If I hear or see anything else about A Christmas Story (1983), I will poke somebody’s eyes out, preferably my own. This feeling, specifically the nausea from enduring another 94 minutes of Ralphie, cannot be uncommon. Therefore, in this case, recommending the inappropriate is appropriate.
5. The Feel Bad Show
Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary, known on the street as Oz, known in your living room as, “Oh, dear God!”
Oz (1997-2003) is an HBO drama series, inside a level-4 maximum-security prison. Add liberal amounts of hard-drugs and shanks. Mix with racial tension. Hijinks ensue.3
If it isn’t already abundantly clear, Oz is not appropriate for your typical holiday viewing pleasure. It goes without saying that this season is a time for joy.
Bonus: While watching with your relatives, occasionally snort and say, “What a baby.”
4. The Confusing Movie
“Silent rooms, where footsteps are absorbed, by carpets so heavy, so thick that one hears no step as if the very ear were far away, far from this numb, barren décor” of Marienbad…or is it Friedrichsbad?
Last Year at Marienbad (1961) is a French New Wave film, taking place in a secluded, luxury spa for the wealthy. Through an ethereal narrative, a man (Giorgio Albertazzi), only credited as X, approaches a woman (Delphine Seyrig), only credited as A, and explains, last year at Marienbad, they had a passionate affair and agreed to meet again, in one year. However, A denies ever knowing X. Hijinks ensue.
The holiday season is a time to relax and enjoy the fruits, of a hard year’s work, with those you love. It is the precise wrong time for this film. Watching Marienbad is a grueling, trying assignment, from an ambiguous, vague professor, where the arduous mental struggle itself is the task, and there is no answer.
3. The Campy Movie
Oh, hai reader. You want something holiday-inappropriate but with the season’s laughter? Welcome to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003). Whether you stay and chuckle all depends on your mindset.
In this film, Johnny, portrayed by Tommy Wiseau (Hold up! Tommy Wiseau? The writer, director, and producer is also the lead? Sure. What can go wrong?) is engaged to Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Suddenly, one day, Lisa inexplicably decides she is bored with Johnny and doesn’t love him anymore. Hijinks ensue.
The experience of viewing The Room is like you’re one of the characters from The Hangover (2009), and the cocaine in your system hyperactively presses the fast forward button of your life. Happy holidays.
Why, on God’s green earth, would anyone watch this? The Room is the crème de la crème of camp – “a sensibility that, among other things, converts the serious into the frivolous,” unintentionally. The scenes are crafted with such earnest designs, but by the grace of the movie gods, they are juxtaposed at such awkward tonal breaks, the only valid response is to laugh.
Seriously. Bring spoons.
2. The Sacrilegious Movie
This one’s for all you Christians out there… Or, anyone with nun sex fantasies…Or, incest fantasies.
Viridiana (1961) is the story of a young nun (Silvia Pinal), of the same name, who visits her uncle Don Jamie (Fernando Rey), before taking her vows. Before Viridiana leaves, she learns that Don Jamie plans to marry her. Hijinks ensue.
(View trailer here, embedding disabled.)
To put it lightly, Viridiana slurps-up, spits-out, and re-heats everything held dear by the religion underlying Christmas. According to David A. Cook’s A History of Narrative Film, the Vatican denounced the movie as “an insult to Christianity.”
However, in all honesty, Viridiana is some striking and brilliant film work. The most memorable scene is the beggars’ feast, satirizing the last supper
1. The Taboo Movie
If you have three-plus hours of free time this holiday season, and you can tolerate all of that in silence, The Birth of A Nation (1915) may be the choice picture for you.
Ben Cameron (Henry B. Walthall), a colonel in the Confederate army, returns home to Piedmont, South Carolina, after the War Between the States, only to find the now freed slaves, taking over his town and throwing morals to the wind. Hijinks ensue.
Part I, which takes place before and during the war, is not all that bad, with some pretty impressive battlefield shots that put modern cinema to shame. Part II? It’s so…racist. One of the more gratingly prejudiced parts is when the freed slaves are elected to the South Carolina state congress, where they eat peanuts, drink alcohol, and expose their bare feet. The season’s supposed to have goodwill towards men, so really not an opportune time to watch this, especially if you’re in one of those countries with Zwarte Piet.