Santa placed the viewing emphasis on fun holiday fare this issue, but let’s look deep inside his bag for a couple of surprises strewn amongst the holly
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
“A musical adventure and visual spectacle for the ages” is the official description for this whimsical period piece about toymaker and inventor Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker), produced by John Legend. When Jangle’s apprentice (Keegan-Michael Key) steals his prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter, and a long-forgotten invention, to restore the magic. The movie has original songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, and Davy Nathan, plus a bonus “This Day” performed by Usher and Kiana Ledé. Hugh Bonneville and Anika Noni Rose also star.
Venture behind the scenes of 1941’s Citizen Kane, often cited as “the best movie ever made,” to witness the real life drama between Orson Welles (Tom Burke), fellow screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), and publisher William Randolph Hearst, the model for Charles Foster Kane. Just like its subject, Mank is filmed in black and white, evoking 1930s Hollywood. Amanda Seyfried plays fi lm star Marion Davies, caught up in the tumult. [Recommended: look up an insightful discussion of both films between Hank Mankiewicz, Herman’s grandson and host of Turner Classic Movies, and Director David Fincher, who adapted the script written by his late father, Jack, on CBS’ Sunday Morning.]
Tasty Trivia: The fi lm was shot at California’s Kember Campbell Ranch where Herman wrote Citizen Kane. Relatively unchanged since 1941, the location added to the authenticity. Also starring Lily Collins. Rated R.
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2
Since Kurt Russell first ruled the small screen in the Wonderful World of Disney’s Willie and the Yank (1967), the actor has enjoyed a wildly successful career playing some equally wild roles. Santa Claus seems tame by comparison to, say, Snake Plisskin (Escape from New York), but here we are, with Goldie Hawn as Mrs. Claus. More authentic than most versions of the Yuletide couple, Russell and Hawn have been together since they appeared in 1987’s Overboard. Kurt brings his trademark swagger to Old Saint Nick, who must thwart a disgruntled young man plotting to reveal the North Pole and its secrets. Siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) return to help save Christmas. Written and directed by Christopher Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter).
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Oscar buzz is strong for the final film performance by the late Chadwick Boseman as ill-fated trumpeter Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. Academy Award winner Viola Davis portrays the title character in this version of the acclaimed play that ran on Broadway in the 1980s. Over the course of an afternoon in a 1920s recording studio, musicians and legendary blues singer Rainey record songs between increasingly heated discussions about prejudice, discrimination, and issues surrounding race in America. This is the second August Wilson adaptation to be produced by Denzel Washington after Fences (2016). Washington was a mentor to Chadwick Boseman since his college years. Rated R.
DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE
Original songs and the angelic sparkle of Dolly Parton bring holiday cheer with this festive new tale enhanced by dreamy sets and ample song and dance numbers. The plot tips its top hat to Ebenezer Scrooge in the form of Christine Baranski as a cold-hearted woman planning to sell her hometown from under its residents to a mall developer. Parton wrote the music and lyrics for all 14 new tunes. The title song appears on her new album, A Holly Dolly Christmas. Directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen.
MARIAH CAREY’S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
Bask in the Yuletide magic emanating from the “Queen of Christmas” Mariah Carey in an “innovative special” mixing music, dancing, and animation in a heartwarming story. Vulture reports Carey and “a menagerie of celebrity guests combine song and dance in a magical holiday journey to enliven the Christmas spirit around the world.” The special caps a successful year for Carey. After her now classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” broke sales records in 2019 after its original release 25 years prior, she released a memoir and album.