Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Ten of 2008

Yes, another year has come and gone. It's been one of "those" years for movies, a year where it seemed like everything was destined to make me sob. And the release dates were so wonky. What in the fuck was with the December glut? I spit at thee, studios. Well, no, I guess I don't, since I love your films. But I do shake my head.

This is my Top Ten of 2008, but again, it was one of "those" years. I will post them alphabetically, not in order of preference, for there is a HUGE chance that this year's Top Ten will actually wind up as the leading nominees for the Hollmann Awards.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
For making a ridiculous premise unbelievably real. For astounding me (AGAIN!) with the abilities of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. For making FX necessary. For referencing a recent disaster with taste. For reassuring me that David Fincher is one of the greatest directors working today.

The Dark Knight
For taking a comic book movie as seriously as I do. For making a superhero movie into the biggest hit of the decade. For providing material for one of the best supporting performances of the year (No, not Heath Ledger). For giving a great actor a phenomenal swan song. For feeling fresh and new after six viewings.

For making Nixon a man, not a monster. For making me believe in the Ron Howard myth. For building off of a somewhat shallow script. For making the 1970s feel as pressing as tomorrow. For Michael Sheen's amazing TV Voice.

Married Life
For balancing comedy and drama effortlessly. For making the Other Woman more than a slut. For providing the most memorable score of the first half of the year. For realizing people can fall back in love. For Patricia Clarkson's sexy, sexy self.

For making the biopic formula feel new. For Sean Penn's smile. For reestablishing Gus Van Sant's greatness. For invoking the look and feel of a 1970s flick. For being unashamedly GAY.

Rachel Getting Married
For reflecting life so realistically. For making Rachel just as irritating as Kym. For making the music part of the action. For making me sob. For making Roger Corman an extra with a video camera.

Speed Racer
For willing to be cheesy. For being sincere despite it all. For giving me my childhood back. For capturing the spirit of the TV series. For making me sob for two hours.

Synecdoche, NY
For making me feel every emotion simultaneously. For that final monologue. For that magnificent ensemble of women. For putting all my hopes and fears up on the screen. For Dianne Wiest.

For creating suspense when I knew the ending. For not caring about accents, just acting ability. For John Ottman's absolutely brilliant score. For a superb supporting cast. For making my heart beat dangerously fast throughout.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
For reminding me why I love Woody Allen. For making me actually love the Spanish language. For giving its actresses great material. For the beautiful cinematography. For making Woody Allen seem young and hip and sexy.

Christmas Time is Movie Time

It is already New Year's Eve. Wow. 2008 went by rather fast, actually, and I mean faster than previous years before it. I always felt that I had just a little more time to do this, a few more months to get that done. And yet here we are, with 2009 a little more than twelve hours away, and I realize how woefully unprepared I am for it.

That is to say: I missed I've Loved You So Long, I've yet to see In Bruges, and I'm the only person I know who hasn't seen Slumdog Millionaire. All this despite the fact that I've been seeing two movies a day since I got back home.

It all started with Frost/Nixon, which was great. I never know what I'm getting with Ron Howard. His Russell Crowe movies inspire and entertain me, while his Tom Hanks ones (well, not Splash) BORE me. Fortunately, Frost/Nixon belongs in the former, though no Crowe is to be found. It's a terrif ensemble, and I want to be the one person out there praising Michael Sheen instead of Frank Langella, but I can't. Sheen is great in this, don't get me wrong -- I love that he has an Interviewer Voice, slightly different from his normal one. But Frank Langella's Nixon is probably going ot be the standard by which all other Nixons are measured. Charming, professional, and a little sad, Langella gives us the Man instead of the Caricature. I'd say it's probably the best thing Howard's ever done, though I have to re-watch Cinderella Man before I'm certain.

And then, of course, there was Christmas. Time was spent with the family, presents were opened, all was well. My friends and I celebrated by catching a double feature: Doubt and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Doubt probably has the most rewatchability, as it's relatively short and more than just a little outrageous. John Patrick Shanley's screenplay, like his stage version, is a little on the nose with everything, but everyone makes it work. His directing, on the other hand, is just awful. I am convinced that Doubt, the movie, is an experiment in Dutch angles, which Shanley probably learned about the week before shooting before. (Though I haven't seen Joe vs. the Volcano; maybe it's the same problem there) The acting's great, though. Meryl Streep is surprisingly funny, Viola Davis does what is expected -- that is, knock it out of the park -- and Amy Adams does some great stuff with an underwritten part. I must admit, I found Philip Seymour Hoffman to be more SHOUT EVERY LINE than was necessary. Howard Shore's score is forgettable; the story and direction would have benefited from Philip Glass.

Benjamin Button was not outrageous, however. Give props to writer Eric Roth and director David Fincher for making a story in which a man ages backwards, from old age to infancy, not ridiculous at all. It's rather sad, actually, though touching and romantic in places, magical in many, beautiful to behold in all. Cinematographer Claudio Miranda gives us some GORGEOUS shit to look at, with a golden past and a blue present. Alexandre Desplat's score is equally gorgeous and memorable, capable of invoking emotions all on its own. A terrific ensemble, too. Brad Pitt's great, but we all knew that. I am still astounded by everything Cate Blanchett does, but truly: where in the hell is she from? Olympus? Valhalla? The woman is unbelievably great at everything that's not royal.

Gran Torino was next, a movie that is all about Clint Eastwood. Forget the lame song, the false performances from the supporting cast, the cliche-ridden script. Forget all that. Clint's portrayal of a tough old racist is, yes, charming. It's a surprisingly witty performance, instantly quotable, though I wouldn't recommend doing it in certain areas. You wanna sit back and have a couple of beers with the man. I really do hope it's his last performance, for it's such a great note to leave on. He makes the movie. (Let me declare now, though, that I am still horrified by the movie's treatment of black people. I mean, it's just...shocking. Especially in 2008.)

Valkyrie is getting shit for no reason. We all know how a movie about assassinating Hitler is going to end. There's no surprise there. My God, though, the suspense of this film! We know what's to come, yet still was I on the edge of my seat, hoping maybe they would get away with it, trip off merrily into the sunset, and end World War II prematurely. Alas. I liked Tom Cruise a lot as Stauffenberg, but I'm a Tom Cruise fan. John Ottman's score is mainly to blame for the pulse-pounding nature of the flick. Tightly written, well-paced, good performances. Great stuff.

And, finally, we have Milk. Which was also great. Maybe I'm beginning to sound easy to please, but there you have it: Milk was great. Sean Penn's best performance to date, very admirable work from Gus Van Sant, a supporting cast that I just adored, great 1970s atmosphere captured by Harris Savides. Yowza. Wish Danny Elfman's score was more memorable, but at least it wasn't distracting, either. And Diego Luna bothered the shit out of me. Not just his character, either, I'm talking about the performance. It just all seemed wrong to me.

Well, my Top Ten of 2008 is soon to come. I can only hope that I've seen and discussed everything I needed to. Ciao, bella.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Hey, It's Back!


Wow, it's been a loooooong time since I last updated this. But what can I say? I was enjoying my holidays, and besides -- I JUST got Internet. Fortunately, Mom just bought a Christmas album full of songs I'd never heard before, so next year should be exciting, eh?

First, let me tell you about Candelight at EPCOT. You got your eight voices of liberty, your Disney singers in green robes, your high school choirs in goldish-whitish robes, the orchestra (gorgeous), and the conductor, gesticulating wildly as he commands the singers to perform. For us, it was special guest Mr. Jung-Ho Pak. Quite something.

Mr. Pak sans caffeine
And then, of course, there was the Mistress of Ceremonies, Academy-Award Nominee Abigail Breslin. We got to see her on her first night, too. She was nervous, and a little excited -- but who wouldn't be? She did a great job, and she seemed to be moved to tears at one point.

Knew her lines, sweetheart
(Of course, it must be said that the Eartha Kitt ASL interpreter stole the show. The way she signed "wonders of his love" really was a wonder. Wink. She was dressed beautifully, too. It was something else.)

Yeah, like that
Second, let me describe to you the amazing feeling of being in charge of the Angel. Now, most people put a star on their Christmas tree. Some have jesters. My family has a Fiber Optic Angel that stands upon a makeshift stage. Well, this year, it was up to me to see that the angel got to her place.

Job well done
Now, I put the angel up a little higher than Dad meant for it to go, but this was covered up by a red ribbon and a flock of angels. So now, we have a semi-recreation of what the shepherds saw that fateful night, when the angels came with glad tidings of great joy.

Bears brought Jesus into this world
Thirdly, a shout-out to the Birthday Girls of the 21st, Allie and Gia. Happy (belated) Birthday, ladies!

Lastly, I just cannot wait for the festivities to begin. Christmas Eve at Roxy's tonight, Christmas Day with my sisters and relatives tomorrow, Benjamin Button as our Christmas flick. It really is Christmas, folks. Gee whiz, indeed.

Hello there, Merry Christmas, how've you been,
Gee, it's so good to talk to you again,
It's been a long, long time,
Can't explain why you've crossed my mind,
I guess it's just to wish you a Merry Christmas.

My best friend's having a party and everbody's going,
I know it's gonna be alot of fun, oh, by the way, it's snowing,
It's been a long, long time,
Can't explain why you've crossed my mind,
I guess it's just to say,
Gee whiz, it's Christmas.

It's funny that I never thought to call you before,
And why didn't I ever see you around anymore,
Another year has passed, and I can't erase,
The memory of your smiling face,
So I had to call you up and say,
Gee whiz, it's Christmas.

So don't forget the party that's just growing,
The warm fire from the fireplace will be glowing,
It's been a long, long time,
I still can't figure out why you've crossed my mind,
I guess it's just to say,
Gee whiz, it's Christmas.

I'm wishing you a Merry,
Have a Merry, Merry Christmas
Gee whiz ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Holy fuck my shit, folks. This is it. Well, not "it", per se, since we're still a ways from the Oscars (curse thee, February!), but...this'll do. I love the Guilds. I feel like it really means more when an award or nomination comes from peers, people who understand the craft inside and out. They were the first to honor Ruby Dee last year, they nominated Leonardo DiCaprio twice in 2006, and they love Catherine Keener. That's good enough for me.

Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kate Winslet, The Reader
REACTION: I throw up my hands with this category. Cruz, Davis and Winslet are locks, yes. But one group prefers Henson, another likes Tomei, no one loves DeWitt (for shame!), and Adams looks poised to get her second Oscar nom. I'm sure this isn't the Oscar roster; either Adams or Henson is out, making room for Tomei. I need to see these movies, dammit! I predicted 3/5 correctly, but I love the love that's loving on Henson.

Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
REACTION: Oh, wow. Did not see that Patel nom coming. 4/5 predicted correctly, with wild card Gary Oldman left out in the cold. And still, I don't know if this is the Oscar roster. Only seen Downey and Ledger at this point, but I expect to have this corrected by New Year's.

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
REACTION: Holy...Hawkins elbowed out in favor of Hathaway, my own personal favorite from the two I've seen? Blessed day! 4/5 predicted correctly, and I feel certain that this here may be the Oscar roster. Will critical favorite Hawkins replace Leo or Hathaway? God knows. I do smell a win on the horizon for one of my all-time favorite actresses.

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
REACTION: 3/5 predicted correctly. How could I have forgotten about Jenkins? Stupid of me, really. This is definite, though. Actress was a "may be". This is a "for sure". There's your Oscar list.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
REACTION: 3/5 predicted correctly, with my wild card Synecdoche out of the picture, and my ensemble pick Dark Knight shown little love. Interesting group here. Very multicultural. Frost/Nixon is the odd man out, as the sole film to exclusively feature white Anglo-Saxon heterosexual men. Am I wrong?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The Screen Actors Guild announce their nominations in a couple of ours. So, late to the game, i offer my opinion of how it's gonna run down.

Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona [b/c she's the favorite to win]
Viola Davis, Doubt [b/c she, too, is unstoppable]
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married [b/c it's time to recognize her greatness]
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler [b/c every couple of years, she earns it]
Kate Winslet, The Reader [b/c she's great in all she does]

Josh Brolin, Milk [b/c it's time to recognize him]
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder [b/c he deserves it]
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt [b/c...well, he's PSH]
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight [b/c he's unstoppable]
Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight [b/c fuck you, that's why]

Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky [b/c she'll be an Oscar nominee]
Angelina Jolie, Changeling [b/c she'll be an Oscar nominee]
Melissa Leo, Frozen River [b/c actors don't star-fuck as much]
Meryl Streep, Doubt [b/c she'll be an Oscar nominee]
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road [b/c she'll be an Oscar nominee]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road [b/c they love him]
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon [b/c Nixon is awesome]
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Synecdoche, NY [no really, it's PSH. they really love him]
Sean Penn, Milk [b/c they love him]
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler [b/c everyone loves a comeback]

The Dark Knight [b/c it's a true ensemble film]
Doubt [b/c it's an actor's piece]
Frost/Nixon [b/c it's an actor's piece]
Milk [b/c it's got a fine crop]
Synecdoche, NY [WILD CARD]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Casting Coup: Miracle on 34th Street


Casting Coup Tuesday again! And have I got a treat for you.

Everybody knows my favorite Christmas movie of all time is Miracle on 34th Street. This 1947 release dared to tell us to believe in Santa and miracles and goodness and love and all those other intangibles. It won three Oscars -- Story (Valentine Davies), Screenplay (George Seaton) and Supporting Actor (Edmund Gwenn) -- and was nominated for Best Picture of the Year, losing out to social drama Gentleman's Agreement (though what a year for Christmas films, as one of the other nominees in that category was holiday favorite The Bishop's Wife).

Miracle is a beautiful tale. A drunk Santa is replaced at the Macy's parade by a passerby who happens to be named Kris Kringle. As Macy's official Santa Claus, he soon becomes a nationwide sensation when he sends shoppers to other stores to purchase items Macy's may not carry. In the meantime, he also tries to bring some Christmas magic into the life of young Susie Walker, daughter of the Macy's executive who got Kris his job -- Doris. Doris is a single mother, a divorcee who does not allow fairy tales or stories of Santa into her home. While Kris tries to convince Susie to use her imagination, Doris gets romanced by Fred Gailey, an attorney who is also her neighbor. The drama comes when Kris tells people he is the real thing, and an unhappy psychologist working for Macy's convinces others he has latent, violent tendencies. Kris is soon put on trial, with Fred as his lawyer, but instead of just proving his sanity, Fred intends to prove Kris is the real thing! Whoa!

It's so magical. There's the scene where Kris and Susie pretend to be monkeys. And when Fred gives the greatest speech of all time. And when Doris delivers her Joan of Arc line. And when the judge discusses the trial with his friend and advisor. And when the heads of the rival department stores shakes hands. And when Thelma Ritter gives the best cameo ever. And THE ENDING. Oh my, that ending.

Why, after all this, would I risk a remake? Well, there are several versions of this timeless tale. There are TV movie version, from 1955, 1959, and 1973 (with Roddy McDowall!). There was a radio adaptation featuring the cast of the original film. There's a Broadway musical from 1963. And there's the popular 1994 remake with Sir Richard Attenborough, Dylan McDermott, Mara Wilson, and a cameo by Allison Janney. I think I'm justified in offering another version.

So I will.

Who is She: a geriatrics physician at the Brooks Memorial Home for the Aged, where Kris lives. Pierce believes Kri to be harmless, and wants an x-ray for Christmas.

Quote: "Kris, all I can say is the State Supreme Court declared you to be Santa Claus. And personally and professionally...I agree with them."

Originally played by: James Seay (not pictured)

My Choice: Though the role was originated by a man, I think one should go with whoever is best for the job. And the best person for this role nowadays is a woman.

Anna Deavere Smith (Rachel Getting Married, Rent)
Smith is an award-winning actress and playwright. She has appeared in several politically-themed productions, including The Kingdom and Dave. In adddition, she has worked twice with fellow writer Aaron Sorkin, in The American President and on television's The West Wing.

Who is She: A woman toting her son around, exhausted from the Black Friday ritual. Becomes a regular Macy's shopper after Kris recommends she go to another store to get her son the gift he wants.
Quote: "Listen. I want to congratulate you and Macy's on this wonderful new stunt you're pulling. Imagine, sending people to other stores. I don't get it...Imagine a big outfit like Macy's putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It's wonderful. I never done much shopping here before, but from now on, I'm going to be a regular Macy customer."

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (All About Eve, The Mating Season, With a Song in My Heart, Pickup on South Street, Pillow Talk, Birdman of Alcatraz)

Thelma Ritter (Rear Window, How the West Was Won)

My Choice: The only woman worthy of filling the shoes of Thelma Ritter and Allison Janney.
Maureen O'Hara (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Miracle on 34th Street)
Yes, you read that last film right. Maureen O'Hara is the original leading lady of the original Miracle on 34th Street. In this version, of course, she would be the child's grandmother. Currently in retirement, I'm sure I could convince the Irish actress to relive her most famous film one more time.

Who is He: An alcoholic who was the original Macy's Santa. When he becomes too intoxicated to function, Doris soon replaces him with Kris.

Quote: "Well, it's cold. A man's got to do something to keep warm."

Originally played by: Percy Helton (not pictured)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, To Be Or Not To Be)
Charles Durning (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Dick Tracy)
Durning is an actor, a boxer, and a dancer, which is all pretty bad-ass. Though known to youths today for his portrayal of Peter's father on TV's Family Guy. He has played a non-drunk Santa Claus in five television films: It Nearly Wasn't Christmas, Elmo Saves Christmas, Mr. St. Nick, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and, of course, Mrs. Santa Claus with Angela Lansbury. He's also played a drunk on numerous occasions. See, all it takes is a combination of his favorite things.

Who are They: One of them is Kris Kringle's employer, R.H. Macy. Of Macy's. The other is Mr. Gimble, who runs Gimbel's, a rival department store.
Originally played by: Herbert Heyes was Gimble (not pictured), and as Macy....
Harry Antrim (The Heiress, Sex Madness)
My Choices: Well, Macy's hasn't been owned by a Macy since 1898, and they refused to allow their name to be used last time the film was remade. Also, Gimbel's hasn't existed since 1994. I think I'm going to have to use my department store characters from the Christmas musical I wrote. One is a SAG Nominee for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture (Titanic) and an Emmy Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Alias -- 4 times), Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Frasier) and Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie (Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows). The other is a SAG Nominee for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The two Towers)
L: Victor Garber (Titanic, Milk) as Harold Darling, of Darling's Department Store
R: Christopher Lee (The Golden Compass, Corpse Bride) as Alexander Knighton, of Knighton's
Darling's would be the store that gets Santa. In my musical, Harold is the more successful of the two, so it would make sense that he could afford a parade. Also, Knighton gets his own hit Santa in my musical, so suddenly my original film becomes a sequel to my favorite Christmas movie! Whee!

Who is He: Alfred is a young man who works as a janitor for Darling's/Macy's. He despises commercialism and adores Santa even volunteering to be the fat man himself at the YMCA.

Quote: "A lot of bad 'isms'floating around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck. Make a buck. Even in Brooklyn, it's the same. Don't care what Christmas stands for. Just make a buck."

Originally played by: Alvin Greenman (not pictured), who also had a cameo in the 1994 remake

My Choice:
John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, American Dreamz)
Now, technically, he's way too old for this part. I mean, John Cho's 36 years old. He's an old guy. However, he still has the youthful look of a twenty-five-year-old, so he gets the part. I mean, really, age is the only thing that would stand in his way with this role. He'd be great in it.

Who is He: The head of Macy's toy department. Shellhammer seems to be constantly befuddled by everything around him. He works with Doris, and is constantly being taken by surprise by Kris's behavior. He answers to her, though there are hints that he is her superior.

Quote: "I'll call soon as my wife's plastered... feeling gay."

Originally played by:
Philip Tonge (Witness for the Prosecution, House of Wax)
My Choice: One of the great dancers of his generation.

Alfonso Ribeiro (TV's The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, TV's In the House)
One of those actors that I wish still got huge parts. I understand he's busy dancing professionally -- and, sometimes, judging other stars who dance-- but I think he has some of the best comic timing. And he's masterful at the befuddled gaze.

Who is He: The man the state puts in charge of prosecuting -- and thereby persecuting -- Kris Kringle. But he's thrown for a loop when Gailey calls his own son to the stand! Wa-hoo!

Quote: "I've got to get that football helmet!"

Originally played by:

Jerome Crowan (The Maltese Falcon, The Song of Bernadette)
My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Drama Series (Lost), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble in a Dramatic Series (Lost)

Matthew Fox (Speed Racer, Smokin' Aces)
Though blessed with leading man looks, Fox is actually a character actor. Just check out his performance as a security guard in Smokin' Aces. Sure, this part is not as large as an actor as high in demand as he is would be used to getting, but the fact is, he's the best guy for the job. Besides, this would give me ample opportunity to put him in a fake mustache and spectacle. Awesome.

Who is He: He's coming up for reelection, yet he also has to decide in the most controversial case of his career! Will he disappoint his grandchildren by condemning Santa to an insane asylum? Or will he risk his reputation and declare the department store mascot the real thing?

Quote: "Fine way to treat their grandfather! No hug, no kiss, no anything."

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Algiers)

Gene Lockhart (His Girl Friday, Carousel)
My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Network), Emmy Award Nominee for Best Actor in a Limited Series/Special (Friendly Fire) and Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/Special (Last Train Home), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Hear My Song)

Ned Beatty (Charlie Wilson's War, Nashville)
Ah, Ned Beatty. One of the greatest good ol' boys to ever grace the Silver Screen. I mean, sure, he's definitely no New Yorker, but we can bend a few conventions to get a great actor on board.

Who is He: The guy that got the judge elected. Tries to convince Harper to fake an illness so as not to jeopardize his prospects for reelection.

Quote: "All right, you go back and tell them that the New York State Supreme Court rules there's no Santa Claus. It's all over the papers. The kids read it and they don't hang up their stockings. Now what happens to all the toys that are supposed to be in those stockings? Nobody buys them. The toy manufacturers are going to like that; so they have to lay off a lot of their employees, union employees. Now you got the CIO and the AF of L against you and they're going to adore you for it and they're going to say it with votes. Oh, and the department stores are going to love you too and the Christmas card makers and the candy companies. Ho ho. Henry, you're going to be an awful popular fella. And what about the Salvation Army? Why, they got a Santa Claus on every corner, and they're taking a fortune. But you go ahead Henry, you do it your way. You go on back in there and tell them that you rule there is no Santy Claus. Go on. But if you do, remember this: you can count on getting just two votes, your own and that district attorney's out there."

Originally played by: Five-time Emmy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Series (I Love Lucy)

William Frawley (Monsieur Verdoux, Mother Wore Tights)
My Choice: Emmy Award Nominee for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Fallen Angels), Best Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie (Mandela) and Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie (Lonesome Dove, Freedom Song), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture (Dreamgirls) and Best Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie (Freedom Song)

Danny Glover (Angels in the Outfield, The Royal Tenenbaums)
Glover is like Morgan Freeman, if Morgan Freeman was a little more bitter. I can easily see him running elections, fixing elections, controlling judges, but still being awesome enough to save Santa. Yeah, that's Danny Glover for me.

Who is He: Works as the company psychologist. Kris visits him to get evaluated, but makes an enemy of Sawyer when he tries to psychoanalyze the doctor himself! It is Sawyer who causes the media circus that it kris Kringle's sanity hearing.

Quote: " He kept changing the subject. Even questioned me. I don't think there's any doubt about it. He should be placed in a mental institution."
Originally played by:
Porter Hall (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Double Indemnity)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Fargo), Emmy Award Winner for Best Actor in a Miniseries/Movie (Door to Door) and Best Writing for a Miniseries/Movie (Door to Door), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Seabiscuit) and Best Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie (Door to Door, The Wool Cap), SAG Award Winner for Best Actor in a Miniseries/Movie (Door to Door)
William H. Macy (The Tale of Despereaux, Radio Days)

He'd make a believable professional doctor. But he's also a pretty capable villain (see Thank You for Smoking, Fargo). This role fulfills both. Also, it'd get him into a Christmas movie, and that would just be too awesome for words.

Who is She: Doris's daughter, who belives Santa is a fiction and does not play games with the other children. Kris tries to help her find her childish joy.

Quote: "Sometimes people grow very large, but that's abnormal."

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress (Splendor in the Grass, Love with the Proper Stranger) and Best Supporting Actress (Rebel without a Cause), BAFTA Nominee for Best Foreign Actress (Splendor in the Grass), Golden Globe Winner for Best TV Actress in a Drama (From Here to Eternity)
Natalie Wood (West Side Story, The Searchers)
My Choice: She will be the next big sensation. I decree it.
Rhiannon Leigh Wryn (Hulk, The Last Mimzy)

Who is He: The lawyer who defends Santa. He lives in the same apartment complex as the Walkers. A good friend of the girl's, he tries to convince both her and her mother that fairy tales are good, and Santa Claus is real. He is, of course, in love with Doris, and BFF with Kris.

Quote: "Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. It's not just Kris that's on trial. It's everything he stands for. It's kindness, joy, love, and all other intangibles...Someday, you're going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work. And when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover they're the only things that are worthwhile."

Originally played by:
John Payne (Wake Up and Dream, The Razor's Edge)
My Choice: SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture (No Country for Old Men)
Josh Brolin (W., Flirting with Disaster)
Brolin is one of the more charismatic actors working today. Can you imagine him telling fairy tales to a little kid? Can you imagine him being BFF with Santa? And wait until you see who I have for Santa. Then the picture will be complete.

Who is She: The most capable woman at Darling's/Macy's/Whatev. Doris organizes the parade, runs the toy department, has the best penthouse in the city. She's also tres beautiful. But cynical, disillusioned, bitter, and incapable of crying.

Quote: "Susan, I speak French, but that doesn't make me Joan of Arc."

Originally played by:
Maureen O'Hara (The Parent Trap, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation)
My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Junebug), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (Enchanted) and Best Supporting Actress (Doubt), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Junebug)
Amy Adams (Sunshine Cleaning, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day)
Playing against type, Adams would have to be professional, straight-laced, and a little cold. Kind of like her character from Charlie Wilson's War, but with more of an undercurrent of anger. And since I just referenced a film in which she does this kind of thing, I think I've proven my case.

Who is He: A department store Santa who may be the real thing.


"You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I've been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we're all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle."

"Oh, Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind... and that's what's been changing. That's why I'm glad I'm here, maybe I can do something about it."

"If that's normal, I don't want it!"

Originally played by: Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Miracle on 34th Street), Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Miracle on 34th Street, Mister 880)
Edmund Gwenn (Foreign Correspondent, The Trouble with Harry)

My Choice: One of My Personal Heroes, who has garnered many awards and nominations. If you don't believe me, let's see what he looks like with a beard.
Oh, yes.

Right there.

Celebrate, Peter O'Toole. It's all yours.

My love, the days are colder.
So, let me take your hand
And lead you through a snow white land.
Oh, oh.
Oh, oh.

My love, the year is older.
So, let me hold you tight
And wile away this winter night.
Oh, oh.

I see the firelight in your eyes.
Come kiss me now, before it dies.
We'll find a winter world of love,
'Cause love is warmer in December.
My darlin', stay here in my arms
Till summer comes along
And in our winter world of love,
You see, we always will remember
That as the snow lay on the ground,
We found our winter world of love.

Because the nights are longer,
We'll have the time to say such tender things
Before each day.
Oh, oh.
Oh, oh.

And then, when love is stronger,
Perhaps, you'll give your heart
And promise that we'll never part, oh, no.

And at the end of every year,
I'll be so glad to have you near.
We'll find a winter world of love,
'Cause love is warmer in December.
My darlin', stay here in my arms
Till summer comes along
And in our winter world of love,
You see, we always will remember
That as the snow lay on the ground,
We found our winter world of love.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's a "Mrs" Clause...


All due respect to the Big Guy with the Red Suit and all, but doesn't it seem like the Santa Clause legend is often like a biopic, where the supportive and loving wife gets shoved into the background? Mrs. Clause has always been there for him. Who do you think keeps the elves happy? Who do you think cooks the North Pole food? Who do you think is in charge of keeping things running smoothly? I know it ain't Hermie.


Fact is, Mrs. Clause just isn't as steeped in tradition as her jolly husband. Santa stories date back to the 12th century, whereas Mrs. Claus was first mentioned in a poem written in 1899 by Katherine Lee Bates -- not to be confused with Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates, although.....

Possible twins

So, what we have here is a holiday figure whose only been known to the public for almost 110 years. I declare shenanigans on this one. Clearly, it's further evidence of media sexism, maybe even a hint of North Pole misogyny. What was Goody Santa Claus up to before Kathy Bates (but not that one) exposed her? If we are to believe the poem, purporting to be the thoughts of the good lady herself, Mrs. Claus fed Santa to keep him fat until Christmas came, where she then begged him annually to allow her to go with him on the sleigh ride.

Sound familiar?

The official biographers of the Clauses, Rankin-Bass Productions, have a different tale to tell. Contrary to popular belief, Mrs. Claus's maiden name is not Mary Christmas (wrong again, Charlie Brown!). Rather, she is a schoolteacher named Jessica.

With back problems, no doubt

She helps Kris Kringle ply his toy trade to unsuspecting children, finally granted eternal life by the Gods so they may continue such work for centuries. It is then that she becomes the mischievous and tyrannical Mrs. Claus of Rudolph fame. Presumably, she has grown tired of his games, for 900 years of living under his enormous shadow must be getting to her by now. Force-feeding him, usurping his powers while he lays ill, sending two gay elves to fly through the Miser Brothers' territory on the back of an infant reindeer; Mrs. Claus got a little nasty.

The face of evil

Perhaps this is why Santa kept her name out of the press for as long as he did. A crazy old woman is one thing, but the First Lady of Christmas? For shame, Mrs. Claus. For shame.

Santa surrounds himself with witnesses, just in case

Of course, it is perfectly possible that she did all these things to get her husband's attention, as is the case in the Angela Lansbury film Mrs. Santa Claus. After all the emotional games she's been playing with him, Mrs. Clause decides to finally throw up her hands, steal a reindeer, and run off to turn-of-the-century New York City, where she gets involved in child labor disputes and woman's suffrage. <a hrec="">I am not making this up</a>.

Always has a weapon, though

Mrs. Clause is now firmly established in the Christmas Legend. Her influence is seen everywhere. She has been the subject of television shows, movies, and musicals.

Also, fantasies

Songs from the New World has a song about her. And, of course, there is the aformentioned Angela Lansbury one. What, you didn't think Angela Lansbury was going to be in a Disney Christmas movie without singing, did you? Schmucks.

I need something challenging to do
Somewhere marvelous to go
He’s seen every little corner of the world
All I’ve ever seen is snow

I’m Mrs. Santa Claus, the invisible wife
And Mrs. Santa Claus needs a change in her life
I’ve been manning the business and planning each holiday plan
And I’m tired of being the shadow behind the great man
For each December when Santa’s checking his list
‘Tis the season that he forgets I exist
So the moment has come to beat my own drum because
I want the world to know there’s a Mrs. Santa Claus!

I’m Mrs. Santa Claus, yes, I’m married to him
And for centuries I’ve been proper and prim
But I’m tired of folding the bedding and spreading the jam
And I feel I’m about to begin to find out who I am
I’ve planned my strategy and my flag is unfurled
For I have gifts of my own to offer the world
So I’m coming your way, keep an eye on my sleigh because
I want the world to know there’s a Mrs. Santa Claus!

So I’m coming your way, keep an eye on my sleigh because
You’ll have a merry Christmas with Mrs. Santa Claus!