Love Actually

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love-actually-sangster

I’m one of the insane who watches Love Actually every year around Christmastime. Richard Curtis’ 10-year-old flick has lost none of its charm on repeat viewings, the laughs all still land and it makes a hell of a double feature with Die Hard. So naturally I think Christopher Orr is dead wrong about it. Up until four days ago, I had no idea there were people that hated the ensemble romantic comedy. In the grand sense that not everything is for everyone, sure, of course there were going to be people that didn’t care for it, but my eyes were opened to just how deep the irritation goes when Orr lambasted it as the least romantic movie of all time. I’m assuming Saw and Ichi the Killer weren’t up for consideration, but even strictly within the genre (and ignoring the trolling headline of the piece), it’s a pretty outrageous claim. It’s backed up by Orr’s typical flourish and intellect, but it’s a rare case where he seems to be wandering around a large amount of trees wondering where the power plant is. As it turns out, Love Actually needs a defense.

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nighy

Bill Nighy is a chameleon. He’s an actor who can go large and then, as we see in his new film, About Time, craft an effortlessly grounded performance when needed. When Nighy discusses the idea of a performance without thinking about “acting,” it makes for an interesting contrast to his work as Davy Jones. The Pirates of the Caribbean villain is a job that consistently reminds you you’re acting with the tech involved. Wearing those dots on your face and that mo-cap suit probably can’t make your job any easier, and yet Nighy still managed to bring gravitas to Jones and that series as a whole. There is no transformation in About Time, which, to some actors, is an even loftier challenge. But it’s a task Nighy seems up for any day of the week, especially if it’s Richard Curtis behind the camera. Speaking with Nighy, his fondness for Curtis rang loud and clear. Not only that, Nighy stressed an important little detail for all the young actors out there. Read on to find out about Nighy’s discovery:

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curtis

Love Actually is one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all the time. That film is only ten years old, but it’s already fair to claim the film is a classic. Initially the web of down-to-earth love stories didn’t receive uniformly stellar reviews or massive box office numbers, but what kind of madman doesn’t watch it when it’s on cable or come Christmas time? That wasn’t a shabby way to kickoff the directorial chapter to an already successful career. By 2003, Curtis had written Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Notting Hill, so he was no romantic comedy rookie when he hit it big behind the camera. Since then, he’s directed two films with The Boat That Rocked and his latest, About Time. The time travel dramedy is about life, love, sorrow, children, and (unsurprising if you follow Curtis’ work) most everyday facets of life. The movie feels like a swan song for Richard Curtis, who is retiring from filmmaking. Speaking with Curtis at the press day for About Time, the writer/director discussed his reasons for retirement. Here’s what he had to say:

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discs see you tomorrow everybody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. See You Tomorrow Everyone (UK) Satoru Watarai (Gaku Hamada) graduates from primary school with only one certainty. He plans on never leaving the “projects” where he lives. The gated community of apartment complexes also features stores, restaurants, recreation areas and more, and Satoru sees no reason to leave. As the years pass by he watches as his friends move away, he loses the love of his life, and he begins to question his physical inability to set foot outside the projects. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura is no stranger to ridiculously good cinema, and anyone who’s seen Fish Story, Golden Slumber, or A Boy & His Samurai knows that he mixes entertainment and emotion in wonderfully rare ways. His latest lacks a fantastical element or song-related hook, and instead focuses on the presumably stunted life of one man affected by a singular traumatic moment. The first half plays like a loosely melancholy comedy before a shift sets in to up the emotional stakes dramatically, and the result is an incredibly affecting look at the intersection of fate and the life we make of our own will. [Region 2 DVD extras: Introduction, interview, trailer]

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Christmas-Vacation-Squirrel

I should have known that the Film School Rejects team would be all about Christmas scenes from horror films. I reached out to the site’s other editors and writers this week to compile some favorite moments from both legitimate holiday movies and other films that just happen to have Christmas scenes in them, and a third wound up being classifiable as being from the horror genre. Three others are from versions of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which is a pretty scary story as well. Then there’s my personal pick, which is a rather cynical and frightening bit (I would have gone with The Thin Man, but I’d be repeating something I wrote years ago for the now-defunct blog Cinematical). Fortunately (depending on your tastes this time of year), we also have some more conventional people among our staff, and you’ll find some Jimmy Stewart and Chevy Chase here as well. Oh, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a shot of William Fichtner‘s buttocks. So, check out 12 of our favorite Christmas scenes after the jump, and tis the season for giving, so let us know the scenes you love in the comments section.

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Countdown to the End: Love Actually

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Love Actually (2003) The Plot: Love Actually marked one of the first multi-plot story line films (that actually worked) which explored the different stages, phases and versions of love set against the magical background of Christmas time in London. From the young love of Sam (Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson) to the forbidden love of David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) to Daniel (Liam Neeson) dealing with heartbreak, Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) unrequited love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) and the blossoming relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), each relationship depicted a different side and aspect of that crazy emotion that seems to drive and link us all. Love Actually showed audiences that in the end, all you need is love (despite the pain, anguish and complications that can come with it) and did so in a way that was sweet, humorous and touching.

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Aural Fixation - Large

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day (which I know came and went two days ago, but I wanted to keep the romance going) I decided to get into the spirit of things by looking not just into romantic movies, but movies that featured romantic moments where music played a big part in the delivery. We all know the moment when the music swells and our two leads finally lean in, run for or jump into that kiss or embrace created to make our hearts swoon. But I’m not talking about those moments. I’m talking about the moments where the music was just as important as anything said or done and it was the music that truly helped bring the romance to the scene (granted most of these moments were usually also paired with two good looking actors making eyes at each other). Grab your leftover chocolate and conversation hearts and join me in watching these love birds sing, dance and profess their love through the magic of music in these movie moments that are as much about the tunes as they are about the love.

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Reel Sex

As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few days away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions as well. Here are my concluding seven romantic scenes to last week’s first half of this list. Bring out the smelling salts; you might need them after all these swoons.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Recently, I found myself looking for a movie to watch that was Christmasy and festive, but not necessarily something so holiday-themed that it had Santa Clauses, reindeer, and Jesuses in it. You know, something about normal people but set around the time of the holidays. While perusing all of the top ten holiday movie lists that I could find around the web, I saw one title keep popping up again and again, Richard Curtis’s Love Actually. I never saw this one when it came out, it just looked like another generic romantic comedy to me, but it turns out a lot of people love to watch it every year around the Christmas season. And further research led me to the fact that a lot of people mention it as one of the few romantic comedies that’s actually good from the last decade as well. Sounded strong enough for me to give it a watch. It turns out I didn’t much care for the film, though, and my need for something Christmasy had been left unsated. Not willing to go out on another limb, I decided to revisit a film that I had already seen before, one that I remembered enjoying much more than I was expecting to back when it was released. This second choice was Thomas Bezucha’s 2005 film The Family Stone, which already seems to be rather forgotten. Luckily for me, time did not prove my idiocy, because upon a second watch I found that I still enjoyed […]

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Oh, the holidays. That time of year when everyone wants to stay indoors, cuddle up on the couch, and lose themselves in the arms of another person. Hot cocoa, pot roast, and an endless supply of movies, what else could a single person want or need? Oh, how about those arms I mentioned earlier? Well, if the movies of Christmas have taught me anything in my long-winded existence, it’s that once the snow starts to fall love could be just around the corner. And thank goodness for that, because spending uninterrupted time with one’s family is always made better when you have a cute guy or gal with you. You might be asking, “Gwen, how am I supposed to find love in just two weeks?” Well, unfortunately I can’t really help you with that specific deadline, however I do think the movies of the season can lend a bit of assistance in the right direction.

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Welcome to the second entry in FSR’s Official Cinematic Holiday Survival Guide – the best series of nostalgic holiday articles on the Internet today that were conceived of by a film writer too sleep-deprived to properly articulate just why that squirrel jumping out of the tree in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the finest moment in Christmas filmology. Which FSR writer? I’ll never tell. But it wasn’t me. That said, today I will reach back into the far, far annals of movie history to provide you dear readers with some of the finest holiday decorating tips you will ever see committed to celluloid (and, well, the Internet). I will not provide specific crafting tips (because, let’s be real here, I could really injure myself with a hot glue gun), but more general tips that will allow you to tap into your personal style to gussy up your home to truly epic proportions. Or, you could just slide down to your neighborhood tree lot and pick up a flocked tree and just be done with it. But, before you get your flock on, let’s take a peek at some cinematic dos and don’ts when it comes to decking your halls.

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cultwarrior-thanksgiving

This week’s Culture Warrior asks why there aren’t more movies about Thanksgiving. Christmas always seems to hog all the good ones.

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mwl-whenharrymetsally

I’m not ashamed to say that I love a good romantic comedy. Unfortunately, for every good one, there are about a hundred terrible ones. For this week’s Movies We Love, we take some time to appreciate one of the very best: When Harry Met Sally.

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