‘Tis the Season Cinema: The Muppets Christmas Carol

“Come in, and know me better man!”

This month Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I, along with newcomer Katja from Breath of Hallelujah who is joining in, are having fun watching the same Christmas movies and then posting our thoughts. This week we watched one of my very favorites, The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s not my absolute favorite, that is and forever will be Emmett Otter, but it is high up there!

Wyatt hasn’t been a part of many of these Christmas movie nights but for this one, of course he was. He was very excited, and snuggled down between us in bed with a giant bowl of popcorn for us all to share. Miso was also part of the group, purring away at the end of the bed. However, both Wyatt and Miso were asleep within 30 minutes. So, Billy and I watched it just the two of us, with our little slumbering companions scattered around us.

This movie never ever fails to make me smile and put me in a warm and happy mood. I always feel so full of the Christmas spirit afterwards, it is just so full of love. It follows the Christmas Carol storyline we are all familiar with, but with 99% of the characters played by muppets and their puppeteers. Kermit is Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy his wife, Fozzie Bear plays Scrooge’s first boss, and Statler and Waldorf play Marley and Marley. The esteemed Michael Caine plays Scrooge, and to this day and all of the versions I have watched of A Christmas Carol, Caine is still my favorite Scrooge. He is so believable in the beginning, cold and hardhearted, and by the end, you truly believe he has undergone a transformation into a loving, caring human, full of the Christmas spirit.

And the music in this movie! I love them all but the best in my opinion is It Feels Like Christmas, sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present (also my favorite ghost). This song perfectly sums up almost every feeling that I have about Christmas.

Billy told me that Michael Caine was in his fifties when he made this movie, and that he wanted to be in it because he had a 7 year old daughter at the time who hadn’t been able to watch him in anything. So he played Scrooge in this movie so that she could see him act. And Caine loved it. His joy is obvious. I also love that his singing is…average. I think it is appropriate to his character – I mean, I couldn’t see Scrooge busting out in perfect harmony. Apparently this was also the first movie he ever sang in (sung? why am I having a problem with this today?)

It also has this scene, which the phrase “It’s the British way” has made its way into the things Billy and I say to each often. We often refer to things as being done “the British way”. It never fails to amuse us.

This movie is just a fun, music filled, cozy, warm, lovey dovey, joyous version of a Christmas Carol, and one I highly recommend!

Check out Lisa’s post here!

Check out Katja’s post here!

If anyone else wants to join in, that would be fun! I will add your links to my posts every week as well. Next up is Holiday Inn and posts go up Thursdays.

‘Tis the Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

‘Tis the season to watch movies..fa la la la la, la la la la. Or something like that. I got lost with all those las. September and October were all about the spooky – November and December are all about the holiday season, heartwarming and cozy. Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I have teamed up again to share our opinions on different movies and I am enjoying our foray into the holiday movie season! You can find Lisa’s impressions here.

Last week we watched The Man Who Invented Christmas – this week Lisa’s choice introduced me to the world of the Mischief Theatre Company and A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong.

I have to admit feeling a little lost at the beginning, because I missed the first few minutes due to my child, but basically it was just as the title states – A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong. Apparently an acting troop decides to hijack a television production, and replace all the professional actors with themselves. However, they have no idea what they are doing and things keep going very wrong for them. The actual actors who were supposed to be in the show keep popping back up (that is what was confusing me, I was like who are these people and why do they keep showing up), Bob Cratchit has to very obviously read all of his lines from any prop he can find, special effects keep going wrong.. the list goes on. The Bob Cratchit character was my favorite, and he made me laugh the most. Throughout the whole production, there is also a whole extra layer concerning the actual actors and their real lives. So for a short little show there is so much going on!

And quite frankly, I needed a laugh yesterday. The night before, Wyatt had woken up in the middle of the night with one of those quick random illnesses kids get, with a very slight fever (99) and throwing up. I was up all night, I talked to pediatric neurology at 1 am..it was just a long night. So yesterday morning we were all exhausted after our long night. And to boot, yesterday was my birthday! Needless to say, it was the most low key birthday I have ever had. By the time tv time rolled around for Billy and I, I was ready for something light and easy to watch. And A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong worked out very well for us!

It reminded Billy and I of the spoof type movies, with Leslie Nielsen, like Airplane and Naked Gun – just done in “the British way” (anyone watch Muppet Christmas Carol? It’s my favorite version of the Christmas Carol and it is on the list for later!) You can watch A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong free on YouTube, and it is a short little 50 minute production full of gags and pratfalls and silliness.

Up next for us is the classic White Christmas!

‘Tis the Season Cinema: The Man Who Invented Christmas

It’s the holiday season!! And after a September and October filled with ghosts and other scary things, I am so ready for heartwarming, hopeful, and cozy.- although this was a bit of a ghost story too.. Lucky for me, our first movie of the season checked all of those boxes!

Where should I begin? Last night was my very first viewing of this movie, although I had heard about it. My good friend Jill is a mega Dan Stevens fan and so his work is always on my radar through her. It also is exactly the type of movie I am drawn to, so it was weird that I didn’t see it when it first came out. However, maybe then it wouldn’t have held the same magic for us as it did last night. Because last night, Billy and I were enchanted. It’s been a rough few weeks around here, and this week Billy has worked late every night, which means long days for me as well. When we flopped into bed to watch this, we were both feeling a little worn out and worn down. The world has been too much with us, you know what I mean?

We settled in, and were totally wowed. We were reminded of the magic and love and hope in the world. That people can be kind, that we need to let the spirit of Christmas and generosity and peace be with us all year.

Dan Stevens plays Charles Dickens, who quite frankly I didn’t know much about other than being familiar with his work. The movie begins with Dickens in a bit of a financial pickle, after having written three unsuccessful books in a row (which was unbelievable to me too). He is up to his eyeballs in debt, with his large new home, his growing family, and in addition he supports his father and mother. He’s a bit stressed to say the least, and tries very hard to not let the stress change who he is at heart. But who is he?

We learn through flashbacks that his father went to debtors prison and he himself went to work long, 12 hour days at a shoeshine factory as a young boy of 11. This has long hung over him, and over his opinion of himself, his work, and his relationship with his father.

All of this is going on in the background of his life as he writes his new book, about what some characters in the movie referred to a minor holiday – Christmas. And oh, the scenes of him writing the book is so clever and brilliant. The characters bounding to life, hounding him, haunting him, taunting him, leading him as he writes their stories. At times he is frustrated with them as they won’t do what he wants, and Stevens portrayal of Dickens in his frustration and desperation made me feel frustrated as well, it was so well acted. The movie is so clever, as I said. The characters are with him, there but not there, real to him in his mind at all times as he goes about his days and nights. His wife accuses him of caring more about his characters than his flesh and blood family, and the viewer has to wonder a little bit how much truth is in that statement. We see a wild, whimsical, sometimes reckless Dickens struggle with the part of him that has a bit of darkness, the demons from childhood that hover around him like ghosts, the parts that make up bits and pieces of Scrooge. Stevens is able to convey all of these emotions and I believe that this was his best role ever. I would give him an Oscar for it even.

It’s a race against time for Dickens – will he finish the book by the deadline? Will it get printed? Can he overcome his demons to write a masterpiece? Will his family be ok? And will Tiny Tim live??

This movie was fantastic. Billy and I just looked at each other when it was over, me wiping tears from my eyes at the beauty and love of it all. I had goosebumps. It is an absolutely wonderful movie, and if you have not seen it yet, I 100% recommend it for your holiday movie watching this season.

For Lisa’s rundown, click here!

Spooky Season Cinema: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Oooo spooky…Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I are are watching and posting about spooky cinema for the next two months, here and over on our Instagram accounts. We are starting fairly family friendly and working our way up to the scariest!! I love a thriller or chiller!

This week we watched one of my favorites – The Nightmare Before Christmas! I love the weirdness of Tim Burton, but this one is by far his very best. It came out when I was in college and I remember my friends and I went for my birthday. After the movie ended, we all walked out it and it had started snowing, the first snow of the season and it just felt so magical. I think about that moment every time I watch it.

This movie is so well done, with its stop action claymation, the music, the actors who voiced the characters – I mean, Catherine O’Hara? She is a queen y’all. And Danny Elfman from Oingo Boingo, a band I loved in my youth does all the singing for Jack Skellington and his voice is so amazing. I watched this movie this time around with Wyatt. It was his first introduction to it, and I knew he would love all the singing – and he did. I figured he wouldn’t pay too much attention to some of the actual happenings or what was being said and I was right – he was just there for the dancing. His favorite songs – What’s This? and the Oogie Boogie Song. Oogie Boogie is the Bogeyman but he has a cool song.

Anyway, in case you are unfamiliar, Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King (say this very dramatically) and every year plans the scares and frights of Halloween. However, he has post-Halloween sadness and is bored and tired of doing all the same things over and over. Basically, Jack is in a rut and is depressed. He bumbles into Christmas Town and is overcome with all the joy of that season, and is literally swept up into the cheer of Christmas. So much, that he wants to be in charge of Christmas. He hypes it up to the town, gets them all involved, and has the creepy creatures who usually manufacture fear try to switch gears and make Christmas instead. Sounds like a great plan, right?

The only resident of Halloween Town who isn’t down with this plan is Sally, the ragdoll who is in love with Jack from afar. She knows that this is a very bad terrible idea. And eventually, almost too late, Jack realizes it as well. But, he sets things right – and realizes he loves Sally as well.

There is a lot of debate over whether this is a Christmas or Halloween movie…I always think Halloween but I know some people think Christmas. Billy likes to split the difference and says it is a Thanksgiving movie. And we did actually watch it one Thanksgiving with my cousins, so maybe he is right.

This post wouldn’t be complete without some Danny Elfman representation. So, I am sharing Wyatt’s favorite part of the movie. He was as swept up in the mood as Jack! It’s hard not to be though.

Next up for us is The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I have never actually watched that one before but I am excited. I have a feeling it is going to be super campy and fun! But we will see!

For Lisa’s review, click here!

Spooky Cinema Season: Hocus Pocus

Oooo spooky…Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I are are watching and posting about spooky cinema for the next two months, here and over on our Instagram accounts. We are starting fairly family friendly and working our way up to the scariest!! I love a thriller or chiller!

This week since Hocus Pocus 2 is coming out on the 30th, we watched the OG Hocus Pocus. I actually never saw this until about three years ago, and I needed to know what all the fuss was about. I have seen references to it for just about ever, I know it is beloved and every Halloween I see so many Hocus Pocus themed decorations and costumes. It is a cult classic, the inspiration for so many memes. This meme is my favorite, because I actually do really like Kathy Najimy’s character the best, although Sarah Jessica Parker’s total ditziness made me chuckle a few times.

This is a very silly goofy movie, designed to just get a laugh out of people, one way or another. It’s over the top, exaggerated, and has pretty cool witch costumes. I loved Thora Birch’s little witch costume, she was adorable. And who doesn’t want a cat that talks that turns out to be a ghost (I guess?) from the 1600s? That would be pretty cool.

More than anything though, this movie is just supposed to be fun. There are some things I like about it, besides the talking cat and the costumes. I like what they were trying to do there with stressing the importance of loving your siblings, even though it was a bit on the nose. Max and his sister Dani are typical siblings, that I love you but you pester me sometimes deal. But underneath it all Max does love her, which he proves by taking the potion and sacrificing himself for her. Whereas the Sanderson Sisters seem to be a tight knit sisterhood but the head witch in charge, Winnie (Bette Midler) doesn’t really seem to like them too much, although I think Mary really does love Winnie. And now I feel like maybe I put too much thought into this movie! One thing that does bother me – how the Sandersons are supposed to not understand modern life since they are from the past, yet can make comments and jokes about margarine and drivers permits.

My sister-in-law Chrissy, my little niece Mermaid Girl, and I are watching Hocus Pocus 2 together this weekend. It should be a good time! I am curious if it will keep its over the top qualities or if it will be different in style and spirit. We shall see!

Overall this is a silly, goofy, fun movie for Halloween, especially if you are not into scary but want to watch something Halloweenish.

For Lisa’s review, follow this little link right… ~here~ She watched this with her teenaged son and he had some funny comments!

What do you all think of it? Who is your favorite Sanderson?

Spooky Season Cinema: Shaun of the Dead

Oooo spooky…Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I are are watching and posting about spooky cinema for the next two months, here and over on our Instagram accounts. We are starting fairly family friendly and working our way up to the scariest!! I love a thriller or chiller!

We are leaving the kiddie pool folks and are heading for deeper, scarier waters! Leaving behind more family friendly picks, we have moved into the realm of comedy and gore. This movie can get a bit gross, and if watching scary movies is not your jam, this might not be a good watch for you. However, if you are not put off by zombies and you know, zombie activities, then you will find that this movie is hilarious.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are a perfect onscreen duo, they never fail to make me laugh. Except for maybe in World’s End, which was not my favorite. Anyway, this movie was my first introduction to their genius (looking at you Lisa with that word choice) so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Before we go further, I have always been an avid horror movie watcher, even when they scared the heck out of me. I grew up in the 80s all! We had Freddy, Jason, Michael. Then it was the 90s and we had Scream, another movie I loved. In college my roomies and I would have a horrible horror movie night once a week because it was cheaper to rent horror movies than new releases. (remember that, renting movies at an actual storefront?) I have seen my share of horror and slasher flicks. For me, this is not a scary movie – gross, and sad a few times, but it didn’t freak me out. However, we all have our different levels and things that scare us. Like, I could not watch that tornado movie Twister. That scared me so much!!

This movie is about two buddies, Shaun (Pegg) and Ed (Frost) whose lives look sort of stale and repetitive to some, but they are content and happy. Without a doubt, their favorite place on earth is The Winchester Pub. It is like the Cheers Bar to them, where they go when they need to feel better. So of course when the zombie apocalypse strikes, where do they go? To The Winchester!

“Let’s go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.”

I mean, it’s not too bad of a plan. We had a similar plan, but it was to head to the old theater in our town, which is sadly no longer there. I guess we need a new plan.

The two concoct a plan to save the people they love, including Shaun’s mother played by Penelope Wilton and Shaun’s stepfather played by Bill Nighy (love him!!) and head for the Winchester. You know, to grab a pint and wait for things to blow over. Perfectly reasonable. Except for all the zombies. Things go very awry, people die (one in particular always makes me terribly sad), there is an awesome scene set to a Queen song, and then by the end, things are a little better. So I guess the plan wasn’t too too bad?

I also have to give a nod to the social commentary that is part of this movie. Sure they are fighting zombies, but the movie illustrates how much like zombies people were before the actual apocalypse. How we are barely there, going to our jobs, performing the same tasks and duties over and over, being blind to the world around us at times. There is a scene that I love, where Shaun’s gang of people meets a gang of people that has a person that is a version of someone in Shaun’s group.

We do have to get through some sad, grody parts to get to the end, but – spoiler here – mankind prevails by putting the zombies to work, as it appears they have retained some of their humanity. And Shaun and his good buddy have not been separated, in case you were worried. Nope not at all. Although, their relationship is a bit different.

All in all, this is a pretty fun zombie movie. Kind of gross and kind of tense situations scary, but not Walking Dead gross, or Walking Dead scary. I had to quit that show!

Next week we are watching Hocus Pocus, I believe. Just in time to watch the release of Hocus Pocus 2 right after, if we felt like it. If you want to play along, feel free to post with us or just comment here! For Lisa’s take, which I am sure is much different than mine, click here!

And hey. You’ve got red on you. (iykyk)

Classic Movie Impressions: The Thin Man

A few weeks ago Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I started recommending old movies to each other. My first suggestion to her was A Streetcar Named Desire, while she had me watch Double Indemnity. This second round had me watching The Thin Man, while I stuck with Tennessee Williams for her by suggesting Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. You can see her post here!

I have to be honest, I had never heard of The Thin Man movies before. I do however like old time sleuths (and modern day sleuths) and so I was game.

Nick is a retired detective, Nora is an heiress, and their life seems like one big happy party, filled with crazy characters from Nick’s past, crooks and con-men and all sorts who pop in to their apartment at all times, mainly for drinks but sometimes, they pop in to confess to murder. After one such confession, Nora encourages Nick to get involved in helping to solve the case, which he does.

This movie had us giggling and laughing over the antics and witty smart remarks that flowed as easily as the booze in this movie. Nick and Nora are full of mischief and martinis, and this movie made me want to get all spruced up and go out for cocktails. Perhaps one day soon, I will. I also really loved the chemistry that existed between Loy and Powell. I feel like they genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Billy and I could not believe how well this movie has held up through the years. It came out in 1934, 88 years ago! I guess that is why it is a classic. It was witty, fast paced, complex, and entertaining. Billy and I also could see how the detective mystery type shows we watch today were most likely influenced by The Thin Man and Dashiell Hammet. At the end of The Thin Man, Nick Charles gathers all of the suspects together for a big reveal, explaining everything that happened and exposing the murderer – just like the detectives in Death in Paradise do. The snarky playful relationship of Nick and Nora reminded us of Castle and Beckett, Mr. and Mrs. Murder, Miss Fisher and Jack, and to some extent Shepherd and Sims from The Brokenwood Mysteries.

However, for me the standout performance was this guy.

This doggo! He was so darn cute and funny! His real name was Skippy and he was a wire fox terrier, said to be one of the most intelligent working in the industry at that time. And I totally believe it!

Overall, we both really loved this movie, and were happy to discover that there are a bunch more Nick and Nora and Asta movies we can watch!

Next Up:

For Lisa, I picked Blue Hawaii. The last two movies I picked for her were super heavy and intense – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire. So I wanted to give her something light and fluffy and summery. I remembered how over the summer as pre-teen/teen I used to love watching these old Elvis movies and I thought you really can’t get much more light and fluffy.

Lisa picked To Catch a Thief for us – and I am so excited to watch it!

My Top Ten Summer Movies

As of Tuesday, it is now officially summer! And while summer is full of fun outdoor activities, sometimes you just need an indoor day, or a relaxing movie in the evening. Also with the cost of pretty much everything right now, movies at home are an affordable treat! You could even stream them outside onto a portable screen or sheet or garage door for a drive in type experience.

There are a few movies out there that just scream summer to me, and I am hoping you will share a few that feel like summer to you as well!

First up – my all-time favorite… Jaws!!

I have to watch this movie every single fourth of July, and it is still so good! That scene with Quint where he is talking about the Indianapolis disaster is one of the best scenes in a movie, ever, hands down.

And then of course, there is Now and Then.

I also watch this every summer. And I might as well say it now, I watch just about all the movies I am going to list in this post once a summer. Now and Then is a fun, nostalgic, coming of age movie about friends then…and again, now. In case the name didn’t give that away. Lol.

Another nostalgic favorite of mine is The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills. I loved all the parts at summer camp (is this just a movie/book thing? Do kids really go to summer camp?) and then again in California.

For those who love love, there is The Love Letter. I love this movie and the effect one lost love letter has on a town, each thinking the letter is meant for them. I feel like not many people have seen it and it makes me sad – it’s just so good.

And of course, you can’t talk about summer love without Dirty Dancing! I feel like this movie doesn’t need an explanation, am I right?

I like romance, but I also like scary. And one of my old favorites from my youth is I Know What You Did Last Summer. I remember going to the theater and watching this with Billy when we were young and it scared me so much. One scene made me literally jump!

And if you go way back in my youth, there is Stand By Me. What a fantastic movie. Another coming of age, friendship movie, full of revelations for these friends. Plus I had a huge crush on River Phoenix. So, there you go.

While we are talking about going way back, let’s talk about The Way, Way Back.

This movie is phenomenal. I absolutely love and adore Sam Rockwell, and his character in this movie..chef’s kiss. It is so well acted by all the actors involved. And Steve Carell in this movie! Dang, what a jerk!

Let’s circle back around to nostalgic, happy, and fun, shall we?

This next movie came out the year I graduated, and I will always remember going to see it with my friends at the theater. It is has fantastic music, and really captures that feeling of freedom you have when you graduate. It is wild and crazy, and yes, dazed and confused. And it is Matthew McConaughey’s first movie!

And finally, what I consider to be the quintessential summer movie, The Great Outdoors.

I love this movie! It makes me think of all of our up north trips – except our family gets along! And the duo of John Candy and Dan Akroyd can’t be beat (unless it is Akroyd and Belushi in The Blues Brothers, which just narrowly missed this list..). It has lodges, family, bears, hi-jinks, young love, good music, snarky raccoons. I mean, does it get better than this for a summer movie?

How about you? What movies just mean summer to you?