Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.
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)
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)
GO: Andrew Bird at the Fourth Presbyterian Church
Following the release of Echolocations: River, the second in five-part series of site-specific compositions based on different soundscapes, indie experimentalist and violinist Andrew Bird brings his sweet somber tunes the Fourth Presbyterian Church. (Ed. note: he's also the best live whistler you'll eve hear, period.) (Dec. 11-15)
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. (Dec. 6)
It’s that time of the season. And there’s no better place to get a little last-minute holiday shopping done than Dose’s annual holiday market. Expect 130+ of the city’s best makers — we suggest you plan your attack by perusing the vendors here. (Dec. 11)
Looking for more holiday shopping? Also going down this month: the always-popular Renegade Craft Fair (Dec. 2-3), and for your vintage-loving comrades: the Randolph Street Holiday Market (Dec. 16-17).
CELEBRATE: 13 Days of Happy’s
A pop-up bar at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Happy’s is where you’ll want to bring (or escape) the family this holiday season. Expect all kinds of fun events all month long, from holiday karaoke to Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas played live. (All month long)
SPIN: Project 12
Weighing in as one of the world’s most celebrated archive labels, Chicago-based Numero Group is bringing back its coveted Project 12 private subscription club for 2018, offering up unreleased vinyl LPs sourced from the label’s Eccentric Soul, Wayfaring Strangers and Private Mind Garden series. You can subscribe to one, two or all three of ‘em. We suggest the latter. (Available now)
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).