‘The Pale Blue Eye,’ ‘Infinity Pool,’ ‘Close’ & More
Mar 5, 2023
January is always an interesting time of year for film releases, no longer the dumping ground for Hollywood as each year grows increasingly inundated with new films. This month, in particular, possesses an interesting release schedule, with many streamer releases either directly to or ones such as Scott Cooper’s “The Pale Blue Eye” which first ran in limited theaters at the end of December. Elsewhere, there’s a winter horror flick with a story by modern horror favorite James Wan, spillover from 2022 with festival favorites and acclaimed foreign-language films such as Alice Diop’s patient “Saint Omer.” That, plus the incoming Sundance Film Festival, along with SAG nominations later in the month, helps keep the conversation going; just another reminder that there are plenty of great cinematic projects to discover all year long.
“The Pale Blue Eye”Filmmaker Scott Cooper is picking up the pace a little bit with “Antlers” in 2021 and his follow-up just one year later. His latest teams him up again with bff Christian Bale and another solid cast that includes Harry Melling, Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Harry Lawtey, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, and Robert Duvall. His latest is a whodunnit with eerie, gothic overtones, part father and son story, and also an origin story for poet Edgar Allan Poe.Release Date: Available to stream via Netflix on January 6.
“M3GAN”With the DNA of “Child’s Play” written all over the promotional material thus far, “M3GAN” is set to be one of the first big theatrical hits of the new year. Directed by Gerard Johnstone (“Housebound,”) the film follows a robotics engineer (Allison Williams) who works at a toy company and builds a life-like doll for her daughter, who begins to take on a life of its own. With a story from James Wan and a screenplay by Akela Cooper, we’re interested to see if “M3GAN” will replicate the surprise success of the last venture, “Malignant.” Release Date: January 6 in theaters via Universal Pictures.
“The Drop”Set during an island destination wedding, relationships begin to tether following a controversial incident. “Pen15” star Anna Konkle stars alongside Jermaine Fowler (“Coming 2 America”) and Jillian Bell. Konkle and Fowler play the married couple at the center of the drama after Lex (Konkle) accidentally drops her friend’s baby, a very specific type of social nightmare. Utkarsh Ambudkar, Robin Thede, Aparna Nancherla, Joshua Leonard, Jennifer Lafleur, and Elisha Henig also star. Release Date: Available to stream via Hulu on January 13.
“Skinamarink”Possessing a genuinely upsetting synopsis, “Skinamarink” follows two children who have awoken in the middle of the night to find their father missing, and all the windows and doors of their home have vanished. Written and directed by Kyle Edward Ball in his first feature-length film, the story was inspired by Ball’s previous Youtube channel, where he’d ask commenters to tell him about their nightmares. The film debuted at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival. Release Date: January 13 in theaters via IFC Midnight.
“Saint Omer”Based on a true-life tragedy, the official French entry for the Oscars, “Saint Omer,” follows a young novelist Rama (Kayije Kagame), who is attending a trial of a young woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter. Directed by Alice Diop and co-written with Amrita David and Marie NDiaye, the film deliberately looks for viewers to question their own judgments. Our critic praised the film, writing, “‘Saint Omer,’ a captivating, soul-shattering work overflowing with gentle sympathy, begins with a woman running through the dark. It ends with her hugged in the light.”Release Date: In theaters January 13 via NEON.
“Jung_E”“Train to Busan” filmmaker Yeon Sang-Ho returns with a new science-fiction action flick, “Jung_E.” This marks just one of many collaborations Sang-Ho has with streamer service Netflix following 2021’s series “Hellbound” and the live-action adaptation of the manga “Parasyte: The Grey.” Set in the ruins of Earth in the 22nd century, the series follows an internal war breaking out in a shelter that’s been built to protect humans from the inhabitable planet. Kang Soo–yeon, Kim Hyun–joo, and Ryu Kyung–soo star. Release Date: Available to stream via Netflix on January 20.
“When You Finish Saving the World” Having premiered back at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, it’s been about a full year since critics first got to see the directorial debut from actor/filmmaker Jesse Eisenberg. Based on Eisenberg’s 2020 audio drama of the same name, the story follows mother and son, played by Julianne Moore and Fionn Wolfhard as they struggle to understand one another. Our critic who saw the film at Sundance wrote, “Its many playful edits, careful world-building, stellar performances, and insightful screenplay suggest Eisenberg is a filmmaker with a deep understanding of form and an empathetic grasp of the flaws that make us human.”Release Date: In theaters January 20 via A24.
“Shotgun Wedding”Jennifer Lopez has officially made her return to the romantic comedy between last year’s “Marry Me” and the upcoming “Shotgun Wedding” where she stars alongside Josh Duhamel. Jennifer Coolidge and Lenny Kravitz also star in the film directed by Jason Moore, which follows the engaged couple whose destination wedding is interrupted when their entire party is taken hostage. Release Date: Available to stream via Amazon Prime on January 27.
“You People” The creator of ABC’s “black-ish,” Kenya Barris, directs his first feature-length film with “You People” starring Eddie Murphy. Jonah Hill, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lauren London, and Mike Epps also star in the comedy, which follows a new couple and their families as they deal with modern love amid culture clashes and generational divides. Hill co-wrote the screenplay with Barris. Release Date: Available to stream via Netflix on January 27.
“Close”Director Lukas Dhont follows up his 2018 debut film, “Girl,” with “Close,” which made the festival rounds in 2022. The film follows two 13-year-old best friends whose bond is shaken and torn apart. Our critic praised Dhont’s filmmaking, calling the achievement of the film “something miraculous,” writing that the “…31-year-old filmmaker lets the story play out beyond the expected narrative beats.”Release Date: In theaters January 27 via A24.
“Infinity Pool”Filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg is upping the ante following his last film, the gruesome “Possessor,” with “Infinity Pool,” which makes its premiere at Sundance this month before its theatrical release. Mia Goth, Alexander Skarsgård, and Cleopatra Coleman star as a young rich couple and the woman who guides them to their nightmare while the former is on vacation in Li Tolqa at an all-inclusive resort. Isolated, the film looks to derive horror from the lengths the rich will go to survive, and what they’ll sacrifice to do so. As to be expected, it looks horrifying, Release Date: In theaters January 27 via NEON.
“One Fine Morning”Prolific director Mia Hansen-Løve is back again following 2021’s “Bergman Island” with “One Fine Morning” starring Léa Seydoux. Seydoux plays a young woman chasing an unavailable friend as she raises her eight-year-old daughter and tries to secure a nursing home for her father, who is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. Our critic, who saw the film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022 wrote, “Hansen-Løve’s latest, best described as bittersweetly breezy, is a film about the impermanence of what we love, but also of what burdens us.”Release Date: January 27 in theaters via Sony Pictures Classics.
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