So you all know the classic Twelve Days of Christmas song, but what if you could gift movies instead of all those birds and slaves (er servants) and stuff? Well, if you're gifting for me this year it might look a little something like this:
12. Drummers Druming - School of Rock (2003) - My Score: 8/10
Now I realize that when it comes to Jack Black people are extremely polarized, but despite Black's over-the-top comedic style it's actually a pretty good movie. An out of work rocker decides to pose as a substitute teacher in order to make some quick cash, but soon finds himself trying to teach the kids the art of rock-n-roll. Great music and is genuinely funny - clean enough for the family. Plus, it's a hell of a lot better than the other drum movie, Drumline.
11. Pipers Piping - Anchorman (2004) - My Score: 6/10
10. Lords 'a Leaping - Lord of the Flies (1990) - My Score: 8/10
In this second adaptation of the William Golding novel, these little lords are leapin', swearin' and creatin' their own society after their plane crashes into the ocean near an island. After being stranded with no adult supervision, these schoolboys are forced to assemble their own society and what starts off as well-meaning quickly becomes downright savagery. An excellent stocking-stuffer for those who appreciate their survival movies with an intellectual flair.
9. Ladies Dancing - Moulin Rouge (2001) - My Score: 10/10
It may not be a perfect movie for everyone, but this is one of the few movies that I can put on any time and will put me in a good mood (as long as I turn it off halfway through). Apart from ladies dancing, this movie boasts some of cinema's best songs in last 50 years or so. The love story, to me, is secondary to the extraordinary visual and acoustic measures that are taken by director Baz Luhrmann.
8. Maids 'a Milking - Dolores Claiborne (1995) - My Score: 8/10
So not many maids, but just one... and no milking, but maybe some murdering. Kathy Bates plays a live-in maid for an elderly woman and is indicted for her murder. Bates' reporter daughter played by Jennifer Jason Leigh returns to town to question her mother about the death and taps into deeper secrets from her own past. One of the rare Stephen King stories that actually makes for a good movie. Share some mother-daughter time for Christmas!
7. Swans 'a Swimming - Black Swan (2010) - My Score: 9/10
The best movie I've seen in the past 5 years, Darren Aronofsky directs this intense psychological drama about an aging ballerina (so 30-ish) played by Natalie Portman. It appears that all of her hard work has finally given her the break she deserves, but a younger dancer (Mila Kunis) threatens to take her part and she falls into a spiral of self-destructive paranoia. An amazing story that is heightened by a great screenplay and excellent cinematography.
6. Geese 'a Laying - Hot Fuzz (2007) - My Score: 8/10
The second of the Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost trilogy (the 3rd is shooting in 2012) and an amazing homage/parody to buddy cop action movies. Pegg stars as a big city cop who is reassigned to rural England as he is so good at his job that he was making the rest of the department look bad. He takes a shining to the town's bumbling cop (Frost) and the two form an unlikely kinship. Every part of this movie is great, but it also features a reoccurring subplot involving a runaway goose that they're assigned to with the town not having any real crimes... or do they?
5. Gold Rings - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001/2002/2003) - My Score: 8/10
The one ring... movie. In the Lord of the Rings movies, the events revolve around the ring itself. He who holds the ring carries the power to rule the people, but also comes with a malevolent power that controls the bearer. Merry Christmas, here's your evil power ring! Based on the classic books, Peter Jackson devoted his prime film-making years to this series and has created a visual masterpiece. Proof that CGI can actually work in movies today if given enough care and attention.
4. Colly Birds - The Birds (1963) - My Score: 8/10
As the original lyric states, a colly bird (NOT a calling bird) is another name for a common black bird. And there is no greater movie with black birds than Hitchcock's classic The Birds. Although the attack scenes are a little hokey due to the limited special effects of its day, but the eerie scenes of birds just sitting... waiting... watching is still as creepy today as it was almost 50 years ago. Plus Hitchcock always makes a great Christmas present. What did I get you for Christmas? Nightmares.
3. French Hens - Chicken Run (2000) - My Score: 8/10
Featuring some far less scary birds, this too-quickly-forgotten-about family/comedy plays homage to The Great Escape (1963) in the form of chickens trying to escape the coop.
Peter Lord and Nick Park, the minds behind the highly entertaining Wallace & Gromit series of claymation shorts take on their first full-length feature film with Chicken Run. It's full of action, it's funny and even touching at times. A great gift for the film lover of any age.
2. Turtle Doves - Blade Runner (1982) - My Score: 9/10
Ridley Scott's epic sci-fi movie about a cop (Harrison Ford) who must hunt down and terminate four replicants (robots) who are in search of their maker. During a pivotal scene in the movie, Ford goes up against the strongest of the replicants (Rutger Hauer) on the rooftop of a dilapidated building. Holding a white dove, a symbol of purity, Scott shows the audience that despite their murderous rampage, these robots are innocents in that it was humans that programmed them. Deep. And a great last minute gift for the nerd in your life (aka me).
1. Partridge in a Pear Tree - The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - My Score: 8/10
It seems like an odd choice, but the lyrics of the song have also taken on Christian meaning as well where "Partridge in a Pear Tree" refers to Jesus... yeah. Of the various movies out there dedicated to the Christian prophet, the one I find most intriguing is Scorsese's Last Temptation which is based on the controversial novel of the same name and explores the life of Jesus while he was still thought of as an ordinary man, facing the temptations of an ordinary man.