Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978/ Children’s Television Workshop/ Dir. Jon Stone)

Friends, Interneters, Countrymen? Look, lend me your eyes okay? I come not to bury Big Bird, but to praise him. The good men do, may sometimes live after then, while what little evils the commited may be interred with their bones. So let it be with Big Bird. Many hath told you Henson was ambitious? If it were so, it was a magnificent joy; and Henson hath answer’d it. You all did love him once,–not without cause: what cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him? O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!–Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with Henson, and I must pause till it come back to me.

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Goyokin 1969/ Toho/ Dir. Hideo Gosha

For reasons of my own, I was watching some heist movies. I like a good heist flick, and there aren’t enough of them. There are lots of heist flicks, but only a few good ones. I had gone through the usual line-up of movies, and after I had exhausted my supply I still felt the need to go once more into the heist film vault. So what I did was examine what you need for a good heist movie. That led me to this Japanese samurai movie set in the 1800s. As opposed to a French samurai movie set in the 1460s I guess? Well, some samurai movies are set during the 1600s, that seems to be the two times we generally get. During the early days of the Tokugawa shogunate or just before the Meiji Restoration, which is the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Soooo, during the Tokugawa shogunate. You know what? Forget this part! I’ve already said shogunate way too many times.

Why do I call this a heist movie and not a samurai movie?
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The Black Cauldron (1985/ Disney/ Dir. Ted Berman & Richard Rich)

The Black Cauldron made basically no splash when it came out, much to Disney’s dismay. Also, to the dismay of people like me, who sort of wish Disney had kept up with what it was doing. If you remember, the early 80s were a period of interesting experimentation for Disney. Granted, most those experiments were box office flops, but they were at least interesting and some of them were even good. This is an example of one of those experiments that was actually sort of good. Not great, I didn’t say great, but it is good and it contains things you rarely saw at the time.

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The Christmas Orange (2002/ Bardel Entertainment/ Dir. Ian Freedman)

So here we have something so obscure that I may be the only person who actually bought the DVD. Not only am I the only owner of the DVD in America, I bought it 10 years after the product came out. And I only bought it for a few dollars, on a whim because I’d never heard of it and reviewing things that say “Christmas” on them is a thing I do. So I decided to give it a try. Given the product was only $6, given that it was a one shot for Canadian TV, and given that it was 10 years after it was first broadcast, I wasn’t expecting to find a huge amount about the cartoon. It’s based on a book, that’s what I found out. It’s not a bad product, we’ll get that out of the way for starters. I’m not sure how good it is though. Let’s examine The Christmas Orange…

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The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977/ Filmation/ Dir.Hal Sutherland)

Doing holiday specials is a tough gig. Quite often, they’re produced as a fast buck idea. Something to throw at the screen during December, and if possible, break up the McDonald’s Commercials a little. Most the specials I have seen, and I’ve seen WAY more than I should, fit into this category. Particularly existing properties, like the Smurfs or He-Man, fit this mold.

You know what? We’re not going to mention another holiday special for the rest of this review. I’m going to show my hand early and just say it. This is good. I don’t want to taint that by comparing it to something less good. If it’s really good, it should be able to stand up on its own without putting something else down. And I think this is good, and I think it goes beyond a cynical cash grab, and I think it might really be worth your while.

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The Snowman (1982/ TVC London/ Dir. Dianne Jackson)

This is a cartoon for which I have no nostalgia. I only saw it for the first time last year and was so exhausted that I fell asleep during part of it. If I can offer an untainted perspective on any holiday movie, this HAS to be it. I only bought it because it has a tremendous reputation. The fact that it came on a DVD with The Nuttiest Nutcracker had nothing to do with it. I still haven’t watched that second feature, mainly because I watched the trailer. But we’re talking about something that I’ve been told by English and Canadians is the height of their VEWPRF season. So I bought it and watched it, and now I shall write my review of that movie. How did I think it help up? You’ll have to wait and see…

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The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982/ Hanna-Barbera/ Dir. Gerald Baldwin)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. My first holiday special review in two years… it was supposed to be a momentous occasion. It should have been filled with joy, and laughter, not this. I said some time ago that I was sort of done with reviews that only amounted to complaints. I mean… look, The Avengers happened and we’re liking things because we like them again, not because we hate them and want to imagine we’re superior to them. I want you to know, I started this with the purest of intentions. Sadly The Smurfs Christmas Special did not hold up.

There is no way to properly summarize this, no way to discuss it on its merits, or play on the themes. Mostly, because I have no idea what happened. The best I can hope for is a synopsis, going down the line point by point. Maybe, together, we can reach an understanding. Just remember the mantra “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks!”

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I liked Wreck-It Ralph, let’s talk a little.

1. I thought the opening short was too good. I thought it might diminish the feature. It didn’t, but it was an utterly charming little bit of animation.

2. Going to have to buy this on DVD so I can catch all the little jokes and references they threw in.

3. “She has the most tragic backstory of all time.” That line killed.

4. They did their homework. Even if the people who worked on this are all about my age and as such are gamers from when I was gaming, they did their home work. There are a lot of gags, references, and an overall understanding of how video games work here. These guys knew what they were doing.

5. Most the jokes were funny, most the characters were interesting, most the story works really well.

6. Some of the characters move like their video game counter parts would move. They have no middle animation they just go from their hands out, to their hands raised, just like 8-bit.

7. The one human gamer we really see was a girl… BUT GIRLS DON’T GAME! my mind=blown!

Now, below there will be spoilers. (more…)

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944/Warner Bros./Dir. Frank Capra)

A little while ago, I posted a list of movies that you can watch at Halloween that aren’t horror movies. When I posted that, I “missed” one important movie. I put missed in quotes because I didn’t miss it so much as decide that I would rather do a review on it. While not a perfect movie, nor even a perfect comedy, it is enjoyable and it does work as a film. It’s one of m favorite Cary Grant performances, and that is really saying something. And hey, it takes place on Halloween!

Here’s the thing though, the best thing to do would be to go into this movie totally blind. I’m going to spoil some things about this movie, but one of the biggest spoilers is on the back of the box. For best results, don’t read anything and just go watch it. As of right now, it’s on Netflix Streaming (but who knows what tomorrow might bring, right?) so just go watch it. Seriously, don’t even bother reading this review because you should just go see it.

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Movie Review: The Adventures of Robin Hood

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The Adventures of Robin Hood/1938/ Dir. Michael Curtiz & William Keighley

Oh yes, the tights, we must always go back to the tights! Easy for a man to look tough wearing 35 pounds of rubber and latex armor, but it takes a real man to look badass in tights. Not just tights, but tights and what amounts to a velvet mini-dress. You could call it a shirt, or a jerkin, but if anyone wore it today, we’d call it a mini-dress. We’d also call it pretty hot if a girl wore something that short. Point is, TIGHTS! You’ve got to talk about the tights first thin out of the gate, because otherwise it becomes the elephant in the room. Beyond that, this is a pretty great movie. Yes, the costumes and manners make the Renaissance Festival look like Game of Thrones. Yes, it’s about as historically accurate as a Walt Disney cartoon. Yes, yes, yes I’ll agree to most the criticism… BUT! This is also the single best movie about Robin Hood, and is still the most iconic. There are only a few Robin Hood movies that are any good, and this is the best.

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