Ah, December. A month of rushing to meet deadlines before the holidays – cramming before Crimbo, if you will. Not to mention the food – Yule logs, roasted everything and mince pies aplenty: nothing beats festive food. And what better way to spend a cosy winter evening than with a good old film?
This month sees a flurry of films about immigrant and refugee experiences: Calais’ refugee crisis provides a backdrop for Michael Haneke’s Isabelle Huppert-starrer Happy End, Ana Asensio plays an undocumented Spanish immigrant who discovers the seedy underbelly of New York in Most Beautiful Island, and Ai Weiwei takes a long, hard look at the global refugee crisis in the documentary Human Flow.
If you want something a little more mind-numbing, then Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle shouldn’t disappoint. But if none of those take your fancy, then there’s plenty more to look out for this December.
The Disaster Artist – 1st December
Like the real-life figure he plays in his latest film, James Franco is something of an enigma in that he tries everything. Having participated in four graduate programs simultaneously, he co-hosted the Oscars ceremony in which he was also nominated, while appearing in a soap opera – and that’s not even mentioning the forty-four (forty-four!) films he has contributed to over the past five years alone. However, after many misses, Franco appears to have a hit on his hands.
The Disaster Artist in question is Tommy Wiseau (played eerily accurately by Franco), who is struggling to find artistic inspiration. As he gets to know line-director-turned-actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) though, he soon comes up with an ingenious idea for a movie.
If you know Wiseau, then you know that this movie idea (which developed into the, now infamous, 2003 film The Room) really does not end well. However, on all accounts, Franco has directed a compelling take on the creative process, and the self-confidence required in a brutal industry.
Brigsby Bear – 8th December
Apparently unsatisfied with the record-breaking success of Saturday Night Live’s forty-second season, current cast member Kyle Mooney joins forces with his long-time friend and colleague Dave McCary to bring about a rather unusual story, to say the least.
James (Mooney) does not realise that his life in an underground home with his parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) who kidnapped him from a hospital at birth, is not normal. What he does know, is that his love for the children’s TV character Brigsby Bear is boundless – and he wants everyone else to feel the same.
The premise may sound a bit odd, but the cryptic trailers released so far, combined with a solid supporting case (Claire Danes, Greg Kinnear, Andy Samberg and my favourite Veep actor, Matt Walsh), would suggest that Mooney’s step in a different direction is a breath of fresh air.
Menashe – 8th December
Most likely the least well known of this bunch, Joshua Z. Weinstein’s feature directorial debut shines a light on a culture that will be unfamiliar for most audiences. The reception it received at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and the delightful trailers suggest that this is one to watch.
Menashe (Menashe Lustig), a recently bereaved Hasidic-Jewish father, must fight his tight-knit community’s tradition of removing children from homes that only have a single parent, in order to maintain custody of his son.
Although the plot appears to be a tad sparse, Menashe seems to be a prime example of what film can do, in that it allows viewers to immerse themselves in a version of reality different to their own. The trailer suggests it may be similar to the spectacular 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild; if that’s true, then this should be a heart-warming, touching movie.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 14th December
Is Luke the last Jedi? Is it Rey? Or even Kylo?! Or is it more than one? I heard that foreign countries used the plural conjugation of ‘last’ to precede ‘Jedi’, so maybe – yeah, but the opening scrawl in TFA said that – yeah, but Kathleen Kennedy said that – yeah, but Rian Johnson said that it’s – wait, but what if it’s the last Jedi because they’re all Siths? Could Luke be evil? Could Rey be evil? That trailer from two months ago looked pretty incriminating… ad infinitum.
As someone who finds the wider context of the Star Wars series more interesting than the actual plots themselves, it’s fair to say that I’m definitely not among those who are most excited for this film. Nevertheless, expect few (if any) answers, some breath-taking action sequences and an emotional farewell to the woman who did so much both for audiences both within and aside from this franchise.
Pitch Perfect 3 – 22nd December
The aca-pitches are aca-back and this time it’s aca-personal (am I doing it right?).
Having graduated, the Barden Bellas are struggling to translate their enormous collegiate a cappella success into the workplace. Frustrated, Aubrey (Anna Camp) decides to re-team with Beca (Anna Kendrick) and the gang (Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld and the rest) for a reunion tour at a European competition. Once there, however, they must defeat their biggest obstacle yet: musical instruments.
Since the beginning of this franchise, these films have subverted numerous preconceptions – from the surprise overnight commercial success, to the warmly received sequel. Now, we can only hope that this final bow is aca-awesome. (I had to).
Featured image courtesy of Lucasfilm via IMDb.
Image use license here.