' ' Cinema Romantico: Three Shots of Bad Santa: Part 2

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Three Shots of Bad Santa: Part 2

“It was the wall,” Planet Earth Poet Laureate Bruce Springsteen once said of his pre-Boss days, “then me.” And this shot in “Bad Santa” is essentially that line brought to life. Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa, and everyone else for that matter, looks at the immortally named Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) by, more or less, looking at the wall first. And so in this shot, Thurman is costumed so that he basically blends into the wall, Buster Bluth style, neither seen nor heard, which is how Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa, in his drunken, post-work state pretty much wants it.

And can you blame Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa for wishing Thurman Merman would just blend into the wall? In this moment Thornton is standing in for every guy that has ever played Santa, and Thurman Merman is standing in for every spectacularly guileless kid who just wants to keep hounding Santa because he’s Santa and who’s cooler and more magical than Santa?

And yet it goes beyond Mall Santas. I keep looking at this image and I keep thinking of the real Santa - you know, in a manner of speaking - and how exhausting that global flight must be and how when he lays down for a long winter’s nap after it’s finally all over what probably comes to him in his sleep is not milk or cookies but a kid like Thurman Merman just standing there, staring and demanding more everything. For Santa, Christmas never ends.

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