Day 21 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was Elf which I’ve already talked about some here. I actually watched this one the day I was supposed to! (Don’t worry, it won’t last.) [Spoilers!]
I love Elf. I really do. Every time I go to watch it, I think, “This will be the time it breaks and I’ll just like it” but instead I love it. I love it more and more and more each time.
It has the right mix of nostalgia and modernness to feel really, really current, but also have the sweetness of it not come off as cloying or fake. It’s got all the right feelings about family and love and the meaning of the holidays. It’s got an outstanding cast. I mean, seriously. Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel (in one of the few non-manic pixie dream girl roles of her career), Peter Dinklage, Amy Sedaris, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen, and James Caan. ALL IN THE SAME MOVIE. And they’re all so good and perfectly cast and clearly John Favreau knew what he was doing. It could’ve stood at least another character of color, but Faizon Love is GREAT and present at least.
This movie relies totally on Will Ferrel selling Buddy as a character and thankfully, he does. I feel like, if Jim Carrey had played the Grinch closer to what Ferrell does in this, that movie would be a whole lot better than it is. Buddy is funny and energetic and obnoxious and tender and sweet and innocent and naive and oblivious and wonderful. Buddy can’t understand the world around him because he expects it to be good. I mean, Buddy’s first hard lesson is that his dad is on the naughty list! Buddy doesn’t understand malice. Which is awkwardly communicated in the scene with Peter Dinklage that is so awful-awkward-painful that I have to cover my eyes.
And it’s not just coming from elf culture either because the dialogue and actions of other elves clearly indicate that their world behaves similarly to the human one. Buddy is a special case, fitting into neither elf nor human worlds, but finding a way to straddle the two and bring joy to people.
- “That’s shocking.” when he sees how low the spirit of Christmas is. Ferrell’s delivery there is SO ON POINT. It kills me.
- “Thanks, Mr. Narwhal!”
- “It’s nice to meet another human with my affinity for elf culture.”
- The amaaaaaaazing decorations he puts up for Santa so that his friend can be greeted properly.
- Sitting outside the shower and mumbling along until he can’t resist and has to sing louder.
- Making breakfast for everyone and destroying the entertainment center to make a rocking horse.
- Eating cotton balls in the doctor’s office.
- Christmas tree viewing.
- Ice-skating kisses. “You missed!” And how confused he is by it and she is so sweet and sassy.
- “Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?”
- “Watch out for the yellow ones, they don’t stop!”
- Every beautiful pan of holiday New York accompanied by the MOST PERFECT, PERFECT holiday soundtrack.
I love that Buddy’s story becomes a book. And I love that he’s reading it to kids at the end. I love that Walter won’t sing until his kid calls him out on it. I love Santa. I LOVE the Central Park Rangers and that ominous shot of them looking for Santa.
I love that they go home to the North Pole and make the cutest, happiest little human-elf family. Can you even imagine how happy Papa Elf is?!
Suffice it to say, Elf is going to stay one of my Christmas favorites for a long, long time.
Day 20 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was Meet Me in St. Louis and I managed to watch it only a day late. GO ME I AM THE BEST. [Spoilers!]
I didn’t expect to like this one at all. Judy Garland movies always make me SO SAD and it’s a musical and there are lots of ladies looking for husbands. The entirety of my pre-planning notes for this one was, “ONLY WATCHING THIS FOR THE DAMN SONG” because “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is my very favorite Christmas song and I figured I ought to give the movie that spawned it a shot. But I ended up really kind of loving it.
There was way, way too much singing. Which is just, you know, something that happens when you watch a musical, but I even liked some of the songs that weren’t “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”! AND THE CHOREOGRAPHY STUFF WAS KIND OF OKAY! And I even liked the romancery stuff.
I loved Judy Garland a lot and I thought she was really sweet and beautiful and sassy, but not as sassy as her AMAZING sister Lucille Bremer. I LOVED ROSE/LUCILLE BREMER. Like, no joke. How did this woman not work more? I don’t understand? Sassy, beautiful, redhead with comedic timing and she only has like ten credits? Was the world not ready? I love you, Lucille Bremer, you should’ve been crazy famous.
I’m not going to talk about the sisterly scene of BDSM. I mean, who knew they could depict 1903 so progressively.
I loved that Tootie was just a BIG OL’ WEIRDO of a child, planning funerals for her dolls and riding on the ice truck and freaking out and smashing snowpeople because she can’t bear to leave St. Louis for New York.
Which, let’s establish that these are the worst fake snowpeople in history. I don’t think the set dressers at MGM had ever seen snow before. PROTIP: snow does not look like drywall spackle.
LET’S TALK ABOUT HALLOWEEN OKAY. Why were children in 1903 so MEAN. Going door to door throwing flour in people’s faces and stealing stuff and BURNING SHIT IN THE STREET.
Like, WHAT?! And all encouraged and dressed by their parents and neighbors. Go on, honey, GO OUT AND TORTURE EVERYONE AND STEAL STUFF AND CAUSE PROPERTY DAMAGE. What even? Those horrible, beastly children.
BUT, I loved Tootie getting injured and then lying and then Judy Garland going over and just SLAPPING her neighbor boyfriend like an absolutely out-of-control raging crazy person. YOU BEAT UP MY SISTER. SLAP SLAP SLAP. And then when she realizes she’s wrong he’s like, HEH IT’S OKAY. “No worse than football practice but it’s better with a girl.” And then KISSES HER. Like this is all a totally normal thing to have happen. WHAT IS GOING ON IN ST. LOUIS?!
I love Grandpa and I love the babely brother taking Rose to the dance. And I love Grandpa taking Judy Garland to the dance because Rose was like, “You have to go, I can’t handle twenty men alone!”
I loved Katie the Maid and Momma and the other sister who didn’t talk much and the brother and hot John Truitt and the really babely lady who shows up at the Christmas party and is like, OH ROSE THIS BRO LOVES YOU SO MUCH, I’M NOT HERE TO BE IN THE WAY! Because what a classy as hell broad.
I liked this movie so much that I barely took a half a page of notes. And most of those are from the party when everyone is dancing and singing because I could not get over how weird it would be to do that. Like, yo, living before television and radio and stuff was WEIRD and terrible. And I wouldn’t have been dancing in my living room and singing songs with my little sister and hiding hats in breadboxes. I would have been sitting in my room reading, praying for a technological revolution.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was perfect-beautiful-flawless-amazing-angelic. Judy Garland is a beautiful perfect queen angel from heaven. I was so moved, I too wanted to protest having to move to New York.
Look at me, loving old-timey movies and shit.
In conclusion, here’s my favorite version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”:
Day 19. 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks. [CALENDAR] Gremlins. Only two days late. [Spoilers, probs.]
I have seen Gremlins six or seven thousand times. My sister had a Gizmo growing up. (A doll, sadly. OH HOW I WISH MOGWAI WERE REAL.) I know this movie inside and out. But then I watched it this time. And it was like I had never seen it before or something. IT WAS REAL WEIRD.
I think this is one of those VERY 80s movies that sort of shaped the idea of what the 1980s looked like. Corey Feldman and Phoebe Cates and Zach Galligan and VW Beetles that won’t start and super racist stuff surrounding Asian cultures and the Jerry Goldsmith score and all small towns being the Universal backlot and puffy nylon jackets. It just feels really 80s in a good, nostalgic way like Goonies. Well, the racism doesn’t feel good.
I am having a hard time articulating anything interesting here, so I’m going to do that annoying thing where there are a bunch of notes in a list:
- Dads in movies that are inventors/entrepeneurs are always depicted as failures (see: Beauty and the Beast)
- HOW IS GIZMO SO CUTE?!
- How is no one TOTALLY freaking out that they have some new species in their home and it, like, sings and acts humanoid?!
- GIZMO IS SO CUTE I AM ACTUALLY TEARING UP. TEARS OF CUTENESS.
- No one is asking enough questions in this movie. NO ONE.
- The bad mogwai are dicks even when they’re cute.
- UGGGGGGGGGGGH STOP PROJECTILE VOMITING ON THE TRUMPET SITUATION.
- The gremlin pods are the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
- ONE NEEDLE? REALLY?
- Had to spend ten minutes thinking about nachos just to recover from the trauma of the pods.
- Mom’s a badass.
- Stripe is a dick.
- THIS MOVIE IS GROSS.
- The police are the only marginally useful people in this entire movie. COHERENT. The only people to ask questions about these weird things that basically didn’t exist before YESTERDAY.
- The Town Bitch’s fast ride up the stairs and flight through the window is the stuff my childhood memories are made of.
- So many dumb gremlin vignettes.
- “… and that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.”
- Gizmo’s disgust/embarrassment/fear/horror. EVERY TIME GIZMO REACTS I DIE.
- Gizmo in the Barbiemobile 4ever.
- THIS MOVIE IS DISGUSTING.
- And then after all of that destruction and terror, Gizmo survives and STILL gets taken away from his new friend. WHY IS THIS MOVIE SO MEAN?
I don’t have anything else coherent to say, honestly. I love that this is a holiday movie. Like, people sit down and watch It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story and GREMLINS. That’s great, that’s so great. And it’s very wintery and yule-y and wonderful. It’s just also really weird and disgusting. And good. BUT MOSTLY SO WEIRD AND DISGUSTING.
Up to bat on day 18 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks was The Preacher’s Wife [CALENDAR] which continued my three-days-late schedule of long-lasting failure that I still have not recovered from. From which I may never, ever recover. [Spoilers!]
Okay, so I took really extensive notes on this one for no discernible reason and I cannot figure out what even half of them mean. So, like, I LIKED THIS MOVIE A LOT. Which I didn’t expect AT ALL. Because… I’m an atheist! This was not going to give me good religious god-y feelings! And I’m not a Denzel person! And I hate long scenes of singing in movies. And I’m not big on Whitney’s acting career. And basically EVERYTHING was pointing to me not being into this movie. EXCEPT HOW I TOTALLY WAS. And I loved it! And I clapped and squealed. And I got really choked up and cried.
The first great thing that occurred when I was watching this was that the preview that played beforehand was for Beaches. And it had one of those really late 80s/early 90s voiceovers about tenderness and friendship and stuff. And it was the best.
The next great thing was that the choir in this sad church sang SO HARD for Jesus that they blew up the boiler. That was delightful.
Then there was this:
Because angels coming into the modern age need a handbook that covers modern things.
Then there was this amazing child who was playing a sheep in the nativity play:
Which. They clearly pulled in close on her in kind of a mocking way. Because she’s got these big glasses and her smile kind of creeps up her face and she’s wearing a bath mat. And I thought it was kind of mean, but I ended up thinking she was kind of awesome. Fuck the mocking of the moviemakers, this kid had sass.
And there was a lot of Denzel being awesome. Which I didn’t expect? When I think of Denzel, I think of serious Oscar guy Denzel and that’s kind of boring. And in this he was AWESOME. He was joyous and funny and, like, basically trolling the preacher at every turn. With a big heart! And wonder at a world that everyone around him takes for granted. And a very obvious, non-hidden attraction to the preacher’s wife. Which she DESERVES.
I really came out of this movie with a total appreciation and love for this kind of Denzel. More laughing, gleeful Denzel. Less Training Day.
The BEST part of the movie, BY FAR, is Whitney and Preacher’s small child Jeremiah and his best friend Hakim. Hakim lives with his grandmother and is going to be placed into foster care and Jeremiah is legit DEVASTATED. When Hakim is being picked up by the liaison/social worker, Jeremiah runs to his dresser and opens it up and gives Hakim his entire stash of Hershey’s chocolate and says, “They might starve you” all worried and scared. AND OMG I LEGITIMATELY CHOKED UP and was, like, wailing, “DON’T YOU TAKE HAKIM AWAY FROM HIS FRIEND. YOU TAKE HIM IN WHITNEY AND THE PREACHER. YOU GIVE HIM A HOME.” I was LOSING IT. And then this kid is like, “Who will I tell my secrets to?” all sad and resigned and I had to pause it because I couldn’t see the screen through my tears.
So yadda yadda the movie goes on and people are forever changed by Denzel and his incredible attitude and willingness to help those that are willing to take it and it is very warm and hooray for angels etc. And then they are getting ready for the nativity and Preacher is like, “Are you ready? Because there is going to be someone very important listening to you in the audience.” And Jeremiah is like, “Yeah, we cool.” And then Hakim walks in and Jeremiah FLIPS HIS SHIT. And literally yells HAAAAAAAAAAAKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM and jumps off the chair he is standing on to run over and hug his BEST FRIEND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MOVING THIS IS?! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! FRIENDSHIP. FRIENDSHIP.FRIEEEEEEEEENDSHIP!! FRIENDSHIP IS THE BEST AND KIDS ARE SO SWEET AND THEY LOVE WITH THEIR WHOLE HEARTS AND THE SCREEN IS GETTING ALL HARD TO SEE AGAIN RIGHT NOW.
Then they walk out of the room together and Jeremiah is like, “I HAVE A SECRET TO TELL YOU” and it’s about how Denzel fixed the kid’s ambulance with his angel juju and gave it a siren it didn’t have before on accident OOPS.
It’s just the best. FRIENDSHIP IS THE BEST. If you do not agree that friendship is the best thing to watch in movies and television and stuff, get out of here. You are wrong. Friendship is everything. EXCUSE U IF U DISAGREE U R INCORRECT.
Here are some of my notes. They are largely nonsensical:
- saddest preacher of all time
- musical sermon punctuation
- yo they close the youth center for one day and this innocent kid gets in trouble [I have more about this in a later post, actually!]
- nothing moves a preacher’s struggle like a broken-ass church
- that judge is the worst judge
- EROTIC ANGEL ICE SKATING
- magical wiener of glory
- CRYING 5EVER ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
- making god angry by making himself a husband in pictures
- way too much singing SHUT UP
It has some weird posters:
In conclusion, IMDB users hate this movie (5.2/10), Rotten Tomatoes says people are not fond of it (5.9/10), but me and Siskel and Ebert are into it.
Day 17 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was the first movie that had to be subbed in because of accessibility issues. I feel like a secondary name for this project could have been “Ways in Which Netflix Randomly and Suddenly Messes with Their Customers for What I Am Sure Are Real Legitimate Reasons but to Us Seem Totally Arbitrary and Mean”.
This wasn’t just a subbing in a movie, this was, “Oh shit, this screws up DVD returns and throws off the schedule and oh oh. Shit.” Netflix pulled Santa’s Slay off of Instant and there wasn’t anything else I wanted/was willing to watch for a direct sub, so I had to order a DVD and swap around some dates and then because I was behind anyway (which is obviously my fault, not Netlix’s) it threw me off an additional day around the 16th because I had to wait for Meet Me in St. Louis. OH THE LIFE OF AN UNEMPLOYED BLOGGER IN THE MIDDLE OF A PROJECT. SO HARD.
Anyway, I ended up watching Black Christmas because I wanted to make sure that I got a holiday horror movie in here. And I watched the 1974 original instead of the 2006 remake because I don’t hate myself. [Spoilers!]
It was super, super good. And creepy. And unsettling. And quiet. And had a tiny body count compared to more recent (not just RECENT, but really starting with the 80s) horror movies ESPECIALLY because it broke the sort of accepted rule that someone’s GOT to eat it in the first fifteen minutes, if not in the first scene. This thing is SLOW, but not boring.
It set up a nice, pretty, yule-ish scene with the lights and the cold and frosty windows and the drunken sorority celebrating and then it starts to hover around uncomfortable with the first of the series of obscene/terrifying phone calls and then it just gets more and more uncomfortable. And it’s never really grisly, except maybe once, but otherwise the deaths are off-screen and subdued as the number of available victims dwindles.
I think one of my favorite aspects of this is that the police are TOTALLY involved in what’s happening — the missing girl and the phone calls — but it still keeps happening. We’re taught from such a young age by our culture that the police will protect us, that if we go to them, they will stop bad things from happening. But in this they don’t. They can’t. And I can’t help but feel that’s maybe a lesson we should all learn a lot earlier. These officers are largely well-meaning, they want to help, they’re interesting characters in and of themselves, but there’s nothing they can do to save these women. The calls are coming from inside the house. And even in the end as one stands guard to protect the sole survivor inside, the phone rings. And rings. And rings.
THAT SHIT IS SCARY.
I was really into the liberated women in this and the way they bumped against the men who didn’t want them to be. The first victim’s (Clare) father sort of implies that her being missing is better than her running off to a cabin with a dude. And she’s totally depicted as the pure one. Margot Kidder totally creeps her out and she clutches a cross in discomfort and shock/disgust. And she totally dies first. Jess is pregnant and utilizes her newly minted reproductive autonomy (Roe v. Wade, 1973) to decide to get an abortion and her boyfriend FLIPS OUT. Margot Kidder is IN CHARGE of herself and even though she’s drawn as the sort of… IDK, stereotypical 70s floozy? She is in charge. And she doesn’t care that other people judge her. She dies too — after asserting her sexuality and also getting a kid drunk.
The Chaste and The Promiscuous both die in this world. Interesting though is the difference in their deaths. Clare is suffocated with a plastic bag and displayed in a rocking chair, looking out over the winter night outside. Margot Kidder is stabbed to death with a glass unicorn in the only scene of truly visible murder and even that is subdued because of careful framing. The only gory emphasis is on the blood-covered unicorn in the killer’s hands. And then she’s found dead, displayed IN BED with another person (Phyl). SO FASCINATING.
Jess survives (at least the length of the movie) even though she wants an abortion. I feel like… we almost couldn’t get away with that now? I watch American Horror Story and, like, it took a billion damn episodes for them to even SAY the word abortion and it’s constantly, continuously condemned at every turn if not in words than in literal punishment of the women who seek them and the doctor that provided them. I don’t know how more than 35 years have passed since Roe v. Wade and we’ve gone fucking BACKWARDS on reproductive rights, but we definitely have. [If you didn't know this was an extremely pro-choice blog, you do now! Unrestricted access to abortions for all people who can get pregnant.]
ANYWAY, this was a great movie. It was a great horror movie and a nice addition to the holiday season. ALSO, it was directed by Bob Clark who directed one of the most beloved holiday films of all time, A Christmas Story. And that’s really delightful and wonderful and he’s so skilled and awesome.
I loved Margot Kidder and her snide-ass attitude. Telling the cop the exchange on the house number was FELLATIO. And “the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are making their annual obscene phone call.” So good. I also deeply enjoyed the cop telling the other cops the fellatio thing and how hard they laughed. “What? It’s something dirty, isn’t it?”.
Also, when Peter (Jess’s boyfriend) first shows up, I was like, “Is that Malcolm McDowell?!” because I was watching it all shrunk in a small corner of my laptop screen. It’s not Malcolm McDowell, but according to IMDB Trivia, the role WAS originally offered to him. So they just hired another dude that basically looks like Malcolm McDowell. You gotta do what you gotta do. Also Jess is Juliet in the really famous/boring version of Romeo & Juliet that all of our high school teachers made us watch. And when she worked with Steve Martin, he was like, “I LOVE YOU. YOU’RE IN ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES.” and she was like, HAIR FLIP, “ROMEO AND JULIET?!” and he was all, “LOL NO BLACK CHRISTMAS.” A+, Steve Martin.
The last shot of the movie is really haunting. The totally unaware cop in front of the house and the ringing phone, the audience totally aware that the real killer is still inside the house with the remaining survivor. Totally creepy and excellent! But obviously the image that lives in infamy (aside from Clare’s head encased in a dry-cleaning bag) is that eye staring at Phyl through the crack in the door. So simple, so creepy.
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