While New York’s blustery Fifth Avenue lights up with the cheerful glow of holiday decor, the silver screens of cinema houses across the city flicker with tales of holiday excursions galore.
From B-rated slashers to Christmas party crashers, the films programmed throughout December represent a well-rounded offering of holiday fare. In hopes of maximizing exposure to all that abounds, ALL ARTS has rounded up our favorite screenings taking place from now until the New Year. Happy viewing!
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
Through Dec. 24, with special introductions by Mary Owen (Donna Reed’s daughter) at several screenings
A Christmastime staple, Frank Capra’s 1946 cautionary tale, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who, following a run of misfortune, contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve. Fortunately for Mr. Bailey and his wife Mary (played by Donna Reed), an angel intervenes to demonstrate just how, well, “wonderful” his life really is.
Beloved by generations of movie-goers (though initially a box office disappointment), the film was also a favorite of Capra himself, who wrote in his autobiography, “The Name Above the Title,” “I thought it was the greatest film I ever made. Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody ever made.”
But who didn’t agree with this sentiment? The FBI. In a memo, the agency dubbed “It’s a Wonderful Life” as an example of “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry.”
“Holidays at Metrograph”
Through Dec. 31
Holiday film enthusiasts might want to consider subletting an apartment near Metrograph this season. From Terry Zwigoff’s “Bad Santa” and John Landis’s “Trading Places” to Todd Haynes’s “Carol” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” this series represents the crème de la crème of holiday-themed cinematic offerings.
Bonus: For those still planning your holiday menu, might we suggest you pay close attention to the culinary choices in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread.”
“Have a Holly, Gialli Christmas”
Through Dec. 23
“Oh, ho the mistletoe/ Hung where you can see/ Somebody waits for you” has never been creepier than when cast in the context of the Italian thriller/horror genre, giallo.
This year, Spectacle Theater is serving up some horrific treats with a program of giallo classics. On the menu is John Grissmer’s 1977 demented tale of twisted love, “Scalpel,” Theodore Gershuny’s Christmas Eve nightmare, “Silent Night Bloody Night” and Edmund Perdom’s Santa-infused murder mystery, “Don’t Open Til Christmas.”
“Naughty and Nice: Holiday Movies with a Twist”
Museum of the Moving Image
Gather round the projector at the Museum of the Moving Image the weekend before Christmas to warm up in the glow of Joe Dante’s murderous “Gremlins” and Jon Favreau’s “Elf.”
Whether you’re more like “Gremlin”‘s Phoebe Cates (who is scarred from a grim Christmas past) or like “Elf”‘s holiday-obsessed Buddy (played by Will Ferrell), the unusual pairing covers both ends of the spectrum with glee.
“Christmas with Nat King Cole”
Dec. 25; 3:00 p.m.
Presented by Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal writer and author of the forthcoming book “Nat King Cole: Straighten Up and Fly Right,” this Nat King Cole program of rare clips of live performances featuring the king of the Christmas song himself.
Top Image: Still from Todd Haynes’s “Carol.”