The Film Fix – December

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By: Jonathan W. Hickman

Streaming Selects:

Netflix

What to binge:

Wormwood (December 8)

While the big event on Netflix in December is likely the second season of “The Crown,” Errol Morris’ documentary hybrid “Wormwood” looks fantastic.  Combining high end narrative re-enactments with factual investigation and interviews, Morris (Oscar winner for “The Fog of War”) blurs the line between fact and fiction. The Cold War story is based on and explores the CIA connection to the death of Agency employee Frank Olson in 1953.

What movie to watch

Bright (December 22)

Netflix is making quite a gamble with this big budgeted star-studded science fiction actioner directed by “Suicide Squad’s” David Ayer.  The story is set in a magical alternate Los Angeles where mystical characters exist. In “Bright” a human police officer (Will Smith) joins forces with an Orc cop (Joel Edgerton) to search for an artifact that can alter the future of their society.  Reminiscent from the trailers of “Alien Nation,” hopes are high that “Bright” will lift Netflix subscriptions during the holiday season.

What to avoid

Catwoman (December 11)

Critics who have heralded “Wonder Woman” saying it was the first comic book film lead by a woman, 2004’s “Catwoman” holds the distinction of being one of the first (along with “Elektra” the next year). Directed by Frenchman Pitof, who has yet to direct a theatrical feature since, “Catwoman” is a stylish mess despite great casting with Halle Berry in the lead and Sharon Stone as the nemesis.

Amazon

What to binge

Jean Claude Van Johnson: Season 1 (December 15)

I watched the pilot for this one when it was part of Amazon’s innovative voting season where viewers were shown pilots and asked to vote on which ones they wanted to see.  This tongue-in-cheek high concept action series has the famous martial arts star, Jean Claude Van Damme, playing a parody version of himself.  The story follows Van Damme going by the name “Johnson,” who is drawn back into his undercover job as a secret agent.

What movie to watch

It Comes At Night (December 9)

One of 2017’s most interesting horror entries, “It Comes at Night” is a slow boil but the scares do come.  Directed by Trey Edward Shults (2015’s “Krisha”) takes advantage of a fine cast led by Joel Edgerton to craft a creepy narrative following a family holed up in a cabin in the mountains after society has broken down in the wake of some kind of virus outbreak.

What to avoid

Rings (December 29)

If you believe the RottenTomatoes meter rating, which has “Rings” at just 7%, this film shot in our very own Newnan, might have eliminated any chance of reviving “The Ring” franchise.  The familiar story has a young woman dealing with the Ring curse that threatens to take her life in just seven days.

Hulu

What to binge

Legion (December 8)

Perhaps the strangest of the Marvel television series, FX’s “Legion” adaptation created by Noah Hawley (of TV’s “Fargo”) is one of the best looking shows on the small screen. The story follows David Haller (Dan Stevens) who is diagnosed with a schizophrenic disorder but soon discovers that he is one of the world’s most powerful mutants.

What movie to watch

Heaven’s Gate (December 1)

The 1980 box office disaster “Heaven’s Gate” from late writer/director Michael Cimino (Oscar winner for “The Deer Hunter”) could probably also be on the “what to avoid” list.  But depending on which version of the film you watch (there is a recut on the web by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh that’s worth seeing as well), “Heaven’s Gate” might be either a masterpiece or a train wreck.  Starring Kris Kristofferson and an all-star ensemble, the story is about the real-life Johnson County War in 1890.

What to avoid

Robocop 3 (December 1)

Shot in Atlanta, this third film in the popular “Robocop” series failed to improve upon the foundation laid in the first film that was somewhat carried forward in its uneven sequel.  Actor Robert John Burke steps into the Robocop role (taking over from Peter Weller) in this misguided adventure that has the half man/half robot cop take on ruthless developers seeking to evict poor people from their land. Of interest only to “Robocop” completests.

Arthouse Corner:

Call Me By Your Name (review)

Having this month been named best picture by the LA Film Critics Association, this 1980s set romance might trouble some viewers with its controversial story of an older man engaged in an affair with a 17-year-old.  The film concerns young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) who has an affair with his father’s mid-20s graduate student assistant (played by Armie Hammer). “Call Me By Your Name” is very powerful exposing loss of innocence and the importance of one’s first love in a mature, albeit graphic, way.  Hammer and Chalamet along with Michael Stuhlbarg might find themselves all nominated for acting awards.

Theatrical Teasers:

The Post (review)

Steven Spielberg teams again with Tom Hanks (who last worked together on 2015’s “Bridge of Spies”) to tell the story how the Washington Post’s Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), the nation’s first female major newspaper publisher, fought President Nixon and the government over the leaked Pentagon Papers.  The resulting Supreme Court decision in the case was a landmark ruling against prior restraint and was a precursor for the Post’s Watergate coverage that was to follow.

Easily the front runner for best picture, “The Post” might be reminiscent of 2015’s award winner “Spotlight.” However, given the current political climate, “The Post” is likely to resonate with even a broader segment of viewers.  Meryl Streep is very special here, so, look for her to be in the discussion for best actress.  I liked this film so much that I wanted to go right back into the theater and watch it again.

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