Woke up at 3AM Christmas Day to collect the only Christmas present I received this year (sob, sob). As someone who thinks 2015's "Inside Out" was robbed of a Best Picture Award, Pixar's SOUL (2020, Disney+) could actually earn that reward this year due to diminished competition. There are scenes/moments of pathos, smart comedy and musical appreciation that are simultaneously hilarious, crushingly sad and tears-of-joy moving. Only Pixar could get away with visualizing abstractive concepts into hilarious (Terry) or exposition-dumping likable characters (the Jerrys). Between this and the Miles Morales PlayStation 5 game this must be a banner year for the representation of African-American culture in the mainstream. I simply love "Soul" for making me forget COVID for 105 minutes without ignoring its existence. 10 out of 10, easily the best movie from 2020 I've seen.Followed "Soul" with the most mainstream and generic holiday flick imaginable, 2017's A CHRISTMAS PRINCE (Netflix). If the Film Sack podcast folks hadn't just done an episode about it I would have happily ignored its existence. That said, "Christmas Prince's" predictable brain-dead story (Aldovia prince falls in love with undercover reporter pretend-working at his palace) at least has appealing actors ("iZombie's" Rose McIver, "Star Trek: First Generation'" Alice Krige) and production valuables to make it tolerable. 'It's okay.'Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE (1990/2020, Blu-ray) has a better start than the theatrical version (which I watched on Blu-ray immediately after seeing this with the very sporadic Coppola commentary track) by introducing the church conspiracy plot sooner. Personally I prefer the way the theatrical version ends, but I can understand why Coppola wanted to end his mob saga the way he does. 95% of both versions are identical, but the net result of "Coda" is that Andy Garcia's Vincent grows in prominence and importance. Since Vincent is the highlight of the movie (if this was made today you know Paramount would have spun off Garcia's character into a separate movie/TV franchise) the net result is a slightly better "Godfather Part III." Worth seeing, but personally I'm glad Coppola is done with a franchise that belongs to cinema history.2011's REAL STEEL (Netflix) might the most entertainingly awful mainstream flick I've seen in a while. It's "Rocky" crossed with Stallone's "Over the Top" using executive producer Spielberg's "Transformers" franchise technology to power its remote controlled robotic pugilists. As with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," Hugh Jackman tries and fails (that accent!) to drag "Real Steel" across the finish line of success. As a group viewing on Facebook we had fun (right, Mac?), but the collective weight of predictable father-son melodramatic tropes and stereotyping drag it down. Maybe if the kid and robot had danced in sync a few more times, or Anthony Mackie had been in it more.Last year I watched NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) in theaters (remember those? :'( ) for the very first time. This year I finally got to watch in on the actual holiday. Got the Blu-ray because fuck AMC censoring/editing the version they show ten times per day during December. For all the slapstick and physical comedy on display (poor kitty!) it's the quiet moments in-between the mayhem (Clark watching home movies in the attic, Cousin Eddie's little girl, etc.) that stand out the most. The cast is stacked with veteran (E.G. Marshall) and then-upcoming guest talent (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) joining recurring regulars (especially Beverly D'Angelo) so comfortable in their roles they make it seem easy.
Oh, hell no. We're not done yet! :-PTackled the first three movies in Shout!/Scream Factory's THE OMEN COLLECTION: DELUXE EDITION (Blu-ray, 1976-2006). I've seen Richard Donner's original "Omen" (1976) plenty of times, but seeing it again in a 4K remastered print was eye-opening. David Seltzer's story (which the "Final Destination" movies liberally stole from), Jerry Goldsmith's iconic (and Oscar winning??!!) chant-heavy score, a cast of veteran pros (Remick, Peck, Troughton, Warner, etc.) and a then-young director with the right instincts ('don't smile, Damien') all combine to make this an unlikely mainstream horror success story. I thought "Damien: Omen II" (1978) was the weakest of the original trilogy, but this viewing just raised its profile. A lot of the confusing corporate subplot pays off in the third movie, but young teenage Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) coming to terms with who he is and what powers he has is gripping. William Holden/Lee Grant are no Gregory Peck/Lee Remick, but they hold their own alongside a decent supporting cast (baby-faced Lance Henriksen, Lew Ayers, etc.). And the deaths here are as/more disturbing in context as the prequel's (that elevator!). An above-average building-blocks-for-third-chapter sequel.The Final Conflict, aka Omen III (1981), used to be my favorite, but ironically has dated worse than its predecessor. It takes itself so seriously it forgets to have fun with its horror tropes. Young Sam Neil commands the screen, but every other actor with him behaves as if English is their second language. Only Jerry Goldsmith's score has improved, ditching the histrionic vocals for more delicate and/or majestic string work. Underwhelming.Worth highlighting among the bonus features are commentary tracks by historian Scott Michael Bosco for each of the first three "Omen" flicks. Rather than simply rehash old and known production anecdotes, the man tackles the concepts of the films from a philosophical/religious perspective. It borders on sailing above most listeners' head space, but I appreciate a commentary that assumes I'm intelligent enough to keep up.Bosco's opinions about Donner made me curious enough to rewatch SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) with the Friends In Your Head/Down in Front commentary track. I'm not emotionally attached to it but this remains the "Lawrence of Arabia" of superhero movies, an audience-pleasing blockbuster back when they were writing the opening paragraphs of how to make blockbusters. And this one just happens to have John Williams dropping music science in every other scene.Rewatched SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984, DVD) and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT PART 2 (1987, DVD) with, respectively, the Forever Cinematic and Jaboody Show commentary tracks. Eric Freeman's, uh... "intensely focused" performance is the highlight of these 1.5 movies. Despite the sleaze factor it's all a bunch of silly horror movie nonsense that entertains despite itself. "Garbage day," indeed.Rewatched UNFORGIVEN (1992, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray). Unless you've seen all or most of the westerns Clint Eastwood did prior to '92 the impact of this movie turning a critical eye toward the 'Man With No Name' tropes the star helped popularized will be missed. It even has a Greek Choir-type character (Saul Rubinek's Beauchamp) to invoke audience's concerns, and the most important absent-from-screen lead character (Bill Munny's dead wife) since Hitchcock's "Rebecca." An underrated classic. Merry Xmas everybody! :-)
The Good: Soul. Great movie. Hits a lot of the same beats as Inside Out another Pete Docter flick. One of the best films this year IMO. Also, loved the New York Knicks joke.The Bad: Boss Level. Cool idea. Groundhog Day as an action movie. Didn't work for me. The film's tone is very uneven, probably should have edited the kid subplot out of it. Didn't like Frank Grillo as the lead, it needed someone like a Ryan Reynolds. The Ugly: Wonder Woman 84. The only DCEU film I liked was WW. Holy s*it is WW84 terrible. I see why WB was moving this film around before the pandemic, they knew they had a dog on their hands. The film needed someone to edit it down & the script needed a doctor, stat. It does not need to be 151 mins. I was bored. I'm down for a romantic superhero flick but this isn't it. The villain was lame and basically becomes the Wishmaster, lol. Cast Andrew Divoff if you are making the big bad a djinn. Gal Gadot is a bad actress, Wiig's role is wasted, how Steve Trevor is brought back is laughable. A lot of the CGI was bad, so bad it took me out of the movie. A massive disappointment for me.
Mm, I had the same feeling about WW and the DCEU. And at the time I felt like there were a billion superhero movies coming out and none of them were women, so I was happy about WW. But a lot has already changed culturally since 2017. I'm not even sure I want to watch WW operating in the DCEU (or Marvel), which, IMO, are super male and black and white and boring worlds anymore.
WILD RIVER (1960)So a river in Tennessee keeps flooding and killing people and they want to build a dam to tame it so it will stop killing people and they can do some alternative-energy things but this ONE old woman won't sell her land to the government and move so they can do this whole dam thing. There's a whole race issue underlying the situation as well. Uh...yea. This movie could have just come out this year. 60 years later, same issues. The old woman even tried to slyly compare herself to a slave, who had the right to be free. Oof.You know what really surprised me this year? To find out that like very alternative right groups are anti-people of certain ethnicities, but also Hollywood - "the Hollywood elite". I was bewildered. Do these people not enjoy movies and television? I thought all the USA did? Did they never like Doris Day or Rock Hudson or Marilyn Monroe? So it got me wondering, something I've kinda wondered about since I dated a conservative guy from Texas not too many years ago...I wonder what people from the South think of these portrayals of themselves. I LOVE these old movies. The epic movie GIANT (1956) in particular, about Liz Taylor teaching her old school Texas rancher husband (Rock Hudson) tolerance. And HUD (1963) with Paul Newman is a bit similar in its messaging. Moralizing about things in the south. So what do pepole from the South think about these movies? lol. Bc they sure are painted in a certain light by them. I never considered how biased "the classics" may be.
Doing another Horror All Nighter tonight with my friend Will.PRE-SHOW SHORTS:The Spirit of Dark and Lonely WaterAshes of Doom (1970)Possibly in MichiganKitchen SinkFEATURES:Dial Code Santa (Trailers: Christmas Evil; Don't Open Till Christmas)Massacre at Central High (Trailers: Class of 1984; Hello Mary Lou)Pale Blood (Trailers: Blood For Dracula; Thirst (1979))Twisted Nerve (Trailers: Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker; Bad Ronald)Deadly Eyes (Trailers: Of Unknown Origin; Graveyard Shift)Evilspeak (Trailers: 976 Evil; Brainscan)I haven't seen any of these, so it should be interesting.
How did the horror all-nighter go Marcus? :-)
Haven't posted in a few weeks (months?) but haven't seen much either, mostly TV, but I saw a few films this week.A Christmas Carol (1951): I enjoyed it, main actor was good, although I don't really buy a rich asshole who thinks the poor should be dead/imprisoned could have a true change of heart so suddenly, although perhaps it was Dicken's point that a rich pos could literally only have this change of heart through supernatural events; well played. TENET: Was expecting to not like this considering I used to like Nolan a lot but ended up disappointed with Interstellar and Dunkirk, and his general vibe has grown thin on me, but ended up enjoying it quite a bit, although I almost wish he literally completely abandoned the character's having a motivation because the woman constantly mentioning her son was a bit awful to me. I just enjoyed the main dude and Pattinson is always cool as heck, hated the villain (in the intended way) and the action was fun. I agree with Patrick on the last podcast that I'm not totally sure the logic/events entirely check out/become a closed loop but I also could barely follow who was doing what, why, and for whom, so I'm just stupid and whether or not it completely checked out to me is practically irrelevant. I'm almost a bit disappointed I enjoyed it because I was looking forward to complaining about it to some friends, but alas.The lemon drop kid: I mean idk, its old and fine, not really my thing (nothing against old movies, this type of comedy just isn't something I really feel like watching normally). Unless it has like, Cary Grant.Let is Snow (2019): Just an enjoyable fluff movie, watched for Kiernan Shipka.All about Nina: Watched for Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who I thought was honestly great and I feel she is underrated as an actress. It can be pretty dark but I enjoyed it quite a bit, and it emotionally affected me. I realized she's in more movies I like than perhaps any other actress. I know she's popular bc scott pilgrim but this was Margot Robbie in I Tonya level good.MANK (2020): Almost forgot about this one. I had basically no idea what the film was actually about from the trailer, and ended up really liking it. It looked beautiful (although I don't think it really looked just like an older film if that was the intent, which it seemed to be given the burn, but wtv). The idea of this dude writing a screenplay against someone with a monopoly on so much media was compelling to me, whether or not he really wrote it or Orson Welles, I don't really care. I should say I barely remember Citizen Kane, except for the ending, so perhaps the fact that I still really enjoyed the movie speaks to it's strength. I wasn't expecting it to be so political and really enjoyed that stuff. I have a lot of run on sentences and poor writing here, so apologies.
Scrooge got lucky.
I caved in and danced the Christmas movie tango this week: NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, DIE HARD, MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, and GREMLINS. All old favorites. CHIRSTMAS CHRONICLES PART 2 (2020), on the other hand, was a big disappointment. I thought the first one was a terrific comedy, so I don't understand why the sequel has to be a fantasy action-adventure movie. I normally love me some fantasy adventure, but this is all chases and escapes and needlessly complicated world-building with no fun to be had. HAPPIEST SEASON (2020) It's... fine. A cast of great actors elevate what is another generic Christmas TV-movie script. I doubt this will be a watch-it-every-year for me, but I did enjoy it. REAL STEEL (2011) A real oddity that tries to combine robot boxing with heartfelt father/son drama. I'm not sure it entirely works, but I appreciate how genuine it is, never once winking at the camera or undercutting emotional moments with a sarcastic quip. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018) What's up, danger?
Is the Spider-Verse where Spidey and his movie is going after leaving Netflix streaming? It hasn't appeared in any other streamer's schedule, and Sony ain't about to put this cash cow on itsy bitsy Crackle.
It's not on Disney+?
I have the Blu-ray.
"Into the Spider-Verse" is a Sony non-MCU flick. No reason for it to be on a Disney exclusive streamer. 😑🎈