Some holiday films play as large a role in our Yuletide culture as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “T'was the Night Before Christmas.” I mean, who can honestly imagine a proper holiday season without Ralphie muttering the big fudge-bomb in A Christmas Story, or Clark Griswold cutting into the turkey dinner in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation?
In honor of the holidays, Alamo Drafthouse in Kalamazoo will be exploring cinema's role in the Christmas season, sharing festive favorites with theatre-goers throughout December.
“We are so fortunate with Alamo to have such a great library of holiday programming,” said James Sanford, creative manager at Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo.
They're pulling no stops this year when it comes to curating some of the best, most celebrated and even some of the strangest Christmas classics. First, you have some of the obvious picks, like A Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street. And they're going to be sure to make room for one of their most popular picks of the season.
“Of course we're bringing back It's a Wonderful Life, which sold out in near-record time last year,” Sanford said. “We will try to keep room in our schedule for at least two or three [showings] this year.”
On top of that, Alamo will be showing some Christmas movie underdogs that may not get as much attention. While James Stewart's image may seem ubiquitous this time of year, White Christmas and The Bishop's Wife generally have to fight for airplay, which is exactly why Alamo decided to bring them back to the big screen.
“[They] don't often get shown on the big screen, but we love them and we want other people to love them,” Sanford said.
There are also plenty of somewhat, shall we say, unconventional choices for those who may require a bit more enticement to get into the holiday spirit. Although Die Hard is often remembered as a sort of pinnacle to the American action genre, most of the action does take place at a swanky Christmas party gone wrong. And Edward Scissorhands, though from a slightly darker period of Tim Burton's filmography, still has strong ties to the winter season.
“I know it's not a traditional Christmas movie,” Sanford said of Edward Scissorhands. “But it did come out at Christmastime in 1990 and I always tend to associate it with the Christmas season.”
For those who prefer to get real weird, the oddest and least-recognized entry in Alamo's holiday programming would have to be the disastrous B-movie masterpiece Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which is about, well, exactly what it sounds like.
Last, but definitely not least, Alamo will be bring back its holiday themed quote-a-long series, in which Alamo Drafthouse provides props and quotes for the audience to read aloud during the film. This year's series will include favorites like Elf and the aforementioned National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, as well as the newest addition to the quote-a-long series, Bill Murray's Scrooged.
For a full list of dates, times and ticket prices go to drafthouse.com/kalamazoo.
UICA Kicks of Winter with Force Majeure
If there's a polarizing (no pun intended) topic in mid-winter Michigan, it has to be the weather; more specifically, snow. Some people love it while others hate it, but everyone has resigned themselves to the fact that it's inevitable.
It therefore seems fitting that our friends over at the UICA have decided to kick off the winter with an uncomfortably funny psychodrama in which the white stuff plays a pivotal role. The award-winning Swedish film, Force Majeure, will be on UICA screens through Dec. 4.
The movie follows Tomas, a successful and handsome businessman, as he takes his family on a skiing trip to the Swiss Alps. After an avalanche shakes things up for the family, Tomas' role as the family patriarch is called into question. From there, a series of events unfold that film review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes, refers to as “gleefully uncomfortable.”
While watching someone else's life unravel may make you feel a bit guilty, it really helps put those freezing temperature and winter traffic complaints into perspective.
Tickets are $8 to the public and $4 for UICA members. For a list of show times, visit uica.org/movies.