MIDDLETOWN: CATCHING UP WITH 2014

jerseyboysmovieimageFrankie Valli meets Dirty Harry — when director Clint Eastwood’s cinema treatment of the Four Seasons musical bio JERSEY BOYS screens as part of a month of free 2014 releases at Middletown Library.

Remember 2014? Even if you’re the resolute type who actually meets your personal goals, and who wraps up The Year That Was with a neat little bow, there no doubt remain a number of tiny but torturously nagging regrets — chief among them “that movie you were meaning to go see.” Fortunately, for the latest monthly slate in their ongoing series of free movie screenings, Middletown Township Public Library presents a month of Mondays (and one Friday) designed to offer a chance to catch some last-year releases that may have slipped between the sprockets.

It begins this coming Monday, January 5, with a 2:30 pm showing of a biopic that boasts a special resonance for regionals: Jersey Boys, an adaptation of the Broadway jukebox-musical smash detailing the early career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Director Clint Eastwood (who, it must be recalled, acquitted himself well with the Charlie Parker jazzman bio Bird) works with a cast featuring Tony winner John Lloyd Young (originator of the Frankie role on Broadway) and Christopher Walken — as well as a slew of vintage Bob Gaudio/ Bob Crewe songs that include of course “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Rag Doll.” The January screening schedule continues from there, with some cinematic studies in art, commerce, cooking, passion, and romance with a decidedly mature shading.

The latest in a just-inaugurated New Film Friday series at MTPL, And So It Goes finds director Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride) returning with an intimately scaled romantic dramedy starring grayhairs Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, working together for the first time in their long careers as a widowed realtor and his neurotic lounge-singer neighbor. Also featuring Frances Sternhagen plus cameos by Reiner and (wait for it) Frankie Valli, the film screens at 2 pm on January 9.

Movie Mondays resume on January 12 with Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey, as a snooty restaurateur in the French countryside whose market share is threatened by the arrival of an Indian immigrant family — a situation that leads to sabotage and an ultimate understanding, in Lasse Hallström’s Spielberg-produced adaptation of the novel by Richard Morais. The culinary capers continue on January 19 with Chef — a labor of love from writer-director-star Jon Favreau, whose career kicked off with the energetic indie Swingers and led to mega-blockbusters like the first two Iron Man adventures. Favreau plays a stressed-out head chef who ditches his gig at a high-profile restaurant to pursue his dream of operating a food truck — calling in support from the likes of Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, and Iron Man avenging angels Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.

The current schedule wraps on January 26 with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche in Words and Pictures, a 2013 romantic drama released Stateside in 2014. The leads portray a hard-drinking writer-educator whose frustrations have left him unable to write — and a painter whose disability has left her unable to paint. Together they bring their “war” between the word and the image to an inspiring collaboration, in the story directed by the esteemed Aussie filmmaker Fred Schepisi.