Serg Beret’s 20 Best Songs of 2014 Pt. 1: 20 – 11

2014 in music was, without sugarcoating it, a terrible year in mainstream music. Most of the hit songs were the same as last year;s and the pop game remained stagnant in the same hole as last year. No creativity came out and when it did, horrid songs relying on Iggy Azalea’s fake black voice and songs about the bass reared their ugly heads to screw it all up. It is difficult to live up to a year dominated by Daft Punk. Those twenty songs found a way to come out of the ashes of this terrible year to deliver the best of the best. Without further ado, these are the twenty best songs of 2014.

20. “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce

Beyonce released a surprise album in December of 2013. Unfortnately, the album was filled with nothing but ‘meh,’ but “Drunk in Love” remains the highlight of it all. Queen Bey (BuzzFeed’s words, not mine) delivers with her fantastic voice work and manages to spit some verses. Her husband Jay-Z also steps in to help his queen reclaim her throne complete with a rather unfortunate Ike Turner reference that’s rather unfortunate in retrospect. Beyonce may be here to stay while on her throne, but she’s not on the top of this list this year due to “Drunk in Love” marginally getting on this list.

19. “Rude” by Magic!

With Beyonce in the spot usually reserved for a one-hit wonders, readers must be wondering “Where are they this year?” Luckily, we got two in a row this year. Kicking off the one-hit block is “Rude.” Combining the laid-back reggae sounds and ska influences, Magic! oozes that mid-90’s sound by bringing it back to the mainstream. It’s breezy and wonderfully poppy. ONly problem is the lyrics are cheesy and the premise is crap. The guy sings about wanting to marry his girlfriend, yet the dad says no, so he marries her away from him. Marty McFly could describe this kind of guy the best.

This song still reminds catchy while being quite cheesy as heck. This band is probably going to fade into obscurity, but that’s okay because sometimes you only need one song. But wait, we got another one-hit wonder coming up.

18. “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo

Addiction is no laughing matter. If you have a problem, consult someone to help you deal with it or head over to rehab to deal with it because it will no only get worse. With all that said, here’s Tove Lo with classy tune about being an addict in “Habits.” Tove Lo sings with such fraility and disheartening nature against a dark beat of drums and synths. The only way she deals is by being high all the time to get through her. It’s not a light-hearted tune if those listening to it actually pay attention to the lyrics. Lo gets the point across well, but somehow the beat makes it seem like it’s encouraging keeping an addiction. Lo is a new artist on the scene, but seems this is the only song that is truly popular. Somehow it was also on a rock station last time I heard it. If anyway could explain why, that would be nice. Thanks for the tune, Lo and make sure you get help.

17. “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo is like that guy on a top tier baseball team that is not super popular, but when they get a hit, the crowd cheers for him in hopes they succeed to the top. Derulo certainly proved that he may be rising up this year with an Arabic-inspired “Talk Dirty.” Blending a voice of made for R&B with jazz sounds of trumpets, Derulo gives this catchy tune that sounds like a true club banger. Hell, this song also manages the difficult task of making 2 Chainz not sound like a complete idiot as he spits about he can get women. Derulo shows he can woo half the world with a infectious song that will have people on the dance floor. Sidenote: Am I the only one who thinks after the “Talk Dirty to me” part that Booker T’s theme is going to hit? Maybe that’s just me. Derulo is certainly keeping his game steady, but not over doing it.

16. “Chandelier” by Sia

Sia is an odd artist who has made fantastic underrated work in the past years. Mostly in the indie-pop scene, Sia has rose in promience in the years as a artist usually having “ft.” before her name in hit singles. “Chandelier” is Sia’s calling card proving that she can be unique against the usual pop crap of the year while taking the modern pop sounds to her advantage. Her voice goes from shrilling highs to spectacular lows. It’s odd that years ago she said she doesn’t sing publicly speaking about Flo Rida’s performance at WrestleMania 28, yet here she is in 2014 starting to break into the spotlight to sing. Sia is awesome and getting the recognition she deserves. Hopefully her just being known as “ft.” is a thing of the past.

15. “Latch” by Disclosure ft. Sam Smith

Speaking of the “ft.” credits, here’s a group with Sam Smith under that credit in “Latch.” Disclosure take Smith’s vocals that are already stunning an amplify them with a fascinating use of synths with electronic beats. Smith sings about being stuck to someone and keeping them in there. Sure, it’s a bit stalker-ish, but with a sweet voice, Smith makes it seems demanding. The little breakdown before each chorus of the synths clashing is stunning as heck leading to a triumphant chorus that is helped by a thumping parade of bass and keys. This song is a neat little diddy that helped elevate Smith to new heights in this drab year, but more on that later.

14. “All of the Stars” by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran is a remarkable up-and-comer who has appeared on this list before. Lately, Sheeran has made his mark by making this year his with the excellent X album by ensuring that he is the hottest male player in the pop game at the moment. Sheeran has also been making his mark in the cinema providing songs for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and this year for the excellent film The Fault in Our Stars with “All of Our Stars.” This heartbreaking track captures the feel of the film with Sheeran delivering a somber performance accompanied by a beautiful collection of strings and simplistic drum beats. His other work on is also a standout, but this track has been on repeat for awhile for myself due to the context. Sheeran is proving his worth with every song he decides to bring to the forefront.

13. “Story of My Life” by One Direction

Full disclosure before going into this one: I’m not a One Direction guy and never have been. One Direction is like a modern day Backstreet Boys in that they are big to younger girls, but everyone else hates them. This song would probably be their version of “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.” Instead of giving listeners and fans the amped-up cheesy sounds of bombastic boy band pop, the boys come out to give a heartfelt ballad that actually doesn’t suck. It’s a neat step away from the sounds that always seem to plague the boy band market. The heat I’ll probably get from including them on any list is ripe, but the boys at least get a past this time around for delivering a wholesome pop ballad with acoustic rhythms. As for the rest of their songs, they are not for me.

12. “Fall in Love” by Phantogram

This group can easily be lumped in ‘one-hit wonders’ with others on the list, but Phantogram is the type of music I could listen to on a daily basis. With an innovative electronic beats, an infectious use of strings and synths that go beyond the boundaries, they kicked off the year showing that innovative groups are the rage. This is before Iggy Azalea had to shit all over that prospect, but I digress. The echos of the lead singer Sarah Barthel are breathy and fresh against the over-polished pop sounds of today. The breakdown around the third verse is a brilliant breakdown that delivers making full work of Barhel’s voice. This song was an awesome beginning to the year. Hopefully, Phantogram don’t fade into obscurity because they are changing the tide on modern electronic pop music.

11. “Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who

I’m still surprised this song didn’t get bigger after this fantastic Home Depot Proposal last year, but now officially released as a single, “Somebody Loves You” takes the sounds of the modern era and throws it back to the late-90’s. Betty Who is ver popular in the LGBT community with her signature voice that is an interesting combination of breathy and bombastic. The song is a fun dance song that fits Who’s vocals brilliantly. The main part of the song that stands out is the breakdown section after the second chorus. It dives into a new dimension with Who’s vocals carrying such lines “If I am good to you/Could you be good to me?/That’s exactly how it should be” with such power and strength in her voice. Who is getting her time in the spotlight and it is well deserved.

Part 2 HERE

25 Films of XMAS: Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Adapting a classic work is hard to do. Adapting a classic work based upon another classic work is extremely hard to do, so it’s a wonder why Universal Pictures and Ron Howard decided to take it upon themselves in order to make a live-action version of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I remember seeing this opening day at the Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood as a kid and loving it. As I grew older, I started to hate it. At this moment, there are things I like about it, hate about it and absolutely loathe about it. Before that, let’s get a summary of the film.

Up on the summit high in Mt. Crumpet lives the mean one they call the Grinch (Jim Carrey). The Grinch looks above the town of Whoville as the Whos prepare for the Christmas season by buying gifts and devastating. Cindi Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) accidentally meets the Grinch face to face at the Post Office. With her curiosity in place, she goes out to investigate the background of the Grinch by interviewing the greedy mayor of Whoville (Jeffrey Tambor), those who raised the Grinch and the Grinch’s former crush Martha May (Christine Baranski) to doghouse he was trying to be raised in their tradition. Cindi Lou tries to convince the Grinch to come back to reunite with those who burned him by becoming Holiday Cheermiester. After deciding to do it, the Mayor pisses off the Grinch, this making him steal Christmas. Yet, could his heart of two sizes to shall grow big one again? You already know the answer.

The film has a ton of flaws, yet a few bright spots of hope. The costume design is stunning with excellent make-up effects that make the characters look exactly like Dr. Suess’ designs. The same could be said for the Whoville sets which are inventive and fun. Carrey gives it his all as the Grinch and seems to be having a great time despite the heavy amount of makeup he is under. The others actors are fine in their parts, but are severely overshadowed by Carrey.

However, these bright spots aren’t enough. The story leading up the Grinch’s stealing of Christmas may add an extra layer to the story, but it’s idiotic and pointless. Not ever villain in a movie needs a sympathetic backstory to make us feel bad. This is where Maleficent feel apart in. The reasoning for is actions are childish and sympathy goes out once he steals Christmas. The humor of this movie that isn’t Carrey’s, who mostly improvised his lines, is poor with jokes that a toddler would grow tired of. The CGI looks like a PS3 game and the forced song in the middle of the movie is cheesy.

The absolute worst part of this film is how this movie is directed and shot. This movie pisses nee of because everything is so vibrant, colourful and filled with imagination that it’s dulled by Ron Howard and possibly the Director of Photography’s decision to shoot it in a flat color. The use of Dutch Angles and extreme close-ups make the film a pain to sit through because it screws up an otherwise average film.

The Grinch is hit and miss with a whole lot of miss. If you want to show the kids the Grinch, show them the original as it is a much better adaptation, but show them this one to contrast it by during them a simply average adaptation.

25 Films of XMAS: Jingle All the Way (1996)

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Jingle All the Way (1996)

Jingle All the Way is not a great film, nor a good one. It’s actually stupid as heck. Yet, I can’t help but not watch it because it’s so ingrained in my memory from childhood that I have. Plus, the fact it has freakin’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator himself, as the lead character only makes watching a must.

Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) is a busy business man who is constantly more focused on work than his own family. This type of story was not uncommon in the 90’s. His wife Liz (Rita Wilson) is constantly wondering when Howard will attend Jamie’s (Jake Lloyd) karate graduation, all while nosey neighbor Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman) tries to prove he is a better man and father than Howard. After a long day of work and missing the graduation, Howard plans to win back Jamie’s admiration with a Turbo-Man action figure. One problem though: It’s already Christmas Eve and the you is sold out everywhere. Howard decides to venture across the Twin Cities in search of Turbo-Man while avoiding kung fu Santas, a wild reindeer, Ted’s annoyance and the most terrifying thing of all… Sinbad’s humor.

Jingle All the Way is a dumb movie with dumb humor and tons of just stupid moments. Yet, just like some bad movies, it’s so bad, it’s good. Schwarzenegger does his damnedest and finest to get through the over-the-top ridiculous nature and it is pretty hilarious to see such a strong man get his ass handed to him every step of the way. Sinbad is just okay with trying to add his brand of humor, but that manages to fall flat on his face. Everyone else in this movie, for lack of a better word, is kind of an asshole. Hartman is a frickin’ jerk, the wife is a bit naggy, the son is whiny as hell and everyone Howard comes across gives him nothing but shit on a stick. It comes off as unfunny and just mean spirited with the rest of the holiday. Hell, even The Big Show as Santa is a prick. Then again, that man was the New Year’s Baby.

NEVER FORGET
NEVER FORGET

The one promising film is the premise. It tackles the concept of commercialization and consumerism around Christmas time showing the ludicrous nature of it all. It is always there to help guide the movie along to show that isn’t important around Christmas time. Unfortnately, the film falters in that aspect. Another thing I can give this film credit for is the climax. The ending of the film with a giant action scene in a parade makes sitting through all this random stuff worth it. Arnold in a Turbo-Man suit fighting Sinbad makes this movie still worth going through forced comedy and tedious crap. I still watch it and know it’s awful, but I get joy out of it.

Jingle All the Way is so bad, it’s good with a clear message that is lost underneath silly humor, odd performances and needless moments.

NExt time, we enter the 21st century with a familiar Christmas icon.

25 Films of XMAS: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Finally, a film to watch on two different holidays rather than one that is both fun, innovative and exciting to watch. This is Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas and before we go any further, it wasn’t directed by Tim Burton. It was directed by Henry Selick with the story by Tim Burton. It pisses me off to this day that people get this confused, but I’ll deal with it.

Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon, Singing voice Danny Elfman) is the Pumpkin King in Halloween Town, yet Jack has grown tired of the same old thing. One night while depressed and walking through the woods, Jack stumbles upon a group of trees with mysterious figure on them representing Thanksgiving, easter and St. Patrick’s Day. The one that stands out to Jack, however, is a Christmas Tree door that leads him to Christmas Town. He wonders “What’s this?” and learns about a man named Sandy Claws (Ed Ivory). Jack, now inspired be the holiday, decides to take it over with the help of the Halloween Town Mayor (Glen Shadix), Dr. Frinklestien (William Hickey) while Sally (Catherine O’Hara) warns Jack of the danger that comes with taking it over. To make matters worse, Oogie Boogie (Ken Page) gets word of Jack’s plan from Lock (Paul Ruebens), Shock (O’Hara), and Barrel (Danny Elfman) and decides to keep Santa for himself. Jack takes over the season to much dismay to realize his misfortune. Lucky, Jack comes back in time to save Christmas by defeating Oogie Boogie and letting Santa be free again.

I remember trying to watch this as a kid and, I’m going to be honest, I was scared. Halloween Town was terrifying to me as a kid and I stayed away from this movie like the plague. Around 5th grade, however, I rewatched the film and loved it. I didn’t know about the cult following at the time and how it was on the pantheon of great Disney films. I was just a curious boy watching the movie, diving into the special features and getting into it. The film itself is one of my favorite animated films and for many reason.

One is how original this story is. A curious leader of one holiday wanting to get a holiday and make it as his own seemed new a different from everything else. It also taught the valuable lesson of not meddling in affairs you don’t understand, but instead, taking time to learn about what it is you want and how to embrace rather than screwing the other out of it. The music is incredible with Elfman’s score and songs making the film shine. “What’s This?” is still on rotation in my Christmas playlist with “Jack’s Lament” stuck in my head with Elfman’s soothing and booming bass. The standout song of the film is the soft and melancholic “Sally’s Song” that is beyond perfect, capturing the feeling that Sally has on her mind. The voice acting is incredible with everyone taking to task their characters with Sarandon breathing a soul into Jack and Page giving a rousing performance as the villainous Oogie Boogie.

The stop-motion animation is also great as it feels like a throwback to the Rankin-Bass shorts, if they were more macabre and morbid. It’s gorgeously done and filled with hours upon hours of dedication. The only complaint I have about the film is that it feels so short. I want to be a part of the world’s created, see what else is in store in the other doors and take in everything, but I guess that’s what makes it a great film. Everyone is probably sick of the film and its constant association to the Emo/Hot Topic phase of the past, but it has cemented itself in history as being a true modern classic for Christmas and animation.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is nothing but a cheery Christmas delight.

25 Films of XMAS: The Santa Clause (1994)

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The Santa Clause (1994)

From one original Disney Christmas film to another, 1994’s The Santa Clause was the first really big starring role for Tin Allen. Lucky for him, is a Christmas film and those tend to stuck around. Even better, this lead to an unexpected franchise that Disney made a good fortune on.

Scott Calvin (Allen) is a businessman with a normal life, divorced from his wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) while seeing his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd). He decides to take care of him for the holiday season. On Christmas, a clatter from upstairs is heard which Calvin investigates. Calvin shouts and effectively kills Christmas. Yup, Santa’s dead now. Thanks, douche. Scott discovers a card of Santa’s that takes the two the North Pole. Whisked away to the land, they are greeted by Bernard the Arch-Elf (David Krumholtz) who informs them of the Santa Clause. Whoever takes the big man down after killing him most take up the position. Scott does the job and finds it ridiculous. The next morning, he thinks everything is all a dream until he starts to slowly but surely morph into Santa Claus throughout the next year. Many think he has gone insane and let himself go, resulting in Laura’s second husband Dr. Neal Miller (Judge Reinhold) to deal with him much to Scott’s dismay. Scott begins to deliver presents and is arrested after the police think he is breaking and entering. It is up to Charlie’s belief in Santa to save Christmas and prove Scott is Santa once and for all.

The Santa Clause is one of those other hokey and cheesy Christmas films I love. It handles its cheesiness with style with a very creative story. The story is interesting is that it’s a guy who doesn’t believe in Santa anymore and is suddenly the big man. Scott at first is kind of a jerk, but over the year as Santa, he evolves to not just being a kind hearted man, but to a go father. I like the father/son aspect of the film because it makes Scott more human and shows he can deal with kids. The dynamic shows that Scott has a heart and only wants what’s best for those he cares for. Allen takes charge of his role, but doesn’t overplay it as he would do in the later sequels.

The design of the North Pole is still what I think of when I hear the North Pole. It’s bright, vibrant, majestic and surrounded by hardworking elves. It’s just so damn gorgeous and out of a dream. The elves themselves are played by children, giving them that immortal feeling. It helps that they also play their parts well including Krumholtz as Bernard. He was like the cool dude you wanted to be and leader of the elves that with dry sarcasm. Funny enough, they would use Krumholtz again in the first sequel and he still looked and acted like he did in 1994. The film is rather good, but it does get boring in some places, but that’s made up for in how well acted and produced it is. Maybe it’s my nostalgia, but I never get tired of watching this film around Christmas.

The Santa Clause is one clause worth signing up for.

25 Films of XMAS: Home Alone (1990)

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Home Alone (1990)

The 90’s got of to a madcap start with Christmas with Macaulay Culkin in his breakout film role Home Alone. It has become synonymous with Christmas in the 90’s for being a new classic for the holidays. We are about 25 years removed from it, so why has it lasted so long?

Kevin McAllister (Culkin) and the rest of the McAllister family are heading to Paris to spend the holiday abroad. Kevin is constantly bullied and sent to his room by his mother Kate (Catherine O’Hara) after getting into a fight with his brother. Obviously pissed off and sadden by the whole of affair of his family picking on him all day, he wishes that he could get his family to disappear. When he wakes up the family is gone and Kevin is left behind. Of course, Kevin thinks his family has really disappeared. Kate also realizes her son is missing and travels her way back in order to make sure he is safe. However, Kate’s assurance for Kevin’s safety is taken for granted when the Wet Bandits, Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern respectively) set up a plan to rob the house and make with goods. Kevin, who has done pretty well for himself, must stop the bandits from invading his home and ensure the holidays are safe once and for all. Hilarity, as it should, ensues.

This film is something nostalgic for me. This and it’s sequel Lost in New York are my Christmas classic and I love seeing them back to back every year. With that said, it is pretty dated and some stuff comes across as too cheesy and cornball. Around this time though, I’ll take that anyday. Culkin as Kevin is great. He’s naive, smart and seems to be having a blast. He is also a kid trying to understand the world and has a lot of heart. Though brave in his plans to stop the bandits, he is upset he has no one to celebrate with. This makes scenes like him talking to Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom) so poignanat. Here is a man who is pratically alone due to him and his son not being on the best of terms, yet longs to see his grandkids and mend fences. It’s beautiful how Kevin handles it because he understands the importance of family now. At the end when his mom returns and they hug, it gets me every time because Kevin learned so much. I’m tearing up right now just thinking of it. O’Hara as the concerned mother is also great because you can see she wants her son to be safe and would do anything to help him. It’s a beautiful aspect many forget due to the humor in it. The heart shown throughout the film is pure delight and heck, we even get a John Candy performance out of it, so that’s always a great bonus.

The main aspect the film is remembered for is its slapstick humor. Pesci and Stern are great together. Pesci is a brute and Stern if a goofball and the two are a dynamic that work. When they take bumps, spills and have to put up with Kevin’s traps, these two really shine at being the big laughable bad guys. It’s as if writer John Hughes wanted the goons of bigger villains to have some time in the spotlight and gave them everything they needed. The traps and ideas Kevin has are fun, creative and would make Jigsaw grin. They range from classic jokes like the slick ice on stairs to deadly by lighting someone on fire. Kevin is pretty much a sadist and we love it.

Now, the sequel is pretty much the same movie except in New York and has Tim Curry being awesome. It’s a retread of the same tropes, but it’s just fun to watch all the traps again and again. I love this movie and watch it every year to get back that old childhood Christmas feeling. Home Alone is here to stay.

25 Films of XMAS: Christmas Vacation (1989)

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

This movie should have been a failure. The first Vacation film is a classic and hilarious in its own right. European Vacation was utter trite and couldn’t hold a candle to the original. How could anyone fall in love with this film after such a failure? Easy: Kept the Griswolds at home and let the family come to them instead. What ensues is pure hilarity.

The Griswolds, Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Audrey (Julliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki), decide to stay home for the holidays in order to have the family come over instead. Clark is anticipating his Christmas to put in a pool and intends to have a good old-fashioned Christmas to make it through the holidays. Clark, failing to realize how the Vacation series works, ends up having a really awful Christmas with Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) annoying him as always, the lights on the house causing a power outage, a cat being burnt to death and dying as a Christmas tree catches fire and a very crappy Christmas dinner. This all builds to his bonus being a membership to the Jelly of the Month club, leading to the mother of all mental breakdowns.

Holy shit, where is the Tylenol indeed. Clark soon realizes the true meaning of Christmas and happiness, even if Cousin Eddie decided to go a kidnap Clark’s boss to yell at him personally with the SWAT team coming in to make matters worse. Clark does get his wish in the end, even if some laws, rules and a bunch of crap has been broken.

The thing that makes this film work is the comedy. It’s over-the-top, hysterical and an absolute riot. Chase and the group take everything seriously and no one misses a beat. Chase really nails his rant above to a tea that everyone would feel for him. The film takes the humor that can come from being together at Christmas and takes it up to eleven. Another thing the film does is capture Clark’s longing for a classic version of Christmas and how he loves the season. He is filled with glee and delight, yet when it goes to hell with him screaming that they are “gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye,” he seems damaged that his dream isn’t there. It makes Clark human again and helps us long for him to be happy as well.

Christmas Vacation is a great comedy and ends the 80’s Christmas movies on a high note. Next time, the 90’s finally come to play with more personal takes on the films since those are the ones I grew up watching.

25 Films of XMAS: Die Hard (1989)

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Die Hard (1989)

Whenever someone wants to sound tough around the holidays when someone asks what their favorite Christmas movie, they will almost always say Die Hard. Heck, we even did a commentary on this site for it celbrating it’s new status as a Christmas classic. Of course, this is mostly by osmosis since it takes place around the holidays like Lethal Weapon. This film, however, is better than Lethal Weapon. I don’t know if I will be killed for saying that, but Die Hard is a fantastic action romp.

New York Police detectictive John McClane (Bruce Willis) visits Los Angeles to help mend fences with his wife Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedella). Unfortnately, he picked a bad day to show up. At the Nakatomi Plaza office party, a group of terrorists lead by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) to steal about $640 million in bonds from a vault. The terrorists take the office hostage, kill the head executive and start to take down the hostages. The terrorists wind up unlucky as McClane decides to take matters in his own hand working alongside Sgt. Al Powell (Reginal VelJohnson), Deputy Chief of Police Dwayne T. Robinson (Paul Gleason) while dealing with a television reporter Richard Thornburg (William “Dickless” Atherton). Does McClane save the day? Judging by the …we’ve already done this joke before.

Die Hard is simple yet so complex in how its done. Willis as a leading man is awesome showing both how strong McClane is, but also showing his weaknesses in being a human with wounds. Of course, in later films, wrtiers would forget he isn’t invincible and treat him like Superman, but that’s not the point of McClane’s character. He is the every-man like everyone else. The villain is number one on my assholes of Christmas list for a reason because Rickman plays him to a tee of being nothing but a dick. He shows no remorse and does not hold anything back. This is not bad for Rickman’s first major motion picture role. the action is stunning with tight shots of one on one fights, shootouts and badassery throughout. We’ve kind of blew our wad on this film last year in a commentary on it last year. I stongly recommend hearing that for more thoughts.

Just know Die Hard kicks ass. Yipee kiyay, motherfucker.

25 Films of XMAS: Scrooged (1988)

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Scrooged (1988)

The timeless tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge finding his humanity again in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been done to death so much at this point that Hollywood no longer is beating a dead horse, but beating the reminds of a once majestic creature until it turns to dust and joins the Earth. After looking at what version to cover (lord, help me), I decided to go for one that takes the story, applies it to someone else and makes it fresh once again. Thank Santa Christ that Scrooged was made.

Adapted from the classic tale, this modernized (for it’s time) version takes a look at Frank Cross (Bill Murray), a greedy television executive more focused on television ratings and himself than those around him. This includes his long lost love Claire Philips (Karen Allen), his assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard), his brother James (John Murray, his real life brother) and the weird Bob Crachett for this evening Elliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait). As the story goes, he gets a visit from his old mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) and is visited by three ghosts:

  • The Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen) as a New York City cabbie taking him back to his childhood and his old relationship with Claire.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol King) as a magic pixie who shows Frank’s present version of Christmas
  • The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come that shows Frank his terrifying future.

If you know the story by now, you’ve practically seen the movie, but that’s where it would be a tremendous loss to lump this with the others.

Scrooged is, pardon my language, fuckin’ incredible. The humor is quick-witted and smart with moments of dark humor. From the opening with an amped-up action set piece sets the tone of the madcap comedy to come. It leads to great moments of slapstick from Goldthwait making a fool of himself and Carol King smacking the crap out of Murray. Murray is as dry in his humor as ever and it’s beautiful. He delivers sarcastic wit and lines with ease. Murray also gives this movie heart alongside Woodard and Allen. Woodard subplot with her not getting a raise from Frank is quite disheartening as you fell for her. In Murray and Allen’s case, the way they sell their current state and past relationship is touching. The chemistry between the two is sweet and remarkable. Allen is also just plain adorable as hell. The film succeeds in everything a great comedy should. It breathes life into a tired story and makes it fun again.

Scrooged is fantastic all around that is a classic that will put a little love into your heart.