Thursday, December 15, 2016
SamuraiFrog's Essential Christmas Songs #40. It seems like the Christmas season is just barreling by, and the lack of enthusiasm I'm getting from all quarters has made me pine for more traditional music this year, I think. Anyway, I like this one. Pretty tune, but I don't think there's really a definitive version of this song. This is probably the best one, though.
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE: THE STORY OF CINDERELLA (1976)
The Sherman Brothers wrote the songs for this musical version of the beloved fairy tale. I wanted to enjoy this movie, but it's just so long and tedious. Also, for a movie subtitled "The Story of Cinderella," much, much more time is spent on the prince, his family, and the movement of the royal political machine and the marriage-alliance-based peace. I mostly liked Richard Chamberlain as the prince (Chamberlain is an interesting actor to me, simply because I've never seen him give a performance where he seemed in the least troubled about whether or not he should be playing the role he actually is), and I always enjoy Michael Hordern (who is lively as the king). The sets are wonderful, but the songs are mostly forgettable and boringly staged. Some of the story beats go on too long and are then resolved almost arbitrarily just to get to the next turn. It also feels like it ends several times. I also liked Annette Crosbie as the Fairy Godmother, though the pacing of her performance is really indulgent, and Margaret Lockwood is tantalizingly good as the Wicked Stepmother, even though the movie weirdly seems uninterested in her. It all goes wrong in a way that would almost be fascinating on its own if it didn't go on forever. **1/2
Very funny movie starring Jordan Peele as a guy who takes in a stray kitten after a devastating break-up with his girlfriend. The kitten--which he names Keanu--gets taken when drug dealers roll his house by mistake, so he and his best friend (Keegan-Michael Key, playing a buttoned-down suburban guy) pretend to be gangsters from Allentown in order to get Keanu back. It reminded me a lot of Pineapple Express, another movie I loved--it starts off innocently, then everyone gets in over their heads, and then something magical follows that works as a buddy comedy, as a straight crime flick, and as a funny take on crime flicks. This is a nice cap to the Key & Peele series, a hilarious and heartfelt comedy that never really falters in its execution. ****
THE VISIT (2015)
M. Night Shyamalan film, shot in documentary style, about two children visiting their grandparents. Their mother is estranged from her parents, so they're meeting their grandparents for the first time, spending the week with them while the girl tries to make a documentary about the visit to try and bring her mother a sense of emotional closure. The problem is that both of the grandparents seem a little off in a way that everyone dismisses as their being old. Shyamalan proves he can still create tension and a moody atmosphere, and when all is revealed it only ups the tension by doing what good twists are supposed to do: re-contextualizing everything we've already seen. This is the kind of low budget, back to basics thriller that Shyamalan clearly needed to do, and it's his best film in a decade. ****