It’s A Wonderful Life

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It’s a Wonderful Life is a far bleaker entry than many of the other beloved films in the Christmas cinema canon. A Christmas Story is all about familial quirks, painted in Norman Rockwell hues. Even Die Hard never sees its everyman hero losing hope that he’ll save the day. But Frank Capra’s inspiring masterpiece puts us — and its protagonist George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) — through an emotional wringer and to the very brink of death before delivering a happy ending. Before we are shown the reason we must hang on to hope, even when life seems far from wonderful, we follow George through a fierce storm of emotional upswings and free falls. Through melodrama, Capra’s film communicates the intensity of our inner passions in a way that always rings true. Being something of a softie, it’s no surprise most of my favorite scenes in It’s a Wonderful Life are the ones that celebrate love. Here are six of the best.

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Wolf of Bedford Falls

It’s pretty obvious that The Wolf of Wall Street going to become a Christmas classic. Leonardo DiCaprio is continuing his streak as a wealthy asshole, Martin Scorsese is no doubt imbuing the story of a corrupt stock broker with all kinds of life lessons and I’m pretty sure Jonah Hill is playing The Grinch. All the ingredients are there. So it make sense that Owen Weber has created a percussive trailer mash-up featuring the forthcoming Scorsese joint and another seasonal favorite (that some people are trying to foolishly remake). It’s a radical, high energy collision that proves George Bailey had some grit to him. I’m just glad he didn’t go with It’s a Wonderful Wall Street as the title.

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Its a Wonderful Life

If It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story actually gets made, it will best Bambi II in creating the longest gap between a feature film and its sequel with at least 68 years spanning between Frank Capra’s joyfully depressing experiment and whatever the rest of the story will be. That is, if you don’t count 1990’s Clarence as a true sequel. Or 1977’s It Happened One Christmas. That’s right. Those pulling their hair out over the announcement of the sequel project might appreciate a terrifying reminder that this particular “sacrosanct” piece of culture has already had two sequels that exactly no one remembers. Granted, both were made-for-TV movies (calling into question their true sequel status, if you’re nasty) and neither were particularly noteworthy for their art. But at the very least, they can offer people slapping their foreheads hope that The Rest of the Story too shall pass. Plus, they’re pretty fascinating. Leave behind the very fact that productions already attempted continuing the George Bailey story (and that we erased them from our memories), and you’ve still got a gender-swapping attempt co-starring Orson Welles next to a post-Revenge of the Nerds Robert Carradine as a young, future Clarence the angel. Fortunately, the internet has video.

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“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, we have an entry from our new newswriter Adam Belloto. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. The Byrd Theatre Location: 2908 W Cary St,  Richmond, VA Opened: December 24, 1928 No. of screens: 1 Current first-run titles: 0 (just second runs here)

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Christmas-Vacation-Squirrel

I should have known that the Film School Rejects team would be all about Christmas scenes from horror films. I reached out to the site’s other editors and writers this week to compile some favorite moments from both legitimate holiday movies and other films that just happen to have Christmas scenes in them, and a third wound up being classifiable as being from the horror genre. Three others are from versions of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, which is a pretty scary story as well. Then there’s my personal pick, which is a rather cynical and frightening bit (I would have gone with The Thin Man, but I’d be repeating something I wrote years ago for the now-defunct blog Cinematical). Fortunately (depending on your tastes this time of year), we also have some more conventional people among our staff, and you’ll find some Jimmy Stewart and Chevy Chase here as well. Oh, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without a shot of William Fichtner‘s buttocks. So, check out 12 of our favorite Christmas scenes after the jump, and tis the season for giving, so let us know the scenes you love in the comments section.

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The Fitzgerald Family Christmas marks writer/director/star Edward Burns’ return to capturing the working class milieu of his earlier work in films like indie darling The Brothers McMullen. Somewhat surprisingly, the film also marks Burns’ very first foray into a making a film about the holidays. In the film, Burns plays Gerry, a grown man who still lives with his mother (Anita Gillette) on Long Island. He also lives with the burden of running his family’s bar and filling in for his father (Ed Lauter), who walked out his large Irish family – a total of seven siblings – twenty years ago. When his father announces that he’s dying and wants to spend his last Christmas with his family, the disparate siblings come together and debate whether or not they are ready to forgive their father for the transgressions of the past. Amidst all the family drama, Gerry also strikes up a romance with at-home nurse, Nora (Connie Britton). Here’s what the very prolific Burns had to say about his inspirations for the film, the benefits of working with friends, how VOD is changing independent film, and a little rumor that he might guest star on Nashville…

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I know that the holidays are a time for cheer, goodwill towards others, and all that good stuff. But with all the stress, crowds, and busy schedules that also come with the season, it’s hard not to want to blow off a little steam. If you are willing to risk getting a last minute addition to the “naughty list,” here are some pranks inspired by holiday films that should keep you laughing (albeit usually at the expensive of someone else). I mean, who said April 1st is the only acceptable day out of the year to pull pranks?

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Welcome to the second entry in FSR’s Official Cinematic Holiday Survival Guide – the best series of nostalgic holiday articles on the Internet today that were conceived of by a film writer too sleep-deprived to properly articulate just why that squirrel jumping out of the tree in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the finest moment in Christmas filmology. Which FSR writer? I’ll never tell. But it wasn’t me. That said, today I will reach back into the far, far annals of movie history to provide you dear readers with some of the finest holiday decorating tips you will ever see committed to celluloid (and, well, the Internet). I will not provide specific crafting tips (because, let’s be real here, I could really injure myself with a hot glue gun), but more general tips that will allow you to tap into your personal style to gussy up your home to truly epic proportions. Or, you could just slide down to your neighborhood tree lot and pick up a flocked tree and just be done with it. But, before you get your flock on, let’s take a peek at some cinematic dos and don’ts when it comes to decking your halls.

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The Cinematic Holiday Survival Guide: Giving Gifts

It’s that time of year again when we all rush around, trying to find that perfect gift for all the special people in our lives. We at FSR know how stressful this time of year can be and thought what better source to look to when trying to figure out exactly how to find that perfect present than the movies? From tracking down the hottest toy of the season or finally getting the gift you always wanted, I rounded up a few seasonal favorites to create a handy list of tips that will hopefully help when it comes to finding a gift that makes the intended gift-ee smile, laugh and/or remember what it feels like to be a kid on Christmas morning.

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Culture Warrior

Buried deep within this sentence (Doritos are delicious) is an advertisement. Did you catch it? You probably didn’t because it was so subtly subliminal, but that’s exactly how product placement has worked for a century to varying degrees of success. After all, there’s a thin line between using real-life products in a film to create a sense of verisimilitude and using them to promote the product in question. Where that line is drawn is up to each person. One person might see a kid reading “National Geographic” in It’s a Wonderful Life and think it’s quaintly appropriate while another person might find it craven and conspicuous. To the same extent, different film productions have delivered brands with means ranging from the slyness of near-imperceptibility to almost Doritos-Scorchin’-Habanero-Flavor levels of obviousness. It’s far from new, and even though sold items have sneaked their way into movies for almost one hundred years, there’s been an explosion in recent decades, seeing a new revenue stream for studios and a new annoyance for film fans.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that takes place after the sun has set, as the title suggests. On Sunday’s it is a relaxed, refreshed look at what happened over the weekend. Which usually isn’t much, but we do our best. We open tonight with a new photo from Captain America: The First Avenger, a surprisingly detailed look at Red Skull released this weekend by Paramount Pictures. Surprisingly detailed in the make-up effects, which I believe to be some of the best we’ve seen this year. We’ll see how sinister Hugo Weaving plays it, but he looks good thus far. And because I love you, I’ve set up a full Captain America photo gallery here.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. What character do you see yourself the most in? Thanks. – Donald B.

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Drinking Games

In the days leading up to Christmas, everyone’s heading out to Christmas parties, watching holiday classics and drinking plenty of egg nog. Whether you’re watching a Phineas & Ferb holiday special or something more edgy like Bad Santa, you can apply this drinking game to bring some holiday cheer. Some movies like Elf might get you stinking drunk in the first couple minutes, but others like It’s A Wonderful Life will keep you dry for much of the film but then slam you in the face with alcohol for the third act. Either way, it’s a great distraction from the stress of the season.

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Will the young festival’s move to a ski resort in the dead of winter be counter to its celebration of small, independent film?

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It’s that time of year again. A time to leer out your window suspiciously, a time to hear things that go bump in the night, a time to tremble with fear at the constant, piercing violin strings that follow you everywhere you go. It’s Christmas!

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cultwarrior-thanksgiving

This week’s Culture Warrior asks why there aren’t more movies about Thanksgiving. Christmas always seems to hog all the good ones.

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TenWorstMovieBosses

From the hilariously sexist, to the passively annoying, to Satan himself we take a look at some of the worst bosses to ever grace the big screen. Now go get us some coffee. Black, two sugars.

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oam-canttakeitwithyou

You Can’t Take it With You one of Frank Capra’s biggest Depression Era hits, is a rambunctious, hopeful story that’s still relevant today.

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It’s Christmas Eve. A desperate man is suicidal, certain that his entire life has been worthless, and he’s facing a ruinous scandal. But heaven has better things in store for George Bailey.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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