Welcome to the first movie-going weekend of 2012! Hope you all had delightful New Year’s celebrations filled with debauchery and poor judgment – the only way to ring in the new year, in my opinion. Now that the Oscar race is heating up, there’s still time to catch up with the glut of prestige pics released in the last few weeks of 2011, or you can explore some of the small new releases making their way to screens this weekend. Also, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” opens nationwide today, so you can catch up with the Brit spy thriller if you haven’t seen it yet.
Kicking off the new year with the age-old tradition of the January horror movie, “The Devil Inside” takes advantage of audiences sick of heartwarming tales and capital-A Acting. Let’s go watch some fucked up shit! Melding those two wonderful genres, the exorcism film and the faux-documentary, “The Devil Inside” follows a young woman attempting to reach out to her mother, institutionalized for killing three clergymen during an exorcism. Contortion-y fun ensues! Our review says the film is “a pervasively stale supernatural thriller given to overwrought performances,” and “ultimately more of a swindle, a cautionary tale of what can happen when the once-terrifying becomes terrifyingly dull.” Directed by William Brent Bell and Joaquin Perea. Rotten Tomatoes: 7% Metacritic: 35
If you like your January films a bit more melancholy and a bit less totally terrifying, Tran Ang Hung‘s “Norwegian Wood” hits theaters as well this weekend. Based on the book by Haruki Murakami, the story follows a young couple in ’60s Tokyo dealing with the loss of a friend who committed suicide, and the presence of a new girl in the young man’s life. Our review says, “this film is a sensuous exploration of nature, grief and first loves in the city and the countryside,” but while the film “may be lovely and able in its depiction of unrequited love and grief, but it’s tough to leave the experience and muster much more than a sigh. You’ll marvel at the perfectly shot film for a moment, but it’s too dour to leave anything other than that its aesthetics with you.” Starring Rinko Kikuchi, Kenichi Matsuyama, Kengo Kora and Kiko Mizuhara. RT: 71% MC: 52
Oof. Another despairing offering in the form of Michael Cuesta‘s “Roadie,” about Jimmy (Ron Eldard), a roadie for Blue Oyster Cult returning home to Queens to live with his mother, reconnect with his high school dream girl (Jill Hennessy) and contend with said dream girl’s husband, bully Randy (Bobby Cannavale). Our review says Eldard is “is both affecting and pathetic…giving a performance of surprising depth,” and that the film itself “rings true in the small details.” RT: 68% MC: 61
Hitting theaters last Wednesday, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is the latest film from Turkish artist/director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and one of his more plot-driven films to date. The story follows a group of men: two murderers, the police and a doctor on a trip to their murder victim’s burial. Our review says “this Oscar-hopeful is an obvious attempt at a masterpiece by a masterful auteur. You can practically feel the exertion in every aspect of it,” and that it’s “without a doubt an exceptional movie that deserves all the plaudits it has received so far.” RT: 95% MC: 79
Another Wednesday release, “It’s About You,” is an amateur rock-doc by photographer Kurt Markus and his son Ian, about legendary rocker John Mellencamp on his 2009 tour of historical musical spots in the U.S. Our review says the film “should have stayed on the cutting room floor and likely would have were it not for John Mellencamp’s name in the title,” and that the “novice approach never becomes endearing… maybe the Markus father and son have an intriguing music documentary in their future, but this isn’t it.” RT: 54% MC: 52