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During the holiday season two movies make me pause and settle into the sofa for a few hours. I make no claims for quality. Comfort movies work like comfort food--they're familiar full of fat and sugar, and are quickly digested and forgotten.
The Ref features one of the most genius pairings ever--Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey as a squabbling couple preparing to host Christmas dinner for their extended family. The movies opens with them in a counseling session (with BD Wong as their frustrated therapist) on Christmas Eve. Denis Leary plays a jewel thief who makes the horrendous mistake of taking this couple hostage so he can hide in their home for a few hours. Add in Christine Baranski as a sister-in-law ("Shut up, it's Christmas!"), a tart-tongued mother, and a Scandinavian- themed Christmas dinner complete with advent wreathes on everyone's head, it all adds up to a increasingly nutty holiday film. Obviously this is all about the casting for me. Sometimes a screenplay is only so-so, but if a director gets solid professionals in all the roles, it works.
If Sentimental and Colin Firth is Your Thing
British accents really do make everything better in this fluffy film directed by Richard Curtis. It features a massive who's who of British celebrities and the somewhat random Laura Linney (maybe Kate Winselt wasn't available). All the stories interconnect and all the stories are about different aspects of love. Bits of it are thoughtful with a mournful Liam Neeson missing his dead wife, Emma Thompson feeling middle-aged, and Linney dealing with a troubled sibling. Bits of it are funny: Hugh Grant does his charming thing, Colin Firth does his bumbling thing, and Martin Freeman (Hobbit Alert!) finds love in an awkward situation. All of this is set to pop-music with London looking pristine and snow-kissed. It's deeply sentimental, but if your heart can resist the footage of real people reuniting and hugging each other in Heathrow, well you are made of tough stuff and go rent Bad Santa (which I also love but feel guilty about because it's very, very mean).
Happy movie watching!
CynthiaR has a confession--The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II was not bad. I will definitely miss the Cullens' ulta-modern house.