Keep them out of bright light, don’t get them wet and never, ever feed them after midnight.

Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , |

Guess what I’ve been watching?

I’m not going to write a full review, because there is already enough on the internet about why Gremlins is genius, but it’s going to get a quick post, mainly to explain why it doesn’t make it into my Christmas Top 12

I do love Gremlins. It’s a brilliantly bizarre movie, which brought us some of the cutest (Mogwai) and most destructively violent creatures seen on screen.  It is a standard monster movie-bad thing takes over defined area and must be stopped-but somehow setting it on Christmas Eve adds an element of sweet homeliness you wouldn’t expect.  I think the strangest thing about Gremlins is that it seems like a kids film, but it clearly isn’t.  At first glance, you have a nice little story about a boy who gets a magic pet for Christmas, but once you get into it you realise you’re watching a film where in the space of about 5 minutes you see a series of deaths involving a blender, a microwave, a snow plough and an out of control stair lift.

That’s why Gremlins falls just short of the top 12.  It is a fantastic film, and the inventive ways they came up with to kill off various characters, not to mention the fantastic characterisation of each Gremlin in the party scene, is sheer brilliance, but it’s not really one you can all watch round the fire together on Christmas Eve.  The Christmas setting of this movie is purely coincidental, it could just have easily have been Billy’s birthday.

Gremlins (and Gremlins 2 come to think of it) is definitely a movie to see before you die.  If only I could have a Mogwai for Christmas.

(Actually, I do have a little toy Gizmo. He dances and sings. I love him very much.)

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The 12 films of Christmas, Part Two: Christmas Hols

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Even if you don’t go to school anymore (or happen to work in one) you’ll probably remember that the Christmas excitement really takes hold once you go off on holiday.  And as my school was closed on the last day of term because of the snow, the festive spirit is really flowing.

The fact that I’m completely snowed in has also helped me cross off a few more of my pre-Christmas movies. So here’s part two of my must watch yuletide films, this time bringing you some undeniably merry movies.

The Grinch

Jim Carrey has been a bit of a feature round here recently, and like many of his films, The Grinch tends to divide people.  I guess if you really hate him you can trade the new version for the traditional animation, but I really like Ron Howard’s adaption which stays very close to the book and has a great look which brings to life Dr Seuss’s mad imagination.  Even if you’ve never seen the movie/read the book, you’re bound to have some idea what The Grinch is all about.  In a way, it’s a bit like A Christmas Carol, with a grumpy outsider finding “the meaning of Christmas” but it also is increasingly relevant as both  Cindy-Lou and The Grinch struggle with the idea that Christmas seems to be all about who can spend the most money.


I have absolutely no idea why I like this film, I just know that I have to see it before Christmas.  I think a lot of it is down to John Williams beautiful score, my favourite monent being where he weaves Carol of the Bells into his main theme.  Yes, this film is unutterably cheesy, but that’s just what you need at Christmas. Plus, the child in me will always laugh at two bad guys getting hit in the face with paint cans.

Miracle on 34th Street

Again, there’s a few versions of this, but the one I’m voting for here is the Richard Attenborough, because I could totally see him being Santa.  This film has great memories for me, especially as it is one of the first (if not the first) films I ever saw at the cinema; back in the dark ages when my town still had one.  It’s a cute story about getting people to believe in Santa Claus, and although it’s sickly sweet, it gets away with it thanks to some strong performances from Attenborough and Mara Wilson (AKA Matilda). The idea of a legal battle over the existence of Santa is also a pretty neat one, oroginal enough to be taken off in numeous parodies ever since the black and white original.

This final spot I’ve struggled with.  In the end I’ve decided to leave out Gremlins on account that it’s not so much a family film (although since I discovered it two Christmasses ago I haven’t looked back).  So my final Christmas Hols film is:

The Santa Clause

This film has a lot fo similarities with Miracle on 34th, with both trying to get grown-ups to believe in Santa, but this time with a modern twist. Tim Allen stars as the half-hearted Dad who falls foul of “The Santa Clause” after accidentally knocking St Nick off the roof.  Forced to become the new Santa, the plot follows the not so shocking arc of him coming to terms with his new responsibilities, but with the nice side story of him bonding with his son (Daddy issues anyone?)  It’s a fun film with some real laughs, making me all the more sad that it’s not on this year and I don’t have it on DVD.

So that’s the holidays sorted (and I don’t mean that in the American sense.)  If you’re snowed in like me, crank the heating up, grab a blanket and get stuck in!

Final installment coming on Christmas Eve (ish) with my recommendations for the films to finally get you ready for the big day. And one to watch while you can barely move after all that dinner.

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