Brian’s Exploratory Christmas Endeavor ’20: Pottersville

When it came to may attention that there was an 85 minute Christmas film starring Michael Shannon, Judy Greer, Thomas Lennon, Ron Perlman, Ian McShane and Christina Hendricks, and that it had a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, I knew that I had to see it, and quick. In fact, it is how I opened my 2020 Exploratory Christmas Endeavor. It was not, however, the first movie I wrote about for my Exploratory Christmas Endeavor, because despite its being only 85 minutes long, it was so bad that I managed to watch an entire other, better movie before finishing this one.

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Brian’s Exploratory Christmas Endeavor ’19: The Knight Before Christmas

Well, this is interesting. Did you know there was a Christmas Prince extended universe? Or that within that universe Netflix exists and has Christmas movies? Which are the same ones you can watch in this real universe? Wow.

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Downton Abbey

For better or worse, Downton Abbey is… Downton Abbey. But for its feature-length runtime, this film is no more and no less than precisely what you think when you hear “Downton Abbey“.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for me, it was at least a little disappointing. When I think of a television show getting a feature-length film, I expect it to be a little more. Animated programs like Pokémon and The Simpsons come to mind: there is an immediate, obvious difference in production value between the television shows and their full-length movies. Not only that, but when a 22-minute (or whatever length) TV show gets a long-form movie, the self-contained plots of these usually involve higher stakes.

And sure, on paper the stakes of Downton Abbey are high. At least, by the standards of a show where fancy dining making or breaking reputations can be considered high stakes.

Actually, there is something else that happens, or almost happens, rather, but it is dealt with so swiftly, and so early in the film’s runtime that it’s rather a laugh to even look back on it as an important moment in the film because the film itself doesn’t even bother to think that much of it.

I don’t want to poo-poo the movie. I love Downton Abbey too much to do that. But I still expected at least a little more.

I’ve been trying to finish writing this for like two weeks. I wish I had more to say about it. But it’s just a long episode of the TV show. It’s warm and fuzzy and pleasant and ultimately trivial.

So. Uh. 2.5/5. Good. Enough.

Aladdin (2019)

I did myself and this film a favor, I think, by not revisiting the original Aladdin first. I know that if I’d watched the 1992 classic before seeing the 2019 remake, or if I’d even watched it before writing this review, the new movie would seem worse to me. My memories of the original aren’t enough to color my opinion here, because as was the case with Dumbo, I haven’t seen the original on which this new remake is based since the 1990s.

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Dumbo

Disney’s 2019 remake of Dumbo, the problematic but otherwise lovable 1941 classic, is a perfect example of why these remakes should not be made.

I had low expectations going into Dumbo for a variety of reasons. While I haven’t seen any of the “live-action” (read: CG+) remakes of Disney’s remarkable older films before this one, popular consensus has been that they have been all over the place in terms of quality and worthiness to exist. Lindsay Ellis made an excellent video essay last year about the Beauty and the Beast remake, which I can’t recommend enough. In it, she details the ways in which, on paper, it is a shot-for-shot remake (so why should it exist at all?) and in practice, it misses the point or over-explains things that don’t need to be, and makes for a great exercise in cinematic uselessness.

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Anime Week: A Silent Voice and The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

I may never get used to the fact that I can see anime films in movie theaters in the modern day, thanks primarily to Fathom Events (although Dragon Ball Super: Broly is an actual release in theaters right now, day after day, rather than a limited event, which is huge I think). It is because of this bold new era we live in that I was able to see A Silent Voice (Japanese title translating to The Shape of Voice) this week at my local theater in Dayton, Ohio. Directed by Naoko Yamada, it is an adaptation of Yoshitoki Ōima’s manga of the same name.

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