Six Christmas Movies to Get You in the Mood (Whatever Your Mood)

Christmas is coming. It’s December, so it’s finally okay to admit it, to let those words come out of your mouth. As I write this, there are less than three weeks before the big day. To help get you in the mood, here are six Christmas movies, whatever sort of mood you might be in.

1. Elf

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Let’s get things started with one of my all-time favourite Christmas movies, and one of my favourite Will Ferrell movies: the tale of Buddy the Elf on a great big adventure in New York. Featuring many other things I love, like Zooey Deschanel’s singing voice, Peter Dinklage’s almighty acting talent, and book publishing, along with many critical lines such as “Smiling is my favourite” and “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing out loud for all to hear”, it’s sure to get the whole family laughing.

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It also features many great gift ideas: a good book, some classic toys, clothing, and candy. Also creative gifts, like handmade decorations, or songs.

2. The Muppet Christmas Carol

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If you’re too much of a Scrooge to really get in the spirit, then meet the original Ebenezer himself. Dickens’s classic Christmas story is reinvigorated with the Muppets, and caries the plot along with whimsical music and an array of early 90s special effects.

3. Jingle All the Way

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Maybe you’d prefer a more modern example of the extents to which people go for their children. Maybe Scrooge isn’t doing it for you, and you need Arnold Schwarzenegger to make the season truly jolly. It’s cheesy, but it’s fun, and it’s held a special place in my heart since I first saw all those years ago. (I seem to recall seeing it in my Nanny’s house before she passed away, so it must have only made it onto the television a bit before that. Or I’m misremembering it.)

4. Bad Santa

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All those are very well and good for the kids. But when they’ve gone to bed, the adults need something. Something with some violence, some drinking, some swearing – a bad sort of Christmas. While some families honour the tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every year, we watch Bad Santa. I never said my family was normal, but we know how to have fun.

5. Love, Actually

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For something a little bit different, try a Rom-Com on for size. It has the kid from A Game of Thrones in it, with Liam Neeson trying to be a good father. It’s one of those large-cast, many-stories sort of movies, but it manages to pace itself well enough that we get a sense of who they all are, what they want, and the different sorts of Christmases there are to be had. But before you watch it with your kids, maybe skip the opening scene.

6. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

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Last, and most certainly not least, the third instalment in the Harold & Kumar series. I developed a soft spot for these movies when I saw this one, with its intentionally bad 3D effects, its portrayal of Neil Patrick Harris as Straight Neil Patrick Harris, and the tale of friendship it tells over it extended arc. It’s crude, rude, and a little bit filthy, but there’s an awful lot to love about this movie. Not least of all being Jake Johnson as Jesus.

On my watch list this Christmas: Krampus and The Nightmare Before Christmas – which I still haven’t seen! What about you? What are your Christmas favourites that I should check out this year?

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Seven Sci-fi Movies to See Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to Ireland

Curated by @SimonCocking guest post by Paul Carroll

As we get closer to the holiday season, it’s coming, no matter how much we try to deny it, and, unless you’ve been living on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the 7th coming is just around the corner. Of course if you’re living on a certain island off the South West coast of Ireland, then you’ve probably already seen some of part VIII already.

Source: Seven Sci-fi Movies to See Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to Ireland

My article on Irish Tech News went live this morning. As a companion piece to my post here – 8 Sci-Fi Comedies to Watch Before The Force Awakens – I present to you a list of alien-featuring movies to accommodate for the lack of attention all the interesting aliens get in the Star Wars movies.

Even the most annoying aliens can sometimes get a write-off. Maybe. If you’re trying to get into the Star Wars mood, check out the fan-theory about Jar-Jar Binks below. It’s a little bit redemptive of our least favourite character in the franchise.

Thanks again to Simon Cocking of Irish Tech News for the opportunity to write for them. If you like the list, and want to add your own recommendations to it, leave a comment on their website.

Project 87: An Introduction

In 2013, Spike Lee released a list of 87 films that every film student entering the Tisch School of the Arts in New York should see. While this list is lacking in the works of a number of esteemed directors – and notably, lacking any female directors – it can be considered a good starting point on the road towards seeing the “essential” movies for every director and producer in the industry. He explains it all briefly in the video below.

When I first conceived of the idea of starting The Cinema Freak, it was this list that pointed me in the right direction. I’ve dubbed the undertaking of its viewing and analysis Project 87, a task that will take me through time, genre and language, and force me to address a lot of work that, until now, have been viewed on a for-pleasure basis only.

As well as the challenge of dealing with this massive list, I’ll be addressing other movies that I have always held in high esteem, movies that changed the way I thought about cinema and storytelling. The concern about dealing with movies in this way, ones I have developed feelings for in repeated viewings, is that any criticism of them might be tainted with the stench of bias – which is precisely why I’ll be avoiding “reviewing” a movie.

Of course, Project 87 is more than an excuse to watch movies and write about them. While I undertake the process – which I anticipate taking well over a year to complete – I’ll be attempting to develop fresh eyes for movie making, studying in what spare time I have the art and craft of production, and beginning my own independent productions.

I have always had a deep fascination with the production of film and television, from the writing all the way to the post-production and marketing. Simultaneous to my viewing experiences and criticism, I’ll be keeping a record of my own struggles and (hopefully) triumphs in the business.

Project 87, at its core, is a starting point. It’s not the be-all and end-all of The Cinema Freak, nor is Lee’s list the definitive version to follow for anyone looking to enter the industry as informed as possible. The question should be raised – both for my benefit, and for the benefit of anyone looking to search beyond Lee’s list: what movies would you add to the list? Which directors are missing?