Friday, January 04, 2008

Let the January Blahs Begin!

New at Since Last Time:
There Will Be Blood
The Water Horse
The Orphanage (El Orfanato)
The Great Debaters
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Charlie Wilson’s War

It’s a crazy day here at the office. I’m trying to put together my 2007 year in review—along with my COFCA nominations and my GAG Award ballot—but I had to take a few minutes out to wish you all a happy 2008.

After the annual Holiday Road Trip, which took us from Ohio to Toronto to West Michigan and back again, I returned home to a few Miramax screeners (hoorah!) and page after page of notes that needed to be turned into reviews. Then, on New Year’s morning, I awoke not with a hangover but with the flu instead. No surprise, really, since I always get sick after the holidays—but the flu was a bit of a change from the usual debilitating cold. Fortunately, though, it only lasted a couple of days—which meant that I was feeling a whole lot better by Thursday…just in time for the first screening of the year.

Last year, during my post-holiday illness, I missed stuff like Children of Men and Freedom Writers (as well as Code Name: The Cleaner, which sucked, since it meant that I missed out on a whole year of bad-movie jokes). This year, however, the first screening of the year was last night’s early screening of Mad Money. Since I hadn’t left the house in a few days—and since it was cold and snowy out—I almost skipped it. But everyone else was going, and I hadn’t seen the rest of the gang in a couple of weeks, so I figured it would do me some good to get out and see everybody again. And I was right. Jason and David and Kevin and John were there, and I was thrilled to see them all again. We were all eager to say our Happy New Year!s and share our holiday stories. And after I got home, I felt so much better that I actually sat down and ate, making up for the three days of soup and saltines. And today I was actually (somewhat) prepared to get up at my normal time and get to work. And to think that I have Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes to thank for it.

Since Mad Money doesn’t come out for a couple of weeks, I’m not supposed to say anything about it yet. So I won’t. I will, however, say that Kevin almost got in his first fight of the year with someone who may or may not have been kicking his seat through the movie. And there was also a guy a few seats down from David who laughed so loudly (and in such a horrifying manner) that we were rather worried that he’d have a stroke.

But enough about that—let’s talk about January. Now, I believe I’ve mentioned before that August is pretty much the armpit of the movie year. It’s the time when studios toss out their trash—their bad slacker comedies, as well as a few not-quite-blockbuster-worthy films. Why? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps it’s because it’s just too hot and oppressive outside to go to a theater to watch a serious drama. Perhaps it’s supposed to be a palate-cleansing month between blockbuster season and early awards season. Perhaps people are too busy thinking about going back to school to think much about movies. Whatever.

But if August is the armpit of the movie year, January is—um…what’s worse than the armpit?—let’s say that January is the butt-crack of the movie year. Apparently, studios figure that they’ve given all they can in December—with all their holiday films and big-name award contenders and things—that they’ve got nothing left to give. So they give moviegoers things like Code Name: The Cleaner and a whole bunch of movies that they don’t even dare to screen for the press. Perhaps they just figure that people are too burned out from the holidays to care.

As for us critics, January is a mixed blessing. Sure, after the award season push, we critics do appreciate the down-time that January brings—but the fact that it comes filled with bad comedies and other crap that couldn’t cut it any other time of the year (not even in August!) is pretty disheartening. It does, however, give us a whole month to brush up on our scathing-review-writing techniques, as well as providing us with a whole year’s worth of bad movie jokes. January movies are, for the most part, really bad—so when we hear that a movie has a January release date, we’re instantly skeptical. Incidentally, that’s why we’re just a little bit worried about the new J.J. Abrams-produced top-secret monster movie, Cloverfield. Sure, it looked good when we saw the teaser trailer before Transformers—but if it’s any good, why are they releasing it in January? (Stay tuned for the answer to that one.)

For the time being, though, we’ll settle into our January rituals, drinking just a little bit more and preparing for the worst, all the while looking forward to the warmer temperatures—and better movies—of summer.

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