Coming to Theaters in December 2023

Coming to Theaters in December 2023

Posted on December 1, 2023 at 1:00 am

Copyright 2023 Warner Brothers

December is a time for families and celebrating and time off from school and work. It is also a time that the movie studios like to release films they hope will win Oscars and other awards. So there will be great movies in theaters and on streaming for families to share over the holidays. Here’s some of what they can look forward to.

Already in theaters: Disney’s “Wish” and Dreamworks’ “Trolls Band Together” are already in theaters and both are sure to delight children and their parents. And for mature teens and adults, “The Holdovers,” one of the best films of the year, is the story of the most disliked teacher at a posh boys’ boarding school in 1970, and the students he is stuck with over the Christmas holidays because they cannot go home. Watch for Paul Giamatti and Da-Vine Joy Randolph to get some awards in a few months. Every performance in this movie is a gem.

December 1

Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce — Queen Bey’s concert film.

Candy Cane Lane — A comedy/horror film with Eddie Murphy as a man who sells his soul to have the best decorated house in the neighborhood.

How the Gringo Stole Christmas — George Lopez stars in this “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”-style farce.

December 7

“Waitress” — The Broadway musical version of the beloved indie about the pregnant pie-maker will be in theaters for just five days.

December 8

The Boy and the Heron — The latest from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli is a dreamy and sometimes nightmarish story of a boy mourning the loss of his mother who travels to an enchanted land.

Leave the World Behind — Oscar-winners Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali star in a story about two couples stuck together as it seems the world may be ending.

December 15

Wonka — The people behind the “Paddington” films have made another endearing treat with this origin story of the world’s greatest candy-maker.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget — Finally, a sequel to the Aardman classic from the “Wallace & Gromit” studio.

American Fiction — Percival Everett’s satiric novel, Erasure, about a Black professor whose savage parody of “ghetto” literature, was written more than 20 years ago but this pointed, hilarious, and brilliantly acted film is sure to be one of the most talked-about of the year.

December 20

Maestro — Bradley Cooper wrote, directed, and stars as composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein, one of the central cultural figures of the 20th century. This film focuses on his loving but often fraught relationship with his wife, played by Carey Mulligan.

Copyright Disney 2023

December 22

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — Marvel’s underwater superhero is back.

Anyone But You — Two people smarting from recent break-ups pretend to be a couple to make their exes jealous. I can’t imagine what happens next. Festival audiences loved the chemistry between Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney.

All of Us Strangers — Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal are sizzling as a couple tentatively exploring a relationship as Scott’s character finds a way to return to the house he grew up in, where his parents, killed before he turned 12, seem to be still there waiting for him.

The Iron Claw — Zac Efron and “The Bear’s” Jeremy Allen White star in the story of one of professional wrestling’s most cherished and tragic families.

December 25

The Color Purple — The Alice Walker book and Stephen Spielberg movie turned Broadway musical is now a movie musical with knockout performances by Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, and American Idol’s Fantasia.

The Boys in the Boat — George Clooney directed this fact-based story of an American rowing team in the 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin as Hitler was trying to show the world the superiority of the German athletes.

Freud’s Last Session — Anthony Hopkins plays the pioneering psychoanalyst and atheist and Matthew Goode plays “Narnia” author and Christian C.S. Lewis.

Ferrarri — Our year of movies about the origin stories of consumer products (including Air Jordans, Blackberry, Beanie Babies, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos) concludes with Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari.

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Family Movies for Halloween 2023!

Family Movies for Halloween 2023!

Posted on October 24, 2023 at 8:06 am

Happy Halloween!

Halloween gives kids a thrilling opportunity to act out their dreams and pretend to be characters with great power. But it can also be scary and even overwhelming for the littlest trick-or-treaters. An introduction to the holiday with videos from trusted friends can help make them feel comfortable and excited about even the spookier aspects of the holiday.

Kids ages 3-5 will enjoy Barney’s Halloween Partywith a visit to the pumpkin farm, some ideas for Halloween party games and for making Halloween decorations at home, and some safety tips for trick-or-treating at night. They will also get a kick out of Richard Scarry’s The First Halloween Ever, which is Scarry, but not at all scary!

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest has the beloved little monkey investigating the Legend of “No Noggin.” Disney characters celebrate Halloween in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Mickey’s Treat.

Witches in Stitches is about witches who find it very funny when they turn their sister into a jack o’lantern. And speaking of jack o’lanterns, Spookley the Square Pumpkin, is sort of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of pumpkins. The round pumpkins make fun of him for being different until a big storm comes and his unusual shape turns out to have some benefits.

Kids from 7-11 will enjoy , A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting. It has gorgeously imagined settings, a great cast, and an exciting story that hits the exact sweet spot between funny-scary and scary-funny. Which means it is exciting and fun. “Muppets Haunted Mansion” combines all the Muppet favorites with one of the most popular attractions at the Disney theme parks, which also inspired this year’s Haunted Mansion live-action film starring Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and  LaKeith Stanfield. If you have Disney+, be sure to watch the Behind the Attraction episode about the creation of the various Haunted Mansions and how each one is designed specifically for its location.

Don’t forget the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the silly fun of What’s New Scooby-Doo: Halloween Boos and Clues. Try The Worst Witch movie and series, about a young witch in training who keeps getting everything wrong. School-age kids will also enjoy The Halloween Tree, an animated version of a story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury about four kids who are trying to save the life of their friend. Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock on the original “Star Trek”) provides the voice of the mysterious resident of a haunted house, who explains the origins of Halloween and challenges them to think about how they can help their sick friend. The loyalty and courage of the kids is very touching.

Debbie Reynolds plays a witch who takes her grandchildren on a Halloween adventure in the Disney Channel classic in Halloweentown.  Recent favorites include The House with a Clock in Its Walls, The Curse of Bridge Hollow, and Goosebumps.

Older children will appreciate The Witches, based on the popular book by Roald Dahl (the original with Anjelica Huston, not the remake with Anne Hathaway) and Hocus Pocusand the new sequel, with children and teens battling three witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. And of course there is the deliciously ghoulish live-action double feature Addams Family and Addams Family Values based on the cartoons by Charles Addams. Episodes of the classic old television show are online and  there are now two animated films for younger kids. The second is better than the first.  The new Munsters from Rob Zombie is not good, but the original TV series episodes are still fun.

Beetlejuice is a classic, now even a Broadway musical. I’m fond of Beautiful Creatures, based on the best-selling YA novels about a witchy family in the American South.

ParaNorman and Monster House  are two wonderful movies that should become a  family Halloween tradition. Frankenweenie,  Igor, and the Hotel Transylvania series are also a lot of fun.

The Nightmare Before Christmas has gorgeous music from Danny Elfman and stunningly imaginative visuals from Tim Burton and Henry Selick in a story about a Halloween character who wonders what it would be like to be part of a happy holiday like Christmas. Selick’s Coraline, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, is wildly imaginative andhis 2022 film, “Wendell & Wild,” was co-written with Jordan Peele, who lends his voice to the film with his longtime colleague Keegan-Michael Key.

And don’t forget old classics like The Cat and the Canary and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. (horror/comedy treats) and the omnibus ghost story films Dead of Night and The House that Dripped Blood.

Looking for a romantic comedy for Halloween? Try Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, and Jack Lemmon in “Bell Book and Candle.”

Or Frederic March and Veronica Lake in “I Married a Witch.”

Happy Halloween!

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Movies for Labor Day Weekend 2023

Movies for Labor Day Weekend 2023

Posted on September 1, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Copyright 1979 20th Century Fox
On Labor Day pay tribute to workers, especially those who have worked for better conditions for everyone. These movies can help us understand their challenges and their contributions. This year in particular these stories have even more resonance as the very people who make the movies, the writers and performers are on strike to oppose shrinking writers rooms, wage theft, and the use of AI to undermine their current contracts.

Sally Field won an Oscar for “Norma Rae,” a real-life story about a courageous woman who helped mill workers form a union. It was inspired by Crystal Lee Sutton, a courageous advocate for workers’ rights.

Doris Day plays a union worker who falls for a new guy in management but doesn’t lose sight of the seven and a half cent raise the workers are bargaining for in the rollicking musical, “The Pajama Game.”

“Made in Dagenham” stars Sally Hawkins and and Rosamund Pike in the true and very heartwarming story of the British women who went on strike when they found that they were being paid far less by Ford Motor Company than the men.


I love this true story, about a group of LGBTQ activists who support the 1984 miners’ strike in Wales.

“10PM-Midnight: Working the Night Shift” is the story of the people who keep things going while the rest of us are asleep.

“Lifelines in the Lockdown” is a CBS News documentary from the early days of the pandemic about essential workers.

John Sayles’ “Matewan” tells the story of mine workers fighting for safer conditions.

“Harlan County USA” is a documentary about a strike by mine workers.

“Bread and Roses” is based on the real-life story of a strike by undocumented janitorial workers, with Adrian Brody as their lawyer.

“Salt of the Earth” was inspired by an actual miners’ strike against the Empire Zinc Co. and the cast includes real-life miners who were involved in the strike

In “The Devil and Miss Jones,” a big boss goes undercover as an employee in his department store and learns some lessons about the workforce. The terrific cast includes Charles Coburn, Spring Byington, and Jean Arthur.

I’m excited at the possibility we might be getting a sequel to the classic “9 to 5,” starring the iconic Jane Fonda, Lili Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. Is there a better bad boss than Dabney Coleman? Or a better song than this film’s title sung by Parton?

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Panel on “Worth” with Ken Feinberg, Michael Keaton, Laura Benanti, Max Max Borenstein, Camille Biros, and Caroline Kennedy

Panel on “Worth” with Ken Feinberg, Michael Keaton, Laura Benanti, Max Max Borenstein, Camille Biros, and Caroline Kennedy

Posted on September 2, 2021 at 9:30 pm

It was an honor to serve as moderator for a panel discussion of the Netflix film “Worth,” with Michael Keaton as Ken Feinberg, whose pioneering work on allocating compensation following major national tragedies led to his appointment as Special Master for the fund set up for the victims of 9/11 and their families. The film is a powerful story of the importance and the limitations of justice as Feinberg learns that it is as important for the people he is trying to help to be able to tell their stories as it is to pay their bills. He also learns about the limitations of the law as he has to find a way to compensate undocumented workers and then-not-legally-recognized same sex partners. Our discussion was sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library, where Feinberg served as board chairman, and we were introduced by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. The discussion included ethics, empathy, acting, and opera.

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