It’s a Wonderful Life (review)

Remember that ‘alternate ending’ of It’s a Wonderful Life that Saturday Night Live came up with years ago? George never finds out what happened to that $8,000 that nearly ruined him, and the film ends on a happy note when the townspeople pitch in to raise the money. SNL’s ending was a little darker: Someone discovers that Potter has George’s money, and so we’re treated to the spectacle of Dana Carvey as Jimmy Stewart leading a lynch mob: ‘Well, let’s get ‘im!’ Carvey’s George cries. That’s more the ending I’d like to see.

Meet John Doe (review)

No, it’s not It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m talking about Frank Capra’s classic Meet John Doe, released five years earlier in 1941. It’s not traditionally considered a Christmas movie, and yet it’s at least as deserving of that status as Life — and maybe even more deserving. And while It’s a Wonderful Life feels dated, Meet John Doe is still startlingly relevant today, nearly 60 years after it was first released.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (review)

As everyone who loves Planes, Trains and Automobiles knows: Wrong. One of the few movies set around Thanksgiving, it was bound to become a perennial favorite — and the fact that this is probably 80’s teen-movie king John Hughes’s most adult movie certainly helped it become an instant classic. It’s the pathos under the boisterous, noisy comedy that helps fuel its continuing popularity today.

Home for the Holidays (review)

Beautifully written by W.D. Richter and directed with a sure hand by Jodie Foster, Home for the Holidays wraps all those contradictory feelings up and serves them for Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps the most realistic holiday movie I’ve ever seen, this oddly charming, poignant, and blackly funny film is a treasure not to be missed.

Last Night (review)

But if you knew when we as a species were going to buy the farm, how would you spend your final hours? That’s the question Canadian filmmaker Don McKellar asks in Last Night, which he wrote, directed, and stars in. Sort of the flip side of movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact, Last Night focuses not on the heroes trying to save the planet from certain doom but instead peeks in at how ordinary people are facing the end of the world.