12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘The Apartment’

“The Apartment” (1960) – C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) works extremely hard at the Consolidated Life New York City office.  He makes $94.70 per week and lives in a great apartment that costs $85 per month. Most nights, he works late – for an hour or two –  but not to get ahead.  He just cannot go home to his apartment until around 8pm.  Why is that? That’s the premise of Bill Wilder’s wildly successful rom-com that won five Oscars, including Best Picture! Now, C.C. may have his eye on a…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘In Bruges’

“In Bruges” (2008) – Travel experts claim that Bruges, Belgium has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and this city has kept its medieval construction to make the holiday festivities feel like an illustrious time warp. There’s nothing festive, however, about Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray’s (Colin Farrell) Christmastime visit to Bruges, at the least the initial reason.  Their mobster boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) orders them to Bruges and hide out until the coast is clear.  Ken tries to make the best of it by taking in the…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘Eyes Wide Shut’

“Eyes Wide Shut” (1999) – Christmas in New York City brings images of Rockefeller Center, ice skating and shopping on 5th Avenue.  Stanley Kubrick’s last film takes place at Christmastime, but this “holiday story” explores infidelity, visceral temptations, frank conversations between spouses, and sexual masquerade parties where mistletoe is not required. Not the “exactly” same. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married in real life at the time, as they play a couple questioning their relationship during the most wonderful time of the year.   Just wondering how much will they…

Gladly saying Goodbye to ‘Welcome to Marwen’

“Welcome to Marwen” – It’s difficult to remember a film that featured as many toy army action figure sequences as “Welcome to Marwen”.  The little green army men from the “Toy Story” series come to mind, but the plastic troops, led by the voice of R. Lee Ermey, were just supporting players.  In co-writer/director Robert Zemeckis’ new movie, a small group of 12-inch fabrications occupy, perhaps, fifty percent of a very, very long 1-hour 56-minute runtime. The picture begins with an engaging animated World War II aerial scenario over Belgium,…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘The Hunt’

“The Hunt” (2013) – Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), a 42-year-old kindergarten teacher, is coping with his divorce and trying to maintain a relationship with his teenage son, but Christmastime is here, so ’tis the season to think positively. His world, however, crashes, because someone does not accuse him of a serious crime, but a heinous one.  A crime he did not commit. Lucas, a respected man in the community, suddenly becomes the centerpiece of a devastating controversy, and in the process, almost everyone in this small Danish town demonizes him. His…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘Gremlins’

“Gremlins” (1984) – Director Joe Dante has a history in horror with “Piranha” (1978) and “The Howling” (1981) under his belt, so he’s a natural fit for “Gremlins”.    “Gremlins” isn’t a brutal trip into terror, but a PG-excursion into a group of cuddly little teddy bear creatures called mogwais that chirp, squeak and sing a bit too.  What’s not to like?  Everyone should have a mogwai.  Just don’t feed them after midnight, because if so, they will change into impish lizard-like devils that cause lots and lots of trouble.…

The Phoenix Critics Circle’s favorite is ‘The Favourite’

The Phoenix Critics Circle hosted its annual awards party on Dec. 14 at the Phoenix Film Foundation office, and the critics and their friends and family enjoyed a festive night of food, drinks, movie conversations and debates, and of course, the awards! Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” won Circle’s Best Picture award and also picked up Best Screenplay as well. Ethan Hawke and Melissa McCarthy won the top acting awards for “First Reformed” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, respectively, and here is the complete list of winners. BEST PICTURE The…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘Edward Scissorhands’

“Edward Scissorhands” (1990) – Twenty-eight years after Tim Burton introduced his modern-day Pinocchio story about an artificial boy (Johnny Depp) who has scissors for hands, “Edward Scissorhands” still brings the tears. Burton does include a lot of satire, as he regularly pokes fun at suburbia throughout the picture, but he delves into Christmastime in the second half, and it seems that every single modest home in the camera frame dons festive lights. This fairy tale isn’t really a Christmas movie, but the holiday makes its mark, and especially when Edward…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘Lethal Weapon’

“Lethal Weapon” (1987) – OK, Richard Donner’s buddy cop movie – set in sunny Los Angeles – does include plenty of Christmas references, including Bobby Helms’  “Jingle Bell Rock” during the opening credits and police officer Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) going undercover to buy drugs and a Christmas tree.   Still, when one thinks of action films and Christmas, most look to “Die Hard” (1988), so that’s why we are including “Lethal Weapon” on this list. Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) pairs up with the nearly (or actually) psychotic Riggs, and…

12 days of not-so-Christmassy Christmas movies: ‘Tangerine’

With December filled with the standard, but also very welcome, Christmas movies, like “A Christmas Story” (1983), “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), “Scrooged” (1988), and other versions of “A Christmas Carol”, AHFW decided to look back at 12 movies that feature Christmas as well!  The only difference is the said holiday is not the main focus of these films.  Furthermore, you may not even know that Dec. 25 is even mentioned in these movies. Without further ado, let’s get started with “Tangerine”! “Tangerine” (2015) – In a colorful Los Angeles…