The best movies, TV, books and music for December
Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.
EXPERIENCE: The Chronicles
The folks that put on Burning Man and Coachella art shows have a new “immersive concept store” in a secret location (update: it’s the Barclay Hotel) dedicated to sex. This immersive art experience includes theatrics, live performances and visuals intended to stimulate your senses. You need to RSVP. (Dec. 1-2)
WATCH: The Disaster Artist
The bizarre story behind the worst film ever made (Tommy Wiseau’s The Room). While wildly hit or miss as both an actor and director, James Franco may get some Oscar love in both categories for this buzzed-about dramedy, which features the year’s best supporting cast (Bryan Cranston, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Megan Mullally, Kristen Bell). (Dec. 1 limited, Dec. 8 wide release)
SEE: Hugh Holland
Hugh Holland first became known in the ’70s for black-and-whites of skaters in L.A. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and MOCA. Now you can purchase them in eye-popping silver gelatin at M+B Gallery in Hollywood. Their retrospective encompasses the photographer’s work from 1975 to 1978, when the sport originated.
PERUSE: Backstage Secrets
A decade behind the scenes at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, as chronicled by photographer Russell James. Starring Lily Aldridge, Alessandra Ambrosio, Gisele Bündchen, Gigi Hadid, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Miranda Kerr, among many others. (Available now)
WANDER: Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens illuminates its sprawling grounds for their holiday nights. If you’re entertaining family this season, this is a solid bet. (Dec. – Jan.)
Your typical drama about an alcoholic hit man (Christopher Meloni) and his imaginary blue-winged horse (voiced by Patton Oswalt). Based on the bizarre comic book by Grant Morrison, this Syfy series should serve as a wonderfully toxic antidote to gleeful Yuletide programming. Plus, if you’re in New York, the show has a themed anti-holiday pop-up bar called Jingle Hell’s. (Dec. 6)
The Natural History Museum’s exhibition of tattoo art spans 5,000 years, from Ainu in Japan, to the Māori tradition of tā moko in New Zealand, to contemporary works from China to the Chicano tattoo culture in L.A. There are even local tattoo artists onsite in case you feel inspired to leave with something permanent. (ongoing)
LISTEN: Our December playlist
Over 30 new songs from the likes of Bjork, The Wombats, Empire of the Sun, NERD and two forms of Thunder (as in Thunder Jackson and the gloriously named, Pearl Jam-championed Thunderpussy). And, in honor of five years of playlists, we’ve consolidated our previous mixes into some glorious compilations: relive the best of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and the first half of this year.
Documentarian extraordinaire Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line) examines the CIA, LSD experimentation, mind control and murder in this scripted series that’s based on a true story, spans six decades and features real-life interviews. (Dec. 15, Netflix)
SUPPORT: Charlize Theron
For the holidays, give back … by getting your ass kicked by the Atomic Blonde star in a workout. A new giveaway from the charity/fundraiser site Omaze, donations support (RED) and the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.
And don’t forget … There’s a Star Wars sequel? Why didn’t anyone tell us? (Dec. 15) … Might as well pair it with the iconic John Williams score, now out on hologram vinyl (Dec. 1) … Guillermo del Toro explores interspecies romance in The Shape of Water (Dec. 1) … Revisit more than 400 artworks from Tank Girl co-creator and Gorillaz collaborator/founder Jamie Hewlett (Dec. 8) … Meta-comedy time: Jean-Claude Van Damme is Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Dec. 15, Amazon Prime) … Judd Apatow returns to his standup roots in a Netflix special called (natch) The Return (Dec. 12) … People who still use Blu-ray: It’s a good time to get caught up on the recent season of Twin Peaks (Dec. 5) and all seven seasons of Game of Thrones (Dec. 12).