52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

130 min. dir. Frank Capra NR

Well, is it? The annual exhumation of this movie, I mean. Is IT wonderful? The question may be pointless, like asking why people put up holiday lights in November. There’s no response to irrational rituals sanctioned by neighbors, big box stores, and—in the case of this movie—NBC, which shows it every Christmas, like clockwork. Before I’d seen it I was already sick of it. Still, each time Jimmy Stewart walks Donna Reed home from the dance and they sing and throw rocks at the old house and make wishes and she loses her shirt and he behaves like a rascal and so on, I’m hooked. Like clockwork. Watching it with a bunch of other tenderhearted souls sitting in the dark, as devoted as churchgoers, may be the nearest some people get to religion. As for the plot, here’s the band Fishbone, who remind us in their pithy, concise way just how weirdly sullen this movie gets before its rousing conclusion: “Angel made me numb/ The angel made me void / Got thrown out the bar / Then I wrecked my car / Got socked in the jaw / Cussed out by my mama / Someone stole my money / Screamed at by my honey / Things was gettin' worse…” Indeed they was. And then the angel gets his wings. (At the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach.) // CHRIS DAVIDSON

[From the print edition of this week's District Weekly.]


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