Okay... you may or may not have noticed that I've all but called a halt to reviewing (save for publication). I'll get more into that when I provide my year's-end wrap-up (which I have NOT called a halt to). But a few big screen titles I caught recently struck me on a personal level and I'd at least like to give you a few brief notes while they're still available to see in theatres...
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS isn't getting the sort of critical and popular reception I believe it deserves, much to my surprise. This fanciful look at Charles Dickens as he creates his most enduring classic of all is probably going to be my favorite Christmas movie for quite some time to come. Yes, I'm involved in a stage production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL even as I type this, but I auditioned for that show in the first place because that particular story has always resonated with me and because I wanted to be a part of it (I'm Marley's Ghost and the Ghost of Christmas Present, if you didn't already know that, and those were exactly the roles I wanted to play the most.) So naturally I caught all the references, Easter Eggs and what have you as Dickens' characters come to life around him even as he creates them and tries to force them into a narrative they're not necessarily willing to play out. See for yourself. It may be no more historically accurate than ED WOOD, but it's marvelous entertainment and it's the perfect alternative if you feel you've been sufficiently CAROLED with endless past productions.
Speaking of "no more historically accurate than ED WOOD?" THE DISASTER ARTIST may not be an entirely faithful reproduction of the story behind THE ROOM and its creators, but James Franco has gone for broke with an unforgettable portrayal of Tommy Wiseau. Not only that, but as I've been through the "make your own movie" route twice with an equally unforgettable and mercurial creative partner (though on a smaller and decidedly non-Hollywood scale), I really and truly felt that I had lived this story from the "Greg" perspective (although our own efforts were quite well appreciated during THEIR local premieres). And to this day, if I have a vision, be it for local television or the local stage, I still darn well go out and make it happen no matter what. So there's that to appreciate, as well.
And finally? The long-delayed sequel THELMA picks up precisely where the original left off. Thelma activates a rocket-powered ejector seat that she never even hinted at before and waves goodbye to a stunned Louise as she continues her plunge into the Grand Canyon alone. In her all-new solo adventure, Thelma re-invents herself as a Danish schoolgirl...
...or maybe I made some of that up. THELMA would actually make a fine double bill with the French shocker RAW, as it's also about a young lady who discovers herself while away from her parents at university for the very first time. But while RAW was all about visceral, gruesome horror, THELMA has no such content (which is not to say that there's no disturbing material--there certainly is). Our protagonist in this case learns that she may have the power to alter reality to suit her deepest desires--but she's been brought up to squelch such desires in favor of strict religious dogma. So when she prays intently to have temptation simply vanish from her sight? THELMA is sure to provoke and fascinate in equal amounts.
That's all I've got for now. See you in a few...
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