12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Final Part)

It’s time, ladies and gentlemen. The final part in my 12 Films of Christmas series. And honestly, it’s most likely not only for this year. While fun has been had with this series, I do feel that it’s getting a little stale. Plus, it is a little draining cranking out themed content at this rate. So consider this series retired… at least for the time being, I might get the urge to bring it back in a few years. But seeing as it’s the alleged final 12 Films of Christmas post, I thought it only appropriate to bring out the grandfather of all holiday films.

So today we’re talking about “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the acclaimed 1946 holiday drama. It follows George (James Stewart) and the many ups and downs of his life. Yeah, it’s basically this man’s life story from child to depressed businessman. It’s a fascinating little holiday tale with sads and happies and other emotions. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t find the story perfect. I do feel that it does drag a little at times, mainly in the first two acts. It’s not film-breaking, but it does bring it down a little for me. While I generally think George is a fascinating fella, and the story an intriguing and pretty nuanced one, I do feel that the film’s weird pacing hurts it to some degree.
But I can’t deny just how fucking good that final act is. That’s when the story truly kicks into high gear. That’s where the film really starting hitting me in the ol’ heart. The final act is perfect.
So yeah, I don’t love this as much as the rest of you… but I still think it’s really solid and I’m definitely glad I watched it.

On the twelfth day of christmas, this series it did die
But to this blog Markus he’ll never say goodbye

Merry fucking christmas, friends. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna take a few days off.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 10)

Hello there, friends, I hope you’re doing great. Not many more of these to go. So soon enough you’ll get a break from my holiday rambling. Just gotta be a little bit more patient. Also, this post is dedicated to my good friend over at iamjacsmusings. He’s not dead or anything, he just helped me pick this one.

So today we’re talking about “Anna and the Apocalypse”, a British indie musical-horror-comedy released in 2018. It’s about Anna (Ella Hunt), a young woman who finds herself trying to survive the zombie apocalypse along with a group of other people, while also trying to find the group’s loved ones. And how will they accomplish this? By bashing the zombies of course! And also SINGING! So it’s a holiday zombie movie that also features people singing and prancing around. It’s one of the most unique mixtures of elements I’ve ever seen in a movie. Yes, we’ve seen holiday musicals. Yes, we’ve seen British zombie comedies. But we’ve never seen all those four combined before… I think, I could be very wrong. Either way, “Anna and the Apocalypse” was my first exposure to it. And it’s a fun time. It’s a breezy jaunt filled with endearing characters, fun jokes, and some really boppin’ tunes.
Now, it does struggle a little bit in the tonal department. I get that a zombie apocalypse is gonna have some serious shit going on (even “Shaun of the Dead” had that), but the shifts in tone don’t feel quite as seamless. It’s not enough to ruin the movie, but it does bring it down a little bit. But with this said, it’s still a fun time.
“Anna and the Apocalypse” is a fun little zom-com-holiday-musical, and definitely worth checking out this holiday season if you haven’t already. And with that, I’ll just leave you with one of the catchy tunes in its soundtrack.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 9)

After today’s post there will only be three parts left. Almost there, we can power through this, friends. So let’s go.

So today we’re talking about “Holiday Rush”, a 2019 Netflix dramedy about Rush Williams (Romany Malco), a popular radio DJ who gets fired just before the holidays. So he plans to find new ways to get back on the air, but in the meantime grabs his spoiled kids and moves in with his aunt (Darlene Love) just to stay safe over the holidays. Considering the cast, I expected this movie to be a straight up comedy. But no, it’s more of a dramedy, which in itself is fine. But hoo boy, I found myself bored. Due to none of the writing being particularly nuanced, along with poor pacing, you get a narrative that had me checking my watch every few minutes. Which is a shame, because there are some incredibly talented people in this cast. From Romany Malco, to Sonequa Martin-Green, to Darlene Love, to Deon Cole, you have a lot of genuine talent in this… that said, they don’t feel like they get properly used. Take Deon Cole for example. He can be extremely funny. But he gets no good jokes here at all. And before you ask, yes, there are a few genuinely chuckle-wrothy lines/moments in this. I counted three. But still, that kind of just reiterates what I said. The cast feels somewhat wasted on an undercooked script that otherwise has some decent potential.
So in conclusion, “Holiday Rush” isn’t great.

On the ninth day of christmas, I watched something quite dull
But at least no one bashed in my damn skull

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 5)

Ho ho hoMYGOD, DID I LEAVE THE STOVE ON!? Nah, I didn’t, I was just messin’ with ya. So anyway, who’s up for more holiday hijinks with Uncle Markus? Let’s go!

So today we’re talking about “A Very Murray Christmas”, a Netflix christmas special directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill god damn Murray. The story is about Bill Murray, famous actor and comedian, as he tries to host a christmas variety show. His plan get halted however when a horrible snowstorm prevents his friends/guests from coming to New York to join him. So we follow him as  he tries to make the best of this horrible night, singing, dancing, and just generally having a good time with the people he can find. There really isn’t much of any story here, it’s just Bill Murray goofing around with various people he meets, which includes some pretty notable names making cameos throughout. But yeah, there isn’t really much I can say.
Do you like christmas songs? Do you like Bill Murray? Then you might enjoy this. It’s only like 55 minutes long, and it’s on Netflix. So it’s not really that much of a commitment/investment. It’s a decent way to kill an hour this holiday season.

On the fifth day of christmas, Bill Murray sang some songs
Because he wanted to fix the night’s wrongs

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 3)

Season’s greetings, friends and others. It’s time for another little brief post in this silly holiday series of mine. So who’s ready for family gatherings, à la National Lampoon? No one? Well, too bad, it’s happening anyway.

So as you probably figured out, we’re talking about “Christmas Vacation”, the 1989 holiday comedy about Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his family inviting their colorful and dysfunctional relatives over for the holidays. It’s a concept old as time, and I thought the execution here was pretty good. It’s a wacky tale of hijinks, shenanigans, and a jolly bunch of assholes trying to make christmas work. And I enjoyed following it. The characters are enjoyable, and the pacing is cracking. And I did laugh quite a few times. That doesn’t mean I laughed all the time, there were a handful of jokes that didn’t really land with me. And there were admittedly no scenes that made me have any loud belly laughs. So sadly I don’t necessarily enjoy it as much as many people seem to do. That’s not saying I disliked it though. Cousin Eddie (played by real life insane person Randy Quaid) tends to get pretty consistent chuckles from me. And some of Clark’s snark can get a smirk. And I do admit that the finale is the best part of the movie, as that’s where the funniest jokes appear. So it is a pretty funny movie… just not as funny as many people have told me.
And as far as being a heartwarming holiday film goes, it ain’t too shabby in that department either. Yes, the family members are all dysfunctional, but you can also tell that they love each other on some level. So when shit hits the fan, you not only get some chuckles, but you do get moments of a family coming together to try to make the best of the situation. So there is some actual heart here among the misery.
So in conclusion, “Christmas Vacation” is a decently funny comedy featuring a very talented cast. I can see why people love it and watch it every year, but for me it’s just… alright.

On the third day of christmas, an old one I did pick
Oh by the way, Chevy Chase is a bit of a dick

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 1)

Ho ho hello there, friends. It’s that time of year again where for 12 days straight (good grief) give you posts about christmas movies. And yes, I promise that these are proper christmas films, and not just more of that wacky non-christmas movie experiment I did last year. So with that said, time to check out the first holiday film for this year’s editon of 12 Films of Christmas!

Today’s movie is “The Holiday Calendar”, a cheesy christmas rom-com about Abby (Kat Graham), a talented photographer who receives a nice little advent calendar from her grandpa (Ron Cephas Jones). And every day a door opens, revealing a small toy that may or may not have something to do with her coming day… So yeah, there’s some vague hocus pocus crap going on here, while also being a cheesy holiday rom-com. And everyone in the cast is attractive, a wise elderly man, or a comic relief sidekick. Basically it fills out every part of the cheesy holiday bingo card. If you can think of any other clichés associated with these kinds of films, then they more than likely get filled out too.
I’ll be honest, when this movie started, I didn’t hate it. The first third was genuinely kinda fun, there was enjoyable dialogue, it was pretty well shot, and the cast was charismatic. Basically I was actually enjoying myself, with some genuine smiles emerging on my grinchy face. But after that first third, things went downhill. We get a dull love story and the clichés get overbearing and the charisma just dissipates right out the window. The cast does the best they can with the material they’re given, but it still ends up being quite underwhelming. And the overabundance of christmas songs doesn’t help. Show some fucking restraint.
It’s not the worst of these bland holiday films I’ve seen, as it has some decent qualities to it at times. But I still wouldn’t necessarily recommend it… unless you have a soft spot for this kind of stuff. Then knock yourself out… so I can rob you while you’re unconscious.

On the first day of christmas, Markus put out the word
That this film isn’t a big fucking turd

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 8)

Just as a heads up, I missed yesterday’s post, so you’re gonna get two of these today. Apologies for this fuck up if you somehow were looking forward to it yesterday, but didn’t see one. It’s all on me. So let’s not dilly dally, time for the first 12 Contrivances of Christmas post for the day.

So for this post I decided to go with a movie that I actually covered on the blog earlier this year (shameless plug, I know). It is 1987’s “Wings of Desire”, directed by Wim Wenders. It is a slow burn meditative fantasy drama about Damiel (Bruno Ganz, R.I.P), an angel watching over the humans of Berlin, and how he’s going through a bit of an existential crisis. So how am I going to cover a German art drama for this silly series of mine, you ask? Well, just sit back and relax as I contrive a reason.

Now, the first thing some of you might point to might be “Ah, it’s about angels, angels mean christianity, christianity means Jesus, Jesus means christmas!”. Firstly, don’t try to beat me to the punch. And secondly, that’s wrong. I ain’t forcing some christian crap here, it would be a bit disingenuous of an agnostic such as myself. No, I have something else planned.
Despite not exactly being the cheeriest movie around, “Wings of Desire” does tout a certain theme throughout… you know, when not focusing on people going through a personal crisis or two. That theme? Love. As Damiel goes through his crisis, he falls in love with a human woman. You know why the angels exist? To make sure nothing bad happens to the humans they watch over, which is an act of love. And you know what should be spread on christmas? Love! So “Wings of Desire” is a christmas movie because, just like the holiday, it’s all about that love (or that sweet, sweet existential crisis if that’s more your cup of tea).

And even if you don’t want to take it as a holiday feature, “Wings of Desire” is a wonderful drama that, despite its divine protagonist, shows so much humanity. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Have a good one.

Great Music #6

Good afternoon, everyone. Once again I just wanted to share a song I’ve been listening to a little bit lately. And this song I am kind of doing both because I enjoy sharing stuff I like with you and because tomorrow it is December. Where did all the time go? So therefore we will mellow down a bit and just with a slow and relaxing tune. So for this time we are sharing the slow and beautiful song “Pale Blue Eyes” by Velvet Underground. So please just put the song on, relax and let yourself float away into the slow and soft melody.
Enjoy.