Arts

Arts and culture

In 1823, the publication of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (aka "The Night Before Christmas") put into circulation holiday lore that retailers, advertisers, and other true believers have been rejiggering ever since. So it's a tad presumptuous to call Charles Dickens, whose A Christmas Carol was published 20 years later, The Man Who Invented Christmas.

Through an accident of timing, 2017 has produced complementary films about British perseverance and moxie at a dangerous inflection point in World War II, when 300,000 men were penned in by encroaching Nazi forces in France. Earlier this summer, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk celebrated the multi-pronged effort to rescue these soldiers and bring them back across the English Channel, where they could regroup and continue the fight.

Even before you start picking at the turkey or swilling the early afternoon Beaujolais, you might be feeling a bit full of Thanksgiving. It's the run up, which we are now in the midst of. As the calendar ticks down to turkey day, we're being stuffed with advice, product promos and tips to "master" the feast and host the "ultimate" holiday meal.

How will yours compare?

Of course everyone can up their game. But the Thanksgiving table feels like the wrong place to chase perfection.

There is a scene near the end of Luca Guadagnino's breathless, besotted, achingly intimate — and just plain aching -- Call Me By Your Name that starts like hundreds of others have, and do, and will, in cinematic depictions of same-sex attraction.

The biggest problem with most urban fantasy is that, by nature, it becomes alternate history. It's Renaissance Italy, but with vampires. Or Victorian England, but everyone wears cool goggles and has an airship!

Pixar's animators seem willing to go anywhere in pursuit of fresh enchantment. They plunged to the ocean's depths in Finding Nemo, took to the sky with helium balloons in Up and entered a child's mind in Inside Out. Now, in the movie Coco, they — and we — are visiting the afterlife.

Remember the Thanksgiving story you learned in school — how, way back when, Pilgrims and Indians got together at one giant dinner table and ate turkey and stuffing and green beans covered in Campbell's mushroom soup? And then there was peace on Earth?

A Sunday column by David Sax in The New York Times quotes a cheering statistic from the Association of American Publishers: Sales of "old-fashioned print books" are up for the third year in a row.

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