Let’s talk about why A Christmas Story should be crowned the greatest Christmas movie. Holidays are ostensibly about family and the memories we make when we are with our family. The plot of A Christmas Story is not a big, showy production. It is simply about young Ralphie’s Christmas with his family and his hopes for the perfect Christmas present. Remember your childhood? Remember when you thought about what you would get for Christmas for at least a month? This is the highly effective hook of A Christmas Story. The story is told through the unique story device of an adult Ralphie providing the voiceover in retrospect.
As a child, my father sat the family down to watch A Christmas Story. I was initially uninterested. In the years holidays that ensued and the highly effective 24-hour cable marathons, pre-cutting the cord, watching A Christmas Story at least biannually became one of my family’s traditions.
This film is intentionally dated and intentionally cheesy. It is a way to connect to the child you were. When I watch this film with my father, it takes him back to his childhood. This is not because his childhood was exactly the same as the film. As an adult, I too experience nostalgia with this film.
This movie touches on many childhood struggles that a lot of us went through: the perfect Christmas toy, wearing giant snowsuits against your will, performing like a monkey at your parents’ request, meeting Santa, childhood fights, and dares. Most importantly, A Christmas Story is so effective at putting us in Ralphie’s shoes that we get to experience our own childhood again, even if it was actually superficially different. It is family friendly fare that is perfect to put on when everyone is gathered together this holiday season.
C’mon, let’s choose A Christmas Story as the greatest Christmas movie! Please join me in checking out the rest of the contenders over on the LAMB
This post is for the LAMB Director’s Chair 32 Frank Capra. I chose to focus on Capra’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life. I’ve been watching this movie for as long as I can remember. It was always played on TV during prime time every year. That’s why I found it particularly interesting when I found out a few years back that it actually lost money at the box office during its initial release. At any rate I love it.
The movie is set on Christmas Eve. A man named George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart, one of my dead guy crushes) decides to kill himself. He is interrupted by a man claiming to be an angel. This angel, Clarence, shows George what the world around him would be like if he hadn’t existed. Unlike some of us who probably haven’t made much of a difference he is shown that he definitely has. Yes, he’s saved two people’s lives. Plus the town is in disarray. Maybe worst of all, George’s wife Mary has ended up a lonely librarian. Oh the humanity!
Seriously though what has brought me back to this film as an adult is the love story between George and Mary. While George has not been able to accomplish all of the things that he wanted to do in life (such as join the military and travel) he realizes that his love for his family is too important to forsake. Plus we get a totally awful villain and learn a bit about how banks work. So share this movie with your family. Just make sure that you are ready to explain suicide to any young children.
“Regrets are ridiculous, so I don’t regret, no.”–Nicole Kidman
This post is for LAMB Acting School 101: Nicole Kidman. When I was young I didn’t appreciate what an amazing actress Kidman was. Then she split from Tom Cruise and starred in Moulin Rouge and I was sold. So instead of focusing on three of her best roles, as I usually do, I could only trim it down to six.
To Die For (1995)
“You’re not anybody in America unless you’re on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody’s watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.”
In To Die For Kidman plays a small town ice princess named Suzanne who dreams of being the next Jane Pauley. The problem is that she marries the delicious Matt Dillon. When he becomes intent on settling down she gets her teen friends (including a super hot, super young Joaquin Phoenix) to assist her in planning his murder. In this film she plays the type of sociopathic character that shouldn’t be relate able in the least but Kidman’s determination really sells it.
Practical Magic (1998)
“What wouldn’t I do… for the right guy?”
Practical Magic is based on one of Alice Hoffman’s wonderful supernatural books. Kidman plays Sandra Bullock’s sister. While Bullock is the serious sister who wants to be normal, Kidman’s Gilly is wild. She runs away from her looked down upon witch family and small town to experience life and love. When her man becomes overly obsessed with her she has to figure out how to get out of the situation with help from Bullock.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
“So, because I’m a beautiful woman, the only reason any man wants to talk to me is because he wants to fuck me? Is that what you’re saying? “
“Stanley Kubrick taught me to believe in myself artistically. I spent my 20s raising my children, and wanting to, and being married. That was my driving force. And then he said to me, “No, you have to respect your talent, and give it some space, and give it some time. Which was a lovely thing to be given. And my children were a little older then.”–Nicole Kidman
In Eyes Wide Shut Kidman played against then husband Tom Cruise as Alice. Alice is the housewife to Cruise’s much admired by the ladies, doctor. After a party that makes Cruise look pretty slutty Alice really gets into his psyche by telling him about how women can be just as sexually motivated as men.
Moulin Rouge (2001)
“What’s his type? Wilting flower? Bright and bubbly? Or smoldering temptress?”
Moulin Rouge is the first film that really made me go, WOW, she can act! Kidman is Satine, the star of the Moulin Rouge. She sings, dances and romances her way in front of and behind the stage. She wants to be considered more than a sexy burlesque star, she wants to be a “real actress”. Satine’s plans are thrown by her forbidden love of the new writer in town, Christian, as played by Ewan McGregor.
Birthday Girl (2001)
“If you just wanted sex, go to a prostitute.”
Birthday Girl is the type of movie that you may have missed if you aren’t a pervert like me. It had a limited release and then went quickly to video. I obviously had to buy a screener copy off of eBay to see it before the general public (this was before DVD and during dial up y’all). Why was I so intent on seeing it? It’s an erotic thriller starring Kidman and Ben Chaplin (who I had a thing for at that time). Chaplin plays a lonely guy who buys a bride. She shows up to him seemingly unable to speak but happy to please him in bed. Of course, it’s not really that simple.
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
“Me? Oh no, I’m not the photographer. My husband is.”
Fur is a difficult movie to watch. I’m sort of surprised that I’ve been able to turn so many people onto it over the years. Though I’m not familiar with the work of photographer Diane Arbus, who this is loosely based on, as soon as I saw an ad for it I knew it would be amazing. Kidman plays Arbus, who is somewhat bored with helping her photographer husband. She becomes quite taken with an unusual neighbor (played by Robert Downey Jr.) and then spreads her wings as a photographer of unusual subjects.
I have been a huge fan of the flick Heartbreakers since I first saw it at the drive in. It’s a funny, engaging movie that I always enjoy. Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt costar as a mother-daughter con team. They seduce rich men for their money. Things become more complicated than normal when one ex catches on (the always sexy Ray Liotta) and JLH falls for a seemingly poor bartender (Jason Lee) while they are trying to trick a totally gross Gene Hackman.
As a nerd who attends conventions myself I’ve always been a fan of Galaxy Quest. Although I’m not a Trekkie, (what the film is obviously spoofing) I still go gaga over meeting celebs at cons. This movie stars Weaver, Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni and a young Justin Long. It’s about a group of actors from a space show called Galaxy Quest. When they re-unite to earn some dough at a sci-fi convention they accidentally end up being abducted by real aliens. Of course comedy and action ensues.
Yes, Working Girl is Melanie Griffith’s movie. She’s the up and coming secretary who wants to be a real businesswoman. Plus the sexalicious Harrison Ford costars. Yet every scene that Weaver is in she seems to steal. Weaver stars as Griffith’s seemingly encouraging boss that she really looks up to. Well, that is, until Weaver steal Griffith’s idea. That’s when Griffith must impersonate the tough as nails Weaver (who is away on vacation and then recuperating from an accident during said vacation) and accidentally start seeing Weaver’s man (yep, Ford!).
In 2009 Parade Magazine featured the stunning Sigourney Weaver on the cover to promote the film Avatar. I was thrilled by the photos because they were so gorgeous. It’s rare to see so much effort and creativity into styling a woman who isn’t super young. Yes, that was 3 years ago and yet I still thought if it straightaway when I thought of Weaver. So I’ve made a collage of the photos below. Please enjoy.
*To see the full size collages right click the photo and then select “View Image”.
The interview can be found here and the slideshow of photos is here.