It always happens around the same time, where I notice uncharitable acts on the rise. The first one I saw was a couple of weeks ago in the parking lot of the shopping mall. I was driving around looking for a space when I drove up behind a car that had its turn signal on; they were waiting for someone to pull out of a space just ahead of them. As the parked car was pulling out another car came barreling down towards us from up ahead. Due to the direction the parked car was backing up, they blocked the car in front of me from taking the space immediately. The new car cut off the reversing car and whipped into the now empty parking spot. The poor driver in front of me could only glare at the driver as they drove off looking for another space. Welcome to the holiday season! I see such craziness around this time of year, where people seem to have been programmed to take no prisoners while they are on their shopping missions for gifts. Once I saw two people fighting over a flat screen TV, each trying to grab the last box from the other person. They looked like maniacal warriors in their tall stocking hats with their single pom-poms jousting in the air. Looking in from the outside I am curious where this whole idea of gift giving took on the attitude that the bigger present always win. It seems as if more and more people every year go through the season at a higher level of stress, complaining about a multitude of things from food prices to relatives. Don’t they know who may come and visit them? WHEN the young son of Sarah and Tom, played by Toni Collette (Miss You Already, The Way Way Back) and Adam Scott (Black Mass, Sleeping with Other People), became disgusted with how the holidays were turning out, he unwittingly invited an unwelcome guest to visit his family. This comedic horror story surprised me. I was not familiar this fantasy was based on German/Austrian folklore. The opening scene was the perfect way to start out this story in my opinion. With David Koechner (Anchorman franchise, Get Smart) as Howard and Conchata Ferrell (Erin Brockovich, Edward Scissorhands) as Aunt Dorothy, the whole cast worked well together even though they were close to being stereotypes. The script kept things moving along; some scenes were predictable, others were fun in that sort of creepy way for a horror flick. This is not a movie for young children; there were some scenes that would I think be scary for them. Since I had never heard of Krampus, this picture was enjoyable for me. I actually liked the idea behind the story and felt it could be a reality check for people like the ones I have already encountered out shopping at the stores. There were a couple of scenes that showed blood.
2 1/2 stars
When it happens the mind has a hard time believing it is true. Knowing the difference between fantasy and reality, when one of them crosses to the other side the brain forms a hiccup. It could be something as trivial as checking one’s wallet or purse several times for a missing credit card and then on the 8th try the card is there. For me it was when I was at Yellowstone National Park and saw what actually looked like purple colored mountains, just like the lyric in the song that goes, “For purple mountain majesties.” I was standing on the peak of one mountain looking out and seeing a range of purple mountains as a low hanging, orange sun was piercing holes thru large billowing clouds like they were white pin cushions. The precise rays of sunlight formed little stars across the landscape. At first it did not look real to me; I just stood there and stared in disbelief. But there are other events that happen where a person has to take a step back to make sure what they are experiencing is actually real. Think about it, did you ever dream about something that later came true? Maybe what your ideal mate would look like or what your dream house would be? It can be a bit unsettling at first; however, I will say when it happens it brings a magical quality to it. The way this DVD showed up at my front door with no prior knowledge and its timing really made me experience an enchanting movie watching experience. WHEN Fiona, played by Jeni Courtney (Nothing Personal), went to live with her grandparents she discovered there was something extraordinary about her family members. This film festival winning dramatic fantasy was a special treat to watch because it was based on the same Irish folklore as the animated movie, “Song of the Sea.” I recently had reviewed it here. Having seen the animated picture first, when I started watching this one I could not believe I was viewing the live version of that fantasy tale. With a cast that included Eileen Coogan (My Left Foot, I Sell the Dead) as Tess and John Lynch (The Secret Garden, In the Name of the Father) as Tadhg, I thought everyone did a wonderful job in creating a mysterious and magical atmospheric story about life in a small fishing village in Ireland. The beautiful landscapes and camera shots only added more charm to the story. Speaking of the story, there were differences between the two movies; I found this story was gentler and sweeter in a way, still just as family friendly as the other one. Whether the timing was right or I was in the right frame of mind, I found this DVD drew me completely into its world where I felt I was experiencing a fantasy coming to life.
3 1/2 stars — DVD
No four words have the ability to unlock one’s imagination quicker than, “Once upon a time.” How many times have we sat on a soft lap with our heads resting on top of the beat from a loving heart? Maybe instead it was when you were curled up in bed, under the thick warm covers with your favorite stuffed animal or toy? Those four words started a journey where you saw faraway places and talking animals as they sprung up in your mind when it was tickled by your listening ears. I have always been fond of fairy tales and folklore. Part of the reason for my love of books is due to the great storytellers I had in my life. With the ability to change voices, display emotions and act out gestures matching the action; story time was one of my favorite parts of the day. As I got older I began to appreciate the folk tales and legends from other countries. Though they may have common elements and themes, it was always interesting to hear a story through the experiences of a different set of eyes. BASED on Irish and Scottish folklore, this Oscar nominated animated movie’s story was not only wonderful to hear but to see. I do not want to say the animation was old-fashioned but it was more akin to the type I used to see as a kid; in other words it looked hand drawn. I noticed many of the scenes had objects with elaborate patterns on them which made me wonder if there was some significance to them pertaining to Ireland or Scotland. The main focus of the story had to do with brother and sister Ben and Saoirse, voiced by David Rawle (Moone Boy-TV) and newcomer Lucy O’Connell. Annoyed by his younger sister who had not started to talk yet, Ben did not realize she was the last of her kind. This is all I want to tell you about this fantasy film so you can experience it with as little knowledge as possible. The actors were all ideal for their characters, especially Brendan Gleeson (Calvary, The Company You Keep) as Conor/Mac Lir and Fionnula Flanagan (Yes Man, The Others) as Granny/Macha. This is listed as a family film which it is; however, it is not a mainstream type of movie that involved marketing focus groups or product placements. There were no jokes or singing and dancing; it was simply telling an enchanting story. There was one extended scene having to do with near death that made a couple of younger children in the audience whimper. I have to say that watching this movie was like sitting in a comfortable lap to hear a fanciful tale.
3 1/2 stars