Friday, November 21, 2008

Movies This Christmas

One of my favorite things do do during the Christmas Holidays is to take the whole family to the movies and both of our adult children will be home for Christmas.

What with the economy, movies will be a welcome diversion from grim realities this year.

Hollywood at Christmas time releases a whole batch of movies because it knows the public has extra free time and is looking for some entertainment. Here is a list of the movies I would like to see before the holidays are over.

Opening Nov 26


Epic filmmaking pretty much vanished with the death of David Lean. Director Baz Luhrmann revives it in this saga set Down Under during World War II. Kidman plays an upper-crust Englishwoman who travels to Australia to sell the family cattle ranch and winds up infatuated with a rough-and-tumble cowboy instead. Jackman appears as her paramour. Their kissing scenes look authentic, the scenery is breathtaking and the stars aren't bad looking either. My wife really wants to see this movie. She dislikes American Westerns but for some reason loves Australian Westerns.

Four Christmases -

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play a couple, each with divorced parents, who reluctantly make the rounds at four different households during the holidays. Seth Gordon (The King of Kong) directs Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight as the parents, each of whom is uniquely annoying.

Opening Dec 12 (Limited release) (General release Dec 25)


In 1977, three years after he resigned the presidency, Richard Nixon appeared on David Frost's talk show and finally took responsibility for Watergate and his administration's other messes. This film recaptures the famous interview in which Frost nails him. Director Ron Howard opened up the two-person play to include flashbacks of Nixon's rise and fall. But there's one thing Howard wisely did not change: the cast. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen reprise their stage roles as the ex-president and his interrogator. I watched these interviews in 1977 and found them fascinating. Nixon was my boyhood hero but I leaned he had feet of clay. I did not vote for him in 1972 because he refused to talk about Watergate. Finally in 1977 he did talk.

Opening Dec 25

Marley & Me:

The action in this touching slice-of-life drama revolves around a dog who starts out as the pet of a recently married couple and stays around to watch the family grow to five. He's sort of a wonder dog capable of swallowing an entire answering machine and going back for the phone for dessert. Marley's owners are played by Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, who almost manage to seem like ordinary people. The couple grapple with job and home problems. Like John Grogan's best-selling memoir on which the film is based, it shows how a dog's presence can affect a family. My wife read the book and loved it. I just read the end and.........


A sort of bookend to "Schindler's List," this World War II drama focuses on another good German: Claus von Stauffenberg, a colonel in the German army who spearheaded an attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in 1944 by turning Hitler's own emergency plan (known as Operation Valkyrie) against him. The movie received some unwanted publicity when the German government refused to allow filming in Hitler's former military headquarters in the Bendlerblock building because of star Tom Cruise's affiliation with Scientology. German officials eventually changed their minds. By taking on such a demanding role, Cruise appears to want to show off his acting chomps. "X-Men" director Bryan Singer is at the helm. I am a sucker for World War II movies.

Opening Dec 31


Another World War II film. Three Jewish brothers escape from Nazi-occupied Poland into the Belarussian forest, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and others. Directed by Edward Zwick. The film is based on the true story of the Bielski partisans, covered by author Nechama Tec in the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. Defiance stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell as three Jewish brothers from West Belarus who escape from the Nazis and fight back to rescue fellow Jews.

( Capsule descriptions of movies taken from Internet sources)