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City Guide

December Films

Everyone's a Critic: arborweb's culture blog

Note: Most educational documentaries are listed with the daily Events.
Ann Arbor District Library. FREE. 327-4555. AADL, 343 S. Fifth Ave., various times.

Dec. 2: "Perseverance: The Story of Billy Taylor" (Dan Chace & Bob Hercules, 2012). Documentary about the star U-M running back and his recovery from the alcoholism and substance abuse problems that derailed his life after he graduated in 1972. Followed by a discussion and Q&A with Taylor and the film's producer, Dan Chace. 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4th-floor meeting room.

Dec. 10: "5 Broken Cameras" (Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi, 2011). Award-winning documentary about a Palestinian farmer who, after getting a camera to record his baby, starts filming Palestinian struggles against Israeli settlements. Hebrew & Arabic, subtitles. 7-8:30 p.m., 4th-floor meeting room.

Ann Arbor Senior Center. 794-6250. 1320 Baldwin.

Every Mon.: "Movie Matinee," with films TBA. FREE. 12:30-3 p.m.

Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth. $5 suggested donation. 327-0270. 704 Airport Blvd., 8 p.m.

Dec. 21: "Spiritual Cinema." Screening of a feature film or several shorts TBA with spiritual themes. Followed by discussion.

Jewel Heart Buddhist Center. FREE. 994->3387. Jewel Heart (1129 Oak Valley Dr. between Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. & Ellsworth), 7 p.m.

Dec. 20: "Journey of the Universe" (David Kennard & Patsy Northcutt, 2011). Lavishly illustrated Emmy-winning documentary narrative focusing on the human role in cosmic evolution by California Institute of Integral Studies evolutionary cosmologist Brian Swimme. Discussion follows.

Michigan Theater Foundation. Unless there is a live show in the main theater, 2 or 3 different films are shown, usually twice, almost every night. For complete, updated schedules, see or call 668-TIME. Tickets (unless otherwise noted): $10 (children under 12, students with ID, seniors age 55 & older, & U.S. veterans, $8; MTF members, $7.50; films before 6 p.m., $7). Michigan Theater (unless otherwise noted), times TBA unless otherwise noted.

Nov. 27-Dec. 4: "Philomena" (Stephen Frears, 2013). A world-weary journalist investigates the story of a woman's search for her son who was taken from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. Judi Dench.

Dec. 1: "A Christmas Story" (Bob Clark, 1983). Delightful, affectionate memoir of a 1940s childhood and the quest for a BB gun. Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon. FREE. 1:30 p.m.

Dec. 2: "Love Actually" (Richard Curtis, 2003). A warm, bighearted romantic comedy about half a dozen couples in love, highlighted by a wizened, boorish rock star. Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson.

Dec. 5: "The Great Kilapy" (Zeze Gamboa, 2012). Witty, compelling portrait of the last decade of Portuguese rule in Angola centered on the story of a crooked but irresistible bon vivant who, on the eve of Angolan independence in 1975, pulls off a massive swindle at the expense of the Portuguese colonial administration. Filmed mostly in Brazil with period footage of Angola, it features Afro-Brazilian star Lázaro Ramos as the protagonist. Portuguese, subtitles. Part of the U-M Romance Lusophone Film Festival, the screening is preceded by an introduction by a U-M faculty or grad student. FREE. 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 7: "Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride" (Warren Miller, 2012). Recognized as the world's premier ski filmmaker, Miller has been making family-oriented ski adventure films for 64 years. He's a major star on the West Coast, where his films draw packed houses for weeklong runs, and the annual Michigan Theater showing usually draws 800 to 1,000 viewers. Tickets $15 (kids age 12 & under, $12) in advance at Sun & Snow & all Ticketmaster outlets (, and at the door. To charge by phone, call (800) 745-3000. 6 p.m.

Dec. 8: "Miracle on 34th Street" (George Seaton, 1947). Heartwarming comedy about an amiable old man working as a department store Santa who ends up in court on trial for insanity when he tells a skeptical young girl that he's the real thing. Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara. FREE. 1:30 p.m.

Dec. 9: "Bad Santa" (Terry Zwigoff, 2003). Comedy about 2 professional thieves who take a job as a mall Santa as a cover for a heist. Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham. 7 p.m.

Dec. 12: "Medora" (Andrew Cohn & Davy Rothbart, 2013). Documentary about 4 boys from rural Medora (IN) who fight to end their high school basketball team's losing streak, as their once-thriving town dwindles toward extinction. Oscar-winning director Leon Gast calls it "the best sports film I have seen since Hoop Dreams." Followed by a Q&A with the directors and some of the film's subjects. Tickets available in advance at and at the door.

Dec. 13: "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" (Jalmari Helander, 2010). Darkly comic fantasy, set on Christmas Eve in northern Finland, about a group of reindeer herders who discover the disturbing secret behind Santa Claus when archaeologists excavating a mountain uncover a sacred grave. Finnish & English, subtitles. 7 & 10 p.m.

Dec. 15: "Elf" (Jon Favreau, 2003). Goofy comedy starring Will Ferrell as a man raised as an elf at the North Pole who goes to NYC to reunite with his biological father. James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen. FREE. 1:30 p.m.

Dec. 15: "Downton Abbey." Preview showing of the 1st hour of season 4 of this hugely popular British period drama that returns to Detroit Public Television in January. Free (4-ticket limit) but reservations required at 7 p.m.

Dec. 22: "It's a Wonderful Life" (Frank Capra, 1946). Christmas classic about a man who wants to lasso the moon and an angel who hasn't yet earned his wings. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore. FREE. 1:30 p.m.

Dec. 25: "Miracle" (Gavin O'Connor, 2004). Drama based on the true story of Herb Brooks, a hockey player-turned-coach who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russians. Kurt Russell. Sponsored by Temple Beth Emeth. Themed concessions. Tickets $5 in advance at 665-4744; $8 (kids age 12 & under, $5) at the door. 10 a.m.

U-M Center for Chinese Studies. Chinese Documentary Film Series. FREE. 764-6308. Angell Hall Auditorium A (except as noted), entrance at the Fishbowl on the east side of the bldg., 7 p.m.

Dec. 7: "Moose" (Gu Tao, 2013). Documentary about the effects on the lives of Inner Mongolian hunters of the disappearance of the moose to ecological destruction and illegal hunting. Ewenki & Mandarin, subtitles.

U-M Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. FREE. 763-9047. 2022 Thayer Bldg. (202 S. Thayer), 6 p.m.

Dec. 3: "East and West" (Ivan Abramson and Sidney M. Goldin, 1923). Documentary about the contrast and interaction between American and European Jews in the early 20th century. Yiddish, subtitles.

U-M Screen Arts and Cultures. FREE. 764-0147. Natural Science Auditorium, 7 p.m.-midnight.

Dec. 13 & 14: "Lightworks Festival." Screenings of animated, digital, and 16mm movies made by film students. Note: The Saturday show is usually "packed," says an organizer; get there early.

WCBN-FM. FREE admission. 763-3500. Arbor Brewing Company (114 E. Washington), 8:30 p.m.

Dec. 10: "Eegah" (Arch Hall Sr., 1962). Low-budget rock 'n' roll sci-fi film set in contemporary Palm Springs, where a giant prehistoric caveman kidnaps the girl of his dreams. The mildly ridiculous action is highlighted by a bizarre scene involving him, her, and shaving foam. Richard Kiel, Marilyn Manning, Arch Hall Jr., Arch Hall Sr.

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