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Extreme Close Up: Analyzing Hidden Nuances in Film/TV

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Holiday Special: Holiday Films for People That Hate Holiday Films – Films that are surprisingly festive when viewed during the holidays.

Let’s be honest, holiday films are mostly terrible. The holiday genre as a whole is a fantastic failure full of cliche tales and predictable characters. The outliers are the outliers, as we all know exceptions exist, but the holiday film genre is generally uninspiring.

Knowing this, years ago, I started to watch other films during my marathon gift wrapping sessions. Films that projected a fresher sense of the modern holiday spirit. After all, times do change and so do the standards of the viewing audience. Long gone are the days of “pure” holiday spirit. Instead, it’s endless materialism and another chance to wear sweats at the dinner table.

However, if you’re from a family that holds Christmas traditions, there may be a holiday movie marathon on the horizon. Instead of falling prey to same tired bunch of films, why not try something new for the occasion? Here I present a trio of films that you may sub out for that 100,000th view of “A Christmas Story” or “The Wizard of Oz”, unless you’re into that kind of thing.

JINGLE ALL THE WAY

Jingle All the Way is a must watch for two distinct reasons. The first, this is a rare comedy collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad. Yes, that Sinbad. This particular pairing is one you, or they, didn’t know was needed as the desperate parents must “team up” to get their kids the famed Turbo Man action figure. The second reason, this film smartly highlights the worst part of our society during this time of year. For some reason, it’s fair game to trample, destroy, and endanger all for the sake of buying things your recipients will probably forget about by summertime. Jingle All the Way is worth the annual watch as a hilarious reminder to ourselves that this is the world we live in. Though it isn’t worth gloating about, it is a teaching tool to go out in the world with a bit of a softer heart and maybe, just maybe, stop waiting til the last minute to buy gifts.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is not a holiday movie in any way. It’s a comic book adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s love letter to music and video games using the subtext of emotional baggage to pull you in an enthralling journey of Scott Pilgrim’s and Ramona Flowers’s inner demons.However, that doesn’t prevent the annual viewing for various reasons. The most clear cut reason being, it’s so snowy! Key moments and situations actually play out in many snow-like environments. As cute as Scott and Ramona’s date was, you can’t help but think how much fun it would be to be right there dabbing in the snow as the courtship unfolds. Which leads to the next reason, you can actually watch and thoroughly enjoy this film as a tumultuous experience in Cuffing Season. For those unaware, “cuffing season refers to a specific time of year when people become extremely motivated to get ‘coupled up.’ It generally occurs from October to March. You know, the cooler months of the year. As the temperature drops, the number of couples rise.”, this according to Psychology Today. As you watch with this scope on, you’ll see that Scott Pilgrim jumps through ALL the hoops to come out the season with a resounding W and a gorgeous Ramona Flowers on his arm. Between the snow and cuffing season backdrop, what else can convince you that this is the holiday film for you? That’s right, the music. No, there aren’t any Christmas carols but this film sports musically infectious soundtrack that was mostly done by Beck and other well known artists. In fact, some of the best music in the film is from Scott Pilgrim’s band Sex Bob-Omb. For a completely innovative “holiday” film, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is at your service.

INCEPTION

Inception is an Christmas movie in disguise. A film about a man that tries everything in his power to get back to his kids. Simple right? Fire up Inception during the holiday season and all of Cobb’s decision carry that much more weight. Will Cobb be home for Christmas? The greatest hook for Inception‘s holiday vibe is right around the climax, Cobb and his team crafts a winter wonderland for the last leg of the job they pull on Fischer. quite the spectacle. Mal is the secret weapon to this whole ordeal, playing the constant thorn in Cobb’s psyche. Mal embodies the internal struggles we have with ourselves around this time. When you frame this film to a holiday perspective, just about every nuance strengthens the festive plausibility. Holiday films at a base level are about being with loved ones regardless of the odds and the cost, Inception operates under a similar subtext.

My gift to you, three films that can, and should, be enjoyed as holiday films. Not all films are created equal nor should they be digested as such. It’s the layers beneath that stick with us the most. It’s the subtext that allow us to spot the parody in our own lives. Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year anymore. It’s devolved into expressions of the seven deadly sins, elaborate games to couple up when the season calls, and internal strife to be with loved ones that don’t seem all that concerned with your appearance. The power of film is the language and once you can read it, you’ll see there are more poignant works that fulfill the Christmas motif than the same tired holiday genre films.

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Philthy
A short story writer turned nominated script writer, Phillip Boudreaux, is a winter 2015 graduate from the San Jose State University's Radio-TV- Film department with a BA in film; with a focus of writing. Since then, he has been sharpening his skills by writing relentlessly, ranging from feature and shorts to music videos, short story fiction as well as (slam) poetry and everything in between. When he's not generating content, you can catch him a local electronic event, the movie theater, or you may never see him at all as he is an avid reader of comics and philosophy.

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