Groovy movies for wintertime watching

As the temperature drops and daylight hours diminish, it’s nice to have an idea list of seasonable movie rentals.
Neglecting the "givens," such as White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and Elf, this list attempts to name lesser-seen movies.

Most of the selections below aren’t necessarily holiday movies, but they all take place during cold weather, except one: Consider this one exception to be an early Christmas present from The College Times.

Joyeux Noel (2005) – It’s Christmas Eve, 1914, in the midst of World War I, when a miracle takes place: British and French troops are battling the Germans, but both sides call a truce in order to celebrate the birth of Christ together, yes, together. And yes, this event actually occurred. Joyeux Noel is a touching, emotional film whose subtext is poignant and arresting, even 93 years later.

Limbo(1999) – Set in Alaska, Limbo tells a chilling story in a chilly place. It is a drama that betrays our expectations and shape-shifts into something completely different. Because of these surprises, any further description is folly (not Seward’s folly, which also pertained to Alaska). But know this: Limbo is the stuff real-life nightmares are made of, which is to say, it could actually happen.

Insomnia (2002) – This fine film also takes place in Alaska and in the tormented mind of a troubled detective played by Al Pacino. The tired veteran cop from Los Angeles is sent up north to investigate a grisly murder, while being investigated himself by Internal Affairs back home. This psychological mystery-thriller is excellent because its suspense spawns from guilt and worry.

Storm of the Century (1999) – Yes, this was written by Stephen King; and yes, it was a made-for-TV mini-series movie; and yes, all of the above is evident throughout the movie. But don’t let that affect a good rental decision. If the meteorologist forecasts a blizzard, this is the movie to get snowed in with. It’s really simple: A demon afflicts a small town during a horrific winter storm because he wants something specific from its residents. If they honor his request, he will leave. But the demon’s wish is a very tall order …

Gates of Heaven (1980) – This film is included on this list as an experiment, indeed, a challenge. Gather the family (the more the better) to watch this documentary. Don’t tell them what it’s about; instead, make fantastic claims like, "It changed my life," and, "This is a must-see." Then expose them to a true cinematic wonder. Gates of Heaven is about a pet cemetery that had to have its animals exhumed and re-buried in another pet cemetery. It is not a horror film. But 50 bucks to anyone who can definitively prove whether it’s intended to be a comedy or a sad drama.

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