Christmas

The Muppets Christmas Carol

Another wonderful moment from the archive to help you celebrate Christmas… Christmas is just around the corner, and you’re probably catching up on some old and new favorite films about the holidays. Among your viewings of A Christmas Story, Die Hard, and Gremlins, maybe you picked up a copy of The Muppet Christmas Carol, which has recently had a 20th anniversary Blu-ray release. This repackaging of the 1992 holiday classic includes a commentary track by Brian Henson as well as a new commentary by the Muppet characters themselves. One is more technical, and the other is more silly, but together they give a nice look at the making of one of the more faithful-yet-original adaptations of the Charles Dickens book. And on to the commentary…

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miracleon34thstreettruth-3

A perennial this-time-of-year favorite, Miracle on 34th Street features a kind, old gentleman (Edmund Gwenn) who insists he is the real Santa Claus, getting a job at Macy’s and bringing holiday cheer to a single mother and her daughter. During the course of the film, the store psychologist has it in for Kris Kringle and sends him to Bellevue. This leads into a high-profile hearing in which a young lawyer named Fred Gailey (John Payne) sets out to prove that Kris Kringle is the one and only Santa Claus. As the hearing reaches the final day, on Christmas Eve no less, when Gailey presents three letters simply addressed “Santa Claus” to the judge. This is to prove that the U.S. Postal Service believes Kris to be the real deal. When the prosecutor demands more then three letters, and the judge insists that Gailey put the exhibits on his desk, almost a dozen postal workers enter the court with 21 giant mail bags filled with letters. A Christmas miracle happens, and Kris Kringle is vindicated. This got me thinking: With all that has changed in our world in the past 66 years, could all the letters to Santa delivered to the U.S. Post Office be used to prove Kris Kringle is the real Santa Claus?

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the small one

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. I can’t actually confirm that Frozen co-director Chris Buck had a hand on The Small One, an animated short released 35 years ago this month. Only his Wikipedia entry connects him to the film, noting that it was uncredited work. And he’s not included in any extended credits to be found for the production, which is known to have involved other new recruits like Henry Selick and Jerry Rees. In one interview, Buck acknowledges that he was a trainee at the studio starting in the summer of 1978 but that his first assignment was as an “in-betweener” for The Fox and the Hound. Well, maybe he still breathed in an area in which Don Bluth and his team were making this little-remembered movie. If it’s not really either his short start or his earliest work for Disney, which he’s worked for on and off over the decades, just skip ahead to another possibility I’m featuring this week. This is still a good time to look at The Small One, regardless. The anniversary of its debut will be December 15th, the date it arrived in theaters attached to a re-release of Pinocchio. The pairing seems a bit strange considering The Small One is about a cute little donkey, whose drawn appearance resembles the jackasses in the 1940 classic, and the latter is the stuff of nightmares. For kids […]

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Sundance 2013 News and Reviews

    Editor’s Note: With Sundance 2013 upon us, we’re revisiting some of our favorite shorts from Sundance years past. This wonderful little film played the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, played in our Short Film of the Day series in May 2011 and is back for another run as we kick off a week of Sundance shorts. Why Watch? Because you should think twice before buying that Christmas tree. From the director of Hobo With a Shotgun comes this classic tale of tree-xploitation, shot in pristine 70s style. It’s a bloody affair with some beautiful practical effects and over-the-top everything. We cut them down, we humiliate them with decorations, and now it’s their turn to shove tinsel up our ass. Fair warning: as with any movie where foliage commits wanton acts of violence, there’s a healthy amount of curse words. Also, be on the look out for my interview with Treevenge and Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener on Reject Radio. What Will It Cost? Just 14 minutes of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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Gonzo rizzo flying

Here at Reject HQ, we’re about to have a silent day. But before we take off to enjoy friends, family and other interesting Christmas Day adventures (none of which including writing about movie news), we’d like to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivus and happy whatever you celebrate. Even if you don’t celebrate anything, we wish you a safe and restful holiday season. Eat some cookies, drink some egg nog (or other libations) and above all, watch some great seasonal movies. To help you out, I asked a few of our FSR staffers to bring their favorite things to watch on Christmas day. The list includes a few Christmas films, a few specials and well, some real classics. It all begs the question: What are you watching on Christmas Day? 

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Christmas-Vacation-Squirrel

I should have known that the Film School Rejects team would be all about Christmas scenes from horror films. I reached out to the site’s other editors and writers this week to compile some favorite moments from both legitimate holiday movies and other films that just happen to have Christmas scenes in them, and a third wound up being classifiable as being from the horror genre. Three others are from versions of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which is a pretty scary story as well. Then there’s my personal pick, which is a rather cynical and frightening bit (I would have gone with The Thin Man, but I’d be repeating something I wrote years ago for the now-defunct blog Cinematical). Fortunately (depending on your tastes this time of year), we also have some more conventional people among our staff, and you’ll find some Jimmy Stewart and Chevy Chase here as well. Oh, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a shot of William Fichtner‘s buttocks. So, check out 12 of our favorite Christmas scenes after the jump, and tis the season for giving, so let us know the scenes you love in the comments section.

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santa claus 1907

Later today, we have a Christmas-themed edition of Scenes We Love, in which you’ll find a number of favorite movie moments of varying genres and content. Some of them involve Santa Claus. So, in lieu of finding a short film made by or featuring someone related to a new film out this week, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the earliest cinematic appearances of the jolly old holiday mascot. If you want to go back further than your usual classics-honoring tradition of watching Miracle on 34th Street, definitely check out these five ancient shorts.

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The Coroner

I’m not certain why, but when Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale played during the one Fantastic Fest I was present at, I missed it. I was probably drunk on Peanut Butter Milkshakes and also whiskey and Rob Hunter had yet to convince me to start watching movies with subtitles. Over the recent Christmas season (it’s over now, take down your decorations), I caught up with the film in the comfort of my own home all while being mostly sober. Rare Exports is a Finnish import about the havoc created when the truth about Santa Claus is quite literally unearthed. You think you know all about this jolly fat man, but brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you watch this film though, you’ll see plenty of old man dicks, so there’s that, in addition to a pretty pleasing film.

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There’s nothing quite like the end of the year when every holiday comes crashing into focus. Overlord-in-Chief Neil Miller is busy trying to hang up $30,000 worth of lights inside his apartment to simulate Clark Griswold; Fure is knitting everyone atrocious sweaters; Hunter is trying to convince everyone why Visitor Q is a perfect holiday film; Kevin is agreeing with him; Kate is burning copies of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to keep warm; Landon Palmer is trying to really understand the nature of Christmas movies; and I am attempting to cure a hot beer hangover by drinking more hot beer. But most of all, as the season of love and warmth and chocolate-covered cream puffs descends upon us all like doves in a John Woo flick, we here at Film School Rejects would like to take a moment out to remember our family: all of you. Like family, you invite us into your home and put up with our insane ramblings around the dinner table even as we take the last crescent roll and spill red wine on your new jacket. The old saying that no one can remember says something about not being able to choose your family, but we are eternally grateful that you’ve chosen us. We’re grandly indebted to our readers, and although we never lose sight of that, we don’t always state it publicly (not because we’re highly, highly embarrassed of you (promise)). So let’s raise a glass and toast to you. Thank you for […]

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Drinking Games

Sure, there’s a lot of new DVD and Blu-ray releases this week to get as last-minute stocking stuffers. But none of these really scream “Christmas” unless you’re a huge Woody Allen fan or someone who watches way too much mixed martial arts. (Which, of course, begs the question as to when Woody’s gonna make his neurotic MMA comedy?) So to get into the Christmas spirit in the last couple days before the fat guy in the red suit comes barreling down your chimney, let’s look at a classic. If you recorded A Charlie Brown Christmas a few weeks back, or if you have the copy of the DVD or Blu-ray, here’s a chance to toast that bald kid whom nobody likes.

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Die Hard Holiday Survival Guide

Note: Despite what the byline says, this article was written by the conglomeration of Luke and Brian; two guys who watch Die Hard and Die Hard 2 every Christmas…and then over and over with unsettling frequency throughout the rest of the year. The holidays can be a tough time for all of us. In-laws and extended family members coming into town, travel on snowy roads, and holiday weight gain are just a few of the landmines we have to navigate during December. While this iteration of FSR’s Cinematic Holiday Survival Guide won’t help you avoid your drunk Uncle Vernon or keep that turkey and mashed potatoes from expanding your waist line, hopefully it will come in handy should your holiday plans be thwarted by terrorists. Some guys just can’t seem to catch break, even during the holidays. John McClane is one of those poor, unfortunate souls. Time and time again, this oneupsman of terrible Christmases runs afoul of the worst sort of scum and villainy; even without vacationing at Mos Eisley. Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, well, let’s face it you’ll probably kill yourself. But should you decide to be a McClanian style badass, just call to mind the following tips and tricks and you might just end up a hero…or dead…or, a HERO!

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Survival Guide: You Can Survive the Holidays!

In the coming weeks, Film School Rejects will, for the first year on record, perform a valuable public service. Instead of counting down our favorite Christmas movies in a 12 Days of Christmas style feature or being hip and only celebrating Hanukkah, we’re going to do something that will actually help you while entertaining you and somehow bringing it all back to movies. We’re pleased to present our 2011 Holiday Survival Guide. In this month-long feature that kicks off Friday (Dec. 2), we will address topics such as ‘How To Pick Out the Perfect Present’, ‘How to Find Holiday Love’, ‘How To Pick Holiday Movies to Watch with Grandma’, ‘How To Avoid Being Murdered During the Holidays’ and plenty more thanks to the incredible depth of knowledge of the FSR staff. In short, we watch a bunch of movies so that you can learn life lessons. We’re having a lot of fun writing it, so we hope you have similar fun reading it. Keep your browsers pointed to our 2011 Holiday Survival Guide homepage throughout December so that you don’t miss out on all the fun.

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Christmas has come and gone, but a late present (like the melted chocolate Santa in the toe of your stocking) has been delivered a year early. Arthur Christmas doesn’t come out until November 2011, but he’s here with an elven friend of his to turn your attention away from Santa’s giant flying UFO that’s hovering above your head. The film is a partnership between Aardman and Sony, and it boasts a fantastic vocal cast. James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, and Ashley Jensen. One thing is for sure: Santa is British. The question is how he manages to get all those presents to all those kids. Enter that giant spacecraft, a million-strong elf slave army, and some funny physics, and this film seeks to provide at least one explanation. See the trailer for yourself after the jump:

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Memory works in odd and wonderful ways as the things we see, hear, and smell can trigger thoughts and feelings that bring us back to an earlier time in our lives. Cool Whip and Tabasco-flavored Cheez-Its for example remind me of an ex-girlfriend and two very entertaining evenings. Movies have that power too, and when personal memories come into play a film can shake loose from its obvious context and come to represent something entirely different than was intended. Christmas, more than any other holiday aside from Arbor Day of course, has an entire library of films associated with it, and everyone has a favorite. Some folks love the traditional classics like Miracle On 34th Street and White Christmas while others have a place in their heart for modern day titles like Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, and A Christmas Story. There are even those wise enough to recognize that the best Christmas film of all time is Die Hard. I have my favorites too, but the movie that fills me with the most holiday cheer isn’t found on anyone’s list of the best Christmas films. Even so, year after year it’s the one that reminds me most of being a kid at Christmastime in a home filled with love, family, and respect not only for each other but also for the holiday itself. Those three things didn’t last forever for my family, but thanks to the unlikely pairing of a Commodore 64 computer and Home Box Office this flick never […]

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It’s been another wonderful year here at Film School Rejects. And every once in a while we find it important to stop and take a look back at our great journey and say thanks. As our staff takes a bit of a break this weekend to spend time with their own families, we’d like to say a bit of thanks and give warm wishes to our extended year-round family: you, our readers. So whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus for the Rest-of-Us, we’d like to wish you a happy holiday. As always, FSR’s team will be back in force next week as we jump right into one of our favorite yearly traditions, the Year in Review. So stay tuned, because we’re not done beating on 2010 just yet. And remember, Festivus isn’t over until you pin your father. Good luck with that.

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Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; ho ho holy shit. Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean you get a break from me. I will invade your home with utter disregard for personal boundaries…much like Santa Claus. But unlike the big guy, I only deal in lumps of coal, cinematically-speaking. Every week I stuff your stocking with a rancid little sapling and mock it mercilessly. But then, like a Christmas miracle, I dress it up with misguided praise until it shines like a tiny little beacon of the season. Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? Well save the tears for your lost physique because I promise to then pair the bad film with a stomach-defiling snack food aimed at making your insides a little less merry. Today’s yuletide snack: Silent Night, Deadly Night…

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Two years ago, I challenged myself to come up with twelve films that corresponded with all the verses of the popular Christmas song that Eddie Izzard loves to sing the fifth verse of. Despite ending that sentence with a preposition, I sat down to a quiet Christmas break intending to stay as far away from work as possible, but that became impossible after my third quart of egg nog. For it was after that quart that the Planet of the Apes poster in my office began speaking, nay, taunting me to the challenge of coming up with twelve more films. I only have two words for hallucinatory, two-dimensional Cornelius. Challenge. Accepted.

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Drinking Games

In the days leading up to Christmas, everyone’s heading out to Christmas parties, watching holiday classics and drinking plenty of egg nog. Whether you’re watching a Phineas & Ferb holiday special or something more edgy like Bad Santa, you can apply this drinking game to bring some holiday cheer. Some movies like Elf might get you stinking drunk in the first couple minutes, but others like It’s A Wonderful Life will keep you dry for much of the film but then slam you in the face with alcohol for the third act. Either way, it’s a great distraction from the stress of the season.

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Criterion Files

Though it isn’t typical of this column to focus an article’s actual material towards the relevance of the chosen title for the week ‘s relation to the time of year we currently find ourselves in, I’m making an exception for the spirit of the holiday in which we often tend to make many exceptions. Stores open earlier and stay open later for customer convenience (and monetary benefits), people you happen to dislike you may briefly get along with, or just dislike a little less, and even though you don’t attend any services any other days throughout the year on December 25th you may find yourself amongst fellow members of your community or neighborhood (some of which may be amongst those people you happen to dislike) at a nearby church of chosen denomination.

Considering the relative lack of pure ‘holiday’ pictures in the Criterion library due to the sub-genre finding itself as a non-point of interest to center the theme of an entire picture on for the eclectic group of filmmakers that make up the majority of the library’s shelf space, I’ve selected a film that thematically and, as it pertains to the rest of the filmmaker’s body of work, is somewhat characteristically different in terms of how we view the events of the film and is representative of what we consistently try to regain as adults throughout the weeks leading up to December 25th; and that is to experience and see the incidents of life, both tragic and blissful, as we did as children.

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a film that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of a con artist who can handle the cops but can’t handle getting on the wrong side of a mob boss’s temper. Because you want to see Bob Hope dressed like Santa Claus, because you want to see Bob Hope dressed like an old lady, because you value your comedy – you’ll value The Lemon Drop Kid.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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