It’s with regret that I didn’t start this post last week (we’ve already missed Nightmare Before Christmas amongst others but there are plenty of doors left on the filmic advent calendar (by the way, check out Scalarama’s cracking online advent calendar).
At the recent This Way Up! Cinema Exhibition Innovation conference, Cornerhouse boss Dave Moutrey joked that like himself, many of the ‘innovators’ in the room would be looking forward to the annual profits returned from screenings of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. (“every time a bell rings, a cinema cash register rings” perhaps?). The film is well loved and deserves its place as as the staple diet of festive programming (the film is warming the cockles of Falmouth Poly, Manchester Cornerhouse, Urswick Recreational Hall and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall this year), but a broader look at the map shows that Christmas isn’t just about the obvious heartwarming classics.
In some ways the new It’s a Wonderful Life is DIE HARD – as cinemas have reached out for alternative festive programming they have made Bruce Willis the new Jimmy Stewart. It’s an action thriller that just sort of happens to be set at Christmas rather than being about Christmas, but it gives us a good excuse to enjoy some classic one liners (“this is Christmas music!”), plus it snows at the end. Bruce is infiltrating Cornerhouse as we speak.
An alternative classic seasonal film might be THE BISHOP’S WIFE, featuring David Niven and Loretta Young as a couple who are taught a lesson by a cheeky angel, none other than Cary Grant, and screening at the excellent Saffron Screen in Essex
My mum’s favourite Christmas film – SCROOGED – gets a run out at Glasgow’s The Glad Cafe. A truly 80’s take on Dickens’ Christmas Carol, it’s one of Bill Murray’s best roles as the heartless tv exec who is willing to staple antlers to a mouses head in the pursuit of christmas ratings.
There are some great festive family film events …
Disney’s FROZEN takes over Saturday the 13th, with afternoon screenings in Llancarfan Community Cinema, Whirled Cinema and the Players Theatre, including the glorious singalong version. Don’t fight it, you can’t win. Let It Go!
Cube Cinema are running a screenprining workshop alongside their screening of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.
The traditional christmas NATIVITY! gets a run out with a pre-hobbit Martin Freeman in this British comedy at Nantwich Family Films.
Christmas is also a weirdly good setting for horror – the hope, innocence, goodwill and men in strange costumes all provide the ingredients for some of the most daft explorations of the genre. This festive subgenera is celebrated with screenings of the bizarre Norwegian RARE EXPORTS at Greenwich Picturehouse and Cinebox Bolton, whilst Bristol Bad Film Club are screening ELVES – featuring not santa’s little helpers, but deadly little buggers genetically created by a Neo-Nazi mad scientist during World War II.
If you fancy some DIY short film action, then Manchester’s Filmonik filmmakers group have been running a festive Kino Kabaret. They’ll be showing the results on Sunday at the FESTIVE FINALE.
There are also a couple of cracking double bills – the wishbone of the festive format. Manchesters RAD Screenings are showing Arnie’s JINGLE ALL THE WAY and NATIONAL LAMPOONS CHRISTMAS VACATION. Meanwhile Feast Films screen Will Ferrell and Billy Bob Thornton comedies ELF and BAD SANTA at the Portico Gallery, London
And taking us right up to Christmas Eve…
The people of Ilkley Film Fest are putting on a 2-day CHRISTMAS FILM FEST, featuring WW1 drama JOYEUX NOEL, as well as the classic WHITE CHISTMAS. Plus there are some MUPPETS for good measure.
Watch a live orchestral score with Raymond Brigg’s classic animation THE SNOWMAN at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.
Merry christmas all!