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Holiday Highlights 2001 

Holiday Event Lisitngs

Wednesday, Nov 21 2001
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Page 7 of 11

The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit

Before the chickens ran, Wallace and Gromit were getting into plenty of their own claymation calamities. Compiled on one disc are the short films A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave, where we're introduced to creator Nick Park and his unique sense of humor. Wallace's well-intentioned inventions bring the spirit of Rube Goldberg to life, and the silent but resilient Gromit is his foil. In A Close Shave, the object of his affection is Wendolene Ramsbottom--until Wallace learns she doesn't like cheese. All the stories are clever and cute, and each has a big finish.

The Hobbit

Correct children to know that prequels come out before the rest of the story. Like an army of orcs, an onslaught of hype lies just over the hill. Be prepared for the live-action Lord of the Rings movie by finding out how the hobbits got the darn ring in the first place. This animated telling of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy introduces us to Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Wizard, and the inhabitants of Middle Earth. If you can answer the riddle "Box without hinges, key or a lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid," you can proceed to the nearest multiplex on Dec. 19 for the blockbuster. If not, you need a refresher course in Gollum-speak.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

G-Rated, harmless, time-consuming, slapstick fun. This is the Who's Who of 50's television comedy, brought together to chase after 1963 money. "Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand G's!" You can explain to the young viewers who Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett, Phil Silvers, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Jerry Lewis are. Cameos by Carl Reiner, Buster Keaton, the Three Stooges, Don Knotts, and Norman Fell.

*The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

SA silly, somewhat psychedelic farce. The official onscreen credit goes to Ray D. Tutto, but the King of the Moon would appear to be our own Robin Williams in truly fine manic form. There's eye candy in the form of early Uma Thurman, and the perennially over-budget Terry Gilliam does a great job with the look of the rest of the film as well. That man can spend, but with good results.

The Princess Bride

It's inconceivable that anyone hasn't seen this all-ages classic. It's got Andre the Giant before we all learned to Obey, Wallace Shawn as Vizzini, the self-aggrandizing philosopher, Mandy Patinkin as the vengeance-driven Inigo Montoya, Billy Crystal and Carol Kane as the not-at-all subtly Jewish magicians, and it introduced Robin Wright before she was introduced to Mr. Penn. All this and Rob Reiner too? Believe it.


Music DVDs

With the advent of home theater systems, music-oriented movies are the best-served of any genre. Listening to the Doors out of your television's crappy speakers really minimized the Lizard King's power. But watching The Buena Vista Social Club on DVD through your amplifier is a spiritual experience. Now it makes sense to collect concert films, because the sound is as good as the compact disc and they can be played in bits and pieces or as background stimulus. And rock "n' roll movies make for some of the best late-night vegetation sessions.

Roy Orbison and Friends

I want friends like these. Guest musicians, in alphabetical order because the egos were checked at the door for this one: Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d.lang, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. Filmed at the Cocoanut Grove in 1987, this is the only commercially available live recording of Roy Orbison, and he sounds as amazing as ever. In an era of effects and autotuners, the throwback look of black-and-white film (not manipulated video) and Orbison's stunning vocal control hark back to the golden age of rock and roll.

Stop Making Sense
Talking Heads

Perhaps the best concert film ever, and not just on performance alone. The visuals, the angles, the motions, the staging, the sequencing all were conceptualized and perfected by the band and director Jonathan Demme. There is always something new to look at, be it different lighting, projected words, funky shadows, or the wad of nervous energy that is David Byrne. DVD extras include commentary from Demme and all four members of the band, though obviously not recorded together. There is also a strange sequence with Byrne interviewing himself.

*Road Tested
Bonnie Raitt

Recorded live at Oakland's magnificent art deco Paramount Theatre in 1995 but just now released on DVD, this concert includes Bonnie-penned classics such as "Longing in Their Hearts" and "Feeling of Falling" as well as Raitt-owned covers like John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" and Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day." She even slips in a rousing version of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House." Here's Jackson Browne guesting again, along with Charles Brown, Bryan Adams, and Bruce Hornsby, whom Bonnie is known to ridicule for ironing his jeans.

Quadrophenia

Set in London and Brighton in 1964, Quadrophenia is, on the surface, a film about the scooter-riding Mods and the motorcycle-riding Rockers set to a kick-ass soundtrack by The Who. Going a little deeper reveals a classic study of alienation and identity questioning with a kick-ass concept album soundtrack by you-know-who. Collectors of self-congratulatory Sting interviews should be thrilled, as the Dolby 5.1 Surround Audio engulfs you in the omni-talent that is Sting. While most DVD bonus interviews have actors praising the director and the director praising cast and crew, Sting ruminates on his "amazing success in one field, and then another!"

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