Oh, I'm sorry, did you think that just because Christmas was over I'd stop reviewing holiday movies? Well fuck that! There's still two updates left for December, and I'm queuing up things early! Today we take a detour from Christmas movies to "vaguely Christmas-related holidays," such as the very important Life Day! It's a day where you... dress in red robes and... grab your light up snow globe and... travel to some weird void... where you scream? Whatever, it's The Star Wars Holiday Special. It doesn't matter, not like it's canon or anything.
Merry Christmas! My gift to you is me rambling about aspect ratios. No, you can't exchange it for something else. So anyway, you've probably heard of "widescreen" versus "full screen." Full screen is an aspect ratio of 4:3 (if the width is 4 units, then the height is 3 units), creating close to a square. This was the format of most early television shows and a lot of movies got cut down to that for a home release, either losing things on the sides or forcing editors to make awkward shifts to keep the action on the smaller screen. Case in point, the DVD of The Muppet Christmas Carol I have gives you the option of watching either widescreen or full screen before starting the movie, and in the full screen example you can see Peter Cratchit nearly cut out of the shot entirely. So widescreen for theatrical movies is generally better, right? Well, let me tell you why I prefer to watch this particular movie in full screen, or at least for one particular scene...
I want to start by saying that we have a lot to thank Robert Zemeckis for. He wrote and directed Back to the Future, its sequels, and directed the... Back to the Future Saturday morning cartoon? That has to be a typo. Anyway the man is a legend! Buuuuut... holy crap, his animated movies are unpleasant to look at. It also doesn't help that the story at the heart of The Polar Express is also pretty blah.
Full disclosure, I recently kind of forgot that Netflix existed. It's one of my browser shortcuts, for fuck's sake! I've been so focused on the amazing garbage Tubi is constantly offering that new releases people would actually have heard of were slipping me by. Case in point, did you know that Mrs. Dolly Parton had Netflix-original Christmas musical that came out at the end of November? Because I didn't! But I do now, so here we go!
Last time I talked about Reefer Madness, AKA Tell Your Children, so me talking about the parody right after shouldn't be a surprise. I mean, I flat out said it at the end, but anyway. Based on the 1998 stage musical, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical was a Showtime original movie with a truly ridiculous cast. Mr. Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler in X2) as the narrator! And he was also FDR! Kristen Bell as Mary! Steven Weber as Jack, Anna Gasteyer as Mae, and John Kassir (AKA the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt, including Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight)! And... uh, Neve Campbell's older brother as Jimmy. Wait, he's a year older than her, but here plays a much younger character? Well that's news to me...
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that there have been more reviews tagged “queer” than usual lately. That’s intentional and in honor of Pride month! There are no pride parades or celebrations I feel comfortable attending this year, so it’s down to watching a bunch of gay movies. And it turns out others have the same idea! My local indie theater is participating in Pioneers of Queer Cinema, showing a trio of very old queer films this month, and that’s our theme this week. We start with Viktor und Viktoria, the 1933 German musical that inspired the 1982 Mrs. Julie Andrews classic, Victor/Victoria.
Is this really the first zombie movie I’ve reviewed here? Huh. Makes sense, as it’s not my favorite horror subgenre and I don’t own many zombie movies, but it’s still a bit surprising. But Dead & Breakfast is not just a zombie movie, though! It’s a horror comedy about an undead spirit possessing the inhabitants of a tiny town, trying to murder everyone they come across and adding the bodies to its growing army. There’s also a zombie line dancing sequence. But let’s start at the beginning.
Everything that needs to be said about Tom Hooper’s Cats has already been said, but that’s not going to stop me from adding my own two cents, pointing out some things I haven’t seen other people talk to death. The plot of Cats is… notoriously thin. Cats appear, sing about themselves, get kidnapped by Mr. Idris Elba, and at the end Ms. Jennifer Hudson is chosen to be reincarnated by the leader of the death cult. A tale as old as time, really. The movie adds some new elements, but I’m not all that familiar with the stage musical so I won’t open that can of worms. Now that we have the requisite “summary” out of the way, here are some of my notes.
There’s a trend of gay movies being rather dark and ending with the queer protagonist (or someone they love) dying. Soldier’s Girl, Brokeback Mountain, the list goes on. And I just… can we not? Life as a queer person is already rough enough without having to sit through “tragedy porn” in order to see some representation. Give me more gay romantic comedies! Or gay love stories that DON’T involve someone dying in an attempt to tug at my heartstrings and/or win awards!
The first time I saw a trailer for this movie, I knew I had to own it. This movie was made for me, and it was my destiny to find it. Sure, it’s not in English (well, mostly not in English), but that’s never stopped me before. Bring on subtitles! I don’t fear them!