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Five non-festive Christmas-set flicks to ring in the holidays

December 16, 2013 - 5:00 AM

TORONTO - There are holiday flicks and then there are flicks set during the holidays. Two very different things, each offering their own twist on all the naughty and nice things the season has to offer.

For those of you looking for a Christmas-flavoured flick that doesn't hit you over the head with tinsel and carols, here are five movies with at least a passing reference to the holidays that are otherwise focused on non-festive things. Needless to say, they tend not to be family friendly, so parental discretion is advised:

"In Bruges" — You'd have to pay attention to realize this dark comedy actually takes place during the holiday season — the only references are casual asides and the occasional shot of Christmas decorations in the background. And the plot itself is hardly cheer-filled: It centres on two hitmen, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who are sent to Belgium to lay low after an especially messy job.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" — This is hardly holiday fare, unless you count perverse family dysfunction as a key hallmark of your seasonal gatherings. The horrors in this dark thriller kick off several days before Dec. 25 and unfold through a bitterly cold Scandinavian winter. It centres on a dogged journalist, played by Michael Nyqvist in the 2009 Swedish-language version and Daniel Craig in the 2011 remake, who traces the decades-old disappearance of a young woman with the help of a tattooed hacker, originally played by Noomi Rapace and later by Rooney Mara.

"Iron Man 3" — Writer/director Shane Black clearly has a thing about Christmas. Many of his flicks — including "Iron Man 3" — take place during the holiday season, among them "Lethal Weapon," "The Last Boy Scout," "The Long Kiss Goodnight" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." There's something about a Christmas setting that ably unites varied characters and pulls together a sprawling storyline while driving home key plot points, while blowing stuff up, of course.

"Goodfellas" — This Martin Scorsese classic makes the cut by way of the fact it spans several decades and therefore includes a holiday-themed scene, and it is a doozy featuring Robert De Niro's trademark intensity: After a lucrative heist leaves the mobsters flush with cash, some arrive at a holiday party flaunting the spoils, sending De Niro's pragmatic Jimmy into a fury for attracting unwanted attention.

"About A Boy" — The holiday shmaltz sneaks up on you in this Hugh Grant romantic comedy about a self-absorbed bachelor who is more humbug than ho-ho-ho. Until he befriends a young boy and the boy's suicidal mum, of course, and gradually learns there's more to life than hook-ups and his posh hipster toys. Added holiday points come from the fact Grant's character lives on royalties from his father's song "Santa's Super Sleigh."

Honourable mentions: "Catch Me if You Can," "Gremlins," "Die Hard," "When Harry Met Sally....", "While You Were Sleeping," "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Less Than Zero."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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