With the holiday season now in full swing, we thought we’d present you with a new feature as a means to thank you all for another wonderful year. Please find below four Christmas recommendations from various contributors on the site, including Eileen who composed our podcast theme a little while back and is now officially joining our writing staff. Happy holidays!
Die Hard (1988)
There are a lot of things I could suggest for Christmas, but none that would really hold true. To recommend something honestly, you need to pick something to which you willingly go back time and time and again. Sure, I could confess to liking the David Bowie and Bing Crosby duet “Little Drummer Boy”, but it’s not something I reach for so much as something that appears unbidden like the Ghost of Christmas Past, except in malls and over the radio. In other words, it’s something that immediately earns a universal chorus of groans that I choose (a little conspicuously) not to join.
A true Christmas recommendation has got to be better than that. It should be something like Scrooged (1988), for you can never go wrong with Bill Murray, but, really, when was the last time I watched it? No, if I were perfectly honest, and the spirit of the season requires it, I’d have to go with Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, a little action flick I choose to view as a modern parable about the struggle to be a father over the holidays in a world of overworked and fracturing families. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker, and (hedging my bets as Tiny Tim) God bless us, everyone.
White Christmas (1954)
In this musical holiday classic, World War II veterans Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up with a sneaky sister act to save their former general’s hotel. However, as is often the case with films that rely on device rather than acting, the simple plot of White Christmas doesn’t really matter. In fact, it sometimes gets in the way of the delightful (albeit random) song and dance numbers. Crosby evokes warm-milk coziness with his lulling vocals, and Kaye’s minty fresh tenor and physical comedy prove a perfect match for Vera Ellen’s amazing if slightly twiggy dancing as Judy, the youngest member of the sister act.
On the other hand, Rose Mary Clooney’s portrayal of the stiff, overprotective older sister, Betty, ought to be remembered only for the musical performances. The woman has a beautiful voice, undeniably, but, from her unenthusiastic movements in “Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army”, it’s painfully clear she’s not a dancer or even a willing participant. Still, she’s nice enough to look at. All in all, White Christmas is dishwasher safe, family-friendly, and, considering the time period (not to mention the title), only minimally racist. In other words, it’s best enjoyed after too much turkey with an eggnog or three.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)
For gamers, there can only be one true Christmas gift recommendation: Star Wars: The Old Republic. Based on 2003’s award-winning role-playing game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the brand new MMO expands the Star Wars universe, spinning a yarn that takes place thousands of years before the movies. You choose a side right at the onset: the Galactic Republic, which is defended by the Jedis, or the evil Sith Empire. However, after you’ve made your choice, nothing keeps you from embracing the opposite side of the force. You can play as an undercover agent trying to destroy the Republic or the Empire from the inside.
As opposed to most massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, in which the plot draws solely from the world created, Star Wars: The Old Republic centers its rich story on your character. Along the way, you even pick up a few companions who behave differently depending on whether you treat them as friends, colleagues, or slaves. The feeling of having a special character in a huge universe is extremely engaging and makes you want to experience more. The only downside to this game is the recurring fee. However, I suspect that, after playing the first month free over the holidays, avid gamers won’t give the extra bucks a second thought. The game is that good.
Even though I don’t celebrate the holiday, I recently went Christmas shopping with a pal. As I was watching my friend stress over how much she could impress her little ones with the mighty power of her credit card, a thought occurred to me: Santa Claus is corrupting our children. “Be good all year,” we tell them, “and Santa will reward you with toys and trinkets!” Where’s the moral fortitude? Should we really encourage our kids to tie their self-worth to material wealth? In light of this realisation, I choose as my Christmas recommendation a film that teaches true parenting values. I’m of course referring to Joe Dante’s Gremlins.
The horror comedy tells of a small American town getting overrun with bratty monsters after a young man (Zack Galligan) fails to follow three simple rules regarding his magical new pet, Gizmo (Howie Mandel): keep your charge dry (provide shelter); don’t feed it after midnight (promote a healthy lifestyle); and keep it away from bright lights (nobody wants another Lindsay Lohan). Now, before some of you start wagging your fingers at the screen, I want to point out Gremlins does indeed take place on Christmas. Besides, if the sight of a Scrooge-like lady getting ejected from a rooftop doesn’t fill you with holiday cheers, we just don’t have the same understanding of the season.