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Jim Sherlock’s classic Christmas recommendations

MML

RECOMMENDED CHRISTMAS VIEWING:

There’s plenty out now on DVD and Blu-ray to choose from for the Christmas stocking.

From William Wyler’s epic multi-Oscar winning epic Ben-Hur and Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, to King of Kings, the 1951 masterpiece Scrooge (also released as A Christmas Carol) starring Alastair Sim, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, the 1966 animated classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas, White Christmas, Home Alone, to the acclaimed mini-series Jesus of Nazareth, there’s lot’s to choose from.

Some can all too easily be forgotten, so here are some additional Christmas related recommendations for Christmas or simply to enjoy over the Christmas and New Year season.

They promise great viewing during the festive season for adults and children alike, and there’s something for everyone!

Merry Christmas and Happy Viewing!

THE SMALL ONE [G]:

Let’s begin with a small animated film with a big heart! The beautiful and enchanting tale of a young boy in biblical times who must sell his frail donkey, only to be met with more heartbreak and humiliation along the way, until a mysterious man appears buys the boy’s prize pet and the donkey embarks on a journey of historical greatness, one of Disney’s great classics, and once seen, it is never forgotten, this priceless little gem can be found on the Walt Disney DVD ‘Countdown to Christmas.’   

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE PG]:

Director Frank Capra’s beautifully sentimental 1946 classic starring James Stewart and Donna Reed about a man who is down on his luck and contemplates suicide only to be visited by an angel who shows him how his life had affected others had he never existed, is not only compulsive Christmas viewing, but great for any time of the year, and just improves with age, the stellar cast pull it off brilliantly, and if you don’t shed a tear with this one you have a heart of stone, one of the great classics of all time!

Stars: ***** 

MIRACLE ON 34th STREET [G]:

Great character actor Edmund Gwenn deservedly won the Academy award for his standout performance in this charming fable as Kris Kringle, who is modern times is working at Macy’s Department store and tells everyone that he really is Santa Clause, then he meets an unbelieving girl [Natalie Wood] and must go to court to prove that he is in fact the real Santa, a real treat for the whole family, cast also includes Maureen O’Hara and John Payne, bit it belongs to Edmund Gwenn in the performance of a lifetime!

Stars: ****1/2   

THE POLAR EXPRESS [G]:

Wonderfully exhilarating animated adventure about a young boy with too many doubts about Christmas who is suddenly awoken late on Christmas Eve by a giant train and a mysterious conductor, voiced by Tom Hanks, who offers to takes him on the journey of a lifetime and to restore his faith, and so he hops aboard, so the fun and thrills begin, a delightful, colourful and exciting adventure ride brimming with eye-popping animation and special effects.

Stars: **** 

LOVE ACTUALLY [M15+]:

Here’s one for the adults, a touching and highly entertaining British comedy of a group of people all facing assorted issues in their lives in the lead up to Christmas, full of charm, humour and wit, the outstanding cast includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Laura Liney, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Rowan Atkinson and Billy Bob Thornton are all excellent, but it’s Bill Nighy’s performance as the fading rocker that completely steals the show, and again, not for the kiddies.

Stars: ****

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION [M]:

It’s vacation time again, but the Griswold family decide to stay home for Christmas, and you guessed it, all goes haywire, as anything that can go wrong certainly does, one of the funniest in this third film in the hit vacation series, filled with plenty of laughs, and even some poignant moments, stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo and Randy Quaid are all in top form, this is one family that you don’t want to receive a Christmas Day dinner invite from, a Christmas treat for adults and older children.

Stars: ***1/2

MILLIONS [PG]:

Alex Etel, James Nesbitt and Lewis McGibbon star in Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winning filmmaker Danny Boyle’s energetic and enchanting Christmas parable of two brothers who discover a stolen bag of bank notes that are about to become worthless by year’s end and soon learn what they are really made of. Brimming with many exciting, funny and poignant moments thanks to Danny Boyle’s unique and eclectic handling, this is a gem from beginning to end not to be missed! Stars: ****

WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND [G]:

The poignant and haunting story of a young girl who discovers a man wanted by Police hiding in her family’s barn and thinks he is Jesus Christ, and try to hide him from the police. Outstanding cast includes Hayley Mills, Alan Bates and Bernard Lee, and all excel under the superbly orchestrated direction of Bryan Forbes, produced by Richard Attenborough and based on the novel by Mary Hayley Bell, Hayley Mills’ mother. A beautifully made and enchanting allegorical study of childhood innocence.

Stars: ****1/2

WE’RE NO ANGELS [PG]

The delightfully quirky and wonderfully whimsical comedy classic of three prisoners who escape from the infamous Devil’s Island and decide to rob a store to get some money and travel to safety. However, the three wise convicts end up spending Christmas night with a generous family, and they decide to stay and help fix a  crisis. Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov are perfectly cast in this enchantingly unforgettable off-kilter comedy of three lovable rogues who will tickle the funny bone and warm the heart. Stars: ****    

JOYEUX NOEL (Merry Christmas) [MA15+]:

The powerful and poignant true story of a now legendary incident during World War One when German, French and Scottish soldiers decided to risk being court martialled, or face the firing squad, by calling a truce on Christmas Eve and come together to celebrate the meaning of Christmas, great cast, direction, writing and production design bring it together beautifully, this is not only a lesson in history and war, but an unforgettable experience!

Stars: ****

STALAG 17 [G]:

Set at Christmas, this is the story of two World War II P.O.W’s who are killed and a high ranking prisoner is suspected of being an informer, is a top notch WWII comedy-drama from legendary director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) right at the top of his game. Screen legend William Holden gives a standout Oscar winning performance. Thrilling, funny and exciting, this is close to the best and one of the most acclaimed of the genre. Trivia: this was the inspiration for the classic TV series Hogan’s Heroes a decade-and-a-half later.

Stars: *****     

DIE HARD [M]:

If you’re a bit fed up with the Christmas rush and stress, then go for Bruce Willis as New York cop John McClane who visits his wife at her work Christmas party only to be interrupted and taken hostage by a bunch of high profile crooks, and the thrills comes thick and fast, not only the best action film of the 80s,’ but one of the greatest action films of all time, Willis is a knockout in his star-making role, brimming with humour, tension and pyrotechnics, and Alan Rickman is a standout as the head villain, a knockout!

Stars: ****

THE BBC CHRISTMAS SPECIALS [PG]:

For many years the greats of British comedy would celebrate Christmas with a special every year, an end of year event, and here are just a few of those wonderful ‘Christmas Specials,’ six classic gems from legendary TV shows and comics that are sure to delight over the festive season and for years to come: The Two Ronnies, Porridge, Dad’s Army, Steptoe & Son, Morecambe & Wise and Are You Being Served?

Stars: **** 

GRUMPY OLD MEN AT CHRISTMAS [M]:

What better way to spend your special day of festive cheer than in the company of some Grumpy Old Men, this is not Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthew, it’s Jeremy Clarkson, Rick Wakeman and Bob Geldof, among others, a bunch of world weary baby boomers who gripe at everything about Christmas, hysterically funny with plenty to enjoy, a delightful side-step from political correctness filled with sardonic and eloquent humour.

Stars: ***1/2 

 

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