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Friday, 25 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 12 - The Christmas Film Awards

I hope by now I don't need to stress this point anymore but I really adore Christmas. As I grow ever so slowly in age I notice that finding a Christmas mood is harder and harder but films have this incredible ability to shoot us full of the emotion they contain. A book can envelope you with it's tone but films push us down into a well of hysteria and tell us we can't come out till we've reached the conclusion. At Christmas the television is brimming with adverts trying ever so desperately to pull at us, making them seem like a humanitarian company with a soul that is worth throwing money at. Shops blare the same 15 Christmas pop hits that melt into white noise and jingling bells. When I decide it is time, I sit down with one of these exuberantly jubilant films and something in me changes. Christmas isn't a season it's a state of mind. A state of mind that at anytime we can adopt or reject and forever live with those consequences.

I'm laying it on a bit thick but Christmas just wouldn't happen for me without that booster shot from Bedford Falls and a trip on that train with Tom Hanks. We've been spending our time looking at all these lovely films that idealise and moralize the Christmas spirit with the end goal of finding some of those things that make that elusive perfect Christmas film. Our score sheet was devised after a few conversations Sam and I had about the things we always seemed to spot that we felt gave us that extra Christmassy feeling. 

So let us award the best in each category.   

The Best Christmas Story
The Polar Express
Our Views are well known at this point but the tale of a boy full of doubt being singled out to go on an adventure to learn faith in others and in positivity and not cynicism is simply the best Christmas story. In a post-Christmas-carol world, all Christmas stories undergo a harsh comparison but I'd take this tale over Dickens anyday and I've just applied to do English Lit........which doesn't bode well   

The Best Best Voice of Christmas
The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Ghost of Christmas present just gets it all. Sometimes santa can miss the whole idea, too interested in giving all the gifts. But this jolly specter knows that Christmas=Love=Christmas

The Most Annoying Christmas Kid
Home Alone/Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Buzz is scum. Scum beyond scum. Sub-Human Scum.

The Best Christmas Miracle
The Grinch/The Muppet Christmas Carol
Though clearly medically inaccurate, in The Grinch, Christmas causes such an overflow of love that one filled with nothing be hate can come to be the most loving of all. Of course this is also the miracle behind Charles Dickens who in many ways created the archetypal Christmas story.

The Best Christmas Message
It's a Wonderful Life

Well I'll close us off with the full run down our Christmas scoreboard. I really hope you all had a terrifically Merry Christmas and enjoyed the company of whomever you spent it with. Honestly we both really appreciate your time reading this silly thing and if ever you want to drop either of us a message or just say you liked something we or someone else did, feel free. Happy New Year and try and keep those Christmas feelings a-rolling. Bye, and thanks for knowing us better man.    

100 The Polar Express (We are a biased folk with much opinions and little fact, thinking about this feel fills my eyes with a strange sort of joyful tears. I really dig it and my siblings who make it so darn special)  
25 The Muppet Christmas Carol (Light the lamp, not the rat. Sage Advice) 
24.5 It's a Wonderful Life
23 Home Alone 2
23 Arthur Christmas 
23 Die Hard
23 Joyeux Noël (I didn't recall this scoring so high but it certainly deserves it's place)
22 Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
22 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
22 A Charlie Brown Christmas
21 The Shop Around The Corner
21 Scrooged
21 Jingle All The Way
21 Bad Santa 
21 A Christmas Story 
21 The Nightmare Before Christmas
21 White Christmas 
20 Love Actually
20 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
20 Home Alone
18 Beauty & The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
17 We're No Angels (1955)
17 Scrooge (1951)
17 The Grinch
16 March of the Wooden Soldiers
16 Nativity 
16 Gremlins
15 Die Hard 2: Die Harder
15 Trading Places
13 A Very Murray Christmas 
13 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas 
12 Tangerine (It's falling pretty low but you really should check this out, a strong 2015 contender)
10 Black Christmas (Dude I forgot this was a thing, 10/10)
9 Frozen
8 The Holiday (Really feel I was far too harsh on this)      

Thursday, 24 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 11 - Nativity!

"Anyone can say 'Hands up who wants to see a pig?'" A statement of fact that will forever echo through the annals of my mind. Martin Freeman and some guy I remember from a Sci-Fi called FAQ About Time Travel get a whole load of kids together to improvise some lines and generally partake in lots of montages to broadly terrible songs. However, it is hard to be mean about a film that in all conceivably ways feels like a home movie, with a tiny budget. Nativities are notoriously something we tend to do to commemorate the birth of Jesus in winter rather than just pulling one out in the summer time because we want to freak people out. Considering that i wouldn't be strange if this did rather well.

The Christmas Story
Martin Freeman is really sick and tired of being a school teacher. The girl he loved has, to his knowledge, made it big in 'Hollywood' and now he has got to put on a big Nativity again even though he just couldn't care less. Little mini review: This is the naffest piece of naff anyone has ever created and yet, by simply letting the kids do what they would normally do and say what they want to say, the children are oddly convincing and one thing is for sure, it convinced me that Martin Freeman would be a great dad. It's sort of Christmas by association here and I think if I were to have a child of my own I'd much rather just go watch their play but it's cute enough, my Mum was really smitten with it. 

The Voice of Christmas
I didn't have a clue here so I asked my Mum and with all the joy of a giddy schoolgirl she replied "Mr. Poppy for sure he was so lovely" So there you go. She isn't wrong, he is in all ways a sort of really obnoxious guardian angel.

The Annoying Kid at Christmas
In a film that is heaving with potential annoying children, not a single stands out as that annoying. They are mostly just troubled, sincere little actors. Mr Poppy is just a prick though. I get it, he's a kid at heart and I also can understand a world in which kids think he is funny but I just really needed him to go away. 

The Christmas Miracle
They take two children to 'Hollywood' and don't get the school's or the parent's permission. This is promptly resolved by the headteacher being a bit miffed and telling them off. And that's it.

The Christmas Message
If you put loads of kids in a film and they aren't child actors you can't criticise the film in anyway or you are just being a twat. Also put on a Nativity play and those who have fallen out of love with you with come running back into your arms 

Additional Points
-Sam wants me to mention that Ricky Tomlinson was in it and he was the mayor +1
-I ate a wispa gold whilst watching it +1

I've been avoiding watching any of the films in this series because I was well aware it just wasn't my thing so rather than me closing this one off, I'll get my Mum: 

"Out of 25!? Okay, if you watched this anytime of the year it might seem a little bit lame but on Christmas Eve it is the perfect little feelgood movie 20/25".

So there you go.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 10 - A Very Murray Christmas

Before we come face to face with the wonder and beauty of Christmas Eve and then the finality of Christmas day, it is my honour to introduce possibly our final super special guest: Sister Cinemazov! Or just Kate, whatever you want to call her. I'm sure you'll all treasure her thoughts on Bill Murray and maybe consider shopping at ASDA for those low low Christmas prices.

Christmas for me is all about tradition especially when it comes to films. The seasonable nature of such films as “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Muppets Christmas Carol” and “Home Alone” make them an extra joy to watch to get in the Christmas Spirit. As you can imagine my Christmas viewing schedule fills up pretty quick but this year I’ve made some space for a newbie….

In a Netflix Original Christmas Special which probably should have been entitled “Bill Murray and the celebrity cameos”, ‘A Very Murray Christmas’ finds Bill Murray under the pressure of good cop, bad cop producers Amy Poehler and Julie White putting on a live holiday special despite the blizzard outside and the lack of any celebrity guest stars or audience.

The Christmas Story
The plot is pretty sparse and borrows heavily from the lethargy of Bill Murray’s ‘Lost in Translation’ character, unsurprising considering it’s a Sophia Coppola/ Murray collaboration. There is a gloomy melancholia which links various Christmas songs though character cameos from the likes of Rashida Jones and Jason Schwartzman. The Christmas story appears to be Bill Murray having a karaoke Christmas party where everyone is being forced to perform for Bill, who’s the only one really having a great time.

The Voice of Christmas
A very Murray Christmas is full of characters whose Christmas has been railroaded and unable to or maybe unwilling to spend it with family and friends seem quite happy to have landed in Murray’s cynical holiday special where everyone is miserable and the only solace that can be found is in a stiff drink and a group of strangers gathered around the piano. The voice comes through in the songs but with a few to many to allow for a bit of dialogue and character development it left many of the performances feeling rather flat. 

The Annoying Kid at Christmas
Being set in a hotel and for the majority amongst the whiskey bottles there was a shortage (probably wisely) of annoying kids… Closest we get is Bill Murray and George Clooney who clearly had a great time larking around with festive ladies and Miley Cyrus.

The Christmas Miracle
Bill Murray is pretty depressed by the fact that no one made it to his holiday special but along the way a few “miracles” occur from his point of view. Chris Rock appears opportunely to sing (at what looked like gun point) a rather creepy duet of “Do you see what I see?” with Bill before running away. The power goes out which means he’s off the hook for the show and finally he drinks himself unconscious and dreams of George Clooney and Miley Cyrus in a Winter Wonderland in the closest we get to a fully festive scene. Miraculous!

Christmas Message
Christmas and life in general is pretty depressing but if you have to live with it do it with hard liquor, strangers and your own personal pianist to play you through Christmas Eve. And if you are friends with the creepy ghost from Scrooged, invite him why don’t you!

Additional Points
- Michael Cera pops up for no reason as a sleazy producer +1
- References Monuments men in a Zombieland “Garfield” way +1

It’s hard not to sound like a Scrooge but the biggest frustration with this holiday special is that it should have been great! I mean Bill Murray in a santa hat – we should have been onto a winner! However, the self-aware anti-Christmas really fails to get off the ground and much as it’s easy to love Bill Murray wry style the special itself meanders through its hour running time without giving much back. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll land in the Christmas viewing for next year… My Murray dose will have to come through Scrooged!


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 9 - Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Sam is back and there's gonna be trouble hey na hey ha.....Sam. 

"Oh man, I can't fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"

Last week at work, when frothing the milk for someone's extra hot decaf skinny latte I lost focus and accidentally splashed scalding milk on my hand - I was pained, burnt and really annoyed that the decaf skinny soya latte customer didn't give me a cursory "oooh, are you alright?" comment. But lightning doesn't strike twice... Does it? About 45 minute later I was once again frothing some milk for a double shot skinny cappuccino with no sprinkles when BLAM someone mentioned The Simpsons, I got distracted and KABURN I scalded myself again! Unbelievable. This one-two punch of being in the same aggravating situation not once! but twice! was infuriating. HOWEVER for the benefit of The Brothers Cinemazov and my good self it worked well, for it put me in the exact same mindset that John McClane is in in Die Hard 2 : Die Harder. One year on from the events at Nakatomi Plaza, McClane finds himself again in the middle of a total shitstorm that only he can avert.
So... Let us see, how Christmassy is Die Hard 2 : Die Harder? Very..? A bit..? Kinda..? Not at all..? Strap in... It's gonna be a bumpy ride. 
The Christmas Story Much like the first Die Hard, Die Hard 2 : Die Harder doesn't exactly have the most christmassyest of stories.  It's been a full year since John McClane had his Christmas Eve messed with by Gruber and his boys at Nakatomi Plaza. He's got Holly back and is waiting for her to arrive at Dulles Airport in Washington, McClane is pig sick of putting up with her in-laws and all he wants is to spend a casual, romantic holiday season with the lovely Mrs McClane. But if McClane were to have his ideal romantic Christmas break the film would be called "Lovely Break" or "Christmas Cottage Fun" not Die Hard 2 : Die Harder. The ringleader of DH2:DH is naked tai-chi enthusiast Colonel Stuart, along with other members of his elite and incredibly prepared unit they take over the air traffic control systems, cut off communication to the planes and seize control of the airport. Their goal? To rescue General Ramon Esperanza, a drug lord and dictator of Val Verde, who is being extradited to the United States to stand trial on drug trafficking charges. They proceed to crash a British plane piloted by Colm Meaney to show the airport chaps how serious they are - as per usual they didn't bank on McClane, the ultimate fly in the ointment.

McClane is imbibing a certain spirit of Christmas because he's putting himself through all this once again to save Holly, who is trapped on a plane with that really annoying reporter from Die Hard 1. That's pretty Christmassy I guess, going through hell and high water to do best by the ones you love at Christmas but story wise...story wise it really ain't all that Christmassy. 
1/5 The Voice of Christmas This one is a dead tie between McClane and Capt. Lorenzo. Other than the frequent mention of it being "Christmas week" and the flurries of snow on the runway there really isn't a lot of talk of Christmas. Capt. Lorenzo despite being a total dick throughout the film does end the film on a lovely Christmassy note - Carmine Lorenzo: Hey McClane! You get this parking ticket in front of my airport? John McClane: Yeah. Carmine Lorenzo: [Lorenzo tears ticket up] Ah, what the hell; it's Christmas! BOOM Lorenzo gets it, Christmas is a time to let bygones be bygones. McClane too totally gets it, he is ticked off that he has to, once again, thwart terrorist scumbags when all he really wants is a quiet tender normal Christmas with Holly - "Just once, I'd like a regular, normal Christmas. Eggnog, a fuckin' Christmas tree, a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this motherfuckin' tin can." 

But if I had to pick the ultimate annoying kid at Christmas in DH2:DH it'd have to be Thornberg. Thornberg, the slime bag journo that everyone hates, the guy who jeopardised Holly's very life in Die Hard and who in this film causes mass hysteria, running, screaming and vase smashing when he sneakily does an expose broadcast from the plane's loo. He's such a "stupid, arrogant son of a bitch" that when the flight attendant finds out that Holly knocked 2 of his teeth out she rewards Holly with champagne. You know you're a scummy guy when the news of someone causing you pain is met with laughter and reward beverages. Even an old lady calls him an asshole. Amidst all the chaos and carnage and explosions that are standard for a McClane Christmas these two vague, fleeting instances speak out for what makes, or should make, Christmas Christmas. Other than that though there's no real Christmas voice action... Just quips and cursing and shouting. 


The Annoying Kid at Christmas Thornberg. Capt. Lorenzo. That WATW news lady. Major Grant. Col. Stuart. DH2:DH is chockful, to the brim, with dicks. There's oh so few people in this film that aren't massive dicks. Everyone spends a lot of time talking about how they know McClane and know what he did at Nakatomi Plaza yet rather than let him deal with it in his own renegade, loose cannon way they block him, stop him and yell at him. Poor McClane, he's just trying to help. He's no Ellis but he is definitely a massively annoying kid.
3/5 The Christmas Miracle
Ejecting out of a grenaded plane. Endless gunfights. Rigorous beatings. The obligatory kick in the face. Being shot. Being awfully close to fire, an awfully large amount of the time. Leaping out of things, on to things, past things. All the luggage carousel action. By the end of DH2:DH McClane is bloodied, battered, and beaten but still breathing. By all accounts McClane should be dead, maybe not dead but severely severely injured, maybe on a drip somewhere unable to profess his love for Holly in the snow but he's fine. Not a1, tip top condition but far less massively injured than he should be. A Christmas miracle if e'er there w'er one.
3/5 The Christmas Message Pt. 1. If this Christmas Day the life and well being of a loved one is being jeopardised by some communist terrorists you really very much should take a leaf out of McClane's book and do EVERYTHING in your power to subdue, maim and kill those terrorists whilst ensuring the survival of your aforementioned loved one. 
Pt.2. This Christmas season do like McClane and fill your festive activities with endless witticisms, quips and cursing. It seems to make McClane's Christmas all the more magical and Christmassy. Maybe it could do the same for you.

Pt.3. Whatever you do this Christmas, do like McClane does in DH2:DH and do it harder than you did it last year. Last year you ate 4 roast potatoes? This year go harder and eat 12. Last year you beat your little sister at Trivial Pursuit? This year go harder, challenge and destroy Stephen Hawking. Last year no one laughed at your bad Christmas cracker joke? This year go harder and do a full stand up routine at the table until you're given a regular panel spot on whatever show Sean Lock's on (Joe- on Point). 2/5 Additional Points -On Holly's stricken airplane in an attempt to settle the passengers down the captain suggests they put on a TV to calm them down. The show they put on? The Simpsons. Nothing chills ME out like The Simpsons. + 1-The fact that McClane's way of "waking up and smelling the 90's" and embracing the advancing technology is by sending a fax. + 1 -The lines in this film are amazing, go on iMDB, look at the quotes section. Every quote on there is an absolute winner. + 1 -McClane's laugh, scream, shout and cry of "HOOLLLY!!! at the film's thrilling finale is beautiful. + 1 15/25 

Conclusions "It's OK, I've done this before." Die Hard 2 : Die Harder is great. Not as good as Die Hard but still, pretty great. & unfortunately for Die Hard 2 : Die Harder whilst it is pretty great it is not, at all, whatsoever, a better Christmassy Christmas film than The Polar Express.  I really hope that the next Christmas film I cover for Cinemazov is actually really Christmassy. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 21 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 8 - Arthur Christmas

Some extensive British comedy chops bring us this film that I hate to admit made me well up ever so slightly. The likes of Hugh Laurie, Michael Palin and writers behind Borat, Alan Partridge and even the director of that last Aardman film; Pirates! Bill Nighy, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent. It's one of those films that piles on the names but knows how to use it all, with each character adding and rarely subtracting from the fun. Now it might seem like a film that's about the son of Santa delivering a present to a forgotten child is a safe bet, and you'd be right. But let's put it through the wringer anyhow.

The Christmas Story
In these modern times the North pole has had to step up their game. 1.9 Billion children in the world and Santa isn't letting that beat him. Only there isn't just Santa. Santa has two sons and a Dad and a wife and a huge line of Santas before him. One of his sons is really really into Christmas. He reads all the letters that the kids send and memorises each and everyone of them. He is the last of the old guard with Hugh Laurie's character just into business like efficiency and VersaceVersaceVersace. After delivering all the gifts for the year they shut up shop. Then they notice that they have missed one little girl. No one seems to care apart from Arthur and Bryony the elf. They set out to deliver that one gift 'cause that's all that matters at Christmas. It's climax is beyond touching and the very concept that Santa is not an individual but an idea, a figurehead, is one that could so easily go south and yet it defines so clearly what is important: Selflessness. 

The Voice of Christmas
Arthur Christmas, the titular hero, is simply in all conceivable ways the voice of Christmas. He goes further still embodying it in all ways. He doesn't care about himself or about becoming Santa and the internal power struggle at the North Pole, he just wants every child on the planet to be happy. I'll explain the part that makes me well up. At the end Arthur manages to get the gift to Gwen and the look on his face is just so full of bliss and joy that it's hard to be unmoved. 

The Annoying Kid at Christmas
Now this is a harder category. Most of the character in this film are essentially good people who have just lost their way. They aren't exactly annoying, even the 'annoying' ones are just funny. Santa is in many ways the most annoying character. He is so illusive and rude to Arthur, that it's a wonder he is so lovely. 

The Christmas Miracle
It's has been said that Christmas shouldn't be about presents but presents aren't about money. They aren't about getting all the things you really want or need. A Christmas present no matter what it is makes you feel loved and wanted. It makes you feel that in a world of billions you matter. Arthur gets it. Gwen gets her present. It's not the biggest bike or the best bike it's a gift though and all the effort that went into it getting there symbolises the effort that anyone should put in to giving a gift.

The Christmas Message
I've played my hand too early. But I can reiterate the message here. Selflessness. Also that moment at the end. Take the time to notice cool things and nice things because really what is the point in going to all the effort if you don't get joy from the moment.

Additional Points 
- Mrs Claus is just bliss +1
- I did a little festive cry +1
- Versace Doesn't make those Christmas suits, I know that's not the films fault but I still want one -1
- Sam would kill me if I didn't give an extra point to Michael Palin +1

Christmas softens me up. Normally I am a horrific snob that judges all things with an air of grandeur. At Christmas my defences go down and I start to love all things. Forgive all things. I realise that in this review I've maybe come across a bit lame but that's Christmas. Christmas is really lame and I really love it.


P.S. For context, outside of Christmas I gave this film a 6/10. See, the rest of the year I have no heart.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 7 - A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Today we are being treated to a real life actual person who writes things and get money given to them for it! So be nice and send money to his paypal because I know I'm not going to. Anyway, Jon is nice and he has glasses and a beard as well so it won't be too much of a culture shock for you guys.

Back in the funky-smelling mists of 2004, Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies - or Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, to our friends across the water - arrived to a chorus of scratched heads from critics and modest ticket sales. In spite of this, the mixed race stoner bromance went on to clock up a legion of fans and two sequels, cementing the pair’s reputation as the Cheech and Chong of the new millennium.  

In 2011, they turned in their second sequel - following the headline baiting Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay - which boasted not one but two big gimmicks: Not only was it screening in 3D, it was also a Christmas film. And so we come to A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the festive tale of two estranged fratboys embarking on a screwball journey to save the newly-rehabilitated Harold’s Christmas, when his father-in-law’s prize fir tree is  burnt  down by an errant joint. Along the way they end up entangled with teen drinkers, Russian gangsters, a robot that makes waffles and Neil Patrick Harris. All of this whilst taking gleeful advantage of the stereoscopic effects.

The Christmas Story
Harold & Kumar is a surprisingly Christmassy Christmas film, but not in the usual way. It doesn’t trouble itself with the typical holiday themes of family, love and spreading cheer to the less fortunate, as it joyfully sloshes around in quasi Farrelly Brothers filth. However, the plot centres around the pair trying to score a new Christmas tree to impress Harold’s militantly pro-Christmas father-in-law - portrayed by Easter-Island-head-with-a-ponytail Danny Trejo - and that’s pretty bloody Christmassy, isn’t it?

The Voice of Christmas
Nobody’s really into Christmas in this film. Not really.

The Annoying Kid at Christmas
In this case, the annoying kid is the infant daughter of Harold’s straight-laced pal Todd. She temporarily develops superpowers when she huffs a faceful of coke. Not much of a Tiny Tim figure, then.

The Christmas Miracle
At the start of the film, we’re faced with sad prospect of a Kumar who’s been struck off the medial register and struck down with distinctly heavy news that he’s  going to be a father. The third act brings his redemption though, as he’s tasked with fishing a shotgun shell out of Santa Claus’s head. It’s heartwarming stuff, but unlikely to get him his medical licence back. How’s he going to feed that baby, eh?

The Christmas Message
Pass the blunt.

Additional Points
- Bows to the genre staple of not including any good female characters -1
- Neil Patrick Harris gets a handjob on Jesus’ sofa +1
- Jesus is played by that guy from Let’s Be Cops -1
- Opening features a smoke ring morphing into a Christmas wreath +1
- Ends with Santa Claus honking a bong in his sleigh +1

It’s a loud, crass, weird, gross-out flick and certainly not your average holiday outing, but with a high gag rate and a little bit of charm, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is well worth 90 minutes of your time over the festive season. There’s nothing here to warm the heart, but plenty to wam the lungs, and let’s be honest them organs are very close to one another.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 6 - The Shop Around The Corner

It's a Wonderful Life is, if we all subtract our personal opinions from the equation, almost certainly the greatest Christmas film of all time. Not only that, it is a straight up and down great film for any time of the year. Now of course there is longlist of important people who made that film the juggernaut it is today. But at the centre of that, it is clear that without the calm and steady hand of Cinemazov's favourite actor James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life would not be the marvel that it is. By that logic it would seem clear that Jimmy possesses the Midas touch. You could continue along that train of thought and conclude that in some ways The Shop Around The Corner is the Jimmy Stewart Christmas sequel we've all been seeking. Well of course The Shop Around The Corner came out 6 years before It's a Wonderful Life and is in no way associated with that wonderful movie apart from one: Christmas! It'd be unfair to compare any film to something so untouchable in my eyes as It's a Wonderful Life but I am afraid that in many ways it is inevitable. However, this isn't a comparative essay. This is something far more important! To the Christmas scale...

The Christmas Story
A couple are exchanging anonymous letters around Christmas and don't realise that the person they are falling in love with is also the person they are working with who they simply loathe and despise. Later Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) figures out that the girl he loves is this girl who he also hates. The moment of him figuring out that his first impression of her was very wrong is the Christmassy part of all of this. It also brings some classic misunderstandings like him trying to convince her to get her boyfriend a wallet and not a cigar box. Kralik has already won her heart through letters but just can't convince her to like him in person.  

The Voice of Christmas
When asked how he will spend his Christmas, Ferencz Vadas says to Mr. Matsuchek "Just my wife my little boy and myself, and we are very happy". He is so sincere and unassuming that this comment sorta hit me hard. Even as you read it now, it seems tremendously unimportant, but in a film full of drama and misunderstandings Vadas is calm and loving. 

The Annoying Kid at Christmas
I don't want to keep harping on about It's a Wonderful Life but my lord this is too much of a coincidence is pass up. The shop owner Mr. Matuschek hires to Private investigator to track his wife as he suspects her of having an affair. The P.I. tells him that he is indeed right, she is having an affair and he goes off to kill himself. Well the P.I. is the same gosh damn actor who plays the tax man in It's a Wonderful Life, Charles Halton, who causes all the trouble that gets Jimmy Stewart to try and commit suicide! What's more annoying than a guy who not only gets the nicest man in the world in trouble but also gets a guy to commit suicide. I'll tell you what's more annoying, being oblivious to all the damage you are causing! He is not the only annoyance. There is the shop clerk who was actually the one having the affair. His comeuppance is spectacular. After the boss tells Jimmy just to simply fire him, he gets him to do all sorts of ridiculous and tedious tasks. Oh and then there is the young guy who saves Mr. Matuschek life. Once he gets promoted to clerk he just fucks with all the assholes and gets work done. He then turns into an asshole himself so there is a little bit of depth to the world that hints as a perpetual cycle of asshole.

The Christmas Miracle
Well a man recovers from a suicide attempt and finds a friend for Christmas, It's not really a miracle but it is nice. 

The Christmas Message  
Not judging people on first impressions, whilst not a particularly Christmassy message, is a great lesson for all seasons. A cliche that no one really pays much attention to. 

Additional Points  
-People really hate that cigar box and it's great advice, don't buy a musical cigar box for Christmas +1
-Old Christmas is just so cosy +1
-Consumerist Christmas is a bit icky really -1
-No one is left alone at the end +1
-It ends just before Christmas day -1 

James Stewart knows how to get all intense and romantic and when he admits his love to Klara at the end you can't help but be swept up. Let's just forget It's a Wonderful life. It is sincerely in all ways a masterpiece. The Shop Around the Corner however is a Christmas film not to be missed. It's funny and romantic and actually quite a bit Christmassy.   


Friday, 18 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas: Day 5 - Tangerine

Do me a favour really quickly would you? Have a look on your phone at what was the last video you recorded on it. The last video I took was a shaky, blurry and incredibly poorly filmed video of a party that was being hosted at my workplace, specifically when the DJ played Tina Turner's classic pop anthem 'The Best' - it's a far from compelling narrative featuring a distinct lack of focus and several bored and confused looking bystanders. Quite frankly it's a poor video - I sent it to some of my friends who I went on holiday with to Bulgaria and even to them, who were in on the niche Tina Turner moments I was referencing, were far from impressed. 

Sean Baker's incredible comedy drama about transgender prostitutes in LA was shot entirely on an iPhone 5s, entirely. Puts my Tina Turner video to such shame I may as well smash my phone and post the parts FAO Turner and Baker. It's a wonderful wonderful film made all the more exciting and engaging and exhilarating because of its iPhone 5 filming style. Tangerine is deservedly raking in rave reviews, featuring on several prominent "best of year" lists and it is well worth your time and attention BUT that's not why we are here. 

Image result for tangerine 2015
The Christmas Story
Y'know how in the intro for "Trading Places" I mentioned how some films that are associated with Christmas only really earn that association based purely on the film in question being set around the festive period? "Tangerine" takes that idea and hurls it against the wall. The story is thus, fresh out of a 28-day stint in prison, transgender prostitute Sin-Dee is told by her BFF Alexandra that her pimp BF has been sleeping with some chick whose name begins with D while she's been doing time. Sin-Dee (who is self-proclaimed "fierce as f**k") is justifiably whipped into a frenzy and rages through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve trying to track down, and enact some street justice, on that no good Chester and the tramp he's been cheating with. 

Apart from the date upon which this rampage of revenge takes place there is hardly anything "Christmassy" about Tangerine's Christmas story. 

This film is great but... 

The Voice of Christmas
Karo - the Armenian cab driver who Razmik's mother in law enlists to help her track down her wayward son in law. He's the only one who mentions Christmas in a positive light, the only one who mentions it in a pure 'tis the season kind of way. Everyone else mentions the time of year in an effort to get something sordid or questionable or to get out of a sticky ordeal. Karo however has this exchange with Razmik's Ma in law -

Karo - this weather in LA doesn't help set the holiday mood. 
Ma in Law - there's no Christmas without snow. 
Karo - Christmas is Christmas regardless of the weather. 


Additional point for the guy in Razmik's cab, clearly feeling worse for wear, who after vomiting in the cab and on his friend is dragged out and before being sick again yells "IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE WHERE’S YOUR CHRISTMAS SPIRIT? IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE!!! *vomits*" 
+ 1 

The Annoying Kid at Christmas
The one kid we see in Tangerine is really cute, and it seems her best friend is a husky, that's the ideal kid at Christmas. The accolade of annoying kid at Christmas has to go for Razmik's mother in law, she's such a meddling loud mouth who can't keep her nose out of her daughter's family's business. They're all just trying to have a lovely Christmas Eve and she's being a right irksome so and so at the table - she's really oh so very annoying. I understand that she has her daughter's best interests at heart but she just goes about it in the absolute worst way. She doesn't have the Christmas spirit whatsoever. Booooooooooo. 

The Christmas Miracle
Uhm. Hmmm. There's a... Ah. 

The Christmas Message
I suppose the Christmas lesson that we can learn from Tangerine is that this is the season to be there for the people who matter to you, regardless of how foolhardy the endeavour is. Alexandra is there for Sin-Dee and it is only when the drama she alleges to oppose becomes too much that she bails. But that just makes it all the more sweeter when they reunite and realise that despite their flaws and imperfections they truly are best friends. After all isn't that what Christmas is really about? Being there through thick and thin for the people that truly matter, and supporting them. "CLAP! Clap for her!" 

Additional Points
- the whole thing is filmed on an iPhone. That's amazing. + 1 
- but it's not really all that Christmassy -1 
- but c'mon it's a flipping fantastic film +1 
- yeah but we're here to assess a film Christmassy-ness -1 
- come on... I'll be your friend? + 1 
- No. -1 
- Oh you're mean. 

The whole party room scene is fantastic. 
Tangerine boasts some incredible lines - 

"Oh girl. Another black boy on a board. They all think they goddamn Li'l Wayne." 
"We're buddies now; we've sucked the same c*ck." 

There are a lot of folk who yearn for an alternative Christmas film. A film more subversive and less twee than traditional feel-good festive fare. People flock to the Die Hards and the Trading Places, get all excited for the Rare Exports and the The Night Befores. But I would like to say right now, that if you are truly TRULY genuinely after an alternative subversive festive flick then Tangerine is the new crown ruler of that title - Tangerine: the ultimate alternative Christmas classic. 


P.S. If it were on any other scale I'd score Tangerine oh so highly but on a Christmas Classic scale... Alas.