Sorry there haven't been any updates over the Thanksgiving holiday, which I spent in Ohio with Mallory's family. I didn't catch any new releases (I secretly wanted to see HAPPY FEET), but I did convince Mallory to watch M*A*S*H with me in honor of Altman's passing. It's one of his most well-known films and I had never seen it. Like most of his films, it was underwhelming at first, but it only took an hour or two of reflection to start to get it. A darkly comedic and subtle film about how we behave in war, with great performances by Altman's regular Elliot Gould and then-newcomer Donald Sutherland. I'm looking forward to settling in with the rest of Altman's work once the new year is underway. For anyone else looking to try Altman, his 2001 "comeback" GOSFORD PARK is actually a great starting point.
My good friend Dan Tyler has posted a flash cartoon for his song "Happy Christmas," a delightful holiday waltz truly destined to be a classic, and featuring always-wonderful production by Joe Pisapia. Check out the video and be prepared to hum through the holidays.
It's crunch time for end-of-the-year movies, and on top of all the movies still to come out before January 1st, I figure there's no better time to cram in even more from the video store that I missed for one reason or another. At the top of the list is the rest of THE UP SERIES. This documentary series began in the 50's interviewing a range of British children about various aspects of their lives. Every seven years, the filmmakers caught up with these individuals to see how their lives, beliefs, and outlooks had changed. In the newest film released this year, 49 UP, those children are now 49 years old. Watching these films, which Roger Ebert lists as one of the greatest film projects of all time, is an experience unlike anything else I've encountered watching movies. They are addictive, inspiring, and profoundly moving. When 49 UP comes out I will undoubtedly demand that you see it, but knowing the entire story seems increasingly crucial. A bit of a commitment, but put aside your TV-on-DVD for a week and you'll be so greatly rewarded.
Keep it here this week for new reviews of THE QUEEN, BOBBY, CASINO ROYALE, and the first in my Top Fives series.