Gangster Squad was originally supposed to hit theaters last summer, but after the shooting at a Colorado screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Squad was quickly yanked so that it could be edited: Originally, it also featured a shootout in a movie theater. The scene excised, it was rescheduled for January, which might have been a better place for it all along — January, of course, being the month when the studios dump all the garbage they don't actually expect you to watch.
Like a Li'l Abner version of L.A. Confidential, Gangster Squad tells the story of a group of renegade cops — or a "squad," if you will — who've decided the best way to fight organized crime in the stylish Los Angeles of yesteryear is to go vigilante, pretty much. Ryan Gosling moseys through the trailer looking like he's running lines in his head from The Place Beyond the Pines; Emma Stone at least acquits herself more respectably here than she would a couple of months later as the female vocal lead of The Croods; and as for Sean Penn as fearsome villain Mickey Cohen, I can't top Anthony Lane's description: "So hard does he try, with his fury-twisted features, that I half expected to learn that the real Mickey Cohen had stayed back in New York, and that this guy was an actor, hired to do an impersonation of a leading Jewish hoodlum." I can't speak for you, but for me: hard pass.
New and Notable
Matt Damon plays a natural-gas company scumbag tricking people into signing over fracking rights to their land; John Krasinski plays the farmer trying to stop him. (Rosemarie DeWitt is the lady they both like.)
Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts (who earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance) play the heads of an English family who struggle to reunite after the resort where they're spending their Christmas holiday is destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.
Any Day Now
Based on a true story, Any Day Now features Alan Cumming and Raising Hope’s Garret Dillahunt as a gay couple fighting to keep custody of a neighbor's neglected son in 1979 L.A.
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
Werner Herzog directed this documentary about the indigenous people who survive in the pitiless wilderness of Siberia.
Look at Me
Attractive single people have a hard time finding love in New York City. One of them is Lonelygirl15.
Time to reset your Months Since Christian Slater Straight-to-VOD Action Movie board.
This heist film features a tough-ass cockney gangster played by Michael Chiklis, because who else.
Sun Don't Shine
When a couple go on a road trip, they learn new things about each other. For example, she seems to have violent tendencies due to PTSD over some mysterious event in her past.
Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles
A trio of callow college students stumble upon a remote cabin where their … clones live. Normal cabin stuff.
"In Theaters" VOD Picks
The Numbers Station
John Cusack is assigned to make sure the numeric codes Malin Akerman reads out for broadcast to spies don't get compromised. But guess what? Those codes get compromised!
Weird Indie of the Week
Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie
Your enjoyment of this extremely unnecessary movie will depend on how high your tolerance is for two-generations-old stoner humor. (Yes, I said "tolerance." And "high.") (Dave's not here.)
Early VOD Premiere of the Week
IRA sympathizer Andrea Riseborough has the bad luck of having a son whose safety British intelligence agent Clive Owen uses to force her into becoming an IRA mole.
A Haunted House
Marlon Wayans makes a lateral move from the Scary Movie franchise with this spoof of recent found-footage horror movies like Paranormal Activity.