Random Factoid #502

12 12 2010

In case you haven’t been able to tell, I really like Christmas and Christmas movies.  Between my factoid on “Home Alone,” my “Elf” moviegoers challenge, and my F.I.L.M. column on “Love Actually” (and another “F.I.L.M.” tied into the holiday coming next week), there’s no shortage of Christmas spirit on this site!

So needless to say, I was a little dismayed to read this report from The Los Angeles Times:

“This year, the role of Grinch will be played by Hollywood … the release of new Christmas movies long has been as much a tradition of the season as the annual late-night TV showing of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and shoppers stampeding stores on Black Friday … but this year, there’s hardly a holiday movie in sight.

‘… The way to do a big-budget film these days is to take stories that everyone in the world knows and take them in a new direction,’ said Joe Roth, a producer and former chairman of Walt Disney Studios. ‘But no one’s come up with a fresh way to do a holiday movie, so we’re all doing it with other kinds of stories.’

It’s hardly just a creative matter. As the major studios reduce the number of films they finance, executives have been growing more selective about the types of films they make. They’re reluctant to greenlight projects that are tied to such a specific moment in time and therefore have a limited theatrical shelf life.”

In other words, don’t expect any new Christmas movies anytime soon thanks to the flop of “A Christmas Carol” and the general downward trend of holiday movies.  This really is a shame because these are the only types of movies I feel like people have loyalty to; everybody has that “Christmas movie tradition” where they have that one classic that they curl up together and watch.  If studios stop churning those out, these experiences become a relic, something only to be nostalgic about.  And I don’t want that.

Here’s my suggestion for a new entry into the genre: have James Cameron direct a CGI epic movie about the War on Christmas. Use Pandora as some sort of allegory for the fight between “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” going on in society nowadays.  Bring in blue people, the big man in the red suit, and every CEO of a retail company.  It would so be on.  Oh, and we’d need Hans Zimmer to score it.





Random Factoid #135

10 12 2009

Apparently I’m still not growing up.

I mentioned in Random Factoid #87 that for a while after turning 12, I was still able to get into movies at children’s price.

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, I went with my 9-year-old brother to see “A Christmas Carol” in IMAX.  I asked the lady at the kiosk for one student and one child ticket.  When I paid, I thought it sounded pretty cheap.  I looked down at the tickets.

She charged us for two kids.

I am 17 years old and still look under 12, apparently.  I can drive a car and see an R-rated movie, yet I can pass for a child.





REVIEW: A Christmas Carol

29 11 2009

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” gets the title “timeless” bestowed on it because every year at Christmas, some new version of his story is spawned.  Robert Zemeckis is the latest filmmaker to take a stab at the tale.  Rather than revamp, retool, or recondition the story, he simply uses modern technology to retell it in a fun way that stays true to the source material and keeps the soul intact.  His “A Christmas Carol” bottles up the real spirit of the holiday season like no recent movie and spreads it through the audience.  It really is an empowering feeling to walk out of a movie inspired to put that twenty-dollar bill in the Salvation Army bin, not in the cash register at the mall.

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge is probably the second most well-known holiday yarn, weaved into the very fabric of the holiday season itself.  We all know it: the old miser with a heart colder than the snow packed on the London sidewalks gets a wake-up call that changes him.  Prior, Scrooge scoffed at Christmas with a “bah, humbug.”  He scorned those who wanted to care for him and refused to give care to the people that need it the most.  He treats his employee like dirt and gives him wages that amount to little more than that.  But Scrooge gets a visit from three ghosts – the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – that change his perspective by reminding him of the joy that the season used to bring, the plight of those less fortunate, and the bleak future that awaits him if he doesn’t change his ways.  The result is a more tender-hearted man who appreciates Christmas and the giving spirit that accompanies it.

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Shameless Advertisement #4 – November

1 11 2009

The readers of “Marshall and the Movies” have come out in record number to tell me what movie the readership is most anticipating in November!  Give yourself a pat on the back for that.

There was a 6 way-tie for second place, ranging from indies such as “That Evening Sun,” “Precious,” and “The Road,” to mainstream fare such as “The Box,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

But, by an overwhelming margin, the movie that is most anticipated in November is…

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What To Look Forward To In … November 2009

7 10 2009

The holiday movie season begins to kick into high gear in the month of November, as does exciting Oscar season.  Accordingly, this post is longer than the previous monthly preview posts.  Brace yourself for movie mania coming your way in a few weeks.  Sit back, relax, and let Marshall guide you through the coming attractions.

November 6

From the mainstream movie perspective, the hot movie of this weekend will be Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.”  Shot with the same motion capture technology that Zemeckis used to make “The Polar Express,” the movie will cash in on premium ticket prices from 3D and IMAX 3D screenings.  My main concern about the quality of the movie itself lies with its principal actor, Jim Carrey, who will act as Scrooge and all three ghosts.  I doubt Zemeckis will permit it, but I fear that Carrey will make a mockery of Dickens’ classic novel much in the fashion of Mike Meyers with “The Cat in the Hat.”  Regardless of what critics say, I will probably end up seeing this with the family for some good old-fashioned family fun at the movies.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” is the first movie of the holiday season to which George Clooney lends his talents.  Here, he plays a a military man in charge of a secret unit that attempts to use psychic powers for military purpose.  One such activity is to attempt to kill goats just by staring at them.  The movie also stars Ewan MacGregor as the reporter who discovers it all; the cast also includes Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.  The movie is directed and adapted by Grant Heslov, previously nominated for an Academy Award for his work on “Good Night, and Good Luck.”  The trailer seems to show Heslov’s approach as similar to the Coen Brothers who usually provide a fun-filled romp.  Maybe the film will be a bona-fide indie hit, and Overture Films will be able to claim their first movie to gross over $50 million.  But we’ll have to see.

I’ve already written about the Oscar favorite, “Precious,” in a previous Oscar Moment.  I’ll post the trailer here just for the sake of promoting it, but if you want to hear my thoughts, read the post.

Two thrilling movies also open this week.  First, “The Box” with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, seems to have an intriguing premise: if you push the button on the box, you will get a million dollars, but someone you don’t know will die.  However, it looks to be more interested in cheap thrills than exploring moral issues.  The other, “The Fourth Kind,” looks downright scary.  If horror is your thing, this looks like the movie for you.  I saw the trailer at “District 9,” and even if you don’t want to see it, you have to ponder the validity of the “true story” behind the movie.

November 13

Disaster porn reaches its pinnacle this weekend.  “2012,” Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic film, will have some of the biggest destruction and explosions the world has ever seen.  The trailer was so mind-blowing that I am willing to overlook all vices in the plot to see the world’s greatest landmarks get wiped off the earth.  My only comment is that if John Cusack somehow finds a way to stop the end of the world, I will be enraged.

The other major wide release of the week is “Pirate Radio,” a movie that Focus Features so desperately wants you to see that they changed the title from “The Boat that Rocked” just a few weeks ago to appeal to you. Are you flattered? You shouldn’t be. The movie seems like comedic Oscar Bait, but it didn’t do well Britain, the country of production. Focus scrambled to change their focus from awards movie to popular movie. So whenever this pops into a theater near you, be armed with the knowledge that “Pirate Radio” is merely a washed-up Oscars wannabe. But make the decision to see it for yourself.

New York and Los Angeles get the treat of watching Wes Anderson’s adaptation Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”  I have the utmost respect for Anderson for not conforming to the growing trend to do all animation through computers.  Anderson’s film uses the stop motion technique, moving an object gradually to give the illusion that it is moving.  Even more exciting that Anderson’s eccentric style in an eccentric medium is the voice cast.  Clooney voices the titular character, the cunning Mr. Fox.  The cast also features Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray.  What’s not to like?  (NOTE: The movie expands on November 20 and enters wide release on November 25.)

For those who like very obscure indies, “That Evening Sun” with 87-year-old Oscar bridesmaid Hal Halbrook has his latest shot at the gold.

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