Tag Archive: love actually

Love Came Down at Christmas

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Are you ready for Christmas?

I heard that question everyday last week. I will hear it everyday this week until the man in red makes his big arrival.

I am not ready; I am half way there. There are cookies to make and presents to wrap. Then there are those last minute present thingies.

So the best thing to do is procrastinate. Maybe buy some pre-made cookie dough and pretend I made it from scratch. Maybe grab some cute gift bags from the dollar store (I hear Dollar Tree has upped their game) and some tissue paper to create pretty gifts without a lot of corners.

And then there are the movies.

There is no cheating there. I prefer getting movies without annoying commercials – ‘buy the house,’ ‘get the whizbang toy,” ‘get her a car for Christmas?” . Yes, there are previews at the beginning. That is the time I use to get my popcorn ready.

Then I plop down for a watch and at this point in time I have a few movies I must watch. I find myself drawn to the old classics with one exception.

I find that I must watch Love Actually starring the brightest stars of British cinema – Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Love ActuallyAlan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Kierra Knightly, Liam Neesom, and Martin Freeman. It has various tales of love at various stage of life.


If  you choose to watch this movie, you must know that it is for adults. This is a late night treat so little ones do not hear the swearing or deal with some of the heavy situations such as death of a beloved wife, a cheating spouse, or a loud honestly abrasive former star making a comeback. I find myself rooting for most of the cast as some learn that love, actually, exists all around us.

Christmas carol, alastair simsBut I also want to see the 1951 Alistair Sims classic rendition of A Christmas Carol. Hear we see the classic tale in one of the best versions of the tale of a bitter old man who is visited by three Christmas ghosts who’s goal is the change the miser’s fate. It is filled with sweet memories and ones filled with tears. We see a man unrepentant about a life held back until he is filled joy.

This is one that can easily be watched by all family members although maybe not so much by the younger members. Truth be told, they are going to want to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. I remember how we had to plan to watch that TV special but thanks to DVD or streaming serviCharlie Brown Christmasces, we can watch it anytime.

We can see Charlie Brown try to direct a play filled with players concerned about their own parts. It takes a small little tree and the retelling of the Nativity for the cast to remember why they are here and what they are about to portray. Plus there is that great jazzy soundtrack. All of these movies show the hope of Christmas in one way or another. All of them display some sort of wonder.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And to all a good night.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


The Best of Christmas

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Do you have your must-watch movies during the holiday season?

I know I do.

Just like those must have treats, the holiday season doesn’t feel right without certain movies.

christmas-cookiesOne holiday treat I miss are the mini pecan pies one of my mom’s friends used to make. She used a cream cheese dough that was perfect with the custard and nut filling. But Chris has been gone for too many years and I never could re-create them.

However, I can make kolachi cookies and plan to do so this year. I think one Saturday will be spent in the kitchen rolling out dough and filling them with apricot or cream cheese filling. I wouldn’t mind making white chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies as well. And I think the kids want those peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss in the middle. Somehow it doesn’t seem like Christmas without them.

One thing I have never been able to do is make a decent pie crust until I found a recipe that called for half butter and half shortening. Forget the Martha Stewart food processor version. This recipe never falls apart on me or make me wish I hadn’t attempted a homemade crust. Now I just need to learn how to make those pies with the beautiful leaves and vines.

A Christmas Story Peter IMDb com

Ralphie talks to Santa in “A Christmas Story”; Picture from IMDb.com

As for movies, it is never really Christmas without watching A Christmas Story. Will Ralphie get his rifle? Will his dad win the battle against the furnace? Will his little brother ever get to go outside without looking like the Michelin Man? I know all the answers to these questions and I don’t care if I have seen this movie a thousand times. I love spending time with this family. So much so that we have taken on a family tradition of going to the Chinese buffet for our Christmas meal – without the duck.

Another tradition I like to include is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Sometimes I feel as if the music is too much of a minor key while other times it leaves me breathless and happy. But the story is the thing here as Charlie fights against the commercialization of the season. It is symbolized by his friends and family desire to be the biggest, brightest of the season and his rebellion of picking a Christmas tree that is the saddest one on the lot. Joy is the end result as we remember the Christmas story.

The Nativity Story poster IMDb com

Poster image from IMDb.com

With so many biblical movies in the past few years, the one I lean towards in The Nativity Story (2006) starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Issac as Mary and Joseph. It shows the time in which Mary is betrothed – unwillingly- to Joseph. A message from an angel changes her life, puts her in great danger, and challenges Joseph to act with faith. While the movie was made quickly, I find it beautiful to watch and deeply compelling. Each character grows more precious in my eyes as I come to understand their bravery, knowledge, and wisdom.

All of these are watchable by many member of the family. But the one I love most of all is Love Actually. I watch it with the husband or girlfriends because it has enough swear words and sexual situations to be uncomfortable with my adult children or mother.

Love, Actually IMDb com

Poster image from IMDb.com.

That is despite it being a movie that is best for late-teen to adult viewing. And yet, what I love about this movie is its message of hope in most cases. That we can find love with the right person. It’s just that there are many definitions of love in this movie and not all of them are happy. Couples are challenged, find that while love exists it cannot work for them, or that the person they love the most is never who they expected. And all of this takes place during the Christmas season.

Without any of these my Christmas is a little more lackluster, a little less teary, a little less hopeful.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Last week, I talked about great holiday movies for kids or the whole family. This week I am talking about those holiday movies that are best suited for adults. Some are on my list because, context-wise, they are made for adults.

Poster image from IMDb.com.

Others are there because they are violent and/or filled with swear words. They are simply not suitable for the younger members of the family or to watch with your parents and/or grandparents.

Here it is.

#5 This is my favorite Christmas movie and when you think about when the movie was made, it is quite shocking. In Christmas in Connecticut, Barbara Stanwyck plays a Martha Stewart-type writer who cannot do anything she writes about. However, her publisher decides he wants to have an old fashioned Christmas at her farm and eat her delicious cooking. To make matters worse, he has invited a war hero to join them.

Now Stanwyck has to find a farm, a husband and a baby. When the soldier arrives Stanwyck finds herself falling for him while pretending to be married. How shocking, a married woman with a child flirting shamelessly with a war hero. And yet, I love it. I watch it every Christmas Eve.

Bruce Willis going through a window in "Die Hard." Image from IMDb.com

#4 What is Christmas without Bruce Willis yelling “Yippee Ki Yay, &#*@^.” Well, probably a lesser time. Who can resist an NYPD officer going to L.A. for Christmas to visit his high-powered wife. Once he gets there he has to deal with a hostage-takeover and try to save her.

This movie is filled with violence. Willis swears enough to make him an honorary British actor. Best of all, we get to watch the delicious Alan Rickman as the dapper and cunning villain. 

#3 Love Actually is a British romantic comedy set during the month leading up to Christmas. It is an ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Liam Neesom and Kiera Knightly. The stories are about love found, love lost, love beginning, and love strained.

The writing and acting are stupendous feats, much of the emotions of the characters are raw and tangible. BUT there is a lot of swearing. And one story follows two people who are movie stand-ins at a porno movie shoot. I only watch this one with the husband or by myself.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

#2 If you like black comedy and need a break from the sweetness of the holiday, you cannot go wrong with Bad Santa. Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic, cynical Santa who robs the mall he works at every year with his elf partner.

This time a bullied kid from the town invites Thornton into his home, and slowly this drinking and swearing Santa opens his eyes to what is around him. It might also help that Thornton begins seeing a pretty bartender with a Santa fixation.

There is a lot of swearing, drug use, violence and sexual activity. I am not watching this movie with my parents.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

#1 You might wonder why I am putting It’s a Wonderful Life on this list. After all, what could be questionable about this movie? Let’s start with the attempted suicide by George, the heavy drinking that takes place throughout the movie, the implied sexual behavior of Violet, the cruelty of Potter at every turn. There is a lot of this that is meant for adults.

Most young kids cannot relate to the worst that can happen to a person, driving them to such a desperate act. While this movie is about how one person can affect a single community, in the end it is also about how you live your life. If only we could all be a little more like George and Mary.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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