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|Written by April Yorke|
|Thursday, 01 December 2011 00:00|
Each month, (Cult)ure movie nerd April Yorke chats with Mayfair co-owner and geek-in-chief Josh Stafford about what's playing at Ottawa's home of stuff you won't see anywhere else. For December, we talked about those rat bastards at Disney, Christmassy action movies (or action-y Christmas movies), and the actors who best embody the "one for them, one for me" filmmaking mentality.
(Cult)ure: The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper . . . it's December. I think you can guess where I am going with this.
Josh Stafford: Christmas tie-ins! Oh wait . . . Muppets.
(C): Now put those two ideas together.
JS: Well . . . I don't know if I should be quoted as saying that Disney are monsters . . .
(C): I think you may have already . . .
JS: But they do not let out their library of films the way some other studios do.
(C): Those rat bastards.
JS: Hence no Jungle Book, no Tron, no anything from them besides for new stuff. So no brilliant performance by Michael Caine (my favourite actor) in A Christmas Carol (my favourite book) with a Muppet supporting cast (I love Muppets). Very sad. But I would hazard a guess that at least we will be screening the new one sometime soon, early in the new year.
(C): Those Disney bastards must hate joy because that it what A Muppet Christmas Carol brings you: pure joy. Also, tears.
JS: Joy and tears and worshipfulness of Michael Caine. I will still get choked up at The Muppet Movie, though.
(C): Naturally. Since we cannot allow Disney to win their War on Christmas, there is also Scrooged.
JS: I pretty much love any incarnation of Christmas Carol, but Bill Murray taking it on is amazing.
(C): I love that everything's so crazy, but it's still really scary when he thinks he's going to get burned alive.
JS: Yup, and it was his comeback film after four years away from movies after 1984 with Ghostbusters and Razor's Edge (except for his Little Shop of Horrors appearance). It has Karen Allen and Carol Kane. The ending gets me choked up . . . to be fair, I get kind of emotional during movies . . . but it's a good ending nonetheless.
(C): Indeed. Alright, I'm going to throw it out there: Elf = best Will Ferrell performance ever.
JS: Yes! A while back someone was telling me how much they hated Elf. I may have resorted to jumping straight into accusations that they have no soul. If you hate Elf, you might as well also tell me you hate puppies and cupcakes and dolphins and joy. Elf is indeed great, and it's a performance where Will never resorts to being Will. Most films he does (which I also enjoy); he's kind of a jerk man-child. In Elf, Favreau managed to sit on him and make him stay in character throughout.
(C): I think Jon Favreau is a much better director, specifically of actors, than people give him credit for.
JS: I think he's one of our hopes for good filmmaking in modern mainstream cinema: him, JJ [Abrams], Edgar Wright. They will save us. Alas, one Michael Bay or Twilight movie makes more than a combo of all three of their movies . . . but what can ya do? I think Elf falls under "timeless classic." It's like a Pixar movie or the Grinch cartoon.
(C): Or Die Hard.
JS: Die Hard is one of the best Christmas movies ever made and has amazingly become the Mayfair Christmas tradition that people anticipate. It's like It's a Wonderful Life but with more 'splosions and less angels.
(C): And more Alan Rickman, whom I heart.
JS: Some magazine gave him best villain award . . . like, over Darth Vader and Dracula.
(C): I would pick him over them.
JS: Die Hard is on my "never get tired of it" list. The good old days when action heroes didn't look like Shia LaBeouf, and movies were horribly violent.
(C): Action heroes should never look like Shia LaBeouf. I feel like Silent Night, Deadly Night is another Mayfair Christmas tradition.
JS: 'Tis. Another classic. Nothing more festive than a maniacal murderous Santa.
(C): Man takes a lot of grief over the years.
JS: And so many wonderfully bad movies. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I mean . . . doesn't even really need a pitch, it's all there right in the title.
(C): What else could you need to know? Everyone loves Santa and doesn't want to be conquered by Martians. It's a done deal.
JS: And it's one of the movies that got the MST3K treatment. This is a rare chance to see a movie that bad on the big screen in all its glory. You can pretend you're trapped in space with a couple snarky robot pals watching bad movies.
(C): I pretend that all the time.
JS: As you should.
(C): Now let's just say that you are one of those people who maybe wants a break from all the Christmassy Christmas-ness. What else has the Mayfair got on offer?
JS: Gremlins! Oh wait . . . that's awesome Christmas monster movie. In terms of mainstream (ish) stuff, I'm really looking forward to seeing 50 / 50, The Rum Diary, and The Ides of March. I really love the career that Seth Rogan is carving out for himself, Johnny Depp is awesome, and I think George Clooney is a fine director.
(C): I really like that Seth Rogen and Will Reiser were like, "This cancer thing is getting us down. Let's pretend it's a really funny movie instead."
JS: And that Seth is kinda just playing himself in the movie. I like that he's not afraid to try different things, that he's smart to keep budgets low, and because of that he gets to do what he wants.
(C): I think he benefits a lot from having people not know exactly who he is, so they can't pigeon-hole him. Sort of like the opposite of Jack Black.
JS: I like the Apatow gang for that. 50 / 50 seems to have that goofy mixed with dramatic thing that they're so good at.
(C): Very much so. A lot of medicinal marijuana, so you're like, "Ha ha, they're stoned. Oh, wait."
JS: I feel that Seth Rogan actually cares about making a good movie in whatever genre and doesn't pull punches in weird stuff like Observe and Report. He tries different things. It's not just him playing the same character all the time. He'll do a dark role, he'll play a super hero, he'll step up and show emotion in Knocked Up. And he'll do a funny movie about cancer.
(C): With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who basically hasn't been funny since 3rd Rock, and that doesn't count.
JS: Who woulda thought that that kid would be something!? The goofy lil long haired kid from a gimmick laugh-track TV series. I love how they know if they keep budgets down they can tell the stories they want.
(C): I love that that they actually do. Not only can they, but they follow through. Cloons is much the same way. You can see how political films like Good Night, and Good Luck. or Ides are important to him.
JS: You look at his career, and it's so opposite of what might have been expected. He could've sleepwalked through and made millions doing romantic comedies and action franchises. Instead, he manages to balance Hollywood and what he wants to do. Ocean's 11 is followed by Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Ocean's 12 by Good Night, and Good Luck. Ocean's 13 by Leatherheads. I think he's got the best track record going for quality diverse stuff.
(C): At a certain point, more than a decade ago, he was just like, "Eff it. I'm just going to be amazing." Even if the movie doesn't turn out all the great, you know he's doing what he wants.
JS: He was on Letterman recently, and Dave was listing all these great movies that he loved that George had done, and George pointed out that no one else saw them but Dave. Stuff like The American (which we also showed at the Mayfair).
(C): His actual career is being famous, not acting, as though he's famous in order to make movies.
JS: And then every so often there's one that does really well. I think both Up in the Air and Michael Clayton made cash, so he can balance.
(C): It makes sense that he'd find a leading man in Ryan Gosling, then.
JS: Yeah . . . the other handsome actor that makes great movies that no one sees.
(C): A next gen George Clooney.
JS: Did he come from TV, too?
(C): Mickey Mouse Club, Breaker High (here in Canada), and Young Hercules.
JS: Man! Good for him for climbing out of that.
(C): After all, who's going to buy Ryan Gosling aging into Kevin Sorbo?
JS: Kevin Sorbo wishes!
(C): It's all good, though. I've seen Gosling in interviews, and he never shies away from it. Just says that it taught him a lot about being in front of the camera. Like famous people who used to be on soaps. I always like the ones who take it on the chin better.
JS: Yeah . . . I've seen him on Letterman, too, and he seemed like a nice humble Canadian boy.
(C): Minus his accent.
JS: Interesting how the best stuff no one sees. Just to pick from the Clooney gang, we have his pal Don Cheadle in The Guard.
(C): YES! With Brendan Gleeson.
JS: We also have this amazing doc called Resurrect Dead. It's like a street art conspiracy theory mystery.
(C): Is it true?
JS: Yup, weird little tile messages appear worldwide, and no one can figure out where they're coming from. The trailer for it is great.
(C): The other movie you were excited about was The Rum Diaries.
JS: Yes. Johnny Depp returning to the world of Hunter S. Thompson. I think this one is a lil' less hallucinatory than Fear and Loathing. Not a prequel per se . . . but slightly less madness. Johnny Depp has another career I love. He stumbled into super stardom with Pirates but otherwise continues to do crazy stuff. And he flows into Hunter S. Thomson mode so effortlessly. He became friends with Hunter, so that helps. Lots of time spent alongside him.
(C): Meanwhile, you know what I am excited about at the Mayfair in December? Cell 211.
JS: Just in time for the holidays!
(C): Prison Break: The Movie! Only Spanish!
JS: Let it never be said that you don't know how to get into the holiday spirit.
(C): I'll still be watching A Muppet Christmas Carol through tears.
JS: As you should, while writing Disney an angry letter.
(C): But that doesn't mean that I don't want to see that man have to find a way to survive a prison riot.
JS: Yes, that will be action packed as well. I love me a good prison break movie, though it is humorous to watch it at Christmas.
(C): There is only so much Christmas a person can take. Or at least I can take.
JS: What if it was a prison break Christmas Muppet movie?
(C): HOLY SHIT. That needs to get made. STAT.
JS: I'm on it.
Josh Stafford also programs the annual festivals 'Killer 63' and 'Fake Trailers, Reel Festival.' Life highlights include: having a letter read on-air by David Letterman, shaking hands with Bruce Campbell, going to the mall where Dawn of the Dead was shot, going to the graveyard where Night of the Living Dead was shot, and being killed by Jango Fett in a Star Wars comic. Josh watches a lot of movies, reads a lot of comics, and loves roller derby.
April Yorke prefers quoting TV shows to nearly any other form of communication, thinks roller derby is the only excuse for not going to the movies more often, and finds that buying more shelves is the best way to deal with her book-buying habit. You can reach her at april[at]culturemagazine[dot]ca.
Tags: christmas movies, cinema, disney, faith, handsome actors just cannot catch a break, he came from tv, mayfair, muppets, ottawa, pure joy, rat bastards, the true meaning of christmas
A few notes about 3rd Rock from the Sun
First of all, I totally agree that A Muppet Christmas Carol is probably the very best version of that story on film (I realize you didn't exactly say that, but I am going to pretend like you did). Having a patch of vegetables sing "If he became a flavor you can bet he would be sour"? Genius. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBthi_An5qQ