Arthur Christmas

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Your Sister’s Sister Jack (Mark Duplass) is still suffering bouts of depression a year after the death of his brother, so when his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who happens to be his brother’s ex, offers up her family’s cabin for a few days of rest he jumps at the chance. Unbeknownst to both of them Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) has also holed up in the cabin after a rough breakup with her girlfriend. Hilarity and romantic complications ensue. Writer/director Lynn Shelton has moved beyond the confines of her early mumblecore career and delivered a film filled with humor, honesty and a compelling romantic triangle. The three leads are at the top of their game and form a trio I would happily marry. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Trailer, commentaries]

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The Reject Report

And you all slept through it, didn’t you? It’s okay. I mean, it’s not THAT big of a surprise, really. We knew the latest Twilight outing would be strong competition for anyone, even those lovable Muppets.What surprised me was how much The Muppets dropped here in only its second weekend out. While other family fare were coming in with drops under 40%, The Muppets ended up being the biggest drop of all the top 10 films and only pulled another $11m domestically. Evidently most parents wanting to relive their childhood and bring their kids along with them already hit the film up last weekend while stuffed with Thanksgiving dinner. Not many of them came back for a second helping.

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The Reject Report

It’s a rare weekend we’re looking at here. Coming off the big Thanksgiving weekend, we have no new movies opening in wide release. The only new films coming out are in limited, and only one of those is really worth mentioning. So let’s do that right now, shall we? There’s been a lot said about Shame, mostly about what Michael Fassbender brings to the table. Director Steve McQueen required the film to remain…um…uncut from potential buyers, and, thankfully, that’s how the film remains. Of course, that means it’s not getting much of a release here, only nine screen across the nation, but that’s to be expected for this type of Oscar hopeful, art-house flick. Our very own Kate Erbland called Shame “beautiful” and “deeply personal”, and that’s pretty much what most critics are saying about it. Expect a lot of critical acclaim and Oscar nominations for Shame when that time comes. Right now, however, the film won’t be making much of a splash at the box office.

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The Reject Report

Out of all the family movies that were marketed towards reuniting families across America this weekend, and it’s the Twilight movie that came out on top once again. I can’t say I’m shocked, though. Only in its second weekend, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 dropped 69.8% from three-day weekend to three-day weekend. But its take last weekend was so huge that hardly any film could compete with it, even with such a massive drop. That level of drop wasn’t a shocker, either, seeing as how New Moon dropped 70% upon its release in November of 2009. As it stands, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is still in third place among overall domestic gross for the Twilight franchise, ahead of the first film and about $80m away from either New Moon or Eclipse. With a reported budget of $110 – nearly double the cost of Eclipse, the second most expensive film in the series – you would think Summit Entertainment is thankful that the series is headed towards its end. Still, you have to look at worldwide box office, and Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is running smoothly with $488.8m overall. It’s still a solid investment, and Breaking Dawn – Part 2 will only be putting more and more dollars in Summit’s coffers. The Muppets had fine footing over the weekend, too, even better when you factor in their 5-day total. It’s not quite the $65.2m The Muppet Movie pulled in total domestic in 1979. Of course, with inflation adjustment, The Muppet […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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Most Christmas films are too often saddled with the same basic plotlines and tropes – “new” takes on A Christmas Carol or a focus on dysfunctional families gathering for the holiday or something about locating the perfect present – but few of those spins on the genre can match the magic of the good ol’ “but just how does Santa do it?” plot. How does Santa Claus make it around the world in just one night to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls, with only a sled and eight reindeer to aid in his journey? Well, according to Sarah Smith’s Arthur Christmas, he doesn’t. At least not anymore. In Arthur Christmas, Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham (who, strangely enough, also scripted this year’s Arthur remake) imagine a traditional Santa-Claus-at-the-North-Pole concept, but one that’s been turned on its head by the influx and influence of new technology. Santa and Mrs. Santa’s (Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, giving the film some real British brio) eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), has revitalized the way that Christmas is done at the North Pole, while youngest Arthur (James McAvoy) is still pleased as Christmas punch to keep doing things in the old style. Steve has outfitted each elf with a HOHO (an elf smart phone named after an acronym too fun to spoil here), while Arthur spends his days as a Mail Agent who is most happy to write back (with pen and paper and everything!) to each boy and girl […]

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Whereas Pixar has dominated the category in recent years, the sense that Cars 2 isn’t a shoe-in for awards season is offering a spotlight to a wider field. In fact, it’s also a wider field that will beget more nominees – if there are 16 eligible in the given year, 5 nominees will make the short list. If the numbers stay steady, this would mark the third time since the Best Animated Feature‘s inception in 2001 that there are more than 3 films up for the big prize. According to The Wrap, the list of films that have been submitted for consideration include: The Adventures of Tintin, Alois Nebel, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Gnomeo & Juliet, Happy Feet Two, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Kung Fu Panda 2, Mars Needs Moms, Puss in Boots, Rango, Rio, The Smurfs, Winnie the Pooh, and Wrinkles. Just because they’ve been submitted doesn’t meant they’re all eligible. Several haven’t done qualifying runs in Los Angeles theaters, and many are questionable because of their use of motion capture or live-action blend. In the mo-cap cases of Tintin, Happy Feet Two and Mars Needs Moms, filmmakers have been asked to discuss their methods and intentions with the process in order to prove eligible. The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks are also animation/live-action hybrids, so their fate is unclear at this time. Without them, and without, say, the Czech Republic’s rotoscoped Alois Nebel, the […]

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Christmas has come and gone, but a late present (like the melted chocolate Santa in the toe of your stocking) has been delivered a year early. Arthur Christmas doesn’t come out until November 2011, but he’s here with an elven friend of his to turn your attention away from Santa’s giant flying UFO that’s hovering above your head. The film is a partnership between Aardman and Sony, and it boasts a fantastic vocal cast. James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, and Ashley Jensen. One thing is for sure: Santa is British. The question is how he manages to get all those presents to all those kids. Enter that giant spacecraft, a million-strong elf slave army, and some funny physics, and this film seeks to provide at least one explanation. See the trailer for yourself after the jump:

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