Django Unchained – What could say Christmas more than a Quentin Tarantino movie? Set in the South two years prior to the Civil War, Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a bounty hunter who frees Django (Jamie Foxx) from slavery because he needs Django’s special knowledge of a very large bounty. Django comes along for the ride, because what could be better than getting paid to kill all the folks who whipped you and stole your wife? Of course all of this leads back to the terrible and ferocious Calvin Candie (Leonardo DeCaprio). Part Spaghetti Western, part German Fairytale, total Tarantino. Few can do what he does, so let’s all go to the movies and have one hell of a time. Supporting performances from Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and Kevin Costner among many others. Wide release from The Weinstein Company.
Les Misérables – Maybe ultra violence in the Antebellum South doesn’t suit you. How about a tale of poverty, oppression, and rising from the squalor? Based on the stage musical that is based on the novel by Victor Hugo comes the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a prisoner who is being hunted by the maniac Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). Valjean takes in Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) daughter, who grows into the beautiful Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). Revolution is a foot, my friends! If you’ve never heard the music of Les Mis, then you will probably be shocked to find how familiar it is, especially “I Dreamed a Dream”. Yes, everyone sings, it is a musical. Supporting performances from Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, and Eddie Redmayne. Brought to the screen by Tom Hooper with a script by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil. Out in wide release from Universal Studios.
Parental Guidance – So maybe those two movies aren’t great for Grandma and your 12-year-old nephew. Gotta please them too, so here we have a movie that is perfect for the whole family, if the whole family is a bunch of nitwits. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point, “for everyone” turned into “for no one in particular” to “insulting to your intelligence.” Sigh. Artie (Billy Crystal) and Diane (Bette Midler) go to stay with their daughter (Marisa Tomei) and her family and three children. Raising children is so very different these days, and it’s old school meets new school! How will they ever get along? Sigh. Raising children is harder than hell, and it changes quickly. If you are raising two children with a significant age gap, you understand that completely. Wouldn’t it be nice if a movie honestly portrayed the difference in child rearing among generations and didn’t just simplify it and reduce it to a series of slapstick jokes and obvious illuminations? Sigh. Directed by Andy Fickman and in wide release from 20th Century Fox.
West of Memphis – I feel like I just watched this movie. West of Memphis is the companion piece to Central Park Five and show us just how fallible our criminal processing can be. Once again, a terrible crime is committed, this time it’s death and mutilation of three young boys, and a collection of innocence are railroaded into a false confession and take the fall for something that they didn’t do. Not only does that not sit well because innocent men are punished, but because the real perpetrator the real sick and demented human being, still walks among us. Brought to you from Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson and directed by Amy Berg, this doc sees a limited release from Sony Pictures Classics.