A Very Murray Christmas
Rather lifeless and boring Christmas special. Murray is his grumpy old self, the song are pretty bad and the setup doesn't allow for much comedy. The guests don't add much life to the party either and I could really do without Miley Cyrus singing. Could be nice if you're a big Murray fun, but this didn't really do it for me.
The Last Hangover
A strange cross-over between the biblical last supper and The Hangover. Some over-the-top, Brazilian comedy that takes a while to get going, but gets pretty funny during the second half. Not for people who are easily offended and many of the joke are quite predictable, but the presentation and execution are pretty on point.
A film that resides in the uncanny valley of uncanny valley. Rebel Wilson scratching her thighs, Ian McKellen sipping water out of a plate, Judi Dench singing and a nude-brown Idris Elba furry, this film has it all. It's a full-blown musical, which isn't quite my thing, but it's so odd that it's easily one of the better musicals I've seen so far.
Somewhat disappointing blend of sci-fi and superhero antics, which at times feels more like a TV series pilot than an actual feature film. The effects are pretty decent, but the acting is mediocre, the setting is derivative and the superhero elements are tired and dull. This needed more stylistic prowess to be any good.
Video Girl Ai
A decent OAV, which I liked quite a lot the first time I watched it. So many years later though, it turns out to be quite cheesy. Apart from the final episode that is, which gets all anime crazy and weird. Some decent animation here and there, a couple of fun scenes, but most of it is a little too corny and predictable for my taste.
Early Harada. Not much to see here, except some very basic Yakuza/crime genre work. The gunslinging is a little boring, the acting is mediocre, the cinematography mostly functional and the plot as predictable as can be. No doubt the biggest Yakuza film fans will find something here, but otherwise this was a slight letdown.
Dare to Stop Us
Films about films are rarely very good, but Shiraishi's take on the rise of Wakamatsu and his production company is definitely worth a gamble. Well acted, fun to see so many references to famous Wakamatsu films and some nice insights into the role of Adachi. Familiarity with the directors and subject matter is a real plus though.
All Is Bright
A dramady with a severe lack of comedy. Rudd and Giamatti make a nice couple, but the side characters are dull, the drama is pretty depressing and the comedy fails rather hard. There are a few moments where the film seems to flare up a little, sadly it never catches fire. A big waste of acting talent if you ask me.
The Bells of St. Mary's
A pretty meek and long-winding drama with some soft comedy intertwined. There are a few scenes that are quite fun and amusing, but the whole is pretty dated and with a running time crossing the 120-minute barrier, it takes a little too much effort to get to the end of it. This one is only for the fans of commercial classic Hollywood.
A Muppet Family Christmas
The Muppets meets Sesame Street meets Fraggle Rock. And they all sing some songs together. It's a very simple setup with plenty of opportunity for some Christmas glee, at the same time it's pretty chaotic and not as funny as it could've been. Not the worst Christmas special ever, but definitely not the best one either.
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
A bit of Henson/Oz magic. A short but cute little Christmas tale. The puppetry work is somewhat basic and the story really isn't all that special, but the classic charm is definitely present. The short running time is a definite plus and the characters are pretty adorable. Some pretty decent Christmas fodder.
Deck the Halls
A pretty bad Christmas comedy that is let down by poor performances of Broderick and DeVito. In all fairness though, the plot isn't doing them any favors either, the comedy is lame and Whitesell's direction is as flat as can be. It's a pretty dull and lifeless disaster that fails at just about everything it tries to accomplish.
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
A mediocre selection of Christmas-themed shorts, often based on existing stories, but 100% Disney-fied. The animation is on the cheap side, the charm is often lacking. This is clearly a more modern Disney release, I tend to prefer the classic ones. But if you're looking for some short and jolly holiday season fun, it's not the worst option out there.
Solid but very expected Japanese drama. It's not the first film about Koreans in Japan, although the North-Korean angle does give it a somewhat fresh angle. Acting is on point (with Ando in another stand-out role), cinematography a little boring, as is the soundtrack. It's definitely not a bad film, just a little inconspicuous and forgettable.
This film tries very hard to be an arthouse drama with horror elements, but the drama never really hits and the horror is poorly realized. Some nice shots of gloomy landscapes and a sullen soundtrack aren't enough to make the drama work, mediocre acting, poor editing and lame scares turn this into quite the chore. Wasn't impressed by this one.
Love the Coopers
A very simple but agreeable Christmas comedy. Not quite grand enough to be an ensemble film, but the setup comes pretty close. A bunch of famous actors, each featuring in their own storyline, which all are tied together at the end. It's nothing too amazing or out of the ordinary, but it's not a terrible film to be watching around the holidays.