Friday, December 23, 2011

Pick O' The Week - December 23

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad!

Christmas is upon us once again, and unfortunately I have a serious distaste for holiday movies - I am definitely not the target audience for Garry Marshall's pitiful New Year's Eve! My favourite holiday movie growing up was the equally pathetic A Very Brady Christmas (1988). Opening in wide release on Christmas Day are two films I have very little interest in seeing: Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Stephen Spielberg's War Horse. I am sure audiences will flock to see both of these tearjerkers, but I will not be one of them!

Enjoy your holidays (and I will enjoy my two weeks!) and spend time with your families!

In Theatres: Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist (review) is a masterful film. It reminds me of the great films of Hollywood's Golden Era, especially All About Eve (1950) and Billy Wilder's classic Sunset Boulevard (1950). Jean Dujardin gives a phenomenal performance and the film is sheer visual pleasure.

At Home: David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo opened in theatres on Wednesday (review pending, but I am somewhere between Roger Ebert's 3.5 star review and Peter Travers' 2.5 star review), but Niels Arden Oplev's 2009 Swedish adaptation is a far superior film. Noomi Rapace runs circles around Rooney Mara's interpretation of Lisbeth Salander. Fincher's American remake lacks the grit of its Swedish predecessor.

On TV: Recently renewed for a second season despite underwhelming ratings, HBO's Enlightened is a quirky and more-often-than-not off-putting comedy. The series was created by Laura Dern and Mike White, and stars Dern as a self-destructive woman who, after suffering a mental breakdown, returns to her former company in an attempt to get her life back together. The series takes a few episodes to get settled, but I found it was well worth the effort.

Retro Re-watch: If forced to pick a Christmas-themed film, I opt for L.A. Confidential. Curtis Hanson's brilliant 1997 noir (which outrageously lost the Oscar to Titanic) is set during the 1950s and focuses on the link between Hollywood and police corruption. The film, which begins with a Christmas Eve massacre, won Kim Bassinger an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.


  1. It entertains me greatly that New Year's Eve is getting 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. Seriously, Mission Impossible is getting 93% so you know NYE must be bad. To offset Matt's refusal to enjoy Christmas Movies I've collected a few you may enjoy below:

    The Family Stone: A family ensemble starring the incomparable Diane Keaton as the matriarch as the head of a family of misfits.

    A Charlie Brown Christmas: Surprisingly sarcastic and very interesting in the context of the time this mid-60's special is quick and enjoyable.

    The Grinch who Stole Christmas: Another short and easily consumable Christmas fable which is still far superior to all other efforts to tell this story.

    A Christmas Story: Ralphy wants a red rider BB gun for Christmas and while this film has the Dirty Dancing problem of feeling (at times) a lot more 80's than 40's, it's simple, enjoyable and still surprisingly funny.

    Special Mentions: For those of you who really hate Christmas movies, a few that take place at Christmas but basically have no holiday spirit... Gremlins, Die Hard, Siblings...

  2. Look at you high-jacking my picks of the week! I would be allowed to dislike Christmas movies without you frowning upon me! :P