Edgar Allen Poe might have had a bleak perspective on this month when describing it in The Raven but if he had been able to foresee this month in the cinema then he certainly would have referred to it as the sweet December.
Seriously. Take a look at the new releases this month and you’ll find lots of new movies to shake off those winter blues, inspire some new life choices, and maybe just even take you out of the house to forget your woes and leave your past behind, if even for 1 hour and 42 minutes.
Starting this weekend, you can shake your head with The Disaster Artist, the mind-blowing incredible story behind the making of The Room, the 2003 film that Entertainment Weekly quoted film studies professor Ross Morin as saying it was “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.”
He wasn’t fooling. The Room is just… man, it’s just awful. It’s impossible to even describe how bad it is so you have to see it first. The Metro Cinema has monthly screenings, with one set for Dec. 22. If you’ve already had that little bit of wonderful wackiness imprinted on your cerebral cortex then you should head straight to catch The Disaster Artist, co-writer/actor/director James Franco’s adaptation of Room co-star Greg Sestero’s book about the making of the movie and some crucial insight into Room writer/star/director/producer/wunderkind Tommy Wiseau and his woebegotten and inexperienced methods. Somehow, it all worked to turn his freshman effort into a crazy cult classic. I can already see these two making history as an unforgettable double bill.
We can also look forward to Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro’s next feature, The Shape of Water. It’s a Kennedy-era fairy tale set in a high-security government laboratory where the winsome but sad Elisa discovers a classified experiment focusing on a creature played by del Toro fave Doug Jones. Critics generally favour the director’s films, especially after Pan’s Labyrinth. I, however, couldn’t approve his last feature called Crimson Peak, an overwashed and somehow saccharine ghost story. This one still holds my interest, though only in the previews. We shall see if my opinion stays positive even afterward.
There’s a small but decidedly cheesy Canuck part of the cineaste in me that’s looking gleefully forward to Another WolfCop, the sequel to the 2014 touching story of a hard-drinking, lycanthrope policeman who fights corruption in a Prairie-like small town. In this sequel, expect a touching story of a hard drinking, lycanthrope policeman who fights corruption in a Prairie-like small town. Don’t bring your kids.
On Dec. 15, there will be the new chapter in the extended Star Wars series being released. I have nothing to say about it … yet. If you’d much rather take your kids to a family-friendly cartoon about a bull in a china shop then Ferdinand is your ticket. Yes, it’s about a bull who is mistaken for a wild, dangerous creature. Somehow, he must band together with some other similarly-branded animals to find his way back to his family.
The weekend before Christmas, you really get your pick of the crop. There’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle again for the family, Pitch Perfect 3 for the Glee clubbers who can’t get enough singing satisfaction, and Alexander Payne’s new social satire called Downsizing featuring Matt Damon in a world where people get shrunk to save the natural resources. There’s also All the Money in the World, Ridley Scott’s film based on the true story of the kidnapping of a teenage heir to the Getty oil fortune, featuring the outstanding Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty, along with Michelle Williams.
Fighting that film for attention on one of the most critically-important weekends of the year is Steven Spielberg’s The Post, a story of the leaked Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. None of those names are strangers to Oscar glory but they are presumably immune to the kinds of personal controversies that have plagued Hollywood lately. Audiences should not only expect reliable dramatic satisfaction from this tale but also some gloriously golden acclaims come March 4, 2018.
Personally, I’m more keen to wait till the following weekend for Molly’s Game and Phantom Thread. On Dec. 29, you can choose between new works by dialogue master Aaron Sorkin and Paul Thomas Anderson, the successor to the throne of Robert Altman. The first is the true story of an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and also became an FBI target. It stars Jessica Chastain who has a CV with a growing repertoire of high calibre film projects. The latter is the seemingly last ever acting work of master thespian Daniel Day Lewis. It takes us into the fashion world in 1950s London. But that’s just the scenery. Expect many deeper levels of meaning from actor and director here.
And if those don’t satisfy then try The Greatest Showman, featuring ex-Wolverine Hugh Jackman in a song-and-dance role as P.T. Barnum. It’s practically the part he was born for, if it weren’t for those pesky Marvel movies. Hey! He’s pretty good when he isn’t snarling and hirsute.