Eric

Weekends

Top 5 “Alternative” Christmas movies for you to watch

We shouldn’t be debating Die Hardit was determined last year that is is most definitely a Christmas movie.  So instead, here is a list of movies that intertwine Christmas into their narratives — but I would seriously DOUBT you have considered as must-see when you are sitting around the fire this Eve before the 25th.  If you are looking for something different, consider these (thanks to A.V. Club, who has an even more extensive list for you to peruse)  —- [eric]

Go (1999)

A.V. ClubGo qualifies as a holiday movie from the moment Katie Holmes delivers the first dialogue of the film: “Do you know what I like best about Christmas? The surprises!” Many such surprises are delivered during the course of the proceedings, which revolves around three co-workers at a supermarket and the events that go down in their respective lives in the 24-hour period before Christmas arrives. Even with all the sex, drugs, and violence, the holidays are never far from the camera’s eye during the course of the film, thanks to scenes including an incredibly awkward Christmas dinner with William Fichtner and Jane Krakowski, and a shirtless Timothy Olyphant doling out drugs in a Santa hat. [Will Harris]

[📷 : Pexels]

Lethal Weapon (1987)

A.V. Club:  Writer-director Shane Black has a penchant for including Christmas elements in all his action movies, a trend he began with his screenplay of 1987’s Lethal Weapon. From “Jingle Bell Rock” playing over the credits until the camera zooms in on a penthouse where a woman leaps to her death, the balance of holiday cheer and rampant violence is struck early and often. Our hero Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) is introduced watching Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol with a gun in his mouth, busts up a gang of drug dealers operating out of a Christmas tree lot, and deals with a jumper as a man in a Santa Claus suit looks up from the street. A drug dealer closes a weighty negotiation by wishing the other party “Merry Christmas,” and later orders another business partner executed, the bullets cutting through the carton of eggnog he was drinking seconds ago. Cementing his role as the film’s Grinch, Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) drives a car through the Murtaugh family’s holiday display and shoots up a TV playing another version of A Christmas Carol, leading into his climactic fist fight with Riggs on a front lawn with Christmas lights all around. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, if you can survive it. [Les Chappell]

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

A.V. Club:  In a perverse way, Eyes Wide Shut is the perfect distillation of anxieties about the complex Christmas interplay of emotion, economics, and reciprocity. From its opening, with Bill and Alice Harford (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) preparing for a swanky Christmas party, to the ending where they wander through FAO Schwarz, Stanley Kubrick’s last film provides an eerie, cynical view of the holiday unfolding in the background. Shaken by a (frankly minor) revelation from his wife, Bill goes on a baffling odyssey through a simulacrum of New York City lit by twinkling lights and Christmas trees. He thrusts himself into the arcane debaucheries of the rich as he tries to uncover the truth about the death of a woman he thinks he met briefly… but Eyes Wide Shut isn’t really about a mysterious death. It’s about Bill Harford, who travels through the long night of this artificial city frantically trying to buy back his lost complacency, but only succeeds in reducing every relationship to a transaction. [Emily L. Stephens]

Trading Places (1983)

A.V. Club:  Dan Aykroyd’s snooty commodities broker Louis Winthorpe III might be in need of a Ebenezer Scrooge-style attitude adjustment, but John Landis’ ’80s comedy classic Trading Places is more Mark Twain than Charles Dickens. Eddie Murphy co-stars as the pauper to Aykroyd’s prince, a con artist named Billy Ray Valentine who gets swept up in a bet between the billionaire Duke brothers (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) over whether Valentine and Winthorpe’s personalities would remain the same if their social positions were reversed. Propelled by Murphy and Aykroyd’s formidable comedic talents, Trading Places doesn’t delve too deeply into the inner workings of Wall Street—the climactic scene breezes through a commodities trading scheme so quickly, NPR asked an actual broker to explain what happens—nor does it spend too much time focusing on its Christmas setting. Winthorpe tries to frame Valentine at a Christmas party, but he could have just as easily snuck in dressed as a waiter instead of an especially ragged Santa Claus. Similarly, Christmas decorations appear in the background of nearly every scene, but are about as important to the plot as the sexually predatory gorilla. (Of course there’s a gorilla. This is John Landis we’re talking about.) [Katie Rife]

L.A. Confidential (1997)

A.V. Club:  Ed Exley is an LAPD detective sergeant who’s about as by-the-book as they come, Bud White is a plainclothes detective with a violent streak, and neither gentleman has much use for the other, but the event that creates a state of tension between the two of them that lasts until the closing moments of L.A. Confidential takes place on Christmas Day. After indulging in way too much eggnog, a collective of cops led by Bud’s partner, Dick Stensland, decides to extract revenge on a group of prisoners who’d gotten into a fight with several officers earlier in the evening in which one cop reportedly lost an eye, with another suffering from brain damage. Bud rushes to try and stop Dick from doing something rash but ends up doing something rash himself, throwing a prisoner against a cell door and head-butting him. Unfortunately, a news photographer happens to be present and snaps pictures of the carnage, leading to the L.A. Times headline “Bloody Christmas.” Having been present for the incident, Exley agrees to testify to everything he witnessed, which results in Dick getting fired and Bud growing bitter. Happy bloody holidays. [Will Harris]