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Weekend Express: Your fun-stuff planning tool


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If you don’t have a date, New Year’s Eve is the longest holiday of the year. Even if you do have a date, "New Year’s Eve" will feel like the longest movie of the year.

It’s another collection of random and cliched romantic subplots, in the same vein as last year’s inexplicable hit "Valentine’s Day" — which, like this one, was directed by veteran comedy guy Garry Marshall. The unifying symbol is the ball dropping in Times Square, and getting to that moment takes an eternity.

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While I was watching "New Year’s Eve," not laughing at the not-jokes and not responding to the non-chemistry between co-stars, I entertained myself by considering which coupling had the most disturbing age differential. Oddly enough, it’s not the 29-year gap between Michelle Pfeiffer (53) and Zac Efron (24), but the 16-year space between Katherine Heigl (33) and Jon Bon Jovi (49). You know what they say: It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.

The other studio movie this week — "The Sitter," a comedy starring Jonah Hill as a slacker turned babysitter — was not screened for critics. Draw your own conclusions.

The good stuff this week is in the art houses.

"The Skin I Live In" is the latest from Spanish bad-boy director Pedro Almodóvar, a tale of an obsessive plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas) and his greatest creation, Vera (Elena Anaya), a beautiful woman who has been given the doctor’s experimental artificial skin. The movie goes through some strange twists, which explain the source of the doctor’s behavior, all seen through Almodóvar’s glossy lens.

"Le Havre" is a gently offbeat story of a shoe shiner (André Wilms) who shelters an illegal immigrant (Blondin Miguel) in a French harbor town. The director, Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, delivers with a deadpan charm and deliberately flat tone that generates quiet chuckles and tears in equal measure.

Lastly, the Sundance Institute has compiled a program of seven short films from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Some are better than others, of course, but the best are well worth the time.


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ONE CHEAP CHICK

Two fun holiday websites » You can track Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve at http://www.noradsanta.org/en/ on the NoradSanta.org website, and leading up to Christmas, children can play a variety of online games on this popular site. At PortableNorthPole.tv, you can make a free personalized video message for your child from Santa at http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/home.

Michaels 40 percent off in-store » Go to http://weeklyad.michaels.com/stores/7782/coupons to print a coupon worth 40 percent off one regularly priced item at Michaels arts and crafts stores. This coupon is good through Saturday.

Roberts Arts & Crafts closeout sale » Roberts is closing its five remaining stores in South Jordan, American Fork, Provo, Orem and Washington and is taking 30 percent off all merchandise in those stores. The company plans to close the stores by the end of January, but will continue to sell online at RobertsCrafts.com. Go to https://www.facebook.com/robertsartscrafts for updates on store closures and discounts. Next week, remaining merchandise will be discounted by 40 percent. Go to http://robertscrafts.com/default.aspx?PageID=74 for a list of Utah stores.

Free $10 Target gift card with purchase » If you’re planning a large purchase at Target, you can go to http://coupons.target.com/target-holiday-elves-coupons to print a coupon that’s good for a free $10 Target gift card when you purchase at least $50 in merchandise at one time in-store. Thanks TotallyTarget.com!

$5 off The Help movie » Go to http://thehelpmovie.com/us/ to print a coupon worth $5 off the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack of the movie The Help. You can also go to http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=ylfqcgp73029750&bt=xg&o=95632&c=ZB&p=TW2ep1If to get a coupon worth $3 off Barbie: A Perfect Christmas. You’ll also find a number of movie coupons at http://www.coupons.com/ under the Home Entertainment category.

Free music » Amazon.com is offering a free holiday song to download each day through December. Go to http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000453281 to listen to today’s selection. Plenty of other holiday tunes are available for free on the site as well. Go to http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/dmusic/digital-music-track for a complete list. More than 100 albums are available to download at no cost as well. Go to http://amzn.to/tdj3GQ for those titles.

More free music » People magazine is offering a free 10-song holiday music collection by country artists at https://styleentertainment.timeinc.net/people/countryplaylist/.

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