Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cinema Debates: What is the Best Christmas Movie?

Confessions of a Film Junkie: Cinema Debates “What is the Best Christmas Movie?”

A Joint Review By: Lauren Ennis & Brian Cotnoir

     Oh it’s that wonderful time of year again.  The trees are covered in tinsel, the halls are festively decked, the eggnog is roughly 80% Kentucky Bourbon, and of course all those timeless Christmas Classics are running on TV.  But what is the Best Christmas Movie?  Miss-E and I have decided to present our arguments and let you our audience decide who is right this week as we debate what we believe is Best Christmas Movie.

It’s a Wonderful Life (By Lauren Ennis)

The holidays are a time in which people come together with their friends and families and celebrate traditions both established and emerging. One tradition that many seasonal celebrations share is the viewing of holiday movies that convey the meaning of the season in original and timeless ways. Personally, I enjoy a variety of Christmas themed films every year ranging from children’s cartoons to the more risqué humor of A Christmas Story. Amongst the numerous picks that I refuse to miss each year, one film stands out for its ability to tell a truly unique story that has continued to resonate for generations; It’s a Wonderful Life.
Someone's lost their Christmas Spirit :(
    The film begins in an unusual manner with two angels watching from heaven as small town banker, George Bailey, contemplates suicide. The story then flashes back as novice angel, Clarence, reviews George’s entire life story in hopes of finding inspiration as to how to reach George before it is too late. The flashbacks show how George began his life as a hardworking, enthusiastic, boy, and grew up to become an ambitious and restless young man. As the flashbacks continue, however, it is revealed that George spent most of his life sacrificing his own desires and ambitions in order to help others and maintain his personal integrity. Clarence soon learns that it is this life-long accumulation of chances missed and dreams sacrificed that has ultimately led George to his hopeless state. Clarence then comes down to earth and uses his new insight into George’s character to show George that there is always hope, and despite his regrets, he really does have a wonderful life after all.
It just gives you a case of the "warm fuzzy's"
My favorite aspect of this film is the way in which it places the importance of its story first and holiday sentiment second. While the film begins and ends on Christmas Eve, the majority of the film takes place across various seasons, which allows the film’s primary focus to remain on George and his predicament. Unlike many holiday films that feature stereotypical heroes and villains, Wonderful Life is consistently honest and three dimensional in its portrayal of small town America and the people who inhabit it. It is this approach that ultimately wins viewers over and makes them care about the utterly unremarkable George, while reminding them to see the hope and promise in their own lives. Similarly, the film’s refusal to soften its dark themes adds poignancy and urgency to the plot’s proceedings. The film also avoids the common holiday film trope of either evading controversial topics or overemphasizing them to boost an otherwise mediocre plot. Instead, the film utilizes George’s contemplation of suicide to examine the often discouraging trials and tribulations of everyday life and the fulfillment that makes them all worthwhile. This film is excellent family fare that challenges its viewers to look at the regrets in their own lives and while reminding them of the simple wonder in each and every life.
Merry Christmas too all :)
    Although the film was written with the struggles of Depression and World War II era America in mind, It’s a Wonderful Life is a true holiday classic for all nations and generations. It is a modern fable of small town life that highlights the importance of each person to the lives of those around them in such a way that audiences can reconsider the often underestimated value of their own lives. The film also provides lessons in the importance of maintaining one’s values despite the short term benefits of doing otherwise; lessons that remain essential from childhood to old age. Above all, It’s a Wonderful Life is a film that reminds both the young and old that “no one is a failure who has friends” and each life, no matter how seemingly ordinary, is truly important.

Hobo With a Shotgun (By Brian Cotnoir)

     Now I know so many of are probably saying that “Hobo with a Shotgun” isn’t really a Christmas Movie, but I ask you to look at this film more closely you will notice this film is just a Metaphor of the Bible.                                           
Let’s look at the Hobo (played by Rutger Hauer).  He clearly represents Jesus Christ.  He is a man who enters a world of sin and looks to rid the world of that sin.  However, instead of educating the world through proverbs and other important messages he uses a shotgun.  During one scene in the film when he is an innocent bystander to a violent armed robbery at a Pawn Shop, he grabs a shotgun off the shelf and opens fire on the robbers.  During this massacre we see the Hobo make the sign of the cross and says “hallelujah”.  The Hobo is aided in his quest to rid the world of sin by a prostitute named Abby, who represents Jesus’ close ally and friend Mary Magdalene—who was also a prostitute.  In one scene, we see the Hobo approaching a man in a car dressed as Santa Claus where he shouts “Jerk on this you child molesting shit-licker!” before blowing his head off with the shotgun.  To me that line represents the idea of Corporate America using Santa Claus to “molest” children’s minds with the idea that Christmas is more about toys and other material goods rather than the ideas and teachings of Jesus. At the end of the film the Hobo dies in a bloody execution (much like Christ), and I think it represents the Hobo is dying for the sins of the people of Hope Town in order to make it a better place.                         

Ridding the world of Sin ( shotgun shell at a time!)

That’s not the only similarity between the films plot and what occurs in the bible. Let’s look at the character “The Drake” who I believe is a representations of the Roman Emperor Pontius Pilot.  The Drake is a crime boss, and he is the person in control of the fictional town of Hope Town (or “F*ck Town” as so many of its residents crudely call it).  Whatever he says, is law, he is the towns Judge, Jury, and Executioner and he even has his own preferred method execution: “The Glory Hole”.  The Glory Hole, in some ways, is like crucifixion, but a lot messier.  Those unfortunate enough to be sentenced to the Glory Hole have a barbed wire noose placed around their neck (very similar to the crown of thorns that was placed upon Jesus’ head during his crucifixion). The Drake is aided in his quests for mayhem and destruction by this two sons Slick and Ivan, who are every bit just like their father. 
The Glory Hole
    During our first introduction to Ivan in Slick as they aid their father in the public execution of their Uncle Logan, Slick and Ivan reminisce about their dislike for their uncle.  Ivan says to slick “You know, I remember that this f*cker used to give me the sh!ttiest Christmas presents”, at that moment Slick brandishes a switchblade and irks this phrase: “I hate Christmas”.  Slick openly admits to hating Christmas, and by that admission admits to hate Christians as well.  Later when the Hobo and Slick have their first one-on-one encounter Slick brandishes a large knife and tells the hobo “Well you better cut [a welfare check] to Mother Theresa, so you can give it to her while she’s finger-banging you in Hell!”.  This sends the Hobo into a blinding rage as he attacks Slick while exclaiming that Mother Theresa “is a God Damn saint!”; further supporting my earlier argument that the Hobo is actually Christ and knows Mother Theresa personally.  Slick despises the Hobo so much that there is a scene where he’s sitting a table with his brother Ivan and their father, with a bunch of dummies re-enacting the scene from “The Last Supper”, and Slick expresses his desire to “crucify [the Hobo] to a homeless shelter”. Upon hearing this notion, the Drake suggests him to not search for revenge and instead attempt a more terrifying method of terrorism.             
    If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you that “Hobo with a Shotgun” is the Best Christmas Movie Ever, then I seriously suggest that you re-watch this film and count how many references to the Bible and Jesus that there actually are in this film.