Day 21 – Lost Christmas (2011)

Yesterday I was in bed ill so I didn’t watch a film, I am still going to catch up and watch 24 films over the days of Advents

Today’s film is has a complex plot so bare with me as I try to explain it.
It starts on Christmas Eve last year and Goose gets a dog as his Christmas present. However instead of taking him for a walk, his dad has to go into work and because Goose hides his keys his mum drives him and they get hit by a car. It’s then a year later and Goose is still living in the same house with his Nan, stealing and selling them on to his ‘uncle’ Frank. They both meet ‘Anthony’ who isn’t doesn’t think that’s his name, he doesn’t know who he is but is full of useless information. Anthony has a skill, if he touches you he can ‘see’ and then find what you lost. It starts when he touches a woman who has a lost a bangle and he discovers that Goose stole it, then he touches Frank who is looking for a 1st edition book that is worth £40000 because he thinks it will cause his ex-wife to respect him again. While looking to get the book back he find a lost letter for Dr Clarence who picked up the book when Frank left it in the pub. After that while trying to return the bangle so Anthony will find his dog for him, Goose runs into the mother of the child that his father was going to save before he died. Goose tells the woman that he believes that if he hadn’t hidden his father’s keys he wouldn’t have died and then he would have saved the little girl. Eventually he goes returns to the old woman’s house to return the bangle and he touches Anthony’s hand and we learn that Anthony is an older version of Goose who grew up in jail and once he was out he lived on the street as a street performer and stealing when needed, on Christmas Eve in the future he give his coat to a man called Anthony who is out on the streets for the first time.  This means that Anthony is the only one to stay alive that night as he is the only one who is warm enough to last through the night and Richard (the older Goose) is sent back to get a second chance. Goose wakes up on last year’s Christmas eve and gives his dad the car keys which means that both his parents live and Millie is rescued.

Although it’s a complex story line it is very well written and the different characters and their lost things are really well intermingled. Which makes what could be a film that’s difficult to watch, easy to follow. So well done to the writers and the producers.

The only problem I have with this is the acting of Goose and the mum of the little girl. All the others are really good (and I’ve met Eddie Izzard and Jason Flemyng) but because they are so good it means that these two weaker actors are more obviously weaker. Eddie Izzard obviously plays the part of street performer well, because that’s what he used to do but he plays the role of someone who doesn’t know who he is in a very believable way, you are able to understand that he is a lost character who has this ability to find others lost things and who doesn’t understand it. Jason Flemyng plays the role of a man whose best friend died which caused him to lose everything.

I feel like I’ve not given this a good enough review, and like I’ve let it down with only a few comments but the strength of this film is the story and the fact that they’ve got good actors is just a bonus. Even without the standard of acting that they got it would still be a good film and makes me cry almost every time I watch it.

 

Favourite Moment: When it all comes together in the end, as I’ve previously established I’m a soppy git when it comes to these thing.

Best Bit of Acting: Eddie Izzard at the end when you discover where he came from and what happened to him in his life.

 

See you tomorrow (I’ll do two tomorrow instead of today because I’ve got Strictly to watch and family stuff to do – main decorating the Christmas Tree)

Rea

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Day 19 – The Holiday (2006) 12a

Another day closer to Christmas, I’ve wrapped all my presents and they are under the tree. The only thing left is to actually decorate the tree, which I’ll probably do tomorrow.

Today I watched the Holiday, it’s a chic-flick that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a romance film. Amanda and Iris are both bored of their lives and decide to swap houses for the week in the lead up till Christmas. Iris moves to LA and finds a friend in old Hollywood writer Arthur Abbot and Miles while Amanda spends the week in Surrey and gets together with Iris’s brother – Graham. And that’s really all there is to say about it, things happen but only around the central concept of Amanda and Graham falling for each other as well as Iris getting over her ex-Jasper and falling for Miles while Miles discovers that his girlfriend is cheating on him.

That’s not to say this is a bad film, it’s not it’s just very obvious and doesn’t deny itself. There’s no depth to it, no hidden meanings. It’s just for girls to sit and watch with chocolate and ice cream and to enjoy watching with friends.

But it’s well written, the Amanda is the only character that doesn’t feel real or well rounded, although you can see that they tried to give it to her with the story about how she has never cried since her father walked out when she was 15. And I’m sure there is more to Miles than we ever find out, but I’m pretty sure I’m saying that because of the acting and not the story. This may simply be a romantic chic-flick but the actors are still putting effort into it and I think this is why it is watchable, if Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black and Cameron Diaz didn’t try I would despair at this film due to its simplicity. But they didn’t and therefore I find myself enjoying it as well as watching it every couple of months when I want to watch something but I don’t want to use any brain power at all.

 

Favourite Moment – Anything with Arthur in

Best bit of Acting – Kate Winslet when she’s realised that she’s over Jasper and is telling him so.

 

See you tomorrow for a film with a bit more plot.

Rea

Day 18 – It’s a Very Merry Muppet Movie (2002) U

It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights, it’s time to meet the Muppets.

I love this film! It starts with Daniel deciding to go see The Boss, about Kermit needing help. The Muppets are told that the previous owner of their bank died leaving his wife in charge and she’s demanding that they give back the money they owe by midnight on Christmas Eve. Kermit works out that they can afford this after doing one show by cutting their salary, for around a year. Something that the other Muppets are not happy about but eventually agree on. However Mrs Bitterman changes the contract so they have till 6pm instead of 12. Fozzie runs to the bank to get it in on time however after being chased by Steve Irwin, the village from the film ‘How the Scrooge stole Christmas’ and bumping into a Santa from the Salvation Army, the bag of money is swapped for a bag of clothes and Mrs Bitterman wins the rights to the Muppet Theatre. Kermit decides the world would be better if he had never been born and The Boss sends Daniel down to earth to deal with it. In the world without Kermit, Mrs Bitterman has taken over the area and all the Muppets are in serious trouble. After singing a song Kermit decides he wants to go back home and although he is going to lose the theatre he’s happy because he still has his friends. Then Pepe comes in and says that he used his money, that he earned for working for Mrs Bitterman, to make the Muppet Theatre a historical landmark and so she walks out in disgust letting them keep the theatre and it turns out that the Salvation Army ended up with all the money.

 

This is an awesome film, it’s a parody of the film ‘It’s a wonderful life’ (Day 3) and that’s something that can’t be denied, in fact when watching ‘It’s a wonderful Life’ I kept comparing the two because I knew this one first. But in the contrast to the original which is depressing until the very end, this one is happy although everything is starting to go wrong. This is a Muppet’s film and made for children, so it needs to be happier although watching it back today I was aware of the darker moments.
Fozzie is chased by a hunter, wanting to sedate him and lock him up. That’s not a good thing. If he’s caught he’s not coming back, I love Fozzie bear and his stupid jokes that are somehow still funny. Wacka-wacka
And then he gets chased by stupid people rhyiming, because he accidently got painted green and looks like the Grinch. Again these people are going to kill him!
And finally to get into Mrs Bitterman’s office he has to run through lasers and then he doesn’t have the money after all. And he needs a hug and he doesn’t get one because Kermit shouts at him.

The world in which Kermit doesn’t exist seems like too big of a change, once Daniel takes Kermit to the right world and not into Star Wars. However then you remember what the Muppets mean to the world and what Kermit has done it doesn’t seem that unreasonable.  Without the Muppets together and because of what happened in previous Muppet films the world would be a sadder place and people like Mrs Bitterman would have more rule over the world. With Fozzie as a pickpocket on the streets, Rizzo is the fear in the TV show ‘face your fear’ and one of the challenges is to eat him, Scooter is dancing in a cage in ‘Club Dot’ which was the Muppet’s theatre, Miss Piggy is a phone physic cat woman crying herself to sleep every night, Gonzo is homeless on the street singing and somehow Beaker is buff and a bodyguard.
That’s not good, the Muppets should be happy people reminding you why you should love life and seeing them in that state is a powerful message. And well put together with a nice song at the end as well. “Everyone matters.”

The opening scene is a good one as well, it sets up The Boss to be an amazingly powerful and scary person and then Daniel lands in a field with a giant dragonfly and it’s Whoopi Goldberg deciding that she’s made the insect too big and that she knows the loopholes in the universe which means that you can have a Coffee Shrub. Not a bush, a Shrub!

I tried to find something to criticise I really did, but I love this film too much that I don’t want to find something wrong with it.

 

Favourite moment: All of it

Best bit of acting: Kermit when he sees all his friends in the world in which he was never born.

 

See you tomorrow

Rea

Day 17 – Noel (2004) PG

It’s official, I am finally on holiday as I handed in my last essay today. I have no more work to do this side of the new year – which hopefully means I will be watching the films earlier in the day instead of rushing to get the review done in time.

Today’s film is Noel and I didn’t really understand it as a film. It’s set on Christmas Eve and is about five people in New York who all want a miracle for Christmas. Rose has spent her life looking after her father until he died and now looks after her mother who has Alzheimers and doesn’t recognise people or things around her. Mike and Nina are on the verge of splitting up even though they are supposed to be getting married next week, due to his insane jealousy. Artie is an old waiter who every Christmas finds someone who he thinks is the reincarnation of his dead wife and Jules has someone break his hand so he can spend Christmas in the ER, because that is the only happy memory of his childhood.

I got the impression that it was trying to be like ‘Love Actually’ (Day 1) in the sense that it’s about people who don’t know each other but whose lives are tangled. Rose talks to Nina about her problems with Mike as well as Mike being this year reincarnation for Artie. But I don’t think it worked, these are the only times where a character’s plot crosses with another’s and it felt stale.

It didn’t make sense as a film, I have no idea why they decided to go with these characters or this storyline. There was no sense of flow from one character to the next, it felt like they had four different stories they wanted to tell and were told they could only make one film, so instead of just picking one and writing a good(?) film they took all four and made it a fairly bad film. I didn’t even know that it was about five people wanting a miracle for Christmas, I had to look it up.

There are good bits to this film, I think they could have done a whole film on Rose’s character or on Artie’s, because those were interesting ideas. Especially as Rose finds herself talking with a man from the hospital who ends up saying her mum doesn’t want her to waste her life away before he disappears, when Rose goes to find him to ask him why and to give him back his cross which he had left behind she learns that he is the coma patient in the ward next to her mother. That’s an interesting story, so is a man every Christmas finding someone who he thinks is a reincarnation of his wife because he wants forgiveness. I’d watch either of them as a film by themselves, they’ve got legs but by being shoved with the other stories neither of them get the screen time they deserve to let us know more about these characters and their lives.

That’s not to say that in the confusion there aren’t good parts, there are a few. Mike’s face when Artie tries to kiss him because he thinks he’s his dead wife is brilliant. And so is Rose, trying to be on a date with a younger man from her office, the scene between Mike and Nina when she’s telling him that he needs to stop being so jealous is well written and well acted but I felt that these good parts were swamped by confusion from the story and therefore I didn’t really notice them until I started writing this review.

On the whole I don’t think this was a bad film, I just think they tried to be clever and it didn’t work, which just lead to confusion.

 

Favourite Part: Artie going to kiss Mark

Best bit of acting: Rose when she’s talking about her stillborn child. (A minor plot point but one I feel could have and should have been expanded)

See you tomorrow

Rea

Day 16 – Deck the Halls (2006) U

Another day, another film and now we’ve got a Christmas tree it feels like the run up to Christmas has finally started.

Today’s film is all about Christmas decorations and family. It’s about two neighbours, Steve who has lived in the town for years and his new neighbour Buddy. Steve used to be known as the Christmas guy around the town but when Buddy decides to make his house visible from space he starts to take over that role and a feud between them occurs, even though their wives and children become good friends. The battle between them gets to a point where both wives move out of the family home with the children to try and save Christmas. Buddy and Steve get their act together and start to become friends in their attempt to get their families back.

I started watching this film expecting it to be rubbish and to not enjoy it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not the best film in the world, the acting is goodish (with the exception of Danny DeVito, whose character is stupid but his acting is brilliant) and I could have mapped out the plot of the film after watching the first ten minutes. But it made me smile and that’s what these films are about, not coming away discussing the special effects or talking for ages about plot twists and character. It’s about having naff all to do, sitting in front of the TV for 90 minutes and enjoying yourself and that’s what I did so in that sense it’s a success.

 

The plot and the characters weren’t bad they were just obvious. The only character growth are the dumb blondes reading a book (I’m not kidding they were that stereotypical that a dumb blonde reading a book was something to cheer about) and the two men getting over the argument on Christmas Eve. But the minute that we learnt that Steve was the ‘Christmas Guy’ around town it became clear what the problem was going to be. Buddy (DeVito) is a car sales man who can sell anything but is never happy with his life even though he has a beautiful wife and two gorgeous daughters.

And of course at the end, after you think that he has failed and everyone has sung a carol by candlelight, it turns out that his house is bright enough to be seen from space. And even better the people working at the space station flinch away from the light when it appears on the screen. Really? And America is completely black from space? So I’m just going to ignore the fact that nothing man made can be seen from space and there is apparently no light pollution either and a single house covered in lights can be seen

But besides all of these things I found myself enjoying this film more than I thought I would, with all its naffness and sillyness it’s an enjoyable Christmas watch. If it’s on this Christmas then I’m not going to say you have to watch it, because it’s not that kind of film but I think that if you do stay and watch it you’ll find something to enjoy

 

Favourite bit: The way the wives react to their husbands stupidity.

Best bit of acting: Danny DeVito, all the way through.

 

See you tomorrow,

Rea

Day 15 – Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger (2012) U

As sequels go this is a good one, the plot makes a bit more sense and everyone knows what they are doing. Plus David Tennant is in it.

It’s set at the same school before and Mr Maddens has left to go to America with Jennifer leaving the class with only Mr Poppy until they can get a teacher to stay. After a few different tries, Mr Peterson (David Tennant) gets the job. He’s just moved into the area to get away from his overbearing father and his twin brother who is an award winning conductor, with his pregnant wife. At the school Mr Poppy has found out about the ‘Song for Christmas’ competition and is told that he is not allowed to take the class without a teacher. So on Mr Peterson’s second day they kidnap and bundle him into the car and start the drive to the competition in ‘sunny’ Wales. Mr Shakespeare has also found out about this competition and enters his class as well, on a toilet stop at a fork in the road, he moves the sign so it points in the other direction. This leads Mr Poppy to drive his duckboat into rural Wales and get lost. The car then runs out of petrol and they are forced to walk while coming up with a new song the whole time. They find a donkey, go down a river in boats and start lowering children down a cliff with rope before the emergency services find them and take them off to the castle where they are told that they are too late to qualify for the competition. Mr Peterson decides to run in and go on stage anyway as they deserve it after the day they’ve had. Unfortunately after some mix up between him, Donald, and his twin brother, Rodrick, his brother’s choir get the baby and lock them in a snowglobe. However in an effort to win Rodrick uses some of Shakespeare’s song and therefore St Bernadette’s go on stage in the snowglobe instead of St Cuthburts and they end up doing an encore as well as the new song went down so well. Mr Peterson gets into an argument with his brother and father saying that Mr Poppy is more of a brother than Donald is and walks out, proud that he has finally stood up to them. At the same time his wife starts going into labour so they sit her on the donkey and follow Mr Poppy (dressed up as a star) to a barn where Sarah gives birth to twins. Rodrick walks back in and they agree that they are going to try better in the future and their father admits he’s proud of Donald after all.

 

The first thing I feel I should talk about it David Tennant playing both twins, the is only one scene at the end where the two are in shot together, each brother standing exactly a quarter of the way onto the screen and therefore it was an easy thing to put the two on top of each other. Otherwise, they just use shots of the back of one twin looking past them to the one who is speaking at the time. It does feel basic but without casting real twins into those parts, it was always going to be dealt with like that and they do a good job of letting the audience know which twin is which when they are both at the competition, even though the other characters on stage don’t know. And David Tennant does a brilliant job of keeping to two characters different in the way he acts them, Donald’s Scottish accent is stronger than Rodrick’s and while Rodrick feels slimey Donald feels warm and like a good teacher.

When I say the plot makes more sense in this one it doesn’t mean that it’s any less mad it just means that walking through Wales with no clue where they were going when the coach ran out of petrol makes more sense than randomly hopping on a plane to LA and taking two pupils with you.  It’s just as mad when you watch it and great fun, but it does feel like they tried to make it a bit more believable than the first.

Mr Poppy is still a terrible teaching assistant and still shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a classroom and the kids are still brilliant, the range of ages in one class really annoys me but I am a big enough person I can move on from it

 

Ok seriously though? This is a class that say it’s there “last Christmas together” which means they are 10/11 and there are a couple of six year olds in there with them and a few others in between the two extreme. REALLY?? I would be fine with it if they said this was the singing club, but they explictly show that it’s the same class. It makes no sense!

Slight rant over this is still a good film, it has catchy songs and reminds you not to forget about the “baby who was born in hay”.
Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger is a happy film with a strong message in not letting others get you down, working towards your dreams and not forgetting about the true meaning of Christmas.

Favourite Part: the songs at the end

Best bit of acting: David Tennant

Next year there is ‘Nativity 3: Dude, where’s my donkey’ coming out and even though I’ll be 21, I’m planning on going because if it’s anything like these two I’ll enjoy myself.

See you tomorrow

Rea

Day 14 – The Nativity (2009) U

Today I watched one of my favourite Christmas films, the nativity is brilliant in its madness and its liveliness and every time I watch it I can’t stop smiling, so this review is going to be mainly gushing although I tried to be cynical when I watched it, but I’m not sure how successful I was.

The story is about a teacher at a primary school (Mr Maddens) in Coventry, who is forced into doing the Christmas Nativity play and is given a new teaching assistant (Mr Poppy). When they go to get a Christmas tree, they bump into one of Mr Madden’s old drama school friends who runs the private school down the road and who always has the best school plays. While boasting to Mr Shakespeare, Paul says that is old girlfriend, Jennifer, who is now in Hollywood is coming to film the school play. Except Mr Poppy overhears and tells the whole school who tell the news and Paul Maddens has no way of getting out of it. Eventually Mr Maddens decides to go to America to speak to Jennifer personally as she’s not replied to any of his calls. Mr Poppy meets him at the airport with two children and permission for them to travel with Mr Maddens to LA. Once they get to Hollywood and the studios where Jennifer works they learn that she’s only a secretary and not a producer like they all thought and although they run into a producers office they are kicked out and go back to Coventry. When they get back to the school he goes into a meeting with the headmistress and discovers that Mr Poppy had filled in the forms himself, the headmistress learns that Hollywood was never coming to the school; she cancels the school play, fires Mr Poppy immediately, even though he’s her nephew, and Mr Maddens is also sacked although he is allowed to work until the holidays.  Mr Madden decides to go out with a bang and do the Christmas play any way to keep the children happy. Halfway through the play when Mr Shakespeare walks onto the stage to tell the parents that Hollywood where never going to come, a helicopter appears and Jennifer and her boss is on it. At the end of the show the electricity dies and they sing the last song by candlelight before everyone takes a bow by showing their talent off while the rest of the class sing.

I love this film, I love the atmosphere and the songs, each of the children, the mad story line and the way it stays a Nativity film. It would have been very easy to make the play less about the birth of Jesus and more about them showing off. But they didn’t they made sure that the Nativity Play at the end was a proper Nativity and the last song sung around the manger in candle light is beautiful. It means it’s not just about a bunch of kids doing a play it is about the meaning of Christmas as well.

The songs are brilliant and catchy, although there are points where the kids hit the wrong notes, it’s not in the show it’s in the rehearsals and I’m happy to allow it, because in real life that is when you screw up. They may be slightly repetitive but that doesn’t stop them staying in your head all day, plus it also means that they are easy to pick up and sing around the house.

What is important about this film is it was written with only the plot in mind and a vague idea of where the scenes are going to go. Every line is improvised and by having many of the characters being children this leaves it with a sense of fun as the actors all have to react to whatever they said. They’ve gone on record for saying that to begin with the children were all well behaved for the first couple of weeks until they realised that the actors weren’t really teachers and therefore they were allowed to muck around and they wouldn’t get told off as badly as they would in school. The way they made this film makes it feel alive, and kudos to them for taking the risk to make a film with this much risk.

 

There are problems with this film, the main one being that Mr Poppy is the worst teaching assistant ever, you wouldn’t allow him to be responsible for one child let alone partial responsibility for a whole class of children. He doesn’t teach, he allows them to muck around and continually disrupts any form of lesson plans that Mr Poppy has. And he fakes a parents signature to allow Mr Madden to take two children to America, that’s essentially kidnap. He’s not a teacher or responsible and he is given a class to look after. WHY?

The story is also slightly mad, but you can allow that to pass because it’s just good fun.

 

Like I said at the beginning, I love this film and it never ceases to make me smile.

 

Favourite moment: The Nativity play at the end, full of songs and dancing and still about the birth of Jesus.

Best bit of acting: Martin Freeman, the whole way through.

 

See you tomorrow for the sequel, Danger in the Manger

Rea