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Holiday movies at a glance

by Archives December 5, 2001
The holiday season for many is the best time of the year. Whether it is the gift receiving, the gift giving or all the Christmas Cheer, it truly is a magical time. Yet, it is also the time when us movie-aficionados get ready for a big gift from Hollywood – the year’s best films.
In order for that Golden Guy; Oscar the Statuette, to remember all the year’s films for contention come Oscar time, the studio powerhouses release the films they think deserve recognition in order to garner attention for the Golden Globes. Usually this paves the way for The Academy Awards.
As Our Golden Friend gets ready to tackle all the films slated for release, we here will help you determine which films are the ‘must-sees’ for Christmas 2001.
The November slate of films was quite lackluster; the only stand out films for the past month were ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and the adorable “Monsters, Inc.’.
‘Spy Game’ proved to be a mediocre film despite the powerhouse casting from Pitt and Redford.
Yet in what proves to be the most anticipated film of Christmas 2001, Pitt returns again with some more strong actors in ‘Ocean’s 11’ (Warner Bros, Dec. 7). In Steven ‘Do no harm’ Soderbergh’s-directed remake of the Rat Pack caper, Pitt along with George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Don Cheadle along with a host of others attempt to rob 3 casinos in Las Vegas for a whole lot of loot.
The Friday after, theatres will once again be congested as Director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) unleashes his newest creation ‘Vanilla Sky’ (Paramount Pictures, Dec. 14).
Based on the surreal 1997 Spanish Drama ‘Open Your Eyes’ starring Penelope Cruz who also stars in the re-make, the film has Tom Cruise as a New York Hotshot who gets tangled between two women. While casually bedding his ‘casual’ squeeze (Cameron Diaz), he loses sight of her and infatuates over the newly arrived Penelope Cruz.
Distraught over the situation, his old flame wrecks her car – with him in it. After being disfigured by the crash, he sets out for a new meaning on life…or something like that. With Director Crowe at the helm, expect the surreal. This is a film to watch out for and with Crowe’s nostalgic directorial style it should be truly great. If it is as haunting as the Spanish original, we are in for a real treat.
Every movie season must have some parody within the slate of films. Summer 2001 had ‘Scary Movie 2’ and Christmas 2001 has a movie that recycles and regurgitates many of those elements in what seems to be another film trying to milk the last dollar out of the Teen Hollywood Market. ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ (Columbia, Dec. 14) is another teen flick that seems as memorable as a root canal. Although a promising trailer is presently playing in theatres, I ask the question: aren’t all trailers promising?
Opening the same week is ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (Touchstone, Dec. 14) directed by Wes Anderson. It seems as if Anderson is also another director who is attempting a trilogy of sorts in connection with his past films, ‘Bottle Rocket,’ and ‘Rushmore.’ Anderson’s third film has some great expectations as Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Anjelica Huston all star in a film that will have many looking to observe Anderson’s credibility.
Speaking of trilogies, Peter Jackson’s costly, epic and ambitious trilogy ‘Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring’ (New Line, Dec. 19) also opens this season.
This long awaited film was shot back-to-back-to-back with it’s siblings which will be released Christmas 2002, and Christmas 2003.
As for the books in which the series is based upon, they have a following which rivals the likes of the ‘Star Wars’ films. Will it be as successful? That still has to be seen.
Jim Carrey’s last theatrical outing was the delightful holiday film, ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’.
Now that a year has passed, it seems that Carrey wants to distance himself from the comedic Carrey and reinvent himself as the Dramatic Carrey.
After failing to receive an Oscar Nomination for ‘The Truman Show’, Carrey returns with Frank Darabont’s ‘The Majestic’ (Warner Bros. Dec. 21).
Darabont also directed The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.
Carrey hopes to get Oscar’s attention as a blacklisted amnesiac director who while fleeing Hollywood crashes his car and finds himself in a small California village mistaken for a WWII townsman who never returned.
Carrey hopes to achieve what so few comedians such as Robin Williams has achieved, a comedian, who can actually act.
Speaking of comedians who can’t act; Tim Allen has a comedy being released – ‘Joe Somebody’ (20th Century Fox, Dec. 21).
This dark comedy has Allen cast as a regular guy who snaps after getting beat to a parking spot. I am sure the Christmas shopper who waits until the last minute can relate to this concept.
Finally, Christmas day plays host to two big films. Russell Crowe and Will Smith all want a bite of the Best Acting Category for Oscar as they both portray larger than life characters in what the studios are not calling biopics, but, in essence this is exactly what they are.
Russell Crowe plays John Forbes Nash Jr., a troubled Princeton mathematician who wins the Nobel Prize.
‘A Beautiful Mind’ (Universal) has Ron Howard directing this drama that hopes to spark some attention for Best Picture as well.
Yet another contender lies in Michael Mann’s ‘Ali’.
Will Smith hopes to gain credibility as an actor who can actually convey dialogue without waving his head side to side when delivering his lines as he plays Cassius Clay and his transformation into Muhammad Ali.
Therefore, with plenty of selection at your local multiplex, make the best of the holiday season and make sure you enjoy it! Happy Holidays!

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