A Year in Film: December 2020

The final post in my Year in Film series. I’m not sure whether to continue into 2021. What do you think? Should I continue reviewing films on here or find another challenge? Let me know your thoughts below.

Even though I blogged daily for 24 days with my Christmas film advent calendar, David and I still had time to watch a further 16 films. Here’s what I thought about what I watched.

Christmas with the Kranks ✩✩✩

The Kranks scandalise everyone when they declare that they won’t be celebrating Christmas. But, when their daughter decides to visit home, they get off on a mad rush to organise a spanking Christmas.

David’s hairdresser suggested this Christmas film to us. So on a quiet weekday we snuggled up and gave it a watch. I enjoyed it more than David but it got us in a more festive mood.

Oceans 13 ✩✩✩

Danny and his gang of thieves have to pull off their most risky heist to defend one of their own. However, they are going to need more than luck to break the ruthless Willy and his casino.

A sequel to Oceans 12 but with a more star studded cast. Was an enjoyable heist and less confusing than the first movie.

Honest Thief ✩✩✩

Hoping to cut a deal, a professional bank robber agrees to return all the money he stole in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two FBI agents set him up for murder, he must now go on the run to clear his name and bring them to justice.

Liam Neeson is back terrorising criminals in this revenge movie. Watchable.

Four Christmases ✩✩

Lovers Brad and Kate plan to go on a vacation to Fiji to spend the holidays. However, when their vacation plan is foiled, they are forced to visit all four of their divorced parents for Christmas.

David and I saw this film when it was released in 2008, when we where holidaying in Louth, Lincolnshire. I recall there being an interval and the cinema selling ice creams. The film was less memorable.

Ant-man ✩✩✩

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

A watchable super-hero film. We only tuned in because Cinema Therapy on YouTube reviewed the movie. If you’ve not seen their channel, give them a go. They review films from the standpoint of a film maker and a therapist, look out for lots of emotion.

Zootopia ✩✩✩

When Judy Hopps, a rookie officer in the Zootopia Police Department, sniffs out a sinister plot, she enlists the help of a con artist to solve the case in order to prove her abilities to Chief Bogo.

Another Cinema Therapy review, this time with the implicit bias that is in Zootopia. I hadn’t heard of this movie before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Carry on Camping ✩✩✩

A pair of likely lads trick their girlfriends into accompanying them to a nudist colony, but it turns out to be a family campsite. After they are persuaded to stay, the boys manage to find more mischief to occupy themselves when a coachload of teenage schoolgirls arrives at the site.

David suggested this film, I think it was in response to the passing of Barbara Windsor whose iconic bra bursting scene is so memorable. It was one of the better Carry On films.

The Great Outdoors ✩

It’s vacation time for an outdoorsy Chicago man and his family. But a serene weekend of fishing at a Wisconsin lakeside cabin gets crashed by his obnoxious brother-in-law.

David said that Kevin Hart was starring in a remake of this 1980’s John Hughes film, so we ended up watching the original. It wasn’t as funny as hoped. Perhaps the remake will be better?

The Holiday ✩✩✩✩

Two girls from different countries swap homes for the holidays to get away from their relationship issues. However, their lives change unexpectedly when they meet and fall in love with two local guys.

At the core of this film is the theme of love, in all it’s guises. I enjoyed the movie more than David and with a funky score by Hans Zimmer, it couldn’t possibly fail to entertain.

Runaway Train ✩✩

Two escaped convicts head full-steam for their freedom and inadvertently jump aboard a freight train. To their dismay, they discover that the train is barreling out of control without an engineer.

This film could have been so much better if the acting was any good, but it wasn’t. Forgettable.

The Switch ✩✩✩

An unmarried woman uses a sperm donor to conceive a child, much to the dismay of her best friend Wally. She remains in the dark for many years unaware that Wally had replaced her sample with his own.

How many films has Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman done together? Maybe five? Either way, you can see the friendship and respect they both have for one another. The Switch may not have been the greatest movie, but it was fun to watch.

Get a Job ✩✩

After college, Will is having problems getting a good, lasting job, as are his roomies, his girlfriend and his just fired dad.

This film irked me somewhat. I like Anna Kendrick but this film didn’t really showcase her talents. Perhaps one to miss?

Wonder Woman 84 ✩✩✩

Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.

A bit of a confession to make. In the 1980’s I wanted to be Wonder Woman! As a six or seven year old, I watched reruns of Lynda Carter battling criminals! I used to prance about the house in shorts and boob-tube, wearing a paper tiara and bracelets. A skipping rope acted as my lasso of truth. The world stretched as far as my imagination, and I could be anything I chose to be.

Watching the new Wonder Woman films sadly to me are not the same. I preferred the 2017 film to this 2020 release but not by much.

Soul ✩✩

Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

In the run up to Christmas I saw billboards advertising Soul. I like my Pixar films so managed to get to see the movie. Again, I enjoyed it more than David. I liked the message of the film, life is worth living, even just for the small things!

Circle ✩✩✩

Fifty strangers facing execution have to pick one person among them to live.

My brother suggested this film for us to watch. Circle is a study of human psychology, for better or for worse. I enjoyed the experience and wasn’t really surprised at the finale.

The Platform ✩✩✩

In the future, prisoners housed in vertical cells watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve.

Another film my brother suggested. This Spanish sci-fi, subtitled film really made me feel sad for the protagonists. The premise; in this vertical prison, there is enough food for everyone. However the greed of those on the above levels means that the ones further below have less and less to eat. Another film on the human condition. I enjoyed it none the less.

Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Twenty-three

It’s day twenty-three of my Christmas film advent calendar. I can’t believe how fast this month has gone. Tonight I’m watching:

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Christine’s rating: ✩✩✩✩✩ David’s rating: ✩✩✩✩

One year after Kevin McCallister was left home alone and had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself stranded in New York City – and the same criminals are not far behind.

I love this Christmas movie! I don’t know which is best, the first or the second Home Alone film? We visited New York last year because of this movie. It was nice to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

Do you rate this movie?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Twenty-one

It’s day twenty-one of my Christmas film advent calendar. Tonight’s viewing is a beloved 1982 Christmas short:

The Snowman

Christine’s rating: ✩✩✩✩ David’s rating: ✩

On Christmas Eve, a young boy builds a snowman that comes to life and takes him to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas..

The music and art direction of this short animated film carries the message of loneliness and loss in this timeless tale by Raymond Briggs.

What do you think of this short film?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Sixteen

It’s day sixteen of my Christmas film advent calendar. I can’t believe how quick this month is going and I am not prepared at all! Tonight I’m watching:

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Christine’s rating: ✩✩ David’s rating: ✩✩

Clark Griswold is really into Christmas and promises to make it a good one until he turns everything completely around, causing a domino effect of disasters.

Nothing goes right for the Griswold family as mishap after mishap happens when the family get together for Christmas. I didn’t find this movie particularly funny.

Have you seen this film? What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Fifteen

It’s day fifteen of my Christmas film advent calendar. Tonight’s film is:

Office Christmas Party

Christine’s rating: ✩✩ David’s rating: ✩✩

When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand…

An office party gets out of hand in this Christmas comedy from 2016, watchable.

Have you seen this film? What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Thirteen

It’s day thirteen of my Christmas film advent calendar. Tonight’s film is:

Love Actually

Christine’s rating: ✩✩✩✩✩ David’s rating:✩✩✩✩

Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

This star studded Christmas film features love in all it’s wonderful aspects, from first love to unrequited love to love betrayed. A lovely film.

What’s your thoughts on this Christmas movie?

Thanks for reading! Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Twelve

It’s day twelve of my Christmas film advent calendar. Tonight I’m watching:

Jack Frost

Christine’s rating: ✩✩ David’s rating: ✩✩

A father who can’t keep his promises, dies in a car accident. One year later, he returns as a snowman, who has the final chance to put things right with his son, before he is gone forever.

Ultimately this film is about grief and letting go, but this Christmas movie starring Michael Keaton doesn’t hit the mark for me.

What is your favourite Christmas movie?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Eight

It’s day eight of my Christmas film advent calendar. Today’s movie is:

The Family Man

Christine’s rating: ✩✩✩ David’s rating: ✩✩✩✩

A fast-lane investment broker, offered the opportunity to see how the other half lives, wakes up to find that his sports car and girlfriend have become a mini-van and wife.

A story about second chances and making them happen. A likable Christmas film with Nicolas Cage and Téa Leoni.

What did you think of this movie?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

A Year in Film: November 2020

I don’t know about you, but November has been an awfully long month! It’s been gray and bleak for most of it. I think this depression in weather hasn’t been great on our mental health. So curling up and watching films has been a sort of comfort blanket. Somehow the stresses and strains of life seem more hard during the dark winter days. Roll on the twinkling lights of December.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective  ✩✩✩

Ace Ventura, a private detective, specialises in finding lost animals. When Snowflake, a football team’s aquatic mascot, goes missing, he is called to investigate.

Jim Carrey is his mad cap self in this comedy about a missing dolphin. Worth a watch.

The Nun  ✩✩✩

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls.

A prequel to the Conjuring movies. Though I enjoyed the origin story of the demon Valak, it didn’t give me chills the other two films did.

Awakenings ✩✩✩✩

When Dr Malcolm Sayer discovers a cure for an epidemic, numerous catatonic patients get a second chance to live. However, the cure eventually leads to more complications.

A sad yet inspiring movie, made all the more poignant as it was based on a true story.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ✩✩✩

A man living a dull life dreams up romantic and action-filled scenarios in order to escape from monotony. When his own job is threatened, he sets out on a real romantic and action-packed journey.

This Ben Stiller comedy wasn’t the best, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. A film to switch off too.

The Brave One ✩✩✩

After a brutal attack which results in the death of her fiance, Erica is traumatised. She decides to take the law into her own hands and track down the killers.

Jodie Foster plays a woman with a vengeance in this thriller. A bit dark but I enjoyed it.

The Cable Guy ✩✩✩

Steven befriends Chip, the person who installs cable at his new home. However, Chip wreaks havoc in Steven’s life when he rejects their friendship.

The crazy but lovable Cable Guy is a hilarious comedy, everyone should watch it once in their lifetime.

Dead Poets Society ✩✩✩

John Keating, a progressive English teacher, tries to encourage his students to break free from the norm, go against the status quo and live life unapologetically.

A rather sedate, depressing movie about the confines of society and how difficult it is to break from it.

Single White Female ✩✩

After her breakup, Allison places an ad for a roommate. All the applicants seem weird except for Hedra. However, Hedra has a secret past which haunts her and messes up Allison’s life.

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the girl next door but her true colours soon develop when she becomes jealous of her room mate. Not a film that has aged well.

A simple plan ✩✩✩

While in the woods, upstanding local Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton), his dim brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and their friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) discover a crashed plane with a dead pilot, and a stash of more than four million dollars. Although Hank is reluctant to keep the money, Jacob and Lou convince him otherwise, and they devise a plan to split the fortune. Things quickly go wrong, however, dramatically affecting the trio and those around them.

Surprisingly not a bad film. I hadn’t seen it before. I liked how the plot spiraled out of control as the cast of characters grew ever more paranoid and greedy!

Donnie Darko ✩✩✩

Donnie Darko, an awkward teenager, befriends Frank, a figure in a bunny costume only he can see, who informs Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the disturbed antihero in this indie movie that still has a cult following today. Gets better after each viewing.

Cujo ✩✩

Donna, a suburban housewife along with her young son Tad, drives out to the home where a perturbed St Bernard is driven insane by rabies. She must now save herself and her son from a brutal attack.

A thriller from the pen of Stephen King. I think this movie was probably scarier when it was released in the 1980’s, when rabid stray dogs were more prevalent on the streets, than today.

Bridesmaids ✩✩✩

Annie, a jobless chef, is asked by her best friend, Lillian, to be her maid of honour. Issues evolve when she ruins the wedding rituals in a rage of conflict with one of the bridesmaids.

The rivalry between Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne is hilarious in this 2011 comedy.

Police Academy ✩✩

A group of misfits enlist themselves in a police academy. They embark on a series of zany adventures resulting in mishap, mayhem and mismanagement.

Are there any 1980’s films that have stayed the test of time? Police Academy sadly hasn’t.

Zoolander ✩✩

At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

More silly Ben Stiller fun, this time with Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson satirising the fashion industry.

Rear Window ✩✩✩

Professional photographer Jeff is stuck in his apartment, recuperating from a broken leg. Out of boredom, he begins to spy on his neighbours and comes across a shocking revelation.

A Hitchcock classic. I really enjoyed this film. It may have been slow to start and the interactions between the cast a little dated but the tension and climax was thrilling!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles ✩✩✩✩

Neal, who needs to reach home for Thanksgiving, goes through a series of misadventures when his flight gets cancelled and he ends up meeting Del, a goofy salesman.

A really good movie, lots of belly laughs but this film has a real heart.

Bringing Down the House ✩✩

A man and a woman meet on the Internet. She is a prisoner. She escapes from prison and comes to his house. She then proceeds to wreak havoc on his middle-class life.

Not one of Steve Martin’s better comedy’s.

Greenland ✩✩✩

John Garrity, his estranged wife and their young son embark on a perilous journey to find sanctuary as a planet-killing comet hurtles toward Earth. Amid terrifying accounts of cities getting levelled, the Garrity’s experience the best and worst in humanity. As the countdown to the global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

A good action packed, survival movie. It had me on the edge of my seat!

Mr. Destiny ✩✩

There comes a time in life, when people seem powerless and no matter what you try, nothing works. Something like that happened with Larry Burrows who was so lost in life.

Not the greatest film about pivotal moments in life and one man’s opportunity to live both.

The Breakfast Club ✩✩

Five high school students, all with different mindsets, face detainment in their school library on a Saturday morning. As time passes by, their egos fade and they become close buddies.

I hadn’t seen this movie and missed all the hype when it came out. However I didn’t think much of this teen angst film. Perhaps you think differently?

Filofax (Taking Care of Business) ✩✩✩

Jimmy wins a ticket to the World Series but cannot make it there as he’s serving his time in prison. He somehow manages to escape and takes over the identity of Barney, an advertising executive.

Filofax was an entertaining watch, I would recommend.

Face Off ✩✩✩✩

Sean Archer, an FBI Agent, undergoes plastic surgery in order to impersonate and get hold of his son’s killer and his arch-enemy, Castor Troy. Trouble brews when Castor begins impersonating Sean.

I love this film, it has everything you need, action, drama and emotion. An all round good movie!

Wild Hogs ✩✩

Four middle-aged friends decide to rev up their routine lives with a freewheeling road trip, but after a run in with a Mexican motorcycle mob, they are less than eager.

A predictable comedy, but watchable.

Pleasantville ✩✩✩

David and his twin sister, Jennifer, are transported into ‘Pleasantville’, a black and white TV show. The two must stay in character while completely changing the town’s dynamics.

I enjoyed this thought provoking film about racism portrayed within a black and white 1950’s TV show.

Laggies ✩✩

In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Megan panics when her boyfriend proposes, then, taking an opportunity to escape for a week, hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika, who lives with her world-weary single dad.

I don’t think this was Keira Knightly’s best film, cringe worthy rather than romantic.

Miss Congeniality ✩✩✩

Gracie Hart, a tomboyish detective, is made to infiltrate the Miss United States beauty pageant as a contestant after her department learns that the event is under threat from an anonymous bomber.

A likable comedy with Sandra Bullock as the boyish cop who has to infiltrate a beauty pageant.

National Lampoon European Vacation ✩

The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues.

Where these National Lampoon movies ever funny? Think they are a product of the 1980’s. This European venture didn’t raise many laughs.

The Christmas Chronicles 2 ✩✩

Kate Pierce, now a cynical teen, is unexpectedly reunited with Santa Claus when a mysterious troublemaker threatens to cancel Christmas – forever.

I loved the first Christmas Chronicles when it came out in 2018. However the sequel falls somewhat flat. A decent Christmas movie but nothing new to the series.

Oceans Eleven ✩✩✩

Danny Ocean, a gangster, assembles a group of eleven people in an effort to steal money from three popular casinos in Las Vegas owned by his rival, Terry Benedict.

This casino heist was a slow burn but once the plan was set in place it snowballed to a satisfying conclusion.

Apollo 13 ✩✩✩✩

Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert of the Apollo 13 moon mission find themselves stranded when their spacecraft gets damaged. NASA must now find a way to bring them back before it is too late.

Not as bad a film as I remember, full of drama and tension, based on real life events of the Apollo mission that almost ended in tragedy.

Oceans Twelve ✩✩✩

Within two weeks, Danny Ocean and his associates must return the money they swindled from a Las Vegas casino tycoon, Terry Benedict, or Terry will kill them.

A decent sequel with lots of big names. Though I have to admit the plot twists and turns confused me a little.

Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading! Christine x

A Year in Film 2020: Advent Calendar – Day Six

It’s day six of my Christmas film advent calendar. Today’s movie is:

It’s a Wonderful Life

Christine’s rating: ✩✩✩✩ David’s rating: ✩✩✩✩

George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.

This much loved film has been the top of many Christmas movie lists since 1946.

Do you rate this movie?

Thanks for reading! Christine x