What’s Up for November and December?

We’ve escaped the Other World with Coraline, but now it’s time for the scariest part of Halloween – the unwanted reminder that Christmas is more than 50 days away getting jammed down our throats! I swear it’s like Nightmare Before Christmas except St. Nick’s a new-age capitalist trying to conquer every holiday that dares to come before his lord and savior’s birthday.

That bit of cynicism aside, I do love the holiday season and revisiting the many cinema and television classics that come with it. I made a separate shelf just of the occasion! While I’m pleased I was able to get out as many reviews as I did last December, it took a lot out of me. This year I have to cut it down, but I’m leaving what you want me to review in your hands:

  1. One holiday movie and also one short to go with it.
  2. Specials and shorts only! The top two winners of each category will be reviewed.
  3. Rankin-Bass month! I think you get the gist of this one.

Whatever the consensus, I’m going to need the whole month of November to prepare. So let me know in the comments what you want me to do. Do not vote for specific movies/specials/shorts yet. That part comes on November 1st when I reveal the winning theme for this December. Voting will resume as usual from there.

Thanks, and Happy Decemberween!

October Review: Coraline (2009)

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Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Hold it for three seconds. And as you slowly exhale, say to yourself:

Henry Selick directed Coraline, not Tim Burton.

Henry Selick directed Coraline, not Tim Burton.

HENRY SELICK DIRECTED CORALINE, NOT TIM BURTON.

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“Shelf? You got something you want to get off your chest before the review?”

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“Yes indeedy do, Cynicism.”

I was waiting in line to meet Neil Gaiman at a Barnes and Noble book signing and a group of people behind me kept parroting a certain widespread falsehood to each other that drives me up a wall. Coraline was Henry Selick’s long-anticipated return to form after Monkeybone, and the film was advertised as being from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. HOWEVER, since that film tends to have Tim Burton’s name preceding its title, people often assume that he directed it. Ergo, those folks assumed Tim Burton directed Coraline and proceeded to bombard me with facts they pulled out of fat air to back themselves up. Never mind that a two-second glance at Wikipedia on their phones could have cleared all this up. And never mind that by attributing this stunning fantasy-horror masterpiece that Stephen King and Guillermo Del Toro wish they could have invented to the wrong man further pushes whom I consider the Chuck Jones of stop-motion animation into undeserved obscurity.

I corrected them on their erroneous assumption and pointed out that the genius we were about to meet would most likely agree with me as he himself has been trying to dispel this notion for the past decade. But they stubbornly refused to listen. No, these idiots, with all the bullheaded conviction of a staunch flat-earther, were determined to prove that Tim Burton really helmed Coralne. After all, what would Neil Gaiman, the man who wrote the book Coraline was based on and handpicked Henry Selick himself to direct the movie, know about it anyway? I quickly gave up and tried to focus on not word vomiting once I finally got to shake hands with my all-time favorite writer. In the end, I walked away with a copy of The Art of Neil Gaiman signed with a very encouraging message from the man himself, and no doubt the losers behind me ended up doing the walk of shame after Gaiman the Mighty lay waste to their narrow minds and dealt their egos an irreparable blow.

Anyways, I love Coraline. I love the animation, I love its creativity, I love most of the characters, I love how it doesn’t cop out when it comes to the scary elements, and I love how this was my introduction to Neil Gaiman’s work and to Laika Animation. As someone who is always eager to support new original animated films, I will forever kick myself for not seeing it in its original theatrical 3D because the visuals, well, they pop.

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“In our defense, it was halfway through freshman year of college and we were too busy trying to stay on top of everything. Not to mention something as simple as a trip to the movies could have bankrupted us then.”

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MovieBabble Link: Downton Abbey (The Movie) Review

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Confession time: I love Downton Abbey. I got to go to a preview screening of the long-awaited movie and as a fan of the show, I enjoyed it quite a lot! Click HERE to read my review of it!

And if you want to see the movie but need to catch up on the show, here’s a handy recap of all six series by Carson the Butler and Mrs. Hughes!

Siskel & Ebert Blogathon: The Critic – “Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice”

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Well lookee here, I’m participating in another blogathon! This time it’s 18cinemalane’s Siskel & Ebert At The Blogathon, which honors the iconic film critic duo of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. For my part, I decided to look at something Siskel & Ebert-related that doesn’t get as much attention as their reviews.

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For those of you who are unaware, The Critic was a short-lived but popular animated series by The Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss. It aired on ABC in 1994 before moving to Fox for its second and final season in 1995. It centers on Jay Sherman, the titular film critic (played by Jon Lovitz) and his life, focusing mainly on the colorful cast of friends, family and coworkers, and the many, many bad movies he’s stuck reviewing.

The highest compliment I can give The Critic is that it combines the best of The Simpsons (no big surprise there) and the best of Family Guy; its humor bounces between hilarious parodies of contemporary and classic films, playful dialogue, and zany surreal moments that you can only get away with in animation. Its characters are just as good as the casts from either of the aforementioned shows, and there’s barely a stinker in the entire series’ run. But perhaps the most fondly remembered episode is Season 2’s “Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice”, aka, the one that stars Siskel and Ebert playing themselves.

Siskel and Ebert are not the first recognized film critics to be featured in this series; Rex Reed and Gene Shallit also appeared multiple times. They even have a few lines in this very episode. As a matter of fact, Siskel and Ebert reviewed the first few episodes of The Critic on their show – and gave it a thumbs down. This isn’t a reflection of the series or their judgement, however. The problem is ABC aired the episodes out of order. After the pilot was supposed to come the official second episode “Miserable”, a humorous take on Stephen King’s Misery, but for whatever reason they showed the less interesting “Marty’s First Date” instead. It affected Siskel and Ebert’s view of the show overall despite their high praise for the movie spoof segments. But how does their premiere in the world of prime-time animated television hold up?

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I think we’re in great hands.

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Vote for October’s Movie Review!

Soon, my children, it will be that time of year again. The breeze has that little extra chill, the nights and the shadows we cast grow longer, Mallowmars are briefly, blissfully plentiful, and the nightmares we usually confine to the darkness come out to play.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get spooky.

Well, you get the idea. Here’s what you can vote for this October’s movie review:

You can vote for whatever movie you want me to look at next by leaving it in the comments or emailing me at upontheshelfshow@gmail.com. Remember, unless you’re a Patreon supporter, you can only vote once. Supporters get perks such as extra votes, early access to certain posts and adding movies of their choice to the Shelf. If I can get to $100, I can go back to making weekly tv show reviews. As of now I’m little over halfway there! Special thanks to Amelia Jones, Gordhan Rajani and Sam Minden for their contributions.

September Review: School of Rock (2003)

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There are some beloved movies you watch and think “Why the hell did it take me this long to see this?” I can officially count School of Rock as one of them. I once caught some of it on tv during a babysitting gig that was more long ago than I care to remember, but this was my first time seeing it in full. Like Mean Girls, I’ve heard a lot of the lines before I got around to seeing the movie itself, so it’s interesting to see them in their original context. And of course, it stars Jack Black in the role that made him America’s sweetheart. So let’s get to it!

And no, I have not listened to or seen the musical version yet, so I apologize for not making a lot of comparisons throughout.

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By The Cover: The Wizard of Oz

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To read the first entry of the By The Cover series and see what this is all about, click HERE.

I’ve already discussed at length how much of an impact The Wizard of Oz has made upon the world. Well today I’m doing it again. This time I’m focusing on a big part of what made it such an iconic film – the music. Needless to say a movie that gave us such memorable tunes would ensure decades worth of covers by plenty of voices that are worth revisiting and rediscovering. So, for The Wizard of Oz’s 80th anniversary and as a part of Taking Up Room’s Wizard of Oz Blogathon, we’re taking an audio journey over the rainbow.

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MovieBabble Link: Why The Wicked Witch is the Best Villain of All Time

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It’s been a while since one of these, hasn’t it? In honor of The Wizard of Oz’s 80th anniversary, here’s my look at why The Wicked Witch of the West is one of the greatest villains of all time. It expands a bit on my assessment of her from my original review of The Wizard of Oz. And it’s not the only tribute I have lined up today! Click HERE to read it!

Rest In Peace, Richard Williams

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Richard Williams, one of the last great geniuses of traditional animation, has passed away. It should come as no surprise considering his age, but it does little to diminish this loss.

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What’s Happening in September?

Some of you might remember that earlier this year I held an emergency fundraiser for Notre Dame in the aftermath of its devastating fire. I vowed whoever donated a certain amount would get a movie review of their choice, and it’s high time I came through on that promise.

So Gordhan Rajani, longtime reader and devoted Patron, I have one question for you this September:

ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?!

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Class is in session September 1st, regular movie voting for October will resume September 2nd. And as a reminder, the fourth anniversary review is posted! Now enjoy the rest of your summer vacation! Shelf out!