vrijdag 13 december 2013

Christmas movies - Whedonverse

As I am a major Joss Whedon fan, of course I love it when my favorite actors pop up in movies during the Holidays. Lucky for me, they apparently love it too. Because I found a whole lot of them! I haven't seen all of them, but here they are:

Help for the Holidays (2012) with Summer Glau 
The little boy Will wishes Christmas spirit back into his family. His mother, Sara, is a busy woman with a Christmas shop, but no seasonal spirit and his dad Scott has lost that feeling too. Older sister Ally sees no point in it either. So Santa sends Christine, one of his elfs who wonders if there could be more to life than making toys in the North Pole, to the family as a nanny for the children. She must go to the real world and help them get the Christmas spirit back.

Why watch it? Summer Glau is enchanting as an elf. We are all thinking it right? She is the perfect elf! In a lot of kids movies, the children are basically annoying, but this isn't the case here. Of course love is involved and a little bit of family drama about neglecting the children, but this movie is full of magic and the story is actually a lot of fun. Sidenote: Don't you just love Hallmark? You can watch it in full:

A Golden Christmas (2009) with Nicholas Brendon
Another Hallmark movie is A Golden Christmas. Andrea Roth plays Jessica, a federal lawyer and single mother, who returns to her parents for the Holidays. Once here, she finds out that her parents are selling their beloved family home to new guy Michael (Nicholas Brendon!). She does not agree and will do everthing in her power to stop it from happening. As it turns out, they both know each other from way back when they were children... But they can't seem to remember it.

Why watch it? Well, it's Nicky. Nuff said! Just in case you want some more: Andrea may come off a little fake, but Nicholas is great in this adult single father role. The story is predictable, yes, but it's also sweet. Maybe sweet enough to give you a toothache but that depends on what kind of Christmas movies you like. It's funny, but also simple. Oh, and there's a really cute dog too!

Dear Santa (2011) with Amy Acker
Rich and spoiled 24-year old Crystal (Amy Acker) is being cut off by her parents: She has to find a job or a man. So faith lends a helping hand. A letter to Santa comes across her path and she reads it. In this letter Olivia asks Santa to send her father (David Hadyn-Jones) a new wife for Christmas. Crystal sees this as a sign and starts to look him up. Once in his life, it turns out that father Derek had the same idea... with ex- but now once again -girlfriend Jilian (Gina Golden).

Why watch it? Amy Acker is a bit to convincing in her role as spoiled rich kid/woman, but it's part of the role and luckily that doesn't last very long. It only takes about a couple of minutes to get into the movie and it's very enjoyable. Sure, it's a romantic comedy, so it's very predictable, but this movie is filled with nice characters and the story isn't half bad either. Amy Acker is sweet and David Hadyn-Jones is one of those people every girls falls for because he has an amazing heart. This movie also pays attention to homeless people, which gives it an extra layer. It reminds the audience that not everybody is always lucky enough to spend it in a warm house with their family.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle with Jewel Staite
Just like Mrs. Miracle, this movie is a romantic comedy with children, a love story and personal lives. This movie takes place in New York City where Mrs. 'Merkle' starts working as a saleswoman in a departmant store that is owned by the family Finley. Jake Finley and his father work together: Jake is responsible for the toy department. He conveniently comes across Holly, a beautiful assistant to fashion designer Gloria who dreams of becoming one herself. She's also the legal guardian of her nephew Gabe. He is her first priority and she feels she has no time for anything else. But even though Jake respects her choice, he will not let this wonderful person go without trying.

Why watch it? This movie is not as great as Mrs. Miracle, I have to admit. But Jewel Staite is wonderful, so is Eric Johnson. It feels like the story is a bit rushed at times, but it's got everything that you can find in Mrs. Miracle. It's about love, giving, family and well...toys. Classic toys like trains and board games, instead of all the technical stuff you see everywhere nowadays. My only 'downpoint' about the movie is Holly's boss Gloria. She is overly dramatic (just as her character should be) but it really gets on my nerves and makes it less enjoyable to watch the movie. What this movie adds is attention to children who's parents are in the military and have to spend Christmas with out them. Instead of focusing mostly on family matters and love, this movie also focuses on work related issues. It's a nice addition to the Mrs. Miracle series, and definitely worth a watch.

A Christmas Kiss (2011) with Elisabeth Röhm
Wendy is an aspiring designer, but for now she's assistant to slave worker Priscilla (Elisabeth Röhm). All she wants is to impress her and make her dreams come true. Then she meets Adam in an elevator and when the elevator falls down, they kiss. Later it turns out Adam is Priscilla's boyfriend/fiancee. Adam and Wendy grow closer as the holidays approach, because she has to make sure the engagement goes forward as planned. 

Why watch it? It's funny and cute. It's nice to see Röhm in an 'evil' role, not to mention eye candy Brendan Fehr. Though it's kinda weird to see Fehr so businessy, and good to see him warm up as the movie progresses. Storywise it's amazing that it's set against the Nutcracker, which - of course - is the theater piece for Christmas, as well as the Christmas Carol for a party. Other than that it's one of those inspiring stories for young starters who are trying to make a career and need to stand up to a fierce boss. And the dynamic between the roommates is amazingly funny. Who doesn't love that? Watch it yourself (in parts).

Christmas is Ruined (short 8 minutes) with Tom Lenk
It's a funny take on a missing Santa Claus where an elf is being interrogated because the workshop has been burned down. It takes place in the interogation room of a police department where tension is running high.
Note: It's a Funny or Die video, w
atch it yourself:  http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/08bb57123f/christmas-is-ruined

Why watch it? It's ridiculously funny! Tom is an amazing elf and his responses to the interogation is very creative. The ending is both scary as brilliant. It's just an awesome take on a Christmas story.

P.S. I Love You with James Marsters
A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her ten messages to help her ease the pain and start a new life. Every now and then she gets a letter telling her to do something or remeniscing. It also takes her to Ireland, where her husband was from, leading her to visit her in-laws. But how it's possible for her to receive these letters, remains a mystery.

Why watch it? Technically this isn't a Christmas movie. But the song 'Fairytale in New York' is played during Gerry's funeral, which is a Christmas song. And Hilary Swank singing along with 'The Man That Got Away' by Judy Garland also reminds me of Christmas, because watching old classics/musicals feels like a Christmas holidays thing to do. Other than that P.S. I Love You is just a wonderful story, right to the tearjerking moments, with amazing actors. You should have at least seen it once in your life.

A Christmas Wish (2011) with Kristy Swanson
Martha Evans' husband left her, not long before Christmas. He took all of their cash, left her homeless and with two daughters and a stepson. She leaves the town, hoping to find work along the way. After a long while on the road, she ends up in a small town and finds a job at a rural diner (formarly known for its home-made root beer). But with bills piling up, a broken down car and the danger of being kicked out of the motel she's staying in, Christmas isn't looking to cheery. 

Why watch it? First of all, I know that for a lot of fans Kristy Swanson isn't really Whedony. But she did play the first Buffy, so that's why she made the list. The movie is lovely and full of drama about someone who lost everything right before Christmas: The time to spend with your family. But they make the best of it, with a little help from their newly found friends. Even though the story might seem a bit rushed (people she's only just met going all out for her) it's the perfect Christmas spirit for those who need it. It also has a great guest appearance from Edward Herrman.
Still have to watch a couple of them though, like:

Anne Karenina (2012) with Olivia Williams
It's a story by Leo Tolstoy about the aristocrat Anna Karenina, who enters into a life-changing afair with the charming Count Vronsky. Set in the late 19th century Russia high society. 

Why do I want to watch it? Because I have read the most amazing reviews. I love literature and Keira Knightley is amazing in these movies (just think Pride and Prejudice). Of course I will love the fact that Olivia Williams plays in it, but I am mostly looking forward to seeing how director Joe Wright made the sets and a real theatrical stage thing happen. I'm so curious, I cannot wait! I don't really know if it's a Christmas movie, but it's in Russia and the trailer has shown me a lot of snow, so I'm thinking it's good for the Holidays. 

Ordinary People (1980) with Adam Baldwin
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationship among the bitter mother, the good natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

Why do I wanna watch it? Honestly, I would just like to see more of this young cute face of Adam Baldwin. When I watch the trailer it all seems very heavy and dramatic, not at all a Christmas movie. So I still have my doubts.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) with Neil Patrick Harris 
Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold and Kumar cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree.

Why do I wanna watch it? I've never seen any Harold & Kumar movie, but the trailer seems hilarious! A little bit too much shouting for my taste, but funny none the less. Full of Christmas scenery and amazing actors. It's got Neil Patrick Harris AS Neil Patrick Harris and he sings 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'. You gotta love that!

Holiday Wishes (2006) with Amber Benson 
Britney, a rich and spoiled child, and Rachel, an orphan,  switch bodies after a visit to their High School party... With a little help from a stranger. Each girl wakes up as the other. While Rachel teaches Britney's unloving family the true meaning of Christmas (with some intervention of professional party planner Danni), Britney learns that giving is better than getting.

Why do I wanna watch it? Well, it sounds like Freaky Friday at Christmas, which makes it very predictable. But I love, love, love Amber Benson - who plays Danni - and I think she might the person to make this movie work.

Michelle Trachtenberg
Michelle is in a couple of movies that you can enjoy during the Holidays. I've seen two of them, but I decided to put them all together. Here they are:

- Christmas in My Hometown
- Richie Rich's Christmas Wish
- Black Christmas
- Ice Princess (Not really a Christmas movie, but still a little bit appropriate: )

I know I planned to do this list last year, but I simply didn't have the time. It's all done now though! That's all the ones I came up with/could find, so take your pick to make it a Whedony Christmas guys. Oh, and feel free to let me know what you think ;-). 

(on the right from top to bottom: Call Me Mrs Miracle
A Golden Christmas and Dear Santa)

zaterdag 7 december 2013

Christmas movies - Children

Yes, I'm back! With a whole lot of Christmas movies to spend the holidays with. Sure, it's only just december, but it's never too early to start watching Christmas movies when it's getting colder and colder outside and you simply wanna snuggle up and drink hot cocoa. Last year I talked about Romance, Classics and Drama, but now I'd like to start with children's movies. They have the most wonderful stories, filled with magic and beautiful sets. So here we go: 

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)If you don't know the story, let me give it to you short: Seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge has no compassion, kindness or charity and hates Christmas. He doesn't do gifts or parties, except for giving his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay. That night when Scrooge goes home, he's visited and warned by the ghost of Marley that three spirits will visit him that night: To stop him from having the same afterlife as Marley the spirits will confront him with the choices he made in life in the hope of turning his life around. There are a lot of movie adaptations of this story, including this one with Mickey and his friends. In this version of course it's none other than Scrooge McDuck who plays Scrooge and Mickey as Bob Cratchit.

Why watch it? It's the Charles Dickens story! But now with all the characters we grew up loving: Mickey Mouse and his friends. It's the first version of the classic I ever watched and I'll always remember it. It's a very short movie, but ever so lovely. Once again all the characters are integrated perfectly and it's one of my faves. You gotta love them all singing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'. Seriously: You have to see it at least once in your life! It's now available on Daily Motion ;-).

Home Alone 1  & 2: Lost in New York (1990 & 1992)
The youngest of a family, Kevin, get's in trouble the night before the family leaves for the Christmas holidays. He's sent to the attic to sleep by himself and when everybody oversleeps, he's forgotten. At first it's the best time ever for Kevin, but then he finds out that two burglers are planning to rob his house and he'll need to come up with a plan to stop them.

One year later, Kevin isn't forgotten but he looses his family at the airport and gets on the wrong plane. Only to end up... in New York! With his dads credit card in his bag he checks in to the Plaza and has the best time on his own. Who needs family anyway? But what do you know?? Two bandits escaped out of jail, and they are none other than Harry and Marv: The burglers Kevin helped put a way a year before. When they spot Kevin, all by his lonesome, it's time for payback!

Why watch them? Well, for one it's written by John Hughes. Need I say more? I'll say a little more: It's got the most perfect songs and soundtrack, insane characters and perfect jokes. Macauley Culkin is perfect as Kevin and super cute as well, while Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are epic as the villains. They takes celebrating Christmas to a whole new level, filled with the dream that some children might have of what to do when they were actually on their own. It's got snow, family, love, Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, Santa's, choirs, you name it. Even after all these years it remains a joy to watch! And that goes for both movies.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Here Dickens is again! Like I said, there are many adaptations/version of this story. This is the Muppet version of Charles Dickens' story, where Kermit is Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine plays Scrooge. "Bah, humbug!"

Why watch it? A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a classic. So you can't not watch a version at Christmas. There are way too many of them of course, but this one is awesome. Hello: MUPPETS!!! It's wonderful to see all the know characters and how they integrated them into the story, along with the songs. It's truly amazing and a joy to watch.

Look Who's Talking Now (1993)
The second one in a row of three movies (Look Who's Talking and Look Who's Talking Too are the other ones) this movie centers on a family Ubriacco: James and Mollie with children Mikey and Julie. Mollie is a top accountant at her firm, but because her salary is so high, she's suddenly laid off. In the meantime James is hardly at home because of his job: as private air pilot for Samantha d'Bonne, who has a crush on him. The movie also adds two dogs: While in the previous movies the baby's were voiced in a voice over, in this movie it's the two dogs (since the children are old enough to speak).

Why watch it? It balances the adult and child story very well: there's the dogs for the children, while having to be unemployed and ending up as an elf is something more for grown ups. While child actors can be annoying from time to time, Look Who's Talking Now has the wonderful David Gallagher who's always a joy to watch. In the main leads you've got John Travolta and Kristie Alley who's chemistry is amazing. So in short: it's a lovely movie, with cute dogs, sweet kids, nice jokes and a good storyline.

Miracle on 34th Street

When the Cole´s Santa Clause gets drunk before taking part in the Thanksgiving parade, Dorey Walker (Elizabeth Perkins) - Cole's director of special events - fires him and needs to find a replacement immediatly. She spots an old man (Richard Attenborough) and begs him to take over. This man, Kris Kringle, does so well that he's hired as Cole's main Santa for the holiday period. All the children in New York begin to believe that he's the real deal, except Dorey's six year old daughter Susan (Mara Wilson). Then one night he's arrested for supposedly assaulting a man on the street and the case is taken into court.
Based on the original movie from 1947 with the same title.

Why watch it? Once again there's a story about children not believing and it's set in a very relatable environment. It's a long road to Christmas and to believing, but this movie has it all. A wonderful and touching story, sweet children, a jolly Santa, romance, drama and humor. It also plays well into the consumerism that surrounds the holidays these days. And of course the discourse about adults believing and why they would do so.

Anastasia (1997)
When the revolution in Russia ensued
(1916), many members of the royal family didn't survive. Grandmother Marie and granddaughter Anastasia were able to escape, but soon lost each other outside of the walls of the palace. Ten years later, in 1926, Russia is under communist rule and the grandmother, now in Paris, is still looking for her granddaughter. Whoever brings them together again, will get ten million rubles. Two russian men, Dimitri and Vladimir, will do anything to collect that award and soon meet Anya. An orphan who lost her memory (and is in fact the real Anastasia). The only thing she has of her past is the necklace with the words 'Together in Paris'. In a deserted palace she finds Dimitri and Vladimir, who are struck with her resemblance and decide to take her with them to Paris. But all isn't as simple as it is. Because Rasputin. the one who cursed Anastasia's family and caused the revolution, still wishes to kill her and destroy the Romanov line.

Why watch it? I love this movie so much, ever since childhood. And I watch it every year. Though it technically isn't a Christmas movie it starts in Russia and there's a lot of snow. Anastasia has some beautiful songs,there's a lovely romance, a rich history, great characters and a sweet story with adorable animals like Pooka and Bartok.
(Credits song, I seriously love it!)

The Grinch aka How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Dr. Suess stories always do well around Christmas and holidays. Jim Carrey took on the role of the Grinch in Whoville, the city where everyone celebrates Christmas with much happines and joy except for Grinch. He despises Christmas and the Whos and they don't care for him either. Cindy Lou, an 8 year old girl, meets him one day and wants to find out the true meaning of Christmas as well as Grinch's story.

Why watch it? I guess for everyone who read the books, it's a classic. For me it's just a funny story with an hilarious Jim Carrey as The Grinch as an evil, but also misunderstood creature. He's got the cutest dog, it's a lovely children's story with lovely songs ('Where are you Christmas?') and it's full of Christmas spirit.

The Santa Clause (1, 2,3) (1994, 2002, 2006)
Tim Allen is Scott C alvin/Santa Claus... or better yet: Will become Santa Claus. A divorced man who lives for his work (as an advertising executive for a toy company) and has a soon but is mostly neglecting his fatherly duties. When he accidentaly causes Santa to fall of his roof and to his death on Christmas Eve, he needs to take over for the sake of the world. He will then go on a journey and some major phyical changes to become Santa Clause, to learn more about himself, his son and family values.

2: The Mrs. Clause: Eight years have gone by since Scott Calvin first took up the Santa Claus suit. Now he couldn't be happier and he's at the top of his game, until Bernard and Curtis - the head elf and the Keeper of the Handbook of Christmas - break the news about another clause: The Mrs Clause. Which states that only a married man can become Santa. Now it's up to Santa Clause/Scott Calvin to find a bride. But there's a more personal issue as well: Scott's 16 year old son, Charlie, is on the naughty list.

3: The Escape Clause: While Santa Claus is having his entire family over to the North Pole - without them finding out he's Santa Claus and making them believe he's a toy maker in Canada - Jack Frost is reaking havoc. The Escape Clause gets invoked, going back to the moment where Scott Calvin became Santa so Frost can take his place. Back to his old toy advertising self again, Scott has to find a way to make everything right again.

Why watch it? It's nice to watch a trilogy sometimes, even if the first one is still the best out of  three. They are funny, always deal with the cutest children en show a magical wonderland of Santa's workshop. The elves are wonderful and Tim Allen makes one convincing Santa. All of the questions (how does Santa enter when there's no fireplace? etc.) are creatively answered and that's just one of the many joys of watching. Of course there's more beneath the story about Calvin rediscovering what it means to be a good dad for his son, who's overjoyed.

The Polar Express (2004)
In the late 1950's - on Christmas Eve -  a young boy questions his belief in Santa Clause. He hears a sound outside and while investigating, finds that it's a steam-powered passenger train named 'The Polar Express' which is headed to the North Pole. With some hesitation he jumps on at the last minute. There he meets other children and many different people on his way, with whom he has many adventures while on the train.

Why watch it? The Polar Express is the first all-digital capture film and it looks amazing!! Then there's Tom Hanks who plays six distinct roles, which is a joy to watch. But what you really like about a Christmas movie is the story and this movie is the perfect example. It's a touching story about a boy who doesn't believe, just like so many children at that age set again all of those who do. You've got the winter wonderland, filled with snow and a whole lot of magic (so to speak).

Take a look at this link to view some of them: