It might not officially be The 12 Days of Christmas, but FILM IN WORDS will still fill your festive viewing schedule with cheer. From beloved movies that have become an irreplaceable holiday tradition to cult and lesser known Xmas cuts that promise to subvert and haunt your holidays, there’s something for everyone all the way up to Christmas Eve.
Words: Brody Rossiter
Shane Black is an action movie master; this is a statement backed-up by a wealth of empirical evidence. Before we continue it seems prudent to highlight the fact that not only has Mr. Black brought forth some of the greatest action movies of the modern era, but he also starred in one, portraying Hawkins (the guy with the creepy glasses and unsettling sense of humour) in 1987’s Predator.
Now, back to that evidence… In 1985 after graduating from UCLA, Black wrote Lethal Weapon. Yes, he wrote Lethal Weapon! In 2013 he directed the ninth highest grossing film of all time, earning $1.2 billion in cinemas with Iron Man 3 (y’know the last Marvel movie that actually meant something). Most recently, he wrote and directed upcoming action-thriller farce, The Nice Guys, starring Ryan Gosling alongside Russel Crowe. Ultimately there’s too much awesome to list, but alongside his knack for buddy movie action and balancing humour with high-octane entertainment, Black also loves a bit Christmas spirit, especially when it comes to his movies.
2005’s neo-noir crime comedy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, not only ushered in the revival of Robert Downey Jr’s career (it was a good thing at the time) but also provided us with a satirical, tongue-in-cheek detective tale that takes place during the season of goodwill – a time when unscrupulous characters trade insults and share the bullets of an untraceable firearm with one-another.
Blending hardboiled noir conventions with contemporary storytelling techniques – Downey’s reformed criminal come actor, Harry Lockhart, narrates his tale of LA misadventure – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang bears all the hallmarks of a classic Black picture; Downey Jr and Val Kilmer (Kilmer portrays private investigator, “Gay” Perry van Shrike) possess oodles of onscreen chemistry; brooding characters engage in deadly bouts of action and yet invention and humour are only a quick-witted wise-crack away; unique and perfectly judged casting, including a supporting role from Michelle Monaghan, shapes a variety of dynamics which all prove engaging – to put it simply, the veteran filmmaker knows what he’s doing.
Mystery, intrigue and a decidedly noirish take on the festive period linger in the air throughout Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s electric journey through Los Angeles’ underbelly. Black’s penchant for using Christmas as a backdrop for his narratives, as seen in Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and consistently crowd-pleasing filmmaking makes him an essential component of any “alternative” Christmas viewing schedule. This year why not indulge in one of his lesser-known cinematic treats.