December 21, 2019
Scrooged (35mm)December 21, 2019
Comedy / 1988 / 101 minutes
There have been countless riffs on Charles Dickens' timeless holiday tale A Christmas Carol since the advent of cinema, but perhaps none are as irreverent and uproarious as Richard Donner's big-budget blockbuster hit Scrooged. Cashing in big on Bill Murray's post Ghostbusters superstardom, Donner's film pits Murray against ghosts once again, this time as a cynical, bitter and hilariously caustic TV executive mounting his own network broadcast of the Dickens classic who, naturally, finds himself visited by his own Christmas specters, but with a decidedly modern twist. Murray is of course brilliant and brings more laughs to the Scrooge archetype than any before him, and Donner's confidence with Hollywood spectacle and special effects assure that the production a visual feast, but it's the film's winning, full-hearted spirit that ultimately delights and earns it a place among holiday movie perennials. With Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait and David Johansen.
Home AloneDecember 21, 2019
Comedy / 1990 / 103 minutes
Anyone who was a cognizant being in 1990 is familiar with Chris Columbus’ holiday smash hit Home Alone. Written by the master of 80s teen comedies John Hughes, the story – of a clever 8 year old accidentally left home alone on Christmas who stymies the attempts of a pair of bumbling burglars with brutal booby traps – captured the zeitgeist of the time, making an icon of young star Macaulay Culkin, And while Culkin (who can forget his hands on cheeks/mouth agape image used in the marketing?) is pretty great, the movie would be nothing without the slapstick brilliance of Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci as the thieving victims of the inventive homemade deterrents, taking the punishment with a cartoonish aplomb appropriate for G-rated audiences. Home Alone would go onto to inspire a franchise and countless imitators, but for holiday fun there’s no beating the original. With stressed-out, forgetful, and possibly negligent parents Catherine O’Hara and John Heard.
Die HardDecember 21, 2019
Action / 1988 / 132 minutes
Yippie kay yay motherfu**ker. It’s the holidays, and that means ‘tis the season for everyone’s favorite high octane Christmas-set thrill ride, Die Hard. John McTiernan’s seminal 1988 action extravaganza – largely responsible for making Bruce Willis an A-list movie star – started a wave of copycat action movies, including several Die Hard sequels, but pound for adrenalized pound, nothing stacks up to the original. For one thing, the premise is simple and brilliant – During a corporate Christmas party, an LA skyscraper is taken hostage by terrorists and only John McClane, a NY cop visiting his estranged executive wife, can stop them. Every great blockbuster needs a great villain, and it can’t be undersold what a delightful baddie the late Alan Rickman is, providing the perfect foil for Bruce’s wisecracking everyman. With Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton (cinema’s quintessential 80s a-hole) and Hart Bochner as a wonderfully slimy yuppie.
The Rock (35mm)December 21, 2019
Action / 1996 / 136 minutes
Michael Bay was not yet a brand name when he delivered The Rock to cinema audiences in 1996, but the crowd-pleasing thrill ride helped catapult Bay to the action movie A-list along with the film’s star, the great Nicolas Cage. The story of a FBI agent (Cage, naturally) who must enlist the escape artist talents of an older ex-spy (Sean Connery) to break into the famed Alcatraz prison after it is taken hostage by an insane Marine corps officer (Ed Harris), Bay’s sophomore effort utilizes music video style editing techniques and explosive set pieces to deliver blockbuster thrills, relying more on practical pyrotechnics and smart filmmaking than today’s modern, over CGI-reliant spectacles. Harris and Connery are both scenery-chewing great, but it’s Cage who really shines, proving, for the first but certainly not the last time, that his oddball charm makes for a compelling big screen action hero. With Michael Biehn, William Forsythe and David Morse.
Leaving Las Vegas (35mm)December 21, 2019
Drama / 1995 / 112 minutes
Nicolas Cage was certainly a known dramatic quantity when he starred in Mike Figgis’ down-and-out romance Leaving Las Vegas, but no one was prepared for the shattering, Oscar-winning performance Cage was set to deliver. The story of a failed Hollywood screenwriter (Cage) and alcoholic who, while in Las Vegas with the intention of literally drinking himself to death, falls in love with a prostitute (Elizabeth Shue), Figgis’ perfectly calibrated drama examines the downward spiral of addiction and self-destruction with a clear-eyed honesty rarely seen in a Hollywood film before its 1995 release. Cage’s layered, quietly harrowing performance certainly deserves all the laurels it earns, but Shue also delivers a career-best, bringing a sexy yet heartbreakingly sad compassion to her character, making her pairing with Cage one of the great tragic romances of cinema. With Julian Sands, Richard Lewis and Valeria Golino.