Christmas Charms and Hollywood Delights

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale

I love this quote; it reminds me of the magic of the movies and their ability to make the world softer and more beautiful than we know it to be. The big screen world offers a much-needed escape from life’s harsh realities. Possibilities abound. The Hobbit (takes us on) An Unexpected Journey, blending fantasy and authenticity, promising to leave entertainment and escapism in his path. The Guilt Trip, opening this week, takes us on another detour from practicality, albeit a more comedic one. This is 40, debuting this weekend, ironically provides more than 40 laughs at reality, poking fun at life’s mundane and often amusing moments. Last but not least, Jack Reacher, through the star power of Tom Cruise, hopes to reach massive audiences looking for imaginary action and adventure.

How will these latest lighthearted trips from the real world fare in the reel world against the Rise of the Guardians, who plan on protecting their animated turf through the holidays (and beyond, thanks to the mystical world of DVDs?) The Hobbit’s Journey is far from over, but what about Lincoln, who traveled all the way from the Civil War era to compete? Lest we forget The Twilight Saga gang, who refuse to go quietly into that good night. All of our characters came to play, not everybody will win. Who will be the winners at the box office this weekend?

With Santa getting ready for his one day of work, the stars (and studio executives) are working overtime to make the season even brighter from seaside days to starry nights…


It Happened One Holiday Night: The Conclusion

When we last saw Mr. and Mrs. Clause and company, they were traveling inconspicuously through the movie version of Hollywood on a scenic, Christmas tour. Their favorite stop, The Shop Around the Corner, where tiny surfboards and sand dollars hang from beach-themed Christmas trees. Heading down the beach block, they visit The Preacher’s Wife, who gathers everyone by the cozy fireplace where A Christmas Story is being told. The ‘bah humbug’ among the group are getting Scrooged on hot chocolate and sugar cookies as The Bishop’s Wife is wrapping presents for the Babes in Toyland. Taking a stroll along a well-decorated Sunset Boulevard, the Claus’s and fellow travelers spot a family of sightseers enjoying their National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The Gremlins are shouting We’re No Angels to holiday shoppers, unaware that Santa is within earshot. Following their day of sightseeing and shopping, the Christmas lovers re-board the train and Jingle All the Way home, where The Nightmare Before Christmas is nowhere to be found in this dreamy seascape. They’re thankful the Bad Santa was exiled decades ago for all things good. Losing their disguises, the Claus’s are just in time for a meet and greet with Santa, where they feast on candy canes and a variety of Christmas cookies. St. Nick thanks his lucky (movie) stars he’s so close to the beach, where he can walk off those unsightly holiday pounds. Thanks to the soothing powers of salty sea air, a revitalized Santa, along with the Mrs., heads back to the North Pole, ready for his around-the-world adventure. With the sounds of Christmas tunes in the air expressing glad tidings of comfort and joy, movie buffs and seaside lovers can all agree, in their little starry town, where dreams come true, It’s a Wonderful Life

Santa and Award Season Make Their Way

There are seven shopping days left until Christmas and the malls are filling up almost quicker than the movie theaters. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part II saw the sunrise for the first time removed from the prominent Top Five at the Box Office (#6 to be exact). Not surprisingly, The Hobbit (took) An Unexpected Journey to the top of the charts, ending the trip with the best view at the #1  location, opening Friday with $37.5 million and ending the weekend with $84.8 million, a record breaker for the month of December. Rise of the Guardians held their animated heads high once again at the #2 locale with $7.42 million. Lincoln, who got some love from the Golden Globes, ended the weekend sitting pretty at the #3 spot with $7.24 million. Golden Globe snub Bond saw the Skyfall all the way down to the #4 spot (where the atmosphere may not be award-winning but is clear, blue nonetheless) with $7 million. The Life of Pi, also a Golden Globe nominee, witnessed the world from the #5 position with $5.4 million.

Now, from seaside days to starry nights, Santa and the movie stars are all aglow, eager to light the way to the merriest  season..

Bilbo, Bond and the Big Guy in the Red Suit

The Top Five films may welcome a new contender this week as a fantastical journey takes place at a movie theater near you. The holidays are in full swing as The Hobbit (hopes for an) Unexpected Journey to the top of the festive box office charts, eager to eclipse The Twilight along the star-studded way. Will the popular Hobbit, with his faithful dwarves in tow, beat a more movie profitable path than the animated Santa Claus and his loyal Rise of the Guardians companions, who traveled all the way to the #2 spot last week? Bond seemed quite comfy watching the Skyfall from the #1 position last week. Wondering where he will rest his martini this week? What about former president and proven champ Lincoln and novice president FDR, who journeyed from Hyde Park on Hudson to compel and compete? Will dawn come for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 before the big guy in the red suit arrives? Can The lucrative Life of Pi contend with all that and continue smooth sailing?

More importantly, with all this action and fantasy occurring at the movies, who has time for holiday shopping?

From seaside days to starry movie nights, may your weekend come with big screen action and fantastic entertainment!

It Happened One Holiday Night

The Holiday(s) are an enchanting time, transforming land lovers as well as those coasting by the ocean into festive film worshipers. Needing a rest before The Biggest Night of the Year, Santa Claus arrives along the sparkling Hollywood coast for a much-deserved but brief (movie) break. With sunglasses and SPF in hand, the little-known film buff quickly rejects a Christmas in Connecticut in favor of frost-free California terrain. The mysterious “Man in Red” sets aside his planned movie marathon when he realizes that Love Actually exists here among the stars and the sandy mistletoe and considers settling in with Mrs. Claus for a long winter’s nap (effective December 26th). They enjoy their first night in town as the honored guests at a glitzy Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, where music and the magic of the holidays linger in the air. In search of One Magic Christmas, the Mr. & Mrs. travel incognito on The Polar Express, which has just taken off on a festive Tinstletown tour. Each tiny Elf (along with the big kids) is hoping for a White Christmas to illuminate every Miracle (occurring) on 34th Street, Main Street, Hollywood Boulevard and beyond.  On board, Mr.& Mrs. Claus Meet John Doe and crew, who quickly give up their seats for the Little Women entering the train. The Family Man is swapping stories with The Family Stone, who find themselves on the Naughty List for sneaking a peek at Bridget Jones’s Diary. Always on the Nice List, however, is Prancer, leading the way toward enough joy to fill Four Christmases (since one is never enough). The happy passengers marvel at signs of Christmas found throughout town.

What movie magic is waiting for them, you may wonder? Check back next Wednesday for the continuing Claus chronicle …


The Movie Times They Are a Changing

Jawaharlal Nehru once remarked, “The wheel of change moves on, and those who were down go up and those who were up go down.” Was the late political leader referring to world affairs or box office results, where a few changes occurred this weekend? Skyfall got a better view from the #1 setting with $11 million with Rise of the Guardians happily rising to the #2 spot with $10.5 million. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 dropped to the #3 spot with $9.2 million.

Perhaps Nehru’s remark best applies to the movie style political battle occurring on Hyde Park on Hudson between newcomer FDR and movie vet Lincoln, who went head-to-head this weekend in the movie arena. Lincoln won that battle, coming in at #4 with $9.1 million while Hyde Park on Hudson opened in limited release, preventing it from reaching the Top Ten, sailing in far behind the Life of Pi, which came in at #5 with $8.3 million.

Meanwhile, films like Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (which wins my vote for Most Unique Movie Title 2012) and In Our Nature opened this week to significantly smaller audiences. In our big screen world, these little well-crafted films represent a change from big-time, even bigger profit, productions. However, time will pass, the Sky(will eventually)fall and the Twilight Saga will finally see the cold light of day.

For the moment, Cheerful Weather and In Our Nature receive accolades as opposed to  audiences, adding color to the cinematic landscape (where they wait patiently for DVD release and at-home audiences).

Through Seaside days and star-filled nights, enjoy your week at the movies!

Presidential Box Office Battle

As the year slowly winds to a compelling halt, a few films enter the cinematic arena this weekend worth checking out (as opposed to checking out the long holiday-inspired lines at Wal-Mart).  Bill Murray, who channels his inner FDR to take a political walk down Hyde Park on Hudson, takes in the scenery while tackling the starring role in a historic 1939 meeting with England’s King George VI.  But can newcomer FDR and all his political clout surpass proven veteran Lincoln in the box office ring? Will we find any new surprises in the Top Five films or will this be a lather, rinse, repeat of last week (where, the Sky(continues to)Fall?

Also coming to theaters this weekend is Gerard Butler, who, along with Jessica Biel, is Playing for Keeps but can he keep the romance-loving crowds from following the long lines waiting to see the Twilight Saga crew? Drawing a different kind of crowd is the family-friendly Rise of the Guardians, determined to raise ticket sales while protecting yuletide cheer.

Whether seeing a new release or an established favorite, hope your weekend is an entertaining one!