Archive for December, 2014

Top 10 Films of 2014

Posted: December 31, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized
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It’s almost 2015, and year-end lists are all over the internet. So, I thought I’d take a break from taking a break from blogging and give you my list of top 10 films of 2014. Before proceeding, however, allow me to add a few important caveats. First, I have not seen every film released in 2014; There are several films, such as Leviathan and Whiplash, that I suspect would makMV5BMTYzNDc2MDc0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwMDQ5MTE@._V1__SX626_SY660_e this list had I found time to see them. In other words, don’t be too offended if your film isn’t on the list. Also, please keep in mind that this list is not my way of telling you what to watch. There are things in the following movies that may offend a number of people for a number of reasons. Please (as always) be discerning. That being said, here are my top ten films of the year.

Boyhood: It’s heartbreaking, moving, and provocative—with scope and ambition unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I shared some thoughts on it earlier this year.

MV5BMTk0NzMzODc2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTYzNTM1MzE@._V1__SX1394_SY676_The Babadook: Jennifer Kent makes her feature-length directorial debut in this beautifully (yes, beautifully) crafted horror film. Kent avoids the cheap jump-scares that are indicative of the genre and offers up plenty of subtext instead, making for a truly horrifying meditation on motherhood and human nature.

The Lego Movie: I appreciate a “kid’s” movie that is well-done, fun, and gives you with something to think about when you leave the theater. This one fits the bill.

Foxcatcher: Okay, I was skeptical going into this one because of Steve Carell. He delivers and deserves an Oscar nomination. The supporting cast is great, too. Greig Fraser’s cinematography sets the tone for this bleak, wintry tale.

Birdman: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film about a washed-up actor (whose only claim to fame is his former role as a superhero called Birdman) who adapts, directs, and stars in a Broadway production of a Raymond Carver short story is very meta. Edward Norton’s first scene in the film is acting at its finest.

Blue Ruin: A revenge tale where revenge isn’t all glory, glamor, and levity.

A Most Wanted Man: Regular readers of RT know that I’m a fan of spy films. I’m also a fan of John le Carré novels. So when an adaptation of one of his novels comes along that features the undeniable talent of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s bound to end up on this list. You can read some more of my thoughts on A Most Wanted Man here.

manGuardians of the Galaxy: It’s a lot of fun, and it had me “Hooked on a Feelin’” all year long.

Gone Girl: I thought about this movie for weeks after I saw it. Fincher’s direction is solid, but Trent Reznor’s contribution to the soundtrack is outstanding.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Back to the spy movies we go. TWS is a really smart comic book movie with plenty of references to the paranoia films of the 1970s (especially 3 Days of the Condor).

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Reel List: Top 10 Christmas Flicks

Posted: December 24, 2014 by jperritt in Reel Lists, Seasonal

Emilio’s Top 10:

You need to understand something first: I am from Brazil, a country situated in the so called Southern Hemisphere. In this way the seasons here happen in opposite order as in the USA. So Christmas here happens during Summer. We do not have a Christmas school break in which we have a nice movie/family season to watch flicks drinking hot chocolate while the snow falls. Christmas is right in the middle of summer break, so the movie tradition here is much smaller; we are too busy playing in the water. And of course, being hot weather things are quite different: Santa sweats like a maniac, we go to the beach during Xmas and so on. Another disclaimer: I find Christmas movies usually to be pretty bad. Rare exceptions. I know what you are thinking: “grinch-hearted blogger.”

My favorites, in no particular order:

The Grinch stole the Christmas

Not Jim Carrey’s live-action, but the old cartoon. Perritt also mentioned this (he may have telepathically stolen the idea from my head). Man, I used to watch this thing every year. I remember something funky about his heart being small and that used to freak me out mightily. Need to rewatch this one.

Pan’s Labyrinth

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love it dearly. I will, one of those days, write a post on it. This is a good movie that I like to watch every year, and usually at this season. It is set in Spanish and it is well worth the effort of reading some subtitles. Guillermo Del Toro at his finest. Behold the trailer

The nightmare before Christmas

Tim Burton wrote (but not directed) this lunacy, this creepy story full of interesting stuff. And of weird stuff. It involves the idea of a man (?!) that finds out about the Xmas season and suggests to his people replacing Halloween with Christmas; and the many decidedly weird things and characters that accompany it. Just watch it.

JAWS

Remember: Brazil-December-Summer. So this is the kind of thing we would watch at beach/Christmas season, and of course, decide to stay in the sand. Like scared little girls. At least we had soccer.

Gremlins

Another one that used to spook me. They showed this every year in December. All those rules. I was always a bit concerned that someone would gift me a Gizmo and I would end up messing up the rules, feeding him in the wrong time, getting him wet and all that… OS Gremlins, a true nightmare before Christmas. I know grown adults who only watched this as children and who were so spooked that they refuse to see it today, in which occasion they would sigh with relief at discovering that the movie is funnier than scarier.

Scrooged

Bill Murray is the man. Here he has to deal with the wickedness of his ways and heart. Lovely and funny movie. The ghosts of Xmas past are there to teach him what life is about. And if you are not careful, you may learn a lesson or two yourself…

Die Hard

This classic, #epicwin action movie is set during Christmas. Of course, people are too busy running to and from terrorists to bother with mistletoe, but the delicious movie uses several Christmas songs and is quite good, having set the tone for action movies for decades now. It has a magnificent villain; superb action; it has great phrases, such as “Ho Ho Ho now I have a machine gun.” So, there. Here are some videos of scenes from DH 1 and DH2 coupled with the Xmas song I hate the most (warning, there is some red syrup that looks like blood in the video).

John Perritt’s Top 10:

Each year our family goes to Ousterhout Christmas Tree farm near Pelahatchie, MS, to participate in one of the longest lasting traditions of the Christmas holidays. If you think about it, cutting down a tree, bringing it into your house, and putting lights and decorations on it is somewhat of a strange tradition. However, it is one of the Christmas traditions that is shared by many, and, something we can all enjoy. While many of these traditions do not directly point to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Christians can still participate in them and enjoy them as they help us to remember the first advent (and anticipate the second) of our King.
Similarly, some of the Christmas movies mentioned below do not help in telling the story of the birth of Christ, however, there are many I enjoy during the Christmas holidays. As we have mentioned, every film communicates truth from Scripture, but this post will not get into parallels or themes. Rather, this is simply a list of films I enjoy each Christmas season, with a few comments. Some of these films will be discussed, in detail, at a later date.
So here is my top 10 list, in no particular order:

Home Alone (1990): synopsis – A young boy named Kevin McAlister is left home alone while his parents head to France for the Christmas holidays. While at home, Kevin, tortures two would-be criminals that attempt to rob the McAlisters and many other homes in the neighborhood. If two criminals getting tortured by an eight-year-old doesn’t say ‘Christmas’ I don’t know what does. Classic scenes/characters – The pizza delivery scene, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s physical comedy, the spider on the face, Santa giving Kevin a few tic-tacs as a treat, and even the ever-frustrating fact that Kevin never finishes his microwavable meal he prepares prior to his torturous antics. Great Lines: Kevin: I made my family disappear; Marv: Kids are afraid of the dark. Harry: You’re afraid of the dark, too, Marv. Kevin: Is this toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association?

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964): synopsis – Rudolph and his team of misfit toys teach us that we are all special and should not be left out of reindeer games. Classic scenes/characters – Yukon Cornelius and his trusty pick axe, Sam the Snowman played by Burl Ives, Rudolph covering up his nose with dirt, the abominable snowman getting his tooth pulled, and that ear-piercing-noise when Big Red’s nose would glow. Great Lines: Yukon Cornelius: Didn’t I ever tell you about Bumbles? Bumbles bounce!

The Family Man (2000): The extremely wealthy, Jack Campbell, gets a glimpse of what his life would have been like had he chosen a life with a family instead of riches. Personal Thoughts: This film is excellent and highly underrated. I look forward to watching it each year and continue to enjoy it each viewing. I know it’s basically a retelling of the classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, but it’s still well done. I’m a huge Jeremy Piven fan, so that’s a big plus as well. Although I would highly recommend that you rent this movie, there is some adult content you must be aware of, so go to IMDb and check out the parental guide. Classic scenes/characters – The diaper change. Great Lines: [after Jack hands his son to the day-care worker] Do I get a receipt or something? Jack: I’m in the middle of a deal, Cash: Well, you’re working on a new deal now, baby. Arnie: Don’t screw up the best thing in your life just because you’re a little unsure of who you are.

Elf (2003): As an infant, Buddy, accidentally climbs into Santa’s bag and is taken back to the North Pole where he is raised by elves. However, years later he is released into the world to find his true family. Classic scenes/characters – Putting the star on the tree, the raccoon attack, congratulating restaurant employees on making the world’s best cup of coffee. Faizon Love as the Gimble’s Manager, the snowball fight, the soundtrack (we own it, you should buy it), and Bob Newhart as Papa Elf. Great Lines: Buddy: Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color? Buddy: He’s an angry elf. Buddy: Have you seen these toilets? They’re GINORMOUS! Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite. Buddy: You smell like beef and cheese…you sit on a throne of lies. Buddy: Son of a nutcracker!

A Christmas Story (1983): The coming-of-age story about a young boy and his pursuit of an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. Personal Thoughts: It says a lot that this film can show repeatedly for a 24 hour period on TBS or TNT…I forget, and I will watch it over and over again. Classic scenes/characters: Ralphie, Randy, Swartz, Flick, Scot Farkus, the lamp, the Bumpuses dogs, fa ra ra ra ra, and the classic tongue stuck to the poll. Great Lines: You’ll shoot your eye out! Ralphie: Be sure to drink your Ovaltine. Mr. Parker: Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian. Mr. Parker: He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny. He looks like a pink nightmare. Randy: I can’t put my arms down! Schwartz: Well I double-DOG-dare ya! Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a “triple dare you”? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare. Schwartz: I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!

Christmas Vacation (1989): The Griswold family hosts an unforgettable family Christmas, but gets a few too many relatives in one house. Personal Thoughts: I know that this is one of the edgier choices on the list, but it has been a long-time favorite for years. I am not recommending that you add this to your list of Christmas films, or that you go out and rent it immediately. There is some adult content in this film and we all must be cautious and considerate of that. All of that being said, this is a classic comedy that I truly enjoy to watch. To me, Cousin Eddie (in this installment of the Vacation series) may be one of the funniest characters in cinematic history. Classic scenes/characters: Cousin Eddie, the cat playing with the lights, Clark Griswold on the roof, the S.W.A.T. team. Great Lines: Clark: Hey, Kids, I heard on the news that an airline pilot spotted Santa’s sleigh on its way in from New York City. Eddie: Are you serious Clark?; Eddie: If that cat had nine lives it sure used ’em all. Clark: Good talk Russ. Bethany: Is your house on fire Clark? Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are Christmas lights. Eddie: He’s just nawin’ on a bone.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): With a little help from an angel, George Bailey gets a little help in seeing what life would be like without him. Personal Thoughts: Is there really a more classic Christmas film than this? Not only is this a classic Christmas film, but a classic film that was nominated for 5 Oscars – three of them being, Best Actor, Director, & Picture. Although it did not win in those categories, Frank Capra did receive a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Director. This is a film that helps us to see God’s sovereign hand in our lives. Great Lines: Zuzu Bailey: Look Daddy! Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. Annie: I’ve been savin’ this money for a divorce, if ever I got a husband. George: Well, you look about the kind of angel I’d get. Sort of a fallen angel, aren’t you? What happened to your wings? George: Isn’t it wonderful? I’m going to jail! Clarence: Ohh, there must be some easier way for me to get my wings.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, ’02, ’03): Where to begin? A hairy-footed hobit named Frodo battles his way through Middle Earth on his quest to destroy a ring. There, that one sentence should sum up one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time. Personal Thoughts: I know this may seem like a strange trilogy to include in a list of Christmas films, but it belongs here for me. If you remember, each year in December these films were released, so I became accustomed to anticipate them as a part of the Christmas holidays. The extended versions of these films were also released for Christmas, so they made their way on my Christmas lists each year. Great Lines: There’s really too many great lines, characters and scenes to mention in this brief section, but here’s one…Gollum: My precious.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Charlie Brown assists most of us in our frustration of the commercialization of Christmas, by searching for the true meaning of Christmas. Personal Thoughts: While every one of the mentioned films have parallels and themes surrounding Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, explains what the true meaning of Christmas is; i.e., the birth of Jesus Christ. Classic scenes/characters: The entire peanut gang, the little Christmas tree that just needs some love. Great Lines:Charlie: I guess you’re right, Linus. I shouldn’t have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about.; Charlie Brown: Thanks for the Christmas card you sent me, Violet. Violet: I didn’t send you a Christmas card, Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown: Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): Dr. Suess tells the story of a grumpy hermit who plans to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. Personal Thoughts: This was one of my favorite Christmas movies from my childhood, even though I was slightly afraid of the Grinch. Classic scenes/characters: The Grinch (obviously), sweet little Cindy Lou Who, and the Grinch’s dog, the dog attempting to pull the entire sled, the Grinch using a magnet to remove stockings from the fireplace mantel. The song – You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch / Your heart’s an empty hole / Your brain is full of spiders, you have garlic in your soul / Mr. Grinch / I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole. Great Lines: Cindy Lou Who: Santie Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree? Why? Narrator: But do you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick, that he thought up a lie and he thought it up quick. Grinch: Why my sweet little tot…there’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side. So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear. I’ll fix it up there, then I’ll bring it back here.

home-alone-movie-posterNothing says Christmas like a young brat beating up on two criminals.  When you really take a step back and consider the story of Home Alone, it is a bit strange that it has become a holiday classic.  It is an annual tradition in my house, but it’s one I don’t allow the kids to see just yet (I don’t want to get my hand burned on a doorknob or my face smashed with an iron anytime soon).

Why did this movie catch on?  The movie had a $15 million budget and grossed over $285 million at the box office, not to mention the fact that the sequel did pretty well too.  But, why?  Why did so many line up to see an irresponsible family accidentally leave their child at home and pummel two wannabe criminals?

Well, we know Kevin McCallister [Macaulay Culkin] was a tad on the rebellious side.  He did call his mother a dummy and attempt to kill Buzz, his brother, at dinner.  Even though we all might wish evil upon Buzz, the disrespect to the parents is inexcusable.  Instead of Kevin repenting of his rebellion, he embraces it and wishes that his family would disappear.  Even when his mother challenges him, he exclaims, “I never want to see any of you jerks again!”

Little did Kevin know, his wish would be granted.  Lost power, a frantic household, and a misplaced neighbor in a roll call, all led to Kevin being home alone.  At first Kevin rejoices in his newfound freedom.  Screaming through the house, shooting pellets at action figures, eating rubbish and watching junk, with absolutely no one to stop him – this is the life!  Or, so he thought.

The junk he’s watching turns out to be a little unsettling, the basement is a bit on the terrifying side, shopping for the essentials can prove to be challenging, and, if you’re not careful, you can end up becoming a shoplifter.  Not to mention the fact that, two clumsy criminals have their eye on your house.  It turns out, however, that all of Kevin’s pinned-up anger towards his family has found a useful outlet in Marv [Daniel Stern] and Harry [Joe Pesci].

In the end, Kevin learns that his rebellion hasn’t made him any happier.  In fact, those he felt like he could not live with, were the only ones who made life worth living.  And, this is ultimately something we can all identify with.  Not only do the themes of family resonate with each of us, but the theme of rebellion definitely does.

Every human being on the face of this earth is rebellious.  The people who dished out over $285 million at the box office tell us that, as well as, the television networks who air the show each year and those of us who watch it.  We are born with rebellious hearts that can only become hearts of service through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  What Home Alone teaches us is the fact that we ultimately need our hearts broken.  It isn’t until we taste of our rebellious hearts, that we realize how empty self-service truly is.  And, if the lesson learned by Kevin is never one you can echo, you too will find yourself all alone.

Over at New Republic, Elaine Teng has written a really interesting piece on Peter Jackson and The Hobbit:

In 2001, when Fellowship of the Ring kick-started the Jackson/Tolkien collaboration, sprawling movie franchises were not yet standard Hollywood cash cows. When Jackson was in negotiations for The Lord of the Rings, he actually had a hard time convincing studios to let him make two movies, let alone three.

Click here to read it in its entirety. The-Hobbit-550x281

An Announcement: Christmas Break for the Writers

Posted: December 18, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized

We here at Reel Thinking would like to share an important announcement with you this Advent season. As you probably know, writing for Reel Thinking is not a full-time job for us. Therefore, in order to spend time with our families and friends this Christmas season, we are going to be taking a short break from the site.

Fear not! This is only a temporary leave, and we will get back to providing you with weekly content shortly after the new year. In the meantime, we will try to stay active on our social networking sites, highlighting new trailers and any noteworthy articles we encounter; so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Thank you to all of our readers. We wish you a merry and joyous Christmas and will see you in 2015.

—Soli Deo Gloria

Trailer Tuesday: Taken 23 . . . I mean, 3

Posted: December 16, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized

The tagline on the poster says, “it ends here.” But I bet it doesn’t.

Top 5 Worst Christmas Films

Posted: December 15, 2014 by jperritt in Uncategorized

buddiesWe’ve all heard the saying, You can’t judge a book by its cover.  While I appreciate what this phrase is trying to accomplish, I completely disagree with it.  You absolutely CAN judge a book by its cover – I’m thinking of those pornographic romance novels you see at your local supermarket.  I will judge those books by their cover until Jesus returns.

The same can by true of movies.  There are some movies – maybe even most – that you can judge by their poster/preview.  If we’re honest, there are few movies that end up pulling surprises on us.  Take Jurassic World, for example.  I am excited about this movie and, Lord willing, I will go see this movie, but are we really going to be surprised by anything?  Maybe so, but I would venture to say that dinosaurs will eat people and (most) of the main characters will live.  Please don’t mishear me.  I am not saying we should give up on movies because most plots are similar or recycled.  All I’m saying is that we can judge movies based on their poster or preview.

And, this has been a roundabout way of stating that I haven’t seen any of the below movies.  I’m simply judging them by their covers.  So, hopefully after you survey the below films, you will agree that you can judge movies without having to watch them.  Some of you may object to this, but I would assert the importance of abstaining from films.  After all, we only have a limited amount of time on this earth and it’s not ours to waste.

Without further ado, below is my list of the Top 5 Worst Christmas Movies.  [If any of you strongly disagree, let me hear from you in the comments section.  Please be nice though…it is Christmas, after all.]

Jingle All the Way

Santa Buddies

The Santa Claus 3

santa_clause_3

Jingle All the Way 2

Bad Santa

bad_santa_xlg

Weekend Reading Roundup

Posted: December 13, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized

photo 3Moses at the Movies:

“Ridley Scott isn’t the first filmmaker to tackle the story of Moses, and he certainly won’t be the last. There’s drama in the prophet’s confrontations with the rulers of Egypt, there’s spectacle in the miracles he performed to liberate his people, and there are lessons to be learned from the way he led the Israelites and forged them into a nation, not least by giving them the Law. And filmmakers have been turning to Moses’ story for inspiration since pretty much the dawn of cinema.”

Family Man: An Unsanitized Picture of Marriage:

“This is the strong point of The Family Man.  It gives a truthful and glorious picture of marriage.  The exhaustion, the frustration, the joys and the blessings are on full display in this movie.  While husbands and wives can grow in areas of their marriage, marriage is work and TFM is a film that shows this.  However, TFM doesn’t only display the difficulties, but the blessings that come about because of the work.”

Top 5 Christmas Movies:

Take a look at the list, and let us know about your favorite Christmas films.

Hidden Mickeys in Disney Movies:

Apparently Disney has a thing for hiding Mickey in their films. See how many you’ve spotted. 

Top 5 Christmas Movies

Posted: December 11, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Reel Lists
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At this station in my life, I usually have some time in December to catch up on movie watching. I always try to see some of those movies that “everyone should see,” as well as those recommended to me by friends. At the same time, however, there are certain movies that I like to revisit as Christmas rolls around each year. With that in mind, here is a list of my top 5 favorite Christmas movies.

Home Alone

This has been my Christmas favorite for years. It still makes me laugh after all these years, but it’s best enjoyed with friends and family. My absolute favorite moment is Daniel Stern’s iconic scream when the tarantula is on his face.

A Christmas Story

MV5BMTI1NzY1NjkyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjYxNjE0MQ@@._V1__SX1390_SY676_Jean Shepherd’s subtly humorous, silky-smooth voiceover narration as Ralphie helped this film achieve its status as a classic. It’s a very nostalgic movie, and I can’t really explain why I like it so much. Maybe it has something to do with the 24 hour TBS marathon every year. If you see something many, many times over the years, you’re bound to start liking it. Then again, I have friends who despise it for the very same reason.

Elf

It’s equally charming and funny, and it is easily my favorite Will Ferrell movie. If you haven’t seen this one, you now have homework. The dethroning of the mall Santa is priceless.

The Santa Clause

Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a pure nostalgia pick on my my part. I remember watching this movie as a young boy, and revisiting it brings back some good memories. Also, this is the movie that gave me the courage to try eggnog (see the scene below), and my life hasn’t been the same since.

The Bourne Trilogy

bourne1There’s all sorts of problems with this being on the list. First of all, it’s three films instead of one, making my top five a list of seven. Niether are these movies (to my knowledge) set in or around Christmastime. So why are they on my Christmas movie list? Admittedly, there is a Romans 9-like element of the potter having the right right to do as he wills with his own vessels in this decision; but basically, these movies make my list because, for some unknown reason, I watched them with my family one year while I was on Christmas break in high school, and it’s been a yearly tradition ever since (and don’t pretend like your family doesn’t have weird Christmas traditions). Also, they’re just good movies, so why not watch them on one of those cold winter nights?

 

 

Well, that’s my list! And after reflecting on it, it looks like the Christmas movies I like the most are the ones I have enjoyed with my family and friends over the years. That’s why I don’t consider this a definitive list of the five best christmas movies of all time; they’re just the ones I enjoy revisiting every year. How about you? What is your favorite Christmas movie, and why? Sound off in the comments! Finally, be on the lookout for John’s 5 worst Christmas movies. 

Trailer Tuesdays: The Walk

Posted: December 9, 2014 by jperritt in Uncategorized