December seems pretty quiet for movies this year. There is certainly a distinct lack of Christmas-based films (not counting the re-release of Elf, and probably a number of other Christmas classics that will enjoy a one-off screening or short runs in cinemas). That’s probably ok though, as we are swamped with classics that are festive must-haves every year anyway. In the meantime, there are some releases that have been gathering word-of-mouth momentum in recent months that are finally here for our enjoyment. As always, and for the final time this year, I’ve picked out a top three that are likely to peak your interest (depending on your genre palette), and for the first time ever I’m adding a non-English language film as a separate suggestion from the top three (an additon I’m hoping to add in every month from now on). Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!
Sorry to Bother You (7th)
This debut dark comedy from rapper-cum-writer/director Boots Riley has been doing the festivals circuit all year to some serious critical acclaim. Based on Riley’s own experience as a telemarketer (though of course taking huge amounts of dramatic license), this film will supposedly not only have you in stitches, but also pondering the odd moral quandary or two. Sorry to Bother You could be something fresh to the comedy genre, perhaps in the same way that Jordan Peele’s thematic 2017 Oscar-winning film Get Out upended the world of horror.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (12th)
Unless you were falling asleep in the back row/are that weird person who is unfamiliar with routine post-credit stings when it comes to films featuring Marvel-based characters these days (though this is all technically Sony, not Marvel Studios), you will have seen a snippet of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the back end of Venom (and props to you for sitting through that film). Featuring a multitude of Spider-Men, this animated feature is not just for the kids. It looks to not only be an entertaining introduction to the many versions of Spidey, but also a visual treat in its CGI animation. It will also apparently feature a post-humous cameo from the late great Stan Lee. If that’s not a reason to pay this film a visit, I don’t know what is.
Mary Poppins Returns (21st)
I mean, this is just a must-see really, isn’t it? Of course the 1964 Disney classic starring the glorious Julie Andrews and lovable (if not questionable) Dick Van Dyke can’t ever be touched, so this Emily Blunt-fronted version markets itself as a sequel instead. In this one she returns to the Banks children, though now they are adults with children themselves, and the world is not quite the magical place that Mary had once left them with ideas of. And so, it appears she has returned to put the smiles back on their faces and sprinkle a little Disney magic back into their lives (I’m really surprised there isn’t a drug nicknamed after her). Whether it will be quite the supercalifragilisticexpealidocious outing that it was in ’64 remains to be seen.
Non-English Language Choice:
An Elephant Sitting Still (14th)
From director Hu Bo, this Chinese film boasts the sort of story that is worthy of its audiences. With multiple emotional storylines that are linked in some way, it gives the impression that no matter who you are or your background, you will likely find something to relate to. There is even the matter of suicide, which very sadly was the cause of the untimely death of 29-year-old Hu Bo himself just last year, with this being his only feature-length film. An Elephant Sitting Still does have a 3 hour 50 minute run time, but it doesn’t come with a multitude of film festival nominations and awards for no reason. This one just might be worth sitting as still as the proverbial elephant for a little while.
Other December Releases:
The Old Man & The Gun
White Boy Rick
The House That Jack Built
Holmes & Watson