On Schwarzenegger's Latest and All The Other Film Screenings in Town This Week.

The Last Stand.
Studio:
Lionsgate.
Director: Kim Jee-Woon.
Writers: Andrew Knauer, Jeffrey Nachmanoff.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Zach Gilford, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman, Rodrigo Santoro, Johnny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander, Eduardo Noriega, Peter Stormare, Harry Dean Stanton, Genesis Rodriguez.

He told us he'd be back, and now he's back! New and improved, even! With Kung Fu Grip and a slew of new catchphrases and everything!

After a 10-year absence from the movies and two terms as “The Governator” to boot, the larger-than-life Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his triumphant return to a starring turn on the big screen in the first English-language film from acclaimed South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil). But was it worth the wait and the trouble to dust him off? Or is Arnie better kept in mint condition and in the package as an action star of the past?

Like that old action figure you had as a kid that still sits on your shelf today (and that, let's be honest, you still take it on “missions” from time to time), Schwarzenegger, while retro and showing his age, definitely still possesses what made him the last action hero of the previous decades.

It just took a finely crafted, pulpy, modern-day Western to give him the welcome back wagon he deserved, is all.

With a script from Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor, The Day After Tomorrow) and first-timer Andrew Knauer, Jee-Woon ninjas his way through the uncomplicated story of a grizzled sheriff and his ragtag band of deputies barricading a border town as the last hope to prevent a speed demon drug lord from making his way to Mexico.

Think The Alamo with a Tommy Gun and a really fast car.

But what one unpracticed director could have turned into a mediocre action flick, Jee-Woon turns into a fast-paced, hyper-violent and subtly stylized action comedy.

To give credit where credit's due, though, it really does take an action star of Schwarzenegger's magnitude — one with real chops for the genre and the ability to chew on the material and spit it in as a string of memorable one liners — to elevate the film to the crowd-pleasing levels it reaches. The Last Stand could have easily been the next forgettable January action release starring Nicolas Cage. Lucky for us, it's quite the opposite, as this one will go down as one of The Austrian Oak's best — and probably the most fun you'll have at the movies this month.

See The Last Stand. And, in the words of Arnold himself, “DO IT NOW!”

It's a good time, for sure.

Rating: 8 out of 10 cyborgs.

Mama.
Director:
Andy Muschietti.
Writer: Andy Muschietti, Neil Cross.
Condensed Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier.
Where's it playing? Everywhere!
From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Andres Muschietti (adapted from his 2008 short of the same name) comes the chilling tale of a couple that agrees to raise their pair of nieces after they are found to be living in the woods for five years. But with those nieces comes something far scarier than mommy issues and separation anxiety. Anyway, this movie stars Jessica “My New Year's Resolution For 2013 Is To Star In Everything” Chastain. Horror release in January are typically so bad they're scary, but this one is getting rave reviews — plus an endorsement by the Mexican master of the macabre means you should probably check it out. If you dare.

Broken City.
Director:
Allen Hughes.
Writer: Brian Tucker.
Condensed Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Where's it playing? Everywhere!
This is exactly the type of “junk drawer,” dump-off release you expect from studios in January, post-big holiday releases and pre-awards season. Don't get me wrong; I love me some Marky Mark, but, honestly, this just looks like every other New York crime conspiracy drama that uses either a Jay-Z or Kanye song in its trailer. Broken Record is more like it, am I right? Watching Russell Crowe sing for 109 minutes would be less torturous than this.

The Central Park Five.
Director:
Ken Burns, Sarah Burns.
Writer: Ken Burns, David McMahon.
Where's it playing? Angelika Dallas.
From renowned documentarian Ken Burns, this film examines the 1989 case of five teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of rape charges in Central Park, only to have a serial rapist confess years later after the men served various terms in prison.

Amour (Love).
Director:
Michael Haneke.
Writer: Michael Haneke.
Condensed Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert.
Where's it playing? Angelika Plano and The Magnolia.
From Michael Haneke, director of such Oscar-nominated films with equally boring titles as The Piano Teacher and The White Ribbon, comes another Academy Award nominee that none of you will see. Starring one old French person and another old French person, this dramatic tale centers around French people doing boring French activities. Feel like paying $10 for a nap in a dark room where there won't be anyone there to judge you for falling asleep, but want a ticket stub as a souvenir so your friends will think your artsy and sophisticated? Here you go!

Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Director:
Benh Zeitlin.
Writer: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin.
Condensed Cast: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry.
Where's it playing? The Magnolia.
Miss your opportunity to see this the first time around when all your friends were talking about how amazing it was? Well, now you can redeem yourself! Returning for a limited run is the four-time Oscar nominated film that features Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest nominee ever in the “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” category. She was only six years old at the time the film was shot. Don't wait till Beasts is this year's “little film that could” at the Oscars. Watch it now.

Thunder Soul.
Director:
Mark Landsman.
Where's it playing? Only once, on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Texas Theatre.
Wanna get funky at the theater this weekend? Then you'll wanna check out this documentary about an inner-city Houston high school and the teacher — Conrad “Prof” Johnson — who turned his mediocre Kashmere High School Stage Band into a legendary '70s funk powerhouse — and their subsequent reunion 35-years-later to honor their now-92-year-old maestro. Followed by the Black Gold Soul Club dance party!

Midnight Movie at The Inwood: Caddyshack (1980).
Director:
Harold Ramis.
Writers: Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney.
Condensed Cast: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray.
Where's it playing? Friday and Saturday at The Inwood.
Great green globs of greasy, grimy gopher guts — on the big screen!

An Evening With Joel Hodgson.
Where?
Saturday at the Texas Theatre.
Creator and original host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel Hodgson is taking over the Texas Theatre for one night only with a screening of the classic MST3K episode “The Pod People,” followed by a live performance of Hodgson's new show, “Riffing Myself.” But that's not all, folks. For VIP ticket holders only, Hodgson will be doing a special autograph and photo reception! BYOGBMR (Bring Your Own Gum Ball Machine Robot) to this one.

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