Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 24: A Small Town Double Feature (Archive Post)

Well, Christmas 3 of 3 has come and gone and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.  Not only did Dad and Mommom enjoy their gifts, but my Uncle Mike liked my gift for perhaps the first time in years.  I got him a boxset of Zatoichi films (which he very much enjoys), and my sister did as well (after stealing/borrowing the idea from me).  Myself, I received a set of 8 really nice All-Clad LTD2 pans (the chef in me squealed with delight), a a water boiler/dispenser, and two blu-rays (Tremors and Charade).  So it was a very good Christmas for me as well.  I plan to arrange some kind of dinner party when I get home so I can show off all my new cookware.  Now we are watching the first film in the Zatoichi series while the dishwasher rumbles with the splash and clank of the dinner dishes, and while a fire roars in the fireplace.  Its rather cozy, like an old-fashioned small-town Christmas.  That put me in mind of a post I wrote last year and decided to repeat for this Christmas Eve.  So enjoy the following post and, if you can, watch one or both of the films I mention:

I need to catch up after missing yesterday's post...I was detained.  How so, you ask?  Well, I had to drive to southern WV to visit family for an early Christmas and got stuck in the worst snow storm to hit WV since the 2003 winter wallop.  It began to rain as I was getting close to Charleston, and once I passed Charleston the rain turned to snow.  I had hear that the storm would be bad, but I had high hopes that it wouldn't get BAD bad until I got to the house.  Unfortunately, it began to gunk up the roads quickly and by the time I got to my exit we (the cars on the highway) were all going 35 in a 70 zone...and slowly decreasing speed as it got hard to steer and control.  I got on a main street through town...and was stuck there in stop and go traffic (mainly stop) for two extra hours.  My trip should have taken 3 hours, but it took me 5...mainly taking 2 hours to do the last 15 miles.  But I made it.  I actually kissed the floor of my mother's home when I arrived...and my sis supplied me with a big glass of wine to steady my nerves.  Then we opened presents, which was great.  I got all kinds of fun stuff.

So lets get on with yesterday's and today's movie posts.  In honor of showing this particular film to my class this week, I decided to do Friday's post on Frank Capra's heartwarming classic It's a Wonderful Life, a film that never fails to make me cry.  Its rather amazing that a film made in 1948 can still touch us today, since most of the time older films become dated over time, but even my kids fell in love with this film this week (many of them had never seen it).  I think the reason that people still love this movie is due to our ability to relate to its protagonist, George Bailey.  George is an average guy who would help anyone out if they needed it.  He gives up a lot to keep his father's business going, to keep his family well supported, and even to help individuals in town own their own homes.  He doesn't think of what he's doing as heroic or even out of the ordinary...its just the right thing to do.  What he doesn't realize is how much he changes the lives of those people around him, which is why an angel gives him a glimpse of what his life would be like if he had never been born in order to keep him from committing suicide.  The point is that even the most ordinary life is wonderful because of all the other lives that touch it...and setting the ending at Christmas just gives it that extra oomph of small-town goodwill that the film needs.  If you haven't seen it, just turn on your TV this holiday season...it might be on.



Today's film, interestingly enough, is often called the anti-It's a Wonderful Life due to its similarly picturesque small-town Christmas setting, similar small-town characters (average leading man, innocent girl, evil old rich person, etc.), and contrastingly violent nature of its central conflict.  What central conflict, you ask?  A Christmas Eve in ruins at the hands of little green monsters.  Yes friends, I'm talking about Gremlins, one of my favorite Christmas movies and a standby for Christmas Eve night viewing as it removes the taste of ever so much heartwarming viewing by that point.  Also, Gizmo is cute (a friend got me a Gizmo doll for Christmas).  I mean, what's better on Christmas Eve than watching devious little creatures tearing apart small town America as George Bailey left it?  Yes, it gets a little scary at times (the section with Mom in the house alone with the gremlins is pretty intense) but for the most part, its a dark comedy with wonderfully slapstick and silly elements as well as some sneaky wit (Robbie the Robot and the Time Machine at Dad's inventor's expo).  Of course, some may object to the violent content but you can do a lot worse (remember, I covered Silent Night, Deadly Night last week) and this film still has a very cute puppet center stage that will make the kiddies happy (and you can try to keep them from acting like gremlins...but they probably will anyway).  I watched it when I was under 10, and I turned out fine...any rumors you hear otherwise are completely baseless and untrue.

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