So in advance of Xmas, I announced my intention to get some seriously shit films to watch during the festive season. Films of the calibre of Beverly Hills Cop II. Did I get my wish? Well, in the end the closest I got was Beauty and the Beast, unfortunately, which is emphatically NOT shit. And not just because Disney decided that a psychosexual fable that involves the use of Stockholm Syndrome and elements of Bluebeard (and hence legendary paedophile child murderer and neckhole fucker Gilles de Rais) was a suitable subject for a children’s film. Also because a talking clock called Cogsworth says ‘If it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it!’
So what was my xmas viewing, I hear you cry? And where’s that cartoon you promised? Well my dears, as to the first: coming right up. As to the second: shut up.
Firstly there was an ace Doctor Who. Combines all my favourite things about Christmas into one neat package. A Christmas Carol had some lovely singing, a message of hope and redemption, and of course an intricate time-travelling plot and a flying shark.
Then there were the little shiny discs I got from my adoring public. I may not have sat through something as dire as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but I did have some genuinely harrowing festive experiences.
First out of the giftwrap was Deep Water. This is a documentary about Donald Crowhurst, who in 1968 got in a boat, tried to sail around the world by himself without stopping, started lying about how far he’d got, got drunk, claimed he was some kind of supernatural entity and killed himself.
Next out of my big comedy stocking and covered in holly leaves and sellotape, we have The Wave, the film in which a well-meaning schoolteacher accidentally turns his kids into the Hitler Youth within a week. With hilarious consequences, it would say on the box, if it were more than usually dishonest.
Anxiously tearing at an infinitude of ‘Merry Christmas’es in a variety of fonts, I then uncovered Hidden Agenda, Ken Loach’s film about the abuses perpetrated by the security services in Northern Ireland and containing a fictionalised version of the coup that nearly happened, to oust Wilson’s last government. With assassinations, grubby politics and the kind of aristocratic nastiness you associate with Thatcherite Establishment types, Time Out didn’t call it ‘More laughs than a barrel of monkeys with kuru.’
What’s this, hiding beneath my lump of coal? Why it’s harrowing docudrama Threads! I’ve used the bit where Sheffield blows up in lessons on War and Peace, but this is the first time I‘ve seen it all the way through. Who’d have thought the nuclear holocaust could be the least distressing part? Anyone who thinks self-important vacuity-fest The Road is a disturbing piece clearly hasn’t seen Threads. Although after you have, you will probably wish you hadn’t.
So that was my Christmas viewing. Paranoia, peer-conformity, corruption, the end of the world and the hell of survival. If you think about it, it’s what the baby Jebus would’ve wanted.
Happy 2011 everybody!