Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to January

“The Comedian”

Who: Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Leslie Mann and Harvey Keitel
What: A look at the life of an aging insult comic.
When: January 13th
Why: The last time Robert De Niro played a “comedian” in a film, the world got one of the best dark comedies ever made in “The King of Comedy.” This probably won’t be that movie, but it could be a solid film thanks to De Niro’s talents, all of the comedians playing themselves (or a version of themselves, anyways) and director Taylor Hackford (“Ray,” “The Devil’s Advocate”), who finds a way to make solid B-movies with a hint of prestige about them. De Niro has proven to have both pathos and adept comic timing, so this look at an aging insult comic could provide both laughs and some tears.

“The Founder”

Who: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch and Linda Cardellini
What: The story of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.
When: January 20th
Why: “The Founder” looked like it was going to be an awards contender due to the incredible cast headlined by a resurgent Michael Keaton and the fact that it’s based on an interesting true story. Unfortunately, the film’s release kept getting pushed back, first to position it for awards season and then seemingly because the studio wasn’t sure what to do with it. Though “The Founder” has a fairly competent director in John Lee Hancock, who has turned in well-received work in the past with “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” this could either be an oddly fascinating biopic or just generic schlock. At the very least, it will likely be well made and well acted.

“Split”

Who: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula
What: After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 dual personalities, they must convince one of his personalities to help free them.
When: January 20th
Why: I saw this at Fantastic Fest back in September and the audience loved it. While I didn’t care for it, I do think it’s M. Night Shyamalan’s strongest film since “Signs.” Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Witch”) is truly an incredible talent to watch, and James McAvoy definitely puts his all into his portrayal of a man with multiple personalities, turning on a dime into the various voices that inhabit his mind. While it didn’t click for me, many people found it very compelling and entertaining, and it seems that Shyamalan is slowly returning to more sure-footed ground with this and “The Visit.” And if nothing else, there is a stinger towards the end that will have movie nerds everywhere talking.

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