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Holiday Movie Preview

Upcoming films like ”A Civil Action” and ”Mighty Joe Young” offer a range of options this winter

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Killer hotel clerks. Alien teachers. Dismembered prostitutes. Talk-show hosts. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Of course, there’s more arriving on screens this season than blood and gore. Along with Psycho, The Faculty, Very Bad Things, and Jerry Springer’s Ringmaster, there’s plenty of kid-friendly fare. Both Disney and DreamWorks are releasing major animated features — A Bug’s Life and The Prince of Egypt. There’s also the live-action Frosty the Snowman update Jack Frost (starring Michael Keaton) and the girl-meets-gorilla love story Mighty Joe Young, as well as the return of a certain adorable talking farm animal in Babe: Pig in the City. Indie-heads will have plenty to celebrate too, led by the import Waking Ned Devine (think Full Monty on Geritol) and a roster of big names (Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter, Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte) in potential small gems. Even Oscar will be getting some gifts: A Civil Action, with John Travolta playing his first lawyer (second, if you count Bill Clinton) and Terrence Malick’s first film in 20 years, The Thin Red Line. For more on how Tinseltown’s stocking is hanging, read on.