Around Town

Circle Cinema’s sing-along presentations of White Christmas run Dec. 14 through Christmas Eve. Here are three quick reasons to give it a watch:

  • The songs. Everyone knows the title song, but most of the tunes in the film are hummable and entertaining, from the archly amusing “Sisters” to the sentimental but still moving “Count Your Blessings.”
  • The cast. Bing Crosby gets most of the attention as Bob Wallace, but Danny Kaye as the sidekick and Rosemary Clooney as Crosby’s love interest steal the show.
  • The dancing. Kaye is brilliant and flexible.

At Home

If you’re not in the mood for holiday fun, try some counterprogramming with the 1976 murder-mystery spoof Murder by Death, out this month in a new Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. A clear inspiration for the later cult hit Clue (with which it shares cast member Eileen Brennan), Murder by Death is not as well known as that film, but it’s just as clever in undermining whodunit conventions.

The eclectic cast portrays stereotypical detectives, including Peter Falk as a Sam Spade-type and James Coco as a faux-Hercule Poirot. Truman Capote is host of the dinner party. The film ratchets up a witty screenplay by the recently deceased Neil Simon to the point of absurdity. The film has dated elements (especially Peter Sellers playing Sidney Wang, a Charlie Chan knockoff), but most of it remains fresh 42 years later.

In Theaters

Many films are out, and most intriguing are two old standbys.

Clint Eastwood, 88, enjoys casting himself in his movies, and The Mule continues that trend as he stars alongside Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne and Dianne Wiest. A film about drug smuggling, The Mule is sure to be politically divisive but aesthetically impeccable.

With reservation, there’s Mary Poppins Returns. Disney has been hit-or-miss with updates and remakes, and the presence of the dull Rob Marshall behind the camera is troubling, but the stellar cast, including Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Lin Manuel-Miranda and Emily Blunt as the magical nanny herself, makes one cautiously optimistic.

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