movies this week: happy holidays

It’s always fun to pick movies associated with an upcoming holiday, and find a few to watch as part of the celebration. And as you know, one of the more important holidays is taking place this week, so I have been thinking about appropriate movies.
(Oh, geez, now she’s going to talk about scary movies again, and probably gush over Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi.)
Of course not. That has nothing to do with the holiday I am talking about. If there’s some lesser holiday involving skeletons and witches and ghosts, it pales in comparison.
(I get it now. She’s going to talk about patriotism and voting and apple-pie American films, probably gushing over The Candidate and Bob Roberts and maybe even Blaze. Give me a break.)
I am not. That’s not really a holiday anyway. And it is not as important as the upcoming holiday of holidays.
I am talking, of course, about my birthday.

Of course my birthday is a source for merriment and celebration every year, but this year it seems as though everyone knows about it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I can’t wait until November 2!” That’s so sweet of them. I am expecting all kind of good wishes and treats.
Why, I have even turned on the news to see a countdown to Nov. 2, which seems a little like overkill, but I appreciate the effort.
What does a film geek do on her birthday? Watch an obscure movie, of course; the less-known the better. I’m going to see If You Could Only Cook, a 1935 movie starring Jean Arthur and Herbert Marshall, which appears to be a cute slight Depression-era comedy. It’s not available on VHS or DVD, so I figure I had better grab the opportunity. My boyfriend is declining the opportunity, like any non-film-geek might, and will stay home to watch election returns.
The movies opening in Austin this week (most of which have one-word, one-syllable titles) are insufficient to commemorate this most notable holiday. Let’s get through them quickly, and then I will suggest some holiday-themed alternatives.
New movies in Austin this week:
Birth—Nicole Kidman plays a widow who is visited by a 10-year-old claiming to be a reincarnation of her late husband. You probably heard all the fuss about a bathtub scene with Kidman and the boy, or perhaps Lauren Bacall’s assessment of Kidman (Bacall plays the widow’s mother). Interesting, but not quite compelling enough for me personally.
The Manson Family—This is a drama, not a documentary, about the Mansons, although it strives for reality and accuracy. I still have an unread copy of Helter Skelter I need to finish before I start dealing with the Manson movies.
Ray—I am divided about this movie. On one hand, I’d like to see a good biographical film of Ray Charles, and the previews show Jamie Foxx handling the role amazingly well. However, the director is Taylor Hackford, whose movies strike me as syrupy and overly sentimental, and so I fear this is another one of those Triumph of the Human Spirit movies. Or as I said to my boyfriend, “It’s a little too Seabiscuit-y.” Perhaps I should buy a nice Ray Charles album instead. I think I would enjoy hearing his music more than seeing this movie.
Saw—Ew. Just … ew. Even the poster repels me. I don’t care if Cary Elwes and Danny Glover are in it. Ew.
Notable events/revivals in Austin:
The Beauty Academy of Kabul—Playing at Alamo Downtown on Wednesday 11/3. Liz Mermin, the film’s director, will be in attendance. This is a documentary about American hairdressers who travelled to Afghanistan to open a beauty school. It almost sounds like a Julia Roberts movie, but this did actually happen. It sounds fascinating.
Dark Side of the Rainbow—Playing at Alamo Downtown on Wednesday 11/3. Have you heard about synching The Wizard of Oz with the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon? This is your chance to experience it properly synched in a theater.
Heaven’s Gate—Playing at the Paramount on Sunday 11/7 and Tuesday 11/9. This is the original four-hour version, recently restored. Is it an overlooked masterpiece or an endless, expensive bore? I think I may take the risk and see it to find out.
If You Could Only Cook—Playing at Alamo Downtown on Tuesday 11/2 as part of the Jean Arthur retrospective from Austin Film Society. if you are a fan of 1930s comedies, this is a wonderful chance to see a film not available for home rental. I got my ticket already.
Saint Jack/Targets—Playing at Alamo Drafthouse on Saturday 10/30 with Peter Bogdanovich in attendance. Tempting, but downtown Austin is going to be crazy-busy on Saturday night, what with Sixth Street festivities for Halloween, and I don’t want to deal with it even for Peter Bogdanovich.
Suspiria—Playing at midnight at Alamo Downtown Thurs-Sat. 10/28-30. Dario Argento’s best-known film, supposedly the inspiration for Evil Dead and other contemporary horror movies.
At home, I have rented Muriel’s Wedding and The Getaway to watch this weekend. I got Muriel’s Wedding on the advice of other people who didn’t like Napoleon Dynamite. And my birthday just would not be complete without some Steve McQueen.
Also, I bought Junior Bonner last weekend and I’d like to see that again soon. It’s Sam Peckinpah’s only nonviolent movie, and it stars not only Steve McQueen but also Robert Preston as his dad. I’m so pleased that Junior Bonner is available on DVD, apparently with the correct music in it (there were rights issues with past VHS and DVD releases), and I could not recommend a better movie to see in celebration of the holiday weekend.
Yes, I can. I can think of a movie that celebrates all three major holidays: Some Like It Hot. What does this movie have to do with my birthday, Halloween, and the upcoming election? Easy—it’s one of my all-time very favorite movies ever, it’s about men in disguise/costumes, and it addresses the hot-button topic of gay marriage (“Why would a guy want to marry a guy?” “Security!”) Appropriate and highly entertaining.

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