Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas flickery

[The following is a lightly edited excerpt from an email I wrote to a friend.]

As far as Christmas movies, I'd recommend Die Hard. Just kidding.

I've actually not seen too many Christmas movies, I don't think. For example, I've never seen It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. Or White Christmas. Or Miracle on 34th Street. And I don't really have a desire to see these either.

I'd like to watch A Christmas Story, though, since I've heard it's quite funny.

But I'm not always moved by movies which are tailored to a certain holiday, just because they are holiday films which happen to play during the particular holiday.

Unless it's the Charlie Brown holiday specials. Well, actually, I had a fondness for them when I was a kid, but I don't know how they'd fare if I were to rewatch them today. Same goes for other children's Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Although ones like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the more mature A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott) might still work for me. But maybe that's because they're based on children's books which I once enjoyed rather than because the movies themselves are worth watching. I'm not exactly sure.

Also, it probably goes without saying, my tastes are not necessarily other people's tastes -- and vice versa. I tend to like dark comedy, for instance. So Scrooged (which I've not seen in a while) or A Nightmare Before Christmas (which I've never seen in its entirety) might suit me, but not others.

Speaking of Christmas funnies... do you watch NBC's The Office? They had a Christmas special last Thursday which you can download via iTunes for $1.99. It's called "A Benihana Christmas" and I thought it was a good laugh. Not "must-see TV," just throwaway fun.

On the other hand, it's true that Christmas time puts one in a certain mood, which in turn affects the sort of movies one wishes to watch.

What's more, and despite my own poor viewing habits, for Christians Christmas should be a time to reflect upon our Lord and Savior. This should be true all the time, of course, but perhaps especially during Christmas (and Easter). So, as is the case with all movie-watching, our Christmas movie-watching should reflect this as well.

On that note, maybe The Nativity Story currently out in theaters would be good to watch? Or One Night With the King about the Book of Esther, even though it's about Purim. I've not seen either, but they could be appropriate to watch during the holidays. Given the main theme and atmosphere throughout the film, last year's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe might be suitable to watch during Christmas time, too.

Generally speaking, though, I just like to watch good movies whether or not they have a seasonal theme, and whether or not the flick fits the season -- as long as I'm in the mood for it. So I wouldn't mind watching, say, the LOTR trilogy over Christmas. Or The Gospel of John, etc.

And if all else fails, there's always our Governator's Jingle All the Way! ;-)


  1. Just wanted to say that, if you haven't seen A Christmas Story yet, do so as soon as you can .. it's the funniest Christmas movie ever . one other that I simply have to see every Christmas season is that Muppet Christmas Carol

  2. This is a review of the Movie "The Nativity".

    "Family and Friends,

    The review below is by an evangelical minister (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). I am sending it along FYI.

    Miguel/Mike/The Dad/Pops/D2/Uncle Mike

    Dear Grace Members and Friends,

    Some of you may be wondering about the new film, The Nativity, which was released yesterday. Linda and I went to see it and I wanted to offer a brief review and recommendation.

    If you believe that any depiction of Christ in his humiliation is a violation of the second commandment, then do not go to see this film. Christ is depicted as an infant in this film. (I do not hold to this and took an exception to it from the Westminster doctrinal standards when licensed, ordained, and each time I’ve been installed as a pastor.)

    We found the film to be reasonably close to the biblical data. Of course, there is additional imagined narrative, but none of it ridiculous. I think it did a good job of showing the turmoil that Mary’s pregnancy caused Joseph, her family, and others. The response of the townspeople was quite believable. The difficulties of travel and life are well presented.

    The film does present the theory that the star that appeared and led the magi was a conjunction of some planets and another star (one of various theories to explain the miracle), but the emphasis on the miraculous and faith even in the magi is present. It also follows the tradition of the magi appearing on evening of Christ’s birth, which is not what I think Scripture teaches. However, it is a long-engrained tradition.

    Another misplacement was the use of Mary’s prayer (magnificat) which comes at the end of the film. (The film ends with the family fleeing to Egypt.)

    Herod is, in my opinion, the most interesting character in the film. He is depicted as paranoid, ruthless, deceitful, ambitious, murderous … The screenwriter / director did a good job with him. You have no doubt of the wickedness of Herod.

    The movie does depict the slaughter of the boys of Bethlehem (opens and ends with this), but it is (I know this sounds ridiculous for the horrible scene that it truly was) handled well … no blood and guts, but you know the children are being slain. Parents of youngsters should be aware of this. Also, a young girl is forcibly removed from a family and enslaved by the Romans when a villager cannot pay his taxes. There are some depictions of crucifixion as well, but again, it is not done simply for shock value. It is part of what life was like for the Jews under Roman occupation, all part of the (nationalistic) hope for deliverance.

    All in all, the account depicted in the film follows the flow of Matthew and Luke fairly closely. There is a good amount of (and appropriate usage of) Scripture in the film. One disappointing departure and deficit was the lack of the angelic host after the angel announces the birth of Christ to the shepherds outside Bethlehem. I don’t understand that omission at all.

    The soundtrack is very cool, filled with many hymns / carols of the Advent / Nativity season. But it is not overwhelming and you need to listen to catch the tunes as they are woven into the soundtrack.

    Overall, the entire film was underplayed. Ordinary people caught up in the extraordinary. Overall, I think it is well acted.

    It is a keeper in my opinion, and I would recommend it for anybody (other than those who have issues of conscious regarding depictions of Christ). Unlike Gibson’s The Passion, there is no built-in bias towards the adoration of Mary. Indeed, she was probably the most underplayed of the characters in the narrative.

    I can easily recommend this movie to you."

    Pastor Mike

  3. Patrick,
    I am amazed you have never seen "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart !

    One of the best movies ever made! Go out today and get it on DVD and watch it! You really should see it, with a quiet evening a bowl of popcorn and your wife and family if married. I still cry every time I see it.

    Also, another even better one is "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" also with Jimmy Stewart, and also by Director Frank Capra. I like to watch it on 4th of July with my family and discuss America's founding and history.

  4. Reel Fanatic -- Yeah, I'll definitely have to see A Christmas Story. And the Muppets are totally hilarious!

    Rich/Pastor Mike -- Thanks for the thoughtful review. It makes me want to see it more now.

    Ken -- I only found out yesterday that one of the T-bloggers is related to Capra, so I'll definitely have to rectify this. Thanks again.