It's another weekend of post-New-Year roll-outs, and this batch continues to solidify January's low-rung status in the theatrical release schedule. Even with the bloated roster of celebrity names, there is a noted dearth of quality among the films (plus, no Ryan Gosling, whose appearance always makes things just a little bit better). Now, we're not trying to discourage you from going to see the Governator's cinematic comeback, or Guillermo del Toro's newest (and weakest) CGI monster... Okay, fine, yes we are. So here are a few alternatives: (1) check out our 2013 Oscar coverage, and catch up with the nominees you haven't seen yet; (2) brush up on your film history and update your Netflix queue with recommendations from our latest features, including Kim Jee-Woon, Max Von Sydow, and Ang Lee. Enjoy!
"Broken City." Directed by Allen Hughes. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Kyle Chandler, and Griffin Dunne. Our review: "Hughes can't seem to find the balance between a brainy procedural and accomplished genre picture that he seems to be striving for. Is 'Broken City' a glimpse behind the scenes of how the slick moving parts of a political machine can further the decline of the inner city? Or is it just a glitzy thriller where a camera swirls around the mayor's office in long, unbroken shots, bringing attention to its shiny coolness? Neither, it turns out." Metacritic: 48 Rotten Tomatoes: 25% The Playlist: C-
"The Last Stand." Directed by Kim Jee-woon. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Eduardo Noriega, and Peter Stormare. Our review: "'The Last Stand' at its best feels like a marriage between Simon West and Michael Bay, sun-kissed bombast dialed down a bit and improved by clean choreography that stays away from breathless editing. Plenty of moments are engineered to elicit cheers and they did at the screening we attended, but the film rarely strays from the genre specificity that feels comfortable at best and dated at worst." MC: 54 RT: 55% PL: C+
"Mama." Directed by Andrés Muschietti. Starring Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, and Isabelle Nélisse. Our review: "Riddled with clunky exposition, an abundance of horror movie clichés, and marked by a careless attitude towards even a basic internal logic, writer-director Andrés Muschietti’s debut feature – based off his 2008 short film of the same name – is deserving of its January dumping ground release." MC: 57 RT: 63% PL: D+
"Hors Satan." Directed by Bruno Dumont. Starring Alexandra Lemâtre and David Dewaele. The exploratory quality of the film may prove compelling to certain viewers, particularly those enamored of Dumont's previous work, but the tale's overall ambiguity and lacking subtlety is likely to turn many others away. Our review: "A capital P pretentious film that is made in the tradition and fabric of an arthouse film that seems dated and laughable." MC: 61 RT: 78%
"Here And There." Directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza. Starring Pedro De los Santos, and Teresa Ramírez Aguirre. This story of Mexican migrant workers depends a little too much on its inherent desolation and misery, and even with an elegant, confident vision, the characters aren't developed deeply enough to render the kind of attachment they deserve. MC: 65 RT: 50%