Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Movies

After a shopping excursion this morning, I should now be totally done with my Christmas shopping and my pre-Christmas grocery needs (aside from some fresh produce that I'll get tonight on the way to choir). I also got a little self-indulgent, but I hadn't yet really spent last year's Christmas money, so you could say it's finishing up last year's Christmas shopping. They had some fun gift packs of the makeup I use, and those are good for getting travel sizes of things. I also got another pair of those yummy pajamas. Now I have a pair to wear when I'm forced to take the other pair off to wash them.

I started writing my script yesterday. In about an hour's worth of work, I managed five pages (two scenes), though a lot of that time was spent trying to convince Word to let me format it the way I needed to. I imagine I'll need to find a dedicated screenplay program if I decide to really do this on a more regular basis. It's definitely a mental shift from novel writing because you can't write anything that doesn't show on the screen, and that means no thoughts. I have to find a way to dramatize everything.

Some of my writer friends are doing a series of Christmas-related blog posts, and I figure I might as well play along. Since I'm talking about my Christmas movie, I'll start with my favorite seasonal movies.

When it comes to the made-for-TV movies of the sort I'm writing, I have two major favorites that I can rewatch multiple times, and I still like them. They fall into the "I want to write something like this!" category (as opposed to a lot of the other ones, which fall into the "I could do better than this" category). Most of the rest of these movies I watch either to snark at or to be amused by seeing actors who are more familiar from various science fiction shows in entirely different roles.

One is The Christmas List and is from sometime in the mid-90s on the Family Channel. It's about a woman in her late 30s who, on a whim, writes out a Christmas wish list. When her co-worker at a department store puts the list into Santa's mailbox in the store display, the wishes start coming true in unexpected (and not always pleasant) ways. The thing I like about this one is that although there's a hint of magic in how this works, once the magic kicks things off, the heroine gains the confidence to start going for things on her own, and the magic isn't even necessary anymore. Now that she's admitted to herself what she wants, she goes after it. There is a romance, but it's more of a byproduct than a goal, and she has to learn to be confident in herself first. One of the best scenes comes when she's wished to go to this fancy restaurant she's always wanted to go to, and her boyfriend won't take her there because it's a waste of money. After she dumps the boyfriend, she gets dressed up, goes on her own, gets treated like a queen by the staff and has a wonderful time.

The other is an ABC Family movie from a couple of years ago, The 12 Dates of Christmas, a Christmas take on the Groundhog Day story, in which a woman finds herself reliving the same Christmas Eve twelve times. In each iteration, she has a blind date that she starts out resenting because she's not yet over her ex-boyfriend, but by the end of the cycle she's fallen in love with the guy. Along the way she's started noticing all the other people in her life and learns to appreciate them more and do the things that they need. This one is refreshing because there's no "villain." The ex is a decent guy, his new girlfriend isn't a harpy, and he had a good reason for breaking up with the heroine. The heroine doesn't need to be reformed so much as taught a few minor lessons. She's no Scrooge, just someone who's been too tied to her own plans for her life to really consider other people. It's fun, funny, and gives me the warm fuzzies.

On the big screen, The Holiday may be my favorite. That's the one in which a depressed British journalist and a stressed movie trailer producer swap homes for the holidays, so the movie trailer producer winds up in a quaint cottage in a tiny English village, where she meets her hostess's handsome brother, and the journalist ends up in a Hollywood mansion, where she learns some lessons about gumption from an elderly screenwriter. I think the main reason I love this movie is that a quaint cottage in an English village and a pile of books would pretty much be my dream vacation if I wanted to get away from it all and relax. But I also like the character arcs and the romances, and it's another movie that gives me the warm fuzzies. More movies like this, please.

Another favorite is the classic Christmas in Connecticut, the original, not the remake, in which a single woman who writes a Martha Stewart-style magazine column has to improvise when her publisher invites a returning war hero to spend Christmas at the Connecticut farm she writes about in her column as a publicity stunt. She quickly has to come up with a farm, a husband, a baby, and home-cooked meals (when she can't cook), and then regrets the husband part when she meets the war hero. I kind of want to write an inverse version of this, in which a homebody who writes a Sex and the City-type column has someone want to join her for her glamorous Christmas-in-the-city life.

My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is either the musical Scrooge or the Muppets version.

There's been some controversy over Love Actually lately, with a columnist talking about how awful it is. I love it, but I have to be in a certain mood to watch it, so I don't watch it every year.

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