The Christmas Collection

With a week until Christmas, it seems fitting that I should take some time to discuss my core Christmas movie collection. Just like the artificial tree and the trimmings, there’s a box of tapes and DVDs that are only brought out during Christmas. Over the years, movies and specials have been added to the family set while others sit on my shelf as part of my collection. In no particular order:

The Muppet Christmas Carol. I grew up with this as a kid (still have the tape). Over the years, the appreciation has changed from “Muppets for Muppets’ sake” to enjoying the humor in the dialogue. It seems to get better every single year. I didn’t realize that “When Love is Gone” was cut from other versions of the film, meaning that I had the most intact version the whole time.

Muppet Family Christmas. Again, childhood classic that is essentially a giant Muppet crossover from three (four if you count Muppet Babies) shows. It gained a somber tone this year since Gerry Parkes, the guy who played Doc on Fraggle Rock, died. This is a hard one to find on tape due to music rights and such. In fact, the full-length version can only be bought via bootleg. Lovely.

The Snowman. I’ve talked about this gem in a separate review but I still love this classic. I’ve always grown up with the original UK opening of the guy walking into the woods, not the American intro with David Bowie. I recently saw the sequel that was released a few years ago. Stick with the original.

The Bear. Another one based on Raymond Brigg’s work, this is harder to find on home media. It only had a VHS release, so I make sure that my copy doesn’t get destroyed. Wonderful soundtrack and great animation, it’s a great companion for The Snowman. As a child, I always associated the star bear with the one from the Nelvana logo (relatively the same concept) seen at the end of TV shows from the day. Plus, there’s something majestic and magical about that bear. I still get chills when I hear the soundtrack.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I guess it was my introduction to Chuck Jones before I even knew who he was a kid. Had to sing all of the verse for “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” back in sixth grade for the annual Christmas program; I was given the longest verse at the last minute. I haven’t seen the live-action version yet, though I do know a guy who has an authentic Who outfit from the film with some of the original snow on the costume.

Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too. While I wasn’t around for the original broadcast, I do have one version of it on VHS. I forgot about it until someone in school brought it up. My ears perked up, knowing that I wasn’t the only one who knew what this was. That was nice.

A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’d be a sacrilege to not include it on the list. Out of all the Peanuts Christmas specials out there (and there are a lot), this is the best of the lot.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Even though the third act is the only part related to Christmas, it’s still a great film even if it does get syrupy and sentimental at times. Besides, I’m a fan of Jimmy Stewart.

Homeless for the Holidays. Odds are you haven’t heard of this film. Well, this was filmed in my hometown a few years ago during the recession and has a long story attached to it. What it boils down to is that I do have some screen time (all of less than ten seconds of the back of my head) and my name is listed in the credits. While it’s not a perfect Christmas movie by any means, it’s in my collection for personal reasons.

Eyes Wide Shut. It takes place around Christmas and saw it for the first time around Christmas two years ago. That counts, right? Like I mentioned in my review, I watch it every six months or so and I plan on re-watching it in a few days.

I know that some other classics are missing from the list, like Die Hard, A Christmas Story, and all the Rankin/Bass specials. Well, I never grew up with the first two (I’m still not sure how Die Hard became part of the Christmas canon for everyone else) and I never really liked the Rankin/Bass specials. I don’t personally own Elf but I did see it when it first came out and I do like it.

What’s in your Christmas collection?

Movie Review: The Royal Tenenbaums

 

This year was the year for me to familiarize myself with Wes Anderson’s filmography. I started the year with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, revisited Moonrise Kingdom, stayed at The Grand Budapest Hotel, and met one quote-unquote Fantastic Mr. Fox. I saw this film over the summer and didn’t get around to reviewing it until now.

Three gifted siblings reunite after several years and deal with family issues.

I want to live in the Tenenbaum house, not necessarily with them. I’ve always liked really large houses since I was a kid. The floor plan that was included with the Criterion Collection print was very detailed, as usual with any Anderson work.

I know this sounds strange but I think there’s too much quirkiness in this film. Granted, each character has their own distinct traits but it doesn’t create a cohesive whole. Then again, the entire family isn’t really together in the traditional sense.

It was at a little more than an hour into the film that it started to lose steam. Then came Margot’s montage and the bathroom sequence. These are the two best sequences of the film in terms of telling a story. On the one hand, you have rock music playing over a series of life events (something that doesn’t come to mind when I think of Wes Anderson) and the other has mellow music with a serious course of action, coupled with some brief flashes of life.

Somehow, this is only one of two Wes Anderson films listed in the 1001 Movies series (the other being Rushmore which I have yet to see). I can’t say which is the better of the two listed but I will in the Rushmore review, whenever that will be. I think this was put on the list early on as a way to get some representation of his work. I expect that The Grand Budapest Hotel will be added to the list in time.

While it is considered one of the more popular films of Wes Anderson, it’s not one of mine.

6/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

Movie Review: WALL-E

 

There are times where I watch a movie and partake in some riffing; then there are times where I want everyone to just stay quiet and watch the film. The latter didn’t happen last night when I saw this for the first time in a while. If anything

A robot who has developed emotions finds a plant and helps bring humanity back home.

This was one of the few movies my entire family saw in the theaters when it was released. From what I can remember, it was a good experience and eventually my autistic brother got it for Christmas years ago. Over time this movie eventually moved to the movie collection in our basement, only to be retrieved whenever I felt like watching it.

I enjoyed the first half where it was just WALL-E and EVE with minimal dialogue. I cannot remember the last time an animated film started off without dialogue from our protagonist for a noticeable amount of time. Looking back, it reminds me of when I saw some silent films with a large crowd that included children. They connected with WALL-E the same way they did with Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd.

The themes of commercialism and the culture of consumerism was not lost on me. I laughed at the superficial material goods offered like the septuacentennial cupcake-in-a-cup but then it got me thinking about what I prefer in terms of brand and quality. I want the very best version of a movie if at all financially possible. But why am I willing to put money behind a brand (e.g. The Criterion Collection) if it means burning a hole in my wallet? I guess it’s more about the prestige of having a high-end version of a film on my shelf (more so if I get it autographed if the opportunity arises).

Considering it’s position in the Pixar chronology, it’s a solid installment in the post-Cars era and makes up a trilogy of great films (Ratatouille, this, and Up). I’d rather have all three of those films make the list but alas, it was this one. Not that I utterly dislike this particular film but it’s more in the upper half of my favorite Pixar films.

At least it’s comforting to know that VHS tapes will still work seven hundred years into the future.

7/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

Winner of Best Animated Feature

Coming This Month: December 2014

Hey guys. Hope you haven’t forgotten about me. November was a stressful month but now it’s over. There will be a review for WALL-E and some Christmas-related films.

I took last month off to work on my senior project. I currently have four out of my six proposed films nearly finished. I also had my senior portfolio review, which I thought went well, and I’m waiting for the results to come in the mail.

Actually, here’s one really cool part about my senior project. Over Thanksgiving break, I went back to school. I know, why would I do this? Well, a special guest came for a mini-lecture. Jalil Sadool (iMDB link here) looked at student work, including part of my senior project, and liked what he saw. The fact that a guy who worked at Weta Digital (yes, that Weta Digital) gave me advice on my project and a message about working on my art is slowly sinking in.

Also, last month saw the release of the latest Pink Floyd album, The Endless River. For those who have followed my blog or have stumbled across it from some random Google search, you’ve seen that I’ve covered a few syncs. There’s one for The Endless River with my name on it, literally. I tried it over Thanksgiving break and I can say that the sync is at its best during the third play of the album. On a related note, it’s one year today since I discovered my first sync.

Right now, I’m less than ten films away from meeting last year’s total of films viewed. It helped that I started from day one. I’ll have my best/worst list published next month, in case some films do make the cut. That will have to wait as finals are coming up shortly.

Coming This Month: November 2014

 

To be honest, it’s more of “What Not to Expect This Month.” November will be packed with senior project work and I don’t have time to review movies. I know I said I would cover The Conjuring but, simply put, stuff happened. Maybe next year.

I did meet Chris Buck earlier this month for a Frozen weekend. He’s one of the nicest people you could meet. I got him to autograph my copy of Frozen and had a picture with him. I caught up with some friends each day that I hadn’t seen for a few months or more.

A few days ago, I won second place in a costume contest for our art school’s Halloween party. I went as Ash from Fantastic Mr. Fox. There were multiple compliments about how authentic the costume looked. Personally, I’d have more breathing room for the mask and a tail that doesn’t have a dye that heavily stains everything it touches. Still, it’s a great costume and I plan to keep it around for a few years.

Also, I’ve hit my “movie-a-day” mark for the year. I hit the mark in late November last year, so I’m way ahead of schedule. Then again, I didn’t start last year until late January. Now, to beat last year’s total of 402 films; I expect this will happen once the semester is over and I’ll have more time for watching movies.