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. (Dec. 21)
PLAY: Secret Hitler
From the minds behind Cards Against Humanity comes a new party card game “of political intrigue and betrayal set in 1930s Germany.” In short: it’s a helluva time — a game of murder, betrayal and secret identity, where players must find and stop (or protect and serve) Hitler. Sound familiar? Too soon? Depends on your political bend. Either way, playing this is better than digging a useless big hole. (Out now)
You get a gift! And you get a gift! And you … also get a gift! Ok, so you have a list. You’ve checked it thrice. Now it’s time to shop, ideally all in one place. That’s where Holidose comes in. Vendor list right here. It’s local. It’s a grand time. And because “Dose market” is a much more interesting story than, “Uh, the internet.” (Dec. 11)
Looking for more holiday shopping? Also going down this month: the always-popular Renegade Craft Fair (Dec. 2-3), the tastefully curated holiday bazaar at Hopewell Brewing (Dec. 10) and, for your vintage-loving comrades, the Randolph Street Holiday Market (Dec. 10-11).
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)
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.
DO: Naughty N’ Nice
Speaking of sex ... why go to a burlesque show this holiday season? Treat yo’self. The Annoyance Theater’s Naughty N’ Nice show is an adults-only holiday extravaganza set in a comedic strip club replete with a cast of characters which may or may not include an appearance from Krampus. Surely, an out-of-the-box date night waiting to happen. (Through Dec. 31)
WATCH: The 2016 World Series … Again
Because of course this exists. If we're being honest, it’s a season worth reliving over and over again. Following its premiere at the Lyric Opera House this past month, the MLB is giving its Cubs documentary the Blu-ray treatment. Narrated by Vince Vaughn (was Bill not available?), it’s the doc that belongs on every Chicago sports fan's shelf. (Out now)
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)