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Retro Review: The Phantom Carriage



The holidays are almost over and the new year is slowly approaching. This year has been tough politically and socially with all the weird and crazy happening in the news. This has been a year for reflection and hoping that, maybe next year, things can turn around and people can start believing again in the human spirit.

The human spirit is a tricky thing to discuss. Are we inherently born flawed or is it something that is exposed to us as we grow older whether we want to accept it or not? What causes people to shift their personalities and change their belief structure when the past they were never like that? Psychological studies can offer more in-depth details but this is the subject for the movie that I have viewed that shows us how the human spirit can change and whether redemption is justified or a hopeless attempt. The Phantom Carriage is a silent Swedish film made in 1921 that, as a modern viewer of cinema, has some future influences with It’s a Wonderful Life and The Shining. Those kind of movie titles can be appealing, so, we’re going to discuss the plot (spoiler free), the acting, and the overall message that the film is expressing. Let’s keep warm and cover our mouths as we discuss The Phantom Carriage.

In the slums of a city in Sweden (or it can be any town in the world), we have a dying sister from the salvation army requesting a man to come visit her. The man is David Holm, the local drunk and downright horrible human being. At the request of the sister, people start looking for David and they find him drinking in the graveyard with some friends before midnight. David tells the story his friend Georges told him a year earlier in which the last person to die before midnight will become the new death for the year and will ride the phantom carriage as the representative and collect peoples souls and send them to their afterlife. After the story, when he denies seeing Sister Edit, the drinking buds start fighting with David.

They clock him on the head with a bottle and David is unresponsive. They flee and the phantom carriage and death arrive and find David. The rest of the plot delves into why David is such a horrible human being and that alcohol basically killed his relationship with family, friends, jobs and life as he also suffers from the consumption. Over the rest of the movie, death sort of represents the ghosts of past, present and future (from A Christmas Carol). The plot is simple but it’s executed in such a way that seems fresh. The main character of David is so heinous that you wonder why so many people want to help him with his problem and yet, he denies everyone because he has such a frozen heart that he doesn’t accept help from anyone, especially women. The whole movie is about redemption and how far a man can fall from grace and yet, with some support from unknown powers and opening your eyes to what could be and what might happen, one can try and find a way to change and seek forgiveness from past transgressions.

The acting is very good for silent movie actors. With no dialogue, and some text frames, you can figure out who each actor is and what they represent. David, is acting very well showing his young naivety, to his angry drunken psychological and physical abuser to all the women that comes across him, including his wife and Sister Edith. He has a nice range of tipsy drunk to sloshed with subtle nuances with how he walks, smiles and looks at people. Each motion he takes has a purpose and it shows as well how much he has had to drink when he took that movement or strike. Sister Edith is naive and acts with a kind heart. She has the look of the innocent angel who wants to change the dregs of society with denying their vices and find G-D and try to be better human beings.

David’s wife, Anna, is a woman scarred by the past of David. She acts with frailty and uneasiness due to his drunken escapades. I think there is some parallel between Anna and Shelly Duvall’s character in The Shining. Anna wants to be free from David and does whatever she can to escape it. She showcases some strength when it comes to her children but throughout the movie, shows its wearing on her and she is just tired and weak and cannot handle David. Her acting shows us what some people go through when they are in a bad state mentally and how it’s not always so easy to escape.

The message of the movie is all about redemption. It shows us that even the most vial and unlikable human being who shows no remorse for his actions and the effects it has on other people, can have his eyes opened when you have a clear head and see what happens when you act like a complete ass to loved ones and friends who want to help. David is one of the most awful human beings, in that, he has no redeeming factors throughout the movie and his main motivation is revenge and anger toward his wife. He would cough on people to give them consumption thinking that he will take some others with him. It’s only when death comes marching at your door that you seek redemption. Which also begs the question will David actually follow through his redemption story or will he relapse. You see, its only when death comes at your door that you ask for forgiveness and seek salvation and peace. However, if given a second chance with life, how long will it take to go backwards and relapse? David is given a second chance with life and he seeks forgiveness from his wife. His wife accepts the forgiveness and the movie ends with them both crying.

The main thing is that David is an addict and it doesn’t seem like the kind of person who will willingly keep trying to better himself since he cannot give up the alcohol. I think, overall, though this movie is about redemption, I think it is also about never taking life or a second chance for granted. The few in life get second chances and you cannot take those as so matter of fact. You have to constantly work and strive to be better in your everyday life. David finds his second chance and, in terms of the movie, I wonder how long until he squanders his opportunity.

This movie is a good and dark movie. I found the movie on YouTube, so, feel free to watch it when you have the time. The New Years theme of new year, new adventure and new outlook is felt throughout the movie and it’s a good message to share with the audience because not every person will be rewarded with a lot but even just given a second chance to be with your family might just be enough for some. I think the theme and the setup of the movie. It uses nice cyan filters and sepia as well to showcase the night time and the inside lighting changes. The acting is very nicely done and it shows how you don’t need strong dialogue to showcase raw emotions and use your facial structure to get across what kind of tone you’re trying to tell the audience. I’d recommend this movie to anyone before or after New Years as it shows a nice message and it can also make you feel grateful for what you have and what you want to strive for.

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‘Abigail’: Bite Me Harder Tiny Dancer



A gang of misfit kidnappers find their tiny target far more bloodthirsty than they bargained for! 

So, unfortunately, the trailers gave it away and let’s be real that’s why most of us are here, the knowledge that the kidnap victim Abigail (Alisha Weir), codenamed by the would-be kidnappers appropriately as ‘tiny dancer’, is in fact, a vampire. Not a spoiler, point of fact, one of the film’s actual great selling points. And the reactions from the misfit club when faced with a real actual f*cking vampire, range hilariously from the blunt “no such thing as vampires” all the way to, “Are we talking True Blood or Twilight rules or what?” all while covered in buckets and buckets of blood. 

Anyway, the gang manages to subdue and abscond with the aforementioned Abigail, in a pre-prepared duffle bag, like you do, and converge to a new location, a house oddly similar to the one she was just taken from. Welcomed and given codenames by a man who introduces himself as Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), our misfit club is told to simply hold down the fort in this strange old house with the girl chained up in a room and one person to attend her, for twenty-four hours, and they’ll all get paid. 

As inevitable as the tides, the dopey druggie Dean (Angus Cloud) is the first to die, and we’re going to give that death-style points for inspiring terror right off the bat. The very controlling Frank (Dan Stevens, holy crap yes that is the guy from FXs Legion) is also of course the most suspicious – of everyone around him, sure, but also he himself is totes sus. We don’t learn terribly much about the musclebound tank who gets dubbed Peter (Kevin Durand), he’s your pretty typical little-brains-heart-of-gold muscle-for-hire any proper gang needs, right down to the bottle problem. Sammy (Kathryn Newton), well, even for being a purported hacker-type, she has, like, reality issues. Rickles (William Catlett), he’s arguably the most dangerous among them, ex-military and yet somehow here and involved in kidnapping for a few mills. Joey (Melissa Barrera) is our Final Girl, and though she has the inevitable problems in her recent past, she seems more capable of doing the hard thing and still somehow empathizing at the end of the day. Must be her burning desire to get back with her son. 

The fit hits the shan pretty quickly, and Abigail morphs from tiny dancer to tiny monster, though honestly, the way Abigail spoke the entire time in the film, if the ‘nappers had been paying close enough attention, would have been a solid clue. The performance from Alisha Weir as Abigail is incredible, as she literally dances a fine line between comedy, tragedy, and outright monstrosity. With a face full of makeup and the force of a tiny tornado to back it up, Weir brings to mind the great performances of the vampires in 30 Days of Night who saw the practicality in the need to trap their food, but also, play with it a bit first before feasting! Anything else would give away the absolute fun time that is Abigail, so you should go see it, out in theaters now!

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Scrubs Reunion: The Band Gets Back Together



Fans of the beloved medical comedy series Scrubs were recently treated to a thrilling surprise when John C. McGinley, who portrayed the iconic Dr. Perry Cox, dropped a photo on Twitter hinting at a potential reunion project. The image, showing McGinley alongside his former co-stars, sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among fans who have been longing for more adventures with the beloved Sacred Heart Hospital staff.

While details about the reunion project are still scarce, the mere possibility of seeing the gang back together again has sent waves of nostalgia through fans who fondly remember the show’s original run from 2001 to 2010. Scrubs was not just a sitcom; it was a heartfelt exploration of friendship, love, and the chaotic world of medicine, all wrapped up in a quirky and often hilarious package.

At the heart of the show was the bromance between JD (played by Zach Braff) and Turk (played by Donald Faison), whose antics and deep bond served as the emotional anchor for the series. Their dynamic, along with the sage wisdom (and relentless sarcasm) of Dr. Cox, provided viewers with memorable moments that have stood the test of time.

As we eagerly await more news about the Scrubs reunion project, one thing is for sure: it’s time to dust off those old DVDs, rewatch our favorite episodes, and get ready to welcome back our favorite gang of doctors, nurses, and janitors for what promises to be a memorable reunion.

But Scrubs was more than just its main characters. The supporting cast, including the eccentric Janitor (played by Neil Flynn), the neurotic Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke), and the wise-cracking nurse Carla (played by Judy Reyes), each brought their own unique flavor to the show, creating a rich tapestry of characters that fans grew to love.

While the photo shared by McGinley has fueled speculation about what the reunion project might entail, whether it’s a one-off special, a new season, or something else entirely, one thing is certain: fans are eagerly awaiting any opportunity to dive back into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

In an age where reboots and revivals are commonplace, Scrubs stands out as a series that has the potential to recapture the magic that made it a fan favorite in the first place. With its blend of humor, heart, and unforgettable characters, a reunion project has the opportunity to not only satisfy longtime fans but also introduce a new generation to the joys of life at Sacred Heart.

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‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Rebellion with a cause



The story of the rise of Coriolanus Snow, from teenage Capital City pawn to rising Dictator of the Hunger Games! 

Apparently no one out here in post-apocalyptic Panem has heard of irony and so they name their children things like Coriolanus (Tom Blyth), Tigress, and further off in Hunger Games lore, after swamp plants like Katniss. Corio’s father was a legendary general and that is pretty much the only reason young Snow and his meager family of grandmother called Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan) and sister Tigress (Hunter Schafer) are tolerated here in the Capital City at all. 

Most of the snotty youngsters at the academy won’t let Snow forget how far his family has fallen, but he’s generally not concerned with them. What is concerning is the strong disapproval of the drugged-up Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) and the creepy attention of Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) as she lurks in the classroom sniffing out talent. The Dean feels very strongly the annual Hunger Games should end, while Gaul is violently adamant that not only do the Games continue, but that they get as much more attention as possible. And young Snow is stuck in the middle, when the yearly prize money normally awarded to the academy student with the best grades gets switched out for, you guessed it, the student that can make this years’ Hunger Games as entertaining as possible. 

Whilst the students are protesting this sudden change, the annual Reaping is about to commence, and big shock and surprise, Corio’s candidate from District 12 Lucy Grey Baird (Rachel Zegler) is chosen as a Tribute. This is where the film begins to really take off on musical wings, for as it turns out, Lucy Grey can sing. Boy, can that gal sing! She can sing, she can play guitar, she can work a crowd, she can calm things down, she can fire ‘em up too! And Corio, being no dummy himself, instantly plots ways to use his Tributes amazing voice to draw attention to her, and admittedly his own, plight! 

Though far too many people sneer at the idea, Corio takes his position as Mentor to his Tribute seriously enough to sneak onto the tram taking the Tributes to their habitat, which turns out to be a completely appropriate moniker, as this year the Tributes are held before the Hunger Games in a large zoo habitat so the weatherman ‘Lucky’ Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), host of this years games, can MC the hell out of everything up close and personal! 

What happens at this years Hunger Games and the subsequent consequences to both Corio and Lucy Grey is actually only half the story, and the movie. Coriolanus has always had to be opportunistic, but learning to be absolutely ruthless when necessary under the tutelage of Dr. Gaul, who basically thinks it’s always best to be merciless, is an eye-opening education indeed.  Even after they’ve both been consigned to military service and his friend Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) decides to finally rebel, Corio and Sejanus continue to deceive each other and themselves, to accomplish their separate goals. Not even the love Corio swears he feels for Lucy Grey can save him, or them, from the adamant absolute necessity of the Hunger Games continuing. And after all that’s happened, Coriolanus Snow has gotten a terrific education in the best way to be the absolutely ruthless next Hunger Games advocate, and oh yeah, President of Panem. 

The movie does itself no favors by trying to stuff not one but two major storylines and a bunch of side storylines sadly introduced and then ignored, into the film. It would have been entirely possible to turn Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes into two different movies, separated between feathers and scales if you like, and do justice to the major storylines in both. Blyth gives a fine  performance as a young Coriolanus Snow, but the fact that President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland in all three of the Hunger Games films means Blyth has incredibly large shoes to fill. Rachel Zegler as Lucy Grey is absolute fire, and yes the actress did sing the songs in the film herself, including the Hunger Games franchise epic song, ‘The Hanging Tree’. Every time Lucy Grey opens her mouth and sheer soul-searing music comes out, it provides a distinct counterpoint to the soul-crushing ambition of Coriolanus Snow and further demonstrates the District and Caste separation Hunger Games is known for. And if, by the end of the film, Coriolanus Snow has come to agree that the Hunger Games must continue but perhaps under his own auspices, he has no one but himself to blame when another younger but still rebellious female blows it all up in his face! 

Choose rebellion or conformity for yourself in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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