Very Bad Santa

If a virginal, wound-way-too-tight ballerina discovering her dark side isn’t savage (or hysterical) enough to offset the season’s sugary excesses, check out the little package irreverent Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander left under the tree. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale imagines the nastiness that ensues when an American mining company accidentally excavates a dirty, naked, and bearded fellow lying dormant deep under the ice. Santa, we hardly recognized you. But this Claus has no use for the mall and all that ho-ho-ho jive. In short order, children start disappearing and a herd of reindeer is found slain in the snow. (Even Prancer and Blitzen? Say it ain’t so!) The timid young son of a reindeer hunter is compelled to step in and clean up this aberrant, amoral mess, although fortunately he isn’t the saccharine, Pixar-polished hero of so many kids’ flicks. Come to think of it, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is not entirely suitable for impressionable youngsters below a certain age. For adults, however, this ruthless black comedy goes quite nicely with a flask and a deep-seated loathing for the corporate commercialization of what used to be, long ago, a fine little holiday.
Dec. 17-23, 2010

 
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