Sunday, 28 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - Bad Santa

Bad Santa


Once upon a time they created movies without any attempt to make them family friendly and to maximise the return by pandering to the PG13 crowd and Bad Santa was one of those movies, Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is one half of the Mall/Store heist gang who play a Santa and an Elf to case the target and then rob them on christmas eve. His partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox) plays the sharp tongued Elf who not only is the brains behind the operation but continually has to pull his partners proverbial nuts out of the fire. After seven successful years of this annual crime splurge the duo are working at a mall outside of Phoenix and their paths cross with a handful of characters who will be their downfall or maybe salvation. The young boy Herman (Brett Kelly) truly believes Willie is the real Santa Claus and eventually takes him home and offers him refugee since Santa has been kicked out by Mrs Claus after he was caught messing around with her sister. Sue (Lauren Graham) is the bartender who has a slight fetish for Santa and pretty much becomes the love interest and another positive light in Willie's life, However the store dick (Bernie Mac) and manager (John Ritter) have suspicions and also play a hilarious and pivotal part in this redemption story.

The beauty of this movie is that at it's heart it is a feel good film, it is about redemption albeit in a very roundabout way but we see the young boy gain confidence and learn to stand on his own two feet, the bad guys (and there are many) get their comeuppance and those with an ounce of goodness get their rewards. You'll be laughing at some of the crude oh so crude humour but also at the wonder of the season seen through the eyes of Herman and I dare anyone to say that Sue is not one of the most understated sexiest woman on screen and who keeps all her clothes on, that is commendable from the actress and the director, remember this a 15 and R rated movie so there is flesh on display.
It's also sad to remember both Bernie Mac and John Ritter who have both since passed away, two great comedic actors who helped to make this movie so entertaining in two very different ways.

IMDB  Official Site

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - The Bishops Wife

The Bishops Wife

A young Bishop troubled by the complications of balancing his family and a drive to build a cathedral asks for guidance in a moment of weakness, he his answered when Dudley an Angel appears and takes the role of his new assistant. Dudley played by Cary Grant is charming and pleasant and easily enraptures all those around him except for Bishop Henry (David Niven) who through chance and his own choosing sees himself driven further away from the lives of his wife and child. Eventually he realises that the only thing really important to him his is family, not the cathedral or the bootlicking of the wealthy to obtain funding and at the moment Dudley reveals that guidance has been given and he leaves them never to return and with no memory of his visit.
The Bishops Wife was made in 1947 and at the time the cast were major "A" list which is surprising for what feels like a small movie but it's full of charm and warmth with a little bit of humour mixed in. Everyone puts on a good performance and even though I am not religious that story of a man losing faith not only in his higher calling but in the love of his family is a true tale of the season and we get the happy ending you would expect.

I imported the Blu-ray from the states, initial pressings had a video flaw but nothing evident in this copy and for an old movie it looked very nice indeed, the audio was very good and overall well worth owning on this format.
IMDB

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Scrooged

Scrooged


There have been many adaptations of the classic Dickens novel and to be honest those that stay within the traditional setting leave me a little dry so when I first watched Scrooged many moons ago it was because of Bill Murray. Since then I have watched the movie more times than I care to think about but no shame in the reasoning, it's an excellent reworking of the tale in a more modern era (well modern as in when it was made) and combines all the important aspects of the original with some very good comedic elements both through visual gags and some excellent writing and performances.

Again as with The Muppet Christmas Carol I am not going to bother recounting the story but lets say the massaging of some of the characters and additions makes this a strong contender for the best of the movie adaptations of a Christmas Carol.
Robert Mitchum was great in his small role and Karen Allen as always a delight and it's hard to fault any of the actors and I particular liked the score for the movie. It was also rewarding to have a movie that made full use of the talents of Bobcat Goldthwait without going over the top, his hunting rabbit line was inspired and a sign of the times, Lee Majors in a fun cameo :)


IMDB

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - Die Hard

Die Hard


The debate rages on if Die Hard really qualifies as a christmas movie, it's set during christmas and you could probably engineer the same circumstances for any major holiday but for me the christmas theme is always there and becomes part of the story so it qualifies in my book. So the story, New York Cop John McClane visits his family in LA as his wife took a good promotion but there are evident marital issues, it's not simply their jobs that are keeping them apart.
He arrives during the senior staff christmas party, the partially completed office building is the setting and before he even gets settled in the bad guys raid the festivities with a very heaving presence in terms of manpower, technical resources and fire power. They put forward a terrorist stance but it soon becomes apparent that this is a high tech raid against the companies vaults which contains hundreds of millions of dollars in bearer bonds. While their plan seems to be going flawlessly the "fly in the ointment" soons makes his presence felt after witnessing the murder of a senior company official and the war is on.


Die Hard from the opening scenes to the final credits is a classic action movie and is holding up very well as the years move on, yed technology wise the state of the art gadgets are laughable but the production and style of the movie seems to be proving ageless. Bruce Willis earned every penny of his then record breaking paycheck having really made the most of his success on tv with Moonlighting and negotiating a huge contract but he is ably supported by Alan RickmanBonnie Bedelia and Reginald VelJohnson. While I will always watch this movie over the christmas holidays it's also an option for when I want a good high energy action movie made when the studios were not afraid to make something for adults rather than the family.
Welcome To The Party Pal!
IMDB

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - Deadliest Catch

Deadliest Catch 

Deadliest Catch is another series I like to put aside and marathon over the holidays even though it's not really a serialised reality show but that aside this season was the tenth and you would think it would be getting a little stale but it isn't. Of course the finished product is manipulated and massaged to create drama where none really existed or heighten a real situation, it's not as blatant as many shows and I think that is why this is still my favourite show of this genre.
This season we saw the return of the Cornelia Marie to the fishing grounds as Josh Harris sinks all his money into getting the family business up and running, swings and roundabouts and a long road ahead. On the Northwestern the latest Hanson takes a trip into the Bering Sea but it's Sig's daughter so that left him in an awkward position as captain, wanting to make sure she gets the full experience but she is his little girl. The most intense moment was perhaps when the skipper of the Cornelia Marie had to do some very risky maneuvering when the ship while tied to a dock was in serious danger of being ripped from it's moorings and blown onto the shore. That was reality television at it's best, no grandstanding up playing up for the camera just honest danger and courageous men working together to protect a ship.


Friday, 19 December 2014

My Random Journey Through Trek #22

The Next Generation 

S7 All Good Things

All Good Things is the series finale a feature length/two parter episode which bookends the seven seasons magnificently and considering that Q was put into the premiere to pad the episode into a two parter it's quite an achievement that it all worked out in the end.
Picard wakes from a restless sleep not quite sure when yes when he is, he starts to believe he is existing in three separate time frames and he has some trouble convincing anyone that his experiences are really. The problem is that Picard in the future is suffering from Irumodic Syndrome which can colour his perceptions and that affliction is only discovered in the current time frame and in the earlier one he has just taken command of the Enterprise and has no real ties to the crew to generate the trust he requires. That said when an spatial anomaly appears in two of the time frames he has to investigate and eventually it is discovered in the same space in the three time frames and with Q once again looking to carry out the sentence of extinguishing the human race from ever existing it's up to Picard to see beyond his normal reality and embrace what the Universe can truly provide.

I watched All good Things from via the recently released Blu-ray which not only provides a truly excellent picture but an additional audio commentary so a good stand alone release for those who like me will not be buying the S7 boxset or the series boxset. The image really is very good, some great skin tones and of course the CGI looks pristine, over all a credit to the people who worked on the restoration. Of course this isn't really a Random Trek episode since I didn't bother with the random number generator but I think we can all agree this episode was more than worth overlooking the rules of this Star Trek rewatch:)
May I say Gates McFadden also looked spectacular in the episode and was perhaps the best made up for her characters older self, subtle and far more convincing that some of the guys, Patrick Stewart of course can look almost any age you want:)
A truly fitting finale to The Next Generation, wonderfully produced, expertly and tightly written making full use of the cast as well as mixing elements from the entire run of the series. I'm hesitant to say it's the best finale since the DS9 climax was really an epic multi-episode arc but lets go with All Good Things being the best standalone finale from Star Trek.

Rating 10

Seasonal TV Viewing - While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping 


A Sandra Bullock romantic comedy one of her earliest, produced after her breakout in Demolition Man and the huge hit Speed which really gave her career the boost into the star category. In this movie she is a lowly cashier/collector on the cities network of elevated railways who is mildly infatuated with a guy (Peter) she sees on daily basis. Working on a christmas eve she sees him accosted by some guys and he falls onto the tracks, she jumps on to the tracks as the train rushes towards them and saves his life. A slight hiccup at the hospital has the staff and the mans family believing she is his fiancee and this surprising but most welcome news helps the family get through the holidays while their older son is in a coma. Meanwhile complications mount up as the lie is played out and to add a further twist Lucy (Sandra Bullock) and Jack (the older brother) played by Bill Pullman fall in love but neither will admit it thanks to guilt and existing obligations.
It all comes to a head after Peter awakes from his coma and well he asks Lucy to marry him (for a second time as far as he knows).


While You Were Sleeping is an excellent romantic comedy and a good feel good christmas movie, there is not a bad character or performance in the entire film.
IMDB

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol


The Muppet Christmas Carol is for my money one of the best adaptations of the Dicken's classic every made by the movie industry, granted I am talking about pure entertainment and appeal to the whole family but for me it's only threatened by a certain Bill Murray movie for great viewing.
So we get Michael Caine playing Ebenezer Scrooge opposite an almost all muppet cast and the sheer scale of the puppetry in this movie is just so impressive, throw in some mild special effects and lots of musical numbers and the never ending humour you are onto a christmas winner.

I don't think I need to go into the story but it's faithful if a little more twisted but that's one of the beauties of the original source material, the intent remains but the setting and delivery can vary dramatically without taking away the heart of the story.
Rizzo and Gonzo are just a delight as the narrators.

IMDB

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - ELF

ELF

ELF is one of those classic christmas movies that really came out of nowhere, it stars Will Ferrell and it's probably the movie that secured his reputation in being able to carry a theatrical feature. It's also an excellent supporting case with James Caan, Mary Steenburgen and Zooey Deschanel. This is the story of Buddy who crawled into Santa's sack at the orphanage and was raised as an Elf at the North Pole, eventually he is told of his real identity and travels to New York to find his father who back in the day was unaware he had a son. All manner of fun and games commence thanks to the fish out of water plot combined with a sweet romance between Buddy and practically the first woman he really gets to know played by Zooey who it turns out has a beautiful voice.
Oh and Peter Dinklage rocks as the not unreasonable author who objects to being called an Elf.


One of my favourite christmas movies, lots of laughs with a little bit of  lightweight drama thrown in to counter what could be an overload over saccharine.
The Blu-ray and I assume the DVD has two excellent commentary tracks as well.
IMDB



Sunday, 14 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - The Lemon Drop Kid

The Lemon Drop Kid


How can you go wrong with a classic Bob Hope movie set around christmas? You can't and in The Lemon Drop Kid he plays a small time hustler who cons the wrong woman and her fella just happens to be a mob boss who then gives Sidney Milburn (Bob Hope) the run up to Christmas to get his hands on the $10000 or he doesn't see Christmas Day. He returns to New York and comes up with the idea to set up a "fake" charity providing a home for "old dolls" and then starts collecting cash dressed up as Santa along with dozens of other guys who he cons into feeling the christmas spirit. Eventually the real bad guys muscle in and the plan is exposed and at this time of year he is faced with himself and attempts to do the right thing with some humourous consequences.
IMDB



Bird Of Prey

I've been keeping my eye on the UK market for some of the Diamond Select / Art Asylum Star Trek ship models since you can't source direct from the US store. Prices can vary dramatically which I guess has a lot to do with supply and demand so when I saw the Klingon Bird of Prey for £26 I snapped it up and well it was well worth the money.
The model is large and heavy, very good build quality and the added sound and lighting effects are icing on the cake. My only issue and the same goes for my first Enterprise model is that I would have liked a more solid stand, infact I've looked into third party stands but they are comparatively expensive.





Friday, 12 December 2014

Seasonal TV Viewing - The Santa Clause 1, 2 & 3

The Santa Clause

The original movie really gave Tim Allen his first big hit on the cinema screen, a well produced and quite slick family friendly movie telling the tale of a work orientated father who has neglected his wife which led to a divorce and his young son wants little to do with him. This changes when Santa Claus falls from the roof of Scott Calvin's home and when he puts on the red coat the "clause" is triggered and he becomes Santa leading to an adventure with his son the likes of which money can not buy. Of course the next door Scott (Tim Allen) is in denial but his son is going around telling everyone of his adventures which eventually leads to him losing joint custody but when a year later he morphs back into Santa the opportunity arises to fix everything as long as the police don't arrest him first for kidnapping :)
IMDB

The Santa Clause 2

In the sequel set a few years later we see Scott is well adjusted to being Santa but his son is having trouble dealing with such a secret and is acting out at school and ends up on the naughty list. This would be bad enough but a second clause requires a Mrs Claus otherwise he will lose his right to be Santa come to Christmas Eve. Scott returns to Charlie and meets the very strict school principal played by Elizabeth Mitchell and after some clash of personalities the two find some common ground and a romance blossoms. Meanwhile back at the North Pole the "artificial" Santa which Curtis the Elf created to fill in for Santa has put everyone on the naughty list and is set to deliver coal to every child in the world. Will Scott save christmas, bond with his son and marry all before christmas day?
This is my favourite of the three movies, I love Elizabeth Mitchell in this role and will happily watch her in anything now so her guest spot on Once Upon A Time is highly appreciated :)
IMDB

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

This movie is probably the weakest of the trilogy but it certainly has a respectable line up of actors so it shouldn't be totally dismissed. Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell) is very pregnant but work pressure and not seeing her family for some time is causing a few issues and Jack Frost (Martin Short) is looking to get promoted and when all the families come to visit Canada (North Pole) he stirs up so much trouble the Scott is manipulated into wishing he had never become Santa and the final clause is triggered and time reverses back to the fateful time when Santa fell from the roof.
Scott realises he has no wife, no future child, his ex-wife is now divorced and never had her daughter and his son hates him even more so he returns to the North Pole which is now a money making resort complex and fights to reclaim his Santaness.
IMDB







Thursday, 11 December 2014

Banshee Season 3 Trailer

Banshee returns on the 9th of January, alas the UK Blu-ray isn't released until the 26th!


Enterprise Soundtrack Boxset

My Enterprise boxset arrived from La-La Land Records this morning, a little on the expensive side but I think it was worth it apart from one piece of music that will never be played, you know the one:)


The boxset comprises of four CD's and quite a comprehensive little booklet.



Seasonal TV Viewing - Hell On Wheels

Hell On Wheels 

Hell On Wheels is one of the shows I like to marathon mainly due to it's very strong narrative structure that really pays off if the viewer pays attention to all the little details in the over arcing story of not only each season but the whole series.
In this fourth season we learn what has befallen Cullen Bohannan while still a prisoner of the Mormon community, his wife is close to delivering his child but still the Swede is ruling with an iron silk covered fist. The railroad has hit a big problem and the government sends out a group of men to well turn things around which means the brutal enforcement of laws and regulations intended eventually to bring pretty much everything under the rule of the Washington elite, it ends in tragedy and bloodshed but as we know progress can be stalled but never stopped.
This fourth season was like those previous, epic in scope and design, the production is first rate with some truly grand vistas on display coupled with the everyday grime associated with a railroad town with no drainage or sanitation. We'll see some people rise and others fall and through it all Bohannan will seem to lead a charmed life while others pay for what are in part his mistakes.

Seasonal TV Viewing - Arctic Air

Arctic Air

I started off my annual holiday tv splurge with the third and final season of Arctic Air the Canadian drama loosely based on the exploits of Buffalo Airways who are featured in the reality drama Ice Pilots, I'm not 100% sure if there was a genuine agreement between the parties involved but the real life airline has certainly provided planes and backdrops for the fictional drama.
In this final season the story of the personal, economic and political issues surrounding the airline and the communities it serves come to the forefront as drilling rights, local and national laws and long held grudges boil over.
If you are a fan of Stargate then you'll certainly be happy with both the regular, recurring and guest actors who appear in the show, there are many familiar faces but that aside once again we get a very well produced hour of television with full use made of real world locations and of course aircraft. No question this show would have been vastly more expensive if filmed in the US or Europe but it's not only the economics of Canada that makes this series work, the scenery is stunning and perhaps only Australia would be able to match the grandeur that is a feast to the eyes.

Official Site
IMDB