12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Final Part)

We’re finally at the last part of this silly series of mine. It’s been fun for me to contrive reasons for non-christmas movies being christmas movies. And since we started this series with “Star Wars”, we might as well end it with “Star Wars”. *Checks title*. Oh god.

*Deep fucking sigh*. The “Star Wars Holiday Special” is a 1978 CBS tv movie somehow following on from George Lucas’ 1977 smash hit. It’s about the family of Chewbacca, and how they’re waiting for him to come celebrate the holidays with them. And as the creators try to fill out a 90 minute runtime, before that happens, we experience a whole bunch of different skits and music videos supposedly set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. That’s right, it’s a variety show, including people like Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Jefferson fucking Starship. So let’s get contriving.

Now, right off the bat I imagine you calling humbug on this, since it’s called “Holiday Special”. But let me clear something up, this isn’t about christmas… or hanukkah… or kwanzaa. It’s about Life Day. What’s Life Day? Fuck if I know, it’s some weird wookie holiday made up for this fever dream. But it’s not any actual holiday, so it goes. So what’s my contrivance then? Well, I could use the excuse of it being about a family get-together, which would be the easy way out so I could get this done quickly. But I’m gonna use something else.
So as mentioned earlier, this “Star Wars” thing is inexplicably a variety show, which is contextualized as things that Chewie’s family puts on through various monitors. And none of it is interesting or makes much sense… just like tv programming around the holidays. Sure, on occasion you might catch a decent flick (or in this Special’s case, a Jefferson Starship number), but for the most part it’s just a weird hodgepodge of stuff.

As you probably gathered from this post, I was not a fan. Christmas eve should usually be all about joy and love, but I guess I felt like a bit of misery was in order too.

Happy holidays.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 11)

We’re already at the penultimate part of this series. Wowzer. Time flies when you contrive silly reasons for why things are something they’re not. So let’s get into into the main chunk of the post.

So as you can probably tell from the image above, we’re actually talking about an animated feature. It’s “Berserk: Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King”. Mouthful title aside, the movie is an adaptation of a specific part of Kentaro Miura’s legendary manga series “Berserk”. It tells the story of Guts, a lone wolf swordsman who lives only for the mercenary lifestyle. That is until he meets Griffith, the leader of a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk. And early on, Griffith convinces Guts to join the Band, which leads in to character development, friendship, and plot. So what does a hyper violent medieval fantasy anime movie have to do with christmas? Well, let me tell you.

When we meet Guts, he’s a lone wolf, traveling all by himself. He doesn’t have friends, aside from maybe his over-sized sword. But as previously mentioned, that starts to slowly change after he meets and joins Griffith. While he’s reluctant to be part of the band at first, he learns to live with these people… like a family. And as we’ve mentioned in previous posts in this series, family is a pretty important aspect of christmas. So that is my reasoning for “Berserk: Golden Age Arc 1 – The Egg of the King” is a christmas movie… that familial bond that Guts forms with Griffith and the Band.

And even without the holiday stuff, this is still a decent movie that starts off an interesting arc. Though I can also recommend the 1997 animated tv series if you want something a bit better.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 10)

Can you imagine that after this post, there’s only two more? It’s a little surreal. You get into the groove of doing a daily series like this, and then it’s about to end. But before that happens, we still have some shit to talk about. So let’s do it.

So what’s on the menu today? Well, I’m about to get to it, relax, you impatient person. Based on a 1997 novel by Neil Gaiman, “Stardust” is a 2007 fantasy adventure directed and co-written by Matthew Vaughn. It tells the tale of Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox), a young man infatuated with a woman living in the same town as him. One day he agrees to fetch a fallen star for her, in exchange for her hand in marriage. And this leads Tristan on a big, magical journey involving a conniving prince (Mark Strong), an evil witch (Michelle Pfeiffer), a pirate (Robert De Niro) and a woman who may or may not be a literal fucking star (Claire Danes). So what’s my holiday connection for this one then?

Well, compared to some of my previous ones, this is a bit more simple. No, there’s no scene involving christmas. And no, it’s not even the family squabbling between the three princes. No, it’s less contrived than that. Christmas is a holiday that’s supposed to bring joy to people, be it through presents, food, or good company. And “Stardust” is a very joyous movie, it’s a simple and fun swashbuckling adventure with a fantasy twist. And both of the times I’ve seen this movie, it has brought me great joy. It has put a gigantic dumb smile on my face. And since christmas should bring joy, then “Stardust” is clearly something one could easily slot into the holiday hangouts. Plus, that song from Take That playing during the end credits is fantastic.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 9)

As mentioned in my previous post, you’ll be getting two 12 Films of Christmas entries today. The previous one was technically yesterday’s the I missed. So this here is officially speaking the entry for today. So I hope you enjoy getting two pieces about contrivances today.

So for this one we’ll be talking about “Bad Times at the El Royale”, a 2018 pulp thriller written and directed by Drew Goddard. The movie is about a group of strangers who all converge at the El Royale motel for the night, and how all their pasts come to a head, creating one hell of a tumultuous experience. So what does this have to do with christmas? Well, let me learn ya somethin’.

This movie is a metaphor for family christmas dinners. Think about it. A bunch of differing people coming together and clashing? That’s very much christmas. A kindly grandpa with some skeletons in his closet (Jeff Bridges), a smug sales type who is probably your aunt’s new shitty husband (Jon Hamm), your mom who is ready to defend herself from any bullshit (Cynthia Erivo), your conniving sister (Dakota Johnson), and then there’s the cult leader (Chris Hemsworth). What, your christmas dinners don’t have charismatic yet ruthless cult leaders attending? Oh man, you should give it a try, it’s a blast… except for the one time my cousin got set on fire by said cult leader… that was a bit awkward. So yeah, “Bad Times at the El Royale” can be seen as a metaphor for insane family christmas dinners.

And even without the holiday implications, “Bad Times at the El Royale” is still a damn fine thriller filled with fantastic actors and tense moments.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 8)

Just as a heads up, I missed yesterday’s post, so you’re gonna get two of these today. Apologies for this fuck up if you somehow were looking forward to it yesterday, but didn’t see one. It’s all on me. So let’s not dilly dally, time for the first 12 Contrivances of Christmas post for the day.

So for this post I decided to go with a movie that I actually covered on the blog earlier this year (shameless plug, I know). It is 1987’s “Wings of Desire”, directed by Wim Wenders. It is a slow burn meditative fantasy drama about Damiel (Bruno Ganz, R.I.P), an angel watching over the humans of Berlin, and how he’s going through a bit of an existential crisis. So how am I going to cover a German art drama for this silly series of mine, you ask? Well, just sit back and relax as I contrive a reason.

Now, the first thing some of you might point to might be “Ah, it’s about angels, angels mean christianity, christianity means Jesus, Jesus means christmas!”. Firstly, don’t try to beat me to the punch. And secondly, that’s wrong. I ain’t forcing some christian crap here, it would be a bit disingenuous of an agnostic such as myself. No, I have something else planned.
Despite not exactly being the cheeriest movie around, “Wings of Desire” does tout a certain theme throughout… you know, when not focusing on people going through a personal crisis or two. That theme? Love. As Damiel goes through his crisis, he falls in love with a human woman. You know why the angels exist? To make sure nothing bad happens to the humans they watch over, which is an act of love. And you know what should be spread on christmas? Love! So “Wings of Desire” is a christmas movie because, just like the holiday, it’s all about that love (or that sweet, sweet existential crisis if that’s more your cup of tea).

And even if you don’t want to take it as a holiday feature, “Wings of Desire” is a wonderful drama that, despite its divine protagonist, shows so much humanity. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 7)

That’s right, this series is still going. I am not giving up on it, even remembering to do a post each day is a surprisingly stressful act. Anyway, here’s today’s post.

Based on a book by Ron Hansen, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was released in 2007, and directed by Andrew Dominik. It follows a young man named Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) who has idolized legendary American outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) for many years, and then finally gets the chance to join his gang at the age of 19. The movie is a character-driven psychological drama all about demythologizing Jesse James while also deconstructing its central protagonist, Robert Ford. So now you’re probably wondering how I’m gonna contrive this to be a christmas movie? Well, watch and learn, my friends. This is how the pros (read: idiots) do it.

Now, one or two of you might assume I’m gonna use the scenes set in snowy landscapes for this. Well, as I’ve probably established earlier in this series, I’m not that fucking shallow. That’s not contrived enough. No, I got something else.
What we see in the movie after Bob joins Jesse’s gang is how much he notices what a psychotic, paranoid disappointment Jesse actually might’ve been, and not this awesome cowboy legend you might read about and enjoy following in a dime novel. So one of the basic messages one can sort of get out of this movie is “Don’t meet your heroes, because you’re just gonna be disappointed”. And that works as our christmas analogy, because as a kid you might be celebrating the holiday with your family, both immediate and extended. And all of a sudden Santa Claus shows up, lets kids sit on his lap, and give them presents. But then one of your dumbass cousins decides to tug at Santa’s beard and find out that it’s just your uncle in a cheap costume, and it turns out there is no actual magical lobster man. Bob getting to know Jesse is kind of the same thing. Instead of this magically awesome being he thought he knew, it turned out to be something a bit more disappointing. So “The Assassination of Jesse James” is a christmas movie in the sense that the truth about the legend is a fucking disappointment, just like Santa Claus.

The movie on the other hand isn’t a disappointment, it’s fucking fantastic. One of my favorites.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 6)

Holy shit, we’re already halfway through this silly series of mine. Time sure flies when things happen. So let’s get into it.

Some of you might recognize the movie from the image up above. Today we’re talking about “Overlord”, a 2018 action-horror movie directed by Julius Avery, and produced by J.J. Abrams. It’s about a group of American soldiers who fall behind enemy lines during World War 2, in an attempt to make a difference in the tides of war. This might sound familiar to some of you, as I have talked about this movie on the blog before… twice, as a matter of fact (and about a kajillion other times on twitter). So now I hear you groaning “Markus, how can a grim World War 2 horror movie possibly be associated with christmas?”. Well, strap in and make yourself ready for my reasoning.

What’s one of the most important parts of christmas? Bringing joy, right? Well, you know what brings me a whole lot of joy? Seeing nazi punks get blown the fuck up, shot to shit, absolutely annihilated, and other delightful synonyms for that situation. Sure, there are parts where our heroes are stuck or pinned down, struggling with their mission. But that just makes it even more satisfying and joyous to see them destroy god damn nazi assholes. Call me a sick son of a bitch if you want, but with our world being what it currently is, this kind of violent escapism is important, especially during the season of joy.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 5)

It’s time for part 5 of this goofy series of mine. More contrivances, here we go. And today we’re actually talking about a movie from my own country for once, I know, my mind is as blown as yours.

Today’s movie is called “A Summer Tale”, directed by Ulf Malmros, and released in 2000. Set in 1958, it follows two kids (Anastasios Soulis and Rebecca Scheja) as they get sent to live with a cantankerous funeral director (Kjell Bergqvist) for the summer. So now… now… now… I hear what you’re thinking. “Markus, you dumb bastard, how the hell are you gonna get a movie with SUMMER in the title to fit within the christmas category?”. Well, my impatient friend, let me sit your ass down and tell you.

When the kids first meet this funeral director, their relationship to him is stale at best, and tense at worst. He’s not abusive and horrible towards them, but he’s not exactly someone I’d wanna send my theoretical kids to. But as one might expect from this setup, these two parties of course start to warm towards each other, all the while the funeral director tries to get a local teacher he has a crush on to go out with him. So while yes, the movie is set during the summer, it’s still all about family and finding love. You know what part of the year is often associated with family and love? Christmas. Everyone always talks about how that holiday should be spent spreading love and being with your family. And since this movie is all about that shit, you’d imagine it could fit within that.
While “A Summer Tale” isn’t one of the greatest movies ever made, I found myself surprisingly entertained by it. It’s a heartwarming little dramedy that made me really care about the characters, all of whom are very well acted by the actors involved (yes, the kids too). It’s a good flick.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 3)

Good evening, ladies and gents. Christmas is almost upon us, and we are counting down towards that. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read today’s post and hopefully tolerate the contrivance I give for choosing to talk about this movie today. This message would self destruct in five seconds, but we couldn’t figure out how to burn out your device, so when you’re done, just exit the post really abruptly like it’s destroying itself.

“Mission Impossible: Fallout”. The sixth entry in the film franchise based on the old tv show, was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and once again starring stunt-performing madman Tom Cruise as he and his team has to stop some nuclear devices from being unleashed upon the world. It was released in the summer of 2018, to critical and commercial acclaim. You all probably think that I’m using the same excuse as with “Sunshine” yesterday, where it’s all about “If the world isn’t saved, then there’ll be no more christmas”. And you’d be partially right… but I’m not just rehashing old explanations/contrivances. I got something new too.

In this movie, Tom Cruise has to go across the world to stop this nuclear threat from an evil shadow organization. So it’s a globetrotting adventure. And at a point in the movie, we also see good ol’ Tommy boy run across some rooftops. So he sprints across rooftops, while traveling the world. You know who else does that? Santa Claus. Or should I say… SANTA CRUISE!?

So there, Tom Cruise, much like Santa Claus, hops around rooftops all over the world. And even if we discount this clear holiday implication, “Mission Impossible: Fallout” is still an absolutely fantastic action movie that, in my opinion, gets better with every watch. Great chases, great fights, some great shooty-bang-bang, some great acting… it’s just great.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 2)

Well hey there, everyone. Welcome back to the second part in this series that I really should’ve called “12 Contrivances of Christmas”. Ah, fuck it, too late now. So let’s get into it.

So if you’re a bit of a sci-fi buff, or you just watch a ton of movies, you probably figured out from the top image that we’re talking about “Sunshine” today. Released in 2007, the movie was directed by Danny Boyle, written by Alex Garland, and starring a whole bunch of recognizable people. And it’s about the crew of a spaceship set to deliver a big bomb to space in an attempt to try to reignite our dying sun. So you’re probably wondering how I’m gonna contrive my reasoning for this one. Well, buckle up, because I am ready to deliver my reasoning.

Imagine. The sun is about to die. No sun, no warmth. No warmth, no life. No life, no christmas. So really, this non-christmas movie is all about saving christmas! Easy peasy, lemon contrivanceasy! But yeah, that’s my reasoning. Also, there’s a bit in the movie where you see a photo of the ship’s crew, wearing santa hats, clearly celebrating christmas. Double reason, double christmas contrivance! HAHA.
All joking aside, I love “Sunshine”, it’s one of my favorite sci-fi movies. It’s tense, emotional, exciting, visually stunning, and a feast for the ears.

Have a good one.