Holiday Favorites

A subforum to discuss film culture and criticism both old and new, as well as memorializing public figures we've lost.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#201 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:56 pm

Watched Alain Chabat’s Santa & Cie. (2017) last night and enjoyed it way, way more then I expected. This isn’t an art film, it’s a mainstream family movie. But as ever I’m impressed with how much credit the French give their audiences in terms of content, as there are definitely a few gags here that would never make it to an American remake. Chabat wrote, directed, and stars as Santa, who must leave the North Pole early to acquire Vitamin C for his sick elves, even though as the film exploits in one of its funnier running gags, Santa has no concept of “buying” things. The film provided me with the steadiest stream of laughs I’ve had in a long time, many of them coming from Chabat’s performance— a former sketch comic before becoming a movie star, you can tell he has an excellent ear for tone and by the end of the film, he’s getting huge laughs just in how he says a single word like “No.” The film’s manic energy in the scenes with Pio Marmai and Golshifteh Farahani’s home life are also exceptionally well-modulated and the levels of mainstream appeal (the harried family jokes will go over the kids’ head) are impressive (and is capped by one of the better post-credit punchlines I can remember). I know some of our French members get exasperated by me praising their local mainstream cinema, but a good movie is a good movie! Plus, as established elsewhere on the board, I am a sucker for a good poisson out of water tale. Not that there’s a lot of competition, but this is surely the most entertaining modern Christmas movie I’ve ever seen, though unfortunately the subtitles (which do as well as they can to find a way to relay the film’s constant wordplay, but are omnipresent as this is a fast-paced and very dialog-heavy film) may prevent the core audience here from enjoying it. There’s no physical release with subs but you can rent it with subs in HD from Amazon

User avatar
reaky
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 8:53 am
Location: Cambridge, England

Re: Holiday Favorites

#202 Post by reaky » Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:55 pm

This year I discovered the *other* Deanna Durbin Christmas movie, Lady on a Train (1945). It’s a bit of mess, but as much fun as you’d expect from a screwball comedy whodunnit musical.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#203 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:08 pm

reaky wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:55 pm
It’s a bit of mess, but as much fun as you’d expect from a screwball comedy whodunnit musical.
If I think that sounds like the most fun movie ever, will I be disappointed?

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#204 Post by domino harvey » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:12 pm

I mean, you apparently flew right past the "Deanna Durbin" part, so probably?

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#205 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:28 pm

I've never seen her in anything, but I'll take that as a hint to markedly adjust my expectations

User avatar
reaky
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 8:53 am
Location: Cambridge, England

Re: Holiday Favorites

#206 Post by reaky » Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:02 pm

Even if you have a resistance to Deanna, you may find the presence of Edward Everett Horton and Dan Duryea counteracts it. And George Bailey’s dad is in it, too.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#207 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Dec 23, 2019 9:02 pm

Dan Duryea does tend to give a +1 to even the worst of films.

All I know is that I have to get my viewing of The Apartment in tonight before I travel to a place where people don’t watch holiday movies on the holidays.

User avatar
reaky
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 8:53 am
Location: Cambridge, England

Re: Holiday Favorites

#208 Post by reaky » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:03 am

One more Christmas movie that I saw for the first time this year is And So They Were Married (1936), in which Mary Astor and Melvin Douglas are snowbound, Shining-like, in a remote lodge, and beset by the nefarious deeds of a pair of children.

It’s actually a lot of fun, though there’s a little too much of the kids and not enough of the cute pooch.

User avatar
The Curious Sofa
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:18 am

Re: Holiday Favorites

#209 Post by The Curious Sofa » Tue Dec 24, 2019 10:59 am

The closest I’ve come to watching a Christmas film this year is The Silent Partner (1978), with Christopher Plummer as a psycho-Santa and I loved that. So glad I’ve finally got this on Blu-ray.

User avatar
Aunt Peg
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:30 am

Re: Holiday Favorites

#210 Post by Aunt Peg » Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:10 pm

Female Trouble - Dawn Davenport's tantrum at not getting a pair of cha-cha heels for Xmas is my all-time favourite Christmas moment (along with joining her parents in a sing-along of Silent Night).

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#211 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:10 pm

Well my girlfriend’s family does watch one annual holiday movie after all: Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, which has an interesting voice cast, including Royal Dano as the first ghost, whose most famous role -at least on this forum- is likely ironically the mute Trout in Man of the West!

User avatar
Feego
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:30 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Holiday Favorites

#212 Post by Feego » Tue Dec 24, 2019 11:36 pm

Last night I revisited a bunch of Disney shorts, and I have to say Mickey's Christmas Carol may become a tradition for me from here on out. I hadn't watched it since I was a kid, but it's a surprisingly good and swift retelling of the story. No, it doesn't reinvent the wheel, nor is it the most emotionally complex version, but the characters are cast perfectly with the Disney personalities. Perhaps only Goofy is a stretch as Jacob Marley, as I just can't imagine him "swindling widows," but otherwise this was just fun holiday entertainment. It lasts nearly half an hour but seriously felt like ten minutes.

Another great rediscovery was the classic short Donald's Snow Fight. This escalates quickly from cute to insanely violent as Donald Duck wages full-scale war on his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. It's almost a precursor to Home Alone in that regard. Donald and his nephews devise bullets and bombs out of snow and seem pretty well set on actually destroying each other. By the end, Donald is fighting from his own battleship and the ducklings are in an icy fortress, though where either of these things came from is anyone's guess. I truly don't remember this being so dark, and I'm not being ironic when I say it's now one of my favorite war movies.
Aunt Peg wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:10 pm
Female Trouble - Dawn Davenport's tantrum at not getting a pair of cha-cha heels for Xmas is my all-time favourite Christmas moment (along with joining her parents in a sing-along of Silent Night).
I prefer Jane Withers' tantrum over not getting a wheelchair in the Shirley Temple flick Bright Eyes. Her comeuppance at the end is not PC but hilarious all the same.

User avatar
DeprongMori
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:59 am
Location: San Francisco

Re: Holiday Favorites

#213 Post by DeprongMori » Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:29 pm

Does anyone have the most recent dual-format A Christmas Carol (1951) (aka Scrooge), starring Alaister Sim, from Kit Parker Films? It was released in November 2019.

Kit Parker/VCI did a 60th Anniversary edition in 2011 (now out of print) in dual-format with improved picture and sound, and a ton of interesting supplements. The description on the Amazon listing for the newer release looks promising on PQ, but there is no info on any other aspects of the release.
Alastair Sim's tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has almost single-handedly made this beloved version of Charles Dickens' story into one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. Some of Britain's best filmmakers united behind Sim, who was joined by a delightful cast of accomplished and acclaimed English actors; creating what many today believe to be the best and most faithful production of Dickens' immortal tale. Cranky and curmudgeonly Scrooge learns the error of his unkind ways and is taught the true meaning of the holidays when he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future. This Blu-ray edition has been digitally restored from a new 1080p, 24fps high definition transfer master produced from the 35mm negative and fine grain.
There is no listing for this release on either the Kit Parker Films site or the VCI Entertainment site.

If anyone has this, would they care to drop a note on the PQ, audio, and supplements?

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Holiday Favorites

#214 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:36 pm

It is a bit early, but one of the most horrifically upsetting animations is set at New Year time - that Russian version of Ray Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains. It rather puts even the worst holiday season events into a "well things could be worse!" perspective, though the New Year's fireworks are far more spectacular in the film!

(That film and Demon Seed really capture the fear of smart houses decades before they became possible!)

User avatar
Feego
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:30 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Holiday Favorites

#215 Post by Feego » Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:51 pm

DeprongMori wrote:
Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:29 pm
Does anyone have the most recent dual-format A Christmas Carol (1951) (aka Scrooge), starring Alaister Sim, from Kit Parker Films? It was released in November 2019.
While I don't personally own the edition you linked, it appears to be the same packaging as VCI's first Blu-ray from 2009 (despite the 2019 date shown on Amazon). Here's Blu-ray.com's review of that edition, which apparently had lesser PQ and fewer supplements than the 2011 edition. Perhaps Amazon just acquired new stock of that older disc?

User avatar
DeprongMori
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:59 am
Location: San Francisco

Re: Holiday Favorites

#216 Post by DeprongMori » Wed Dec 25, 2019 6:07 pm

Feego wrote:
Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:51 pm
DeprongMori wrote:
Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:29 pm
Does anyone have the most recent dual-format A Christmas Carol (1951) (aka Scrooge), starring Alaister Sim, from Kit Parker Films? It was released in November 2019.
While I don't personally own the edition you linked, it appears to be the same packaging as VCI's first Blu-ray from 2009 (despite the 2019 date shown on Amazon). Here's Blu-ray.com's review of that edition, which apparently had lesser PQ and fewer supplements than the 2011 edition. Perhaps Amazon just acquired new stock of that older disc?
Your pointer to the reviews led me to another listing for what seems to be a newer release of the 60th Anniversary edition, just sans the “60th Anniversary” banner, and three bucks less than the earlier and inferior re-release. Still baffling why these aren’t on Kit Parker’s or VCI’s sites.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#217 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 29, 2020 2:56 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:56 pm
Watched Alain Chabat’s Santa & Cie. (2017) last night and enjoyed it way, way more then I expected. This isn’t an art film, it’s a mainstream family movie. But as ever I’m impressed with how much credit the French give their audiences in terms of content, as there are definitely a few gags here that would never make it to an American remake. Chabat wrote, directed, and stars as Santa, who must leave the North Pole early to acquire Vitamin C for his sick elves, even though as the film exploits in one of its funnier running gags, Santa has no concept of “buying” things. The film provided me with the steadiest stream of laughs I’ve had in a long time, many of them coming from Chabat’s performance— a former sketch comic before becoming a movie star, you can tell he has an excellent ear for tone and by the end of the film, he’s getting huge laughs just in how he says a single word like “No.” The film’s manic energy in the scenes with Pio Marmai and Golshifteh Farahani’s home life are also exceptionally well-modulated and the levels of mainstream appeal (the harried family jokes will go over the kids’ head) are impressive (and is capped by one of the better post-credit punchlines I can remember). I know some of our French members get exasperated by me praising their local mainstream cinema, but a good movie is a good movie! Plus, as established elsewhere on the board, I am a sucker for a good poisson out of water tale. Not that there’s a lot of competition, but this is surely the most entertaining modern Christmas movie I’ve ever seen, though unfortunately the subtitles (which do as well as they can to find a way to relay the film’s constant wordplay, but are omnipresent as this is a fast-paced and very dialog-heavy film) may prevent the core audience here from enjoying it. There’s no physical release with subs but you can rent it with subs in HD from Amazon
This disappeared from Amazon Prime but it's finally materialized on back channels (and is also available to rent via iTunes), and I highly recommend it for seasonal viewing in the coming months

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#218 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:18 am

Rewatched Home for the Holidays with my mom tonight, her own tradition for years with my dad pre-divorce, shoes I've refused to fill for a decade having apathetic memories of the film... well, I'm glad to report that my memories were faulty, as this film was an absolutely wonderful comedy, insightful depiction of family dynamics' inescapable continuation into adulthood, and a sensitive drama about fragmented families with room for loyalty too.

The cast is perfect. My mother pointed out how Bancroft's role allows this to be a quasi-period piece, representing the previous generation of women without an occupational identity living through their children, as she subtly conveys to Hunter. Durning, in one of his best ever performances, plays the patriarch with a diversity of virtues and casual liberally-minded attitude, fighting age with playfully youthful behavior and engaging in mindfully existential reflection in the film's deepest scene.

The film is an interesting snapshot of 90s homophobia and how family members treat taboo issues as a paranoid stain on them. Robert Downey Jr. is excellent, transcending gay stereotypes in a family system that cannot reciprocate with an equal expressiveness of their selves. That is except for Geraldine Chaplin as the eccentric aunt Gladys, whose Thanksgiving speech is so funny and raw and beautiful and tragic, it's an Oscar-worthy perf in the blink of an eye.

The ensuing Thanksgiving dinner is perhaps the most intelligently-constructed comic setpiece I've seen since the golden age, a layered concoction of social gags in overlapping dialogue and skillful blocking, unreservedly inspired from the screwball classics, and yet leaving room for deep-rooted relational tension to brew and boil up in pockets in orbit with the comedy. The stuck-up sister is a fascinating character who resonates with me and establishes the irreversible resentment that can brew between family members, even if neither of them can point to the source or a current rationale for this irritation.. emotion reigns.

The house itself becomes a character in ways few inanimate spaces do for me in other movies. There's so much detail and familiarity in every corner, it feels truly lived in; and we can sense the decades of memories jumping off the surfaces as the characters move through the physical space. The final mental slideshow of love is a strange ending, but one that remains wholly in step with the father's monologue, as we watch a collage of segregated experiences- some modern, some old, and all meaningful. For regardless of how shared they can be between participants, they still exist in Hunter's dreams (and, I'd like to believe, likely too for her sister given her solitary breakdown following a final cold interaction). How sad and yet how beautiful, to be able to appreciate internally what you cannot bridge externally.

User avatar
Roger Ryan
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Holiday Favorites

#219 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:24 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:18 am
... The final mental slideshow of love is a strange ending, but one that remains wholly in step with the father's monologue, as we watch a collage of segregated experiences- some modern, some old, and all meaningful. For regardless of how shared they can be between participants, they still exist in Hunter's dreams (and, I'd like to believe, likely too for her sister given her solitary breakdown following a final cold interaction). How sad and yet how beautiful, to be able to appreciate internally what you cannot bridge externally.
Perhaps I'm misinterpreting your assessment, and I only saw the film once over twenty years ago, but...
SpoilerShow
... I recall the home movies shown at the end to represent all the events that didn't happen within the family, the idealized past that could have been had the family been less dysfunctional. It was such a bittersweet conclusion that the idea has stayed with me even as the particulars of the film have faded. I guess I need to see the film again.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Holiday Favorites

#220 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:10 pm

SpoilerShow
I don't think these events are assumed to be objective truths in the way they are shown. Some are up for interpretation, but some of the images are events that did or could have happened, like the family on the runway (in the way that the father described), Downey's beach wedding, the father and mother as young people dancing in a bowling alley, the father kissing aunt Gladys, and finally Hunter sleeping on McDermott in the same sepia tone. Some may be more metaphorical but could be true, like Hunter and her daughter snorkeling with fish, per the grounding visualization her daughter asks her to "remember." The sister playing with her kids inside is the most far-fetched since she and her husband are as stuck-up as they come.

Like I said, I think these are Hunter's dreams mixed with memories filtered in the manner all of ours are, but the point isn't whether they are 'actual' experiences, but that she's thinking of all these people who are important to her- using memory, stories from her parents, visualizing what her brother's wedding was probably like, and perhaps hoping for her sister to be happy and loose, even if it has to happen without her involved in her life. It's bittersweet because, as the father says near the end, we can't catch all of our meaningful experiences "on film" and share them with one another. She wasn't at her brother's wedding, and she (probably) wasn't at the bowling alley when her parents danced romantically, but she wants to image them that way. She may not remember being in the airfield, but she recalls the image fondly due to her father's tender story, which becomes meaningful in recontextualizing her sense of independence and strength- and then she "remembers" it all over again, as a new memory with new meaning.

Whether or not the sister memory is real, what matters is that she's fantasizing about her happiness and not her own, divorced from any participation that necessitates selfish motives of rekindling their sisterhood. It's beautiful because Hunter's dreams reflect her limitations in knowing her family's segregated experiences, yet use the power of her unconditional love to join them in her dreams, and accept that the people she loves have been able to be happy and live freely in countless ways outside of her schema.

Post Reply