Much in the tradition of new year’s resolutions, the bloated self-indulgence of December’s blockbuster fare has been cast off and replaced with a healthy salad of crisp and fibrous new releases, each loudly espousing their restorative properties this January. Whilst this obviously has more to do with the upcoming Oscars (shudder) and much less an attempt at cleansing, focussing and reinvigorating filmic output on the part of the industry, it’s nonetheless highly welcome. You can already taste those celluloid vitamins slipping down your greasy gullet.
However, many of these awards-worthy contenders will be little more than re-hashed, pre-packaged dross from which we would advise the avid cinema-goer to steer well clear. So, blinker yourself to the yards of column inches, starlit names and swollen marketing budgets and instead sign up to our New You 2012 Best Results Ever Screen Diet Plan with this quick round-up of the most exciting films out this January. Don’t you feel goooood.
Shame (13th January)
If you’re not excited about Shame then there’s something wrong with you. Hunger, the previous outing for McQueen and Fassbender, was so good it made me think I was having a heart attack. I don’t really have anything more to say on the matter.
A Useful Life (13th January)
A bizarre, witty and charming film about a cineaste’s love of film and the importance it plays in the meaningfulness of his life. Its inherent tragedy should also serve as a timely reminder in our times of financial austerity towards funding for the arts.
The Nine Muses (20th January)
John Akomfrah’s investigation into the mentality of immigration uses Homer’s The Odyssey as a structuring device and sits somewhere between documentary, film essay and cine-poem. It’s daring, original and shot through with incredible intellectual rigour. Destined for the subject of post-film, caffeine-fuelled debate.
House of Tolerance (27th January)
Take a tale about prostitutes in a Parisian fin de siècle brothel, imbue it with challenging existential subtexts and shoot it like Guy Bourdin and you’ve basically got us hook line and sinker. NB: NSFW.
One of the pioneers of video as an artistic medium, Dara Birnbaum’s manipulated re-workings of found TV footage ritually deconstructed and desecrated the moving image, forcing the viewer into a new relationship with the screen. Two programmes and a multi-video installation celebrating the work of this seminal artist will be taking place at the South London Gallery throughout January.
Patience (After Sebald)
A fitting tribute to one of my favourite writers, W.G. Sebald, this experimental documentary about landscape, history, art, life and loss offers a unique insight into one of the most powerful, mysterious and brilliant books of the 20th century. It’s also soundtracked by The Caretaker, aka James Leyland Kirby. Joy.
No trailer is currently available. The film is screening at the ICA from 27th January.
L’Atalante (20th January)
Finally, here’s another fantastic re-release courtesy of the BFI and all your hard-earned tax payer’s money. The only feature-length film that the incredibly talented Jean Vigo was able to make before his untimely demise, the film is a breathtaking marriage of surrealism and poetic realism that ranks among the greatest films ever made.