This Month in Film: December 2017

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And just like that, 2017 is coming to a close. With fierce Brexit debates, Hollywood raising its biggest witch hunt in years, Taylor Swift taking over the public consciousness AGAIN, ‘Despacito’ becoming a thing *cocks gun and aims it at forehead*, the kids from Stranger Things continuing to remind us that there is some good in the world, Donald Trump saying “hold my beer” in response to that last remark, and the internet’s many intellectuals pouring out of the woodwork once again to criticise anything most people like, whilst explaining why you’re just not smart enough to understand why a cartoon character turning themselves into a pickle is comedy genius… it’s been one hell of a year.

But amidst all the absurdities, cinema (at least on screen) has continued to flourish. And with the year finally coming to an end, it’s time for the last ‘This Month in Film’ of 2017. Including a movie about bullying, a movie about the worst movie ever made and the return of the biggest franchise of all time, it promises to be quite the month…

Wonder, dir. by Stephen Chbosky

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Daveed Diggs, Mandy Patinkin.
Release date: December 1st.

Prepare the Kleenex… Based on R. J. Palacio’s novel of the same name, Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder is undoubtedly a universal tale, one that we need now more than ever. Why? Well it’s a movie about acceptance and kindness. In this vitriolic and overwhelmingly negative world we live in, the movie’s tagline “Choose kind” is strikingly resonant. We follow the story of a 10 year old boy Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), a child born with a facial defect and who has been home schooled. The film picks up as he finally starts school for the first time, including all the judgement and trying times that will come with it. With a stellar cast and a great director on board, all the pieces are in place for Wonder to be a brilliantly executed story about not judging a book by its cover. Because of this, it’s likely to be equal parts life affirming and uplifting as well as tearful and delicate; for as much as it will deliver a positive message, Wonder could just as easily crush you emotionally in the process. Palacio’s book balances it well and makes for a great read, and the last time Stephen Chbosky took a beloved book and put it on the big screen, he delivered The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and that was one of the best films of the past five years. Expectations for Wonder are suitably high.

The Disaster Artist, dir. by James Franco

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron.
Release date: December 6th.

Oh hi, readers. I can’t wait to tell you about great Hollywood movie that come out this month, it The Disaster Artist. It star Dave Franco as good friend Greg, it also star Seth Rogen and Alison Brie, and James Franco as true all-American hero Tommy Wiseau. He direct real Hollywood movie too, also maybe he Vampire, I no know. This movie will be great, everyone in Hollywood talk about it, make lot of money and win many award. It movie with great props too, like a dozen red roses, many spoons and nice doggy, make it look realistic. But remember, if someone tells you this movie bad, do not listen! It’s not true! It’s bullshit! It is not! If they argue with you then they are just chicken! Chip-chip-chip-chip-cheep-cheep. Anyway this movie great, go see it. Please see it reader, please! Please see it, please! You are part of my life! You are everything! I could not go on without you, reader. YOU ARE TEARING ME APART READER!!!

Anyway, how’s your sex life?

Brigsby Bear, dir. by Dave McCary

Starring: Kyle Mooney, Claire Danes, Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh, Michael Watkins.
Release date: December 8th.

It’s been a long, long road for the UK cinema release of Dave McCary’s Brigsby Bear. Having debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, it is one of the festival’s last hits to arrive in UK cinemas, but it certainly looks to be worth the wait. Brigsby Bear centres around the story of the fictional titular TV show made for an audience of one, James (Kyle Mooney). When the show ends, James is left devastated and sets out to finish the story himself. Coming from the mind of Mooney himself, an SNL cast member, the film has received high praise across the pond for its humour and heart, with Mooney being praised as a real breakout star. Many of 2017’s independent cinema leading figures have broken out already, including Kumail Nanjiani and Danielle Macdonald – expect Mooney to join the club and see his star rise as we head into 2018. But it’s not just the Mooney show, veterans Greg Kinnear and Mark Hamill (who may just be in another little movie this December…) can always be relied upon for great performances, as can Stardust star (if you’ll pardon the pun) Claire Danes and comedic character actor Matt Walsh. It’s got some big supporters behind it as producers, including The Lonely Island and directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, so do yourself a favour and be an audience member supporting it on screen this December.

Pitch Perfect 3, dir. by Trish Sie

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Ruby Rose, Elizabeth Banks, John Lithgow.
Release date: December 20th.

Think about it for a moment; the Pitch Perfect series thus far has been pretty damn good, hasn’t it? The 2012 originator perfectly balanced the charm and musical gusto of Glee with the banter and character dynamics of Mean Girls, making for a smash hit comedy that surprised everyone. Fast forward three years and Pitch Perfect 2 blew up at the box office, raking in nearly $70 million in its first weekend in the States, earning a positive reception in the process (and we all know how hard a comedy sequel is to pull off). But now the Barden Bellas are back for their last call, Pitch Perfect 3 arrives this holiday season. The returning cast sidle up to the likes of franchise newcomers Ruby Rose and John Lithgow as the Bellas reform for one last international competition. Thus far the films have been filled with some hilarious one liners and great physical gags, something that Pitch Perfect 3 will be looking to continue. And then there are the lovable characters: the Bellas have great on screen chemistry and a fantastic dynamic between them, and of course the brilliant pairing of Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins’ a cappella commentators. All in all, the Pitch Perfect films are infectiously fun. With number three capping off the trilogy, expect some more singalongs, laugh out loud moments and pure entertainment.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, dir. by Jake Kasdan

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Rhys Darby, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale.
Release date: December 20th.

Speaking of pure entertainment, there’s an animal on the prowl looking to steal that crown for the holiday season – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Acting a sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams-starring original, Welcome to the Jungle puts a modern twist on the board game. This time, it’s a video game which pulls a group of teenagers on detention in, turning them into their selected avatars. The avatars? Played by none other than Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black. But the body swapping mayhem isn’t all there is to it, as their avatars the teens must traverse Jumanji, a high octane world of adventure and danger. Despite the surprising amount of backlash towards the trailers, seemingly more aimed at the idea that this is a Jumanji movie rather than whether or not it looks good, this adventure movie looks to be a fun filled romp, with some great actors, cool action and overall spirit of adventure which is lacking in modern cinema. Early word is that the movie pulls it off, with the lead cast earning plaudits, particularly Jack Black as the avatar of cheerleader and resident popular girl Bethany, and further praise going towards the action and heart. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise: this is, on paper, a great comedic adventure ensemble cast with a cool comedic adventure premise to work with. Comedy, adventure, Jack Black playing a teenage girl trapped in Jack Black’s body, what’s not to love?

EDITOR’S PICK: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, dir. by Rian Johnson

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro.
Release date: December 14th.

Oh come on, it was hardly gonna be anything else now, was it?

The biggest movie franchise of all time is back – Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally arrives after two years of anticipation and fervent fan speculation. The new characters are back and looking to further solidify themselves as icons we all love, the old guard are back to try to upstage them as only they can, and then there are some new additions who are still shrouded in mystery. The Force Awakens was a fantastic reintroduction to the franchise, seamlessly blending old and new and setting up an intriguing new storyline in the process. But it did leave a lot of questions, questions that Rian Johnson and co. are under pressure to answer. By all accounts director Johnson came on board all guns blazing with a script that felt both like a Star Wars movie and its own entity, being both familiar and shocking in the process. Lucasfilm have so much faith in the man that they’ve given him his very own trilogy to set up a few years down the line. Does that excite you even more for The Last Jedi? The prospect of spending more time with Finn, Poe, BB-8 and, most importantly, Rey and Kylo Ren is something to relish. With regards to the latter two, this new Star Wars trilogy is shaping up to be their own; both are fully fleshed out characters at this point, incredibly powerful, yet fatally flawed, with truly engrossing character arcs to follow into this movie. Behind them are what seem to be the puppet masters, Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke, two characters who many felt a little let down by in The Force Awakens but also optimistic that it was all in the name of the greater good. Cinema’s most iconic hero Luke Skywalker is now the mentor, clearly scarred by time and his regrets, and Snoke is the new Emperor, malevolent and mysterious. How independently Rey and Kylo Ren can act remains a lingering question that The Last Jedi looks to be focusing on; will they be our respective hero and villain come the end of the movie? How will this latest chapter change them? The trailers have, for the better, been light on story so it would seem that there are plenty of surprises in store for us. Whilst Rey and Ren are fighting their own battles, the rest of the Resistance and the First Order will be duking it out elsewhere. Finn and Poe with their bromance and plucky charm, joined by franchise newbies Kelly Marie Tran and Laura Dern, and Captain Phasma and General Hux with their ruthless intent and aggression (hopefully in a redemptive manner for the former), potentially being joined by big screen veteran Benicio del Toro whose role, referred to only as “DJ” by Rian Johnson, remains mysterious. Could he be the New Order’s newest recruit? But whilst it will undoubtedly be an exhilarating experience, it is also one with a bitter sweet tinge as it will mark the final time we see the iconic Leia Organa on screen, as this marks the last ever film role for the dearly departed Carrie Fisher. A year on and it is still a devastating loss of one of the most important figures in the history of the industry. Fisher’s last role will be as powerful off screen as it is on screen.

Simply put, there is so much to talk about with regards to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, perhaps even more so than with The Force Awakens. Whilst the universal anticipation may not be as high as its predecessor (lets face it, how can you out anticipate the most highly anticipated movie of all time?), The Last Jedi will still be an event film on par with the greats. And it’s less than three weeks away…

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The Edge's Film Editor 2017-2018, David has an unabashed love for all things Dave Grohl, Jack Black and Lord of the Rings. A compulsive liar who shouldn't be trusted, David once beat legendary actor David Hasselhoff in a hot dog eating contest and is best friends with Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, they speak on the phone three times a week.

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