Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, or maybe I’ve managed to avoid the really bad stuff this week, but this is a surprisingly solid week of movies for mid-January.
Come to think of it, it’s absolutely the avoidance thing; I’ve endured a couple of absolute dogs this week, but neither of them is opening until next month.
And, more to the point, this is the weekend that “Cloverfield” opens, and it is some piece of work. If “The Host” was the Godzilla movie I’ve always wanted to see (and it was), then “Cloverfield” is a feature-length expansion of the beast’s initial attack — a terrifying, uncompromising roar through the destruction of a city, as seen exclusively from the perspective of the people caught in the middle of it all. Damn. Damn damn damn. We’ll talk more about this once you’ve had a chance to see it.
Also opening today:
“Kurt Cobain: About a Son”: AJ Schnack, whose terrific They Might Be Giants doc “Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns” made me love him forever, returns with a profile of another unique musician, marrying audio interviews recorded with the Nirvana frontman in the year before his suicide to footage of the places he haunted then, and haunts now. (Chris reviews it here.)
“Mad Money”: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes rob the Federal Reserve, because apparently it’s okay to do that if you’re a wacky bunch of wise-cracking cultural stereotypes. Sister power! Or something. Anyway, Rick saw it.
“Starting Out in the Evening“: Frank Langella’s masterful performance as an aging author in Andrew Wagner’s modest literary drama is getting all the attention, but the movie as a whole is pretty damn fine, too. And Lili Taylor bounces back from her sojourn in the wastelands of HBO with one of her finest performances to date.
“Steep“: Rip those cliffs, gnarly skiers! Rip until you die! And then think about what would have happened if you actually had died! Because that would, like, totally suck! I kid, but what’s important here is that Mark Obenhaus’ exploration of Big Mountain Skiing is a lot smarter than the sell; it’s decidedly not your grandpa’s skiing video. (Actually, I guess the more appropriate relative in this case would be your perma-tanned fortysomething uncle whose place smells like Otto’s jacket, but you get the idea.)
“27 Dresses“: Yeah, it’s an overstuffed rom-com machine, but it has some decent moments, lively performances from Katherine Heigl, James Marsden and the ever-wonderful Judy Greer (doing the same thing she did in “The Wedding Planner”, only opposite actors instead of movie stars), and Malin Akerman’s screen time is kept to a minimum. I’ve seen worse. Like, recently.
Oh, and apparently the DGA has reached a tentative agreement with the evil movie people at whom the WGA is still very, very angry. Let’s see whether we can get this strike wrapped up in time for the Oscars, fellas!