Anyone who has read my blog has picked up on how much I enjoy watching television, but that can only be trumped by my love of movies, some of which I watch again and again. I have my favorites and I’ll mention some of them here but this in no way is a comprehensive list, instead below I’ll recount those movies that I watch at a special time of year every year without fail. Since we are still hanging on to Fall, ignoring Winter tapping it’s bony tree branch of a finger on our shoulder, let’s begin with my favorite movies to watch during this transitional season.
Nightmare before Christmas: If you can stomach the title; which for a girl born, raised, and schooled Catholic was initially tough to swallow this is an absolutely magical movie and oh yeah, it’s also a musical! I’m very picky about musicals and prefer ones in which every other sentence isn’t a song, which is another reason to love this movie, but I digress, back to Tim Burton’s magical wonderland. This movie is a feast for the eyes and you totally feel for ol’ Jack Skellington when he expresses his fatigue with the status quo. You feel carried away right along with him when he falls down the proverbial rabbit hole into Christmas Land and breaks into song, ‘What’s This?’ my favorite song in the movie. I wish I could conjure up the words to describe this film and give it the proper due it deserves. This movie follows a man/skeleton looking for purpose in life and a change for his beloved Halloween Land so tries to steal the antidote (Santa Clause), discovers thaaats not the right way to go about changing one’s life, and then finally lands on change he can work with. This is of course a quick run-through of a wonderfully nuanced movie, but boy oh boy is it gooooood!
Home for the Holidays: Now this is a holiday gem; I always watch it the night before Thanksgiving. I love this movie for so many reasons but the main two are Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. Nuff said! I also love this movie for the fact that it aptly reveals the delicate balance that is a family, separated by space, time, and circumstance who come together for this holiday. What’s especially poignant about this movie is how well the relationships are revealed without hitting you over the head with a shovel. Through Holly Hunter’s character you get to peak behind the curtain and recognize that she’s noticing her parents are aging and the parent/child roles are shifting ever so slightly. You get to see how her and Robert Downey Jr. as a brother and sister love each other and used to hang tough back when all kids were under one roof, but you know they have drifted apart not in spirit but in the path their lives have taken. You also see the tensed out older sister who is the no-nonsense, traditional, ‘family values’ sibling who resents the implied immaturity of her younger siblings. Then as a cherry to this cake, you get to meet the ‘crazy aunt’, everybody has one, the one who never married who seems to live in her own world made up of cats (assumed), houseplants, and quite a few lamps. She’s also the one who probably had a really cool life but somewhere along the way turned into herself and just let life pass her by…some of her comments at the penultimate moment, Thanksgiving dinner, were priceless. This takes us through my Fall must watch movies, let’s move on to Winter.
Bridget Jones’ Diary: I don’t even know where to begin with this movie…I love it! It is the ultimate chick flick (I hate that term, but you feel me) and even better it has a British twist that somehow makes this movie better. I don’t know why, maybe because the movie does not come across as simplistic and formulaic although it is formulaic. Maybe it’s because there are some amazing actors in this movie, most notably Renee Zellweger. All I know is my sister and I love this movie. I totally relate to this character too, like Bridget I am always battling with controlling weight, limiting my intake of cigarettes, and for a spell slowing down on my nightly glass of wine. So why is this a winter movie? Well it’s because the movie starts and ends in winter right around the New Year. Much of the movie takes place during the cold weather months, so I maximize my viewing pleasure by also watching during the cold months and curling up in my easy chair, feet propped on the ottoman with a glass of red within arms reach, a cigarette between my fingertips, and only a cluster of candles in the fireplace for light. I cackle out loud while watching Bridget’s exploits and frequently cringe while watching her chase the unattainable guy aka not boyfriend material guy played by Hugh Grant, while ignoring the seemingly boring, good-on-paper, barrister played by Colin Firth. I have to say this is my favorite chick flick of all time; it’s not just a romantic movie it’s a thoughtful movie laced with plenty of great comedic moments.
Friday After Next: This third installment of Ice Cube’s Friday series is my second favorite after the original. I was one of those die-hard Chris Tucker fans who felt that there was no way he could be replaced and it turns out he wasn’t replaced, a new character in Mike Epps’ Day-Day was introduced and the rest is history. Now I jump-off the holiday season post-Thanksgiving with this Christmas movie, in fact I might watch it a couple of times during the season if only for the cartoon shown during the open credits which pretty much outlines the whole movie, if you never watch opening credits, this is the movie where you really need to. The opening scene unfolds on a skinny LA hood Santa complete with red converse, played by comedian Rickey Smiley, sneaking into Craig and Day-Day’s apartment and stealing their Christmas gifts and rent money. They pursue the thief and take a job as ‘top-flight’ security guards in a local strip mall where much of the movie action takes place. This film is jam-packed with a fantastic cast including Craig’s Dad played by John Witherspoon and pimp Money Mike played Kat Williams. If you have never seen this movie then you are missing out! If you’ve seen it on constant repeat on TBS during the Christmas season and you feel that you can’t watch it again, I advise watching it on dvd so you don’t have to deal with all those annoying commercials that break up the laughs.
Turns out there’s nothing that I’m regularly watching during the spring, my guess is that I must be out and about enjoying the change in weather and longer days.
Do The Right Thing: This movie is made for summer. Like the setting of the movie, I try to watch this movie on the hottest day of the summer, basically a day so scorching there’s no use for the outside. My most memorable watching of this movie was about five years ago. My cousin and I made some Darling-Cija-rita’s (our made word combo of our names), our home-made version of a Cadillac margarita. After making a pitcher, we settled down on my living room floor and commenced to watching Spike Lee’s film which uses the weather as a metaphor for the boiling point of race relations in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. You know how you inch up that first major hill on a roller coaster only to crest it and plunge into the abyss? Well that’s exactly what happened in this film which takes place on one day and built slowly, by the time the heat wave crested neighborhood race relations had sparked off a maelstrom so intense there was no turning back. While Spike uses the heat of the day to illustrate tension, he also uses a color-palette that serves to highlight the heat-wave and underscore each character’s personality. This is one of those movies that is definitely hitting you over the head with a message and you definitely want like all the characters, but there are some stellar, largely unrecognized (in modern-day Hollywood) actors like the late Ossie Davis- poetic as the neighborhood drunk Da Mayor, Ruby Dee (Davis’ wife in real life) who played the dignified character Mother Sister who kept a birds-eye view of the neighborhood, Giancarlo Esposito who played the pivotal character Buggin Out who lights the proverbial match that sets off the culminating destructive tension that wraps the film. I love this film for the discussions it generates and for a chance to see all of the afore-mentioned actors and many more who do are sharp and brilliant in their portrayal of their characters.
No matter what happens the afore-mentioned movies will be in seasonal rotation for the rest of my life and of course new ones will be added. Right now I’m really fiending to watch the always magical (a term I frequently use to describe any Tim Burton movie) Edward Scissorhands which fits perfectly in my Fall/Halloween lineup. I’m also thinking of adding Black Swan because the always brilliant Natalie Portman portrays an insane ballerina, how perfect for the season! Swingers will probably be added somewhere, I’m just not sure where it fits in yet but rest assured it’s a classic that deserves an annual watch. So what to watch today? If I had my way I’d watch my friend Jack Skellington discover Christmas-land, but I don’t think my man will go for that, may have to save that one for tomorrow.