‘Tis the season, right? The holidays are a time of tradition, and so many local folks are revisiting their annual tradition of seeing the British Television Advertising Awards (Today is the final day!) here at the Walker. As the year ends, we start to see everyone and their uncle posting top ten lists and the likes around the end of the year. Instead of going in that direction, I asked some of my colleagues here to write about their movie traditions, be they holiday-related or not. (The traditional holiday plague kept me from getting this posted last week, but it is still the holidays, no?)
My own tradition, and millions of others I’m sure, is to watch A Christmas Story every year. It’s nearly impossible to miss, if you turn on the television. I know, it’s not a very original tradition, but the fact of the matter is that no other movie depicts and discusses the mortal fear of breaking one’s glasses as well as this. As I grew up with a little brother who liked to pick fights, it happened many times over. (I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 7, around the same time my brother decided we should be constant opponents.) I suppose there are a lot of things in that movie that I respond to. I just can’t help it. It doesn’t feel like the holidays if I don’t catch it just once.
Michèle Steinwald, Performing Arts Program Manager
The Sound of Music – I watched this movie on tv with my mom every year until I was probably in my mid-twenties. We always seemed to happen across it even after I moved out at 18 for college. I don’t know if it still plays on tv every year anymore, and even though I haven’t seen the whole movie in years, it still feels like a yearly part of my routine. It is probably somehow embedded in my dna.
Jenny, Film/Video, Program Manager
Here’s my now-defunct tradition:
Back when the Oak Street Cinema was still the old repertory-based Oak Street, every year at the holidays they used to show Ernst Lubitsch’s THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, the 1940 Jimmy Stewart / Margaret Sullivan film about two people in Hungary who unknowingly fall in love through their pen pal letters. It was very regrettably remade into YOU’VE GOT MAIL -and I don’t need to tell you that Tom Hanks is no Jimmy Stewart. At any rate, ever since, when the holidays roll around, I toy with the idea of renting the DVD. No way could it compare, though, to the warm feeling of being in a packed house of an aging single screen theater, watching this smart and sweet classic. A true joy–one of the most pleasurable movie experiences of my life.
Courtney Gerber, Assistant Director of Education, Tour Programs in the Education and Community Programs Office
My tradition – Nearly every year since the movie was released on DVD, my family and I have enjoyed a slapstick Christmas Eve with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, and others in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The oblivious but well-meaning Clark Griswold gets me every time. After the belly laughs I often turn to Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient around the holidays. This film for me captures Michael Ondaatje’s story, which explores the unwieldiness of human experience. We’re witness to tenderness, anger, passion, joy, deprivation. Juliette Binoche is heavenly. I’m enraptured by each actor’s interpretation of Ondaatje’s characters. Ah, I think I may have to watch it tonight!
Allison Herrera, Program Manager, Education and Community Programs
I would have to say Casablanca. I love that movie. It’s sentimental, it’s suspenseful, It’s political, and it’s got Humphrey Bogart! Everybody is always having a glimmering cocktail in that movie! I watch it at least once a year and not necessarily during the holidays. Although it is a good holiday movie! There will never be movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, or Peter Lorre ever again. And, the film is so well written, and the subject matter is kind of covertly political in a radical way. Humphrey Bogart was basically smuggling arms for the Spanish revolutionaries in Africa! Plus, the outfits! There’s no glamour in Hollywood anymore! Everybody’s either too busy having children, quitting smoking or rotting in re-hab! Bring back the fur wraps and cocktails at noon! Except make the fur wraps fake!