A Non Traditional Christmas – 12 Must See Movies at Christmas

 

Christmas films traditionally feature men in cardigans sat by a fire singing songs about Jack Frost or snow nipping at your unmentionables (that last bit may be false). The women wander around the house dressed in huge ball gowns carrying trays and smiling like their lives depend on it. Songs will be sung and cockles and hearts will be warmed.

That’s all very well, but what about a non traditional Christmas film? Well, here are a selection of 12 non traditional Christmas films that are well worth a watch over the Yuletide festival.

 

Lethal Weapon (1987)

With its gorgeous opening sweep of the L.A. night time skyline and the musical accompaniment of “Jingle-Bell Rock”, you know that this is no ordinary Christmas movie as you watch a young semi naked girl take drugs and plunge out of a high window. A blueprint for buddy cop movies that followed, Lethal Weapon is a master class in action, rapport and witty dialogue. Written by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang, The Last Boyscout, The Long Kiss Goodnight) and directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Omen), the film contains some classic moments and is right up there in your non-traditional Christmas must see movies.

Gremlins (1984)

With an opening title that blares out the classic “Christmas (Baby please come home)” by Darlene Love you could be forgiven for thinking you were about to watch a film about the joys of the holiday season, had it not have been for the pre credit sequence in which a father buys a small creature for his son’s birthday. What plays out subsequently is one of the most anarchic Christmas films ever made with none of the Christmas film rules adhered to. On the surface Gremlins would appear to be a children’s film – it is anything but. With tales of fathers breaking their neck and dying in the chimney while dressed as Santa and Gremlins exploding in a microwave and being decapitated with severed limbs landing in a fire, this is not Dr. Seuss, but it is a Christmas classic none the less and kids will love it.

Die Hard (1987)

The film that inspired a generation of rip-offs, Die Hard is easily one of the most perfect action films ever made, never stopping to breathe and rocketing along right up until the majestic last act. With classy directing by John McTiernan (Predator), this is the film that made the action hero an every-man and Bruce Willis the phenomenon he is today. It also gives the action baddie role a twist and Alan Rickman puts meat on the bones and portrays Hans Gruber as a bad guy that will live long in the memory. It is a perfect Christmas movie and it will blow you through the back wall of the theatre.

Bad Santa (2003)

If there is a funnier, more off the wall and eccentric Christmas comedy out there, I would love to know about it. It was missed by many on release as it was marketed as a screw-ball frat comedy, where as in actual fact it is a Coen brothers film in all but name (they performed uncredited rewrites), with their trademark amazing dialogue and sublime character names (such as the wonderfully named Thurman Murman). Billy Bob Thornton gives the performance of a lifetime as Willy Stokes the eponymous Bad Santa and the soundtrack is a joy to behold. A Christmas classic for the modern generation of cynics.

Die Hard 2 (1990)

With the success of Die Hard it was only inevitable that a sequel would follow. Based once again at Christmas but moving the action to an airport, Die Hard 2 (sometimes awkwardly subtitled “Die Harder”) is surprisingly good seeing as it is essentially the same film but in a different location. The action is handled brilliantly by Rennie Harlin (back when he knew a good film when he saw it) and William Sadler adequately fills the shoes of Alan Rickman’s previous tour de force bad guy role and gives a wonderful performance as the evil Colonel Stewart.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2003)

Robert Downey Jr. (just starting out on the road to modern world wide acceptance and affection after his past unfortunate events) and Val Kilmer team up for this fantastic modern take on Raymond Chandler as the pair try and solve a murder mystery in modern day L.A. With Downey Jr’s wonderful narration and Kilmer giving his best and most likeable performance in years, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a film that should receive more acclaim than it does. Shane Black wrote and directed it and it is thoroughly recommended Christmas time viewing.

Trading Places (1983)

One of the most satisfying comedies ever made – it ticks every box and falls neatly into the category of film that if you catch the start or middle, you have to hang on until the end. Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm Elliot are in sumptuous form here and the majestic Don Ameche and Ralph Belemy lend a topnotch touch of class as the unscrupulous Duke brothers. Add this peerless cast to the glorious John Landis direction and you have yourself a classic of epic proportions that is infinitely quotable and remains note perfect.

Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s epic tale of mistaken identity may not sound very much like Christmas, but in the future world of Brazil it is Christmas every day. A film that perfectly illustrates the overblown visual pomp of the 1980s that Blade Runner began and Brazil carries on perfectly. The script is razor sharp as well and the cast is sublime. A classic of Orwellian proportions and a perfect antidote to Christmas schmaltz.

Scrooged (1988)

A lovely take on the classic Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray looks like he had all kinds of fun making this (and improvising) and Richard Donner lets loose some lovely visuals and assembles a fine cast. A lovely alternative Christmas, shame about the saccharine sweet ending, but hey, it’s Christmas!

National Lampoon’s : Christmas Vacation (1989)

While it can be argued that this is not in the same league as the previous two Vacation movies, it still has its fair share of laughs and even some poignancy. Possibly Chevy Chase’s last half way decent film, so well worth treasuring for that alone. A perfect companion to Christmas build up movie watching.

A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

From the left-field brain of Tim Burton comes this lovely take on Christmas. It has become a modern classic and rightly so. With the splendorous Danny Elfman soundtrack and the august Henry Sellick animation. This is an outstanding example of Burton getting it right and telling a story that generations will look back on as fondly as Fantasia is considered now.

Home Alone (1990)

While in reality poor Kevin would probably have been murdered just after the first trap failed, this tale of a kid having the time of his life after his parents accidentally leave him behind is paradisiacal Christmas fare. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern weigh in with great performances as the ill-fated “Wet Bandits” who spend the last part of the film living out a Tom and Jerry cartoon and fall into trap after carefully laid trap, the end results of which would certainly leave them dead, in a coma or paraplegic. That aside, this is a heart warmer and introduced the world to the precocious comet that was Macaulay Culkin.

Originally posted 2012-12-05 21:50:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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