With a plethora of high-quality offerings opening in December, my list of must-see movies was getting rather unwieldy. Unfortunately, a variety of factors prevented me from seeing a single one of the many films on that list. These included:
1. A massively heavy workload that ate up a lot of my free time, including weekends;
2. Television-related distractions;
3. Various other obligations;
4. Christmas vacation in Florida;
5. Sickness. I caught back-to-back head and chest colds—complete with a persistent, hacking cough—that kept me away from the theaters. I didn’t want to ruin anybody’s moviegoing experience, so I stayed home and watched TV. It’s Jan. 1 as I write this, and I still haven’t shaken this damned thing.
The month started off happily enough, with a lovely dinner (with Joan Manners) on Dec. 2 at Rao’s Restaurant, where I bid adieu to restaurant hostess and Speedboat swimsuit model Rupa Begum. She and her honey Andrew Gates were about to move to Las Vegas—best of luck to both of them!
December means holiday music, and keeping with tradition, I attended chorale performances featuring Rachel Aviles (in Burbank, Dec. 3) and Jenna Rose (in Beverly Hills, Dec. 7); both were typically delightful and engaging. Meanwhile, Joan and I caught Roy Zimmerman at the Coffee Gallery on Dec. 6.
On Dec. 20, I flew to Florida and hung out with the Steele family, as per tradition. I was back on Dec. 26, and (also by tradition) moving into the Newman household to dog-sit for them during their holiday excursion to Hawaii. TV: During the Florida trip, I binge-watched the excellent series Stranger Things; later, I started watching episodes of the comedy-drama anthology series Easy, also via Netflix. MUSIC: I finished drilling and grading lesser-known singles from 1971; highlights included “Talk it Over in the Morning” by Anne Murray, “Jennifer” by Bobby Sherman, “Carey” by Joni Mitchell and “No Good to Cry” by the Poppy Family. Next up, I will tackle 1979.
Here’s the only movie I saw in December:
ELLE (2016)—Director Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall) directs this French thriller starring 63-year-old Isabelle Huppert as a video-game company CEO who is brutally raped—and subsequently learns that her masked attacker might just be someone she knows. It’s a compelling movie with a couple of well-placed twists; not a perfect movie, but I liked how pretty much all of the characters were all flawed and uniquely human, rather than being purely heroic or perfect. Huppert gives a great performance. (8.5)