Entertainment

The Five Best Contemporary Christmas Movies

Five Best Christmas Movies
Is There A Problem Officers? Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.

If the weather outside is frightful, watching these five contemporary Christmas movies will make you feel delightful. I try to watch all the following Christmas movies at least once during the holiday season. There are of course the classic movies like A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) and It’s a Wonderful Life. I like these films, but I tend to enjoy contemporary Christmas flicks more, maybe because I haven’t seen them quite as often.

5. Trading Places (1983)

Wealthy brothers Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer (Don Ameche) Duke make a one-dollar bet, on whether genetics or environment influences a person’s behavior.  The pair orchestrate an elaborate plan to send cultured snob Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Ackroyd) into abject poverty and poor street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) straight into Winthorp’s lavish lifestyle.

five best Christmas movies
Happy New Year! Ackroyd and Murphy.

When Billy Ray finds out what the Dukes have been up to, he and Louis team up with prostitute Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Butler Coleman (Denholm Elliot) to turn the tables on the wealthy brothers.

I’ve been watching Trading Places every Christmas since I was a teenager. It’s hilarious and features some stand-out performances, specifically from Denholm Elliot. And watch for a very young Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), in a jail cell scene with Eddie Murphy.

4.The Family Stone (2005)

Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) brings his uptight girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker), home for the holidays to meet his unconventional family. A prude, Meredith feels like Everett’s whole family hates her.  So she calls her sister Julie (Claire Danes), asking her to come to Connecticut so she’ll have an ally.

Five favourite Christmas Movies
Odd Woman Out: The Family Stone

The Family Stone also stars Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson as Everett’s parents Sybil and Kelly, Luke Wilson as his brother Ben and Rachel McAdams as his sister Amy. My favorite line in this movie is when Meredith, upset with  Everett’s family, is out at a local bar with Ben. He tells Meredith she just needs to be herself. “You have a freak flag. You just don’t fly it.”  Continue reading “The Five Best Contemporary Christmas Movies”

Walking Dead

The Walking Dead – Rick Grimes’ Cheap Conclusion

Rick Grimes
A Fitting Farewell?: AMC touted last night’s episode as Rick Grimes final.

I wanted to write an ode to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) this week. AMC has been promoting the whole “Rick Grimes final episodes” on The Walking Dead for months now. As it turned out, it was just another clever marketing ploy to trick viewers into watching the first couple of season 9 episodes.

Well, they got me. I thought they were going to kill off Rick, but the mysterious helicopter we’ve been seeing for a while now (part of Jadis’ human trafficking network) swooped in, scooped up Rick and saved his life in the nick of time.

Once again, showrunner Scott M. Gimple and AMC pulled a second-rate ratings scam (anyone remember the whole Glenn under the dumpster debacle?) and viewers should be pissed. But likely they’re not, because their hero Rick Grimes is still alive.

The episode itself, entitled What Comes After, leading up to this cheap conclusion, wasn’t all bad. When last week’s episode ended, Rick’s horse had thrown him onto a rebar. The dead were approaching and it looked like he was a goner. Continue reading “The Walking Dead – Rick Grimes’ Cheap Conclusion”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – The Spy Who Loved Murdoch

The Spy Who Loved Murdoch
A Role He Was Born To Play?: Murdoch impersonates French diplomat Gaétan Vidal. CBC.

Government agent Terrance Myers (Peter Keleghan) returns to Murdoch Mysteries and enlists the detective to help solve the case of a murdered French diplomat. In order to investigate, Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) must go undercover in The Spy Who Loved Murdoch.

Meyers explains to Murdoch that diplomats from Britain, Russia and France have been dispatched to Canada to sign a treaty between the three countries. The death of the French diplomat, Gaétan Vidal, could have dire consequences.

In typical over-dramatic style, Meyers delivers a most chilling line: “If we don’t find out who killed this man, the result will be the greatest war this world has ever known.” Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – The Spy Who Loved Murdoch”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Murdoch Without Borders

Murdoch without borders
Benevolent Blunder: Brackenreid lets Athos leave Station House No. 4. CBC.

Murdoch Without Borders highlights prevalent racist attitudes towards immigrants in the early 20th Century while Murdoch, Brackenreid and Dr. Ogden deal with the pending Immigration Act of 1906.  Murdoch Mysteries season 12, episode 4 shows viewers that unfortunately not much has changed in 100 years.

The episode begins with immigration officer James McBride set on rounding up Greek immigrants for deportation. Station House No. 4 jail cells are full to capacity. Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) thinks it’s strange that all the prisoners are the same nationality.

The immigration officer tells Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson and Crabtree  that the detainees are all criminals. Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) notices his carpenter Athos is among them. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he tells Brackenreid, who believes him and lets him leave. Soon after, Murdoch and Crabtree find Mr. McBride’s body rolled up in a carpet in a back alley. Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Murdoch Without Borders”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – My Big Fat Mimico Wedding

Henry Higgins-Newsome?: Does Henry’s marriage go off without a hitch? All bets are off. CBC

Blushing groom Henry Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) is surrounded by Murdoch, Brackenreid and Crabtree at the Newsome residence, to witness his Big Fat Mimico Wedding as Murdoch Mysteries, season 12, episode 3 begins.

Higgins tells the boys he’s decided to hyphenate his last name, to Henry Higgins-Newsome. But he’s quite concerned that because he’s quit his job as a constable, he’s left Station House No. 4 in the lurch.

“Somehow we’ll muddle through without you,” Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) says, rolling his eyes.

Suddenly a shot rings out and Higgins falls back onto a bed. Is he dead? Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – My Big Fat Mimico Wedding”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Operation Murder

Doctor Julia Ogden’s (Hélène Joy) first operation at the University of Toronto’s School of Medicine is deemed a great success, until the patient dies minutes later. The head surgeon assures Julia she is not responsible, but of course she is devastated in Operation Murder.

Murdoch Mysteries Review - Operation Murder
Mrs. Quigley Has Died: Julia’s in a quandary and cannot accept that her surgical skills caused her patient’s death. CBC.

Meanwhile, back at Station House No. 4, William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) encounters George Crabtree (Jonny Harris): “It’s a beautiful day outside, George, why don’t you go for a walk along the boardwalk?” George, looking miserable, replies: “The boardwalk is always teaming with happy young couples.” Poor George.

But he does meet a new love interest a few hours later, on the hospital steps, a nurse named Florence Nightingale Graham (Kathryn Alexandre). They connect over a line in a poem and he asks her out.

William gets a special delivery to the “crazy house on Lambert Avenue,” as the courier calls it. He looks at the large wooden box with glee as he prepares to open it. And so begins season 12, episode 2 of Murdoch Mysteries, entitled Operation MurderContinue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Operation Murder”

Walking Dead

Fear The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale Recap – The Morgan Show

Weak: Morgan is not a strong enough character to lead a show, in particular Fear The Walking Dead.

Fear the Walking Dead’s season 4 finale, entitled I Lose Myself, was not just hokey, it was completely ludicrous. There were enough plot holes in it to fill a leaking ethanol tanker truck (more on that later).

Since showrunners Scott M. Gimple, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg took over for season 4, Fear has changed from a drama about a family trying to survive in the zombie apocalypse, to The Morgan Show. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against the character of Morgan, or Lennie James – I liked the character when he was on The Walking Dead, but he was a supporting character. Morgan is not a strong enough character to lead a series.

As the episode begins, we see Althea has survived and is pointing a rifle at Martha and her pet walker Jim and for once, I’m rooting for her. Please shoot this bitch and put an end to this lame Filthy Woman character once and for all. But instead of shooting her, she lets Martha get the better of her and ends up knocked to the ground. Continue reading “Fear The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale Recap – The Morgan Show”

Entertainment, Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries Review – Murdoch Mystery Mansion

Murdoch Mystery Mansion
A Potato, Sir?: George wants to see William’s “potato cooking room” in his new house. CBC TV.

When last we saw the inhabitants of Station House No. 4, Julia and William Murdoch had suffered a tragic loss, George Crabtree found himself unlucky in love again and viewers were left wondering what Violet Hart, Julia’s new morgue assistant, was really up to.

Season 12, Episode 1 begins with Julia (Hélène Joy) and William (Yannick Bisson) walking into their brand new home only to find about a dozen people inside. The home was designed, incidentally, by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright (Aaron Poole) and, as it turns out, Julia didn’t read the fine print (who ever does?!) in the contract before she signed it and has agreed that Wright can use their house as a showcase for 90 days.

Loyal viewers know it wouldn’t really feel like home for Mr. and Mrs. Murdoch if they didn’t find at least one dead body somewhere in the house. The body they do discover is particularly gruesome and it’s a bloody good start to the new season of Murdoch Mysteries. Continue reading “Murdoch Mysteries Review – Murdoch Mystery Mansion”

Walking Dead

Fear The Walking Dead Recap – I Lose People

Stranded No More: Strand, John, Charlie and Alicia are back together again. AMC.

Season 4, episode 15 begins with Morgan’s group trapped on the hospital roof, mainly because the writers thought Morgan was the only one who could lead them. When Wendell asks why “Mo Mo” is standing far away from them, Jimbo says what many of us are thinking: “What the hell are you waiting for him to do? He got us into this. You’re on your own now.”

Morgan obviously blames himself for becoming the leader and leading his people into what looks like an unwinnable situation, but really Morgan, don’t blame yourself, blame the showrunners for foisting this role upon you.

Fortunately, the whole episode doesn’t just focus on Morgan and we get to one of the highlights of the episode, Alicia calling out to Strand and John, who are across the water, then hearing June on the walkie and telling her John is safe.

Charlie and Alicia go into town to search for a boat or a canoe (any type of watercraft that can float) so they can rescue their friends.

Meanwhile, Jim continues to whine, which makes me wonder why Morgan, Wendell or Sarah are avoiding the inevitable and don’t just stick a pole through his head.

Alicia and Charlie spot a canoe and suddenly Martha starts shooting at them. Alicia sees she’s bleeding and offers to help, but of course this one trick pony replies with: “I don’t need any help,” and falls to the ground. As Alicia approaches her, gun drawn, Charlie says: “It’s the woman on the walkie.” Why thanks, Captain Obvious. Continue reading “Fear The Walking Dead Recap – I Lose People”

Walking Dead

Fear The Walking Dead Recap – MM 54

Nick Clark Ready To Detonate: Maybe he could also blow up this whole season, oh wait, Scott M. Gimple already did! AMC.

Fear The Walking Dead’s ratings are plummeting like a stone, or like many stones, collapsing after a dam explosion. The previous showrunners had no idea how prescient their season 3 finale was, as the current showrunners blow Fear apart piece by piece.

Wherefore Art Thou, Daniel?: Salazar is MIA in this train wreck of a season. AMC.

The first quarter hour of season 4, episode 14 is a flashback to the story of the Filthy Woman, who now has a name, Martha. Is there anyone else out there who doesn’t care about Martha’s backstory, not to mention how weakly written it was? I just want this ludicrous character to go away. I would rather find out what happened to Daniel Salazar after the dam explosion. But he had nothing to do with Scott M. Gimple and his minions’ (Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg) distorted and cavalier vision of what they thought this season of Fear should be, so I assume we’ll never see him again.

Last night’s episode was another waste of time, with Morgan’s crew trapped inside a zombie filled hospital, and Alicia trying to get Charlie to a beach (why she’s doing her brother’s murderer any favours, is beyond me).

Continue reading “Fear The Walking Dead Recap – MM 54”