In a mountaintop castle improbably perched above a sprawling SoCal suburb, a lonesome boy with scissors for hands looks down longingly on the world below. Equal parts Frankenstein's monster and teen pinup, Edwards Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) has lived alone ever since the untimely death of his loving mad scientist creator/papa (Vincent Price). But today Edward's life will change forever, when a well-meaning cosmetics saleslady (Dianne Weist) knocks on his door, takes pity upon him and leads him home to meet her family. As a director, Tim Burton is often so caught up in the design of his pictures that he neglects incidental details like narrative coherency or characters we can actually care about. But Burton, who grew up as a crazy-haired misfit in suburban Burbank, brings a deeply felt, oddball poignancy to this gothic fairytale: it's not hard to look at Edward and imagine the young Burton shyly shuffling across the shag carpets of his neighbors' homes, his gangly limbs knocking Hummel figurines off of well-dusted shelves. Johnny Depp is superb in the lead, perfectly capturing Edward's strange mix of lost puppy vulnerability and otherworldly creepiness. The film works as a romance, as satire . . . and as an unlikely yuletide classic, too. Edwards South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (800) 326-3264. Wed., 9 p.m., $6; Edwards Rancho Santa Margarita, 30632 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 888-3358. Thurs., Dec. 29, 9 p.m. $6.
Barry Lyndon. Stanley Kubrick normally treated his characters with the eerie, detached fascination of a mad scientist performing a vivisection, but from Barry Lyndon's first scene, which finds our hero in the middle of one of the very few genuinely sexy sex scenes of Kubrick's career (it certainly trumps anything in Eyes Wide Shut), these characters live and breathe. Ryan O'Neil handles the lead role surprisingly well, and Kubrick brings a rare beauty to every frame of the film's 183-minute running time. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Fri., 8 p.m.; Mon., 6:30 p.m.; Wed., 6:30 p.m.; Thurs., Dec. 29, 7 p.m. $6-$8.
Jaws. Duh-duh. Duh-duh duh-duh duh-duh. Duh-duh duh-duh DEH-duh. That damn song is enough all by itself to make me swear that I will never set foot in the ocean again. Spielberg's 1976 breakout hit stars a fake-looking, fiberglass shark that is still completely goddamn terrifying. The thought that that beast is now probably covered with mold and rust in some Sherman Oaks warehouse is the only thing that lets me sleep at night. Edwards Rancho Santa Margarita, 30632 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 888-3358. Thurs., Dec. 22, 9 p.m. $6.
The Sterile Cuckoo. Liza Minnelli made her Oscar-nominated debut in this 1969, Alan J. Pakula comic drama about an odd girl pursuing a reluctant boy. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Fri., 6 p.m.; Tues., 6, 8 p.m.; Thurs., Dec. 29, 5 p.m. $6-$8.
The Wizard of Oz. We all grew up seeing this thing ritually presented every year on TV, but this screening offers the rare opportunity to catch it on the big screen . . . and if ever a movie was meant to be seen big, this is it. Maybe this time you'll finally be able to see if those persistent rumors about the munchkin who hung himself on the set are true. Bay Theatre, 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. Thurs., Dec. 22, ?6 p.m. $6-$8.
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