The Best Movies, TV, Books and Music for December
Netflix's "Alice in Borderland" is here for those missing "Squid Game." Plus, Brendan Fraser shines in "The Whale."
Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.
WATCH: The Whale
Darren Aronofsky’s latest isn’t without controversy, but this drama — based on a play by Samuel D. Hunter — centers on a man who weighs 600 lbs trying to reconnect with his daughter. Whatever you think of the casting decision (or the wearing of a prosthetic suit), star Brendan Fraser is a standout. (12/9, theaters)
More new films coming to the small screen and big: Emancipation (12/2, theaters; 12/9, Apple TV+); Violent Night (12/2, theaters); Avatar: Way of the Water (12/16, theaters); The Apology (12/16, Shudder); The Pale Blue Eye (12/23, theaters)
WELCOME BACK: Alice in Borderland
Before Squid Game, there was another dystopian survival drama with a gaming element. This Japanese thriller, now in season two, is a bit more action-based and the surrounding environment is even bleaker: The show takes place in a desolate Tokyo and losers are executed by a mysterious force that shoots lasers from the sky. (12/22, Netflix)
More returning TV shows: His Dark Materials (12/5, HBO); Doom Patrol (12/8, HBO Max); Baking It (12/12, Peacock); Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery (12/15, Netflix); Letterkenny (12/26, Hulu)
I doubt I’d ever recommend a game show hosted by Nikki Bella, Blake Shelton and Carson Daly, but this one involves celebrities playing bar games (some drunken, like Beer Pong) and some games you’d just find in bars “but on steroids” (e.g. corn-shaped air rifles for a giant game of cornhole). (12/5, USA)
READ: The Light Pirate
Lily Brooks-Dalton (Good Morning, Midnight) returns with another literary apocalyptic tale that takes place in a near-future Florida that’s slowly being destroyed and isolated by extreme weather and climate change. So, basically, non-fiction. (12/6)
More new books: Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy (12/6)
LISTEN: Vince Guaraldi Trio
The classic A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack gets a deluxe box set treatment, featuring a new stereo mix remastered from the original 3-track and 2-track sources, plus the original stereo mix, unheard outtakes from five recording sessions, a Blu-ray disc includes hi-resolution audio of the new mix as well as a Dolby Atmos mix, and new liner notes from Peanuts historian Derrick Bang. (12/2)
A new documentary from Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, The First Wave) captures the final chaotic nine months of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan from multiple perspectives. (12/8, Nat Geo; 12/9, Disney+; 12.11, Hulu)
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