Screen Time

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Well, whaddaya know? I'm doing the movie previews again! But it's the last time this year, I promise. Here's some films I know are coming to Cape:

THE LAST SAMURAI: Like military war movies, but "Master and Commander" make you seasick? Maybe "The Last Samurai" will be more of your speed. Tom Cruise plays a burnt-out soldier in civil war-era Japan who rediscovers his sense of honor when he falls in with the natives. So, it's kinda like 'Dances-With-Swords,' which actually sounds like a cool G.I. Joe action figure. Director Edward Zwick has a knack for war movies (Glory, Courage Under Fire), so this one may be worth a gander. And it's not like they can make a sequel... right?

LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING: Aw, geez. What am I supposed to say about this movie? It's the last bookend of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The first two movies have already been declared among the Top 10 movies of all time. Would you listen if I said that the extended version is going to be out next year? Would you care if I said you can find out how it ends already, in the freakin' book?!? No, of course not. All I can say is, this series has proven to be the movies for people who love movies, for people who loved movies the way they used to make them, for people who never had a reason to go to the movies before, and for people who think that the best is yet to come. And the word is, it is.

CHRISTMAS VACATION: In case the Tryptophan has wiped away memories of how Turkey Day went, this modern classic should be a decent training film for all the holiday reunion celebrations you'll have to deal with this year. In case you get all the Vacation movies mixed up, this one had the most successful pair to play the Griswold kids (Juliette Lewis, and the dude from Roseanne that played Darlene's boyfriend.) It's the last one written by John Hughes (and possibly the last funny Chevy Chase movie). This is the one where the Griswolds stay home, and the chaos comes to them. Take the relatives and try not to yell at each other, "That's you! That's you! So shut up!" Christmas Vacation will be December's late night matinee; check theater for showtimes.

Christmas Vacation's a funny movie whether you're in the holiday spirit or not. I know I'm prematurely burned out already; decorations were in the stores before baseball season ended, and some other radio station went 24-7 on the holiday tip the week before Thanksgiving! In case you're basking in similar humbuggery, let me offer up five more Christmas movies when you're not in the mood for Christmas:

NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: Even though it was actually directed by Henry Selick, this movie's got Tim Burton's fingerprints all over it. Halloween and Christmas get mixed up like Goober Grape! The songs and smiling skulls will bring the gooey center out of any Goth. It's a perfect way to ease people into the holiday spirit

A CHRISTMAS STORY: The movie's become the new Christmas marathon champion, if you got cable. But why wait? 20 years later, Ralphie's quest for a BB gun still speaks to the gift-getter in all of us. Can you believe that the guy who made this movie made Porky's?

DIE HARD: As I heard in one movie conversation, "If it's set during Christmas, it's a Christmas movie!" And so, we have Bruce Willis, turning himself into the working man's action hero. He's a cop trying to return into his family's life; she's a corporate executive on the rise, trying to break the glass ceiling. On this Christmas Eve, they receive a visit from a group of strangers, and, at the brink of losing it all, rediscover the important things in their lives and their love for each other. Now, tell me that doesn't sound like a Christmas movie! With explosions...

THE REF: If this movie couldn't make Dennis Leary a star, he's never gonna be a star. Dennis Leary plays a cat burglar who, through bad luck, has to take a family hostage. Wouldn't you know, he becomes the tough-love counselor (the titular 'ref') that this family needed to break down their emotional walls and learn to love again. I wonder if Dr Phil ever saw this movie. Good acting, bleak humor, and a happy ending. And any scrooge in your house will feel Dennis Leary's pain.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: I know, this movie's a certified Christmas classic, and you've seen it hundreds of times, but I dare you to watch it again. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of life, or what God asks you to do with what you got, but it does offer reasons, and hope. Consider that the movie's called "It's a Wonderful Life," and then spends the entire film trying to prove that to George. Consider that the bad guy gets away with it. I don't even know what Christmas has to do with the story any more, but I know "It's a Wonderful Life" teaches something about being human, and that's an important lesson any day of the year.

Well, that's all for this year. See ya next year!

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