Sorry for the sporadic updates of late, everybody needs a bit of downtime and eh, what better time to take a break than mid-December when the media seems to turn into a three-week period of recaps, previews and best of lists? Of course we’ll be publishing our own end of year lists next week (at the actual end of the year – how novel).
But to celebrate the season we’ve put together a little feature to share our four favourite Christmas films. Two for Páraic, two for Nigel. Let’s kick it off with a classic…
Every child wants to have the house to themselves at some point. No parents bossing you around, no smelly older brothers and sisters beating you up and taking all your stuff, so with Home Alone every child’s fantasy was fulfilled. Macaulay Culkin or should I say KEVIN!!!!!!! is the lucky boy who gets left behind in all the confusion as the rest of the family fly off to Paris. Why am I explaining the plot? Everyone knows the plot and if you don’t, never mind as you’re clearly dead inside.
The universality of the film is what makes it so enduring, we were all scared of something in the house be it a furnace, the attic or whatever, we all knew some creepy old guy that kids made up stories about who really had a heart of gold and we all had older siblings who did our heads in. The addition of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the Wet Bandits, your friendly neighbourhood thieves makes for some of the funniest physical comedy committed to celluloid.
Another big part of the film is showing a mother’s love for her child, the father, John Heard, seems slightly blasé about the whole affair while Catherine O’Hara as Kevin’s Mum is positively distraught and will move heaven and earth to get home to her son before Christmas Day resulting in a lovely little cameo from John Candy pretty much playing the spirit of Christmas. What else would you expect though from a John Hughes screenplay than fun, frolics and the meaning of family, easily Macaulay Culkin’s greatest film, but if you can claim to be the integral part of one of the best Christmas films ever made then who cares.
Little known fact – one of my ambitions in life is to do an academic thesis on John McTiernan’s Die Hard.
Summarising things seems silly considering it’s more or less ubiquitous 23 years after its original release but for the 7 people in the world who have yet to see it… Die Hard features a star-making turn from Bruce Willis as John McClane, a New York cop who has to divert a terrorist attack/heist in his wife’s L.A. office building. On Christmas Eve.
The story of the Nakatomi Plaza’s takeover is adapted from Roderick Thorp’s thriller novel Nothing Last Forever, and the note-perfect script finds the perfect balance between laughs, action and character development. The fact that a dumb action film from the director of Predator could resonate this much with so many people is testament to the writing.
The film could probably have worked without the Christmas setting, but for me it makes the film. “Ho, ho, ho, now I’ve got a machine gun”, the deserted office building and the tension of the awkward “let’s spend the holidays together for the kids” reunion. And of course it means we get Vaughn Monroe’s Let it Snow over the end credits.
As close to perfection as an action film could be.
Richard Donner directs the fantastic Bill Murray in what is undoubtedly the best adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Murray plays Frank Cross the television President entrusted with putting on a live show of Dicken’s classic. His rise to the top has cost him everything; true love, a meaningful family relationship or any worthwhile friends. So it’s the job of Lew Hayward his mentor to come back from the dead and make him change his ways thus preventing him spending an eternity in the warm embrace of Hell. David Johansen plays the ghost of Christmas past as the loveablely gruff New York Cabbie and Carol Kane’s no nonsense Christmas present ghost fairy is hilarious.
This is a Christmas film with big baubles, it’s funny, scary , serious and most importantly full of heart. If you don’t shed a tear or get a little misty eyed during Bill Murray’s summary speech at the end, which is on par with Howard Beale’s rant in Network, then there really is no hope for you.
Jingle All the Way
What? Yes I’m serious.
Arnie plays the workaholic father who has to get his son the “must-have” toy of the season, TURBO MAN. Phil Hartman is great value as the sleazy neighbour and a pre-Star Wars Jake Lloyd is thrown in there to play the poor neglected son.
Cue wonderful crazy festive antics. Arnie’s in fine form shouting at kids, throwing himself around toyshops, punching Santa Clauses and hitting the whiskey when it all goes wrong. Clearly Schwarzenegger was suffering from a little bit of roid-rage.
Of course what makes it all the more interesting is to look at it in retrospect. Privately Schwarzenegger’s personal life was in ruin. Eraser preceded Jingle All the Way. Batman and Robin came after. He was also in the middle of an affair with his housewife Patty Baena with Jingle being released only 2 months before the conception of their son Joseph.
So in the end it came in the middle of two turkeys and a surprise baby on the way. Could you possibly come up with anything more festive?
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Now sit back, pour yourself a brandy and indulge in some Christmas cheer.
Have a Merry Christmas and normal service will resume next week with our end of year lists.