Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas Movie Reviews # 1


If you like schmaltzy sentimentality wrapped up in Christmas paper and packaged as a romantic comedy then this is the film for you.
It is the tale of two beautiful women, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) and Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet),
In London, Iris Simpkins writes a wedding column in a newspaper and nurtures an unrequited love for her colleague Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell) who is about to marry another woman.
Across the globe in Los Angeles, Amanda realizes the man that she lives with has been unfaithful with the receptionist.
So both of them find themselves at the end of failed relationships just before Christmas.
Amanda decides to take a two week vacation and surfs the internet where she meets Iris, online through a house exchange website, and Amanda impulsively swaps her L.A. mansion for Iris' country cottage in Surrey for the holidays.
Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either of them wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris' handsome brother Graham (Jude Law) and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach), mends her heart when she meets film score composer Miles (Jack Black).


The huge cast of stars (too many to mention by name) pull out all the stops in this uplifting Christmas movie, as characters fall in love, fall out of love, make you laugh, make you cry and thoroughly entertain you.
The multi-threaded storytelling is very engaging and added to it's a lighthearted holiday flavour makes it a film you can watch again and again.
The final scene at Heathrow airport ends the film on a very uplifting note.
I see Love Actually as a new holiday classic.


Holiday Affair is the Christmas season romance of a young widow and a sales clerk who (thanks to her) is unemployed.
I love this film and I am so pleased to have unearthed a previously undiscovered gem.
Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh and Wendall Corey are the stars of this delightful little film which all centres around an expensive train set.
Janet Leigh has been left a single mum after her husband was killed in the war and works as a comparison shopper when she inadvertently gets Robert Mitchum fired from his job in a department store.
The story then unfolds in a classic love triangle after Mitchum is invited to Christmas dinner with her son and fiancé (Corey).
The eventual outcome is rather predictable but is managed in such an engaging way that you don't feel disappointed.
This movie is a charming example of an un-clichéd Hollywood holiday movie.


This is certainly cheesy and clichéd yet still manages to be a wonderful movie.
Amy Acker steals your heart as the poor little rich girl, told to do something useful with her life or lose her financial support.
Which she does after inadvertently intercepting a child’s letter to Santa, which brings her into contact with Haydn-Jones and his daughter Olivia Gowan.
She instantly falls in love with him and forms a close bond with her.
Gina Holden is excellent as the evil queen character as Haydn-Jones girlfriend who is at her worst/best when Acker comes between the two of them.
It’s a really sweet Christmas film not to be taken too seriously but is to be enjoyed.


Brad (Vince Vaughan) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) have been together for three years. They are very much in love and spend their time having fun and doing a great deal of things together purely for their own enjoyment.
They have no intention to marry or have children and do their level best not to spend the holidays with their families.
However on Christmas morning, they are on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they're off to do charity work.
But the flight is cancelled and when, they are caught on camera by a TV news crew at the airport, they are forced to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents.
As the day wears on, Brad and Kate remember their respective childhoods and each learns more about the other.
As a result Kate realizes that her life isn’t as good as it could be and finds she wants more from the relationship.
But does she want more than Brad can give?


The Family man is a Capraesque style film in many ways, in which Jack Campbell (Nicholas Cage) a happy singleton with a successful career as a talented businessman wakes up to find his world turned upside down.
He has everything he could ever want, or so he thinks, then one day he wakes up in a completely different life where he is married to his old college girlfriend Kate (Tea Leoni).
He now lives in Jersey with Kate and their two kids and instead of being president of an Investment House he sells tires for his father in law Big Ed.
He desperately wants his life back, he wants his Ferrari back and not the temperamental family mini-van.
But after a bad start, day by day he become's more comfortable in his new life and starts to see what he's been missing and it turns out in the best Frank Capra tradition that money isn’t everything and love wins out.


The Polar Express is a beautifully animated magical Christmas feast based on the book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg.
On Christmas Eve, a boy who has come to doubt Christmas boards a magical train that is headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus's home.
The story that unfolds is an engaging adventure aboard the magical train which for the boy and his new friends becomes a journey of self-discovery which shows them that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.


In South Woodbourne, Washington, widowed second grade schoolteacher Emily Spengler (Faith Ford) loves the Christmas holidays, as do all the townsfolk, and she is looking forward to spending the holiday with her grown up daughter, Heather (Emma Lahana), as usual.
However Heather, who is at college in Boston, drops the bombshell a week before Christmas that she is going to be too busy studying to make the long trip home to South Woodbourne.
Emily calls her BFF Faith Kerrigan (Gabrielle Miller) for sympathy after receiving the news and asked her to come for Christmas instead but she is further disappointed when divorcee Faith tells her she is too snowed under with work to make the trip from San Francisco.
Also in Boston lives an unsentimental novelist and English professor Charles Johnson (Tom Cavanagh), who his desperate to break his writer's block and complete his latest novel which is overdue at the publishers.
In addition to his lack of sentimentality, along with his workaholic brother Ray (Gil Bellows), he doesn’t celebrate the season.
Ray, as the owner of his own lucrative business, is trying to decide if he should accept a very generous offer for his company, and advises Charles to do a house swap for the holiday suggesting that a change of scene might well help to unblock him.
And that is where the story really starts.
Emily and Charles meet on a house swapping website and agree to do a one week swap in the lead up to Christmas.
However all does not go well, Emily goes to Boston to surprise daughter Heather only to find on her arrival she has secretly flown to Phoenix with her boyfriend Jason.
Charles meanwhile finds the over decorated house and the over friendly townsfolk of South Woodbourne somewhat over sweet.
But that turns out to be the least of his problems when Emily's best friend, divorced corporate events planner Faith Kerrigan, arrives in South Woodbourne from San Francisco intent on keeping Emily company during the holidays in Heather's absence.
Due to circumstances beyond her control Faith is forced to stay at the house with Charles for the better part of the week.
At the same time Emily sets off the silent burglar alarm in Charles apartment and brother Ray and the Police walk in on her.
Obviously in true Christmas tradition romance blooms in both Boston and South Woodbourne.


Jen Robbins (Samaire Armstrong) is a single mother, who works as a writer of human interest stories for the small town newspaper in the town where she has lived all her life.
Alas she lost her Christmas spirit after her ex-husband Paul walked out on her six years earlier when her son Eric (Gabe O'Mara) was only one year old, and to add insult onto injury it was also Christmas Eve.
Despite her disdain for Christmas however, after a number of encounters, Jen finds herself falling under the spell of Chris (Matthew Lawrence), who is the shopping mall Santa Claus.
Eric truly believes that Chris really is Santa although in truth he is Kris Kringle Jr the heir apparent to the magic of Christmas.
He has set his cap at Jen to be the next Mrs. Claus, so that he can continue the Christmas spirit into the next generation.
But that woman has to truly believe in the spirit of Christmas for Chris to be able to take over the reins from his father.
So a cynic like Jen may not be easily persuaded.


An enjoyable and credible reworking of Charles Dickens well spun yarn of redemption.
This retelling of the story is of a driven and heartless publishing executive, Carol Huffman (Emmanuelle Vaugie) who on Christmas Eve is visited by the ghost of her former boss, Eve (Carrie Fisher).
Eve tells Carol that she has lost sight of the things that are truly important in life and that she is there to show her the errors of her ways.
There is a wonderful reference to Dickens in the tale when Eve explains why the normal trinity of ghosts were all represented by her alone, as she was in sole charge of Carol's journey through her past, present and future, and that was because “Chuck” was prone to over embellishments.
It’s very much worth a watch if only for Carrie Fishers mischievous Eve.

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