Holidays Films for Grown-ups

by Reid Singer on December 16, 2011 Film

AFC's critics try to blend in when they go out in public with clever disguises

“The system is destructive: Grown-ups are ignored for much of the year, cast out like downsized workers, and then given eight good movies all at once in the last five weeks of the year.” Such was David Denby’s justification for letting an early review of “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” slip in The New Yorker before the film’s theatrical release, responding to an disapproving email from producer Scott Rudin for having violated the film’s press embargo date. Notwithstanding the terms of their disagreement (which, with Rudin’s retort, “You’re an honorable man,” sound pretty personal), Denby makes a good enough point. While you may feel guilty about buying into the late-December consumption spree, there are a few gems not to be missed.
  • David Cronenberg is a good director, Viggo Mortensen is a good actor, and costume dramas with Kiera Knightley are good cannon fodder for The Onion. These are but three of the reasons people will likely enjoy A Dangerous Method, which depicts a love triangle between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud at the start of World War I. I won’t tell you who Kiera Knightley plays, but at risk of spoilers, you can read our account of Cronenberg’s talk with critic David Denby at the New Yorker festival earlier this year.
  • A lot of us have can’t let go of our scruples with the Muppets movie. Does it really make sense to take a cast who used to share the stage with Joan Rivers, Dom DeLuise, and George Burns and replace them with Chris Cooper, Jason Seigel, and the woman who played the “hot girl” on The Office? Am I probably going to see it at least twice anyway?  Would I rather curl up with a wife-material-class special-lady-person and watch segmented episodes of The Muppet Show on Youtube? Is Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey at Symphony Space a decent substitute? Yes, yes, and yes.
  • Need to babysit a group of 13-year-0lds who haven’t seen The Blues Brothers, Smokey and the Bandit, or The French Connection? Take them to IFC Center, hand them each $12, and go enjoy some time to yourself. Or would it kill you to join them? C’mon. You haven’t spent time with your cousins in a while. They have no idea what you do for a living so they really look up to you.
  • Radical left-wing date movies seem to hold together the month’s programming at Anthology Film Archive and Lincoln Center. At AFA, we recommend The Angry Brigade, a documentary about a communist libertarian poverty revolt in the early 1970s. If you hurry, you can catch El 23-F, a film about a 1981 attempted coup d’état in Spain at Walter Reade today at 2:30.
  • Readers who lament the over-emphasis on New York in AFC’s coverage make a valid point. In Los Angeles, there are admirers of Ken Russell who don’t feel like they properly paid the British filmmaker respect when he passed away last month. They should be sure to catch the screening of The Who’s Tommy next week at the Billy Wilder Theater at UCLA. We heard a rumor that visitors who dress like Ann-Margret will be granted free admission.
  • To those readers in Chicago, we recommend seeing Hiroshi Teshigahara’s film Antonio Gaudí at the Gene Siskel Center. It’ll be like visiting Barcelona but without dealing with over-priced bocadillos and frat boys in your hostel that make you sincerely embarrassed for your country. Also, in January, they’re showing films by Sergei Eisenstein and Robert Bresson. You lucky devils, you.

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