by Billie Doux
I spent some time trying to figure out what to post for Christmas, and finally settled on talking about my three favorite Christmas movies.
Number three may be more Dan's favorite than mine, but we watch it pretty much every year. From the deadly triple dog dare to the family's first experience with Chinese turkey, A Christmas Story is a clever slice of life, a piece of the past that rings true like fine crystal. How can you not love a movie with lines like, "In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obsenity that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan"?
Number two is that old chestnut, It's a Wonderful Life. There's a reason why it's a classic. The opening is so hokey that it makes me cringe, but as soon as the angels start watching George Bailey grow up, I'm hooked. I always feel myself getting sucked in when Mr. Gower, the druggist, starts slapping George around for not delivering the poisoned medicine.
I've often wondered what makes this movie so good. I think it's because it acknowledges how hard life can be, and how unfair, but that life can be worth living, anyway. It's a Wonderful Life is about the value of being a good person, even if you're never rewarded for it.
Just one complaint. In George's alternate universe, he finds that Mary has been sentenced to a fate worse than death: she's the town librarian. I'm a librarian. Being a librarian can actually be a fulfilling and challenging job. Okay, I'm done.
My absolute favorite is... A Christmas Carol. Let's face it, Dickens knew his stuff. A Christmas Carol is the strongest, most moving story ever written about Christmas. And of all the countless adaptations, there is only one that I watch nearly every year: the 1984 television version starring George C. Scott.
There's something magical about this movie. It's a quality production. Scott was a brilliant actor, and we totally believe his transformation. We can see it in his face, hear it in his voice. And Scott certainly doesn't carry this movie alone; the entire supporting cast is as good as he is. Dan and I are both particularly fond of Edward Woodward, who dominates the screen as the immense, be-robed Ghost of Christmas Present. "Are there no workhouses?" he sneers, with transparent glee. "Are there no prisons?" And David Warner breathes life into Bob Cratchit, and makes a caricature into a real person. One of my favorite movie moments is when Scrooge tells Cratchit, who thinks he's about to get fired, "I have no choice but to... double your salary." Scrooge laughs maniacally. David Warner's face in this scene is priceless.
Yes, there are other good holiday movies. There's the wonderful Trading Places, with Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis. (Although seeing the World Trade Center in the final sequences now feels exceedingly creepy.) I've always loved Fred Astaire, and I'm mildly fond of Holiday Inn. (Although my favorite scene doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. It's the Fourth of July dance Fred does with the firecrackers.) And there's Die Hard. Okay, so it's only nominally a holiday movie, but it takes place on Christmas Eve and it's a classic action thriller. And as an extra added bonus, I can actually see the "Nakatomi Towers" from my apartment building. I think it's on the Fox lot. :)
What's your favorite holiday movie?
by Billie Doux
I get letters recommending that I check out certain shows. I get them fairly often. I don't think I've ever gotten as many for any other show than I have for Veronica Mars. (Must be that Buffy feel.)
Even though I've only seen the first four episodes of the first season, I am deeply impressed, and definitely hooked. Veronica is like a combination of Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy and Alison Mack's Chloe, but with a streak of serious angst all her very own. I'm intrigued by the two big mysteries that have already been introduced: who killed Lily Kane, and who raped Veronica. The characters are fascinating. It's hard to tell at this point who is semi-good and who is evil. The atmosphere of the school is like moody paranoia, like everyone is going to turn on you at any moment. It's not Sunnydale High, but it sure feels like the real life version.
And I have no intention of watching even a minute of season two until I've gotten through season one. Please tell those Veronica Mars people that they should get on the stick with those DVD sets. December, people? Come on. Get with it.
[Oops. I'm informed (thanks, Magnolia) that it was released in October. Okay, still too late to see it all before the new season started, though. I must be confusing Veronica Mars with 24. Of course, that's so easy to do. (That was my sarcastic voice.)]