After all, it's just a ride….

January 2016 Jamboree

ArcticAs always January seems to be the dumping ground for product which doesn’t easily slot into other pre-programmed marketing schedules, and as always this can also be the most rewarding period of the year. Naturally I’m itching to see The Reverant and have been studiously avoiding reviews, but the general impression remains of a harrowing and brutal movie which has turned off some critics due to Iñárritu’s bleak vision of our species horrendous treatment of each other and our nihilistic place in the howling universe – sounds right up my alley. This months Sight & Sound has just dropped through the letterbox and whatever one may think of Tarantino the personality when he pontificates about movies it can be a fascinating read, and an eight-page exhaustive discussion with the brilliant Kim Morgan looks like a fantastic treat – I’ll just have to be patient and wait until after I’ve seen his new movie which I’m relived to see is showing in the 70mm, full overture, three-hour version at both the Odeon Leicester Square and the Prince Charles cinema just round the corner. Beyond these two essentials and the inevitable think pieces of whether or not The Western has returned as a commercially viable genre (Answer? Maybe, and it is encouraging to see this counter specialised programming succeed against the biggest movie in history) there is also a parade of other crucial material which looks like the new year is kicking off in style, including for many the best film of last year from a more academic, intellectual appraisal;

The Assassin won numerous awards and plaudits across the board last year but it doesn’t look like it will cross over to mainstream box-office receipts like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which recently got a Netflix funded sequel which opens in Feburary. I’m for this for the ravishing cinematography alone, as I know nothing of the plot or story which I’m sure will be above the usual wuxia combat designs. When it comes to the more esotetic, art-house side of the industry I’m also intrigued that the BFI have just launched an exhaustive Jean Luc-Godard retrospective. Now, generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of the guys work but I can appreciate his contributions to the form, so I am planning to go and see a couple of his film on the big-screen in 35mm to kick off another year of lurking around the Southbank. They have managed to secure a very special guest for some of the screenings who is something of a legend of continental 1960’s cinema, so that’s a nice bonus.

On a more dare I say it populist front Creed seems to have come out of nowhere and knocked Sly’s opponents for six, in what on paper could be just another weary xerox of his Rocky exhausted franchise. Apparently not as this is a real return to the downtrodden yet inspirational framework of the first 1976 film, which lest we forgot was from the same stable as the other gritty, character based dramas of the 1970’s before it mutated into the jingoistic blockbuster series of the 1980’s. I’m told director Ryan Googler pulls out some amazing flourishes and technical achievements which has me intrigued, even as it looks to be yet another overcoming adversity and trumping over impossible odds narrative which cinema can deliver so well. I’m by no means a sports movie fan either but I’m gonna take a chance on this, which will probably be the first Slyvester Stallone starring film I’ve seen at the cinema since 1993’s Demolition Man.

I hadn’t heard anything about this financial satire until it cropped as a trailer when I went to see Carol, and that fast-paced comedic tone merged with a stellar cast seems like a good return on investment. The twitter reviews I’ve glanced it seem to support this analysis, and with another financial collapse inevitable – depressed oil prices, continuing property insanity – this could be more prescient than one would wish.

January is traditionally the season of the Oscar-bait but this true life drama has landed very strong plaudits, as a controversial expose of the Catholic Church abuse scandal that the Boston Globe diligently pursued back in the late 1990’s. I do find this subject incandescently infuriating, that any social institution, religious or otherwise could even remotely justify protecting its members after conducting not only one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, but also shield them and enable to continue to rape and ruin other children’s lives. I just….I…well words fail me. It remains to be seen how much of this story will be moulded into the usual plucky investigators succeed against the odds narrative if that trailer is anything to go by, but this could be powerful, important stuff which the nervous studios wouldn’t normally broach.

I realise that the US trailer looked like some horrendous hallmark Sunday afternoon drama but that European market preview should hopefully be more representative of the finished article, the reviews have been strong for the most part so we shall see, although it didn’t get much UK buzz from last years LFF preview. So that’s  mere nine or ten movies to see this month alone, one of which I’m going to hopefully test drive at my new(ish) local cinema the Everyman – it looks like 2016 could be off to a terrific start.

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