12 Films of Christmas (Part 9)

Holy shit, we’re already nine part into this silly series. That means there are only three parts left… damn, time sure does fly.

Out of all the movies I’ve done for this so far, this is the only one I had set from the start since it’s a yearly tradition for me to do on the 21st of December every year. The movie (if you didn’t know from the image, you cave dweller) is “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) is the pumpkin king, the very face of this magical place called Halloween Town. He has however gotten quite tired of Halloween and want something new in (after)life. Then one day while walking through the woods he stumbles upon a portal that leads him to Christmas Town, and this gives him the idea to take on christmas. And as you probably gathered from the opening of this paragraph, I love this movie, it’s one of my favorites. It has a fun story, fantastic animation from Henry Selick and his team, catchy songs, and some of the most memorable character designs in any movie ever. From the second I hear the opening notes to “This is Halloween”, it sucks me right into it and I am happy that it does. Out of every christmas movie available out there, this is my personal favorite.

What do you think about “The Nightmare Before Christmas”? And what’s your favorite Tim Burton movie? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one!

Movie Review: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Bank robbery. Doesn’t matter what cause you are doing it for, it’s always a bad idea. No matter how desperately a person might need the money, he or she should not attempt to rob a bank… EVER! It’s a bad idea that has so much more risk than reward.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dog Day Afternoon”.

Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale, RIP) and two men who walk into a bank during a hot summer afternoon to rob it. And what was supposed to be a simple bank robbery soon turns into a tense and complicated hostage situation. The plot in “Dog Day Afternoon” is pretty great, not just because of my love for heist films, but because it doesn’t just present it in the typical black and white cops vs. robbers way. The situation and the motivations behind it are much more grey than in other movies, and that’s what I loved about the plot. You see every little angle of it. It’s rare to see such a nuanced plot in bank robbery/heist movies that I found it quite refreshing. The plotis really a tense drama that managed to hold my interest from start to finish.

The characters, like the plot, are very layered and have plenty of nuance to them which makes them really interesting to watch. Al Pacino is fantastic as Sonny. And what I really like about his character is that he osn’t jsut your typical asshole bank robber, he’s just a man who does this for “good reasons”. By “good reasons” I don’t mean that bank robbery is okay (read the intro again), but that his motivations isn’t just to get rich, but he has a clear motivation that I can understand/get behind. John Cazale is great as Sal, the man that is helping Pacino rob the bank. We also get James Broderick (RIP) as an FBI agent that is there to negotiate with Pacino/Cazale, and he’s great. We have Chalres Durning (RIP) as a cop that tries to negotiate with Pacino/Cazale, and he’s great. We get Chris Sarandon as someone that is close to Pacino’s character, and he’s great. We even get a brief, but still welcome, appearance from Lance Henriksen who plays anotehr FBI agent and he is really good here. The entire cast is great in this movie, and all the characters are great.

What is interesting about the music in this movie is that there is none. Okay, I kind of lied there, there is a song at the beginning of the movie to sort of establish the city and such. But other than that there is nothing. No score, no other licensed tracks… jack fucking shit. And while I do love me some good music in a movie, I think that the lack of it here actually kind of works to it’s advantage. I try to imagine the scenes in my head with music, and I can’t… does not compute. This movie has no music in it, and I really liked that about it.

This movie was directed by Sidney Lumet (RIP) and I think he did a pretty damn great job. The framing is great and his direction here is very tense and engaging.  I felt like I was stuck in this shitshow with the characters, and that is proof of great directing. What makes that even mroe interesting is that there is barely any violence in the movie. As a matter of fact, there is almost no violence in it at all. Kind of refreshing to see that in a crime movie for once.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist (how dareth thou, Metacritic?). Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and put it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10 and is ranked #243 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay. It also got an additional 5 nominations in the categories of Best picture, Best actor (Pacino), Best supporting actor (Sarandon), Best director, and Best film editing. 

“Dog Day Afternoon” is an incredibly nuanced bank robber drama that engaged me from start to finish. It has a great plot, great performances, no music (which works for the movie), and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Dog Day Afternoon” is a 9,89/10. This means that is gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Dog Day Afternoon” is now completed.

They don’t make movies like this anymore… quite sad, really.

My Favorite Scenes: The Nightmare Before Christmas – This is Halloween

Hello and welcome to the revival of this long-dead series. Seriously, I haven’t done a post for this little series of mine since mid-July. Feels both great and weird to be back at it. Quick summary for any newer followers: In this series I share scenes from movies and TV shows that I like and tell you kind of why I like the scene. There, you’re caught up to speed, especially since the title is pretty self-explanatory. Now, let’s do it.

So since it’s the Month of Spooks it would be appropriate to share a scene that relates to the spookier side of cinema. Inspiration to make this specific post: I saw a post on facebook relating to this movie, which led to me wanting to watch this scene, which led to me thinking “Shit… I should make a post about this!”. And now we’re here! This is of course the ever so popular “This is Halloween” from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Now to be fair, I have mentioned at least once or twice on this blog (and on various social medias) that I consider this a christmas movie. If you want to consider it a Halloween movie, go right ahead, you are absolutely right to do so. But I watch every year around christmas, December 21st every year to be exact. So why would I share a scene from this movie then? Does the title “This is Halloween” ring any bells? Yeah, that’s why. This entire scene, which is more or less the opening scene for the movie, just oozes Halloween spirit and perfectly fits this Month… because spooky shit is going on. What also makes it great is the fantastic stop motion animation from Henry Selick and his crew, 23 years later and it still looks terrific. And of course the masterfully composed/written song by Danny Elfman is not to forget. Combining these things makes for one of the greatest opening scenes in movie history (in my opinion). This of course also leads to one of my favorite Disney films ever. And before I wrap this post up, I have to warn you… if you ever somehow watch this movie together with me, get ready for me singing along to pretty much every song (Sidenote: I am not a good singer at all). Yeah… I fucking love this scene.

Have a good one and enjoy!

Movie Review: Safe (2012)

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I love Jason Statham, he’s awesome. He is one of those actors that you don’t care if he gets typecast as “Touch action guy” because he does it so well. But if you want somethign else from him, you can get that thanks to movies like “Snatch”. So let’s take a look at another one of his “Tough guy” movies.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are… “Safe”.

In this movie we see a little girl named Mei (Cahterine Chan) who is insanely good with numbers (the stereotypes manifest quickly). So a bunch of Chinese gangsters want gets their hands on her to keep her as their personal bookkeeper. So then we have Luke (Jason Statham) who is as down on his luck as one can be who notices her and decides to help her and keep her safe (roll credits). And now the triads, the Russian mobsters and the corrupt cops are after them. Clichéd? Yeah, very. Entertaining? Surprisingly, yes. This plot had a little bit more depth than expected from a Jason Statham action movie. I enjoyed the plot a bit and I think that is because the movie has a perfect length. It is neither too long nor too short. I was surprised at how much I could actually enjoy and appreciate the plot of the movie.

The characters are nothing really to write home about, they are pretty… meh. At least the supporting cast, they are nothing special which is a bit of a shame because we got a great cast here. But let’s talk about our main players here; Statham and Chan. Statham is actually really good in this movie, not simply being really tough and badass. He gives a really good performance. And Catherine Chan who plays the little girl Mei is also really good. I really loved the conversations between her and Statham, they were so sweet and entertaining. Now we move on to the disappointingly bad supporting cast. First off we have James Hong who’s been in tons of great stuff, he was not as great as he could have been. Next is Anson Mount, and this is probably the most disappointing part for me because I love him so much in “Hell on Wheels”. We also have Reggie Lee who plays one of the main triad members, and he wasn’t very good which is sad because he is pretty great at playing a bad guy/slime ball in “Prison Break”. Also, Chris Sarandon is in this movie. Yeah, Jack Skellington from “Nightmare Before Christmas”, he plays the mayor here.

The music in the movie was pretty good. The score was done by Mark Mothersbaugh and that was decently good, nothing really special or even that exciting. There was however a fair amount of licensed tracks in the movie and I thought those were really good. So I’d say the soundtrack in total is pretty good, but not great.

This movie was both written and directed by the same man, Boaz Yakin, a man I know nothing about. If you know any good movies by him, please feel free to mention it. Anyway, he wrote this and teh script/dialogue was really good. He also directed the movie and I think he did a great job with it. The shots look great and the pacing is excellent. And the action in the movie is pretty badass too. Sure, there is shaky-cam, but it’s moe in the sense of the “Bourne” trilogy rather than in “Alex Cross”. In other words, it isn’t used to mask bad choreography but is more of stylistic choice. But you know what makes up for some of the shaky-cam? Some incredible sound effects. You will sit there looking and suddenly here a *Crack* and think “Okay, that was definitely someone getting something broken”. And I love it, the effects made it better.

This movie has been decently well-received, but what else does one expect from a Jason Statham action movie? On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 57% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 55/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,5/10.

I’m not gonna lie, you guys… I had a great time with “Safe”. While the story faces some clichés, it’s still entertaining, shame that the supporting characters aren’t that great, and the soundtrack overall is pretty good, and the directing is great. The writing and action are also very good. Time for my final score. *Pops someone’s knee, steals envelope*. My final score for “Safe” is a 9,00/10. I think it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

“Safe” is now reviewed.

I guess that we’re all pretty… Safe… (Puns…)

 

Movie Review: The Nighmare Before Christmas (1993)

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I love it when you have a certain type of movie and then give it a sort of unique twist. Kind of like how “Bad Santa” I reviewed the other day was a christmas movie that was a dark comedy that didn’t always make you feel good. The movies that stick out like that are the ones that people are going to remember after watching it. And if we are sticking to the theme of christmas for a while I have to mention how many christmas movies are the same. So seeing a christmas movie that is a bit different is really refreshing. And today we are taking a look at such a movie. A movie from when I was young(er).

Jacks and Sallys… “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.

The story of this movie is that there are several “towns” that all represent one of the several holidays of the year. You have one for easter, one for christmas but the one we are entering tonight is the one leading to “Halloween town”. And this town is basically run by “The Pumpkin King” Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon). When Halloween is over for the year Jack goes to contemplate life he finds these doors which lead to the other towns. And since this is a christmas movie he stumbles into the Christmas door and enters “Christmas town” where he learns a lot about christmas. And after that he wants to get christmas to Halloween town… and as you may expect it doesn’t go too well. Now I think this premise is awesome and can lead to some of the most clever situations in any christmas movie ever… and I was right. This movie is funny, it’s clever, it’s heartwarming, it’s creepy and it got more personality than a lot of christmas movies these days. It is one of the most original and clever stories I have ever experienced from a movie, and that just makes me all kind of happy! The only minor flaw about this plot is that certain parts might (for some people) feel a tiny bit rushed. But since I thought the story was paced really well I have no problem with it.

The characters are really well fleshed out and interesting. Yes, some of them don’t even get names or that much dialogue, but that is okay because you still know who the hell they are. There is the wolfman, there are the vampires, there’s the creature from teh Black Lagoon. See, easy! But to be more serious the characters are varied enough that they never bother you. And the ones that get a lot of screen time are great. Such as Jack who is one of the most loveable characters ever. Sally (Cahterine O’Hara, returning for a christmas review) is his sort of love interest while also being the first one to realize the whole “Bringing Christmas to Halloween” thing is a bad idea. And the villain of the movie, Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) is pretty great. He is witty, he is cool and got the best song in the entire movie, by far. And the voice acting in the movie is really good too. I think the actors were perfectly chosen for the characters they are voicing in the movie. My two favorite voice performances are probably those of Chris Sarandon (Jack) and Ken Page (Oogie). They bring so much humanity and just overall fit. And I can safely say that the characters and voice acting in the movie are overall great.

The soundtrack for the movie just might be one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Danny Elfman did an excellent job composing a score that really caught the overall feel of the movie. But the regular bakcground score isn’t what we want to talk about, oh no. We want to talk about the musical acts our characters take part of in the movie. They are all pretty great. I think my favorite might be the Oogie Boogie song. It is jsut so jazzy and cool and I simply love that stuff. I’ll leave a link to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw0aoVpFCDw

The animation in this movie is in my opinion fantastic. I am a huge fan of stop motion animation and the since the animation in the movie is both stop motion and really well done I think it looks great. Sure, some parts might look slightly jittery in places, but overall it looks great. I am especially surprised how they got some of those parts done because there are no signs of CGI in this movie. So yeah… animation is great.

The title may say “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” but he didn’t actually make it. Yes he was part of creation and story, but he didn’t actually direct it. The direction was actually done by Henry Selick who have done a bunch of otehr movies. Including the excellent stop motion kid-friendly horror movie “Coraline”. Just thought it could be fun to mention.

This movie as far as reception among both critics and people have been pretty great. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. This is also one of the few and weirdest examples of a movie that has no score or review on Metacritic. Hell, it doesn’t even exist one there. Roger Ebert however got a review where he gave the movie 3,5/4 stars calling the movie

“filled with imagination that carries us into a new world”

On imdb.com the movie has a score of 8,1/10 which usually means it would be on the “Top 250 list” which this movie isn’t. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the catefory of Best visual effects.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is one of the most creative and original movies I have ever seen. It got a fun story, good characters/voice acting, great music, great visuals and can work for the entire family. So now I am going to hand out my final score. My final score for “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a 9,78/10 which of course grants it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“The Nightmare Before Christmas” finally has a review!

Some of you might ask me when you see this review “What’s this!?