Romantic Movies for Valentines Day

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So it’s Valentine’s Day. You and your sweetie have had a romantic dinner, or a nice walk (pleasant and warm even with the chill in the air), arm in arm, hand in hand, you decide to go back to the apartment and have a cuddle while watching a romantic movie that isn’t overly sappy… What do you choose?

Well, here’s a few of my favorites, ones that are always reliable and I always enjoy watching, and I can be a total hopeless romantic, so how’s that for a pedigree?

In no particular order we have…

CARTEL ITALIANO - 70x100Casablanca (1942) – What’s not to love about this one? There’s fantastic music, there are fantastic performances by Bogart and Bergman, some of the most quoted and misquoted dialogue ever, and what an ending!

Sacrifice, heartbreak, love, all set against the backdrop of World War II, as trouble comes in to Rick’s Cafe American in the form of the lovely Ilsa. They were lovers in Paris before the Germans rolled in, and she left him with nothing but a letter while he waited at the train station. Now, she strolls back into his life, hoping to obtain travel visas that he has. And she’s come in with her husband, resistance hero, Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid).

Who does she really love? What is she going to do? A beautifully crafted film, with enduring characters and moments, that still have the same resonance in the human soul, even as time goes by…

when_harry_met_sally_ver2_xlgWhen Harry Met Sally (1989) – A perfect companion piece to Casablanca as the main characters, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) talk about Ilsa’s choices throughout the movie, even as their own relationship, romance, break-up and more happen to them…

Crystal and Ryan have great chemistry together, and are surrounded by a stong cast including Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, and there is a great soundtrack featuring some great tunes, including Harry Connick Jr. belting out It Had To Be You.

Yes, one could argue this movie is a good New Year’s Eve movie, what with the film’s climax, but it’s also a great film about two people who hate each other, become friends, sleep together, hate one another, and fall in love…

There are some priceless moments in this film, including Sally’s faux orgasm in the delicatessen, that have gone on to make film history. But at it’s heart it is almost the perfect rom-com.

sleepless-in-seattle-movie-poster-1993-1020191176Sleepless In Seattle (1993) – I love the three films that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have done together, Joe Versus the Volcano, You’ve Got Mail, and this middle film, Sleepless In Seattle. These series of films, along with Harry Met Sally, are my favorite performances from Ryan. Hanks plays widowed and single parent Sam Baldwin. One night, his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger) calls into a radio talk show to talk about his dad, when the announcer gets Sam on the phone to chat, Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) on her way to a Christmas party, here’s the interview and just connects with him.

Sam begins to think about getting back out there, and maybe meeting someone, and Annie begins to feel that she has to meet Sam, until finally Jonah, who has been going through all the ‘fan-mail’ Sam’s gotten from his radio appearance insists Annie is the one, and arranges for everyone to meet atop the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

This one makes a nice tie-in with An Affair To Remember, in that the film is referenced throughout.

Once again, this one has fantastic music, has a sweet heart, and you want these two to end up together, you know things won’t always be perfect, but you know they’ll make a wonderful couple, and wonderful family, and hey… It’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, what’s not to like about that?

notorious_xlgNotorious (1946) – Alfred Hitchcock’s classic is a very welcome member of this list, as Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman take center stage in this tense drama. Grant plays Devlin, a government agent, who approaches Alicia Huberman (Bergman), who’s German father was convicted of treason, to go to South America and infiltrate a group of Nazis who escaped there after the war.

As the film progresses, Devlin falls more and more in love with Alicia, even as she falls deeper and deeper into her work.

Hitchcock has crafted a masterful film, that allows these two actors as well as Claude Rains as lead Nazi Alexander Sebastian and Leopoldine Konstantin as his mother.

It becomes apparent very quick that Devlin is falling for Alicia in a big way, and is worried about the risks she’s taking, especially when Sebastian begins to suspect that she may not be all that she is pretendibg to be.

A fantastic classic film that I need to watch again very soon!

love-actually-movie-poster-3762Love Actually (2003) – Yes, it’s a movie that is set at Christmas, yes, this one is a gimme, but it also has a brilliant, star-studded cast, is a British comedy, and definitely wears its heart on its sleever. You either love it or you hate it.

Hugh Grant is the new PM who finds love at 10 Dowling St, Liam Neeson is a single widower, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson are a married couple who are about to fall on hard times when Thompson’s character lears Rickman’s is having an affair, Martin Freeman and Joanna Page are stand-ins for a porn film, Kiera Knightley is married to Chiwetel Ejiofor but his best friend is in love with her, Colin Firth is heartbroken when his girlfriend is discovered cheating and heads off to a remote location to work on his book… And Bill Nighy is an elderly rocker with a new version of the classic tune Love is All Around just in time for Christmas.

The story weaves in and out, has laughter, and tears, and proves that if you want a romantic comedy done right, you should leave it to the Brits.

This one you can watch anytime of the year and share with those you love.

eternal_sunshine_of_the_spotless_mind_ver4Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her entire relationship with Joel (Jim Carrey) erased via a new technology. Out of spite Joel decides to undergo the same procedure, but over the course of the evening, as the memories are expunged from his mind, he realizes that he wants to hold onto all the moments he had with Clementine, good and bad.

He tries to hide her in other memories, clinging to every little bit of her he can recall, even though in the real world she doesn’t even know him anymore, and someone else, Patrick (Elijah Wood), is using her removed memories to try and romance her in the way that Joel did.

Filled with heartache, honesty, and the belief that love isn’t going to be perfect but that it is going to be real, this film touches a chord inside me.

I feel bad that I don’t watch often, but I enjoy it everytime I do, the concept of memories and how we perceive others, and that timid and easily hurt form that is the human heart in love…

This is a gorgeous film that never fails to disappoint.

serendipitySerendipity (2001) – John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale…  I like them both, throw in Eugene Levy, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan and you’ve got a fun little romantic comedy. Cusack and Beckinsale are Jonathan and Sarah, who have one chance meeting one night in New York at a department store counter, and spend a wonderful evening together.

Sarah believes that if they are meant to be together, life will find a way to bring them back into one another’s lives, and slowly, but inevitably, they begin to intertwine as marriage is on the horizon for both of them.

Imbued with a gentleness, a sense of fun, and one that makes you want to believe that things like this can happen all the time (and who says that they don’t?! Sometimes some insanely crazy things happen in this world, and makes you wonder if we really are all connected somehow), Serendipity never fails to entertain me.

I love when Cusack plays comedy, and I also enjoy anytime he and Piven share the screen together, because they are comic gold!

Also, a good portion of it was shot here in Toronto (posing for New York) and I love learning stufff like that!

last_of_the_mohicans_ver2_xlgThe Last of the Mohicans (1992) – At the most inorppotune times, I find myself stopping and exclaiming… “You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.” That, or whistling the brilliant score by Trevor Jones…

Daniel-Day Lewis plays Hawkeye, who is asked to oversee the protection of Cora Munro (Madelilne Stowe) while war between the French and English wage around them.

Slowly the romance between the two develop, much to the chagrin of the British officer who would have Cora for his own, and climaxes in a massive pursuit that sees Hawkeye facing down all comers as he seeks to save her from a raiding party of Huron, led by the vicious Magua (Wes Studi).

Fantastically paced, and interweaving well-crafted action sequences with stong characters and an engaging love story, this one doesn’t get enough play in my blu-ray as it should!

it-happened-one-night-poster__largeIt Happened One Night (1934) – This is a film I was just introduced to recently, filling a blind spot that had been left there for way too long, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Obviously, some of it is a little dated, but the characters, the whip-smart dialogue, and the premise all stand the test of time.

Clark Gable is newspaper man Petter, Claudette Colbert is Ellie, a bit of a rich girl who is trying to get to New York to meet her fiancee, despite her father’s opposition.

The two get thrown together, and smelling a story, Peter agrees to help, as he’ll get an exculsive, but along the way, the two of them begin to first get on one anothers’ nerves, then under the skin, and finally into the heart.

Although neither of them realize that almost until the last moments of the film.

Frank Capra made a romantic, funny and escapist film that 80 years on can still entertain you. Don’t give this one a miss!

pbThe Princess Bride (1987) – Another gimme, but this one is a winner each and everytime, whole-hearedly romantic, action, and tons of comedy, this film has something for everyone and sends me back to the first time I saw it back in 87 every time I watch it.

Learning the stable boy she loved is dead, Buttercup (Robin Wright) agrees to marry Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon). The prince has other plans for her, he wants her dead so that he can have a war, and things seem to be headed that way when she’s kidnapped by Inigo (Mandy Patinkin), Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and Vizzini (Shawn Wallace). A masked man, the dread pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes) comes to her rescue.

Revelations, adventure, revenge, monsters, death, and true love make up this film directed by Rob Reiner from William Goldman’s beloved book.

It also features music by Dire Straits frount man Mark Knopfler, and like every other title on this list, has easily stood the test of time, don’t you think?

Finally as an honorable mention I wanted to mention two Pixar films that have incredible love stories in them.

wall_e_ver11The first almost entirely silent half of  Wall-E (2008) where a little trash droid meets  and the probe named EVE, who has come to Earth to see if it is suitable for human colonization again.

After interminable years of being alone, but for his friend, a cockroach, Wall-E is dumbstruck by EVE and falls for her almost immediately. For her, it takes a little longer, but watching the beauty of their relationship come to life is something to see.

And the first 15 minutes of Up (2009) when Carl and Ellie meet as children, become inseperable, choose to live and love one another despite the tragedies that life often brings, and celebrate the beauty of it as well, until the final heart-breaking moments that will eventually send Carl on the adventure he’s dreamed about all of his life.

Pixar knows how to make them.

So, what will you be watching this Valentine’s Day?

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Doctor Who Christmas Special 2013 – The Time of The Doctor

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And just like that 11′s (Matt Smith) time is done. His last adventure as the Doctor has played out across our screens, and now, we are left in the hands of Peter Capaldi’s newly arrived Doctor, although far in my opinion, his appearance in this episode was way too brief, I was hoping he would do something besides exclaim about not liking the color of his kidneys and not knowing how to pilot the TARDIS.

The episode, penned by Steven Moffat, spans centuries for the Doctor, or one interminable Christmas dinner with the Clara (Jenna Coleman) and her family. The Doctor arrives, along with almost every one of his enemies on the perimeter of a planet, summoned by an indecipherable message, that according to the severed head, called Handles, the Doctor is lugging about tells him is from Gallifrey. We learn rather quickly, that it is the Doctor’s final resting place, as we’ve seen it. This is Trenzalore.

An impossible thing, as we know that Gallifrey is out there in a pocket universe somewhere, arriving on the planet surface, he learns they are in a town called Christmas, why not, there’s an island named Easter! Enveloped in a truth field, the town exists in an almost eternal night, draped in snow.  It is here that the message is figured out, and the crack in the universe returns… It seems Gallifrey is on the other side, sending out the message, which is The Question… Doctor Who??

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If he answers, he has to answer truthfully, and the timelords will know it is safe to return, but that would bring all the forces in orbit around the planet down on them, and the time war would resume.

So in a perpetual stalemate as long as The Doctor stays, time passes, he ages…

Clara returns to him a couple of times throughout the centuries, but he returns her to Earth every time, to keep her save, all while the Doctor grows older, holding his enemies at bay…

Until as he finally begins to weaken the Daleks, the Cybermen, almost all of his enemies (always creepy and welcoming to see both The Silence and the Weeping Angels) begin their assault on the planet…

Clara’s plea to Gallifrey gets us around the regeneration problem, as the Doctor has actually used them all…

He saves the day one last time, as he’s regenerating…

But then, like that… GONE.

And a new man stands there…

And what adventures will he lead us on?

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There is humor in this episode, nods to all that Matt Smith has done as the Doctor, though I think River Song should have appeared, somehow.

The whole way through the episode though, I was leaning forward, just wanting to get a glimpse of Capaldi as the Doctor.

I didn’t feel cheated by his appearance, but I wish we could have had a minute or two with him before the episode’s close. Especially since it seems we have to wait until Autumn for any episodes with our new Doctor.

Oh well.

What did you think of the episode? What are your favorite moments with Matt’s Doctor and are you excited about the new Doctor?

I’m very eager for new Who, but I am also about to start a new series of posts, I’m going back to the very first story, An Unearthly Child (aka 100,000 BC) and going to write them up as I watch them…

Who’s your favorite all time Doctor? Story? Monster?

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The Hunt For Red October (1990) – John McTiernan

the-hunt-for-red-october-movie-poster-1990-1020196499Tom Clancy’s techno-thriller, which I remember reading back in grade 9, when my friend Michael introduced me to it and after that, every Christmas until I 1989, I would receive Clancy’s new novel in hardcover for Christmas, was put to film by John McTiernan. Coming off of the incredible run of success that Predator and Die Hard had given for him, McTiernan turned his eye to the bringing Jack Ryan to the screen.

Alec Baldwin plays the incarnation of CIA analyst Ryan in this entry on the 101 Action Movies list, but it is Sean Connery who delivers the stand out performance.

I love this film – this was one of the movies that I would put on all the time when I was working in a video store, its dialogue heavy, and I would just wander around delivering the lines in time, and working on my Sean Connery impersonation (see the Ladies of Seed episode of The Mind Reels for THAT!).

baldwinJack is called from his home in London, where he lives with his wife (Gates McFadden – the only woman in the movie but for a stewardess with any lines!), back to Virgina, and the CIA when a new submarine that can run virtually silent is launched from Russia under the command of Marko Ramius (Connery).

Ryan is called in to figure out Ramius’ motivations as he captains the Red October into the Atlantic and completely disappears… is he defecting? Is he starting World War III?

The cast is packed with familiar faces, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn, Timothy Carhart, Richard Jordan, Joss Ackland, Tim Curry and Stellan Skarsgard, and each of them is given their moment.

samIn fact, after Jurassic Park, I think this is my favorite role for Sam Neill, playing Ramius’ friend Vasili Borodin, he’s kind of quiet and reserved, and the scene he shares with Connery during the Crazy Ivan is one of my favorites.

As both American and Russian forces rush to find Red October before the other, politics are played out behind the scenes as Ryan presents his info to the Security Council and ends up having to go out into the field to prove his theory.

conneryThe claustrophobic environments of the submarines help to raise the tension throughout the film, which keeps building until the final showdown with the Red October, with Ryan trying to stop a missile launch that would plunge the world into war.

All of it is underscored by Basil Poledouris’ stirring music and choral a soundtrack that got a lot of play on my walkman when I finally tracked one down! (soundtrack that is not a walkman).

Scott Glenn’s Mancuso (my fave role for him outside of Silverado and The Right Stuff) and Connery’s Ramius are perfect mirrors of one another, calm and smart commanders who can think, and out think their enemies.

The Thor’s Twins sequence is wonderfully fantastic, the way the dialogue cracks, as orders are given, tensions rise, and at the center of it, maintaining his own count, and inner map, Ramius, quietly giving orders, and outmaneuvering his pursuers. Brilliant.

octoberThis is a film that in the wrong hands could have come off as cheap, and hokey, but the effects work (the Red October sub was filmed on a smoke-filled stage, and was never filmed in water) is top-notch, the actors all bring their A-game, and the details and the tech all have the ring off authenticity.

This is one of my favorite submarine movies of all time, along with Das Boot…

How about you?

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Iron Man 3 (2013) – Shane Black

iron-man-3-international-posterRobert Downey Jr returns to the big screen as Tony Stark, a man haunted and troubled by the events that befell the Avengers…

Taking over directing duties from Jon Favreau, Shane Black, who seems to have a fascination for setting movies during the Christmas season (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) also wrote the script alongside Drew Pearce.

Tony hasn’t been sleeping, has been suffering from anxiety attacks, and isn’t being the most attentive fellow when it comes to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Shane Black’s scripts and films tend to put characters in dark spaces and have them fight their way back… In this one Tony is stripped right down as he goes after The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) while investigating a bombing which left his friend, and former bodyguard Happy (Favreau) in a coma.

As he states in a press conference, its pure revenge.

Not exactly a shining beacon of hope and light.

Iron_Man_3_a_lHe calls out The Mandarin who attacks Tony in his home, allowing for a stunning sequence where practically everything is destroyed. Pepper and Tony save one another’s lives, along with scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) who has been working on a project since Tony first, well, seduced her, in 1999, called Extremis. Anyone who knows the comics knows what this means…

The same evening, he brushes off Guy Pearce’s nerdish Aldrich Killian, who later returns with romantic designs on Pepper and a hopeful alliance with Stark Industries.

The Extremis project allows for limb and life regeneration, but it doesn’t work for everyone, sometimes with disastrous consequences. The Mandarin has a plan with the president (William Sadler) in its cross hairs. And Tony must do all he can, without his suit, which dies out after escaping an Mandarin attack and flying to a backwater town. It’s there he meets up with a young kid named Harley (Ty Simpkins).

IRON MAN 3Now usually when a kid turns up in an action flick of this nature I start to worry, hoping that we’re not descending into some buddy-type action movie with fart jokes. Not this time around, Harley actually helps in a believable way, and Simpkins makes him a real kid. I was pleasantly pleased with that side of the story.

Rhodey (Don Cheadle) gets his moments as well, as War Machine is rebranded as the Iron Patriot and gets to give Tony a helping hand, all while worrying about his friend’s conditions.

There were a couple of things that bothered me, after three films establishing AC/DC as kind of Tony’s signature music… there wasn’t a single track used this time around, though I do like Brian Tyler’s score and the other big thing was that amazingly, the Iron Man suit seems to be one size fits all. Weird.

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I loved that we saw Tony in a darker place this time around, confronting his demons, though I’m still hoping we get one based on his alcoholism as well.

Black’s story and direction seemed the perfect place to take Tony after the events of The Avengers, and continues to make him a human character, which makes him all the more appealing to the viewer. The film is also stock full of pop culture references and witty throwaway one-liners that I guarantee you won’t catch the first time around (his escape from the Mandarin’s complex starts out hilariously), my favorite is when Tony faces off against an Extremis-enhanced soldier named Savin (James Badge Dale) and refers to him as Westworld! I was the only one in the audience that laughed at that. Probably because I’m the only one that got the reference… sigh.

Iron-Man-3-Air-Force-OneThe aerial sequences are stunning, all the more so for the 3D IMAX presentation, the entire film is gorgeously shot, and edited, running for a just enough 130 minutes. But even as soon as it was over, I would have happily turned around to watch it again.

And of course, the smart viewer knows to stay in their seat for the post-credit stinger and this one was well worth the wait, eliciting laughter and smiles from those of us who remembered to stay.

Having already made $175 million over its opening weekend, I’d say Marvel continues to do something right with their properties, and they are continuing to attract top-name talent to be involved in it.

That being said, I do want DC’s Man of Steel to be good, Superman is a character that has long resonated with me, but for me Tony Stark is just plain cool.

Did you see it over the weekend? 2D? 3D? IMAX? What are your thoughts?

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Silent Night Deadly Night (1984) – Charles E. Sellier, Jr.

silent_night_deadly_night_poster_02Anchor Bay was kind enough to send along copies of this film to me for a look, and I had to admit I was suitably intrigued, never having seen it when I was younger because horror films weren’t quite my thing yet, and of course, the whole furor over trying to get it banned (which even now, strikes me as silly).

I have to say, I was taken aback by how fun, and how good it was. As long as you know what you’re getting into it, it’s a slasher film set at Christmas. Course added to that, that I’m not really a big Xmas fan, this one was right up my alley. (My favorite holiday movies are Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, although my favorite specials are A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Muppet Family Christmas so there you are…).

The thing I found most intriguing, and would’ve been worth examining further, was the concept that the lead character, Billy (Robert Brian Wilson) was forced to become something he feared and hated and then became it completely.

That’s a concept I find fascinating.

The film opens with little Billy and his family going to visit his grandfather (Will Hare) on Christmas Eve. All well and good, until you learn grandpa lives in a mental institution, and while he’s catatonic when everyone else is about, as soon as he’s left alone with little Billy (why would you do that!?!?) he warns little Billy that if you haven’t been good all year, then Santa will punish you when he comes tonight.

Creepy.

Then on the way home, his parents are brutalized and murdered by someone dressed as Santa Claus.

Not exactly the best Xmas ever. The boy is scarred, perhaps not irreversibly, but deeply. With the right aid, he may have adapted. Instead, he and his wee baby brother (can you spell sequel?) are sent to an orphanage, run by a domineering Mother Superior (Lilyan Chauvin), who believes more in beating the evil out of you rather than diagnosing and curing it like her associate, Sister Margaret (Gilmer McCormick).

Sister Margaret does her best with him, and eventually gets the young man, now 18, a job at Ira’s Toys. At first he seems to fit right in, and seems to have the eye of a young co-worker, Pamela (Toni Nero), all until his boss requires him to stand-in for Santa Claus (instead of declining, “just make some excuse” was my answer).

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It finally proves too much for him, he snaps, becoming the thing he hates and fears most of all, and does what he believes has to be done…

Punish the naughty.

(Which also has a great moment with the Mother Superior, in front of a room full of children proclaiming “There is no Santa Claus” over and over again).

The version Anchor Bay so kindly sent me, is apparently as uncut as it comes, and clocks in at about 85 minutes, you can tell where bits of the film have been cut in, as there is a change in film quality, but it makes for a bloody, and yes I admit it, enjoyable film. Like I said though, I would have wanted more from the idea of Billy ‘becoming’ Santa Claus.

Yes, the gore factor is at a typical 80s level, in other words, fairly benign when compared with modern-day films, but that doesn’t make it any less fun…

bowI only have one real question… what kind of store sells a bow and arrow? A sporting goods store sure, but a toy store? Anyway…

I actually had a lot of fun with this film, and as Billy makes his way to the orphanage where he grew up to check off the naughty and nice list, I couldn’t help but marvel at the backdrops they used, shot on location in Utah, there are some really sweeping shots of mountains and expanses of land, which does amazing work at boosting the film’s perceived production value.

It’s a truly enjoyable 80s slasher film with everything you’d expect, blood, breasts, kills, and in this case, a really interesting villain. I’m looking forward to having a look at the updated version Silent Night.

If you haven’t seen it, and are looking for something a little different for the Holiday season, have a look… If you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

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Rare Exports

I know. It’s only April, so what the hell am I doing watching a movie about Santa Claus?

Well… the short answer is I’ve wanted to see this Finnish film since I first heard about it.

And now I have.

I was simply delighted with this film. If you take equal parts Goonies, The Thing, Monster Squad and A Christmas Story and gave the kid an actual shotgun, not a pellet gun, you might get somewhere close to the fun that this movie entails.

You see, Santa Claus as we know him is a creation of the Coca-Cola company, sad but true, look it up. The idea of Santa, however, is an old one. And the jolly old fellow, in some versions of his history were not always nice, and naughty children were often punished brutally.

Which brings us to our young hero, Pietari (Onni Tommila). He and his friend are spying on an a dig atop a mountain, where they overhear that the excavators are looking for something, and are going to blast into the depths of the mountain to find it.

Soon, the herd of reindeer that were to supply Pietari and his hard-working, lonely, and trying to do right father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) turn up dead, there are bare footprints appearing across the roof of their home, and outside Pietari’s window, there are creepy, old, bearded, naked men stalking through the snow, and children are vanishing.

Our young hero, who spends most of his time, armored up in his hockey gear, towing a stuffed toy on a leash behind him, and a shotgun strapped across his back, kicks into research mode, learning that the mountain was man-made, burying a malignant creature.

The beauty of the film, in addition to its locations, which looks cold, but lovely, is that everything is played straight, which makes it so much fun!

The creepy old guys are exactly that, and there are hundred of them, as we learn (also explaining how Santa can be everywhere in one night), but much like Santa, you don’t want to be naughty. They’re violent and liable to attack you at any moment, unless you’re well-behaved.

I can see why this film has already achieved cult status in some circles. It’s certainly found its way into my pantheon of favorite Christmas movies which includes films like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

If you’re looking for something a little different, and a lot of fun, you should track this one down. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

A Haven Christmas

“You think it’s Christmas too? It’s July.”

“Yeah…?”

Haven is my kind of Christmas episode. Anyone who knows me, or listened to our short podcast the other week, knows I’m not a huge fan of Christmas movies or shows in general, though Doctor Who, Charlie Brown, and the Muppets all tend to get passes, and have never let me down at Christmas.

This week my friend Ryan over at The Matinee seemed to take it as a personal affront that I didn’t like the movie Elf. Sorry folks.

However, a quick jaunt to Haven, Maine definitely hit the right spot for holiday cheer for me.

Without giving away the plot too much for those haven’t seen it yet, I’ll just say it focuses on a troubled person who is making things vanish, and nobody remembers them! – I know that kinda thing has been done before on a number of series, the one the pops right to mind is the one from Next Generation with Doctor Crusher trapped in an ever-collapsing spatial/temporal bubble that is removing people from her universe as if they never existed but it is a spooky idea.

And Haven does it well.

The episode also makes use of the song Silent Night anytime something associated with the “trouble” is about to happen, that’s cool… cause I never trusted that song.

As always there are tons of moments that are just sheer enjoyment for people who watch and love the series.

The moment with some mistletoe at the ep’s end made me laugh out loud.

There’s the oh-so-important refs to Stephen King and this time there’s a few, Derry gets mentioned again, there’s a very obvious Under The Dome ref, and I loved the name of the movie showing at the Haven cinema… The Bark Tower: A Dog’s Lighthouse.

This is what a Christmas ep should be about, not commercialism, and sorry, but not religion (that’s a whole kettle of fish to avoid), but the one thing we tend to take for granted and never tell them how important they really are, or that they are loved – friends and family.

If we all did that a little more often, that might be a real Christmas miracle.

So go visit Haven one last time before the long wait for Season 3, and I hope you and yours have a Happy Holiday!

What Did I Watch This Week? Vol. 4

Hey there again everyone!

So another week has gone by, and I had time to watch a few things this time.

Sue and I went to see Hugo this afternoon and chatted briefly about it in our podcast today, so I won’t rehash it here. Suffice to say though that I really enjoyed it.

I found time to watch the week’s ep of Lost Girl Monday, it was good as always, but following up the Original Skin episode would’ve been tough for any series! But, as you all know, we have a lot of love for that series here, and hmmm… what’s going on with The Ash?

I am getting excited though, not for Christmas so much as what Christmas will bring… New Doctor Who!! WOO HOO! And while I didn’t care for all of the second half of the last series, I still liked it for the fact that it was The Doctor!

Hey, every single one of them has their good and bad stories, you simply take it in stride and enjoy the moments.

The Christmas episodes are always light and fun though and the Doctor does tend to shine in those moments.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the TARDIS has in store for us next year!

I did waste a bit of time this week revisiting an 80s ‘horror’ film, which was probably better left alone…

House.

Featuring Willilam Katt and George Wendt, I remembered enjoying this more when I was younger… but this is just an oddball film. It follows a horror writer (Katt) as he moves into the house of his recently deceased aunt to work on a memoir of his tour of duty in Vietnam.

As luck would have it, this was also the house he grew up in, and where his marriage fell apart thanks to the abduction of his child.

Obviously a place you’d want to revisit and hang around in.

But that’s what he does and meets up with his neighbor NORM!! I mean George Wendt, who sounds like he just needs a friend.

The house is apparently haunted or infested with cross-dimensional beings, and though they’re called ghosts they certainly don’t look it – must be the rubber suit aspect.

The film ends up being goofy fun, but has no real substance, and probably would’ve been one of those forgotten movies of the 80s if I didn’t remember the decade so fondly.

Then, I threw on a blu-ray of one of the films that is probably in my top 25 comedies of all time, and I’m really not a spoof fan, but this one just works for me… It’s a send of the 70s blaxploitation movies, and it’s called…

Black Dynamite.

And every time I see this movie I catch something that I missed before.

Booms dipping into frame and hitting Afros. A kung fu coach dressed as Mickey from Rocky. Actors obviously reading cue cards, including their stage directions aloud. A nun-chuck weilding President. A change in actors halfway through a fight scene. Some bang-on dialogue. Unlit cigarettes being smoked. A musical sting every time Black Dynamite does something cool. An orphanage filled with little kids waiting for their next hit of The Drugs. All of it intentional, and all of it is played straight, which is what makes the film so damned funny.

It has everything you’d expect from the genre, big hair, 70s collars, soul music, sexy ladies, pimps, hos, drug dealers and kung fu.

It’s a riot.

BD is an ex-CIA operative who gets pulled back in to find the man who murdered his brother, and gets mired in a conspiracy involving drugs, malt liquor, and a dastardly plan from The Man.

There are tons of laughs in this film, and if you know the genre you’ll get a lot out of it. Even if you don’t if you can get into the first couple minutes of the film, it’s worth your time.

So that’s what I watched…

What did you watch?