Five Unusual Films For Yuletide

Not that I’m from Shetland, you understand, but I like the festive greeting: God Jul.

And as a gift, how about five unusual film suggestions to overcome the normal festive fare?

1. Some Like It Hot. Starts off with Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis fleeing cold & snowy Chicago, ends with the pair fleeing warm and sunny Florida. Oh, and there’s Marilyn Monroe with a ukulele and a dozen blonde musicians partying on a sleeper train.

2. The Illusionist. Charming near-silent animation by Sylvain Chomet (of Belleville Rendezvous fame), based on a script by the incomparable Jacques Tati, what little dialogue is in French, shrugs and Scots Gaelic. Magical, gentle, and a little bit sad at the end.L'Illusioniste (2008) by Sylvain Chomet

3. Rare Exports. A bit scary this one but one of my favourites, and it’s best seen at Yuletide. Set in the cold frozen north amongst reindeer herders, featuring a child-snatching Saint Nick and a happy ending. Expect Scandinavian knitwear and Finnish dialogue (with subtitles).

4. Solaris. The original version from 1976, thank you. Not everyone has a happy Christmas every year, and this is one film that makes you think. It’s in Russian, too, so it makes you read the subtitles. A beautiful, haunting film, perfect for when you want to avoid the festive hubbub and switch off. Worth watching more than once, too.

5. The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes. Another Billy Wilder film but one that’s often forgotten. Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, the Loch Ness Monster and unspeakable crimes against the British Empire. Not very Christmassy, but ends in Scotland (that’ll be Hogmanay, then!) after another long sleeper train journey. Must be something in the air.

That’s all for 2013. I’ll be thinking of you as I am sat by the fire with a glass of noggin, toasting my feet and reading a good book.

6 books about books (and libraries)

Books about books (and libraries) have a special place in literature. Here’s six of my favourites.

The Name Of The Rose – William of Baskerville and his novice travel to a monastery in Northern Italy. As they arrive, the monastery is disturbed by a suicide. As the story unfolds, several other monks die under mysterious circumstances. William is tasked by the Abbot of the monastery to investigate the deaths. The protagonists explore a labyrinthine medieval library, discuss the subversive power of laughter, and come face to face with the Inquisition.

The Shadow Of The Wind – Daniel’s father takes him to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge library of old, forgotten titles lovingly preserved by a select few initiates. According to tradition, everyone initiated to this secret place is allowed to take one book from it, and must protect it for life.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld – the librarian is an orangutan, and some of the books are so dangerous they have to be chained shut.

Jasper Fforde‘s books – Thursday Next is a detective who works for Jurisfiction, the policing agency that works inside fiction. They are a series of books based upon the notion that what we read in books is just a small part of a larger BookWorld that exists behind the page.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Norrell has a library of all the magic books in England and hoards them in his house in remote Yorkshire.

and the anti-book:

Zardoz – In the distant future Earth is divided into two camps, the barely civilized group Sean Connery in an orange loincloth in Zardozand the overly civilized one with mental powers. Zed, one of the barbarians, who worships the stone head Zardoz, comes upon an old library where a mysterious stranger teaches him how to read. When he finds a copy of a well known book, he sets out to learn the secret of the god he worships in an orange loincloth…

Published in: on March 20, 2012 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on 6 books about books (and libraries)  
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