DVD of the Week – Movies for the Thanksgiving Season
by HELEN GEIB
This is not a list of “Thanksgiving movies.” The holiday doesn’t appear in any of them, and several are from countries that don’t celebrate it. Rather, this is a list of films that feature family and friends coming together to share a meal- because what could be more seasonal than that? Five unconventional recommendations for your Thanksgiving weekend viewing:
Grand Illusion (1937) and They Were Expendable (1945)
In Grand Illusion, Jean Renoir’s great drama of WWI, food packages prompt reminiscences of home for French prisoners of war; the German commandant dines in lonely state. When the officers in John Ford’s WWII Philippines-set They Were Expendable give a dinner party for the nurse one of them loves, the rituals of the table conjure a connection to the achingly distant homefront.
Summer Wars (2009) and While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Summer Wars is an anime feature film about an ordinary young man who must stop a rogue artificial intelligence that has infiltrated Japan’s electronic network. On the surface, it wouldn’t seem a likely match with While You Were Sleeping (yes, the Sandra Bullock romantic-comedy), but actually they have a lot in common. They’re paired in this post for the scene where the lonely outsider shares in a quintessential family meal. An open expression of longing to be part of that family life will follow.
La Boheme (1927)
It’s one of the iconic scenes. A cheap apartment building in the Latin Quarter of Paris, c. 1840. Rodolphe and his friends, carefree young bohemians all, and Mimi, the innocent seamstress. A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, a few odds and ends found in the pantry. A celebration of life and love and art.
Italian for Beginners (2000) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
A Danish humanistic comedy-drama and a Hollywood revisionist Western. To be honest I’m a little dubious about watching these two as a double feature; however, as different as they are they have one salient point in common: unlikely friends, brought together by chance and circumstances, share a meal to celebrate journey’s end- and the start of something new.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Belonging as I do to the school that believes in savoring the current holiday to the full before moving on to the next one, a Christmas movie is normally the last thing I’d recommend for Thanksgiving seasonal viewing. However, I can’t stand against A Christmas Carol as the most perfect expression of the theme of this post. The promise of fellowship in the feast enjoyed by the Ghost of Christmas Present is fulfilled in the Christmas feast Scrooge enjoys with the Cratchits, to the accompaniment of the ultimate literary expression of thanks giving sentiment.
Wondering where Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The New World, and Pieces of April are in this list? Look no further than last year’s Thanksgiving-themed DVD post.
New releases this week: Conan the Barbarian, The Devil’s Double, Sarah’s Key, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, Super 8