Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Christmas Chronicles (2020), Kurt Russell, Netflix

Thoughts that entered my mind while watching The Christmas Chronicles 2:

Yeah! Kurt Russell delivers another fun musical performance, a key highlight.’


My, my; that Santa coat is still as beautiful as the first time I laid eyes on it.’


I’m so glad this movie is better than the first one. Thanks to the story and a good performance by young Darby Camp.’

I’d love that star as my own personal light. Also looks like a perfect ornament.’

Considering the year that 2020 has been, The Christmas Chronicles 2, along with a few other good seasonal movies this year are precisely what my festive season mise en scène obsessed self have been needing.

It’s a fun adventure for Christmas fans of all ages. Especially, thanks to how positive it is and the way it fully embraces the Christmas spirit. From the engaging adventure story about saving Christmas to the stunning decorations and fun special effects.

Watch The Christmas Chronicles 2. Particularly if, like me, you’re into how beautiful the festive season makes everything look, and all else I’ve mentioned.

The only things I liked a little less than would have been ideal are the performances by the big brother character and the naughty elf. Both were okay. However, just not as fully believable at times as young Camp the others.

Happy Film Loving

G

HAPPIEST SEASON (2020): The Things I Loved…

Happiest Season (2020), Dan Levy, Kristen Stewart, Hulu
Happiest Season (2020), Dan Levy, Kristen Stewart, Hulu

I haven’t seen all the Christmas movies due for release in 2020 just yet. Especially since it’s not even December as I write this. Nevertheless, let’s just say that it’s going to take something very special to dethrone Happiest Season as my favourite Christmas film of the year.

I found plenty to enjoy in this Clea Duvall co-written/directed story about needing to be exactly yourself, wanting your family’s acceptance and trying hard not to ruin Christmas.

First, there’s the good performances by all, particularly Mackenzie Davis who I’ve been a fan of since Always Shine (2016). Then comes the musical score that I believe is near perfection.

Additionally, Happiest Season manages to feel fresh, even though the holiday/romance/comedy film category is far from new. And the ‘freshness’ is, in part because the central characters are a young lesbian couple. However, it’s simply good writing, editing, acting, music and all else necessary that makes Duvall’s movie the perfect holiday film experience I’ve been needing. Happiest Season is also funny in all the right places. Plus, it features a good mix of memorable dramatic moments too. I say, watch it at once! Because it’s good.

Lastly, like myself, by the end you may feel that you’ve finally come across your favourite Kristen Stewart performance. Especially if you’re not too busy appreciating the noteworthy family wisdom, plus the good examples of friendship and kindness in the story.

Happy Film Loving

G

HOLIDAY HOME MAKEOVER WITH MR. CHRISTMAS (2020): The Things I Liked…

Holiday Home Makeover With Mr. Christmas (2020), Netflix
Holiday Home Makeover With Mr. Christmas (2020), Netflix

I watched Netflix’s Holiday Home Makeover with Mr Christmas to do one of my favourite things this time of year; feast my eyes on other people’s Christmas decorations.

Starring Benjamin Bradley (Mr Christmas), and the decorated premises of four families, watching the four-episodes will likely show you a few new tips and tricks for decorating your home during the holiday season. However, when it comes to the final results, decoration-wise, I found myself less wowed than I expected to be.

In fairness, there’s no doubt that Christmas decor tastes can be very personal. Nevertheless, for me, I enjoyed the first and last episodes most because of the decor and the personalities involved. It’s during these episodes that the show about a decor expert helping four families decorate their homes came close to being the best it could have been. For the two middle episodes, I, unfortunately, could not stop the urge to fast forward to the finished decor instead of sitting the stories and steps it took to get there.

Perhaps season 2, assuming it’s coming will have a bigger production budget, more engaging stories and a touch more elaborate and awe-inspiring decor.

In the meantime, should you find yourself super curious, give Holiday Home Makeover with Mr Christmas a chance. At the very least, you’ll learn a few DIY decorating tips.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE PRINCESS SWITCH 2 – SWITCHED AGAIN (2020): The Things I Liked…

The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again (2020), Vanessa Hudgens, Netflix
The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again (2020), Vanessa Hudgens, Netflix

When I decided to watch The Princess Switch 2 – Switched Again, I wasn’t expecting great things. I was hoping for a sort of watchable Christmas movie experience that I’d be able to get through with a smile on my face, in part thanks to the Christmas filled mise en scene.

Instead, what happened within 10 minutes of the viewing experience gave me a strong urge to reach for my phone and do other things while it played. I definitely could have aborted the whole experience, but something told me to leave it playing. Nothing improved with time, of course. But at least it made the room look extra ‘Christmassy’.

What exactly is wrong with The Princes Switch 2 – Switched Again? Let’s just say that it’s the kind of story and execution that’s really best enjoyed by preteen girls/children. I should have known.


Nevertheless, in the event that, like myself, you often leave less than great Christmas movies playing in the background because you like the ambience they help create, maybe, for that reason alone, hit play on The Princes Switch 2 – Switched Again. You could even leave it playing with the volume down while you pick a Christmas soundtrack to blast through your home. Now that’s an idea.

Happy Film Loving 

G

ON THE ROCKS (2020): The Things I Liked…

On The Rocks (2020), Bill Murray, Apple TV+
On The Rocks (2020), Bill Murray, Apple TV+

On the Rocks is one of those pleasant and relatively easy viewing experiences you look for every now and then. It’s the story of Laura (Rashida Jones), a young mother who’s reconnecting with her larger-than-life playboy father (Bill Murray).

Written/directed by Sofia Coppola, I enjoyed the father-daughter relationship between Murray and Jone’s characters most. I also appreciated the New York setting, a place I’ve rarely hesitated to visit; plus Marlon Wayan’s performance in a non-comedy role.

Overall, I can’t say that I love On the Rocks completely. But it does have some very well written scenes you can enjoy. I found it most fun during the first two thirds. It’s just unfortunate that in the final third, I started to lose interest a little, in part because I just wanted the truth to be confirmed already and for the ending to have been more satisfying, dramatically speaking. Another lowlight of the final third is the non-committal attempts Jones and Murray’s characters made to turn off the ringing phone in Mexico.

Luckily, something did stand out in a good towards the end and that is the beautiful, well-lit shot of Jones’s character sporting a yellow dress while walking past a bonfire on the beach.

If you’re curious, save On the Rocks for when the mood for an entertaining and easy viewing experience hits.

Happy Film Loving

G

GREENLAND (2020): The Things I Liked…

Greenland (2020), Gerard Butler, STX Films
Greenland (2020), Gerard Butler, STX Films

Starring Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin and Andrew Bachelor; Greenland is not a terrible action/ thriller, one about a family’s struggle to survive in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh; I generally have no complaints about the special effects or the performances. The only reason I wouldn’t call Greenland a great movie is linked to elements of the story edit and how the movie feels a tad longer than it needed to be.

Additionally, I may be expecting far too much from the government here, yet, I remain unconvinced that they’d have handled the ‘notification of selection’ quite as carelessly as they seem to in this movie.   

Even though Greenland isn’t perfect, I found it adequately entertaining. As such, give it a chance if you’re curious, and especially if you’re into disaster movies/good special effects.

Happy Film Loving 

G

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM (2020): The Things I Liked…

Borat 2 (2020), Sacha Baron Cohen, Prime Video

It was never going to be easy to follow Sacha Baron Cohen’s big hit Borat movie Borat – Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006).

Released more than 14 years ago, directed by Larry Charles and co-written by Cohen, it was funny, shocking, refreshing and cleverly put together. Fast forward to now, and I have to say that I found Cohen’s followup, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm quite disappointing.

There are very few moments in director Jason Wliner’s film where I smiled and maybe laughed a little. Far more frequently, however, there are cringe-worthy and sometimes gross/in-bad-taste scenes that failed to amuse; at times because the scenes were more unnecessarily vulgar than funny. Other times I could see the intended joke coming, but not in a way that made me look forward to the punchline; reason being, I’d seen something in the first Borat movie, where it was more amusing.

I appreciate the way Wliner’s acknowledges some recent/current key, happenings into the world. From Covid-19 and The Me Too Movement to events in American politics. I only wish I liked the seemingly rushed finished product more.

Forced to choose, my favourite moment besides when we learn of the maskini,’ is perhaps some of the scenes during the daughter’s makeover.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is one you watch if you’re SUPER curious. Having now watched it, I know that I’d have missed very little had I steered clear.

Happy Film Loving

G

NEWNESS (2017): The Things I Liked…

Newness (2017), Nicholas Hoult
Newness (2017), Nicholas Hoult

Newness is a movie I watched because its writer/director Drake Doremus is behind my favourite film by the late and brilliant Anton Yelchin. The movie I’m referring to is of course, Like Crazy (2011); a story that captures well an example of the ups and downs of young love. Especially when only one of the parties live in the country they met.

Doremus’s newer film and the subject of this post is Newness. Another story of young love. Only this time the focus is on two millennials navigating a relationship affected by the challenges that come with modern life’s social media-driven hookup culture.

Well edited and performed by Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa, I must admit to not enjoying Newness as much as I did Like Crazy. The main issue being, I simply didn’t connect with Hould and Costa’s characters as much as I needed to. It was unfortunately around the twenty-minute mark that I realised I was bored and thinking ‘Why, oh why is this movie two hours long?

Due to my failure to connect adequately with the key characters, no matter the editing or how delightfully naturalistic the performances, I still thought ‘I’m sure I’d have enjoyed this story far more had it been a documentary. Perhaps then it would have felt somehow more substantial and impactful. Particularly so since Newness is a lot like a modern-day dating case study, just not an especially engaging one.

My favourite moment in the movie is an emotional one that finally happens at approximately one hour 14 minutes in.

Overall, I say watch Newness if you’re very curious. Perhaps you’ll find far more to love than I did. Otherwise, watch what I feel is the better Doremus movie, Like Crazy. It’s the one that made me a big Yelchin fan and why I was so sad to learn of passing back in 2016.

Happy Film Loving

G