About the time I start to feel the Christmas Spirit coming on, I pull out my favorite Christmas movies, and stack them up, and then I watch them one at a time. I often watch them by myself because not everyone else in the house shares my enthusiasm for the classics. Eustacia will watch some, but not all. Here is the list
•We're No Angels (Humphrey Bogart version)
•It's A Wonderful Life
•The Christmas Story
•Miracle on 34th Street
•The Lemon Drop Kid
•Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
•How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)
•Charlie Brown Christmas
•The Bishop's Wife (Cary Grant version)
•The Christmas Carol (there are too many to choose from, but I prefer the Alistair Sim version)
I haven't been able to watch everything this year, but I have seen some non-Christmas movies I think you should see, too.
First, Diminished Capacity with Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, and Virginia Madsen. It's quirky, as you'd expect. Alda plays an eccentric uncle to Broderick, and he is experiencing what the doctors call "diminished capacity." He's senile on some levels and has trouble taking care of himself, but he disagrees. He hooks up an old manual typewriter on his dock with strings attached to the keys, strings that dangle in the water. The fish come along and tug on the strings and type things. This movie combines a love for baseball, particularly the Cubs, with a need to hang on to personal dignity at any age. Loved it.
Outsourced, starring two people I'd never heard of before—Josh Hamilton and Ayesha Dharker—follows a man whose telemarketing job has been eliminated when the company realized they can get more manhours for their buck in India. And he is sent there to retrain his replacements. He is resentful at first, understandably, but warms up as he learns to appreciate the Indian culture and the people who are just trying to earn a livable wage like the rest of us. I wasn't sure about this film at first because Hamilton seemed weak to me as a leading man, but he isn't supposed to dominate the screen. He's just an average American guy who slowly sees value in cultures outside his own. Kind of loved it.
City of God. Now this one is not holiday viewing for sure if you're looking for something hopeful and sentimental. It's the true story of a Brazilian young man living in the slums of Rio, a sort of suburb built for the homeless called the City of God, and a lot of the residents seem to think God is out of reach there. The boy finds his way through unbelievable hopelessness and an endless cycle of crime and poverty. You will not finish them film feeling good about life, but it's worth watching.
Years ago, I saw something in Rio that I may never forget—we were driving down a busy street, and there was a dirty little boy who couldn't have been more than three standing on the sidewalk crying. He was all by himself and looked lost and scared. No one stopped to help him, and he looked like all the other beggar children I saw who sold things like Wrigleys gum all day long. Their parents would send them out in the morning, and if they returned at night without selling their box of gum, they were likely to be beaten or not allowed to sleep or not allowed to eat. And there seemed to be no social network to rescue these kids or punish the parents, no foster care system or agency to see that people didn't treat their children this way. It as stunning, and throughout City of God, I wondered about that little boy and whatever became of him. Did he grow up to be the same kind of ruthless killers in the film, or did he find his way out like the young man who tells the story?
Well, sorry to end this post on such a miserable and realistic note. I think for a few days it's OK to wallow in carols and Bing Crosby tunes and Fred Astaire dance moves and ho-ho-ho. For now, then, let's stick with the fun stuff. But after the holidays, rent City of God.