Really not much on in terms of Christmas films this week. The Bloor is showing National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (which is about as far away from a Christmas classic as we can imagine without being a film about aliens from another galaxy that have never heard of Christmas) and White Christmas. We’re still happy to recommend Enchanted (we just saw it, and it was absolutely lovely), but for those of you who want to see something specifically related to Christmas, the Revue has come to your rescue with the help of Dion Conflict, who will be showing Christmas Kitsch-A-Roo at 9:30 p.m. If you’re familiar with Dion Conflict’s Hunk-A-Junk screenings, you’ll know what to expect—a variety of utterly bizarre found shorts—but they’re normally excellent fun and the Christmas theme means some really weird stuff is going to show up. Hopefully he’ll be showing the legendary Santa Claus’ Punch and Judy, which really has to be seen to be believed.
Okay, not every film released across the festive season has to be holiday-themed, but many of the films out this week are just… strange. Is there any real reason that Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List is getting an exclusive Toronto engagement starting Christmas Day? “Hey, it’s Christmas. Let’s go and see a film about a couple of terminally ill, terminally irritating seniors. Hooray!” Or, on the same day, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem? Seriously?
We’re actually more interested in Alien vs. Predator: Requiem than we feel like we should be, but considering everyone involved has promised to make it not as terrible as the original, we can’t help it.
Just as likely to be absurdly dumb is National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It’s about Nicholas Cage on a worldwide search for a special book that presidents get to have that holds all the real information about stuff like Area 51 and the JFK assassination. If that isn’t the most amazingly stupid concept you’ve ever heard, we don’t know what kind of concepts you get to hear, but they must be astonishing.
Hmm, there is Sweeney Todd, which is a musical, and has surprisingly been very well received by critics. When we first saw trailers, we thought, “Gosh, it’s been too long since we saw Johnny Depp playing a grey-faced barber as directed by Tim Burton,” but apparently that was a bit unfair. Norm Wilner calls it “a marvelous romp through madness, revenge and butchery.”
Similarly musical (well, sort of) is Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Even with Judd Apatow’s prolonged running times, we feel like we’ve already seen all the good bits thanks to extensive trailering. And actually, we haven’t read a review yet that noted something funny in the film that we hadn’t already seen in a trailer. Oh well. It’s getting good to middling reviews anyway.
Also out this week: The Orphanage, which Danu Mandlsohn described as having “a string of masterful set-pieces” during TIFF; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (reviewed in classic style by John Harkness); The Waterhorse: Legend of the Deep; The Savages; Charlie Wilson’s War; The Great Debaters and P.S. I Love You, which, by virtue of featuring Gerard Butler, should really be called (can you guess yet) P.S. THIS IS SPARTA.
A very weak joke, we admit. Happy Holidays everyone!