Sunday, December 25, 2005

Yay Christmas!

I had a great Christmas - nice weather at my parents' place, great food, good company. A highlight was my sister's phonecall about how my niece's second christmas was going: "She opened her first present, which was a set of ducks for the bath. She played with them for ten minutes, got overwhelmed by all the other parcels, cried, and went back to bed for a nap." Awww.

Also good was winning the annual family card game, and being particularly cocky about it. The smart money was always on me, suckers.

But this post is more about how glad I am that I had stuff to do on Christmas day. Because, my god. Have you read the TV guide? Allow me to recap for you the films we didn't watch, because even though we may drink and eat too much on Christmas day, we still have our sanity.

It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas (Christmas Day, 1.30pm, Seven).
Okay, I can't knock the muppets, even though I haven't liked their films since "Muppets Christmas Carol". Hopefully this one followed the "more Gonzo, more Rowlf, more Animal, less disturbing pig/frog fliratation" rule.

A Christmas Carol: The Musical (Christmas Day, 3.30pm, Seven).
Starring Kelsey Grammer. Scrooge = Frasier + singing. Dwell on that for a second.

Secret Santa (Christmas Day 6.30pm, Seven)
"A frustrated small-town newspaper reporter sets out to uncover the identity of the person delivering mysterious gifts to the needy at Christmas." Yes, we must know. Tell us, Jennie Garth, in your eternally fragile yet tenacious manner!

Queen's Christmas Message (Christmas Day, 10.40pm, WIN)
"Hello there, I'm the Queen. Merry Christmas." Somehow this is scheduled to take 10 minutes. She's like one of those people who doesn't just send you a card, she inserts a page of what her family's been doing. And it's double-sided.

A Season for Miracles (Christmas Day, 10.50pm, WIN)
"When a woman takes off with her jailed sister's children, a stranger helps her give them the Christmas they always dreamed of." Manages to sound cutesy, twee, and odd all at the same time. This film would edge into worth seeing for me, provided that the mom was in prison for an interesting crime (eg: killing another mother over a cheerleading dispute).

Jack Frost (Christmas Day, 11am, WIN)
There's no description in the TV guide for this film, which is highly suspicious. I think that's because anything that involves Michael Keaton as an elfy frosty thing just sounds too awful for words, don't you? Also stars Mrs John Travolta.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Christmas Day, 6.30pm, WIN).
"A man's efforts to creat a traditional fun-filled Christmas for his family result in chaos." As opposed to all those National Lampoon films where everyone gets to the airport on time and remembers to pack a sandwich.

Christmas Eve

I can't be bothered to go through the pap that didn't even make the cut for Christmas Day and got aired on Christmas Eve instead: but the "stars" included:

Merry Christmas everyone!


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Joyeux Noel

A WWI film about German, French and Scottish soldiers in the trenches fraternizing on Christmas Eve.

The bad: Helen of Troy (Diana Kruger) plays an opera singer in a subplot which would have been better left on the cutting room floor. Opera is used at a couple of junctures to try for big emotional climaxes - but the singing is just not as moving or profound as the film seems to think it is. (By contrast: the carolling is lovely, and the bagpipes best of all. Who needs opera?
The film also had an unfortunate tendency to underline (four or five times) the "big" emotional scenes, thorugh camera work, editing, and the musical score. And it just wasn't necessary. The drama and beauty of this story speaks for itself -extra theatrics were totally unnecessary.

The good: mostly everything else. Which is thankfully, most of the movie. Watching the soldiers climb slowly across "no man's land" with its frozen bodies, extending hands, mugs of whiskey, cautious greetings in unfamiliar tongues - I defy you to remain unmoved. And all the actors other than Ms Kruger are excellent, particularly the Germans. Having an international cast play the French/German/Scottish roles makes the film quite unususal, as it's very neatly split between the three languages.

And apparently I cry at everything, ever. I think it's the pollen count. High this year. I can already tell I'm going to be a wreck by the end of King Kong.

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