"The Holiday" and "I, Tonya" are this week's picks.
Hello, folks, it is wintertime again — can you believe it? I was actually forced to wear a jacket today, how uncouth.
This week, I'm using my 'Nog Blog intro space not to start an off-the-wall discussion but to promote my own work. Over the past few weeks, my colleague Brynn Mechem and I have been working on a video to go along with my Health Matters column. It is designed to help you discover ways of exercising while doing your various holiday activities. It is incredibly silly, and I think you might like it if you like this column. Either way, please watch it (all the way through). I am forced to sing "The Hanukkah Song" while jogging in place, if that does anything for you. It sucks, and it is good, and it would mean a lot to me if you checked it out.
OK, on to the good stuff.
“The Holiday” (2006)
Freeform, rated PG-13, 136 minutes
All right, I’m going to be honest: I haven’t seen this movie in like a decade. I was in middle school. I watched it after school one day because I thought Cameron Diaz was pretty. I committed to writing about it now because I thought, “‘The Holiday’! Yes, I have seen that movie. I definitely remember things about it. Pretty funny movie!”
It turns out I do not remember much about this movie. I remembered the cast, minus Kate Winslet. That’s basically it. I did not even remember the life-swapping plot, which, according to the movie’s Letterboxd description, is basically the whole point of the movie. This, however, is fine. In the past, in an act of desperation, I once wrote a Binge Blog blurb about a film I had never seen, not even clips from it. (If you go back and can guess which one: Kudos.) It wasn’t a lie — I never claimed to have seen it — but it didn’t feel great. If I could do that convincingly, I can surely write about “The Holiday,” a movie that I still see referenced on social media every now and again despite no one I know in real life having mentioned it to me since I saw it.
So let’s see. The first thing that I notice about the film now is that it is 136 minutes long. I do not remember if this movie is swiftly or glacially paced, but I have a hunch it is closer to the latter, and that means 136 minutes is entirely too long for a film like “The Holiday” to last. What the hell could they possibly be doing on this holiday vacation that we need to see more than two hours of it? Are they international jewel thieves? Are they trying to save Santa and his elves from genocide at the hands of holiday-hating aliens? Have they gone into the woods for deep isolation/inspiration as they compose the best sad indie pop album of 2007? Whatever the answer, I bet they could cut the run time by at least 30 minutes.
IMDB says “The Holiday” is a romantic comedy. This tracks with my memory. Here are some of the funny quotes IMDB readers have picked out as being the best ones spoken by and about our friends Amanda (Cameron Diaz), Graham (Jude Law), Miles (Jack Black) and Iris (Kate Winslet) and also a 90-year-old man named Arthur (Eli Wallach):
Miles: “Iris, if you were a melody,… I used only the good notes.”
Arthur: “He (ex-boyfriend) let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out. Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies, and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.”
Love to stereotype women based on abstract, undefinable qualities!
Graham: “Call me old-fashioned, but one doesn't have sex with women who are unconscious.”
Good one, Graham!
I’m not going to put the whole thing here, but I guess Graham and Amanda also have a whole conversation about how unique it is that Graham cries sometimes? Because he’s a man, you see.
Anyway, this movie seems hilarious and long, and there’s like 45 monologues about love, so watch it if you feel like it! Moving on.
"I, Tonya" (2017)
Hulu, rated R, 120 minutes
The first thing I want to point out about the Oscar-nominated film "I, Tonya" is that it is 16 minutes shorter than "The Holiday."
The second thing I want to point out is Margot friggin' Robbie because holy hell, can Margot Robbie act. She's so talented! She sells the horror of what Tonya Harding did and the legitimate hardships and abuse she went through in equal measure. This film does not try to exonerate Harding of her crime as much as it tries to make viewers aware of the duality, the good and bad, that everyone has inside them. Harding is selfish, yes. She loves the spotlight and tries to deflect blame whenever possible, and she did a terrible thing. But that doesn't make some evil; it makes them someone who fucked up and is paying the consequences.
At the same time, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney also do great jobs as Harding's partner, Jeff Gillooly, and mother, LaVona Golden, who are shitheads.
Director Craig Gillespie makes some bold choices here. I don't know if the framing of the story as an interview works that well, and it's a trope I'm tired of, in general. Other times, the stylish montages and glitzy camera flashes work. I know some people disagree on that, and that's fine. It works for me.
I truly cannot remember if there is a scene with a Christmas tree or anything in this movie, but the Kerrigan attack happens Jan. 3, 1994, so close enough. It's my blog, I can bend the rules as I see fit!
As this will be the last 'Nog Blog before the actual holidays begin, I hope everyone has a wonderful time. I will have one final 'Nog Blog of 2019 for you Dec. 26 then will be taking a week off before returning Jan. 10. Happy holidays!