Monday, January 1, 2024

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In January (2024)

  According to Cat
20 - Sunrise (1/19)
Director: Andrew Baird
Writer: Ronan Blaney
Actors: Guy Pearce, Alex Pettyfer, Olwen Fouéré, Kurt Yaeger, William Gao, Crystal Yu, Richard Pettyfer, Forrest Bothwell, Riley Chung, Tamara Chanel White, Chike Chan
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 34min
TMDb Blurb: When an ex-cop named Fallon returns to the scene of a horrific crime, the residents of a rural town soon discover that this dark visitor is really a vampire who feeds on blood and fear. After he is befriended by a kind immigrant family, the instinctive killer is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for vampire movies. (Not sorry!) I am especially intrigued when the story seems to slant in an unexpected direction. The fact that the character in Sunrise is a vampire seems to be a secondary factor that merely complicates his situation rather than being the primary focus of the tale. My impression from the trailer was that this is a tale of revenge and redemption for something that happened to Alex Pettyfer’s (Lee Daniel's The Butler, Endless Love, Back Roads) character’s family at the hand or direction of Guy Pearce’s (Memento, The Catcher Was a Spy, Bloodshot) character.
I found myself drawn in and invested in what was going on, even though I have questions about the whole vampire lore of the situation. I’m willing give it a chance at making some sort of sense in the bigger picture as the story of Sunrise unfolds. It’s also pretty cool to see that Pettyfer also gets a chance in this film to work alongside his dad, Richard Pettyfer (Darling of the Gods, Stuart: A Life Backwards, Warning).
Sunrise will be released to theaters as well as becoming available digitally on Friday, January 19th 2024.

19 - Good Grief (1/5)
Director: Dan Levy
Writer: Dan Levy
Actors: Dan Levy, Ruth Negga, Himesh Patel, Luke Evans, Celia Imrie, Arnaud Valois, David Bradley, Mehdi Baki, Emma Corrin, Jamael Westman, Kaitlyn Dever, Yoli Fuller, Noé Besin, Cyrielle Debreuil, Nigel Lilley, Gabriel Marc
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
IMDb Blurb: When his husband unexpectedly dies, Marc's world shatters, sending him and his two best friends on a soul-searching trip to Paris that reveals some hard truths they each needed to face.
Good Grief is a prime example of why you shouldn’t exactly take the specific placement order of movies on my Top 20 lists as an indication of whether or not a movie will be particularly better than any other. I order films based on my desire to watch them, primarily. I am rather excited about Dan Levy’s (Schitt's Creek, Happiest Season, Haunted Mansion) feature debut as a writer/director – the subject matter at hand, however, causes me to place it towards “the end” of the list. Why, you might ask? Simply because the topic of loss is rather heavy. I’ve shied away from pure drama and tear-jerkers lately. I tend to actively seek escapism with flights of fantasy, comedy, action, chills, and other worlds.
Overall, I feel that there will likely be enough humor within Good Grief and heartwarming moments between Levy’s character and his friends played by Ruth Negga (World War Z, Preacher, Passing) and Himesh Patel (Yesterday, Enola Holmes 2, Black Mirror) that it won’t be too emotionally cumbersome. Good Grief dwells in the very real emotions of loss and moving forward from feeling adrift while processing it, but it also seems to find that sweet spot of showcasing the journey realistically but with hope and humor rather than wallowing in the dark places. I also love the connection between the friends and how it showcases that important support network for Levy’s character. I also really appreciate the hope that seems to filter into the story.
Negga, Patel, Levy, and Luke Evans (Midway, Scrooge: A Christmas Carol, Our Son) are a combination of talent that would have sold me on Good Grief even if it wasn’t about a sad concept. I enjoy their work and am looking forward to what they bring to this story. 
Good Grief is releasing as a Netflix original streaming starting January 5th.
18 - Founders Day (1/19)
Director: Erik Bloomquist
Writers: Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist
Actors: Naomi Grace, Devin Druid, William Russ, Amy Hargreaves, Catherine Curtin, Emilia McCarthy, Olivia Nikkanen, Jayce Bartok, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Tyler James White, Erik Bloomquist, Adam Weppler, Kate Edmonds, Dylan Slade, Arun Storrs, Patrick Zeller, Shravan Amin, Callie Beaulieu, Cathy Salvodon, Jeffrey Alan Solomon, Natalie Brown, Sharlene Hartman
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 46min
IMDb Blurb: A small town is shaken by a series of ominous killings in the days leading up to a heated mayoral election.
Founders Day doesn’t appear to be your average slasher. The timing of the masked killer’s spree on the verge of the town’s 300th anniversary and a mayoral election can’t be a coincidence – especially when the killer’s weapon of choice seems to be a gavel with an embedded knife. I’m also digging the mask that’s a combination of both the smile and frown of the dual-mask iconography of the theater arts.
Director Erik Bloomquist (Weekenders, She Came from the Woods, Intermedium) told EntertainmentWeekly that he and his brother found inspiration from Scream (1996) and it can likely be seen as an influence in Founders Day – not in the meta reference sense, but in trying to capture a “sense of mischief” in their own way. I am intrigued as to how that will play out, and whether or not there really is something deeper to this bloody romp or if this slasher is simply that.
Founders Day is set for a limited theatrical release on Friday, January 19th. On-Demand, digital, and streaming service information was not available at the time of this article.
17 - The Underdoggs (1/26)
Director: Charles Stone III
Writers: Isaac Schamis, Constance Schwartz-Morini, Danny Segal, Snoop Dogg
Actors: Snoop Dogg, Tika Sumpter, Elias Ferguson, Jonigan Booth, Caleb Dixon, Adan James Carrillo, Alexander Michael Gordon, Kylah Davila, George Lopez, Shamori Washington, Schelle Purcell, Andrew Schulz, Kal Penn, Luis R. Hernandez, Nancy De Mayo, Kandi Burruss, Tony Gonzalez, Deion Sanders, Terry Bradshaw, Curt Menefee, Michael Strahan, Howie Long, Jay Glazer
Genre: Comedy, Sport
Rated: R
Length: 1h 41min
TMDb Blurb: The story of former NFL superstar Jaycen Jenning, “2J’s,” who, after a run-in with the law, agrees to coach a youth football team in lieu of prison in the hopes of relaunching his fledgling career.

Do I really need to explain this one? It’s Snoop Dogg (The Addams Family, Good Mourning, Day Shift) as a lead in a movie about coaching kids. What could go wrong? Comedy gold, I tell you.
Okay, okay… there’s more to it than that. I’ve said before that I’m not exactly the sports movie type…by choice. I’ll end up watching them and enjoying in spite of myself while viewing with my husband or friends. The movies generally have a lot of heart and it’s easy to get invested in the stories beyond the whole sports aspect of it. I have a feeling that The Underdoggs will have an easier time winning me over just because of the cast involved – and the fact that it’s an R rated movie. 
Yes, that’s right – R. This is NOT a movie to watch with the kids just because it’s about a kids’ team getting a community service coach. Bad News Bears (1976) and The Mighty Ducks (1992) were the family-friendly versions for their respective sports of baseball and hockey. The Underdoggs is going full-contact with its take on this football spin of the familiar sort of tale. It’s a lot of nostalgia for those of us that grew up watching the other movies I mentioned all rolled up with some Snoop style fun. IMDb indicates that the rating comes from “pervasive language, sexual references, drug use, and some underage drinking.” It’s not the worst thing ever, but just definitely not appropriate for the age range of the children shown in the movie. 
As a side note, I giggled at the Martha Stewart reference in the trailer. I digress… One thing that The Underdoggs has a good shot of doing aside from taking Amazon Prime by storm is raising awareness for one of Snoop Dogg’s passion projects: The SnoopYouth Football League. It is a very real organization through which he gives back to communities by helping facilitate youth sports in a very hands-on way. I’ve heard him speak about it in interviews before and this is something dear to his heart. Understanding that, I feel that I’m going to enjoy this movie even more. 
The Underdoggs will be releasing straight to Amazon Prime Video on January 26th.
16 - Miller's Girl (1/26)
Director: Jade Halley Bartlett
Writer: Jade Halley Bartlett
Actors: Martin Freeman, Jenna Ortega, Bashir Salahuddin, Gideon Adlon, Dagmara Dominczyk, Christine Adams
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 33min
Moviefone Blurb: A talented young writer (Jenna Ortega) embarks on a creative odyssey when her teacher (Martin Freeman) assigns a project that entangles them both in an increasingly complex web. As lines blur and their lives intertwine, professor and protégé must confront their darkest selves while straining to preserve their individual sense of purpose and the things they hold most dear. 

I am a bit confused and on the fence regarding Miller’s Girl. Everything I’ve seen regarding this movie points to it being – at least in part – a comedy. The trailer served me very little of that and quite a heaping helping of drama. In fact, it gave me drama on a level that made me squirm in my seat uncomfortably. Don’t get me wrong, though. That’s a good thing if this were a straight drama regarding a student entrapping a teacher into a compromising position for either sociopathic kicks or some sort of revenge. If that’s what the movie is, then I wish promotional material and listings would be honest and just label and tag it correctly. 
However, if there is comedy laced into this tightly wound tale of creative writing assignments going too far, the trailer was edited in such a way that the lighter moments simply weren’t so evident. I’m going to be crossing my fingers that it’s an editing problem for the trailer and not the film, itself. Considering this is the feature debut for writer/director/producer Jade Halley Bartlett (Cinnamon Girl, The Accountant), I’m not sure what to expect. 
Even if this were a straight drama, I’d probably watch it anyway. I love Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Cargo, Black Panther) and Jenna Ortega (The Babysitter: Killer Queen, Scream, Wednesday). They throw themselves completely into their roles and are excellent with both dramatic work as well as comedy. I would watch them in pretty much anything. Miller’s Girl feels like a win, either way.
Miller’s Girl is receiving a theatrical release on Friday, January 26th. At the time of this article, information regarding VOD or streaming was not available. Anyone attending the Palm Springs Film Festival will have a chance to view this movie early, as it will run at the festival on January 11th.
15 - The Bricklayer (1/5)
Director: Renny Harlin
Writers: Noah Boyd, Matt Johnson, Marc Moss, Pete Travis, Hanna Weg
Actors: Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, Ilfenesh Hadera, Oliver Trevena, Akis Sakellariou, Ori Pfeffer, Lili Rich, Konstantin Adaev, Zachary Willis, David Kennedy, Veronica Ferres, Johanna Harlin, Anastasia Doumtsis, Michael Siriopoulos, John T. Woods, Roman Jankovic, Teodora Djuric, Laura Hopper, Chrysovalantis Mavridis
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 50min
TMDb Blurb: Someone is blackmailing the CIA by assassinating foreign journalists and making it look like the agency is responsible. As the world begins to unite against the U.S., the CIA must lure its most brilliant – and rebellious – operative out of retirement, forcing him to confront his checkered past while unraveling an international conspiracy.

I love action movies for the pure entertainment value they provide. Car chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat… all of that lovely vicarious adrenaline can be quite exciting to lose myself in, if it’s done right.
It’s a little funny that there seems to be a trend this month for movies featuring a former operative of some sort being called up from retirement to settle something. The Bricklayer is one of 3 movies with precisely that plot. Sure, it seems that Hollywood is grasping at straws so much for ideas that they’re using the same one over and over by erasing the retirement trade of the former agents/hitmen and scribbling in something else. You know what, though? I don’t mind if the movie is executed well. Two of these specific movies have landed on my list this time around and I’m unapologetic. 
I was intrigued and entertained by the trailers for The Bricklayer. It has the potential to check all the boxes for a movie of this genre and also provide some much-needed levity at the same time. I also enjoy Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries, Flatliners, The Out-Laws) and Aaron Eckhart’s (The Dark Knight, Sully, Midway) work. It will be interesting to see them in a “buddy cop” sort of scenario here. I’m just hoping they don’t muddy the waters by throwing in a romance here.
Another point I found interesting for The Bricklayer is that none other than Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, Copshop, Kandahar) is among the producers for this film. If this is a project he can get behind, I’d say it’s at least worth a shot.
The Bricklayer will be releasing both in theaters and On Demand Friday, January 5th.
14 - Project Dorothy (1/16)
Director: George Henry Horton
Writers: George Henry Horton, Ryan Scaringe
Actors: Danielle Harris, Tim DeZarn, George Henry Horton, Adam Budron, Emily Rafala, Olivia Scott
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 20min
IMDb Blurb: After a botched robbery, two men take refuge in a remote and lifeless scientific facility, inadvertently awakening a monster within.
A.I. is something that fascinates me, and also gives me eerie feelings of dread. I did grow up with the concepts from The Terminator (1984) in the back of my mind, after all. I’m not sure how close we are to a SkyNet situation, but it seems like this fictional tale of Project Dorothy involves the sort of murderous A.I. that would set Armageddon via the rise of the machines in motion. 
I’m curious to learn if 2 bumbling burglars are capable of thwarting the stir-crazy A.I. 
Project Dorothy is receiving a limited theatrical release and will also be available On-Demand Tuesday, January 16th.
13 - Suitable Flesh (1/26)
Director: Joe Lynch
Writers: Dennis Paoli, H.P. Lovecraft
Actors: Heather Graham, Judah Lewis, Bruce Davison, Johnathon Schaech, Barbara Crampton, Graham Skipper, Brett Newton, Chris McKenna, JD Evermore, Giovannie Cruz, Ann Mahoney, Hunter Womack, Jonah Ray, Joe Lynch
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
TMDb Blurb: A once-esteemed psychiatrist helplessly watches her life spiral into a nightmarish maelstrom of supernatural hysteria and gruesome deaths, all linked to a seemingly unstoppable ancient curse.

Suitable Flesh has had a little bit of a rollercoaster ride on my list this month. I never had a doubt as to the fact that I would recommend it; however, I wasn’t sure what number it would land on. In the spirit of things spooky, and the fact that this movie is an adaptation of a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, I figured good old #13 would be fitting. 
I adore Lovecraftian horror. When I became aware of Suitable Flesh, I hadn’t read the story it was adapted from…yet. I have since remedied that (you can read it online via this Lovecraft archive) and I am that much more excited to see what the writing/directing team of Dennis Paoli (Bleacher Bums, Masters of Horror, The Evil Clergyman) and Joe Lynch (Knights of Badassdom, Mayhem, Creepshow) have done with bringing the story to modern life. Paoli has adapted Lovecraft before with the likes of Re-Animator (1985) and I have enjoyed Lynch’s perspective on horror and specifically horror-comedy. I have high expectations. 
So far, the trailer has hinted at a hilarious and trippy fever dream of an experience full of sex, madness, and murder. 
Heather Graham (The Hangover, Horns, Oracle) appears to be killing it, and I love her cheeky delivery in the little glimpses and snippits within the trailer. I absolutely believe she is up to the task of bringing this Lovecraftian craziness to life. It was a chilling and disturbing short story, and I can only hope that the window-dressing of the modern elements added and the whole sex aspect don’t overshadow Suitable Flesh’s core narrative.
Suitable Flesh will arrive on Shudder on Friday, January 26th. (The film had a limited theater run with On-Demand availability back in October 2023, however that was while the strike was still going on so we’re going to discount that.) You can also find this movie on Blu-ray starting January 9th.
12 - Weak Layers (1/5)
Director: Katie Burrell
Writers: Katie Burrell, Andrew Ladd
Actors: Katie Burrell, Jadyn Wong, Chelsea Conwright, Evan Jonigkeit, Neal Bledsoe, Charlie Manoukian, KC Deane, Darius Devine, Scott Gaffney, Debbie Dutton, Beau Martino, D. Brad St. Cyr, Dave Cherry, Myra Cheney, Christian Johanson, Reverend Rusty Reams, Cody Townsend, Elyse Saugstad, Jim Ryan, Daron Rahlves, Drew Peterson, Michelle Parker, Madison Rose Ostegren, Jonny Moseley, Connery Lundin, Todd Ligare, J.T. Holmes, Travis Ganong, Amie Engerbretson, Tom Day, Jeff Engerbretson, Keoki Flag, Sherry McConkey, Dave Hatchett, Mike Hatchett, Eddie Blake
Genre: Comedy, Sports
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 39min
Metacritic Blurb: After getting evicted, three party-loving best friends set out to win a ski-movie competition. The prize money covers their rent, but they’ll have to beat out professional skiers and filmmakers. An uproarious comedy that celebrates mountain towns and takes on the male-dominated ski industry.

I couldn’t resist. I am oddly giddy with anticipation for Weak Layers. You don’t need to check my temperature to see if I’m sick. Yes, this is another sports movie on my list; and, yes, I do actually want to see it rather than feel the impending coercion to do so on the horizon. 
For Weak Layers, a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s featuring an outdoor sport. Winter Olympics are generally my go-to as far as televised sports go. My favorite sport, of course, is Figure Skating. However, I have been known to enjoy watching the ski competitions now and again. I am in awe of the balance and skill of skiers and the sick aerial tricks the pros can pull off. I’ve watched some of the Warren Miller Entertainment movies about skiing in the past – the visuals and scenery are stunning! All of the snow on the screen helps me escape the sweltering south, at least in my mind, if only for just a little while. 
I also have warm fuzzy nostalgia for ski comedies of the past such as Hot Dog…The Movie (1983), Better Off Dead… (1985), and Out Cold (2001). Weak Layers looks like it is going to follow in those snowy footsteps and bring a hilarious romp on the ski slopes to the screen. 
This is also writer/director/producer Katie Burrell’s first full-length feature film wearing all of those hats. Her background as a skiing outdoor influencer and comedian has come together in a moment of kismet for this film. Not only does Weak Layers look like a lot of fun, it also features legit professional skiers (including Olympians!) taking to the film’s slopes shot around the gorgeous scenery of Lake Tahoe. I found a great article featuring information about Burrell and the filming of this movie in an Outside Magazine article. Also, speaking of Warren Miller Entertainment films, Burrell appeared as one of the skiers in their Daymaker (2022). It’s clear she’s the real-deal who grew up within the ski-culture and isn’t some fly-by-night dabbler.
Weak Layers will have a limited theatrical release beginning Friday, January 5th and will become available On-Demand for digital rental on Tuesday, February 6th, 2024.
11 - Which Brings Me to You (1/19)
Director: Peter Hutchings     
Writers: Steve Almond, Julianna Baggott, Keith Bunin
Actors: Lucy Hale, Nat Wolff, John Gallagher Jr., Ward Horton, Genevieve Angelson, Alexander Hodge, Britne Oldford, Marceline Hugot, Laura Kai Chen, Mitzi Akaha, Erin Ruth Walker, Chase Liefeld, Avery Cole, Michael Mulheren, Jamie McRae, Marcus Brandon, Nancy Meyer, Bria Condon, Federico Rodriguez, Reilly Walters, Katie Lynn Johnson, Kenzie Grey, Ted Deasy, Emily Bautista
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 38min
IMDb Blurb: Two romantic burnouts meet at a wedding and almost hook up in the coatroom before putting the brakes on. They agree to exchange candid confessions about their pasts on the off chance that this might be the real thing.

I couldn’t help but like Which Brings Me to You when I watched the trailer. The concept of this movie is not your run-of-the-mill rom-com and I’m interested in the prospects for this new twist to the genre.
Which Brings Me to You looks like it has plenty for fans of regular rom-com to enjoy. I am, however, curious as to how a relationship forged by shared trauma-dumping will turn out. Anyone who loves to listen to others spill the tea on the hot mess of their failed love lives will surely find themselves enjoying this experience. 
I have enjoyed the work of Lucy Hale (Fantasy Island, The Hating Game, Big Gold Brick) and Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Mortal) and feel their ranges are completely up to the task.
Which Brings Me to You is set for a wide theatrical release on Friday, January 19th. At the time of this article, dates for On-Demand or streaming availability were not available.
10 - Destroy All Neighbors (1/12)
Director: Josh Forbes
Writers: Mike Benner, Jared Logan, Charles A. Pieper
Actors: Kumail Nanjiani, Thomas Lennon, Alex Winter, Jon Daly, Randee Heller, Phil Hendrie, Jonah Ray, Ryan Kattner, Kiran Deol, Christian Calloway, Madara Jayasena, Franco Vega, DeMorge Brown
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Rated: Unrated
Length: min
IMDb Blurb: Struggling prog-rock musician William Brown finds himself in a living nightmare when he accidentally kills Vlad, the neighbor from hell.
I’m just going to say now that Destroy All Neighbors will be absolute bonkers, and I was loving everything that the trailer was offering. Of course, some aspects of this comedy horror flick will likely be a little on the wonkier end of the spectrum, but overall, I expect this to be a hilarious enjoyable experience. I expect this will not be a movie for the squeamish or faint of heart.
I love horror-comedies and I am also a fan of metal music so this is a pairing that works very well for me. I am curious as to whether or not this story is leaning in the direction that the struggling musician simply has a break with reality or if he actually gets haunted by the ghost of his possessed or insane neighbor. 
Destroy All Neighbors also looks like it’s got a lot of great practical effects – including the full prosthetics that Alex Winter (The Lost Boys, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Full Circle) wears while playing the character Vlad. 
I think I giggled a little from the cameo of Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, History of the World: Part II, Migration) which was teased in the trailer. I am hoping his part is a little more expansive than that single scene, but he is excellent as a “straight-man” in a comedic setting. Thomas Lennon (A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, Reno: 911!, Organ Trail) is also a familiar comedic presence here.
Jonah Ray Rodrigues’s (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Christmas Bloody Christmas) lead character, William Brown, already has me invested in his plight and I wonder just how high the body count for Destroy All Neighbors will climb. As an interesting side-connection, both of the absolutely bonkers movies on this list feature a role with Jonah Ray Rodrigues. He is listed as playing an orderly in Suitable Flesh (2024) as well. 
Destroy All Neighbors is set to release as a Shudder exclusive on January 12th.
9 - T.I.M. (1/12)
Director: Spencer Brown
Writers: Spencer Brown, Sarah Govett
Actors: Georgina Campbell, Eamon Farren, Mark Rowley, Amara Karan, Nathaniel Parker, Tom Bell, Eliza Glock, Edmund Kingsley, Adil Akram, Janis Ahern, Phillipa Flynn   Phillipa Flynn
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 41min
Rottentomatoes Blurb: An engineer begins work on her company's latest product, an A.I. humanoid called T.I.M. -- Technologically. Integrated. Manservant. Things take a turn for the worse when T.I.M.'s servient programming leads to a dangerous obsession with her.
A.I. is all fun and games until it actually has a body, gets jealous, obsesses over you, and then tries to possess you by replacing or eliminating everyone you hold dear. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
Artificial Intelligence is scary even when it is contained within the incorporeal vastness of the internet.
With movies such as T.I.M and M3AGAN (2022) it seems that we are forgetting to instill our creations with the 3 Laws of Robotics as put forth by Sci-Fi trailblazer, Isaac Asimov. I digress…
T.I.M promises to be quite the futuristic cautionary tale and thrill ride. I do believe that Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch, Barbarian, Bird Box: Barcelona) and Eamon Farren (Winchester, The Dig, The Witcher) are up for the task. I am not as familiar with Mark Rowley’s (Guns Akimbo, The Last Kingdom, The Witcher: Blood Origin) work, but I am excited to listen to his accent. Call it balm for my soul to soothe the nerves from the harrowing situation on screen. 
T.I.M is set for a limited theatrical release beginning January 12th, and will be available On-Demand for digital rental the same day.

8 - He Went That Way (1/5)
Director: Jeffrey Darling
Writer: Evan M. Wiener
Actors: Jacob Elordi, Zachary Quinto, Patrick J. Adams, Troy Evans, Alexandra Doke, John Lee Ames, Ananyaa Shah, Nicolette Doke, Roman Arabia, Josh Archer, Phoenix Notary, Jonathan Pitts, Christopher Guyton, Denise Sante, Jason Whitaker
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 35min
TMDb Blurb: Set in 1964, a three-day journey along Route 66 begins when Bobby Falls, a 19-year-old serial killer, hitches a ride with Jim Goodwin, a celebrity animal handler travelling with his precious cargo: his TV chimpanzee, Spanky.

He Went That Way feels like it’s hitting the retro button in more ways than one. Aside from it literally taking place in the bygone era of the 60s, it feels like stories featuring characters on the road with a primate buddy used to be a familiar trope but is rarely used now. Yet, here we are.
Situations like depicted in He Went That Way are also why it became practice to warn people away from picking up hitchhikers on the road for safety reasons. This story is, after all, at least in part based on actual events that happened to a celebrity animal trainer who became he sole survivor of a serial killer’s murder spree. That thought is rather sobering. 
I really admire Zachary Quinto’s (Star Trek Beyond, Hotel Artemis, American Horror Story) work and Jacob Elordi (Euphoria, Priscilla, Saltburn) has been proving he has some serious acting chops of his own. Their combination promises to create an intense experience for audiences. I have high expectations. 
He Went That Way is set to have a limited theatrical release beginning Friday, January 5th and will become available On-Demand for digital rental January 12th, 2024.
7 - Mean Girls (1/12)
Directors: Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.
Writer: Tina Fey
Actors: Angourie Rice, Jon Hamm, Jenna Fischer, Reneé Rapp, Ashley Park, Tina Fey, Auli'i Cravalho, Christopher Briney, Busy Philipps, Avantika, Bebe Wood, Tim Meadows, Brian Altemus, Connor Ratliff, Jaquel Spivey, Allison Winn, Mahi Alam, Ari Notartomaso, Camille Umoff, Gabriella Cila, John El-Jor, Jake Schwencke, Kaylee Kaleinani, Jordan Gallimore, Jessica Wu
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 52min
TMDb Blurb: New student Cady Heron is welcomed into the top of the social food chain by the elite group of popular girls called ‘The Plastics,’ ruled by the conniving queen bee Regina George and her minions Gretchen and Karen. However, when Cady makes the major misstep of falling for Regina’s ex-boyfriend Aaron Samuels, she finds herself prey in Regina’s crosshairs. As Cady sets to take down the group’s apex predator with the help of her outcast friends Janis and Damian, she must learn how to stay true to herself while navigating the most cutthroat jungle of all: high school.

Did Mean Girls really need a remake? I really don’t have the answer to that. I do know, however, that if it were going to be done – it was in the hands of the right people. Tina Fey (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Mr. Mayor) is the writer behind the original movie’s screenplay, after all. Fey was also the one that brought a musical adaptation to Broadway. Now we’ve come full circle and that very musical version has been re-adapted for the screen instead of a live stage. 
In the process of this mean circle of life, Tim Meadows (Hubie Halloween, The Mandalorian, The Goldbergs) has remained a constant and will reprise his role once more. I’m also excited about additions to the cast such as John Hamm (Top Gun: Maverick, Good Omens, Fargo). 
I found the trailer entertaining, and I admit that I would want to see this new version anyway – just to see what new elements were added to make the story relevant to teens 20 years forward from when the original movie released, and how the musical adds or takes away from that. 
My only concern, really, is whether or not the story glorifies the ‘mean girl’ attitude or if the “villain” is sufficiently punished as a moral deterrent to bullying. I will keep my fingers crossed. 
Mean Girls was originally set to release on Paramount+, however has been shifted to a theatrical wide release as of Friday, January 12th.  On-Demand digital rental information is not available at this time. I have seen an indication that Mean Girls should be available eventually on HBO Max, but I imagine Paramount’s merger plans may dictate when and where that will happen.
6 - The Book of Clarence (1/12)
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Writer: Jeymes Samuel
Actors: LaKeith Stanfield, Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, David Oyelowo, Alfre Woodard, Omar Sy, Teyana Taylor, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Anna Diop, Tom Glynn-Carney, Babs Olusanmokun, Caleb McLaughlin, RJ Cyler, Micheal Ward, Nicholas Pinnock, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Chase Dillon, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Chidi Ajufo, Andrea Ali, Hopi Grace, Jacobi Howard, Caleb Frederick, Arnold Oceng, Daniel Fraser, Claudius Peters, Miguel Francisco, Francis Ezekiel, Josh Goulding, Fejiro Emasiobi
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 16min
IMDb Blurb: Struggling to find a better life, Clarence is captivated by the power of the rising Messiah and soon risks everything to carve a path to a divine existence.
I admit that I am intrigued by the premise of The Book of Clarence. I had a little giggle while watching the trailer because it reminded me a little of Life of Brian (1979) by the Monty Python crew. Of course, the key difference in these stories is that poor Brian did not want to be mistaken for the Messiah, while Clarence clearly wants some of that divine glory to shine on him and elevate the living situation for himself as well as his friends and family. 
I swear, though, if I hear “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” being whistled in the background anywhere in this film, I might just die of laughter on the spot. (It’s very unlikely anyway, but it was an amusing thought.) I digress…
The cast for The Book of Clarence is unreal. LaKeith Stanfield (Uncut Gems, Knives Out, Haunted Mansion) was an excellent choice for lead. You also can’t go wrong with Alfre Woodard (See, The Gray Man, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur) and David Oyelowo (The Water Man, See How They Run, Lawmen: Bass Reeves). I am seriously curious, however, to figure out how Benedict Cumberbach (The Power of the Dog, What If...?, The End We Start From) and James McAvoy (Split, IT Chapter Two, His Dark Materials) fit into this story framework. Are they Romans? None of the film resource sites or articles I’ve read seem to offer any clues – only that they are confirmed cast in the production. I guess we’ll see!
The Book of Clarence is set for a wide theatrical release on Friday, January 12th. At the time of this article, information regarding On-Demand rental and streaming services were not available.

5 - Night Swim (1/5)
Director: Bryce McGuire
Writers: Rod Blackhurst, Bryce McGuire
Actors: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle, Nancy Lenehan, Gavin Warren, Ben Sinclair, Jodi Long, Ellie Araiza, Elijah J. Roberts, Eddie Martinez, Aivan Uttapa, Joziah Lagonoy, Eleanor T. Threatt
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 38min
TMDb Blurb: Forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, former baseball player Ray Waller moves into a new house with his wife and two children. He hopes that the backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for himself. However, a dark secret from the home's past soon unleashes a malevolent force that drags the family into the depths of inescapable terror.
This is the stuff of nightmares right here. I don’t particularly like swimming in murky water where what is around me is obscured. That applies to lakes, rivers, and especially the ocean. I’m quite peachy in a nice clean pool, thanks. However, Night Swim works to strip away that sense of safety, as there’s something wrong with that pool that isn’t as clear as the water. 
The trailer for Night Swim gripped me immediately and had my heart in my throat. I’ve been on pins and needles to watch this movie and can’t wait until I get a chance to. I’m dying to find out what the problem with the pool is and whether or not the family is able to discern it before it’s too late and put a stop to it.
Night Swim is set for a wide theatrical release starting Friday, January 5th. Information regarding On-Demand rental or streaming services was not available at this time.

4 - I.S.S. (1/19)
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Writer: Nick Shafir
Actors: Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, John Gallagher Jr., Masha Mashkova, Costa Ronin, Pilou Asbæk
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 35min
IMDb Blurb: Tensions flare in the near future aboard the International Space Station as a conflict breaks out on Earth. Reeling, the US and Russian astronauts receive orders from the ground; take control of the station by any means necessary.
Let me tell you, my anxiety spiked while watching the trailer for I.S.S. The vastness of space can make us feel so very small, but for those floating in orbit miles above the Earth’s surface, I imagine the job also requires a bit of mental resilience in order to not feel trapped or claustrophobic. It has to be hard on spacefarers to leave their loved ones behind while they venture forth to expand human knowledge through their scientific missions.
I can only imagine the horror of watching everything they know and love annihilated by fireballs from war on the surface while helpless to do anything and unable to even say goodbye. When goodwill between nations has been destroyed and loyalties are tested on top of that, there’s so much terror and heartbreak to explore in those spaces.
I.S.S. looks like it’s going to be an edge-of-your-seat ride, at the very least. I really like the cast and the action shots available in the trailer grabbed me by the throat and demanded attention. I don’t know if I need facial tissues or an emergency inhaler to make it through this flick.
I.S.S. launches into a wide theatrical release on Friday, January 19th. Details regarding On-Demand or streaming services were not available at this time.
3 - Lift (1/12)
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Daniel Kunka
Actors: Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sam Worthington, Vincent D'Onofrio, Úrsula Corberó, Billy Magnussen, Yun Jee Kim, Viveik Kalra, Jean Reno, Jacob Batalon, Burn Gorman, Paul Anderson, David Proud, Oli Green, Ross Anderson, Stefano Skalkotos, Martina Avogadri, Jess Liaudin, Caroline Loncq, Morgan C. Jones, Erol Ismail, Gordon Alexander, Russ Bain, Gary Fannin
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 44min
Rottentomatoes Blurb: An international heist crew is recruited to prevent a terrorist attack, and must pull off the heist on a plane mid-flight.

I love a good heist movie – especially when there’s an element of comedy involved.
All I really needed to know was that this was a Netflix Original movie starring Kevin Hart (Night School, Jumanji: The Next Level, Me Time). Done. Sign me up. I’m watching it as soon as it’s released.
Though if you really need other reasons… I could give a few. First, the production quality looks amazing – though, you know Netfix has the big bucks to pull that off anyway. Then there’s the cast. There are some really heavy hitters on board this project. Among them are: Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Fast Color, Motherless Brooklyn, Loki), Jean Reno (Die Hart, Rogue City, The Doorman), Burn Gorman (The Expanse, Watcher, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes), Jacob Batalon (50 States of Fright, Spider Man: No Way Home, Reginald the Vampire), Vincent D'Onofrio (Daredevil, Jurassic World, Godfather of Harlem), and Sam Worthington (The Hunter's Prayer, Avatar: The Way of Water, Simulant). That’s just to name the ones that jump immediately out at me. If you were to tell me there was a movie with even just a few of those names, I’d probably be interested enough to watch it. When you put everyone together, this is a recipe for one glorious caper.
Lift hits Netflix on Friday, January 12th.
2 - Self Reliance (1/12)
Director: Jake Johnson
Writer: Jake Johnson
Actors: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg, Christopher Lloyd, Daryl J. Johnson, Wayne Brady, Tamra Brown, Sky Elobar, Gata, Emily Hampshire, Sydney Henige, Ely Henry, Mary Holland, Bjorn Johnson, Steven Littles, Makini Manu, Boban Marjanovic, Natalie Morales, Gloria Sandoval, John Hans Tester, Biff Wiff
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 25min
Rottentomatoes Blurb: When a middle-aged man (Jake Johnson) is invited into a limo by famous actor Andy Samberg, his dull life takes a thrilling turn. Johnson is offered a chance to win a million dollars in a dark web reality TV show, where assassins from all over the world attempt to kill him for 30 days. The catch? He can't be killed if he's not entirely alone, leading him to recruit an unlikely team to help him survive.
First of all… what the hell, Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Lee)?! Why would you do this to someone? Are you bored? Of course, I’m talking to the fictional version of the actor as shown in Self Reliance. I’m hoping the real person doesn’t have sadistic plans to draw hapless random people into life-or-death games from the Dark Web. I digress…
This looks like one of those stories that’s just so crazy it has to work, and I’m completely here for it. Though, I have been known to enjoy similar themed tales before. I’m a big fan of the Crackle original series CH:OS:EN (2013-2014). There are some significant differences between these stories but a murderous shadow organization is lurking in the wings of both all the same. 
To be honest, though, I’d still watch Self Reliance even if it wasn’t this particular plot point – simply because Anna Kendrick (Trolls World Tour, Stowaway, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off) is in it. I mean, Jake Johnson (Digging for Fire, Win It All, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) is alright but Kendrick seals the deal. I’m also excited to see Christopher Lloyd (The Tender Bar, Spirit Halloween, The Mandalorian) attached to this production as well. 
I’m also super excited that Self Reliance is a Hulu Original movie so I won’t have to wait to watch it or count change to scrounge a ticket together. 
Self Reliance hits Hulu on Friday, January 12th. There will be a single night theatrical special engagement for this film, however. That will take place on January 3rd.

1 - The Beekeeper (1/12)
Director: David Ayer
Writer: Kurt Wimmer
Actors: Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi, Josh Hutcherson, Jeremy Irons, David Witts, Michael Epp, Taylor James, Phylicia Rashad, Jemma Redgrave, Minnie Driver, Don Gilet, Sophia Feliciano, Enzo Cilenti, Megan Le, Dan Li, Georgia Goodman, Derek Siow, Jay Rincon, Kojo Attah, Joe Urquhart, Peter Brooke, Martin Gordon, Rebecca Jane Hazelwood, Baba Oyejide, Kojo Quainoo, Jessica Maria
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 45min
Metacritic Blurb: One man’s brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as Beekeepers.

When I see bees on screen, I have to resist the urge to twitch a little. I’m not entirely phobic; however, after watching The Savage Bees (1976) when it aired on TV when I was little, I think I was a bit traumatized. That’s really neither here nor there, though. The Beekeeper has zero to do with an attack of killer bees, and more along the lines of nefarious people pissing off one killer beekeeper. 
My temptation was to simply write “It’s Jason Statham (The Meg, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Expend4bles), duh” as my explanation for why I want to watch The Beekeeper. You just can’t beat an action flick with him kicking all the ass. He has to be one of my very favorite action stars. 
Of course, he’s not alone here. The cast is stacked with talent from Jeremy Irons (Beautiful Creatures, Watchmen, House of Gucci), Josh Hutcherson (Ultraman, 57 Seconds, Five Nights at Freddy's), Phylicia Rashad (Empire, Soul, Our Son), and Minnie Driver (Cinderella, The Witcher: Blood Origin, Uproar) – just to name a few. 
The Beekeeper is definitely the movie I am most excited to see this January. It will be hitting theaters in a wide release starting Friday, January 12th. Information regarding On-Demand rental and streaming services was not available at the time of this article.

Movies to Look out For
According to Selina
  Founders Day .20
 The Seeding .19
What Happened at 625 River Road .18
The Underdoggs .17
Destroy All the Neighbors .16
Sixty Minutes .15
Project Dorothy .14
Night Swim .13
Suitable Flesh .12
The Book of Clarence .11
Role Play .10
He Went That Way .9
Miller’s Girl .8
I.S.S. .7
  Lift .6
T.I.M. .5
The Beekeeper .4
  The Kitchen .3
Noryang: Deadly Sea .2
Self Reliance .1

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