As we lurch towards Christmas, people are asking me about what they should be buying to guarantee a good holiday viewing. I have said I will respond, so here goes.
People, it depends on what you like! You like a big budget sci fi with big effects? You want the “Star Trek” movie. It’s magnificent, with enough to keep the kids enthralled while sucking in Grandpa with the sly nods to the original “Star Trek” franchise. You want sci fi, with meaning? Go for “Moon”, Duncan Jones’ astonishing film about a man stuck on the moon for three years, all alone. Or is he? Jones is David and Angie Bowie’s son (yes, that Angie from the Rolling Stones’ song) so you get a little shiver of celebrity, thrown into the mix.
You want meaningful? I don’t think you can beat Clint Eastwood’s glorious “Gran Torino”. If you don’t like Clint, don’t bother. But I heart Clint and this is his greatest achievement.
Is it a nice rom com that floats your boat? “Last Chance Harvey” has Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in a stylish and wry comedy set in London. It’s clever. If you don’t like clever, go for bodies in “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Lots of lush Alaskan settings and great bodies with very little thought populate this entertaining film.
If you are a fan of Friends and Frasier, you’ll probably love (500) Days Of Summer, along with its pretentious (bracket) or (parentheses). But you need to really love American sit com conventions or you will be disappointed.
Thrillers are for you? You cannot fail to love the remake of “State of Play”, even if you hate Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck as much as I do. This film will suck you in. If you really cannot bear these, either “Duplicity”, with amazing performances by Julia Roberts (nominated for a Golden Globe) and Clive Owen is stylish and fun or “The International”, carried by Clive Owen with a half-asleep Naomi Watts will tick the boxes and move you along.
You like horror? My choice is “A Perfect Getaway” with gorgeous settings and twist after twist. If you love Tarantino (hey, I am lukewarm at best), you’ll love “Inglorious Bastards”. My spell check will not let me spell it how he does, nor would my respect for language. You can figure out the spelling when you get to the shop, right?
There are kiddies to amuse? Go buy “G Force”. You’ll end up watching it again and again, because the kids will keep putting it on, and you won’t mind because there is much to amuse grown-ups here. What’s not to love about guinea pig spies and Bill Nighy?
It’s Twilight Zone weirdness you are after? Buy “Knowing” even if you don’t like Cage. It will make you chat and think and that’s something there is time for at Christmas, right?
Bollywood fascinates you? Buy “Slumdog Millionaire”. It’s not for me, but I hate quiz shows and the glorification of the “poor, but honest” stereotype. It’s a great technical achievement and you’ll love this, if you love Bollywood films.
Teenage girls will love “27 Dresses” and teenage boys will love the latest in “The Fast and The Furious” franchise. Trust me on this. You won’t get it, but they will.
I think that’s everything I’d recommend that is out on DVD. Ah – someone has just asked me what I will be watching. That is simple. I will – as always – be watching Frank Capra’s extraordinary take on James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon”. I believe that’s the best movie ever. It’s magnificent, has Ronald Coleman (what a man) and really says something new about being anti-war, without cowardice. It stays my best film ever, no matter what I see. Nothing comes near it, ever.
The book is also my favourite book ever. Skip the remake, but buy the original with all the extra features. It will lift you out of the worst mood on the worst day, always. I think I have seen this more than 50 times, since I first saw it in Canada on Elwy Yosts’s serialised “Passport to Adventure”. It moved me when I was eight-years-old and it moves me still.