Ever wonder what movies the staff of the Film Society are watching when we aren’t planning festivals or running our cinema? Join us each month as the Provincetown Film Society lets you know WHAT WE’RE WATCHING!
December’s theme: Holiday movies!
BABETTE’S FEAST: The setting is very Olde Timey Christmas—a small Norwegian village in December 1883. Babette, a French refugee, repays the generosity of her pious hosts by cooking a spectacular feast worthy of any Christmas table. An Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, Babette’s Feast is about giving and receiving love, with no expectation of anything in return, and stars the sublime Stéphane Audran. The last lines of the film, which speak to the appreciation every artist desperately yearns for but rarely receives, slay me every time.
RARE EXPORTS: A Christmas Tale. On Christmas Eve in Finland, the real Santa Claus is unearthed in an archaeological dig. But unlike most depictions of Jolly Old Saint Nick, this Santa Claus is a malevolent supernatural entity based on real Scandinavian lore. A thoroughly unique spin on the dark origins of Santa Claus for anyone who wants a decidedly different Christmas movie. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Two of my holiday cinema favorites are steeped in tradition. From the time my children were young (my youngest wasn’t born when the movie came out) we watched and loved HOME ALONE. My kids can readily recite every line of the movie in heavy competition with their dad. We still have it on VHS. Not the VHS player but I can’t part with it – as if our family might fall apart if I did. Last year I ordered it on Netflix and watched it with my grandson for the first time. He’s watched it half a dozen times since then. Still a hit since 1990!
LOVE ACTUALLY, another favorite, is not quite appropriate for my 7-year-old grandson and may never be a favorite, especially to watch with his grandmother, but my daughter and I have watched it together every holiday for the last 10 years including Thanksgiving 2020. Gotta love the Prime Minister’s moves and who doesn’t love the primarily English all-star cast. God Save the Queen!
Patricia Doon – CFO
My holiday favorites are AUNTIE MAME with Rosalind Russell. One of my favorite holiday songs is “We Need a Little Christmas”. Other must sees – CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, SCROOGED, ELF, and LOVE ACTUALLY. I’ll also be tuning in to Boston Ballet’s 2019 Urban Nutcracker being streamed in 2020 on a donation basis.
My 2 favorite Christmas movies have always been and will always be:
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS, starring Ethan Embry and Thora Birch. They play the kids of an upper class Manhattanite and her ex-husband who runs a diner. When the sister asks a mall Santa (Leslie Nielsen) to get her parents back together, her older brother comes up with a crazy scheme to try and make it happen. My favorite part of the movie is when Hallie (Thora Birch) sings a duet of BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE with her grandmother, played by Lauren Becall.
CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY: It’s exactly like GROUNDHOG DAY, except instead of Bill Murray, it stars my #1 favorite 90’s heartthrob Erik Von Detten. He keeps waking up to relive his shitty Christmas over and over again until he “gets it right”. (Fun fact: Erik Von Detten is one of the choir boys in the opening scene of ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS too) Erik Von Detten is my Christmas angel.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Runner Katherine Switzer said, “If you find yourself losing faith in human nature, go watch a marathon.” It’s too cold for that so this movie is a great substitute. I smile and lose control over my eyeholes every time I watch it.
TRADING PLACES: I love a great comedy and this is one of my favorites and it occurs during the holidays so it counts, right? Seeing Winthorpe on a Philly bus eating a smoke salmon from his mangy Santa beard kills me.
My 2 holiday picks are IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and BAD SANTA: the angel and devil of Christmas films!
My mother was named after Donna Reed from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE so it has been a longstanding tradition in our family to watch it every holiday season without fail. Jimmy Stewart chews the scenery in the very best way possible and I’m pretty sure we’re all currently living in ‘Pottersville.’
BAD SANTA is just good plain fun. Directed by Terry Zwigoff (director of CRUMB—another must see) and starring Billy Bob Thornton (nominated for a Golden Globe), the film was a surprising box office and critical hit when it was released in 2003.
Both of them love MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET and LOVE ACTUALLY during the holiday season!
My undisputed #1 choice for best version of “A Christmas Carol” goes to none-other than A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. This was the first major Muppet production after Jim Henson’s passing, and you can feel the love that went into making this movie. The classic Muppet humor and whimsical puppets fit the ghostly story well. I am particularly fond of Gonzo and Rizzo’s bromance as they narrate the story.
My other favorite is ELF – its quick pacing makes it rewatchable year after year. The “Pennies from Heaven” scene is one of my favorites, and is made all the better knowing that many people in it were not actors, but everyday New Yorkers genuinely reacting to Will Ferrell’s shenanigans. And remember everyone, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES. I love the poem by Dylan Thomas and all the details about the different aunts and uncles, neighbors and other grownups. How kids make their own little worlds to pass the time while adults are visiting. And the magic of how music and light brings generations of family together in the cold dark of winter.
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (the original animated of course!). Its classic Dr Seuss illustration and a secular way to show the celebration of family, community, and the spirit of giving. The first winter I moved to Ptown from NYC and went to the lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree, I felt like a little Who singing in Whoville and knew I was home.
Sarah Nitsch – Sponsorship & Donor Events
DIE HARD (1988) for us is a Christmas eve tradition, usually while enjoying some tequila and present wrapping. When we lived in West LA you could see “Nakatomi Plaza” from our apartment, it was always fun to see it around the holidays. We pick up all sorts of new things each time we watch it. The 80’s hair and fashion is just classic, the color of John Maclean’s tank-top (wife beater) gets really dark at some points, and Alan Rickman is just the most amazing villain (always) and really the Christmas party is such an HR nightmare!! “Come out the the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.”
Having grown up with my family into the original Vacation film and a love of Chevy Chase, I gotta say NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) is a classic. We watch it each year and we still laugh, my boys have started to watch it and appreciate the humor – just enough cousin Eddie for them. Look at the cast too! The usual suspects, but Juliette Lewis as the daughter, Johnny Galecki – pre Big Bang Theory, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Margo the quintessential yuppie next door neighbor. It’s got a little something for everyone, written by John Hughes, his love for Chicago continues in the film and it was based on his short story Christmas ’59 which was published in National Lampoon (1980). Originally it was set to be directed bu Chris Columbus, but he and Chevy Chase did not get along – so later Hughes went to Columbus to do Home Alone together. Which is another classic holiday film for the whole family, it makes me miss John Candy!
We hope you saw a new film to add to your holiday line-up, or was reminded of one of your tried and true favorites! From all of us at the Provincetown Film Society, we hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!