With the Christmas season well and truly here, it’s natural for us to find solace in mince pies, mulled wine, and a feast of festive films to indulge in at the cinema! Our season of Christmas classics is now on sale – running between Saturday 10th and Friday 23rd December – and we asked some of our staff and volunteers to tell us what makes these films so special, and why they’re looking forward to seeing them at the UPP this year.
LITTLE WOMEN (1994) – chosen by volunteer Manu
“I chose little women as my Christmas period film as it used to be on TV every Christmas / New Year in France (either that or I had the VHS and watched it a lot), and although not solely set at Christmas (but released on Christmas day of 1994 in the US), it definitely has a homely feel to it, where you want be by a fire with a blanket to watch it (or at UPP, holding a mulled wine and a cookie). As a fan of Anne of Green Gables and the likes, I love a countryside story of tough young women who go against the trends and have a talent for writing. A real tear jerker and full of wonderful performances by Winona Ryder as an oh-so inspiring Jo, Claire Danes as a heartbreaking Beth, Kirsten Dunst as an annoying Amy (played as adult Amy by Samantha Mathis), Trini Alvarado as a saintly Meg and of course, who can forget the appearance of Christian Bale as Lawrie, which is engrained in people’s mind forever. Greta Gerwig’s Little Women could only pale (despite being great!) compared to this version in my eyes and I am so glad to be able to share it with UPPers on a cold December evening, 28 years after it came out. Bring the tissues, get yourself that mulled wine and cookie and Christmas can begin!”
Little Women is showing on Saturday 10th (3.45pm) and Monday 12th December (6pm). Book tickets here.
FANNY AND ALEXANDER – chosen by Head of Programming Tom
“As soon as I caught wind that the BFI were re-releasing Ingmar Bergman’s epic tale of family love for Christmas, I couldn’t wait to bring to the UPP. Having only previously seen the fantastically gloomy The Seventh Seal when we programmed a retrospective of Bergman’s work back in 2018, I was expecting wall-to-wall austere ruminations on death (which honestly would have been fine with me!), but I was blown away by the vastness of tonal and emotional dexterity within his work. Whether that was the bittersweetness within Wild Strawberries, the hypnotic sexiness of Summer with Monika, or the unnerving psychological explorations of Persona (which subsequently became an all-time favourite of mine), each film I saw completely surpassed my expectations. I’ve been working my way up towards seeing Fanny and Alexander and I’m overjoyed that my first viewing will be on the big-screen. You might find me right down the front for our screening on Sunday 11th, and I hope to see you there too!”
Fanny and Alexander is showing on Sunday 11th December (2.15pm). Book tickets here.
THE GRINCH – chosen by Head Projectionist Kit
“My friend tells me that I once claimed Jim Carrey ‘revolutionised the face’. I don’t remember saying it and don’t know what I meant at the time, but I was probably thinking about his performance in The Grinch. It’s an astonishingly imaginative work of neon nightmare-scape, managing to tick all the Christmas family-friendly toasty-heart boxes while also having a backstory about Baby Grinch being abandoned outside a swingers’ party (I haven’t checked but I don’t believe that was in the book). Featuring iconically weird choices by every department from set design to lighting to script, this is a film that raises more questions than it answers. For example- why is there a whole subplot about shaving? Was it really necessary for Carrey to have CIA torture training to cope with his costume? What does ‘growing into your nose’ mean? Why is it so dirty in Whoville? Yet somehow The Grinch feels grounded, due a properly funny central performance and deeply detailed world-building. This is Ron Howard’s best film. You could bring some children – they would love it – but you don’t have to to understand why The Grinch is well on its way to becoming a cult classic.”
The Grinch is showing on Saturday 17th (2.30pm) and Monday 19th December (6pm). Book tickets here.
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL – chosen by Duty Manager Josh
“The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favourite Christmas film. It’s strange that a film with a cast almost entirely made up of muppets can be so absorbing, atmospheric, scary, and even moving (!) (…who can forget the heart-wrenching scene where we see Miss Piggy sobbing at the stove on Christmas Day, for example). As a child I owned a VHS of this film which I would watch every Christmas Eve with my older brother, both of us feeling incredibly excited that it was in fact “only one more sleep ‘til Christmas”. A few years ago, when I started working at the UPP (a cinema that wisely shows this Christmas classic every year), I watched the Muppet Christmas Carol again for the first time as an adult. It was then that I discovered an unexpected fact: The Muppet Christmas Carol is like Withnail and I – in that it’s one of those rare films you can watch over and over again without ever diminishing its enjoyment (that is, as long as you leave a reasonable amount of time between each viewing – for the Muppet Christmas Carol I suggest about once a year, and preferably around Christmas time at the UPP)”
The Muppet Christmas Carol is showing on Sunday 18th (3.45pm) and Friday 23rd December (6pm). Book tickets here.
And of course it wouldn’t be Christmas without Frank Capra’s iconic festive classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, which we will be showing on Sunday 18th (5.45pm) and Friday 23rd December (8pm). Book tickets here.