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Five fun film screenings happening over Christmas

Posted at 10:00 am, December 16, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment

As always, there are some fab film events happening in London this week. Here are five of the best:

1. Enchanted Pictures: ‘Trading Places’
Royal Academy, 6 Burlington Gardens, W1S 3ET. 8.30pm. Thu Dec 26 – £22.

One of the classiest of this year’s festive pop-ups, this grand temporary screen at the Royal Academy, hosted by the folks behind the Everyman cinema chain, is showing festive favourites right through to December 29. Our pick of the bunch has to be this seasonal comedy classic. When two bastardly billionaire brothers, Duke and Duke of Duke & Duke Commodities Brokers have a wager about the respective merits of breeding or environment on a man’s character, they engineer the ‘trading places’ of one of their young financial wizards (Dan Aykroyd) with a black low-life hustler (Eddie Murphy), and sit back to watch Murphy rise and Aykroyd fall.

2. Lexi Christmas Crackers: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
St John’s, Kilburn Lane, W10 4AA. 7.30pm. Sat Dec 21 – £15.

The good folks behind our favourite little local London cinema have hired out a nearby church for an afternoon of cosy snowbound screenings. First up it’s shouty family favourite ‘Home Alone’, followed in short order by this darkly beautiful fable, arguably the best of all Christmas movies. The only Yuletide favourite to pivot around an attempted suicide, Frank Capra’s postwar fable is a fascinating melange of social and personal impulses and the questionable charms of home. James Stewart is impeccable as George Bailey, the Bedford Falls boy-next-door whose dreams are continually deferred by the demands of family and nation.

3. Bad Santa
Greenwich Picturehouse, 180 Greenwich High Rd, SE10 8NN. 9pm. Thu Dec 19 – £9.60.

This foul-mouthed, ill-tempered and misanthropic 2003 comedy has officially joined ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Christmas Vacation’ as the Christmas-haters’ humbug flick of choice. Willie T Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a shopping-mall Santa with a difference: a cynical, safe-cracking alcoholic with a penchant for sex with hefty women and a wholly unconcealed dislike of kids. Indeed, he only does the job as a cover for the felonies he perpetrates with Marcus (Tony Cox), his criminal-mastermind elf. Wonderfully tasteless, gloriously non-PC, admirably bilious. Humourless souls should steer clear.

4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. 1pm. Sun Dec 29 – £20, £17.50 concs.

Just picture it. The Sunday after Christmas. The family’s gone, the mince pies have been eaten, the whisky bottle’s empty and the wrapping paper’s been tidied away. It’s drizzling out, and there’s nothing on telly but ‘Stalagluft 17’. But wait! Salvation is at hand in the form of the Prince Charles cinema, who, in a spectacular display of festive generosity, are screening the entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, back to back, in one long, glorious afternoon. Plus they sell booze! Problem solved.

5. Lawrence of Arabia,
Riverside Studios, Crisp Rd, W6 9RL. 6.30pm. Mon Dec 30 – £8.50, £7.50 concs.

If you can think of a better way to spend the miserable Monday after Christmas than settling into four hours of desert antics with Peter O’Toole (and a big glass of wine), you’re cleverer than we are. David Lean’s journey with TE Lawrence, an unconventional British officer who struck out alone during World War I with the aid of Bedouins (including Omar Sharif in his most famous role) to fight the Turks in parts of modern Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, is surely the gold standard for films grand in scale, design and delivery. It deserves to be seen on the big screen.

For the full top 10 list, go to Time Out’s film events page.

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