Trailer Mash

A few stars try to liven up the movies in Hollywood's January doldrums

It's the dead movie zone. This is the time of year when movie studios allow their lesser produce to wither and die in the umbra of the Oscar contenders you imagine you should be catching up on. No one told Arnold, though. The great self-publicist has tweeted commentary on his new action movie The Last Stand so often that his thumbs must be worn down to the titanium endoskeleton. As for the trailer, there are so many references to the hero being old and past it, they could be talking about Skyfall. This may be the strategy.

Offering an unholy union of talents that could have produced a contender were the plot not so squarely targeting the third-choice movie slot on a long-haul flight, Broken City casts Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg as Dirty Mayor and Morally Ambivalent Copper, respectively, in a contemporary slab of New York noir. Catherine Zeta-Jones shapes up impeccably as the Rosalind Russell figure, it seems. 

Jessica Chastain pulls on a black wig as the New Jersey Goth foster mother to a couple of abandoned children who seem able to conjure a demon they call Mama. There is no better recommendation for this Guillermo del Toro presentation that that of YouTube's Limitededition971, who says, "This looks pretty stupid… I'm going to see it."

There is one great film to watch this week, luckily, if the idea of what a Béla Tarr action movie might look like holds any appeal. The story of a pair of serial killers on the loose in northern rural France, Outside Satan is bleak, incomprehensible, probably existential and definitely to do with the spiritually uplifting power of film as image and metaphor as opposed to its more familiar function as a vehicle for displaying actors deemed popular solely due to their constant presence in your otherwise empty lives, at least according to this trailer.