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Survival guide for the snowed-in

Here are some movie rental suggestions if you can't get to the theater

POSTED: January 12, 2011 11:30 p.m.
/Roadside Attractions

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Ree Dolly in "Winter's Bone." In the film, Dolly's father is a drug dealer turned informant who has gone missing. It's a gritty drama set in winter, and while it won't warm you up, it'll leave you impressed.

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File this under "Columns I never Expected to Write." North Georgia is playing against character type this week, socking all of us with a paralyzing blanket of snow and ice.

It seems pointless to write this week about movies playing in theaters, since all of the area cinemas have been closed. And even if they were open, I wouldn't publish anything that might encourage someone to hit the treacherous roads.

Luckily, we no longer have to leave the house to get new movies. Netflix and other companies offer home delivery or instant streaming, which for a movie geek like me is a milestone of modern civilization.

Here are some movie suggestions for all my fellow snowbound shut-ins, with hopefully something for all moods.

‘Winter's Bone'

(Debra Granik, 2010)

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Ree Dolly, an Ozark Mountain girl whose father, a drug dealer scheduled to testify against some other local dealers, signed away possession of the family house to authorities. Now, Dad is missing and Ree has one week to find him, or she and her two younger siblings will find themselves homeless.

I know, I know, who wants to watch a gritty crime drama set in winter right now? But this movie won both Best Picture and Best Screenplay at Sundance and is making Lawrence a star. She has a very good chance of winning an Oscar. Here's your chance to catch one of last year's greatest surprises.

‘Nanny McPhee Returns'

(Susanna White, 2010)

Cinema's second-favorite nanny returns to set another family aright. Emma Thompson is as lovely as ever, even early in the film when Nanny is still all warts and buck teeth.

There's no innovation here, but the movie is charming and innocent and exudes the sort of compassionate warmth that we all need when the thermometer isn't providing it. A perfectly light family film.

‘The Wire'

(Created by David Simon, 2002-2008)

Friends prodded me for years to check out this series, but because I don't watch television (and because I am maddeningly stubborn), I'm just getting around to it. And boy do I feel stupid for not jumping on the bandwagon sooner.

"The Wire" aired on HBO and follows a diverse group of detectives who use surveillance, informants, and good old police craft to hunt down drug dealers and murderers.

That might not sound very different from many other cop shows, but this is as good as television writing gets, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more talented ensemble cast in all of TV history. It is my current obsession.

‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

(Edgar Wright, 2010)

This hilarious comic book adaptation tanked in theatres for reasons I still don't understand. It's every bit as witty as Wright's other work ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz") and the most innovative melange of comic aesthetics, video game memes, and movie geek culture we've ever seen.

And like "Winter's Bone," you won't care at all that the movie is also set in winter.

‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'

(Howard Hawks, 1953)

Need a little escapism that the whole family can agree on? What could possibly be better than Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, directed by the legendary Howard Hawks, wisecracking and singing in gorgeous Technicolor? Nothing, that's what! It's currently streaming on Netflix, as are scores of other classic movies.

‘The Lena Baker Story'

(Ralph Wilcox, 2008)

This week marks the 65th anniversary of the execution of the real Lena Baker, the first woman electrocuted in Georgia. She was tried and convicted in one day, executed a year later, and pardoned decades after her death. Wednesday, Baker was honored with a headstone and a dedication ceremony. This award-winning film is a fitting way to delve into a tragic yet vital chapter in our history.

So there are some ideas for what you should watch. But because I care, you might want to think twice before popping the following movies into the DVD player: "The Shining," "Frozen," "The Thing," "30 Days of Night," "Alive."

Enjoy Snowpocalypse 2011, everyone.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.

 



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