The John Lewis Christmas ad 2017 is here! And so the festive season begins …

Moz the Monster (image via YouTube (c) John Lewis)

 

Year after gloriously festive year, the Christmas ads of UK department store John Lewis are that one rare exception to featuring commercial ads on this blog.

That’s largely because the ads, while obviously selling something, are far more creative than your usual “Hey we have Christmas stuff! Come and buy it!”

The ads are usually exquisitely well-written, full of rich-emotionally resonant humanity and have that magical sense of otherworldliness that is inextricably linked to the festive season.

This year’s ad, directed by Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) has just dropped after a great deal of feverish anticipation, and while it’s not as immediately affecting as past efforts such as 2015’s delightful The Man on the Moon which was one of the most beautiful short films I’ve ever seen, there is a real joy to Moz the Monster and his antics under the bed of one little boy.

 

 

At first scared, then intrigued and finally beguiled, Joe finally delights in the company of Moz, who shows a heartwarming willingness to keep his young friend company all through the night, no matter the activity.

The downside to all this frivolity and fun? It takes place at night which creates all kind of havoc for Joe who must decide whether it’s sleep or Moz he needs more.

There’s some genuinely sweet, moving moments in the ad, and while some people have complained it’s not Christmas-sy enough, there’s a huge amount of heart and you can’t help but fall in love with Moz who, it won’t surprise you to learn, has an impressive range of merch at John Lewis to his name. (10% of the proceeds are going to children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Granted some people have issues with the ad, but it has a gorgeous air of magical realism about it, a lovely theme of belonging and caring, and Elbow singing a pitch-perfect cover of The Beatles’ song “Golden Slumber”.

Yeah think I’m in love already …

Want to spend some quality time with Moz? You can! Go here and create your own monster.

 

 

Let’s be honest, the John Lewis ad is the main festive advertising game in town. But Marks & Spencer have made a major play for the delightful warm-and-fuzzies with their recently-released advert featuring a gorgeously oblivious Paddington Bear who mistakes a thief for Santa, in the process making things profoundly better for everyone concerned …

(source: Digital Spy)

Anna of the Apocalypse: Not a creature was stirring … except the undead

(image via IMDb)

 

SNAPSHOT
When a zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven, Anna and her high school pals must fight, sing and slash their way to survival. Teaming with her best friend John, Anna and her crew try to save family and faculty alike as they encounter zombified snowmen, a manic bachelor party and teenage hormones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and the only people they can truly rely on are each other.

Shot on location in Scotland, the comedy stars Ella Hunt (Our Robot Overlords) as Anna, with Mark Benton (The Halcyon) as her father Tony and Paul Kaye (Game Of Thrones) as the wicked Savage. The cast also includes up-and-comers Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Ben Wiggins and Marli Siu. (synopsis via Deadline)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?

What with the kids jingle-belling and everyone yelling be of good cheer … presents wrapped and placed under the tree with care … decking the halls with boughs of holly and … undead people wandering the street with visions of living legs and arms to chomp on shambling in their heads …

Wait … WHAT?!

Yes, producers Naysun Alae-Carew and Nicholas Crum of Blazing Griffin and Tracy Jarvis of Parkhouse Pictures, inspired by their BAFTA-winning Zombie Musical, have brought together the undead and musical fabulousness to devastatingly entertaining effect in Anna and the Apocalypse.

If you’re not a fan of festive family gatherings then the scenario given deliciously-good un-life in this brilliantly twisted film may just what the Christmas doctor ordered; but even if you’re one of those people who love everything about the festive season – c;est moi, cover me in tinsel and hand me a barrel of eggnog if you please – you’ll no doubt find something to love about a film that dares to throw some great new, highly original elements into the Christmas, musicals and zombie genres simultaneously.

Now pass me the fruit mince pies will ya, I have some zombies to kill before we sit down for Christmas lunch …

Anna and the Apocalypse premiered at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas on 22 September, and will hopefully be available in time for the festive season.

 

Reunited and it feels so festively good: Happy bonkers Christmas from French and Saunders

(image courtesy BBC)

 

Apart from Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello, my favourite comedic couple in the world is French and Saunders.

After meeting as students in 1978 at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have gone onto stellar careers, reaching a collective zenith of success in the late 1980s and early 1990s when their pop culture spoofing comedy show was given one of the biggest budgets in BBC history.

While they have gone to individual success, French most notably with The Vicar of Dibley and Saunders with Absolutely Fabulous, it is as a comedy double act that they are most fondly remembered.

That fondness will be renewed and revived all over again this Christmas when French & Saunders return to the BBC with a Christmas special that will, as always, skewer the pop culture obsessions of the time, according to French who spoke to the Daily Mirror (quoted in Digital Spy):

“‘There’s some ­Handmaid’s Tale in there. We had fun with some of the costumes.

The classic comedy duo are also going to target reality shows like TOWIE, which are notorious for their drunken ranting, messy hook-ups and generally unruly behaviour.

“I am shocked by how [the female stars] behave. You reckon they’d want to meet someone who would love, cherish and respect them. But instead they go out and get utterly hammered and are shagging in a bush and coming out and going ‘Yes!’ like men.'”

The Christmas special, which the BBC is staying resolutely mum on for now, will be their first official sketch show outing since 2007’s A Bucket o’ French and Saunders.

 

Book becomes movie: All I Want For Christmas is You premieres first trailer

(image via Rotoscopers (c) Universal)

 

SNAPSHOT
The animated movie tells the story of young Mariah, who wants nothing more for Christmas than a puppy and has set her eyes on a specific little pooch named Princess. Little Mariah is tasked with taking care of her uncle’s dog to prove her responsibility to get the number one thing on her list, which results in her having the best Christmas ever. (synopsis (c) Billboard)

“All I Want For Christmas is You” is unarguably one of the catchiest classics of all time.

Rare among modern Christmas songs which often that mysterious x-factor which transforms heartwarming Christmas songs into tunes that effortlessly and perfectly capture the most wonderful time of the year, the song has only grown in popularity since its release in 1994.

Now, after becoming a book in 2015, it is being released as a captivatingly cute festive animated film, replete with the kind of delightfully sentimental storyline that feels like Christmas.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste but if you’re into Christmas, and I most certainly am, then you will enjoy immersing yourself in the joy and bonhomie of the season, with a new song “L’il Snowman” to speed your decking of halls bliss along.

All I Want For Christmas is You releases on DVD & Blu-ray and On-Demand on 14 November.

(source: EW)

 

Let the holidays begin! Time to go on Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

(poster art courtesy official Disney Australia Twitter account)

 

SNAPSHOT
Featuring four new original songs, the 21-minute featurette welcomes the original cast and characters back to the big screen, including Olaf (Josh Gad), who is on a mission to harness the best holiday traditions for Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). Directed by Emmy-winning filmmakers Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Prep & Landing), produced by Oscar winner Roy Conli (Big Hero 6), with original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (Between the Lines). (source: Coming Soon)

News that Olaf, one of the breakout animated stars of Frozen, itself a mega breakout Disney hit of earworm-consuming proportions courtesy of “Let It Go”, would be back in his own short film, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, was greeted with much joy by anyone who enjoyed his chaotic, geewhiz charm.

Which includes yours truly, a man who brazenly and without apology uses his delightful nieces and nephews to see all manner of gorgeous animated films.

So naturally, when news broke that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which is being billed as the set-up to Frozen 2 which releases November, 2019, would be screened ahead of Pixar’s Coco (the first non-Pixar short to do so, I believe), there was much rejoicing. (I danced on the inside because #commuting but trust me there was dancing and giddy celebration.)

Granted it will screen in Australia after Christmas has officially wrapped but still in the middle of the 12 Days of Christmas which means I can keep the celebrations going after the last cracker has been cracked and present unwrapped.

Thank you Disney.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will screen ahead of Coco from 22 November USA and 26 December Australia.

 

 

Recent tweets from Idina Menzel and Josh Gad, who voice Elsa and Olaf respectively, are also giving us a delicious sneak-peek listen at some of the new songs that will debut in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

 

 

Come along for a glorious ride on Olaf’s Frozen Adventure!

Festive sugar rush! (image via YouTube (c) Disney)

 

One of the many joys of being an uncle to four quite delightful young nieces and nephews is the chance it gives me to go and watch a host of animated films that might otherwise pass me by.

Of course, I go and see some of them anyway, but there’s something inordinately wonderful about watching these movies with their intended demographic – let’s face it, many of them have a lot of adult-level elements to them too so I’d like them we’re a target audience too but obviously not THE target audience – and seeing the joy and excitement they feel when something really silly or funny happens.

One film I am very much looking forward to seeing with them this Christmas – we have a tradition of a Boxing Day film each year – is Pixar’s latest masterpiece Coco, which will be preceded, for the first time ever, by a Disney short featuring the breakout character from Frozen, Olaf.

In Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a quite delightful 21 minute short film by all appearances, Olaf sets out to find out how the people of Arendelle celebrate Christmas in order to give reunited sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) some festive ideas for their first holiday season as family.

It looks immeasurably sweet, slapstick silly funny and yes, there may be a kickass song tucked away in there somewhere too.

Coco opens in USA on 22 November and Australian on Boxing Day (26 December).

 

 

And if you missed the latest fantastic trailer for Coco itself, fret no more for here it is …

 

It’s true, animated Mariah! All I Want For Christmas is You (teaser trailer)

(cover image courtesy Penguin Random House)

 

SNAPSHOT
According to the official press release, All I Want for Christmas Is You will center around a young Mariah (voiced by Breanna Yde), who wants a puppy named Princess for Christmas. But before Princess can be hers, she has to pet-sit Jack, described as “a scraggly rascal of a dog; in fact, the worst dog in the county!” (synopsis via Mashable)

All I Want For Christmas is … my two front teeth?

C’mon you can do way better than that!

How about an animated film based on the book All I Want For Christmas is You which is in turn based on the insanely successful modern Christmas classic, which launched itself into collective music consciousness, thereafter forever to remain, in the long ago heady days of 1994.

So compulsively listenable and so delightfully, compellingly Christmasy is the song that it makes sense that it’s been turned into a book and a film and who knows what other wonders down the track.

For now, we have Mariah Carey introducing the movie in its Christmas glory and you’ll be able to see what wanting your true love for Christmas looks like when All I Want for Christmas Is You doesn’t have an exact release date yet, it’s expected to premiere in all its festive glory on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On Demand just in time for Christmas this year.