Fear not, brave moviegoers, it is the last weekend of January, that black hole of a new release month. We will soon dig our way out of this mess, but we must soldier through another questionable weekend. In old release news, did everyone have a magical Academy Awards nominations morning? Did Oscar bring you everything you hoped and more? At least Oscar hosts Anne Hathaway and Best Actor nominee James Franco are in a rigorous training camp to prepare for their big night, as evidenced by this short promo. Hopefully a fresh shot in the arm will liven things up a bit. Anyway! On to the new releases! The Stath brings his muscle to the remake of the Charles Bronson cult classic, "The Mechanic" with the always enjoyably unhinged Ben Foster in tow; religious horror flick "The Rite" provides the chewable scenery for Anthony Hopkins' insatiable craving (nom nom), and "From Prada to Nada" defiles another Jane Austen novel. In limited release, "Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster" brings the kung fu pain, Greg Araki's latest, "Kaboom," makes its non-festival screen debut, and the documentary "Lemmy" about the legendary Motorhead rocker should be a must-see for film and music fans (which you are, of course).
At this stage in the game, you gotta give it up to Jason Statham. The man makes the same movie every year, and there's a certain demographic that continues to eat it up. Keep flexing those muscles and driving those sports cars, we wouldn't like you any other way. Someone's gonna teach a class on this guy in 20 years. In this latest installment, The Stath is supported by some real actorly talent in Ben Foster in this remake of "The Mechanic." In absolutely no surprise, Statham is cast as the hired gun who, this time around, must teach his ways to the son (Foster) of his unfortunately disposed of boss, Donald Sutherland. Our review says, of course, that, "you aren’t going to get much you haven’t already seen before." Sometimes, you just want to know what you're going to get. Jason Statham is nothing if not consistent. Rotten Tomatoes: 51% Metacritic: 46/ Trailer
Horror movies invoking Catholic iconography and lore used to be really awesome and subversively ground-breaking (um, "The Exorcist" and "The Omen," nuff said) but now they tend to just be generic and boring. This latest exorcism horror-thriller "The Rite" is directed by "1408" helmer Mikael Håfström and stars Anthony Hopkins, Ciaran Hinds, Alice Braga, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer and newcomer Colin O'Donohue. Our reviewer says, "the only thing truly shocking about 'The Rite' is how relentlessly dull it is." The kiss of death for a thriller n' chiller. RT: 16% MC: 45/ Trailer
Oof. Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega star in this seriously questionable riches-to-rags tale, "From Prada to Nada," which is apparently based on Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility." The trailer promises rampant trafficking in Latin American stereotypes and Wilmer Valderrama's return (?) to the big screen! Hooray! Let's ALL GO! RT: N/A MC: N/A
Germany's Foreign Oscar entry (it didn't end up getting nominated) "When We Leave" opens in limited release this week. The film, directed by Feo Aladag, concerns a young Turkish woman in Germany who leaves her abusive husband, causing a rift in her traditional family. Our review of the film describes it as "a broad melodrama with about as much substance and subtlety in her content as a PSA," and that "it’s regrettable that this movie is such an over-the-top failure because it tackles some serious issues." RT: 71%/ Trailer
International martial arts superstar Donnie Yen stars in this period piece based on the life of real kung fu grandmaster and Bruce Lee's trainer, Ip Man, in "Ip Man 2: The Legend of the Grandmaster." This installment finds the kung fu master struggling to teach his Wing Chun style in British-occupied Hong Kong, and he must face a Western-style boxer in an East-meets-West bout. The film stars a host of international martial arts superstars for your visual delight. Our review says, "So while the film is piling up ass-kickings, Yen is convincing as a man who really is employing the last resort. You don’t have to be a martial arts fan to appreciate the surprising depth of Yen’s performance." All the chop socky fun with a quality real-life story to back it up. You can't lose! RT: 93% MC: 72/ Trailer
"Mysterious Skin" director Greg Araki follows up with his latest, "Kaboom," a kind of erotic, dreams-vs-reality, murder mystery thriller (there's gotta be an easier way to say that). Our TIFF reviewer didn't think much of the film, calling it "'Saved by the Bell' meets 'Lost Highway'" and "pedestrian and eye-roll provoking... so half-witted, it's hard not to wince and groan," but that "it's so peculiar and so outlandish there are admittedly a few moments worth relishing." RT: 71% MC: 69/ Trailer
Your inner metalhead will be happily headbanging along with "Lemmy" a deserving documentary profile of the enduring Motorhead frontman. With appearances by many other metal legends paying tribute, such as Ozzy, Slash, Metallica, et al. RT: 81%/ Trailer
Also in theaters: "127 Hours" goes into wide release this weekend and we strongly encourage you to check it out; Korean director Lee Chang-dong's "Poetry" about an elderly woman finding strength and solace in a poetry class RT: 100%; documentary "Strongman" about, you guessed it, an aging Strongman (love watching those late night competitions). RT: 100%; Mexican film "Rage" about a construction worker who murders his foreman and hides out in the mansion where his girlfriend works as a maid; murderous twin horror "Seconds Apart"; Lauren Holly in After Dark Films' horror flick "The Scream of the Banshee" about a box containing a banshee scream that will kill you (no joke); and "Blackmail Boys," another gay drama from the Shumanski Brothers starring mumblecore top dog Joe Swanberg.