Tag Archives: Michael Caine

Great Christmas Films To Watch This Season

Hey everybody! Christmas is coming up on us fast, which means it is time to deck the halls and set up the Nativity scenes. To spread a little more Christmas cheer, I thought a list of Christmas films was in order.

Here’s a look at the movies I like to watch to get in the Christmas spirit:

Related imageThe Muppet Christmas Carol

This is the Christmas film I have watched since I was a tyke. Christmas is never complete for me without at least one viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol. It is a fun movie all around – and it is best viewed, in my ‘umble opinion, in the lead up to Christmas Day.

Related imageRise of the Guardians

Okay, technically, the story in Rise of the Guardians is set three days before Easter. It has nothing to do with Christmas except for snow, Santa Claus (North in the film), and a lot of presents.

Still, this is a great movie, and it is well within the spirit of Christmas. It may not be truly seasonal, but I feel I can recommend curling up with the family to watch this movie during the Christmas season – before or after Christmas Day. Either time in December works.

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The Polar Express

Now this film has a much stronger claim to the Christmas season than Rise of the Guardians. It is perfect Christmas fare. The songs for this film are also really good. My personal favorite is When Christmas Comes to Town.

Of course, children will not be the only ones to get a kick out of the The Polar Express. It is a pity they do not make musicals in live action films the way they used to; now, one has to look for great song and dance sequences in animated films. Do not misunderstand – I like the animated routines just fine. But what is wrong with live actors and actresses dancing and singing on screen?

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

My best memory of this show is when the Peanuts gang re-decorates Charlie Brown’s pathetic little fir tree. When Charlie Brown returns, the gang shouts “Merry Christmas!” and sings one of the best renditions of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing ever recorded. This is probably one of the reasons why that particular carol has always been one of my favorites. A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the best films ever made for this season. But you needn’t take my word for it – just watch it yourself!

Image result for frozenFrozen

Yes, I know. Disney’s Frozen has an even slighter claim to the Christmas season than Rise of the Guardians. It takes place in the middle of summer, for cryin’ out loud! And everybody has already written practically everything there is to write about it!

All true, readers, but the fact is that I promised a friend I would list this film with my Christmas favorites. And Frozen is a great family film, so it will also be on many a Christmas entertainment menu this year and beyond.

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White Christmas

 I suppose it is no surprise that Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s White Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas films of all time. The movie follows Crosby and Kaye, whose characters are World War II veterans turned successful song and dance performers. The two meet a sister act who also have a song and dance routine and are headed to a Vermont hotel to work for the proprietor.

Almost right away, Crosby and Rosemary Clooney’s character fall for each other. But when the four reach Vermont, they find everything warm and sunny when everyone was expecting – naturally – snow!

At the hotel, Crosby and Kaye find their former general from World War II is the owner. What is more, the lack of snow has led to no customers for the former general, who is on the verge of losing his establishment.

I will avoid spoiling the rest of the film for you, readers. All I will say is that this is a fun Christmas movie, with great songs performed by some of the best singers from a golden era. White Christmas is essential viewing for the season, in this writer’s view. If you get a chance to see it, give it a try. I doubt it will disappoint!

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It’s a Wonderful Life

Anyone who has watched NCIS from the beginning knows that a viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life was a Christmas tradition in Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo’s immediate family. I have only seen this film (all the way through, at least) once in recent memory.

Starring one of my favorite actors from Hollywood’s “old guard,” Jimmy Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life tells how the owner of a small-town savings and loan company runs into severe financial trouble. At this crisis, the worst Stewart’s character has ever faced, the audience is shown just how much difference one life can make in the world. While Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a reminder to the well-off and comfortable to use their gifts for the good of others, It’s a Wonderful Life reminds viewers of the importance of living, period.

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Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol and The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe, with Matt Smith as The Doctor

Doctor Who is not among the top ten of my favorite shows to watch. However, I did develop a fondness for Matt Smith’s Doctor through these two Christmas specials. The first, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol, retells Dickens’ classic as only the loony writers for The Doctor’s series can, while the next Christmas special, The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe, takes its name from the famous second book of C.S. Lewis’ Narnian ChroniclesImage result for Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol and The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe, with Matt Smith as The Doctor

Of the two, The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe has more laughs in it than A Christmas Carol. I definitely recommend you find and watch these shows, even if you are not a Doctor Who fan. I was not, and am not, a Whovian but I enjoy these particular shows no end!

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We’re No Angels

The original We’re No Angels with Peter Ustinov, Humphrey Bogart, and Aldo Ray is great fun. I will avoid giving you spoilers on this film, readers. Suffice it to say, do not buy or borrow the remake this Christmas. When it comes to this film, it ought to be the original or bust!

Well, there you have it, readers. These are some of my favorite films to view during the Christmas season. I have left out some great tales in this list, but I do not want to overwhelm anyone! It is a short list full of the Spirit of Christmas – small, and seemingly insignificant, but more beautiful than any jewel, and true as the Star that guides us all.

Merry Christmas, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

Secondhand Lions

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Secondhand Lions is a great movie starring Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, and Haley Joel Osment.  The film takes place mostly in the late fifties or early sixties.  Osment plays Walter, a young boy who lives with his mother.  Walter’s mother – Pearl – is a widow who is always on the move.  She has an unfortunate idea that she will be able to find a man who will have enough money to cure all her worries…. and Walter’s too, of course.

Pearl’s latest scheme involves leaving Walter with his two great uncles, Hub and Garth (Duvall and Caine), for the summer while she “goes to school.”  She is also hoping that Walter can somehow find his great-uncles’ money.  “They say they stole it,” his mother tells him conspiratorially.  “What do you think, Walter?  A real buried treasure, just like in all those books you’re always reading!”

Just what Walter thinks is hard to tell.  He seems most unhappy with this plan.  Then they start down the road to his great-uncles’ house, and he goes from unhappy to extremely worried.  There are signs posted on either side of the long driveway leading to his great-uncles’ house.  These signs say everything from “Turn back now!” to “Trespassers will be shot!”

And Hub and Garth can both shoot very well.  In fact, when Pearl and Walter find them, they are fishing in the lake on their property.  But they are doing it in the most unsportsmanlike manner imaginable.  Some professional fisherman would undoubtedly groan and cover their eyes at the sight of the two old men firing into the lake with their shot guns.  This is their idea of fishing.

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Their idea of excitement and entertainment is even better.  Traveling salesmen have heard the rumors about the brothers’ fortune, and these guys can smell a dollar a mile away.  They are looking to collect a little of the loot for themselves through hocking the old men some brand spankin’ new merchandise.  Most of them only stay around to get shot at three or four times before packing up and speeding away.

While settling into his uncles’ house that night, Walter finds a trunk with different postage notes stamped on it.  Finding the key (conveniently) to the lock, he opens the chest to discover it is full of…. Sand?  Soooo disappointing!

Or is it?  Running his hand through the sand, Walter finds a picture of a beautiful young Arabian woman underneath the dust.  Uncle Hub is not much of a talker, but Garth is more willing to befriend Walter.  He tells the boy about how he and Hub toured Europe as World War I began, keeping just ahead of the Kaiser’s army.  On their last night in France, the two met a couple of fellas in a bar who got them stone drunk –

And the brothers woke up the next morning to find themselves on a ship, shanghaied into the French Foreign Legion in Africa!

Hub loved it.  He took care to watch out for Garth, naturally, but he loved the fighting.  He fought “with the strength of ten men.”

After the end of the war, Garth wanted a more tame occupation.  He led safaris for Hollywood types and rich people in Africa.  But Hub, he had to have something a little more exciting.  So he hired himself out to the new African governments to help put an end to the slave trade.  (FYI, they still have it today.)

It was after he rescued the handmaiden of a princess during one of these raids that Hub was to meet his future wife:  the princess Jasmine.

Living in the web of lies his mother has spun for him his whole life, Walter is thrilled by the stories Garth tells him.  But there is always a nagging fear in the back of his mind as he listens to these heart-pumping tales:  are they real?

At its core, Secondhand Lions is about the search we all pursue for the truth.  When at last Walter finally asks Hub if the stories are really true, did they really happen, Duvall’s character says, “It doesn’t matter.  What matters is what you believe….  And that love, true love, is the most real thing in the world.”

Secondhand Lions is one of the BEST films ever made.  Duvall’s Hub is perfect, just like all the roles I have seen him play.  Caine counterbalances Duvall well, both as an actor and in his portrayal of the supporting character/brother.  The older he gets, the more it seems that we see the real Michael Caine shining through the form of the character he plays.  Haley Joel Osment, a talented child actor, proves here that he can play beside the best and deliver a splendid performance.  He portrays Walter perfectly.

These three men make the movie great.  If you have not already seen Secondhand Lions, readers, do not wait another minute to borrow or buy it.  The film is well worth your time and your money.

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