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Icy treats

Five frosty flicks to keep you warm by the tube this winter season

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Even when the winter chill forces you indoors there's still a way to enjoy the frosty weather. Plenty of snowy flicks abound to either celebrate the icy romance of an all-white landscape, or bemoan the cold, stark isolation that comes with darker days.

On the days you just can't bear the outdoors, trade that blanket of snow for a cozy cover on the couch and settle in with one of these winter-set classics. Here's a look at five snow-bound flicks to keep you toasty by the tube:

Fargo -- Writers-directors Joel and Ethan Coen capture all the beauty and harshness of a frigid winter season with this brutal 1996 crime thriller. It's full of striking images that linger long after the final credits, many of them featuring a barren northern landscape instantly recognizable to most Canadians. Who hasn't had a near-mental breakdown while scraping ice off of a frozen windshield? Star William H. Macy is pitch-perfect as bumbling car salesman Jerry Lundegaard, who hatches a brazen kidnapping that goes horribly awry.

Into the Wild -- The unforgiving elements of winter feature prominently in this 2007 adventure tale about a young wanderer, played by Emile Hirsch, who sets his sights on a solo excursion to Alaska after graduating from university. His foolhardy odyssey takes him across the continent in search of enlightenment and solitude, and he meets a range of friendly eccentrics along the way. But a cold hard truth awaits this idealistic loner, and his anguished journey -- based on real events -- is hard to shake.

The Shining -- Chills abound in this 1980 horror classic about a young family that is hired to look after a creepy old hotel that is shuttered for the slow winter months. Cabin fever predictably sets in for the crazy-eyed dad, played with unforgettable zeal by Jack Nicholson, and that's just when the hotel starts to reveal it may have a cold, dark past. The weirdness mounts as the snow falls, culminating in a memorable blizzard chase scene and one character's icy demise.

Cold Mountain -- It's pretty cold up on Cold Mountain, and we're reminded of that constantly in this 2003 period drama about a Civil War soldier, played by Jude Law, who trudges through a harsh landscape to return to his faithful sweetheart Ada, played by Nicole Kidman. This is a good old-fashioned love story, where the burning ardour of separated lovers sustain them through a barrage of hardships that continually work to keep them apart.

The Empire Strikes Back -- OK, this kid-friendly classic makes the list largely due to that disgusting blizzard scene where Han Solo cuts open the belly of a passed out tauntaun and stuffs a delirious Luke Skywalker inside to keep him from freezing to death. But of course, that's not Han's only brush with deadly cold in this beloved 1980 Star Wars instalment, there's another chilly scene that's spawned all sorts of quirky merchandise including Han-shaped ice cube trays and Han-shaped chocolate bars.

Honourable mentions: Inception, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dumb & Dumber, Alive, The Day After Tomorrow

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 $sourceSection0

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