Wednesday, December 24, 2014
By MICHAEL WALSH
Filmmakers just can't get enough of Christmas cheer. To date, the Reeling Back archive has managed to tuck away some 13 features of seasonal interest. Visitors in a holiday mood can choose a Yule-themed drama — Paul Newman in Nobody's Fool (1995) — or perhaps a comedy — Phoebe Cates in Gremlins (1984), Bill Murray in Scrooged (1988), Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (1990), Denis Leary in The Ref (1994) or Steve Martin in Mixed Nuts (1995).
For those who prefer more magic in their movies, we have the jolly animated musical The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), the big-hearted Prancer (1989), the angel-dusted One Magic Christmas (1985) or the epic Santa Claus (1985).
The dark side of the seasonal coin is represented by Bob Clark's influential Canadian-made thriller Black Christmas (1974), the same director who created the classic A Christmas Story (1983). Then there is my own personal favourite holiday movie, the relentlessly romantic tale of a Christmas family reunion, Die Hard (1988).
In other news, Reeling Back's ten most recent postings are:
THE LOST BOYS — Director Joel Schumacher's 1987 feature wasn't the first vampire comedy, but it was the first to connect with youth culture. It had the added distinction of offering teen audiences the first pairing of the two Coreys, Haim and Feldman. (Posted December 23)
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS — On the 50th anniversary of the first Disney princess, guest critic Pauline Walsh (my 10-and-a-half-year-old daughter) provided a fresh perspective on the 1937 cartoon classic. (Posted December 21)
HAIR — Composer Galt MacDermot's unforgettable score insured that director Milos Forman's 1979 adaptation of Broadway's first rock musical had one foot in Canada's own tradition of musical theatre. (Posted December 19)
POPEYE — Individual and innovative, director Robert Altman's 1980 live-action cartoon benefited from the perfect pairing of Robin Williams, as the comic strip sailor man, and Shelley Duvall, as his gangly girlfriend Olive Oyl. (Posted December 19)
RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON — Best known as the high-energy star of the five films in the Resident Evil series, actress Milla Jovovich is on record as saying this 1991 sequel to The Blue Lagoon, her first starring role, was the worst film she ever did. (Posted December 17)
WALKER — Cult filmmaker Alex Cox's 1987 Western fantasy takes a tale of a pre-Civil War adventurer, a forgotten moment in U.S. imperial history, and uses shock effects and punk humour to make it relevant to events today. (Posted December 15)
THE SOUND OF MUSIC — A serious stage actor, Christopher Plummer made his breakthrough to feature film stardom strumming a guitar as the smiling paterfamilias Georg von Trapp in director Robert Wise's 1965 adaptation of the sweetest of all Broadway musicals. (Posted December 13)
LOTOMANIA — A prescient warning, written and produced in 1980 by director and social activist Tom Shandel, this National Film Board documentary about government involvement in the promotion of gambling is even more true today. (Posted December 8)
OUR FEATURE FILM FEST: 5 — In Part 5 of a 20-part series, Reeling Back continues its restoration of the 1997 Greater Vancouver Book Feature Film Festival with notes on the 17 features in the program called Youthquake. (Posted December 1)
LEGEND — After the success of his science-fiction features Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), director Ridley Scott turned his attention to high fantasy with this 1986 foray into fairyland. (Posted November 30)