Growing up as a Catholic, my favourite line was always “Amen” – for obvious reasons. We pronounce it “Are-men” where I’m from, as opposed to “A-men”, which is strange as we never say “And Robin shall restore are-mends’ or “Do you have any more of that ar-myl nitrite?”
Taboo to pooh-pooh Naboo?
“Jesus wept” was a close second – the shortest verse in the Bible, I’ll have you know – and I can almost hear the poor fella weeping somewhere as the big day approaches. Noooh! Not Christmas and the over-commericalised anti-climax it has become, but the release of the next Star Wars film to continue a franchise we thought had ended in 1983 and 2005, but now looks set to outlive us all.
Imagine how you’d feel having your life-story (and name, Jesus Waterwalker innit) ripped off like this.
Or put it this way: do you remember as a kid excitedly tuning into The Greatest Story Ever Told – in which John Wayne has an eight-word cameo as a Roman centurion and somehow managed to make it onto the promo posters as Hollywood commercialised the birth of Christianity – and then realising it was the same frigging story you’d be told your entire childhood and even been forced to act in?
Well, subsequent films have confirmed it really is ‘the greatest story ever told’. The kid who grows up unaware of his magical powers … so not only Luke Skywalker, but Harry Potter, Neo from The Matrix, Dickface from Avatar and many more – you can even throw the Bagginses into that group as well.
But now it would appear the franchise is going too far. Even the title of Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker (Not Released Worldwide; Dec 18) sounds Biblical. And … oh noooh … I just googled “Is Yoda Elijah” … and apparently there’s a character called Elijah Skywalker who was born in 57bby on Planet Naboo. When will it ever end?
It happened in Hollywood!
There are obvious concerns that JJ Abrams might not be the right man to helm Star Wars films given that his last effort, The Force Awakens, was crap and The Last Jedi surprisingly good. Just to rub it in, the director of the latter, Rian Johnson, has wowed the critics with his reinvention of the whodunnit genre, Knives Out (85 on Metacritic; Dec 5), starring Daniel Craig as a detective quizzing a who’s who of suspects. The visionary exploded onto the scene with Brick in 2005 – before going mainstream with Looper in 2012, followed by three standout episodes of Breaking Bad – but he apparently turned down the chance to oversee Episode 9.
Talking of genre reinvention, South Korean movie Parasite (96; Dec 25) starts off as one kind of film, but ends up being completely another. The critics absolutely love it! And they’re also going crazy about Marriage Story (94; Nov 28 – and then on Netflix from Dec 6), starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson (both of whom, along with the film, are second favourites for Oscars, while Laura Dern is odds-on to win Best Supporting Actress) as the couple at the centre of a mini-community imploding from the inside. Director Noah Baumbach based the story on his marriage to the actress Jennifer Jason Leigh – and she apparently likes it.
Shia Labeouf has also sourced his own life for the script of Honey Boy (71; Dec 19), in which he is ably supported by two ‘child actors’: the boy who would be king, British actor Noah Jupe (a standout as Auggie’s friend in Wonder), and the king in waiting, Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea).
Ken Loach has again taken inspiration from austerity Britain – he really doesn’t have to look very far – for Sorry We Missed You (79; Dec 12), a Newcastle-based tale about a father struggling with his zero hours contract. True life has also inspired The Two Popes (82; Dec 20 on Netflix), as Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) puts his foot down to become the first pontiff since 1415 to retire, clearing the way for a younger, more reformist replacement, Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce). And Bruce Springsteen has fashioned a film about his latest album, Western Stars (84; Nov 28), which will no doubt please his legions of fans in Denmark.
Bury him six feet under!
Overall, that’s quite a line-up, so inevitably there have to be some bridesmaids, or in the case of Jumaji: The Next Level (NRW; Dec 5) and Cats (NRW; Dec 25), with Christmas on the way, absolute turkeys. Both films look absolutely ridiculous.
So do cop thriller 21 Bridges (50; Jan 2), pointless reboot Charlies Angels (52; Jan 9) and valiant Jaws rip-off 47 meters down: Uncaged (a fitting 47; Dec 5), so they have done quite well to avoid being panned.
Netflix, meanwhile, might be dodging bullets once Michael Bay’s latest actioner 6 Underground comes out on the platform on December 13. They gave him 150 million dollars to spend and he somehow managed to produce “the worst movie poster ever created”, according to Slashfilm.
And it wouldn’t be an average month in Hollywood without a splattering of re-releases (Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, Nov 28; The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dec 12); an un-necessary remake (The Grudge, Jan 2); and an unavoidable sequel (Frozen 2, Dec 25).
Meanwhile, over on TV land, there’s not an awful lot to look forward to, with new seasons of Vikings (S6; HBO Nordic; Dec 5) and You (S2; Netflix; Dec 26) the month’s biggest hopes. Fuller House (S5; Netflix; Dec 6), Tell me a Story (S2; HBO Nordic; Dec 6) and Lost in Space (S2; Netflix; Dec 24) and new series V Wars (Netflix; Dec 5) and Virgin River (Netflix; Dec 6) all look like lame ducks.
No new hopes. We thought it might be Rian Johnson … but I guess (if what the monks told me was true) Jesus intervened.