakers actually gave a damn and put in a lot of effort to make a movie that resonates on multiple levels. So yeah, “Home Alone” is great.

What do you think about “Home Alone”? And what’s your favorite trap from the movie? Leave any and all answers in the comments.
Have a good one.

The Food in Film Blogathon: Harry Potter and the Tasty Foods

Hello there, ladies and gents of the internet. I have once again joined in on a blogathon. Just like the last couple of blogathons that I’ve been part of, this one is hosted by Kristina from Speakeasy and Ruth from Silver Screenings. And in this blogathon the participants were asked to talk about food in film. It took me a while to choose something to write about, but I managed to figure it out and signed on. Skip ahead a couple of months and now we’re here! So let’s stop with these delays and get into the tasty num nums!

So as you could gather from the start of this post, I have chosen to talk about the food culture of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world by talking about the “Harry Potter” movies. Now, for the cave dwellers reading this post, I guess I should explain what the hell a “Harry Potter” is. In 1997, J.K. Rowling released a novel titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (there is no alternative title, you silly Americans), and it was a HUGE hit. It got sequels and movies started getting made. And in 2001 we saw the release of “The Philosopher’s Stone”, directed by Chris Columbus, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, and Maggie Smith (among many others). This was also a huge hit, getting a whole bunch of sequels, video games, and a spin-off franchise. Alright, no more backstory for you. Now, I chose this because not only do I adore this series, but also because it’s filled with food, which makes it perfect for this blogathon… so let’s enter the great hall and have a look at the buffet!

One of the most interesting things about the culinary culture of this world is that it’s very… British. Bacon, sausages, toast… it looks a lot like your typical British breakfast table, as demonstrated by Ron, his friends, and the table they’re sitting at.

Fat-shaming, Hermione? Let the man eat.

Really, for the most part it is pretty average. And by average, I mean for you typical Brit. The food they eat there isn’t exactly the healthiest, but I guess it’s still good food. Good, very ordinary food. Like these chicken legs that you find Ron chomping on.

Though, when eating, be sure to keep an eye out for rogue John Cleeses…

Again, the food for the most part seems to be what we have in our world. No “dragon spleen casserole” or “Chupacabra soup”… just normal food. Even the adorably weird Luna asks for normal stuff.

Anything for you, Luna.

Now, while most dinner/breakfast/lunch items are normal things, it’s when you start looking beside them, looking at beverages and candy and such that you start finding unique things. So let’s talk about some of them.

Beverages

The first beverage we’re introduced to in this show (aside from tea, damn Brits) is pumpkin juice. It’s also the primary beverage for our beloved Hogwarts students, not even water comes near it in terms of abundance. So what is pumpkin juice? It’s right there in the name, it’s juice… made from pumpkin. Not sure what that would taste, as I have never actually tried pumpkin anything. So if you consume pumpkin (Starbucks’ bullshit doesn’t count), feel free to tell me what it tastes like.

Another decently well known drink from the series is Butterbeer (pictured above), which looks just like someone poured a lot of toffee into a glass… which I want now. But what exactly is “Butterbeer”? It’s a slightly alcoholic beverage that our heroes drink while visiting Hogsmeade, a small town not too far from Hogwarts. As you could probably guess from the name, there is butter in this drink. Then, depending on what recipe you go by you get a whole bunch of different ingredients you could use. So just look it up if you want to try it out.

There are a couple more beverages within the universe, but those are the main ones I wanted to talk about.

Candy

As with our normal world, the magical world that Harry gets to be part of is filled with all kinds of awesome candy. From normal ones that just taste sweet, to ones that do weird shit, there’s something for everybody. So let’s talk about a couple.

Let’s talk about the chocolate frog, one of the first candies to pop up in the movies. Basically it’s a magic frog made out of chocolate. Though you gotta be fast, because these sons of bitches can jump away from you if you’re not careful. Except if you buy it at Warner Bros studios, because then it’s only a thick lump of chocolate vaguely shaped like a frog. This I know because I went there back in 2013 (London version of it) and my friend bought one. And hey, if it jumps away from you then you’ll at least still get a cool trading card.

“How does this thing work? Darn kids, and their bloody technology”

So yeah, those things are pretty damn cool. Chocolate AND a trading card? Yes please!

The next thing on the candy list are the infamous Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. And they’re jelly beans with all kinds of kooky flavors. You might be lucky to get a watermelon or lemon or something yummy, or you could end up getting soap or a dirty sock. Or in Dumbledore’s case:

Buuuuuut instead:

I brought up watermelon and soap because in that aforementioned Warner Bros studios visit, my friend not only bought a chocolate frog, but also a box of Bertie Bott’s Beans, and he let me try a couple. First I took a green, and got watermelon (awesome). Then I tried a white and I got soap (bleh). So yeah, eclectic bunch of beans, they are. Do feel free to try them at some point, they’re a lot of fun. There are also beans that make you do animal noises… not on the WB tour, but in the movies (as demonstrated in “The Prisoner of Azkaban”).

As for other types of candy, there’s liquorice, bubble gum, lollipops, other chocolate things… most types of candy there are like our normal things, but with som kooky “magic” twist. Still, candy is candy, and candy is great. Except for liquorice, to hell with that stuff.

That’s really all the food stuff from “Harry Potter” worth talking about. Though there was a mention of pea soup being able to kill you in one of the movies… eh, who cares. Anyway, this has been a lot of fun. Again, huge thanks to Ruth and Kristina for letting me join in on this, always happy to take part in your shenanigans, ladies!
Have a good one, and to end on a high note:

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

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The other day was the blogathon thing, and we still got some Month of Spooks stuff left to do… but we can also not forget my series of “Harry Potter” reviews leading up to “Fantastic Beasts” in November. And now we are finally continuing it after,,, two and a half weeks, good grief. Anyhow, let’s stop with this intro and get into the review itself!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”!

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) begins his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a rather rocky way. First off, he got warnings from a house-elf named Dobby (Toby Jones) about bad things that will happen at Hogwarts. Secondly, his journey from Little Whinging to Hogwarts was kind of troublesome and filled with mishaps. But the trouble is not over yet, as people start getting petrified for some reason. And this of course creates a mystery where Harry, Ron (Rupter Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) to try to figure out who/what might have done this. With that said, I really liked how the plot unfolded… a lot. What I think the plot of this movie benefited from was how it doesn’t have to set the world up, since that was done (pretty fucking well) in the last movie. So now we can just get right into the main plot of this movie, which of course gives the plot of this movie a much better pace. Which is of course a bit ironic seeing as this movie is longer than the last. But yeah, it was an interesting plot which created a compelling mystery which of course led to the plot going to some darker places when it comes to this world and it’s main character. It was pretty great.

The characters in the movie are about as great as in the first one, but as the plot unfolds we do get a little bit more development from them as they learn more things. Daniel Radcliffe once again knocked it out of the park, getting some more moments to shine here in comparison to the first one. And the development of the character itself is actually really good, as we learn more about who he really is, at the same rate he does. Rupter Grint and Emma Watson also did great in this movie in their roles. And the chemistry between these three central actors is so great and so believable. The other actors in the movie do pretty great as well. Tom Felton as Malfoy once again was great, with his character being even more despicable than in the first movie. Richard Harris (R.I.P) was also really great as Dumbledore, Maggie Smith once again was great as professor McGonagall, Alan Rickman (R.I.P) was still amazing as Snape, and it goes on like that for pretty much every returning actor/character. But we also got a few new interesting faces in this one, so let’s go through them. First off we have the previously mentioned Dobby the house-elf, a magical little dude voiced by the great Toby Jones. At first he is actually a bit annoying, but after a while you grow to actually kind of like him, especially near the end when you find out some more stuff about him and his “family”. Next is Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, a very famous wizard who you immediately can tell is more bark than bite. Basically he is the magical equivalent of the classic saying “Girls want to be with him and guys want to be him”. Think to have that dude as the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher… yeah. But you can tell that Branagh had fun with the role, and I think he did a good jobas the character. And finally we have Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, AKA Draco’s dad. And this dude just oozes of self-important asshole, as soon as he enters the scene you immediately tell that this guy is bad news. And Jason Isaacs is pretty damn great in the role. In other words, this cast is great!

Once again the music was composed by the one and only John Williams and its still great. Some of the themes in there are of course the same as in the first movie, but that’s nothing to complain about because those tracks are pretty great. But there are also a bunch of new tracks composed for this movie as well, and they are pretty great too, perfectly capturing the magical and whimsical but still dark world that Harry and his friends live in. Yeah, the music’s fucking great.

Like the first movie, this was directed by Chris Columbus (still not re-discovering America). And he did a great job again. Sure, a lot of bits remind me of the first movie a lot, but it’s not too much of a complaint. But he is a very talented director who did a great job, giving us some great directing and some great angles. He also managed to make this movie even more suspenseful and even scarier than the first. I mean, the final act is really tense and actually a bit scary. And the visual effects in this movie are even better than in the first, especially the Quidditch match which looks so much better than the first movie, which of course makes it more engaging and more fun.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is a a definite improvement over the first movie. With a really interesting plot, better pacing, great characters/acting, great music, fantastic visual effects, and better suspense/tension. Time for my final score. *Magically summons score*. My final score for “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is a 9,67/10. So of course it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is now completed.

If you have arachnophobia then this movie might not be the best for you…

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

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Hello there, my friends! And welcome to this very special review! Why is it special? Because in honor of “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” coming out in November, I have decided to talk about the “Harry Potter” movies here on the blog. I wasn’t sure in what style I would it in however, so I held a little poll on twitter (Follow me @TheMarckoguy) where I asked if people would prefer separate reviews for each movie or if they wanted a ranked list. And after a few days with I think 12 votes, the separate reviews option won. So here we are… talking about the first one in the series. Oh dear, 8 movies before mid-November, while also doing Month of Spooks… Jeez Louise.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”!

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) leads a pretty shit life. He lives with his outright mean aunt (Fiona Shaw) and uncle (Richard Griffiths, R.I.P) and their dickhead son, Dudley (Harry Melling). But one night, Harry gets a visit from Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), a huge man who tells Harry that he’s a wizard, and will get to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he will learn all sorts of awesome magic-releated stuff. And it’s through his experiences at Hogwarts that he learns about who he really is, and what that means for the wizarding world around him. There he also meets his new best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). And from all of this we get an incredibly imaginative and very well realized world and story that I find very interesting and entertaining. Yeah, the plot of this movie is good and sets up this universe very well. The only problem might be that it meanders a bit at times which slows the pacing down. It’s not too bad, like with some movies, but I definitely noticed it. So yeah, great plot, but not the best pacing.

The characters here are so interesting, well-developed, and entertaining. And a lot of this I think comes down to the aboslutely terrific casting. Seriously, they nailed the casting for these characters so damn well. Daniel Radcliffe was perfect as Harry Potter, perfectly nailing the whole oblivious to this huge wizarding world that he was born into. For someone who was so young at the time, his performance was really good. Ruper Grint was really good as Ron, perfectly capturing this not too bright, but still lovable and charming personality. Emma Watson was really good as Hermione, even if she could come off a bit bitchy in her performance. Like she was a know-it-all with a little bit of snark in her voice… anybody who’s seen the movie knows what I’m talking about. Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid was just perfect, any time he was on screen I wanted to give him a hug, that lovable oaf. The rest of the cast was pretty great too, with actors like Richard Harris (R.I.P), Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman (R.I.P), Tom Felton, John Hurt, Ian Hart, John Cleese, and so many more. Yeah, I love ’em all.

The original score for the movie was composed by the one and only John Williams (AKA god with a conductor’s baton). And the music he created for the movie has lived on for so many years, and once someone heears it they know what it’s from. And it just sounds so great. Seriously, when I sat down to watch the movie in preparation for this review, the music gave me goosebumps. It was so awesome. Really, all the music in the movie is nothing short of fantastic.

Based on the book by J.K. Rowling, this movie was brought to life by director Chris Columbus (Not the Italian explorer who rediscovered America), the man who also directed the first two “Home Alone” movies. And he did a fantastic job with the directing this movie. Everything is well shot and overall well done. The sets are also fantastic, combined with some of the practical costumes and makeup that are used throughout. There is also CGI in this movie which for the most part looks pretty good. Some bits don’t hold up as well now, such as the Quidditch game, which has some pretty outdated CGI. Seriously, go back and watch the Quidditch match and tell me with a straight face that it looks fucking flawless. You can’t, it’s impossible. So yeah, that distracted a bit. But otehr than that, the CG holds up pretty well. And seeing some of the speels and stuff being used in the movie is pretty fun. I also love the wizarding world itself, there are so many cool details to it that make it all so unique and interesting.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie was also nominated for 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. 

“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is not a perfect movie. I would also say that it was a struggle to review it when I have such nostalgic feelings about it. But I powered through. The plot is interesting, the characters are great, the acting is great, the music is fantastic, the directing is good, and it’s just really fun. However the pacing at times isn’t that great and there are some effects that don’t really hold up. So now it’s time for my final score. ALOHOMORA! *Unlocks chest, opens it and finds envelope with result*. My final score for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is a 9,11/10. So it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is now completed.

One down, seven to go…

 

Movie Review: Home Alone (1990)

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And the christmas reviews are continuing today with one of my childhood favorites, maybe it is one of yours as well, I don’t know. But will it hold up? Let’s find out!

Boys and girls… “Home Alone”

Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) is not too happy with his incredibly dysfunctional family. They are all under huge stress because they will be going to Paris. Problem is that when they go to Paris they realize something… they forgot Kevin. So now he has to take care of himself while also trying to stop two burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) who want to steal all his and his family’s shit. You also have a side-plot going on where Kevin’s mom (Catherine O’Hara) is trying to get back home to Kevin. This story is very entertaining in premise and execution. Yes, a lot of it is very unrealistic and often makes little to no sense, but it still got a lot of comedic and charming moments to keep it going well.

Do you expect Oscar-worthy performances from this movie then you are sorely mistaken, my friend. The acting is average, but it doesn’t need to be more than that. I suppose the best performances in the movie might come from Roberts Blossom and Catherine O’Hara, but they are still nothing too special. And a lot of the characters in writing and style are just plain out assholes… I am not sugarcoating it, they are assholes. I guess that is part of the story and therefore works, but it just bugs me because I am a generally nice guy. But overall, characters and acting works.

I don’t really have to say what I think about the music because it should be obvious since it was composed by none other than the legendary John Williams. Yes, I love the music in the movie and there is nothing more to it. John Williams’ music is always great.

Camera work and cinematography (while not bad) is nothing special. Don’t bother focusing on that. The real cream-of-the-crop stuff here is the slapstick comedy you get… it is fucking glorious. As a fan of slapstick comedy I was happy to see that it actually was really fun and entertaining in this movie.

Time to see how people responded to this! Let’s see here… ah, here we go! On Rotten Tomatoes it got a 54% positive rating. On Metacritic this movie got a score of 63/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it got a 7,4/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Academy Awards in teh categories of Best Original Song (Somehwere in my memory), and best original Score (John Williams).

As a huge fan of slapstick comedy, this movie gave me good entertainment. As a heartwarming christmas story, it worked. And with the great score by John Williams I am finally able to give my final score to “Home Alone”. My final score for “Home Alone” is an 8,96/10. And while it doesn’t hold up as well as it did years ago, I still think it is a great movie and worth buying!
betala-kassa-butik

“Home Alone” is now reviewed.

I guess it’s winter now. So just… Let it snow!