We can almost touch the end now. I wonder how many of these Christmas related movies you lot have even seen. The next five of our festive marathon is a rather strange mix of movies, both in style and quality. Check them out.
8 Women: veterans Danielle Darrieux, Fanny Ardant, the brilliant Catherine Deneuve, Firmine Richard, Virginie Ledoyen from The Beach, sparky newcomer Ludivine Sagnier, the genius that is Isabelle Huppert, and one of my many crushes growing up, Emmanuelle Béart. I said to the wife, this is a classic simply based on the incredible cast. The French part drama, part comedy, part musical, part murder mystery from François Ozon is a sheer delight from start to finish. Incorporating a theater-style execution, the 8 women each get their fair share of singing opportunity, as well as having the finger pointed at them about the alleged murder. They all have motives, they all have their innocence, and the guessing games and shift in character relation dynamics is brilliant to watch.
Saint, also known as Sint, takes the dark comic horror genre, and roasts it to dust. In fact, this is an insult to the sub-genre, and films in general. The Dutch film takes a spin on the Sinterklaas myth, more of a satanic bishop than a jolly round fellow dressed in red. The film does nothing for the failure-to-believe fear element, even though people die as a result, and any credit it could have earned with scares or shocks are simply lost in the wilderness. Silly, anything but memorable, the film never manages to reach the dizzy heights of mediocre.
Mr. Arkadin was a typically ambitious project for Orson Welles, who wrote and directed the picture. Trouble getting the film released, with location and budget restrictions going into the red, Welles kept on going. Playing the multi-millionaire Arkadin himself, Welles brings an intriguing story to life, a huge presence, as his character is investigated, making significant discoveries about his past. Expertly shot and paced, Mr. Arkadin continued to demonstrate Welles’ film-making prowess. You may also remember the famous scorpion and his nature fable being told – decades later borrowed by Neil Jordan in The Crying Game.
Aptly named Stalled, here is a movie that offers a little to revolutionize the jaded zombie movie genre, but does present a fresh, funny take the walking dead infestation. Christian James’ movie has a Christmas Eve office party leave a janitor stranded with a women’s restroom, with only flesh-eating fuckwits for company, and toilet seats or cubicle doors for weapons. Standard stuff, sure, and ridiculous in its execution, sure, but the whole fiasco works well as a throw-away comedy – with plenty of gore and mayhem to keep you going if you’re having withdrawal symptoms from The Walking Dead mid-season break.
As the British festive comedy Nativity! rolled out its first couple of scenes, The Greek declared that she might actually like this. However, whatever promise this may have had soon vanished. Naturally talented Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen seem to be wasted here, and at times dare I say a little bored themselves. Following familiar formula, like the grouchy man at Christmas, the talented group of children, the pining over the big love, Nativity! pretty much fails on all counts. While not a complete failure, the laughs and sentiment are few and far between, not to mention the film’s over-elaborate and narratively lazy conclusion.
Here are the other six parts. Comment all you want below.
Follow the marathon on Twitter: #50FilmsChristmas
See the full list on Letterboxd: 50 Films for Christmas