Matt Rodgers on the Cinematic 12 Days of Christmas…
Tis the season, you know the one, no matter your own belief system you’re going to be exposed to seasonal songs being pumped into your every waking hour by supermarkets, cinemas, and family members.
Here at Flickering Myth we’re not going to be a pre-ghosted Ebenezer Scrooge, we’re going to embrace the festivities like a skipping, dancing, Muppet carrying Michael Caine, by skewing one of the most beloved Christmas songs into a cinema themed run down. Ladies and gentlemen, here are the 12 Days of Christmas, movie style.
12 Drummers Drumming
There’s only one obvious place to go for the first selection of our Christmas congregation, and it’s not the Nick Cannon percussion classic Drumline. Instead we’ve opted for the Damien Chazelle film that should have won all the Oscars; Whiplash.
Memorable for the one it did pick up with J.K. Simmons intimidating music teacher, Whiplash is a bruising encounter, with one of the greatest final battles since Rocky stepped into the ring with Apollo Creed.
11 Pipers Piping
There are many proponents of the pipe on the silver screen; Christoph Waltz’s Nazi hunter from Inglorious Basterds, the soon-to-be-retired-but-for-how-long Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York, and Gandalf the Grey with his penchant for Old Toby. All pale in pipe-smoking comparison to that most iconic of puffers; Sherlock Holmes.
Whichever iteration of Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective you might wish to include; from Peter Cushing, through Christopher Lee, Sir Ian McKellen (again), Robert Downey Jr., and now Benedict Cumberbatch, nobody is synonymous with this disgusting habit quite like the Baker Street resident.
10 Lords a Leaping
The purists among you might opt for Gene Kelly’s damp lamp swinging of Singing in the Rain, but there’s a more contemporary lord-a-leaping, and he does it to a much better piece of music (imo). Step forward, well, tap-dance forward Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot.
It’s the iconic scene of Stephen Daldry’s award winning coming-of-age tale, in which an uncorked Billy, bounces off the walls in raw expressive anger to the beat of The Jam’s Town Called Malice. Doing more with his kinetic street dancing than any dialogue ever could.
9 Ladies Dancing
A category as hotly contested as the dance-off sequences in Jessica Alba body contorting fluff, Honey, which came close to being included, but lost on the grounds of credibility. Olivia Newton-John can get her leather jacket and leave too, because Grease has also failed to join the line-up.
The winner, and what a feeling it must be for Jennifer Beals, or her stunt double, who at one time during the infamous rehearsal scene is actually a muscly fella named Richard, because we’ve opted for Flashdance. Simple, clunky, and repeatedly parodied, not least the soldering iron sequence from Irene Cara’s time-capsule music video.
8 Maids a Milking
The toughest remit to fill thus far. You try Googling ‘milking on film’ and see if it doesn’t trigger an explicit content warning. However, such a prompt did get us thinking about a certain milking scene that is unsuitable for all ages.
After the critical and commercial success of Dumb and Dumber, the Farrelly Brothers decided to up-the-ante when it comes to vulgarity with Kingpin. It flopped. Only just scraping back its budget of $25m domestically.
In the intervening years, the tale of a one-armed ten-pin bowler, played by Woody Harrelson, has garnered a deserved cult status, and while it’s a stretch, there’s one particular joke that allows it to fall under the maids-a-milking category. It’s probably best to let the scene do the talking……
7 Swans a Swimming
Before the unhinged lunacy of mother!, Darren Aronofsky presented us with the definitive ‘swan’ in the form of Natalie Portman’s Faustian ballet tale.
Black Swan is a masterpiece that flits between enchanting tranquility and Evil Dead style schizophrenia, the camera itself becoming a character as it dances amongst the performers.
Portman’s self-critiquing turn is spectacular, her final reel “I was perfect” is fully justified by the ferocious determination she puts into the role. In fact, she’s so scary that we didn’t have the nerve to give this slot to Kristen Stewart’s Twilight moper, Bella Swan, for fear of reprisals.
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