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Holiday movie season kicks off with a little something for everyone

Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional kick-off of the holiday movie rush, so it should come as no surprise that a rash of films ready for your viewing pleasure at a theater near you.

I’ve already sung the praises of “Life of Pi” which I expect to be a Best Picture nominee come Oscar time. It’s a visually stunning movie about a boy, a tiger and a lifeboat. Based on a much-loved book, “Life of Pi” is a kind of fantastical story you just don’t see on the big screen anymore. The boy learns some hard-earned lessons about life, of course, but the real value of the story (and movie) is what it tells us about the value of a well-told tale.

Another film in the “high-class” category is the latest adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy classic, “Anna Karenina.”

It’s directed by the young British director Joe Wright, who seems to have made literary classics his specialty. He’s already tackled “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” to much praise. As with those other two movies, “Anna Karenina” stars Keira Knightley and she’s fine as the Russian countess who suffers the consequences of a tragic love story. She’s a bit overwhelmed however, as is the entire cast which also includes Jude Law, by a visually overpowering setting. Joe Wright has created such a gorgeous theatrical context for the story that the characters seem more like puppets, robbed of real emotions. “Anna Karenina” is an opera without passion.

If “Life of Pi” and “Anna Karenina” seem a little too much like eating your vegetables, you might want to catch the remake of the violent 1980’s hit, “Red Dawn.” It’s about a bunch of American high-schoolers who fight back against a foreign invasion of the United States of America! The only reason to catch this shoddy remake might be to see a couple of actors who’ve become bigger stars since they filmed this remake over a year ago, Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” and “The Avengers” fame and Josh Hutcherson, now best known for “Hunger Games.”

Finally, this is the holidays, right? So there’s always the family-friendly “Rise of the Guardians,” an animated movie about how Santa, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, and the Tooth Fairy work together to defeat the Bogeyman. Nobody ever likes the bogeyman, but we especially don’t like him during the holidays.

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