Where the wild bells of Christmas guide viewers and consumers are startlingly rough and rowdy. Down they go into the hellfire, the heart of Christmas bleeding with not enough creativity and inspiration to clog the flagging holiday season. Christmas with the Kranks is a vein and upsetting direction to set off on. A porous film that soaks up fun and oozes it out in a thick and uncomfortable paste. It does not inspire the spirit of Christmas as well as it should. That is something to do with having Tim Allen hang around in speedos and a tan, though. Fun for the family, this is not.
Characters within Ghostbusters: Afterlife may not be afraid of ghosts, but the spectre of the previous reincarnation of these phantom-busting heroes still lingers on the minds of audiences everywhere. Jason Reitman follows in the nepotistic steps of taking on the family business. Ghostbusters, the classic feature from his father, Ivan Reitman, is ready for another drubbing. Another staged moment in the spotlight, but at least this one feels right. It hits the notes of the past while pushing forth into a bleak and unknowably bright future. There is no severing of the predecessors, but an acceptance of it. No way of backing out or putting down the accomplishments of those that had come before them, the greatest step Ghostbusters: Afterlife takes is in accepting the past and the nostalgia that comes with it.
Passionate pursuits are the devil’s plaything. Alec Baldwin stars and directs in this miscast mess, filled with genre struggles and a desire to impress. Baldwin must remember to take a step back, understand that the horrific animation that opens his feature of ensemble characters is not impressive, and accept that The Cat in the Hat was the best role he offered audiences in 2003. Dark days indeed for Baldwin, the bright spark of 30 Rock and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has directed nothing since Shortcut to Happiness, and that is for the best. His opening credits feel like a cheap video game, and the film itself feels cheap.
Big names do not equate to big results. Duds are few and far between the filmography of Steven Spielberg. The appeal of working with the man that made Jaws was far too alluring for the likes of Christopher Lee, Toshirō Mifune and Warren Oates, all of whom appear alongside Saturday Night Live alumni Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. A weird and odd ensemble indeed, but it is what Spielberg does with them, or the lack of what he does within 1941 that is most concerning of all. With so much talent on display, nobody is inevitably going to get their fair share of screen time. At the very least, though, there is an expectation of quality from those involved. It is hard to provide quality when the actors do not gel with the content.
Decades from now, how will these Oscar-bait movies be looked upon? Not fondly, I imagine, as the cultural shift away from the flatlining exploitation of messages and ideals within Driving Miss Daisy were rather one-note and underwhelmed to begin with. Attempting to adapt the importance and impact of the soon-to-flourish Civil Rights movement, Driving Miss Daisy can, at best, offer a weak, watered-down message that will prop its caricatures up as vaguely interesting. That is simply not enough, though, and to take such important points in history and feed them through the lens of Bruce Beresford is an obvious notion that neither cast nor crew thoroughly understand the delicacy of the message or the interest of it either.
Based on their recurring SNL characters, Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi bring The Blues Brothers to the big screen. One of the timeless cult classics that, after decades of beloved spoofs, Halloween costumes, and anniversaries, has assimilated itself into the minds of millions. There’ll be people across the globe who know the iconic black suits more than the film itself. Quite rightly, too, since these black suits are now synonymous with just about every nostalgic, 80s-driven mind. Blame The Blues Brothers for such a startlingly sudden trend.
Surely, I could live life as Dan Aykroyd. I may not filter my vodka through diamonds, but that can change with the right amount of funding. He seems to live a pretty cushy life, especially in Trading Places, as he swaggers and saunters round as a stockbroker or trader, whatever big shots in New York do. I’m not entirely sure what he does, the feverish state of agony I watched this in was a tad distracting, but I persevered, coughing, retching and crying my way through this amiable comedy that looks to bring us a classic switcharoo of a con artist and a man paid to be a con artist. Bit of social commentary there, keep up everyone.
Before glitzy, high profile biopics of superstar singers and songwriters became the norm for Hollywood, director Steven Soderbergh set out to pick apart several years from the very busy, interesting life of piano player Liberace. I’m not all that familiar with the work of Liberace, all I know is he played piano and had an extreme fondness for chandeliers. That alone is more than enough background information that you need for Behind the Candelabra, which documents Liberace’s six-year relationship with Scott Thorson.