Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all, and movies for me!

I'm obviously far from alone in declaring the Christmas week to be my favorite time of year, but I may be the only person who says that but still has to work on both Christmas Eve day and Christmas. Not a complaint, mind you, because come Boxing Day I'm off to NYC, which means spending five days with my parents and brother and, of course, a heck of a lot of movies.

There are bound to be some surprises that I'm not aware of yet, especially since we're arriving on the last opening Friday of the year, but here are the seven movies I most want to see, assuming they're still playing somewhere in the city (and, on a side note, how in the world did Rian Johnson's "Brothers Bloom" get pushed back to the end of May? I was really looking forward to seeing that one right about now.) Here goes:

On paper this sounds about as appealing as a Tony Robbins seminar, but I'll trust Mike Leigh to turn it into something twistedly appealing. Sally Hawkins plays a schoolteacher whose constant optimism irks everyone around her, which actually sounds right up my alley.

"Synecdoche, NY"
I have a feeling this will be the one I see first, since my parents are arriving before mi hermano (who has already seen it), and I'm really looking forward to it. Oddly enough, Philip Seymour Hoffman's other cheerful holiday flick, "Doubt," is surprisingly opening Friday at a multiplex down in my little corner of the world, so that one will definitely be off the NY menu. For a great read on Mr. Hoffman, check out the profile from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine (which I tried and failed to link to, but you can easily find yourself.)

I was having a discussion with a co-worker and fellow movie devotee yesterday, and I was surprised to hear him say he just can't stand Sean Penn. He compared him to Al Pacino in that they each shout and over emote a lot, but while I can see it with Mr. Pacino, I can't go there with Sean Penn. He just has tremendous range, and you can tell from the trailer for "Milk" that he and director Gus Van Sant found the joy in Harvey Milk's life that came before the tragedy, and I can't wait to see what they came up with here.

Apparently wide doesn't mean wide at all, or this one would be entering the fray even in my little corner of the world with the other 10 million flicks opening everywhere on Christmas day. Since it's not, I'll probably catch it in NYC for Frank Langella's performance as tricky Dick and because I have full faith in Peter Morgan and Michael Sheen. By the way, I rented "The Deal," a k a their other Tony Blair flick, the other day, and it's almost as good as "The Queen." Check it out.

Despite the certain numbness it will bring to my posterior, I'm hoping that the entire five hours of Steven Soderbergh's "Che" will be playing somewhere while I'm there, and hopefully WITH AN INTERMISSION. From what I've heard it's far from an objective tale, but I really wouldn't have expected it to be, and it's been far too long since I've seen Benicio del Toro on the big screen.

"The Wrestler"
The same friend who was impugning the good name of Sean Penn has already seen this Darren Aronofsky flick, and can't believe it's not playing everywhere. Especially down here, where we may not know much about movies, but we do love our wrestling. I don't see any way this one won't be fun, even if it is a bit depressing.

"Frozen River"
Seeing as this opened way back in like June, I suppose it's a long shot that it would be playing anywhere, but I'm hoping the Melissa Leo Oscar train brings it back for one more run. Immigration, by the way, has turned into the great Hollywood (if not great box office) subject that the Iraq war never became. Already this year has come Patricia Riggen's "La Misma Luna" (Under the Same Moon) and Thomas McCarthy's "The Visitor," both of which are superior to just about any of the recent war flicks, and I'm sure "Frozen River" will be fine fare to complete the set.

So, there you have it. Please, if you think of any that I might be able to catch but haven't thought of, let me know, and have a happy, happy holidays! I'm signing off until at least Jan. 2 or so, but I'm fairly certain the world will continue just fine without me. Peace out.


jeremy said...

Have a great time! Good luck on seeing Frozen River--and I hope that you didn't have tickets to Speed-the-Plow with the expectation of seeing Mr. Piven!
Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

If you get to see Frozen River, you'll be in for a real treat. It's one of the finest under-the-radar dramas this year, and it's garnering a bit of prime time recognition (one of AFI's picks of '08).

Frost/Nixon and Milk are two terrific films to check out, and I REALLY want to see The Wrestler. I just hope it'll play around here in Rhode Island ASAP.

Reel Fanatic said...

We're not much for theater this time, Jeremy, my parents have a season pass for the Signature Theatre, so we're going to see the Negro Ensemble Company's presentation of the Samm-Art Williams play "Home," and after that just a bunch of movies and museums and good eats .. I can't wait!

Eric said...

I think it is too soon for Iraq to be a great subject matter for film. Just as with Viet Nam it took about 10 years for the stories to get told properly.
I think that that has more to do with the fact that the writers of the great Iraq and Afganistan Stories are either still there or trying to finish college. Give it ten years for that generations Coppola or Stone to finally get thier story out and shot.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think you may be right there, Eric ... I gave up after my third Iraq movie or so, which was "Stop-Loss," not a horrible movie by any stretch, but not terribly insightful or entertaining either

Ashok said...

Do not miss "I've Loved You So Long" and "Rachel Getting Married". Both are terrific. By the way I am near Washington DC right now and might head down coast. I was thinking I might cross Macon some point next week. Will you be there at that point in time?

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll certainly add those two to my list, Ashok, so thanks for the recommendations .. Unfortunately, I will be gone next week, in NYC and elsewhere, so I'm afraid our paths won't cross even if you somehow pass through Macon

Cullen said...

Merry Christmas, Keith. Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thank you, friend, and the same to you ... I'm always amazed at the number of people who still stop by here regularly, and even happier when they leave kind words!

Bob said...

Hi Keith. I hope you had a nice Christmas and that you're having a good time in New York. I just saw (and reviewed) "Benjamin Button." Fantastic movie! Our weather is finally getting to the point where it's safe to venture out on the roads (well some of them anyway) so hopefully I'll be seeing lots of movies in the next couple of days.
I'm afraid I have to side with your co-worker on Sean Penn. His performance in "All the King's Men" was possibly the most shameless display of Oscarbaition I've ever seen. I'll see "Milk" eventually but it will be more out of duty than actually wanting to see it. Then again it does have James Franco so that's one in the plus column.
Excited for all your reviews!

Bob said...

Saw and reviewed "Doubt." Great great movie! I know you had your, well doubts, but it is absolutely outstanding.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I LOVE Sean Penn and LOVED "Milk." I enjoyed "Benjamin Button" though I don't think he deserves an Oscar for it. I'm pulling for Heath Ledger. "Doubt" was undoubtedly disappointing.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the good word on both of those, Bob .. Though I'm back in Macon now, I somehow still have the rest of the week off, so I'll be checking out both flicks, though I still have my reservations about "Doubt" ... As expected, my NY adventure was full of movies, and the best three were "Milk," which I think will be my favorite movie the year, "The Wrestler" and "Happy Go Lucky," a truly odd but endearing little flick from the always odd but endearing Mike Leigh

RC said...

hope you had a chance to see everything you were hoping for!!

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