The Nightmare Before Christmas
Less of a nightmare, more of a dream for a Christmas movie choice
Sick of the Jingle Bells and the Christmas lights? Tired of fake white beards and elven tights? Well you are in luck my mates, for The Nightmare Before Christmas awaits. From the inexplicable mind of Tim Burton, this is a story about Jack Skellington, who became weary of hosting Halloweens, and instead wanted to decorate Christmas trees; who became a castaway, for his desire to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
From the ghouls and witches, to the skulls and stitches, creativity is found in every creature. Grotesque and eerie, without being gross and creepy, this film is the antithesis of a Christmas feature. Yet its final celebration of love and heroism would be considered the perfect Christmas message by some. Of course this film is impossible without director Henry Selick, a stop-motion maverick, who created so many iconic and inspiring frames. Who doesn’t recognize the silhouette of Jack standing in front of the giant moon, while he was singing his melancholic tune? This brings me to Danny Elfman, whose songs and score augments the magic in every way.
So wave goodbye to the red-nosed reindeer, or whatever you watch for Christmas every year. It is time to witness the utter delight that is The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Nightmare before Christmas will be avaliable on Disney’s new streaming service and ‘other sources’
Children of Men
An Alternative Christmas Flick
A week into December and all the frivolous consumerist tosh brings out the cynic in the best of us. You’re already overloaded with sickly sweet festivity— all that Christmas cheer can leave you with heartburn. Tis the season to binge on Love Actually and Home Alone, even though you’ve probably watched both at least twice this year already. Rather than scouting for a sub-par flick that’ll “just about do” for your next night in, switching channels like spinning the barrel of a revolver for a game of Russian roulette, you’d best hear me out on an alternative ‘Christmas’ gem.
Children of Men is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, based on the book of the same name by P.D. James. It is set in 2027, when the world faces an infertility crisis that leaves civilisation in a politically unstable state, Theo (Clive Owen) is coerced into helping a group of freedom fighter terrorists to protect Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) who appears to be the first pregnant woman in eighteen years.
Every moment of this film is simply beautiful. The cinematography is helmed by Emmanuel Lubezki, a frequent collaborator of Cuaron. Lubezki uses the frame as a passive character in the drama, with long takes that drift off into the bigger picture. The richly dystopian world created in this film is a perfect canvas to paint the story with Lubezki’s cinematic brush, often with visceral ‘one-shot’ take set pieces that are the precursors to Lubezki’s work in Birdman.
But is it a Christmas film? What makes this a perfect alternative festive treat is twofold. It is lathered in the sour, (very) British pessimism that is missing from these vacuous times; having said that, it is profoundly uplifting and poignant in its final third. Children of Men is a modern retelling of the Nativity and deals with updated themes for the 21st Century audience, hitting home ideas about terrorism, refugee crises, and war. It’s not a “feel-good-film-of-the-year” per say, but it will overwhelm you with a humanitarian passion. This film is an essential festive antidote.
Children of Men is avaliable on Netflix and Amazon Prime, so there’s no excuse to not watch this masterpiece
Christmas with the Kranks
Tim Allen makes noises for 98 minutes
A movie so excruciatingly bad that never stops shoving the idea of a Merry Happy Consumerist Christmas down your throat, backed up by an incredible cast that never manages to hit anywhere close to their comedic timing. This movie is a nightmarish representation of the hell space that is capitalist Christmas, but for some reason, maybe the so bad it’s good effect, never fails to entertain with it’s cringy humour, half assed execution that’s laughable and sometimes honestly just absolutely bizarro plot. Do yourself and your closest most loved family a favour, and discover the meaning of Christmas with Tim Allen this year.
Not avaliable on any of the popular premium streaming sites, but good god if you’re gonna watch this, do NOT give them your money!
Deck the Halls
Danny Devito is not the only thing to fall short
Now a movie with Matthew Broderick spending months learning how to speed skate, production plagued with problems, mainly huge disagreements between the cast over sex scenes, and Danny DeVito, should lead to a masterpiece. But it isn’t, even with the sheer volume of effort it took to actually get made. The jokes land flat, the plot is confusing and on my list it comes second highest rated at 6% on rotten tomatoes, but don’t let that deter you. Every moment of Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick using their witty banter and natural onscreen presence to find the spirit of Christmas will leave you laughing, most of the time when it’s not meant to be funny.
Deck the Halls is available on Netflix, and also any HMV bargain bin.
Jingle All the Way
This should Jingle All The Way into the trash
This movie screams alarm bells from the very get go with a cast of some of the most notorious actors of the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger providing nothing more than just showing up for his Christmas paycheque alongside none other than the ‘Immortal Sinbad’. The movie truly comes into its element when you realise that all of Sinbad’s lines are improvised, and better yet Arnie decides to jump in on the action and add his own artistic flair to it. The result is a witty repertoire of organic, real dialogue that could rival the likes of ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘The Social Network’ and ‘The Godfather’. Must Watch/10.
(There’s even a sequel with Larry the Cable Guy).
Available in your local dump, hazardous waste disposal or melting in the fires of Mt. Doom.