Well that was over quickly. 2015, I mean. Usually as an end-of-year piece I’d remark about how the period between November and January is a turgid spiral of shamelessly pandering to people’s inner compulsion to engage in selfish commerce, a mired slope that only seems to get steeper and more ridiculous with each passing year as new customs are absorbed into it and damn damn damn the human race. This would be my usual stance, but Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens comes out this month and for the first time in a literal forever I’m excited about a Star Wars film. A J. J. Abrams Star Wars film no less. What the hell happened to me this year? Is it contagious? Should I be worried? Anyway: films.
Victor Frankenstein – 3rd December
Professor X and Harry Potter go into a bar. The barman says “What is this, some kind of X-Men/Hogwarts intellectual property cross-over or something?”, to which Harry replies, “No, actually we’ve been filming a new take of the Frankenstein story down the street, one that really gets to grips with the characters of the doctor and his beleaguered assistant, Igor”. Professor X helpfully adds, “By the way my name’s James McAvoy, not Professor X, and this one’s Daniel Radcliffe. We’ve done other things you know”. The barman feels a might sheepish, pours them each a drink and says nothing for the rest of the night.
The Night Before – 4th December
I just can’t explain it, ladies and gentlemen, I just cannot explain it. Try as hard as I might there’s just something about American stoner comedies that I find really charming. Maybe it’s all the hard drugs I use, I dunno. In any case The Night Before sees Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie deep in their own particular brand of holiday celebration, a practice they have kept up since Gordon-Levitt’s parents died when he was younger. This year, with the trio on the cusp of ‘correct’ adulthood, they decide their last Christmas together should be a no-holds-barred party explosion complete with crass amounts of booze, weed, hi-jinks and Christ-awful jumpers.
Krampus – 4th December
Did anybody ever see Rare Exports – A Christmas Tale? It was one of those rare Christmas films that plays on the concept of jolly ol’ Saint Nick to a wonderfully macabre and ridiculous height. I kinda wish there were films like this, and my I guess my wish came true in the form of Krampus. For the uninitiated, Krampus is the malevolent horned counterpoint to Santa Claus whose job it is to punish children over Christmas. This titular film sees the demon besieging an all-American household, and whilst that might be enough to make you cringe away, it’s still far and away the kind of Gremlins-esque anti-Christmas film this time of year needs. Adam Scott and Toni Collette star and everything.
The Lesson – 4th December
So far December has been reworked science fiction and Christmas films. Is there no place for cinema that at least reaches for something a smidge more cerebral? Well, actually, there is if you’d just give a moment to get there. Geez. In any case, The Lesson is a Bulgarian piece about the fragile and potentially hypocritical nature of morality as it follows a young teacher (Margita Gosheva) and her mission to uncover the thief in her classroom. However when her path crosses into the world of loan sharks and the seedy underbelly of her town, will she still be able to espouse about the virtues of right and wrong? Festive, I know.
Grandma – 11th December
If I were to tell you that the screenwriter of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and the director of American Pie were not only the same guy but that somehow he had made a charming and warm piece of smartly-scripted indie cinema, would you believe me? You don’t really get a choice in this matter, I’m afraid, as the answer is Grandma. Lily Tomlin takes the titular role as ol’ Gram-Gram Elle herself who is tasked by her granddaughter, Sage, (Julia Garner) to help her in raising the funds for an abortion, which descends into a road trip among Grandma’s past acquaintances and breaking all manners of news to Sage’s mother and Elle’s daughter, Judy (Marcia Gay Harden).
The Forbidden Room – 11th December
The official synopsis of The Forbidden Room reads that the crew of a submarine trapped for months under the ocean discover a stowaway who happens to be a mountain man with no memory of how he appeared. The trailer, on the other hand, appears as some kind of delusional window in a Lynchian sub-dimension of distressed psychokinetic cinema. Seriously, just give it a quick gander for yourselves. This is going to be one of those films that you both get and love, or don’t and really don’t. If ever there was some kind of cinematic smelling salt for the overly-saccharin sentiment that the festive season likes to soak itself in, The Forbidden Room is it.
Sisters – 12th December
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They’re a combination that strikes confidence, jealousy, fear, awe and an island nation full of chuckles into the hearts of the average human. These two besties are without a doubt two of the most talented people currently working in the industry, so why was the last time they co-starred in a film the 2008 release that was, ahem, Baby Mama? (No I’m not counting their cameos in Anchorman 2, nobody ever talks about Anchorman 2). Despite this, Poehler and Fey are back on acting duties this time around as two (wait for it) sisters who are forced to deal with the selling of their old family home and the overwhelming urge to have one last party there.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 17th December
If I honestly have to tell you, the fantastic readers and browsers of our little movie website, that there’s a new Star Wars film coming out in December, then something is definitely out of whack. Look, it’s been advertised everywhere and is constantly causing the internet to boil itself over with anticipation and hype. Oh dear Lord, the hype. Nobody really knows anything about the story, but what more can you say to the notion of THE science fiction movie series returning to continue its tale of space-faring derring do? I know we’ve been down this road before way back in 1999, but this time… this time it could work. Call it a ripple in the Force. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
In the Heart of the Sea – 26th December
Let’s get first thing’s first: yes, Chris Hemsworth plays a sailor, but being lost at sea at the mercy of the elements and a big bastard whale doesn’t equate to a whole lot of Thor-bod. No sir. In the Heart of the Sea is Ron Howard’s telling of the fate of the whaling boat whose legacy became a book that inspired that other book about whales. That’s not complicated at all, is it? Based on the 1820 disaster that befell the U.S whaling boat, Essex, Hemsworth and his crew (including Cillian Murphy, Benjamin Walker and Tom ‘The New Spiderman’ Holland) wind up on the wrong side of a sperm whale, the Pacific Ocean and starvation upon the open sea. Talk about a jolly way to end the year.