The last opening weekend in January brings a scant few movies, but at least they look interesting. Sure, Avatar is still on top, but how many times can you conceivably go to the 3-D showing looking for a blue Na'Vi nip slip? Don't answer that. This week, why not check out an obsessed Mel Gibson, a cute-hot Kristen Bell, or a legendary Bill Withers instead? All that and more in this week's rundown of new releases.
Edge Of Darkness - Mel Gibson returns to the front side of the camera for his first leading role in nearly a decade in this violent, effective thriller. When Mel tones down the goofiness he's more than capable of playing it bad-ass, even at his age, and everything we've seen from this indicates that it's one of his best performances in some time. As homicide detective Thomas Craven, Gibson sees his daughter gunned down in front of his house and sets off to find her killers, no matter what the cost. Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) also anchored the BBC miniseries this is based on, so it's obviously got a lot of meaning for him. Looks worthwhile.
When In Rome - Beep beep rom-com detected! But if you need to take your girl to the movies this weekend, at least you can look at Kristen Bell and drift into happy dreamland. The Veronica Mars star is one of our favorite actresses, but it remains to be seen whether she can save this hokey premise, which involves magic coins that make dudes fall for her. Baby, we don't need a magic coin. Save them for the vibrating bed in the motel room.
Still Bill - For you young kids, Bill Withers might not mean anything. But us old heads know that Bill is one of the greatest living legends of soul music. "Ain't No Sunshine," anyone? This documentary has been racking up the festival prizes and critical plaudits, and for any fan of good soul music it's a must-see. Plus it gets the ladies in the mood, if you know what I am saying and I think that you do.
Saint John Of Las Vegas - I'll see anything with Steve Buscemi, just for proving that you can be the ugliest motherhubbard in the world and still make bank in the movies. He plays a compulsive gambler who ditches Vegas to try to go straight, only to be tempted by scratch tickets and an attractive co-worker. A great cast (Sarah Silverman! Peter Dinklage!) may help this one get some traction.