Monday, December 7, 2009

Days 5 and 6

Ok, so I didn't post this weekend but you guys already know I don't blog on the weekends. I've usually got too much to do to think about sitting down at the computer and typing up this and that on a Saturday or a Sunday. For me, blogging is a fun escape during the work week rather than something I do everyday.  I hope everyone was well this week and that you were simply dying to know what I watched Saturday and Sunday.  I managed to get in two late 80s Christmas classics, and both can be summed up in iconic quotes.

"Yippie Kay Yay, Motherfucker!" - Those of the immortal words of Detective John of action's premiere characters and the star of the surprise hit of 1988, Die Hard.  Most people probably don't think of Die Hard as being too Christmassy, what with the explosions and blood squibs blasting out our surround sound speakers, but the film and its first sequel both take place on Christmas Eve...allowing the film to transcend preconceptions of what can happen in a Christmas movie, or what a Christmas movie can actually be.  Families all over the USA have written to movie magazines when polled on their favorite holiday films, and have said that Die Hard is one that they watch every December, sometimes even on Christmas Eve.  You may be scratching your heads and wondering why, but honestly few violent action films have ever truly been as FUN as Die Hard manages to be, and I think that is the reason for it becoming a holiday mainstay (besides its Christmas Eve setting).  This fun is due to director John McTiernan's handling of the material.  Yes its violent and yes its upsetting that terrorists would hold a bunch of people hostage on Christmas Eve (Alan Rickman's Hans has some truly cold and heartless moments) but at the same time, he has McClaine cracking wise, winning against insurmountable odds, and has cast several very amusing secondary characters such as Arguyle (De'voreaux White), Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) and Holly McClaine (Bonnie Bedelia) that we are rooting for in the process.  McTiernan once said that the film was so dark that he wanted to be sure to put the joy back into it, the fun if you will.  This is why you hear the Ode to Joy in the score periodically.  Needless to say, this is one of the best action films of contemporary times and its one I always see every December.

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!"

This quote sums up not only this madcap Christmas classic, but also the psychosis of its leading man...a man who had been trying to have the perfect vacation for two films already and was now pushing forward with his third.  Friends, I give you National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Is there anyone who hasn't seen this movie at least once?  This became a Christmas staple in our home before my sister and I had even seen the first two Vacation films and we still watch it each year because it is such a laugh riot.  There are so many quotable lines and relate-able passages that its easy to look past the slapstick surface and into the darker truth underneath...that the holidays really can be hell when you try to do it all.  I think that's why America found this film so funny, from the flaming tree, to the annoying relatives, to the bad food, and yes even to the SQUIRREL!!!!  Its big and over the top and often very hard to believe...but then I've had some Christmases where I've felt like I was in a zoo as well.  Chaos reigns over Christmas Vacation, and even more so in the film version of it. Watch for a young Johnny Galecki ("Roseanne" and "The Big Bang Theory") as Clark Griswold's son Rusty.

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