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)
EXPLORE: Curious Contraptions at Exploratorium
“Small Machines of Love and Mystery,” promises the tagline. On display through the first two weeks of January, pay these ingenious, kinetic automata toys a visit to marvel at the handiwork that brings them to life. Don’t be surprised if you stumble into Wes Anderson in the parking lot after. (Through Jan. 16)
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)
CHEER: Rugy World Cup Sevens
For the first time, American soil will host the Rugby World Cup Sevens, a more fast-paced, modern version of the sport. The tourney isn’t until July, but there’s a limited window now to book tix. Here's to the Stars and Stripes taking down perennial powerhouse New Zealand next summer. (Tickets available until Dec. 24)
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. Plus, if you’re in New York, the show has a themed anti-holiday pop-up bar called Jingle Hell’s. (Dec. 6)
SUPPORT: SF Veterans Film Festival
The sixth installment of this annual event, and as vital as ever. The SFVFF’s mission is to bridge the gap between our nation’s wounded vets and the communities that sometimes leave them behind. It does so with a weekend of narrative films and documentaries that confront the often devastating transition back to civilian life. (Dec. 2-3)
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.
SURVIVE: Zombie Holiday Burlesque
You probably won’t need Tallahassee for protection at this event. No promises, though. EXIT Theater’s seasonal apocalypse is a cheeky burlesque rehearsal gone ghastly. Happy Holidays, everyone. (Dec. 2)
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).