Toronto Canzine

Dig This Real’s Top 10 Xmas Films for Music

Frosty

  • HOME ALONE –  I know it’s seen as a kids film but the cartoon like violence is so funny and it has star turns by Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci and John Candy. But what I love about this most as a festive film is the great sound track featuring a mixture of rock and roll Christmas classics, great choral music (Oh Holy Night) and a fab score by John Williams. Oh and not forgetting John Candy’s, Polka Polka Polka.
  • NATIONAL LAMPOON’S XMAS VACATION – Most people hate Chevy Chase and I choose to be agnostic but this is a Christmas Classic and shows you the pitfalls and tragedy to be found in every family Christmas. Of musical note is the film features a young Juliette Lewis who now fronts her own ace indie rock band Juliette Lewis and The Licks. It does have a tragically cheesy song by Curtis Stigers which I tend to fast forward but this made up by the theme song written by Angelo Badlamenti (famous for Twin Peaks) and sung by Gospel legend Mavis Staples.
  • SCROOGED – I love Scrooged and it’s dark twisted 80’s take on The Christmas Carol. Bill Murray is excellent in it and the film features state of the art CGI effects at the time, which are still a little scary today. Musically it also has a great soundtrack featuring a great sing along at the end to, “Put A Little Love in Your Heart.” Also a great early score by the composer with the most festive name Danny Elfman who later went on to do all the Tim Burton films and you can hear his distinctive childhood gone weird style in this film.
  • BAD SANTA – There’s not many DVDs that we have to hide from the kids in our house but this is one. Billy Bob Thornton is great as the alcoholic incontinent anal sex loving petty criminal who dresses up in shopping malls every year as Santa in order to pull off a Christmas Eve robbery. It’s the last great Christmas film and the best thing about it musically is that they could have gone really over the top with a heavy metal or gangster rap bad boy soundtrack but instead they have used 50’s Christmas classics alongside Latin tracks and some great classical music – pure class.
  • THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS – I’m not normally a Richie Cunningham Fan (Ron Howard the director) but this film magically re-creates the wonderful weird world of Whooville as imagined by author Dr Seuss. And yes Jim Carey does his best Jim Carey impression as The Grinch himself but the film is beautiful to look at and it features a star turn by Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who and who also sings a great Christmassy song called; “Where Are You Christmas” about the search for the true meaning of Christmas amongst the clutter of presents and glitter and general stuff. Taylor Momsen is now all grown up and fronts Grunge band The Pretty Reckless whom I caught supporting Pulp a few years back. They rocked big time and with songs like My Medicine, Goin’ Down and Make Me Wanna Die they’re a million miles away from the sugarcoated world of Whooville.
  • SCROOGE/A CHRISTMAS CAROL – To another literary classic made into a film. This is the original black and white film of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It features a manic madman of a performance by Alastair Sims and features a supporting cast of famous actors of the time including Hattie Jacques and Jack Warner. It’s beautiful rendered and the cinematography is ahead of its time with special effects being used to bring out the supernatural in the story. However, what I love about this film the most is the score by composer Richard Addinsell. The range of musical emotions he creates is breathtaking from sheer horror and fear to festive jollity and utopian optimism, and heaven throws in an old folk tune – Barbara Allen to dance to. He was most famous for the piece called; “Warsaw Concerto” which was featured in the film Dangerous Moonlight.
  • ELF – This and Bad Santa were the 2 last great Christmas Films. This film takes an old fashioned style like the original Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer film and brings it to straight to modern Manhattan. Will Ferrell gags it along as usual but the star performance is by actor and singer Zooey Deschanel. I first heard of her through indie pop band She and Him who have produced some well-crafted pop including a great Christmas album called, A Very She And Him Christmas. In Elf she duets, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” with Will Ferrell.
  • FROSTY THE SNOWMAN – Going back in time again this is an animated classic narrated by the late great Jimmy Durante. It’s childish and silly but it’s a one off and brings back memories of childhood Christmases gone by. My favorite version of the song Frosty The Snowman is not the Durante version as featured here but the one on Phil Spector’s My Christmas Gift To You sung by The Ronnettes.
  • CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS – It’s not a great film but features Jamie Lee Curtis who gives a great performance and is also married to Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel. I’ve had to include as I watch this film every year just so I can hear the only Christmas song my favorite band The Ramones ever recorded and that’s, “Merry Christmas I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight.”
  • TRADING PLACES – not an obvious Christmas film but it was set over the festive period and features Dan Ackroyd doing the original drunk smelly bad Santa routine later appropriated by Billy Bob Thornton. It again features Mrs. Nigel Tufnell JLC who is again splendid and Eddie Murphy wisecracks his way from Harlem Hustler to Gordon Gekko in a shake of a furry dice. What a soundtrack though from Glorious Mozart and Elgar to Brenda Lee and Little Eva topped off with a perfect score by Oscar winner Elmer Bernstein. Also of note it features James Belushi (John’s brother) playing a drunken man in Gorilla suit. James also plays in a band with Dan Ackroyd and they have released a fairly decent album called Have Love Will Travel.
Emarosa – Versus

Emarosa – Versus

Emarosa

Versus

Rise Records

When I listened to Emarosa’s third album, Versus, I first had to check to see if I was actually listening to Fall Out Boy and then I checked the calendar to see what year it was.  It was still 2014, not 2004, where I thought I had time warped back to a time when emo and hardcore was the state of popular rock music.  These were genres I thought had fizzled out and died like disco (or Panic! At the Disco), but apparently the scene is still preserved somewhere.

Versus is your generic, run of the mill hardcore album.  It’s like I came upon a rare artifact from a Knights of Columbus hall show from my high school days.  All of the songs sounded very much the same; angry, emotional, and pained.  The songs are lengthy, riddled with musical break downs and reeking of teen angst and double bass pedals.  I can’t hand pick a single song to say anything specific about.  I can only summarize the album with generalizations and dated references to emo bands that I haven’t thought about since high school.  When it was all over, I felt a rage against society that I thought I had grown out of and I hated my parents for no clear reason.

Over the years, Emarosa has undergone a line up change, and Versus is their first album with their new vocalist, Bradley Scott Walden.  They just wrapped up their most recent tour to promote their new album last month with Yellowcard and Memphis May Fire.  More information on Emarosa can be found on their Myspace (I’m not just making dated jokes, I’m serious about this one) here.