The Darker Side of Christmas Films

Quick!  What comes to your mind when you think of Christmas movies?  It’s a Wonderful Life?  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?  Scrooged?  Home Alone?  Bad Santa?
 
Eh, who needs ’em!?  It’s that time of year for…
 
The Schleicher Spin’s Top Ten Non-Traditional Christmas Films:

These are movies that highlight the darker side of the season or perhaps just have that contemplative, cold wintry feel.  So sit back with some whiskey, put a log in the fireplace and cozy up with something a little bit different.

10.  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 

"Daddy, daddy, does Santa live there?" "No, son, that's where Blofeld lives."

What says Christmas better than gun fights and chases on skis, blowing up Blofeld’s mountaintop resort/terrorist compound and seeing your wife murdered in a drive-by?  Ah, the holidays!

9.  Eyes Wide Shut

Santa knows you've been a naughty boy.

Kubrick’s swan song if chock full of that holiday spirit – from swanky yuletide parties, to brisk walks through the night, to cultish orgies…the whole film is strung up like twisted Christmas lights. Continue reading

Bring Out “The Dead”

CAPTION:  Man dies from boredom on Dublin’s Ha’Penny Bridge while reading a very long novel.  *Photo courtesy of  Philip Pankov (www.philpankov.com) and www.thenocturnes.com.

Kurt Vonnegut once said of novels that “reading one is like being married forever to somebody nobody else knows or cares about.”

I couldn’t agree more while I find myself in a laborious relationship with The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl.  The novel is a fictionalized account of a Baltimore lawyer’s quest to solve the mystery behind the death of Edgar Allan Poe.  This is one of those books with an interesting concept ruined by the author’s insistence on telling the story in the static, unimaginative style of prose from the stuffy time period in which the novel takes place.  It’s makes for a dry, boring read.  Much like Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, I fear I may never finish it.  I’m currently stuck at about the 100 page mark.  I should’ve known better when I saw Carr’s glowingly positive blurb splattered on the cover of Matthew Pearl’s magnum opus.  Though I find the topic of Poe’s death fascinating, reading Pearl’s novel makes me feel…well, dead.

And that brings us to James Joyce and “The Dead.”  Thankfully for every bad novel I torture myself with, there are dozens of short stories I can read in between chapters that are as Vonnegut once described, “Buddhist catnaps.”  Short stories provide perfect little meditative escapes from everyday life and respite from bad novels.  Occasionally, I come across one that reaches the level of art.  James Joyce’s “The Dead” is one such story.  It’s possibly the greatest short story I have ever read.  Continue reading