Christmas Day, how I love you. It’s a holiday unlike any other, and it has a wide range of meanings and emotions based on who you are and how you grew up. For the religious, it is the birth of Jesus Christ; for the cynics, it is an excuse for corporations to milk the last dollar out of poor suckers; and it is always a time when radios and stores are obligated to play horribly catchy Christmas music. More than anything, it’s a holiday that always emphasises the importance of family togetherness (or division), and those who don’t get to spend the day with their loved ones feel their loneliness even more acutely. It’s a celebration that has been featured in movies more than perhaps any other sacred holiday (we did the math, and it’s more than Easter at least), whether in the foreground and as the title of the film, or just as a backdrop. Dramas, action films, comedies, romances, and horror films have all featured Christmas at some point. Indeed, the “Christmas film” has evolved into its own subgenre and is becoming a more attractive setting for filmmakers.
These Christmas Movies Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
If Christmas is the time of year when your childhood memories come flooding back, don’t forget about “Fanny and Alexander.” Because he grew up under extremely traditional Catholic house rules and guardians, master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman had been fascinated with religious and spiritual ideas since his early days as a screenwriter. It’s only fitting, then, that his final major picture would come full circle, drawing influence from his own boyhood. The theatrical edit loses a lot of the film’s breadth and complexity, especially in the first half with the Ekdahls celebrating Christmas. Fanny (Pernilla Alwin) and Alexander (Bertil Guve) are taken to live with the dictator religious administrator Evdard (Jan Malmsjö) some time recently they are taken absent. So, the form we’re talking around here is the longer, TV adaptation (which is accessible in a shocking Basis exchange), which runs for five radiant, despairing, and interminably charming hours.
“Fanny and Alexander,” just like the larger part of the films on this list, isn’t a conventional Christmas film, but its Christmas scenes, with the opulently brightened Ekdahl Christmas tree never distant from see, the contribute highlighting the occasion soul with a fresh warm ruddy, and the air brimming with familial adore, are exceptional. (including the staff, who share Christmas supper with the family) are among the warmest depictions of the holiday season ever seen on cinema. The fact that this is Bergman’s final picture, and such a personal one at that, contributes to the film’s eerie atmosphere, and the film’s early Christmas sequences are perfectly contrasted with the foreboding events that follow. A remembrance of how wonderful it was when the whole family gathered together for Christmas.
If you’re not in the mood for Christmas and want to watch a dark and cynical film set around the holiday season with none of the cheer, Allen Baron’s “Blast of Silence” is a good choice. We reminded readers of this rarely seen gem from the film noir canon (along with 19 others) in our Must See NYC Crime Movies piece, but that didn’t stop us from including it in this Christmas feature. For many people, the holiday season has devolved into a buzzing blur of horrible jingles, high stress levels, and a sense of alienation that is amplified by the joy that one cannot connect with. If this reflects your Christmas feelings, Baron’s anti-compassionate noir about detached hitman Frankie Bono (played by Baron himself) who visits New York City on a job during the holidays is exactly what you need in your stocking.
Lionel Stander’s second-person narration, which verbalises Bono’s ideas in a flawlessly musky snarl, is indispensable company for those who like to keep their distance from the “suckers.” Bono traverses the streets of a decked NYC (including the city’s iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree) in some of the best Christmas-themed tracking shots ever filmed. “Remembering earlier Christmases, rubbing your nose against the plate glass store windows till the cold of it made your head ache,” Stander says of his nostalgic loneliness. There’s poetry in the bleakness, and it all comes together to produce the most improbable of pairings: a Christmas noir.
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