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Watchlist: Curators’ Picks - Family and Friends Coming Together

three women wearing big coats and giggling in the street
9 Dec 2020
2 min read

We decided to go a little left-field of the traditional favourite Christmas movies list and instead our cinema team have selected their favourite films about family and friends coming together. It’s certainly an eclectic mix, with something for everyone!

Mamma Mia! (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008) on Netflix / Amazon / YouTube / Google Play

Boasting a stonking Hollywood line up and ABBA musical numbers to make you grin, cringe, dance and laugh – there is no denying this film cranks up the cheese factor to the max, but the cast is clearly having an absolute blast and the screen just drips with sunshine. The scene where Meryl Streep joyfully dive-bombs into the sea followed by a hundred other women is pure celluloid joy! Watch the trailer


Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001) on Amazon

Mira Nair’s glorious Venice Golden Lion winner follows Lalit (Naseeruddin Shah), his wife Pimmi (Lillete Dubey) and their extended family, in the run up to their daughter’s wedding. It’s a fantastic cast of characters to spend time with and Nair perfectly captures the excitement, happiness and chaos of a rare family get-together, playing out against a vibrant backdrop of rich marigolds and a beautiful, deliciously infectious soundtrack. Watch the trailer


Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973) on BFI Player / Amazon / YouTube / Google Play

The large, loud Italian family at the centre of this film is based on the director’s own, with the teenage Titta a stand-in for Fellini himself. One hilarious scene has the whole clan gathered around the kitchen table for lunch, a situation which quickly escalates into a heated, near-delirious slanging-match, with dad chasing Titta around the house, mamma threatening to poison the soup, and both parents hysterically claiming to be angry enough to top themselves. Watch the trailer.


Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen, 2020) on BBC iPlayer / Amazon

Accept this invitation and you’ll be transported back to a house party in Ladbroke Grove, 1980, where entrance is 50p, goat curry and Red Stripe is on the menu, and the sound system pounds out the best contemporary reggae music. The extraordinary centrepiece, as lovers take to the dancefloor to Janet Kay’s “Silly Games”, has received the most praise, but the scene where the DJ plays The Revolutionaries’ “Kunta Kinte Dub” is truly electrifying. Watch the trailer


Still Walking (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2008) on BFI Player

Like Shoplifters, Kore-eda’s Still Walking centres around a family unit, albeit a more traditional one, as they gather for a summer weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the eldest son’s death. Far from gloomy, this nuanced drama deals with sibling rivalry, parental expectations and loss with sensitivity and humour. Watch the trailer


Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987) on Amazon / YouTube / Google Play

Rather than a get-together, the trip with a promise of familial reunion is the centrepiece of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. John Hughes’ farcical road movie delivers some iconic laughs but has a darker core, exploring the entitlement and impatience of a barely likeable protagonist. The increasingly ridiculous attempts are often hilarious but this calamitous journey drives at the heart of what it means to have a loving home to return to. Watch the trailer


Couscous (La Graine et le Mulet) (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2007) rent or purchase the DVD on Amazon / Criterion Collection / Cinema Paradiso

Traditional food, extended family, passions, dreams and daily struggles – the ingredients of this holiday season, are at the heart of this stirring drama, winner of four César awards, including best picture and director. Couscous celebrates the role food plays in family life and gets to the core of contemporary immigrant experience as it vividly depicts the daily joys and struggles of a bustling French-Arab family. Watch the trailer

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