Cinema: Ho, Ho (Well, No)

Christmas is supposed to bring tidings of comfort and joy, but you won't find much of that at the 'plexes this season. Instead the big holiday films are about war, cancer and industrial pollution

THE THIN RED LINE STARRING: Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, John Travolta OPENS: New York City, Los Angeles Dec. 23 WIDE: Jan. 15

It's that war again. At the end of a film year dominated by Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (Europe, 1944: D-day and after) comes Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (the Pacific, 1942: Guadalcanal). The two films, each with a rightful claim to magnificence, are as different as the terrain of their settings and the strengths of their makers. The New York Film Critics' Circle probably got it right last week by naming Private Ryan...

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