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  • Christmas in Mississippi

    Christmas in Mississippi

    ★½

    Dreary Lifetime Christmas film about a rekindled romance and holiday festival along the Gulf Coast. Jana Kramer, Wes Brown, and Faith Ford lead a cast stuck in the most cliched and predictable film in recent memory. Even the town the film is meant to showcase — Gulfport, Mississippi — seems unimpressive.

  • The Gathering

    The Gathering

    ★★★½

    Earnest 1970s television movie about a dying man’s desire to bring his adrift family together one last time for Christmas. Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton are touching and effective as an estranged couple trying to cope with the unexpected news and the rifts in their family. The film, which was directed by Randal Kleiser, is a sentimental favorite even if it has aged badly — the fireworks scene in particular is still wonderful.

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  • A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol

    ★★★★½

    A refreshingly gritty modern British take of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella. Ross Kemp is dynamic and energetic as Eddie Scrooge, who victimizes the poor in a poor London neighborhood that is now off limits to the police because of his reign. One new take on the classic is that Kemp must relive Christmas Eve repeatedly, ‘Groundhog’s Day’-style until he understands the lessons the specters are teaching him. The fine cast includes Warren Mitchell, Ray Fearon, Ben Inigo-Jones, Angeline Ball, and Mina Anwar, and the atmospheric direction is by Catherine Morshead.

  • The Player

    The Player

    ★★★★½

    Robert Altman's tragicomic look at how Hollywood studios operate is energized by a willing cast and a probing camera.