9   +   6   =  

For many, Christmas came early with the release of Star Wars last week. For everyone else, Christmas is almost here. As the holiday season beckons, we have a double edition to take you through Boxing Day and New Year’s releases. So settle in and make the most of those Bank Holidays.

In the Heart of the Sea is not Moby-Dick. Instead, it’s based on one of the stories said to have inspired Herman Melville’s famous novel. So Ron Howard’s nautical CGI extravaganza is inspired by the story that inspired a piece of fiction about a giant whale and disaster at sea. With credentials established, is this worth escaping the family (or if you’re nice, taking them along as well) on Boxing Day? Sort of if reviews are anything to go by. A decent cast boasting the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson battle gamely with the impressive elements, but it might not be quite as epic as one would expect from a giant whale trying to sink a ship.

If Christmas cheer, or at least cheer, is more your thing, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are also around to try and help out. In Daddy’s Home, mild-mannered Ferrell, attempting to win over his two step-children, gets locked into combat with their father, played by Wahlberg. It’s bound to feature outrageous gags and plenty of crazy set-pieces, and it might be a way to get over the post Xmas blues, but it’s also supposed to be a bit rubbish.

We’re on safer ground when it comes to ringing in the New Year. First up, there’s the latest collaboration between director/writer David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence. Having played a widowed dancer in Silver Linings Playbook and an unhinged science-oven owning wife in American Hustle, she steps up to take the solo leading role in Joy, as the creator of the Miracle Mop. Following her over four generations as she builds her business, it’s a sporadic riot that reunites Russell and Lawrence with previous co-stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.

Also out on New Year’s Day, and on a more subdued note, director Tom Hooper and actor Eddie Redmayne go for awards glory once more with The Danish Girl, a biopic of Lili Elbe, successful painter and one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. If anyone should be up for awards though, it’s Alicia Vikander, stealing the show as Redmayne’s wife. It’s an above average film, unable to shake the feeling that it’s no more than a glossy TV serial, but with top drawer performances elevating proceedings substantially.

If you fancy something a little more permanent, what with all that Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket, you could also check out Dope over the holiday period. Rick Famuyiwa’s sparky crime-comedy sees a trio of kids, led by geeky Malcolm, head off on one of those regular journeys of discovery so beloved of cinema. There’s lots of retro 90s culture and crazy adventures along the way in this sparkling independent film.

Well I guess that’s all for the year. 2015 has been fun. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2016.

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