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Holiday cheer on offer through cinematic classics

POSTED December 18, 2012 8:08 p.m.

Still not quite in the holiday spirit? The State Theatre in downtown Modesto has just the thing; two traditional Christmas films — one modern and one classic.

Tim Burton puts the ghosts back into Christmas with his 1993 animated film "The Nightmare Before Christmas." This visually delightful mix of fun and fright is filled with wit, clever songs, funny gags and genuine pathos  — making it a true classic, and probably the greatest stop-motion animated film ever. 

As with Burton's prior protagonists Pee-Wee, Beetlejuice, and Batman, Jack Skellington, the misguided hero of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a creature whose idiosyncratic personality consigns him to being something of an outsider in his own creepy-crawly community. The Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, Skellington rules his native soil of monsters and mutants with a despondency wrought from boredom-until, that is, a morose midnight stroll leads him to Christmas Town, where his heart is set ablaze by the merry sights and sounds of the Yuletide season. Determined to have his minions supervise Christmas rather than Halloween, Skellington comes to learn the foolishness of striving to be what one is not.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Following Burton's eclectic twist on holiday cheer is Frank Capra's five-time Oscar nominated film "It's A Wonderful Life."

The beloved take of George Bailey (James Steward) is about an affable man who's never turned his back on a friend in need, and yet he's a terrible pessimist who believes his family, and the townspeople of Bedford Falls, would be better off without him. When Angel Second Class Clarence (Henry Travers) shows him what Bedford Falls would be like had he never been born, George sees the error of his ways, and Clarence earns his wings.

Although the film wasn't a box office success upon its release in 1946, it went on to become a Christmas tradition and why not? "It's A Wonderful Life" is, above all, a moving and profound cinematic experience where prayer coupled with karma leads to a joyous happy ending and where, for just a moment, we catch a hint of the divine. Even an angel without his wings will tell you that's a rarity.

"It's A Wonderful Life" will be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The State Theatre is located at 1307 J St., Modesto. To purchase tickets, visit www.thestate.org or call the Box Office at 527-4697.

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