Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Alternative Christmas

With all the typical Christmas film being set to repeat on TV and no end of discounts online for the films and TV specials, I thought I'd step away from the traditional Christmas film.

Each year I talk about all the films I have to watch on the lead up to Christmas. Last year I was pretty glum about missing the Muppets Christmas Carol window trying to cram everything else in. Of course my favourite Christmas film, apart from the Muppets is Santa Claus: The Movie with John Lithgow as the toy factory owner villain. I used to watch it all the time when I was younger and during Uni I had nostalgic phase and was delighted to find out that it wasn't just me and my sister who loved it. It was during Uni and after that I just had to watch these Christmas films. More and more have been added to the list with even a drinking game made out of one.

Die Hard
'Welcome to the party pal!' Indeed. From the minute the film starts, theres a Christmas vibe. Awesome New York cop, John McClane, Bruce Willis hot off of Moonlighting staples himself as an action hero for a lifetime. Just like to point out, he is hilarious in Moonlighting. Back to Die Hard. McClane has a huge soft toy for his kids, plus theres an office Christmas party in full swing at the Nakatomi Plaza where McClane's wife works in LA. I know it seems like I'm explaining this to everyone, like they haven't seen Die Hard, but I'm just getting to the Christmassy parts. I think the best scene that really exaggerates that its Christmas is when the terrorists (mostly German) find one of their own dead in a lift wearing a Santa hat with the now immortal words written on his jumper 'Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.' You can actually buy that on a Christmas jumper now. The film also takes place on Christmas Eve, now what's more Christmassy than Bruce Willis running around in a dirty vest, hunting down terroists in a gigantic LA building?

Batman Returns
It was only a few years ago that I considered this film a Christmas film, which is just plain crazy. I think it was a Uni friend who pointed it out to me and we watched it there and then. For me, this is the better of the two Tim Burton Batman films. It is also a rare brilliant film that has more than one villain, in fact it has 3. Where Spiderman 3 failed, Batman Return excelled. The Christmas aspect is actually just the backdrop to the goings on with Batman, Catwoman, Penguin and Christopher Walken. In fact, just having the latter in the film bumps the film up to a high status. The centre piece to Gotham is the gigantic Christmas tree in the opening sequences and again when that 'actress' falls to her death. Mistletoe and parties appear too to create the Christmas-sphere, even though we are actually just distracted by Catwoman's whip. The film bring holiday cheer as well as some great superheroes and villians. 

Trading Places
Out of the three films, I suppose that Trading Places is the more Christmassy, mostly due to the fact that Dan Aykroyd's Louis Winthorpe III falls on desparate times and dresses up as Father Christmas and points a gun at his former colleagues. It reminds viewers that its Christmas.

For those are not familiar, the story is this, two extremely wealthy brothers who own a commodities brokerage, decide to make a bet. They switch two people's lives and see how they react. One is Winthorpe, their employee, wealthy, educated, successfull and a typical snob. The other is Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) who is poor and resorts to street hustling. When they are switched, chaos reigns on both. It's brilliantly written and Aykroyd  and Murphy make a great duo, later on in the film. My favourite scenes are obvious the drunk Winthorpe hitting rock bottom, dressed as Santa, trying to eat a whole salmon on the bus. The other would be the New Year's train journey where the group are dressed up in various ridiculous outfits.

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