The Watchers

The Watchers

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 24th December

So we're at Day 24 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar- and I think we've saved the very best for last.

A huge thanks to all those who have taken an interest in the Advent Calendar - it's been fun to do and I hope it's been fun to read, watch and listen to.

The final entry in the calendar is from The Watchers' All-Time Favourite Traditional Christmas Movie. Yep, it's the one, the only...

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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A brilliant (and surprisingly faithful) retelling of Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale, with Michael Caine making an excellent Ebenezer Scrooge.

Begrudgingly allowing Bob Cratchit and the office staff a whole day off for Christmas Day, Scrooge leaves and the office is closed up with a song:

We do indeed have only one more sleep til Christmas - so wherever you are and however you spend it, may you all have a wonderful Christmas and a brilliant New Year and may 2013 be everything you want and need it to be!

Merry Christmas

Rhys & Tez (The Watchers)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 23rd December

It's Day 23 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar!

Do you ever have trouble getting that perfect gift for a friend or loved one? There's certainly no risk of that happening today- not when the gift giver is the figurehead of giftgiving at this time of year.

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The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)

The first in a big-budget franchise based on the enduring Chronicles of Narnia books written by C.S. Lewis.

The Pevensie children- Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley)- are evacuated from London to the countryside home of Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent). Whilst exploring the house, Lucy finds an old wardrobe which is the portal to the magical land of Narnia.

Narnia is a land of ice and snow where it is 'always winter and never Christmas', ruled over by Jadis The White Witch (Tilda Swinton):

However, the arrival of the Pevensie children- 'two sons of Adam, and two daughters of Eve'- is enough to break the White Witch's hold, and eventually Narnia gets a long-awaited visitor...

Father Christmas! (played by James Cosmo)

Along with a new sewing machine and a fixed dam for Mr and Mrs Beaver (voiced by Ray Winstone and Dawn French), Father Christmas has a few presents for the Pevensie children:

A sword and shield for Peter...

A bow and arrows, and a horn for Susan...

and a bottle of reviving potion and a dagger for Lucy.

So much like Q in the Bond films, Father Christmas knows exactly what the children will need later on and furnishes them with it. (At this point, Edmund has allied himself with the White Witch and so is not present).

If it were only so easy in real-life...

Tomorrow (Christmas Eve) will have the final entry in The Watchers' Advent Calendar- I think we've picked a lovely way to finish. Intrigued? Then come back tomorrow and find out...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 22nd December

Day 22 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and the end is in sight! Just two more doors to open (as it were). Today's offering is from a film that has become a bit of a modern Christmas classic.

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Love Actually (2003)

Richard Curtis' charming portmanteau comedy-drama set at Christmas features a star-filled cast including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Rowan Atkinson, Martin Freeman, Colin Firth and Laura Linney, and shows various characters negotiating the paths of life, love and relationships.

One of the strongest threads is that of Billy Mack (a BAFTA-winning performance by the brilliant Bill Nighy), a washed-up singer aiming for the Christmas Number 1 single with 'Christmas Is All Around' (a take-off of 'Love Is All Around' which was used in Curtis' Four Weddings And A Funeral and topped the UK charts for fifteen consecutive weeks during the summer of 1994).

For those who haven't seen the film, here's the video for 'Christmas Is All Around':

The answers to yesterday's quiz are:

1. The singer who teamed up with Bing Crosby for a version of 'The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth' and starred in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence is David Bowie

2. In Elf, Edward Asner plays Santa Claus

3. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack's ghostly dog is called Zero.

4. Imelda Staunton provides the voice of Mrs Santa in Arthur Christmas.

5. 'Jingle Bell Rock' can be heard during the opening scene of Lethal Weapon.

Come back tomorrow for the penultimate entry of The Watchers' Advent Calendar!

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 21st December

So, thankfully, the world is still here; we didn't blink out of existence or get incinerated at 11:11am and so future generations can rightly dismiss Roland Emmerich's 2012 as absurd fantasy rather than harrowing documentary.

Aside from predictions of imminent doom, today is Day 21 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and- as announced yesterday- today we have the final part of The Watchers' Christmas Quiz. 

So, get the little grey cells up and running and enjoy!

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The Watchers' Christmas Quiz (Part Three)

As before, please note this is just for fun; there are no prizes. The answers will be given tomorrow.

1. Name the singer who teamed up with Bing Crosby for a version of 'The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth' and starred in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.

2. In Elf, which character is played by Edward Asner?

3. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, what is the name of Jack's ghostly dog, who heads his sleigh team because of his brilliant nose?

4. Which British actress provides the voice of Mrs Santa in Arthur Christmas?

5. Which Christmas song can be heard during the opening scene of Lethal Weapon?

Come back tomorrow for the answers and a Christmas song!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 20th December

Day 20 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar - only four entries left- and today we have a gallery from another family-friendly Christmas movie franchise.

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The Santa Clause Movies

In The Santa Clause (1994), Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally causes the death of Santa and has to take on the role; The Santa Clause 2 (2002) sees Scott having to find a wife as only married men can be Santa, whilst The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) sees Scott taking on Jack Frost (Martin Short) to save Christmas.


Come back with your brains in gear tomorrow for the third and final part of The Watchers' Christmas Quiz!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 19th December

Only six days to go! Today's entry for The Watchers' Advent Calendar is a gallery from one of the first films to utilise full motion capture when creating the computer animation for the various characters. It is...

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The Polar Express (2004)

Based on a children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, the film tells the story of a young boy who boards the titular train one Christmas Eve for a trip to the North Pole.

'At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe'

More family film fun tomorrow! 

Review: Rust And Bone (UK Cert 15)

Winner of the top prize at this year's BFI London Film Festival, Rust And Bone is the latest film from French director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet).

Along with his young son Sam (Armand Verdure), Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) travels from Belgium to Antibes, looking for work,  He eventually gets work as a nightclub bouncer where- breaking up an altercation- he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), an animal trainer who works with killer whales. Ali and Stephanie's relationship intensifies when Stephanie has a terrible accident at work.

The film has caused some debate, with several reviewers disclosing the true nature of Stephanie's accident and the implications it has for the rest of the films, whilst others consider that to be a major spoiler and have steered clear of mentioning it. Interestingly, the UK trailers do not disclose it but the French trailers do. I went into the film knowing what happens to Stephanie- as I read one of the reviews that disclosed that fact- and, for me, it didn't lessen the emotional impact of the 'big reveal', such is Cotillard's devastating performance at that point (and throughout). That said, it is a major turning point in the film so I'm not going to spoil it for you.

Cotillard's performance has been garnering a lot of award hype (with several nominations, including the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild) and it is well deserved: she gives a brilliant, strong performance throughout, completely embracing the complexities of the character. Matching her in intensity is Schoenaerts. Ali is not a particularly likeable character at first, slightly neglectful of his son and- at one point- downright horrible to him. Schoenaerts gives a very physical performance (Ali is a mixed martial artist and also goes in for bare-knuckle boxing) and his interplay with Cotillard is eminently watchable.

Ultimately, this film won't be for everyone. Foreign-language films do tend to be something of a niche interest. All said, I enjoyed it for the performances of Cotillard and Schoenaerts. In places, it's not the easiest of watches, but it's worth it.

Review: 3.5 out of 5


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Programme 25: The Watchers' 1st Birthday Show

The Watchers Film Show: Ep 25 from The Watchers Film Show on Vimeo.

Happy birthday to us! The Watchers Film Show is one year old!

In this special birthday show, Rhys and Tez take each other on head-to-head to find out who knows more about film in Moviemind, plus we discuss the new deal which will see Star Wars Episode 7 hit our movie screens.

Enjoy! :)

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 18th December

OK, Day 18 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and we are just a week away from Christmas! Yep, seven days til presents can be opened, turkey can be incinerated and all hell can break loose over a Monopoly board because someone else wanted to be the top hat. 

In a bid to help soothe some of the arguments that can flare up over the festive period, we at The Watchers present a brief guide to the best films available on UK terrestrial TV. So stand by for...

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The Watchers' Guide To Christmas Viewing 2012

There are quite a few movies on over this festive period, so we thought we'd give you our picks of the best (or our favourite) ones to watch.

Whilst not exactly a Christmas film, Back To The Future Part III (Saturday 22nd, ITV1) is well worth a look. It's a whole lotta fun with Marty having to go back to the Wild West to save Doc Brown.

Christmas Eve could present you with a few problems: there's a great double-bill on BBC2 comprising of The Nightmare Before Christmas followed by Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or alternatively The Muppet Christmas Carol (a firm Watchers favourite) is on Channel 4 around the same time.

ITV1 wins the battle of the Christmas Day family movies with Tangled, a neat take on Rapunzel (featuring a kick-ass chameleon named Pascal) [BBC1 has Shrek Forever After which is probably best avoided] whilst Christmas Day night sees the deliriously funny Airplane! on Channel 4.

Boxing Day has quite a few films worth a look; Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland is on BBC1 whilst later in the day the same channel has How To Train Your Dragon (much better than expected). Also, on Boxing Day, turn over to Channel 4 to take in the splendour of The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (the best of the trilogy in our opinion).

Through the rest of the week, Pixar flick Ratatouille (BBC3, Sunday 30th) is always worth a watch as is the genuinely brilliant and slightly trippy Moon (also 30th, BBC2) directed by Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell. Other family favourites on Sunday 30th December include Bedknobs And Broomsticks and Edward Scissorhands.

New Years Eve and the wonderful Julie & Julia (BBC2) is well worth your time (if you're not going out carousing). Brilliant performances by Meryl Streep and Amy Adams makes this a heartwarming joy. 

On New Years Day, I can heartily recommend Up (BBC1). Pixar at its very best. 

Let us know what you'll be watching in the comments below.

Come back tomorrow for some more Christmas movie fun!

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 17th December

Today's entry in The Watchers' Advent Calendar- Day 17, can you believe it?- is an enduring holiday classic.

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'White Christmas'

One of the funniest things I've ever heard was related to this song. At a bus-stop, with snow pelting down and full-scale traffic disruption imminent, a middle-aged man turned to his wife and said 'When Bing Crosby sang about a white Christmas, he didn't mention grit or slush or no bread in the shops'.

Whatever you may think of the song, there's a reason it's become so enduring; whether that's Bing's soft voice or the brilliance of Irving Berlin, take your pick. It wouldn't be Christmas without it.

Interestingly, the song was first heard in Holiday Inn (1942)- which the following video is taken from (the lady singing with him is Marjorie Reynolds who played Linda Mason) before becoming the centrepiece to White Christmas (1954), twelve years later.

Come back tomorrow for some advice about what to watch over the upcoming festive period (for folks in the UK only)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Special Watchers Podcast: The Hobbit

We review the Hobbit and then continue into our usual spoiler geek chat mode - but never fear if you have not seen it, we tell you when to stop listening and we turn into spoiler mode!! enjoy!

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 16th December

Day 16 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and today features pictures from two different versions of a perennial Christmas classic (and one of our Top 10 Christmas movies)

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Miracle On 34th Street

This touching Christmas tale has two versions- one in 1947 and one in 1994. It features a young girl named Susan who meets a department store Santa Claus who goes by the name of Kris Kringle- and there may be more to him than meets the eye...

Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle
Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood (1947 version)
Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson (1994 version)
Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle

Come back tomorrow for a classic Christmas song from a classic Christmas movie!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 15th December

Day 15 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar. Just ten days to go to the big day! If you're cooking Christmas dinner this year, you should probably put the sprouts on to cook today. 

Today's entry is a little bit of shameless self-promotion on our part but also a reminder of some of the best Christmas movies out there.

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The Watchers' Top Ten Christmas Films!

Last year, our Christmas show featured a discussion of our favourite traditional Christmas movies. Click here to see the full show- but if you're pressed for time, here's our Top 10 countdown:

The answers to yesterday's quiz questions are as follows:

1.  Edmund Gwenn won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Kris Kringle in the 1947 version of Miracle On 34th Street

2.  In The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Great Gonzo plays Charles Dickens

3. In Female Trouble, Dawn Davenport wants a pair of cha-cha heels for Christmas.

4. The Nakatomi Plaza building, the setting for Die Hard, is supposed to be in Los Angeles.

5. In Jingle All The Way, Howard has to get a Turbo Man action figure for his son.

Tomorrow's post features one of the ten films mentioned in that video. Come back tomorrow to find out which one!

Friday, 14 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 14th December

Day 14 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and, as promised yesterday, today we have the second part of The Watchers' Christmas Quiz: a festive exercise for the little grey cells (or your search engine prowess, whichever comes first).

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The Watchers' Christmas Quiz (Part Two)

This is the second of three short quizzes, all related (more or less) to films that have Christmas in them. Please note this is just for fun; there are no prizes. The answers will be given tomorrow.

So here is your second set of questions:

1.  Which actor won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Kris Kringle in the 1947 version of Miracle On 34th Street?

2.  In The Muppet Christmas Carol, who does The Great Gonzo play?

3. John Waters' movie Female Trouble starts at Christmas. What does Dawn Davenport (Divine) want for Christmas- and flies into a rage when she doesn't get it?

4. The Nakatomi Plaza building, the setting for Die Hard, is supposed to be in which US city?

5. In Jingle All The Way, what is the name of the action figure that Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has to get for his son?

Hopefully those questions will keep you thinking til tomorrow when we'll have something a little different for you...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 13th December

After our sojourn to the darker side of Christmas the last few days, we thought we should bring it back to the more family-friendly side of things. With that in mind, today's offering is a bona fide Christmas classic song from one of the loveliest, most romantic family musicals ever made.

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Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Judy Garland absolutely shines as the seventeen year old Esther falling in love with the boy next door. As her family start to pack up for their move to New York, the action breaks for this beautiful and slightly mournful Christmas song:

What a voice, eh? Just before I wrap things up, I'd like to share this quote from Judy Garland with you all. It's an appropriate message for this time of year:

'Well, we have a whole new year ahead of us. And wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe - next year at this time - we'd like each other a little more'

Come back tomorrow with your thinking caps on- we'll have Part 2 of The Watchers' Christmas Quiz for you

Awards Season 2013: Golden Globe Nominations

Today, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced the nominations for the 70th Golden Globe Awards. 

One noticeable difference between the Golden Globes and the Oscars is that the Golden Globes split three of the awards into separate categories, so Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress are awarded for both 'Drama' and 'Musical or Comedy'. 

A nomination or win at the Golden Globes is often seen as a precursor to Oscar success.

Below are the film nominations: 

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Best Motion Picture - Drama

Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Director

Ben Affleck (Argo)
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

Best Actor - Drama

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Richard Gere (Arbitrage)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Denzel Washington (Flight)

Best Actor - Musical or Comedy

Jack Black (Bernie)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
Bill Murray (Hyde Park on Hudson)

Best Actress - Drama

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)

Best Actress - Musical or Comedy

Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Maggie Smith (Quartet)
Meryl Steep (Hope Springs)

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin (Argo)
Leonardo Di Caprio (Django Unchained)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Hope Springs)
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy)

Best Screenplay

Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original Score

Life of Pi
Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas

Best Original Song

'Safe and Sound' (The Hunger Games)
'Skyfall' (Skyfall)
'Suddenly' (Les Miserables)
'Not Running Anymore' (Stand Up Guys)
'For You' (Act of Valor)

Best Foreign Language Film

Rust and Bone
The Intouchables [Untouchable]
A Royal Affair

Best Animated Feature

Rise of the Guardians
Wreck It Ralph
Hotel Transylvania

The Golden Globes will be awarded on Sunday 13th January 2013.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 12th December

It's Day 12 of The Watchers' Advent Calendar and we're half-way through! This post is going up quite late, but that's rather appropriate. Yesterday, we featured Gremlins. Anyone who has seen Gremlins will tell you that, whilst parts of it are funny, it's a bit on the dark side. So we thought we might take a bit of a longer look at the darker side of Christmas with...

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Christmas Horror Movies

Holiday-based horror has been made since the 1970s- Halloween (1978, remade 2007), My Bloody Valentine (1981, remade 2009), April Fools Day (1986, remade 2008)- so it's no surprise that there are a couple of Christmas-based horror/slasher films out there.

Bob Clark's Black Christmas (1974) is an atmospheric and creepy horror film set in a sorority house. The girls- among them Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey- receive obscene phone calls and then start to die one by one... There's no real explanation of who the killer really is (apart from the name 'Billy') or what they've done (elliptical hints are given throughout) which is much more unsettling. Some of the death scenes are tense and inventive. The film was remade in 2006, starring Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but the remake lacked the all-pervading tension of the original and was instead a much more standard slasher flick, albeit with Christmas lights and ice-skates used as weapons.

Any film that has a killer dressed as Santa Claus was always going to cause a bit of controversy. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) sees a young man- traumatized by the murder of his parents by a man dressed in a Santa suit- emerge as a killer after growing up in a Catholic orphanage. The young man is asked to play Santa at his job and then goes on a killing spree after seeing someone being 'naughty'. Understandably, the film met with protests and the film was withdrawn from cinemas by distributor TriStar. Despite this, the movie out-grossed A Nightmare On Elm Street- both films opened on the same weekend- and went on to spawn four sequels (although Parts 4 and 5 dispense with the 'Killer Santa' motif) and a remake is due out this Christmas.

Not to be confused with the saccharine 1998 Michael Keaton family-friendly vehicle of the same name, Jack Frost (1996) features a killer who comes back as a snowman after an accident with genetic material causes him to mutate and fuse with snow. As you do. It's low budget with terrible special effects, poor acting, a bad script and the death scenes are more comical than upsetting. A sequel- Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman- was made in 2000.

Finally, whilst Christmas doesn't play a part in the main action of the film at all, Hitchcock's classic Psycho (1960) starts on Friday, December the Eleventh (as seen by a graphic at the start of the film) and Christmas decorations can be seen in the opening shot of Phoenix. The reason for this is simple: filming took place over the Christmas period in 1959 and, rather than reshoot this footage, Hitchcock decided to include the title graphic instead.

So if you're in the mood for something festive but a little darker, why not try one of these?

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Hope you're still with us! Tomorrow's entry is a bit more family-friendly...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Watchers' Advent Calendar: 11th December

In several cinemas across the UK, today sees a one-day release of an Eighties classic that is also something of an alternative Christmas film. So we decided to tie Day 11 of The Watchers Advent Calendar in with this. For those who don't know, that film is...

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Gremlins (1984)

Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) gets a cute little Mogwai for Christmas. However, a Mogwai must be cared for very carefully. No bright light, no exposure to water and definitely no feeding after midnight...

...Because, otherwise, this happens:

Wouldn't want them coming to your door singing 'O Come All Ye Faithful', would you?

We're gonna stay in the realms of the dark for tomorrow's Advent Calendar entry. Come back tomorrow to find out more.