The Nativity Story’s Christmas card tableau evokes every nativity performance we have ever seen. But there is no triteness, sentimentality or forced piety in it because we have met this couple in the grimy reality of their village, in the crowded streets of Jerusalem and on the rocky paths to Bethlehem. We know that they are carrying out a difficult assignment, and that their hardest work is still ahead: they have to raise this infant to adulthood. Along with the familiar, The Nativity Story delivers unexpected moments that inform and inspire.
Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion is such a deconstructionist’s dream that you almost expect the late Jacques Derrida to make a cameo appearance. Talk about reality’s insubstantiality: here we have the cinematic version of a beloved radio program, now over three decades old, whose sly conceits play on a homespun America that barely existed.