When all the world is caught up in Christmas, it can help to have some DVDs on hand to explain that some people celebrate a different holiday at this time of year, especially when the stories and songs are told by familiar friends. Here are some of the best:
Lights: The Miracle Of Chanukah Judd Hirsch, Leonard Nimoy, and others tell the story of the Macabees in this 1987 animated story.
Lambchop’s Chanukah and Passover Surprise Sheri Lewis and her puppet Lambchop bring a sense of curiosity and wonder to the celebration, and a sense of fun, too as they sing while they make latkes.
A Rugrats Chanukah Unfortunately available only on VHS, this is a charming introduction that includes some historical context and prayers as well as the usual Rugrats silliness.
Chanuka & Passover at Bubbe’s A nice introduction to the history and traditions of the holiday.
There’s No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein This is a rare movie that frankly and sensitively portrays the pressure on kids to conform and how it feels to be left out of a celebration that seems to occupy the entire world in December. It gives families a way to acknowledge and even share the celebrations of others while feeling pride in their own traditions.
A Taste of Chanukah A delightful concert performance with Theodore Bikel.
Designer Tom Ford has exquisite taste, and his first movie is an exquisite movie. Based on a story by Christopher Isherwood, as adapted by Ford, it is the story of one day in the life of a British literature professor in Los Angeles, shortly after the loss of his male lover in a car crash. It is November 30, 1962. And so the awful isolation of grief is multiplied by his inability to acknowledge what they were to each other and who he really is.
Ford’s images are so meticulously arranged they feel like a perfume commercial. There is a remote quality that distances us from what is going on. But there are moments, as when we see a flashback of the professor (Colin Firth) getting the news from a sympathetic relative who has to deliver the message that the funeral is “family only” where the grief and the pain of holding it in is raw and real and devastating.
Firth is revelatory as the professor who feels that his truest self and his deepest emotions are invisible in a world in which being gay is still “the love that dare not speak its name.” We see in memory the man he loved (the always-enticing Matthew Goode) and in the present his encounters with a curiously attentive but respectful student (Nicholas Hoult, all grown up since “About a Boy”). And he spends the evening with his closest friend, a boozy fellow British expatriate (Julianne Moore) with whom he believes he can be almost completely honest, but who still sees him as she wishes he was. There is a hint that all of what happens on this last day could be in his mind; I suspect that it is, but either way, we are caught up in his emotions and his story.
How many of these Christmas movie questions can you answer?
1. Two successful male performers have to step in for a sister act to perform one of their signature songs.
2. There are many versions of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” but only one has dual Marley ghosts. Which one?
3. And which version has an aptly-named performer playing the lead role?
4. Which classic television movie features the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser? Extra credit: Who is their mother?
5. Name three inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys.
6. What classic has a child recite the story of the nativity from the Gospel of Luke?
7. Which Christmas classic has two characters named Bert and Ernie?
8. Which movie has one character ask whether Santa sleeps with his beard outside or inside the covers?
9. Which movie features Cindy Lou Who?
10. What was the secret message revealed by Ralphie’s decoder ring?
“Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe and director David Yates will answer viewer questions during a live community screening event for purchasers of the Blu-ray DVD on December 12th, 2009. This audience will also be the first to see footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” featured on the Blu-ray and 2-Disc Special Editions of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, available on this week.
The worldwide live screening event, which showcases the interactivity offered with Blu-ray and Warner Bros. BD-Live, will take place on December 12th at 12:00PM PST (3:00PM EST) live from London. BD-Live capable Blu-ray users can simultaneously watch the movie together with Daniel Radcliffe and director David Yates and hear an interactive Q&A where fans can ask questions about the blockbuster film directly to Daniel and David, directly from their home.
Daniel Radcliffe, who has played Harry Potter since the first film, said he is looking forward to talking directly to fans at this event. “It’s a wonderful way for fans and for those directly involved with making a film to share opinions and ideas.”
Warner Bros. BD-Live is an interactive feature exclusive to the Blu-ray format that allows
users to experience a variety of exclusive interactive features. In addition to access to the multi-territory community screening, other exciting BD-Live content available to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray owners include:
· An exclusive introduction to the upcoming Harry Potter Ultimate Editions by Daniel Radcliffe
· My Commentary – fans are able to post user-generated Picture-in-Picture commentary over the film and share it with their friends and other BD-Live community members
· Live Community Screenings – Allows users to send invitations and have a virtual screening with friends and family while chatting together through the BD-Live platform
· Facebook Connect – allows users to interact with their Facebook friends, update their Facebook status while in BD-Live and invite their Facebook friends to Live Community screenings.
Warner Bros. BD-Live community members who have registered and signed up for the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince screening event will receive an emailed invitation to participate in the event. The first 100,000 members who RSVP will secure a spot for the screening. WB BD-Live registered users from the participating territories who own the Blu-ray Disc and have signed up for the BD-Live event will be able to insert the disc, connect to WB BD-Live and logon to the community screening at this designated time to participate in this ground breaking exclusive event.