Friday, December 21, 2012

The Holiday Film List

Today's my Dad's birthday. I write because he built me a drawing table when I was a teenager. I know that seems incongruous but it's the truth. I wanted to be an artist as a kid and he crafted this table (which I still have) out of PVC pipe and a nice wood top. It's lightweight and the top detaches which has always made it easy to move. I drew my first comics attempts on it in the mid-80s and then mini comics on that table in the early 2000s. When I found I didn't have what it took to be a writer/artist, I just started writing. Dad is a genius when it comes to building things. You should see the kitchen cabinets he made for Mom.

So, Happy Birthday, Dad! Here's a song for you:


It's that time of year when the wife and I settle in with a bowl of popcorn, maybe a martini, and watch holiday films. We celebrate Christmas and for the first time (for me) I'll be able to see the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, which makes me extremely happy. Anyway, here's the list of movies we watch every year in no particular order.

  • The Ref - Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey, and Judy Davis together made one of the funniest Christmas movies ever. I mean ever. Spacey and Davis are a couple on the edge of divorce and therapy isn't doing them one bit of good. She tells stories at dinner parties that embarrass him and he's upset at her for resenting the 'help' they took from his mother. Both yearn for more than they have and their son is a --- well his military school commander (the wonderful wonderful J.K. Simmons) calls him "demon seed". Leary's a cat burglar who is trapped in town and take everyone hostage. Hijinks ensue. Santa Claus and Leary's assistant, Murray, are just small parts of a terrific ensemble cast that includes Christine Baranski and Glynnis Johns. If you haven't seen it I don't know if we can be friends.
  • Donovan's Reef - John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Warden, Cesar Romero, Dorothy Lamour, and Elizabeth Allen make the family holiday squabble even more entertaining in this John Ford-directed film. There are fistfights, waterskiing, subterfuges, and a silly gag with a slot machine, too. This is really light comedy and just a ton of fun to watch every year.
  • The Family Stone is a tearjerker in the best way. Sarah Jessica Parker, Craig T. Nelson, Diane Keaton, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, and Luke Wilson are all part of one of the most familiar, most dysfunctional and idealistic families ever committed to film. You know these people, at least I do, and they're endearing and maddening at the same time with all their foibles and expectations. Mulroney brings Parker home to meet the family because he wants his mother's ring to ask Parker to marry him. He thinks he's in love. She thinks she's in love. Turns out that the one who instructs them all about love is the lovable loser Wilson. Once the hijinks are done you'll hurt with them and understand the depth of the love in that family. 
  • Hidalgo - Viggo Mortenson stars with Omar Sharif (!) in a truly epic horse race story. If you're a fan of big action and thrills, you'll love this film. One thing you have to remember here is that it's based on a true story, not the entire truth. I'm sure there are problems with some facts but it's damned entertaining and requires your attention.
  • The English Patient - Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas (along with Juliet Binoche and Colin Firth) make a love story so strong that you can't resist. It's beautifully shot in the desert, too, and the Christmas party scene is especially memorable. You know all the rest, I'm sure.

Last year we watched the Swedish versions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books (all three of them) one after the other. Not sure if we'll do that again this year but I'm kind of hoping for that. Love Actually is a candidate for annual viewing after this year, too. We've hit it a couple of times on HBO and it's one of my favorites.

All right, last post before the holiday, this one. I'm taking Monday off to do family things but I'll be back next Wednesday.


But before I go, don't forget to click over to The Confabulator Cafe today to read my newest FREE short story: A Delicate Man. It's set in the year 2037 at the Cafe's house, Straeon Manor. Everyone's stories this week are related to the holiday and so is mine, but there's some really strange stuff going on in the house. You'll have to read it to find out. 

Let me know what you think will you? And tell me what holiday films you watch every year. I might need some new stuff.

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