New Year’s Weekend Movies: Oh Frack…

This week, three new movies opened on Christmas Day: ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Parental Guidance’. The first two performed very well on Christmas, so don’t expect any of today’s small releases to put up much competition. The big films will certainly hog all the box office revenue.

The widest new debut this weekend is Gus Van Sant’s latest drama, ‘Promised Land‘. Written by two of the film’s stars, Matt Damon and Jon Krasinski, ‘Promised Land’ is the most mainstream of the director’s movies since ‘Good Will Hunting‘. In it, Damon’s character leases farm property for “fracking,” the extraction of natural gas pockets that exist below. When an environmentalist (Krasinski) comes to town with a goal of thwarting his success, the thin boundary between moral and ethical behavior is questioned.

‘Promised Land’ is currently showing on only 25 screens, but Focus will expand its release nationwide on January 4th. The film co-stars Frances McDormand, Titus Welliver, Rosemarie DeWitt and Hal Holbrook.

The 147-minute, Peter Jackson-produced documentary ‘West of Memphis‘ is now playing on five screens. This doc examines the murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993, and the court trials of three teenage boys who were charged with the murders. I failed to see ‘West of Memphis’ at Sundance 2012, but heard that it’s good, hard to watch and “not as good as ‘Paradise Lost’.”

Finally, with an expansion almost big enough to be considered “wide,” David O. Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook‘ can now be seen on 745 domestic screens.


  1. I saw Les Mis yesterday at the 10AM showing, and the theater was about 2/3rds full. Never seen a theater that full for a morning showing – it was actually fuller than The Hobbit was on opening morning.Of course, there were quite a few kids in the movie as well, so it may be that full because it was the holidays.

    • Oh boy, this is tough.

      Lets start with the Pros. Absolutely beautiful scenery – I am guessing that the majority of the movie is shot on location. The actors are AMAZING. Isabelle Allen will tear your heart out as Young Cosette, and she has a beautiful voice. The little boy (I cannot remember his name) is also absolutely amazing, and there are a few scenes that he certainly carries all by himself.

      Cons – It is REALLY hard to adopt a Broadway musical to the screen, and this one has some awkward moments. I mean, what do you do onscreen when, in the Broadway version, a character is singing a solo for 2-4 minutes? This lead to some awkward moments, and some moments that, while they worked well on stage, tended to stop the progression of the movie. Two places in particular like this is toward the begining, when Jean Valjean is singing (shortly after being released), and toward the middle, there is a solo by Javert, which is very odd. This may be herasey, but you could have almost have cut those two numbers from the movie.

      There were also a few places where the actors seemed to be singing, but the vocals did not match up with the music. That was a bit awkward.

      All in all, I liked it, it is just that the transition from staged musical to big-budget movie was a bit awkward. I guess the only thing that might have helped was maybe to have something going on onscreen while the characters were singing than just these closeups of them. When you see it, you will know what I am talking about. Maybe actually showing some more of the people being oppressed or something like that when a character is singing.

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