The holidays are just around the corner, and with that comes the onslaught of Christmas specials and marathons airing on the magic box we call television. Everyone seems to have that one or seven Christmas movies they always watch at this time of year. You’ll hear lists containing the classics, like Miracle on 34th, Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Ref, A Christmas Story, Die Hard…
But what of the movies that aren’t about Christmas? The ones that took back the holly and mistletoe? Do you have movies that you marathon during Christmas that aren’t about Christmas?
I do. And you’re going to read about them. Because you can take it.
For starters, the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a yearly ritual of which I gladly partake in. Without fail, ABC Family or another of the movie channels will air this flick in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In some cases, I’ve seen it aired on Christmas Eve. And I’ll happily sit down to watch. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and just may be the movie that instantly reverts me to being a kid again. The music is both chilling and heartwarming, perfect for such a controversial holiday. The movie has little or nothing to do with Christmas, but somehow it’s aired. And somehow, I watch.
And I still don’t know what the point was of “The Wonderous Boat Ride.” Anyone care to explain it? It’s been bothering me for a decade.
Remember about a minute ago when you clicked on “Continue Reading”? Remember the last line? It should have been a clue. Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are movies I also watch amidst the Christmas season.
There’s almost nothing of Christmas to be found in those movies, but they seem fitting. Also more fitting would have been Batman Returns since that film at least has snow, but there’s something intangible about the Nolan movies that draws me in especially during this time of year. Is it the cold, harsh grit of Gotham that collides with the upbeat spirit of Christmas? Is it the gothic allure of Batman mixed with the modern sensibilities that make for a great story during the winter lull? …nah. Might have had something to do with the fact that I got both movies as Christmas presents the year they came out. Yeah, just might.
Doesn’t help that from the looks of The Dark Knight Rises, it looks like I’ve got a whole trilogy to go through in future holidays.
Speaking of comic book movies, another flick I sit down to watch while the snow piles up outside my door is the director’s cut of Watchmen.
Did I say director’s cut? I’m sorry, I meant the ultimate cut. As in, the one that’s 215 God damn minutes long.
Watchmen was a mixed bag for many people, but personally I liked it. While I did argue recently about artistic reinterpretations and adaptations, the Watchmen movie is hardly what I’d call an interpretation. It was almost a side-by-side translation of the book, and while I enjoyed it, I don’t know if that was a good thing in the long run. The movie kind of just waned during its release. It didn’t change movies like how the book changed comics. That’s up to you to decide if that’s a good or bad thing.
But what is it about Watchmen and Christmas? Well to be fair, I’ve only done it for two years so it’s hardly what I’d call a yearly ritual, more like pulling off a combo in Street Fighter. But like the Nolan Batman movies, I got Watchmen as a gift one Christmas from my dad. I had asked for “The Ultimate Cut” specifically because I thought it was a novel idea to splice the movie and the animated Tales of the Black Freighter together. Again, direct translation of the book.
Because of that, the movie clocks in at 215 minutes long. Can I watch this movie on any other day? No, and that’s what makes it special during the holidays. This probably won’t happen in several years when (if) I enter the workforce but while I’m in school and I have a reaaaally long vacation, I have time to spare. And who wants to read? I find comfort in taking refuge from the cold, harsh winter and warming myself up with New England clam chowder and
a story that questions our higher authorities and faith in supermen Malin Akerman naked a movie.
There’s something alluring about long movies as well. They no longer become movies, but an experience, and that to me is what the Watchmen movie is like.
They should totally air it on ABC Family.
In the Christmas of my freshman year in high school, I became extremely ill that I eventually wound up in the hospital. I didn’t wake up with an altered biology and super strength, unfortunately, but I did manage to watch A Christmas Story and Beerfest for the first time. My sister’s boyfriend was shocked I hadn’t seen Story yet and lent it to me before my break started. And Beerfest, for the hell of it. When I got sick, my hobbies at the time were throwing up whatever soup my mom made, whatever anything the hospital made, and watching movies in bed.
By the end of that break, I saw A Christmas Story a whopping total of once. Beerfest? I lost count around twelve.
Come on, be fair. I was like, really sick. A Christmas Story had that incredibly racist ending and Beerfest just made me feel good!
It was the beer.
Coming out of left field is Jackie Chan’s Police Story. A few years ago (and to this day, to an extent), Walmart of all places used to be an oasis for kung-fu movie enthusiasts such as myself. Netflix has since taken that spot but your local Walmart may still sell imported movies, all full of ass kicking.
One Christmas, my awesome sister picked up the first two Police Story flicks for $10 each. I was always a huge Jackie Chan fan, but I didn’t really appreciate the guy until I saw New Police Story one summer. With my tastes expanded, I scoured my local video stores like a viking, raiding whatever kung-fu or action flicks I could get my hands on, among them Hard Boiled, Fist of Legend, The Protector, The Big Boss, and Kill Zone (SPL). Surprisingly, I didn’t know of the original Police Story flicks until later that Christmas.
While 1 and 2 were great films, I always fall back on 1 during the holidays. To me, Police Story is the quintessential Jackie Chan film. It’s sacrilege to say because other kung-fu heads will tell you Armour Of God or Drunken Master, and while I loved all of those movies to it’s Police Story that I think embodies the spirit of Jackie Chan. For one thing, Jackie Chan’s role of policeman Chan Ka-Kui immediately puts him as one of the good guys, easy to root for. He’s not questionably moral like a treasure hunter or a spoiled sloth. He’s a well-to-do, honest working guy. Yes, recently our opinions of policeman aren’t that ideal, but in the escapist world of movies, cops hunt down the bad guys and kick ass while doing it. And that’s Jackie Chan. Turning any adventure from capturing drug lords to taking a message while eating noodles an adventure, full of action and laughs that at the end of the day is damn good entertainment.
Jackie Chan, like a pro wrestler, puts his body on the line in the name of entertainment, and my jaw dropped to the floor the first time I saw the final stunt which climaxed the film. The movie ends in a huge brawl in a shopping mall (would love to see that on a Black Friday) and is impressive on the choreography alone. But then Jackie turns the volume up to 11 and does something so spectacular you have to see it for yourself.
Aw, hell. I’ll just show you anyway. Watch the whole thing, what I’m talking about occurs at 6:50.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is action cinema. Even after that stunt, Chan still pulls off a major rage combo and I cheered for every second of it. They just don’t make them like they used to.
Enough about me though, this is about you! Kind of. I’d like to know: What non-Christmas or non-holiday movies do you always watch during the holiday season?
P.S. Jackie Chan is also a singer and the song he recorded for Police Story, “Hero Story,” is a personal favorite. People often give me weird looks when it comes up on my Christmas playlist, right after Nat King Cole. They seriously don’t see it coming.
You have to see their faces.