Friday 5 December 2008

My movies for the Christmas season

My wife says I am a man of habits and rituals. She is absolutely right. As you probably know (you, my modest readership), I try to read and watch movies that in a way follow the seasons. It is a way like another to prioritise books and films when you have many on your shelf. It is also a good way to get into the seasonal spirit. During Halloween, this is easy enough: I read horror stories and watch horror movies. When Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat (although I eat turkey), it is trickier for me, because I don't like the marshmallow Christmas movies we are saturated with, with the silly two-bit moral and obvious consumerism. Maybe it has something to do with my Catholic past, maybe I think there is solemnity in the season that we lost, or whatever, but I prefer things that are not necessarily religious but more atmospheric. Jesus of Nazareth I consider it to be more of an Easter movie, so I watch it around that time. But here are some of the movies I watch around Christmastime:

-A Charlie Brown Christmas. Do I need to explain why? For me, it's the ultimate Christmas movie. Sweet, soft, simple, genuinely heart warming (without ever being preachy) and with great characters. The music is simply gorgeous and who can forget the classic speech of Linus about the meaning of Christmas?
-On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I mentioned it before, over and over again. Yes, it's a James Bond, but it is mainly set around Christmas and the scenes in the snow are beautiful. Whatever the time, a remote hideout on a mountain covered with snow is always menacing, but when one mixes it with a time of the year when you should be celebrating instead of chasing badguys (or being chased by them), it makes everything else worksI think Christmas works beautifully as a background for crime fiction (which spy thrillers are part of). The blood on snow, the Nativity story to emphasize the death that surround the protagonists, etc. Come to think of it, the Nativity story itself has its share of sinister elements, so using Christmas as a background for more sinister stories is a logical choice. In Victorian times, ghost stories were often set during Christmastime, it was a tradition to read them at this time. In Québec and in many other places, many tales are also set during Christmas.
-The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. I do watch them at other times of the year too, but simply because some of their stories are set around Christmas, I try to watch them at least once around that time. Any excuse is good to enjoy those classics.
-Eyes Wide Shut. A great underrated Stanley Kubrick classic. Beautiful and haunting. I absolutely love it. Oh, and it is set during the Christmas season too.
-La Guerre des Tuques. Translated in English as The Dog Who Stopped the War, which sort of gives a bit of the ending. A Québec classic, I used to love it when I was a child. The proof that children movies can also have serious themes and still be entertaining.
-C.R.A.Z.Y. A "new" classic, and my favourite recent Québec movies. The story of a child (then teenager, then man) born on the 25th of December growing up in the 60s and 70s Québec.

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