AJFF Recommends: What to Watch in December


From the big screen to the small, we have some ideas about what to watch this month. Among our recommendations is Natalie Portman's latest, a documentary about Leonard Nimoy filled with those who loved him best, and two Spielberg films.  

In Theatres

This biographical drama stars Natalie Portman, who is already generating pre-Oscar buzz, as the former first lady, following her life after the assassination of her husband in 1963. Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and John Hurt also star. 


The 1989 film was Audrey Hepburn's final role and she took it only to work with Steven Spielberg. Paid $1 million for her part, she donated her entire salary to UNICEF. The plot is essentially a remake of the 1943 film A Guy Named Joe, starring Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne. Richard Dreyfuss stars as a reckless fire-fighting pilot who is killed in what was to have been his final mission. Ascending to Heaven, Dreyfuss is introduced to businesslike angel Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn instructs Dreyfuss to pass on his aviation skills to his young successor, Brad Johnson. John Goodman adds comic relief to the mix as Dreyfuss' faithful buddy.

For the Love of Spock
Produced and directed by Leonard Nimoy's son, Adam, the film features actors William Shatner, George Takei, Simon Pegg and others while discussing the legacy of Leonard Nimoy and his iconic portrayal of Mr. Spock on the television series "Star Trek."

The Good Neighbor
Veteran Jewish actor, James Caan, takes on a pair of mischievous high school kids in this thriller. Though the kids think they're haunting on an unsuspecting neighbor, they wind up seeing much more than they bargained for, and discover that the man they're tormenting is not the easy target they'd expected.

DVD & Blu-Ray

The film, based on the beloved classic children's novel, is the latest work helmed by director Steven Spielberg. Among the discussion circling around the film, Spielberg has eloquently addressed the controversy around author Roald Dahl as an anti-Semite saying, "I wasn't aware of any of Roald Dahl's personal stories. I was focused on this story he wrote." While the film received mix reviews not one denied how visually stunning it is and the talent of Spielberg's newest frequent collaborator, Mark Rylance.

The 1959 version of this film starring Charleton Heston won 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture; but this is actually the fourth time the film has been remade since its conception from the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace. When asked about remaking the classic tale about a betrayed Jewish prince, director Timur Bekmambetov had this to say, "The Ben-Hur story reminds me of Romeo and JulietHamlet, and any story written by Chekhov. It is timeless, so every new generation wants to go back to it in order to adapt it for the new world."