The art titles have it this week -- at least locally -- and we bid farewell to the weekend of the worst box office in years. (Well, when your big opening movie is The Words what do you expect?) We have three art titles up against one mainstream title -- and one oddity that slipped in quietly and will probably leave the same way.
This is a frustrating week of art titles in that they don't easily lend themselves to comparison, which is a problem when you're trying to decide which of the films to give the title of "Weekly Pick." It's fairly easy in the case of Todd Solondz's Dark Horse. It's an estimable film and certainly worthy of your notice, but it's also, I think, a deeply flawed work that has more to say than it knows how. Still, how do you compare it to Arbitrage and Searching for Sugar Man? More troublesome yet is how you compare Arbitrage to Searching for Sugar Man? Both are excellent films. One is a complex crime drama that also qualifies as a bit of a suspense thriller. The other is a wonderful -- and wonderfully made -- documentary about an overlooked folk rock/protest musician from the early 1970s who became a pop phenomenon in South Africa. Apart from the fact that they're both very good movies and are being shown in theaters, do they have anything in common? Not really.
In the end, I went with Arbitrage, but that was based as much as it being a film of broader interest as anything else. (I would have gone with a double pick, but that sends the Xpress into such a tizzy that chances are it would have simply refused to acknowledge the existence of one of the movies altogether.) My advice is simple: Go see both of them. There -- the problem is solved.
That brings us into the realm of the mainsteam release, which in this case is more of what I guess we can call mainstream cult. The movie is Resident Evil: Retribution and it marks the fifth -- fifth -- entry in the vaguely video game based series of films in which a leather-clad Milla Jovovich kicks zombie ass and...well, that's pretty much it. This one looks no different, except that they've managed to revive a character (Michelle Rodriguez) who was killed off in the first film. (If they're not very careful, they're going to make the whole thing unbelievable.) What is remarkable is that there continues to be an audience for these. There are even people on the IMDb message boards worrying over whether or not they have to watch the first four films in order to be able to understand this latest. A weighty matter fot consideration indeed.
In addition to this, there's this right-leaning, faith-based, uplifting thing called Last Ounce of Courage that showed up on a booking list last night long after the upcoming titles for this weekend had gone inro the print edition. It appears to be the usual fare we get from Rocky Mountain Pictures. That means bottom-of-the-barrel production values aimed at people who really aren't interested in movies, but in the promotion of a certain mindset. Have at it, if you like. I think I'll just pass, but then I've seen way too many of these movies.
The only thing we're losing on the art title side is Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry, which isn't much of a surprise, since it's a documentary. The Fine Arts is dropping Celeste and Jesse Forever, but The Carolina is keeping it and splitting it with Killer Joe. That, of course, means that this will probably be the final week for both titles.
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is The Land Unknown (1957) which will be shown on Thu., Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped (1956) on Fri., Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993) on Sun., Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society this week brings in Ernst Lubitsch's The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) at 8 p.m. on Tue., Sept. 18 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.
Looks like another slack week, leading off with Snow White and the Hunstman (now better known for the offscreen hijinks of its star and director) and What to Expect When You're Expecting (a movie from which you should expect very little indeed). There's also For Greater Glory and the very odd Where Do We Go from Here? (which didn't play locally).
Notable TV Screenings
Thursday evening brings another round of all night Mack Sennett shorts, if you're up for another dose. (I'm not so sure myself.) For me, Saturday, Sept. 15 is the most interesting day with James Whale's One More River (1934) showing at 9 a.m. and F.W. Murnau's masterpiece Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) at 8 p.m.
On Wednesday, Sept. 18 they appear to be celebrating Greta Garbo's birthday -- mostly by showing her lesser movies. But at 2:45 p.m. they do have perhaps the best movie she ever made, Rouben Mamoulian's Queen Christrina (1933). If you haven't seen it, you ought to.