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Ten new movies to see this month

December’s biggest, best and most unmissable theatrical releases

By Time Out Film |
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Photo: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.
Film, Drama

Motherless Brooklyn

It’s a month bookended by actors-turned-directors adapting beloved works of literature for the screen: Greta Gerwig rounds things out with her fresh take on ‘Little Women’, though it’s safe to say that, of the pair, Edward Norton is working with harder-edged material. Jonathan Lethem’s ’50s-set crime novel has been a Norton passion project for 20 years. He has a veteran cast (Bruce Willis, Cherry Jones, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe) aboard to make it a reality.

Out Fri Dec 6.

Film, Drama

Honey Boy

Shia LaBeouf: acting genius or installation artwork with legs? Opinions have been divided in recent years, what with the lawsuits, pub brawls and him retiring from public life, but this year has yielded a pair of films to remind us that, behind the eccentric bravado, he remains an astonishingly gifted actor. First came ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ and now this autobiographical film penned by His Shia-ness. He is very much not retired.

Out Fri Dec 6.

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Film, Drama

So Long, My Son

China’s breakneck speed of change and its human cost are explored in pointillist detail in Wang Xiaoshuai’s acclaimed epic. It’s set in a seaside town in Fujian province and follows a married couple, Yaojun (Wang Jingchun) and Liyun (Yong Mei), who have lost their biological son in a tragic accident and struggle under the shadow of the country’s one-child policy. It sounds bleak but it’s far from it: a warm, humane start to Wang’s promised ‘Homeland Trilogy’.

Out Fri Dec 6.

 

Photograph: Hiram Garcia, CTMG
Film, Action and adventure

Jumanji: The Next Level

It looked dubious on paper but 2017’s ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ was a surprise joy: a video-game bolt-on to the original film’s analogue premise that hilariously subverted the on-screen personas of its likeable cast. A beta Dwayne Johnson, cynical Karen Gillan, neurotic and vain Jack Black, and jock Kevin Hart reassemble for more ‘Breakfast Club’-y wisecracks and ‘Indiana Jones’-like action in this sequel. Fingers crossed for more of the same.

Out Dec 11.

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Film, Documentaries

The Kingmaker

There’s more to ex-Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos than her sociopathic shoe collection, as Lauren Greenfield’s doc shows. In some ways, it’s a companion piece to Greenfield’s 2012 film ‘The Queen of Versailles’ – what happens when eye-watering wealth and privilege run smack into tough new realities – but it’s most effective as a study of power in all its self-perpetuating entitlement. Expect ‘The Kingmaker’ to be depressing but gripping and timely.

Out Dec 13.

Photograph: Photograph: Alexander Nemenov_AFP_Getty
Film, Documentaries

Citizen K

Alex Gibney puts post-Soviet hardnut Mikhail Khodorkovsky under the microscope in this snapshot of life in Putin’s Russia. The ex-oligarch was once a key figure in the county’s political life, but his journey to the gulag is terrifying in its inevitability. Khodorkovsky, who is interviewed extensively in the film, pulls no punches. Interestingly, neither does Gibney, who teases the idea that this seemingly upright man might not be as innocent as he appears.

Out Dec 13.

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Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd
Film, Action and adventure

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

This month’s underdog release is the latest in the little-seen ‘Star Wars’ series of movies. Okay, it’s not: it’s the biggest non-Marvel film of the year and its release date is already etched on the eyeballs of half the world’s moviegoing population. The eagle-eyed will have noticed that Luke Skywalker didn’t exactly emerge from ‘The Last Jedi’ unscathed. How much rising he does in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is just one of the points of mystery shrouding this typically enigmatic entry.

Out Dec 19.

Photograph: Universal Pictures
Film, Fantasy

Cats

Whether you’re a ‘Cats’ devotee of long standing or have recently been traumatised by the trailer for this Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation, you’ll no doubt be powerless before its spell. Will it be brilliant or awful? Will any of us ever be able to look our pet tabbies in the eye again? And what is ‘digital fur technology’? Everything will become clear(ish) just before Christmas.

Out Dec 20. 

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Photograph: Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Film
Film, Animation

Spies in Disguise

The animation house behind ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Rio’, Blue Sky Studios, returns with another jaunty comedy it’ll be hoping will launch a ton of sequels. Its main voice talents, Will Smith and Tom Holland, play an unlikely double act of a spy and a scientist. In an unexpected twist, the latter turns the former into a pigeon. Londoners should be warned: you are expected to root for the pigeon.

Out Dec 26.

Little Women
Photograph: Wilson Webb/Sony Pictures
Film, Drama

Little Women

Greta Gerwig seems like the perfect filmmaker to revisit Louisa May Alcott’s magical, beloved coming-of-age novel. She’s reunited with her ‘Ladybird’ lead Saoirse Ronan, who plays Jo March, with Emma Watson (Meg), Florence Pugh (Amy) and Eliza Scanlen (Beth) as the other March sisters. The rest of the cast – Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts et al – is dynamite too. Don’t miss this film, basically. 

Out Dec 26.

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