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Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria Movie (2014)
Director: Olivier Assayas
Cast : Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz

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Synopsis; At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she is being asked to step into the other role, that of the older Helena. She departs with her assistant to rehearse in Sils Maria; a remote region of the Alps. A young Hollywood starlet with a penchant for scandal is to take on the role of Sigrid, and maria finds herself on the other side of the mirror, face to face with an ambiguously charming woman who is, in essence, an unsettling reflection of herself.

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Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: This was an amazing movie, to a large extent because of its lead actors. I expected Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart to make a great team, and they did; there was never a moment when I thought one of them was out-acting the other, or drawing attention from the other. They worked in perfect tandem as far as I could see.

Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: The first thing that needs to be mentioned is the technique of telling the story in “layers.” Many, if not all, scenes are on multiple levels, filled with subtext, and it all mixes effortlessly with the central story.

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Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: Binoche plays famous and respected actress Maria Enders, while Kristen plays her devoted personal assistant, Valentine. Enders is preparing to play an important role: the character of Helena, an older woman in a remake of the play in which she once starred brilliantly as the more powerful younger character, Sigrid. Valentine is helping her rehearse, and they both travel to the picturesque mountain town of Sils Maria to work on the play. That’s the main “layer” and it makes a perfectly good story on its own. But in this movie, any piece of dialogue can, at the same time, refer to the characters in Enders’ play; to Enders and Valentine themselves; to Binoche and Stewart; or to other actors, movies, directors, or events which are not directly mentioned in the film. Yes, even the real life actors are referenced; Olivier Assayas confirmed in an interview that in this movie, the identity of the actual actors is part of the story. It sounds as if it should be weird and confusing, but it’s not; it’s done very smoothly, with the main story easy to follow even while taking in the other layers of reference as if they were background music.

Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: The basic story, which is beautifully told, is about a woman struggling to deal with ageing in a profession that doesn’t always respect older women, that may consider them irrelevant. Maria Enders is also trying to be true to her art while making the necessary concessions to fame, the media, the fans, fellow actors, and critics, concessions she resents to some extent. It would be a fine story all by itself. But the added layers provide a sort of ongoing commentary on the story, that makes it much more interesting, and a little strange. Seeing obvious parallels with the lead actors’ real lives is odd, but like the parallels between Maria Enders and the character she is preparing to play, it only adds depth to the story and gives us more insight into what is happening.

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Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: Maria’s struggle is made worse when she meets the young, brash, gossip-ridden Hollywood actress, Joanne Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is to take on the role of Sigrid. Joanne is smart, fearless, and media-savvy. At their first meeting she flatters Maria and claims to be an admirer, but may simply be feigning respect. Maria is easy to sympathize with when she looks into Joanne’s background and sees that the rising star displacing her is a crude, grandstanding girl who manipulates the system to her advantage, and who acts in ridiculous sci-fi drivel.

Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: Gradually, the difficult relationship between the characters in Enders’ play becomes blurred and overlapped with Enders’ relationship with Valentine, each relationship providing commentary on the other. It is interesting to watch Binoche simultaneously rehearsing a scene in which her character, Helena, has a confrontation with Sigrid, and in subtext confronting Valentine. It gradually becomes unclear whether she is Helena addressing Sigrid, or Maria addressing Valentine, because it becomes both at once.

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Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: Maria’s conflicts over becoming obsolete in the field where she’s excelled, and by extension possibly in her life, causes ongoing friction with Valentine, who tries to help her and encourage her to change her perspective. Finally, in a brief surreal moment, Maria, it is implied, manages to take on Valentine’s perspective and her confidence. As Valentine tries to express at one point, Helena and Sigrid are really the same character; by extension, so are Maria and the young, pragmatic, fearless Valentine. Ultimately these opposites are reconciled, the conflicting layers are brought together, and Maria is able to accept her new reality and move on. It’s not necessarily a happy ending, in terms of Maria’s diminishing professional range, but it is a satisfying one.

Watch Clouds of Sils Maria Full Movie: This is an enjoyable, well written and well acted, serious and yet consistently entertaining movie from beginning to end.

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Bad Santa

Bad Santa (2012)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Cast : Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham

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Synopsis; Willie T. Stokes is a convicted con man who’s led a miserable life. He drinks heavily and constantly embarrasses himself publicly. He only works once a year dressed as Santa. But then come Christmas Eve, he and his pint-sized helper dwarf Marcus stage elaborate robberies and take their department stores for everything they got. This year, they hit a mall in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. This time around, Willie gets distracted by having sex with large women, a bartender who is attracted to Santas, and a kid who’s convinced he’s the real deal. However, this time around Marcus must once again put up with Willie’s heavy drinking and a series of incidents that constantly shoot themselves in the foot. Not to mention a nosy department store security guard who’s onto them and wants his cut of the loot. Will Willie and Marcus make it to next Christmas? Or will this be the year the dynamic duo finally face justice?

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Watch Bad Santa Full Movie: Typically, around Christmas you will find yourself watching a generic, feel-good, moralistic “Christmas movie”, Bad Santa is the “reversed” version of the Christmas genre. For those of you who are fed-up with clichéd Christmas films, Bad Santa is the perfect film for you, as it is an entirely altered perception of a now-consumerist holiday. No, Bad Santa is not It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and nor is it Home Alone, yet it still incorporates features from all of those films and that is what makes it such a special take on the Winter holiday.

Watch Bad Santa Full Movie: Willie (played by Billy Bob Thornton) is a perverted, alcoholic, part-time conman, who during the Christmas season indolently works in shopping malls with his fellow criminal in disguise, Marcus (Tony Cox). Willie dresses as Santa, while Marcus (the more professional of the pair) acts the elf, due to his height. Throughout the tedious Christmas period, the pair use their job at the mall to exploit the opportunity to rob the store overnight. While working at a mall in Arizona, Willie meets a child who teaches him the meaning of Christmas, whilst falling in love with an attractive waitress and having law-enforcement hot on his trail.

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Watch Bad Santa Full Movie: When a film starts off with a guy in a Santa outfit, sitting at a bar, drinking his life away you know you are not watching your average tale of “good tidings”. From the crude opening narration, to the wonderfully inflated finale, Bad Santa is a taste of comedic genius. Billy Bob Thornton performs as a crude, dishonest cynic who hates everyone and everything. Bringing comedic energy and offensive characteristics to his character he impeccably balances the grumpy scrooge of Christmas with heart. I honestly believe that Billy Bob Thornton’s performance in Bad Santa was worthy of an Oscar nomination.

Watch Bad Santa Full Movie: It is not a case of whether you are a lover of Christmas or not –although, it would come as an advantage when viewing the film- as Bad Santa is continually entertaining and at times, even charming. Through its witty script, fuelled by grumpy, drunken humour it is almost impossible not to become entranced by the inconsiderate lines of raucous profanity. Director, Terry Zwigoff proves his quirky talent once again, after the success of 2000’s Ghost World. Bad Santa is comedic bliss and a highly recommended comedy for fans of something a little more extreme than the average, feel-good Hollywood extravaganza.

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Four Christmases

Four Christmases (2008)
Director: Seth Gordon
Cast : Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Mary Steenburgen

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Synopsis; Brad and Kate have been together three years, in love, having fun, doing all sorts of things together with no intention of marriage or children. Christmas morning, they’re on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they’re off to do charity work. Through a fluke, they have no choice but to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents. As the day progresses, Brad and Kate remember growing up, each learns more about the other, and Kate realizes that her life may not be as good as it could be. Do they know each other well enough to weather the storms families bring?

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Watch Four Christmases Full Movie: Ah the Christmas movie, is there anything more fitting and resembling of its subject matter when it comes to big screen adaptations? Much like the holiday season itself however, one can’t assume absolute objectivity; Christmas is undoubtedly a holiday that is about family, joy and celebration and yet there are hordes of people who anticipate the ringing on sleigh bells with about as much excitement as a turkey waiting to be put into an oven. Four Christmases surprisingly accommodates this somewhat polarising aspect of the holiday during its initial stages, but then promptly spirals into cliché storytelling for the sake of proving a warm and fuzzy ending to melt the bitter snow in our hearts. What’s most surprising however is that the movie’s sugary latter half actually works a whole lot better than its former, as director Seth Gordon never quite hits the ball on his intended edgy comedy routines. In the end what you end up with is something akin to a dangerously half-cooked turkey dinner that has its moments and yet fails to satisfy because of the amount of picking you have to do. It’s standard Christmas-time affair that will be sure to mildly please those who are into such a thing, but for the rest of us, it’s just another thing on the list to avoid.

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Watch Four Christmases Full Movie: The name of the game this time around is, yes, you guessed it; family. Well, that, and dysfunction (of course). Four Christmases, a movie about finding out about the real joys of life –which resolve to be not exotic holidays or gifts, but real, honest companionship- never goes anywhere new with what it has to say; if you’ve seen any number of cookie-cutter Christmas movies, you’ve pretty much seen this. To its advantage and at times disadvantage, the script penned by a whole array of writers I’m not even going to bother listing does broaden its horizons with comedy that stays true to the sub genre’s a-typical formula but branches off with a little more risqué material. As to whether or not the risks reap any rewards is something of a mixed bag; there are moments when Four Christmases is genuinely funny, and the performances do well to get this across, but with far too many misses and an overwhelming lack of such instances, the movie certainly isn’t going to have you out of your seat. That of course doesn’t mean that there isn’t fun to be had here, because there is; this is a feature that is bound to lightly amuse more than cause a ruckus of laughter, and for that there is a certain amount of praise warranted.

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Watch Four Christmases Full Movie: Where Four Christmases slips up quite often though lies in the tepid romance that is supposed to be getting some analytical treatment here. The story of Brad and Kate is not a new one; madly in love for three years, the two have been sharing a life of luxury together for a long time now, and yet never really got to know each other in the process. The movie opens with a rather striking sequence that even shows the two role-playing in public as cooked up personas, which is interesting considering how little time they have spent getting to know each other. Of course, this is an interesting premise, but little is done to capitalise on it script wise. When it comes to the performances of Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, the dynamism and chemistry is just as rigid and dead; there is no believable spark present and no genuine moments of heart-warming romance. In fact, the most believable moments that occur between Vaughn and Witherspoon is when they are at odds with each other; again this plays into the movie’s much more engaging comedic edge, but does little to pad out the silliness. On their own, the two thespians provide great performances respectively, but brought together there’s an imbalance that never quite allows either of them to connect.

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Watch Four Christmases Full Movie: If there’s one thing that the movie does get right however, it’s conveying the frantic chaos inherent to the holiday, especially when it comes to family celebrations and get-togethers. Of course it’s standard fare that has been done countless other times in far greater features, but in amongst the many problems that Four Christmases suffers from, such moments of awkward and often slapstick family confrontations fulfil their purpose of tickling the audience far greater than any of the other lacking elements. For a Christmas movie, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either; throwing in sporadic comedy and fun with lukewarm romance and lazy plotting, Four Christmases isn’t anything new for holiday movie lovers to soak up, but it certainly isn’t anything to loose any sleep over either. Instead it simply exists as a throw away for a couple of hours of silly entertainment to lighten the spirits; it may not do its job coherently, but it does so enough to satisfy those that target such affairs.

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Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner (2014)
Director: Mike Leigh
Cast : Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson

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Synopsis; Mr. Turner explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: Mike Leigh is perhaps best-known for his serio-comic social-realist dramas about contemporary British life, films like “Abigail’s Party” and “Life Is Sweet”, but he also seems to be developing a sideline in biographies of nineteenth-century cultural figures. First there was “Topsy-Turvy” about Gilbert and Sullivan, and now we have “Mr. Turner” about the life and career of the artist J. M. W. Turner. Or rather about the latter part of his life and career; when we first meet him he is already middle-aged.

Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: Leigh has described Turner as “a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter,” and this is undoubtedly true; Turner’s work, especially his later work, seems to prefigure Impressionism, perhaps at times even abstract Modernism. We must not, however, allow our appreciation of the progressive side of Turner’s work to degenerate into that lazy cliché about the great artist starving in a garret, scorned or neglected by his contemporaries but later discovered by a grateful posterity. (Very few great artists, except perhaps Van Gogh, have ever conformed to this stereotype). He was greatly admired by his contemporaries, was praised in the highest terms by many critics, especially Ruskin, became a full Royal Academician while still in his twenties, never lacked for patrons and died a wealthy man. By contrast his great contemporary and rival, John Constable, whose art seems much less radical to our eyes, had a much harder struggle to establish himself.

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: Leigh’s purpose in making the film was to “examine the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world.” This tension is something very obvious in the film. Turner, especially in later life, was noted for his eccentricity. Unlike many working-class Georgians and Victorians who rose in the world, he never attempted to hide his humble origins. He was untidy, had no social graces and could be rude and tactless. He never married but had a number of mistresses. He was estranged from the first of these, Sarah Danby, and refused to acknowledge his two illegitimate daughters by her. (Sarah appears in the film as do two other mistresses, Hannah Danby Sarah’s niece and Turner’s housekeeper and Sophia Booth, a seaside landlady).

Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: And yet this uncouth, boorish-seeming man was an artist not only of genius but also of a deep spirituality. His obsession with accurately recording light and atmospheric conditions- he once had himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he could paint a snowstorm- was born not only of a concern with fidelity to nature but also of a belief that light was a visible manifestation of the Divine. (His last words are said to have been “The sun is God”).

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: How, then, could any actor hope to play so contradictory an individual? The answer to this question comes from Timothy Spall, one of Leigh’s favourite actors. Spall is someone I have normally thought of as a “character actor”, but here he gets the chance to prove himself as a leading man and makes the most of it. His Turner is a grumpy old man, and in his dealings with women something of a dirty old man as well, forever grunting and spitting and forever speaking in a sort of Cockney whine, and yet we are never allowed to forget that underneath his unpromising exterior he is a sublime artist. This is probably the finest performance I have seen Spall give; it won him “Best Actor” at the Cannes Film Festival and I hope that the Academy will bear him in mind when it comes to next year’s Oscars. There is insufficient space to single out all the deserving supporting performances, although I should mention Martin Savage as Turner’s friend and fellow-painter Benjamin Haydon, forever trying to borrow money off him, Paul Jesson as Turner’s father, to whom he was very close, and Joshua McGuire in a comic turn as an effeminate, lisping Ruskin, very different to the way Greg Wise portrayed him in the recent “Effie Gray”.

Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: The other outstanding feature of the film is its visual beauty. Leigh and his cinematographer Dick Pope were clearly aiming to make it one of those films where every shot looks like a painting in its own right, and certainly succeed in this ambition. Some cinematic biographies of great artists, such as “Girl with a Pearl Earring” about Vermeer, do succeed in capturing the distinctive “look” of their subject, but I think that Leigh and Pope were not actually aiming to make every shot look like a Turner; their palette of colours, for example, is rather too muted for that. Possibly they felt that the peculiar luminosity of Turner’s work would be too difficult to reproduce on film. There are, however, some memorable shots, such as the opening scene by the river in Holland, complete with windmill, and the one where Turner watches “the fighting Temeraire” being towed up the Thames, thereby getting the inspiration for one of his best-known works.

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: I am not sure if “Mr Turner” quite justifies the label “masterpiece” which some have tried to pin on it; it can at times be too slow-moving for that. Spall’s wonderful acting, however, and Pope’s striking cinematography make it a film that stands out from the crowd. 8/10

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How the Grinch Stole  Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Director: Ron Howard
Cast : Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Kelley

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Synopsis; Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Whos, an almost mutated sort of munchkinlike people. All the Whos love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch. The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who, decides to try befriend the Grinch.

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Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas Full Movie: Someone once asked Dr. Seuss if they could secure the movie rights to his 1957 Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He turned them down, insisting that no one could do better than the marvelous Chuck Jones TV special from 1966 (also in mind, perhaps, was his bitter experience writing the script to 1953’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T). When the good Dr. died in 1991, his widow, Audrey Geisel, still obstinately refused to sell the movie rights. But with the commonplace use of CGI effects becoming a reality, Mrs. Geisel had a change of heart. Universal made her a generous offer she accepted; she also accepted the casting of Jim Carrey as the title character. Supposedly she was satisfied with the final result. Well, Mrs. Geisel, that makes one of us.

Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas Full Movie: The film was given a $123,000,000 budget (which is more than even Heaven’s Gate cost, including the adjustment for inflation), which obviously went towards the very elaborate makeup, set design, and special effects (which are undermined somewhat by the rather hazy cinematography). Unfortunately, it seems that none of that money was set aside to get a better script than what Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (scribes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which made much better use of a high budget) turned in. Whereas the TV special was a trim 26 minutes without commercials, this film tries to fill a running time of 105 minutes with more background information about the Grinch. It turns out that, as a child, he was the subject of ridicule, including an especially humiliating experience one Christmas at the age of eight.

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Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas Full Movie: So it turns out that everything that ails our poor Mr. Grinch is directly because of the Whos. Trouble is, it seems like a rather long 105 minutes, with too much dead wood clogging up the story. That might not seem so bad if only the Grinch were a little more…well, Grinchy. The character that Dr. Seuss wrote and Chuck Jones later animated was a sly fox whose slick attempts to hijack the holiday season were undermined by his sudden change (and exponential growth) of heart. Carrey’s Grinch is a loud, hyperactive oaf and, at times, a thug who, when made the holiday `Cheermeister,’ trashes the Whoville town square in anger (hopefully the scenery tasted as good as it looked). This undermines the script’s attempt to make the Grinch more sympathetic, with all the Whos down in Whoville so unsympathetic (at least in this interpretation).

Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas Full Movie: The Whoville of Dr. Seuss’s vision was a small town populated by honest folk who knew in their hearts the true meaning of Christmas. The Whoville of the movie is a rather noisy and crowded place populated by spoiled, selfish, materialistic ninnies; an obvious attempt to comment on American consumerism. This is offensively hypocritical inasmuch as the film industry has benefitted greatly from American consumerism, and as this film contributed to it with a huge merchandising campaign.

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Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas Full Movie: The film also expands and redefines the character of Cindy Lou Who, a small but crucial character in the original. The innocent two-year-old waif who walked in on this spurious Santa is now older and wiser, constantly questioning the false values of the Whos and trying to understand the Grinch’s point of view (her one major scene from the original is re-enacted, making it seem out of character). She seems to be the only one who would ever know that Christmas is more than just gifts and decorations, thus making her a completely different, and more annoying, character.

Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas Full Movie: Those who celebrate Christmas should sooner accept a lump of coal in their stockings on the morning of December 25 than a copy of this overlong, overacted, excruciatingly tedious, ham-handed, crude attempt to turn the children’s classic into a feature film. It proves once and for all that darkness, vulgarity, manipulation, and heavy-handedness are inadequate substitutes for charm, wit, sincerity, and heart. The folks at Universal should get down on their collective knees and thank God that this truly bilious $123 million stink bomb grossed $260 million domestically or they’d not be here today. Furthermore it made Mike Myers’ The Cat in the Hat possible!

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Harry Potter (2) and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast : Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

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Synopsis; Forced to spend his summer holidays with his muggle relations, Harry Potter gets a real shock when he gets a surprise visitor: Dobby the house-elf, who warns Harry Potter against returning to Hogwarts, for terrible things are going to happen. Harry decides to ignore Dobby’s warning and continues with his pre-arranged schedule. But at Hogwarts, strange and terrible things are indeed happening: Harry is suddenly hearing mysterious voices from inside the walls, muggle-born students are being attacked, and a message scrawled on the wall in blood puts everyone on his/her guard – “The Chamber Of Secrets Has Been Opened. Enemies Of The Heir, Beware” .

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Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: A lot has been made about the pubescence of the three leads in this new Harry Potter installment and it is a bit disconcerting when Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) speak their first lines in those awkward cracks of pre-adolescence. However, their growing up, along with the physical blossoming of their friend Hermione (the perky and smart actress Emma Watson) seem mark a general growing up of the whole Harry Potter series. This one is more for grown-ups: the first one hooked the kid demographic and no doubt they will still be enraptured by “Chamber of Secrets.” This is the film, however, that hopes to attract a whole new audience in the parents of those kids. It is darker and has more layers. The explanations about wizardry are less cursory and the acting seems stronger.

Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: I have never read the books so I bring an outlook to the films that is free of personal bias toward the quality of the adaptation or the faithfulness to Rowling’s words. One thing this film does do, that the first one did not, is it made me want to read the books. I was more drawn in, in a literary sense, to the world, to the stories, and particularly to the characters. Whereas the first film was a passable introduction to everything Harry Potter is about, this seems like a deeper riff on some of the same themes that the first one only glossed over.

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Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: However, I might not have enjoyed Chamber of Secrets as thoroughly if I had not first seen Sorcerer’s Stone. It gave me (and Chris Columbus’ production team) a framework that invited expansion. Without the background of the first film, I might not have been as emotionally invested in Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), or have understood the mechanics of “Quidditch,” or even have cared about the tenuous future of Hogwarts School for Wizards.

Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: In a word, the performances are “marvelous.” I read somewhere that Rowling wrote with a Dickensian sense of character and that seems to carry over to the film. Robbie Coltrane as the affable Hagrid is still my favorite. Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman are woefully underused in this film but I can only hope they will resurface in the others; they can still steal their scenes with the tiniest pursing of the lips or eye flickers. (As a side note: Outside of Coltrane’s Hagrid, I find Rickman’s Professor Snape the most interesting and multi-layered character across both films). Richard Harris is suitably noble and wily in one of his last roles. And Kenneth Branagh, as the egomaniacal new Hogwarts professor and author of wizardry books, is perfectly cast and very funny. One thing this film does is allow room to explore these characters in a full sense and give the audience time to get under their skin.

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Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: Chris Columbus has been called a tactless director and I can see where some of his scenes, particularly the action ones, are played so broadly that they lose all semblance of meaning. He is not particularly adept at handling the young actors, who come across as pretty bland and uninteresting (Rupert Grint as Ron is sort of annoying, overplaying the stuff that was likeable at first). Likewise, he is unable to invigorate some of the scenes (the car scenes, the spider scene, and even the final encounter between Harry and the Chamber of Secrets’ monster) come off as overlong and particularly flat. The running time of 2 hours and 41 minutes is a bit exorbitant: To me it just suggests that Columbus doesn’t have the necessary audacity to deviate too much from Rowling’s source material. I know that he has to maintain a certain level of faithfulness to the books but, to be honest, what is exciting on the page does not always translate well onscreen. Perhaps Alfonso Cuaron, slated to direct the new film, will have a better, snappier sense of how to energize the action scenes without losing the obvious positives of sticking to the novels.

Watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Full Movie: However, the movie did energize me enough to want to go and read the books. The scope, the palette of, yes, Dickensian characters, and the intertwining of stories makes me want to see how Rowling fits it all together. Then maybe I’ll be able to talk more intelligently about faithfulness when Cuaron releases `Prisoner of Azkaban.’ Maybe I’ll undergo a massive reading program this holiday season.

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Elf 2

Elf (2003)
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast : Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart

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Synopsis; Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa’s naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter’s relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities.

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Watch Elf Full Movie: Elf has the premise and the look of a badly made Christmas special made solely for network TV. Going into this with mediocre expectations, it only took about ten minutes of seeing Will Ferrell in an elf costume to know that my predictions were dreadfully wrong. This wasn’t a case of holiday dreck, but a case of the Christmas film that combined heart, soul, wit, and laughs into a beautiful holiday parable.

Watch Elf Full Movie: The story is about Buddy the Elf (Ferrell) who accidentally crawled into Santa’s sack at the orphanage when he was an infant and gets taken back to the North Pole. Santa Claus and the elves choose to raise him and train him to become an elf. Buddy is of course a human so he grows a lot faster than the average elf. In fact, he towers over every other elf he works with, and this leads to problems when he is older.

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Watch Elf Full Movie: Buddy then learns he is a human, which causes confusion and sadness. It is told that he was placed in that orphanage as an infant because his father fell in love with a woman who gave birth to him then gave him up unbeknownst to him. Buddy then decides he will go to New York City to try and find his dad and reconnect with him.

Watch Elf Full Movie: His goal is to also spread Christmas cheer far and wide because Santa’s sleigh is almost forced to operate with an engine. In the olden days, Santa’s sleigh could fly because of mass amounts of Christmas spirit and children believing in Santa Claus. Now, he has to resort to heavy machinery to do that job.

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Watch Elf Full Movie: Will Ferrell hasn’t sat right with me for the longest time, but as I see more of his movies I begin to like the guy in a sense where I’d like to see him do one of two movies; (a) heartfelt children’s’ films or (2) very serious dramas in the vein of his 2011 film Everything Must Go. He doesn’t have the talents to pull off incredibly funny slapstick because his schtick is usually composed of running around like a towering dork or just screaming. Elf shows his ability to incorporate his persona in a character you can’t help but love.

Watch Elf Full Movie: We also see Zooey Deschannel, one of my favorite females in the business today, as Jovie, a woman who works at a mall as Santa’s little helpers. Buddy falls for Jovie in a sort of non-conventional way, but he winds up getting conventional help from his younger brother Michael (Tay).

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Watch Elf Full Movie: Elf is more than holiday fluff, it’s a successful romp of Christmas spirit sealed inside a good family film. The cast is lively, the antics aren’t over the top, and the storyline unique and film sustainable. This also shows immensely that director Jon Favreau can be handed a script for a thriller, a comedy, a romantic comedy, a superhero film, or a drama and still be able to create on screen magic. I’m also sure this beats a movie about elves working in a tree during the dry season.

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Watch Elf Full Movie