There are movies about Christmas that embody high, holy ideals – peace, joy, fellowship, generosity – expressed through familiar images of the manger in Bethlehem or even Santa Claus coming down from the North Pole.
And there are movies about Christmases less glorified or romanticized – about people just trying to get through the holiday season while enduring discontent, disharmony and loneliness. In this age, sadly, there may be a lot of folks identifying with those yuletides.
Two holiday-related films to be presented virtually this month by the Flint Institute of Arts combine both attitudes about Christmas, and in unexpected ways.
One is an American independent drama titled “Christmas, Again.” The comma in the title hints at the hesitation of its central character to greet year’s end. He is a seasonal Christmas tree salesman who spends his Decembers working the night shift on a Brooklyn street corner.
When customers ask about the nice girl who was there with him the year before, they might not want to hear the answer from this soulful, young fellow with sad eyes. But when he rescues an unconscious young woman from freezing on a park bench, better things may be in store for both.
A 2015 release making its FIA debut, “Christmas, Again” has earned strong reviews from critics as a “low-key, near-total charmer [that]captures something ineffably moving about the holiday grind” (Los Angeles Times). It will be streamed through the FIA website on December 25-27.
The museum’s other upcoming holiday film, “Joyeux Noël,” has become a favorite of FIA audiences. An import from France, this inspiring drama is based on a true story from World War I, when soldiers on opposite sides of the Western Front shared a fleeting brotherhood amid the carnage on Christmas Eve of 1914.
Knowing what happened – or how temporal the good feelings are – doesn’t detract from the power of “Joyeux Noël,” which the FIA will offer January 1-3.
Also on the museum movie schedule this month are “Walking on Water” (December 4-6), a look into the creative process of the famous installation artist, Christo; “Song Without a Name” (December 11-13), a thriller set in Peru; and “A Faithful Man” (December 18-20), a French romantic comedy-drama.
For more information on FIA titles and screenings, check flintarts.org. Until the FIA Theater reopens, screenings will continue virtually, and patrons can buy tickets conveniently through the website.