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Christmas Movie Magic

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Mark Kermode | 14:30 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

When are you allowed to watch TV? When the christmas movies are on, that's when and I've had a look at what's coming your way this year and do you know there are some real classics in there, from Citizen Kane to the definitive cut of Blade Runner. And then there are the pirates...

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  • Comment number 1.

    Speaking of Magic, i think that the orlando Magic player, Dwight Howard, is about to give his NBA team [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 2.

    After seeing what's on television over Christmas, all I can say is thank god for dvd, and blu ray.

  • Comment number 3.

    I hope someone gives you The Wire box-set, I really do.

  • Comment number 4.

    Still don't know how Mark felt about 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'. I thought it was a little masterpiece and Nick Park's best yet. Loved the darker tone.

  • Comment number 5.

    With the films available on terrestrial television seeming to get ever worse. Or good films not even shown at Christmas but at other times to boost advertising revenue during slow months.

    This means that over Christmas I'll be raiding my DVD collection for classics (which populate the TV listings anyway) and hopefully receiving the odd new DVD from father Christmas himself :)

    I will be checking out the Orson Welles interview, however yet again it is a repeat of an old arena interview after all.


  • Comment number 6.

    Blues Riff in B a la Marty McFly... not A.

  • Comment number 7.

    I second the idea of someone giving you The Wire box-set.

  • Comment number 8.

    I laughed out loud, quite heartily in fact, after you revealed it was Pirates of the Caribbean that was causing you such distress once again. Actually, there are rumblings that the fourth movie might not happen. They're still working on the script -- hey, at least they're writing it unlike the third film -- and when asked whether Johnny Depp will return, Jerry Bruckheimer said with uncertainty, "Well, if the script's good, he'll be there."

    There may still be hope, Mark.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Aardman aside, the only must-see films for me over the Christmas period are the ones involving Henson's muppets or Harryhausen's monsters. They're the films I watched as a kid at this time, and they're the ones I always need to see again.

    If I can, I'd like to throw in a recommendation of the "The Shield" for Doctor Kermode. As worthy as The Wire in anyone's tv Christmas stocking (and it would have to be a big stocking).

    We may be too hard on him and his tv knowledge though, if this quote by him is anything to go by (or indeed, actually true) "if there's one thing I've learned from agreeing to take up the Observer's TV challenge this summer, it's that an awareness of what's going on in television is probably helpful to an understanding of movies. Worse, it may even be essential."

    From wikipedia, I have to point out.

  • Comment number 11.

    sorry - 'screening' and 'grateful' that should read

  • Comment number 12.

    "I will be checking out the Orson Welles interview, however yet again it is a repeat of an old arena interview after all."

    You want a new Orson Welles interview?! Think it's be a pretty one way conversation.

    Anyway, it seems more of the digital channels are most of the good stuff this year. I'm going to be spending time with Welles in Kane and the Third Man on BBC4, causing mischief with Gremlins on ITV2, blowing up bridges in Bridge on the River Kwai on More4, getting creeped out by The Wicker Man on ITV4 and playing some Harmonica to Once Upon the Time in the West on Film for while avoiding Notting Hill and Mary bloody Poppins like the plague.
    As for terrestrial I'm definitely going to be watching Blade Runner: Final Cut on BBC 2 making it about the 50th time that I'll have seen the movie in one form or another. Best. Film. Ever.

    And anyone else think it's odd that BBC1 are playing the third Pirates movies before the play the second? Seems like strange scheduling to me. But no worry, because both sequels are overly long and horribly boring. No match for the first, even though I know Dr K doesn't like it.

    Also, quick word on Gene Wilder. I think it's a good thing that Depp avoided imitating Wilder for the Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because, in my eyes, Wilder is the most outrageously overrated "comedy" actor in American cinema history along with Mel Brooks who I think is the most overrated "comedy" director. If I have to sit through one more conversations with my friends while they apply superlatives like "genius" and "mind blowing" to Blazing Saddles I think I'm going to scream. Unfunny tosh.

  • Comment number 13.

    Surely Efron's new effort gives you another chance to have a bit more Kermode-esque fun when purchasing tickets?

    "Two tickets for me and Orson Welles please"

  • Comment number 14.

    To my surprise and delight I found a DVD copy of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" a few years ago. A Christmas movie for the Xmasly cynical and slightly humbuggish.

    Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go.....

  • Comment number 15.

    I used to watch Alice In Wonderland every Christmas day until they stopped showing it.

    I'm surprised you're a fan of Corpse Bride.... funnily enough I re-watched it on Christmas morning last year and was reminded what a rubbish film it is. Apart from the awful songs and cheesy script, one of the problems I had with it was something you've mentioned in the past - the sheer amount of cast members who were seemingly there because they were famous rather than because of their performance. It's not a patch on Nightmare Before Christmas, and Henry Selick's films without Tim Burton show where the real talent was... I think this year I'll be watching Coraline on Christmas morning...

  • Comment number 16.

    Make all the fancy cuts you want, the original Bladerunner reigns supreme. On my twelth birthday, my mom decided we should go see it. I had no friends, so it was me, mom, and my older sister and all her friends. It was only playing at a small theatre in the bad part of town. They covered my eyes at the nudey bits and when we left the theatre, the streets were gleaming under a thin rain and we were bathed in neon lights. It was like stepping into the film.
    Movie-going perfection. No need to change anything. Sentimental, I know, but, hey, it's Christmas.

  • Comment number 17.

    stick to the bass mark, and it is always comforting to see you mock johnny depp after you suck up to him in the other bastardly abominations hes been affiliated with.

  • Comment number 18.

    and didnt they always show the Wizard of Oz at christmas?

  • Comment number 19.

    I remember here in Estonia, when I was a kid, they kept on showing TRUE LIES on Christmas... I really dunno why. Has anyone else had this problem in their country?

  • Comment number 20.

    Was that a very small guitar, or....?

  • Comment number 21.

    Not only are the BBC showing the other two Pirates films, they're showing them in the wrong order, with #3 turning up at Christmas and #2 appearing a week later.

  • Comment number 22.

    What?! No Great Escape?
    Terrestrial television is so lagging behind at Christmas it's just not worth it. It 'premieres' films that have been out for 3 years at the minimum and were all bought at Christmas 2 or 3 years ago. Thankfully I should have Inglourious Basterds to view for the first time as well as anything decent Sky will have to offer.

  • Comment number 23.

    Ah there you go, Citizen Kane's another film you can add to your Christmas list, he got the sled as a Christmas present

  • Comment number 24.

    I know you adore Mary Poppins, but if I'm honest I've never gotten much more than 20 minutes into it before I find myself looking for something better to do. I will admit the (remote) possibility that from the 25th minute onwards it might turn into the greatest film ever made, but whatever magic you believe this movie possesses, it seems I am immune to it.

    Now I'm not trying to be snide or too cool to like such a thing (I cite your 'Paranormal Activity' defence), but I feel that with a film like Mary Poppins, a very great deal relies upon how and when you first saw it to fix such sweet memories in the mind - in my case it was on some nameless grey Saturday afternoon, where ITV served it up as a shoddy print mangled by a bucketload of adverts. Poppins may be as great as you claim, but perhaps for me, the damage is done...

  • Comment number 25.

    No TV for me this Christmas since I don't have a television anymore, so it's DVDs on the laptop. Hope Santa is nice...

    Are Channel 5 doing their usual thing of using Christmas to put on a load of documentaries about the Nazis and the Holocaust? Tasteful.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Mark

    I have three words for you and any Aardman lover. They relate to my favorite film of the year....

    ...Mary And Max

    A simply brilliant Australian claymation movie with a sense of humor that is is similar to your own dark soul


  • Comment number 27.

    I can't wait to get home to England after two years in Japan to watch a little Christmas TV.

    Like yourself I really don't watch TV but when you were here Mark you must have dedicated some time to watching terrible gameshows and stars-tudded adverts for energy drinks and pachinko (as if Nicholas Cage hadn't made a enough of a mess of his career!) If only to say you survived the all-out assault on the senses that is Japanese "terebi".

    I also really enjoyed the reference to Back to the Future at the end.
    I look forward to getting a faceful of Orsen Wells movies this Christmas.

  • Comment number 28.

    Looking forward to the Orson Welles season as I've only seen Citizen Kane and A Touch of Evil, been meaning to watch more of his films.

    Also while I love Mary Poppins it's by no means perfect and this is mostly because its really, really long. 2 hours 20 minutes is pushing it a tad far I feel and considering Kermode is against films being overlong I'm surprised he doesn't feel the same way.

    BTW Gimme Shelter is on BBC4 this evening if anyone's interested. I'm really looking forward to watching it.

  • Comment number 29.

    I share your disappointment in the overrated Incredibles being the animated film of choice on Christmas day this year, especially given that in past few years we’ve had had wonderful ones like Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc and the aforementioned Curse Of The Were Rabbit.

  • Comment number 30.

    Every Christmas, it's got to be The Muppet Christmas Carol. I'll watch vast amounts of other stuff, but Jim Henson's masterpiece is the only thing that I keep returning to. There's something lovely about seeing what is really a pretty frightening and disturbing story told through the medium of Michael Caine and his fuzzy friends that brings the festive cheer home every year. The songs are memorable and sweet, and I've found from experience that even the coldest of hearts melt at the spectacle of Robin, Kermit's nephew, as Tiny Tim.

    On a related note, it's also an amazing 'feel good' film...

  • Comment number 31.

    Also, quick word on Gene Wilder. I think it's a good thing that Depp avoided imitating Wilder for the Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because, in my eyes, Wilder is the most outrageously overrated "comedy" actor in American cinema history along with Mel Brooks who I think is the most overrated "comedy" director. If I have to sit through one more conversations with my friends while they apply superlatives like "genius" and "mind blowing" to Blazing Saddles I think I'm going to scream. Unfunny tosh.

    Bil, Bill, Bill. Why go and spoil a perfectly good post with such nonsense?

  • Comment number 32.

    Hasn't Mark already seen The Wire? Hes definately mentioned watching it a few times.
    Also i second the shoddiness of terresterial tv scheduling at christmas, we just want good films on please!
    Also mark what are your favourite films of the decade? Is there going to be any special podcast about it? That would be nice, *hint hint*

  • Comment number 33.

    Why don't they just play christmas movies, there are certanly enough of them. And it's simply not exceptable to play them any other month of the year.
    The other movies are getting put up because the networks know that there's an audience of frozen boob tube holiday goers.

  • Comment number 34.

    Side note: christmas vacation...for the win!

  • Comment number 35.

    No Die Hard? It's clearly the best christmas movie ever made.

  • Comment number 36.

    Look at it this way: they could show all three PIRATES films. And Gore Verbinski could be directing.

  • Comment number 37.

    Never would have pegged a cynic like you as a fan of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

  • Comment number 38.

    I've never taken Mark for a cynic. After all, he has gone on record for saying how much he likes the High School Musical films, as well as the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana (though I do remember he had gripes with the latter). IAWL isn't any more mushy than those films are.

  • Comment number 39.

    The movie I always watch at Christmas is Batman Returns, I usually get in the mood for it when the turn the Christmas tree on, as that is how the film starts. This year, however, the city centre is getting a make over so no tree. :(

    As for what on TV, hopefully TV3 in Ireland will be showing It's A Wonderfu so I'll probably catch that and Scrooged is usually on this time of year.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't think David Lynch directed "Sonne" for Rammstein. But he did in fact direct the video for the song which shares its name with the band.

  • Comment number 41.

    The worst thing is when you decide on a specific movie and find it on DVD, you buy/have bought it and then watch it ... and then realise it was on TV anyway. This happens at Christmas too.

  • Comment number 42.

    Now that would be a great Christmas day. Having the 3 classic Mel Brookes Gene Wilder comdies on. The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstien.

    I am sorry Bill, happy to hear your opinion but I think your Mel Brookes/Gene Wilder comment is just off with the fairies. Wilder was a great physical actor who did comedy especially in the 60's/70's. Look at the comedy of the 00's and I doubt you will find a comedy close to any that Brookes/Wider made.

    Thinking about it, probably the 00's, I am finding it hard to think of any really hilarious laugh a minute comedies. The only comedy I can think that comes anywhere close to most of the classics is Shaun of the Dead. Is it just me or has the 00's been the most unfunny decade for films?

  • Comment number 43.

    Corpse Bride is showing on Xmas Eve, not on Xmas Day, with Gladiator showing at the same time (11:15pm) on Xmas Day. Based on what the Dr said, this what I have to see, I'm afraid Mary Poppins just doesn't do it for me:

    bbc2 9pm - blade runner - saturday 19th december GOTTA SEE

    bbc2 11:30am - nightmare before xmas - saturday 20th december

    channel 4 12:05pm - james and the giant peach - wednesday 23rd december

    itv 11:15pm - corpse bride - christmas eve

    bbc4 7pm - citizen kane - xmas day
    itv 11:15PM - gladiator - xmas day

    bbc1 3pm - flushed away - boxing day
    bbc1 4:40pm - curse of the were-rabbit - boxing day GOTTA SEE

    bbc1, 3:05pm - chicken run - sunday 27th december

    Particularly excited to see Curse of the Were-Rabbit as I still haven't seen it yet.

  • Comment number 44.

    I totally agree on The Incredibles, I loved it in the cinema, it was big and the action sequences came to life on the big screen, but I bought the DVD and haven't seen it all the way through since, it is baggy and I have fallen asleep or just gotten bored every time.

    As for Mary Poppins I watched it the other day (recorded from the TV in 1990) and it is still brilliant, a true classic.

  • Comment number 45.

    Nice Back to The Future quote at the end and totally agree about 3D

  • Comment number 46.

    I watched 'Citizen Kane' at university and went to a really interesting lecture on it by Linda Williams, so I'm looking forward to watching it again. I'm glad that there are plenty of quality films on this year.

  • Comment number 47.

    if theres nothing on tv you want to watch...TURN IT OFF
    go for a walk read a book play a game with te faimly.
    you dont HAVE to watch tv all through christmas

  • Comment number 48.

    I've never seen Citizen Kane before and am going to go see it on the big screen this evening in Manchester. The Cornerhouse - An excellent example of a well functioning independent cinema.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nice Back To The Future Reference!

  • Comment number 50.

    For the benefit of TheConciseStatement, Mark very much liked Loaf and Death, as do all with ears, eyes and all functioning inbetween.

    I do feel the need to defend The Incredibles, my joint favourite film of all time (not Pixar's best as that's Toy Story 2, but I said favourite). It's full of wonderful scenes, both action and comedy wise, as well as being the finest Bond parody. It's of course funny and if you aren't moved by the "I'm not strong enough" scene, then you must not get the concept of family at all.

    Oh, and of course there's Edna Mode, who's priceless.

    To go back to a recent topic though, it did take 3 viewings to reach this level of esteem, so perhaps this is why it seems forgotten by a number of people.

  • Comment number 51.

    Do you think the that Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, should be executed considering he is in charge of an organisation which deems genocide against gay people to be a valid topic of discussion?

  • Comment number 52.

    Like Lord Tangent I too am at a loss to see why MK likes Mary Poppins. It had good effects for it's time and if you can get past DVD's Cokernee accent his performance is Ok. Julie Andrews' elocution exercise (which is what she passes off as acting and singing) grates and the movie is about a half hour too long. Actually my wife actively HATES Julie and will not watch her in anything. We are of an age that should love her but alas no can do. I have tried ,I really have but like Lord Tangent lose interest very quickly.



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