The Longest Month

December 24, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

For as long as I can remember, January has been my least favorite month. It's a long, bleak stretch from New Year's Day to Memorial Day, and this is only the beginning. On a sunny day, there are about nine hours of light. The daytime high typically hovers a few degrees below freezing. There tends to be either too much snow or too little. And the movie landscape is as unpromising as my windswept backyard.

For those who live in areas where the late-December limited releases don't arrive until January (these could include Munich, The New World, Match Point, and a few others), cinematic opportunities remain. But for those who have seen the majority of the 2005 releases in 2005, January doesn't offer much reason to leave the couch and go to the multiplex.

It's hard for me to make a final determination about which January movies I'll be seeing. Bad weather can change things. And there can be unexpected surprises, like the local opening of a limited release movie I hadn't expected. (Caché, perhaps?) Eliminating such wild cards, however, my current plan is to average about two movies per week. Since January has four weekends (not counting December 31/January 1), that means I'll exit the month having seen about eight movies. I figure that's about all I can stomach. If past history is an indicator of future trends, the February average will be about the same, then the numbers will start climbing in March.

So what am I planning to see in January 2006? I'll start with Grandma's Boy (no press screenings) and Hostel (limited press screenings, and I have already missed the only local one). Expecting too much from either would be a mistake, but you never know... For the weekend of 1/13-15, I plan to catch three titles: Glory Road (generic sports underdog movie - but it could be enjoyable if well made), Hoodwinked! (I have heard good things), and Tristan and Isolde. For week #3, the only thing on my schedule is Underworld: Evolution. How can anything with Derek Jacobi be all bad? (I hope the film doesn't answer that question.) Finally, January wraps with Annapolis and Nanny McPhee.

For anyone who might be wondering, missing films like Last Holiday and Big Momma's House 2 are not oversights. In general, I'm not a big fan of previews, but after seeing two minutes of Last Holiday, I decided that I didn't need to see another minute. Besides, I now know the entire story. Queen Latifa, please get a new agent! Considering how much I hated the first Big Momma's House, anyone who believed I would subject myself to a second installment is deluded. Also to be skipped: Bloodrayne (Uwe Boll - need I say more?) and The Gathering (which has such unbelievably bad advance word that I can't believe anyone would willingly pay money for it - again, no press screening).

So, there we have it: the January movie roster. Doesn't it make you want to curl up next to the fire and watch 24 (fifth season premieres Jan. 15) and Battlestar Galactica (second half of second season premieres Jan. 6)?