The American Cinematheque is ringing in the new year with a screening today at the Egyptian of the 1946 Frank Capra classic "It's a Wonderful Life," starring Jimmy Stewart, while the Aero goes Marxist with two zany Marx Brothers delights: 1935's "A Night at the Opera" and 1930's "Animal Crackers," in which Groucho performs his signature tune, "Hooray for Captain Spaulding."
Capra's politico films, 1939's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and 1941's "Meet John Doe," hold court Friday at the Aero. And on Saturday, a Monty Python double bill is set: 1975's "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and 1979's "Life of Brian." All we can say is, blessed are the cheese makers.
Brazil's official foreign language Oscar submission, "Last Stop 174," directed by Bruno Barreto, arrives Sunday at the Aero for a special screening.
The Egyptian hosts on Wednesday the "4th Annual Focus on Female Directors," a shorts program featuring films directed by actresses Kirsten Dunst and Isabella Rossellini, as well as Patricia Riggen's 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, "Family Portrait." Several of the filmmakers will discuss their work after the screening. There'll also be a raffle of a deluxe-director empowerment kit. www.american cinematheque.com
The 2008 Beverly Hills Hi-Def Film Fest continues into 2009 at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. The mission of the festival, which ends on Sunday, is to show off the "HD capabilities of the Fine Arts Theater and to give filmmakers an additional opportunity to screen in High Definition in Beverly Hills." Prizes will be awarded for features and shorts determined by audience votes. www.bhh-dff.com/
The Skirball Cultural Center is celebrating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday with a free "Classic Films: Evolution in Cinema" festival Tuesday afternoons. Opening the retrospective is the 1968 sci-fi thriller "Planet of the Apes" starring a very buff Charlton Heston. www.skirball.org
Musicians Tom Verlaine and producer-guitarist Jimmy Rip perform a series of original musical scores for experimental silent films from Man Ray, Watson and Weber, Fernand Leger and Hans Richter, Wednesday at the Silent Movie Theatre. www.silentmovie theatre.com