December 14th 2012. Pick Of The Day.

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The bureaucratic coverup's finest cinematic iteration, Costa Gavras' political conspiracy thriller Z, screens today as part of the Jean Louis Trintignant trib at the Film Forum. Essential viewing.

Frank Capra's masterpiece and the most likely all-time Xmas flick champ IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE begins a weeklong revival as part of the IFC Center's new cinematic yuletide tradition. A must.

Pier Paolo Pasolini's debut feature film THE SCROUNGER unspools as part of MOMA's retrospective of the divisive filmmaker's canon. P3's unique take on Italian Neo-Realism starts here.

Anthology Film Archives continues its Ben Gazzara retrospective with two of the grizzled grimace's best, the brutal examination of human frailty THEY ALL LAUGHED and the breezy autumn romance TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's right. Show the Gazz some love.

The 92YTribeca's Beyond Leone series provides a look at two unsung auteurs from the Pasta alla Gunpowder genre, Michele Lupo's BEN AND CHARLIE and Mario Caiano's TRAIN FOR DURANGO, in anticipation of a certain Xmas day release that celebrates all things Spaghetti. Do the guesswork.

Greta Garbo and George Cukor give film lovers everywhere all the tears they want and more in CAMILLE, screening at the Rubin Museum as part of their Cabaret Cinema series. Admission to the film is yours for the price of a beer, and you'll need one to cry over...

Midnight at the IFC Center brings us the creepy and the kooky, mysterious and spooky. Altogether ooky. Ridley Scott's seminal SciFi/Horror masterpiece ALIEN slinks in the shadows as a top flight cast feels the elaborate futuristic production design slowly closing in on them. John Carpenter's noble rally post-PRINCE OF DARKNESS' abysmal failure sought to tear down the veneer of Reagan's America, combining the paranoia of BODY SNATCHERS with the bleak prognosis of the workingman's plight as defined by Ford's GRAPES OF WRATH. I'm stretching sez ye? Possibly, but THEY LIVE is unique, over the top and one of the last signature works from an auteur who burned bright but burned out too long ago. Both worthy of your attendance. None of the above my Pick, surprise surprise. Read on.

The story behind the production and eventual release of Marcel Carne's CHILDREN OF PARADISE warrants its own biopic. Begun during the Nazi Occupation of France the film served as both legitimate artistic endeavor and cover for members of the resistance, often times funds and resources being diverted to freedom fighters. Indeed many of the resistance's most wanted hid in plain sight as "crew members". Carne himself devised intentional delays in order that the film not premiere until the liberation, and no small film this, a recreation of France in the 1830's set among the streets and denizens of its Boulevard of Crime. A treatise on romance, loyalty and freedom, the very qualities the Occupation denied.

In the French theater Paradise refers to the cheap seats, the poor in attendance, who held nothing back in their appraisals good or bad, and it's from these seats that stage performers most sought approval. The characters in CHILDREN are performers of all types, on and off stage, and are never quite sure when they're being their honest selves, should said exist, or playing to the Paradise. It posits the premise that the theater is false not because it contains actors playing out their roles but because they do so in buildings bounded by four walls; we are all on stage, and we are never not acting. We may never know truth but we must always yearn for it.

CHILDREN OF PARADISE unspools at the Museum of the Moving Image tonight at 7pm, part of their See It Big series. My Pick Of The Day. It'll be my first time seeing it on the big screen, so my Xmas comes early. Hope to see you there.

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