If the festive lights hanging above 5th and 7th Avenues are not enough to inspire the holiday spirit in you, Kathy Smelyansky, owner of Video Gallery at 316 7th Ave, offers some feel-good movie suggestions that will shoo away even the grinchiest of Grinches.
“I’m Jewish and I really love Christmas. What’s not to love?” says Kathy, who has been in the neighborhood for over 15 years, and who has found that when customers are looking for holiday movies, it’s not all about Christmas. It’s mostly about re-creating a warm feeling inside.
“It’s something you can have a cup of hot tea or hot cocoa or whatever you’re drinking, and watch something incredibly nice, warm, and familiar. Doesn’t matter how many times.”
Kathy compares the repetition of watching classic holiday films to putting up the same Christmas tree every year. “Who cares how many time you’ve seen it? If the warm feeling is still there, excellent! That’s all you need!”
Kathy recommends you spend a couple of hours with dysfunctional and quirky Griswalds, simply because they’re funny.
“I love this one, it’s a great movie,” she says, noting the holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without the talented and charming family Von Trapp. The endearing “So Long, Farewell” scene as the children head up to bed ranks at the top amongst Kathy’s favorite scenes, “because it’s just so cute!”
“It’s just an amazing book and an amazing movie,” says Kathy, who believes that no one has created anything more wonderful and romantic. “This is, in my opinion, the queen of the romantic stuff.”
It’s got Brooklyn, romance, and comedy, some of Kathy’s favorite things. There you have it!
Why this classic NYC flick? “Because I love New York so much!” Kathy exclaims. Woody Allen is her favorite American director, and she notes that if you love this city, even in an entirely different way than he does, when watching this film you’ll be able to feel the connection to and immense pride in the city. “Even if you are irritated sometimes because there are a lot of people, even if you are annoyed with certain things in New York. Still, it’s New York. I’m here for 24 years and I still cannot believe my luck. I mean it. I still cannot believe I’m here.”
“During Christmastime you just try to see something to make you feel better…to feel good, and that’s why I go to the most romantic movie.”
“It’s just an absolutely timeless movie and it’s just so nice to see it around Christmas,” Kathy says. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s just such a universal movie about everybody’s childhood.” An all-time favorite of hers, she has seen the movie countless times and insists that by the end of the film you will feel absolutely sure you can speak and understand Italian.
The 1976 Soviet romantic comedy fills Kathy with nostalgia and has a special place in her heart. “It was absolutely famous,” she says. “You need to understand, nobody for many, many years celebrated Christmas in Russia. It was the Soviet Union at the time so basically that’s why it’s such a big deal. For such a long time, it was the only non-revolutionary holiday, which everyone appreciated.”
“Come on, it’s Muppets! Who cannot love Muppets?”
Kathy’s top pick is this beloved holiday classic about childhood and Christmas in the United States, which she feels is sure to guarantee smiles and warm feelings for the season.
Stop by for one of these, or to get other recommendations from Kathy, at Video Gallery, 316 7th Avenue, between 8th and 9th Streets. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 10am-10pm, and Friday-Saturday 10am-11pm.