By Jonathan Lawrence
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Darth Vader is back, ladies and gentleman… and apparently with Steve Bannon in tow.
Set after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope, this instalment into the Star Wars series will focus on new Rebel recruit Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), and the Alliance’s attempt to steal the design schematics for the Death Star (round shape, giant superlaser, and small vent which leads straight to the reactor core – pretty straightforward).
Rogue One was based on a story co-written by John Knoll, one of the creators of Photoshop, so he probably knows a thing or two about creating layers.
In theatres Dec. 14.
La La Land
If we’ve learned anything from 2014’s Whiplash, it’s that director Damien Chazelle specializes in riveting stories with passionate characters, and his third feature film, La La Land, is sure to continue that trend. And like Whiplash, music will play an important role, largely because it is a musical. J.K. Simmons will also make an appearance, although it’s unclear as of yet what degree of angry he will be.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone clearly have a thing going on; this being the third film the two have co-starred in. The Gos will play Sebastian, a struggling jazz musician who meets aspiring actress Mia, played by Stone, who fall in love in a rose-tinted version of Los Angeles – a throwback to Hollywood’s magical Golden Age.
The film’s many accolades barely fit on the film’s poster, so while it may just be showing off, it certainly looks like it’ll be worth it.
In theatres Dec. 16.
Is it irony or coincidence that in the distant future, while thousands of people are being transported aboard a large spacecraft toward a new planet, the two best-looking people onboard are suddenly awoken from cryogenic sleep 90 years ahead of schedule? Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find that out, but from the studio’s perspective, it’s no coincidence.
Jennifer Lawrence plays a journalist interested in space travel, and Chris Pratt plays a guy who just wanted to leave Earth. Being stuck onboard the ship with only each other fosters a romance between the two, but what else happens is anyone’s guess. Passengers was on Hollywood’s Black List way back in 2007, but now it’s finally on the silver screen and it looks pretty damn stellar.
In theatres Dec. 21.
I, Daniel Blake
Daniel is a 59-year-old carpenter in Newcastle, England who is forced to fight to claim benefits after suffering a heart attack. In a Catch-22-like situation, the government has stated that they will only provide Daniel with health benefits if he is looking for work, but his doctor has ordered him to stop working altogether.
Daniel soon meets Katie, a young single mother who is dealing with the same institutional contradictions and an alliance and friendship is formed. I, Daniel Blake was one of the films shown at CIFF this year and won a Palme d’Or at Cannes.
In theatres Dec. 23 (limited release).
Every self-respecting father who’s cringed at his daughter’s romantic prospects will find this film quite relatable. The film’s father in question, Bryan Cranston, isn’t too thrilled about his lovely daughter’s new boyfriend, a tattooed, potty-mouthed millionaire played by James Franco.
If you’ve finished Christmas shopping early and desperately need to zone out for a couple hours, Why Him? might be just what you need; though the better question may be, “Why did I go see that?” But hey, it’s too early to make judgments, and with Christmas just a couple days away from the film’s release, you might be in a jolly enough mood to enjoy it. And this may be the best Bryan-Cranston-can’t-get-along-with-a-younger-guy dynamic we’ve seen since he took the name of that old German physicist.
In theatres Dec. 23.AB, Alberta, I Daniel Blake, La La Land, Passengers, Rogue One, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Why Him?