if you've been to my house, you will notice that many parts of it are labeled. this is thanks to my mother. if you set her loose on a room with a label maker, stuff will happen. however, after time, these labels are not always followed. the vast amount of our earthly possessions have been altered in some way, and certain labels are rendered obsolete.
societal labels work in the same way.
what i have here are items that i am adding under a label, even if they may not fit there. to me, they fit.
christmas brings up many thoughts and feelings to many people. to me, mostly positive thoughts: happy feelings that cannot be explained. i am sure i am not the only person who feels this. that's why there are so many movies and albums dedicated to this season. given that many of these pieces of media are over-used and over-recycled, i only enjoy some of them. the season just has a feeling to it: with the weather, the stress, and the abundance of family. but here is where we get to the labeling thing.
if something conjures up similar happy christmas-y feelings, to me it is a christmas item. it may not be called "christmas movie no. 663," but to me, if it has all the essential ingredients to christmas cheer, and only lacks the label, it is a part of the christmas canon nonetheless.
here are some unconventional christmas masterpieces.
the grand budapest hotel
yes, this movie is set in a snowy mountainous area. it could be assumed that it is set during christmas time. but no explicit references are made to it.
this is a quirky, adventurous movie about a hotel, and its concierge. it is elegantly humorous, while equally touching. i saw this film for the first time in may of this year. and all i could think was, "wow, that was a beautiful film." it employs discerning narration, and the wittiest of dialogue. that, with perfect casting has me entirely intrigued. i have placed myself on a personal mission to spread the joy of this movie.
the quick wit of this movie is what first drew me in; unexpected humor that is also touching in some unexplainable way. the bulk of the plot follows a man who as it says was one of the "faint glimmers of civilization in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was known as humanity."
i rewatched this film again recently, and i remember remarking that "someday i will be able to talk like that."
the heart of saturday night
tom waits is a genius. he is one of the most prolific musical artists i know, and has been putting out music for over forty years and yet remains original and clever with every album. his musical style has also drastically changed over his career, from a lazy-sounding heartbroken jazz balled man to a gravelly story-telling bluesman. one thing that i enjoy most about him is his attitude. he usually addresses the common parts of life. but he describes the common in the most uncommon way. tom's second album after he landed a record deal was called the heart of saturday night. it came out in 1974, long before i could claim title to any part of this earth. come to think of it, my mother would have been five years old. i do not know how waits went about making the record, or what he had in mind when he wrote the material on it. but i can describe what i feel when i hear it. to me it is a christmas adventure.
the beginning starts off on the west coast. the first track describes a night out on the town. perhaps one in california. but it also has feelings of loneliness. the second track being titled "san diego serenade," is obviously also in california, but here waits is moaning about the "grass is always greener" concept. the third track is where he decides to go back east, and the fourth is him saying goodbye. the middle tracks are all little details of his journey across the country; he is still depressed, and perhaps sadder for leaving all his family and friends, but he is set, and taking it all in as he goes. the ballad "drunk on the moon," is about the solace he finds in travel. the final track is about the end of his journey. he is somewhere–perhaps in the midwest. but instead on an epiphany, the song is just a description of a normal night at a pub. a little anticlimactic, but it reaffirms a viewpoint of "it's not the destination, but the road you took to get to it."
for me, the christmas is in the descriptions of life. tom waits does a fantastic job of seeing life in an interesting way. the album also mentions that it's cold outside, so the christmas in this does not come out of thin air, but it rather draws on the winter season, and in turn, stubbles upon christmas too.
this may just be because i have associated the nutcracker music with christmas. for a few years i got to see it performed live every mid-december. and fantasia has some nutcracker music on it. but this trippy (somehow child-approved) multimedia music presentation brings many christmas feels to me. christmas is a time filled with old, classic stories. and that's what fantasia is– combined with old, classic(al) music. if you get into it, watching it is quite the ride.
none of these have the label, but to me they do. christmas can be enjoyed in many different ways.