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article imageOp-Ed: Top 5 snow-flavoured films

By Chanah Rubenstein     Nov 21, 2013 in Entertainment
Winter is coming. For many of us, that means snow. Here in Canada, it’s inevitable. This time of year, Christmas-themed films are taking over television, but what about the films that allows us to embrace winter, without the yuletide?
Sometimes it’s hard to embrace the cold and the snow. The first falling of snowflakes is marvellous, but soon it’s dreaded. Driving and walking becomes dangerous and slower. There is less sun exposure to perk us up. Generally as adults, we don’t have as much time and excitement for building snowmen, skating, sledding, etc. These are my top five movies to remind us why we should embrace the snow. It might just make winter seem shorter.
*Warning: If you haven’t yet seen these movies, they may contain spoilers.*
5. Happy Feet:
Happy Feet is an animated family film about a young penguin who is a little bit different, tapping out beats with his feet instead of singing a ‘heart song’ to attract a mate. According to custom and law, the penguins must sing to attract a mate and bring about a year of plentiful fish. Mumble can’t sing and is ostracized and sent away by the large clan for his feet tapping. The governing penguins speak out against his funny ways, essentially blaming him for the lack of fish. Mumble goes on his way, befriends a group of Adelie penguins, ‘The Amigos’, and discovers humans have been taking the fish. Mumble follows a fishing boat out to sea, is washed up on the Australian shore and put into captivity. When he reveals his tapping skills, he’s released back to Antarctica with a tracking device. The scientists watch as his clan, thousands of empire penguins, join together in a tap dancing routine. The scientists take their video of dancing penguins to the public, a debate ensues and it’s decided that fishing in Antarctica should be banned.
There are issues with this film. For instance, Mumble isn’t just unique, he looks different than everyone else too - and he is the ONLY one who looks different. Undoubtedly, it’s to make it easier for children, but it sends the wrong message. Also, there seems to be the message that Mumble’s dancing and inability to sing stems from him being dropped as an egg. I have a problem with the idea that somehow our uniqueness can come by from accidents, as if they can somehow be prevented.
However, the other penguins do come around and accept Mumble and his tapping - even his father who was a star singer and embarrassed by his son. Obviously, Mumble gets the girl at the end. The great part of this movie is the environmental message. Without this dimension, the movie would be a flop. It’s important for children to learn the consequences of actions, especially on such a large scale. Mumble comes across many different animals along his journey, and all of them are struggling to eat and are scarred, emotionally and physically, by what we, humans, have left behind in our greed. While the result is exaggerated at the end, it’s important for kids to see that we can fix our mistakes. Even the coldest, snowiest part of our planet is teeming with life, and it’s all connected.
4. Ice Age:
A cynical, depressed and bitter mammoth, Manfred, reluctantly allows a clumsy, talkative and not-too-bright sloth, Sid, to persuade him to return a human infant back to his pack. During their travels, while every other creature is migrating south to avoid the impending ice age, Manfred and Sid, along with Diego the saber-tooth cat (who is pretending to be helpful, but is actually a natural predatory animal) battle against the changing landscape and effects of the changing climate.
What makes this movie a contender is that it not only appeals to children and adults alike with its juvenile humour and silliness, but that it also teaches some valuable lessons.
Manfred is depressed and alone and when everyone is heading south, he’s heading north. We learn that Manfred is depressed and cynical for a reason, but also that under the right circumstances, if someone tries hard enough, he can come around. His story is one of depression and suicide, but he shows us that there is hope, that it’s not the end. When someone is down and seemingly out, they could use someone who refuses to leave, however silly, loud, and obnoxious they seem to be. Diego’s story is a great lesson to show kids that our choices define us, not our temptations, families and backgrounds. We all have our demons and temptations, but what choices we make is much more important. We can’t judge someone for who they were or what company they kept, we have to give them a chance to make the right choices and learn and grow. They could make one choice that changes not only their life, but the lives of others.
3. Fargo:
The desolate, frozen terrain of Minnesota and North Dakota is about as chaotic and dysfunctional as the characters. Jerry (William H. Macy) hires two men (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife, hoping to get some ransom money from his father-in-law so he can put an end to his financial woes. The blowing cold and snow is as fleetingly violent as the hired kidnappers.
Critically acclaimed, Fargo is fantastically delivered. The dialogue and the accents are a character on their own; as is the snow, which is whirling around in times of chaos and sometimes lying about in piles and mounds when things are a little calmer. It never stays calm for long though, because the characters are, by and large, bumbling about, clueless. The only one who seems to have a clue is the police chief Marge (Francis McDermand). Heavily pregnant, she dutifully dives into solve the murders the moronic criminals committed in haste.
Fargo won’t make you love the snow, but watching Marge plow through and get the job done, while seven months pregnant, makes complaining about snow seem whiny. The final lines of the film are a joyful expression of ‘Two more months’. It’s in reference to the baby’s expected due date. However, as it’s repeated twice, the second time around could also be a reminder that winter will end soon. Harsh conditions and chaos won’t last forever.
2. The Shining:
Heeere’s…number two! Most of us get a bit of cabin fever during the winter months. It doesn’t take long before our houses feel stuffy and suffocating. We’re eager for a reprieve, to spend more time outside. With the constant grey skies, cold temperatures and cumbersome snow, we end up spending more time indoors, patiently (or not) counting down the days until spring. Watching The Shining won’t help, but it may make you embrace the outdoors a little more, even if it is cold and the snow is knee-deep.
The Shining is a haunting thriller by Stanley Kubrick and based on a Stephen King novel. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a writer who takes the job as an off-season caretaker of large and isolated hotel in the mountains of Colorado. He brings along his timid wife and young son, who has ESP, or the ‘shining.’ The family is looking to get passed their troubled history due to Jack’s drinking and anger issues.
Three people trapped in a large building for a winter, all of them with their own issues. It’s a pot ready to boil over. Throw in some scarring horror elements, such as stories of past murders, blood, forbidden rooms, random morose-looking twins in a deserted hall, the supernatural, a man who loses his mind and attacks his family, and you will want to escape the confines of a man-made structure and head out into the snow too. Also, go outside and play. Not playing doesn’t just make you dull, it makes you crazy.
1. Snow Cake:
A vastly underrated film, Snow Cake is a Canadian/British collaboration starring Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Carrie-Anne Moss. Alex (Rickman) is travelling through rural Ontario, on his way to Manitoba to meet a friend. An unforgettable event leads him to the home of Linda (Weaver), a highly functioning autistic woman. Over the course of just a few days, two very different people interact, each reluctantly needing the other without realizing it. The writing is as true and natural as I’ve ever seen. Minor details have been taken into consideration and mastered. The acting is great – though everyone, including Rickman, looks like a novice next to Weaver. Sigourney Weaver plays Linda so very convincingly that it’s easy to forget it’s an actress, however brilliant.
The film takes place in Wawa, Ontario, in April, when snow is still everywhere. Each character is suited with a different predisposition towards the snow, with most town-folks being indifferent. Alex is clearly out of his comfort zone and trying harder than most to keep the cold out. (You could read into that behaviour and apply it generally and not be wrong.) Linda doesn’t like people (unless they can help her) but revels in the snow; she’s always free and happy when she’s outside.
Certainly, the acting is great, the banter sometimes (purposely) awkward, but always fantastic. The emotions run the gamut and there is life-altering growth. A favourite and unforgettable scene is when Linda is sprawled out in her back yard, coat open and eating snow. She remarks to Alex that an orgasm sounds like an inferior version of what she feels when she has a mouth full of snow. She then proceeds to stuff her mouth with snow.
Bring on the snow!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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