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Christmas Movies

Season’s Greetings Friends & Fans,
I hope you’re having a great stress-free holiday season. I know that despite my heavy work load all through these holidays that I certainly am.

On Christmas Eve I brought two DVDs to show my family. Both are terrific films. If you haven’t seen them, you’re in for a treat.

The first was the fairly obscure (on this side of The Pond, anyway) 1998 English film “Still Crazy”. One of the hardest (if not THE hardest) movies to make is a really good rock ‘n’ roll film. “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Take It or Leave It” are two; “Still Crazy” is another.

“Still Crazy” stars one of my favorite actors, the great Bill Nighy. My genre fans might know him as Viktor, the vampire king from “UnderWorld”. I think his finest work is in “Still Crazy”, “Love Actually” and, especially, “The Girl In the Cafe”. It also stars Stephen Rea (from “The Crying Game”), Timothy Spall (from “Secrets & Lies) and the ever brilliant Scottish actor/comedian Billy Connolly. Phil Daniels (from “Quadrophenia”) is also in the film.

The movie is about a sort of Deep Purplish/Pink Floydish 70s band named Strange Fruit reuniting a few decades later to play a Dutch rock festival. Billy Connolly, the band’s roadie, narrates. The Strange Fruit songs in the film (which are all solid pop rock material, no filler) were actually written by real rockers from The Clash, Whitesnake, Foreigner and Squeeze. I won’t give away any more of the plot except to say that the writer, director and actors really did their homework on this one. making one of the most authentic, hilarious and surprizingly touching rock ‘n’ roll movies ever.

If you’ve ever been in a band and are now in your 40s or 50s, don’t miss watching “Still Crazy”. You will painfully and hysterically relate.

“Still Crazy” was followed by its “kinda” sequel, “Love Actually”. I say “kinda” sequel because Bill Nighy sort of plays a continuation of his Strange Fruit character, the aging rocker/lead singer. Once again, he’s riotously funny and sweetly poignant.

“Love Actually” was written and directed by New Zealander Richard Curtis, whose films “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “The Girl In the Cafe” should also not be missed. The “Love Actually” cast is unbelievable. In addition to Bill Nighy you get to watch incredible performances by Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley and Rowan Atkinson. There’s also surprize cameos by Billy Bob Thornton, Claudia Schiffer, Denise Richards and Shannon Elizabeth!

I resisted seeing this film at first because its ads made it seem like a frothy Chick Flick. But I happened to catch the opening of the film on HBO. This opening (with it’s unexpected Twin Towers reference) took me by surprize with its depth and set me up for the great set of interwoven stories that followed.

I’m not an “American Idol” watcher or fan, but the Kelly Clarkson song, “The Trouble With Love Is”, is wonderful. “Love Actually” makes great use of all its music but nowhere better than in its use of Brian Wilson’s heavenly “God Only Knows”. “Love Actually” is a Christmas Valentine to the world and Love in all its varied forms. Don’t miss it!

Next Blog: New Year’s Advice from the guy who is sometimes described by his sons as a “geezer”.

5 thoughts on “Christmas Movies

  1. Thanks for the recommendation regarding "Still Crazy". Bill Nighy came to my attention in a film I saw on DVD almost 3 years ago. The name of the film escapes me but it was a good character drama about getting older in a small seaside village in Britain (Wales perhaps?) and Bill’s character was a long time married man with midlife crisis and a wicked stammer. As a supporting player and not the star he was still a scene stealer with that self-deprecating wit and understated wisdom that comes from a life unfulfilled.
    "The Girl in the Cafe" is perhaps my favorite film showcasing his talents.
    His list of appearances is quite diverse and he’s fun to watch in all of them from the aged rocker in "Love Actually" to the Vampire Lord in "Underworld".
    Thanks again!


  2. "The Girl in the Cafe" is devastatingly brilliant. I highly recommend this film to everyone. When I tuned into it on HBO the first time I thought I was going to be seeing another "Four Weddings and a Funeral" or "Love Actually". I was totally taken by surprize.

    After seeing it I taped it on subsequent broadcasts and sent out loads of copies to my non-HBO friends to watch before the G-8 Summit.

    If "The Girl in the Cafe" had been a theatrical release then Bill Nighy would easily have deserved the Best Actor Oscar — or at the very least a firm nomination.

  3. Speaking of Bill Nighy,
    Check him out in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 looking like he ate some bad sushi!

  4. Bill Nighy doesn’t look like like he ATE some bad sushi —- he looks like he IS some bad sushi! Great photo!

    I loved the first Pirates (I’m a big Johnny Depp fan. I admire the bravery and range of his choices, anything and everything); I can’t wait to see the sequel.

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