December comes to the Castro Theatre

  • by David Lamble
  • Tuesday December 4, 2018
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December 2018 at the Castro Theatre is a collection of the fabled cinema palace's greatest hits that should have something for every movie fan.

"Suspiria" (2018) In 1977 Berlin, an American dancer (Dakota Johnson) meets a coven of Witches led by Tilda Swinton. A new work from Luca Guadagnino, the Italian director of last year's gay classic "Call Me by Your Name." Plays with David Gordon Green's "final chapter" of John Carpenter's cult classic "Halloween." (12/7)

"The Old Man and the Gun" (2018) Sundance guru Robert Redford claims this melodrama based on a true story is his swan song as a film actor. Story involves a 70-year-old bank robber (Redford) who keeps his hand in long past retirement time. With Sissy Spacek. Written & directed by David Lowery ("Ghost Story").

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" (2018) Melissa McCarthy returns as Lee Israel, a celebrity biographer and cat-lover who turns to forgery when she falls out of favor and the bills pile up. Supporting performance from Richard T. Grant. (both 12/10)

"Drugs: The Price We Pay" AIDS Foundation doc is narrated by TV/film star J.K. Simmons. (12/11)

"The Lady from Shanghai" (1948) Orson Welles began rebuilding his post-WWII reputation with this thriller. He both directs and stars in a film that has gained its cache from Charles Lawton's brilliant camerawork. Welles plays a rogue who joins Everett Sloan's wife Rita Hayworth on a Pacific Ocean cruise.

"Gilda" (1946) Hayworth returns with Glenn Ford in this Charles Vidor-helmed romantic thriller. Hayworth grabs the spotlight with a song: "Put the Blame on Mame." (both 12/12)

"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964/UK) This delicious black comedy from Stanley Kubrick began as a serious Cold War thriller featuring a top-flight cast. Peter Sellers is triple-cast: as British captain Mandrake, as an American president, and as the title character, a truly mad scientist, the wheelchair-bound, Nazi-saluting Strangelove. James Earl Jones makes his screen debut as a young navigator assisting a crazed pilot (hilariously manic Slim Pickens) in plotting the course for a B-52 to reach its Russian target.

"Being There" (1979) Hal Ashby helms Sellers' final film, about a simpleton (Sellers) who fools rich people (Melvyn Douglas, Shirley MacLaine) into thinking he possesses supernatural wisdom. With Martin Dysart, Jack Warden and Richard Basehart. (both 12/13)

"Home Alone" (1990) Macaulay Culkin is an 8-year-old full of mischief who is accidentally left behind when his family sets off on a holiday trip. Chris Columbus directs Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the maladroit burglars the kid keeps at bay.

"Elf" (2003) Jon Favreau directs Will Farrell as one of Santa's helpers who discovers he's human, and sets off to Manhattan to meet his real dad. With Bob Newhart, Amy Sedaris, Peter Dinkage and James Caan. (both 12/14)

"Casablanca" (1942) Michael Curitz helms one of the most astonishing propaganda films ever to emerge from Hollywood. With Humphrey Bogart in his most iconic role, as the American expat cafe owner Rick, who serves the cause beneath layers of witty cynicism. A singular supporting ensemble: Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and piano man Dooley Wilson, who "plays it again" the film's signature theme, "You Must Remember This."

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) Curtiz presides over Errol Flynn's most iconic role as Sherwood Forest's fabled resident. Helping Robin steal from the rich and give to the poor is a great studio cast: Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Eugene Pallette and Alan Hale. (both 12/15)

"Bohemian Rhapsody" (2018) An outstanding bio-doc on the openly gay British rocker Freddy Mercury, known for such anthems as "We Will Rock You." (12/16-18)

"West Side Story" (1961) This modern adaptation of Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet," with tremendous gay male creative input, won 10 Oscars. (12/21-22)

"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) Frank Capra's lasting contribution to the culture stars Jimmy Stewart, just back from the war, and in love with girl-next-door Donna Reed. With Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, and Beulah Bondi.

"A Christmas Story" (1983) Bob Clark directs an adaptation of Indiana-born Jean Shepard's childhood nostalgia piece. Ralphie asks for Santa to bring him a Red Ryder BB Gun despite his mom's warning, "Be careful, you'll shoot your eye out!" With a spirited turn by Darren McGavin as his short-tempered dad. (both 12/22)

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus' annual "Home for the Holidays" Christmas Eve concert. (12/24)

"Singin' in the Rain" (1952) Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor star in the greatest of all Hollywood musicals. Kelly is a silent film star out of work as the movies learn to talk. Co-directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen.

"Xanadu" (1980) Gene Kelly's final performance is helmed by Robert Greenwald and features Olivia Newton-John as a Greek muse of the dance who descends to Earth to inspire blond cutie Michael Beck. (both 12/26)

"Some Like It Hot" (1959) Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis sparkle as indigent musicians whose lives are upended by the St. Valentine Day's Massacre as Prohibition-era gangs shoot it out in late-1920s Chicago. They don women's clothes to escape being rubbed out by a gang led by Spatts Columbo (George Raft). Marilyn Monroe steals all her scenes as the impish "Sugar Kane."

"The Apartment" (1960) Billy Wilder hits a career peak with this dark comedy about an ambitious insurance company clerk who scales the ladder at Consolidated Life by lending out his one-bedroom flat to superiors in the firm. Things come to a head when the key to the flat is commandeered by the boss Jeff Sheldrake, a chilly Fred MacMurry. Lemmon's C.C. Baxter has a change of heart when his office crush, elevator operator Fran (magnificent Shirley MacLaine), nearly dies from a sleeping-pill overdose after she's treated like a prostitute by the cold-hearted Sheldrake. Winner of five Oscars, including Best Picture. (both 12/27)

"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968/UK) Kubrick's most celebrated work remains relevant and absorbing since it was adapted from an Arthur C. Clarke novel. This Castro engagement alternates in widescreen 70mm or special 4K digital formats. (12/28-1/1)