Thursday, 29 December 2011

More Holiday Movies...

Ok, so White Christmas got a whole blog to itself, because it has been my favourite for a long time so I've got a lot to say about it. There are 3 other holiday films which I watched which I shall now discuss. They are "The Holiday", "The Christmas Shoes", and "Christmas Child". When I watch a film I'm interested in two things, the writing and the acting. Generally for me, there are three categories.
1) Great writing, bad acting.
2) Bad writing, great acting.
3) Bad writing, bad acting.

The Holiday
I really love this movie.It's just really sweet. The writing is great, not overly cutesy (ok, it's a little cutesy) and there are some true actors in it. My favourite element of the storyline is the friendship between Iris (Kate Winslet) and Arthur Abbot, a retired elderly screen-writer from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I also love love love seeing Jack Black playing a nice guy instead of a jerk/idiot. Miles is a fantastically hilarious character with a real heart and real emotions. He's "the goofy guy" who is actually really smart and caring. When does that ever happen in films?

Ok, so I am not ashamed to admit that one of my favourite parts of this film is this guy.
Great writing.
Yes, he's gorgeous, and his accent doesn't hurt, but Graham is also a great character. I love when Amanda says to him "I've never met a guy who talks more than me." He's a confident, funny, messed-up guy, made all the more attractive by the fact that he is incredibly sweet with his two adorable daughters. The dialogue between Graham and Amanda has a... bluntness... that I like. Jude's performance is amazing - even Oscar winning! That is, in comparison with his co-star...

Bad acting.
Yes, she does play a rather ditzy, selfish character who is very out of touch with herself, but Cameron plays that throughout the entire film! Even in the end when her character has undergone some change, Cameron's performance remains the same - fake. She is acting the whole time, she is not BEING. It's a romantic comedy, it's not brilliant, it's not going to the Academy Awards, but the characters are real and the dialogue is witty and she just SUCKS! I'm being merciless, I know. I'm not sorry.

I give this film, despite the performances of the other actors: Great Writing, Bad Acting.

The Christmas Shoes

Bad writing, great acting.
I consented to watch this film with much groaning, however, I was extremely pleasantly surprised. It's not brilliant writing, they definitely tried a little too hard to yank the tears out of your eyes, but the acting is actually really, really good. I love seeing great actors who are less well-known. There are also a few really well-written characters. I was enjoying the film until close to the end, when there is some slow-motion running and the song "The Christmas Shoes" takes over. I sighed a little. It was so good up until that point.
That being said, I give this film a Bad Writing, Great Acting.

Christmas Child

Bad writing. Bad acting.
I can't even talk about this film that much. Bad Writing, Bad Acting, with the exception of Megan Follows, who was the only reason I wanted to watch it. She's not in it enough to redeem it, though. I love Steven Curtis Chapman, he's a great guy and his family brought a wonderful message to the film, but he just shouldn't act. Ever. You would think the writing would be better as it's an adaptation of a Max Lucado book. I've never read the book, maybe it's bad too, I don't know, I just know that this film was bad. So very, very bad.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Holiday Movies - White Christmas

Why should Christmas end just because we've opened all the presents? If we can start the Christmas season on November 1st we can certainly continue it to at least January 1st.

I love Christmas movies. There are a lot of them that I love though, so sometimes I don't get around to watching them all before Christmas, but that's ok, I just continue watching them until I am satisfied. Sue me. No don't. Don't sue me. It would be a serious waste of your time.

So, even though Christmas is over and I should probably post this next November when everyone wants to get in the Christmas spirit again, I shall defy the laws of Christmas and write my reviews of Holiday Movies now. So let's go. 

White Christmas

   Not only is it my favourite Christmas film, White Christmas is one of my favourite films of all time, for many reasons. It is a complete musical, not just a Christmas musical. It has an amazing score by Irving Berlin and a  great book full of, in my opinion, very clever dialogue. 

   The libretto is full of fabulous, classic Irving Berlin style songs: crooner melodies (the Christmas classic "White Christmas", and the sultry "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me"), bouncy up-tempo show-stoppers ("Mandy", "Gee, I wish I was Back in the Army"), and really clever little "character" pieces ("Sisters" and one of my all-time Danny Kay faves "Choreography" which has run through my head during many a dance rehearsal).

   I have to discuss the book, or script, or whatever. I think it's brilliant. Totally brilliant. The dialogue is so clever and, I truly believe, beyond its time. The characters are real people who talk to each other in every-day language with every-day wit. They're so casual, in an age when the dialogue in films was still rather formal and starched. Here is an example, it's the moment when they get off the train in Vermont to find it warm and snowless.

Phil: Woah! They must have grass-covered igloos up here. 
Judy: This is warmer than Florida.
Bob: Where's the beach?
Judy: Should've brought our bathing suits. Is this Vermont, New England's winter playground?
Phil: Are you sure this is the right Vermont.
Bob: This must be southern Vermont... well, must be wonderful up in Vermont this time of year. All that underwear!
Phil: Gosh, I hope I can take the electric blanket back.
Bob: Where've you got that?
Phil: Under the underwear.
Bob: Well, you'll get a nice tan. 

Ok. So, the dialogue's a little clever, nothing special, but - their comedic timing is awesome. They're so subtle and straight-faced, particularly Bing Crosby.

                                                    Can we just discuss Bing for a second? I don't even need to say anything about his voice because, obviously, even The Bube (aka Michael Buble) has nothing on Bing. I just want to discuss his acting. I am only a humble first year musical theatre student who knows very little about the craft, but in my opinion, Bing was a real actor. His style is so subtle, you almost miss his humour, but if you really listen to the dialogue he is completely hilarious. I really think, despite the fact that he obviously was a singer first, he understood the "primary state of being". When he is in front of the camera, at least in this film, he is being that character.

   Vera Ellen is an amazing performer. Not really a strong singer or actress, but obviously, one of the most phenomenal female dancers of her time. Her legs are insane. Insane. I adore the dance number between her and Danny Kaye "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing". It's an amazing showcase of two brilliant dancers. Hollywood just doesn't produce dance numbers like that any more.

    I could go on and on about the musical numbers. They're incredibly spectacular: big sets, flashy costumes etc., yet they also contain that same clever humour found in the dialogue. Additionally, all of the actors in this film are incredible performers in song. Danny Kaye is one-of-a-kind with his ridiculous comedic character pieces, Rosemary Clooney breaks your heart, Bing... well we've already covered him, and Vera Ellen knocks your socks off with her incredible dance performances. 

To summarize, White Christmas is amazing. I love it. I could watch it at any time of year. I love a good old show within a show plot, too. So classic of its day. 

If you've never seen it before, watch it. Do it now before New Year's arrives and we all have to resolve to watch less television. 

First Blog Ever!!!

December 27, 2011. A strange day to join the blogging world? Perhaps. Perhaps it is the Christmas atmosphere which is conducive to bloggular resolutions. The holiday calls us to be more reflective of our lives, to share our love with the whole world, to be disgustingly sentimental, and to be more selfish for attention. Also, there's that whole awkward transition phase between Christmas and New Year's which makes everyone feel a little fuzzy. (To see what I'm saying, start it at 1:00)

Ugh, why do we put so much pressure on Christmas day to be perfect? Everyone expects to wake up on Christmas morning to their family getting along perfectly, the dogs not barking, the phone ringing only with pleasant calls, a gentle snow falling on the evergreens, meeting the person of their dreams, finding they've lost weight instead of gained it... the list goes on. And despite how much we yammer on about "the reason for the season"
-sorry. just had to vomit. christianese makes me do that sometimes.-
our friends and loved ones still seem to wake on Christmas morning to be their usual, imperfect selves, though we have woken up angelic beings overflowing with Christmas cheer and goodwill to men etc.

Still, everyone tries to be kind and loving, to disguise any crankiness, to laugh loud and long, and to eat as much as they possibly can, and something about this behaviour seems to bring our families together. New memories are made and old ones are relived. Over. And over. And over again. Every. Year. The same old stories.

My Christmas with my family was a little different this year. It was small and quiet. We were missing a few of our loved ones for various reasons. Some forever, some just for a little while. It was hard without them, but we had a special time together nonetheless.

I love Christmas. I love that it's the one time of year where families really truly do come together, despite everything.

I love thinking about Jesus' birth. This year I was blown away at the thought of him humbling himself to the intelligence of a baby- of a fetus even! What? GAHHH. Crazy. God, you blow my mind sometimes. Jesus lay there in a stable, as a baby, and the most intelligent thing that went through his head was probably "Where is the warm? Why is it loud? Can someone please turn off the lights????". Think of that. Our amazing Creator and Saviour was as shell-shocked as any infant after the traumatizing experience of birth.

Oh God, how come you're so great? Why do you love us that much? Are we really worth it? I know that I'm not.
Gratefulness, thankfulness, humbleness, awe. Merry Christmas.