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Movies W-Z

Year Without a Santa Claus, The (1974) (TV)

(yeah, there'll be more reviews to follow!)

Year Without a Santa Claus, The (1974) (TV)

I'm Mr. Green Christmas, I'm Mr. 101...

I grew up on the Rankin-Bass specials such as The Little Drummer Boy, Rudolph and The Year Without a Santa Claus. When I got to be in the 6th grade or so I thought I was too 'mature'(yeah, right) for them, but I still secretly watched TYWASC just to see the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser do their thing. One night when I was a teenager a bunch of us were sitting around flipping channels and landed on the Snow Miser about to start. You can imagine how it went after that, since we were all trying to act nonchalant and cool:

me:"oh MAN, this dumb special."

teen #1: "You want me to change it?"

teen #2:"I don't care if you don't"

me: "OK, whatever, I guess we'll leave it."

By the time Heat Miser was halfway through his big number we all had big grins on our faces. The next time it was on I taped it and we watched it every year. At some point, the tape broke (probably from overuse), but a few years ago I finally tracked down a copy of the video. Now it's back in print!

The whole special is cool (can't beat that RB stop-motion) but we bought it just to see the Miser brothers do their thing. It's worth the price of admission even though they only have about 10 minutes of screen time. This year we actually were going to give the whole movie a try, but lost patience after about 10 minutes (though kids might enjoy this more) and just cut to the chase and fast-forwarded to the Snow Miser. Usually when we dust off the copy every Christmas, my husband is the one hitting the rewind button after the big finish, "TOO MUCH!"and sheepishly saying " OK, uh, just one more time..."

Warning: you will NOT be able to get the song out of your head. Those are catchy-ass songs! Even better, they sound like something Danny Elfman would write- the Heat Miser song especially could be an early-80's Oingo Boingo song. You will walk around for days with, "They call me Heat Miser, what ever I touch, starts to melt in my clutch..." running through your head. To this day I have yet to meet one person who hasn't seen the special, loved the song, and in fact most of them know all the lyrics. You'll start singing it to yourself at work- "he's Mr. White Christmas he's Mr. Snow"...and without fail you'll hear someone else, "I'm Mr. Icicle, I'm MIS-ter Ten below..."

They are crazy not to repackage the special prominently featuring the Miser bros, because it would fly off the shelves. At least put a little sticker with a picture of Heat Miser on the box or something, people will get the idea.

I'm also glad I'm not the only adult who has thought about who they would cast in a live-action version...we were thinking James Woods (who unfortunately looks more like Snow Miser every year) and--hey, as long as we're dreaming here anyway--Chris Farley.

Anyway, if you watched the special as a kid, and are holding off on purchasing a copy because you think it won't stand the test of time, trust me on this- IT WILL! It's...too much. TOOOO MUCH! (BA-da-da-da).

grade: A-

What's Love Got To Do With It

A movie so nice, I posted the dang review twice.

How could anyone not like this movie? Unless they were Ike Turner, that is. When we walked out of seeing the movie during its first run in the theater, my husband commented dryly, "Well, that movie didn't paint a very flattering portrait of Ike." and we both laughed at the understatement. If you've read the Tina's book, though, you'll know that the movie goes VERY easy on him-while merely a typical abusive bully in the film, Ike treated her much, much worse in real life. I think if they put even half the abuse and torture he put her through in real life, though, the movie would have been too much of a downer-you got the idea. Fishburne does a good job of making Ike so charming when Tina first meets him that you can see why she falls in love with him, until he turns into a monster. Angela Bassett is just fantastic, she has Tina down perfect, though her upper body is so pumped up in some scenes she looks almost masculine. Tina Turner was (hell, still is at 60) toned and buff, but not a female bodybuilder. Her performance is dynamic and heartbreaking, and I can't watch the scene where she finally gets sick of his abuse and starts fighting back. When she finally hits him back in the scene in the limo, I heard the loudest cheers and applause in the audience that I've heard since I saw Thelma and Louise. I've seen the movie dozens of times and her passion in that scene still gets me emotional every time.
But the real reason I watch the movie over and over (especially when I'm trying to get motivated to work out) are the musical numbers. They include among others "A Fool in Love", "Rock me Baby" a great montage to "Make me Over", but the centerpiece of the film has got to be the perfect recreation, right down to the choreography, of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue's "Proud Mary". It is full of so much energy and rocks so much that your jaw will just hang open in amazement when Tina and the Ikettes start going into their dance moves. I never get tired of watching that scene (almost as good as the real thing). I'm still trying to figure out how they kept their wigs on when they were whipping their upper bodies back and forth, they danced so hard. Oh, and the costumes (especially on the Ikettes and the "Proud Mary" fringe dress) and period detail are not only accurate but To Die For. I can't recommend this movie enough. She should have got the Academy Award, not just the Golden Globe, and the movie should have got the Oscar for best picture of 1993.

Grade A+

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