Archive for the ‘christmas’ Category

The Polar Express

December 22, 2009

What Is It?

The movie is based on a children’s book about a doubting boy who travels on a magical train and finds that, if he believes, that there really is a Santa. The story is stretched over an hour and utilizes a new computer animation technique. Actors have little sensors put all over there face and body. Then their performances are digitally entered into a computer and rendered as the computer characters. This allows Tom Hanks to play 5 characters including the child we follow throughout the film.

How Was It?

The animation was well done, but a little creepy. The people are almost real, but just plastic enough to be strange ( not to mention that they never blink). There are several scenes where things just degenerate into first person roller coaster effects. I found out that it was originally presented in IMAX 3D , which would make this repetitive effect a little less pointless.

The plot feels very contrived. There are several other kids added who each have “life lessons” of their own. Songs are trite and pointless. There is a moment with the train conductors looking for some part of the train (that causes another roller coaster screen) that is almost genuine cartoon fun. For the most part though, this is just numbing animation that tries to be deep, but mostly becomes confusing and contrived.

On top of it all, the charming “Classic Christmas” motif was nice until they shattered it with a weird cameo by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as a rock singing elf.

Tom Hanks is a good actor, but the others….

Was It Good For Kids?

There is nothing particularly vulgar about the film.

You can check Screenit.com to see what exactly happens on the screen.

I have had kids tell me they liked it, but not have a lot to say about why. The issues here may be much more in the dizzying spiritual ideas that make as little sense as the rest of the poorly contrived plot. So without further ado ….

What About Spiritual Issues?

This film seems to have a lot about “belief” in it, not “believe in anything” but ” belief” for the sake of “belief” itself. The child does not believe in Santa, so he is whisked off to learn the power of “Belief.” At the end (spoiler) there is a bell that only those who “Believe” can hear. The boy learns to hear it and as he gets older, though most can no longer hear the bell , our hero can for his entire life.

The idea that belief is a power that needs to be applied for no reason, is not one that goes with the Bible. Our God is a specific being that gives proofs from the logic of the Bible to the wonder of creation. Our faith is not blind but educated. We can know God is there and our belief grows out of trust. Although some of the statements from the movie, if taken out of context, are true, it is still offer s you a “belief” in nothing.

The only time that the there is an object to of the belief is when a homeless man asks if the hero boy believes in ghosts. Though the boy says “NO”, he learns to believe in them as he is talk s to one who gives him aid throughout the rest of the film.

Still this is just Belief as the idea that you know something is real. Not belief in the sense that you have put your trust and hope in it.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is just the slow moving, overly analysed and specialized humanism that Writer/Director Robert Zemeckis brought us in Forest Gump. There are a lot of good holiday films. This is not one of them. Though your children may be willing to be quiet for the time that the film is running, there are much better options for kids’ films. People will continue to say that they find “Christian Themes  in this film, but that is because they are not paying attention. They heard a word they knew and instead of seeing how the film was defining it, they inflicted there own definition on the movie. I can not see how this can be healthy or worth while.

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Download Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

December 16, 2009

I have found that a lot of bands like doing Christmas music and just putting it out their on the web. I suspect the is a mixture of Generosity and marketing, still I have discovered great (often odd and eclectic) music for the holiday that is only a point and a click away.

sufjan stevens – songs for christmas vol.8

Very different with erry similarity to his Christmas Box Set

(Thank you drivebyMEDIA)

A Familyre Christmas – Volume 3

by Sounds Familyre

 

I Heart Lung- I Heart Christmas

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Schlarb Family Christmas Album 2008

schlarbfamilychristmas2008.jpg

A Familyre Christmas-Vol. 1!

A Familyre Christmas - Vol. 1-Cover

A Familyre Christmas-Vol. 2!

A Familyre Christmas-Vol. 2

Blah Blah blog Christmas *

*This one is worth it for Sufjan Stevens – “Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” alone

Paper Route –  thank god the year is finally over

Soul Junk

The Way Of Peace .mp3

my soul does magnify the Lord .mp3

Fleming and John

Winter Wonderland /Misty Mountain Hop .mp3

Carol of the Bells .mp3

(not Christmas but You can download a bootleg of their Awesome “Hoodwinked” Soundtrack here)

LA Symphony

It’s Christmas .mp3

Calibretto 13

Merry Freaking Christmas (Santa Clause is just a Man) .mp3

 

Also check out my posts

and

Christmas Music 24/7!

Merry Christmas From Q&E

December 15, 2009
two cute little girls re-enact the angel Gabriel telling Marry that she will have a child from Luke Chapter 1
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 1:46-55

The music is Protected by Angels – Black Dyke Band, The Chieftains from Babe: Pig In The City – Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture

You can see all three Christmas Cards Here

Elf

December 4, 2009

 501829elf-posters

What Is It?

This is a take off of every claymation Christmas special from the 60’s – 80’s with heavy emphasis on Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Will Ferrell plays Buddy The Elf. He is a very tall human who, much like Steve Martins “The Jerk”, did not notice that he was different from the hoard of Santa’s 3 foot elf’s who raised him. So taking all the attitude of said Christmas Specials and the three rules of an elf, Buddy travels to New York to meet his Dad (James Caan) even though Dad is a tough business man on the “Naughty List.”

 

How Was It?

 

It was funny. Will Ferrell manages to seem natural in this over the top character. My favorite part though is the introduction to elves and the north pole stammeringly narrated by Bob Newhart as Papa Elf. The other great thing is the sheer nuttiness of all the other characters. Well acted side characters all have there own quirks that help Buddy move seamlessly through New York. I think you will find this movie to be a series of very funny vinyets with just enough story and garland to string them together.

 

Is It Good For Kids?

 

Kids of the age for the original claymation will find a lot of fun and familier gags. Older kids will understand more of the juxtaposition of “Real Life” and “Elf Life”. There are a couple of jokes involving Buddy not understanding “adult” things, such as sending sexy women’s sleepwear to his father because the sign said it was perfect for “Someone Special” or following music to the woman’s locker room where a young lady is singing in the shower. It is very clear Buddy just wanted to sing along as in all his other whimsical misunderstandings. Buddy also uses God as a cuss word when he gets excited.

 

You can check Screenit.com for a break down of the elements on the screen.

 

What About Spiritual Issues?

 

First off this is all about Christmas and has not one reference to Christ. Luckily we do not get a “this is the meaning of Christmas” line to tell us it’s not Him, but just family or life or presents.

 

The odd thing here is the talk about Belief and Christmas Spirit. There is an easily made connection between Santa in this movie and God. (Spoiler) The end of the movie involves Santa (Edward Asner)crashed down in Central Park. In a Tinkerbell style conundrum, he can not fly because there is no more Christmas Spirit. Most likely the lack of Christmas spirit comes from a lack in belief in Santa, but it may just be a lack of belief in the concepts of love and magical generosity that Santa represents. He can not show himself because that would take away the correct type of Faith. A boy steals his gift list and reads it on TV. People are shocked at the accuracy where he even knows personal desires not just the one’s that kids wrote in their letters.

 

Spiritually we are left with some interesting questions.

Should Santa have attributes of God?

Faith is the evidence of things unseen, But is that faith based on wishful thinking?

Does prof destroy faith?

 

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is a funny light hearted movie. This does not destroy of de-mythologize fairytale but shows that they help us to live fuller more beautiful lives in the “real world”. In that light it is almost the kids version of “Lady in the Water”. Still the absence of God except as a cuss word and the notion of faith in Santa should give you something to think about when deciding if this film is right for you and your family and something to talk about if you do invite Buddy the Elf into your Christmas.

 

PS

If you do watch it. Keep your eyes open for a great re-do of the original big-foot “sighting” .

Elf

Dumped On Christmas – Christmas Music Play List

December 4, 2009

Christmas,

The Celebration of the Birth of the Savior of the World,

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,

When the land is filled with music,

Music about… FAILED RELATIONSHIPS?

Here are my favorite songs about that Special Someone destroying your Christmas

(Why are there so many of these?)

1. Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas

It’s Christmas Time

2. Relient K – I Hate Christmas Parties

Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer

3. U2 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Christmas

4. Hawk Nelson –  Last Christmas

Happy Christmas, Vol. 4

5. Deitiphobia  –  She Won’t Be Home

6. Huntingtons  –  Merry Christmas, I Don’t Wanna Fight

Christmas in Heaven – Flying Tart

7. – Jason Gleason of Further Seems Forever – Sleigh Bells And Wine

8. Skyline Drive – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Happy Christmas Volume 3

9. Irwin Icon and Russ Long  –  Tiffany’s Christmas Tree

OK, he doesn’t get “Dumped” but she has him arrested, and I think that has to count for something…

Christmas in Heaven – Flying Tart

10.Elvis Presley – Santa Bring My Baby Back

It’s Christmas Time

What are your Favorites?

 

 

(if you prefer, I do have some posts with the more Up Lifting brand of  Christmas Music )

Q&E Extra: What Do YOU Think of A Christmas Carol

November 22, 2009

A little more Christmas Music

December 21, 2008

ok, Here is a little more christmas music:

… from the other side of the tree…

Sounds Familyre Christmas 2 

and

 sufjan stevens – songs for christmas vol.8

I have seen two music videos from the new Sixpence Album (Thank you drivebyMEDIA):

And if you have missed it: Here is my origonal Christmas Music 24/7!

Christmas Music 24/7!

November 28, 2008

OK, This is usually (always) reviews of Movies, I have a degree in film, not music. But I love music in general and especially Christmas Music. My favorite thing about Thanksgiving is that it marks the beginning of a month straight of Christmas Music. (What other time of year can you stop by the Mall and hear a Hymn playing over the speakers.) So, with the title of my blog being vague enough to be inclusive, I ask the question….


What Should I Listen To This Christmas
Season?

On the first day of Christmas my true love played for me a Sufjan Stevens box set of Cd’s

Sufjan Stevens is amazing. There are shades of 70’s rock, well done emo, a lot of folk, banjo, accordion, and honky tonk piano thrown in for good measure. This box set has 5 CDs that he recorded over 6 years as presents for friends. It includes renditions of traditional carols, hymns that once you hear them seem to fit the season, and original songs. “Come on lets boogie to the elf dance” is one of the most fun things you can listen to. While talking about traditional American Christmas, including lines like “K mart is closed and so is the bakery, everyone’s home watching tv, it smoothly transitions into a second half that takes it’s lyrics from Away in A Manger.” This box set covers everything I think of Christmas* (including a healthy view of Santa)
.

Free MP3s:

That Was the Worst Christmas Ever

Sister Winter

http://xmas.asthmatickitty.com/

On the Second day of Christmas my true love played for me Joy Electric

>

Joy Electric is a rock band that only uses a mono synth keyboard layered on multiple tracks, with no loops or computers. The result is fun and well constructed music. On the “Magic of Christmas” album it all fits together nicely. The beats and the bloops and tweets go great with songs like “Hear we go a wassailing” and “Frosty the Snow Man.” This is almost a kids album for adults. Ronnie Martin’s voice can be a bit weird, but I think on this album it’s the most accessible it has been. Winter Wonderland is a stand out track. The only problem here is a couple of the songs are too short. You get it to them and know there is another verse but…

On the Third day of Christmas my true love played for me Terry Scott Taylor

Here is a man who was at the forefront of Christian Rock in the 70’s. His collection of originals, “Songs for the Days After Christmas” mostly centered around the idea of keeping your focus on Jesus and the irony of loosing that in a holiday based on celebrating him. This acoustic/rock album is great music. The lyrics are mostly deep and thought inspiring, with enough levity to keep it from being a downer. The title track will have you move from knowing giggles to a thoughtful sigh

.
(Lost Dogs – “We Like To Have Christmas”

includes several tracks originally featured on Terry Taylor’s “Songs For The Day After Christmas”, now re-imagined and re-recorded by the Lost Dogs)

On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love played for me Happy Christmas Vol 2

This album is mostly traditional Christmas songs done in non-traditional ways by some great alternative rock and electronica bands. Pop/punk MxPx opens with a whimper, but Sixpence None the Richer doing a very detailed arrangement of “…Mr. Grinch” is worth the album and there are still 13 more songs that are wonderful. This is mostly loud and full with a lot of songs on the Heavy/Subdued roller coaster. It closes with the Lost Dogs doing a folk version of the Chipmunks Christmas song that includes a very funny skit about over produced music.

On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love played for me Relient K

I had their first Christmas album “Deck The Halls, Hurt Your Hand” when it came out. Now their second, “Let It Snow Baby… Let It Reindeer” 8 new songs and a bunch of the old one. This is fun and happy pop-punk. There are a few songs that are thoughtful piano. “I Celebrate the Day” is a moving look at our attitude toward the birth of Christ. “Santa Claus is Thumbing To Town” is very very funny. These are worth it just for a full on guitar version of “The Hallelujah Chorus”.

On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love played for me Vince Guaraldi Trio

They did the sound track to all the Charlie Brown specials and movies but the Christmas Special is just that. Jazz music for the masses it may be, but it is great to listen too. Having actual kids do the voices was also a fun move all around. This is the sound of Christmas. (And what music collection is complete without a copy of the theme song “Linus and Lucy”)

On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love played for me Happy Christmas from Bec Records

This was the first of the Happy Christmas series. Heaven’s Got a Baby is a lovely song amids the power cords, but the loud one’s are what it’s about. It’s heavy with ska, punk, techno, and a bit of experimental stuff to make it even more interesting. There is also
Vol 3 that is good and a
Vol 4 that is new Emo.

On the Eighth day of Christmas my true love played for me Glen Miller Orchestra

>

Glen Miller was amazing and developed a sound all his own. (You can see that summed up in “the Glen Miller Story” with Jimmy Stewart.) Glen was no longer with us when this was recorded, but his band is true to his style and sound, which goes very well with Christmas. These are all standards and have some great medleys, some about Santa, a lot about Jesus and a few from the Nutcracker. This is a three disc box set so you get a lot of music for your money.

On the Ninth day of Christmas my true love played for me Lost and Found Christmas Album

This band is a lot of fun. There are two guys who play the piano and the guitar (usual as if they were both in the percussion section.) They have odd voices and their songs seem like they were once “Camp Song Composers”, who have matured. All this combines to be very fun and deep. Most of the songs are Christmas hymns with a few originals that are great.

On the Tenth day of Christmas my true love played for me The Ultimate Lounge Christmas

John Jonethis is a lounge singer with a great voice and a flair for arranging. His first album was “Lounge Freak” which took top Christian rock song and converted them quite successfully. Here he does Christmas standards which seem to be a shorter road to lounge. This is not the most wildly radical idea for an album, but he does it with such style. He moves something that could have been generic, to a great listen.

On the Eleventh day of Christmas my true love played for me I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

(If you are trying to sing this review, you have to say hippopotamus for
Christmas as if it’s one word with two syllables.)

This is just a great song. It’s from the 40’s and written by the same man who penned “Do Your Ears Hang Low.” His young daughter provided the vocals. This song has the fun and magical feeling of the season in it. It is about presents but not about greed, just the silly wonderfulness of childhood. You can actually down load the song for free at
http://www.mediafire.com/?5nzymwjy2j4

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love played for Me, Kenny Rogers (seriously)

You will not find a Christmas version of “The Gambler” here. (Though that might be cool.) This is mostly an adult contemporary album, but it’s still very good. It almost has the feel of the music in the mall when you suddenly notice “Hey, this one is pretty good.” The songs range from soft to powerful and even an acapella song with “Glad.” Most of the songs are original and deep. A cover of  “Mary Did You Know?” kicks it off with Wynonna Judd backing up and it finishes with a great montage called “The Chosen One” This has kids singing questions about Christmas and Kenny answering with recited scripture (inspired by Linus?) and then Carols that celebrate that aspect of the Christmas story. The arrangements are all unique enough to be cool, but still very traditional. Still my favorite song is a ballad that tells the invented story of a solder who fought hard all his life, though he was never sure of anything, until now, when he gives his medal and his heart to a baby king.

Ok….

You got to know when to rap them,

Know when to pack them,

Know when to go up the chimney

and Know when to run

You never eat your cookies

while your sitting at the table

There’ll be time enough for eatin’

when the del’v’rin’s done.

Merry
Christ
mas

from Q&E

*If the thing they are watching on TV is The Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

 

PS

Keep in mind, I wrote this and still have not heard Sixpence None The Richer’s new Album The Dawn of Grace, which I am very much looking forward to!