CHRISTMAS SPECIALS: What to watch this Christmas?

Hello folks, Welcome back to my blog!

Umm, so, we have Christmas coming on this week. And the cinephiles in some of you must have memories of watching cinemas that have Christmas as its background, don’t’ you?

I do. There are tons of them. But I’ll list some of the memorable ones that you can watch or re-watch this Christmas since most of you have ample time this year, given the pandemic situation we are facing. Or, you can also re-watch Christmas special cinemas or series that’s close to your heart.

Here are some of the memorable ones, at least they’re for me as some of them made my childhood better.

HARRY POTTER FILM SERIES

I don’t think I need to say anything about this series. The majority of you have already watched it. Since I have already dedicated a whole article to it in my last post, I’ll only be adding significant points this time.

 I reckon that it gives a Christmas vibe only because of a few minor scenes. Those minor scenes were possibly one of the very few light-hearted and heartwarming scenes of the series filled mostly with serious and dark moments.

 It was sweet of Ron’s family to take in Harry every Christmas to celebrate it. Not to forget that Harry received the Invisibility Cloak as a present one Christmas. Another reason I associate this series with Christmas is that Pogo, the popular television channel had a sort of tradition to re-run the series every winter around Christmas time.

 It used to be a hot topic of conversation and still is, among children and adults alike.

MR.BEAN

It is a British sitcom set either in the late 1980s or at the beginning of the 1990s.

It had numerous Christmas special episodes but just a couple of them are etched in my memory.

The first is the one where he goes out to shop for Christmas.

The Nativity Scene

He recreated the nativity scene in a toy shop where he had a toy dinosaur come and scare Jesus’s family which in turn gets killed by toy military tank cars. He had a war break out in an otherwise peaceful nativity scene. He was later disrupted in the middle of his recreation game by the manager of the store who had a toy police officer arrive at the nativity scene, suggesting Bean to get out of the store. It was hilarious. But it wasn’t the end.

 He went out on the street only to pull a beard of a man in Santa’s costume to check whether it was his real beard. Turned out it was real, so he ran from there. It had other scenes filled with laughter.

Bean with Irma

Another episode I remember was the one he was trying to cook a turkey for Christmas dinner for him and Irma, his girlfriend. I particularly remember this episode because this was one of the very few Mr.Bean episodes to have ended on a sad note. It started with a hilarious scene where he had his head inside the turkey while looking for his wristwatch that too had stuck inside the turkey. Soon, Irma arrived with a cool present for him only to be gifted with a random portrait which she believed to be a thoughtless present. It was a result of a misunderstanding on Bean’s part rather than thoughtlessness. His childlike attitude always got him in trouble. Sad no one tried to understand him, not even Irma, who then left him.

It’s one of those series you repeat hundreds of times and still never get bored. I remember guests coming to my place, trying to talk to the child me but my attention was all on the tv playing Bean episodes. I wouldn’t even budge from there a bit to talk to them even though I must have had already watched those episodes a thousand times.

FRIENDS

It is an American sitcom set in the 1990s and was aired until 2004.

Friends episodes tend to be quite chaotic when there’s some festive or any celebratory occasion going on, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or wedding episodes. But I found this one rather sweet.

This episode is titled ” The one with the Holiday Armadillo ”.

I first learned of Hannukah from this episode itself. Although the episode didn’t exactly tell you the story behind Hanukkah but at least mentioned bits and pieces about it. I later read more to found out the actual story. You too can do it if you haven’t any idea about Hanukkah. It’s a Jewish festival celebrated around the same time as Christmas.

Here in this episode, Ross was trying to teach his adolescent son, Ben about Hanukkah who was more interested in Christmas given the grandeur and popularity it has over Hanukkah in the States. Ross’s attempt to impart lessons on Hanukkah led to some sort of laugh riots.

 Moreover, it has both Christmas and Hanukkah vibes. But don’t go looking for seriousness because it’s a sitcom full of grown-up babies, who when the time and need comes, act their age. It’s cute sometimes. A light-hearted comedy you can watch to get you into a peppy mood anytime.

HOME ALONE

It is a series of American Christmas family-comedy films. Though I only found the first part worthy enough to be remembered. The first film of the series titled HOME ALONE was released in 1990. There was a time when it used to be every child’s favorite film.

The film is about a child of 8years old, Kevin who was accidentally left behind by his ”extra-large”  family who was on their way to Paris to spend Christmas there. The family is so huge that his parents didn’t realize what they had done until they were on the plane already. Kevin, on the other hand, was delighted to find his family gone. He went berserk on having found the freedom until he heard two burglars planning to rob his home. The film is about how he tackled the situation. Surely all of you’ve known of the infamous booby trap scenes of this film. This film has numerous scenes that will set a Christmas mood but mostly, there was chaos. Even with the chaos, you would feel for the child because what’s Christmas without family?

THE PREACHER’S WIFE

It is a 1996 American comedy-drama film. It is a delight for anyone who admires the late pop singer, Whitney Houston, who was also known for her soulful gospel songs. I, for one, never knew she could act so well until I had seen her in this film. It was a delightful surprise for me as it will be for you.

The film is about Henry who is a pastor of a small failing African-American Baptist church and is constantly pressurized by Mr.Hamilton who wants him to sell the church’s property to him so that he can build a luxury complex. Henry was struggling under intense pressure and was beginning to neglect his wife, Julia, and son, Jeremiah. He prayed to God for a miracle, which God sent to him in form of Dudley, an angel whom no one believes when he claims to be an angel. With Christmas approaching, Henry became increasingly busy, unknowingly pushing Julia and his son to spend more time with Dudley. The rest of the story is about how Dudley helps Julia prepare for the upcoming Christmas program and simultaneously also helps the family to overcome their issues. The film is full of comic moments showing how other people made hilarious assumptions about Dudley.

And, it got good soundtracks too. My personal favorites are ”I believe in You and Me” and ”My Heart is Calling”.

VARNAPAKITTU

It is a 1997 Indian Malayalam language family drama film.

 It centers around a Malayali Christian family and few other people living in the same neighborhood, like any good old Malayalam film. Malayalam films are infamous for making beautiful family dramas. You’ll get a glimpse of what a sense of community looks like as it is something I don’t see in most places. I have sensed that kind of vibe in the Latin American community when I read their books and watched their cinemas. This film too has it along with drama, action, twists, and turns but what stood out in the entire film is the music, especially the Christian devotional song, Anupamasneha Chaithanyame sung by K.S Chithra.

STEPMOM

It is a 1998 American family drama. It tells the story of a terminally ill mother, Jackie who is divorced with two children. She harbors a grudge against her ex-husband Luke and his fiancé, Isabel, the stepmom to be of her children. She kept complaining to Luke about Isabel’s parenting and actively tries to sabotage Isabel’s effort to bond with the children.

 She hadn’t informed her family of her cancer as she thought she was going to survive it until she realized that she’s nearing her death. It angered her as she felt defeated in life, making her hate Isabel even more because she felt as though Isabel was replacing her in both the children and Luke’s lives.

 Her attitude towards Isabel will change for the good when she will think of her children’s well being, the fact that they are going to need a mother figure in their lives when she will be gone.

This is not centered around Christmas at all. I decided to name it in the list because of one last scene of the film which is set on Christmas morning.

 It was perhaps Jackie’s last Christmas. That morning, she shared emotional moments with them, individually, telling them that she will remain with them as long as they remember her, even after her death. She wanted to make it memorable for the children so she made handmade presents for them, a beautiful quilt for her daughter that she made with fabrics that have pictures of them printed on it. For her son, she made a cloak. The gesture made by her made it the most beautiful yet heartbreaking scene from this film.

 Watch it for Susan Sarandon who played Jackie.

A MADEA CHRISTMAS

It is a 2013 American Christmas comedy film. It is a part of the Madea film franchise, written and directed by Tyler Perry. This is also the first Christmas-themed film of the Madea franchise.

To those who don’t know of Madea, let me tell you a bit about her. It is sure to make you burst into laughter.

Madea is an elderly African-American woman of about 70-80 years old. Her full name is Mabel Simmons. She is afraid of nothing in life, I repeat, nothing but police officers, especially white police officers for she went through the time when black people were killed and harassed on daily basis in the 1950s and ’60s.

But more than the oppression, her reason for fear was that she was sent to jail countless times due to her own batshit crazy behaviors in public. She is nothing like your good old grandma kinda elderly woman. If she loses her shit, which she does frequently, she will fly right at you to whack you.

Guess who plays the role of Madea? The director Tyler Perry himself. Yes, a male actor. Watch it for him. He got crazy skills and funny bones.

CAROL

It is a 2015 romantic film drama based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt.

 Nah, it has nothing to do with Christmas carol.

Set in NYC during the early 1950s, the film tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer named Therese and Carol, an older woman going through a difficult divorce. They first met during the Christmas season, so you can see many scenes involving Christmas related activities. But I suggest you watch it for the beautiful story behind it and you’ll also be treated with amazing visuals which are typical of all Todd Haynes films.

Thanks for reading. See you again, soon!

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