January is a difficult month for film studios. People often spend the earlier part of the year cutting back on spending after the holiday season and getting back into work and school routines. The movies released in January are also not Oscar-eligible for the current year and usually forgotten by the next year’s award season.
As a result, the studios dump lower-budget, often mediocre films in January. Many of them end up being forgettable, but quite a few have made a lasting impression on audiences. Some are cult classics, but a few are remembered as cinematic greats.
The Daily Texan takes a look back on four January hits.
“Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (January 29, 1964)
In this Cold War era farce, a deranged United States general orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, forcing both sides to work together in a desperate attempt to stop the bombers from carrying out the strike. The president of the United States (Peter Sellers), his advisers and the military deal with an increasingly ridiculous number of protocols that hinder their ability to stop the attack. One of director Stanley Kubrick’s most famous films, “Dr. Strangelove” pokes fun at the lengths the Cold War parties went to deter attackers and relies on dark, satirical humor that suggests the leaders involved in the conflict were buffoons caught up in their own paranoia.
“Tremors” (January 19, 1990)
Kevin Bacon stars in this thriller about giant killer worms called Graboids which ravage the Nevada desert. The worms stalk their unsuspecting victims from underground and attack them by suddenly breaching out of the sand. A homage to classic creature features such as “Tarantula” and “The Blob,” “Tremors” follows a group of small-town citizens who band together to exterminate the worms. Director Ron Underwood cleverly balances terror with comedy, producing a fun, memorable monster movie perfect for Friday nights.
“Before Sunrise” (January 27, 1995)
One of director Richard Linklater’s most celebrated pictures, “Before Sunrise,” takes place over the course of a single day as two college students, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), meet on a train and impulsively set out on a journey through Vienna. Sparks fly between Hawke and Delpy, who share a particularly memorable scene in a record store’s listening booth as they trade adorable furtive glances with each other. The dialogue between the lovers is insightful and engaging — like its two sequels, “Before Sunrise” revolves entirely around conversation. Linklater delivers a beautiful, moving look at the power of human connection.
“Cloverfield” (January 18, 2008)
Produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves, “Cloverfield” is a unique spin on the monster movie genre, allowing only a few glimpses of a gigantic beast as it terrorizes New York City. The movie focuses squarely on Rob’s (Michael Stahl-David) journey across the city to rescue his ex-girlfriend, Beth (Odette Annable), in the middle of chaos. The entire adventure is captured on camera by Rob’s friend Hudson (T.J. Miller). Though the found-footage presentation is occasionally silly, the film’s serious, grounded depiction of a monster attack and gripping performances from the cast overcome its lapses into illogical territory.