It's a confusing sort of week in that the studio folks can't seem to figure out what day movies should open on. Is it Tuesday? Or maybe Thursday? (Thursday??) Or what about plain old Friday like normal people? Well, since boardrooms full of the finest minds in marketing (yes, well...) could not seem reach a conclusion, they decided to go with all three.
What does all this mean to you? Why now you can see if Spider-Man really is amazing as early as Tuesday -- or you can spend your Fourth of July with the confused teenager in tights. Then, if such is your bent, you can subject yourself to Katy Perry on Thursday. After that, it's a normal week. Strangely enough, it's the stuff coming out on Friday that offers the greatest interest -- at least that's my take on it.
Originally, we were down for two art titles this week, but one of them got moved back to next week. It's probably just as well. Last week's opening of Moonrise Kingdom was one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- art/indie openings we've ever had in Asheville. And this week's opening of Woody Allen's To Rome with Love -- at The Carolina and the Fine Arts -- could well be of similar proportions, if the business it's been doing elsewhere the past two weeks is any indication.
And once again, I found myself at The Carolina at the unlovely hour of 9:30 a.m. to see To Rome with Love. It was well worth getting up and making the trip. Oh, yes, I know -- it doesn't have the outpouring of critical praise that greeted Midnight in Paris. So what? There's too much meaningless noise on review aggregation sites anymore to make them of any real use. Plus, I honestly think To Rome with Love is as funny or possibly funnier than Midnight in Paris, thought it may not be quite as charming. The full review is in this week's paper.
OK, let's slog our way through things unseen.
The big deal -- or at least so Sony hopes -- in the mainstream realm is The Amazing Spider-Man, the seemingly somewhat hasty reboot of a series that started 10 years ago. Yes, I know that Spider-Man 3 (2007) was pretty much a moose fellation party (and, so far as I'm concerned, the first two were massively overrated -- including by me), but this still feels like rushing things. The new one does boast a good cast and the choice of a director, Marc Webb, whose only previous directorial film was the quirky indie romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer (2009) is an interesting one. In fact, that choice may well pay dividends in the romantic scenes, but otherwise...well, I guess we'll see. Offhand, I'm guessing that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are in the film's plus column and Rhys Ifans pretty much improves anything he's in. Then too, this one doesn't have a villain that looks like he's wearing a mask made from a 1937 Cord -- something that dogged Sam Raimi's 2002 original. Still, I'm having a hard time becoming all that enthused. Put it this way -- I'll be there, but not on opening day.
On Thursday we get something called Katy Perry: Part of Me. Which part is not specified. I freely admit that I know of Ms. Perry, but apart from her sterling voice performance in The Smurfs, I remain blissfully out of the loop on her. But here she is following in the 3D concert/documentary footsteps of Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Justin Bieber. Paramount informs us that what we have is "A 3D motion picture event movie, Katy Perry: Part of Me is a backstage pass, front row seat and intimate look at the fun, glamorous, heartbreaking, inspiring, crazy, magical, passionate, and honest mad diary of Katy." (Though what an "honest mad diary" is, I do not know, which may be just as well.) I am reliably informed that Katy Perry is extremely popular. This does not keep me from feeling that the poster for the film looks like some sort "Rock Star Barbie" playset. I have no intention of seeing this if it is humanly possible not to -- no, not even with that bizarre bit of the trailer where she sports some sort of lactating bra.
Much more interesting -- potentially anyway -- is the return of Oliver Stone on Friday with Savages. Judging by the trailer and the stills, this is Stone at his Stone-iest -- the kind hyper-kinetic, LSD-chrome stuff that recalls such Stone excusions as Natual Born Killers. The plot supports this suspicion. Taylor Kitsch (Lord, does this boy need a hit!) and Aaron Johnson play two guys running a peaceful marijuana farm and living in some kind of menage a trois with Blake Lively (I guess she's living up to her name, and clearly a long way from those Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies). Unfortunately, a Mexican drug cartel -- run by no less than Salma Hayek with Benicio Del Toro as her sadistic right-hand henchman -- has decided to muscle in. When the duo refuse to play ball, the bad guys kidnap Lively. Presumably, this is where all the violence kicks in. And in the bargain, you get John Travolta as a dirty DEA agent. Even if it turns out to be spectacularly silly, it's apt to be pretty lively.
So what are we losing? Well, the Fine Arts is dropping The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but it's hanging in there at The Carolina. Both theaters are, of course, keeping Moonrise Kingdom. The Carolina is also keeping Bernie and Hysteria, though the latter is being split. (We know what that usually portends.)
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is Larry Cohen's The Ambulance (1990) showing at 8 p.m. on Thu., July 5 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Turtles Can Fly (2004) on Fri., July 6 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Stuart Rosenburg's Voyage of the Damned (1976) is this week's film from the Hendersonville Film Society, showing at 2 p.m. on Sun., July 8 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Mitchell Leisen's Death Takes a Holiday (1934) on Tue., July 10 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress with extended coverage in the online edition.
Somewhat astonishingly, there is not one single new title coming out this week that can said to have played locally. Well, God Bless America played at ActionFest, but it unfortunately never saw a regular release here.
Notable TV Screenings
Maybe they aren't terribly unusual, but they're worth noting -- on Thu., July 5 at 12:15 p.m. TCM is showing William Dieterle's Portrait of Jennie (1948), and that night at 10 p.m., they have Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955). On Sun., July 8 Lewis Milestone's silent film The Racket is showing at 12:15 a.m. (early Mon. morning technically). I've never seen this, but Milestone's films from this era are almost always worth a look.