It's actually a pretty slow week at the movies. In the area of mainstream releases all that we're getting it seems are Tower Heist and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. Don't those prospects simply make you absolutely giddy with anticipation? I know I can scarcely contain myself. The art scene is a little more interesting. We get Margin Call at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts, and we get the documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 at The Carolina. So far it appears that Anonymous is still M.I.A. where Asheville is concerned. Let the copious weeping begin. I fear that since its opening numbers did not attest to the idea that this late-breaking shaky expose of Shakespeare was something the public was anxious for may mean we'll never see it here at all.
Both Margin Call and The Black Power Mixtape are reviewed in this week's paper, and both are very much worth your while. I'd go so far as to call them pleasant surprises. Margin Call was one of those things I couldn't work up that much ethusiasm for that turned out to be very good indeed. Usually films about finance and films with top-heavy casts don't fly with me, but this was different. This is the film about the financial crisis that The Company Men ought to have been and never got anywhere near. The Black Power Mixtape -- a film destined to be a polarizing experience with viewers (I could name the folks who will hate it with no trouble) -- is a fascinating look at the Black Power movement culled from the work of Swedish TV journalists. The usual suspects are here, but not in ways you've likely seen them before.
Now, about those other matters...
Tower Heist is -- as the name implies -- a caper comedy. It comes from director Brett Ratner, who is known for things like X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and Rush Hour 3. Make of that what you wish. It stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda and Matthew Broderick -- and, as I've noted elsewhere, looks like it will indulge them in all their worst tendencies, at least if the trailer is any barometer. I grant you that it's nice to see Gaboury Sidibe in the cast. The story's all about getting back at the shady financier (Alan Alda), who's defrauded all the help in the building his penthouse sits atop. The film was briefly notorious for the plan of putting it on VOD (for something like 60 bucks!) while it was still in theaters. When theaters threatened a boycott, that ended that.
And let's not overlook A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (warning NSFW red band trailer) -- which, by the way, appears to only be showing in 3D -- that brings the stoner pair back to the screen after a three-year hiatus. That was at least in part due to Kal Penn (aka: Kumar) taking time off to work for President Obama, though I'm not 100 percent sure that Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) really proved there was all that much call for a third film. You'll note that this one boasts two gimmicks -- Christmas and 3D -- and manages to bring Neil Patrick Harris back to life. In this one, the boys seem to have gone their separate ways, but find themselves back together over some misdirected package. The reunion spawns exactly the kind of trouble you expect. Whether it's the kind of thing you want is another matter, and entirely up to you, though I think I'm more inclined to this than Tower Heist -- for what that's worth.
This week the Fine Arts drops Love Crime and keeps The Way. Expect The Way to be in its last week. The Carolina says goodbye to Attack the Block and Higher Ground, but is holding onto Blackthorn, which is no surprise after its strong opening weekend.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has a double bill of Boris Karloff pictures, The Man They Could Not Hang (1938) and The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942), on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. And, of course, Chapter Five of Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) runs at 7:40 p.m. World Cinema is running Harakiri (1962) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Victor Schertzinger's The Mikado (1939) is being shown by the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, Nov. 6, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. This week's Asheville Film Society screening is Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress.
This week sees Crazy, Stupid, Love, Water for Elephants, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Tabloid and Magic Trip coming out. There's nothing appalling there, but neither is there anything to get me all that jazzed.
Notable TV Screenings
Well, let's see what TCM has in store. James Whale's The Invisible Man (1933) is showing -- part of a Gloria Stuart tribute -- at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov, 4. Late night -- starting at midnight -- on Sunday, Nov. 6, thre's a run of rarely shown Laurel and Hardy silent shorts -- Do Detectives Think? (1927), Putting Pants on Phillip (1927), You're Darn Tootin' (1928), Two Tars (1928). Those are definitely worth watching.
Frank Tuttle's This Gun for Hire (1942) -- the film that made Alan Ladd a star -- is showing at 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7. Tune and see why. Veronica Lake's presence doesn't hurt either.