From Classics To 'A MeshugaNutcracker', Movies For The Holidays

Every Christmas, Connecticut film venues show the classic holiday movies: "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "A Christmas Story." This season will satisfy traditionalists with screenings of those films and other time-honored favorites. Two new films are on the schedule, too, and should add some new dimension to the holiday.

"The MeshugaNutcracker! A Chanukah Musical" takes the Tchaikovsky score to "The Nutcracker" and arranges it for klezmer musicians. The story isn't the traditional story of Clara and her nutcracker. It's been amended with lyrics that tell the story of Judah Maccabee, retell accounts of perseverance during the Holocaust and chronicle the first Chanukah in the new state of Israel. The movie will be shown Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. at Cinemark Enfield and Cinemark North Haven. $15, $14 seniors and students, $13 children.

It's not in a cinema, but a Christmas movie that was shot last summer in New Britain and Bristol will have its broadcast premiere on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. on the Lifetime Network. "A Very Merry Toy Store," starring Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez and Brian Dennehy, tells the story of two small, family-owned toy shops whose rival owners must team up to fight the opening of a big-box toy store in their town, just before Christmastime. The movie was produced by Synthetic Cinema International of Rocky Hill.

Traditionalists who are dreaming of a white Christmas can get their fix at a screening of "White Christmas," the 1954 musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, will be shown Dec. 2 and 3 at 11:30 a.m. each day at Criterion Cinemas in New Haven. It also will be shown Dec. 3 and 6 at 2 p.m. each day, with a 7 p.m. screening on Dec. 6, at Cinemark Buckland and North Haven. and

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Those who will prefer a wonderful life to a white Christmas can see "It's a Wonderful Life," the 1946 James Stewart-Donna Reed classic about a man finding out what life is all about. It will be shown Dec. 18 to 24 at Cinestudio at Trinity College in Hartford, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 to 23 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23 and 24. It also will be shown Dec. 16, 17 and 18 at Criterion Cinemas in New Haven, at 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Movie lovers who will settle for nothing less than a miracle will be happy, too. "Miracle on 34th Street," the 1947 story about the real Santa Claus, starring Maureen O'Hara, a very young Natalie Wood and an Oscar-winning Edmund Gwenn as movie history's most perfect Kris Kringle, will be shown Dec. 9 and 10 at Criterion New Haven, at 11:30 a.m. each day.

Movie history's most perfect Ebenezer Scrooge was Alastair Sim in the 1951 British adaptation of "A Christmas Carol." That movie will be shown on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. at Yale Center for British Art in New Haven. Admission is free.

Another Ebenezer Scrooge — renamed Frank Cross — is played by Bill Murray in the 1988 "Christmas Carol" adaptation comedy "Scrooged." That film will be shown Dec. 10 and 11 at 11:30 p.m. each day at Criterion New Haven.

Michael Caine plays Scrooge in "A Muppet Christmas Carol," the holiday puppet classic from 1992. That movie will be shown at 10 a.m. on Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. at Avon Theatre in Stamford. Free.

Stage presentations of "The Nutcracker" are everywhere this time of year. For those who can't make one of the live shows, "Bolshoi in HD: Nutcracker" will be shown Dec. 17 at 12:55 p.m. at Cinemark Buckland, Cinemark Enfield, Cinemark North Haven, AMC Branford 12, Cinestudio and AMC Danbury 16. It also will be shown Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. at Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main St. in Old Saybrook. $15.

Another annual Cinestudio tradition is "Baraka," Ron Fricke's 1992 documentary about indigenous peoples and environments around the world. It will be shown Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m.

Rounding out the holiday merriment are two screenings of that squirrely yuletide classic "A Christmas Story," the 1983 story of a boy who wants a BB gun for Christmas, on Dec. 23 and 24 at 11:30 a.m. at Criterion New Haven.

It's not what you'd call merriment, but if Christmas isn't the same without some blood and gore, the Strand Theater, 165 Main St. in Seymour, is showing a double feature of holiday slasher pics — "Silent Night, Deadly Night" and "Black Christmas" — on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. $10, $15 with a commmemorative poster.

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