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.
We rarely get political here at InsideHook, but the physical transformation of Christian Bale into former Vice President Dick Cheney in this biopic crosses all left/right boundaries — it’s astounding. (Sam Rockwell as former President George W. Bush is inspired casting, too.) Expect multiple Oscar nods here … also, hard to believe director Adam McKay (The Big Short) is the same guy who did both Anchorman and Step Brothers. (Dec. 25)
WATCH (WITH THE KIDS): Mary Poppins Returns
The plot behind this belated sequel — which includes both a foreclosure and a death — sounds dour, but Emily Blunt is a treasure and maybe this film can put a new twist on a beloved original. (Dec. 19)
LISTEN: Springsteen on Broadway
Music and stories by the iconic singer from his extremely intimate run of shows on Broadway. This isn’t Bruce in arena rock mode, but rather telling stories and going at it alone and acoustically, with a bit of help from musician/wife Patti Scialfa. (Album Dec. 14, Netflix special Dec. 16)
READ: The Minimalist Home
Joshua Becker, the best-selling author of The More of Less, offers up a room-by-room guide to decluttering and refocusing your life. Consider this the antidote to your holiday excess. Currently 40% off during preorders. (Dec. 18)
BUY: 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K UHDBD
The 50th anniversary of the iconic sci-fi film brought a beautiful new 70mm print of the film, as overseen by Christopher Nolan. That update (which you can read about here) certainly deserves a new look on 4K UHD Blu-ray. (Dec. 18)
DOWNLOAD: Reverb LP
It’s like a great used record store in app form, with a bit of eBay/Craigslist functionality. Browse thousands of records, cassettes and CDs (remember those?) or sell your own collection. They even have staff picks … and you don’t have to worry about suffering High Fidelity-esque record store snobbery.
CALL THE ACADEMY: Roma
Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Gravity) is no stranger to an acceptance speech. But the Mexican director’s latest film, Roma, looks to bridge the gap between his highly personal early works (Sólo con Tu Pareja, Y Tu Mamá También) with the epic visual feasts he’s become known for. The film, which documents the lives of two families in 1970s Mexico City, is already in a few theaters and racking up accolades — if it’s not playing near you, Netflix will be showcasing the B&W drama. (Dec. 21)
STREAM: Bird Box
Josh Malerman’s 2014 horror novel was damn creepy. Essentially, people start going insane when they see an unknown entity, leading to the decimation of humankind. Susanne Bier’s adaptation for Netflix is certainly intriguing — most of the film is going to follow a blindfolded Sandra Bullock as she tries to lead her kids to a safe zone. It’s basically A Quiet Place but focusing on sight. (Dec. 21)
Image: Guy Hepner
PERUSE: Angels (2018 Collector’s Edition)
A striking work of nude and near-nude photography when it was first released in 2014, Victoria’s Secret photog Russell James’s updated coffee table tome features hundreds of classic and new B&W pics of Gisele, Adriana Lima, Brooklyn Decker, Cindy Crawford and Kendall Jenner, among others. Extremely limited — you’ll have to buy on Artsy for $1,800 or contact James directly. (Available for preorders)
LISTEN: Our monthly Spotify playlist
All of the month’s best new tunes from artists old and new, including tracks by The 1975, Karen O, Mark Ronson, Jeff Tweedy, Cold War Kids, Meek Mill (with Jay-Z) and more.
And don’t forget … Who needs summer for superhero blockbusters? Both the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Dec. 14) and real-life but cartoonish Aquaman (Dec. 21) appear to be, well, fantastic … Hopefully, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly can recapture their Step Brothers mojo as Holmes and Watson (Dec. 21) … Your dad would like to see Clint Eastwood’s new film. It’s called The Mule, and it turns Mr. Get Off My Lawn into a drug courier, so maybe? (Dec. 14) … Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) made his own version of The Jungle Book called Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, which appears to be darker and more geared toward adults (Dec. 7, Netflix) … Finally, for dumb laughs: Adam Pally is part of wanderless hip-hop entourage who has to readjust to real life in Champaign ILL (Dec. 21, YouTube)