Let's Spend the Holiday Season in a Dark Room With a Bunch of Strangers

There are an astonishing number of films in a variety of genres debuting just in time for the holidays. I suppose the rationale is the kids are out of school and many businesses shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year's, so lets pack them into the theater and keep them out of trouble. Or something like that. We're going to take a look at some of the ones that look the most enticing, but first I have some announcements about a couple of freebies you're most definitely going to want.

As a follow-up to last week's column I'm very pleased to present the beginning of episode one of Douglas Clegg's A Christmas Ghost Story, a novella he's made available to subscribers to his always interesting newsletter and is graciously sharing with Quality Time readers. He's writing it as a serial and will be posting four or so installments before he's through telling this compelling and eerie story.

A Christmas Ghost Story

by Douglas Clegg


Let me take you to the suburban winter of my childhood -- to the hillside where my family's home stood -- and in the winter, the ice-covered hill empty of cars, but full of children sledding down on Flexible Flyers and great dented discs that seemed to be made of silver.

There, a boy named Hector Peat, nearly twelve, grabbed his older brother's sled -- for he had been challenged to a race by a terrible boy and could not back out of it.

He trudged up the hill in nearly blinding snow to join his friends from the neighborhood in the ritual of the Christmas Eve downhill race. This was just before dusk, before the parents called out for supper or church or hot chocolate or other family rituals of that night, before the sun had completely gone, but when the sky itself seemed full of a sleepy half-light.

The terrible boy was named Rupert Calhoun, he of the red face from hours in the cold, practicing, practicing, testing the curve of the hill, testing the brakes on his Flexible Flyer, feeling the bumps and pot-holes of King Hill Drive, knowing its dangers -- for there were many.

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For a limited time John Hodgman (who you may know as the PC in the PC vs. Mac commercials) is giving away his audiobook version of his extremely funny Areas of My Expertise. This book contains all of the world's knowledge. That's right, you can have everything there is to know available at the touch of a button for the grand price of absolutely nothing. I don't think there's been an offer this generous ever in the entire history of the world. Avail yourself of it now.

And now on to the film commentary. While not exactly filled with Christmas cheer Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is the film that I am most looking forward to seeing over the holiday break. From the director of one of my favorite films, Run, Lola, Run, and based on the novel by Patrick Suskind, this beautifully shot piece is about a young eighteenth century man who is obsessed with creating the most wonderful, sensual perfume ever. Unfortunately he believes that beautiful young women are an integral part of his recipe. Starring Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman and Rachel Hurd-Wood. Opens December 27th. The trailer is found here.

We're planning to catch Night at the Museum, the film my youngest son is most looking forward to seeing, tonight, which just happens to be opening night. Starring Ben Stiller, this is the story of an inept night watchman at the New York Museum of Natural History who has absolutely no idea that everything comes to life at night. Was there ever a kid who went to a museum who didn't imagine what would happen after dark when anything goes? This film is sure to appeal to curious children everywhere. Starring just about everyone, including Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, Robin Williams and Owen Wilson, you can watch the trailer here.

The final film I'd like to see over the break is The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith with his real life son Jaden Smith. Based on a true story, Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, an unsuccessful medical equipment salesman who tries to make it in a stock brokerage. When his wife leaves him he takes charge of their son by himself and together they fight homelessness and work towards their dream of financial security. The trailer can be found here.

One Sentence Review

Demoni has a one sentence review of Showtime's Dexter, saying "A witty and remarkable show sadly over for the season." Have you got a one-sentence review? Send it in to me and I'll run the best ones. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.