Crossfire Hurricane – What with the announcement this past week that the Rolling Stones will be touring to celebrate their 50th anniversary the time is ripe to check out this documentary that was released last year. The principal members of the band sat down for 80 hours of interviews in which they recounted approximately the first 20 years of the band’s history. Director Brett Morgan has culled and put together hundreds of items from film and photo archives to accompany these memories and the result is captivating. You can tell that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are surprised by their youthful antics and how quickly time has passed them by, while Charlie Watts is his usual implacable self, seemingly unimpressed by it all and professing that he “can’t remember much of it.” A must for Stones fans and anyone interested in the birth of modern rock and roll.
Life of Pi – Unless you have a 60-inch 3D television, you won’t be able to experience the visual impact of Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning film about a young man who’s forced to endure an existential journey when the ship he’s on sinks and he must learn how to survive on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger. Yes, it sounds contrived but the movie has its own logic that it never betrays and it’s nearly impossible not to get swept away by Pi Patel’s plight, played with passion by Suraj Sharma. In the end, as with any film it is the narrative that will ultimately make this film endure as it’s a tale of regret and redemption that will continue to resonate long after the visual effects on display here look amateurish.
Rise of the Guardians – One of the most pleasant cinematic surprises from 2012 was this animated feature from DreamWorks that featured a new take on how seasonal mythic characters came to be, what their purpose is and what might happen if belief in them were to stop. Santa Clause (voice by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman are forced to recruit a new guardian when their old foe Pitch (Jude Law) threatens to wipe them out. Trouble is, their new ally Jack Frost (Chris Pine) refuses to join their club, that is until he comes to find out who he once was and what being a guardian truly means. Beautiful visuals suffuse the film while its plot has one intriguing surprise after another that will keep adults engaged long after the novelty of the animation wears off. Inspired work by Baldwin and Jackman, who truly give their characters a new spin make this movie a keeper to be played during future Christmas seasons.