Saturday, 20 December 2014

"Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!"


So here's a handy check-list of yuletide viewing, just in case wall-to-wall Christmas TV isn't enough for you.


10)  The Random Non-Christmas Movie!

Somehow, every Christmas ends up looking like THIS.
"What on EARTH are you blathering on about?", I hear you mutter. Well, for me, there are some movies which have absolutely ZERO Christmas content. They're not about Christmas, they have no tinsel - in fact, they're not even set remotely close to winter. BUT: Somehow they evoke Christmasses of past, or just 'feel' Christmassy. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Lost Boys. Back to the Future. Jurassic Park. Robocop.  The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe (Alright, Santa does crop up in this one). Batman Returns (okay, there is snow in this one. And is set at Christmas time. I think.).

9) Scrooged
It's as schmaltzy as they come - especially the meltdown of an ending which turns into some 4th wall-breaking emotional wreck, but isn't that what Christmas is about? Shouting emotionally?

"Feed meh, Seymour! Feed me!"

8) Lethal Weapon
Shane Black loves Christmas, and what better way to start an ultra-violent (for its time) thriller than 'Jingle Bell Rock'... as a drugged-up young woman nosedives off the 25th floor. Again, sod all to do with Christmas, other than a few decorations and Gibson's Riggs struggling to deal with the memory of his dead wifey, but it has that rosy glow missing from yer usual cop bloodbath.
The only way you would get me to buy a Christmas tree from B&Q.

7) The Polar Express
A chocolate box of a movie, complete with dead-eyed animated kids - but it delivers on the emotional punch. The little kid who sits on his own in the end carriage? The bell that still rings? Call the shrink. NOW.
Too bloody right, Hanksy.

6) Home Alone
Or the end of 'Skyfall', for kids. Macauley Crawley violently attacks two grown men and we all laugh. Guilt-free.

The money shot.
5) Gremlins
Christmas is a time for mean-spirited violence... oh, wait. No, that's Easter. What Christmas is all about is scaly monsters getting all up in yer grill (and yer Christmas tree), so it's good to be reminded of your loved ones... and to save them from being flung out of a window at speed. The scene with the two cops having a meltdown because "It's supposed to be Christmas" whilst the Gremlins wreck everything says it all. Bad things are not meant to happen at Christmas. Are they?
Gizmo gets hammered on the ol' mulled wine.

4) Trading Places
"Merry New Year!". One of those movies packed with so many quotable lines, with Dan Aykroyd's rich git swapping places with Eddie Murphy's hustling con artist all in the name of a bet. 'Die Hard's' Dwayne T. Robinson/Paul Gleason added another brilliant performance to his repertoire as the psychotically uptight Beaks. One of those 'be thankful for what you have 'movies.

This is how I always remember Father Christmas.

3) Santa Claus: The Movie
Say what you like about this dated, somewhat naff (even at the time of its release) movie, as it takes great care to point out - It's a ruddy Christmas stick of rock stuffed up the proverbial christmassy-sweatered turkey's bottom. The Big Lebowski gives the ultimate performance as Santa (Sorry all you Miracle on 34th Streeters.). Lithgow rightfully hams like he's in a panto, and Dudley Moore, well, makes you miss Dudley Moore.
Santa goes for a 'Joe-Ride'...

2) The Muppets Christmas Carol
Saw this at the cinema in 2013 (the first movie I took my son to see!), and whilst the story has been done to death, this is somehow the definitive version. (And I'm a fan of the George C. Scott movie). Yeah, Caine can't sing, but so what - his performance delivers emotion across the board.
They're Marley and Marley. WOOOOOOAH!

1) Die Hard
The big-daddy of Christmas movies. It doesn't crow-bar Christmas into the story for no reason (ahem, Lethal Weapon). It's McClane's wife's Christmas party - and guess who's not on the guest list. A bunch of ruddy terrorist thieves, that's who. Pour yourself a large port and let the mayhem begin!
Where can I get one of those jumpers?

5) The Bear
What's funnier than a polar bear, in your house, pooing on the stairs, eh? This somewhat overlooked short film has some beautiful animation, fantastic music and Raymond Briggs as the man in the moon.

4) Blackadder's Christmas Carol
An absolute cracker of a Christmas special, with a nice reversal on the 'Christmas Carol' story, in which kindly Ebeneezer Blackadder learns, through a series of Robbie Coltraned flashbacks, that being good will only lead to him wearing Baldrick's posing pouch...
Nibble Pibbleys: Vanquished.

3) Smith & Jones' Home-made Xmas Video
A little-seen, much-forgotten (sadly) Christmas treat which can be found on the extras of the "At Last Smith & Jones Vol 1" DVD, this gem perfectly captures exactly what a bloomin' great stresser Christmas can be. Loved it when it first aired in '87 (?), love it now. WATCH IT HERE.

2) Stella Street
This overlooked, genius piece of cult comedy deserves much more recognition: Seeing Michael Caine throw an anniversary party for 'Zulu' in which John Hurt drinks 'a nice, warming bowl of wine' from a goldfish bowl, Jimmy Hill snorting icing sugar and a losing Joe Pesci arguing with a winning David Bowie over a game of Monopoly "It's just the way things are, Joe!".... Need I go on?

Al Pacino and Jimmy Hill play Monopoly. HOO-HA!

1) The Snowman
Not only my all-time Christmas favourite, but one of my all-time favourite films. Perfection.
Oh... Oh Lord WHY? WHYYYYYYY???!!!!!!

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