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8 Amazing Holiday Movies You Might’ve Missed…

There are 12 more days until Christmas and not nearly enough Christmas classics.  Many of us have already gone through our favorites, watched all the ones that are played on TV, and are now left with repeats.  There’s nothing wrong with watching the same films to put you in the spirit of the season, but if  you want something new here are eight equally seasonable suggestions…

3 Days of the Condor (1975)

A thriller in the manner of 60s’-70s’ films such as The Parallax View and The Manchurian Candidate it stars Robert Redford as an analyst for the CIA who, after his office is attacked and everyone else murdered, works to uncover the reasons why.  A wonderful spy movie all on its own it also qualifies for Christmas as carolers appear more than once, singing of tidings and joy, while Redford’s character tries to figure out who wants him dead and how to survive the next potential hit.  This film is a great way to mix your conspiracy films with Christmas time.

The Verdict (1982)

The only Christmas movie most can think of that takes place in a courtroom is Miracle on 34th Street, but there is another.  Paul Newman stars in 1982’s The Verdict as a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who catches a medical malpractice case that starts as a chance for a quick cash-grab settlement, but turns into something more as he finds himself increasingly invested in doing what’s best for his client.  Not only is it a surprisingly uplifting story, The Verdict also takes place during the holidays with subtle hints of lights and songs that give nod to the season.

GoodFellas (1990) & Casino (1995)

For those who enjoy watching The Godfather trilogy during the holidays and want more crime bosses with their Christmas there are two great mobbed-up options. First is Goodfellas‘, which covers the true rise and fall story of Henry Hill, a man connected to the New York mob in the 1950s through the 1980s.  His tale of gangster crime includes the infamous Lufthansa heist committed on December 11, 1978 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (which was the biggest on record at that time) and it’s this event that leads to a crucial scene occurring around Christmas time.

Casino focuses on the rise and fall of Sam “Ace” Rothstein and numerous associates of his after he’s given control of Tangiers casino in Las Vegas by the Chicago Italian mob.  Like Goodfellas it comes from a true story; that of Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Fremont, and Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago mob from the 1970s until the early 1980s.  Also like Goodfellas it starts Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci in top gangster form…the holiday aspect is slightly less, true, but there are enough bright lights and green bills to make a few hundred Christmas themed money-trees.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

Before Australian actors Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce became big names in the States they starred together in the noir crime film, L.A. Confidential.  Based in 1950s’ Los Angeles it revolves around their two characters – police officers Bud White and Ed Exley respectively – attempting to get to the bottom of murder and corruption in the wicked wonderland of the LAPD.  Mixed in is the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, the nastier aspects of fame, and, of course, Christmas…complete with a key police incident referred to as “Bloody Christmas”.

Joyeux Noël (2005)

For anyone who loves war movies and/or historical films Joyeux Noël is perfect.  Taking place during the real life WWI Christmas truce in December 1914 the film explores the event through the eyes of both sides including British, French, and German soldiers.  While maintaining certain classic war film scenes of gunfire and explosions, this movie stands out when its characters embrace the spirit of peace and loving your fellow man that is the cornerstone of the holidays.  Putting aside orders soldiers lay down their guns and pick up their voices (and bagpipes) to share songs and cultures with one another, eventually turning the traditional “no-man’s land” into a safe zone where they share chocolate, champagne, and family photos with one another.  A remarkable film about a remarkable incident in which the Christmas spirit overcame the harshness of war.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Before 2015’s hit, Krampus, there was another holiday horror movie that involved a creature who was super into killing humans for the holidays called Rare Exports.  The Finnish movie twists classic traditions – such as reindeer, Santa’s sack of presents, and gingerbread men – in unique and disturbing new ways as a young boy, Pietari, tries to catch the creature terrorizing his village at Christmas time.  …Sadly, explaining anymore may give the wonderful and frightening twists away, but if you enjoy those creepy and deadly creature-features this movie is perfect excuse to watch horror during the holidays.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Nothing says Christmas quite like the Cold War, am I right?  Maybe not.  But in the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy the two events collide in the hunt for a double agent in British intelligence.  Based on the book of the same name by famous spy novelist, John le Carré, it follows a number of different spies working for the British government…or are they?  With enough twists and turns you’ll be on the edge of your seat and before-they-were-famous leads you’ll be smiling in recognition upon meeting every other character this is an amazingly entertaining departure from the traditional seasonal film.  As dark, deep, and intriguing as a snowy night and with a holiday party being a cornerstone for certain events you can certainly get away with watching this film at Christmas time.

What are some of your favorite non-traditional holiday films??  Share your suggestions in the comments!

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5 Ways “The Walking Dead” Premiere Broke You

(Warning: There are going to be a lot of major spoilers in this article!)

There’s little argument that The Walking Dead season seven premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”, was a brutal one. Throughout the episode the audience is taken on a hellish journey in which Negan makes a goal of breaking the proud, fearless, Rick Grimes. As Rick breaks under the techniques used by Negan, so does the viewer, sharing the experience on a unsettlingly visceral level. The dominance of Negan, the feeling of instability, the isolation, the powerlessness, all ultimately leading to the sensation of dependence on Negan.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Pillar of Salt”: Kismet or The Bermuda Triangle?

Certain episodes are climatic episodes – ones you’ll be talking about for days, weeks – and others are more building-block episodes – ones that get you to the climaxes…Fear the Walking Dead’s “Pillar of Salt” is the latter.  It is all about loosely stitching the fractured Abigail crew together and building towards whatever major events are coming next.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Pablo and Jessica”: Sex, Drugs, & Lost Loved Ones

More than anything Fear the Walking Dead’s “Pablo and Jessica” focuses on how characters react after the loss of loved ones.  Even the opening scene speaks to this as Madison takes a page out of her “lost” son’s playbook in killing and gutting an Infected, then covering herself and Strand in the blood to escape the overrun hotel bar.  Once outside they find their truck gone; Strand presumes Alicia and Ofelia fled, forcing Madison to again face the possibility of losing someone she loves.  Something she stubbornly refuses to do as she insists that, unlike Nick, Alicia wouldn’t just leave, and is relieved to be proven correct when she finds Alicia (along with Elena and Hector) banging on the other side of one of spa’s doors.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Do Not Disturb”: A Friend in Need

The opening scene of Fear the Walking Dead’s “Do Not Disturb” is a flashback to the wedding the hotel had before the world fell apart.  As the bride and her father dance he collapses, dies, then comes back to bite his daughter in the face as she tries to give him mouth-to-mouth.  After that the hotel manager promptly locks the entire wedding party and their guests in the ballroom.  …Thanks show writers, I needed another reason to instinctually dislike weddings.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Los Muertos”: Cults & Turn-Down Service

The latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead is “Los Muertos”  – Spanish for “The Dead” – and it kicks off with just that…the dead.  Specifically, a man feeding himself to a pack of them guarding La Colonia while the rest of the community chants and Nick looks on with the man’s daughter.  It’s pretty clear, just from that alone, that Nick’s found himself in yet another undead-loving cult.  This one may be more dangerous than Cecilia and her fellow house-staff, however, because this one is an entire, functioning, town of filled with the devoted.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Grotesque”: Traumatic Trip to Tijuana

 

Remember when everyone on Fear the Walking Dead was stuck on a boat and pirates were trying to take all their stuff?  Or they were all in a villa run by a crazed housekeeper who believed the undead were just the next step in living?  Yeah…those good times are pretty clearly over.  Everyone’s splintered and if the mid-season premiere is any indication, their lives are going to be a series of terrible experiences from now on.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Shiva”: Insanity in the Wind

We’ve seen numerous ways people have lost their grip on reality in The Walking Dead, but now we get to see it play out in the characters of Fear the Walking Dead’s “Shiva”.  From the already crazy Celia to the once solid-minded Daniel, a good half of those on the show seem to tip into insanity this episode.

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Fear the Walking Dead “Sicut Cervus”: The Longing of Owls and Assholes

There is no greater sign things are about to go horrifically wrong in a zombie-genre piece than when it opens on children and this episode of Fear the Walking Dead opens on a bunch of them.  Choir boys and little girls in pretty dresses all going to church and taking communion along with a priest and small handful of other adults before they all grab weapons and prepare for war.  They don’t seem to be gearing up just to fight the undead, but instead they’re after a certain woman, Celia, because of what she’s done.  Just as they’re ready a truck flies up and Strand’s lover, Thomas, gets out to beg them not to do what they’re about to do.  …Then everyone but Thomas starts bleeding from the eyes.

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