Tuesday 15 December 2009

Here's an antidote to the usual fare, fayre?....if like us you're tired of the same old schmaltz like Home Alone, The Santa Clause and other sickly shit like Miracle on 34th Street! Get 'em watched, now, quick.

1. Trading Places (1983) - Well Christmas isn't Christmas in this house without the trillianth viewing of this classic from John Landis, based on the original tale of The Prince and The Pauper. Everyone's on form here, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy especially.....Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the miserly scrooge a-like Dukes too.
And, despite everybody saying it every year (it's true), the bonus of Jamie Lee Curtis's sublime tits are the icing or rather cherries on a great big funny fucking cake.

2. Bad Santa (2003) Directed By Terry Zwigoff and produced by the brothers' Coen, this masterpiece of booze soaked filth is the perfect remedy to the popcorn nicey brain-dead Christmas junk. Starring Billy Bob Thornton as the bitter, alcoholic conman Willie Stokes - who alongside his dwarf accomplice (Tony Cox) use the front of a Shopping Mall Santa to rob them all blind every year. This year though Willie is befriended by dumb overweight kid Thurman Merman who believes him to be the real Santa, an unlikely friendship and almost self realisation thus occurs.

3. Go (1999) Set at Christmas Eve in downtown Los Angeles and centred around three intertwining stories all connected with one good old festive drug deal gone terribly wrong! This soon all comes crashing together via much bad vibes; car chases, villainy and shootings, not to mention a boy who was once in Grange Hill. A clever, underrated gem of a film that deserves the favourable comparisons with Pulp Fiction.

4. Scrooged (1988) Yes this is alternative, it's an alternate take on A Christmas Carol! Bill Murray is bang on form as the angry, cynical cold-hearted bastard TV exec Frank Xavier Cross. Whose ruthless desire to get to the top in his field has cost him anything dear to him and alienated him from his family and loved ones. Frank is given the task of producing a terrible live version of A Christmas Carol and slowly his life starts to mirror the story. Granted it has the feel good ending (it has to dunnit?) but overall it qualifies here.

5. Gremlins (1984) For kitsch value alone, this horror-comedy from the mid 80s makes the grade. Rand Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) a not very successful inventor is on the look out for a different kind of present for his son Billy this year. Whilst trying to sell his inventions in Manhattan's China town he spots the perfect gift, but it comes with some crucial rules which forget to be followed! 
Gremlins is a proper 80s film (like The Goonies) with blood, guts, bad language and Corey Feldman in it...and they don't make 'family' films like this anymore.

6. The Proposition (2005) Directed by John Hillcoat (the Road) and written by Nick Cave. Set in the Australian Outback during  the 1880's.  We follow Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) and his determination to civilise the Country, including bringing the ruthless Burns Brothers to justice. 
His plan sees one brother given until Christmas day to find, capture and kill the other brother. Culminating in a nice brutal, bloody climax all set around the Christmas dinner table!

7. Night of the Hunter (1955)
Film Noir from Charles Laughton and starring the excellent Robert Mitchum as 'Reverend' Harry Powell - a charming, yet evil philosophical serial killer. After sharing a cell with a man to be hanged, he is aware of his fortune but only by a cryptic muttering of a clue. He quickly tracks down the family, marries the widow and then goes after the kids believing them to know where the loot is. Creepy as fuck. Let me tell you the story of right hand, left hand...

8. Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983) - This Prisoner of War tale sees the thin white duke in one of his few starring roles. Dealing with the relationships of four men in a downright nasty Japanese POW camp during WW2 and their conflicting personal troubles. Accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack from Ryuichi Sakamoto that takes us straight back to being kids in the family car listenting to it on the old cassette player, yeah, that's right, beautiful. Not the cassettes, the soundtrack. Arf!

9. Joyeux Noël (2005) - French made film about the true events of WW1, during 1914 in which an 'unofficial' truce was held along the Western Front where rival fighters dropped their weapons and came together as one, sums up the futility, pity and total absurdity of war in one sitting, Happy Christmas!

10. The Snowman (1982) - Okay, okay a guilty pleasure here and one without a happy ending if you remember. Growing up, this was what made Christmas Eve really magic, we never had any snow at Christmas in the early 1980's, so the chances of building a snowman with enough consistency to stay there all night never mind pick you up and fucking fly to to the North Pole and back, was pretty remote. Also our fireplace was glass fronted too, so how did Father Christmas even get through? fuck knows? but we believed it, oh yes we did, every last bit of it. And this on telly every Christmas Eve brings it all flooding back with actual tears running down our now much older cheeks.
Depressingly magic.

Merry New Year!

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