I haven't seen very much of the stuff that's going to be around over Christmas, but you haven't either.
It's been kind of a rotten year for film. I think we tend not to notice that because the most interesting movies playing around Cambridge are always old ones. But unless you live in New York, your Christmas movie diet may consist of a bunch of first and second-run movies that are mostly third-rate.
The one new masterpiece (and I use the term advisedly) of the year is Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven. It did rather pathetic business at the Charles for several weeks, and unfortunately if you didn't see it there, you probably won't see it satisfactorily. It's a 70 millimeter Dolby extravaganza, and I'm not insulting the film when I say you must see it on a wide screen in a theater with a good sound system to appreciate it. If Days of Heaven comes to your town (and it hasn't had a wide release yet), make sure they haven't shoved it into one of those mini-cinies in your neighborhood mall. In New York it's only showing on a tiny screen next to the Plaza Hotel. Superman is coming, as everybody knows. I have little faith in director Richard Donner after The Omen, but it'll be good to have Brando back on the screen even if he's a bit blubbery and only on for a few minutes. I hear the approach is a little campy in places, and I'm not too eager to see Gene Hackman again after his Polish general (read with a hard 'g') in A Bridge Too Far. Margot Kidder looks like a cute Lois Lane, and they say Christopher Reeve really flies well, and the producers have spent more money so far on this film and its sequel (Variety says 60 million) than on any other, but I don't know--I smell Kong.
If you want something light and fun, try Movie, Movie. Larry Gelbart co-wrote it, and he's good (see how fast I've fogotten Oh, God?), and the cast includes George C. Scott, wife Trish, George Burns (Oh, Shit), Barry Bostwick ("Asshole" of Rocky Horror fame and a good Broadway actor), and Kathleen Beller, who just played a terminally ill girl in a movie filmed in my home town of West Hartford, Connecticut (thank you), and who swam very naked in The Betsey. A group of silent and old-movie parodies, which we need like we need sequels to The Poseidon Adventure and King Kong.
The Lord of the Rings is based on everyone's favority trilogy, although I spent three years trying to read it and never got past the first hundred pages (but then, I'm reasonably illiterate--as you can probably tell.) Our Crimson critic seemed to think Ralph Bakshi's animated film not was good, not was intelligent, and dreadful was. He books loved.
Autumn Sonata I haven't had the energy to drag myself to, and I know I should, except I did drag myself to The Serpent's Egg, and boy was that a turkey (sorry, Ingmar). Ingrid Bergman is said to be spectacular, and I can just picture Live Ullman suffering (that little Swede was just born to suffer), and I will see it, I will see it, just let me take my time, and I'll get to it, I'm going.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers. We need a remake of Don Siegel's delightful tale of peapods trying to conquer the world like we need sequels to Rocky, King Kong and The Poseidon Adventure. I've never heard of the director, but Brooke Adams was lovely in Days of Heaven, and Jeff Goldbaum terrific as the rock-critic in Between the Lines.
Oh, yes, T.V. Christmas movies. Look for Miracle on 34th Street, or rather, don't look for it --it will look for you. Going My Way is well-directed by Leo McCarey, and sure if Barry Fitzgerald isn't a dahrlin' little Uyrish priest. How the Grinch Stole Christmas will forever be the best TV Christmas special, with Boris Karloff's witty, warm and touching narration (I always cry). It's a Wonderful Life is not--to--be missed Capra (if you like Capra). I once saw something called Santa Claus Versus the Martians, which is at least novel. Different versions of A Christmas Carol--I still like the Mr. Magoo one the best. Gone with the Wind will be on again, which isn't too Christmassy, but neither is Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
And a Cindy Lou Who to you, too.