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?

Bad Movie Choices for Valentine’s Day

I may not have had much experience with the combination of movies, dates, and love but I feel like I know some of the films I’ve seen are off-limits for a date night, especially Valentine’s Day. These are some of my picks of films I’ve seen that you should probably avoid but Your Mileage May Vary.

Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. I was really uncomfortable watching this alone. I don’t know if anybody can rationally say they like this movie (as in THE #1 film of all-time). I’m still coming to terms with how the movie was created and filmed. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect the effort. This is one of those films that would definitely cause a rift in a relationship. Discussion, yes. Questions, of course. Respect? That’s iffy.

Eyes Wide Shut. It’s not as strong as Salo but the uneasiness factor is still large, namely the masked ball sequence and what follows. I do like the music but I’d be uncomfortable watching this with a partner unless they were a fan of Kubrick.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. First of all, if I were to show this to someone, they would have needed to finish watching the show as there are spoilers. Secondly, even if a partner were a Lynchian like me, there’s the whole bedroom scene with BOB. I still watch this movie in broad daylight and the sound mostly down.

The Birth of a Nation. If a partner was a cinephile or a Civil War/history buff, then maybe. Other than that, it’s a bit long as well as the second half’s message that’s off-putting.

Flaming Creatures. It helps that this is a hard-to-find movie. Even then, would I sit through this again or with someone by my side? Nope.

The Movie Themed Alphabet Meme

I figured I should take a crack at this, since it’s making the rounds on movie blogs here at WordPress. I first saw this over at Film Grimoire (meme originally created at The Drama Llama) and it looked really fun to do. The idea is that for each letter of the alphabet, you have to answer a movie related question. Sounds easy enough, right? Here goes. Also, it should go without saying but please click on the links below. They lead to movie reviews and some other surprises.

Anticipating Movie of 2014: The LEGO Movie. I feel like this is going to be a fun movie to go to. I don’t know of a single person who didn’t play with LEGOs when they were a kid. That and the way it’s animated is like a giant-sized LEGOmotion film you find on YouTube. The figures move like they would in real-life, which adds to the appeal and desire to go see this film.

Book Adaptation I’d Love to See: The Maximum Ride series. I heard rumors several years ago that this would be a thing but haven’t come to fruition yet. Flying bird-children saving the world and other extreme stuff: how does that not sound like fun? True, this is another YA series that has potential to be a movie but from we’ve seen with film adaptations of YA series, it’s hit or miss.

Celebrity I’d Most Like to Meet: David Lynch. I was first introduced to his work as a freshman in college when our film club watched the Twin Peaks pilot. It was something I enjoyed watching (alone when I saw it) and I saw the rest of the series over the summer. Eraserhead got me through finals in my sophomore year and his style has influenced my work. I was proud to have seen his entire theatrical filmography last year (at least one viewing per film) and am eager to return to his world to study it. I would love to shake his hand and get a picture with him, expressing my thanks to him and what he has done.

Dream Director/Actor Pairing: David Lynch and Nathan Fillion. Yes, that’s a rather odd pairing but I’d like to see what Nathan can do in the antithesis of a Whedon world. Everytime I watch him I just smile. Having Captain Hammer himself voice a frat leader in Monsters University is something to be seen to be believed. As for Lynch, I’d like to see what happens. After all, he worked with Nicolas Cage in Wild at Heart, something I didn’t think would happen but it did.

Essential Classic Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is my favorite film of all time and is a must see if you want to be ultra-best buds with me. The video above is the final scene of the film with Daft Punk music. I still prefer the more famous “Echoes” sync with this scene but that is a close second. I’ll get more into it later (as in post-post) but if you haven’t seen it, watch it soon on as big of a screen as you can get.

Favorite Film Franchise: Toy Story. I can’t say LOTR or Harry Potter like everyone else because I haven’t seen all of them, something I’m trying to remedy this year. I grew up with the first one as it always went with us when we traveled. The second one, I’ll admit, is not the strongest only because I didn’t have that immediate relationship with it like my friends did. Seeing the third one in theaters was crazy, thinking that the possibility of them being killed off for real was strong. I’m pleased that with the recent edition of the 1001 Movies book that they included the other two films.

Genre I Watch the Most: Experimental/avant garde. I’m rather picky about this one. I’ll watch Dog Star Man or Koyaanisqatsi any given day. Vinyl, not so much. It’s hit or miss but each viewing is an experiment as to whether or not I appreciate the work. I’m probably the only person I know who embraces this kind of filmmaking and is willing to watch something of the sort. With Meshes of the Afternoon, I saw that with other people in Film as Art when the night’s topic was experimental filmmaking. That was my favorite night out of the entire course as my friends got a glimpse into what exactly I like. I even do some experimental films of my own. Click here to check out my Vimeo page and my work (shameless plug).

Hidden Gem: The Wizard of Speed and Time. I recommend this to anyone interested animation, particularly stop-motion. It’s semi-autobiographical about a man who makes a short film (the original film seen above which came before the full-length version) and tries to get others to see it in the rough business that is filmmaking. The actual movie is on YouTube and is worth checking out. It’s like a more obscure version of UHF. I came across it on a Disney DVD where it featured a work by Mike Jittlov, the hero and creator of the film. Leonard Maltin mentioned this in an intro and I figured I should check it out. I’m glad I did. This is insanely hard to find on tape and is on my wish list. You can get a digital copy but I’d rather have the tape.

Important Moment in My Film Life: Just one moment? Fine. That would be making the switch from majoring in computer animation to film (almost one year ago). Since the age of three, I was dead set on being an animator at Disney. It was a year ago that I realized I wasn’t satisfied with my work. I was spending several weeks to make a ten-second piece. With film, I was able to get more immediate results and, I felt, more freedom; “Save the Date” was shot and edited in less than a week. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate animation and all of its forms but I prefer something more hands on.

Just Right for a Rainy Day: Pink Floyd: The Wall. This got me through winter finals over a year ago when I first saw it early in the morning. That, and the spring semester during a computer graphics class. My second favorite film of all time, this is a musical of an entirely different sort. Bring it on!

Kiddie Movie I Still Enjoy Shamelessly: Babe. This is the pinnacle of live-action talking animal movies, no questions asked. How do you not root for him at the end? This is an underpig story if there ever was one. I still have the tape sitting on my shelf at home. I hope to get the DVD of it sometime soon but I’ll still keep the tape for sentimental reasons. If you ask me, avoid the sequel at all costs no matter what the critics on the box say.

Location I’d Like to Visit Most: The Eyewitness Museum. OK, so it’s not a location in a movie but I watched the videos as a kid and the title sequence (there are three of them) blew me away. The way the museum worked, where you could enter one picture on one side of the place and end up in a completely different wing, amazed me. I want this to be a real thing. The theme is rather catchy, you have to admit, and nostalgic for those who grew up with it.

Marathons I Watched: I haven’t done a film marathon yet so the television marathons I’ve done, in no particular order, are The Twilight Zone, LOST, Arrested Development, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks, Firefly, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic among others. Yep, the last entry totally goes against the nature of the others I’ve mentioned but I enjoy it.

Netflix Movie I’ve Actually Watched: Mary & Max. I don’t have Netflix so someone logged in and let me do what I wanted. I first saw this when I was making “Touch“. It’s not something to watch just for kicks. I will say this, it’s by no means the definition of Asperger’s but rather just one case.

One Movie I Watched More Than Once: Gravity. I saw it twice on the same day, both times in IMAX 3D. I knew that I needed to see this in the best way possible as it was an experience that only comes once in a great while. Now I can say I was there.

Preferred Place to Watch a Movie: Cinema or Home?: Right now, it’s home. My set-up isn’t the greatest (10″ portable DVD monitor and headphones in private, the 60″ flatscreen with a VCR/DVD player combo with family, or the large screen, Blu-ray, surround sound screening room at school next to a busy railroad) but it works for now. I dream of having a soundproofed home theater system, THX-certified and all that jazz. For now, I have to settle with what I have and all of its quirks.

Quote That Inspires Me: The “I am a HUMAN BEING!” quote from the scene above from The Elephant Man. No matter how our brains are wired, we are still human.

Remakes: Friend or Foe?: Foe. Why put funding for a rehash of a film of relative merit when you can invest it in new stories? The question that should be asked is “Is it needed?” 99% of the time is a solid no. If you haven’t noticed, I have not covered a remake. Yes, there are remakes that are more widely known than the original like The Man Who Knew Too Much and John Carpenter’s The Thing but I want to see the original first so as to see why the remake is more well-known.

Snack I Enjoy Most: Crackers with sea salt and pepperjack cheese cubes with a can of ginger ale.

Thrilling Movie That Blows My Mind: Hate to repeat but it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s all practical, something that should be cherished in this day. Because of the exposure of using CGI for visual and special effects, it’s easy to dismiss the believability on screen because you’re looking for the compositing mistakes. Here, whatever was needed was done for real. It still holds up after all these years.

Unapologetic Fanperson For: Surprise surprise, it’s David Lynch. I get excited when someone says that they watched something by him on their own, regardless of their reaction.

Very Excited for Award Season?: Not really. I don’t frequent the theater as much as everyone else online does, mostly due to how insanely expensive it is. I wait for the DVD just to see if it’s as great as the hype makes it out to be. Besides Best Picture, I only care about the Best Animated Feature because those are the films I’m more likely to see in the theater.

Wish I Had Never Watched… Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom at 6 in the morning on the last day of finals. I could not avoid it for long as it was a 1001 entry. Well, I saw it and had my mood crushed for the entire day; it lightened when I saw Frozen later that same day after finals were done. Once you’ve seen it, everything’s easier.

XXX Movie I First Watched At a Young Age (R or NC-17): It was in 2005 on a flight back from Europe to Detroit. The plane was fancy and had the screens in the back. Without any parents, I felt like a rebel and browsed around. I didn’t stay with one movie but I know it was between The Jacket and Kung Fu Hustle. I didn’t see all of the former until last year when I found a VHS copy in clearance. I still need to see the rest of Kung Fu Hustle.

Your Latest Movie-Related Obsession: Movie syncs. This is more than a hobby; it’s an excerise in film. It’s like laying down a temporary track for a film until the actual piece is scored, except with instructions. It’s a different way of experimenting with film and I encourage anyone interested in film to try it. You learn about timing, structure, and taking risks. I’m working on getting the albums for the large 2001 sync with Pink Floyd, something I really, really want to do. Right now, I recommend The Division Bambi (one I discovered all on my own and waiting to have official verification) and Star Floyd: A New Wall. For others, click the tab that says “Sync or Swim”.

ZZZ-Catchers: Name A Movie That Has Put You To Sleep!: Bringing Up Baby. I tried watching it but the breakneck speed of the dialogue put me to sleep. Same thing happens with auctioneers. It’s like some kind of strange lullaby where there are words but you can’t make them out and give up trying. I will rewatch this, preferably when I’m not so tired.

I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to try this meme out. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Top Title Sequences That Embody Finals Week

Instead of using Pandora or other services, I visit Art of the Title and have some title sequences on a loop. Since it’s finals week where I’m at, I figured I should list some of what I consider to be title sequences from movies that embody that feeling. Each entry will link you to the site where you can see the title sequence as well as a summary and article (depending on the title) on how it was made.

Lost Highway. Starting with a David Lynch film, all we see is a road. Going at a very high speed, we don’t know if we’ll be hit or what’s coming our way. Complementing that is David Bowie’s “I’m Deranged”, just one way to describe the feeling.

The Andromeda Strain. This all-electronic score buzzes with chaos. Information floats over our eyes in a similar way that we try to recall vital info for a test.

Fight Club. Our neurons are in high gear. We do all that we can to stay focused, even if it means losing sleep. I am Jack’s title sequence.

Enter the Void. WARNING: SEIZURE ALERT. The strobing and breakneck editing of the credits resembles the increased nervousness of wondering whether or not we will fail the class. The blasting music also drives you crazy.

Go. Confused? Sure, but things start to blur into each day. The simplest things get lost in the chaos. You don’t want that to happen, especially when final projects are due.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. A caffinated kick, let’s do this! We’re Sex Bob-omb and we’re here to ace tests and get good grades and stuff. One! Two! Three! Four!

Se7en. I wouldn’t end it any other way. Piercing soundtrack, bizarre split-second visuals, you’ll wish finals can just hurry up and finish.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Finals are over! It’s raining sunshine! Unless it’s winter, then whatever but still, they’re done!

The LEGO Movie. Everything is finished! That’s awesome.

My Deep-Thinking Quiet Time Mix Tape

I’m at the point where I need to take a break and just relax. When I need that, I start to listen to some favorite songs; songs that can calm me down and/or take a moment to collect myself and just be alone and be myself. Most of them can be found on YouTube so I’ll link them if it’s possible. They’re mostly instrumentals.

“A Saucerful of Secrets” Pink Floyd, Ummagumma or A Saucerful of Secrets

“La Petite Fille de la Mer” Vangelis, L’Apocalypse des animaux

“Playing with Light” Unicorn, Playing with Light

“Memories of Green” Vangelis, Blade Runner soundtrack

“Echoes” Pink Floyd, Meddle or the Gdansk performance

“Musica Ricercata No. 2” Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack

“The Oh of Pleasure” Ray Lynch, Deep Breakfast

“Cold Wind Blowing” David Lynch, The Big Dream

“Laura Palmer’s Theme” Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks soundtrack

“Jazz Suite 2 Waltz 2” Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack

“The Grid” Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack

“Fiber Bundles” Animusic 2

“Harmonic Voltage” Animusic

“Because” The Beatles, Abbey Road

“Masked Ball” Jocelyn Pook, Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack

“Touch” Daft Punk, Random Access Memories