2017! The last year! The end of days is here. It’s a shame we won’t make it to December for EPISODE VIII, but hey, at least we get to watch it all burn. Okay, fine, maybe we won’t ALL die. But there’s lots of movies to distract you from the apocalypse! Hell, there’s eighteen releases this month! Sure, most of them are bad, but hey! Lots of fodder for mid-year Netflix. And still lots of Oscar contenders too! Let’s break it down.
- SILENCE – Jan. 13. A new Martin Scorsese film is always a celebration, but instead of a gore-filled mob film it’s a tale of hirsute seventeenth century preachers bringin’ the word of God to the Japanese, whether they want it or not. It’s a powerful film that he’s been trying to make for years, and it’s an epic in every way. But are audiences ready for a story like this? It’s basically the opposite of escapist entertainment, which a lot of folks are looking for right now. Still absolutely worth seeing though.
- XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE – Jan. 20, RealD3D, IMAxXx. He’s back! Even though he’s virtually indistinguishable from his F&F character. This is the most “International” film I’ve ever seen, loaded with pretty much every major filmmaking power’s biggest stars. Plus, Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa bring some legit skill to the table. I expect it to be dumber than a bag of hammers but entertaining as hell.
- LIVE BY NIGHT – Jan. 13. Ben Affleck is back doing double duty, directing and acting! As you do. This time he’s a prohibition era gangster just tryin’ to make a livin’. Affleck has worked with writer Dennis LaHane before on a little film called GONE BABY GONE. Looks like a delightful romp in olden times.
- 20th CENTURY WOMEN – Jan. 20. Annette Bening is looking at another Oscar for her role as the troubled matriarch dealing with the sexual revolution of the 70s and its effects on those around her. Writer/director Mike Mills (BEGINNERS, THUMBSUCKER) deftly weaves three generations of stories together.
- THE FOUNDER – Jan. 20. Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the man responsible for turning McDonald’s into a juggernaut, whether the original owners want it or not. A fascinating tale of vision and greed.
- A MONSTER CALLS – Jan. 6. A young boy dealing with his mother’s terminal illness imagines a monster who helps him through the pain. The trailers are very heavy with the CG bits, it’s not being very forward about the frankly devastating story. Still, reviews have been very positive.
- HIDDEN FIGURES – Jan. 6. The true story of a team of African American women who were a critical part of NASA’s early days. I feel like this would have been better received as an HBO film instead of a theatrical release, but that’s not a knock on the quality. Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson are getting award nods once again, rightly deserved.
- SPLIT – Jan. 20. M. Night Shyamalan is back, baby! He’s got James McAvoy in a, well, multiple role as a crazy, er, mentally ill person who abducts three young girls for nefarious purposes. But there’s a twist! Because of course there is. Early reviews have been pretty solid despite some problematic issues.
- GOLD – Jan. 27. Matthew McConaughey goes schlubby to tell the heavily altered story of Bre-X, the infamous Indonesian gold mine. It’s played up more as a huckster-gets-rich-and-in-over-his-head story. Looks interesting and Stephen Gaghan made the fantastic SYRIANA but not much since then. I’m thinking it’s going to be a bit over the top.
- MONSTER TRUCKS – Jan. 13. Like, literal monster trucks. A truck that’s actually a monster. It looks fun as hell, an 80s kid’s movie with modern visual effects. Your eight year old will likely lose their mind.
- SLEEPLESS – Jan. 13. Jamie Foxx is a crooked cop, or an undercover cop, or a crooked undercover cop, or a good undercover cop forced to be crooked, or… I got lost watching the trailer. It’s all over the map, but should make for a decent mindless thriller. And it’s set in Vegas!
- RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER – Jan. 27, RealD3D, IMAX3D. My god, it’s finally ending. Thanks to a surprisingly resilient international box office, this series has been going since oh god I can’t look at the date. Let’s just say this is the, um, sixth film? Seventh? I can’t be arsed to count. But it’s the FINAL CHAPTER. Just like FRIDAY THE 13TH! Can’t make any more, right? I’m sure it will have a proper ending. At least they’ve got all the surviving members together for the send-off.
- UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS – Jan. 6, RealD3D. Wait, this is out already? What the hell? I forgot about the trailer as soon as I saw it. It’s literally more of the same. You’d be better off just staying home and watching the original again. Completely forgettable.
- PATRIOTS DAY – Jan. 13. Hey, let’s make a drama about the Boston Marathon Bombing! And we’ll get Mark Wahlberg to star as the hero cop! It’ll be a triumph of the human spirit over Muslims, err, I mean, evil. Terror. Right. I’m sure they’ll treat Muslims with an even hand in this. Peter Berg has been busy, since DEEPWATER HORIZON just came out a few months ago.
- THE BYE-BYE MAN – Jan. 13. Hey look! An original horror character, ready to join the pantheon! Will it be another Jason? Or another, um, Jeepers Creepers, or whatever that character was called. Looks super derivative, and goddammit, it’s supposedly BASED ON TRUE EVENTS, because of course it is. “Oh my god Becky, this is a true story! It’s like totally real!”
- BASTARDS – Jan. 27. Owen Wilson plays the Owen Wilson character in another dumbass comedy with a bad word for a title. He and his brother (Ed Helms) are lookin’ for their Pa. Turns out their mom was super popular back in the day so their dad could hilariously be one of many celebrities. Oh mom! This was directed by the Director of Photography of THE HANGOVER, so it will look expensive. Which it likely was.
- A DOG’S PURPOSE – Jan. 27. Holy shit, this movie. It’s actually based on a successful glurge novel about the multiple reincarnations of a dog who eventually ends up with his original owner. If you’re a dog lover you’ll be bawling your eyes out, the rest of us will have similar ocular damage thanks to our optic nerves snapping from our eyes rolling into the back of our skulls.
- THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE – Jan. 20. Holy shit, THIS movie. I don’t tend to give Christian films high postings on my lists, largely because they’re terrible, terrible films. This one’s a comedy! Ward from MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. is a disgraced celebrity, forced to do community service at a local church. As an actor, he decides he’s the only person who can possibly play Jesus in their, what, Easter pageant? Sorry, Passion Play. Right. He gives lip service to being a Christian, but only through his exposure to these good-hearted Real American Christians does he truly understand what it means to let Christ into your heart. Also, there’s a girl I assume he falls in love with. Also, HBK Shawn Michaels plays a mechanic. *cough*
So yeah, quite the spectrum this month, but there are several worth checking out. But oh man, does February have some quality options for your annual date night. Sneak peek in my look at the upcoming year in film, but regardless, I’ll have more for you the first Friday of the month.