Our family's Christmas tradition includes a black-tie party after Christmas Eve Mass. This black-tie event began about 20 years ago when, after a large Christmas Eve dinner, all of the men in the Italian branch of my husband's family retired to the living room to smoke cigars and sip brandy or nap while the women cleaned up. Three generations of women decided that if the men were going to behave like entitled loafers, they could at least look good while doing it; hence, the black-tie dress code. Tradition also dictates an exchange of books, music and movies. I love Christmas Eve because the Mass is gorgeous, the food is good, the company is always fun and well dressed, and books, music and movies are, to borrow a phrase, a few of my favorite things.
This year I've scoured the "soon to be released" lists of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs (not that we have a Blu-Ray player but, hey, it's Christmas, who knows...) and come up with a movie wish list. Here's hoping family members will take note, and on Christmas Eve a few of these titles will get carried down the chimney.
For family discs, we'll begin with one that may be destined to become a Christmas classic --
Next on the family list is the Disney/Pixar gem, WALL-E. The kids and I saw this one in the theater this summer and immediately agreed it was purchase-worthy. I think it'll only get better with repeated viewings. There are no less than five versions of this film being released on November 18, including a Spanish version as well as multi-disc DVD and Blu-ray packages. The regular DVD edition will work fine for our purposes, thanks.
The final family film is my favorite movie of all time, one I know we'll all enjoy together -- Casablanca. As of December 2nd it will be newly remastered on DVD and Blu-Ray in the Ultimate Collector's Edition.
For myself, I'd love a copy of Ang Lee's beautiful, heartbreaking 2005 film,
Brokeback Mountain, the newest edition of which won't be released until December 30. So it's a perfect gift for the Feast of the Epiphany, which is, after all, the day the Magi arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts. Just a thought.
Next, for me and Mr. Wonderful both, is this year's Coen Brothers' picture, which we haven't gotten around to seeing in the theater, darn it -- Burn After Reading, available December 23 on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Another option for Mr. Wonderful and me (and daughter #1, after the other kids have gone to bed, shhhh!) is the 1996 Wes Anderson film that we have never seen, but always meant to, Bottle Rocket. The Criterion Collection DVD version will be available on November 25, then Criterion's Blu-Ray disc arrives December 16.
For Mr. Wonderful, I was delighted to see that
Saturday Night Live: The Complete Fourth Season will be available on DVD on December 2. This is classic SNL and includes musical guests as diverse as Frank Zappa, the Rolling Stones, James Taylor, DEVO, Linda Rondstadt, and The Talking Heads. Hosts include Milton Berle, Carrie Fischer, Buck Henry, Steve Martin, and Maureen Stapleton. Among other outstanding attributes, my husband is both very funny and very appreciative of humor; I love to hear him laugh. SNL Season Four would be perfect for him.
Mr. Wonderful and my brother, Peter, would both appreciate the exhausting, visceral,
The girls would enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, all four versions of which will be released on December 2.
On December 9, a digitally remastered version of the Frank Capra classic
December 9 also sees the release of Capra's remastered
You Can't Take It With You, which would be the perfect addition to our 11-year-old daughter's stocking. She has seen and enjoyed this film before -- partly, I think, because she recognizes kindred souls in the Vanderhof family.
For my little Boy Wonder, cowboy in spirit, horse lover to his bones, Flicka, re-released on November 11, would be the ticket. It features horses, horse country and a pretty girl. What else could an aspiring cowpoke ask for?
Finally, for my dear old Dad, who will be joining our Christmas Eve festivities for the first time this year, the DVD sure to bring a smile to his face is the December 16 release of
The A-Team: Season One. He so enjoyed watching this goofy show during its original run through the 1980s, I can only imagine the laughs he would have watching it again, 20 years later!