Weekend Movies: Crappy New Year!

It’s over. Every good movie that the studios were trying to shovel out in time for Academy Awards consideration has been released. Now we get the leftovers. It’s a good thing that nobody takes the first weekend of a new year’s releases as a sign of the 51 that will follow it. Forgive me for the pessimism and negativity that lies ahead, but this is a weekend that would best serve for catching-up on your unwatched Blu-ray pile or awards contenders that you still need to see.

From the writer of ‘Jason Goes to Hell’ and the director of ‘Takers‘ comes a new ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ movie that doesn’t have Michael Bay’s name attached to it: ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D‘. Starring Percy Jackson‘s girlfriend, that Trey Songz musician kid who really wants to act, the skinny girl from ‘Lost’ and ‘Malcolm in the Middle’, and Clint Eastwood’s struggling actor son Scott, the idea that there is a new ‘Texas Chainsaw’ rehash is scarier than Leatherface himself. I didn’t see the last two installments, and the horror-lover inside me couldn’t care less that the studio didn’t screen this one. Let’s be honest, the only reason the movie’s in 3D is so that the higher ticket cost will help the movie to turn a decent profit.

The only other new release this weekend is a film that I had no idea existed, even though it’s opening wide! ‘A Dark Truth‘ stars Andy Garcia as the host of a CNN-esque political show that’s tipped off by a whistleblower that her company is involved in immoral, unethical and illegal activities in South America. The concept isn’t at all original, but doesn’t sound half bad – that is, until you learn that the whistleblower is played by Eva Longoria. Not even co-star Forest Whitaker can help save this Never-Heard-of-It from the stain of Eva Longoria.

Expanding to 572 screens is Oscar hopeful ‘The Impossible‘. Based on a true story, this drama follows a family of five that get separated and injured by the tsunami that hit the coast of populated Thailand in December 2004. The portrayal of the tragic event is realized in a manner not unlike Clint Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter‘, only with special effects that don’t look like a 1992 video game. Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and some boring kid actors star in this partially gripping, partially contrived film.

Getting a nearly identical expansion to 565 screens is the David Chase-directed ‘Not Fade Away‘, a drama that appears to be a rip-off of Cameron Crowe’s Oscar-winning ‘Almost Famous‘. A teenage kid falls in love with music, wants to get involved in the industry, and likewise falls for a girl.

If I had to see something this weekend, it would be the expanding release of Gus Van Sant’s ‘Promised Land‘. The drama written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski is getting a wide push to nearly 1,700 screens. It also co-stars Hal Halbrook, Francis McDormand and Rosemarie DeWitt.


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