It's December, meaning you can expect several local showings of famous holiday movies, and of many other classic films that have nothing to do with holiday celebrations. Also, we say a (temporary) goodbye to an area cinema venue and welcome a seminar that may at last answer the question:Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?
A Taste of Cherry
Kiarostami: Life and Nothing More, a retrospective into the work of the late Iranian cinema master Abbas Kiarostami, continues at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (824 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr) this month. It starts on December 2 with 1997's Palme d'Or-winning Taste of Cherry, followed by Ten (2002) on December 9 and Like Someone in Love (2012) on December 16. All are at 7:15pm and feature an introduction by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D.
Elf, the Jon Favreau-directed Will Ferrell vehicle from 2003, may be the most beloved holiday film of the current century. Fans of the film will have multiple chances to catch Elf on the big screen this month. It's playing on December 3 at the Colonial Theatre (227 Bridge St., Phoenixville) at 4:15pm and 7:15pm and on December 7 at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, at 11am.
All That Heaven Allows
Douglas Sirk's famed 1955 melodrama starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman comes to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute December 5 at 7:15pm. The film will be preceded by a Cinema Classics Seminar at 6:30pm, hosted by Ursinus College's Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D.
Richard Curtis's 2003 holiday-themed romance Love Actually may be somewhat divisive. But regardless of your feelings on the ethics of using cards to declare your feelings for your best friend's wife, the movie will be showing at the Philadelphia Film Center's newly reopened and upgraded Black Box (1412 Chestnut St.) on December 5 at 7:30pm, along with Quizzo.
The monthly local showing of Tommy Wiseau's 2003 anti-classic is set for December 6 at Ritz at the Bourse (400 Ranstead St.), just before midnight. Bring your plastic spoons and appreciate the irony that this particular movie always shows across the street from a store called Lisa’s Flowers and Gifts.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Brian Henson's 1992 musical reimagining of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with the Muppets in all the roles, wasn't always the most beloved film in the Muppet canon, but it's gained more appreciation over the years. It gets a rare local big-screen showing December 7 at 10:30am at the Ambler Theater (108 East Butler Ave., Ambler).
All That Jazz
Bob Fosse's 1979 musical classic is showing at the Lightbox Film Center at 7pm on December 10, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The film, starring Roy Scheider, is showing in conjunction with the Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival Fall Fest's From the Vaults. All That Jazz doubles as the final scheduled film at the Lightbox before it closes at International House and moves across town to the University of the Arts in January. A celebration, called Lightbox: Rewind/Fast Forward, is set for two nights later on December 12.
The Red Shoes
The 1948 film from British directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger will show in 35mm at the Philadelphia Film Center on December 11 at 7pm. The film, set in the European dance world, stars Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, and Léonide Massine.
You've all heard the arguments over whether 1988’s Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and that's a topic that will undoubtedly come up in a Cinema Classics seminar on the film, on December 12 at 6:30pm at Bryn Mawr Film Institute. The seminar, hosted by Ursinus's Jennifer Fleeger, will look at how "a bloody action film about a league of murderous European thugs taking hostages in a Los Angeles commercial tower could become a Christmas classic," as the film both launched Bruce Willis's career as a movie star and spawned four sequels and countless imitators.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
The latest monthly showing of the 1975 camp classic is set for December 13, just before midnight at Ritz at the Bourse. Transylvanian Nipple Productions will once again provide the shadow cast.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The 2000 adaptation of the Dr. Seuss holiday children's book, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as The Mean One, shows at the Ambler Theater at 10:30am. on December 14.
If you're looking to take a break from Disney+ and check out a Disney classic on the big screen, the 1942 Bambi is headed to Bryn Mawr Film Institute at December 14 at 11am.
It's a Wonderful Life
Frank Capra's 1946 classic starring Jimmy Stewart may be the quintessential American holiday movie. And while it doesn't show on local television on a daily basis like it used to, It's a Wonderful Life has several big-screen showings at three theaters this month. The film will show at the Philadelphia Film Center on December 17 at 7pm, at the Colonial Theatre on December 21 and 22 at 1:30pm and 4:30pm, and at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute at 11am. on December 28.
Escape From New York
John Carpenter's 1981 vision of a dystopian New York City, starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, shows at Philadelphia Film Center at 10:30pm on December 19, part of the After Hours series.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
The holiday entry in the Griswold family series, directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes based on his old National Lampoon short story, hits Ritz at the Bourse just before midnight on December 20. The film, starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
One of the great Philadelphia-shot movies stars Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as a poor man and a rich man who team up to double-cross the miserly, Koch Brothers-like villains the Duke Brothers (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche.) The 1983 comedy, directed by John Landis, is playing on December 20 at 9:45pm at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville.
A Christmas Story
You'll shoot your eye out, kid, at A Christmas Story, director Bob Clark's 1983 film that's since become a holiday TV staple. It's showing on the big screen December 21 at 1:30pm at the Colonial in Phoenixville.
The Polar Express
Robert Zemeckis's 2004 computer-animated film featuring an uncanny valley version of Tom Hanks shows December 21 at 10:30am at the Ambler Theatre.
The final Ritz at the Bourse midnight movie of the year is Gremlins, Joe Dante's 1984 horror comedy about a mogwai named Gizmo. That shows just before midnight on December 27.
Billy Wilder's beloved 1960 drama starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine will show in a digital restoration on December 27 at 1:30pm at the Colonial.