by Aaron Peck
Fall has most definitely arrived. The moment I walk out my door and can see my breath in the icy morning air, that signals the start of autumn. Well, that and the ungodly amount of heavily edited classic horror movies that pop up on basic cable every weekend.
Fall is the time that I retreat indoors and catch up on a lot of movie watching, because if you're anywhere in the northern part of the United States you know that going outside means only one of two things: raking leaves or scraping that damned morning frost off your car's windshield while the nubs of your fingers freeze off. The warmth of my artificially heated living room becomes a sanctuary, my HDTV the altar, and popcorn my manna from heaven. Over dramatic? What can I say, I like movies!
It's time to dig into the ole movie collection and pull out the flicks that give me that autumn feeling without forcing me to actually brave the weather. Here are ten of my favorites.
'28 Days Later'
October means horror movies. You can always take in 'The Walking Dead' or any other zombie incarnation for that matter to fulfill the undead quotient for the month. Some people like to draw out month-long horror-a-thons replaying all their favorite horror flicks, and that's fine too. For my money though, I like '28 Days Later.' Somewhere around the time of its release zombies became as mainstream as vampires. We were suddenly inundated with hordes of zombie movies and television shows. Zombies were cool!
'28 Days Later' reinvented the genre though. People had been infected with rage, which made them more ravenous that your average slow-moving brain-eating zombies. These suckers were fast, agile, and posed a greater threat than lumbering groups of brain-dead citizens shuffling around in their bathrobes and slippers looking for their next human meal.
This pleasant little drama directed by Mike Leigh was actually one Blu-ray release that I picked for my favorite releases of 2011 (so far). It covers a whole year, but its laid back family-oriented story has a decidedly lazy fall feel to it. Anyone who hasn't seen this really is missing out. It's a touching tale about friendship, love, and family. Lesley Manville gives one of the best performances of the year as a drunk, lonely middle-aged woman trying her best to reclaim whatever glory she once had.
The NBA lockout has me depressed beyond imagination. I'm a super fan. Come fall, basketball is the only sport I consume. NBA TV blazes on my screen non-stop as I try and watch any pre-season game I can catch. Yeah, I'm that big of a basketball fan. I watch the preseason. Sadly, the lockout has canceled the preseason, leaving me twiddling my thumbs until the greedy owners can settle a deal with the equally greedy players.
Thank goodness we have a movie like 'Hoosiers' for me to get my basketball fix. I may just have this movie on an endless repeat until basketball starts again.
'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'
Another Halloween-themed movie, but this time it's a must-see staple viewing. Much like 'A Christmas Story' whenever December rolls around, 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' is simply one of those movies you have to watch when Halloween approaches. I'll admit that it hasn't aged particularly well, and kids nowadays who are so accustomed to the seizure-inducing 'Yu-Gi-Oh' might find it as boring as homework on the weekends, but there's just something charming about it. Screw those attention deficit riddled kids, this one is for a more nostalgic crowd anyway. A time to reflect and look back on our lives and realize that at least we were all a little better off than poor old Charlie Brown. Have some low self-esteem? Simply revisit any 'Charlie Brown' movie and you'll be feeling much better about yourself in no time. That kid had it rough. Who throws rocks into a kid's Halloween bag, no matter how bald he is? Those are some messed up people in that town.
'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles'
John Hughes, Steve Martin, and John Candy. Need I say more? It's fun to revisit this comedy every year around this time, remembering how much we miss Mr. Candy. So often I forget about this movie for most of the year, only to rediscover how much it makes me laugh whenever I decide to rewatch it. It's a perfect complement to a cozy night in.
This dramedy focuses on a small family and their neighbors as they try to navigate the sometimes tricky world of getting to know each other. It's fun, light, full of hope and even a scene where they go and see the leaves changing colors in upstate New York. Really, what else could you want from an Autumn movie?
'Remember the Titans'
Football is fall. Fall is football. That's just how America rolls. 'Remember the Titans' provides a clichéd, but enjoyable sports movie that has all the tropes of American sports movies, but still manages to be entertaining. I hate to admit it, but 'Remember the Titans' always causes me to choke up just a little. I know its manipulative, but sometimes I just can't help myself. "Left side!" "Strong side!" sniff, sniff.
'The Secret of NIMH'
I know that I included 'NIMH' on my most disappointing Blu-rays list that we published here a while back. Even though I was less than impressed with MGM's treatment of this Don Bluth classic that won't stop me from pulling it out at the tail end of every year to revisit Mrs. Brisby's dealings with the rats. Set right around fall time, 'NIMH' is a great animated feature that always entertains. It's much more brazen and adult that today's sanitized animated fare and will remind you just how deeply resonant this Bluth film remains.
Perhaps the quintessential fall comedy. Harry Burns meets Sally Albright, and we watch as they try to pilot their love lives with a backdrop of some great fall-themed scenes. Orange and brown leaves serve as a background as Harry and Sally wonder if they can be friends without sex mucking up the whole friendship thing. Dramedies seem like the perfect movies to cuddle up with during cold Autumn days, and 'When Harry Met Sally' is one of the best.
I really wish that we could get a Blu-ray release of 'The X-Files' seasons, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be coming around anytime soon. Still, my season DVD sets offer me quite a bit of comfort in October. There's nothing better than locking yourself in your house and doing an 'X-Files' marathon around Halloween time trying to pinpoint the episode where the show really started going downhill. I kind of think that it's the episode where Krycek put nano-machines into Skinner's body and then let him know that he could kill him with the push of a button. But who cares? I love the show and it adds a nice, creepy vibe to my fall viewing.
Do you have any movie traditions come Autumn time? What films do you break out and revisit year after year. Be sure to click on the link below and share your favorites in the forums.