Why The Christmas Films Don't Sparkle

Half a dozen releases ignore the rules of keeping audiences entertained. A seventh remembers how.

'Tis the season to be jowly. After pursuing the youth market most of the year, Hollywood devotes December to prestige films aimed not at the huge post- Christmas audience but at the senior citizens in the Motion Picture Academy. The goal is a batch of Oscar nominations; the reality is a glut of ambitious pictures that give no one a very merry Christmas. Of seven holiday movies, all but one ignore Hollywood's hard-learned rules of storytelling:

A Life Is Not an Epic. When David Lean died, did he take the secret of epic movies with him? Lean knew that life is...

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