Gorilla reporter, Oliver Hunt, spends most of his time wading through the thick, bug-infested jungle of the internet, in search of film-related news and content. When he’s not sinking beneath the Swamps of Sadness, to join the fossilised skeletons of former Gorilla employees, he’s submitting articles like the one you’re about to read.
With the merriest event of the year taken place in less than one week, I suppose it might be best to break free from the standard afternoon Christmas movie special and watch something truly unconventional. Yes, we are all bored of It’s a Wonderful Life by now (go on admit it), so let’s push the limits of what counts as a ‘Christmas movie’.
So I suppose this list could be renamed as Movies That Are Loosely Set Around Christmas, but what do you want from me? You’re not going to be watching any sort of Christmas flavoured movies any other time of the year? No one wants to be reminded of Christmas in May. This list is a good enough excuse to dig these oddball flicks and settle in as the storm outside rages on.
Brazil is possibly Terry Gilliam’s most surreal and dark film that still feels relevant decades after its release. This Orwellian tale of a low level government employee with delusions of grandeur, batters off the Christmas spirit as he traverses the illogical futuristic wonderland of neon lights. Whilst the holiday season might not be crammed into every scene it can be hard not to notice Gilliam’s choice to set it during the winter season. It’s a long movie, but how often do the science fiction and Christmas movie genres overlap?
4. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Nothing brings the family closer together than watching Park Chan-wook’s shocking thriller of child abductions, prison rape and graphic torture, all the while circling around the festive season. Finding its place as the finale in Park’s glorious Vengeance Trilogy, it is arguably his most visually seductive work, as the colours explode from the screen. Even though granny might be put off by the mindless bloodshed, it’ll certainly make you feel grateful for what you’ve got this season.
It isn’t hard to see why Scrooged is paramount viewing at this time of year. Bill Murray takes on Charles Dickens’ over exposed A Christmas Carol and spins it into the story of cynical TV exec, Frank Cross, undergoing a midlife crisis during one of the busiest periods of the year. The humour still hits home some twenty-five years on, and no one can say no to a movie full of Murray’s terrific misanthropic one-liners.
2. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
It could be argued that Shane Black is fixated on the Christmas holiday, as the majority of his films are set around December. Think about it; Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight and even his latest dud Iron Man 3 all have a certain whiff of the Christmas spirit whilst not making them feel entirely like Christmas movies. The same is true for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. I’m always quick to admit that I am a total sucker for the classic noir genre, so with Robert Downey Jr.’s quick-witted thief turned private eye and Val Kilmer’s camp, sarcastic mentor; Shane Black really hits the nail on the head. A mix of black comedy, neo noir twists and some explosive fun right up to the end means Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang could be your answer to a dull Wednesday afternoon.
1. Jingle All The Way
The silliest movie on the list, Jingle all the Way is utter madness from beginning to end. It falls between being a brilliant satire of American consumerism and fully embracing its sinister consumer side, but the reason it’s top of this list is for neither of those reasons. I remember the trailer; Arnold Schwarzenegger pacing down a industrial, steam filled corridor as a voice over lists the usual threats he faces; terrorists, aliens, killer robots, etc, before announcing his greatest challenge yet: to buy his son the most sort after toy of the year. His greatest threat this time comes in the form of an insane postal worker. Whilst few remember who Sinbad (who plays said postal worker Myron) was, the sheer fact that director Brian Levant managed to nab Arnie as the work-a-holic Howard Langston astounds me. The movie knows and understands the holiday’s dark side and embraces it. This doesn’t fall into Arnie’s golden years of naff action romps, but it leaves you chuckling with excitement as he beats off a warehouse full of Santa Clause look-a-likes.
So there’s your top 5 to watch and put you in the Christmas spirit (sort of). There are a heck of a lot of films I’ve missed off, so honorary mentions go to Rare Exports, Home Alone, Die Hard, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, American Psycho, Eyes Wide Shut, The Hudsucker Proxy and In Bruges.