Back from the Dead

Remember when January used to be a dumping ground for studio trash and genre pictures nobody cared about? Well, things are a little better this year, in that the genre offerings ain’t bad at all.

The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song: Christy Garland’s documentary about people trying to break a cycle of misery in Guyana was a hit at last year’s Hot Docs — and with Susan. There is no actual bastard-singing.

Beware of Mr. Baker: Documentarian Jay Bulger seeks out legendary ’70s rocker Ginger Baker and finds him living the full Nugent in a South African compound. Well, that’s something we’ve never seen before.

Broken City: Mark Wahlberg glowers! Russell Crowe glowers back, in better suits! Really, that’s all I know about this one, they wouldn’t screen it for us in advance.

The Last Stand: A decade after Terminator 3, Arnold Schwarzenegger toplines another smashy-bangy thriller — but the real star is Kim Jee-woon, who applies the same manic mojo he brought to The Good, the Bad, the Weird to the American action lexicon. Also: Guzman, man.

Mama: Guillermo del Toro does his thing as the producer of Andy Muschietti’s ghost story — though Jessica Chastain proves more formidable than any unquiet spirit as the unlikely protector of two little girls. (And fine, yes, I’m in the tank for Chastain. Why? Because she’s phenomenally good even in movies like this. “Best actress of her generation” is starting to seem less and less like hyperbole and more like plain truth.)

Mekong Hotel: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s dreamy short feature — which evolved out of a more conventional project that didn’t quite happen ten years ago — gets a limited run at the Lightbox, accompanied by an equally odd (and equally compelling) short from Attenberg director Athina Rachel Tsangari. Do check it out.

On the Road: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart drive back and forth across America being all rebellious and shit in Walter Salles’ banal adaptation (banadaptation?) of Jack Kerouac’s seminal Beat novel. Didn’t like it at TIFF, don’t like it now, glad we got the shorter cut.

Quartet: Dustin Hoffman directs this ever so sprightly tale of four aging opera legends (Tom Courtenay, Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins) readying themselves to perform a fractious Rigoletto to save their retirement home. Your nana already loves it. Glenn gives it a pass.

The Waiting Room: Documentarian Pete Nicks gives us a fly-on-the-wall look at 24 hours in the emergency room at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. It’s like hell, but with scrubs.

In other news, I think I’m finally on the mend after a week and a half of the flu. I’m even attending a screening this afternoon! (And if you don’t hear from me again, that’s what killed me.)

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