I don't mind saying, 2012 has seemed to me, on balance, a fairly underwhelming year for cinema. So here's to a new calendar year and the hope that we get a couple more true masterpieces. Though, glancing over the year's first month - traditional dumping ground that it is - I very much doubt that any of those are on the immediate horizon. Unless you are an insatiable lover of years-later horror sequels that announce their gimmick right in the title.
Oh my god, Texas Chainsaw 3D, we were just talking about you!
Having been punted from an awards-season berth owing to its unfortunately-timed "shootout in a movie theater" climax, Gangster Squad finally pokes its head up under the kind of circumstances that make it clear the studio was anxious to get rid of it. Which seems an unfair fate for a movie with Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn, even if it does look a bit on the daft side for a period action film.
Meanwhile, a more appropriate sort of January release comes along in the form of Marlon Wayans's newest horror parody, A Haunted House. Because the Paranormal Activity movies haven't turned into enough of a spoof of themselves, yet.
Won't lie: trashy genre films or not, I am on board with two of this week's wide releases: Mama, in which Jessica Chastain and a distracting-as-hell black wig square off against a dead woman's ghost, and The Last Stand, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger shoots things with guns. In both cases, the material looks rather unexceptional, and it is largely the spectacle of seeing the actor involved that seems interesting: Chastain, who can do anything, making a horror movie, and Schwarzenegger returning after so long in the wilderness with what looks to be a particularly down-to-earth, old-style action movie.
I am not on board with Broken City, in which Mark Wahlberg fights a corrupt civic government, because one half of the Hughes Brothers directing is not exactly my idea of a slam dunk for a tired old concept like this.
Man, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is going to be so bad without being any fun at all, and yet I can't stop myself from being completely excited, because there's something about these dumb, dark & edgy fairy tales that delights the corroded, cynical part of me that wants the worst-case possible of Hollywood to come true all the time. Jeremy Renner's agent has some 'splaining to do.
A whole mess of talented actors team up with a mess of really not at all talented directors for the comedy anthology Movie 43, which seems like a really weird sort of movie for a wide release, but there you have it. Also, there's a new Jason Statham movie called Parker, in which my lingering affection for the man, despite how long it's been since he was in a good movie must compete with my intense dislike for Taylor Hackford's directing. I do not hold out much optimism