Hi, Cranberries...

The holiday staple, not the band, which got really insufferable around the time vocalist Dolores O'Riordan discovered politics.

I was going to moan about how ideally, snow should fall on Christmas Eve and not Thanksgiving's Eve (did I just make up my own holiday? Sounds like an occasion when one should leave work early, go home and polish off a bottle of Rabbit Ridge or Boone's Farm and contemplate all the crap he/she has to cook for the next day). The snow is sooo pretty and idyllic, though, that I am geuninely in awe. The whole city looks like that scene in "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie wakes up early Christmas morning to see his Northern Indiana back yard magically transformed by a snowfall.

It would be such a trip if "Far From Heaven" was this year's "In The Bedroom" at the Oscars. Well, maybe not such a trip, since "In The Bedroom" won nuthin'. This meticulous, daring ode to 1950s Douglas Sirk melodramas is attracting all the attention I had hoped Todd Haynes' last movie, "Velvet Goldmine" would. As another suburban housewife, Julianne Moore is nearly as good as she was in Haynes' "Safe". In both films, she delves so deep into a character that is struggling to break out of a structure, but either doesn't know how to get out or goes about it most misguidedly. Dennis Quaid, as her repressed, tortured husband, has never been better. Dennis Haysbert, as her hunky black gardener, is essentially the film's moral center, warm and calm, almost an angel (Cary Grant's Dudley in "The Bishop's Wife" comes to mind), only without the supernatural powers, nor the ability to change minds in a time and place not ready for it.

The film works because it blessedly contains not one drop of irony. You may find yourself restraining a giggle or two when you first see the daughter prancing around in her ballerina outfit, or when the son is chewed out for his "foul" language, which merely consists of "Aw shucks!" But that's just the familiarity with 50s kitsch we're bringing to it. Haynes really loves all these characters and their brilliantly constructed and photographed settings. His affection and care makes all of their minor triumphs more exhiliarating, and all of their tragedies more devastating and heartbreaking.

Going to see a preview screening of "About Schmidt" on Friday. If it's as half as good as Alexander Payne's last film, "Election", I'll be elated.

(pronunciation of Kriofske)