All these happy people...will die! In Black White Christmas!
Here we are staring down another Christmas week, and once again I've failed in my attempts to book that seasonal triple-bill of Gremlins, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard at local movie houses. (The Toronto Underground Cinema would have gone for it, dammit.)
If you're looking for a movie to see over the holiday - and you need a break from that new Blu-ray of Arthur Christmas - here's a quick guide to the seasonal programming on Toronto's screens.
The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is taking a wee break from its non-fiction programming to mark the season with a handful of holiday perennials. The beloved Michael Curtiz musical White Christmas screens Saturday at 12:30 pm, while Bob Clark's seminal slasher Black Christmas plays in a late-night slot at 11:30 pm. Clark's other, less traumatic Yuletide classic A Christmas Story screens Sunday at 3:30 pm and Monday at 1 pm, and Frank Capra's miserablist masterpiece It's A Wonderful Life shows Monday at 3 pm.
(Tickets for everything but Black Christmas are free at the door with a donation of food or cash to the Stop Community Food Centre. Black Christmas is a regular-admission event.)
The Bloor isn't the only place you can see A Christmas Story this weekend, mind you. The Carlton Cinemas is holding a free screening Saturday at 1 pm, marking the last of its holiday matinees. Later that afternoon, Camera Bar is holding its own Xmas freebie, screening How The Grinch Stole Christmas! - the original Chuck Jones animated special, not the Ron Howard/Jim Carrey abomination - and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at 3 pm.
Out to the west, The Revue is hosting a free screening of The Polar Express Saturday morning at 11 am, courtesy of the Roncesvalles Village BIA; if you prefer your holiday urchin action a little less dead-eyed, the theatre's also screening Home Alone shows Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. (But that you have to pay for, in more ways than one.)
You'll find one of the finest Christmas movies at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week: Richard Donner's corrosive Christmas carol Scrooged screens Saturday at 7 pm and Monday at 12 pm in the Dickens On Screen series. Well played, guys. Well played.
TIFF's also running a pair of Hollywood classics in new digital restorations - not exactly Yuletide material, but The Wizard Of Oz or Breakfast At Tiffany's are the kind of perennials you can enjoy pretty much any time of year. As long as you block out the Mickey Rooney sequences in the latter, of course.
And if you're sick of all the snow-and-elves crap, the Lightbox offers its own counter-programming with daily screenings of the original Django - in anticipation of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, which opens Christmas Day. The joke's on all of us; beyond a free hand with squibs, Django Unchained has absolutely no connection to Sergio Corbucci's sun-bleached 1966 spaghetti Western. But having seen both films, I can tell you this: the original is a lot more fun.
Happy holidays, everyone. See you on the other side!