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The “Dark Truth” About January Movies

January 4, 2013

Hollywood is just like everybody else: After going on a holiday gorge, they immediately start a starvation diet, which explains why only one new movie is opening in national release today: Texas Chainsaw 3D. Opening in “limited release” (aka a token theatrical run in Miami) is A Dark Truth, an eco-potboiler starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Oscar nominee Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, who once costarred in a direct-to-DVD movie with The Office‘s Oscar Nuñez. A Dark Truth has been available for weeks on VOD, as has another Longoria vehicle, The Baytown Outlaws, which once again pairs her with superior costars: Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton and Emmy winner Andre Braugher. I’ve rented both, and neither is worth even the less than ten-dollar price of admission on iTunes and amazon.com’s Instant Video.

The studios figure you’re too poor from paying for all those holiday presents and too busy catching up with the flurry of year-end Oscar contenders to spend the money or time to see anything else good. It’s the cinematic version of an after-Christmas clearance sale. Luckily, some of those awards-caliber films are expanding into more theaters this weekend, so if you haven’t caught Bill Murray as FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson or Namoi Watts as a tsunami survivor in The Impossible, now’s your best chance. Both titles made my 2012 top-movies list. I can’t speak to the quality of Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, which is also rolling out in wider release because, frankly, I don’t want to waste 140 frackin’ minutes inhaling hot air from Matt Damon and John Krasinski about the dangers of natural gas.

The outlook for the next few weeks isn’t much brighter: I had high hopes for Gangster Squad based on the cast (Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn)—but that was a year ago, before Warner Bros. bumped it, allegedly because of a scene of movie-theater violence that needed to be reshot after the Aurora massacre. The presence of Jessica Chastain immediately makes Mama more interesting than your average horror flick, but it feels like something that’s been hidden away in a closet waiting to be released on the heels of her Oscar-worthy performance in Zero Dark Thirty. (Let’s hope it doesn’t ruin her chances with the Academy the way the nightmarish Norbit did for Dreamgirls‘ Eddie Murphy.)

Mark Wahlberg, who took advantage of the uncrowded box-office field last January with the generic action hit Contraband, hopes to do the same with Broken City, but will audiences want another heaping helping of Russell Crowe so soon after Les Miserables? His “singing” may still be ringing in their ears. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham hope to score with The Last Stand and Parker, which will no doubt be heavily promoted during the NFL playoffs, but both are likely to be—aptly enough—Expendable. And if you’re still not convinced January at the multiplex looks grim, I’ve got five words for you: Hansel and Gretel—Witch Hunters.

What movies do you plan to see this month? Post a comment!

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3 Comments
  1. KXB permalink

    Can we STOP “blaming” Norbit for Eddie Murphy not winning an Oscar (which he didn’t deserve anyhow; not over Mark Wahlberg & esp. Jackie Earle Haley) already? Unless you have emperical proof, please cease from buying into the media industrial groupthink you allege not to be a part of…

    • bruceafretts permalink

      I do think Norbit was a factor, along with Eddie’s dismissive attitude towards the Academy. And I agree Jackie Earle Haley deserved it more.

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