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Secret Identity (2011)

I saw this on a weekly list of short films at Ain't it Cool News. I clicked on it because it was about superheroes, but - lo and behold - it turned out it was set at Christmas. It's not what I expected from the premise and title. What it is, beside sweet and well made, is better experienced than explained. So, assuming you've got ten minutes, check it out:


"Secret Identity" (2011) from Tyler MacIntyre on Vimeo.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the sixth James Bond movie, based on the tenth James Bond book. It’s a quieter movie than a lot of the others, it follows Bond’s relationship with one woman, Tracy, and an unaffiliated mission to track down Blofeld. This is the only movie starring George Lazenby as Bond, and there are a couple internal nods to the fact that this is the same character with a different actor.

The romance between Tracy and Bond is fairly poignant, if occasionally as over-the-top as the rest of the movie. The action plot revolves around Bond posing as a genealogist to infiltrate Blofeld’s stronghold in the Alps. Blofeld has a fairly silly plot to use a bunch of hypnotised young women to damage the world’s food supplies (this made slightly more sense in the book), but the important thing for our purposes is that it’s Christmas! So there is a ski chase which is sometimes very exciting and sometimes a little too obviously blue-screened, and a chase through a ice-skating Ch…

The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (1982)

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Until I saw this special referenced in an article about the Grinch last year, I didn't realize there were other Grinch specials produced. Once I knew, though, I really had to track them down, even if their connection to Christmas begins and ends with The Grinch. But as far as I'm concerned, having the Grinch in something is pretty much the same as including Santa: de facto Christmas. I'm sure we'll get to the Halloween one eventually, but I wanted to take a look at the "The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat" while it's seasonal.

It was pretty easy to find on Youtube if you're interested in checking it out after reading my review. But, honestly, if you're still interested after my review, it probably means you have anterograde amnesia. Don't take chances: take a polaroid of the opening credits and write, "Don't waste your time" at the bottom. Shit. Who has a polaroid camera anymore? I guess you're screwed.

While I can't …

Iron Man 3 (2013)

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We've been watching Shane Black movies all month in preparation for this: the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film set at Christmas. I'm reviewing the movie itself over at The Middle Room, but I had some thoughts that felt more at home here.

While I'm grateful it lets me talk about the movie here, the holiday backdrop actually seemed a little superfluous to me. The setting was peppered with yuletide references, and there was no shortage of jokes reminding us when the events were occurring. But ultimately, I'm not sure what these accomplished (besides being good for a laugh). I guess there's a case to be made for tone, but I didn't feel the disconnect I got from Die Hard or melodramatic juxtaposition from Lethal Weapon. The fact it was set in winter allowed them to shoot Tony dragging his broken armor through the snow (in Tennessee - in December: something's off here), but not much else. If anything, it almost felt like the movie was set at Christmas to con…

Community: Intro to Knots (2013)

For several years, Community has been regarded as one of the best things on TV. I've been addicted since I checked out the first few holiday episodes. The most recent (and almost certainly the last) season of Community has been rocky. The show's creator, Dan Harmon, was fired last year, and a number of writers and directors left in solidarity. The network brought in some new writers to run the show. Overall, they've done a better job than most people expected, but they're certainly no substitutes for Harmon.

"Intro to Knots" should have aired in December, but the entire series got pushed back and it aired last Thursday. This episode was less driven by a gimmick than the last two Christmas episodes: no songs or animation. It was, according to Wikipedia, intended as an homage to "Rope," one of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Well... I've never seen that. But I certainly recognized elements from other sources.

The plot revolved around the study grou…

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

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"Chapter Two: The Lady in the Lake." "Chapter Three: The Little Sister." If you're already intrigued, then you'll probably like this movie the way I do.

If you're here, you probably realize that Erin and I are rather fond of Christmas, or at least Christmassy things. You've probably picked up that we both enjoy fantasy and science fiction. You may not know that I'm also a huge fan of noir. So a noir-themed dark comedy set at Christmas? Yes, please!

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a fairly amusing pedigree. It's known as the movie that restarted Robert Downey Jr's career. It's one of Shane Black's films, so like several others, it takes place at Christmas. The title comes from European slang description for James Bond movies. And as alluded to above, all the chapter titles within the movie come from Raymond Chandler. It’s either a noir-style mystery-thriller that is also really funny, or the kind of loving parody that fully embraces its …

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

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I loved this movie when I was in high school, but - despite having a copy - I haven't actually sat down and watched it in years. I'd more or less forgotten it was set at Christmas until I saw it on a list of holiday movies. I figured it would be cheating to count this as a "Christmas movie" and decided it would be a good time to re-watch it. Turns out I was wrong about it being a stretch: the holiday elements permeate the setting, tone, and music of the film. This is definitely a Christmas movie, and a fantastic one at that.

The Long Kiss Goodnight is directed by Renny Harlin, better known for Die Hard 2. The writing is credited to Shane Black (hence the Christmas setting, I suppose), though Wikipedia mentions there was some script-doctoring involved.
The movie is, among other things, absurd and implausible: if you can't suspend your disbelief, don't bother putting it on. But it's clearly not intended to be realistic. This is unapologetically pulpy: the …