Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

CFAC – Day 18: Serendipity


Today is when people will be at their final ebb, the final midweek meltdown away from the big day. Christmas is so close, but the working week is no nearer finishing than it was starting, and caught between these two, one does not know whether to celebrate or fear that tomorrow is just another, boring day – and worse still, a fucking Thursday. Today, you need a Christmas miracle.


Serendipity (2001)

Pete Chelsom, 90 mins

Some of you may groan at this choice, but by gum is this not one of my favourite films of all time. Yes, my relationship with this masterpiece developed in  much the same manner as a victim develops Stockholm syndrome, but the result is the same – familiarise yourself with this film several times over a 24 hour time period, and perhaps you too can share with me in this joy. The basic premise is fate, and love. This is a fantastic film for so many reasons. Firstly, it’s John Cusacks finest performance in a Romantic Comedy for a role in which he is phoning it in. Secondly, it’s a wedding film that doesn’t make you want to throw up – something which even the fantastic Bridesmaid’s struggles to do (for different reasons – if you’ve seen it, then maybe you’d understand). Finally,  it is probably the only feature film to prominently features a Shenai. A mother flipping shenai – a man’s greatest weapon – and yet every man’s Achilles heel. This film is as close to perfection as you can get.

Fine, you want something else? Maybe you don’t believe in fate, maybe you believe in what can be found in our alternative film


The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Henry Koster, 109 mins

Cary Grant stars in this peculiar film that reeks of being old. The always charming Grant plays an angel sent by God to earn his wings at Christmas time, and to do this he must prove his worth by helping people – or does he? With some religious undertones, it’s quite a fascinating juxtaposition which forces religion against itself in a manner that many might find more provoking than a film which is just about an angel sent to help on Christmas – something which wouldn’t be done now for various reasons. It isn’t particularly funny or engrossing, and wastes Grant’s talents, failing to include a moment where he can raise an eyebrow with such magnificence, but regardless, it’s something new to watch that may keep you entertained and make you believe in the miracle of humanity once more.

CFAC – Day 14: Nativity

Nanu Advent Day 14

Friday night again, and if you are a parent, you will probably be heading into some sort of Children”s Christmas themed event at some point in the next few days. You can”t be sent out unprepared, so rather than laughing out loud as your own child stacks it on stage, pissing themselves live on stage, not only for the embarrassment of their peers, but permanently on the cameras of dozens of parents who should know better – watch something to make you laugh and get the giggles out of your system, that or be reminded of what it has taken for countless generations to experience and love Christmas today.

Nativity (2010)

Debbie Isit, 95 mins

With Martin Freeman on all our screens for his role as The Hobbit, you would perhaps do well to be reminded of his brilliance in a role perhaps more suited to his core qualities – underplayed, British

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worriers in a semi improvised comedy about the Nativity – which feels to me a very British tradition (or at least the way I think about it). It also features Marc Wooton – one of my favourite comic actors who turns up in all sorts of things, and was the genius behind Shirely Ghostman – and is a very open, friendly comedy for your Friday night. By the way, there”s a sequel coming, if not already out now. It”s got David Tennant instead. It can”t be bad, can it?


A Christmas Tale (2008)

Arnold Desplechin, 150 mins

Set in the trench warfare of World War One, Un Conte De Noel, is a co-production of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and features a stunningly well performed piece of Drama that is just heart breaking. It opens with children, each of their own national language, performing a poem about war. Distinguished by language, but united through their humanity, and just gets more and more poignant as the film unfolds. God it”s a heartbreaking tale – It may be long and hard going, but well worth the effort.

This will become a future Christmas Classic once it finds it”s audience, and when it does, remember to thank me for pointing it out, a mere 4 years after it was released. Don”t say I”m not on the ball.

Christmas Jumper Day 2012

featured jumper

The 14th December 2012 is National Christmas Jumper Day organised by Save the Children UK. What better excuse to go out an purchase a real cracker for the Christmas period. Up and down the country, folks will be wrapping up warm and donating to Save the Children and if you’d like to do your bit too, grab some knitwear and click here to donate.

A good woolly is a knitted armoury against the cold and an absolute essential to any stylish and practical winter wardrobe. For Christmas jumpers, it’s got to be boyfriend style. Big knits are best so that one can inconspicuously hide the evidence of a bumper Christmas lunch, a box of Quality Street and twenty mince pies as well as feel really, really cosy. A Christmas jumper should also preferably be verging on the ridiculous in terms of decoration; think Mark Darcy at the turkey curry buffet pokies online in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

In celebration of National Christmas Jumper Day, here at Nanu Nanu we are featuring the best Christmas jumpers available to buy on the high street.

If these don’t do it for you, why not pimp the jumper you already have by adding a handmade Christmas character? There’s no other time of year you’ll get away with it and you’re guaranteed to feel warm and fuzzy inside.


CFAC – Day 12: Miracle on 34th Street

Nanu Advent Day 12

Now only 13 days left, this week is becoming a hassle. Yes, you”ve had some delightful fun watching the films recommended to you on this very blog, you need to remember the miracle of Christmas. And more importantly, you need to be reminded that miracles can happen – even

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if that miracle is surviving another handful of days before the rest that Christmas hopefully brings for you. Today”s choice is a miraculous Christmas Classic

Miracle on 34th Street (1947 or 1994)

George Seaton, 94 mins/Les Mayfield 114 mins

So, a confusing recommendation today, as I couldn”t choose which version of the two magnificent films to choose. Not because I don”t have a preference, but because I know too many people will prefer one over the other, but please boys and girls this is Christmas – there is no need to fight. So, take a chance with the version you”d like to enjoy, if that”s revisiting your fave, of experimenting with the original, and

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if you”ve seen neither give at least one of them a go. Little girl basically cutes the fuck out of Christmas and we”re left with a Santa Claus that actually exists. God bless er little casino jameshallison girls. Christmas and religion suddenly got a bit more confusing. If that doesn”t float our boat, then why not try today”s alternative film…


Rob VanAlkemade

So, this is a documentary with Morgan Spurlock involved at some point in it”s production about consumerism and Christmas. It isn”t as hard going as you”d imagine, focusing on the figure of Reverend Billy and his mission to remove the shopping from Christmas. Along with his all singing and all dancing Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, Billy tries to get festive shoppers to realise the error of their ways, and apprehending shoppers in their natural

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environments – the bawdy and violently commercial stores that litter American streets. The sentiment is interesting, and don”t be put off by the religious undertones, there is something interesting going on here – but it doesn”t do enough as a documentary to be worth your time at some other time of year. It”s fine, and well put together, if not a little meh. You know? This might not be the miracle you need tonight, but it might make you feel better about the bah humbug inside you…

Nanu How To: Secret Santa

christmas-presents (1)

Is money a little tight this Christmas? Are you running out of time to buy sackloads of presents? Do you simply have too many friends? Then a Secret Santa could just be the thing for you! I have organised and taken part in many “secret” festive gift-giving activities over the years, and have come up with this handy, step-by-step guide to carrying out a Secret Santa to rival the actual Lapland-based operation.  

  YOU WILL NEED: 4 – 40 people Any less, there’s no element of surprise; any more, it becomes a little unruly.   Pieces of paper with all your Santa-ees names on them If you can write them all on sticky labels (that still have the backing attached, of course), all the better. They can then double as the present label and there’s no risk of handwriting giving someone away.   A hat, box, bag, bowl etc from which to draw the names There are two ways to do this:

  1. Make everyone pick names at once. Getting people to gather all in the one place at the same time can be logistically tricky. However, it means that everyone is ready to go and saves you the job of chasing people up (never fun).
  2. Leave the hat/box/bag/bowl/etc somewhere where everyone has access to it with a big sign explaining the Secret Santa procedure. This is generally more convenient for everyone but the organiser, who will inevitably have to send a few “so… the secret santa…” texts. Also cannot guarantee that people won’t look at the name labels left in the hat/box/bag/bowl/etc. Risky.

I personally recommend Option 1 for groups of 10 or fewer people, and Option 2 for larger parties.  

  A budget £5 – Big Groups You might get your best pal, or you might get Tony from HR who you think you maybe once cc’d into an email. In these situations, I stick by a Jay-Z inspired motto of LOW MONEY, LOW PROBLEMS. Expectations in a £5 Secret Santa are rock bottom: joke gifts are the norm and a real present is an unexpected delight. Anything better than a Boots bath bomb will suffice. Top Tip: Never, EVER buy anyone a bath bomb.   £10 – Extended Friend Groups Breathe a sigh of relief here – you no longer have to buy all your pals presents! For the most part you should know what everyone is in to (unless someone’s relatively new boyfriend/girlfriend is unexpectedly included out of politeness. Those rules are simple: don’t buy them a bath bomb. In all seriousness, unless they are teetotal, the best option there is probably a nice bottle of wine). The budget isn’t high enough for anything outstanding/from Urban Outfitters, so it’s time to get creative and create tangential links between hobbies and your chosen presents. Top Tip: For the most part, a few smaller things looks more impressive than one big thing: add a nail varnish or a couple of pin badges to the main part of the present and it instantly seems more fulfilling.   £20+ – Close Friends/Flatmates/Family/Cult Members Bringing out the big guns with a £20+ budget suggests you really mean business. I recommend a 2-good-present-to-1-small-comedy-present ratio within your budgetary framework. This is not the

time to be generic, either – if you’re willing to spend that much on someone, you must know and like them at least a little bit. Therefore, in-jokes should take pride of place within your wrapping, and functional presents should be banned. Top Tip: Learn a (rare) lesson from Love Actually’s Mia and treat your recipient to something they want, not something they need.   An end in sight Pick a date on which to exchange your gifts, ideally no earlier than the 20th December to allow maximum purchasing time. It’s a nice excuse to have a big Christmas dinner or movie night. With any luck, everyone will be delighted with their gift(s), and you’ll have saved a pretty penny.

Happy Secret Santa-ing!

CFAC – Day 6: Elf

Nanu Advent Day 6

Right. That's it. Pens down. Fuck all this rubbish. It's Thursday, and I'll be damned if I'm not bored of working and it not being Christmas. Christmas is still too far away to really excite me, but this week is just not ending. Worse still, the long nights and biting cold are really getting to me – why don't I remember how dark it gets! Time to watch one something to make me smile the widest I can, and remember why Christmas is so special. To do so, I am going to prescribe one of the funniest modern Christmas Classics – and one of Will Ferrel's funniest films to date.

Elf (2003)

John Favreau, 97 mins

This film could not have been better made for Will Ferrel if he had written it himself (which I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure he was part of it). For a while, on this side of the atlantic at least, it was found only by Anchorman devotees searching out for their fix of Ferrel, but it has since established itself as a family favourite – and it doesn't disappoint grown adults either. Not only do you have Will Ferrel doing what he does best, being ridiculously silly – and at christmas too – but you get a very early Zooey Deschanel keeping the kooky to a minimu

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m, but being desperately attractive without labouring the point. Not that she's the only reason to watch the film – but it adds a certain joy to proceedings. You perve. Stop looking at her and get ready – SANTA IS COMING

I don't want to say it out loud, but this film is coming up to being 10 years old. Cripes.

Against this, I want to highlight an alternative that show it's age.

Remember The Night (1940)

Mitchell Leison, 94 mins

Having never actually seen this myself, I am looking forward to checking out another film from an interesting time in film history. Clearly, mid second world war, concentrations weren't particularly focused on something full of spectacle, but instead focused on more subtle elements such as drama. This story sees a woman convicted of a crime on christmas eve – but with no courts

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to process her case, her prosecutor puts up her bail and invites her to his mother's house

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for Christmas. I love these old films, and you should give them a chance too, and given how old it is, you should be able to pick up a copy very cheaply!


CFAC – Day 3: Eyes Wide Shut

Nanu Advent Day 3

So, it's back to work on Monday, and so begins one of the longest stretches of work you will ever encounter. Coming up to Christmas, time changes, as excitement is replaced by tedium. You work all week, and it doesn't seem to come closer. What's more, in every waking moment. You become alienated from the world – where the fuck is family and Christmas? Why am I working so much to pay for things I don't need? Why is the world so weird? What the fuck have trees got to do with Christ? You need a film to help you feel lost, and alienated. You need some good cinema. You need…

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick, 159 Minutes

The incredible film sees Stanley Kubrick work with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, exposing love and ritual in the most bizarre way. As with most Kubrick films, the cinematography is incredible, but at nearly 3 hours long it's a film that will test your patience, as much as the world tests Cruise's character. But it is everything odd and unusual in one package. If you've never seen it, then you must – take the time out of your day to at least see it once. If you have seen it before, then go onto the IMDB trivia section, and look at how much got changed before having another watch, and think to yourself – where are they now? It isn't a Christmas film in the strictest sense of the word, but the oddness of Christmas and community are exposed in a wonderful – and I guaran

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tee some of the sequences will make you feel cold. If you can, grab a copy in high definition, and watch this before Christmas really sets in, and you end up being too tied up to give this film the viewing it deserves.

Honestly though, it's a tough watch and may not be to everyone's tastes. Furthermore, it won't

be the film that Kubrick wanted you to see, which adds to the mystery of it all. But if you don't fancy watching this – and this is only an excuse for those of you who have seen it before, as I urge you to watch it the once in your life – then the alternative film is another kind of oddness.

The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun (2006)

Pernille Rose Grønkjær, 84 mins

This documentary looks at the life of Mr. Vig, and very elderly bachelor who bought up a castle with the explicit aim of turning it into a monastery. Realising his ambitions, as the last pieces fall into place, this documentary explores the complexities of realising your dreams. The fact that Mr Vig looks kind of like Santa Claus makes this one of the loosest possible Christmas films, but you should watch it anyway to explore Christmas in a different kind of way. Once again, this will be difficult to find but worth the effort if you can get your hands on a copy.


CFAC Day 1: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Nanu Advent Day 1

First of all, welcome to CFAC – the Christmas Film Advent Calendar to end all advent calendars – a guide to the best Christmas films that you may or may not have seen, with one a day to get you excited for Christmas. The guide will be simple – every day, behind every window, a new film will be posted – these films won't be in any particular order, they do not start at the worst and get better, they have been crafted to adapt to the mood of that time of the month. But more than this, a separate  alternative film will be offered if you fancy something different – or are just plain not up for the movie on offer! So, without further ado, let us begin…

Day 1: Let's Get Christmassy!

So, it's December 1st, and out of nowhere, November is over. The year 2012, which we had anticipated for years as the year of the future, has come and is almost over. All that excitement gone to nothing. All that is left is that long hard slog 'til Christmas – work is almost over, and school is nearing , all the while, days are getting longer, and the worst of the winter weather is yet to hit. So what better way to start the month then with a massive dose of Christmas!

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Director: Brian Henson, 85 mins

Creeping into the top five of most Christmas film lists, The Muppet Christmas Carol does everything that the Muppets did so well, back when they were still doing it with some sense of regularity – it's brilliantly funny no matter your age, cleverly written and vibrant in colour and sound. Although not the only Dickens' featured in this list, The Muppet take is probably my favourite and does the original text justice, keeping the essence and then stuffing it through the minds of adults who never grew up. I imagine few won't have seen this, so dust off your copy and whack it in while you put up some decorations – this is guaranteed to kick off the month with a smile – the perfect film to get anyone in the Christmas mood, and so light that you can have it on in the background while you work on g

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etting things festive without missing a beat. Here's a clip of one of the songs:

Is it Michael Caine's greatest film role? No. Not even close. But then again, it's probably the role he'd most like to be remembered for, around this time of year. By children. Who haven't seen him do Batman.

Alternative Film

Arthur Christmas (2011)

Sarah Smith and Barry Cook, 97 mins

Going along with the Kids Christmas vibe, a modern film that will no doubt find it's way into the christmas canon soon enough is Aardman's 3D adventure Arthur Christmas. Questions of Santa Claus' apparent limited abilities are tested to their limits by this animated tour de force that exposes the incredibly technical world of Santa and his Elves. It's a star studded film with an incredible cast, and with Peter Baynham helping out in the writing department, it has an humorous charm that will not disappoint, and echoes the bright and brilliant sparkle of the Muppets that may be wearing thin to some who have watched their Christmas Carol to death – or worry that the songs won't match up to the brilliant “Man or a Muppet”.

And if you can find it…

Wood Of Value (2010)

Director: Bjørn Ståle Bratberg, 16 mins

This short documentary traces the  journey of a tree from its home in Norway, to it's place in the streets of London. It might be quite hard to track down, but if you can find it, this short film about the journey of the hallowed christmas tree, will help anchor your christmas spirits into the magnitude and role of winter, life and nature. You can catch some of the film here, or else see extracts from the Zagreb Film Festival.