Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

I just watched an awesome movie. Here's what I knew going in: It's a Horror/Fantasy movie about Santa, it's from Finland, and everyone on the internet loved it.

If that is enough to convince you, be off with you to your Netflix queue or your to-watch list! It has occasional bits that are slower than any film made in America would have, but it's a fantastic film.

Want a few more details? Still skeptical?


Tone spoilers and minor plot spoilers below!

The more detailed premise runs as follows: Pietari is a young boy in a remote town on the Russian border. As the movie opens, he and his friend are spying on some Americans who are excavating something on the other side of the fence. Pietari becomes convinced that the site is where Santa Claus (old-school baby-eating Santa) was trapped, and that they'll all be in danger if he gets out.

Of course no one believes him, but Christmas is getting closer...

Even though you've passed a set of spoiler tags by coming this…

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

A lot of people speak negatively about the spectacle of drying paint. I'm really not sure why that is. When I reflect on the gradual transition between its initial shimmering, almost glass-like surface to its final matte state - which is in itself brighter and more vibrant than it will ever appear again, before the dirt and grime settles, before years of greasy fingerprints and scuff marks - it hardly seems tedious at all: if anything, drying paint symbolizes the fleeting beauty of youth maturing into stability.

In fact, given the choice between the two, there is no question in my mind that I would far rather watch paint dry than see Ernest Saves Christmas again, and would - without hesitation - recommend the same to anyone else faced with a similar set of options.

The central problem with this movie is that, at its core, it is a pointless, boring sequence of events, a vapid and uninspired waste of time devoid of humor, meaning, or entertainment. I do want to stress that this is …

Sesame Street Christmas Sing-Along (LP 1984)

I adore this album, so I saved it for last. This was a ridiculously large part of the holidays of my childhood, maybe only eclipsed by John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. This is a much more solid work, though, every song here is good. There's such energy and good cheer here, I just grin whenever I hear it.

The structural premise is simple enough: it's a sing-along. So you sing. Along. Got it?

Song List:

Christmas Sing-Along / Deck the HallsSanta Claus is Coming to TownCounting the DaysLet it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!The Twelve Days of ChristmasJingle Bells / Silver BellsRudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerFrosty the SnowmanKeep Christmas With YouWe Wish You a Merry Christmas

The first song introduces the Sing-Along, welcomes us all in, and includes some blank Fa La La La Las in the Deck the Halls portion to encourage said singing along.

All these tracks do a great job balancing just doing a good version of the song, and adding in little character moments. For ex…

Fiction: Sleigh, by: Erin L. Snyder

It’s not like we were looking for it. But I’m not going to lie, try to make it sound like we were out on a roof at 1:00 AM on December 24th and weren’t up to no good. Look, we were kids, punks. That’s just how it is. We weren’t thinking of our futures, our families, our girlfriends: none of that, none of what was on the line if we got caught, or worse. We were out to make some mischief, grab some cash, and score some revenge.
See, Mr. Colmoore, he’s our bio teacher, was going away for Christmas break, down to the Bahamas. How’s a high school science teacher afford a trip to the tropics? His wife’s a scientist, too, but while he spends his days making our lives hell, she spends hers raking in the dough at some research firm or something.
Colmoore’s got it in for us. I don’t know, he’s a scientist, so he’s a nerd, so he probably got his share of swirlies back in the day. So now he’s got to take it out on all jocks. I’m just guessing, but there’s not a guy on the team getting better tha…

Holiday Inn (1942)

You could make a case that Holiday Inn isn't actually a Christmas movie, since it actually takes place over an entire year and devotes a substantial amount of time to several different holidays. The movie does begin and end at Christmas (actually, it encompasses three Christmases, thanks to a sort of preface starting a year before the real action starts), but the film's real credentials are a tad more specific.

Holiday Inn's real claim to fame comes from one of its songs, a short piece called "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Maybe you've heard of it.

The movie's plot centers around a pair of entertainers competing for the affections of a woman. The movie's title (and gimmick) revolves around an inn opened by one of the two competitors which is only open during holidays.

The movie has some decent twists and turns, and some good song and dance numbers. It cleverly pushes against the boundary of the fourth wall when movie producers create a supp…

Have yourself a Mythic Little Christmas

I've spoken here before about my long-standing struggle with Christmas music. I like a lot of it as music, but I don't get on board with the whole Jesus thing, so I feel awkward about the fact that I like it.

This year I have found a solution to my problem.

It occurred to me that there are plenty of Kings and Princes and Lords whose birthdays I would be happy to sing about. Won't you join me?

Come they told me, Pa rum pa pum pum The newborn King to see, Pa rum pa pum pum

We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar,  Field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star

Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king!

(Hallelujah Chorus) ...And he shall reign forever and ever, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords

Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of the dear Savior's birth 

O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear

Said the night wind to the little lamb, "…

DIC Christmas Specials: Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (1992) and Sonic Christmas Blast! (1996)

We watched these two specials back to back – they're actually packaged together on Amazon Instant Video – and I feel that I should talk about them together.

They have a lot in common: both revolved around the main character unmasking a villain standing in/taking over from Santa Claus, and both were made as a sort of afterthought to their affiliated series.

Both were really awful.

It's hard to identify one as being worse, though, because in that respect they were different.

The animation was far worse on Inspector Gadget, as well as its egregious use of badly recorded singing. The voice recordings were so poor that I really thought they'd gotten different voice actors.

The plot was arguably stupider on Sonic, the misuse of supporting characters worse, plus it added “X-treme” winter sports for no good reason.

I know I haven't seen any Inspector Gadget in a while, but in this one they basically said flat out that if Dr. Claw hadn't sent agents after Gadget, NO ONE WO…