On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, this paper's film critics kick things off with something of a "potpourri segment," to borrow a phrase from Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl. Echoing a common sentiment in the movie world, Scherstuhl describes the month of January as a "grim, featureless landscape...that long, hard slog of the cinematic year." For good measure, though, Scherstuhl has some entertaining things to say about the new Aaron Eckhart vehicle, I, Frankenstein (including an extended description of Bill Nighy's amazingly convoluted villainous scheme), while Voice film critic Stephanie Zacharek does her best to go to bat for the maligned Legend of Hercules, saying that it "delivers everything that it promises."
L.A. Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson weighs in briefly on the recent Glenn Beck-energized social-media attacks that have developed in the wake of her Lone Survivor pan. Because of the aggressive reader/viewer responses, Nicholson admits the following: "I had to spend my first few days at Sundance without being able to use my Twitter or my e-mail." And that doesn't even cover all the reader trouble Nicholson has encountered lately: she also discusses the heated back-and-forth she shared with Joyce Maynard, who authored the source material of Jason Reitman's new movie, Labor Day (a film Nicholson didn't like). Meanwhile, Scherstuhl makes sure to get Nicholson to describe a scene that, on the basis of the Labor Day trailer, looks to consist of "erotic pie-making."
Post-"potpourri segment," the three critics get around to heartily recommending films they've seen in January. Zacharek plugs Chilean director Sebastián Lelio's Gloria, a selection at last fall's New York Film Festival, and a film Zacharek praised in last week's paper.
Nicholson reports on her Sundance experience, which consisted of 25 movies over the course of a week. For Nicholson, the standouts were The Voices, a "wrenching...hilarious" black comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, and Calvary, which reunites writer-director John Michael McDonagh and star Brendan Gleeson, who previously collaborated on the acerbic The Guard.
Lastly, Scherstuhl gives a brief mention to the "relentlessly gorgeous" The Wait before digging into a major 2013 title he caught up with in January: Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. Going up against a pair of Wolf skeptics in Zacharek and Nicholson, Scherstuhl calls the film "fantastic" and "first-rate," and describes lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as one that channels "a free-spiritedness, a free-wheeling madness, a lunacy."
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-- Danny King