Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wha 'cha Gonna Watch this Season?

by Libby Hellmann

OK. I confess. I’m going rogue. I was going to post a blog on corruption and oppression (I just saw Changeling, and I’m researching a possible new book that takes place in revolutionary Iran.)But let’s face it: no one – including me -- wants to get too heavy this time of year.

Many of you have already chimed in on Kevin’s post with the books we ought to get our kids for the holidays. This post isn’t nearly as noble. And much more superficial. Still… in the interest of inspiring whatever holiday spirit you can muster, forgetting about terrorist attacks as well as the economy, and earning a few brownie points from Netflix, let’s talk movies.

What holiday movies make your all-time top 5? Is it A Wonderful Life (which, just to bring it somewhat back on topic, Carolyn Wheat dissects quite admirably in her book Killer Fiction) and you will undoubtedly see listed 10 times on local stations this season?

What about Miracle on 34th Street… the original or the remake? Oy – now that I’m thinking about it -- it is pretty cloying.


So, what about one of the versions of Amahl and the Night Visitors? I seem to remember a TV production I’d watch every year as a kid. Anyone else remember that? I recall it being mysterious and exotic. Of course, I was only about ten at the time.


And of course, I like Home Alone, which was filmed right around the corner in Winnetka.

I’m not all that fond of the Scrooge films, or the Charlie Browns, or the Grinches--
too sappy and predictable. But I didn’t mind Family Stone. Or the TV productions of the Nutcracker. Especially the one with Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland.



But my all time favorite holiday movie has to be Love Actually. How can you not like Hugh Grant dancing to “Jump,” Alan Rickman playing a wayward husband, Colin Firth falling in love, or the Beach Boys’ finale of God Only Knows with all those split screens? In fact, if this doesn’t put you into “the mood,” I give up.




Your turn. What Holiday movies do you recommend? Let’s hear them. Btw, if anyone has any Hanukkah movies (is there really such an animal?), that would work too.


PS I forgot to mention that my wonderful publisher, BLEAK HOUSE BOOKS, is offering free books to all of you this holiday season. Yup. Free. All you pay is shipping and handling, and you can get novels by Reed Farrel Coleman, Eric Stone, Victoria Houston, Craig McDonald, Mary Logue,and even me.

To find out more, click here. This is the real deal!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few of my favorites...

1) A Christmas Story
2) It's A Wonderful Life
3) How The Grinch Stole Christmas
4) A Charlie Brown Christmas
5) The Muppet Christmas Carol (starring Michael Caine as Scrooge)

Martel

David said...

A Christmas Story, hands down

But then I used to read Jean Shepherd 's column in Car and Driver. :)

And I WAS Ralphie when I was growing up.

Corey Wilde said...

A Child's Christmas in Wales - what could be more Christmas-y?

We're No Angels -- the one with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Ustinov. Christmas films rarely contain wit.

A Muppet Christmas Carol - Michael Caine is my favorite Scrooge. And Gonzo makes a splendid Charles Dickens.

guyot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
guyot said...

I think that you are the first person I've ever heard say your favorite Christmas movie is Love, Actually... wow. New insight into Libby.

I happen to love "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Probably because I grew up on it, before I knew what sappy or predictable was.

"A Christmas Story" is an annual appointment in our house. "Scrooged" by Glazer & O'Donoghue always makes me feel happy and Eggnogie.

Hopefully, within the next couple of years you will all add "Winterhaven" to your favorites lists. It's a Christmas comedy feature I recently sold to Hollywood.

See how I made this about me? Talk about Christmas spirit.

We're taking our kids to Chicago this year to see the lights. They've heard us talk about how no city does Christmas better than Chicago, so we're heading there in a week or so.

Sara Paretsky said...

1.The Thin Man--my favorite movie in many categories--but for Christmas, can't be beat--Myrna Loy with her hangover from the six martinis she drank to catch up with Powell, all through the first murder scene
2.Richard Burton as Becket--let's ignore the real Becket's virulent anti-semitism and focus on the movie version of Anhouil's ahistorical drama
3. Little Women with Hepburn et al (Christmas won't be Christmas!)
4. I don't know any Chanukah movies, but I see there's a kiddie flick called Chanukah on Planet Matzah Ball
5. Anything with Jean Arthur--I love her squeaky voice!

Libby Hellmann said...

Looks like "A Christmas Story" is making all the lists. Guess I'll have to see it. Again.

Guyot... let me know when you're here.. I'd love to meet you guys someplace downtown...

"Hanukah on Planet Matzo Ball"?? Sounds good to me, Sara. Must be the sequel to "Latkes On Mars"...

the Bag Lady said...

Is my age showing when I point out that no-one has chosen "Holiday Inn" or "White Christmas"? Those are classics. Either one. Love 'em both. Watched one or the other of them every year as a child. (Big Bing Crosby fan.)

Maryann Mercer said...

Hi Libby :o)
Here's my list of 'must watch"
1. Love Actually
2. Christmas Carol (with Alistair Sims)
3. Miracle on 34th Street (the original)
4. White Christmas
5. Holiday Inn
6. Muppet Christmas Carol
7. Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas (early Jim Henson-you can see the wires-but a cute story)
8. Charlie Brown Christmas
9. The Grinch who Stole Christmas (Karloff NOT Carrey)
10. It's a Wonderful Life
And I just discovered a new 'oldie'
Miracle on 5th Avenue. Call me a Christmas movie junkie :o)
By the way, I remember Amahl too...I think I'll check and see if it ever made it to video.
Now I'm off to bake shortbread and cookies!

Maryann Mercer said...

Oh, and Libby, thanks for my morning dose of Colin Firth :o) Cookies will wait...movie won't!

Dana King said...

Last year after we came home from visiting relatives on Christmas Eve, I flipped on the TV before going to bed and happened to catch all but the first ten minutes of PULP FICTION. Not very traditional, but it does have a Biblical reference, and if Harvey Keitel getting that car cleaned up in ten minutes isn't a miracle, I'm not sure what is.

We spent New Year's Eve watching five consecutive episodes of THE WIRE. What can I say? We're not slaves to convention.

Dennis Dugan said...

My top 3 Christmas movies:

1 - The Bad Lieutenant

2 - I Spit on Your Grave

3 - Gummo

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Die Hard is the Jordan Family Christmas movie. Nothing like the holidays with John McLane at Nokatomi Plaza.

And also the Musical Scrooge with Albert Finney.

Diane said...

What, no love for National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? That's a holiday tradition in our house. I also think Elf is rather a cute movie and the camera tricks are pretty entertaining.

My favorite holiday AV item is the audiobook A Christmas Carol where Patrick Stewart plays every role. Dickens plus melty baritone is my idea of a good time!

Steve said...

Oh for those childhood days when It's a Wonderful Life aired all over the place -- NBC owns the exclusive rights now, I believe.

The wife and I dig Bad Santa the most.

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