Movies of the Week #51-52 (2022):

Carol (2015): Sometimes you leave a movie for “a later time” in the hope that it will live up to its promise and just find…the right moment. It seems like that’s been the case with Carol, a brooding love story that transcends labels and provides a masterclass on defining mood and emotion through film and music. Todd Haynes returns to the decade he explored in Far From Heaven (2002) – another powerful story from the dark underbelly of post-war America – and uncovers both its austerity and its passion. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara take center stage, revealing expected and unexpected nuances in their characters, as they become inextricably connected, making for a love story that’s both heavily contextualized and paradoxically universal. 9

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022): A strong follow-up in all regards, Glass Onion allows Daniel Craig to reprise the role of Benoit Blanc, famed detective and all around clever fellow. This time we’re heading into new money territory, as an Elon Musk-like fellow, on the border between genius and insanity, hosts a murder-mystery party with his besties on a solitary Greek island. Naturally, things are not what they seem and the shuffling of pieces is joyous to behold and really easy on the eye. I’m not sure if the cast is as strong as in the original, but it’s still a heck of a bunch, making for another exciting entry in the whoddunit genre. 8

Violent Night (2022): So how about Die Hard, but with Santa Claus instead of John Mcclane? That’s the basic premise of VN, a tribute to all sorts of Christmas movies, executed with flair and, naturally, violence. David Harbour provides a dismayed old Santa, whose joy for the job is put to the test by today’s materialistic children. Moving beyond this and other familiar tropes and turns, VN proves to be exactly what it promises, a delightful revenge trip with just enough humor and viscera to stand out. A prequel now, pls? 7

The Noel Diary (2022): It’s been a long time since I’ve last seen such a Hallmarkian movie, in both the best and the worst of ways. The good part is that TND captures an uplifting Christmas spirit and is carried by its two charming leads, Justin Hartley and Barrett Doss (plus one adorable doggo), in a road trip movie about (re)discovering family. The bad part is that it takes zero chances, stays well within its box and is outright lazy in resolving conflict. Still, it’s hard to hate on something pleasant like this, so in the spirit of Christmas, here goes – 6

Marry Me (2022): In the field of serial Christmas productions, rating these things feels almost arbitrary – unless they’re a complete disaster. Marry Me isn’t, it’s a perfectly plain story of pop star falling for mere mortal (not so unlike Christmas With You), which sets up a totally absurd premise, then plays it safe for the rest of the movie. I guess this upset me somewhat, because there’s nothing wrong with JLo and Owen Wilson, who make for a likable couple. But on the day, this one felt just too phoned in for me to appreciate – especially as I didn’t love the musical numbers. 5