The Ballad of Shovels & Rope (2014) – I love Shovels & Rope. Their music is great, they bring their dog on tour, and they’re a stinkin’ adorable couple. This is available on Hulu and I urge any fan of the band to watch it, as well as anyone interested in the creative process/recording process of smaller touring acts. The doc was filmed from 2010 through 2013 and follows the band (a duo of multi-talented husband and wife, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent) as they tour the country while working on their stellar album O’ Be Joyful. It offers an interesting look at the early days of their rise to prominence in the Americana/folk music scene and is peppered with several great musical performances.
Brooklyn (2015) – I planned on doing a full review of this since it’s a period film but have had trouble collecting my thoughts on it. I went in expecting to love it. Shame on me for those high expectations, as I think they ruined it a bit for me. Not that I thought it was bad — I liked it, especially the performances of Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen — but on the whole I was underwhelmed. Still, a good film that I think rings true to the immigrant experience in the 20th century and the duality of “home country vs. new home” that is still experienced today.
The Christmas Card (2006) – To be quite honest, this is probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in terms of objective quality. The editing is awful, every scene feels fragmented, and the majority of the performers feel disconnected from the story, which is a very cliche tale of a soldier finding love with a woman who wrote to him while he was overseas. The film’s redemption lies in the casting of a single role: Ed Asner as Luke Spelman, father to Alice Evans’ Faith, the female romantic lead. Asner was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his performance, and he’s delightful to watch. The film as a whole is uplifting and sweet despite its quality issues. I watched it while battling the flu early in the month, so it made for a good time-passer.
Christmas Crush (2012), aka Holiday High School Reunion – Another holiday film watched in the midst of my annual battle with the sniffles. (Like clockwork, I seem to get sick every single year at the beginning of December.) Christmas Crush is the cheesier of my two flu-fueled Netflix viewings, but also the more enjoyable. I kind of have a soft spot for Rachel Boston since she was in one of my favorite early-millennium TV shows, American Dreams. The flick also stars none other than Aaron Samuels himself, Jonathan Bennett. Predictable, silly, and with plenty of continuity errors, this is still a cute little rom-com for anyone who doesn’t mind corny made-for-TV Christmas movies.