Weekly Essay Question (Jan. 8, 2015)

Every couple of weeks, the OFCS polls its members with a question related to movies. It can be serious or amusing, but each member is given the opportunity to submit a short response to the question, which we will then post on Thursday mornings. Here is this week’s query.

Essay Question #4: What is a rare January release that doesn’t bite the big one?
Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic


Robert Cashill @ Popdose
The “why” is pretty simple; it’s cold in most of the country, and people other than horror movie-loving teens are either indoors or catching up on Oscar flicks that were in limited release in late December.

The “what”–the first good January release I recall seeing was Down and Out in Beverly Hills, which got in under the wire on Jan. 31, 1986. (Not that February is so hot, either.) It did so well, critically and commercially, that reignited star Bette Midler was back the following Jan. 30 in Outrageous Fortune. But no trend materialized and Siberia continued on thereafter.

Recently, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington have bucked the trend, with popular hits released or going into wide release in the “dead zone” month. It was only natural that they be teamed–but 2 Guns, a summer movie, didn’t have the cold weather mojo working in their favor, and the boxoffice was a bit chilly.

Frank Ochieng @ Sound on Sight
Most people are aware that January releases are a dumping ground for a majority of arbitrary movies that are between the holiday fare/Oscar-contending selections and the start-up of the brand new movie season setting the tone for upcoming box office surprises. So naturally there is going to be a stagnant period in the month of January where the serving of dismissive cinema is viewed as mediocre or mindless.

The rarity of a January release “that doesn’t bite” feels like “the big one” is because critics and moviegoers alike do not anticipate a decent ditty of a film to materialize in a countless sea of intentional throwaway motion pictures meant to headline a fresh movie season until the big screen goodies are ready to be unleashed in the months to come.

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic
After its mysterious, title-free teaser a year before, “Cloverfield” was released on January 18th, 2008. It surpassed expectations big time, not only from all the hype but from having its release during the January doldrums. Post-“The Blair Witch Project,” it’s still one of the better found-footage movies, especially after the deathless glut of that sub-genre. It starts as a gimmick, but hits the pedal to the metal as a speedy, tense, cleverly mounted, and highly fun ride with a scary, convincing Godzilla-ish monster. Movies purporting to be real footage that create genuine urgency and palpable terror don’t come around as often as they should.

Kristen Lopez @ Awards Circuit
I’m assuming we’re talking movies already released and not due for release. The two that immediately spring to mind are Haywire and The Grey, both released January of 2012. If anything, January is a time where the more oddball choices can come out without any competition, but the stigma remains that there’s a reason they aren’t coming out in a better time.

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