Studies show that more suicides occur during the holiday season than at any other time of year, and that more suicides occur during screenings of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues than at any other time during the holiday season. If you’re looking to get away from your relatives on Christmas Day, my recommendation would be American Hustle, not only because it’s terrific but because it’s quite long—138 minutes. Inside Llewyn Davis is good too, but it’s not as long and probably won’t be playing out in Gurnee or wherever you’ll be trapped.
If that’s not sufficient, check out this week’s issue for reviews of Faust, a new version of the old tale, directed by Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark, Mother and Son); Following the Ninth, a documentary about dissidents who challenged oppressive governments in China, Chile, and East Germany while rocking out to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; Some Velvet Morning, a wicked two-hander by the infinitely bitter Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men); and Walking With Dinosaurs, a kid-friendly documentary that takes you inside the lives of giant, stupid lizards.
Best bets for repertory, all at Gene Siskel Film Center: Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Antonio Gaudi (1984), Preston Sturges’s The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944), and two Blake Edwards-Peter Sellers favorites, The Party (1968) and A Shot in the Dark (1964). On Christmas Day, Music Box kicks off a nine-day festival of big-screen epics with The Great Escape (1963), followed on Boxing Day by Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and Doctor Zhivago 2: The Legend Continues. Check back next week for the rest of the series.