Richardson: Binge-watching Christmas movies that bring about weird discoveries

Ottawa is clearly about as good a place as anywhere in the United States, even with Parliament in the background.

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Ottawa will host 16 productions of Christmas movies in 2022, so I decided to take a break from my usual diet of TV Scandi noir and British murder mysteries Yellowstone to watch five festive films. What is its appeal? How are they similar? This is what I discovered.

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1. Christmas movies are about the power of love. They generally begin with a young to middle-aged man and woman living in disarray—recently bereaved, overly stressed, consumed by materialism, unhappy or lonely. A joint search leads the pair to fall in love. Their life becomes balanced, happy and harmonious.

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2. “Big-city values” such as career, greed, and ostentation are discarded in favor of “small-town values” such as community and family.

3. There can be strange moments. The Noel Diary features several contrasting shots of the shooting, as the camera cuts abruptly from the hands, to the record, to the flame, suggesting that the footage was crudely spliced ​​into final editing by an apprentice, perhaps one or more boom workers. A midnight dinner scene at Magnolia lingers lovingly on the food, as if the effort went into cooking a real Christmas dinner and the director didn’t want the audience to miss a detail. I’ve never seen such close-ups of Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes before.

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4. The scripts are a bit loose. Midnight at the Magnolia features a long scene where basically the family members stand around greeting each other.

5. The movies are peppered with disturbing details. Continuing The Noel Diary’s bizarre preoccupation with fire, the central character glows in the fireplace of his recently deceased mother’s house and then leaves, closing the front door behind him. I considered this to portend that the house would burn, but it was not.

6. Disbelief must be suspended. In Falling for Christmas, a wealthy social media influencer loses her memory in a snowboarding accident and is rescued by the owner of a nearby hotel she met in an earlier scene. Oddly enough, neither he nor anyone else recognizes her.

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7. Ottawa is a convenient place for any American place. At Christmas Jars, it’s Columbus, Ohio. At midnight in Magnolia, it’s Chicago. This can be annoying for local viewers. The opening shots of Christmas Unwrapped adamantly announce that the story will take place in the Big Apple. Here is the New York skyline! Here is Central Park! But wait a minute – isn’t that newsboy on Sparks Street? Isn’t Ottawa City Hall behind the rink in Manhattan?

8. The filmmakers frankly assume that the audience knows nothing about the Canadian capital. In Magnolia, the two leaders stroll through the ByWard Market with the Parliament buildings in the background. Obviously, no one is expected to recognize our most famous landmark.

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9. Discovering familiar locations is fun. I’m going to see the most colorful time of the year because promotional photos show the inside of Corpus Christi School, where my sons went, decked out in decorations.

10. Movies are often a vehicle for actors aiming for better days. Hoping to Climb: Lindsay Lohan resumes her career in Falling for Christmas. Perhaps on the way down: Justin Hartley, reprising his character Kevin from hit series This Is Us in The Diary of Unbelievable Noel. I’m just happy to work: any of the hilariously faceless moms, dads, bosses, best friends, and co-workers from any of the movies.

Fresh out of my Christmas party, I find myself with a newfound appreciation for the city we call home. Skiing on Patterson Creek or walking along the frozen Rideau River in New Edinburgh? Fabulous. I don’t need Christmas jars to know that Ottawa in winter is pretty magical as it gets.

John M Richardson He is an assistant professor at College of Education, University of Ottawa.

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