Welcome to the final five of my Christmas Film Recommendations. Today we make our way through the Christmas film staples of strippers, burglars, dogs and orphans.
Powder Blue is constantly compared (unfavorably) to the highly over-rated Crash (2004): both share the Christmastime setting and the lots-of-intersecting-stories thing. My response is a) Powder Blue is substantially less heavy-handed than Crash and b) intersecting stories is by no means a Crash innovation: see Noel (2004) and Christmas Eve (2015) as examples.
A heavy Christmas film that’s over-acted in places, but enjoyable nonetheless. Offering an all-star cast of Ray Liotta, Jessica Biel, Forest Whitaker, an under-utilised Lisa Kudrow and a young Eddie Redmayne.
72. The Ref (1994)
Denis Leary is a burgular who finds himself - regrettably - taking a highly dysfunctional married couple hostage over Christmas. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis are funny here, even if the film is a tad mean-spirited in places.
There’s a slew of Christmas films centred on dogs, largely centred on them saving Christmas and bringing together individuals for romance. This one’s a little bit different. An intellectually disabled boy convinces his family to allow him to foster a dog over the Christmas period. Dad’s reluctant as his last dog was inextricably linked to his messy war memories. Nicely sentimental, although be prepared to cry if you’re a dog lover. (A prequel - Christmas With Tucker (2013) - centres on the why of Dad’s reluctance. Not quite as good as A Dog Named Christmas).
This is actually the first time in adulthood that I’ve watched anything with Shirley Temple. I was surprised how appealing I found her, particularly given my general cynicism toward singing and dancing children.
A Christmas tragedy leads Shirley to becoming the pawn in a custody battle. Very sweet with a lovely ending. If you want more Christmastime Shirley, she also appears as a teenager (who is, admittedly, far less appealing) in I’ll Be Seeing You (1944); a decent enough film.
This post is an instalment from a 15-part series on my favourite Christmas films. The consolidated version - 75 Christmas Films Worth Watching - is now available.