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A guide to holiday movie Netflix binges

Mixing new with classics

As the semester comes to a close and winter break approaches, Concordia students and faculty may be finding more time in their schedules for leisurely activities such as movie-watching.

People have their favorite films for different reasons, whether it be that they evoke sympathy, are comedic or are action-packed. Some individuals, such as Corinne Burrell, prefer cheerier holiday films, such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,”  “The Santa Clause,” “The Polar Express,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” because of their happy endings. Burrell also admires older films, like Frank Capra’s  “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Dr. Hammerling, who has taught several film classes at Concordia cites “It’s a Wonderful Life” as perhaps one of the best known Christmas films of all time.

However, those looking to expand their cinematic repertoire beyond the most popular names need not despair. A plethora of lesser-known holiday films exist on Netflix.

Dr. Rice, who teaches courses on film analysis such as Documentary and Historical Film, has had a healthy amount of experience analyzing film, having studied film as an undergraduate himself.

“Quality films should appeal at an aesthetic level, as well as a cognitive, psychological level.   Films stimulate thought and creativity; they sometimes are persuasive seeking to change attitudes and even move us to action,” Rice said.

One of Hammerling’s holiday favorites is director Danny Boyle’s film “Millions,” though it is not widely known. The story takes place in England during the holiday season and focuses on two brothers who, after losing their mother, come across a million pounds and dispute how the money should be spent.

“It’s a very heartwarming story,” Hammerling said. “It’s got suspense, it’s got drama, but it’s about a little kid who’s just trying to figure out how to live a good life in this world,” Hammerling said.

Other favorites of Hammerling’s include Charlie Chaplin’s silent films “The Kid” and “City Lights,” both of which he describes as classics that the whole family can enjoy.

But what makes a movie “classic”?

“Classics tend to have universal qualities which stand the test of time even as values and styles evolve,” Rice said, listing  “Gone with the Wind” and “The Graduate” as examples.

Burrell strongly suggests adding “It’s a Wonderful Life” to your list of “classics” to watch over break.

“‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is my favorite classic because it’s heartwarming, romantic, and in black and white,” Burrell said.

Another favorite holiday classic is Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” according to Senior Bailey Carlson.

“The film (“White Christmas”) has just the right amount of seriousness, recognizing those soldiers who cannot be with us during Christmas, but lifting up the hope that Christmas offers,” Carlson said.

Junior Jenna Collins cited “White Christmas” as one of her favorites, saying “I could listen to Bing Crosby sing all day long.”

Perhaps one of the most popular holiday films amongst students and faculty is Jon Favreau’s holiday comedy “Elf” which features comedian Will Ferrell in the lead role as Buddy the Elf; a role where Ferrell fittingly portrays the innocence of the holiday season.

“I’d say that the film “Elf” is well on its way to becoming a classic, at least in our generation,” said Freshman Ali Froslie.

In fact, some students are so drawn to the film that they even choose to take some of its messages into their own lives.

“‘Elf’ is great because it never fails to cheer me up, and I love the line ‘The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, ‘’ Collins said, adding,  “I basically live my life by that principle; most likely to the annoyance of everyone.”

As Dr. Hammerling explains, “If you see a great film, it bothers you, gets into and becomes a part of you.”

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