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Tim Burton-a-Thon, ‘National Lampoon’s Xmas Vacation’, ‘Brazil’ and other film fun happening this week

Posted at 10:15 am, December 15, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment
© Brazil / British Film Institute

Each week, we round up the most exciting film events happening in London over the coming week, from pop-ups and one-offs to regular film clubs, outdoor screenings and festivals. Here’s this week’s top five…


Trust the Prince Charles to go above and beyond the usual festive fare. Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi madhouse isn’t a film you’d usually associate with Christmas, but it’s peppered with seasonal nods and winks. The ex-Python and ‘Time Bandits’ and ‘12 Monkeys’ director conjures up a discomforting retro-futuristic world, setting much of his story in vast warehouse-like offices and cathedral-like industrial spaces. Yes, it’s the future (sort of), but the costumes and movie references (from ‘Casablanca’ to ‘Metropolis’) are a nod to the past, and there’s something of the 1940s and George Orwell to the whole thing.

Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. Fri Dec 19, 6.15pm. £7.50, £5 concs.

Classic Cinema Club: ‘A Christmas Story’ 

This kid-friendly comedy from 1983 is a festive favourite in the US, but has never really caught on here. Surely everyone remembers how they felt, at primary school, when a literary masterpiece came back marked with a mere C+? This and many other such crimes perpetrated by the adult world on the inhabitants of kid-dom are exposed in this nostalgic mock-epic tale of young Ralphie’s quest to ensure that presents assembled under the tree on Christmas morning include a much-coveted BB air-rifle. Delightfully entertaining, with a wryly amusing narration to keep the adults in the audience smirking.
Ealing Town Hall, New Broadway, W5 2BY. Fri Dec 19, 7.30pm. £7, £6 concs.

Midnight Cowboy 

A major Oscar winner at the cynical end of the Swinging Sixties, thanks to the seedy New York milieu in which the buddy-buddy story takes place. Jon Voight’s likeably dumb Texan hick hustler teams up with limping guttersnipe Dustin Hoffman in an effort to make enough money from the wealthy women of New York to fulfil dreams of living in sunny Florida, though the film never admits either to its homosexual elements or to the basic misogyny of its stance. A wounded classic, perhaps, but a classic nonetheless.

Greenwich Picturehouse, 180 Greenwich High Rd, SE10 8NN. Thu Dec 18, 9pm. £11.60.

Pop-Up Screens: ‘National Lampoon’s Xmas Vacation’

Sure, it’s crude, episodic and half the jokes don’t work, but ‘Christmas Vacation’ may be the only modern Christmas comedy that really stands up to repeat viewings. Much of the charm is down to Chevy Chase as the perpetually harassed Clark Griswold, whose attempt to host the perfect family festival is marred by unwanted relatives, faulty electronics, yuppie neighbours, exploding turkeys, crazed pets and an unexpected kidnapping. The sight of Chase in fluffy housecoat and Norma Desmond hat weeping to old family videos is heartbreaking – and we haven’t even got to Mae Questel and William Hickey as the finest crazy-old-couple in comedy history…
20th Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2QA. Sat Dec 20, 5pm. £20, £10 concs.

Tim Burton-a-Thon: ‘Edward Scissorhands’ + ‘Corpse Bride’

Over two nights, the Hackney Picturehouse is screening four of Tim Burton’s best-loved films. This is the double bill to catch: ‘Edward Scissorhands’ is a timeless visual treat, complete with pastel bungalows, surreal shrubbery and grotesque outfits. The stop-motion animated ‘Corpse Bride’, meanwhile, is an Orpheus-type story split between the maudlin, near-monochrome land of the living and a razzle-dazzle-’em underworld.

Hackney Picturehouse, 270 Mare St, E8 1HE. Wed Dec 17, 7.30pm. £6.

For the full list, go to Time Out’s film events page.

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