An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) from Automatic Pictures
Rated PG. Drama, Period Film, Family Film, Christmas

1/2

Description (from the film case): Based on a short story by the acclaimed author of Little Women comes a holiday story of family and forgiveness. Recently widowed Mary Bassett (Helene Joy) and her three children have hit difficult times on their farm. Things are so bad this year that they can’t even afford a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. Suddenly, Mary’s wealthy and estranged mother Isabella (Jacqueline Bisset) comes to visit. Although she finds a kindred spirit in Mary’s eldest daughter, Tilly (Tatiana Maslany), Mary resents her mother’s attempts to help them out of their financial difficulties…

My thoughts: Okay, so even though the description doesn’t make it clear, the story here is led by young Tilly, and I rather like this heroine. She’s got some fire but doesn’t wildly burn around, she longs for more but isn’t a total brat about it, and she has some growing up to do but isn’t immature. Plus, she’s a writer, which I always admire.

And, yes, I’m taking the liberty of tagging this as a Christmas film, since Thanksgiving is the lead-up to the holiday of all holidays. The movie originally aired on the Hallmark Channel, and it certainly has the quintessentially “Hallmark” kind of wholesomeness, warmth, and delightfulness wrapped up in an hour and a half.

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) from Liberty Films (II)
Not Rated. Drama, Romance, Family Film, Christmas

My thoughts: So, so, so, SO much more than a Christmas movie. But quite the Christmas movie, just the same.

So many from different generations now know the story of the one-of-a-kind George Bailey (James Stewart), a young, ambitious man intent on getting out of his hometown of Bedford Falls to “see the world” and “do something big and important.” But there’s always something to foil George’s plans and keep him where he is, particularly the Bailey family business (the Building & Loan), his own growing family, and the town that needs him. What will it take for George to realize just how wonderful of a life he has, just the way it is?

Even with his full acting career and the fact that I enjoy watching him in other films, James Stewart is George Bailey to me, as I’m sure he is to countless others who also watch George’s classic life story every year. Mary, Clarence, Harry, even old Mr. Potter, and the people of Bedford Falls help to keep the holiday of all holidays what it is for the lot of us: wonderful.

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Scrooge (1951)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Scrooge (1951) from Renown Pictures
(Released as A Christmas Carol in the United States)
Not Rated. Drama, Period Film, Comedy, Christmas

Five Gold Stars

Description (from the film case): Alastair Sim’s tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has almost single-handedly made this beloved version of Charles Dickens’s story into one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. Cranky and curmudgeonly Scrooge learns the error of his unkind ways and is taught the true meaning of the holidays when he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future.

My thoughts: I’ll never need another Scrooge on film after Alastair Sim.

Oh, this film used to scare me when I was little, but I watched it anyway, and I still watch it most every year now, without the fright. Of course, it’s not at all difficult to see why early critics said it’s too dark of a picture to show at Christmastime, but it has nevertheless become such a holiday staple that folks like me can watch it year after year to see more clearly all that keeps bringing audiences back to this classic picture: Dickens’s signature stark themes mixed with warmth, comedy, and a message of compassion and living life to its absolute fullest.

“A merry Christmas, Ebenezer! You old humbug!”

My corresponding reading: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

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From the film’s release in the UK, with the film’s real name. Scrooge. 😀

 

The Nativity Story (2006)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Nativity Story (2006) from New Line Cinema
Rated PG. Drama, Historical, Faith, Christmas

1/2

My thoughts: Albeit Jesus, naturally, is a major theme in this film, the work as a whole shouldn’t be relegated down to a little Christmastime-Jesus-in-a-manger story. Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar Isaac, and their supporting cast bring wonderful humanness to this picture, the three wise men adding some nice and unexpected humor.

I’ve heard other viewers say that the actors’ dialogue is “stiff” or what have you, but I’m pretty sure the filmmakers weren’t trying to portray the characters as modern and Western, speaking as modern Westerners would. The simple expression and cadence of the dialogue help to keep the story in a time, place, and culture far removed from many of us.

Also, the love story here between Mary and Joseph is well-developed. Again, it doesn’t play out like a nowadays-Western romance, but Castle-Hughes and Isaac bring it to life with a quiet kind of beauty. And the growth of their characters is clear–they’re not the same two people in the stable in Bethlehem that they were back in Nazareth.

Quite a movie.

My corresponding reading: Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes.

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