I just finished putting up my holiday decoration. I put up the tree, got out the menorah, & watched the snow coming down. I also put Eastern Promises on as an accompaniment. Because nothing spreads holiday cheer like “strong brutal & bloody violence, some graphic sexuality, language & nudity.” And Viggo Mortenson’s penis.
It sounds weird, but ever since I’ve lived with Kurt, it’s become my ad hoc holiday tradition. I usually put up & take down decorations by myself & the first year we were living together, I had just gotten a copy of Eastern Promises. I need to have something on while I put the tree up & I thought “well, what the hell.”
I can’t stand Christmas music & I don’t have cable & I don’t own any other Christmas movies. I’m not grinchy, it’s just those traditions have been ruined for me. My mother used to play Christmas music all year round & I hated it. It’s a Wonderful Life & A Christmas Story have officially soured me on any film celebrations of the season. I compare my revulsion to a bad night of drinking: once you’ve drunk yourself sick on a certain type of liquor, you never want to drink it again.
Eastern Promises might seem like an atypical choice for a holiday film, but I actually think it kind of fits. It fits the bare minimum of taking place during the holiday season (timeline goes from Dec. 20 to Jan 1. so ha!). &, if you’ve ever watched it, there are a lot of interesting juxtapositions of life & death, violence & grace. What makes someone value one life so highly while treating another like trash? Lots of deep, philosophical questions, like “Why does Cronenburg show sexy “ruined” women, but make Viggo look like a piece of beef?” (Ha ha, beef, meat, insert double entendre here.)
The only problem is that while this is an ok-for-adults holiday tradition, one day I’m going to have kids who’ll want to help put up the tree with me. & while I don’t expect to become a sugar-coated June Cleaver kind of mom, I’m not going to let them hang snowflakes while Viggo’s penis is flopping around in his naked knife fight scene. That just doesn’t sound like good parenting to me. But until then, Cronenburg’s film will remain my weird little tradition, along with our Christmanukkah ornaments.