|Julianne Moore takes a moment to contemplate fame in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars.
Maps to the Stars (K16)
While the arrival of a new David Cronenberg film las century would signal often startling observations in body horror, recent year have seen the Canadian director expand his repertoire considerably. Some, such as History of Violence have been superb; others, like 2012’s Cosmopolis have been more perplexing than transcendent examples of cinema. Here Cronenberg continues unperturbed towards new frontiers, in a searing take on Hollywood. Boasting a cast that includes Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson, Cronenberg weaves numerous stories together as a true master of satire. Teenagers returning from rehab, personal assistants, self help gurus, aging Hollywood starlets and limo drivers all come together in what promises to be the director’s most satisfying piece in a number of years.
Premieres 5 December
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Still awake after the first six hours of the second part of the epic ‘Rings’ saga? Well Peter Jackson is back to give you more of what you wanted, padded out by plenty of stuff you could maybe do without. Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins, as Jackson plunders the appendices of The Lord of the Rings to expand his Hobbit adaptation. The usual cast are also on hand, as this final instalment promises epic battles, miniscule hobbits on a mission and more green screen than the latest AC/DC video – minus the sexist sports-induced sweaty babes. Nonetheless, given the title of the film, expect an onslaught of combat, with dialogue and exposition taking a back seat to jaw dropping visuals.
Premieres 10 December
After helping to steer the Iron Man franchise to a couple of billion at the box office, here writer/director Jon Favreau scales down his perspective. Taking the lead role, Favreau’s out-of-work LA chef reinvents himself as the owner/operator of a food truck in a bid to reclaim his cooking mojo. Given the boot after starting a Twitter war with a renowned food critic, it’s also time to reconnect with his estranged family in the process. Given Favreau’s clout these days, it comes as no surprise that he has assembled a stellar cast. Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale and Dustin Hoffman all take a bow. Light as a feather, with plenty of food porn for culinary perverts, Favreau proves he can successfully craft smaller films, in what is a charming exercise best enjoyed either on a plane or on the small screen at home. Light on flavour, but a fun and enjoyable view.
Premieres 19 December
Exodus: Gods and Kings (K12)
Another year, another biblical epic. Okay, so we aren’t in the 1950s anymore. But what better environment to reintroduce a well-worn genre than reviving what has come before. Here Christian Bale trades his batsuit for robes as Moses, with director Ridley Scott overseeing events based on the Book of Exodus. These two names alone should raise a few eyebrows of interest, and coupled with the likes of Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley things start to get interesting. The film has already courted controversy, however, with claims of whitewashing history and frontloading the cast with a range of Caucasian big name actors taking the place of more historically accurate people of that era to be of darker pigmentation. But, this is Hollywood, no stranger to bleaching out ethnicity in order to reach as wide an audience as possible. Thus billions beckon. Or, like this year’s Noah, a few pennies might trickle in, with neither film fans nor religious types leaving cinemas satisfied.
Premieres 26 December