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The Iron Giant
USA, 1999, 86 min.
Directed by Brad Bird
Based on the novel by Ted Hughes
Starring Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Aniston

In this animated adaptation of Ted Hughes' Cold War fable, a giant alien robot crash-lands near the small town of Rockwell, Maine, in 1957. Exploring the area, a local 9-year-old boy, Hogarth, discovers the robot, and soon forms an unlikely friendship with him. When a paranoid government agent, Kent Mansley, becomes determined to destroy the robot, Hogarth and beatnik Dean McCoppin must do what they can to save the misunderstood machine.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
USA, 1953, 91 min.
Directed by Howard Hawks
Starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe
Based on the Broadway Musical

Showgirls Dorothy and Lorelei take a boat trip to Paris, where Lorelei intends to marry a millionaire. On board is a handsome private detective hired by the millionaire¡¦s father to make certain that Lorelei isn't just another gold-digger. When Dorothy falls in love with the poverty-stricken detective, Lorelei decides to find her pal a wealthy potential husband, and that's how she gets mixed up with flirtatious diamond merchant. This musical comedy classic features most of the Leo Robin-Jule Styne songs from the Broadway show, including Marilyn Monroe's rendition of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" and it was the first time Monroe proved that she could truly charm an audience.

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky
France, 2009, 119 min.
Directed by Jan Kounen
Written by Chris Greenhalgh
Starring Anna Mouglalis and Madds Mikkelsen

Adapted by the British writer Chris Greenhalgh from his novel of the same name, the film is set in the second decade of the 20th century, when the basis of the Stravinsky legend was being laid and up to where the film Coco Before Chanel ends. The movie begins with one of the epic moments of cultural modernism, the notorious first night of the Ballet Russe production of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring on 29 May 1913 in Paris. ¡§A persuasive depiction of the tempestuous affair of two 20th-century titans, Jan Kounen¡¦s Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky comes closer than most films to capturing the selfish competitive passion of egomaniacal geniuses locked in erotic combat¡Kthe film is cool, elegant and sexy, with scrupulously detailed Art Deco design and shadowy lighting that lends many of the scenes a painterly depth.¡¨ ¡V The New York Times

The Exorcist
USA, 1973, 122 min.
Directed by William Friedkin
Written by William Peter Blatty
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair
Winner of 2 OSCARS„¥

Widely held as the most horrifying film of the past half-century, The Exorcist set the bar for terror in American horror films, and forty years after it¡¦s release, no other film can terrify an audience quite like it. Novelist William Peter Blatty based his best-seller on the last known Catholic-sanctioned exorcism in the United States. Blatty transformed the little boy in the 1949 incident into a little girl named Regan, played by 14-year-old Linda Blair. Suddenly prone to fits and bizarre behavior, Regan proves quite a handful for her actress-mother, Chris MacNeil. When Regan gets completely out of hand, Chris calls in young priest Father Karras, who becomes convinced that the girl is possessed by the Devil and that they must call in an exorcist: namely, Father Merrin. His foe proves to be no run-of-the-mill demon, and both the priest and the girl suffer numerous horrors during their struggles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Alice's Restaurant
USA, 1969, 111 min.
Directed by Arthur Penn
Screenplay by Venable Herndon
Starring Arlo Guthrie, Patricia Quinn and James Broderick

A cinematic adaptation of Arlo Guthrie¡¦s famous, classic song/story ¡§Alice¡¦s Restaurant Massacree,¡¨ based on a true, but comically exaggerated story, is an intriguing slice of the American counterculture from 1969. On Thanksgiving Day, 1965, Arlo and his friends Alice and her husband Ray had just enjoyed Alice¡¦s ¡§Thanksgiving dinner that couldn¡¦t be beat,¡¨ in their groovy, church/commune when Arlo is arrested for littering by rule-following Officer "Obie" Obanhein. That littering arrest helps Arlo avoid the Vietnam draft, but the commune is threatened after more personal, old-fashioned conflicts over sex and partnerships permeate Alice and Ray's alternative world. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

It's A Wonderful Life
USA, 1946, 130 min.
Directed by Frank Capra
Original music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore
Nominated for 5 OSCARS„¥

As each year produces a new film for the holiday season, It¡¦s A Wonderful Life stands alone as a film considered to be an American holiday tradition. George Bailey is a small-town man whose life seems so desperate he contemplates suicide. He had always wanted to leave Bedford Falls to see the world, but circumstances and his own good heart have led him to stay. He sacrificed his education for his brother¡¦s, kept the family-run savings and loans afloat, protected the town from the avarice of the greedy banker Mr. Potter, and married his childhood sweetheart. As he prepares to jump from a bridge, his guardian angel intercedes, showing him what life would have become for the residents of Bedford Falls if he had never lived. ~ TCM

The Polar Express
USA, 2004, 100 min.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg
Starring Tom Hanks, Chris Coppola and Michael Jeter

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on children's author Chris Van Allsburg's modern holiday classic of the same name, The Polar Express revolves around Billy, who longs to believe in Santa Claus but finds it quite difficult to do so, what with his family's dogged insistence that all of it, from the North Pole, to the elves, to the man himself, is all just a myth. This all changes, however, on Christmas Eve, when a mysterious train visits Billy in the middle of the night, promising to take him and a group of other lucky children to the North Pole for a visit with Santa. The train's conductor along with the other passengers help turn Billy's crisis in faith into a journey of self-discovery. ~Fandango

Pee Wee¡¦s Big Adventure
USA, 1985, 90 min.
Directed by Tim Burton
Music by Danny Elfman
Starring Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, and Mark Holton

Co-written by Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure marks the debut of director Tim Burton, who stamps the entire film with his quirky trademark style. Pee Wee (Reubens), an overgrown pre-pubescent boy sporting a molded Princeton cut, blush, lipstick, and a shrunken gray flannel suit, lives an idyllic life in his bizarre home until someone nabs his most prized possession: a fire engine-red customized bicycle. He then embarks on an epic cross-country search to find his lost love, not to mention more than a little adventure¡K a delightful and enjoyable film for all children as well as adults. ~ Jeremy Beday

USA, 1984, 105 min.
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver

Laughs, screams and some of the most eye-popping special effects from the decade come together as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson star as a quartet of Manhattan-based "paranormal investigators" in what is arguably one of the best action/comedies to come out of Hollywood. When their government grants run out, the former three go into business as The Ghostbusters, later hiring Hudson on. Armed with electronic paraphernalia, the team is spectacularly successful, ridding The Big Apple of dozens of ghoulies, ghosties and long-legged beasties. Tight-lipped bureaucrat William Atherton regards the Ghostbusters as a bunch of charlatans, but is forced to eat his words when New York is besieged by an army of unfriendly spirits, conjured up by a long-dead Babylonian demon and "channeled" through beautiful cellist Sigourney Weaver and nerdish Rick Moranis. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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