Top picks for holiday movies – a baker’s dozen

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Want to escape the frigid weather or take a break from the hustle and bustle? Lifestyles Media Department recommends watching a movie together, and its members have some picks from the annual favorites. Enjoy a clip and look for the full feature on Netflix, Youtube and network and cable TV channels.

In addition to “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” two other black-and-white classics get an honorable mention — “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” If you have any favorites, let us know. Here is the list from LIfestyle Media Department. Enjoy.

Watching the 1964 movie is a tradition for people of all ages. In it Rudolph meets the girl he loves, and she loves him. But Dad says, “No” to having the reindeer with the red nose in the family. (Dolores Palermo) 


Frosty is a snowman that has a top hat that causes him to move around in the school yard. But the top hat belongs to the self-obsessed magician named Professor Hinkle who wants his hat back. Karen, one of the school kids, and Hocus Pocus, the professor’s rabbit, help Frosty escape to the North Pole. Avoiding melting is a major problem. (Anthony DiCostanzo) 

The “round-headed kid” searches for the true meaning of Christmas with his friends. (Anthony Kefalinos)


Eight-year-old Kevin McCalister (Macaulay Culkin) gets left behind when his family goes on vacation. It sounds scary, but it ends up in a lot of comedy as he protects his house from two thieves. Is the original “Home Alone” your favorite or do you like one of the sequels better? (Meredith Arout)


Even Santa isn’t safe. In this 2006 comedy, he nearly loses his job when Jack Frost, takes over the Elves and remakes Christmas. (Kareem Ellison)


You will love the part where the children are in the mall and they’re getting ready to see Santa Claus. Santa Claus asks the children, “What do you want for Christmas?” Ralphie says, “A gun.” Santa says, “You’re gonna poke your eye out kid,” and kicks Ralphie down the slide with a “Ho, ho, ho.” The 1983 movie is an annual favorite. (Joseph Padalino) 

One night is crazier than the other when Davey Stone tries to reform during Hannukkah. The 2002 animation deals with adult themes such as alcoholism, depression and loss.  

As Santa’s helper, Will Ferrell, who plays Elf has a hard time fitting in. For one thing he is a human being and a lot taller than all the other elves. The 2003 Christmas comedy is funny and happy. (Riki Garcia) 

Watch the live action film starring Jim Carey or the 1966 animation. Whichever version you prefer, this Seuss classic is a delight for all ages. A new Grinch with the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch will be arriving next year, so it’s time to get familiar with these two. (Anthony DiFato)

Somewhere in Jerusalem, Mary is working in the fields. She hears the voice of an angel say, “You will bear a child.” This 2006 film tells the story that is behind the glitter of Christmas — the birth of the child, Jesus, and the visit of the Three Wise Men who follow a star to see him. (Sal DiBenedetto) 

It’s Jack Skellington vs Oogie BoogieJack reveals the fact that Oogie’s body is nothing but a bag of bugs when he defeats him. (Andrew Moszenberg)

Miss Piggy and Kermit lead the Muppet crew in a retelling of the Dickens’ classic tale and in many good songs such as “‘Tis the Season” and “Thankful Heart.” (Harry Rodriguez) 



Put ‘March of the Wooden Soldiers’ on holiday to-do list

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“March of the Wooden Soldiers,” 1934

The 1934 version of “The March of the Wooden Soldiers” is an annual holiday treat for the whole family. Also known as “Babes in Toyland,” the black and white classic will be shown on Christmas Day from noon to 2 p.m. on WPIX 11.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy star as Stan Dee and Ollie Dum. They live with the Old Woman in the Shoe and are trying to save Little Bo Peep from marrying Silas Barnaby, the heartless landlord. In the end everyone unites with the Wooden Soldiers to fight him and the Bogeymen.

The plot involves a comical misinterpretation of Santa’s orders – just part of the many laughs for all ages provided by slapstick and hilarious punchlines. Music, nursery rhyme characters, including Mother Goose, and a rousing community spirit add to the movie’s appeal for kids and adults.

“Watching a classic movie together provides great memories,” says Sal DiBenedetto.

“And you learn to never turn your back on a cannon,” adds Anthony DiFato.

– Sal DiBenedetto, Anthony DiFato, and Sam Stone with Kathryn Carse.

‘Off the Rails,’ Story of A One-Track Mind

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From the time he was a young boy, Darius McCollum was fascinated by trains.  The trains were his hiding spot to get away from his troubles.  But when he took it upon himself to steal trains, he became infamous.

Off the Rails, a film by Adam Irving that tells Darius’ story, gets its United States theatrical run this November, qualifying it for Oscar consideration. It can be seen in Los Angeles at the Laemmie Music Hall, November 4 through 10, and in New York City at the Metrograph Theater, November 18 through 24.

Darius McCollum, Off the Rails publicity photo.

McCollum, who is said to have Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in jail more than 30 times for taking trains and buses for joy rides (often with passengers unaware), trespassing, and impersonating various mass transit personnel. A panel of individuals with disabilities reviewed the film, making their own observations.

“I never saw someone who took so much pride in his job,” said reviewer Joseph Padalino. “He doesn’t hurt the passengers.  He calls out the stops with more enthusiasm than the real drivers. I wouldn’t even care about his disability. I would ride with him.”

“It makes you wonder how safe the train system is,” according to Anthony DiFato. “You have him in jail and there is no counseling. The criminal justice system is not fair.  It’s not like he killed someone.”

McCollum’s story is also being considered for a feature film, starring Julia Roberts as McCollum’s attorney, Sally Butler.  Meanwhile, Darius sits in jail since November 2015 for his latest escapade and is facing a possible 15-year sentence behind bars. A $15 million lawsuit has been filed by Butler on McCollum’s behave, citing the lack of mental health services that he has received thus far in prison.

-Written as a group, including Dolores Palermo, Joseph Jones, Anthony DiFato, Joseph Padalino, Anthony Kefalinos, Anthony Buscarello, Jonathan Chernock, Andre Fitzgerald, and others, edited by Edward Gregory and Kathryn Carse.