Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Movies

I think I'm starting to feel mildly festive. Last night I interrupted my marathon of bursting blood vessels and creepy brain parasites to watch About a Boy while I wrapped gifts, and this afternoon I hiked up the hill to the theater to see The Holiday. That one is definitely on my must-buy list when it comes out on DVD, and it will go into my holiday movie rotation. It's just the perfect warm, fuzzy, feel-good movie set during the holiday season, and it accomplished the amazing feat of making me even sort of fall for characters played by actors I rather loathe or find annoying. I also want Kate Winslet's character's cottage from that movie.

Since I listed favorite holiday books yesterday, let's go for some of the movies I like. As in books, I'm not really drawn to the "person discovers the real spirit of Christmas" movies (it was done perfectly in A Christmas Carol, and almost everything else is a weak copy) or the "Santa Claus is really real!" movies. I really loathe the standard Hallmark/Lifetime holiday movies in which a bitter single person has his/her heart melted by the adorable moppet child of a single parent of the opposite sex or a struggling single parent moves to a small town (possibly the home town) and finds love again with local single person (possibly bitter single person who needs his/her heart melted by adorable moppet). Blech. And I really, really hate the recent trend of slapstick, mean-spirited holiday movies in which people fall down a lot while trying to hang a lot of Christmas lights. Just Friends was in heavy rotation on HBO when I was traveling so much this fall, and my, but that was awful (though it would be fun to see what they could do with a movie about the Anna Faris character -- she stole the movie and was far more appealing than the leads). I'm more fond of fun/funny, nice movies that use the holiday season as a setting. Above all, the movie has to make me happy.

I do really love A Christmas Carol, but I find that it can be a wee bit melodramatic when done in a straightforward manner. As a result, my favorite version is the Muppet Christmas Carol, which is surprisingly true to the book, aside from the talking pigs and frogs. I think there's more dialogue straight from the book than there is in some of the more serious versions (and I just got this one on DVD). I also love the musical version Scrooge, with Albert Finney. He was a young man then, and they did old-age makeup on him for the part. He now looks eerily like that makeup job did.

Every so often I have to dig out It's a Wonderful Life because I'm madly in love with Jimmy Stewart, but although that's often shown at Christmas time, it doesn't really strike me as a real "holiday" movie.

Another classic is Christmas in Connecticut -- the original, of course. I've always thought there was something to that story that might be fun to play with for a book idea, and this year when I was watching it on TCM, that twist came to me.

Love Actually is one of my favorites for a few tears and some laughs and all kinds of holiday cheer -- but with enough bittersweet mixed in that I don't feel too sad and pathetic for not having much of a love life. That may be tonight's feature in between exploding tumors and unexplained seizures.

About a Boy isn't quite as strongly a holiday-themed movie, but it does have some pivotal scenes set at Christmas. And it makes me feel good.

Then there are my New Year's movies, some of which feature the holiday season in general, but they also have a strong New Year's component, so I usually watch them in the week between Christmas and the New Year (or, if I stay in for New Year's Eve, in one big New Year's Eve marathon with plenty of champagne, some good cheeses and chocolate). There's When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, and Bridget Jones's Diary.

And now after I get a snack, I'm going to try writing the first chapter of book 5. I'll leave you with the last Out of the Blogosphere feature for the year: Shannon McKelden's Venus Envy. This is a paranormal sort of chick lit novel in the same vein as my stuff, so y'all might enjoy it. Rachel Greer has an unusual fairy godmother: Venus, herself. And Venus has to fix a few more love lives to get back her goddess status. She's picked out a hunky firefighter for Rachel, but Rachel isn't all that interested in him, or in getting involved with anyone. For more info and an excerpt, visit Shannon's web site.

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