The all-girl trio Arabesque was created by two Frankfurt-based German producers at the height of the disco era in 1977. After one album and a few singles that had found surprising success in Japan, the producers changed the lineup, keeping Michaela Rose and replacing the two other girls with Jasmin Vetter and Sandra Lauer. Vetter, a former gymnast, also became the trio's choreographer and Lauer, soon to be billed simply as Sandra, assumed the position of a lead vocalist. The first single of the updated Arabesque, "Hello, Mr. Monkey" went to number one in Japan. The Far East remained the band's biggest market, with numerous albums and compilations released over the years. However, Arabesque's success in their homeland was very modest, with only one single, "Marigot Bay," entering the German charts at number eight in 1981. In 1984, they disbanded and Sandra embarked on a successful solo career with the songs written by her future husband Michael Cretu (of Enigma fame.) Jasmin Vetter and Michaela Rose formed a new duet, Rouge, but after a few obscure singles it ceased to exist.
The Christmas season just got a lot less joyous in this very dark comedy. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) is a con man and a thief who teams up with his friend Marcus (Tony Cox), a midget, for a very special scam each year during the holiday season. Willie gets a job as Santa Claus at a shopping mall, his pal tags along as an elf, and they use their employee status to crack mall security and rob stores blind just before Christmas. However, there's one flaw to this plan – Willie is a bitter, foul-mouthed and perpetually grouchy alcoholic who doesn't care for kids, and it's all he can do to keep himself from getting fired while on the job. The mall's manager (John Ritter, in his last film appearance) is certain something's wrong with the Santa he's hired, so he asks the mall's chief of security (Bernie Mac) to do some research on Willie. Meanwhile, one of the kids Willie is forced to talk to becomes a regular customer; overweight, awkward, and the frequent target of bullies, the boy manages to arouse something like sympathy from Willie, who tries to give him some advice and develops something vaguely resembling Christmas sprit along the way.
Jan Ole Gerster's comedy-drama A Coffee in Berlin stars Tom Schilling as Niko, a twentysomething slacker whose aimless life comes to a sudden halt when, in quick succession, his girlfriend dumps him and his father cuts off his only financial support. Soon, he encounters an old classmate who he used to torment, and this turns out to be a pivotal new relationship in his life.