Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I Got My Festive Hat On!

Well, not really. It's only November, they're not on sale yet. Buuuuuut Halloween this year was a damp squib for me as I was sans costume/fundage, and my birthday shall more than likely be spent crying in a corner muttering about "the ravages of time". SO, forgive me if I want to indulge in a li'l Christmas cheer early, huh? I mean, the red cups are back in Starbucks!

Anyways, the whole point of that was... I've realised that all I've watched lately have been horror films and class screenings. Which is all well and good, but a bit of variety never goes amiss and as such, I have compiled a list of my Five Favourite Warm Fuzzy Christmas Movies to get me in the mood for the coming season...

First off is one of my favourite movies of all time, seasonal or otherwise- Muppet Christmas Carol!!! As a childhood Muppets devotee, this film has had a special place in my heart since I saw it in the pictures aged 6. I won't go into the plot in too much detail, as pretty much everyone's familiar with it- miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (a PERFECTLY cast Michael Caine, who retains his dignity despite starring alongside puppets) is visited by 3 ghosts on Christmas Eve, who warn him that unless he changes his ways he will be condemned to a miserable, lonely death and an eternity in chains.
What makes this different is the huge helping of humour courtesy of the Muppets, and songs which I dare anyone not to sing along to. Oddly for such a movie, the sets are fantastic- the opening scene where the camera likes over snowy Dickensian London, with the stirring theme music playing over the top, looks utterly a Muppet-y sort of way.
The emotional elements are also handled sensitively, and despite this being a kid's Christmas movie it's not shmaltzy at all. For me, it's not Christmas unless I watch this film- one of the best feel-good films.
(One thing to look out for also, which I've only noticed as I've gotten older- when Scrooge throws the charity collectors Bunsen and Beaker out of his office, Beaker clearly flips Scrooge the finger- hilarious!!!)
Tragically though, my DVD version doesn't have the song Bell sings to Scrooge in a flashback... I'll have to dig out my tired old VHS copy for the full experience...even though it makes me cry like a little girl, which is NOT good for my image! In saying that, if this film doesn't invoke a tear, a laugh or squidgy warm feeling, you are clearly beyond redemption and DEAD INSIDE, y'hear???

Is it a Christmas film? Is it a Halloween film? Well, for me, I watched this for the first time on Christmas Day so it falls into the former- although it's one of the few 'festive' treats that can be watched any time of year. The jerky stop-motion animation suits the quirky, darkly gothic tone perfectly, and Danny Elfman's bewitching soundtrack is not only immensely sing-able but also carries the story. The problem with alot of musicals is that the songs are superfluous to the storytelling but here, they actually form a large part of the narrative. From 'This is Halloween', which opens the film, to Jack Skellington's 'What's This?' upon discovery of Christmas Town, to the sweetly melancholy 'Sally's Song'... it's one of my favourite soundtracks ever, as it rarely if ever hits a duff note.

I've already professed my love for Tim Burton on a previous blog, so I won't bore you with it again, but I truly think this is a classic movie. It's spooky enough for adults, whimsical enough for kids, and the budding romance between the two lead characters is refreshing as Jack is actually pursued by scientist's assistant Sally. Despite being a cartoon character she's actually a strong female lead with an agenda other than getting a man to notice her.

Sexual politics aside (did I really just say that about Nightmare? I'm reading FAR too deeply into this...), this is a Christmas treat with several tricks up its sleeve- original, edgy, sweet and dark, it strikes a perfect balance. The perfect movie for an 'alternative' yuletide!

Perhaps an unusual addition to the 'Favourite Christmas Films', what with it being a high-concept, explosions-packed 80s action movie. Not traditionally the kind of thing you'd watch with your nan after turkey and crackers, but it's set at Christmas time, therefore it is eligible for my list!

I'm not usually a fan of action movies- I usually find them brainless, far too masculine (kind of homo-erotic, really) and alot of the time big explosions are shoe-horned in to replace decent storytelling and bland characterisation. However, Die Hard has been a firm favourite of mine for years. Bruce Willis brings credibility and razor-sharp wisecracks to the role of NYPD cop John McClane, who's visiting his estranged wife in LA for 'the holidays'. What he didn't count on was the arrival of Curiously Attractive Older Man Alan Rickman, and his rag-tag band of hostage takers. Brucey Baby is the only one not in the room when the gang arrive, and so *in voice of omnipresent gravelly-sounding trailer man* it's up to him to fend off the bad guys and make sure help arrives in time. Amazingly, he does it all without shoes! What a man!

Even if you don't usually like this kind of film it's worth a watch- more intelligent than most, with some eye-popping action and sterling performances. In fact, even the sequels are worth a watch (Die Hard 4.0 NOT included).

Here's another musical- there's just something about this time of year that brings out the closet singalong fan in me, what can I say. Also, it's another Dickens adaptation, although quite different to the last! Lionel Bart's classic adaptation of Oliver Twist is just brilliant. A huge, epic, all-singing, all-dancing ensemble affair that you just don't see anymore.

Oliver Reed's mad-eyed 'Bill Sykes' and Ron Moody's 'Fagin' are to me, the best portrayals of their respective roles- I attempted to watch Roman Polanski's version and it just wasn't the fact, I felt a little bit dejected after watching, and wanted to put on Oliver! straight away to rectify my mood!

Again, I know every word to every song, and it always cheers me up the instant I hear Artful Dodger's 'Consider Yourself'... I always wanted to be him as a kid, but in my school's Christmas version I got stuck as one of four Nancys...disappointing. Ah, well. It doesn't diminish the film at all, it's one of the all-time classic family films and not one to be watched alone.

And finally, the 5th film on my list- the classic, Home Alone 2-Lost In New York. This is one of the few films which I actually prefer to the original- I reckon for every one time I've watched Home Alone, I've seen this about 3. This film has alot to do with my developing an obsession with New York from a young age. It's a triumph of 'lost kid takes on bad guys' that I loved as a child, I only wished I could be as inventive as Kevin McCallister.

I absolutely love this film to this day, I think because it resonates so much with my inner child. I mean, who wouldn't love to run wild in New York with an unlimited credit card? Especially at the age of 10! Sadly though, my parents always remembered to take me on holiday with them...*sigh* There are so many magical scenes, like when Kevin befriends Pigeon Lady in Central Park, or when he enters the big toy store for the first time... Yes, the plot's pretty much identical to the first one, but so what? It's still laugh-out-loud funny, and it's always fun to watch a kid outsmart two grown up (completely incompetent) baddies. This is one film to silence your inner cynic- and probably as far removed from Die Hard as a Christmas film can be!

ANYWAY. That took a fair bit longer than I expected and if you're done reading, it's probably somewhere around New Year. I'm off to make mulled wine and mime along to Mariah Carey while wearing a reindeer jumper. Maybe. Ho ho ho!



    No. 2 and 3 on the list are 12 Monkeys and Brazil - which technically ARE Christmas films!

  2. Yaaay my first comment! *does a happy dance*
    DIE HARD IS AN AWESOME CHRISTMAS MOVIE. Alan Rickman....what a man indeed. Before he went all grey and paunchy, that is.