Friday, December 25, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: White Christmas

My Dad can recite lines from 3 movies and they all star Bing Crosby, Going My Way, The Bells of St. Mary's and White Christmas.
It's not too much of a coincidence that they're all Christmas movies; Christmas movies are the only movies my Dad watches more than once. It may be a bit unlikely that his son should wind up with such a love for movies, but for me, watching my Dad watch Bing in any of those movies reminds me exactly why I love movies both old and new.

The trailer we saved at Moviedozer Dailies for the #1 spot in our countdown of The 12 Trailers of Christmas is White Christmas because of my Dad.

When I see Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye on that makeshift stage, on the front during WWII, watching their technicolor song and dance number is fun but the anticipation is for the General's arrival in his jeep. It's then that the outgoing General Waverly instructs his driver to take the new General out to headquarters by a short cut that doesn't exist. As the jeep drives off and his adjutant points out the error, I can hear my Dad deliver the line a few seconds ahead of the television - "Joe, you know it and I know it, but the General doesn't, at least he won't for about an hour and a half". The Captain responds, "That sergeant will be a private in the morning." The General, "Yes, isn't he lucky?" It never fails to make my Dad laugh.

Dad loves when Bing and Danny help the singing Haines sisters out of a jam at Novello's. He cracks up as Danny constantly grabs an old arm injury to win some sympathy. He wishes, just once the receptionist at the Pine Tree Inn wouldn't eavesdrop on the phone call to New York and he always beats the General to his line when he discovers his suits (just two) are at the cleaners and he'll have to go down to dinner in uniform. "Well you think you would have sent just one at a time in that case." I love White Christmas because I love hearing my Dad laugh. Even when he's not there watching with me, I can hear him laughing next to me. There's no better reason to watch a movie.

I hope you've enjoyed watching these trailers on each day of our countdown, along with us and all of our readers. As the writer and founder of Moviedozer.com, I wish you a deeply peaceful and joyous holiday. I hope the day finds you with family and friends and that you can extend the wishes of the season throughout the coming new year.

Peace and Merry Christmas,

Jeff Rabouin
President, SparxLab Projects


Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Joyeaux Noel

The story takes place on a battlefield in France. The date is December 24th, 1914, Christmas Eve. We are on the front-line, between troops from France, Scotland and Germany. It is the dramatization of a true story.
For a remarkable moment, the commonality of man touched the hearts and minds of World War I soldiers, on multiple battlefields of the Western European front, and a peculiar kind of history wrote itself into legend.

Joyeaux Noel tells the story of one such battlefield and the officers and soldiers of the armies ordered there, to fight a bloody and savage battle across a no-man's land of scarred and frozen ground between enemy trenches.

As the story goes, with Christmas Eve upon them, officers of the opposing forces met on the battlefield and agreed amongst themselves to a temporary and unauthorized truce. Laying their rifles aside, this tentative meeting of combatants would, through the night and into Christmas Day, reveal shared brotherhood and spontaneous camaraderie.

As we face this Christmas Eve in a world still wracked by war, terrorism and oppression, this story of an evening exactly 95 years ago, can perhaps still inform our actions and beliefs today. It stands as historical record of our deep and undeniable humanity, held in common and innate in our most basic aspirations.

We hope you will enjoy this trailer, #2 in our series of The 12 Trailers of Christmas. Joyeaux Noel is available for download and on DVD and is well worth seeking out as a part of your own holiday movie collection.

We wish all in the world today and tonight, who stand in harm's way, a calm and peaceful Christmas, and that those of you who shoulder the guns of war find your way safely back to home and family.

And to our leaders, and all leaders, who send men and women into battle, may you find the wisdom and courage sought so very long, that one day ends conflict and reveals a lasting peace. Happy Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: A Christmas Story

It would be hard to pick a contemporary Christmas movie that deserves the word "classic" attached more than A Christmas Story.
Released by ABC in 1983 and based on the popular novel In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, that book's author, Jean Shepherd, was also the film's nostalgically voiced narrator. The movie was directed by Bob Clark.

There are so many wonderfully memorable elements to the story, you have to work hard to pick your own favorites. Is it the Parker family, Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), his kid brother Randy (Ian Petrella), Mom (Melinda Dillon) and Dad (Darren McGavin)? Maybe it's Ralphie's school buddies Flick and Schwartz, his teacher, the neighborhood bullies, the department store Santa, or the Bumpuses' dogs?

Maybe it's the leg lamp that still delights each time "the ole' man" reads off "fra-gil-e" and figures it must be Italian? Or is it the Chinese restaurant staff doing their best with a Christmas Day rendition of "Deck The Halls"? For me, it's the great snowy 1940's neighborhood setting all around Ralphie's house.

The list above could take up pages and we hope you won't be able to stop thinking of more of your own favorites all day long. A Christmas Story was a charming surprise hit in movie theaters 26 years ago and it's now one of the most watched and beloved holiday films each year on television. Even as the years pass, every fan of this movie will be able to forever recall the name of the Lone Ranger's nephew's horse and the number one danger in buying a kid a Red Ryder BB gun.

How can you not love this movie? We're very happy to present as #3 in our series, The 12 Trailers of Christmas, the original trailer for A Christmas Story.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Four Christmases

Who would have ever guessed that Vince Vaughn would have made any list of Christmas movies twice?
Four Christmases is the most recent of our featured holiday trailers (having been released in November of last year), and like many of the others, it has an impressive cast list. Joining Vince Vaughn is Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau and country singers/part time actors Dwight Yoakam and Tim McGraw.

Also, for those paying attention, the star of tomorrow's featured trailer, Peter Billingsley (Ralphie in A Christmas Story) has a bit part as a ticket agent. And, just in case you were wondering, Vince Vaughn appeared in our #12 trailer, Fred Claus, when we started our countdown back on December 14th.

A big holiday hit both in the U.S. and abroad, Four Christmases earned over 160 million worldwide. We're happy to present the trailer as #4 in our 12 Trailers of Christmas countdown. We start the dash to Christmas morning tomorrow with the final three countdown trailers, so time to finish up the holiday shopping, tree trimming and decorating and get settled in for a warm celebration with family and friends. Here's the trailer for Four Christmases.


Monday, December 21, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Christmas Vacation

Of all of our favorite holiday movies, the next trailer on our list gets the prize for the most quotable, best closing credits song and the one that reminds us most of people we actually know.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was the third of four Vacation movies that Chevy Chase (as Clark Griswold) made with the always understanding Beverly D'Angelo (Ellen Griswold) and ever changing actors in the roles of son and daughter (Audrey and Rusty, this time played by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki ). Along for the holiday were the usual great supporting roles - this time with E.G. Marshall, Doris Roberts, John Randolf, Mae Questel, William Hickey, Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Some of the most notable quotes though, can be attributed to scenes with Randy Quaid, who returns here after having missed a trip to Europe on Vacation's second outing. As Cousin Eddie, Quaid works together with Chase with the skill of a long time vaudeville partner, mastering a sense of timing and physical humor that helps make the film a classic to own on DVD. And for a bonus, there's also a terrific performance by Brian Doyle-Murray (who played the clerk at Kamp Komfort in the first film) as Clark's boss Frank Shirley.

Definitely a favorite at Moviedozer, we're happy to present the trailer for Christmas Vacation, #5 in our series The 12 Trailers of Christmas.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy 1977-2009
























A light, having left, will leave darkness only in the path ahead. The path left behind will glow always brightly.

Our respects, prayers and condolences to family, friends and fans.

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: The Bishops Wife

Though life in the world in 1947 was anything but easy, there's a wonderful innocence that shines through every frame of The Bishop's Wife.
An annual Christmas favorite that boasts a spectacular cast with David Niven, Loretta Young (as the bishop and his wife) and Cary Grant as the quintessential helpful angel Dudley. There are also terrific performances by some of the finest character actors of the period, particularly Monty Woolley as a long time friend and history professor, and James Gleason as the often distracted but charming cab driver Sylvester.

Like many of the era's holiday films, there's a charming performance by a child actor. This time the role is the Bishop's daughter, Debby, played here by Karolyn Grimes, the same young actress who is so very memorable in her performance as Donna Reed and James Stewart's daughter Zuzu in It's A Wonderful Life, made one year earlier. (Any fan of both films will recognize one of the captains in the snowball fight sequence of The Bishops Wife as Bobby Anderson, who also played Young George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life.)

A film, like so many other holiday classics, that has been remade and re-worked to accommodate the latest celebrity actor cast, no one has ever produced a remake to rival the gentle humor and sweetness of the original. Much like our # 10 trailer in this countdown, Miracle on 34th Street, the trailer for The Bishops Wife is more of a mini film shot backstage at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios to promote the film to movie audiences. We know you'll enjoy watching #6 in our 12 Trailers of Christmas countdown, The Bishops Wife.





As throughout our 12 Trailers of Christmas countdown, you're invited to visit Moviedozer.com to watch a larger version of the trailer on our front page.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Two years after Chris Columbus and John Hughes introduced us to Kevin McCallister, they were back at it again with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Both director and writer re-teamed with their child star Macaulay Culkin and launched into another Holiday adventure, this time on the streets of Manhattan. The city made for a great escape for Kevin and some great holiday backgrounds that included central park, the fictitious Duncan's Toy Chest toy store, a brownstone under massive renovation, the Park Plaza hotel and even the ceiling lighting loft of Carnegie Hall. The "wet bandits" take a stab at being the "sticky bandits" and Kevin once again gets to mix his defend-the-fortress hi-jinx with some truly heartwarming sentiment.

Perhaps, as much as these are classically very funny films, they are so tremendously re-watchable for their heart and soul. Kevin isn't just a smart-alecky pint size wrecking crew, he's also a sweet impressionable kid who cares about the people, particularly the older people, he meets. And by the end of each film, his family, including his wise guy siblings, are all included. And it's on Christmas morning in both films, that they also make him smile.

It's that heart that is the signature of director Chris Columbus and writer/producer John Hughes that make these films work so wonderfully time and time again. Here's just a little taste in the trailer for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, # 7 in our special holiday series The 12 Trailers of Christmas.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar Happens Today.

Over at Moviedozer.com, we recently posted our trailer review for James Cameron's Avatar. For the first time in some 200 trailer reviews, we were at a loss for what to say, or that is, for what hasn't already been said. So rather than just nod our keyboard in agreement, we decided we should simply declare a statement of fact - Avatar will change cinema today - For All Time.

Here's the copy from our published trailer review:


The trailer to end all trailers, the effects movie to end all effects movies, the beginning of a new era in cinema, the third, fourth, or whatever time it is, for James Cameron to come down to Earth and walk on celluloid. It’s all been said. It’s all been poured over by press and fan geek-dom, ad infinitum. So we shall add our voice, not to reviewing the trailer or the film, but to the discussions that will ensue on Monday, December 21st, 3 days post Avatar - It was. It will.


It’s all true. James Cameron will have surpassed Spielberg and Lucas, Emmerich and Jackson; throw whatever names you have, none of them will stick. Cameron will have changed forever what you will expect to see in the movies as of Monday December 21. The end of this decade heralds a new dawn.


You will see Avatar, if not now, soon. If not soon, inevitably one day. And you will, like it or not, be affected by this film. You will remember the end of the first decade of the millennium as being the moment when live action 3D filming became as essential a tool to telling a story on film as motorized projectors, sound and color prints. Chortling about 3D glasses? Forget 3D glasses, we all will in just a few years. 3D will evolve beyond them.


This is the moment when technology takes a giant leap in the way we see movies. At movie theaters and at home. Embrace it. Mr. Cameron is about to show you the very bright and inescapable light. For this time at least, you’ll be glad you’ve got those glasses. You will never forget what is about to happen. Go see it, you know you want to.



Avatar will indeed impact you as a movie fan. It will change what movies studios make, what theaters you see them in, how much you'll pay for tickets and how and when you'll bring them home. And so very much more. If you think any of this is overstated, I urge you to jot down the date. At the end of the next decade you will remember the movie Avatar and what it meant to the movie industry and to movie fans all over the world. As for what it means this weekend - all that really matters is, if you're going, have a great time. From this day forward, everything that happens at the movies is post Avatar.



The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Home Alone

In 1990 writer/producer John Hughes introduced us to Kevin McCallister and holiday movies would never be quite the same.
Through the eyes of director Chris Columbus, Home Alone would become both a box-office hit and a holiday tradition. An unforgettable cast introduced child star sensation Macaulay Culkin and surrounded him with great actors playing characters who easily might have stepped from the frames of a Warner Brothers cartoon. That cast, which included John Heard, Catherine O'Hara and John Candy, also featured a talented selection of young actors as the McCallister family (including Macauley's younger brother Kieran) and of course, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the infamous "wet bandits".

Earning more than a half billion dollars at worldwide box-offices, Twentieth Century-Fox's biggest challenge would be holding the cast together for a sequel while still being able to capitalize on Culkin's young age. They succeeded two years later with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. You can look forward to seeing that trailer when you stop back tomorrow.

For now, kick back and enjoy #8 in our 12 Trailers of Christmas countdown, Home Alone.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: The Santa Clause 2

The middle of 3 movies featuring Tim Allen as the jolly guy in the big red suit, The Santa Clause 2 was released in 2002, a surprising 8 years after the original film. (It would be another 4 years later for Allen to appear as Scott Calvin, aka Santa Claus one last (?) time in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.)

This second movie of the series segued beautifully off the characters and situations of the first and finds Santa faced with a dilemma at the outset - without the benefit of getting married before Christmas morning the Santa suit is up for grabs again. The film introduced Elizabeth Mitchell as the prospective love interest who would go on to appear with the rest of the mostly intact cast of the original, in the third film.

So dubbed, "the Mrs. Clause", the premise made for another comedy that plays both funny and heart warming, qualities that have made all three films in the series holiday favorites.

As #9 in our countdown of The 12 Trailers of Christmas, Moviedozer is happy to present The Santa Clause 2.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roy Disney 1930-2009

It is with tremendous sadness that news came today of Roy Disney's passing at the age of 79, the result of a prolonged battle with stomach cancer.

Roy would become a guardian of the Disney legacy left behind by his celebrated Uncle, who died on December 15th in 1966. It was Roy who many credit having rescued the company from a hostile takeover attempt in the 80's and who later worked tirelessly to reinvigorate Disney's Animation traditions. Having begun his Disney career as a writer on the True Life Adventure films that became a staple of Disney's Wonderful World of Color television show, Roy was also key in developing the Disneynature studio label that was tasked last year with providing nature oriented programming as a documentary film banner. (See Disney's 2nd Nature here.)

It seems a fitting tribute that Disney's return to hand drawn animation, The Princess and the Frog, debuted as the number one box-office film just last weekend. A film Time magazine called the number one movie of the year.

The loss of Roy's influence and guidance at the Disney Company is impossible to measure but we can only hope that his spirit will live on in the Disney brand as bold and brightly as that of his Uncle.

To the family and friends and most especially the cast members of the Walt Disney Company all over the globe, we extend our most heartfelt condolences and prayers. And to all who love and have loved Disney entertainment through the decades, we join with you in all of your fondest Disney memories, now and throughout the Holiday season.



The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Miracle on 34th Street

Here's a Christmas tradition that dates back to 1947 and the days of the great department stores of New York City.

That was the year when the original Miracle on 34th Street was released by Twentieth Century-Fox, but not quite during the holiday season. Fox actually released the film in May of that year because the studio was anxious to capture summer movie crowds (the fact that this was a Christmas film was never mentioned in the film's original marketing).

Starring Maureen O'Hara and John Payne, the cast also featured actors that would become classic movie fan favorites, including Edmund Gwenn (as Kris Kringle), Gene Lockhart (as Judge Harper), William Frawley and Jack Albertson (as the postal worker who comes up with the answer for proving Mr. Kringle is the real deal). But most memorable perhaps is a very young Natalie Wood as Susan Walker.

A classic whose ending just wouldn't be the same in the age of emails, texting and Twitter accounts, Moviedozer is happy to present trailer #10 in our 12 Trailers of Christmas countdown. (Incidentally, don't let the picture on the trailer clip throw you, this is the original trailer, the picture happens to be clipped from the 1994 remake.)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Christmas with the Kranks

Tim Allen has somehow become Mr. Christmas movie, but if an actor's gotta find a niche, making Holiday movies doesn't seem like a bad gig. Here he's playing Luther Krank, a neighbor with a decidedly un-Christmas like idea for spending the holidays. He's got Jamie Lee Curtis, as his wife, convinced but just as it looks like Christmas in the sunshine... a movie happens.

This one's from 2004 and was directed by Joe Roth for his own Revolution Studios. Christmas with the Kranks was released through Columbia Pictures and is #11 in our 12 Trailers of Christmas countdown. Enjoy.




You can find each days trailer in a larger format right on the front page of Moviedozer.com by clicking the link.

Monday, December 14, 2009

DreamWorks animated dragon building 101


When Monsters vs Aliens came out this past Spring, we could go along with the not-so-original characters as part of the spoof of 1950's sci-fi classics like The Blob (renamed "Bob") and Attack of the 50ft Woman. We get the joke, not so much the laughs.

But next in the pipeline for DreamWorks' CGI is How to Train Your Dragon, and this time we think there may be evidence of a trend. The dragon in the title role seems awfully familiar. With just a little memory searching, we think we may have stumbled onto DreamWork's formula for creating adorably mean and aggressive (but quick to befriend) CGI creatures. See for yourself, we think the formula looks like this.


But just to keep things in perspective, we were onto this one as well...

What's that they say about imitation?

Keep watching Moviedozer & Moviedozer dailies as we continue our countdown of The 12 Trailers of Christmas each day through Christmas morning.

The 12 Trailers of Christmas: Fred Claus

Happy Holidays from Moviedozer.com! Today begins our countdown of the Twelve Trailers of Christmas. We hope you'll enjoy a new Holiday trailer every day, right through Christmas morning. Each day, the large versions of the trailer can be seen on the front page of Moviedozer.com while the smaller versions will be here at Moviedozer Dailies.

We hope your holiday season brings laughs, warmth, joy and peace. All the very best from Moviedozer.

Trailer #12 is from 2007. Fred Claus starred Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti and was directed by David Dobkin. From Warner Bros. Pictures, here's the original trailer for Fred Claus...


Friday, December 11, 2009

Randy Newman is the Magic in Disney's return to animated musicals.

Disney released their last hand drawn animated feature, Home on the Range in April of 2004. With an estimated budget of 110 million, the film's run took in just a touch over 50 million in the U.S. and could only manage a dismal 26.5 million in foreign box-office. On the other end of the scale is Pixar's computer animated Finding Nemo (2003), with a box-office first run worldwide take of 865 million. Easy to see why hand drawn animation found its light extinguished at the Disney Animation Studios.

That is, until Disney acquired Pixar and got off its creatively spent tush.

Today Disney will release its proverbially long awaited and dramatically over-hyped return to hand drawn animation, in the tradition of its best rather than its last. That tradition, started with Snow White and cemented with classics from Cinderella to 101 Dalmatians, was once before reignited with the nearly perfect trio of Beauty and the Beast (in 1991), Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994). It only charmed again briefly but recently in the Oscar nominated short The Matchgirl in 2006. Today the torch is passed to The Princess and the Frog.

As for the hype about return to traditions and the (mostly pointless) hoopla about the introduction of Disney's first "black" princess (who for most of the story is green), forget it. Here's what is most worthy of celebration - a return to the grand tradition of gorgeously animated Disney musicals. The best part? Disney has also returned to a tremendous musical talent to provide songs and score - Randy Newman.

In all of the variations of trailers that have preceded its release, and beautifully evident in a sampling of selections from its soundtrack, Mr. Newman, who spent childhood summers in New Orleans (the movie's setting), elegantly slips here into a custom fit. Having seeped his musical tastes in a good helping of jazz and zydeco, Randy Newman's melodies and arranging talent, used often by Pixar animation, finds a kind of perfect summit in this story set in deep blue, firefly studded bayous, dreamily tinted nostalgic New Orleans streets and fanciful, voodoo spiced swamp shacks. It's all a pleasure to look at and irresistible to the ear.

There's a taste of everything in the score. Jazz, dixieland, blues, zydeco and gospel, all get a spotlight and the songs are as fun and energetic as they are unforgettable. I challenge anyone with a touch of a ten year old in their heart to be able to shake off humming "Dig a Little Deeper" on the way out of the theater. Don't worry about where it comes in the movie, you'll smile to yourself the moment you hear the first refrain. Just let it wash over you and enjoy.

Congratulations to Disney on reasserting a strength that has so long laid forgotten. Congratulations to Mr. Lassiter on recognizing an art form that can be reenergized by simply nurturing great ideas and talents. And most of all, thanks to all of those involved for affording Mr. Newman yet another window for framing his spectacular talent. It is so happily preserved, along with so much before, as another piece of his growing legacy.

And just a note to Bob Iger - leave the talented guys alone and don't exploit this rediscovered treasure by mucking it up with heavy exploitation and mediocrity. We sincerely hope this will be only a once-every-few-years pleasure.

For those of you with a little bit of bandwith, we've included this production video courtesy of Disney Animation. Enjoy.