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Around town: Christmas movies, world cinema and ... nihilism?

December 15, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Mame As a free-spirited Park Avenue partygoer who finds her life changed when she becomes the guardian to her young nephew, Rosalind Russell famously exclaims, "Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death" in 1958's "Auntie Mame." It's an appropriate sentiment for the holidays, and on Thursday the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre will host Outfest's ninth annual screening of the comedy classic.

On Friday, the Egyptian is serving up the 45th anniversary screening of Richard Brooks' ambitious adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim," starring Peter O'Toole as the sailor, branded a coward, who gets the chance to redeem himself. Eli Wallach and James Mason also star.

The legendary French actress Leslie Caron will discuss her career and sign copies of her autobiography, "Thank Heaven: A Memoir," Saturday at the Egyptian at the screening of the 1951 Oscar best picture winner, "An American in Paris," in which she made her film debut. Another best picture winner, 1959's  "Ben-Hur," screens Sunday at the Egyptian. Charlton Heston stars in this classic, directed by William Wyler, which won 11 Oscars. It premiered at the Egyptian back in 1959 and reportedly ran for two years there.

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre gets into the holiday spirit Saturday with a matinee screening of the  1962 animated musical "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol." On tap for Sunday are two screenings of Frank Capra's seminal flick, 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life," with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. And on Dec. 22, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen star in the big, schmaltzy 1954 Technicolor musical "White Christmas." http://www.americancinematheque.com

Director Amir Bar-Lev will participate in a Q&A after a screening of "The Tillman Story," his acclaimed documentary on the former pro football player Pat Tillman, who joined the Army Rangers and was killed while serving overseas, Thursday at Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. On Saturday, the Cinefamily presents "Black Christmas Party" featuring two films penned by Shane Black: 2005's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which Black also directed, and 1996's "The Long Kiss Goodnight," directed by Renny Harlin, starring the filmmaker's then-wife Geena Davis. http:///www.cinefamily.org.

The Echo Park Film Center presents "Light in the Darkness, or, Darkness Movies: Work by Tarrl Lightowler & Matthew Swiezynski" on Thursday, with the two filmmakers attempting to photograph "nothingness." On Friday, the film center will host the 11th annual Nihilist International Film Festival. Presented by the Nihilist Cultural Foundation, the festival features two hours of short films from around the world that vary from funny to troubling.

Additionally, the film center's Filmmobile screening Friday is "It's a Wonderful Life." Candy canes and Kleenex are provided. Follow on Facebook or Twitter for location. http://www.echoparkfilmcenter.org

The UCLA Film and Television Archive presents a retrospective on Portuguese diretor Miguel Gomes this weekend at the Billy Wilder Theater. Screening Friday is "Our Beloved Month of August," with "The Face You Deserve" and the shorts, "Entretanto" and "Cantico Das Criaturas," set for Saturday evening. http://www.cinema.ucla.edu

The Friends of Film's foreign film series, which features movies submitted for Oscar consideration, continues at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex with Switzerland's "La Petite Chambre" Saturday morning and Sweden's "Simple Simon" Sunday.  http://www.friendsoffilm.com

Director Richard Rush and actors Steve Railsback and Barbara Hershey are set to appear in person Sunday at the New Beverly Cinema for a 30th anniversary screening of Rush's comedy "The Stunt Man," plus Rush's popular 1974 cop comedy "Freebie and the Bean." Those two screen again Monday. And for those who like their holiday flicks bloody and dark, the Grindhouse Film Festival at the New Beverly presents 1980's "Christmas Evil" and "New Year's Evil" on Tuesday. http://www.newbevcinema.com

Traditionalists, however, might prefer ArcLight Cinemas' holiday movie series. On tap for Tuesday at the ArcLight Sherman Oaks is Joe Dante's horror comedy "Gremlins." The Will Ferrell hit "Elf" visits the ArcLight Beach Cities on Dec. 22, and "It's a Wonderful Life" arrives Dec. 22 at the ArcLight Pasadena. http:///www.arclightcinemas.com

-- Susan King

Photo: Rosalind Russell in "Mame" Credit: Warner Bros.