Gangster Squad: This movie was pushed back from a fall-programmer date (the weekend after Labor Day) to a winter-programmer date (the second weekend of the year) so Warner Brothers could take the time to cut out a movie-theater shooting scene and give the movie some space after the Aurora tragedy. While I understand that movie theater carnage in particular might have felt creepy so soon after Aurora, even after multiple additional horrible shooting tragedies, I can’t say that real life popped into my head at all while watching Squad. Frankly, Jack Reacher has a shooting scene far more uncomfortable than anything in this movie, because as retro as Reacher is in many respects, it feels less like a comic book than Squad which, as I mention in my review, has more in common with Dick Tracy than its more serious and grounded mob-movie cousins. Whether this is a triumph of gangster movie escapism, an example of onscreen violence so glorified we barely notice it, a testament to the numbing effect of actual violence around us, or just evidence of my movie-addled obliviousness, I can’t really say. But just for the record: Gangster Squad has as much resonance regarding real-life shootings as Lucky Charms have to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
A Haunted House: True story: I knew this movie existed, and I knew Scary Movie 5 existed, and I had seen the trailer for A Haunted House… and I still somehow watched the Scary Movie 5 trailer thinking it was for A Haunted House. The purveyors of terrible-looking spoof movies have apparently divided their territory: the Wayans-led African-American audience in one corner, and C-listers whose employment in spoof movies should probably count as somehow criminal (Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan) in another. Point of potential confusion: Malcolm D. Lee, director of Undercover Brother, has taken over the Scary Movie franchise from conservative weirdo and former comedy genius David Zucker, but some white dude named Michael Tiddes (former assistant on White Chicks) made A Haunted House. Anyway, you know the rules: none of you went to see only good spoof movie of the past 15+ years Walk Hard, so no one’s allowed to see this. Right?
Quartet: Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut got the ol’ Weinstein bum rush, scheduled for an end-of-year release until a last-minute kick into January. I guess that’s kind of a bummer if anyone involved thought they were being positioned for Oscars, but it also seems like the kind of low-key, character-driven, elderly-friendly movie that probably studios should be more amenable to releasing in the off-Oscar seasons, though, please note, I will probably never see this movie because it looks like The Best Non-Exotic Marigold Old Singing People Whatever.