Movie Review: A Christmas Story (1983)


TitleA Christmas Story
Release Date: November 18, 1983
Director: Bob Clark
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Summary/Review:

I watched A Christmas Story for the first time not long after it was released in my 5th grade classroom (those days before Christmas when the teachers just put on a video to watch as a special treat because the kids are too pepped up to learn anything).  I’ve seen it many times since, and even read Jean Sheppard’s In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash while I was in high school. But I haven’t watched in a long time, at least 15 years, maybe more!.

Well, it holds up well.  The key to this movie is that it’s honest about childhood – from the genuine terror of visiting Santa, to flipping out and striking back at a bully, to the lengths a kid goes to get the gift their heart desires.  It’s also honest about the parents as we see both the usually strict mother and father having their moments of softening up for Ralphie. Honestly, these days I find myself relating to The Old Man, especially on Christmas morning, when he just wanted to sleep.  Some things I’ve never noticed in the movie before: The Old Man skipping with The Wizard of Oz characters in the Higbees store, the freighters in the background when they’re changing the flat tire. and that Darren McGavin was 60-years-old when this was made (so he was a really Old Man).

Rating: ****1/2

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl


TitlePirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Release Date: July 9, 2003
Director: Gore Verbinski
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Summary/Review:

The first – and only other – time I watched this movies was when it was first released in the theaters.  Expectations were low for a movie based on a theme park attraction and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, of all people.  But early reviews were good, so some friends and I went to see it and it was … fun!  Johnny Depp’s quirky take on Keith Richards as a pirate is of course the most memorable thing about this movie.  But on rewatching, it’s clear the other actors are doing a good job too.  Keira Knightley portrays Elizabeth Swann as a natural leader and Orlando Bloom realizes that playing the straight man doesn’t mean being dull.  I also notice that the many action set pieces are not only entertaining but they all also advanced the plot or character development.  So this movie does everything that a big budget cash-in on a theme park ride produced by Jerry Bruckheimer shouldn’t and remains a classic.

Rating: ****1/2

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Albums


It’s the time of the year to list my favorite albums!  What follows are my ten favorite albums listed in alphabetical order by the artists.  Links in the album title go to my full review of the album.

Check out my lists of favorite albums from 20142016, and 2017 as well.


Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa by Jeremy Dutcher

Sugar & Spice by Hatchie

Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo

Acrylic by Leikeli47

Roza Cruz by La Mecánica Popular 

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

Orquesta Akokán by Orquesta Akokán

Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts

Cocoa Sugar by Young Fathers