Joyeux Noel!

Atthis time of year, people ask me what my favorite Christmas movie is, and I offer the same answer I’ve given since I was 16 or so: It’s a Wonderful Life, the Frank Capra-directed 1946 fable about a man who wonders one Christmas Eve what life would’ve been like if he hadn’t been born. In our more candid moments, many of us have wondered the same, but few actors have expressed the anguish of regret as James Stewart did in Capra’s redemptive film, which reminds us of the importance of the connections we make with each other (sometimes not having known we’ve made them).

Still, there are many holiday movies out there to enjoy. One might argue that It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t even the best of Jimmy Stewart’s Christmas-set films, if one prefers Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner. One might also argue that It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t even the best Christmas movie of the 1940s – check out Preston Sturges’ little-known Remember the Night, with Barbara Stanwyck as a shoplifter and Fred MacMurray as the assistant D.A. who takes her home with him for the holidays (Turner Classic Movies will show it December 4 at 8pm, by the way).

Filmmakers continue to produce interesting Christmas movies. Danny Boyle’s Millions (2004) is a sweet tale about two young English brothers who learn a special lesson for the holidays after their secret discovery of a suitcase full of cash. A film we’ve shown on occasion at the Flint Institute of Arts is France’s Joyeux Noel (2005), based on the story from World War I about opposing armies who agree to a Christmas Day truce as a respite from their battlefield horrors.

Not surprisingly, we have a faith-related film on tap at FIA in December, although it’s not precisely a “Christmas movie.” Calvary is an Irish drama about a priest (played by Brendan Gleeson) whose life is threatened during a confession. Can the clergyman continue with his calling? Find out in the museum’s Friends of Modern Art film series on December 12-14.

Launching the month’s schedule on December 5-7 is The Last of Robin Hood, with Kevin Kline as a well-cast Errol Flynn, the debauched actor whose late-life troubles are dramatized in a film that also stars Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning.

We take a break on the final weekend of the month, which means the museum’s final movie of the calendar year plays December 19-21. Finding Vivian Maier is a fascinating documentary about a reclusive nanny whose hidden collection of 100,000 images earned her a reputation as one of the most accomplished urban photographers of her time.

All FIA screenings begin at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm on Sundays. Tickets, available at the door, are $6 general admission, $5 for FIA members, and $4 for FOMA members. For more details, visit ♦


Comments are closed.