Knives Out Review

Traditional murder mysteries are somewhat of a rare commodity these days. The days of sleuths like Jessica Fletcher, Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple are mostly over. But in Hollywood, nothing is truly dead which can eternal lie, and things are bound to come back around.

A few years ago we had a stylish retelling of classic Agatha Christie tale Murder on the Orient Express (with a version of Death of the Nile set for next year) but apart from that they’ve been conspicuously a stent from our screens, and are well due a return.

I, for one, welcome their return too, I think there’s a gap in the market for just this kind of thing. But the thing with a mystery is it stops being interesting after it is solved. Therefore they don’t often reward rewatches, but a good mystery with unpredictable twists and turns is always worth the investment.

Story

Mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead the day after his 85th Birthday. As the family gathers to mourn, the enigmatic Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives to unravel the twisted tale.

Verdict

This was a big film for Rian Johnson. Coming of the back of a somewhat divisive (to say the least) Star Wars film, a solid genre piece was just what he needed to bounce back in people’s eyes, and it’s safe to say we underestimated him.

Of course, Johnson is no slouch. His 2012 sci-fi Looper showed that he is comfortable with a genre film; he’s a great talent behind the camera, and this film proves once more why.

His script is sharp and elegant, building the tension as each relationship is explored and tested to breaking point. It has several smart foreshadows to the final reveal, and while we might think it plays its hand early, it always feels like there’s a joker in the pack.

The relationships are what drives the film for me; each character is distinct and dripping in personality, some more than others, admittedly, but there was already a lot to juggle, but as it builds each character, it also reveals their motives and their movements, building a feeling of distrust in each of them.

It’s a stylish premise well executed, the tale of a mystery writer, renowned for writing about unsolved murder, a vulture-like family circling for their inheritance, and a charismatic detective searching for the truth.

Daniel Craig steals this film for me as Benoit Blanc. He’s a rare character in that he wouldn’t be out of place in an Agatha Christie story, yet he still manages to feel modern and fresh, exuding personality and character.

The direction also helps in the films personality, not only in creating the moments between characters, but by portraying different parts of the vast manor in which the story is set. It is filled with odd artefacts, and it just adds to the films mysterious oeuvre, tinged with a slightly surreal edge.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed Knives Out. It may seem a bit long to some, but when telling this type of story, the narrative needs room to breathe, and with such interesting characters it never stops being fun. It is very much like its central character in the way it defies time periods. It feels fresh and new, but it would have felt the same way in many previous decades. To me, it’s another reminder of the incredible talent Rian Johnson can be, and a fitting rebirth for the whodunnit.

Martin Scorsese’s Marvel Comments Set a Dangerous Precedent

Like many cinephiles, I love Martin Scorsese (for further reading, read this fawning appraisal of The Irishman Here) so, as you can imagine I am put in a rather difficult position by his recent comments about the MCU.

For those who don’t keep close tabs on film news, because you have, say, a life, Mr Scorsese recently branded the MCU as ‘not cinema’ and while I am not one to dispute his opinions on these films, I can say that he is categorically, objectively wrong in this statement.

Cinema is, as defined by the Miriam-Webb dictionary:

1a: MOTION PICTURE —usually used attributively b: a motion-picture theater

2a: MOVIES especially : the film industryb: the art or technique of making motion pictures

We can attain that Scorsese is using the words second meaning here, by and large, using the word ‘cinema’ to replace ‘film’ or ‘movie’. Which can, in turn be attributed to any motion picture; therefore stand as proof that Avengers: Endgame is just as much an example of cinema as Goodfellas, or, god help us, The Room.

This is part of a worrying cultrural trend that denounces something as being ‘not true or authentic’ just because of one persons opinion, and no matter your takeaway from Scorsese’s opinion, just because he doesn’t like Marvel, doesn’t mean it isn’t cinema.

Normally, I wouldn’t be too bothered by this kind of thing, people spout worse opinions online every day, but it’s the precedent that worries me. An art form should not be judged on one persons opinion, it is not the sum of its parts, and should not be categorised or decategorised by opinion.

Think of it in terms of going to a bookshop; one one shelf, you have War and Peace, a masterpiece with critical acclaim stretching back decades. Then another shelf may have 50 Shades of Grey, which is none of those things, yet it is undeniably a novel, so is undeniably a piece of art, no matter how unpleasant that may be.

Cinema is no different, there are levels of film quality, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that ‘lesser’ films are not cinema. By insinuating such, you’re saying that an audiences enjoyment of said film has no value, which is a terrible thing to say, or think. I have made no secret of my rabid dislike of anything with Michael Bay’s greasy handprints on it; but I wouldn’t deny that it is still cinema.

I would advise to air on the side of caution when it comes to opinions, no matter who they come from, because an opinion does not equal fact, in fact sometimes, it is sometimes in direct conflict with the facts. Martin Scorsese May have massive amounts more experience than me, or pretty much any yahoo who watches films, but that still doesn’t make what he says fact. Just as when I say ‘The Godfather is the greatest film of all time’ what I mean is ‘I THINK The Godfather is the greatest film of all time’. It’s all a matter of words, and how we use them. A worthy lesson for all.

21 Bridges Review

It’s fair to say that the Russo Brothers have had a busy few years. They had the keys to the MCU castle for a good few years and delivered some extremely memorable Superhero films, so how do you follow up a 1-2 punch like Infinity War and Endgame? Why by making a run-of-the-mill cop thriller of course.

After a while as a critic, you start to recognise tell-tale signs that a studio or creator doesn’t have the greatest confidence in a project. One of the biggest of these is how the film is marketed; if a film is pushed down people’s throats for a long period of time before release, that’s a red flag, as is revealing more and more of the plot. The best film advertising is for films you don’t really have to sell.

With that theory in mind, the studio behind this film must have trusted it to hold its own about as much Pavarotti can be trusted to guard biscuits. It’s been advertised to hell and back for months in advance, compare this films advertising to Endgame’s and you see a tale of two films, one is trusted to carry its own in its release window, one is trying to fool as many people into the cinema in opening weekend as possible before word spreads, I’ll leave you to decide which is which.

Story

Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is an expertly trained NYPD detective, whose father (also a cop) was killed in the line of duty when he was a kid. When eight officers are killed in one attack, Davis has the island of Manhattan shut down to catch the perpetrators.

Verdict

Everybody get out your cop movie bingo cards and prepare for a busy 90 minutes. Maverick cop? Check. Villain with chequered past? Check? Police department so crooked the city of Pisa wants to make it a landmark? Triple check.

This is a film where the viewer can sing along with all the cliches, it doesn’t merely indulge them, it wallows in them, taking the least interesting aspects of each and cobbling together a shallow and predictable plot, full of characters copied and pasted from any episode of Law & Order, or some other such drama.

I can forgive the occasional passing trope, so long as it’s used to further the plot, or in a different way, but this film seems so averse to taking anything to new places that it stays in its comfort zone, content to sleepwalk through the kind of lazy plot you see in every police TV series or film.

Nothing about it sticks in the memory at all, all of its characters are retreads of the same old tired corrupt officer routine, it’s pacing is so breakneck that the inevitable conspiracy is discovered and then unravelled in quick time, and the ease of which the main character can overcome the enemy makes it feel like a film that has absolutely no stakes. There’s no tension to be had in a film about someone who’s so obviously better than everyone he’s chasing, because it’s obvious he will prevail.

Along with the poorly conceived characters is a plot about as predictable as the sun coming up each morning. Of course the NYPD is corrupt, and of course the plot revolves around the only clean cop in the city, who’s so bloody good at everything that he might well have been manufactured by Skynet. The whole thing reeks of a distinct lack of effort to me, like a bunch of creators resting in their laurels to patch together a plot just acceptable enough to an easily-pleased audience, and it’s so transparent.

The one person I feel sorry for here is Chadwick Boseman, because he looks like he’s trying so hard to make this work, but it’s beyond even his considerable talents, to the point where he’s dialling it in too by the end.

What it all results in is a film that would be instantly forgettable, if it wasn’t so laughable. This is how the Russos follow their Avengers movies? I would have expected better from the Syfy channel, let alone the two guys who delivered the highest-grossing film of all-time.

It’s lazy, it’s predictable, and it’s dull. So very, very dull. A bitterly disappointing slog through a plot so flimsy it would break if a feather landed on it, paired with drab direction and utterly uninspired characters leaves me with the kind of bad taste in my mouth I only usually get after a 4am kebab, utterly generic, and utterly forgettable.

The Peanut Butter Falcon Review

Those who read my little rants disguised as reviews on a regular basis, will remember that I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m a fan on professional wrestling and I have been since I was young. Sadly, when the worlds of wrestling and films intersect, they often end in disaster.

Dwayne Johnson and John Cena may be riding high in Hollywood right now, but they are the exception rather than the rule, many figures from the wrestling world have tried their hand at acting, more often than not on an ill-fated WWE Studios venture, but they very rarely break through to the mainstream, and wrestling as a topic is usually held in contempt by Hollywood.

There are exceptions to the rule, as usual, The Wrestler for one is a phenomenal film, lauded by critics for its daring approach to portraying wrestling, and admired by many in the industry for its unflinching accuracy. Even earlier this year there was Fighting With My Family, which wasn’t on the same level, but was still a damn good film.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is an intersection of several unusual threads, one of which being wrestling, all wrapped up in a surprising package.

Story

Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is a young man with Down’s syndrome living in an old folks home with a big dream: to become a professional wrestler. To peruse this dream he goes on the run, soon gaining help in the form of Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) a down-on-his luck fisherman on the run from violent rivals.

Verdict

Bit of an odd premise isn’t it? But upon reading it, do you want to read more? I certainly did.

What this film has that many films try so vainly to chase is effortless charm. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not fall in love with the character of Zak, his infectious personality and heart bind this film together, like rivets hold together a ship. He’s so charming that everyone around him becomes that much more likeable, like his energy is passed from character to character, and it’s simply wonderful.

This film may fly under a lot of radars, but it is catching a lot of acclaim in independent circles, richly deserved acclaim I’d say, for such a unique concept that enters risky ground in portraying those with a learning disability, it handles it with such affection and drive that you forget about Zak’s condition, he simply becomes human, which is the message at the heart of this film.

Filmmakers who want to portray those with learning impairments should look to this film as an example, it uses Zak’s condition as a key part of his portrayal for sure, but they don’t let it define him. They let his boundless energy and passion speak for itself, and seeing his and Tyler’s relationship develop is seriously heartwarming.

This would be what I’d consider the main draw to the film: the ever-developing chemistry between Zak and Tyler. They start off at odds, unable to understand each other or their respective worlds, but through shared experience they come to appreciate each other. Tyler eventually sees past Zack’s Down’s syndrome, and in a really touching character arc, helps others to see past it too.

The film also looks very nice, making use of its pilgrimage setup to show off some of the vast American countryside, shooting varied, yet beautiful scenes on land and water, cruising across vast body’s of water, and observing serene landscapes. The cinematography has a real picture book feel to it when the characters are exploring the wilderness, giving a wild and vibrant feel to the film as a whole.

Acting is also a strong point for this film. Held together by the strong bedrock of Zack Gottsagen’s incredibly honest performance, it’s helped by a controlled and contemplative Shia LaBeouf, who’s at his best when portraying deep, cutting emotion with just facial expressions, it’s like his characters entire story lurks behind his eyes, his face flickering with regret, but while also keeping up with Zack’s optimistic side later in the film, he becomes a surrogate older brother figure, a role he metamorphosis’s into with great ease.

It can be on the more absurd side at times, but it also manages to juggle a great many factors. It manages to be incredibly funny, while also being exceptionally touching, as I say, a heart of ice could be melted by Zak, and his relationship with Tyler, and that alone made this film worthwhile for me, to the extent that I’m willing to forgive its few flaws, it’s literal interpretation of wrestling and occasional steps into the ridiculous among them, because it touched me like few films ever do.

In conclusion, I may have seen technically better films this year, but I don’t think I’ve seen many with quite as much heart and charm as this film has. An outlandish premise delivers a seriously affecting final product that will really stick with you, despite what could be conceived as a downbeat ending, it still manages to leave you with a feeling of optimism, and, more importantly, a massive smile on your face.

The Irishman Review

There are few directors working in Hollywood right now with the prestige of Martin Scorsese. A masterful director, his legacy would have been secured as one of the all-time greats if he’d have stopped making films in around 1982, instead he carried on, now almost into his sixth decade as a filmmaker, he still manages to bring excitement to the heart of even the coldest critics.

He’s responsible for at least three of my favourite films of all time and he’s one of Hollywood’s biggest living legends. Now he’s assembled somewhat of a dream team for this long-gestating mob film.

Marty is no stranger to the criminal underworld (on the big screen I mean) two of his most critically successful films revolve around organised crime: 1990’s Goodfellas and 2006’s The Departed. Not only that, but he’s reuniting with two of his best co-collaborators: Robert DeNiro and the returning-from-retirement Joe Pesci. As well as one new exciting partner; Al Pacino.

It’s also one of the tentpole acquisitions of Netflix, which continues to recruit the cream of the Hollywood crop for its originals lineup. It had success last year with Roma, and something tells me another Netflix original will be gracing the awards stage next year…

Story

Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) is a World War II veteran, back home and working as a meat van driver, he’s soon embroiled in Philadelphia’s criminal underworld.

Verdict

Scorsese films are like rich tapestries, full of style and detail, and The Irishman is no different.

For those, like myself, who are seasoned Scorsese vets, you may be surprised as to exactly how much detail is stuffed into The Irishman, filling each of its 3-and-a-half hour runtime, something which in ordinary hands, would very very difficult.

It uses a framework we’ve seen many times before, but with its own style. The central character, Frank Sheeran is telling his story to some unknown and unseen third party, this takes us on an journey that stretches from the 1960’s right into the 21st century.

Frank’s story is that of a perpetual rising star in the mafia world, starting by working odd jobs and eventually becoming the right-hand man to some of the organisations most powerful men, again, it’s not so much how original the story is that makes it worthwhile, but the way it is told.

Scorsese has forgotten more about filmmaking than most will ever know, and his experienced and expert guiding hand can be felt all over the film, as it zips from place to place, scene to scene leaving no stone unturned, no event undocumented. Each event is treated as important as the last, even the fates of side characters are treated as important enough for us to know, and it goes a long way to building a cohesive world and landscape for the viewer to be immersed in.

The veteran filmmaker has lost none of his gift for artistic framing either, making even the most brutal act of violence seem beautiful in its own way. The visuals enhance the story by playing up to its setting. Scenes from the 60’s look like they were shot then, and more modern scenes are in sharper contrast, really giving the impression that we’re part of the story, watching it as it happens.

But, even as it looks as luxurious and vintage as it does, the hand of modern technology is felt, with some absolutely jaw-dropping de-ageing techniques. It is simply amazing how the actors, now in their seventies, can look like they did in their prime with no stand-ins, no prosthetics, just acting and technology. It feels like the film is simultaneously paying respect to the past while openly embracing the future.

What about the acting then? Well, it’s what you come to expect when Scorsese directs DeNiro and Pesci. Those who are only familiar with DeNiro because of his recent (and uniformly awful) comedy films, are in for a reminder of the Titan he once was, he shows that the same actor who brought Travis Bickel to life still exists if it is coaxed out.

Pesci’s turn is even more incredible; it’s been almost a decade since he was last seen on screen, but he strides back in front of camera like he hasn’t missed a step. His character is very much the puppet-master, a long way from his turn in Goodfellas, his intentions are bubbling under, rather than barely contained, and it’s a joy to see him back on screen and in such form.

Not to be forgotten, Pacino threatens to steal the show as Jimmy Hoffa, the union leader who the main plot eventually revolves around, he isn’t introduced until someways into the film, but explodes on the scene like a cannonball, delivering a fiery performance the likes of which we haven’t seen from him in many years.

Maybe the source material lit a fire beneath these three acting greats, and they embraced how good they were, and still could be, but it’s refreshing to once again enjoy the sight of them, as opposed to feeling sorry for them, as I often to, in DeNiro and Pacino’s case especially.

This kind of film is one that is very rarely made these days, probably with good reason. It takes an expert conductor to bring together a symphony orchestra, and it takes a master filmmaker to orchestrate an epic of a film such as this. It’s something that comes around maybe once a decade, and something we should cherish, because it may never come around again.

No matter your take on home streaming, you’re getting a real treat if you’re a Netflix subscriber; as much as I’d argue that this film demands to be seen on the big screen, it delivers an experience like few films can.

I went in with extremely high expectations, but with my usual caution and it met or exceeded every single one, it’s a rollercoaster crafted to the very last detail to guarantee the very best experience; each character has a reason and a purpose, every frame is constructed with precision, and not a single thing is out of place.

In conclusion, this may end up being the last time we see a film like this, and if it is, it’s a fitting last hurrah for all involved. The retelling of a colourful life (to say the least) told in an engaging way. Don’t be put off by it’s long runtime, it earns every second, and makes it worth the while. There is simply nothing else like it, and may never be again. Only time will tell as to how it is remembered amongst the great mob films of history, but in a career built of timeless masterpieces, I think Martin Scorsese has delivered another.

Midway Review

It is often said that history is written by the victors; and World War II is a victory we’ve been telling for eight decades now, something that shows no sign of slowing down.

It makes me wonder if one day we may run out of war stories to tell, this facilitating the need for a new war, just to keep the Hollywood studios in business.

I joke, of course, but it’s no over exaggeration either, it seems like every event in the course of the six-year-long war has been shaken down by Hollywood for an easy buck. Some of them are great, but for every good war film, there are several imitators flying closely behind.

I think I may have a handle for spotting the give away signs now, but I am not delusional enough to think I’ve seen it all.

Anyway, this ramble is getting us nowhere fast, let’s get in with the review.

Story

After the attack on Pearl Harbor leaves the Unites States reeling, intelligence teams and the heads of military re-group to think of a counter-attack. Meanwhile, over the Pacific, Japanese forces are planning their follow-up strike.

Verdict

I must admit to a fair amount of trepidation going into this film. First there’s the subject matter; Pearl Harbor and its aftermath is an event that has been put onto film before, and with disastrous consequences, hardly surprising given the director of that particular film, it’s an event that is difficult to portray with any amount of even-handedness, even with the benefit of hindsight.

Secondly, I worried because of the director. Roland Emmerich is the man behind the camera here, someone who I don’t consider to be awful, but certainly doesn’t shy away from the ‘style-over-substance’ approach. He’s the man behind Independence Day, a film where aliens blow up the White House, in case my point needs proving.

To cut him some slack though, if ever there was to be a subject where big explosions were to fit right in, it’d be a war movie, something where explosions are slightly more necessary, but can nonetheless be overused regardless, again just look at the Pearl Harbor movie for proof.

I’ve often thought that the best war films are those that focus on the human struggle, as opposed to being about any particular stance. Of course the ethics have to be there and in World War II’s case they’re fairly cut-and-dry, especially on the European front. On the American-Japanese side however, things are a little muddier, and the line slightly narrower.

Yes, the Americans were definitely on the side of good in this war (doesn’t that make a change) but I feel like a lot of war films in the past have used this to present and enhance certain racist stereotypes.

I’m no war historian, but I’d say that the fine points in this film were fairly accurate and well done, the Japanese characters are not heavy stereotypes, but probably a fair representation of what the Imperial Japanese were like, we’re even given a little prologue that attempts to put the Japanese attack into perspective somewhat.

I’d say in terms of ethics, it hits just the right balance, of course all the Americans are portrayed as heroes giving the Japanese threat what for, but they’re also shown to have flaws, and pains, something that is very rarely shown in an American made war film.

I’d also say the action was well-handled too, in particular the portrayal of the Pearl Harbor attack is not so over-the-top that it ceases to be impactful, we get a genuine feeling of the loss of humanity in that event. There’s a few stories of the souls lost in the attack that really add to its effect.

The film isn’t so much ABOUT that attack though, it’s more about the aftermath and the following military operation, The Battle of Midway, and all the events in between.

The film comes into its own during the battle scenes, squeezing every last bit of tension from every dog-fight and bombing run, but as a consequence of this, the more talkative plot moments are in a rush to get to the next battle, and as a result some events seem rushed. It’s not a deal-breaker, but there is a jarring difference between the time taken to complete an intelligence mission, and one to complete a military one.

As a film, Midway may be over-stuffed, it has so many things it wants to show that it fasts-forwards through the parts it thinks we’ll find boring; so perhaps a more streamlined approach would have been prudent, maybe only show us the parts that you think we’ll find interesting?

I don’t want to be too down on the film though, as I do think there’s enough about it to recommend. It’s a bit unfocused, if anything, but in the moments when it is focused (usually the action sequences) then it does deliver.

It’s not a film that will be remembered for its outstanding acting or directing, but rather an account of a war event that is maybe less publicised. The acting and directing are fine, nothing special, maybe even good in parts, but ultimately not what we’ll remember.

I remain divided then, on my actual opinion of the film. I found it engaging in some parts, but bloated and over-bearing in others. It’s certainly not the worst portrayal of World War II, but it’s also not the best. Emmerich gets my respect for not demonising the Japanese as thoroughly as other films have, I think as a German he may be somewhat empathetic to the portrayal of former war villains.

In conclusion then, I’m afraid I have to wheel out the ever-vague ‘could be better, could be worse’ verdict. If you’re a fan of war films, I’m almost certain you’d have seen better, but it’s probably not going to upset many people either. I’d recommend seeing it once, but I doubt you’ll be rushing to buy it on Blu-Ray.

Last Christmas Review

It’s been a while since we’ve had a genuinely good Christmas film. One that will be populating terrestrial TV at this time of year for years to come. I’m talking about films like Elf, or Love Actually.

Each generation has their own Christmas films, there’s the two I’ve just mentioned, or there’s Home Alone if you’re a bit older, Gremlins or Die Hard for those looking for a harder-edged Christmas flick, going back even further there’s Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life; Christmas films tend to live on longer than their unseasonal counterparts.

So, along comes this film: Last Christmas. Hoping to step into those shoes, and fill a void that has been empty for a considerable time, there’s a case to be argued that we’ve yet to have a genuine ‘Christmas classic’ in this decade, but after this, we may just have had a very late entry to consider.

Story

One year after suffering an almost fatal heart complication, Kate’s (Emilia Clarke) life is a mess, she isn’t taking care of herself, and is alienating everyone around her. The arrival of the mysterious Tom threatens to turn her life around, no matter how much she is unwilling to do so…

Verdict

When I first read about this film, I was worried somewhat. It sounds like the kind of concept that could easily fall apart; a Christmas film based off the music of George Michael sounds a bit ridiculous on the surface, at best it sounds like a fluffy distraction that fawns over its subject matter, at worst it might have been a dire attempt to pluck at our heartstrings.

Luckily, the film had a secret weapon: Emma Thomson. The tenured actress is not only a part of the cast for this film, but one half of the screenwriters too. She has form as a writer, having received an Academy Award nomination for her Sense and Sensibility script. She is also known to edit scripts uncredited in numerous productions.

This was a massive point in the films favour, as the film benefits from an enormous heart thanks to Thomson’s script, her dialogue sparkles with wit and warmth. It’s the films bedrock that helps it endear itself to the audience.

It’s also helped by a dream-like directorial approach, using some of London’s more romantic settings to help enhance its central love story. It’s almost fantastical approach to its settings conjures up all the warmth that a Christmas film needs, settling us into a cosy place, with its winter, romantic images.

I have been critical in the past of Emilia Clarke as an actress, with good reason, I feel. She has, in the past, blankly stared he way through roles with all the warmth and expression of a robot with low batteries, but here, whether the script has engaged her more, or the director has worked with her better, she manages to find the warmth that she has been sorely missing, carrying the stories emotional heart extremely well, as well as shining in her characters more humorous moments.

Alongside her is Henry Golding, an actor with whom I am unfamiliar, according to his online profile, he was a star of last years Crazy Rich Asians, a film I sadly missed upon its release. I was very impressed with Golding though, and his portrayal of Tom strikes the right balance of distant, yet heartfelt. Keeping his character somewhat mysterious, yet approachable, in some ways, he’s the backbone of the story, the maypole around which all the events dance merrily.

I don’t think the film is a complete home run, however. There are some clumsy links to modern attitudes and politics that I think were ultimately unnecessary amongst the narrative, it felt like an attempt to insert real-world events where they weren’t needed. The background of Kate’s family fleeing Yugoslavia was enough, anything else was just passing for the sake.

I also feel as if the connection to its subject of George Michael was fleeting at best, there’s a brief moment of Kate mentioning how much she admires him, then the link is merely reduced to using his songs in the background, besides the big link to the title song, it all feels very vestigial.

These things aside though, this film will leave you with the warm, cosy feeling that all Christmas films should leave you with, as well as a surprisingly daring twist towards the end that turns the film on its head and leaves you desperately clawing through the film for clues.

It may well be the closest we’ve come to a genuine ‘Christmas classic’ in quite some time.