Yes, friends, my blog’s reading level has been rated at a junior high school level. Talk about harshing my groove. If you want to check your blog’s reading level (and you know you do), click here.
Speaking of harsh grooves, the treacly Christmas movie season is upon us with a vengeance. If, like me, you find yourself rooting for the Grinch around this time of year, you need a cinematic antidote. The following are my favorite dysfunctional Christmas movie recommendations:
The Family Stone
The storyline of this film can be summed up in one sentence–the Christmas celebration of a liberal hippie family is disrupted when their son brings home his conservative fiance–but it doesn’t come close to conveying the emotional complexity of the film. Although billed as a romantic comedy, I think it’s better described as a touching family drama with romantic and comedic moments. Diane Keaton and Craig Nelson head up a great ensemble cast.
The Lion in Winter (with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close)
Henry II is holding a Christmas Court where he plans to name his successor. His estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, wants to see her favorite son, Richard, take the throne. Henry favors his obnoxious younger son, John. Alternately playing both sides against each other is the middle son, Geoffrey. The stage is set for an emotional roller coaster ride. Stewart and Close both give intense performances as parents whose love-hate relationship and continous one-upmanship has destroyed their family. Wonderful costumes, great ensemble cast.
Die Hard (the first one)
But for real fun, nothing says Christmas like blowing up a whole office building. Most people forget that this classic action thriller is set during the holidays. John McClane (Bruce Willis) has come to L.A. to reunite with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). He meets up with her at offices of the Nakatomi Corporation where the office Christmas party is in full swing. As he is waiting in her office, terrorists lead by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) enter and take everyone hostage. John, barefoot and armed with only a handgun against their automatic rifles, must summons help, save the hostages, and stay alive as he is hunted from floor to floor by the terrorists. Unlike its own sequels and most other action movies, I found “Die Hard” to be tightly plotted, believable, human, and very funny. Most reviews of the movie focus on Alan Rickman’s sinister Hans, but there are solid performances from everybody. Bruce Willis does a good Everyman character as McClane and the late Alexander Godunov exudes a pantherish grace and palpable sense of danger as Karl.