It’s that time of the year again. It gets earlier every year, beginning in many British shops as soon as the Hallowe’en displays come down. Thankfully, Christmas film have given us a later start to the season…
TIME FOR A CHRISTMAS MOVIE?
In About A Boy, Will (Hugh Grant) is a man haunted by Christmas. Apart from anything else, like everyone else he has to suffer his father’s truly awful 1958 hit, Santa’s Super Sleigh blaring out of store speakers while shopping in autumn. (‘November the sodding 19th, 6 weeks before Christmas already they were playing the bloody thing.’)
Well, on November the sodding 20th, I endured Paul McCartney’s dreadful 1979 hit, Wonderful Christmastime while eating scrambled eggs on toast in a Greasy Spoon. (‘Simply having.’ Not exactly, Mr Beatle, thanks for asking.) And over the following days, I encountered heavy winter snowfall and accompanying yuletide glitter while watching both Untouchable (tasteful Parisian decorations outside Chanel) and snow-muffled Norwegian marital tangle comedy Happy Happy. Coming out of Central London’s Odeon Panton Street afterwards, I cut across Leicester Square’s gardens only to find myself in the rather family-fantastic – and free – Rise Of The Guardians playground. (The children’s film, featuring Santa, the Easter Bunny, Sandman et al opens on the 30th.) The dvd for last year’s Arthur Christmas has just been released. Britflick sequel Nativity 2 is out today.
The basic appeal of some cinematic sparkle
But it is because Christmas films are now such a part of the (overlong) run-up to Christmas and our enjoyment of the festival itself that I’m writing this blog. I’ll cover the new releases but I’ll also highlight recognised favourites as well as the not so well known.
kissbangchristmas as my blogname was inspired by celebrated US film critic, the late Pauline Kael’s second collection of reviews. She claimed the book’s title, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was ‘perhaps the briefest statement imaginable of the basic appeal of movies. This appeal is what attracts us, and ultimately what makes us despair when we begin to understand how seldom movies are more than this.’ (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang also happens to be the name of a yuletide Robert Downey Jnr, Val Kilmer vehicle.)
Sugar and spice and suicide
Certainly Christmas films are often schmaltzy and mere seasonal cinematic money-spinners. But so often they’re not. There’s a reason movies such as It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, and one of my own faves, Young At Heart have become December classics. That’s what I’m here to celebrate.