Simon Columb with five films you can sneak in at Christmas…
Hurrah! The holidays are upon us! The snow is (not) falling and the mulled wine is (expensively) available! What a joyous time! Ring the bells! Set time aside and join in the age-old tradition of Christmas film-watching around the toasty fire. Of course your niece will recommend Frozen and your sibling, harking back to your shared childhood, will select Home Alone, but surely Flickering Myth readers of the world can choose something a little more niche. Something that not only reflects our sense of Christmas cheer but something that will share our film intellect. No need for Scrooged, The Muppets Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life – here is a yuletide selection of alternative Christmas films that add a little class to the annual viewing…
Shane Black (writer of Lethal Weapon) has a knack for shoe-horning irrelevant X-mas celebration into his films. Whether it is Iron Man 3 or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, each film has setting that aches for crackers and bad jokes. But, as an uncle smugly acknowledges Die Hard as a Christmas Movie, you can counter his selection with this 1980’s action romp. Lucky for him, the grumpy old uncle in the corner can also quote “I’m too old for this sh*t” throughout the holiday season. Opposed to saying “yippe-ka-yay…” when a teen shows him their latest Vine compilation, Danny Glover’s cool response works wonders and would be far more appropriate.
The World Is Not Enough
You could argue that other 007 adventures are more appropriate. The snow-skiing start to The Spy Who Loved Me perhaps? In fact, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has half the film based at an alpine lodge! But The World is not Enough boasts a character called Dr. Christmas Jones! Not only that, but there is a dirty joke at the end that Mother will only nod disapprovingly at. The regular jokes about Denise Richard’s name (and, amongst the family, the countless jokes about her “acting” ability) will only strike up conversation. But crucially, it does appreciate Brosnan as Bond with an opening sequence at the River Thames that still remains as one of the finest openings to any James Bond film, ever.
About a Boy
Hugh Grant playing a romantic is common place. Hugh Grant playing a lecherous, seedy playa is less common but interesting. Hugh Grant as the guy you can actually relate to is very rare indeed. His penchant for gadgets and gizmos hints at every man’s dream of being an island. He lives off the royalties of his father’s one-hit Christmas wonder – and the film ends with a lovely familial Christmas celebration. Directed by the Weitz folks who brought us American Pie, there are some heartfelt moments and hilarious jokes. My own favourite is (now-Beast-in X-Men: Days of Future Past) Nicholas Hoult’s narration as his Mum breaks down trying to reach for a bowl. Awkwardly funny oh-so poignant. You can’t go wrong with a Nick Hornby adaptation (Yes to High Fidelity, no to A Long Way Down) as mince pies are brought into the lounge.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Love, Actually is your obvious choice. But considering the frustrations with the multiple situations that are either creepy (he fancies his best friends wife and pretends to be a caroller, etc) or deeply heart-breaking (his wife/mum is dead before the film even begins!), Bridget Jones’s Diary is a good alternative. Renée Zellweger proves her acting chops as a charismatic, clumsy thirty-something obsessed with losing weight and finding the man of her dreams. Hugh Grant as a sleaze is a satisfying consequence to his floppy-haired romantic in Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral. While Colin Firth brought back the Christmas jumper so that we can all wear it at Christmas parties 15 years later. I’m wearing mine now. I blame him.
And why not? Why can the first two Harry Potter’s and Lord of the Rings dominate Christmas while The Godfather can’t? Yes, it may be more Sicily than Santa, but the entire opening act is between August (the wedding) and Christmas! The unforgettable sequence as the Don (Brando) picks up some oranges while Fredo fumbles with his gun is set on a grey, winters day. Memorably, the happiness Mike (Pacino) and Kay (Keaton) have, wandering New York, is due to the boxes and boxes of Christmas presents they are carrying. That is until he reads the front of the paper revealing his Father’s attempted assassination. It’s dark and hardly tinsel and angels, but it’s about family. The 1970’s décor and cold, blustery weather (think about when Pacino pops the collar to look like a gangster when waiting at his father’s bedside) capture these breezy months perfectly. Any excuse to watch The Godfather really, and if you haven’t seen it – well, it’s Christmas, and now is your chance.
Simon Columb – Follow me on Twitter