50 Films For Christmas – Part 8 of 10

As Christmas Day blends into Boxing Day, I decided that perhaps the final two parts can reflect movies associated with New Year’s Eve. So before you become completely fed-up of all things Christmas, here are five more movies deemed appropriate for viewing while the tree is still up and there is turkey left in the fridge.

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White Reindeer (2013)

A film that often has the look of a TV movie, but also slipped through the net in 2013, White Reindeer actually has far more credibility. It manages to maintain a slight tongue-in-cheek humor while channeling the progress of Suzanne’s grief following the sudden death of her husband at Christmas time right before they were due for a life-changing move to Hawaii. There’s a real authenticity of emotion and reaction in Zach Clark’s screenplay and direction, aided along the way by a direct, moving performance by Anna Margaret Hollyman.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

A good old-fashioned and nostalgic piece of cinema, as we relish in the backstory of teacher Mr. Chipping from his young days as a new teacher right through to his elder years when he refused to retire. It’s a sentimental, steady journey, that has its warm and cold moments rather than blowing us away. You may at times laugh, you may cry, but its a film that is easy to invest in. To Oscarologists there has likely been many a debate as to how Robert Donat beat Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind) to the Best Actor win, and that Greer Garson, as good as she was, earned a Best Actress in a Lead Role nomination for her supporting turn.

Less Than Zero (1987)

Less Than Zero begins with a graduation, but ends in tragedy. The whole bag is a mixed one though, a cocktail of haphazard young adulthood, black humor, the drug culture of the privileged classes, broken friendships and romances – pretty typical of Brett Easton Ellis’ work adapted to film. The young faces and talents of Robert Downey Jr., Andrew McCarthy, Jamie Gertz, James Spader, throw melodramatic punches, somehow blending perfectly into that 80s era. The real jewel here is Thomas Newman’s score, both fitting of the time, and hair-raisingly emotive.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Long after he wrote the terrific Lethal Weapon, and years before he regurgitated this movie with The Nice Guys, Shane Black made a name for himself as a writer-director with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. A sharp, observant, and genuinely funny crime caper, with a central partnership between Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer providing effortless cinema chemistry, and Michelle Monaghan offering a knock-out supporting role. Plenty of quotable moments, and juicy subplots, Black’s energy, kinetic pacing, and execution of the refreshing humor is a real festive treat in all.

Cabin Fever (2000)

No, no, not the Cabin Fever that infects its characters with a severe case of psoriasis. This is not an American horror, but rather a Sandanavian form of high family drama. Shot through grainy photography, and building up an almighty family conflict (I was reminded of Rachel Getting Married) at Christmas time, this Cabin Fever gradually puts you on edge as you watch the secrets and lies and repressed thoughts unravel. Although the final sequences take the foot off the gas way to soon after the naturalistic tension it has built, this proves to be a worthy Christmas drama peeling the layers of family values.

If you’re still in the festive mood, go check out the first 35 Films for Christmas:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Follow the marathon on Twitter: #50FilmsChristmas

See the full list on Letterboxd: 50 Films for Christmas

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