12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 7)

Only five days until this little series is over. Which also means only five days until christmas… it’s celebrated on the 24th here in Sweden, don’t argue with me. Anyhow, shall we get on with today’s holiday film?

So today we’re talking about “Arthur Christmas”, a 2011 animated holiday film from Aardman animation. Except you’d be forgiven for not realizing it was Aardman, because this doesn’t use their traditional claymation style. Anyhow, “Arthur Christmas” is about Arthur (James McAvoy), the clumsy son of the current Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent). However, when Santa misses one present, Arthur teams up with his grandfather (Bill Nighy) to deliver it, despite being told that it’s a futile quest. What we get is a charming little fantasy adventure with themes of legacy and overcoming your fears and all those other familiar things we’ve seen in family holiday films. But the execution here is really good, giving us a fast-paced and generally well-written story that I had fun with. It’s also very funny, especially whenever grandsanta (the grandfather) is on screen. He is a goofy, hammy, and a little crazy old man that serves as a comic relief, and does so really well. And with Bill Nighy hamming it up with his vocal performance, you get some absolute fucking gold from grandsanta. The rest of the cast is great too, with people like James McAvoy, Imelda Staunton, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and many other awesome people filling out the cast list.
I guess I should also briefly touch on what I said at the start. This is an Aardman film, except it doesn’t look like it. “Arthur Christmas” is completely CGI, with hints of the typical Aardman visual style. And while I am slightly sad about that, I’m not complaining. The movie still looks good, it’s a very well animated movie, filled with plenty of nice colors and movements.
But yeah, “Arthur Christmas” is a charming and funny little holiday adventure. I’d recommend sticking it on if you got 90 minutes to kill and want something lighthearted.

On the seventh day of christmas, Markus spent no money
Lucky for him, he could still watch Bill Nighy be funny

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

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 2)

Hohoho, and a good evening to you (it’s evening where I am at the time of writing, shut up). So anyway, shall we continue with this silly little series of mine.

’twas the night before christmas and all throughout the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Okay, that was not right, as there were actually two siblings up all night. Waiting for Santa all of his toys, so to not get caught by him they shouldn’t make noise. But for there to be some plot, their plan works out not. So now the siblings must give a hand, to help Santa save christmas all across the land. Aaaaaand I can’t keep that up anymore, back to non-rhyming jackass Markus. But yeah, I think you get the gist of the plot for “The Christmas Chronicles”. It’s a fairly standard kids’ christmas adventure film narrative, that has some nice moments throughout. And the two kids playing the siblings are really good in their roles. They deliver their lines well, they have good chemistry, and they even bring some nice charisma to proceedings. But that’s enough of that, let’s talk about the main event here.
KURT FUCKING RUSSELL PLAYS SANTA CLAUS. I swear, the pitch meeting probably went something like
“So imagine Santa Claus… ”
“Yeah?”
“But Kurt Russell!”
“Here’s moneys”.
Who knows, maybe I’m wrong. But it sure feels that way. Like I said, the narrative doesn’t do much to stand out, but it manages to still pop a bit within the crowd of holiday hijinks thanks to Kurt Russell. He brings that rugged charm of his to this role, and it is endlessly entertaining to watch. Every time he was on screen, I smiled. He is terrific, I don’t know how else to put it.
So to try to tie this present together, “The Christmas Chronicles” is a fun enough family adventure that stands out thanks to Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. It is maybe a little too long, but overall it’s still a fun enough little holiday adventure on Netflix.

On the second day of christmas, this film in my mind seared
The image of Kurt Russell’s glorious beard

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 7)

That’s right, this series is still going. I am not giving up on it, even remembering to do a post each day is a surprisingly stressful act. Anyway, here’s today’s post.

Based on a book by Ron Hansen, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was released in 2007, and directed by Andrew Dominik. It follows a young man named Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) who has idolized legendary American outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) for many years, and then finally gets the chance to join his gang at the age of 19. The movie is a character-driven psychological drama all about demythologizing Jesse James while also deconstructing its central protagonist, Robert Ford. So now you’re probably wondering how I’m gonna contrive this to be a christmas movie? Well, watch and learn, my friends. This is how the pros (read: idiots) do it.

Now, one or two of you might assume I’m gonna use the scenes set in snowy landscapes for this. Well, as I’ve probably established earlier in this series, I’m not that fucking shallow. That’s not contrived enough. No, I got something else.
What we see in the movie after Bob joins Jesse’s gang is how much he notices what a psychotic, paranoid disappointment Jesse actually might’ve been, and not this awesome cowboy legend you might read about and enjoy following in a dime novel. So one of the basic messages one can sort of get out of this movie is “Don’t meet your heroes, because you’re just gonna be disappointed”. And that works as our christmas analogy, because as a kid you might be celebrating the holiday with your family, both immediate and extended. And all of a sudden Santa Claus shows up, lets kids sit on his lap, and give them presents. But then one of your dumbass cousins decides to tug at Santa’s beard and find out that it’s just your uncle in a cheap costume, and it turns out there is no actual magical lobster man. Bob getting to know Jesse is kind of the same thing. Instead of this magically awesome being he thought he knew, it turned out to be something a bit more disappointing. So “The Assassination of Jesse James” is a christmas movie in the sense that the truth about the legend is a fucking disappointment, just like Santa Claus.

The movie on the other hand isn’t a disappointment, it’s fucking fantastic. One of my favorites.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas (Part 5)

Time for part 5 of my 12 Films of Christmas series. And what better option now that the snow is here.

Snow. Magic. Rankin/Bass. That’s right, today we’re talking about 1969’s tv special “Frosty the Snowman”. When a magician’s hat lands on a snowman, it makes the snowman come to life. This snowman (Jackie Vernon) then goes on an adventure with some children to find the north pole so he doesn’t melt. All while the magician (Billy De Wolfe) is chasing them to get his seemingly magic hat back (’cause he’s a greedy fucker who just wants money). So is this any good? I think that if I was five or six years old, I would love this. But watching it for the first time as a 20-year old… yeah, it’s not great. It’s okay. The animation, while a bit awkward at times, is pretty good. Rankin/Bass clearly put effort into turning this classic christmas song into a 25-minute long short. I’m sure at least one person reading this might have nostalgic feelings for it. But I personally think it’s just okay. If you have a young child, then you could put this on and he/she would probably be entertained by it.

What are your thoughts on “Frosty the Snowman”? Is this something you’re nostalgic for? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas (Part 4)

Ho ho holy shit, it’s the fourth fuckin’ part of this god damn series of mine. So let’s get into it.

Are you a bit of a Grinch? Need something with a little less holiday cheer than most other christmas movies? Then “Bad Santa” is for you. Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is a drunk, foul-mouthed, horny mall Santa who only does the job so he can pull off a heist at the mall with his partner Marcus (Tony Cox). And one year during their routine heist planning, Willie “befriends” a kid (Brett Kelly), and that complicates things a bit. As you probably gathered from the introduction, this isn’t exactly your typical holiday movie. The main character is a miserable drunkard who steals shit… at christmas time! And for those of us who get a bit tired of the usual “Lalala, christmas and magic and happiness”, it is a perfect thing to mix it up a bit. Billy Bob Thornton is fantastic as Willie, the titular naughty Claus. He gets the foul-mouthed, drunk, pervert character across flawlessly and it makes for something quite unique for a christmas movi. Tony Cox as his partner Marcus is terrific. They play off of each other very well. Brett Kelly is great as this innocent, naive, slightly stupid kid, and his relationship with Willie is a blast to watch. Then we have Lauren Graham as a woman that Willie forms a bit of a relationship with, and there’s something inherently funny about Lorelai Gilmore having a bit fetish for Santa Claus. Then we have the scenes featuring John Ritter and Bernie Mac, both gone way too soon. Seeing these polar opposite characters have a conversation is fucking hilarious and probably the highlights of the movie for me. I seriously miss them both, rest in peace, you awesome people. “Bad Santa” is an incredibly mean-spirited christmas comedy that I highly recommend to every person out there. Grinch, christmas lover? Doesn’t matter! “Bad Santa” is awesome.

What do you think about “Bad Santa”? Do you think we need more cynical holiday movies in our lives? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments, I’d love to know what you think.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: Bad Santa (2003)

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We all remember christmas as a cheerful time to have fun with you family, eat a bunch of great food and of course presents. And as kids we were expecting the presents to be delivered by the one and only… SANTA CLAUS! Of course we learned that Santa didn’t exist and got a little disappointed… presents are still kinda neat though. But as a kid I thought Santa was a kind of cool thing to see. A large kind man with a fluffy beard and a bag full of awesome stuff… how could you not like the guy? Well that is a question we will get answered in the review you see here!

Boys and girls… “Bad Santa”.

Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a drunken, miserable con man. Every year around christmas he acts as mall Santa. But when everyone has left on christmas eve, he and his partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox) turns off the alram systems and starts raiding the place. In this movie the main operation is in Florida where the mall is run by Bob Chipeska (John Ritter, R.I.P) and a man named Gin (Bernie Mac, R.I.P). But the entire situation gets a bit more complicated when Willie befriends a little kid (Brett Kelly). Yeah, I think you might understand what might happen. But the movie is still very unconventional with the story being pretty original in a way. “Bad Santa” is by no means a family film and should never be mistaken as such. This movie in it’s story aspect is very dark and very offensive (for a christmas comedy). And that is kind of why I like it because of how dark and weird it can get sometimes. I get that this type of story might not appeal to everyone, but I liked it.

The characters are pretty rounded and well-written. They are given enough to do that they never feel underused or overused. They were all given an appropriate amount of space and good dialogue that they became pretty enjoyable to watch. I would also have to say that the movie got some pretty good performances given the fact that it is a comedy. Most comedies have passable performances, but I would say that “Bad Santa” got some performances I could genuinely call good. Like Billy Bob Thornton, I thought he was great as this drunken mess who also happens to one of the most despicable human beings I have ever witnessed in anything ever… at first. Tony Cox was also pretty good in his role. Overall the characters and acting was above the standards of most comedies.

The soundtrack is something to just Marvel at. You know why? Because it’s made up of practically every fucking christmas song you have heard a thousand fucking times! I’m sorry, just getting a bit mad. Not only because I’ve heard these before a lot but also because I would love to hear some original tunes from this movie. I would also have loved it if they didn’t re-use so many of the same songs in several different scenes. I know it might sound a little bit picky, but I like variety in my music.

One funny thing to note is that while this movie is directed by Terry Zwigoff, it is also co-produced by the Coen Brothers. And when I saw that in the opening credits I had it in the back of my mind the entire movie and I noticed a few of the sort of Coen-isms throughout. Delightfully dark comedy, interesting characters and just the overall feel of the movie. The camera work? It was nothing special. The movie looked pretty good visually, nothing special to it.

This movie was overall received pretty well by critics and audience members alike. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 78% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And finally on imdb.com we find the movie with a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Santa” is the very definition of bittersweet. It isn’t the most uplifting movie ever and it isn’t the most depressing thing ever. It is something that’ll give you a bit of both. It also got great comedy, good performances, good writing, a “good” soundtrack and just feels pretty cool. So now if Santa could just give me my fucking final score already! HNNNNGGG… There, got it! My final score for “Bad Santa” is an 8,67/10. While it is a bit from perfect, I would still say it’s worth buying.
betala-kassa-butik

Review of “Bad Santa” has been let out of the bag.

Not you typical christmas story, that’s for damn sure. Another thing that is for sure is that soon Santa Claus will be coming to Town.