Off Topic: Nothing like Jaslene in a Noel Bodega Tale

Entry Updated, scroll to below the posters.


No joke.

Jaslene Gonzalez from cycle eight of America’s Next Top Model is in the Bodega holiday party scene for about twenty seconds in Nothing Like the Holidays (Alfredo De Villa, 200eight)–if you don’t recognize her body type, you won’t know it is she. Click here to read my review.


I also reviewed A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin, 200eight), or Un Conte de Noel en francais, for FilmThreat. Click here to read the review.

I enjoyed both films a great deal, but for different reasons. I shall elaborate on this point later in the day.

Find audiovisual enhancements of Nothing Like the Holidays here. For A Christmas Tale, click here.


And now for the elaboration; minor spoilage contained, highlight words at your own discretion:

I shall begin with Nothing Like the Holidays.   Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena are both stellar thespians; Debra Messing effectively abandons her ‘Grace’ persona of Will & Grace fame; and I usually find John Leguizamo brings a certain pleasantness to his films.  It is, however, Freddy Rodriguez’s character, Jesse, that I find the most fascinating: a soldier returning home from Iraq, still in one physical piece but mentally less solid.   The film reveals in the second half that Jesse has been experiencing survivor’s guilt over the death of his squad mate, a sensation that is half it-could’ve-been-me and half it-was-my-fault.    Out of all the characters, he is the only one that I wanted to see a whole film focused upon, especially considering that his ex-girlfriend is the one that helps him find some kind of inner peace.

I really did like the Nothing Like the Holidays up until the last fifteen or so minutes.  I loved that I didn’t have to dive into the emotional states of the characters to pay attention to what they had to say or to what happened to them.   Ten or fifteen minutes into the film, when the Rodriguez family gets together for the first time, I noticed that the cinematography and the editing put the viewer in a privileged voyeuristic place…a fly on the wall minus the overly “surveillant” aesthetic.  Rachel Getting Married had a similar effect on me.  Or rather, the camerawork and editing gave me the feeling that I was in the room as well…watching, just watching and unable to say or do anything to effect change in the progression of the plot.  The difference between these two films is that Rachel features much more hand-held cinematography and has a grainier look.

Et maintenant, un conte de noel.  I’m going to be as pithy as I can.  A Christmas Tale might take place during the holidays and even has the word “Christmas” in its title, but given what the characters say and do to each other as well as the way the film presents their relationships with each other, the film could very well be called an Easter Tale, A Summer Vacation Tale,  A Bastille Day Tale, or A Birthday Tale.  In other words, all that happens could have happened any time of the year.  Having it be one of Christmas, however, provides context for the family to get together.  My review doesn’t mention it, but the film includes direct address (when a character talks directly to the camera), lending to it a kind of fable quality.

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