Dream a Little Dream of Me

I’m done with work and school this year, it’s the time for me to relax and enjoy watching films. 😀

I started to watch films when I was a teenager and the more I learnt about films, about how people make films, the more I love films. Films are stories and how the stories are told. Like books, films pull me away from reality, and that tiny little distance gives me a break and rest from everything is happening in my day-to-day life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying reality is necessarily something I want to run away from, and a taste of difference will make it more fun and interesting. And I think a bit of distance and get-away from reality, especially from this year, could provide some comfort and relaxation for many people.

We all hope something good can happen during Christmas and New Year. There are many films related to Christmas, and many of them are full of joy, kindness and hope. So if I’m going to watch some Christmas films, this following will be the ones on the top of my list. I got the top five, I like each of them with a (slightly) different reason. This is just as a reference for myself and to whoever are interested.

Love Actually (2003) 135min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 14 November 2003 (USA) Summary: Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.
Countries: UK, USA, FranceLanguages: English, Portuguese, French

Love Actually is undoubtedly my favourite Christmas film, and I’m going to watch it again with one of my besties this year.

There is a type of films which just warm things up and will simply light up the day, Love Actually is definitely one of them and one the best ones, especially when it’s at the Christmas time of the year.

As the name gives it away, it’s about love, love in family, love among friends, love even with someone you don’t speak the same language. With the sweetness, bitterness, Love Actually tells stories about love that could happen to any of us, they are not perfect and love is never about perfection.

I always feel it’s smart for a film to have the narratives of multiple seemingly unrelated story lines converging in the end, Love Actually did a good job weaving the threads of a few stories together.

PS, Love Actually also contributes to extending my song list, for example, All I want for Christmas is you, Christmas is All Around, Here With Me, Jump(For My Love) are always in my favourite list for many years.

PPS, after 13 years, the same cast showed up in Red Nose Day Actually, it’s such a lovely nostalgic moment.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 130min | Drama, Family, Fantasy | 7 January 1947 (USA) Summary: An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.
Countries: USALanguages: English, French

Spoiler alert

I know this one appeared in many Christmas films lists, although it has only about 5 minutes(ok, I’m exaggerating, maybe 15 minutes) of the whole film related to Christmas, but it’s a really good film an it has James Stewart, so, it’s on my list.

George Bailey(acted by James Stewart) is a man who sacrifices a lot in his lifetime to help and support his family, his friends and people in town, ended up committing suicide on Christmas Eve, an angel showed up and showed him what the world would be like if he never existed. In the end his problem was solved and it’s a happy ending. The film is good in many ways, but what I like most about it is, it delivers a very important message, which is

Being a good person matters.

It’s something too simple and sometimes gets ignored. We need to make a lot of decisions in our lives, there’s an equation behind each decision to help us to know which choice will be the best and most beneficial. I’m not saying we shouldn’t, it’s a rational thing to do, but sometimes, the weight of being a good person and caring for others is simply under-estimated. The film is showing a miracle, in real life there may not be an angel there to help us to get through, but still, there’s no harm to have a little of faith about ourselves, having a little faith about it’s going to be ok when everything seems to fall apart.

This is a fun, and touching film, maybe everyone DOES have an angel watching out for you. If you are watching this with someone, look at the person next to you, what do you think? 😉

PS, the film was shot in black and white and colorized three times afterwards, both have its beauties in different ways, I watched one of the colorized version, I’ll watch the black and white when I revisit.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) 92min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy | 8 November 2003 (Japan) Summary: On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo discover a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.
Countries: JapanLanguages: Japanese, Spanish, English

Tokyo Godfathers tells a story about how Christmas is like for three outcasts in Tokyo. Three homeless people formed a unit and helped each other like family(it reminds me of Shoplifters from Hirokazu Koreeda). On Christmas Eve, they found a newborn baby abandoned in the trash, and the storied started with their trip to find out who are the parents of the baby and developed with all kinds of people they met during the search, ended with a certain level of growth, redemption and self-acceptance for each of them.

The director Satoshi Kon didn’t make a lot of films but each one’s a masterpiece. Tokyo Godfathers is not quite like his other films, it doesn’t have the astonishingly complicated cuts from multiple layers of time, space or dreams, it’s a much simpler story compared with his other films, such as Paprika, Perfect Blue. However, this probably resonates most with the audience, we all have past, we could have done things which we regret later, what attitude we take to handle the consequence becomes important.

This is a story with laughs and tears, about being powerless and strong, and full of hope and love, an absolutely enjoyable film.

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) 123min | Drama, War | 2 September 1983 (USA) Summary: During WWII, a British colonel tries to bridge the cultural divides between a British POW and the Japanese camp commander in order to avoid bloodshed.
Countries: UK, New Zealand, JapanLanguages: English, Japanese

Next one is Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and it is by Nagisa Oshima, starred by Ryuichi Sakamoto who is famous for his amazing music scores, David Bowie who is one of the most influential musicians, and Takeshi Kitano who’s a very successful director. With the interestingly diverse cast, the film shows a different Christmas to the audience.

This is a war film. The contrast between the cruel war and Christmas, the time for love and hope, builds up the drama. And this is a film which doesn’t have a happy ending. The story happened in a POW camp on the scorching tropical Island in Indonesia in WWII, and continues with the complicated emotions within each character, and between different characters. They are enemies, but they are also humans. Friendship, love, those beautiful things happen almost as part of human being’s intuition were forbidden in the hot humid POW camp during the war. It is a beautiful film with the Japanese style powerless, predestinated sadness.

What interested me and drove me to watch the film was the music Sakamoto San made for the film, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, it was amazing the first time I listened to it, and it still is after many years.

Well it may not be one of those entertaining films with a holiday mood, but it’s touching and enjoyable.

Klaus (2019) 96min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy | 15 November 2019 (USA) Summary: A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg's new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions.
Countries: Spain, UKLanguages: English, Saami

The last but not least in this post is Klaus. It’s another version about how the mysterious Santa Claus became Santa Claus. It’s about love, growth, courage and happiness. This is a great animation film for everyone, a great holiday film you can watch with your family.

I like how the story demystifies Santa Claus at the beginning, to make him just one of us, to make everything about him more empathetic and intriguing. And makes him a mysterious figure again in the end to symbolize Santa Claus as part of the spirit of Christmas. And the spirit will be immortal eternity and will not limited by time and space.

Another thing to mention is its exquisite Scandinavian illustration. That’s another thing I really like about the film, and makes it standout.

So here are my top five, what’s yours?

It’s the time to rest and recharge. { 🙂 } Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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