Arts and Entertainment Family values: 'It's a Wonderful Life'

The Independent's film critic selects the ten best festive flicks

Best-sellers: UK Films

THIS LAST WEEKS GROSS

Best Sellers: UK Films

THIS LAST WEEKS GROSS

The Information on Nicolas Cage in `8mm'

What Is It?

Film: Just not up to snuff

The Big Picture

Film: Mild at heart

Has the cliche come true again? Has age mellowed the sometime angry rebel Nicolas Cage? Perhaps. But he's still dangerous to interview. By Shane Danielson

Satellite & Cable: Pick of the Day

JOHN MALKOVICH (right) has always impressed as a baddie - remember his insinuating seducer in Dangerous Liaisons, or his creepy psycho-killer in In the Line of Fire? He gets to play the villain again in Con Air (10pm Sky Premier), an exciting roller-coaster of an action-picture. The premise is quite straightforward - a single good guy (Nicolas Cage) attempts to wrest control of a plane from a group of desperate criminals (a top-notch bunch of actors led by Malkovich and featuring Steve Buscemi and Ving Rhames). But where Simon West's thriller scores is the sheer panache with which he handles the action sequences.

Barf me out! Even Valley Girls grow up

Sherman Oaks, shrine to a curious 1980s Californian cult, is to close. Andrew Gumbel gives the last rites

Mayhem and myth in the City of Angels

Sociological Notes

Feeling a draught? It'll be angels' wings

THIS IS the season of angels. Christmas is the time when these heavenly messengers come into their own, and never more so than this year. They are on stamps, cards, the internet, and gifts.

Film: The Charts: Top 10 UK Films: (Takings, 20-22 Nov)

1 Antz pounds 1,357,591

Cinema: Just an extraordinary Joe

My Name is Joe (15)

Film: The Big Picture - It's my sewer, and I love it

The Big Picture

EDINBURGH FESTIVAL '98: Theatre: Charm of moonstruck jester

JASON BYRNE CAMPING ON THE MOON PLEASANCE

The big picture: The angel who fell to earth

CITY OF ANGELS DIRECTOR: BRAD SIBERLING STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, MEG RYAN, DENNIS FRANZ RUNNING TIME: 114 MINS
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'