The Movies Ross McG Watched Over Christmas
Happy new year? What’s happy about it? Just a few days ago I was in the middle of a glorious cycle of watching great and not-so-great films every day, while eating lots of junk. And now I’m not. Life can be so cruel sometimes.
It’s a fair bet that in between bickering with relatives, opening crap presents and being absolutely bloody freezing, a lot of us found at least a bit of time to watch some films over Christmas. That might have meant sitting down to a just-unwrapped Blu-ray/DVD, making a trip to the local cinema or, as was most common in my case, sitting in front of something that popped up on TV.
Sticking your head under the guillotine that is the Christmas television movies schedule can be a dangerous yet thrilling experience. Sometimes you will watch something in the hope it will be great and get your head snapped clean off. Sometimes you will sit in front of something in the expectation it will be utter dirge and get blown away. And sometimes you’ll just watch something you’ve seen 200 times already because it’s like an old friend.
Here are the films – good and bad – that I caught this Christmas (are they as good as the batch myself and Ross McD watched last year?). Some I watched in their entirety, others I delved into for half an hour or so and some I just saw the ending. Let me know what you think of my viewing schedule and then tell us what you watched over the festive season. Now I have my first blog post of 2011, ho… ho… ho.
I had heard a lot of good things about Enchanted, so thought it would be perfect Christmas Day viewing when I noticed it was on TV. It just about passes muster, even if it’s not as great as it could have been. Amy Adams is delightful, of course, but I knew I was watching a fairy-tale fantasy film once she chose to go off with Patrick Dempsey instead of James Marsden.
2. Edward Scissorhands
I have a big problem with Tim Burton’s recent output. Well, one great big problem really. The problem being that I paid money to watch Planet Of The Apes. Amid my bitterness, I foolishly forget that Burton was something of a genius around the late 80s/early 90s. Edward Scissorhands is just a wonderful film. Beautiful, funny, sad, frightening and uplifting all in one go. Not many films can aim that high and pull it off. Winona Ryder’s dancing under the ice flakes is simply one of the great cinematic images of the past 20 years.
3. Mamma Mia
From the achingly sublime to the completely ridiculous. A few hours after wiping my Christmas Day tears from my eyes at Johnny Depp being stuck in a castle, I sit down to watch Pierce Brosnan invoke his licence to shrill. Dear God this is one of the worst films I have ever seen. And yet… and yet… and yet… it’s still one of the worst films I have ever seen. But like millions before me, I strangely got a kick out of it. If you’ve ever had medical surgery, you know that moment when you’re just outside the operating room and you’re given a general anesthetic to put you out before the procedure? Well, Mamma Mia is a bit like that. You’re not looking forward to what’s going to happen and you’re not going to enjoy it or the aftermath, yet there is a feeling of mild euphoria that comes with the realisation that the tiny injection is going to make you go to sleep in a few moments. That is the Mamma Mia needle. And it comes with a big shot of James Bond butchering S.O.S.
In truth, I only caught this bit. But what a great bit it is.
Yep, perfect Christmas Day fare. Some bright spark had the idea to put this on in the dying moments of December 25th. Best decision ever. If there were any unwary kids who thought that knitted jumper Auntie Jean gave them hours earlier was scary, they hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet. The three scariest endings in horror movie history? Carrie. Carrie. Carrie. Ah… I can breathe easily now, that bit where she’s covered in blood and murdering her schoolmates is over. AAAGHH!!! Ah… I can breathe easily now, that bit where her mother tries to murder her is over. AAAGHH!!! Ah… I can breathe easily now, that bit where she reaches out from her own grave is over. And now I can put my pants in the wash.
6. The Blues Brothers
When I was ten, I probably thought this was the best film ever made. I know it isn’t now, but I just accept it for the great series of dumb set pieces that it is. It was well into the early hours of Boxing Day and I couldn’t go straight to bed after having the crap scared out of me by Sissy Spacek and her mother from hell, so I had to watch five minutes of something to ease the tension. This place has everything!
7. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
8. The Secret Of Kells
What a delicious little treat this film is. If you haven’t seen it yet, seek it out and allow yourself to be carried away by its absolutely beautiful animation. Brendan Gleeson… never made a bad film. Apart from Mission: Impossible 2. Which I forgave him for a long time ago.
This is a strange one. It’s quite rightly dubbed the worst Pixar film. Bizarrely for a motoring movie, it ambles along aimlessly and doesn’t really go anywhere. There was a good 45 minutes in which I didn’t laugh once. It doesn’t help matters that Lightning McQueen is a bit of a dick. Yet despite all its faults, Cars is as comforting as Paul Newman’s voice in what turned out to be his last movie.
10. Die Hard 2
Renny Harlin’s fine sequel to arguably the greatest action – and Christmas – movie ever made is often a bit overlooked. While obviously not as good as the original, there is more than enough here to keep John McClane fans happy. If you ever want to play make-believe gun battles with your mates, make sure you use the ammo with the blue tape on it.
11. High Society
Grace Kelly was beautiful, but she was also a great comic actress. Who can blame Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby for fighting over her? High Society is one of the great musicals. As we pointed out on this blog almost two years ago (man, we’re old), it has one of the great songs too. But mainly it’s a movie about getting drunk. The amount of champagne downed in this film would make today’s censors queasy. The perfect Christmas film, then.
12. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
We’ve been over all this before. Get your KOCS off, get your KOCS off, honey.
I’ve seen Caddyshack 300 times. It’s on television every week. So that’s at least 50 times a year. And yet for the life of me I couldn’t remember the ending at all. So I made sure I watched it at Christmas. Maybe it’s because the first half hour is so funny I just forget about the rest of the film.
It’s 1.30am. I should be going to bed. Hang on, what’s this? Aliens is just starting. Hmmm… it’s been a good two years since I’ve seen it. That is frankly unacceptable. I’m now going to bed at 4am. Yep, I can stay up as late as I want…
15. How To Train Your Dragon
16. Blades Of Glory
‘They laughed at Louis Armstrong when he said he was gonna go to the moon. Now he’s up there, laughing at them.’ And to think, there are some people out there who don’t think this film is a work of absolute genius.
17. The Frog Princess
Disney’s step back into traditional animation is fun at times and gorgeous to look at, but it feels like a bit of a slight entry into the studio’s list of movies. Perhaps the problem is that nothing really happens: girl turns into frog; goes to swamp; comes back from swamp. But then I do enjoy The Lion King: lion leaves home; lion comes back home; Elton John sings.
18. Midnight Run
19. A Streetcar Named Desire
20. Toy Story 3
I don’t have a problem with Toy Story 3, it’s just that I don’t think it’s as good as either of the first two Toy Storys. So basically what I’m saying is, I do have a problem with it. It’s a great watch, of course, I just don’t find it as hilarious as the other two. Not enough screen time for Mr Pricklepants, I suppose.
21. Catch Me If You Can
Steven Spielberg’s career is a strange one. When you hear his name mentioned, you automatically think of a shark munching Robert Shaw or a dinosaur chasing Jeff Goldblum or the little girl in the red coat who catches Liam Neeson’s eye. But you could easily make a case that Catch Me If You Can is his masterpiece. There isn’t a thing wrong with it. Proving that he can do comedy after the flawed-but-fun mess that was 1941, Spielberg injects just the right amount of drama to give things extra punch. John Williams’ music here rivals his more well-known work, the opening credits sequence is a marvel and Leonardo DiCaprio is on the form of his life. A timeless classic and it’s only nine years old. It even contains the best cinematic joke ever.
22. Love Actually
Everything in my body – mainly my brain – tells me that I shouldn’t like it, but I just can’t help myself: Love Actually is unabashed fun of the highest and cheesiest order. The reason I think it’s such a success is that its stars all play versions of themselves that are what the general public might consider to be how they really are. So we get Colin Firth’s stiff but loveable dolt, Hugh Grant’s bumbling yet charming prime minister and Liam Neeson’s hip dad. It’s slurpy wish fulfilment-laden guff, sure, but it’s great Christmas fare.
23. Burn After Reading
Towards the end you’re pretty much fed up with how silly all the characters are, so it’s fortunate then that it’s not a long film. It’s a bit of a mess and nothing makes sense, but then that’s exactly how it’s meant to be. Worth it for John Malkovich’s pronunciation of the word ‘memoir’ alone.
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
I know recently I said this isn’t as good as Goblet Of Fire and I stand by that, but it’s still a solid entry into the Potterverse. The time travel thing at the end is pretty stupid though. And the puberty-fuelled continuity issues (‘Hey! Wasn’t Harry Potter two feet taller in that previous scene?’) don’t help matters either.
25. The Heartbreak Kid
Not the insipid remake with Ben Stiller and Malin Akerman (thanks guys for butchering Bruce Springsteen’s terrific Rosalita), but the original with the original king of comedy, Charles Grodin. Stupid hair, honeymoons in Miami beach and Cybill Shepherd in a swimsuit… man, the 70s were sweet.
26. The Iron Giant
27. The Truman Show
What is it with this film? It just gets better with every watch. Anyone who says ‘I hate Jim Carrey’ obviously hasn’t seen this. We’ve been over the awards injustice that followed this film’s release, but who really cares if the Rubber-Faced Funnyman TM didn’t win an Oscar? When I’m hopefully watching this in 50 years time, I’m not going to be riling myself up that the Academy voters were a bunch of idiots, I’m going to once again be swept away by a brilliant and beautiful story of a man battling to find out who he really is against all the odds. And if that last sentence sounds like corny nonsense, that’s because it is. And yet the film still manages to be a classic.
28. Dirty Harry
Having caught the end of Dirty Harry, how could I resist sticking on Zodiac on DVD? Another film I never tire of watching. It’s two and a half hours long and is basically a bunch of guys making phone calls to one another, but just like All The President’s Men (the quintessential ‘guys making phone calls’ film), it is bloody brilliant. Quickly becoming one of my favourite films. A great way to finish the holidays.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE LIST? WHAT MOVIES DID YOU WATCH OVER CHRISTMAS?