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PCR #404. (Vol. 8, No. 51) This edition is for the week of December 17--23, 2007.
Matt's Rail

The Tampa Film Review for December  by Nolan Canova and Terence Nuzum
"Sweeney Todd"  by Mike Smith
Time Warp Toy Box: Week 3  by ED Tucker
My Best Of 2007 List  by Lisa Ciurro
Dan Fogelberg....Dark Shadows DVD Update....Top Ten Christmas Movies  by Matt Drinnenberg
This Week .... Movie Notes .... Those Who Can't Do Teach .... Passing On .... Sorry I Missed You: Part One  by Mike Smith
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As I’m sure Mike will do, I must pay respects to one I consider a musical genius, who passed away a couple days ago of Prostate Cancer.

Dan Fogelberg’s music is known to millions, and most everyone on the planet knows at least one of his tunes, which were mostly melodic stories about love in every sense imaginable. Given that my own songs are testaments to love, it's probably easy for all who know me to understand what a grave loss this is for me personally. A man whose lyrics went to the core of the human experience, with matching melodies that rang true from within.

Back in the days of the now legendary ‘Mike and Matt’, there wasn’t a Christmas that felt complete unless we heard two songs. John Lennon's "Christmas Song", and Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne". Not much else on the radio those days could get us to pump up the volume.

Simply a tragic loss in a tragic way, that could have been avoided. I can’t urge everyone enough to get tested for Prostate Cancer, especially if you are in your 40s. It is a very simple blood test that takes almost zero time out of your day, and can save your life in the most literal sense. If Dan had done so, he more than likely would still be with us today.

Just a tragic loss.

My love and sympathy goes out to his family.

Here’s some more exciting news for those awaiting the long talked about dvd release of House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows.

It is entirely possible that filmmaker Darren Gross’s restored version of Night of Dark Shadows will be included in the dual dvd set.

David Selby, who played beleagured werewolf Quintin Collins, has said that all of the actors from ‘Night’ who are still alive were called back to loop their lines for the restoration. A voice specialist was brought in for the now deceased Grayson Hall. Evidently none of the soundtrack of the missing ’Night’ footage could be located.

Also, these two films were supposed to be released on dvd this year, but was put off as Darren Gross has joined the project.

Hopefully those putting this project together, in the corporate office, actually care about this enough to ensure it happens the right way.

It’s a Wonderful Life - Frank Capra’s holiday classic about George Bailey, who throughout the course of his life just never gets a lucky break, at least in his own eyes. George gets the gift of gifts, however, when Clarence the angel takes him on a tour of life as it would have been for all involved had he never been born. In a movie filled with emotional heart tugs at every turn, Jimmy Stewart shows why his is considered today one of the great actors in the history of film, pretty much owning every scene he is in.

A Christmas Story - No Christmas is complete without watching this great flick at least once. Peter Billingsly plays Alfie, whose one line Christmas dream is to get a Red Rider BB Gun. Aside from its Christmas premise, this movie stands alone as one of my favorite films ever. Darren McGavin is simply great as Alfie’s father, who finally delivers the young boys Christmas dream. And who can forget Schwarts getting his!

The Christmas Tree - Not really a ‘holiday classic’ but it should be. The movie is about a little boy who has a love for Christmas, as well as a love for wolves at the local zoo. His father, played by William Holden, learns that his son is dying of Leukemia, and steals two wolves for his son from the local zoo. The wolves and child somehow come face to face, and the wolves behave more like obedient dogs who love their master, the boy. The movie ends with the child being found Christmas morning by his father, lying under the tree, with the dogs beside him wimpering. Just typing this I’m getting misty eyed. I’m such a sap.

Scrooge - While I love all the Christmas Carol films, my personal nod goes to this 1970 musical retelling starring Albert Finney. An excellent rendition I highly recommend.

Scrooged - In what has to be one of the best comedy takes offs ever of a Christmas story, Bill Murray plays the unwitting victim to the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The premise is pretty straightforward to the classic, but has Karen Allen as his love interest, which, since I really like her is a huge bonus. I’m still amazed his brother James doesn’t know it’s the SS Minnow that takes the castaways to Gilligans Island.

The Santa Claus - Pretty recent to be on a top 10 list, but this movie puts a whole new spin on the Santa ideal. Tim Allen plays an unlucky sapp who kills Santa, thus being bound by the Santa ‘Claus’ which states he must in turn become the new Santa. For Real. Any movie that features the Oscar Meyer Weenie Whistle is going to be high on my list.

Trading Places - One of my favorite comedies ever, this isn’t necessarily about Christmas, tho it is set at that time of season. Eddie Murphy’s coming out party to the big screen from what I remember, and Dan Akroyd is at his best as the beat down by corporate scum white bread silver spooned Winthrop. Also, you gotta love Akroyd as Santa. Always cracks me up. Plus, any movie that has the word ‘Scumbag’ in it will be on my list.

Mixed Nuts - Steve Martin plays the head of a crisis counseling service which is inundated with tragedy and hilarity as Christmas comes to fruition. One of the most underrated ensemble holiday movies ever, in my opinion.

Die Hard - Okay, I wasn’t going to include action films on this list, but as I type this out I keep thinking “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, Ho, Ho”. The perfect combo of Christmas and anarchy. I remember seeing the trailer for this at Hillsboro cinema, I think Mike was with me, and the crowd laughed at the premise of an action movie starring Bruce Willis. Boy oh boy, were they wrong.

Home Alone - This was, to put it mildly, a holiday phenomenon for quite some time. Seems you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about it, and it seemed to always be on tv once it hit the small screen circuit. Pesci does indeed show great comedy timing for someone who normally kills people in his movies. And Caulkin, well, this made him big time for a while, altho he’s kind of disappeared. I did think he was excellent in the Good Son.

Till next time,

"Matt's Rail" is ©2007 by Matthew Drinnenberg. The Matt's Rail banner is a creation of Matt Drinnenberg. Webpage design and all graphics herein, unless otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.