12 UNCONVENTIONAL CHRISTMAS FILMS YOU SHOULD WATCH THESE HOLIDAYS

Christmas is the perfect time to sit by the fireplace, contemplate the snow falling outside… and get an overdose of Christmas movies! If you are tired though of watching Home Alone or The Polar Express over and over again, check out this list with 12 more alternative movies to indulge yourself these holidays… and not only!

1) IN BRUGES, 2008

christmas-films-in-bruges

christmas-films-in-bruges-posterTwo Irish hit-men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are sent by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to the medieval Belgium city of Bruges in Christmas after a job gone wrong in a London church. While waiting for their next assignment, the most surreal events take place, and when the job is finally revealed, a life and death struggle ensues, which ends up having both melodramatic and hilarious consequences… This is a brillant, dark, existentialist, though-provoking film, actually a must-see no matter the time of the year.

IMDB link

2) LE PÈRE NOËL EST UNE ORDURE (SANTA CLAUS IS A BASTARD), 1982

christmas-films-le-pere-noel-est-une-ordure
christmas-films-le-pere-noel-est-une-ordure-poster
If you like French comedy films (check my list here), you will love this one. Pierre and Thérèse, working for a suicide hotline on the night of Christmas Eve, get involved in the most unbelievable and crazy situations one can imagine. Irreverent and hysterically funny, with the always politically incorrect French humor. An all-time classic in France, a not-to-be-missed during the holidays.

IMDB link

3) THE FAMILY MAN, 2000

christmas-films-the-family-man

christmas-films-the-family-man-posterWall Street successful executive Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage), happily living his single life, wakes up on Christmas morning, and finds himself being married to his ex-girlfriend and having 2 children! Over the next few weeks, he gets a glimpse of what his life would have been like if he’d married her. This is a sweet, heart-warming movie that shows how the decisions we take can change us completely, and make us reflect on what are our priorities in life…

IMDB link

4) LIFE OF BRIAN, 1979

christmas-films-life-of-brian-1

christmas-films-life-of-brian-posterThe origin of Christmas, told by the incomparable Monty Python. Brian of Nazareth is born in a stable on Christmas, right next to Jesus. We follow their parallel lives, and how, through the most incredible situations, Brian is mistakenly taken as the Messiah. The famous scene “Always look on the bright side of life” has remained as a cinematic all-time classic. Satirical, fast-paced, clever and funny, one of those films every cinephile should see at least once… 

IMDB link

5) KISS KISS BANG BANG, 2005

christmas-films-kiss-kiss-bang-bang
christmas-films-kiss_kiss_bang_bang_poster
Snowless Christmas in Los Angeles is the background for this witty and dark comedy, where a thief (Robert Downey Jr) turned-actor-turned-detective teams up with a private detective (Val Kilmer) and a struggling actress (Michelle Monaghan) to solve a murder. The great acting, combined with Shane Black’s sharp writing and direction make this film a great choice for some Christmas fun.

IMDB link

6) RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE, 2010

christmas-films-rare-exports
christmas-films-rare-exports-poster
You better watch out… Santa Claus is coming to town! On Christmas Eve in Finland, one of the greatest discoveries of mankind takes place: Santa Claus is unearthed in an archaeological dig. Only that Santa is not the good guy we have in mind… Horror, fantasy, adventure and a hint of Finnish black humor.

IMDB link

7) LE TOUT NOUVEAU TESTAMENT (THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT), 2015

christmas-films-the-brand-new-testament

christmas-films-the_brand_new_testament_posterTechnically speaking not a Christmas film, but it has something about it… It turns out that God exists, and lives Belgium! The problem is that he is bored and vicious, and his only pleasure is to ruin people’s lives. But his only daughter Ea decides to take the situation in her hands to save the world from her insane dad. Original script, great acting, this film was critically acclaimed and received many awards.

IMDB link

8) SERENDIPITY, 2001

christmas-films-serendipity

christmas-films-serendipity-poster“Fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”: this is what Serendipity means and what the movie is about…  Jonathan meets Sara by chance at Christmas in New York, and since they feel a mutual attraction, they go together to the restaurant Serendipity 3. In there, Sara reveals her opinion that fate determines most decisions in life. Thus, she writes her telephone in a book that will be sold the following day, and Jonathan on a five dollars bill, stating that, if destiny wants them together, they will meet each other again. This is a light-hearted, delightful romantic comedy that makes you think about fate, soul mates and true love…

IMDB link

9) BRAZIL, 1985

christmas-films-brazil

christmas-films-brazil-posterAnother cinephile gem directed by one of the Monty Python troupe members, Terry Gilliam. In this dystopian science fiction film, a civil servant working in an Orwellian, bureaucratic state, tries to find a woman who appears in his dreams. But while trying to correct an administrative error, he becomes an enemy of the state; things get even more complicated when he seems to find someone who looks like his dream woman…The movie is visually stunning, extremely clever, mind-bending and thoroughly enjoyable.

IMDB link

10) EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, 1990

christmas-films-edward-scissorhands
Unconventional love Edward scissorhands poster
If we think “unconventional filming”, director Tim Burton comes right away to our minds. The story of Edward  Scissorhands, a man who has scissors instead of hands, is one of the most beautiful and meaningful cinematic Christmas tales. Read more on this movie here.

IMDB link

11) ANNIE HALL, 1977

christmas-films-annie-hall
christmas-films-annie-hall-poster
If you like Woody Allen, Christmas will be the excuse to watch (again) this fantastic film, which is for most fans -including myself- one of Woody Allen’s best movies, often listed among the greatest film comedies of all time. In this film, neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with ditzy, aspiring nightclub singer Annie Hall. Gender stereotypes, psychoanalysis and the Jewish identity are careful dissected with Allen’s unique, hilarious but at times dramatic style.

IMDB link

12) LAST HOLIDAY, 2006

christmas-films-last-holiday
christmas-films-last-holiday-posterGeorgia, a shy store assistant, is told that she has a terminal disease and only a few weeks to live. She decides to spend her last funds and sets off on a dream vacation at the deluxe Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic). Having nothing to lose, she lives her life to the full, which has unexpected consequences for her and the people she meets… Feel-good and enjoyable, the film delivers a simple but effective message: let’s enjoy our lives, as we don’t know what is just around the corner… Lovely Queen Latifah and always great Gerard Depardieu add their own charm to this romantic comedy.

IMDB link

I hope you enjoy this list!

I wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 🙂

GREECE GOES TO THE MOVIES: 12 FILMS THAT INSPIRE GREEK VACATIONS

It is no secret that Greece is one of the world’s most important touristic destinations. With its unparalleled natural beauty and its profound historic heritage, it has been long attracting not only tourists, but also filmmakers, actors and producers from all over the world. Already from the 1950s, many movies filmed in Greece have contributed to place it as a popular destination in the world tourism map; at the same time, they were able to build and consolidate various romantic stereotypes and perceptions about Greek’s ancient history and mythology, culture, traditions and modern way of life.

If you are stuck in the city, not being able to take a break, never mind! Take this cinematic tour to Greece, admire its natural and cultural wealth through the lens of the world’s largest film studios.… And who knows? Maybe after watching these films you will get inspired to see Greece by yourself!

1) PELOPONNESE: Before Midnight (2013)

Movies in Greece Before Midnight

Stroll in the narrow roads of Pylos and Kardamyli, eat in famous Lela’s taverna, visit the house of sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, and should you want more glamour, spend a night at Costa Navarino Hotel, while you follow the steps of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the bittersweet third part of Lindlaker’s marvellous “Before…” trilogy. Read more on the film here.

IMDB link

Before midnightMovies in Greece Costa Navarino

2) SKOPELOS AND SKIATHOS: Mamma Mia! (2008)

Movies in Greece Mamma Mia

These two super green Sporades islands serve as background for this feel-good musical comedy, a must-see for the fans of Swedish group Abba. Don’t miss the lovely Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri in Skopelos, where the wedding’s scenes were filmed -and many couples followed since them. From there you can enjoy breathtaking views of -equally beautiful- islands of Skiathos and Alonissos.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Skopelos Movies in Greece Skopelos Agios Ioannis Church

3) CEPHALONIA: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

This time the emerald-like waters of the Ionian Sea are the setting for this classic love story, based on Louis de Bernières’ book. During WWII, Italian Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicholas Cage) falls in love with Cephalonian Pelagia (Penelope Cruz). The island of Cephalonia saw a spectacular touristic increase after the film… It’s actually hard to resist a visit to the island once you see its magnificent beauty! The amazing beaches of Antisamos and Chorgota, and the lovely villages of Sami and Komitata feature in the film.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Sami

4) AMORGOS: Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue, 1988)

Movies in Greece Le Grand Bleu cr

Luc Besson directed this beautiful hymn to nature, freedom and friendship that takes place in the deep blue waters of Amorgos island. Famous Agia Anna’s beach and the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa can be seen in the film, which has remained as a cult, all-time classic.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Amorgos Panagia Hozoviotisa Movies in Greece Agia-Anna-Beach-Amorgos-island

5) KASTELLORIZO: Mediterraneo (1991)

Movies in Greece Mediterraneo

This beautiful Oscar-winning Italian comedy was filmed in the island of Kastellorizo, one of the Dodecanese islands. During WW2, a group of Italian soldiers serve in a small Greek island; while in the beginning the locals face them with reticence, little by little they all realize how much they have in common… The colorful, neoclassical houses in the seafront will captivate you.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Kastellorizo Grotto

6) METEORA, CORFU ISLAND: For your eyes only (1981)

Movies in Greece For Your Eyes Only

In the twelfth of James Bond’s film series, phlegmatic 007 is assigned to hunt for a lost British encryption device, which leads him to beautiful Corfu island. Achillion Palace in  Gastouri, atmospheric Agion Spyridon tower in Corfu town and Kanoni Island all appear in the film. In one of the most adrenaline-packed scenes, 007 faces the enemy literally hanging from the rocks of imposing Meteora! In spite of the negative reactions of Meteora’s monastic community, who tried to boycott the film, “For your eyes only” became a massive box office success.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece For your eyes only Corfu r Movies in Greece Meteora

7) ATHENS, OLYMPIA, DELPHI: My Life in Ruins (2009)

Movies in Greece My Life In Ruins

Although not as successful as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding“, Nia Vardalos’ second comedy features an American academic who travels to Greece to find her mojo (or “kefi” in Greek). With background the beauty of ancient Greek monuments -the Acropolis, ancient Olympia, Delphi– she also discovers the charm of Greek men.

IMDB link

 The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

8) SANTORINI: Summer lovers (1982)

Movies in Greece summer lovers

When a conservative American couple goes on summer vacations to Santorini island, the amazing beauty of the place, and their acquaintance with a bohemian French archaeologist will lead them to develop a particular relationship between the three -and to have the vacations of their lifetime. It is certain that if you see this movie you will want to visit this magnificent island -not necessarily to engage in a threesome 😉 – but just to walk its narrow, atmospheric streets and dive into the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Santorini 2 Movies in Geece Santorini

9) HYDRA: Boy on a Dolphin (1957)

Movies in Greece Boy on a Dolphin

This was the first American film shot in Greece. Sophia Loren is a poor diver who collects sponges in picturesque Hydra island. While diving, one day she discovers a gold statue of  a boy riding a dolphin, which is said that can fulfill your every desire. The film is considered still to these days one of Hollywood’s classics.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Hydra

10) MYKONOS: Shirley Valentine (1989)

Movies in Greece Shirley ValentineThis award-winning British romantic comedy- drama is based on a play of the same title. An English middle-age woman, bored with her life, has the opportunity to travel to Greece. Inspired by the beauty of the island of Mykonos, her meaningless life changes forever… It is rumored that the play is actually based on a real life story, and that has inspired many middle-aged women to move to Greece following Shirley Valentine’s steps…

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Little-Venice-Mykonos-Greece-house_1920x1200_DxOo1 Movies in Greece Mykonos11) RHODES: The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Movies in Greece Guns of NavaroneInspired by the Battle of Leros during the World War II, this classic film describes a fictional battle between the Germans and the Allied for the domination of Navarone island. It stars Gregory Peck, David Niven, Irini Papas and Anthony Quinn. The movie was filmed in the island of Rhodes, which after the film became world famous. Even Anthony Quinn was so impressed by Rhodes that decided to buy a beach in the island. Unfortunately, he was not able to do so due to the infamous greek bureaucracy, but the beach has kept his name: Anthony Quinn Beach.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Rhodes old town Movies in Greece Rhodes Saint Paul Beach

12) CRETE: Zorba the Greek (1964)

Movies in Greece Zorba the GreekNo list on films in Greece would be complete without mentioning this quintessential film, which certainly contributed to place Greece among the world’s top tourism destinations, and made syrtaki a mainstream dance. This Oscar-winning movie is based on Nikos Kazantzakis’ book and features music by legendary Mikis Theodorakis. It was filmed in the island of Crete; among the places seen in the movie are the city of Chania, the Akrotiri Peninsula, Apokoronas region and the Beach of Stavros Town, where the famous syrtaki scene was filmed.

IMDB link

Movies in Greece Chania

 

Photo Credits