Holiday screenings bring traditional and offbeat fare
The holiday season offers a bonanza for movie lovers. Even Boston’s indie screens are amping up both traditional and oddball fare. It all starts right after Thanksgiving when the Coolidge Corner Theatre unspools schlock master Lloyd Kaufman’s “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead” on Nov. 27 and 28 as part of the theater’s After Midnite series. Kaufman, who appeared in person at the Coolidge Nov. 21 for a screening of his cult classic, “The Toxic Avenger!,” and to receive the inaugural Coolidge After Midnite Award, helmed this so-bad-it’s-good horror flick about a military-themed fast food chain that builds its new restaurant on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground. The displaced spirits take revenge on unsuspecting diners and transform them into chicken zombies. Colonel Sanders, take note.
For more information go to www.coolidge.org
The Brattle’s Alt-Xmas series is back this year, presenting holiday movies with a twist. The lineup includes Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands” starring Johnny Depp (Dec. 17 and 20). There’s also “Gremlins,” in which a small town is at the mercy of hundreds of mischievous gremlins on Christmas Eve, paired with “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” (Dec. 21). Bruce Willis’s John McClane battles bad guys at a holiday party in “Die Hard” and again on Christmas Eve in “Die Hard 2” (Dec. 22). And Macaulay Culkin is accidentally left behind when his family rushes off on a Christmas vacation in “Home Alone” (Dec. 23). For the traditionalists, there’s the Brattle’s annual showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” running Dec. 18-20.
For more information go to www.brattlefilm.org
Sugar plums and bungling burglars
Two holiday screen presentations arrive in cinemas nationwide from Fathom Events. George Balanchine’s holiday classic “The Nutcracker,” performed by the New York City Ballet, screens at cinemas including Boston’s Fenway 13 on Dec. 5 at 12:55 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. as part of “Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance.” The timeless tale, with Balanchine’s choreography set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, features 90 dancers.
If you’d rather not wait for the Brattle showing, catch a 25th anniversary presentation of “Home Alone” in select US theaters on Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. (check the website for local cinemas). In the role that made him famous, Macaulay Culkin is 8-year-old Kevin McCallister, who is accidentally left behind when his harried family rushes off on a holiday trip. The boy must contend with decorations and bumbling burglars. Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, John Candy, Joe Pesci, and Daniel Stern make up the comic cast.
For more information go to www.fathomevents.com
Days of their lives
For a truly alternative holiday screen experience, head to the Harvard Film Archive on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. for “Dear Video Diary: Christmas With Anne Robertson and George Kuchar,” short films in which the late experimental filmmakers, whose works are part of the HFA collection, both confront — in different ways — the holiday season and its attendant feelings of excitement and melancholy. Boston filmmaker Robertson’s “Five Year Diary, Reel 3” is a video she made from December 1981 through January ’82 that focuses on the rituals of cooking, eating, and dishwashing. Kuchar’s short videos include “Holiday Harbor” (2003); “Xmass” (2008); and “Song of the Whoopee Wind” (2008).
Admission will be free to the HFA’s “Vintage Holiday Show” on Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. This annual program of short films celebrates the winter holidays with selections culled from the HFA’s collection. The films include cartoons, TV shows, and live-action shorts appropriate for children and adults, all screened on 35mm and 16mm.
For more information go to hcl.harvard.edu/hfa
Boston writer-director Mark Phinney presents his debut feature, “Fat,” at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Phinney will be on hand for a post-screening discussion of his autobiographical film, which began as a series of essays. “Fat” is Phinney’s darkly funny, heartbreaking portrait of Ken (played by Mel Rodriquez of “Better Call Saul”), who’s struggling with food addiction. We see the toll it takes on his health, self-esteem, friendships, and a tentative romance with the more self-accepting Audrey (Ashley Lauren). Shot in Boston, “Fat” was well-received in its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and at the Independent Film Festival Boston last year. It will be released on VOD on Dec. 15.