Movie Column 

Spike and Mike tonic for the holidays

Finally Christmas has passed and if you're still jonesing for a dose of holiday cheer go see Elf or Bad Santa . However, if you're like me, quite fed up with it all and craving something a bit different, you can check out Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation at the Rainbow theatre to Jan. 4. Spike and Mike have been masters of the sick and twisted milieu for a long time and always step to the table with a wide array of short cartoons focusing mainly on fart, crap, vomit and blood jokes. A nice dinner, a joint, and Spike and Mike - the perfect good-natured romantic holiday evening for two. Check it out.

Opening Christmas day was Paycheck the latest from Hong Kong action legend John Woo. Paycheck stars Ben Affleck as a genius computer programmer who steals other people's ideas for big corporations then gets his memory erased so he can't be charged or divulge the secrets. Only this time the project he was ganking allowed him to see into the future, and it ain't lookin' so bright. So he mails himself an envelope full of clues and things to help him when he wakes up three years later in a mess of trouble.

The premise is kind of cool, like a backwards detective story, and Uma Thurman co-stars as the forgotten love interest. But John Woo's an action director (rent Hard Boiled for proof of this) and Ben Affleck is most definitely not an action hero (as the five people that actually watched Daredevil or Reindeer Games will attest) so it doesn't work. John Woo can pull off a Hollywood movie with big name actors, he did it with Face Off and again with Mission Impossible 2 . This time, however, the magic is just not there. I blame Affleck, probably concentrating more on paying off J-Lo's wedding ring than actually getting the job done.

The DVD of the week is a nice fit for the holidays. Leaving Las Vegas , the tragic love story of Nic Cage, a depressed alcoholic writer who sells his life's possessions and moves to Vegas to drink himself to death, and Elizabeth Shue, a lonely hooker who's tired of getting cut by her pimp when she has a bad night. They connect because they immediately accept one another and fill each other's needs, that is: someone to talk to.

Sure the hooker with a heart of gold thing is supposed to be a cliché but Shue plays it perfectly and the script, written by Director Mike Figgis, doesn't allow us to doubt her character. Cage won an academy award for this role and for good reason, drunk is hard to fake convincingly and he excels.

Powerful, poignant, real, and tragic, Leaving Las Vegas reveals the tender loving side of even the most downtrodden characters. This makes it a true holiday classic, although the rape scene might not sit well with everyone. In any case, it's Boxing Day so if you don't have a DVD player yet go stand in a two-hour line at one of the "amazing" Boxing Day sales and get one. Then rent this movie and think about how easy you have it.

At Village 8 Dec. 26-Jan. 1: Paycheck; Cheaper by the Dozen; Lord of the Rings: Return of the King; Peter Pan; Cold Mountain; Mona Lisa Smile; Something's Gotta Give; Last Samurai; Elf.

At Rainbow Theatre Dec. 26-Jan. 4: Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation

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