The holidays aren’t easy for everyone, in fact, some actively hate the season of giving. Food is consumed at a rate unknown to most gorillas, alcohol is always flowing, and everyone has questions that can’t be avoided. “What are you going to do with your degree?” “How’s your job?” “When are you going to have kids?” Then there are the vague directions to parties: “If you’ve passed the barn, you’ve gone too far.” Has there ever been a more useless phrase on a set of directions to a house party than that? Then there’s the stress of preparing food for dozens of people; my personal favourite is finding out upon arriving that the oven used to reheat meals was built during the Eisenhower administration.
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can often feel like hell on Earth. So here are a few tricks towards making the holidays more tolerable for those of us inclined to retreat away from chaos and head toward the silver screen.
Movies Make Great Gifts
Your foul-mouthed cousins will be ecstatic to get Deadpool 2: Super Duper Cut. Uncles Mike and Mitch both love board games, both love Kyle Chandler; get them Game Night for their stockings. Does your Aunt Diane look different from the last time you saw her and she’s started speaking backward? Well, she’ll love getting the Twin Peaks: The Return box-set, even if she has to watch it in the Black Lodge. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is another great gift because as bad as your family can be, the Skywalkers have it much worse.
Netflix and Chill Out
As irritating as your relatives can be, the odds are slim that they’ll create a scene more awkward and cringe-worthy than the antics of Michael Scott or Frasier Crane. Don’t believe me? Got Netflix? Take a look at “Dinner Party” (The Office, season 4 episode 13) or “The Ski Lodge” (Frasier, season 5 episode 14). Either episode is a welcome reminder that whatever incidents that occur could always be worse.
2018 was a rough year for movie lovers. Moviepass bit the dust, and not much longer than that Warner Bros. announced that they would be discontinuing FilmStruck (sadly it never even launched in Canada). With that godsend of an app gone, it’s easy to despair, but there are still other venues for the worldly movie lover. Kanopy, in particular, is a godsend for cinephiles who feel left in the cold by Netflix’s classics library. Classic documentaries, cultish indie favourites, and the entirety of the Criterion Collection can be found with a few clicks! And, thanks to many universities and public libraries, Kanopy can be free for you to use.
Know That Whatever Movie You Pick to Watch Will Be Wrong
A good way to spend some time with family and friends is by watching a movie together. The tradition in my family is watching Bad Santa; for my wife, it’s watching Die Hard. And that is the problem with picking a movie for a group larger than your immediate family: they’ll want to watch what they prefer. Between Uncle Gary’s insistence that everyone sees the latest Vin Diesel flick and Grandma will probably want to watch that hot-piece-of-ass Errol Flynn*, no one will get what they want. Still, if you’re looking for some Christmas flicks that aren’t so merry, check these out.
* statement made at an actual Christmas party during my youth
We’re Afraid of Virginia Woolf
If you are going to host a party, please, please, please, do not load up on gin and tonics and decide to play a game of, “Who in this room is currently being a bitch?” Shockingly enough it’s generally accepted as a faux pas. Unless you’re Richard Burton, it is not okay for you to liven up the party by pointing a shotgun at your wife’s head.
Beware of H.A.L.
If you’re not familiar with H.A.L. – which you should be if you’re reading this site–I’ll explain. H.A.L. is the artificially intelligent antagonist from 2001: A Space Odyssey. During a pivotal scene of the film, Dave and his fellow astronauts are trying to conspire against the malevolent operating system when H.A.L. reads their lips to discover their plot. Lip readers abound in this day and age, be sure that you don’t get caught saying something you shouldn’t. Or refer back to rule #6. Cover your mouth at random intervals just to throw possible H.A.L.s off; if you’re a ventriloquist, even better. My favourite method is drinking and speaking at the same time.
Christmas is for the Bar
As an old episode of The Simpsons attests, you can see your family anytime, holidays are for bartenders. And it’s true. Your local bartender never gets a moment for his/herself. Think about it, people are at the bar when times are good and when times are bad. Your bartender needs a familiar face to help pass the holiday rush. Spending all that time in your own home, while Moe slaves away serving the poor, unwashed masses (mostly Barney) is just selfish. Do a favour for your bartender: he’d do it for you.
And if all else fails…
Just go see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse again
Part of keeping an extended holiday stay healthy means you might have to catch a Tuesday morning matinee just to keep sane. Into the Spider-Verse is the rare superhero movie that celebrates everything that came before it but also reinvigorates the genre for future audiences (read Victor Stiff’s full review here). At just under two hours, the running time will give everyone some time to clear their heads. The dazzling animation certainly blew mine away.