We are officially in the doldrums this week. That is to say that absolutely nothing is slated to open this week. With the possible exception of some theaters doing some tweaking of times (and how corporate offices do dearly love to do that to help justify their existence), everything that is playing on Christmas Day is very likely to be playing through Jan. 5. This week you may breathe easily or play catch-up with those movies you have yet to make it to. Next week at least I can pretty much promise you one treat and almost definitely promise you a cheesy-looking horror picture (of the low-budget R rated variety). But for the moment, I can say no more since things do change when you least expect it.
For me, it's the week I catch up with War Horse (while Mr. Souther does the same with The Darkest Hour). I also have other things to amuse myself — like the presumptive treat for next week — and we'll both be extending out (possibly even altering) our "best of 2011" lists, including the dreaded "worst of" selection.
And since there's nothing new arriving, that also means that there's nothing to warn you of being in immediate danger of not being around when you want to see it. Well, at least, as long as you plan on seeing it this or next week.
This week'sThursday Horror Picture Show is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Asheville Film Society starts its month-long tribute to British filmmaker Ken Russell (who passed away on Nov. 27) at 8 p.m on Tuesday, Jan 3, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina with a double feature of two of the director's finest films for the BBC — Isadora (1966) and Song of Summer (1968). More on all these in this week's Xpress.
Well, this doesn't look any more promising. The only things I spy are Final Destination 5 (meh) and Apollo 18 (blech). I confess some interest in the miniseries The Borgias, which also comes out this week, based on the involvement of Neil Jordan. Whether that's enough to get me to tackle hours of the series itself is another matter.
Notable TV screenings
TCM is offering an "In Memoriam" set on Wednesday, Dec. 28, but it's mostly titles they've run a good bit. However, the evening does start with Norman Z. McLeod's Bob Hope western comedy The Paleface (1948), in honor of Jane Russell. This doesn't get seen all that much these days (possibly it's considered politically incorrect), so if you've never seen it, it's worth a look, though its sequel Son of Paleface (1952) is a much wilder film.
On Friday, Dec. 30, at 7:45 a.m., they're running what gets my vote for the best of the William Powell-Myrna Loy films that aren't "Thin Man" movies with Double Wedding (1937). At noon the same day, there's Edward Cline's W.C. Fields classic The Bank Dick (1940). They do run this a good bit, but if you've never seen it, you should. Things get even better at 3:30 p.m. with Ernst Lubitsch's masterpiece Trouble in Paradise (1932), one of the very few films I'd slap the label "perfect" on. I suppose I should note that very late that night (as in 4:15 a.m on Saturday, if you want to get technical) is Charles Bunrett's Killer of Sheep (1977), a film a lot of people seem to like a lot better than I do.
As they traditionally seem to do New Year's Eve — or at least New Year's Eve Day — is given over to the Marx Brothers. It starts on the lame side with what gets my vote for their worst film, Go West (1940) at 6 a.m. My advice is watch the opening sequence in the train station, then take a nap till the far better At the Circus (1939) starts at 7:30 a.m. It's not first-rate Marx Brothers, but it has its moments. Less pleasing is Room Service (1938) at 9 a.m.. It isn't so much that it's a bad movie (though I wouldn't call it good) as it is that it's adapted from a play that didn't star the Marxs, and they've been shoehorned into it. It's less a Marx Brothers picture than it's a movie with them. Things get much better at 10:30 a.m. with A Day at the Races (1937). Oh, it has imperfections — any movie where a musical number not really involving the boys is the most striking thing in it is doing something wrong — but it's still pretty funny and individual set-pieces are classic. But at 12:30 p.m. we hit A Night at the Opera (1935) and from then on, we're in clover with it being followed by Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), and their best film of all Duck Soup (1933). Just settle in.