Shorts & Snacks: Treevenge (2008)

In keeping with the holiday spirit here, today I’m highlighting one of my all-time favorite short films, Treevenge

This short, directed by Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener, made a splash on the festival scene in late 2008/early 2009.  Eisener and his team take a twist on a tradition of Christmas, picking out the perfect tree, and give us a glimpse of the experience from the trees’ perspective. During this particular Christmas, however, the trees have had enough and decide to fight back.

I saw this film at Sundance seven years ago and every Christmas since, it pops back into my mind. I showed the film to my family the following holiday and now we share a laugh each Christmas as we admire the family tree. I recommend watching this with others if you can – the howl of an audience laughing and cringing together makes the film that much more fun. When festival programmers talk about searching for a film that has an original and creative idea, they are talking about a short like this one.

Treevenge is definitely NSFW. If you are not a fan of over-the-top horror films then, fair warning, this short may not be for you. But if you are in need of a good laugh (and who isn’t during the holidays?), then grab your favorite Christmas cookie, take a break and check out Treevenge below. I bet you’ll never be able to pick out a Christmas tree the same way again!

Directed by Jason Eisener
2008 / 16 min / Canada
After being cut down, shipped off to christmas tree dealers, and brought home and decorated in celebration of christmas, the trees are fed up with the humiliation and abuse, and take their revenge on humanity.

Movies & Menu: Elf (2003)

Elf is definitely a “new” Christmas classic. It is one of those films that you can’t not laugh when watching. Buddy’s childlike Christmas spirit is contagious. After spending half an hour at the post office or navigating the lines in your grocery store, Elf is the holiday perk you need in your life.

Elf (2003)

In Elf, Buddy (Will Ferrell) was raised by elves in Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. When he goes to look for his birth father, he is introduced to New York City and the human world. Most of those he meets lack Christmas cheer and don’t believe in Santa Claus. Buddy discovers his identity in this new culture and changes a few minds in the process.

I bet “Will Ferrell dressed in yellow tights” had to be part of the film’s pitch too.

One of my favorite scenes is when Buddy and his father (James Caan) visit the doctor (played by director Jon Favreau). The three men perform this moment with great comic timing. I especially love Ferrell’s layered reactions in it. He’s excited, serious (for Buddy’s character that is), playful, charming and curious all at once.

Since adding maple syrup to spaghetti is not really my thing, I think the perfect match for snacking on while watching Elf is your favorite childhood Christmas cookie.

Decorating rich roll cookies!

For me, it’s a rich roll cookie. My mother would bake these with us every December. After cutting them into fun shapes, my brother and I would decorate them by painting on the icing. It’s a tradition that I continue each year now with E. They are buttery, sugary and delightful. Each bite brings back that little bit of childhood wonder. Buddy (and Santa) would approve.

What is your favorite Christmas cookie? Have you watched Elf countless times like me? What’s your favorite scene from the film? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Rich Roll Cookies
Recipe from Joy of Cooking

Makes about sixty 2-inch cookies

1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar

Beat in:
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine and add:
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Chill dough 3 to 4 hours before rolling.*
Preheat oven to 350°.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly colored.

*Chilling the dough is key. As you roll, use as little extra flour as possible. Sometimes a rolling pin cover (like a pantyhose or pastry cloth) will help. If you’re baking one sheet, stick the dough back in the refrigerator to get it cold again while you wait. Warm dough is not your friend here.

Icing: We typically used lime or lemon juice mixed powdered sugar. Mix in small bowls and add food coloring as you like! Start with a little bit of juice. It’s always easier to make the icing thinner than it is to make it thicker. Remember to let the cookies cool completely before adding icing!

Watch the films mentioned in this post:
Elf on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix
– Or support your local video store!
– Check for your local free screenings too!