Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

December 4, 2013

CALLERI: Three movie choices beckon your holiday dollar

Niagara Gazette — As you fret about how soon Christmas will arrive, worry about the perfect gift for someone in your family, and wonder whether or not you’re going to send greeting cards, you may want to hide from it all in a movie theater.

Here’s a look at three new films that might have piqued your interest.

“Black Nativity” ranks as one of the strangest Christmas movies I’ve seen. It’s an earnest melodrama about faith and redemption that is so sugarcoated, it’s as if someone simply stuck a candy cane in my stomach without allowing me to slowly savor it.

The movie’s story is as old as a story can be. A single-mom loses her house. She sends her young son to live with her parents in another city as she tries to save her home. The son fights with his grandparents and demands to know who his father is. He’s lurking in the shadows. To this you should add Christmas Eve, the story of Mary and Joseph, a priceless stolen pocket watch, a pawn shop, a kindhearted cop, and a full gospel choir. 

I won’t reveal how it all ends, but you’d have to be numb not to know. What’s interesting is that as odd and clunky as “Black Nativity” is, it reaches a musical power that might actually stir you out of your numbness. It’s the music that gets to you. Songs and dancing abound.  

The film, which is set mostly in the Harlem section of Manhattan, is loosely based on a 1961 Off-Broadway drama with music by the legendary playwright and poet Langston Hughes. The cast is outstanding. The child’s grandparents are Forest Whitaker as a gruff minister and Angela Bassett as his soothing wife. Add Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Vonde Curtis-Hall, Tyrese Gibson, and Jacob Latimore as the young boy, also named Langston. 

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