A Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown ChristmasWhy do I like A Charlie Brown Christmas?  I’m sure nostalgia plays a part, but the main reason this short film is one of my favorite Christmas movies is because of the music, characters, and themes.

To begin with, I really like the music.  The tunes are catchy and are among the few jazz pieces I enjoy listening to.  Above all, I like when the children sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” at the end of the film.  Interestingly, CBS almost didn’t air this Christmas special in 1965 because CBS executives thought people wouldn’t like or understand the jazz music (Slife).  In spite of these predictions, audiences loved the movie, and it won a Primetime Emmy award and was nominated for a Grammy award (“A Charlie Brown Christmas”).

Another part of the appeal of A Charlie Brown Christmas is the characters.  Although CBS executives didn’t like that the characters were voiced over by children, this actually makes the characters real and endearing (Slife).  Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and Sally act and sound like children and make the story fun, entertaining, and yet somehow thoughtful.  When Charlie Brown desponds about how Christmas is being commercialized, I can relate, for what was true when the show aired in 1965 is still true today.  Lucy is her usual bossy, worldly-minded self, giving out psychiatric help and chasing dreams of real-estate.  Solemn Linus drags his blanket about and doles out wisdom that deserves to be heard by more than just his peers in the film.  Schroeder pounds away with dedication at his piano, and Sally tags around after Charlie Brown and Linus, exasperating and embarrassing them as she busily composes a letter to Santa Claus.

Charlie Brown and LinusWhat I love most about this film, however, are the themes.  Although Charles Schulz may not have been a Christian, his work often rings with truth, and this story contains some of the best examples (Schulz 305).  Through the characters’ actions and words, Schulz highlights the problems plaguing modern Christmases, particularly commercialism, and he explains “what Christmas is all about.”

As the story opens, Charlie Brown tells Linus, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus.  Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy.  I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”  Of all the characters, Charlie Brown seems to be the only one who understands that something is wrong about how everyone is celebrating Christmas.  Are Christmas lists, cards, plays, and presents what make Christmas wonderful?  Or are they reminders of a greater wonder, the Son of God born in Bethlehem, the greatest Gift the world has ever known?

Works Cited

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 TV Special): Awards.”  Imdb.com.  24 Dec. 2015 <www.imdb.com/title/tt0059026/awards?ref_=tt_awd>.

Schulz, Charles M.  The Complete Peanuts: 1950 to 1952.  Ed. Gary Groth.  Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 2004.

Slife, Joseph.  “Charlie Brown Almost Didn’t Get to Celebrate Christmas in Prime Time.” Worldmag.com.  2 Dec. 2014.  24 Dec. 2015 <www.worldmag.com/2014/12/charlie_brown_almost_didn_t_get_to_celebrate_christmas_in_prime_time>.

arrietty pic

-ARRIETTY-

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Jessica Jones

If any of you were fans of the Daredevil series put out by Marvel earlier this year, you have probably already heard of the recently released Jessica Jones. Although I came into this series expecting much of the same that Daredevil had delivered, I was surprised to find a new, but fascinating superhero story told in the style of a psychological thriller. Featuring characters that drive the story, and a narrative that is suspenseful, Jessica Jones proffers a show  that will give those tired of over-the-top action films a chance to come back to the superhero genre.

Characters:

JessicaJones  Jessica Jones is the, you guessed it, main protagonist of the show. She is a former superhero who has traded a life of using her powers to police New York City for the more reclusive life of a private investigator. With an abusive past that is gradually revealed through the show, the series paints a picture of someone trying to initially run away from her problems, and then turn to face her demons, not only for herself, but for her friends. The supporting cast for the tv show is absolutely superb, and I would say that the way the writers make use of all the characters surpasses the job they did with Daredevil. There are no two-dimensional characters in this show, but even the cast that play only insignificant roles come across with realism -the writers make the best of each line of dialogue and action to give information to the viewer. As a result, the show is rich with depth. Characters such as Trish, Luke Cage the bar owner, and Malcom the druggie from down the hall, are interesting to watch, and they come across as sympathetic and relatable. However, in addition to Jessica herself, the villain, Kilgrave, is probably the most fascinating part of the show. Played by David Tennant, Kilgrave is a complex and intriguing, though insidious, character. However, more on him in the next section…

Story:

Kilgrave

Kilgrave

Jessica Jones continues the trend of telling a dark and twisted story much like its earlier sibling. However, unlike Daredevil, Jessica Jones is notably less violent, and plays out much more like a psychological thriller than traditional action show. That being said, the show features an arguably darker story line than its predecessor. I will admit that I doubted David Tennant as a villain when I first saw him listed on the cast. However, he executes the role flawlessly. Kilgrave’s ‘power’ is the ability to control people. He can tell somebody to perform an action, and they comply without question. Throughout the series Tennant does a masterful job of capturing the insidiousness of his character: a man who can get whatever he wants and is willing to manipulate those around him to his own ends. This leads to some grim and twisted moments throughout the series, and is why I consider Jessica Jones to be a much darker story than Daredevil.

Conclusion:

So should you watch Jessica Jones? That is going to depend on a few factors. The story is much darker than its earlier sibling, but I don’t know that I would categorize this as a fault. Certainly it may require a certain mood to want to actually sit down and watch, but good tales can be told with both happy and dark narratives. However, at least for me, the bigger factor is that it contains strong sexual content (of which Daredevil had none). That being said, I personally found it to be an entertaining and refreshing approach to the superhero genre, and after talking to others I would say that the biggest draw for the show are the characters: they have depth, they feel real, and their backstories, actions, and emotions are masterfully played out in a meaningful way. If you are looking for a dark and suspenseful thriller, or just a break from the flashy superhero films, look no further.

 

Note: this review can also be found at thousandmilewalk.wordpress.com