Pick of the Litter – December 2015

BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

(Disney/LucasFilm) Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher. For Star Wars fans, there is literally a new hope; after the prequel trilogy that pleased nobody, Disney bought LucasFilm and went on to set up an unprecedented and ambitious series of films, including a new trilogy and at least two stand-alone films. All of that begins right here with this film. Little is known about the plot of the newest episode, only that it takes place 30 years after the original trilogy in a universe where the Empire is as strong and as cruel as ever. New heroes will fight beside the old in what promises to be yet another license for Disney to print money. December 18

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Hitchcock Truffaut

Hitchcock/Truffaut

(Cohen Media Group) Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher. In 1966 French director Francois Truffaut conducted a series of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock which changed the public perception of not only the man but of the art of directing films in general. The two legendary directors discussed the art of making film, the planning and the thought that went into it, their frustrations when things didn’t work out the way they wanted and their joys when unexpected brilliance occurred. This documentary looks at how this watershed book has affected modern filmmakers as well as examines the author and his subject in depth. December 2

Life

Life

(Cinedigm) Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley. Photographer Dennis Stock is given the assignment in 1955 by Life Magazine to do a photo essay on an unknown actor named James Dean. What begins as an assignment turns into mutual respect and eventually into a lifelong friendship. The performances by the two lead actors have already received a good deal of acclaim on the festival circuit. Noted photographer Anton Corbijn directs. December 4

Macbeth

Macbeth

(Weinstein) Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis, Paddy Considine. I don’t mind saying that I’m a great admirer of William Shakespeare, and that my all-time favorite Shakespeare play is this one. It has it all – political intrigue, murder, an ambitious wife, the supernatural – everything anyone could possibly want. And this particular performance has the incomparable Marion Cotillard and the emerging superstar Michael Fassbender. What’s not to like? December 4

The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor’s New Clothes

(Sundance Selects) Russell Brand. Comedian and activist Russell Brand takes on perhaps the most arrogant species on Earth – the British banker. As responsible for the world economic downturn as their American counterparts, to date in Britain no banking executive has had criminal charges leveled against them for the various malfeasances committed either with their direct knowledge or under their watch. Brand uses the confrontational tactics of Michael Moore coupled with his own unique brand of humor (see what I did there?) to bring attention to the British people that there is something they can do about it – and by extension, the American people as well. December 16

Bajirao Mastani

Bajirao Mastani

(Eros International) Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Aditya Pancholi. The Indian film industry has been thriving for decades, but in American terms has been coming into its own more than ever. This epic tale of a historic romance between the Indian general Baji Rao and his second wife Mastani has the kind of sweep and scope that American films have had and has of late been more the province of the Chinese film industry. Lush sets, massive battle sequences, and of course what would an Indian film be without a catchy pop song to hum on the way home from the theater? December 18

 He Never Died

He Never Died

(Vertical) Henry Rollins, Booboo Stewart, Steven Ogg, Jordan Todosey. Jack, a social outcast, lives in his apartment alone and content to be that way. Venturing out only to get supplies, to have a quiet drink and occasionally a rousing game of bingo, he keeps the world at arm’s length. However, there are those who don’t want him to remain that way and when he discovers that he has a daughter that he never knew about, she becomes a pawn in a deadly game – which leads Jack to reveal an ancient and terrifying secret. Henry Rollins, former lead singer of Black Flag and one of my favorite humans ever, stars. December 18

Son of Saul

Son of Saul

(Sony Classics) Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont. A concentration camp prisoner tasked with burning the bodies of the victims discovers the body of a young boy he takes to be his son in the waning days of the war. With the Germans desperately trying to liquidate evidence of their atrocities, he makes the decision to salvage the body of his son so that a rabbi might give him a proper burial, putting everything on the line for a boy he didn’t take care of in life. This is Hungary’s official submission for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar. December 18

45 Years

45 Years

(Sundance Selects) Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells. In the weeks leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary, a couple receives a letter which contains life-changing news. Attempting to recover while planning a gala celebration, the two must find a place where they can continue onwards – and rediscover the strength to love each other. This film was a huge hit at the Berlin Film Festival, winning Golden Bears for both Rampling and Courtenay. December 23

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s