The frenetic film scene takes something of a hiatus through New Year’s, as specialty programmers allow for the seasonal demands of shopping, schlepping, schmoozing and boozing. They also recognize (and partake in themselves) the family holiday traditions of a) piling on the couch with the clan to watch vintage favorites from It’s a Wonderful Life to Die Hard and b) trekking to the multiplex on or about Christmas day to check out what Hollywood left under the tree.
With respect to a), if you’re in the mood to expand your time-honored shortlist of Christmas movies I enthusiastically recommend Ingmar Bergman’s epic Fanny and Alexander (1982) and John Huston’s raucous and melancholy adaptation of James Joyce’s The Dead (1987). On a lighter note, adopt Chris and Paul Weitz’s funny and touching About a Boy (2002), from Nick Hornby’s clever novel, or embark on Holiday Affair (1949), buoyed by witty dialogue and Robert Mitchum’s rumpled charm.
As ‘tis always the season to ring the bells for local filmmakers, the Roxie brings together an assortment of established and young artists Thursday, Dec. 14 in The Roxie Mixtape #4, a genre-spanning program of short films. The contemporary political, economic and racial reality inspired The Beautiful Truth, which combines DeMareon Gipson’s poetry with SFSU student Alex Ajayi’s animation. Haunting personal experience is the wounded heart and sensitive soul of Luz Olivia’s black-and-white, hand-processed 16mm Nothing to Write Home About as well as Brett Kashmere’s Ghosts of Empire, which pairs audio interviews with ex-football players with vestigial images of NFL action.
Marian Wallace’s Project Y, shot in 1983 (in part by the late Dean Snider) and including glimpses of Third Street before its present-day makeover, is a blissfully fragmented telling of an absurdist episode: a couple looks for a misplaced (and never identified) item. The film fits right in with our impulse to look back at this time of year, as does award-winning experimental filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt’s The Kodachrome Elegies. From home movies of his parents to well-chosen found-footage sequences to, finally, a handful of devastating frames shot by a certain amateur cameraman on Nov. 22, 1963, the film evokes mixed feelings about the people and events that formed its maker, and us.