25 December 2006

Christmas telethon

Christmas is pretty much the only major Western (Judeo-Christian) holiday that Chinese people can identify with. No kidding - you'll have to travel miles to meet with your extended kin, spend an entire weekend consuming too much food, and as luck will have it, at your grandparents', there won't be much in the way of entertainment - unless your gramps are hardcore gamers .If you live in the kinless big city, it's an entire weekend of hosting or attending parties, hopefully with company you can live with.

Oh, who are we kidding... That's the reason why people end up sitting in front of the telly or secretly watching it from the corner of their eye as they make an effort to talk to someone else. Obviously in this corrupt and degenerate age we live in, there's nothing festive on telly. No. We have dreg like The Mask of Zorro, Jumanji, and the Powerpuff Girls Christmas special. And then you realise you took a few days of annual leave to rest at home as well.

It's time to stand up for your own Christmas entertainment. At parties, gatherings, or at home, insist on your own festive selection! It helps to bring along a few DVDs, of course. Here's my perfect Christmas selection, tastefully chosen to suit all stripes of Christmas celebrants.

For a Heartwarming Christmas

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Because you know that this is the most mushy, sentimental flick about how an angel makes one ordinary, do-gooding Joe's life better on Christmas, when he's at his lowest point. When I get slightly depressed, watching this helps.

Going My Way (1944)

Bing Crosby is a singing priest newly transferred to a depressed parish. Not only does he win over their hearts, he saves the impoverished church from closing down/getting sold, and makes everyone's life better. By singing, of course.

Christmas Carols

Scrooge (1951)

The best film version of A Christmas Carol, IMO. Also manages to humanise the miser by giving him a touching backstory. Born poor, mother died in childbirth, was an honorable and hungry (in the sense of ambitious/hardworking) guy until he got mentored by a crooked capitalist who helped hone his business sense. Makes his interactions with Tiny Tim and the Cratchitts, and his transformation all the more touching later on.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Very faithful adaptation of the Dickens story, even more faithful to Dickens than the previous film. It just has Muppets instead of human characters in the rest of the cast, and Michael Caine as Scrooge. That's TWO reasons to watch this.

Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)

You don't expect me of all people to wallow in feel-good holiday movies, right? By the end of the 15th Christmas movie, you'd want to see something that skewers A Christmas Carol, just for the heck of it. Scrooge is a very nice man, an honest and philanthropic businessman whose company is just about to fall apart and die. Until a visit from some Ghosts of Christmas...

Because it's about the birth of Jesus

Hail Mary (1985)

Jean-Luc Goddard made a very reverential transposition of the Nativity Story to a modern day setting. Most of the "controversy" raised by ignorant Christians are due to their own inability to realise how scandalous a virgin birth would have been viewed in 6 A.D., and how well Goddard evokes that sense of scandal in his movie.

The Gospel according to St Matthew (1964)

Pier Paolo Pasolini may have been a socialist, but this film - all dialogue from the Gospel, with nothing added or fabricated - was endorsed by the Vatican. Made with non-actors and real-life peasants, this looks like a very artistic documentary at times. Pasolini knows his Jesus well: he's the guy in old and dirty clothes siding with the poor, the trodden, the weak, and the criminals that are routinely condemned, ignored, or exploited by the rich, the morally superior, the hyper-religious leaders in church. Pastor Kong should watch this movie the next time he makes a stupid speech about God wanting people to be rich, hallelujah!

Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Brian's not a messiah, he's just a very naughty boy! Who, for the entirety of his life, is mistaken for The Messiah...


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

It's like the animated version of It's a Wonderful Life. Everything seems to be going wrong for Charlie Brown as he helps put up the school Christmas play. Charlie Brown's almost existential search for the meaning of Christmas is embarked while the entire Peanuts gang seem to be occupied with other stuff and ignoring him. But all goes well when Linus tells him the true meaning of Christmas in a speech that gets you all warm and mushy inside.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Personally, my favourite Christmas cartoon ever. And now, in 3D!

Just Christmas Movies

Perhaps the best part about doing your own Christmas programming is the offbeat choices you can make that will throw people off, yet impress them when they realise that these films ARE really set during Christmas, and perhaps do say something about how we celebrate it nowadays.

Brazil (1985)

Yes, it's a dystopian scifi comedy/satire. But it's also about Christmas. In fact, if you pay attention, there are lots of Christmas jokes in Brazil - every day seems to be Christmas in the movie, everyone seems to be giving the same gifts, and for the win, we have Capitalists for Christ marching on the streets...

Jingle all the Way (1996)

What Christmas without last minute shopping? Mugging people in stores? Fighting over the last item in the store? Jingle All the Way is a culturally important film that depicts all these. Watching Arnold as a wimp of a dad who endures all and then blows his top makes you realise that he paved the way for the Adam Sandler brand of comedy.

Die Hard (1988)

Your Christmas action movie! It's Bruce Willis foiling a plot involving a plane, lots of explosives, and Alan Rickman as a master terrorist!

Gremlins (1984)

Now I bet you didn't realise Gremlins was set during Christmas. Go shock the hell out of everyone with this factoid =D

No comments: