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Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving films are often a subject for indie filmmakers to explore issues of families, parent/child relationship and sibling interactions. Oh, as if we need that match thrown onto the fire during family gatherings. But, on those lazy fall evenings, it can be fun to gather with family an relatives to have assembled from near and far to pop some corn and indulge in family stories.

Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) tags itself to a few Thanksgiving scenes and follows the general themes explored in Thanksgiving films but Turkey day is not at the center of the story.

Here are a few films that feature Thanksgiving as the central premise I would recommend for the Thanksgiving family film festival:

"The House of Yes" (1997) features Minnesota local Rachael Leigh Cook in the first movie she made after her debut in Peter Syvertsen's Minnesota local Screenlabs production of "26 Summer Street." Cook filmed the opening a closing sequences of "House of Yes" after all the other principle photography had been completed, so she knew little of Parker Posey's performance as he adult version of herself, the young Jackie Bouvier and her relationship over Thanksgiving holiday to a sibling that pushes the boundaries of rivalry.

"Pieces of April" (2003) is written and directed by Iowan Peter Hedges who also wrote "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and it tells the story of a wayward daughter living in a lower East Side tenement who decides to reunite with family because her dying mother Patricia Clarkson who was nominated for an Oscar for this role) to have a family Thanksgiving in her run down NYC walk up.

"The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997) is another debut film on the Thansgiving list for indie director Bart Freundlich about a family reunion that uncovers lets just say family issues.

"The Ice Storm" (1997) is an James Schamus, Ang Lee classic period piece located in 1973 and centers on a families, the Hoods and the Carvers, brought together over Thanksgiving break in their Connecticut cul de sac community of upper middle clas conformity only to reveal, adultry, sexual experimentation, drug use and other petty crimes. If you've been in Hudson river valley, Westchester county communities during an infamous fall ice storm, you can appreciate the precarious situation of living the "good life" as in a John Cheever story. Ang Lee is brillant in his understated psychological insights and the performances by Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire and Christina Ricci are memorable while being career defining.

Many like the crowd pleaser "Trains, Planes, and Automobiles" by Chicagoan John Hughes which as a TG classic about two guys hoping to get home for Thanksgiving has large box office appeal due to comedic Steve Martin and John Candy performances.