January 2005 Forecast

By John Seal

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1. Elektra

This super hero adventure is a spin-off from last year's disappointing Daredevil flick and stars Jennifer Garner as the eponymous tough gal who pounds the living bejesus out of bad guys. Directed by Rob Bowman, who helmed the underrated Reign of Fire, Elektra should benefit from the absence of Daredevil star You Know Who. And I'm not talking about Voldemort.


2. Coach Carter

Samuel L. Jackson opens up a can of whoop ass on his high school students in this "based on a true story" tale of a hardnosed basketball coach in poverty stricken Richmond, California. The perfect vehicle for Hollywood's favorite reactionary African-American film actor - I'm really not sure why he was portrayed as a Film Actors Guild lackey in last fall's Team America: World Police - Coach Carter is the perfect post-holiday, back to reality film for those who like a brisk slap in the face and a dose of tough love.


3. Assault on Precinct 13

Yet another remake no one asked for and no one wants, Assault on Precinct 13 "reimagines" John Carpenter's classic tale of urban blight and rampant criminality. The strength of the original film was its refusal to identify its roving hordes of barbarians: like Native Americans in a 1940's western, they merely existed to provide a story and cannon fodder. The remake, alas, dispenses with the anonymity, opting instead to feature Larry Fishburne as an imprisoned gangland lord whose minions are gonna bust him out of the joint. He-man Ethan Hawke stands in their way.


4. Hide and Seek

January is awash in horror films of both the supernatural and psychological variety, and this looks to be the best of the bunch. Robert De Niro stars as the father of little Dakota Fanning, who's upset about her Mommy's recent passing. When she starts to exhibit some disturbing symptoms of mental deterioration, De Niro seeks help from another couple who have recently experienced a similar tragedy. Melissa Leo, a fine actress who was the best thing about the overrated 21 Grams (2003), co-stars.


5. Are We There Yet?

Not sure I'm ready for a PG rated Ice Cube film, but here it is. This time he plays a lovelorn fellow who tries to ingratiate himself with the object of his affection by transporting her troublesome offspring to meet her in time to celebrate New Year's. Director Brian Levant got the blueprint for "wacky road movie", ensuring plenty of crazy pitfalls, wrong turns, and hilarious mishaps along the way. If they'd flown, all they'd have to complain about are breast pat downs and bistro bags. Anyhoo, with a PG rating, everyone's going to hug and smile at the end of the picture - right before Cube blows 'em away with his AK.

6. White Noise

It's January = it's Michael Keaton time! The former Caped Crusader now finds himself in a thriller about voices from the beyond. Not nagging little voices asking you why oh why did you ever agree to star in Jack Frost, but ethereal, ghostly voices from the grave. Take your medication, Michael. White Noise has the January 7th weekend all to itself, but it'll still get a frosty reception at the box office.

7. Racing Stripes

Oh my. Whoever greenlit this film needs to be fired immediately, tarred and feathered, drawn and quartered, and dunked in boiling acid. (Regular, non-boiling, flesh-burning acid simply isn't punishment enough.) Not only does Racing Stripes feature an absurd premise - young girl befriends tame Zebra and turns him into Seabiscuit'it also includes talking animals! There are a lot of big names involved with this project, including Dustin Hoffman, Frankie Muniz, and, er, Jeff Foxworthy, but wild zebras won't be able to drag folks into the cinema for this disaster. Though your children might be able to.

8. Alone In the Dark

The early favorite for worst film of 2005, Alone In the Dark comes from the stable of schlock filmmaker Uwe Boll, who specializes in video game adaptations. Box office powerhouse Christian Slater stars. If you pay to see this one in theatres, you probably will find yourself-alone in the dark. (Rimshot.)



LIMITED TREATS

Aliens of the Deep

Yes, it's directed by James Cameron, but no, it isn't the long rumored Alien 5. These aliens are real, and they live deep in our oceans, where they plot to invade the surface and annihilate mankind. Not really, they probably just lounge around sucking up plankton. Sounds like it should have been an Imax film.



Appleseed

I hate anime, even Miyazaki. This isn't Miyazaki, so after breaking box office records in Japan, it'll gross about two bits in the States.


Beautiful Boxer

Transgender pugilism! What's next, same-sex marriage? This Thai drama is based on the true life adventures of Parinya Charoenphol, a man who paid for his sex change operation from, appropriately enough, the purses he won in the kickboxing ring.


Fascination

There used to be a Fascination parlor on San Francisco's Market Street. The sign over the marquee blazed the message: Play Fascination Today! For years I'd walk past that place, always wondering what Fascination was, assuming it was some sort of vaguely legal game of chance or the front for a massage parlor. It's gone now, after being there for decades. Fascination the film (starring Jacqueline Bisset) will be gone from theatres in roughly the time it takes you to read this paragraph.


Marty Doskins's January Forecast


     


 
 

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