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21 December, 2007 / Erik

Your Yuletide Movie

So, now that I’ve talked about the Yakmala Xmas, let’s try movies with Xmas themes or backgrounds that are actually good.

1.) Die Hard.

Few films capture the sense of the American Christmas as well as the prototype for every subsequent action movie, Die Hard. John McTiernan’s brilliant direction and Bruce Willis’s injection of humor and humanity into a shell of a character makes this film the well everyone goes back to. With the support of a great villainin the form of Hans Gruber, Bonnie Bedelia as an atypically strong women in distress, and the surprising supporting role for professional film and TV cop Reginald VelJohnson. Add to that the dopey FBI guys, miscellaneous Germans, goofy chauffeur Argyle, and WILLIAM ATHERTON. There you have fun viewing for the Christmas Eve Tree Trimming.

2.) Die Hard II: Die Harder.

To some, this sequel lacks the originality and brilliance of its predecessor … but the only option for a sequel was to repeat the formula, be self-conscious about it, and create a new supporting cast worthy of Hans Gruber. Consider the considerable presence of Presidential Candidate Fred Thompson as the Head of Air Traffic Control, Dennis Franz in Proto-Sipowitz mode as Carmine Lorenzo, Airport Police Captain. Though the central villain, a Noriega-like Drug Lord, is weak, his head goon, Colonel Stuart, played by William Sadler, is as strong as possible. Also look for special guest appearances by Robert Patrick, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and John Leguizamo as members of Stuart’s team. Special marks go to John Amos as the team leader of a counter-terrorism unit and Art Evans as Chief Engineer Leslie Barnes. Again, WILLIAM ATHERTON and Bonnie Bedelia appear, now teamed together.

3.) Ghostbuster 2.

Also considered a lesser sequel, the film boasts some great one liners for Bill Murray and a career making appearance by Peter MacNicol. Though it strains the sequel potential of the concept about as far as it will go, it is a watchable with great performances by the main cast and guests Harris Yulin as the Judge, Kurt Fuller as the Mayor’s Campaign organizer and David Margulies returning as Mayor Lenny. The only things that hamper this almost perfect follow up is Sigourney Weaver’s wavering performance. Though strong, she occasionally interrupts the pace and humor by becoming Ellen Ripley. Also working against the film is the shoehorn plotting that allowed Rick Moranis to return. Though his Louis Tully character is funny in the first film, his return is out of place and as unwelcome as Rick Moranis would become in any production from that point on.

4.) The Lion in Winter.

Taking place over the Christmas Holiday, the film revolves around King Henry II’s plans for his successor. Added to this tale are the machinations of his entire family. Katherine Hepburn appears as the cold Eleanor of Aquitaine, who plots Henry’s downfall and the ascension of her favorite son Richard (Anthony Hopkins). Henry’s plans would see youngest son John (Nigel Terry, who later plays King Arthur in Excalibur) on the throne. Each son has there own plans. Richard is very gay and wants nothing of Henry’s live-in mistress, Alais (Jane Merrow), who also comes with the throne. John Castle is noteworthy as middle son Geoffrey. Knowing that he will never be king and, at best, will be Chancellor and, at worst, be killed, he plays all sides against each other for his amusement. In the midst of all of this plotting is a special Christmas guest King Phillip II of France (Timothy Dalton!?) who has plans of his own for the troublesome Duke of Normandy (Henry). The film is so amazingly written and dialogue driven, it is almost an action movie with words instead of punches. Peter O’Toole’s bluster filled performance as Henry II (his second time in the role, he appeared as the King in Beckett) is full of the excess and spoiled brat nature you would expect from an absolute monarch.

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One Comment

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  1. RedQueenAR / Jan 5 2008 5:29 pm

    I also humbly submit: Donovan’s Reef.

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