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.
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 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.
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.