MOVIE BUFF-ET: Lack of new releases offers filmgoers week to catch up


This week is the calm before the storm with only one new film, “The Wife,” opening in Northwest Arkansas, but the floodgates are just waiting to burst forth as the Christmas movie-going season draws nigh.

New In Local Theaters

If there is a movie you’ve missed in recent weeks that you are still longing to see on the big screen, this is the perfect weekend and possibly the last weekend to catch up.

Many movies released in October and November that are still haunting local cineplexes will be exorcised next week to make room for an expansive slate of hopeful blockbusters and Oscar aspirants that will be coming our way through New Year’s.

My top four recommendations for this week are:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody — It’s not a great movie, and there are some factual issues, but hearing great classic rock loud and proud on the big screen had me feeling great when I left the theater.

2. Green Book — Yes, race relations can be a heavy subject for this time of year, and this movie can be criticized for its point of view for focusing on the white man, but Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have great chemistry, and I thoroughly enjoyed road tripping with their version of the Odd Couple.

3. Instant Family — It’s not a high concept film, but it is a cute, touching comedy about trials, tribulations, and wonderful outcome for a couple who chooses to adopt three siblings. It’s not your generic Mark Wahlberg comedy. Plus, Rose Byrne gives any movie brownie points in my book.

4. Creed II — This was my most-anticipated movie of the fall. While it did not live up to my expectations because of how close the plot clung to “Rocky IV,” it’s still a fun time at the theater. Michael B. Jordan just oozes charisma, and Sylvester Stallone always packs a punch as Rocky.

Most Anticipated Movies of December

1. Aquaman (Dec. 21) — The trailers look outrageously fun to me. Maybe Jason Mamoa will give us the Aquaman we deserve?

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Dec. 14) — This is Marvel Studio’s first major foray into animated features, and it features the Miles Morales and the Peter Parker versions of Spider-Man along with a few others. The buzz is that this movie is a game-changer for animated super-hero movies.

3. Vice (Dec. 25) — It had my money with Adam McKay directing Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, but the scene in the trailer with Sam Rockwell as “W” made me even more excited.

Classic Corner

White Christmas
“White Christmas” is a 1954 remake of sorts of “Holiday Inn” with Danny Kaye playing the hoofer to Bing Crosby’s crooner. Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen are a sister act that hook up with Crosby and Kaye for a working Christmas at a Vermont resort, but there is no snow or customers.

The resort is also in dire straits because of a lack of business, and coincidentally, it’s run by the general Crosby and Kaye served under in World War II. How will they save the resort? Put on a show, of course. The plot may is corny, but the music, choreography, and comedy are delightful.

The Malco Razorback Cinema will hold special showings of the film at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Jim Henson’s Holiday Special: Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas/The Bells of Fraggle Rock
Muppet Master Jim Henson put his spin on Christmas specials in the 1980s with “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas,” sort of a woodland animals’ take on O’Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” that is thoroughly delightful, and the Fraggle Rock episode “The Bells of Fraggle Rock,” which addresses the melancholy many feel during the holiday season when Gobo Fraggle finds himself sad despite the upcoming Festival of the Bells.

The Malco Razorback Cinema will hold special showings of the specials at 7 p.m. Monday and at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16.

Schindler’s List
Arguably Steven Spielberg’s best movie and inarguably the best film in local theaters this week is “Schindler’s List,” back to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The film is playing at 1:20 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. at the Malco Pinnacle Hills Cinema this week.

The story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is one of courage and compassion for the ages, as the German businessman and Nazi party member saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazi death camps by using them as laborers in his factory.

“Schindler’s List” won Best Picture and earned Spielberg his first directing Oscar. It also garnered Academy Awards for score (John Williams), adapted screenplay (Steven Zaillian), cinematography (Janusz Kami?ski), editing (Michael Kahn), and production design (Allan Starski and Ewa Braun.)

Neeson, Ralph Fiennes as Nazi officer Amon Goeth, and Ben Kingsley as Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern, give strong performances that rank among each actor’s best work.

The movie is heart-wrenching, but remains an excellent explanation of the Holocaust to a new generation of filmgoers.