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Films You Gotta See Over The Holidays

abstract:With the holiday season upon us, and interest turning toward some easy cultural distractions why not treat yourself to one of these stunning movies at the local theatre? Go to the late matinee when there won't be a line up and tickets are a few bucks cheaper so you can splurge on a nice bottle of wine with your take-out on the way home. Here are my picks for some thought-provoking discussions over said take-out dinner.


December 23, 2008
— First consider our review of Revolutionary Road starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett, which appeared earlier this year in our book to film review. The movie release is during the holidays and so you can begin to check off your must-see-list of Academy nominated films with "RR".

Rachel Getting Married

Anyone not entranced by this movie about a family struggling to overcome their disfunctionality, (and doesn't it just plain feel good to watch another's) should relate. Know that the trio of women playing mother and sisters in this film are—all of them—excellent. It's great to see Debra Winger back on the screen. She doesn't try to steal her scenes, her acting is sublime in this small but dominating role. Then of course there is Anne Hathaway as "the deranged sister" that everyone is dreading coming out for bad behavior from rehab. This is perhaps Hathaway's most compelling role. She actually has to act, not just change her wardrobe and look good. But the real show-stealer is Rosemarie DeWitt as the older, wiser sister. Everyone knows the story, but just in case, it's the eve of Rachel's (DeWitt) wedding and younger sister Kym (Hathaway) has just been released from rehab in order to attend. The wedding is to be held at the family home where father, Paul (Bill Irwin) is falling into his same old role of protecting and doting on the 'bad' younger sister. We witness a family trying to come to terms with an historic (no spoiler) tragedy and move beyond, despite the personality foibles.

While the wedding takes on carnival proportions and every form of religion, race and creed is represented either in costume, decor or musical tradition - it's still a festive delight with enough grist to the scenes to keep you tuned in. Everyone wishes they had a wedding party with this much musical talent. Crikey if my husband had improvised a romantic balad during our vows, well er, that would have been so kool. (Fortunately, he has other redeeming qualities and talents.) (View Trailer)

Waltz With Bashir

This subtitled animated film by Ari Folman has taken the film festivals by storm winning awards and nominations the world over. It took four years to make. Finally someone has produced a guilt video about the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. There's more 'dialogue' in this animation than modern Hollywood films and the intellectualism and search into the subconscious to uncover the truth is how the main protagonist attempts to set his soul free.

In the story it is 20 years since the invasion of Lebanon by Israeli forces and a soldier has been plagued by nightmares every night since. He finally decides he wants to uncover whatever truth is behind his amnesia surrounding his part in the war. He tracks down everyone with whom he served in the war and slowly pieces together events leading up to the terrible massacre of Palestinian men, women and children. The movie ends with real footage from the war. It is compelling and heart wrenching and worthwhile. (View Trailer)

Slumdog Millionaire

This is your feel-good movie, so enjoy. Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) is a street kid (or "slumdog") who has landed an appearance on India's version of the hit TV game show WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? Jamal exceeds expectations on the show, and the producers alert the police after they become suspicious of his methods. The young contestant is subsequently arrested and is interrogated at the hands of a nameless police inspector (played by Bollywood star Irfan Khan). As the interrogation proceeds, Boyle tells Jamal's story through harrowing flashbacks that both show the terrible poverty of Mumbai and help explain how he knew the answers to the MILLIONAIRE questions. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a tightly woven story that has been expertly edited into shape. The contrast between Jamal's upbringing and his chance of escaping it on the show are adeptly juxtaposed. Mumbai is portrayed as a place of terrifying poverty and unforgettable brutality, and Jamal and his brother get into a never-ending succession of challenging situations. But the way Boyle ties together Jamal's life experiences with his answers on the show is quite brilliant, and the film really does run the full gamut of emotions as we see him growing up, falling in love, coming close to death, and teetering on the brink of escaping from his terrible predicament.— (View Trailer)

Vickie Christina Barcelona

Possibly Woody Allen's best film yet. Two young Americans spend a summer in Spain and meet a flamboyant artist (Javier Bardem) and his beautiful but insane ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is straight-laced and about to be married. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is a sexually adventurous free spirit. When they all become amorously entangled, the results are both hilarious and harrowing. --© Weinstein Co. Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Chris Messina, Patricia Clarkson. Director: Woody Allen (View Trailer)



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