Knight at HOME at the Movies
Happy Holidays 2009
Holiday themed selections for all tastes in this edition of DVD Recommendations.
A Christmas Tale– From the Criterion Collection. Catherine Deneueve is Junon, the matriarch of the dysfunctional Vuillard family
who reunite for the holidays in this magical, melancholy mystery tour of a Christmas movie from 2008. French filmmaker Arnaud
Desplechin's film is an artful blend of all those things and more and his entrancing, gifted cast weaves a spell on the viewer.
Deneueve is implacable and cool in the face of devastating news, Marthieu Almaric is amazing as the black sheep, who returns with
an amused girlfriend in tow. Secrets are revealed, a lot of food and wine are consumed and the whole is ravishingly photographed.
This knock out edition (typical of Criterion) includes a second disc with a new 30 minute making of documentary (in English) with
Desplechin and his two stars that offers insight into the filming process (I especially loved finding that Desplechin screened Only
Angels Have Wings for the cast before shooting commenced, instructing them to incorporate the tough guy characters into their
work). There is also a lovely Desplechin documentary about his father selling the home of his late mother - a nice prologue to his
current film (also wonderful) Summer Hours. For those not wanting the usual holiday schmaltz, here's your movie.
Remember the Night – From TCM. One of the great unsung holiday films is this truly heartwarming story from 1940 written by
the great Preston Sturges and helmed by gay director Mitchell Leisen. Barbara Stanwyck is the beautiful jewel thief who DA Fred
MacMurray feels sorry for and takes home to meet his family for Christmas. After the unfortunate, stereotypical portrayal of
MacMurray's black servant early in the picture, it's a bright and perfectly paced road picture that winds up in Norman Rockwell
territory. Available exclusively at TCM as part of Universal Studios new download on demand program. The film has been restored
and there are nice extras as well including an introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne.
The Gathering – From the Warner Archives Collection. This 1977 Emmy award winning TV special stars Ed Asner as a
businessman who learns that he only has scant weeks to live. Determined to make up for past wrongs, he gathers his estranged
wife (a tremendous Maureen Stapleton) and family together to try and make amends. Long out of circulation, this available on
demand DVD has been restored (it looks great) and as a bonus, the sequel, The Gathering II is also included. Thank you Warner
Archives for bringing back this long neglected treasure!
Make the Yuletide Gay – From TLA. A young gay college couple (one closeted at home, one a rich kid with uncaring parents)
end up spending the holidays together at the closeted kid's house. There's a mom with a Minnesota accent, a dad who walks
around exposing himself, a recipe competition with a nosy neighbor (played by Nellie from Little House on the Prairie) with a single
daughter just dying to date the unattached guy. There are also lots and lots of Christmas decorations and the typical plot reverse in
this sweet but extremely familiar coming out at the holidays story. The uninitiated will be charmed, those familiar with queer cinema
much less so.