All right, so this Christmas blog is a little bit late – but I promised you folks that I was going to tell you all about the movies that I watched while I was on holiday over Christmas.
Let me start off by admitting that I am a movie addict.
I love sitting down and watching a good movie. It is my escape and it is my pleasure in this life to be plunked down upon a comfortable and entertained by the flickering reality of my DVD player. So, when I begin my Christmas shopping, usually around August or so, I keep a space in my sock drawer for the inevitable stack of movies that I buy for myself and my wife to enjoy together.
This Christmas was no exception.
We started the Christmas season with a couple of classics.
First off we watched Patrick Stewart in A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Followed by A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES.
And then the original 1947 MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET.
Those first two movies are a bit of a ritual at our house. We always watch them every year and it just isn’t Christmas until we have seen them. Some of you folks might find that funny and possibly even quaint – but let me tell you, the corn grows high in this old fart’s soul and the field is well watered in pure one hundred percent shmaltz.
Then came the movies that I had purchased for the Christmas season.
We started out with CHEF – and I know that sounds like a weird movie to start with – but it is one of those movies that will make you laugh and make you go “Aww…” and make your belly growl contentedly. I am telling you the truth. You will NOT be able to watch this movie without hungering for a good Cubano sandwich. If I wasn’t on a diet I would go out and make one this morning for breakfast – and that is AFTER me already having a breakfast of scrapple, fried egg and a strip of bacon.
Hey, I didn’t say WHAT kind of a diet I was on, now did I?
CHEF is a movie about following your passion and making your dreams come true and we can all use a little more of that in our diet. Don’t watch this movie expecting to see a lot of action or a strong plot line. It is more about following your own muse with a really strong overtone of a Dad just trying to connect with his son.
I am still undecided about whether I enjoyed the ending or not. I will have to watch this movie again to decide – but I will say that I enjoyed the ride and I am glad I put this flick into my collection.
The next movie we watched was X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. We had already seen this one at the movie theater and we loved it – so it was an easy slam dunk to tuck this one into the Christmas stocking.
It rocked. Wolverine kicked butt. Magneto and Professor-X likewise.
End of story.
Now, I do not want to give you folks the impression that we sat around and watched non-stop movies the whole time. We did go visit with family as best as we could and saw a couple of friends and took care of some housework – but yeah, we found time to fit in a WHOLE lot of movies.
Next up was Robert Duvall in A NIGHT IN OLD MEXICO.
This was an uneven flick for me. The storyline was a little basic and underdeveloped – but Robert Duvall brought it on home. The man just knows how to play a role and old farts like me have a deep respect for a true old fart kicks ass kind of movie like this.
I’m glad I bought it and will watch it again. It hit the spot like a shot of cheap cold whiskey.
We had seen a trailer for this next film and I had been keeping my eye out for it for a while. CALVARY is a wonderfully shot movie and Brendan Gleeson does an amazing job portraying this tired old priest who has decided to live his life by the code of the Catholic church. It has a strong art house feel and will not appeal to a lot of movie-goers and the ending is pretty bleak – but the music was wonderful – and again, the cinematographer truly beautiful and I am definitely glad that I picked this up.
HERCULES did not necessarily “rock” me, but I still felt that it was one of Dwayne Johnson’s most solid performances. I have always enjoyed watching The Rock in any movie. He is really a somewhat under-sung actor and he has made more than a few bad career decisions and I really feel that his performance in his 2010 noir-action flick FASTER was real triumph even though the box office was abysmal.
I did enjoy the idea of a man living up to his own legend in a kind of BIG FISH sort of a way. Still, I really would have loved to see a movie centered more around the labours of Hercules. As it is, we go through those labors in a very fast flashback scene early on in the movie. The movie had a strong SEVEN SAMURAI kind of feel to it – sort of a Hercules and his Merry Men. Ian McShane really rocked in it.
I enjoyed the movie and will happily watch it again.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, on the other hand, let me down big time. I really enjoyed the first movie in this rebooted series but this second flick just fell short. The problem was a lack of quality actors. The only real actor was Gary Oldman – and he is alright as a character actor but just doesn’t have the star quality to carry an entire movie. There was some solid acting going on behind the ape costumes (And can you really call a CGI effect a costume?) but all it all it was pretty predictable and was a bit of an ordeal to sit through. I got tired of listening to the ape’s broken grunted English and the very best I can say about this movie is that it was a reasonable step towards the third movie in what I expect will be an inevitable trilogy.
Speaking of let-downs I also picked up a copy of GODZILLA – fortunately catching it on a Black Monday sale for eight dollars.
I want my eight dollars back.
What was wrong with this movie?
Well, for starters, just take a look at that poster. That pretty sums up the movie for me. The whole thing was about two hours of moody dark film making interspersed with the occasional fleeting glimpse of Godzilla. I am sorry, but if you put Godzilla up there as a title you really would expect to see more than about twelve minutes worth of giant lizard. It is CGI, for golly’s sake. It isn’t like it is all that hard to capture that giant lizard on film. The few peeks we got were great but they spent way too long on the mysterious punkass little critters that were also created by the nuclear radiation – sort of a mutant Mothra/Rodan/giant-assed-mosquito kind of creature.
And what about Bryan Cranston? The only actor with enough cajones to stand toe-to-toe with Godzilla and we get rid of him about twenty minutes into the movie and substitute his estranged son, played by Ford Brody who has all the acting skills of rusting red pick-up truck.
I had heard that the movie sucked but I was stubborn about it and really wanted to give it a try but now I just want two hours of my life back. Why is it so hard for Hollywood to get Godzilla right?
Do you want a Godzilla plot?
Let me give it to you.
Godzilla stomps on a city. The tanks roll out. Policemen too. Godzilla stomps on another city. Maybe flosses his teeth with a passenger train. Some more tanks, some machine guns, and a couple of jet planes are harmed in the making of this movie. Godzilla jumps off of a mountain and cannonballs directly into the heart of a third city. They bring out the nuclear weapons but Godzilla farts contemptuously upon their efforts and maybe hits them with a blast of nuclear radiation halitosis. Turns and sumo walks out into Tokyo Bay. The credits roll. GODZILLA WILL RETURN.
How fucking hard is that?
We had seen and owned HAMLET before in VHS but I had not been able to find a copy in any of the local stores for a long time – so I had to send to Amazon to get this flick. I know Mel Gibson has made a royal ass of himself in his personal life – but the man sure knew how to make and act in movies before he futzed everything up. I love his BRAVEHEART and I really enjoyed his portrayal of HAMLET and I would love to see him tackle MACBETH.
Speaking of which…
When I was hunting for HAMLET on Amazon I came across this flick – which is a PBS filming of Patrick Stewart’s performance as Macbeth.
Well, let me tell you his performance left little to be desired. The man can bring the thunder to any role, there is no denying that. But, the director’s insistence upon costuming the actors in a sort of a World War II Russian garb and giving them modern weaponry really left me scratching my head. I am sure that there was some sort of a deep mysterious meaning behind that wardrobe choice but I have to wonder if maybe the director just didn’t find himself a yard sale full of old Russian military costumes and make the best of it.
On the whole I was bored by the film, and I really love Macbeth, even more so than Hamlet. If I had to make a choice I would say that much rather sit down and watch Roman Polanski’s MACBETH.
I have heard that there will be a new Macbeth with Michael Fassbender as the dark Dane, due out in 2015 – so I will keep an eye out for it and keep my fingers crossed. As long as they keep it a costume drama I’ll be halfway to happy.
Call me a purist, if you want to.
I found this flick, SUPER 8, in a drop bin in Walmart for about three dollars. I had always to wanted to see it but the trailer had always given me the feeling that this was going to be just one more damn found-footage flick – you know, like the Blair Witch? – and I mostly hate and despise and fart upon those found-footage flicks which are usually nothing more than an excuse for shaky camera work.
Let me tell you, I was dead wrong.
This was a great giant monster movie and a great coming of age movie and I really wish that the moron who made Godzilla had watched a few movies like this one. It was great to see Kyle Chandler (remember him from EARLY EDITION?) get some good use of his own personal acting chops.
We spent Christmas at our son’s home watching a couple of good movies.
I won’t bother telling about the first Christmas movie, DIE HARD – an absolute classic of an action flick and if you don’t like it you better check your pulse because I am pretty sure that you have passed away maybe twenty years ago or so.
However, the second we watched was THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
I hadn’t heard a thing about this movie and a lot of folks will find it sort of strange in that weird BIG FISH art-house sort of feel. It is almost a movie about somebody telling you a story and I really enjoyed watching it. It was a movie that transported and entertained and I definitely intend to grab myself a copy of this flick down the road.
There were about a half a dozen movies but I do not wish to bore you or to spend anymore time on creating this blog entry when I really ought to be writing, right now.
Let me just tell you about the last movie we watched.
JULIE & JULIA is an absolutely wonderful story about following your passion. I intend to pick up a copy of the book it was based on.
It is another “foodie” movie and I do not recommend that ANYONE on a diet should watch this movie. I have begun to think about something called lobster thermidor as well as Julia Child’s DUCK STUFFED WITH MEAT AND WRAPPED IN PASTRY
Meryl Streep did an absolutely amazing job of transforming herself into a six foot two Julia Child. She moved and sounded exactly like the old videos of Julia Child that I have seen. Stanley Tucci did a likewise amazing job of portraying Julia’s husband. It was a very quiet and restrained and enchantingly un-Tucci like portrayal.
This movie is a love story and a story about following your dreams and a story about the powerful role that food can play in our day-to-day existence.
Now I’m hungry, damn it.
yours in storytelling,
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