In all seriousness, though, this really is a great, great movie that has aged better than a lot of its contemporaries from the '80s. Director Joe Dante is operating at full-throttle here, giving us an unconventional “a boy and his dog” type story, but with the added twist of it revolving around some of the most iconic little beasties that have ever come across the screen. “Gremlins” has an often pitch-black sense of humor about it (it's one of the movies that pushed the MPAA to introduce the PG-13 rating) so it's not necessarily family-friendly (especially if you want your kids to go on believing in Santa), but for anyone looking for a creature feature for the holiday, this Christmas Eve story should do just the trick.
Gin (the alcoholic), Miyuki (the runaway) and Hana (the transvestite) are all homeless on the streets of Tokyo. On Christmas Eve, while rummaging through piles of garbage, they discover a newborn infant.
Uncertain of what to do with it (Gin insists they should turn Kiyoko (Hana's chosen name) into the police, while Hana is desperate to be a mother, even for a short time), the trio spends a tumultuous and dangerous night on the streets as this fractured, unconventional family must confront the pieces of their broken pasts.
Such a story is a far cry from what most would consider “normal” (or perhaps even appropriate) for an animated film, but Satoshi Kon's masterpiece is a reminder that animation is simply a medium and not a genre. This is as touching and nuanced a story that you'll find in almost any film, animated or live action. It's also a rightly relevant story for the Christmas season in that it is the least of these, the outcasts of society who need our love, kindness and grace the most.
“Children of Men”
Think about it.
A world is plunged into chaos and despair. The only thing that can possibly provide a ray of hope is the birth of a child, conceived immaculately by an outcast young woman who must accept the help of a man (Clive Owen) who never asked to be her guardian. It's yet more proof that Alfonso Cuaron's film is one of the true greats of modern science fiction, a film as much about themes and ideas as it is about its settings and genre trappings.
The film remains as engaging and expertly crafted as it felt upon release with some of the most arresting cinematography of recent years. The film is stark and often graphic in its violence (it is rated R), so it's certainly not a family film despite its Nativity story similarities, but it is very much one worth regularly revisiting.
Tenuous as the connection may be, everyone still needs to watch one of the best, most underrated action films of all time. Stylish but never garish, thrilling but never at the expense of dumbing things down, “Ronin” is a tightly wound and expertly executed piece of action filmmaking. Reno is his usual grizzled, entertaining self, De Niro gave one of his last truly engaging performances here and Stellan Skarsgaard is delightfully slimy.
Oh, and I dare you to find better car chases committed to film.