The 12 films of Christmas, Part One:The Build Up

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Once again, I’m being entirely unoriginal here, but what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t have some kind of Christmas post on here?  Everyone has their Christmas traditions, and among mine are a certain set of films which absolutely must be watched before the big day.  Some start to get you in the mood in the early days of December, others are the full on Tinsel and Fairy lights, perfect for Christmas Eve.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting my festive favourites, split into three groups depending on when I reckon is the best time to watch them, starting with the ones which aren’t necessarily all about Christmas, but have just enough jingle bells to remind you it’s getting close.

So it’s December. The shops have been playing carols since August but you’re still not quite there with the Christmas spirit yet.  Now is the time for the build up films, the ones that don’t hit you over the head with festive cheer, but start to remind you why it’s “the most wonderful time of the year.”

To start you off: The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I’m never quite sure when to watch this film.  Too Christmassy to watch at Halloween, a bit too cynical to watch at Christmas.  In the end I’ve decided it fits nicely into the end of November and beginning of December; the perfect film to remind you that the season has begun.

I’ve written about Nightmare before, but for those of you who don’t know it’s a cult classic Burton film telling the story of Jack Skellington the King of Halloween town.  By accident he stumbles into Christmasland, where “absolutely no one’s dead” leading him to try and recreate the magic back home.  Poor Jack gets it a bit wrong though, and it’s up to Frankenstein monster Sally to show him what Christmas is all about.

The film is full of Christmas spirit, but it’s also full of goblins and ghouls meaning it’s not the DVD you’ll be reaching for on Christmas Eve.  Whatever the time of year however, it’s a brilliant movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet and are still waiting to be caught up in the yuletide fun, this is definitely the place to start.

Die Hard (no, really)

You might be wondering what I’m getting at here, but I refer you to the quote: “Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.”  Any excuse to watch this wicked film is fine by me, and in my book a film which takes place on Christmas Eve is a Christmas film.  OK, so it might not exactly be brimming with the joys of the season, but at its heart it’s a film about a guy trying to get home to see his kids for Christmas.  There’s just the issue of a few German terrorists to get past first.  Not you’re typical seasonal fun granted, but a brilliant film in it’s own right with just enough holiday spirit to get you on your way.

Back to Burton for: Edward Scissorhands

It’s the story of where snow comes from. What could be more Christmassy than that?  The film documents roughly a year of Edward’s life, but the final showdown takes place at Christmas and it’s those scenes which stick in most people’s memories.  Another sensational film, this tells the tale of Edward; a boy made by an inventor who died before he could finish, leaving Edward alone in an empty mansion with metal shards instead of hands.  Both hilarious and tragic, Edward is a beautiful film with an equally gorgeous soundtrack that will start to stir up warm fuzzy feelings you never knew were there.

And finally, the first of the real Christmas films: Love Actually

Stop rolling your eyes like that.

For some reason a lot of people don’t like this film, but as far as I’m, concerned Richard Curtis can do no wrong, especially when you’re looking for some festive schmaltz.  This film was made for the build up, as that’s exactly what it’s about! Travelling from mid November to Christmas Eve, it juxtaposes the stories of a great ensemble cast, whose lives all intertwine as they try and make it to the big day.  Stand out performances include Emma Thompson’s perfectly British “Joni Mitchell” moment and, of course, Bill Nighy singing “Christmas is all around.”

If you’re looking for your Christmas spirit, look no further than Love Actually.  It’s got everything you need to get you in the mood, with enough different types of character to be sure of having someone there you identify with.  Of the four on this page, it’s the one film you can be absolutely certain I will watch before Christmas. It just has to be that way.

(Yes, it's blurry. But I couldn't resist a screenshot of that moment.)

Hope that starts to get you in the mood. Part two coming soon.

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I’m Ba-ack!

Posted on August 23, 2009. Filed under: News, Trailers | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the absence, I’ve been on holiday, but since I’ve been gone my hits have continued to sky rocket so thanks to everyone who’s dropped by or left a comment. 🙂

Anyhoo, down to business…

There’s some great films coming out in the not to distant future, including Tim Burton’s  9 which I’ve written about before.

Releasing on the same day (09.09.09) we have Dorian Gray.  This one intrigues me as its one of the few books I’ve actually read (and loved!)  As far as I know his only big screen incarnation to date is Stuart Townsend in LXG.  Good fun but about as far removed from the book as you can get.  Gray is a great character so there’s potential for a really good movie here, even if the do stray from the book.  Interestingly, depite Wilde’s description of him as blonde and blue, the new film, like LXG has gone for a darker look.  Gotta say that’s always how I pictured him.

Trailer looks good.  Maybe Colin firth can redeem himself for Mamma Mia.

Also on my to see list for September is Gamer, starring Michael C. “Dexter” Hall and Gerrard Butler.  He’s getting an increasingly slimy reputation since he hit the big time, but I caught the trailer before Public Enemies and it looks like it could be good.  Lots of guns and explosions will always draw me in.

And finally….Surrogates.  Kind of a similar idea to Gamer with a little bit of The Matrix thrown in for good luck, it stars Bruce Willis sporting what is possibly the most unconvincing wig in movie history (luckily not for long).  “Based on the Graphic Novel” is always a sure fire way to pull in the crowds, and Bruce is usually worth the money so while the futuristic nightmare format might be getting a little tired now, Surrogates is likely to get me into the cinema.

So that’s September sorted. Good thing I’m not going back to uni….

Oooh and don’t forget Cloudy with a Chance of Meatlballs.  It looks like fun to me.  And coming up in October (and likely to get its own post nearer the time) is Shutter Island.  Leo DiCaprio in a new psych-ward thriller. The trailer looks wicked.

Nice to be back everyone.

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Yipee ki-ay….

Posted on January 30, 2009. Filed under: Movies to see before you die | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I’m a big fan of films involving guns and explosions and, having wathced Die Hard 3 last night, thought I’d give you a run down of the best action films out there.

In my opinion, the movie that defines the genre is Die Hard.  The original movie is a spectacular cocktail of explosions, one liners, german-speaking terrorists and profuse bleeding; what more can you ask for in an action film?  John McClane is probably the best action character ever, created out of a well established formula of maverick cop who doesn’t always obey the rules but gets the job done.  Die hard is so well made though, and the combination of Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman is perfect, making it the ultimate action comfort film (if such a thing exists).  Die hard also gave us the immortal line that I’m using as a title, and for that we are eternally greatful.

McClane

As for the Die Hard sequels, none of them stand up to the original, but Die Hard with a Vengeance (3) comes pretty close, aided by the work of Samuel L Jackson and the brilliant Jeremy Irons.  The two even numbered sequels are not quite up to standard, with Die Hard 2 being a favourite kicking post for critics, but the most recent 4.0 isn’t bad and does have some great moments.  The digital plot is just a bit flat, especially since the original is such a classic 80’s movie. McClane just wasn’t built for the digital age.

For me Die Hard is the ultimate action movie, but I know others would argue that Lethal Weapon is the author of the genre.  Having only seen the first installment once, I’m not quite qualified to put up a defence, but I’ll come back when I’ve watched it again.  What I do remember is that Lethal Weapon is that little bit darker than Die Hard, with an underlying suicide theme which is great for character development but makes it that little bit less fun than watching wise-cracking Willis running around a skyscraper bare foot.

Another contender for ultimate action movie is Speed, a movie in which Keanu Reeves actually acts (almost)!  Another great collection of explosions and unhinged psychopaths out for revenge, but this time set on a bus, Speed has some great movements; most famously that jump over the gap in the highway.  Reeves is good in the role, supported heavily by Jeff Daniels and Dennis Hopper.  The decision to carry Sandra Bullock’s character into a sequel, I think, was a bad one, especially since she’s pretty irritating in the original, but at least Speed 2 has Willem Defoe giving it his creepy best.

The score of Speed is also pretty great, but there is pure genius in the use of Beethoven’s 9th in Die Hard, which keeps coming back in inverted forms throughout the score.  A similar idea is used in Die Hard 3, unfortunately I can’t remember what the piece of music is called (please someone comment and help me ‘cos its maddening) but if you ever sang “the animals went in two by two” in primary school you’ll know the tune I’m on about!

All of the above are going into the movies to see before you die, but if you’ve only got time for one, go for Die Hard.

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