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Special screenings 

Classics — Xmas and otherwise

Cinema Flaternité

Films by Jean Luc Godard and Stanley Kubrick remain in Finesilver Gallery's free Wednesday series programmed to compliment the current exhibit, Hills Snyder's Flaternité. Viewers are encouraged to bring popcorn or other snacks.

Godard's 1967 Le Weekend screens December 15 and Kubrick's Barry Lyndon will screen December 22. Show time is 7pm. Admission is free. For more information, contact John Tevis at 354-3333.

Cine Diciembre at the Instituto

Sunday and Wednesday movies at the Instituto de México continue with a series of films exploring spiritual and existential themes. Bajo California: El limite del tiempo (1998), directed and written by Carlos Bulado Muñoz, is a haunting account of an artist on a spiritual quest for redemption. La Muerte de un Burocrata (1966) is a Kafkaesque farce in which a diligent nephew tries to retrieve his dead uncle's union card from the grave so that his aunt can collect his pension.

Bajo California will screen at 4pm Sunday, December 12 at 4pm. La Muerte will screen at 7pm Wednesday, December 15 at 7pm. Admission is free.

It's A Wonderful Life

Dir. Frank Capra; writ. Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Capra; feat. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers (NR)

Sure, it's inescapable on TV - legend has it that someone dropped the ball on the film's copyright, making it public domain and thus free for any network to show - but there's a big difference between seeing something in fits and starts while channel surfing, and getting bundled up with some friends and going out to see it - start to finish and without commercial interruption - on a big screen. Watching it that way, you might be impressed with this beautifully sweet fable, might be impressed with a simple idea so nicely executed and starring a man like Jimmy Stewart. You might remember why people - you, maybe - loved Frank Capra; if you're a jaded urban hipster, you might for just a moment believe that simple small-town folk aren't all bush-league bumpkins, that there's honor and wisdom in old-fashion values. You might actually feel like enjoying Christmas - which is very hard to do when watching a gem like this in 12-minute chunks in between advertisements for all that useless crap you're supposed to be buying this month. John DeFore

It's a Wonderful Life shows at the Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall December 15-21. For more information, check local theater listings.

La Dolce Vita

Dir. Federico Fellini; writ. Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli; feat. Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux, Magali Noel, Alain Cuny (NR)

Falling smack inbetween his neo-realist period and the expressionistic, circus-like, Felliniesque films he made later, Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita manages to please those who see it as the point at which the Italian legend started to find himself and those who feel it's where he started to lose his way. Mastroianni, the director's erstwhile alter ego, plays a gossip columnist who chronicles the ironically labeled "sweet life" of Rome's decadent upper class; we follow him through a handful of blackout nights and rumpled mornings as he gropes to make meaning of it all. Alcoholics, intellectuals, starlets, and rascals stumble through the Via Veneto, populating both a portrait of a city that has vanished and a critique of a lifestyle that will probably last forever, bouncing from Italy to Manhattan to Ibiza, wherever young people have more than they need and don't know what to do with themselves until the money runs out.

La Dolce Vita was released on DVD recently by Koch Lorber - the wait for the disc was painful, since it sometimes seemed every other Fellini film came out before this, his most famous one - but no self-respecting fan of world cinema should pass up the opportunity to see it at least once on the big screen. John DeFore

La Dolce Vita will show at the Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall beginning December 10. For more information, check local theater listings.

White Christmas

Dir. Michael Curtiz; writ. Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank; feat. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen (NR)

His name won't ring a bell unless you're a film buff, but Hungarian immigrant Michael Curtiz had already directed such classics as Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, and Yankee Doodle Dandy before making this charming holiday flick. The movie may be kept in circulation thanks in part to the timelessness of its title song, but it holds up quite well. Here, the two gents play a song-and-dance team of war buddies; the ladies are also in the biz. They meet up at a Vermont lodge that is faltering for lack of business, and, well - the phrase "Let's put on a show!" comes to mind. Crosby and Kaye radiate uningratiating charm, Clooney reminds us that George's good looks ran in the family, and songwriter Irving Berlin delivers a predictably strong batch of tunes. John DeFore

White Christmas is showing at the Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall through December 14. For more information, check local theater listings.

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