The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 14-20


The Lion in Winter (1968)
Directed by Anthony Harvey
“Did the Channel part for you?” A film, yes, but also a towering, regal monument to the healing power of sarcasm and sniping, the things that keep us sane, from which life, dreams, are made. Intelligence curdles into bitterness and every smile is a box of knives in this most voluptuous Christmas film. The Lion in Winter centers on a never-better Katharine Hepburn, winsome in her venom, doting over a brood of actors she helped foster, the ones she “raised but didn’t bear.” There’s her husband Peter O’Toole (“I could have made a career playing Henry II”), who greets her calm maneuvering with sweeping boisterousness and lovable volume. He goes up, she stays down, “tusk to tusk throughout history.“ There’s sweaty Anthony Hopkins, learning his craft and hanging on Hepburn’s every word like the son she never had. He’d pay her back for the guidance by recreating her as the greatest serial killer of the late 20th century. And finally Timothy Dalton, who became Hepburn in all but sex, preening deliciously in every role he took. The Lion in Winter is a meal for students of language, and eerily prescient regarding the climate of most holiday dinners “back home.” Everyone digs into the rich script with knife and fork as if it were a Christmas ham. Scout Tafoya (December 16-27 at Film Forum, showtimes daily)


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