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Guilty pleasures by Leah Jean
I could complain about cold weather but the State of Maryland just broke a record high of 70 by hitting 72 degrees yesterday! Unfortunately it was a little soggy. But I'm sure any golf courses that were open were rather crowded. But with the generally bad weather as of late, my mind turns to the movies again. I know that my sister has been in "hog heaven" lately because it is nearing the Oscars time and the Turner Broadcasting channel is running all of those oldies and goodies. But I'm going to reminesce on some slightly newer films. The ones I refer to as "guilty pleasures". Those you don't necessarily want to admit that you've enjoyed watching over ... and over ... and over again.

Okay. Lets start with a genre that usually glorifies in gore and makes girls scream and want to hug their boyfriends. Horror films. And let me assure you, there are very few of these suckers that I can watch in a dark theater. In fact, it usually takes me several attempts during sun lite days at home before I make it thru one. The movie "Pitch Black" is just such a film. It probably took me at least 5 attempts before I made it thru the whole film. It really is quite good. The plot is very interesting and inventive. The acting is pretty good too. And of course, the special affects are realistic. And this is probably the only movie where Vin Diesel does quite good. But, of course, this movie has the requisite ton of "gotcha" scenes that, while not usually graphic in the sense of blood squirting and innards splattering, are still awfully scary. Watch at you own risk.

The film "Eragon" can be likened to a fairly descent "Lord of the Rings" clone. As expected the leading young man is a tolerable actor who is very easy on the eyes. But the casting works because he has a warm smile and a disarming charm that works perfectly in this role. He's also a good athlete which is necessary for this very active film. It is a coming of age story like your typical films such as "Flicka", "National Velvet" or "Lassie" (uh, which film?). But this time the companion is a dragon. And the creators of this film did a very good job with this beastie. The special effects are sound, the scripting is clever and imaginative, and the person who voices the dragon is very good! The other ... ahem ... actors are good too. For once the leading woman is fairly good looking but willowy in build (not overly well endowed). Her demeanor suggests stage experience. But enough about the youngsters. Let's move on to one of my all time favorite actors, Jeremy Irons. At different times in this film he compels your emotions by playing a man drained of all desire and hope. He can also darkly entertain by delivering sarcastic barbs with smoldering disdain. Yet when the occassion demands he can rise to action with a noble yet humble demeanor and move with skill and grace. I've held Mr. Irons' acting abilities in the highest esteem ever since watching the British mini series "Brideshead Revisted". It was a very very demanding role and he did it proud. He does just as well in this film even though his role is a bit minor.

Okay. I've done horror and drama/adventure. Now let's try for humor. British humor at that. No, not the crudely bombastic Bennie Hill type and not the really strange Monty Python type. The kind of elegantly distant but slightly warm type. "Cold Comfort Farm" is a film that gently sneaks up behind you and passes a warm breeze around your funny bone. Yet at times makes you raise your eyebrows and guffaw when some of the really weird characters say some truely strange things! I'll bet this was a stage play turned movie since there is little action but a lot of clever and sometimes outrageous conversations. Kind of like an Oscar Wilde piece but a little more modern and weird. [Oh ... that type of British humor!]

So on those cold winter nights, I give you some options for staying warm in front of a TV. You won't need a blanket while watching "Pitch Black" since your heart will never slow down ... unless you want to hide under one. "Eragon" will keep your heart fluttering due to the almost constant action. [And for you young ladies the main character's smile.] And finally I recommend "Cold Comfort Farm", which will keep you "emotionally warm" with good hearted humor.



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