Christmas Eve (2015, dir. Mitch Davis)

After an accident, six New York elevators halt: their occupants are forced to know each other – and themselves – better. Contrived and clumsy festive ensemble movie: an unsubtle Christian message delivered via what’s meant to be Richard Curtis-style whimsy. Some moments work nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

Last Christmas (2019, dir. Paul Feig)

A chaotic Londoner begins to repair her broken relationships when she meets a handsome stranger. Schematic sub-Richard Curtis romantic comedy which, a few good lines aside, clings to the clumsiest of premises. Heartless, but harmless: Henry Golding makes for am impressive beau though.

Here’s the trailer.

Pompeii (2014, dir. Paul WS Anderson)

A vengeful gladiator and a young noblewoman find love against the odds in 1st century Italy. Cheesy disaster-themed tosh (though never quite camp, Kiefer Sutherland’s panto villain aside), mashing up Titanic and Gladiator to cliched CG-tastic effect. A medium-budget B-movie, and unashamedly so.

Here’s the trailer.

After Midnight [AKA Something Else] (2019, dir. Jeremy Gardner & Christian Stella)

Struggling with the breakup of a long-term relationship, a man is visited nightly by a monster. Smart romantic drama/horror hybrid, with lots going for it in a lo-fi indie kinda way. Makes you wonder what Gardner and Co will come up with next. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

#Alive [AKA #Saraitda] (2020, dir. Cho-Il Hyung)

A gamer teen is stranded in their high-rise apartment during a zombie outbreak. Clever, effective z-movie, adept at finding new ways to explore the sub-genre’s possibilities, and with some telling points to make about technology in everyday life. No game-changer, but offers definite evidence of afterlife in the undead.

Here’s the trailer:

James vs. His Future Self (2019, dir. Jeremy LaLonde)

A socially-awkward physicist is visited by a future version of himself. Smart little romantic comedy with SF elements. Crucially, it doesn’t overplay the time travel elements, but uses them to tell a straightforward but charming story. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer:

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015, dir. John Madden)

Sonny and Sunaina are to be married, but complications arise when an expansion plan is threatened. With the hotel residents’ stories pretty much told in the first movie, this sequel struggles to justify itself, lifting instead the plot of a Fawlty Towers episode. Still, fans won’t complain, plus Richard Gere twinkles in support.

Otherworld [AKA Harmony] (2018, dir. Corey Pearson)

A young woman has the power to remove fear from others, though at a cost to herself. First of an intended five-film sequence, this works as a modest standalone SF-tinged romance, though struggles to justify its running time in wider story and world-building terms.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011, dir. John Madden)

British senior citizens relocate to India, where they find themselves in a dilapidated retirement hotel. Slight but fun romantic comedy aimed directly at Mamma Mia! fans. A strong cast helps; the film decides this isn’t the place to schematically engage with the negative impacts of colonialism, going instead for crinkly and twinkly. A sequel soon followed.

Behind The Candelabra (2013, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

The last decade of Vegas performer Liberace’s life, from the perspective of his lover Scott Thorsen. A well-played and effective biopic, made with Soderbergh’s customary deftness, getting beyond the camp and rhinestones to explore the frailties of two people drawn to each other out of lack.