Christmas Weekend Recap: Scrooged + binging on Westworld

Happy last Tuesday of the year folks! Hope you had a lovely Christmas break. Mine is relatively mellow on Christmas day, though we did go up North to Duluth Friday and spent the night there to see the Bentleyville Tour of Lights (I’ve shared the pics here).

We came back in time for Christmas Eve church service, which was wonderful. For the next couple of days, we pretty much hibernated indoors as the weather is quite frightful outside. But hey, it gave us a chance to finally watch a Christmas classic we’ve missed all these years…

SCROOGED

scrooged

Thanks to Courtney’s post on her favorite things about Scrooged, I thought it’s about time I checked it out. My hubby and I loved Bill Murray and the movie is directed by Richard Donner, who I’ll love forever for giving us Superman: The Movie. Well, the updated Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has become a Christmas staple and it’s easy to see why. Murray is perfect as a selfish, heartless TV exec, he’s just effortlessly funny and the slapstick stuff was hysterical. Nice to see Karen Allen here too though she’s barely given anything to do. The movie itself isn’t exactly perfect but still it was a lot of fun and has that rousing ending with great music. Glad I finally saw this movie, a Christmas must-see movie I can now cross off my list.

WESTWORLD

westworld

If you were to ask me to sum up what I did on Christmas weekend… it’d be bingeing on Westworld! My hubby and I couldn’t wait to finally have time to devote to this series, and I much prefer to binge on tv shows these days, and having a free subscription to HBO on the first month certainly helps! It took us two days to get through halfway of the first season, with just five more episodes to go.

Well, first impression is… we LOVE it!! It’s definitely the kind of sci-fi shows we like… bold, visually-stunning, thought-provoking, well-written and well-acted… it pretty much ticks all the boxes of what a binge-worthy show should be. It reminds us a bit of another sci-fi we used to binge-watch, Battlestar Galactica, an ensemble-cast series which also deals with the interactions of humans and robots but I think Westworld is even bolder and sharper in scope. I love that the show is not melodramatic or bogged down by unnecessary romantic plots, but man does it give you a ton of stuff to think about. It’s what people call a mindf*ck in the best possible way! The cast are simply astounding and most of them bring their A-game to the series. If I had to list my four favorite characters, it’d have to be these:


Anthony Hopkins effortlessly adds gravitas as the park creator, whilst Ed Harris is wonderfully menacing and cool as hell as Man in Black. He’s such a terrific actor, and he adds SO much to his role. I can see why Margaret goes ga ga over him now 😉 I haven’t seen Evan Rachel Wood in hardly anything, but she’s no doubt the heart of the show and her acting is phenomenal!! I sure hope this show will give a boost to her career as she’s clearly very talented. As for Thandie Newton, this is perhaps the strongest performance I’ve seen her in, though she was memorable in Crash and Rocknrolla.


I’m also impressed with James Marsden who I think is an underrated actor who people might not take seriously because of his good looks. Well he’s still a sight to behold here as the cowboy Teddy, but at least he gets to show his acting chops too. I’m most intrigued by Jeffrey Wright‘s Bernard, as he seems to have a hidden agenda that’s been hinted out since episode 1. But please guys, NO SPOILERS in the comment as I’ve only got to episode 5. My hubby and I couldn’t help watching fan theories on youtube after each episode, there’s really SO MUCH to ponder and analyze, that’s why we’re limiting ourselves to a couple of episodes a day even though we can’t get enough!

The Nolans sure have the brains for storytelling. Jonathan Nolan‘s written a ton of my fave films with his brother Christopher (esp. The Dark Knight). Here he teamed up with his wife Lisa Joy who’s a talented TV writer in her own right. Executive producer JJ Abrams sure has a midas touch too, is there anything that guy can’t do?? I might also check out Michael Crichton‘s 1973 film Westworld in which the series’s concept is based on. I had no idea Crichton was also a film director on top of being a best-selling author.

Well, I’ll do another summary post again once I’m done w/ the season. So far I think Westworld does live up to the hype!


So what did you watch this Christmas weekend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Westworld too!

Guest Post: Three Christmas Movies Set in New York

By Darren Kowalska

America’s love affair with New York City gets especially mushy around Christmas time. The city that, for the rest of the year, has a reputation for rudeness and indifference is suddenly transformed into a winter wonderland. People give up Christmas at home to spend the holiday in New York, and for good reason. Ice skating in Rockefeller Center is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. While you’re there, you can marvel at the giant Christmas tree, too.

All the big department stores such as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdale’s unveil their holiday windows. And the Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been a New York tradition for more than 75 years now. But if you can’t make it to the Big Apple for Christmas, you can enjoy it vicariously through one of my three Christmas movies set in New York:

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

homealone2posterThis is basically the same movie as Home Alone, only it takes place in New York. If you liked the first one, you’ll definitely want to watch Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Once again, Kevin McCallister’s absentminded parents embark on a vacation and through a series of mix-ups, Kevin ends up spending Christmas not at home, but alone. Lost. In New York. Actually, don’t let the title fool you — he’s not lost at all.

Kevin manages to con his way into the Plaza Hotel with his dad’s credit card. We should all be so lucky as to be “lost” in the Plaza. Then he finds out the two crooks he tangled with in the first movie have escaped from prison, and are in New York to carry out a heist. Obviously, Kevin is the only one who can stop them! And there is no other way to do it but with a series of booby traps! Ok, so it’s not realistic at all, but it’s a fun ride, and kids always get a kick out of characters their own age getting the best of adults, especially bad guys. Overall, it’s a fun Christmas movie that I’ve loved since I was a kid.

Scrooged

ScroogedFrom faithful adaptations like the classic with George C. Scott, to a movie populated by Muppets, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been made and remade many times. But once in a while, a version comes along that is unique enough to really stick with you and become an annual favorite, like Scrooged starring Bill Murray and Karen Allen.

None of the characters in Scrooged have the same names as their Dickensian counterparts, but it’s easy to determine who’s who. Murray plays Frank Cross, a jaded executive of a television network headquartered in New York who is visited by three ghosts who show him where his embittered life is leading him. An all-star cast helps bring the story to life like never before, including a hilarious turn by Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Elf

An original story, a magnificent cast, and the comedic antics that only Will Ferrell can get away with come together to create a new Christmas classic. Ferrell plays Buddy, a human who accidentally ends up in Santa’s workshop as an infant, and is adopted by an elf, played to perfection by Bob Newhart. He grows up an accepted member of the elf community, but doesn’t really fit in, and then discovers that he’s not really an elf as he’s been led to believe. He decides to connect with his real father — James Caan — who lives in New York City. And then the movie really gets good.

It’s a timeworn, fish-out-of-water story where Buddy must learn the ways of humans, and is again out of place for his customs and beliefs. But what’s not typical are the situations Buddy finds himself in while in New York, and the hilarious way Ferrell plays the part, perfectly straddling the line between comedy and sweetness. It’s worth it to watch Elf just to see James Caan break a couple of times, and keep an eye out for the cameo by Peter Billingsly, star of another classic holiday movie, A Christmas Story.

There are many other films that may mention Christmas, or have a scene or two in New York (like Sleepless in Seattle), but these are my definitive Christmas in New York movies. Don’t miss them!