Best snow day movie picks from the Avon’s Adam Birnbaum
Yeah, you’re not going anywhere tonight.
The National Weather Service is predicting six to 10 inches of snowfall in the region, meaning that many local residents are going to find themselves snowed-in this evening.
So, why not go ahead and fire up your Netflix and enjoy a movie (or two or three … it could be awhile) until the storm passes.
Culture Cache welcomes back Adam Birnbaum, the director of film programming at Stamford’s Avon Theatre, to offer up a selection of his favorite snow day films. Check them out, below:
McCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971) – Arguably Robert Altman’s finest film and one of the greatest American films ever made, this revisionist “anti-Western” features all of Altman’s trademark approaches to taking a genre and subverting the conventional, expected approach, while firmly putting his imprint on the material. Warren Beatty stars as the mumbling John McCabe, a gambler and self-exaggerator who very stealthily takes on a position of power in a frontier town. He soon becomes business partners and lovers with Constance Miller (Julie Christie), with whom he operates the town brothel. As McCabe’s expands his business holdings and grips on the community, trouble mounts when the local mining company sends in their men to try and buy out McCabe. A resistant and in over his head McCabe soon finds himself immersed in a memorable and gorgeously shot grand finale showdown in the wind swept, swirling snow (brilliantly lensed by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond).
INSOMNIA (1997) – The auspicious and highly acclaimed directorial debut from Norwegian filmmaker Erik Skjoldbjaerg features Stellan Skarsgård as a Swedish homicide detective sent to a small village in the northern reaches of Norway to investigate the murder of a young girl. As the drama unfolds, our detective finds he cannot sleep, caused from a combination of the mounting tension in the case, a crisis of conscience, and the round-the-clock Norwegian summer sunlight. You’ll suddenly be not so unhappy for the gray winter skies outside your door. (This film was later remade into the admirable but inferior Christopher Nolan-directed Insomnia, starring Al Pacino).
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA (1984) – There is no better opportunity to embark on viewing an epic crime drama with a nearly 4 hour running time than a snowy day. Sergio Leone’s highly influential film stars Robert De Niro and James Woods as two boyhood friends who grow up together on the Lower East Side of New York City in the 1920’s and rise to prominence in the world of organized crime in the ensuing years. Largely told through flashbacks set in the “present day” of 1968, this framing device enables the action in the film to span decades, weaving an elaborate and engrossing story that explores themes of friendship, love, betrayal, and the role of the mob in America along the way. Fans of current television shows such as Boardwalk Empire will find that a great deal of inspiration and ideas came from this movie. While the close to 4 hour cut will have to suffice for now, there is hope that Leone’s original, intended 4 ½ hour cut, which resurfaced at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival upon the discovery of “lost” footage, will make it to the United States in the near future. (It is surely no coincidence that Boardwalk Empire’s executive producer Martin Scorsese has also been aiding the Leone family in trying to retain the rights to the newly found footage and present it stateside).
THE THING (1982) – John Carpenter’s science-fiction horror film starring Kurt Russell and Keith David features a team of scientists in an Antarctic research station at the South Pole, against whom havoc is wrecked when an extraterrestrial lifeform invades their unit. Slowly but surely the team faces inescapable doom as the creature they have discovered turns out to have the capacity to metamorphose, imitate other organisms and has a lust for blood. Fighting both the insurmountable elements of the frozen tundra and the inexplicable, terrorizing force of the creature, will anybody make it out alive?