December’s best movies, music, TV and books
Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important pop cultural happenings.
Brainy genre flicks are in again — kudos, Arrival, Dr. Strange, etc. This time out, it’s Norwegian director Morten Tyldum (the Oscar nominated helmsman behind The Imitation Game) shepherding America’s two most likeable stars (Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt) through space. Here, the dynamic acting duo play an unlucky pair of travelers who awake 90 years earlier than intended during an interstellar trip.
PLAY: Dead Rising 4
Shooting zombies in a mall during the holidays? Sold. Real world parallels aside, DR4 is sort of an undead take on an open-world playfield (a la Grand Theft Auto). You can leave the mall and explore the town, but … it is the holidays. (Dec. 6)
ATTEND: Bill Ayers
You know the name — it’s usually said frothily, and in connection with our current president. The retired University of Illinois at Chicago professor and now-and-forever activist is touring behind his new book, Demand the Impossible!: A Radical Manifesto; we can only imagine what he’ll have to say in a city that voted 90 percent for the opposition in November. (Dec. 5)
CHECK OUT: Freddy Chandra
We’re suckers for the wall pieces by local artist Freddy Chandra, the Indonesia-born artist whose Berkeley education in architecture is evident in his work’s masterful handling of rhythm and proportion. Just go; be dazzled; leave happy. (Through Dec. 23)
SHOP: The Holiday Market at the SFCB
The San Francisco Center for the Book is a temple to a pre-Kindle word of beautiful book design. Somebody you know is in the market for a hand-produced story or the related arts. Expect a plethora of hand-letterpressed goods here — if nothing else, you can find a printer worthy of some business cards that would put even Patrick Bateman to shame.
BUY: Phantasm and Phantasm: Ravager
The Tall Man. Zombie dwarves. Shiny, spiky balls. Recipe for a cult horror classic — which the original Phantasm certainly was, and is. This new 4K restoration was overseen by the film’s superfan, J.J. Abrams. Pair it with the film’s fourth and final sequel, Ravager, which sees its first Blu-ray release. (Dec. 6)
PERUSE: Sex Magazine
When isn’t it about sex? When it’s Sex, an interview-heavy, lo-fi online zine that sees its first 10 issues collected here in print. Interviews, design, music and fiction take precedence. Your indie-rock-loving artsy friend will dig it.
BUILD: Your vinyl library
What’s your vinyl pleasure? Heavy metal fans can discuss Motley Crue’s The End, 12 records that collect the L.A. band’s best and worst moments (out now). Beck’s entire back catalog continues its vinyl reissue campaign, continuing with Odelay, Sea Change and Guero (out now).
Tom Petty’s underrated, post-1994 output gets a seven-album box set (Dec. 9). Lou Reed’s creatively fertile 1972-82 recordings lands the box vinyl set treatment (out now). Sub Pop’s not just grunge reissues — their entire online store of indie goodness old and new is on sale (until Jan. 3).
Counterpoint: Vinyl’s dead, cassettes are where it’s at, and Green Day’s re-releasing all their albums on tape … boombox included. (Dec. 9)
STREAM: White Rabbit Project
Missing some Mythbusters? The old science series’s Build Team — Grant Imahara, Kari Byron, and Tory Belleci — return in this Netflix show that aims to investigate “history’s greatest inventions, heists and more” (along with something about “sexing a cockroach”). (Dec. 9)
LISTEN: The best songs of December
Our monthly Spotify playlist highlights the best in new music, including The xx, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, some band called the Rolling Stones and a lot of new favorite acts (Nick Murphy, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, SOHN, etc.). And a bizarre, dance/French horn take on Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” because why not?
ALSO: Childish Gambino promises “R&B meets Pink Floyd” on his new record Awaken My Love!, which seems as good/trippy as his Atlanta TV series (Dec. 2) … Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone fall in love in the Oscar hopeful/take a date indie flick La La Land (Dec. 9) … Speaking of small indie films: Rogue One (Dec. 16) … An Aussie take on Archer? Good on ya, Pacific Heat (Dec. 2, Netflix) … Think life should be lived out of a camper? There’s a new magazine just for you: Kudos, The Rolling Home Journal (out now)
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