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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