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Christmas Movies I watched this Christmas (2019) Part 2

I will be reviewing two Christmas themed films (Rare Exports and Miracle on 34th Street) and one title I simply was looking forward to watching, Jojo Rabbit.

Rare Exports (2010)

Rare Exports is an original take on Santa Claus. I won't spoil it for you since not knowing is half the fun. Let's just say that kids have a very good reason to never be put on the naughty list. 

That being said this dark tale might not entirely deliver on the horror elements as one would expect. There is quite some buildup of dread and tension but then gives you an ending that is pretty anti climatic. Surprising and original for sure but perhaps a little underwhelming. Still the concept itself won me over and that does have to count for something. And if you think about it you will realize that the whole film is quite hilarious which does seem to be the goal of director Jalmari Helander.

One funny aspect is the fact that Onni Tommila as Pietari Kontio is supposed to be the hero of the story very much in the same vein as he was in Big Game. He doesn't want to be but he has no choice. Now I wished I could say that the execution of this part was perfect. Unfortunately Omni while being great for the most part also can be quite annoying. Or actually his character. He seems to be the only one to be aware of what is going on. Instead of telling his father and other characters the whole story he keeps saying things that don't make much sense. Is it then a real surprise that they don't take him seriously? Maybe this was just a horror trope they wanted to throw in to make his arc more compelling. In my opinion this backfired.

Overall though Rare Exports is an entertaining film that will make you beg for more.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

The original Miracle on 34th Street might be an old film, it's theme and message is far from dated. If anything is more relevant than ever. 

I was surprised to find out how grounded the film is. And how open it is to different interpretations. Yes, it very much tries to make a case of believing the impossible but at the same time also makes a case how the impossible is not always implausible or unreasonable. 

The way the story is told is top notch. The acting is superb. And the film is very well paced. One would assume that this being an older film would be more melodramatic. However it's almost like they wanted to avoid fake sentiment and be as honest and true about the subject as possible. Resulting in a much stronger  and more effective message than the one in the remake which already was pretty powerful. So I can see why most prefer the original above the remake. 

If you ask me both the original and remake should be appreciated and enjoyed as their own little masterpieces as they both have their merits. 

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

JoJo Rabbit is what you call a satire with genuine drama in it. There certainly are moments that are very confronting and powerful. But apart from a few scenes there isn't that much too laugh about. Even the bits where writer / director / actor Taika Waititi appears as imaginary friend Hitler just didn't result in the laugh riot the trailer promised.

The whole premise of an Imaginary Hitler is of course preposterous. And I therefore was expecting a lot of inappropriate and crude jokes. Unfortunately Taika didn't dare go far enough. Or he might have been forced to tame it down. Whatever the reason the satire simply isn't that strong. Sure the story itself could be seen as heartwarming and touching. Only aren't there enough of those? I mean I get that Taika is trying to point out how ridiculous fascism is and how easy it is to brainwash people. Still it is downplaying or even undermining the sophistication and planning of what Hitler and his Nazi's did to accomplish it. The brainwashing didn't happen over night. Take the US for example. Look how Trump despite his criminal and corrupt behaviour still has a loyal following. Or at least people who for some reason still don't see reason enough to put him out of his office. And I mean truly out of office and not the supposed impeachment that so far had no effect whatsoever. The majority of people still take him seriously enough instead of treating him like the criminal buffoon he is. Point is that you need to focus and explain why people are so readily to follow a buffoon. And Jojo Rabbit never explores this. 

In the end I liked it but can't help but be disappointed with the overall result. It took far too long to get to the predictable ending without actually giving you food for thought. A lot of people are claiming that this is Taika's best film so far. Those people are wrong. Hunt for the Wilderpeople remains to be his best film to date. Go check that one out if you haven't done so already.

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