The ubiquity of It's a Wonderful Life has turned it into cultural wallpaper: It's easy to forget the film's improbability as a go-to Christmas classic. (And the improbability of Frank Capra—anti-Semite, Mussolini admirer, informer for J. Edgar Hoover—as the guardian of our Christmas spirit.) The film claims to be an affirmation of the humble, well-lived life, but it constantly skates over a cold, uneasy abyss: the power of the heartless banker, the tension of small-town living, happiness hemmed in on all sides by despair. "Capra films move like hunting dogs," wrote critic David Thomson. Life is hunting you down. (Grand Illusion, 1403 NE 50th St, 523-3935. Every damn day, 6 and 8:30 pm, $5–$8.)