Cheer Up Charlies
"...Noëls Celtiques: Christmas Music from Brittany (Green Linnet)..."
"...The best Christmas episodes take the basic DNA of a TV show and turn up the volume – metering out a dollop of sentimentality to a drama, say, or inspiring a sharp comedy to even more razoring barbs. Here are some of our favorites, all currently streaming...."
"...Having made it through Scott Weiland's new Christmas coaster, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I feel like Santa on the cover of this week's Chronicle. Without giving anything away about what's coming down the chimney Thursday, the only differences between that Claus and my state in the aftermath of Weiland is implement and motive...."
"...Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Adam Lavorgna, Sean O'Bryan, Gary Cole, Eve Gordon, Andrew Lauer and Alexandria Mitchell. Beware of seasonal comedies whose titles echo Christmas carol refrains..."
"...Boxes and bows under the tree. All fine and sprightly, but nothing says Christmas like a time-traveling alien..."
"...It’s that time of year when the state is bathed in elaborate displays of Christmas lights and decorations. Light up your holidays at one of these spectacles, or take a turn around an ice rink...."
"...Christmas is about Humbug! The season of giving I said humbug! Charity begi I said humbug, sir, humbug!..."
"...Waiting for his return at this time of year is typical of my family. Although the lives of traveling musicians take a toll on their families at the holidays, my dad always makes it home for Christmas...."
"...God save us, every one. (Thank goodness for American Movie Classics, then, which will no doubt be barraging film fans with at least a modicum of cheery genius – you can never see The Bells of Saint Mary’s, It’s a Wonderful Life, or Brian Desmond Hurst’s 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge, too often for my money..."
"...How many generations does White Christmas have left in it, I wonder?..."
"...Christmas is a divisive holiday. There's the "joy to the world" types, the white elephant and wine types, the bah-humbuggers..."
"...Essentially an extended Sunday sermon in which former teen heartthrob-turned-evangelical entrepreneur Kirk Cameron "Camsplains" the true meaning of Christmas, Saving Christmas will hold little interest for anyone not already a believer. It’s too single-minded in its instructional purpose, too averse to multidimensional characters, too youth-pastor-like in its dorky humor..."
"...Starring: Delroy Lindo, Loretta Devine, Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Columbus Short, Keith Robinson, Laz Alonso, Regina King, Mekhi Phifer, Sharon Leal and Lauren London. I have to ask: What could possibly explain the presence of two first-rate actors like Lindo and Elba in a movie as bland as This Christmas? After all, this isn’t the old Hollywood studio system we’re talking about, where actors were bound by contractual obligation to take whatever part executives threw at them in fits of dyspepsia..."
"...The Grinch is so terribly one-dimensional in his extreme misanthropy. Additionally, the chipper, Christmas-crazed residents of Whoville are single-faceted characters..."
"...Forget carols and devotional music. In my house, it's not really Christmas until we break out the A Charlie Brown Christmas CD...."
"...Every year, there’s always one new Christmas release that stands apart. This season it’s from pub rocker turned crooner Nick Lowe, whose first attempt at something seasonal lands an instant classic..."
"...If you can't beat the usual pre-holiday hype, at least laugh at it. Watching A Christmas Story can help..."
"...In The Man Who Invented Christmas, beloved fictional miser Ebenezer Scrooge gets the origin-story treatment. In the fall of 1843, Charles Dickens (Stevens) was in a slump: Three failed attempts at matching the commercial success of Oliver Twist had put him in near dire financial straits..."
"...Austin's music community barely contains its holiday spirit. Like department stores that begin playing Christmas jingles on December 1, we've already blown our festive wads with heavy metal Christmas concerts, hip-hop toy drives, and ugly sweater dance parties..."
"...Loved ones gathered around a Christmas tree, by a lit menorah, or crammed together in front of the fireplace or space heater to escape dipping temperatures: These are our most cherished months of the year. Suddenly, the loved ones we normally avoid are welcome..."
"...The worst thing I can say about this sweet little slice of holiday cheer is that it is preceded by evil incarnate: a Justin Bieber music video of the pint-sized castrato's soul-sucking rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Happily, once Bieber scuttles offscreen and the Aardman Animation titles come up, you're in good, competent, and refreshingly funny hands. Arthur Christmas is an inspired take on the hoary clichés of the Santasploitation genre..."
"...Who said Christmas is fun? Cold. Damp..."
"...Starring: Michael Caine. So many cinematic versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol have come and gone over the years, but the proverbial question still remains: do we really need yet another rendition of this overdone classic to officially promote holiday season cheeriness? Apparently Walt Disney and Jim Henson Productions thought that we needed one -- and or had visions of sugarplum dollar signs dancing in their heads -- when they joined forces to produce The Muppet Christmas Carol, a cute, and for the most part, imaginative take on Dickens' narrative that's sure to jumpstart the Muppets' commercial appeal, if achieving nothing else..."
"...You’ve only got this weekend left to nail down your Christmas dining plans and spots are filling up fast. Fear not: We’ve got recos...."
"...'Twas six days before Christmas, And all through the Texas House, Not a lawmaker was stirring, Except for Dwayne Bohac with a 'Happy Holidays' bill..."
"...Sunday evening, Michael Martin Murphey brings his Cowboy Christmas show to the One World Theatre for two performances, 6 & 8:30pm. He’s been sharing this brand of holiday party for more than two decades, but 19 years ago he discovered the annual Cowboy Christmas Ball held in Anson, a northern suburb of Abilene preserving a tradition that began there in 1885...."
"...Another little motion on the biggest argument in years for the General Land Office: Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has granted a permanent easement between Big Bend National Park and the Christmas Mountains Range...."
"...This Native American romantic comedy, which won the Audience Award at the 2001 Austin Film Festival, arrives in theatres four years late but seasonally right on time. It owes a small debt to White Christmas, sharing with that Bing Crosby crooner a hotel-resort setting and a threat to the resort’s livelihood by way of snow that refuses to fall..."
"...Call this one Miracle on 12th Street. No it's not precisely the same story as the 34th Street model (or even one-third the story), but it borrows much of the same whimsy, grit and Christmas sentiment from the original..."
"...One of two things is happening in City Theatre's production of Christmas Belles, penned by playwriting trio Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten (collectively known as "Jones Hope Wooten"). Either the cast and director are mostly squandering an opportunity to run full-throttle into the overt tongue-in-cheekiness of a zany, Southern-fried campfest or a talented cast and director (Jessica McMichael) giving everything they have still can't quite overcome a script that mistakes Texan tropes and "charm" for actual wit..."
"...Christmas movies usually come wrapped in a message: appreciate the little things; treat your fellow man with kindness; believe in Santa; don’t shoot your eye out. The moral of the story of the less-canonical Christmas in Connecticut? Lie through your teeth, and lovely things may come to you...."
"...“Merry Christmas, baby,” croons Otis Redding from the scratched LP in the living room, but there doesn’t seem at first like there’s much to be merry about at the Vuillards' Christmas gathering – certainly not mom’s cancer or cousin’s heartsickness or grandson’s cracked-up dalliance with knives, to name a few in a stocking stuffed with maladies...."
"...Less a sequel and more of a holiday special shitshow spectacular, A Bad Moms Christmas explores many of the same tropes as its predecessor. Taking place roughly two years later, it’s the same idea of “perfect” pitted against the mildly deranged, or, er, “realistic” – the dichotomy between a Pinterest board and a “nailed it” meme..."
"...You’re going to have to sneak your own eggnog into the theatre if you are looking to catch a buzz while watching this holiday-season comedy. Do not count on Office Christmas Party to deliver a contact high..."
"...Tuesday night, for the second time in five months, WWE Raw graced Austin with its pageantry of wrestling entertainment at the Frank Erwin Center. Austinites returned the favor by being the same reliably active crowd it’d been in the past, even if Christmas was a bit of a downer for everyone..."
"...Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Ilmari Järvenpää and Peeter Jakobi. If you're sick and tired of the saccharine explosion of treacly holiday fare that began bombarding us somewhere around Halloween, and if you prefer the pre-Christian rites and pagan revelations upon which so much of the current, Christianized calendar conveniently hangs, then you could do far worse than this year's Fantastic Fest horror favorite, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale..."
"...Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric, Melvil Poupaud, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni, Laurent Capelluto and Emile Berling. “Merry Christmas, baby,” croons Otis Redding from the scratched LP in the living room, but there doesn’t seem, at first, like there’s much to be merry about at the Vuillards' Christmas gathering – certainly not mom’s cancer or cousin’s heartsickness or grandson’s cracked-up dalliance with knives, to name but a few in a stocking stuffed with maladies..."
"...Believe it or not, it’s been 20 years since the release of The Nightmare Before Christmas...."
"...Given that Tyler Perry is the ultimate auteur of the Madea series – not only does he write, direct, produce, and star, but the films are made by his studio – there is something perplexing, though perhaps also a bit endearing, about to how rough and unpolished they are. The unevenness of A Madea Christmas really stands out..."
"...Those Final Destination outbursts continue to provide giddy good Grand Guignol, and, well, The One was obviously mistitled. Morgan has more than proven himself to be a genre helmer with a wonderfully warped cinematic sensibility, and while this new take on Black Christmas certainly won't wipe the original from anyone's mind, it's still a surprisingly memorable creepfest that fleshes out the characters' backstories while adding a heaping helping of blacker-than-pitch humor to the proceedings..."
"...Because, sure, it's all about "the reason for the season," whichever holiday you celebrate. Whether it's Christmas or Kwanzaa or Pikamas' Birthday or whatever, yes, it's all about love and hope and goodwill and yadda-yadda-yadda...."
"...This is the first of the three Harold and Kumar titles (the first two being 2004's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and 2008's Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay) in which the weed-loving pair aren't actively coming or going, and it shows. A grinning but toothless comedy, this Christmas-themed outing pales in inventiveness compared to the original, which brought sweet, silly anarchy to its one-thing-leads-to-another plotting...."
"...'Twas the week before Christmas, And all through the House of Torment, Not a creature was stirring Except for the Krampus, in sinister ascent...."
"...Rebecca Havemeyer and Stanley Roy brought it! The seventh annual incarnation of their Christmas play: Whatchu’ Talkin' 'bout Christmuss? delivered an absolute riot of laughs, inappropriate gut punches, and some frilly, bacon-laden underwear...."
"...The Christmas Candle is not only as picturesque and beautiful as a holiday card but also just as two-dimensionally flat. In a small, English countryside village, there is a recurring holiday miracle every 25 years in which a single candle produced in the local candlemaker’s shop is blessed by an angel..."
"...It’s becoming a modern Christmas tradition: the inundation of holiday romances. Almost 30 movies were made for the Hallmark and Lifetime channel’s 2017 seasons alone..."
"...Less recounted than the tale about how Santa Claus comes screaming down your chimney every December is the one about his hard-drinking ways and dire problems at home. That’s the Christmas story left-of-center local Wild Bill likes to tell, and tonight’s Christmas in July...."
"...I wasn't going to decorate for the holidays this year. In fact, I've been free from any urge to dig around in the decades of Christmas archived in the attic for a long time..."
"...Patriarch Walter Meyers (Glover, so good at wrenching emotional notes from stalwart actions) is facing his first Christmas by himself after the death of his beloved wife of many decades. Alone in the big house where they raised their four children, he summons his now-grown offspring to return home for the holidays..."
"..."Jingle bells, baby!" Texas State University System chancellor Brian McCall was all smiles this morning at the General Land Office as he and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced their big news: The Christmas Mountains are being transferred to TSU to become an open air classroom, open to students and academics from around the state...."