12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 4)

Hey, I know you were planning to head out for a walk. But baby it’s cold outside, so you should instead stay indoors, get yourself a cup of your favorite warm beverage, and read this post of mine. Sound good? You got your warm beverage? Good, then let’s do this.

So today we’re talking about “Klaus”, a 2019 Netflix animated movie about Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a spoiled, lazy brat whose entire world gets flip turned upside down when his dad forces a job on him in hopes that he’ll learn something about responsibility. What job? Being a mailman on a remote island, of course. And while trying to come to terms with his new position, Jesper meets a hermitic bearded man (J.K. Simmons), and the two soon form a partnership to bring joy to the children of the island. All while the elders of the island try to keep this joy from happening, because it goes against tradition. So yeah, a lot of familiar tropes going on here. But familiarity doesn’t mean poor quality. Because the execution here is terrific. It’s filled with heart and warmth and hilarious humor. Mix the already enjoyable story with colorful and charming characters played by a stacked and perfectly chosen cast, and you get a movie that managed to dig itself into my heart.
But this delicious sundae isn’t complete with a little cherry on top, and for “Klaus”, that cherry comes in the form of some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. What’s even cooler is that it’s generally traditional hand drawn 2D animation, but then it implements some CG in the lighting and shading department, creating this uniquely dynamic style for the movie that is utterly breathtaking to look at.
So to try to wrap this up, “Klaus” is a nicely told little holiday tale filled with heart, great performances, and amazing animation. I can definitely see myself watching this next year too… and the year after that. It’s amazing.

On the fourth day of christmas, to my heart Klaus said hi
And later yours truly proceeded to cry

Movie Review: Arlington Road (1999)

The 90s. Now, while that isn’t the most relevant thing to this movie, I just wanna take a second to mention what a great decade that was for film. Especially thrillers, as we got so many interesting and varied kinds of thrillers out of the decade. Let’s just give a nod or a clap for the thrillers of the 90s.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to… “Arlington Road”.

Shortly after history professor Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) starts getting acquainted with his neighbors after an accident involving their son, he starts suspecting that there’s something a bit off with them. And we follow Michael as he investigates them to see what they may be hiding. And I must say that I really enjoyed this plot. Sure, there were a couple moments of “Really, movie?” throughout. You know, those types of conveniences that are a bit more noticeable than others? Yeah, a couple too many here, bringing the plot down a little bit. But other than those moments I thought the plot was great, filled with excellent suspense, highly engaging drama, and just a great sense of intrigue.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and quite interesting. First up we have Jeff Bridges as Michael Faraday, the aforementioned history teacher who starts suspecting his neighbors. We find out early on that he lost his wife a while before the events of the movie, which still haunts him a little bit, which may or may not add to his paranoia throughout. And he’s quite a complex character. And Bridges is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Oliver Lang, the father in the family he suspects. He’s a charming, fun, and just overall cool guy… and he may or may not be hiding something. He’s quite an interesting character. And Robbins is great in the role. And that’s all I’ll go in-depth about, since if I say more it could potentially ruin some stuff. But I can mention that in the supporting cast we see people like Joan Cusack, Spencer Treat Clark, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, and Mason Gamble, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Angelo Badalamenti (with some additional tracks done by musical duo Tomandandy), and it was good. I didn’t notice it too frequently, and when I did it ranged from really good to kinda meh. Not saying any of it’s bad, since I do think all the tracks working fairly well for their respective scenes, just that I won’t find myself listening to it any time soon.

The movie was directed by Mark Pellington, and I think he did a damn good job. His direction is tight and suspenseful, often playing around with the main character’s sense of paranoia. He also plays around a lot with lighting, making for a bit of fun watching. There’s also some excellent use of the Dutch tilt in a couple scenes, perfectly encapsulating what is going on the character’s head. Really well done.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While not perfect, “Arlington Road” is still a really solid conspiracy thriller. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great directing. A previously mentioned, I do think there are moments throughout the plot that bring it down a little bit. Not enough to ruin it, but enough to bring the score down a little. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Arlington Road” is an 8,90/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Arlington Road” is now completed.

One more clap for 90s thrillers, they deserve it.