Reel Indie

A Christmas Story. The further we get from old chestnuts like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, the more 1983’s A Christmas Story climbs the ranks of the most loved holiday movies of all-time. In fact, given its current ubiquity, it may have already overtaken the top spot, which is both a heartening and somewhat confounding development. On the one hand, the appeal of director Bob Clark’s warmly weird comedy is obvious—it’s nostalgic but not sentimental, funny without being cynical, and the anecdotal structure makes it infinitely rewatchable. But it is also, as mentioned, a very weird movie, and not just because of the leg lamp and the frozen-tongue-on-a-lamp-pole thing. The film itself exists in a strange vacuum: An average person would strain to identify any of the leads, and Clark’s second-most recognizable feature is friggin’ Porky’s. Also, despite the extreme midwesterness of it all, it’s mostly a Canadian production. Do they even have Christmas up there? It all seems pretty unlikely that this is the movie that would end up inaugurating the season and playing on an endless loop on cable every year, but it’s best not to look a gift Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle in the mouth. You’ll shoot your eye out, y’know. Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28.

The closer to this year’s Loft Film Festival returns for a two-week engagement. A documentary on Julia Child, the original celebuchef, doesn’t seem entirely necessary, but then, there’s a whole generation who probably think she’s a fictional character embodied by Meryl Streep, so it’s worth the effort to correct the record. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Through Dec. 7.   

Spirited Away. Animator Hayao Miyazaki has many contenders for the best movie in his repertoire, but his fantastical 2001 masterpiece about a girl fighting to save her family from a witch’s spell—the only foreign film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and the second highest-grossing picture in Japanese history—probably has the best argument for the top spot. The Loft, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Friday-Sunday, Nov. 26-28.     

Elf. ‘Tis the season for vaguely creepy man-child Will Ferrell. Beats a suicidal Jimmy Stewart, to be honest. Cactus Carpool Cinema, 6201 S Wilmot Road. 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26.

Junior. It’s not a tumah—it’s a babeh! Yes, this is the movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger gets pregnant, a concept only second in hilarity to the fact that he plays a genetic scientist and wears tiny wire-rim glasses to really sell the role. Gotta admit, this is stretching the “essential” part of Casa Video’s Essential Saturdays screening series, but the movie did have its defenders back in the ’90s, including Roger Ebert, so it’s worth rewatching to see if its observations on reproductive gender roles seem progressive in retrospect...but we, uh, wouldn’t put money on it. Casa Video, 2905 E Speedway Blvd. 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27.

M. Filmmakers have tried for literally 100 years to get on Fritz Lang’s level. Every entry-level cineaste is familiar with 1927’s Metropolis, which redefined sci-fi while the rules were still being written and still looks cooler than most of the CGI-fests getting greenlit today. But M, from 1931, is possibly even more influential. A shadowy, German expressionist nightmare about a killer on the loose in the Berlin underworld, Lang’s first talkie ended up inventing, like, a half-dozen film genres, including the police procedural, the psychological thriller and the film noir. Decades before the American obsession with the antihero, it also dared to portray a child murderer, played by Peter Lorre in a jarring performance, in a sympathetic light. True to form, its central question remains relevant today: In a sick society, is a criminal any worse than the violent mob that condemns them? The Screening Room, 27 E Congress St. 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2.

VIDEO: Die Hard (1988).
It’s a Christmas movie—deal with it. Suggested beer pairing: Harbottle Brewing Co.’s Blindside IPA. 2905 E Speedway Blvd.