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7 films to watch for people who hate Christmas

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Christmas isn't for everyone. The 'most wonderful time of the year' can be a slog to get through, especially with the non-stop reminders about how warm and fuzzy you should be feeling.

This happens with a lot of the films on offer. Elf, Love Actually, Home Alone, The Holiday: these are the epitome of feel-good, cosy Christmas watches. But sometimes it gets too much. Sometimes, watching these films can feel like the equivelant of force-feeding yourself sugar-coated marzipan in an attempt to fill a void, except the whole thing just ends up making you more miserable than when you started.

So if that sounds familiar, here are seven films to watch this Christmas for when you just need to get away from it all. And if not, you're free to go enjoy Home Alone in peace.

Die Hard (1988)

It’s become almost a holiday tradition in itself to debate over whether Die Hard counts as a Christmas film. Whatever side you take, you aren't really wrong considering what a walking contradiction it is. It takes place on Christmas Eve, but was originally released as a summer blockbuster. It contains all the traditional Christmas iconography, but with just as much blood and carnage. It ends with a classic rendition of 'Let It Snow' as the credits start to roll, but there's also a building on fire in the background.

Still, for those who can’t stand the usual festive sentimentality, Die Hard offers its own brand of holiday cheesiness: Bruce Willis taking on a dozen terrorists who are holding a business Christmas party hostage. It even gives viewers its own alternative take on the ugly Christmas jumper. What more could you want?

 

 

Brazil (1985)

Terry Gilliam’s dystopian sci-fi is a bleak but farcical warning about technology, totalitarianism and consumerism, so of course it’s set around Christmas.

With a tone that flirts between the darkly funny and just plain creepy, it follows a low-level bureaucrat who has a recurring dream of himself saving a beautiful woman as a distraction from the monotony of his daily life. When a case he's investigating leads to the death of an innocent man, he comes across the woman from his dream and the pair become tangled in a web of lies, terrorism and mistaken identity. 

For anyone who's ever fancied seeing what a Monty Python version of 1984 might look like, consider this a Christmas gift. 

 

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Shane Black sure does love his cynical Christmas buddy comedies. There's Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3, and even a touch of it in The Nice Guys. But none do it so beautifully as in his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Robert Downey Jr. plays a small-time thief who ends up in L.A. for the holidays after stumbling into an acting audition while on the run from the police. There he meets his childhood sweetheart (Michelle Monaghan) plus a private eye named 'Gay Perry' (Val Kilmer), and the three of them end up embroiled in a murder-mystery straight out of the type of pulp noir-fiction the film is parodying. 

This irreverent crime comedy isn't just for Christmas; it's for life. 

In Bruges (2008)

Bruges at Christmas time sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it? Well, Colin Farrell’s rookie hitman Ray vehemently disagrees. When he and his partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are sent there by their foul-mouthed boss (Ralph Fiennes) to lay low after a killing goes wrong, all he does is complain about the place. To make matters worse, the pair are instructed to wait there until further instructions - which could take weeks.

The humour of In Bruges is as black as you would expect from a Martin McDonagh script, while still holding a large amount of savvy and emotional weight. But it's the dynamic between Ray and Ken that really makes it stand out, with those in the bitter disposition camp probably siding themselves more with Ray. For the most part, anyway.

 

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick’s "unfinished masterpiece" opens with a lavish Christmas party attended by Dr Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) and his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman), an art curator. It’s peppered with fake smiles, insincere social niceties and suffocating fairy lights. Most scenes, in fact, contain rainbow-coloured lighting, or a Christmas tree, or both. The feeling of Christmas is inescapable in Eyes Wide Shut, yet it also serves as background noise to some not-so Christmassy themes - namely, sex and infidelity.

Some have argued that, like Die Hard, Kubrick's final film is actually a Christmas classic in disguise. If it is, it’s not exactly optimistic. This one’s best enjoyed as a late night odessey.  

 

Eastern Promises (2007)

Eastern Promises is a dark, dark, dark film. But then that's why we're here. After a teenager dies in childbirth a few days before Christmas, a British-Russian midwife (Naomi Watts) tries to locate the baby’s family and discovers it could have ties to a sex trafficking ring involving a violent Russian crime family. If that's not enough to entice you, it also contains scenes of neck slicing, prostitution, and a naked Viggo Mortensen fighting off mobsters in a sauna.

It’s grim, gritty, and very melancholic. It’s the ultimate antithesis of Christmas.

 

The Apartment (1960)

While it contains one of the happier endings of this list, The Apartment is not a happy film.

After lending his flat out to several of his womanising bosses in exchange for a promotion, a small-time clerk at an insurance company (Jack Lemmon) is left to deal with the aftermath of one of the less successful visits involving the elevator girl at work (Shirley MacLaine), whom he’s interested in himself. At one point they share Christmas together, but it doesn’t go at all the way you’d think.

Of course there are moments of comedy (it’s a Billy Wilder film) as well as moments of real tenderness, but for a romantic film made in 1960 the subject matter is surprisingly grim. Lemmon and MacLaine have wonderful chemistry, but ultimately what we’re watching here is two lonely, unhappy people who are just desperate for some hope against the cynicism of their corporate worlds. 

And what's a better way to anti-celebrate Christmas than that?   




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