Friday, December 09, 2005

Things to do with lions in winter.

- It's finally here. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based upon my favorite book from when I was in the fourth grade, is getting a full-throttle film, LORD OF THE RINGS-scale release from Disney today, and I'm excited about seeing the film. I remember, when I was reading the books as a kid, that I always tried to find myself a doorway to Narnia, like Lucy does through the wardrobe. I would climb into cabinets and try to knock out the back wall. I would go into closets (Yeah, I know ...) and try to dig my way through the dry-cleaning bags into Narnia. I read all of those books, paying specific attention to how the kids got into Narnia each time, and I tried to find out my entryway. It wasn't until much later that the whole Christian allegory thing even occurred to me. I was just eager to find a new world, even if I had to endure a 100-year winter or battle the White Witch.

- Speaking of cool British cats, it's time once again to watch Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins and Peter O'Toole battle each other in THE LION IN WINTER, perhaps the greatest dysfunctional family Christmas movie ever made. It's what my family gatherings are like, except the Plantagenets have dungeons, secret homosexual affairs, doctrines with France and crowns to fight over. My family just fights about how my stepdad's a racist, ignorant asshole and whether the King James Bible is the official, endorsed word of God, as my stepbrother believes.

- Oh my God, my store has a copy of HE-MAN AND SHE-RA: A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL on sale, and it was all I could do not to buy it, for I remember when it originally aired. From what I recall, after Orko encounters some clean-cut kids from Earth celebrating Christmas, the floaty faceless one encourages He-Man and She-Ra to bring the holiday season to Eternia. Of course, Skeletor and Hordak have HUGE problems with this, not just because I'm not sure if the whole Christ thing applies on Eternia, and He-Man and She-Ra have to battle them to save Christmas. (This likely isn't as good as Princess Leia singing Life Day carols to Bea Arthur and Chewbacca in THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, but you can't find that thing anywhere.)

- Writer-director Stephen Gaghan's SYRIANA, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and a dozen other people, is getting great reviews for its look at how corruption allows the world's oil business to function. Some reviewers are saying that it's even better than the Gaghan-written TRAFFIC, which I find encouraging. TRAFFIC was a great movie.

- Ann over at Practically Harmless drew my attention to this new holiday CD, CHRISTMAS SONGS by Diana Krall. I've heard the full album in my bookstore, and Krall's voice nicely compliments the terrific songs she's chosen. In addition, as one of Ann's readers first pointed out, Krall's pose on the cover seems almost inappropriately sexual. She's leaned way back in that chair, hair somewhat mussed while her high-heeled shoes are spread apart just a little too much to be innocent. It's a terrific shot, one that my friend Roger and I have since mocked openly in my bookstore. Krall, an excellent singer and beautiful woman, is actually Elvis Costello's wife. But, in this photo, it looks like she was given too much to drink, then gangbanged at her office holiday party.
- I read the Time review of Steven Spielberg's new movie MUNICH, starring Eric Bana and Daniel Craig and set for release in the next couple weeks, which has been shrouded in secrecy since he started making it. It's an account of what Israel did after the Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed at the 1972 Olympic Games. Apparently, Israel gathered together a group of assassins to track down and kill the Palestinians who were directly responsible for the massacre. It should be topical, hard-to-watch and interesting, though Spielberg films have been a mixed bag lately. MUNICH is based upon author George Jonas's book VENGEANCE.
- Peter Jackson's KING KONG, set for release later this week, is a more direct remake of 1933's excellent, original KING KONG, and the early reviews suggest that it's a rollicking good movie. I'm really excited about it. Of course, the last time someone tried to touch King Kong resulted in 1976's horrible KING KONG with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. In addition to changing the story too much and setting it during the '70s, that version also put King Kong on top of the World Trade Center. Jackson's version, thankfully, returns the story to the 1930s and returns our favorite ape to the Empire State Building, where he belongs. Of course, this leads me to ... THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Name a remake that you thought was as good as the original. Why did you like it better? What are your thoughts on remakes in general?

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