The 12 films of Christmas, Part Three: Christmas Eve!

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here we are with the third and final part of my 12 films of Christmas. The deckies are up, the presents are wrapped, the turkey’s defrosting and there’s only one thing left to do; get in those final few films to really get you in the mood!

Before I get going, a quick reminder of the 12 so far:

12. The Nightmare Before Christmas
11. Die Hard
10. Edward Scissorhands
9. Love Actually
8. The Grinch
7. Home Alone
6. Miracle on 34th Street
5. The Santa Clause

Onto the top 4 then. Here’s my recommendations for what to watch on Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day.

A Muppet Christmas Carol

OK, so I have a confession to make. I’ve cheated and already watched this one.  Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the Muppets. As I’ve said to Caz, as far as I’m concerned this is the definitive version of the Dickens classic (although I haven’t seen the newest offering.)  For starters Michael Caine sings in it!  All the music is great and the puppets are woven seamlessly into the human cast to make what is actually a very truthful rendition of the classic Christmas tale.  Although I do blame Jim Henson for my misguided belief that there were two Marley brothers (and that Scrooge’s first job was in a rubber chicken factory :P)

At some point during Christmas you have to see a version of A Christmas Carol. And if you’re me, this is the one you’re reaching for.

Getting into the evening now with: The Snowman

When I rule the world I’m passing a law that says everyone has to watch this on Christmas Eve.  It’s only 26 minutes long, there’s barely any speaking in it and the ending is one of the most heartbreaking on screen, but it is Christmas for me.  Howard Blake’s score is iconic, as is the animation, and for me as well as (probably) hundreds of other children it used to be the last thing I’d watch before I went to bed on Christmas Eve.  In the last couple of years however, it’s been replaced by my next choice…

Possibly a controversial one here…: The Polar Express

This was one of the first pioneers into the world of 3D cinema and therefore has some rollercoaster train rides to make the most of the effects and some slightly strange looking animation for which it’s got a bit of stick over the last few years. I’ve recently said I’m not that into the whole 3D thing (…until I see Avatar…) so you might be wondering what it’s doing at the top of my list. Let me explain.

I have never seen this film in 3D.  In fact the whole 3D thing only came to my attention because I was looking into the rollercoaster scenes.  So when I saw this film I wasn’t judging it on visual effects but on the story.  True, the animation of the people is a little off, mainly because it’s layered over actual performances, but I kinda like the fact that you can just about recognise Tom Hanks in each of the 6 characters he portrays.  I also think the plot is original and perfect for Christmas Eve.  Again, the idea of people not believing in Santa is used a lot this time of year, but the train for non-believers is a new one, and the juxtaposition between the different children works well.  My favourite theme in the movie though is the bells, such an essential part of the whole Santa image and used cleverly in this film.

If you haven’t seen it (or heard of it) I can’t recommend it more. It’s become a staple of our family Christmas, one which I will definitely be watching tonight.

So, that’s Christmas Eve sorted. Off to bed now or Santa wont come.  I have one more film for you, to watch tomorrow after your turkey.  In a way it’s a predictable choice, although you might not recognise it at first…

My Christmas Day film is: Chicken Run!

Is there anything more British than Aardman animation? When the rest of the world was wowing with CGI and the first of the Pixar sensations, Nick Park got out the plasticine and started building.

Chicken Run is a great film, full of dry humour, an awesome voice cast (Mel Gibson, Jane Horrocks, Miranda Richardson, Timothy Spall) and fun for all the family.  It’s great for any occasion, so why Christmas? Simple.

Chicken Run is The Great Escape, possible the most watched film at Christmas. Only it’s the less boring, less depressing, far more fun version of the same story, which in my opinion is infinitely better for you while you try to work out if you have any space left for that green triangle Quality Street.  Steve McQueen and his motorbike might be what most people reach for on Christmas Day, but I’ll take a rooster on a tricycle any day.

And that’s it. Christmas wrapped up in 12 great movies. All that’s left to say is Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you all have a great time with whatever you’re doing.

I’ll be back in the New Year for this blog’s first birthday.

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Jim Carrey-underrated actor?

Posted on November 9, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings, Underrated Actors | Tags: , , , , |

I’ve been meaning to write a post along these lines for a while, and with A Christmas Carol making Jim Carey a hot topic at the moment I thought I’d finally get on with it.

Most of the world know Jim Carrey for his “rubber-faced” antics (I swear that term was invented to describe him)  and his over the top form of comedy which makes him a definite love-hate figure for a lot of people.  Whether or not his particular style of comedy appeals to you, (and I’m slightly ashamed to say it does to me) you have to admit, he’s good at what he does.  What interests me is that there tend to be moments in his films which belie a more serious talent behind all the funny voices and flailing limbs.  I’m wondering if I’m the only one who thinks that maybe, just maybe, Jim Carrey is actually a pretty good actor.

My main evidence for this is The Truman Show.  Carrey’s role is pretty serious throughout, with only a couple of his trademark gags.  The rest of the performance is a really sincere portrayal of a man discovering everything in his world is a fabrication.  I don’t want to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it (and I highly recommend you do) but the final scene in the boat is really well performed, and very held back for someone who is so renowned for being off the wall and out of control.  In the gag reel to Liar Liar he picks up on his tendency to over-act, but it seems to me that the Jim Carrey we know is just part of the character, and if he’d chosen a different path, we might just know him as another good actor.

In recent years, it does seem that Carrey is trying to be taken more seriously, with films like Eternal Sunshine, which again is a very straight role for someone like him.  He’s not always gone down well (The Number 23-oops) and he seems to be kind of stuck in this stereotype he’s created for himself.  Perhaps that’s why he’s taken on a lot of voice over work recently, with Horton Hears a Who and A Christmas Carol.

I’m not saying Jim Carrey is one of the best actors of his generation, but I do think that people tend to overlook him because they think of him as a clown rather than an actor.  I think films like Truman and Eternal Sunshine show that actually, he is a better actor than most give him credit for.

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