Tis the season…
by Walter G. Tarrow
While you await my next review, I’m serving up an early holiday treat. Twelve off the beaten path of 34th Streets and Wonderful Lives Christmas viewing choices.
In this day and age of multiple media platforms, there will never be a shortage of Christmas fare ever again. From conventional over the airwaves broadcast programming like ABC, CBS, NBC to cable channels like Freeform, Disney, Hallmark and TCM (for a comprehensive listing of holiday programming, go to www.christmastvschedule.com) to DVDs and Blu-ray discs (be sure to check your local library for videos) and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube, Santa’s TV is on 25/7.
For several years now, viewers overstuffed on the Christmas traditional feast have sought alternative dishes, and films like Trading Places, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon (other holiday heist films include In Bruges, Reindeer Games and The Ice Harvest) have become popular during the holidays. Also, other subgenera of Christmas themed films have emerged. The “holidays as horror” films like Gremlins and Black Christmas (from Bob Clark, the guy who brings you Ralphie in A Christmas Story every 25th of December), bad Santas, dysfunctional family holidays and raunchy comic Christmas parties. And recently, Krampus, the “Santa” for bad little boys and girls, has come into his own.
So, without further ado, here are your 12 Off Days of Christmas gifts
Krampus (2015) – Everything goes very dark when a family loses its Christmas spirit. Very scary and imaginative puppet effects.
Available on HBO
Bad Santa – A very drunk and profane Billy Bob Thornton and his elf rob stores at Christmas time in this comic heist movie. Bad Santa at lunch in the food court is priceless.
Available on Netflix and Hulu
The Shop Around the Corner – Fighting co-workers (Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart) fall in love as secret pen pals. Inspiration for the Hanks/Ryan romcom You’ve Got Mail
Available on TCM on Dec. 15 and for rent from Amazon
The Apartment – Multiple Oscar winner with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine about a man, a woman and an apartment. A wonderful feel good holiday treat.
Available on MGM Dec. 7 and 12, Pluto and FilmStruck
A Wish for Wings That Work – Opus the Penguin, Bill the Cat, and another off beat sweetheart of a story from cartoonist Berkeley Breathed
Available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/mLccxrDgi5U
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – A Santa tale like no other from those wacky Finnish reindeer herders. With these Santas, you really REALLY better watch out.
Available on Amazon Prime
A Child’s Christmas in Wales – A reminiscence of Welsh Christmases past from the writings of Dylan Thomas. Told by Grandpa Denholm Elliot
Available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/9BTSQYdBuZY
Black Mirror: White Christmas – In the spirit of this series, three tales of technology messing up our good old fashioned Yuletide.
Available on Netflix
Tokyo Godfathers – A Japanese animated feature based on the John Wayne classic Western Three Godfathers
Available for free on Crackle
Mixed Nuts – A holiday comedy with Steve Martin as the soon to be evicted operator of a crisis hotline.
Batman Returns – Second Tim Burton Batman outing with Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny Devito as Penguin. Watch for Christopher Walker and Paul Reubens too.
Available for rent from Amazon
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol – Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) does a hilarious flip of the classic tale. Think Bizarro world Scrooge.
Available on Hulu
Carol for Another Christmas – “The Twilight Zone” Rod Serling’s anti-war version of “A Christmas Carol” produced for the UN in 1964 with Sterling Hayden and Peter Sellers
I’ll be back soon with my review of the ubiquitous Christopher Plummer in The Man Who Invented Christmas.