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cH online Christmas Movie recommendations – Part 1

Over the festive period, we’ll be bringing you recommendations from Film Club members, cornerHOUSE trustees and cornerHOUSE artistic committee members of films to watch over the Festive period.

Some of them may be easy to find in TV schedules, some of them may need you to head to i-Player or Netflix, and some of them may take all your powers of research and perseverance to uncover anywhere, but all of them will be worth the effort, we hope.

First off, here’s two contrasting choices from Ian Davies.

Hjem til Jul ( Home for Christmas ) [ no BBFC classification ] 2011 Norway 90 minutes Director : Bent Hamer

This is a world away from Hollywood’s tinsel take on “The Holidays”; here are a number of tales of ordinary Norwegians on Christmas Eve. The characters’ stories touch and sometimes interlink. They address loyalty, infidelity, sex, food, spirituality and model railways, and much more besides. Hamer has managed to weave together a film which has a lot to say, but softly. Each thread is nimbly handled but the whole shows a real picture of diverse humanity. We meet refugees, an adulterous couple, two adolescents developing their friendship, a beggar, a seemingly lonely old man, and an estranged father, amongst others. Each is trying to prepare for Christmas as best they can.

The film deftly presents these real world issues with a light, often comic, touch. That lightness is tempered, however, by the bleakness of the long dark Scandinavian night. So tragedy is paired with triumph, hate balances out love, and death is as present in this Christmas as is birth.

From a pre-title cliffhanger, which doesn’t resolve till the final scene, we are caught up in compelling stories and want to know more. Each story is moved forward but not all are fully resolved; we have to use our imagination about what comes after.

Christmas is definitely a character in this film, from the festive trees which crop up along the way, to the Nativity-like birth. There is a lot packed into this short running time. You may well come away refreshed rather than elated, with a renewed appreciation of life, and revived view of the opportunities Christmas provides.

The Muppets Christmas Carol.

This mash-up of Dickens, Michael Caine and Jim Henson’s creations is an unlikely but emphatic classic, still screening in Esher as I write. It does not pale, even after repeated viewings. Heart-rending and uplifting in equal measures, the film follows Dickens story arc closely whilst, of course, adapting it for the Muppets unique approach to performance. Sadly not on mainstream TV this Christmas, it is on Disney+.

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