Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) Review

Rating 12
Length 2h28
Release 15.12.2021
Director Jon Watts
About With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, our friendly neighborhood web-slinger is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life as Peter Parker from the high stakes of being a superhero. When Peter asks for help from Doctor Strange, the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.
Moon: Full moon during the climatic final fight
Where to Watch: Cinemas

First Thoughts

I don’t think I’ve felt the buzz and hype of a film so tangibly in a cinema for a long time. Nope, upon feeling it walking towards my screen, not even when Force Awakens came out. Not even a Midnight screening has given me that excitement that I felt with those early Potter films.
I watched people literally racing from a screen to the toilet, not wanting to miss a single second. As the usher scanned my ticket, he even reassured me that it was good and to enjoy it. It’s safe to say, I did.

The Good

  • The story is really good, very well structured and manages to balance the heavy castings impeccably. If you think of Maguire’s third outing and the ambitious plot weaving that attempted?! This film shows that it can be done.
  • The casting! Unless you’ve been sans internet for the last however many months, you’d know that Jamie Foxx, William Dafoe and Alfred Molina have returned to play off against an unfamiliar Peter Parker. All three bring what I loved from their previous performances and then some. Foxx, for me at least, gives a slightly different performance, but I have absolutely no problem with that.
    As for Dafoe and Molina. Both of them make it so hard to identify a favourite. Both of them bring their all, they bring the ham, but also manage to match the tone that Holland’s Spider-Man has established.
  • The humour is spot on, as always. It isn’t for everyone, but fuck them! I love it. I love every scene in which Ned does his thing, MJ does her thing and the humour that happens when they’re all together.
  • Tom Holland. What a beautiful, amazing and wonderful Peter Parker he is. Damn it, he’s *my* Spider-Man. It’s not that the other two were ever ‘wrong’ for the role. It’s just that the character works like Dr Who. You have *the* Spider-Man and that’s cool.

The Bad

  • I’m still not sold on the use of Dr Strange. I love every bit he’s in and I totally understand why we need him out the picture. However, it lacks the finesse that Stark’s ‘hands off’ approach had and because of that, Strange feels a little bit like a plot device that gets fucked off stage until he’s of use again. Or, you know, like how Captain Marvel was used at the beginning of Endgame.
  • I get the feeling these events are happening alongside the events of Hawkeye, the tv series, but as I think there’s still an episode to go I can’t quite get them married up in my mind.

The Ugly

  • This film does rely on the audience being well versed in the Spidy-Verse. This is not the film that should ever introduce you to the character and, even from the trailers, people should know at least a casual knowledge of the Maguire and Garfield eras is necessary.
    For me, this isn’t a bad thing. However, I do need to acknowledge that some other films have been able to achieve what this film has, while providing a film that works without seeing the previous.
  • There’s a cameo that I’m still not certain about. The geek in me loves it, however there’s just something about it that reminds me of Clint Barton’s introduction into the universe in Thor; underwhelming.

Final Thoughts

Such a powerful, clever, outing that has gone straight to the top of my favourite MCU list. I want to go watch it again. I already know this is a film in which I will discover more on repeated viewings.

Single All the Way (2021) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h41
Release 2.12.2021
Director Michael Mayer
About Desperate to avoid his family’s judgment about being single, Peter persuades best friend Nick to pose as his boyfriend on a trip home for the holidays.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix

The Good

  • How the hell has Ugly Betty alum, Michael Urie, only just got a leading role in a film. I love this guy and he’s the ideal person to play Peter. He hasn’t aged a day either and I *must* know his secret!
  • The remaining cast was solid, but it is both Kathy Najimy and Jennifer Robertson that steal every scene they’re in.
  • Dan Finnerty makes a cameo with more of his musical stylings. Yep, for anyone wondering, that is the same Dan from the Dan Band that you may know from the Hangover.

The Bad

  • Why, oh why, does there have to always be a second love interest? Why couldn’t this have been two meddling nieces helping her uncle find love?
    The reason why I hate it so much is that the third wheel in our rom-com is always written in such a forced way to ram it down our throats that ‘they’re not the one’. We get it, they’re not on the poster; we are not invested.
  • I’m a little disappointed with the use of Jennifer Coolidge. It was rather a bland character that led to a bland performance. The is a Queen of camp and larger than life characters and she was really stunted in this.
  • Peter’s whole ‘I’m in this position in my career but it’s not a career I want’ bs really rankles me. It doesn’t mesh with everything else about his character and where he is at the start. His family are supportive, so why didn’t he give his plant shop dream a shot from the start?! Also, who the hell goes back to small town, America to open up a niche shop?!
    The story arc would have worked much better if he’d had the plant shit as a hobble, been incredibly unhappy in his job and have the realisation he needs to make a change.

Final Thoughts

Possibly a *little* too understated to enlarge your heart three sizes, but it’s certainly much more upbeat than last year’s LGBTQ offering Happiest Season (2020)

Next Stop, Christmas (2021) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h29
Release 6.11.2021
Director Dustin Rikert
About Angie wonders what life would be like if she had married an ex who became famous. When she finds herself magically transported into the past, Angie has the chance to relive that Christmas and learn what (and who) is truly important to her.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Part of Hallmark subscription on Amazon Prime

The Good

  • It’s a very pretty cast. How can you not want Angie, Surgeon and Kick-Ass alumni, to get the guy.
  • The casting of Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd in a time-travel based story. I totally get the reference and I’m here for it.
  • It’s a lovely story that has family and Christmas at the heart. What’s not to love? You just need to not have high expectations and let the joy of Christmas wash over you.
  • It’s not just a love story about the protagonist, but there’s other couples that are helped along the way.

The Bad

  • Perhaps we don’t see enough of Angie and Tyler together, but there is zero chemistry between them. I really do wish we’d seen a little flashback to understand why they were even together. It’s not that big a deal, but I have a format to my reviews, so I’m going to stick to it.

The Ugly

  • For some viewers, this will be a little ‘plot by numbers’. Yes, it’s predictable, yes the characters are clearly labelled and don’t represent real life (for example, Tyler is equal parts of perfect boyfriend and total douche just so you know he’s ‘not the one’)
    However, some time people need that, and if that’s not something you like… stay away from Hallmark.

Final Thoughts

The cold is biting, so what better to warm you up than a sickly sweet story that’s full of charm and not too taxing.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Rating U

Length 1hr 25

Release 18.12.1992

Director Brian Henson


  • It’s Michael Caine’s performance alone that saves this film from being an outright camp pantomime. As much as I love some aspects of Gonzo and Risso, some of it strays a little too far for me.
  • There’s some odd dialogue choices along the way. There’s the headmaster who declares ‘it’s the American way’ before being corrected. Much in the same way as the film’s narrators, it takes you out of the film.
  • Not too sure how I feel about Michael Caine’s singing prowess. It’s very much the voice equivalent of dad dancing. I know the film seemed aware of it by keeping his musical additions to a minimum, but it’s really weird and jarring to not have your protagonist have at least his own song in what is essentially a musical.
  • There seemed to be a significant shift in quality when it came to the creation of the secondary and background puppetry.


  • Gonzo makes for a brilliant narrator and it’s something I’ve not seen in many other versions. It brings, when it works, some of the original text to the screen and some humour.
  • On the most part, all of the Muppets are well cast in their Dickensian roles. I completely adore Kermit as Cratchett and Statler and Waldorf as the Marley brothers.
  • Both the Swedish Chef and Animal make cameos that don’t quite fit, but are both so awesome you won’t care.
  • Michael Caine, musical elements aside, is a wonderful Scrooge. He is almost in a completely different movie to his puppet counterparts, but that strangely works in this case. As a Scrooge, he’s able to show the development of character and a will to change.

Final Thoughts

It’s a fair adaptation and while Caine lacks the flair for singing, he’s now too iconic in the role to even dare to mentally recast.

Christmas Film Advent 2018- My rundown order

  1. Scrooged
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life
  3. Fred Claus
  4. Christmas Carol (1951)
  5. We’re No Angels
  6. Trading Places
  7. Holiday affair
  8. Home Alone
  9. Elf
  10. Gremlins
  11. Surviving Christmas
  12. Krampus
  13. Rare Exports
  14. Arthur Christmas
  15. Just Friends
  16. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  17. Nightmare Before Christmas
  18. Love Actually
  19. Nativity
  20. Trapped in Paradise
  21. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  22. Scrooge (1970)
  23. The Polar Express
  24. A Christmas Story

This is not, by any means, the order for the best made films from the advent calendar. How I came to the order ranged on many questions. Some films, needed fewer questions than others.

  • Did I enjoy the film?
  • Was it uplifting or have a good message?
  • How much would I change?
  • What memories are attached to this film?
  • Would I be happy watching it again this Christmas?

The big question remains: in 2019, do I continue this list and reordered based on 24 new entries, or have a separate rundown?

Have a wonderful day

Han x

Christmas Film Advent- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Zuzu’s petals… You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.

Length: 2 Hr 15

Rating: U

About: George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.

First Thoughts

It’s not a film I’ve watched loads, but it is one I’ve adored with all my heart. I can’t remember the first time I watched it but it’s a significant one for some of my best Christmases. From having a class in school grumble that I’ve put it on to only go and fall in love with its charm, to a bittersweet watch in the cinema in Liverpool with my brother not long after our mum died.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but my instincts tell me it’s still ageing very well.

Naughty List

  • Mr Potter is a bit of a nasty bastard and while he makes for a perfect foil to the Bailey family: I hate him. I want to punch him; so hard, in his vile fucking face. I hate what his actions do to the family; George, obviously. But mainly Uncle Billy. Darling, sweet and forgetful Uncle Billy. What I hate more than anything though?! People like Mr Potter exist in real life and will never lose sleep at the destruction they cause.

Nice List

  • Good ol’ Jimmy Stuwart. I couldn’t imagine anyone better in the role of George Bailey and if Hollywood dares to remake this; I’m done. He’s the charming and wholesome leading man who is also able to handle the darker sides of characters; Bailey being no exception to this. There’s buckets of emotions for George Bailey; from being able to relate to unrealised dreams to his frustration, hopelessness and desperation. That opening image of James Stewart is perfect; George showing the shop teller how big he wants his suitcase and it pauses for Clarence to have a good look at the man he’s to save.
  • Clarence. Beautiful, childlike and rabbit-IQ’d Clarence is a heartwarming addition to the narration plot and is a delight to see interact with George in the final act. If there’s anything that will reduce me to tears every time, it will be the fact that good Clarence gets his wings as a result of his time on Earth with George. On the note of the celestial narrators, I love the opening sequence with the angels appearing as stars. It’s simplicity makes it so incredibly beautiful and something that no amount of technological advances could ever improve upon.
  • The story is an epic that is well paced and jammed packed with George’s life; the highs and the lows. For a film to start and focus on such a dark note, speak so candidly about suicide and still leave the viewer uplifted and full of hope that a community can come together at a time of need is such a commendable feat and it should be on everyone’s viewing list at some point.
  • My favourite scene will always be George rescuing the Savings and Loans company on his wedding day and sacrificing his honeymoon to do so. Upon asking Ms Davies (The Walton’s Ellen Corby) how much she’d need until the bank reopens her reply is a humbled ‘seventeen fifty’. It’s a joyous and heartwarming interaction between herself and George and a stark contrast to the man who wants to clear out his account.

Final Thoughts

I love this film. A testament to it is the fact that it’s not something I want, or need, to watch every year and is actually something I will always try and bring new people to each time I watch. It’s bravery at approaching a topic like mental health and suicide was, and still is, ahead of its time. The religious aspect of the sanctity of life is subtle enough and sends the message of support, guidance and help rather than judgement, condemnation and isolation. In a world where those who suffer from issues beyond their physical control, it’s good to see a supportive view that George’s predicament is not a sign of weakness.

Han x

Christmas Film Advent- The Polar Express (2004)

This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas – as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.

Length: 1 Hr 40

Rating: U

About: Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”; “Cast Away”) reunite for “Polar Express,” an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

Nice List

  • It’s a wholesome story that has many layers; the journey is physical, philosophical and spiritual. What child at heart wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Eve onboard a steam train going to see Santa?
  • The protagonist’s journey from sceptic to believer is quite beautiful. He’s a logical child and the beginning shows him using his intellect to collect information so it’s understandable that he questions Santa’s existence. Following his journey and watching him experiencing the magic of Christmas is heartwarming.
  • The film has diversity without feeling forced; yes, the young boy is who we start and end with but it can be argued that the young girl makes up part of the ensemble. While it had the feeling of being set in the 50s, choosing not to root it in an era allows the film to focus on the spirit of Christmas without bogging itself down in social politics. Which makes a nice change.
  • The music is something that keeps the film progressing and much more of a traditional score that fits Zemeckis’ catalogue of films.

Naughty List

  • The animation style is just not for me. It comes across more as computer game play, especially in those scenes that look like the characters are on theme park rides; something which is done one too many times for my liking.
  • The stereotype of the Know-it-all Kid is like fingers on a chalkboard. So overkill annoying that I spent the film wanting to beat the shit out of him.
  • I’m not sold on the casting of Tom Hanks. He’s the modern answer to Jimmy Stewart and I’m not sold on him as the impatient and cranky train attendant. He’s perfect when insightful and kind, but anything else is just lost on me. This is one where I think Jim Carrey would be perfect for the role.
  • It feels way too long. Once the film had finished I was certain it had been on for a little over two hours. This could be due to certain scenes being style over substance.
  • The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.” There’s just so much wrong with this statement! So, so, wrong. I’ve gotten on a train before and not paid attention to where it was going. It buggered up my day royally.

Final Thoughts

This film is not for me. I can’t get past the animation that pulls me out of the story. I’m sure there is an audience for it, and my nephew’s love of trains will see it part of my regular viewing for years to come.

Christmas Film Advent- Home Alone (1990)

Damn. How can you give Kris Kringle a parking ticket on Christmas Eve? What’s next, rabies shots for the Easter Bunny?

Length– 1Hr 43

Rating– PG

About– When bratty 8-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.

First Thoughts

My first memory of this film was my choice of seeing the second one for my birthday being vetoed by my mother. You can’t see a sequel without seeing what precedes it. Of course this was the days before prequels and the 1990 outing had yet to grace terrestrial tv so I lucked out and went to see Aladdin instead.

When Home Alone eventually did make its way to channel 4, it was at a time when films started at 8pm, but my bed time was 9pm. This sticks in my memory as one of those films that my mum bent the rules in order to see it in its entirety.

Over the years, I think I took this film for granted and it was only when I went to the Prince Charles Cinema for a Christmas Pyjama Party marathon that I really began appreciating this film again. Seeing it on the big-ish screen with about 70 other geeks made the film shine and new again. That said, I haven’t watched it since so I am curious as to how I’ll feel.

Naughty List

Kevin McCallister is a little shit. I hate him and wouldn’t have blamed the parents if they had left him at home on purpose. For me, I could have done with Kevin’s saltiness tuned down. As Macaulay got the role because of his performance in Uncle Buck, I’d have liked to have seen him closer to that performance. Perhaps seeing him with a friend would give the audience something other than moody, privileged knob.

Not sure I like the dad. He’s too cool about the whole situation. There’s a Buzzfeed or something out there explaining why he’s the true villain of the story and I have to agree. When there’s Uncle Frank, his wife and other adults; why isn’t daddy McCallister offering to go with his wife?

I could do without Uncle Frank. He’s just the wrong shade of nasty and with an already soured first act, I could have done without his money grabbing comments.

The mother’s journey is a little too Trains, Planes and Automobiles for me and I hate the fact that the rest of the family get there at the same time. It removes any importance of her journey.

Nice List

This film has all the right names attached; Chris Columbus, John Hughes and John Williams. It’s a magic formula of storytelling and music.

As much as I hate Kevin, Macaulay is the ideal actor for this role. Elijah Wood perhaps could have been a contender at the time, but Jurassic Parker Joseph Mazzello, who would have been perfect in the role, was too young at the time. Macaulay brings innocence and intelligence to Kevin.

Harry and Marv are a brilliant, and slightly scary, double act. Their determination to rob the McCallister house sees some of the film’s best set ups and pay off. Then when it comes to that final, slightly implausible, act they’re all in. You almost feel sorry for them both as they are nailed, burnt and pummelled within an inch of their lives.

Old man Marley for me is the winning storyline. The plot is so incredibly heart warming and brings with it a true meaning of Christmas. I love how Kevin gives it to Marley straight. Once he’s gotten over his fear that the neighbour is a serial killer.

Final Thought

It didn’t have the full charm from previous viewings; perhaps I need to leave it longer between viewings to get the full impact. That said, watching on the same day as Uncle Buck makes for good companion watching.

Christmas Film Advent- Just Friends (2005)

Well, if she wants Mr. Rogers, then I’m going to show her the biggest pussy she’s ever seen.

Length: 1Hr 35

Rating: 15

About: High school student Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) loves his best friend, Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart). He finally confesses his feelings, but she tells him that she just wants to be friends, and he leaves town in shame. Ten years later, Chris is a successful record executive and involved with self-absorbed pop star Samantha James (Anna Faris). He still pines for Jamie, though, and when his plans to go to Paris for the holidays fall through, he returns to his hometown to try and win her heart.

First Thoughts

This is another one that I know I’ve seen, was certain I owned on dvd but didn’t remember much about it. I don’t remember being to enamoured by Ryan Reynolds and I certainly wasn’t too impressed by his previous film, Van Wilder. I’ve not been inclined to rewatch it and I didn’t remember that it was set at Christmas.

The Naughty List

  • The plot is a little over complicated. The key problem I have is that it needs to lose at least one of the characters. Either Chris Kline’s Dusty or Anna Faris’ Samantha needs to be left on the cutting room floor for me, at the very least. I have a feeling that over the years I will change my mind as to which one causes the most problems to the plot. Today, it’s both.
  • On the one hand, Samantha is just too underdeveloped and too wacky for this sweet film. She’s a brilliant foil for Reynolds’s in a different movie, but her insistence that she’s dating Chris is a thread that’s not followed through properly and I feel as if parts of their relationship have been rewritten.
  • Then there’s Dusty; they live in a small town, how has Jamie never bumped into him before, why doesn’t his alter ego at the very least preceded him and why on Earth was he waiting to get his ‘revenge’? The better, funnier and missed story here would have been to have him make moves on Chris’ mother.
  • I’m not sure, in hindsight, Amy Smart was the best casting choice. In 2005, she was in everything and perhaps considered to be the next ‘Meg Ryan’. However, I find her a little too harsh and far from the sweet girl that would be friends with the larger Chris. She comes across as the mean girl cheerleader. The irony being that The Notebook, the film within the film, stars Rachel McAdams who effectively transitioned from mean girl to American sweetheart.
  • There were just a few sour notes that could have been sweetened by easy changes in the plot; Chris works in music and Dusty plays. Couldn’t we have had Chris help him out? I just find it odd that it’s so overlooked and it feels a little like a rewrite.

The Nice List

  • Chris’ development is brilliant. From his soured ‘I’ll hurt before I get hurt’ approach to a return to his teen-like persona is a heart warming and sweet approach to the film.
  • I absolutely love the relationship between Chris and his brother, Mike. Not only is it where you see Chris most himself, it prompts most of the laughs. I’d have happily sacrificed Faris or Kline to see more of this relationship.
  • I like that the film didn’t go for the obvious root of having Faris pretend to be his girlfriend to make previous love interest jealous, only to discover he now loves Faris. Although, not having this plot point makes me feel like Samantha is a redundant character.

Final Thoughts

A fair film and much funnier than I remember. While Reynold’s doesn’t have the balance of charming bastard he brings to the Merc with the Mouth, he won me over with this viewing.

Change the reason why Chris is on the plane that takes him home and remove Samantha and I think I’d be on my way to loving this.

Oh, and one final thought. Chris Pratt circa Guardians would be a perfect fit for the role of Chris and it would have been awesome to have seen him act alongside Faris.

Christmas Film Advent – Scrooged (1988)

I’m gonna give you a little advice Claire. Scrape ’em off. You wanna save somebody? Save yourself.

Length: 1 Hr 41

Rating: PG

About: In this modern take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a wildly successful television executive whose cold ambition and curmudgeonly nature has driven away the love of his life, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). But after firing a staff member, Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), on Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts who give him a chance to re-evaluate his actions and right the wrongs of his past.

First Thoughts

This version of Dickens’ classic has been in my life so long I couldn’t tell you when I’d first watched it. I’ve always been a fan of Bill Murray and love him even more when he’s playing the grump.

Part of my enjoyment of Bill Murray and his films, Ghostbusters in particular, is that he reminded me of my brother. Murray’s dry humour, confidence and what I’ve always considered faux grump are comparable to my brother’s charm.

The Naughty List

  • About the only thing I can really pull this up on is the uptight ‘Lady Censor’ who pulls a Weinstein in the final act when she jumps the tied up Brice. Hell, I get that some people will find it funny, but but them in the reverse and people would be up in arms. It doesn’t matter what way an assault goes, or how ‘small’ the act is; if society is going to pull some up, we need to pull them all up.
  • I also wish the film presented us a different look at the Ghost or Christmas Yet to Come. It had done so well with the others, Marley being one of the most creative, I’d have like to have seen something different. However, I did appreciate how more time was spent within this perspective and how much of an impact it has on Frank.

The Nice List

  • The biggest change to the story’s narrative is the film’s biggest strength. Always relegated to a sub plot, the relationship between the titular Scrooge (Bill Murray) and the woman he loved and lost (Karen Allen) is the focus of Scrooged and the key to Cross’ salvation. The romantic element is heart breaking and setup from the appearance of the Marley figure. It ensures that it’s not just a paint by numbers retelling. It does mean that the ghosts do focus much more on her impact in his life and, in some cases, his on hers. It’s not a sweet romance, but you can’t deny that it’s true.
  • Ghosts of Past and Present are wickedly good. In all of the versions I’ve watched, these two incarnations are my favourite. David Johansen is wonderful as the Ghost of Christmas Past who takes no shit from Murray’s excuse giving Cross. Then there is the ever glorious Carol Kane with her high pitched, high maintenance fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Present. As a child I giggled away at the physical comedy she brought to the section and it wasn’t much different watching today.
  • The role of Cratchit is played by Alfre Woodard. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but the cast/gender changes of some of the characters is way ahead of its time and something to be commended. It’s a perfect example as to why you shouldn’t force artistic forms to conform to a politically correct tick box: this is organic and beautiful. The Cratchit family (named Cooley for this production) wouldn’t be complete without its Tiny Tim. Young Calvin has been rendered mute since his father died. It’s an interesting change and it’s understandable why it is something to worry about, but also is a better infliction to be cured than in previous versions. Calvin’s brave moment never fails to reduce me to tears before warming my heart.
  • Murray’s change of heart is powerful and his speech that goes out to all watching, ties up so many of the plots threads and, with a breaking of the 4th wall, brings the film to a musical end.

Final Thoughts

I was worried when I’d watch the 1951 version that this glorious 80s offering would pale in comparison. It’s been my favourite for so long that I wasn’t quite ready for it to be replaced.

It’s hard to compare the two side by side, as there are fundamental differences that make them both unique. It means that Scrooged currently, with a few days left to go, remains my all time favourite Christmas movie while it is fair to say the 1951 offering is the most true to the source material.

Christmas Film Advent- Rare Exports A Christmas Story (2010)

Watch your mouth! It’s Christmastime, so let’s act like it

Length: 1 hr 25

Rating: 15

About: A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) and his friend Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää) think a secret mountain drilling project near their home in northern Finland has uncovered the tomb of Santa Claus. However, this a monstrous, evil Santa, much unlike the cheery St. Nick of legend. When Pietari’s father (Jorma Tommila) captures a feral old man (Peeter Jakobi) in his wolf trap, the man may hold the key to why reindeer are being slaughtered and children are disappearing.

First Thoughts

Rare Exports first came on my radar when it appeared on YouTube as a self contained short. It was something rather different. The training of feral Santa’s was unsettling in a weirdly good way. It perhaps was one of my first explorations into Christmas horror and the film itself became a Christmas Eve watch for me and my brother once our dad had gone to bed. Which year is was, I’ll leave to my brother to inform me.

I don’t remember the inclusion of what I would come to call Krampus (Joulupukki in Rare Exports) in the short and I’m definitely certain this was my introduction to the anti Santa.

The Naughty List

  • It’s length is a doubled edged sword. While a short film, it’s pacing is rather slow compared to the film short that preceded it. You feel every minute of celluloid. Some minutes even feel doubled. Watching it this time, I was able to appreciate how this creates atmosphere and comments upon a different lifestyle than the one I’m used to living, but when I watched it the first time; it felt like Rosemary’s Baby all over again.
  • It won’t feel very Christmassy to some when you consider that the profession of the main family is to kill Rudolph for its meat. The film could risk dampening your Christmas spirit, depending on your outlook. Me? I’d eat Rudolph for Christmas dinner if he tasted good.

The Nice List

  • It’s a short film at 82 minutes and if I was well versed in the original language it would feel even shorter than it already does.
  • Subtitles aren’t for everyone. Even I sometimes veto a film on original language alone, the only thing I hate more being a poor dub. Original language films get my attention better when I’m in a cinema and free of all distractions. That said, I would never want to see this film given a Hollywood treatment; it’s more about the culture and mythology than anything else.
  • The kid (Onni Tommila) holds his own in the film and it’s quite refreshing to have a young lead in this type of film.
  • I know this is stupid thing to pick up on, but I loved seeing Pietari using nails in a candle as an alarm clock. It’s such a vivid image that immediately came to mind before I started my rewatch.

Final Thoughts

It’s not one for the whole family and certainly one that would make very few people’s regular festive viewing. That said, with the lifestyle Swedish and Finnish becoming popular within the UK, this should be on everyone’s list to ensure they’re of an understanding that life isn’t all about hygge hipster bullshit that’s now bordering on a stereotype.

Christmas Film Advent- Surviving Christmas (2004)

“Some things cannot be unseen.”

Length: 1 hr 31
Age: 12
About: A wealthy executive, Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) has no close relationships and becomes nostalgic for his childhood home as Christmas approaches. When he visits the house and finds another family living there, he offers the residents, Tom Valco (James Gandolfini) and his wife, Christine (Catherine O’Hara), a large sum of money to pretend they are his parents. Soon Drew tests the couple’s patience, and, when their daughter, Alicia (Christina Applegate), arrives, things get increasingly tense.

The Naughty List

  • Little heavy on the incest and porn jokes. Which is funny, for the first one or five. For such an uplifting film, it just seems unnecessary to lay it on so thick. Either it needs to be toned down, or diversely amped up in order to earn a 15 rating.
  • Thank god Jennifer Morrison realised these dipstick princess were not how she wanted to spend her acting career and landed two plump roles on prime time TV. She’s just not believable as the pampered Legally Blonde wannabe and is nothing more than fingernails on a blackboard the entire time she’s on screen.

The Nice List

  • James Gandolfini is a grumpy delight in this comedy. He’s the perfect chalk to Ben Affleck’s cheese. He’s downright perfect and, in all honesty, I’d happily have had more of him in the film.
  • Catherine O’Hara is the Queen of Christmas. I couldn’t think of anyone better in the role of the mother. She is able to roll with the unusual scenario and sass everyone while doing so.
  •  The plot has a heart underneath its strangeness. At the root of the plot is family and while playing pretend, something real came home. Working with what could perhaps be considered a clique, Surviving Christmas manages to make something new and charming. Even with Ben Affleck circa twat in the lead.
  • Its really funny and the chuckles don’t come from the ruder portions of the film. 

Checking it Twice

I’m still not sold on Ben Affleck in the lead. He works well with the cast and there’s a nice chemistry with Christina Applegate, however I want to punch him in the face most of the time he’s on the screen. I think I would have enjoyed it better had someone like Adam Sandler or Jason Bateman. That said, Affleck handles the heartfelt reveal really well and does show potential that’ll recognised fully in 2012 with an Oscar nod for his role in Argo.

Final Thoughts

It’s a fun film that is a little flawed, but will always be charming enough to stay on the festive watch list.

Han x