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It's a Wonderful Life & more Cinema stuff for the week of December 7

We begin this week's cinema roundup at Grand Illusion Cinema, where a holiday tradition enters its forty-second year. It's a Wonderful Life begins Friday and runs through December 27. Seeing this film in lovely 35mm at the GI is an essential Seattle holiday experience. Make plans to see it soon.

Also at the GI on Friday is film curator and historian Dennis Nyback's Christmas Special, a collection of "vintage toy commercials interspersed with Christmas cartoons, short subjects and theater announcements, all of which are from what we call a more innocent time." The Christmas cheer continues Saturday, starting with Oddball Film + Video's Christmas Mess, a program of classic, strange, offbeat and unusual Christmas themed films culled from Oddball Films director Stephen Parr's archive of over 50,000 16mm films. That program is followed by VHSXMAS II, another collection of rare Christmas footage taken from Scarecrow's extensive VHS archives. It's "guaranteed to instill viewers with a mind-boggling case of Christmas fever. Featuring music, magic, montages, comedy, cartoons, commercials and an all-star cast!" Rounding out Saturday night at the GI is another Oddball Film program, The Subject is Sex, which promises "hillbilly porn, cartoon smut, commercials, trailers, educationals, hygiene films, burlesque bits, peep show loops, and oozing oodles more!"

Thursday at the GI, the Alamo Drafthouse unleashes their Trailer War, a selection of the strangest and most outrageous trailers ever made. Be warned, for they say, "it's a crippling overdose of towering flames, mechanized destruction, lurking fear, poor sexual choices and spiritual devastation on an apocalyptic scale." You can watch the trailer here, but be warned it is totally NSFW.


SIFF Cinema welcomes the great Festival of the Archives this weekend with a series of newly restored classic films awaiting rediscovery on the big screen. Visit the festival page for the full schedule of films--we recommed the double feature of Star Trek original series episode "Space Seed" and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on Friday and the Sunday matinee of All About Eve--then get your tickets and use the promo code SCARECROW+MOVIES at checkout (works at the box office too) and get $2 OFF the general admission ticket price.

Opening this week at the SIFF Film Center is The Comedy, a dark, dark satire of "aging hipsters and the truth that can be hidden behind masks of ironic humor." It stars Tim Heidecker as a man who tests the boundaries of his comfortable life along with his friends (Heidecker's Tim & Eric co-star Eric Wareheim, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, and comedian Neil Hamburger) in increasingly awkward and inappropriate ways. For more on The Comedy, we recommend you listen to Heidecker's interview with Marc Maron on episode 329 of the WTF podcast.

It's the end of the world as we know it starting Wednesday, December 12 at SIFF with the Apocalypse Film Festival. The doom begins with a double feature of Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys and Chris Marker's Le Jetee. On Thursday, it's bombs away with Dr. Strangelove, followed by War Games. The festival continues through next week with zombies, primates, aliens, and other destructors of mankind.

Barrymore ,starring Academy Award winner/Captain von Trapp portrayer Christopher Plummer as legendary actor John Barrymore in an look at his life and career, has two more shows on Monday, December 10 and Tuesday, December 11 at SIFF Uptown. Two likely future Oscar nominees, Ben Affleck's Argo and Ang Lee's Life of Pi (presented in 3D), continue their SIFF runs this week as well.


Northwest Film Forum this weekend welcomes Screen Style, a film series, presented in partnership with Seattle Met magazine, featuring the favorite films of some of Seattle's more stylish residents. It starts Friday with Purple Noon, Rene Clement's 1960 film adapation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Alain Delon (which recently came out on Criterion Blu-ray & DVD). It's followed by the reggae-tastic Rockers on Saturday, and Ingmar Bergman's The Passion of Anna and Claire Denis' Beau Travail on Sunday.

NWFF this week also has Mekong Hotel, the new film from Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The film is set in a guesthouse on the river between Thailand and Laos, a place frequented by both humans and ghosts. We invite you to read Charles Mudede's review in The Stranger for more perspective on this film and Weerasethakul's work.

If you're a fan of the band Sigur Ros, you'll want to catch the Valtari Film Experiment playing Friday through Sunday. The band gave a dozen filmmakers a small budget and asked them to make a film from whatever came into their heads while listening to their new album valtari. You can see the results from such directors as Ramin Bahrani, Alma Har'el and John Cameron Mitchell.

Saturday, December 8 is Home Movie Day at NWFF, a free event celebrating the amateur filmmaker. You're invited to bring your Super 8, 8mm, and 16mm films to share with an audience. On Monday, Velocity Dance Center presents Next Dance Cinema, a showcase of dance films from the Pacific Northwest. Tuesday through Thursday, the West Coast modernist architecture documentary Coast Modern returns after a succesful showing at the Local Sightings Film Festival. On Wednesday there will be a special pre-screening Happy Hour at 6pm and Q & A with producer Leah Mallen and directors Gavin Froome and Mike Bernard after the 7pm show.

Continuing its NWFF this week is Oscar-winning animator Don Hertzfeldt's new film It's a Beautiful Day. It's a biography of "the most three-dimensional stick man you’ll ever meet," as we follow Bill through his increasingly surreal world.


Central Cinema fully embraces the holiday spirit with two of our favorites of the season: Gremlins and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Jason Miller's excellent BadMovieArt returns Monday with Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar, featuring "lust, gin and Joan Crawford." CC's Night & Day Film Noir series continues Wednesday with true genre classic The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and a statue of a falcon. Thursday has the usual Cartoon Happy Hour , then, if you didn't get enough bizarre found footage action this week, check out the Everything Is Terrible Holiday Tour 2012. I'm pretty sure I spotted part of the Star Wars Holiday Special and Henry Winkler in bad aged makeup in the trailer.


We were happy to hear that the Columbia City Cinema will be reopening this weekend as the Ark Lodge Cinemas. Their inaugural event this weekend is a Lord of the Rings marathon. The Hobbit will open there on Friday, December 14. Yay!

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