Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Amazon Prime

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010) comes from the land of the original Father Christmas but he’s no cuddly old man who hands out presents at Christmas. This Santa Claus, who has been buried in a man-made glacier like a wooly mammoth, is a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of […]

Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve, directed by Arnaud Desplechin

‘A Christmas Tale’ – A messy family holiday on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

A Christmas Tale (France, 2008), Arnaud Desplechin’s mercurial, knotty and cinematically vibrant drama of family dysfunction stirred up over a Christmas gathering, was my pick for best film of 2008. Directing with restless energy, Desplechin sketches out a family tragedy, the untimely death of a first-born, that precedes the story by decades and then only […]

Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood star, George Seaton directs

The original ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Is there a more warmhearted celebration of Christmas cheer amid the urban reality of modern America than the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947)? It’s a Wonderful Life may be the cult film of the Christmas season, a holiday noir that slips into nightmare before pulling out its happy ending. But the idealized small town […]

Jon Hamm in 'Black Mirror: White Christmas'

What to watch: ‘Black Mirror: White Christmas’ is a cynical holiday special on Netflix

Don’t expect any holiday cheer from Black Mirror: White Christmas, a Christmas story from the dark British series about technology bringing out the worst human impulses. But if you are looking for a shot of cynicism to counter the seasonal spirit, this clever anthology of three stories with a science fiction twist should fit the […]

Kris Kringle in 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town,' a Rankin and Bass TV special

Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty: Beloved Christmas specials on Amazon Prime

For big kids of certain age, it wasn’t really Christmas until all those silly Christmas specials produced by Rankin& Bass, usually with stop motion animation that looked like toy rooms come to life but sometimes with more traditional hand-drawn animation, started showing up on prime time TV. Sure, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the original […]