By Melissa Houghton
Home Alone 2, Lost in New York (1992)
I’ve added this Home Alone sequel to my list of essential Christmas movies. A great escape film and a joy to see New York gussied up during the holidays. Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) does it again and accidentally boards a flight to New York while his family is Florida-bound. With his dad’s credit card and an envelope full of cash in hand, he heads to the Plaza Hotel to spend the holidays, alone. Kevin is having a grand time when he bumps into his two nemesis Harry Lime (Joe Pesci) and Marv Merchants (Daniel Stern). They’re on the run again and rebranded themselves, their new scheme is to rob toy stores. Harry and Marv set out to catch Kevin before he thwarts their plans to rob Duncan Toy Store, actually it’s FAO Schwartz, the giveaway is the shot with the happy clock face. Brenda Fricker is excellent as the Pigeon Lady of Central Park. Pigeon Lady represents the loneliness and isolation many people face during the holidays. A lot has changed since 1992. The Twin Towers were lost after this was filmed and the current president of the U.S.A., Donald J. Trump, makes a cameo appearance as himself in front of the Plaza Hotel.
The Family Stone (2005)
Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the whiney, elitist uptight fiancée of Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney). Meredith can’t catch a break when she spends her first Christmas with Mulroney’s tight knit but, family, headed by mom Sybil (Diane Keaton) and dad Kelly (Craig T. Nelson). There are unexpected twists that ensue when she invites her sister Julie (Claire Danes), to join her at the Stone residence for moral support. The movie has a bittersweet ending, but despite the harsh and judgmental treatment Meredith endures at the hands of the Stone family, everyone finds love by the end of the journey and begins to heal after a tragic loss.
Childhood memories of sitting with hushed audiences in dark theatres – before, during and sometimes after a shocking conclusion, shaped Melissa’s love of movies. Her passion for film spans many genres and go-to’s are Indies, Sci-fi and Costume dramas. An image of Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Ladyexplains her life-long love of hats. Melissa works in marketing by day. She feels the arts saved her life and is a devoted year-round and festival volunteer for several arts and cultural organizations. She’s been a Toronto International Film Festival volunteer since 2003. Melissa recently fulfilled a wish to join the Sundance Film Festival volunteer roster and has a desire to meet Robert Redford. Melissa will be returning to Sundance for her fifth straight year in 2019. During this Sundance working-vacation, Melissa volunteers on the Artist Relations Box Office team as Box Office Associate. Melissa’s desert island picks are Alien, The Godfather, The Witches of Eastwick, Little Miss Sunshine and My Fair Lady. Melissa’s focus will be independent films. By the way, she has not met Robert Redford, yet.