We all know the rules, and instructions can be important: No water, no bright lights, and no eating after midnight (though, when does that one- end?). If you break these very important details, you’ll take an adorable fuzzy creature and trade it with a hellion set to ensue chaos and eat everything in sight. Of course, I’m talking about “Gremlins." (1984)
This is a straight-forward feel good film that encourages you to root for the underdog. Christian Bale is so appealing as a quirky mechanic and WW2 vet who has perhaps a touch of PTSD which occasionally leads him to unacceptable social interaction. Matt Damon has his best role in years as Bale’s sometime employer and friend who shares his passion for auto racing. Together they take up the challenge of winning Le Mans from the powerful Ferrari company, but must contend with various egos at Ford Motors to realize their dream.
“Take this Waltz” (2011) has the main character’s story undone slowly, with a meditative and varied look on relationships. There is a lot of restraint with the film, and its patience is where it flourishes, because it allows a deeper engagement with the subjects and the questions that it creates. Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou Seth Rogan are a married couple, distant at times, but with their own cute comforts and familiarities. There’s a sadness to Margot even though their life seems to be good. They are both writers, him a cook crafting a chicken recipe book, and her a writer of pamphlets for tourist locations.
Anne Rice’s debut novel, “Interview with the Vampire” was published in 1976 and was somewhat controversial at the time for its openly erotic depiction of the undead. Two years later, “Dracula” would open on Broadway with first Frank Langella and then Raul Julia as the Count with obvious sex appeal. The book would take nearly two decades to be adapted to the screen but by that time, Rice had paved the way for vampires to be portrayed with animal magnetism such that Bela Lugosi would never have gotten away with in the 1930’s. Brad Pitt plays Louis as a mournful sympathetic vampire, regretful of his lost humanity and the loss of human life he is directly responsible for. His desire to unburden his conscience sets up the interview of the film’s title as he tells his life story to Christian Slater. Director Neil Jordan deliberately shows Pitt as androgynous with long hair, perfect skin and full lips. It is no surprise that the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) desires him or that other vampires will want to possess him as well
The fact that writer-director Ana Lily Armipour’s genre-hopping A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) ranks so highly in ITOL’s top 50 films by women of the decade list is a testament to its originality, cult appeal, and fang-sharp social commentary. Billed as an Iranian Vampire Western, and set in the fictional Bad City, it nods to a myriad of influences from classic horror and film noir, to Tarantino, comic books and David Lynch- clanking industrial images and sounds loom large and fever-dream music-sequences are woven throughout.
But the question is, how come "Long Kiss Goodnight" is usually skipped in the movie list for the holidays?
Christmas time is always one of the most emotional times of the year. It brings joy, happiness, and jolly good cheer. But it can also bring other emotions too: pain, sorrow, fear. In Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher masterpiece "Black Christmas", these emotions are all brought to the forefront in very realistic and sometimes unnerving depictions. At the core of this film is women fighting for acceptance, the right to their bodies and ultimately their lives.
It was 1941 and American soldiers were away from home only weeks after Pearl Harbor. On Christmas Day they heard a song written by a Russian Jewish immigrant that spoke of all their longing for home and the comforts of the holiday sung by Bing Crosby on the radio. Seventy-eight years later, “White Christmas’ by Irving Berlin has lost none of its poignancy and the film that shares its title is just as cherished. “White Christmas” is a remarkable film, especially for the two fantastic leading ladies it is lucky to claim.
Watching “Little Women” (1994) is sort of like coming home. Regardless of the period (1868 I believe) or place, the film reinstates a level of comfort felt when I saw the movie as a child. How I perceived the movie changed as I grew older, but watching it was a yearly viewing for me. Another tether? I felt innately like Jo (Winona Ryder), trying to find my own truth, regardless of societal or gender constraints, and just wanting to write. Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film that adapts Louisa May Alcott’s novel, portrays the March family, especially the four March girls, in a way that’s maintained credibility and resonance over the years. The adaptation is loyal in the sense that these characters are portrayed with the same warmth as they are read.