It’s December and there is a chill in the air, so it’s no wonder why many of us love to hit a movie theater and catch a flick. Vancity Buzz has started a new series called 6-Flick-Picks where I will give you six films every month that I think might be worth checking out.
Most of these films I will review so make sure to check out how many raindrops are given as the busy month of December rolls along.
The six films that are chosen will have some wide release and some will be limited to maybe a couple of theaters around town. Nonetheless December is a strong month for both the end of year blockbuster and the independent film trying to get some play before the big award season really kicks off. My list includes something for everyone.
Official Synopsis: With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. WILD powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddens, strengthens, and ultimately heals her. (c) Fox Searchlight
REASON TO SEE: We’ll start the month off with a movie that is getting a little bit of buzz and some positive reviews and that’s Wild. It’s staring Reese Witherspoon and is directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallee who hails from Montreal, Quebec and gave us last year’s Oscar darling Dallas Buyers Club.
From what I hear, many are saying Reese Witherspoon gives a career defining performance that could be good for her as we roll into award season. If you like a movie that moves at a slow pace and is chalk full of scenery and dramatic character development, than yes, go and check it out as a lot of our fellow critics are saying it’s well done.
Release Date: December 5, 2014
Official Synopsis: Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. TOP FIVE digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today-holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, TOP FIVE is an original and radically new kind of American movie. Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, TOP FIVE tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he’s left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah. The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove. (C) Paramount
REASON TO SEE: I wasn’t sure what to make of this film when I first saw the trailer but that’s just like judging a book by it’s cover. Early reviews are saying it’s very funny and smart. To be honest, had I not read some of the early reviews I would have waited to rent this one, but people who have seen it are really digging it so it makes it on this list.
If you like the comedy stylings of Rock you will thoroughly enjoy this film. So for an evening of funny bone magic, check out Top Five.
Release Date: December 12, 2014
Theater near you
Official Synopsis: From Academy Award (R)-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town. Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain. As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance. (c) Warner Bros
REASON TO SEE: It’s the final chapter in the Hobbit trilogy and although the book probably didn’t really deserve three long winded films, most of us will check this out because it’s Orcs, Dwarves, Hobbits, and Elves. It wouldn’t feel like the holidays without Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth induced nerdgasm. This will be the last time we see any hobbits named Baggins for a long time, so go out and enjoy the final chapter. Our review will be posted on opening night.
Release Date: December 17, 2014.
Theater near you
Official Synopsis: During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, THE IMITATION GAME follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives. (c) Weinstein
REASON TO SEE: Benedict Cumberbatch gives one of his finest performances and that is reason enough to check out this fantastic bio-pic on the genius Alan Turing. It is being included in this six pick because, although the film has been seen at many festivals, including Vancouver Film Festival, it won’t be officially released in Vancouver until December 19th. I had the pleasure to check out a screening of the film and it’s fantastic. Stay tuned for my full review later on in the month.
Release Date: December 19, 2014
Official Synopsis: In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un. (c) Sony
REASON TO SEE IT: Seth Rogen. There is nothing that better that sets the mood for the spirit of Christmas than dick jokes and bong hits. Most of Rogen’s movies are completely ridiculous and juvenile, but that is why we love them. Besides Vancouver has Seth Rogen’s back because the fellow Vancouverite brought the production to our fair city. Oh and James Franco is in it too, that guy.
If you want smart humour check out Top Five, if you want something that will probably make you feel dumber for watching it, go and see The Interview.
Besides, it’s the holidays, a little responsible use of rum and Eggnog, a vaporizer with a movie night out could be just what the doctor ordered. I guarantee you there will be some laughs and access to munchies. Merry Christmas.
Release Date: December 25
Theater near you
Official Synopsis: Directed and produced by Tim Burton, BIG EYES is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work. (C) Weinstein
REASON TO SEE IT: Usually Tim Burton is making weird films or redoing old films and making those weird. Also Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter always seem to be starring in those weird films while playing weird characters.
There is nothing weird about Big Eyes which is already getting some positive reviews. There is no Depp or Carter, instead we get Academy Award winning actor Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams.
The Margaret Keane Big Eye art work is still popular to this day, and it is such a fascinating story that I’m pretty stoked to see how Burton pulls it all together. You know the director was greatly influenced by Keane’s artwork. I still enjoy Burton’s style of film making but it’s a movie like Big Eyes that should show there is still a fantastic director hidden behind all the weirdness.
Release Date: December 25
Theater near you
That ends our 6-Pick-Flicks for the month of December. Make sure to check the special mentions below. There are a couple of potentially really good family films coming out in December and into January.
Special Mentions (Because I could only pick six)
Song of the Sea – Animation – December 19, 2014 – Getting rave reviews, a good family film.
Selma – Drama – December 25, 2014 – A very heavy film about Martin Luther King Jr.
Into The Woods – Family – December 24, 2014