I love movies with big ensemble casts—my favorite being The Royal Tenenbaums. Wes Anderson's wonderfully weird Tenenbaum family is equal parts J.D. Salinger and Addams Family: funny, broken, human, and so idiosyncratic that you just know they're all based on people Anderson knows in real life. They're a pretty pitiful lot, really, but, because each of them is so uniquely characterized and so believable in their frailty, we love them anyway, in all their dysfunctional glory.
Christmas in the Clouds, the debut feature from director Kate Montgomery, is also about a dysfunctional family. These folks aren't related by blood, though; rather, they're a family of co-workers, each of them serving in a different capacity at a struggling ski resort. Oh, and they all happen to be Native American—an astonishingly rare moviegoing sight.
Unlike the Tenenbaums, though, many of these hotel workers come up a bit short in the personality department; in fact, for some, their ethnicity is the most interesting thing about them. Not all of them are blasé —Graham Greene, for example, is a hoot as Earl, the resort's animal-loving, vegetarian chef whose job requires him to cook and serve meat. Likewise, old chief Joe (Sam Vlahos) is an adequately mysterious, compelling figure whose voice-over narration introduces and concludes the film. Others, though, aren't so lucky, sometimes too deeply rooted in cliché s—like the bookish, romance-novel-reading clerk Mary (Sheila Tousey) and the no-nonsense, workaholic manager Ray (Tim Vahle), both of whom seem to have stepped out of made-for-TV land and onto the Big Screen.
This ragtag family has their world shaken up when they hear that a popular travelers' guide is sending ...1
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Christmas in the Clouds
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