The ongoing health of cinema, and in particular the prospects for movie theaters surviving beyond the next couple of years, has become an increasingly gloomy object of contemplation for me of late. The kick-off to a new year of movies certainly doesn’t do anything to alleviate that feeling. We have in front of us a barren wasteland – not just because, as usual, January is where movies get dumped just to clear the studios’ book, but because we’re in for what feels like it must set some kind of record: there are a grand total of four wide releases coming out. I mean. What the fuck.
So here we go with the first 25% of the calendar: a simply godawful-looking spy thriller called The 355, in which Jessica Chastain’s commitment to some archaic ’90s-style grrrl power attitude leads her to collaborate with director Simon Kinberg on one of the chintziest-looking wastes of a pretty terrific cast in quite some time. Everything about the ad campaign, the hook, the goddamn title just drips with desperation and flop sweat. Hopefully its impending self-destruction at the box office will encourage Chastain to fire whatever manager or agent or whomever is meant to keep her from making choices like this.
There’s a bit of good news: after getting a qualifying run in 2021, the Amazon original A Hero gets a quick little theatrical release in preparation for streaming. And this just so happens to be the new film by the great Asghar Farhadi, and it’s terrific, so whether you do the big screen or the little one, be sure to catch it.
All our hopes for any film, all month, making any quantity of money and buying another couple of weeks for the movie theaters until yet another superhero movie comes to actually drive audiences rests on Scream, fourth sequel to Scream. And boy, I’m ready for that particular trend in titling horror movie sequels to end, especially when 5cream was just sitting there, waiting. Anyway, I’m no fan of the franchise, but I could do with a slasher movie right about now, it’s been a while, and for God’s sake, one has to look forward to something.
In limited release – how limited is unclear to me – the invaluable GKIDS is putting out the new film by the invaluable Japanese animation director Hosoda Mamoru, Belle. So this is the one I’m actually looking forward to, with the acknowledgement that I don’t have the first clue what it’s about.
Over in the realm of streaming, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth hits Apple TV+, one of the streaming services that I always forget exists. Anyway, I’ve seen it and rather aggressively loved it, so I hope at least some of you happens to have a chance to watch it and perhaps love it also.
A big week – two wide releases! And one of these, The King’s Daughter, sounds like the most amazingly sad thing, a world-class catastrophe in waiting. Not because it sounds terrible, though it certainly doesn’t sound especially good. Pierce Brosnan and William Hurt are in the cast, so there will be at least something. Mostly, it sounds peculiar and upsetting: the plot summary reads “King Louis XIV’s quest for immortality leads him to capture and steal a mermaid’s life force, a move that is further complicated by his illegitimate daughter’s discovery of the creature”, and that is just a hell of a lot of words. No, what makes it exciting, just once-in-a-decade, I-can’t-wait-to-see-how-fucked-up-this-is, is that this has been in the can since 2014. Almost eight years ago. What in God’s name could conceivably be so wrong with it that they sat on a completed film for almost eight years? I have no idea, and I’m salivating like a hungry wolf to find out.
The other thing is a romantic drama called Redeeming Love. It stars two pretty young people I’ve never heard of and sounds extremely boring.
Between the time I woke up in the morning and the time I started writing this post, Morbius, a new comic book movie about a Spider-Man villain I’m not familiar with who’s a vampire, got delayed to April. So there is nothing. No new wide release. A couple of modestly significant limited releases: Cyrano, a musical starring Peter Dinklage that I reviewed last month and thought was perfectly fine, and Clean, which stars Adrien Brody as a garbage man with a tragic past, and wouldn’t even rise to the level of “modestly significant” if it didn’t have an Oscar winner in the lead role. A bleak end to a deadly-looking month.