Well, here we are with the first "Reeler" of the year. As I promised you, we get something tasty this week, and something that looks more than a little suspiciously like rankest Velveeta. The tasty is Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Solidier Spy. It's a film that straddles the realm of art and mainstream, though it leans more toward the former than the latter (I say that having seen it twice now). However, it's done well enough elsewhere that my guess is that it won't just open at The Carolina and the Fine Arts, but may well be at the Regal Biltmore Grande, though that's not confirmed. Also unconfirmed (if anybody really cares) is just who is getting the ... well, we'll call it mainstream release, The Devil Inside. Theoretically, some theater will be the lucky recipient.
As noted above, I've not only seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I've seen it twice. It's one of those films that benefits from a second viewing. It's the sort of film that was made to savor. And, yeah, the review is in this week's paper, but it's perhaps worth noting that it ended up on both Mr. Souther's Ten Best list and mine. So read the review, check out the list (both are coming), and see the movie. Bear in mind that although there are still things that haven't filtered our way, we're probably in for the studios' annual white sale -- get the good out of the good while you can.
And then there's that other thing to contend with.
I'll go ahead and admit that I kind of liked William Brent Bell's Stay Alive (2006). But I liked it because it was goofy, it was slickly made, and I saw it with a crowd of pretty fired-up teenagers on a Friday night. The fact that they were having a good time with it almost certainly played a large part in why I kind of liked it. (Then again, I sat with a crowd who laughed themselves silly over Robin Williams in R.V. and all that did was make me despair for humanity.) Anyway, Mr. Bell and his co-writer are back with The Devil Inside. (I am alarmed to realize that I know the film's executive producer. I was much less alarmed when his name was on Insidious last year.) It looks like one of those bargain basement "reality" horror pictures with lots of phony "documentary" footage and shaky-cam stuff. The big hook seems to be that the possessed woman isn't possessed by one demon. Oh, no, she's apparently the Grand Hotel of demons. It looks more annoying than anything.
Now, since nothing much is opening, that means that nothing much is leaving this week. Yes, the Fine Arts is dropping My Week with Marilyn to make room for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but since Marilyn is staying at The Carolina (for that matter, it opens Friday at the Flat Rock), it's by no means vanishing.
We're back to a normal schedule full from the usual suspects this week. The Thursday Horror Picture Show is showing Ken Russell's Altered States (1980) on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. On Friday, Jan. 6, World Cinema is screening Jean Cocteau's Orpheus (1950) at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library at the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is back with Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins' West Side Story (1961) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society continues its month-long tribute to Ken Russell with Dante's Infero (1967) and Always on Sunday (1965) in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 8 p.m. More on all titles in this week's paper.
It's a mixed week, but generally a good one. The best thing up is The Guard, but there's also the much-maligned Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Contagion The sort of documentary (which a lot of people went to see) I Am. I never understood that, but I will concede that it's the best movie I've ever seen about sentient yogurt.
Notable TV screenings
Well, there's a solid night of Charlie Chaplin in TCM on Saturday, Jan.7, starting at 8 p.m. with the indispensable City Lights (1931) and it's followed by the equally essential Modern Times (1936) -- and it just keeps on going all through the night. The only problem with that is that ... well, that's about it for the week in terms of the truly notable. Later this month, however, there are two really rare and really choice titles. Stay tuned.