January 2024 Entries - Falcon's Blog

The Holdovers

Greetings, ‘The Holdovers’ is a 2023 film directed by Alexander Payne who is also known for directing ‘Election’, ‘Sideways’ and more recently ‘Downsizing’. His latest offering is a period piece as it is set around the Christmas holidays of 1970 and the cinematography is shot in a way to evoke the feeling or aesthetic of the bygone era. The main cast is fairly small due to the isolated plot and stars Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham. The actor had previously worked with Payne in ‘Sideways’. Newcomer Dominic Sessa, who plays Angus Tully, is another main lead as is Da’Vine Joy Randolph who is known for her recurring role in Steve Martin’s ‘Only Murders in the Building’. The OST was composed by Mark Orton who had also contributed musically to Payne’s film ‘Nebraska’ which was released in 2013.

The plot takes place in a New England boarding school named Barton Academy where Hunham teaches classical studies to apathetic students. Hunham, due to his brashness and off-putting personality, is disliked by the majority of his pupils and his fellow facility members. With Christmas fast approaching, a member of staff must watch over any students who have nowhere else to be during the holidays. Hunham is chosen for the position after another teacher shrugs off the duty with a fake excuse. The reason for his selection is because Hunham, in his high scholarly expectations, had flunked a wealthy donor’s son by issuing a poor grade after the submitted work failed to meet his rigorous standards. Hunham isn’t delighted by the news but accepts it without much complaint as he has very little in the way of a social life and rarely leaves campus.

The Holdovers

There are only a few boys left behind as ‘the holdovers’ including one Angus Tully who discovers to his deep frustration that his mother had suddenly cancelled their festive plans in favour of honeymooning with her new husband. To add insult to injury, Hunham is an authoritarian who forces the boys to study for the majority of the day and forces them to run outside in the cold. This lasts for six days until a rich parent of one of the students arrives and offers to take ‘the holdovers’ on a family skiing trip. All but Tully are able to go as their parents provide their permission while his are unreachable. A dejected Tully realises he has to spend Christmas and ring in the New Year with Hunham and Mary Lamb, one of Barton Academy’s cooks who is recently bereaved over the death of her son in Vietnam. Hunham, sensing how difficult the time is for everyone left behind, tries to conjure up a little Christmas cheer.

I had heard rave reviews for this movie and had high expectations of it going in which were thankfully and effortlessly met. It is a funny, charming and touching film which I never felt bored of or felt that it dragged during any part of its over 2 hour run time. The characters were well realised with my particular favourite being the studious and socially awkward Paul Hunham who thawed out as the plot progressed. Randolph and Sessa also deserve some praise as they drove some of the more emotive scenes which struck a nice balance with its more humorous moments. As a result, I’m intending to watch some of Payne’s other works and delve into some movies in which Paul Giamatti starred.

Plot = 10/10

Characters = 10/10

Special Effects = 10/10

Overall = 10/10

Quote of the Day

The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.

Grand Moff Tarkin

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Written by Falcon, Monday 29 January 2024