L.A. Weekly’s Movie Guide is your look at the hottest films in Los Angeles theaters this week — from indie art house gems and classics to popcorn-perfect blockbusters and new movies garnering buzz. Check here every week before you make your big screen plans.

Opening wide:

The Grudge (Sony Pictures)

When Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On: The Grudge was released in 2002, smack dab in the middle of the J-horror craze, it was fresh enough to stir up some U.S. box office commotion and inspire an American-made sequel — simply called The Grudge — two years later. The mania peaked with The Ring and Dark Water and reached its nadir with One Missed Call. Sony released a Grudge 2 and even a Grudge 3 — both of which were moderately successful. But what is this new The Grudge coming out in 2020, more than a decade subsequent? It was developed as a sequel — a Grudge 4, presumably — but it eventually mutated into that dreaded Hollywood species: the reboot. The latest installment in the franchise will introduce new ghosts and extend the mythology of the Grudge-verse while retaining some signature images from the previous films. (To cite one example: the rotting fingers that emerge from a living character’s scalp while shampooing.) Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) wrote and directed from a script by Jeff Buhler. The Newton Brothers composed the score. Sam Raimi is one of the producers, and the impressive cast includes Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, Betty Gilpin, Jacki Weaver and Lin Shaye. Opening Fri., Jan. 3 at theaters throughout L.A. 

 (Read our interview with The Grudge star/veteran horror actress Lin Shaye HERE).

Limited release:

Safe in Hell. (Warner Bros.)

Racy, funny and frank, films of the “pre-Code” era continue to fascinate. To welcome 2020, UCLA will feature a weekend of movies produced before 1934, when the Motion Picture Production Code began to be enforced in earnest. Kicking off the series — titled “To Heck With Your Don’ts and Be Carefuls” — is a pair of melodramas featuring Dorothy Mackaill, the British-born actress who began as a “Follies Girl” and worked her way up to leading lady. In Safe in Hell (directed by William Wellman) Mackaill plays a New Orleans prostitute grasping for transcendence. In Party Husband, she is a thoroughly modern woman married to a playboy. Both films will be screened in 35mm prints courtesy of the Library of Congress. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.

UCLA’s pre-Code weekend concludes with a pair of classic, flamboyant musicals choreographed by mad genius Busby Berkeley. 42nd Street, featuring a chorus girl (Ruby Keeler) who gets catapulted to Broadway stardom, is now considered the archetypal backstage musical of the period. Gold Diggers of 1933 is Warner Bros’ triumphant follow-up, starring Joan Blondell as a torch singer and Ginger Rogers at her most glamorous. Seeing these blockbusters of a bygone era on the big screen — in 35mm — is one of the great privileges of living in a city that values film history. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Jan. 4, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.

Antonio Banderas in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory. (Sony Pictures)

The American Cinematheque and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association co-present their annual Golden Globe Foreign-Language Nominees Seminar at the Egyptian Theatre. Instead of screening the five top foreign-language films of 2019, the directors of those films will engage in an onstage, roundtable discussion. Pedro Almodóvar (Pain and Glory), Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Ladj Ly (Les Misérables), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) and Lulu Wang (The Farewell) are this year’s participants. Journalist Silvia Bizio will moderate the panel. There will be a reception in the courtyard following the event. Tickets are free with RSVP. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Jan. 4, 1 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.

Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. (Netflix)

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro will be in town for a 45-minute discussion about their decades-spanning creative partnership, followed by a screening of The Irishman, their latest epic collaboration. If you haven’t seen this three-and-a-half-hour made-for-Netflix contender yet, this could be your last shot at experiencing it in a theater (for a while, anyway). $40 puts you in the presence of these two cinematic heavyweights. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Jan. 4, 6 p.m.; $40. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.

(Read our review of The Irishman HERE).

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