John Hughes was considered the master of teen oriented cinema in the 1980’s, often depicting somewhat lower middle class kids on the verge of adult hood. While the movies were raunchy and funny, they were also intent on building characters centered on self reflection and facing potentially dead end adult hoods. While “Weird Science” has mostly been lambasted as Hughes’ worst, I think I’d choose his debut “Sixteen Candles” as the weakest of his eighties outputs.
I vividly remember watching “The Case of Hana & Alice” for the Fantasia Film Festival in 2015, and it was a movie that managed to stick with me for a while. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but like a lot of its ilk, it’s a movie you have to go in with some knowledge acquired. “The Cast of Hana & Alice” is primarily a prequel, and a loose one at that, but it’s at least charming in its way, and allows a mystery to become the catalyst for an adventure with two best friends one fateful day.
For a movie that’s almost as old as I am and features many a flat tops and pastel vests, “House Party” is a movie that’s barely aged. In fact, it’s a movie that so many studios have tried to duplicate but never quite have captured the same magic and enthusiasm. There’s just something about “House Party” that’s kept it a vessel of pop culture, hip hop, and comedy that was shifting from the eighties and in to the nineties. Not even the sequels lived up to what is basically the perfect party movie when all is said and done. The movie advertises itself in the title, but while the movie is centered almost completely on a party, it’s also a pretty excellent coming of age comedy.
It’s hard to find many good zombie apocalypse Christmas musical comedies out there, but when you do, it’s a treat. John McPhall’s wonderful “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a great film teeming with massive cult potential that I think will big momentum soon. It’s that kind of movie warranting a big Broadway production a la “Rocky Horror.” On its own though, the Scottish born “Anna and the Apocalypse” is a great reprieve from the massive holiday rush. While the holiday season is filled with an overflow of maudlin movies, “Anna and the Apocalypse” is that right dose of holiday glee with some great zombie carnage to boot.
Gurinder Chadha is a very unique voice in the film world who always manages to lend a much needed voice to cultures we don’t usually see too much of in mainstream film. “Bend it Like Beckham” was a crowd pleasing comedy drama about cultural conformity and societal pressures, and “Blinded By the Light” follows the same basic platform. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but at the end of Chadha’s comedy drama musical, I found it to be a pleasant diversion with one hell of a great soundtrack. I admit while the film didn’t stick with me, I spent the rest of the night humming Springsteen’s songs in my head.
I’m no misanthrope, but it’s tough to find great new Christmas movies, even though Hollywood does keep trying no matter what. I went in with low expectations with “Let It Snow” but took the chance thanks to the great cast, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to remember a Christmas movie that feels so down to Earth and unassuming than “Let It Snow.” It has every chance to be so saccharine and cloying, but it instead insists on a very sweet and engaging tone with some genuinely engaging characters.
Taika Waititi has always been a filmmaker that’s managed to challenge conventions and deliver tales that are always completely out of the ordinary. With “Jojo Rabbit,” it’s another in a long line of tales about the male ego and the weird world that they belong to. In Waititi’s case, it’s the briefly controversial “Jojo Rabbit,” a movie that received a lot of buzz for its depiction of Adolf Hitler. Once you got down to the meat and potatoes of the narrative though, you learn that it’s the destruction of Hitler and how he’s so uncomplicated that he’s reduced to an imaginary friend of a young child.
If I have to pick a favorite aspect of “Over the Garden Wall” is the ambiguity of it all. There’s not a ton of exposition or explanation as to whom or what the characters Greg and Wirt are. We just know that they’re brothers, they have polar opposite personalities, and they’re stuck in a timeless land filled with dangers and mysterious oddities that they can’t possibly fathom. Along the way, Greg and Wirt learn a lot about the idea of grief, and confronting their fears, and learning to appreciate one another as brothers. They also have their own personality quirks that could count as flaws, but only make you love them even more. By the time the series ends, you’ll be glad you met them and realize you know everything that you need to know about them. I encourage you to fall in love with it like I did.