A Thanksgiving bounty of new releases, and vintage films from 1921 to 2001

Just like Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving offers plenty of helpings of commercial and limited-release films.

Love & Other Drugs (starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, reteaming after their terrific performances in Brokeback Mountain) is based on the book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman. That should tell you everything you need to know about this love dramedy. Walt Disney Studios has a new animated feature based on the Grimm Brothers' Rapunzel in Tangled. Giving up on family comedies this time around, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton star in the action adventure Faster. Cher, Christina Aguilera, and Kirsten Bell will be wearing dancing boots in the musical Burlesque. They all open today at major chain theaters, with the exception of the restaurant comedy Today's Special, starring Daily Show reporter Aasif Mandvi, which opens at the Uptown Theatre. Two more movies open on Friday at the Lagoon Cinema: the political documentary Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer and the Palestinian documentary Budrus.

The only one I've seen is Client 9. It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but director Alex Gibney's doc is tremendous, and anyone who appreciated the recent doc Inside Job, on the 2008 financial crash, will surely take interest. Client 9 is a great companion piece to Inside Job, especially zeroing in on Spitzer's involvement with trying to solve to the crisis—he was known as "the Sheriff of Wall Street"—his brief stint as governor of New York, and most notably, his sex scandal with the VIP Empire Club escort service. Spitzer comes across as an intelligent, insightful and hard-working man, who slipped up and paid dearly for his mistake.

If none of these films scream for your attention, there are a few other leftover alternatives worth seeking out. Minnesota Film Arts will be showing Wes Anderson's 2001 dysfunctional-family comedy The Royal Tenenbaums today and tomorrow at St. Anthony Main. And starting on Friday at St. Anthony Main, for those who missed Olivier Assayas's dynamic 5½-hour-long Carlos at the Walker last month, MN Film Arts will be screening the long version over the weekend. Starting on Monday, they'll be screening the abridged 2½ hour version. I recommend taking a break from the Black Friday shopping blitz (or your family, if they're starting to get on your nerves) to check out the 330-minute epic over the weekend. But if you're looking for something older than 2001, the Trylon Microcinema will be screening the last two Charlie Chaplin films in the "Here Comes the Tramp" series: The Kid (1921) and The Great Dictator (1940).

Finally, if you're looking for just a good Thanksgiving themed movie to enjoy at home (I'm sure it'll be on TBS, TNT, FOX, or WGN), why not re-watch the 1987 comedy classic—and my favorite movie from 80s staple writer/director John Hughes—Planes, Trains and Automobiles (above), starring Steve Martin as uptight business man Neil Page and John Candy as obnoxious travelling sales men Del Griffith. It's my favorite role of Candy's all-too-short career. Just make sure to cover your children's ears when Martin's Neil goes off on an airport employee, only to get his comeuppance when he can't find his car rental agreement.

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Jim Brunzell III's picture
Jim Brunzell III

Jim Brunzell III (djguamwins [at] yahoo [dot] com) was born in the 70's, went to school in the 80's, played sports in the 90's, and has been writing on film for the Daily Planet since 2007.  He is also the Festival Director and programmer for the Sound Unseen Music/Film/Art festival in the Twin Cities, lead programmer for the Flyway Film Festival in Pepin and Stockholm WI, the creator of "The Defenders" series at the Trylon microcinema and has been working on a novel since finishing college.  You can follow Jim on Twitter at (@JimBrunzell_3).