With our film-watching mission now seeming more like an addiction, the wife and I could well be halfway through our challenge before December has barely opened its eyes. The festive spirit is getting close though with each celluloid venture. Here are five more of the Christmassy movies we have seen on our way to the big five-0.
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg AKA The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a rare commodity of cinema excellence. I like a good, well-executed music on screen as much as most, but have always sturggled to engage with non-stop singing to drive a narrative on. Jacques Demy’s remarkable, energetic, touching musical however utilizes the continuous music number – and to enlightening and rewarding effect. Both Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo shine in the lead roles of young lovers forced apart through time, and carry the film’s love-themed momentum from start to finish. A real treasure.
The 1990s brought us some memorable crime-based comedies (Sister Act raised the bar very high), and The Ref is certainly not short of criminal activity and genuine humor. With Denis Leary playing the crook, in a role that just seems perfect for him, the married couple he takes hostage bicker and snipe at each other rather than show much fear for their predicament. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis as the troubled couple are both terrific, as is Leary, and the whole farcical affair keeps you entertained throughout.
Seeing his parent’s horrifically murdered by a guy in a Santa suit, Billy suffers the trauma right into young adulthood. So much so, when he is asked to don the red coat, bobble hat, and white beard himself, the brutal memories are too much – and he goes on his own brand of kill spree. Ludicrous, sure, but entertaining well enough, plowing through the flimsy plot with ample acts of mindless violence and B-movie enjoyment.
At the close of the superbly written Smoke by Wayne Wang and Paul Auster, as the down-to-Earth, but compelling, plot winds down a little, Harvey Keitel’s Auggie and William Hurt’s Paul discuss the latter’s task to write a Christmas story. Auggie goes on, with a wry smile on his face, to tell the story of how he started taking photographs. He explains that when he was a lot younger he chased a shoplifter, found his wallet, and being a good-hearted man went to return it on Christmas day. Face-to-face with the robber’s blind elderly grandmother, Auggie makes a few intriguing, impulsive decisions. As Paul states, it’s a great story, and a fitting end to a great film.
John Cusack tends to turn up in this kind of slick, black comedy – and it suits him. On the brink of being betrayed-slash-killed, Cusack needs to somehow watch his back while he’s kissing Connie Nielsen, or out committing crimes with Billy Bob Thornton. Not to mention mob boss Randy Quaid is literally after them following their improper acquisition of $2 million of his “hard-earned” money. The Ice Harvest has the thrills and the comic moments, and even echoes a little bit of noir along the way.
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See the full list on Letterboxd: 50 Films for Christmas