Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Amazon Prime and FilmStruck

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 […]

Ice-T and Drea Matteo in the film by Abel Ferrara

‘R Xmas – an Abel Ferrara holiday movie on Amazon Prime

Inspired by a supposedly true story by Cassandra De Jesus, this low-key drama is prime Abel Ferrara territory: a New York tale rumbling with irony and ambiguity. Doting Manhattan parents Drea Matteo and Lillo Brancato Jr. (both veterans of The Sopranos) keep their upper-class lifestyle together—private school for the kids, BMW for the parents, classy […]

‘Jingle Bell Rocks!’ – Cult Christmas music on Amazon Prime

Christmas music aficionado Mitchell Kezin turns filmmaker to document his passion for the most unusual, eccentric, and unbelievable Christmas songs ever released for Jingle Bell Rocks! (2014). This isn’t about the beloved hits everyone knows. It’s about forgotten greats (Nat King Cole’s devastating “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot,” the director’s favorite song), alternative […]

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 […]