One Magic Christmas (1985): Family / Fantasy

A mother who lacks the Christmas spirit gets a visit from an angel who shows her what the meaning of this season is.

Remembering Mary Steenburgen in Christmas films, and more particularly in Elf (2003): https://atomic-temporary-153424946.wpcomstaging.com/2020/12/24/elf-2003-adventure-comedy-family/ I remembered One Magic Christmas. You see, I may not fan of Elf that much but this is a different kettle of fish. Director Philip Borsos invests in both story and character development and, if you are watching it for the first time, you won’t really know what to expect, or, at least, when to expect it. It takes forty five minutes for the inciting incident to happen but, until then, poverty, especially during the festive days comes to the foreground and that can be a film on it’s own. Countless of families were struggling then as much as they do now. They have been ripped apart while the vast minority is having a laugh. Destitution sucks the joy out everything and replaces it with misery and downright cynicism. Working from paycheck to paycheck, not being able to afford a decent meal – much less to dream… Can love be enough?

Well, that’s what the film is about. We all have the right to laugh and we all need hope. And Steenburgen, even though her reactions are watered down due to the nature of the film is absolutely thrilling. You might be watching a Disney film but don’t underestimate the harsh realities it dares to show. Do you know when you are watching a good film? When is full of plotholes, makes little sense, but still sucks you into it and evokes the emotions it was meant to.

Hey, it’s Christmas season so, turn the blind eye to the horrible reality out there and remember how you used to feel this time of the year as a kid. It will make a lot more sense then…

Stay safe!

P.S. Film debut of the amazing Sarah Polley.

P.P.S. Despite his ongoing battle with leukemia, Philip Borsos kept directing till his last breath, at the age of 41.

Elf (2003): Adventure / Comedy / Family

Raised by elves, one day, a man realises he belongs to the humans’ world and goes to New York on a quest to find his real father.

Elf is the huge box office Christmas success that offered a lot of smiles. First leading role for Will Ferrell, who does what Will Ferrel does best in a comedy. He is really funny to be fair, it’s just Elf is not really my cup of tea. I know that Christmas films are meant to be implausible, cliched, and “tacky” but a man acting… the way he does, finding a girl like this, single, who falls in love with him, and with a dad like this who just manages to love him back… I know, it’s a Christmas comedy/fantasy but maybe not for my age or, simply, not for me.

Jon Favreau’s tributes to It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) are very obvious and understood – see, that’s an amazing Christmas film (the best of all time) – but I prefer other films of him from before and after the MCU or the Star Wars spinoff. Until Elf, he was a great indie yet, unknown director. At least, the film opened a lot of doors for him, making one of the biggest grossing directors of all time. Admittedly, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan and Mary Steenburgen are very much enjoyable so, it’s just maybe not particularly liking it.

By all means, please do enjoy it. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. We all need a good laugh these days. It’s been pretty miserable and depressing out there so, Elf, will do nothing but cheer you up with its silliness.

Stay safe!

The Qatsi Trilogy

 

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“The World of Apu” is a bimonthly, diverse, and multilingual online film magazine which explores film cultures from around the world.

Below you can find my analysis on the Qatsi trilogy. A cinematic statement about civilisation, technology, nature, and the relationship among the three. A trilogy left behind in the shadow cast by blockbusters, forgotten by time, buried in oblivion.

The Qatsi Trilogy

Mail Order Monster (2018): Drama / Family / Sci-Fi

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A little girl is trying to cope, after having lost her mom, while dealing with life itself, bullies, and her father with his new girlfriend by putting together… a robot.

A low budget, indie, PG film which Jax Productions and Stay Relevant Productions managed to bring to life with respect to family values. Loss, grief, rejection, love, and self-reflection have been responsible for causing all of us sleepless nights throughout the course of our life. And Paulina Lagudi, with skill, imagination, and artistic temperament produces, writes, and directs a heartfelt story on nights like that.

Josh Hopkins does a brilliant job as a dad trying to do his best, and it’s really nice to see the always mesmerizing Charisma Carpenter as the “woman next door” relying solely on her acting. Last, but definitely not least, look out for the incredible Madison Horcher and Emma Rayne Lyle who, given the opportunity, will be two of the most sought-after actresses of their age.

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/2ZvO2CO

Miracle on 34th Street (1994): Family / Fantasy

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Christmas Version:

An old man who fits the Santa Claus profile becomes a symbol for a company, a family, and a nation alike.

Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, and Mara Wilson give a great performance in a film for the whole family. Legendary John Hughes behind the production and director Les Mayfield remake the 1947 version of the homonym film with humour, fantasy, great photography, camera work, and editing. Gather the family and enjoy!

Non-Christmas Version:

An old chap found on the street, who has not been vetted whatsoever and officially claims he is Santa is trusted by a family, a major company, and a nation to be near kids.

My, oh, my… Folks gather round! A major company whose CEO’s last name is “Cole” hires a guy for its representative Santa Claus who looks like the 1930’s Santa Claus, property of Coca Cola – “Coke”. And all of us… worldwide… to this very day… religiously… still pass the same torch from generation to generation.

But our generation is evolutionary! We keep walking while texting towards the third decade of the 21st-century with our wireless headphones on because seeing and listening in life is for the backward-looking.

Merry – Coca Cola’s – Christmas!

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/37dwopX

A-X-L (2018): Action / Adventure / Family

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I’ll be quick, and as this is a PG film, I’ll be lenient too…

Writing an “original” script nowadays is hard enough. Directing it in an “original” way, even harder. Oliver Daly, writer/director of the short film Miles (2015), pens the script and directs its feature version “A-X-L”. A kid and (not) his robotic dog’s adventure can be pretty much summarized as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) meets “Transformers” (2007).

Decent story, offering nothing much to its development or its characters with more holes than a swiss cheese that a kid would scratch its head. I know women who would die to find out how after 48 hours of running around the makeup stays intact and the hair straight as an arrow. And I’ll sound like a broken record again, but… Producers… don’t hire only models for underwear.

David S. Goyer has been a brilliant writer and producer for the past three decades and still is. I guess hit-and-miss is part of every job.

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/379vCdx

Wonder (2017): Drama / Family

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Stephen Chbosky does his wonder once more – Yes, pun intended. Following the mind-blowing “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012), he now pens the screenplay and directs “Wonder”. In a nutshell, a homeschooled child suffering from mandibulofacial dysostosis, also known as “Treacher Collins syndrome” (facial deformity), attends for a first time a public school, entering the 5th grade.

Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson do an amazing job as the parents who struggle as much as their kid, and Jacob Tremblay, being the kid, proves again he is a prodigy child actor. Izabela Vidovic, Daveed Diggs, and all the child actors shine in front of the camera, with everyone knowing who they are playing and why.

“Wonder” is the side of Hollywood which gives hope that studio films are not all about undermining human intelligence, explosions, or exploiting disabilities and minorities for profit. Its plot and subplots are bound together proportionally, creating a perfect equilibrium. It recognizes talent, maneuvres around and delicately avoids buffoonery, soppiness, kitsch and cliche, and definitely recognizes a$$holes when it sees them, in every shape, age, race or form.

Get carried away and let it appeal to your humanity. As reality is, unfortunately, far more inhuman…

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/2Stzcv2