It's a two and two week — two mainstream titles and two art titles (there's a flood of art titles just now), and all in all, it looks like the art titles are the better deal, though it's just possible that one of the mainstreamers will be a pleasant surprise. The other one? Far less likely. Well, as it turns out (you can thank the Monday holiday for this), no one locally is getting Piranha 3DD. I do not know why, unless the Weinsteins have decided they have a major lox on their hands, or else they think it's so special it needs a platform release to increase excitement. I know some of you will be heartbroken, but you'll just have to bear up at this affront to art. But despair not, for a bonus specialty title of a different nature called For Greater Glory, which is opening at The Carolina.
The art titles — Bernie (The Carolina and the Fine Arts) and Undefeated (The Carolina) — are reviewed in this week's paper. I can't personally weigh in on Undefeated because that one went to Justin Souther. He seemed better suited to a documentary about high school football than I (I can never even tell which end of the field I'm supposed to be watching). If you've forgotten, this is the movie that snagged Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Justin seems to have liked it, but did he agree with the Academy voters? Well, the review will answer that question.
Richard Linklater's Bernie I have seen. In fact, I've seen it twice. That probably tells you whether or not I liked it. This could have easily gone either way, since I'm not exactly a fan of Mr. Linklater, and star Jack Black is rarely in the plus column for me. This time he was, but I should note that this is a Jack Black performance quite unlike any you've seen. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that my 83-year-old mother liked the movie. I certainly hadn't seen that coming. It may prove — or at least suggest — that the film has a much broader appeal than it might seem on the surface. Now, whether or not that larger audience will give the movie a chance is another question entirely, since my mother was kind of what you'd call a captive audience.
Now, about those mainstream titles...
Not opening after all! Please contain your disappointment. Alphabetically speaking, the first up is Piranha 3DD — double D, get it? (Insert groaning sound here.) OK, I'll be the first to say that I found Alexander Aja's Piranha remake/reworking from 2010 more boring than anything else, but I have to say that the trailer for this one makes Aja's film look like a classic of the horror genre. This one was made by one John Gulager (son of actor Clu Gulager, who is in the movie). He made something called Feast in 2005, which seems to have had an actual release (not around here). This was followed by two direct-to-video sequels. I've seen none of these. Once more, we have a roster of past-their-prime guest stars — David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey and Ving Rhames — to supposedly add interest or production value to the otherwise largely no-name cast. But does this need a cast? Isn't it really all about boobs and mayhem? The thing about this sort of movie is that there's only so much it can be. You have vacationers in water. You have a bunch of prehistoric piranha. Luncheon ensues. That's really about it — except this is luncheon with nipples. Come to think of it, that pretty much describes the last one.
Well, we may not be getting Piranha 3DD -- a cultural disaster of some note -- but we are getting Andy Garcia in For Greater Glory, a film that also promises performances from Eva Longoria, Oscar Isaac, Bruce Greenwood, Ruben Blades, and the venerable Peter O'Toole. I know little about this -- except that it was partly financed by the Knights of Columbus -- but here's what the press blurb says: "What would you pay for the price of freedom? In the exhilarating action epic For Greater Glory an impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country, as the fims adventure unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War the daring peoples revolt that rocked 20th Century North America." I think we may conclue that this is more seriously intended. If you've never heard of the Cristero War...well, neither have I.
And then there's Snow White and the Huntsman. This is the apparently very serious-minded reworking of the Snow White story, as opposed to Tarsem's largely comedic Mirror Mirror — that golden oldie that takes us all the way back to April. This is Snow White as a horror picture, which might be a perfectly sensible approach. I can't say that all the CGI raven business in the trailer really entices me, and I freely confess that I find Kristen Stewart off-putting — and that has less to do with Twilight than it has to do with the fact that she always looks like she's encountered an unfortunate aroma. On the other hand, Chris Hemsworth seems a reasonable choice for the Hunstman, and Charlize Theron an inspired one for Ravenna (the wicked stepmother). The array of talent chosen to play the dwarves — Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marson, Toby Jones, Brendan Gleeson — is, if nothing else, intriguing. They aren't the first folks I think of when I think of dwarves — well, maybe Toby Jones — but I'm assuming CGI jiggery-pokery has taken care of that. Well, we'll see.
It's safe to say that we won't be losing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this week at either The Carolina or the Fine Arts, but the Fine Arts is dropping Monsieur Lazhar to make room for Bernie.
Before listing what is showing, let me make it clear what is not showing. Owing to The Carolina being in the throes of being revamped for digital projection next week, there will be no Asheville Film Society screening on Tuesday, June 5.
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double feature of Karl Freund's Mad Love (1935) with Peter Lorre and Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat (1934) with Messrs. Karloff and Lugosi at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. (And don't forget, chapter two of the 1935 serial The Lost City starts at 7:40 p.m.) World Cinema continues with Twin Rivers Media Festival screening with The Duck Hunter at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Robert Wise's The Hindenburg (1975) is this week's film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, June 3, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society screenings will resume on June 12. More on all films in the Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.
Probably the best thing hitting DVD this week is Coriolanus — a film that didn't get a theatrical showing locally. Otherwise, we have the overrated We Need to Talk About Kevin, the apparently (according to Mr. Souther) fairly egregious Man on a Ledge, and the very egregious Gone, which quickly lived up to its title in theaters.
Notable TV Screenings
OK, they're not great, but TCM is running no less than seven "Crime Doctor" mysteries with Warner Baxter on Thursday, May 31, starting at 6 a.m. A must for Baxter completists and mystery fans. On Friday, June 1, they have one of John Ford's oddest and most overlooked movies, Tobacco Road (1941) at 10:15 p.m. Definitely worth a look if you've never seen it.