I know there are those of you who have already slung your tree into the gutter, tinsel waifs blowing in the chill breeze. For me and others, Christmas starts Christmas Eve and ends Epiphany Eve, the night before January 6.
Etwart says, Happy Christmas, everybody!
When my kids were young, they had so many relatives giving them gifts that, along with ours, they could open one gift a day, partridge-in-a-pear-tree style, on all 12 days.
Nowadays I think of the 12 days as days of relaxation and feast, before going back into a new semester with 6 AM wakeups five days a week.
Mostly by accident, I have spent a lot of time with Netflix this Christmas-- the Watch Instantly feature. I rejoined in November because I got the movie-watching bug, ordered one movie from my queue, and promptly forgot all about it. I still have the same movie, From Russia With Love, the best Bond movie of them all.
The Watch Instantly feature is great for the lazy procrastinators among us who have fast Internet connections. You look up what movies are available, click a button, and the movie starts playing on your computer.
Below are capsules of the first movies I watched for the first four days of Christmas. If I keep it up, more will follow. Did you like these? Did you see these? Leave a comment.
Foul Play (1978): I am a nostalgia hound, and I figured this one was going to float my boat. A romantic comedy starring Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn involving a plot to assassinate the pope, it was filmed in my hometown, San Francisco, and we all went out to see it when it first came out. I remember it as totally fun and funny, but the second time around it was kind of flat. I remember in particular the first scene at the party where Chase bumbles with the cocktail stirrers as longer and funnier. There were a lot of good parts-- especially Dudley Moore's-- but it didn't add up to a whole this time.
Frank Caliendo: All Over the Place (2007): This guy sort of shot up and flew down like a flare. Caliendo is an impressions comedian who did the best George W. around and a John Madden (the football announcer) that was uncanny. He also did a great Charles Barkley (the basketball player), and had a stint on sports shows as a result. He must have known his days as the latest thing were numbered, however, because about halfway through this show, he started to tell the audience that he was going off on tangents and bombing. And there was a heckler that he didn't deal with very well. A rough set, despite the audience that was 99% ready to laugh at whatever he said.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008): I didn't see this in first run because I had a kind of dread that it wasn't going to be that great. I was mostly right. I think I'm getting too old for these ting, ting, ting, ehhh! sword-fight movies where the ultimate result has to be that the good guys win. One thing that did get me, though, was the Aslan scene at the end, where he restores Reepicheep's tail. That was faithfully from the book, and they got it right. Much of the rest was kind of a mess. And the mushy stuff with Susan and Caspian was over the top. Bleah, kissing!
The Big Lebowski (1998): Another one I never saw on first or second run, because in those days I never went to movies but stayed home at night with tiny kids. This is a Coen brothers film, and an amazing one, a time capsule of Los Angeles and the Clinton era, when we thought, mistakenly, that the only thing we'd ever have to worry about again was whether to buy the Jaguar or the Rolls.
The Big Lebowski is a hard-boiled detective movie, starring Jeff Daniels as a hard-boiled detective who doesn't know he's a detective. He's an aging hippie who stumbles on a complicated kidnapping plot that everyone wants to hire him to resolve. Along the way he pieces together details until it all comes together in the most bizarre fashion.
The delicious Sam Elliott narrates and participates as The Stranger, a cowboy storyteller, which makes this film deliciously meta and postmodern. It's very LA, very conscious of the roots of American cinema. I loved it, though with the nudity and raging f-bombs it's not for the kids. John Goodman, in support, knocked it out of the park. The best performance I've ever seen him give.
What's next? Once I do a few Christmas chores around the house, I'll be back to the computer and the 17,000 titles Netflix has in the vault for me to watch instantly. Oh, the technology!