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Christmas Movies for Those Who Despise Them

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When “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in theatres in January 1947, it was a box office disaster. Furthermore, the picture was never intended to be a Christmas film. But, because to a copyright lapse in the 1970s, it became one, with the film shown every year on Christmas Eve once it became public domain.

Christmas Movies for Those Who Despise Them

Although “It’s a Wonderful Life,” directed by Frank Capra, features Christmas elements and a strong Christian bent, it is in many respects the anti-Christmas film. The film’s primary themes and values – family, gratitude, love, loss, sacrifice, loyalty, and devotion – are universal human truths. could be thrown into a blender and spewed out as a script for a Halloween film, a J.Lo rom-com, a children’s cartoon film, or something else different. It’s not about an eccentric family and their zany, Christmas-crashing relatives (“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”), or the Terminator trying to buy a special toy for his son (“Jingle All the Way”), or an unhappy green Who steals Christmas (“The Grinch”) – it’s the ultimate anti-Christmas movie because it’s not exactly a Christmas movie in the truest sense of the phrase. All of this is to argue that if you despise Christmas movies, you should avoid them. Your anti-Christmas movie sensitivities are unlikely to be offended by “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s just the story of a man who learns – with sharp clarity and emotional thankfulness – that he has a truly good life on all counts.

Anyone who has seen the 1994 film “The Ref” will agree with me that this is the proper answer. Kevin Spacey (sorry!) and Judy Davis star as an unhappy married couple, with Denis Leary as the thief who takes them hostage on Christmas Eve and ends up playing marriage counselling. The film is full of wicked black comedy and makes no attempt to give you the warm fuzzies that most Christmas movies do. True, no one wants to see a Kevin Spacey film these days for a variety of reasons, but his heinous behaviour doesn’t detract from the film’s wonderful satire.

“Morvern Callar” (2002), the second film by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, depicts the story of the titular protagonist, who wakes up on Christmas morning to discover that her boyfriend has killed himself. He gives her a message, as well as a mix CD and a digital draught of his novel (dedicated to her). Morvern’s reaction? Instead of informing anybody about her boyfriend’s death, she slices up the body and disposes of the remains in secret, then removes his name from the book and submits it to publishers as her own work, all while listening to the music he provided her (it’s an incredible mix, after all). She then uses the money allocated for her boyfriend’s funeral to go on vacation to Spain instead. She eventually receives an offer for the novel and receives a sizable advance. That’s what I’m talking about when I say “Christmas spirit.” Ramsay imbues this macabre, cynical tale with the beauty of self-discovery, both through the magnificent, evocative images and actor Samantha Morton’s powerful lead performance. We may have some reservations about Morvern’s first reaction, but we soon settle in, filling in the elements of her past as we see fit, and watching her transform from unhappy wallflower to fully realised human being with great cinematic appeal. Yes, there’s the mix tape as a fantastic soundtrack (which I highly recommend listening to), Morvern’s only link to her past, her inability to entirely forget about the man who abandoned her so brutally. “Morvern Caller,” odd and hypnotic in equal measure, is the ideal Christmas film for people who can’t bear the thought of the genre’s normal maudlin sentimentality.

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