Five Yuletide classics make a welcome return to the big screen for Christmas week

An opportunity to avoid the Yuletide rush and just bask in that true festive feeling, Christmas movies can be both a great escape and a reminder of all that is truly wonderful about this time of year.

Even if you are a burnt-out stoner who can’t quite figure out which one is Ant and which one is Dec.

Running over two days at The Whale, just as Santa does the final check on his Nice and Naughty lists, Greystones Film Club are offering up a festive feast of seasonal movie classics, with something for pretty much everyone. Even those who think that the whole Christmas thing is all a bit Bah agus Humbug.
Here’s the full line-up…

Elf (USA/PG/97mins) Friday December 20th 4.30pm [Doors 4pm]
The Greystones Film Club have been running this timeless 2003 comedy for quite a few years now, and it never fails to delight. And Will Ferrell has rarely been better as unlikely elf Buddy, taking that long walk from the North Pole in order to find his birth father. Who, being James Caan, is firmly on the naughty list.
Managing to be both irreverent and reverent, for all its silliness and sublime slapstick, Elf is a sentimental film at heart, with the seering finale a firm reminder that Santa is real. Once you believe.

Love Actually (UK/USA/15A/135mins) Friday December 20th 8pm [Doors 7.30pm]
At the time, the critics were not impressed, finding Richard Curtis’ 2003 sugar-coated seasonal smogasbord of short, sentimental stories all a bit, well, too sweet. Verging on sickly. Over the years though, that icy reception has thawed considerably, with this guilty Yuletide pleasure now firmly established as something of a Christmas classic.
Of course, having a series of stories and characters to follow means that, should one get on your candle wick, hey, don’t fret – there’ll be another one along any second. And besides, this movie is worth seeing just for Bill Nighy’s washed-up rock star having an unlikely comeback with a Christmas hit. And, let’s be honest, Hugh Grant is the best prime minister Britain has had for decades.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (UK/USA/G/85mins) Saturday December 21st 1.30pm [Doors 1pm]
It might be verging on sacrilege to say, but, this 1992 outing might just be the finest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella ever to hit the big screen. It’s certainly the most fun, The Muppets bringing enough Marx-esque anarchy to breathe new life into this well-worn Christmas tale.
And the Henson gang somehow managed to inspire Michael Caine to one of his best performances too, as the grouchy old grinch that is Ebenezeer Scrooge. Caine takes the journey from unrepentant miser to loving, laughing philanthropist with a conviction that will get you right in the feels. As for Kermit’s turn as Bob Crachett, how that little green giant of acting didn’t get an Oscar nomination is beyond us.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (USA/PG/86mins) Saturday December 21st 4.30pm [Doors 4pm]
Has Tim Burton ever been better than with this 1993 stop-motion offering? Based on a mischievous poem the teenage goth wrote in response to the 1823 poem written by Clement Clarke Moore, like Elf, Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas manages to poke fun at the traditions of Christmas whilst also, ultimately, embracing and celebrating them.
The story centres around Jack Skellington, the big pumpkin in Halloween Town who has just hit a mid-fright crisis. Surely there’s something more to life than scaring the bejiggers out of children? That’s what our anti-hero sets out to discover when he tries to bring all things Christmas – including a kidnapped Santa Claus – home to all his scary monster and super freak friends. With the clock ticking down on December 24th, will there be time for Christmas to be saved…?

It’s A Wonderful Life (USA/PG/130mins) Saturday December 21st 8pm [Doors 7.30pm]
Even Frank Capra – who had a habit of making classics – would have been surprised at just how loved his 1946 Christmas still is, seven decades after it first conquered the world. Reminding us all that the only presents that truly matter at this time of year is being present, It’s A Wonderful Life taps into the very notion of home, of belonging, and of recognising the value of happiness rather than the price.
It’s a message that’s helped in no small part by Capra’s masterful direction, a smart script, and an incredible cast – led, of course, by one of the big screen’s true all-time greats, James Stewart. The perfect film to round-out these Christmas classics, if you’re not blubbing by the end of It’s A Wonderful Life, well, later on, you might just be visited by three spirits. You heartless swine.

As with all Greystones Film Club screenings at The Whale, your €10 admission comes with a free Kids Snackbox (sweets, drink and some freshly-popped popcorn) or an Adult Freshly-Popped Popcorn.

Given that it’s Christmas, there’ll also be a cracker for everyone in the audience. Boom!


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