|He's packing a piece too|
Back in December 2008 I published a post dear to my heart on this blog: "For those who hate Christmas"--a list of movies for those who are not entertained by the holiday nonsense. Now let's get something clear. I'm not against the idea of Christmas so much as I'm against the attendant stress, the traffic, the long lines, the obligation to spend spend spend--and the utterly revolting Christmas movies that turn up year after year. (No, I wasn't scarred as a child and I didn't scar mine. We had lots of fun for the season.)
So, on with the list. There are some oldies, and some newbies, some gooduns and some baduns. I've linked to the trailers on YouTube. Enjoy!
1. "A Bad Mom's Christmas" (2017). This tops my wish list this year: three overburdened moms rebel against the Christmas madness...and their own moms! Mother-daughter angst will get me every time. This movie is exactly what the doctor ordered!
2. "Fatman" (2020). What an insane concept: Mel Gibson is an armed-to-the-teeth Santa who's in a foul mood: he's had it with today's entitled brats. Throw in an assassin, a most unconventional Mrs. Claus and a raindeer that's likely to tear off your package at the drop of an icicle and damn, you've got me, despite the panning by the critics who say everything you need to see is in the trailer. I'm stocking up on popcorn anyway.
3. "Carol" (2015). In counterpoint to the absurdist "Fatman", "Carol" is a drama about a married woman who risks all when she pursues romance with a much younger department store worker. Christmas is the backdrop to this "achingly beautiful" film. Plus, Cate Blanchett. I've seen this and it's time for a rewatch.
4. "Home Alone" (1990). This classic children's movie stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a small child whose parents accidentally leave him at home over Christmas. (I know, but stay with it.) When two criminals decide to break into their house, the fun starts. Little Kevin must become his own home security system, and those bad men are in for some hurtin!
5. "Iron Man 3" (2013). If you wrote off this third instalment, now's the time to watch it. If you're one of those poor deluded humans trying to be a martyr at Christmas, just stop and watch this smart, funny story about the trauma of filling a superhero role. Plus, there's what's his name with the bedroom eyes. Superplus: a great performance by Ben Kingsley.
6. "Die Hard" (1988). This is the only movie from the last list to be repeated here, but I give you a bonus to make up for it. One office Christmas party goes downhill fast when terrorists arrive and take over a skyscraper. Bruce Willis gets a chance to kick butt and show off: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." I'm not an action film fanatic but Bruce jumping off an exploding rooftop is everything. Not a single drop of saccharine seasonal cheer in sight.
7. "The best Christmas Pageant Ever" (1983). This is not your typical parade of adorable scrubbed kids boring everyone, even their doting parents, to death in the 12 trillionth amateur performance of the Christmas story. Oh no. These are six cussing, cigar smoking, hitting and stealing welfare kids who give new meaning to the expression enfant terrible. You'll never look at the story of these two timeworn refugees (Mary and Joseph) the same again. (The link is to the full YouTube video of this TV movie.)
8. "Batman Returns" (1992). If you've had it up to here with soppy Christmas nonsense, try this subversive antidote for size. Dark and sly, garish and kinky, it's my kind of holiday feast. Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Michelle Pffeifer.
9. “Morvern Callar” (2002). What could be further from vacuous holiday cheer than a film where the title character wakes up on Christmas morning to discover that her boyfriend has killed himself and left her a note, the manuscript for his novel and a mix tape? What follows is ghastly and transgressive, yet strangely beautiful.
10. "The Ref" (1994). If you can stand to look at Kevin Spacey nowadays, watch this excellent film about an unhappily married couple and the burglar who takes them hostage on Christmas Eve then ends up playing marriage counselor in an effort to mend their relationship. Deliciously dark and cynical comedy with not an ounce of soggy sentimentality.
...and the bonus...
11. "Krampus" (2015). Krampus, from the German word krampen which means claw, is the anti-Santa--a horned monster from Bavarian folklore who beats bad children, stuffs them in a sack then drags them off to his lair. Need I say more? A comedic horror movie to send those jolly fake Santas slipping and falling on their own gore!