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December 22, 2006

Christmas Movies

I finished the second draft of a script the night before last. Now I've turned to another project, working on it here and there in between wrapping presents and hanging out with m family and, of course, watching Christmas movies. Most of the old classics - It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th Street, Christmas Vacation, etc. - have become as institutionalized as putting up the tree and listening to David Bowie and Bing Crosby's painful pre-duet banter. My definition of a Christmas movie, on the other hand, is any film that just feels appropriate this time of year, and thus far it's included Singin' In The Rain (at 4 A.M. last night, after which I was too happily wired to go to bed) and all of Wes Anderson's movies, The Royal Tennenbaums especially. I watched that one this afternoon, and might have to let it play again tonight. I think it's aging well, to put it mildly.

Slightly more traditional titles on my list include Batman Returns, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Fanny And Alexander and, of course, a requisite for family viewing this coming Sunday, Bad Santa. I loved the original cut so much, Billy Bob's voice-over and happy ending included, that I'm actually a little trepidatious about seeing Terry Zwigoff's new, shorter director's cut, even though I'm sure it's actually a better film. I'm worried I'll feel like I'm missing something.

I also have this inclination to watch Almodovar films. Maybe it's just a case of cinematic conditioning, seeing as how they're always released around Christmas. But they're also incredibly generous and warm and brimming with joie de'vivre. They're sad, too, but sad in a way that leaves you feeling warm inside. Just like all the best Christmas carols.

Posted by David Lowery at December 22, 2006 12:32 AM


I will always maintain that "Eyes Wide Shut" is my favorite Christmas movie, followed closely by "Gremlins"

Posted by: Adam Ross at December 22, 2006 5:35 PM

christmas vacation is my family's official christmas movie. i've already watched it once this week, and will surely repeat it another time or two before the year is over..

Posted by: brad at December 23, 2006 10:54 AM

Eyes Wide shut is my all time favorite film (or one of them, at least), and I'm sure the Christmas setting has something to do with that.

Gremlins is definitely a great one. The story of the unfortunate Santa Claus in the chimney accident disturbed me so much when I was little...far more than any of the monsters or deaths-by-chair-lifts. One of my friends rented a 16mm print of it and projected it last weekend at a Christmas party (one which I was unfortunately out of town for).

And as for Christmas vacation, I remember when it first became a classic in our house, and my dad made me and my brothers cover our eyes during all of Clark's more lascivious daydreams. I always peeked, of course.

Posted by: Ghostboy at December 23, 2006 2:35 PM

Royal Tenenbaums makes sense here, especially given that the Charlie Brown Xmas music is on the soundtrack. And it's an excellent movie.

My parents and I were watching The Sound of Music, which fits pretty well. But then my cat allergies started killing me and I had to get out of the house.

I was shopping of Xmas gifts today and was suddenly overtaken with the urge to rewatch The Wonder Boys, so maybe there's some weird Xmas mojo in that film, too.

Posted by: Chuck at December 23, 2006 8:36 PM

Bad Santa's not a bad choice, but my parents would probably implode if I watched it with them.

Posted by: Chuck at December 23, 2006 8:37 PM

i remember watching it and probably not getting it at the time. liked the pool though.

Posted by: brad at December 23, 2006 10:56 PM

I don't think my dad could handle Bad Santa, but my mom could take it, intermittently.

What I remember Wonder Boys capturing so beautifully is the warmth of an old house on a cold winter's day. I remember a lot more than that, too, but those snow flurries and the coziness of Grady's study are what I, impressionistically, remember most (about the film - Chabon's novel is another matter).

Matt Dentler points out another great holiday classic at his blog: how can you top Die Hard?

Posted by: Ghostboy at December 24, 2006 3:39 AM